The Eucharistic Prayers have undergone complete retranslation; we will only focus a few key parts that are the same in each prayer. This is the second of four columns, and it looks at the phrase "for you and for many" in the consecration of the wine.
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, Mt 26:27It seems that the most controversial change in the minds of many people is that of the word “all” to the word “many”. The old translation stated that Christ’s Blood was shed “for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven”. This is an accurate theological statement: Christ is “the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jn 2:2) But it was not so accurate a translation of the Latin.
FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, Lk 22:20
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, Heb 12:24; 13:20
WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY Mk 14:24
FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. Mt 26:28
But now, when the priest says “for you and for many”, some might wonder if the Church is denying that Christ died for everyone. (A lot of trouble could have been saved by using the phrase “for the many” instead of just “for many”.) If we know that Christ died for all, how can we say that He poured out His Blood only for many? To address this issue properly, we need to examine the Latin and Scripture more closely. First, the Latin word in the prayer is multis, which means “many” and not “all.” Second, you will find that Jesus used the word “many” and not the word “all” in the Gospel. (Mt 26:28) The priest is simply saying what Jesus said.
Why did Jesus use the word “many” on this occasion? A key to answering this question can be found in the prophecy of the “Suffering Servant” found in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. At the end of this prophecy, God speaks of His servant in these words:
By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. … He poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:11-12)Jesus was surely thinking of this prophecy, and how He was fulfilling it, when He spoke to His Apostles about the pouring out of His blood “for many.” So while Jesus died for all, on this particular occasion He used the word “many.”
While Christ died for all, salvation is not brought without our individual willing participation. By dying for all of us, Christ has presented us with the potential to live no longer for ourselves but for Him, but this is not automatically guaranteed for everyone. So we can truthfully say (as the old translation did) that the Blood of Christ was shed for all, so that sins may be forgiven. But we can also say truthfully (as the new translation does) that His Blood was poured out for many for the forgiveness of (their) sins. It is with this in mind that the Church uses “for many” and not “for all.”