Like Matthew, Mark and Luke, Paul gave us the exact words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper. Let’s just go over what Paul wrote, taking it from sentence to sentence.
He wrote, “I received from the Lord, what I also handed on to you.” There, he clearly tells us that he was personally instructed by Jesus, even though he had never met him when they were both alive. It is on the basis of that private meeting with Jesus that Paul laid claim to being an Apostles like the twelve.
He next wrote, Jesus “took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it” Our four English words “after he had given thanks” is quite a loose translation of Paul’s single Greek word. He wrote that Jesus broke the bread after eucharistesas. Now, that word, eucharistesas, was the name of the third and final part of the traditional Hebrew table blessing. So, Paul was actually saying that Jesus took up the bread after he had completed the blessing. We should be aware of the fact that our Eucharistic prayer grew out of that table blessing.
Next, Paul wrote that Jesus said, “This is my body which is for you.” There, again, in English we are given a faulty translation of Paul’s words. In the Greek New Testament that phrase is, “soma to uper umon klomenon.” That last word klomenon means “is broken.” So, where our translation has it as “This is my body which is for you.” Paul actually wrote “This is my body which is broken for you.”
This might sound as though I am going too much into small details, but it is important for us to know what Jesus actually said. If you will put up with one more fine distinction from me, let me point this out. Jesus, as though he were looking forward to his death the next day, did not say, “This is my body which will be broken for you.” No, he said, “This is my body which is broken for you.” It was as though he had begun dying at the Last Supper, so that our Mass not only recalls that Passover dinner, it also brings back his death.