|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:28-35 Constant exercise of faith in Christ, is the most important and difficult part of the obedience required from us, as sinners seeking salvation. When by his grace we are enabled to live a life of faith in the Son of God, holy tempers follow, and acceptable services may be done. God, even his Father, who gave their fathers that food from heaven to support their natural lives, now gave them the true Bread for the salvation of their souls. Coming to Jesus, and believing on him, signify the same. Christ shows that he is the true Bread; he is to the soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports the spiritual life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which he has made to be the food of our souls. Bread nourishes only by the powers of a living body; but Christ is himself living Bread, and nourishes by his own power. The doctrine of Christ crucified is now as strengthening and comforting to a believer as ever it was. He is the Bread which came down from heaven. It denotes the Divinity of Christ's person and his authority; also, the Divine origin of all the good which flows to us through him. May we with understanding and earnestness say, Lord, evermore give us this Bread.
Verse 29. - Christ's reply really solves the great problem which had long perplexed the schools of Palestine, and often, and even to the present hour, is dividing into two hostile camps the Christian Church. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God. Observe, not "works," but "work" - the one work which is the germ and the consummation of all the partial workings which are often made substitutes for it. There is "one work" which God would have man do. Jesus admits that there is something to do (ποιεῖν) - there is a labour, an effort of the will needed to do what God requires; and this is evident enough as soon as this great work is described, viz. That ye believe on him whom he (the Father) sent; or, hath sent. Ἵνα πιστεύητε, here preferred by the R.T. to πιστεύσητε (see John 13:19), marks the simple fact and continuous act of believing with the effort tending to such result; while the aorist would have pointed to one definite act of faith (see Westcott).. To "believe on him," to habitually entrust one's self to the power and grace of Christ, to make a full moral surrender of the soul to the Lord, includes in itself all other work, and is in itself the great work of God. "It is the Christian answer to the Jewish question" (Thoma). "Faith is the life of works, works the necessity of faith" (Westcott). "Faith is the highest kind of work, for by it man gives himself to God, and a free being can do nothing greater than give himself: St. James opposes work to a faith which would be nothing but intellectual belief. St. Paul opposes faith, active faith, to works of mere observance. The 'faith' of St. Paul is really the 'work' of St. James, according to this sovereign formula of Jesus, 'This is the work of God, that ye believe'" (Godet). Luther says, "To depend on God's Word, so that the heart is not terrified by sin and death, but trusts and believes in God, is a much severer and more difficult thing than the Carthusians or all orders of monks demand." Schleiermachcr says, "This is the most significant declaration, that all eternal life proceeds from nothing else than faith in Christ."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God,.... The main and principal one, and which is well pleasing in his sight; and without which it is impossible to please him; and without which no work whatever is a good work; and this is of the operation of God, which he himself works in men; it is not of themselves, it is the pure gift of God:
that ye believe on him whom he hath sent; there are other works which are well pleasing to God, when rightly performed, but faith is the chief work, and others are only acceptable when done in the faith of Christ. This, as a principle, is purely God's work; as it is an act, or as it is exercised under the influence of divine grace, it is man's act: "that ye believe"; the object of it is Christ, as sent by the Father, as the Mediator between God and men, as appointed by him to be the Saviour and Redeemer; and believing in Christ, is believing in God that sent him. The Jews reduce all the six hundred and thirteen precepts of the law, for so many they say there are, to this one, "the just shall live by his faith", Habakkuk 2:4. (e).
(e) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. This is the work of God—That lies at the threshold of all acceptable obedience, being not only the prerequisite to it, but the proper spring of it—in that sense, the work of works, emphatically "the work of God."
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