Expositor's Greek Testament
Jesus miraculously furnishes a meal for 5000 men with women and children, and thus manifests Himself as the Bread from heaven. This provokes the crisis in Galilee.
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.John 6:1-13. The miracle narrated.
John 6:1. μετὰ ταῦτα, John’s indefinite note of time. The interval between chap. 5 and chap. 6 depends on the feast alluded to, John 5:1. If it was Purim, only a month had elapsed; if it was Passover, a year. In any case Jesus had left Jerusalem, the reason being that the Jews sought to slay Him (John 7:1).—ἀπῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, “Jesus departed,” but whence? Evidently from Capernaum and the neighbourhood; cf. Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:30, Luke 9:10.—πέραν … Τιβεριάδος, “to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, of Tiberias”. In John 21:1 it is called simply τῆς Τιβεριάδος. The second title may here be a gloss, either by the evangelist himself or by a later hand, to distinguish the lake from Merom, or possibly because the latter name was more familiar to some of John’s readers than the former. [Pausanias, John 6:7; John 6:3, calls it λίμνη Τιβερίς.] Grotius, followed by Meyer, says: “Proprius denotat lacus partem quae ab adsito oppido, ut fieri solet, nomen habet proprium”. Consequently he thinks of Jesus as crossing the Jordan below the lake. This is groundless. The town Tiberias was only built by Herod about the year 20 A.D. (Smith’s Hist. Geog., 448). The exact locality where the following scene is laid seems to have been at the northeast corner of the lake, not far from Bethsaida Julias.—καὶ ἠκολούθει … ἀσθενούντων. “A great crowd followed Him,” out of Galilee into Gaulanitis, the reason being ὅτι ἑώρων [plural although ἠκολούθει is singular], “because they had seen the miracles which He was doing [imperfect of continuous action] on the sick”.—ἐπί with genitive denotes the object towards which action is directed, ἐπʼ οἴκου, homewards, etc. Meyer, Weiss (and Holtzmann) take it as meaning “among”.—ἀνῆλθε δὲ εἰς τὸ ὄρος ὁ Ἰησοῦς, “and Jesus went up,” from the level of the Jordan and the lake, to the higher ground on the hill; καὶ ἐκεῖ … αὐτοῦ, “and there sat down with His disciples,” having apparently left the crowd behind, for the sitting down with the disciples indicated that rest and peace were expected.
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.John 6:4. But another crowd was to be accounted for, as John 6:4 intimates, ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς … Ἰουδαίων, “now the Passover, the Jewish feast, was at hand”. [Grotius says: “Hoc ideo interjicit, ut intelligatur tempus fuisse opportunum ad eliciendam multitudinem, et quo melius cohaereat quod de herba sequitur”. Godet’s account of the insertion of this clause, that it was meant to show that the nearness of the Passover suggested to Jesus the idea “we will keep a Passover here,” is plainly out of the question.]—ἐπάρας οὖν … Jesus therefore (or better, “accordingly”; οὖν connects what He saw with the foregoing statement).
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?John 6:5. πολὺς ὄχλος ἔρχεται, not the same crowd as was mentioned in John 6:2, else the article would have been inserted, but a Passover caravan coming from some other direction, and probably guided to Jesus’ retirement by some of those who had followed in the first crowd. Seeing the crowd approaching, He initiates the idea of giving them a meal. The synoptic account is different.—λέγει πρὸς τὸν φίλιππον. Why to Philip? The question was put to Philip not because he happened at the moment to be nearest to Jesus (Alford); nor, as Bengel suggests, because he had charge of the commissariat, “fortasse Philippus rem alimentariam curabat inter discipulos”; nor “because he knew the country best”; nor only, as Euthymius says, ἵνα τὴν ἀπορίαν ὁμολογήσας, ἀκριβέστερον καταμάθη τοῦ μέλλοντος γενέσθαι θαύματος τὸ μέγεθος; but Cyril is right who finds the explanation in the character of Philip and in the word πειράζων of John 6:6 [γυμνάζων εἰς πίστιν τὸν μαθήτην]. Philip was apparently a matter-of-fact person (John 14:8), a quick reckoner and good man of business, and therefore perhaps more ready to rely on his own shrewd calculations than on unseen resources. This weakness Jesus gives him an opportunity of conquering, by putting the question πόθεν ἀγοράσωμεν ἄρτους; “Whence are we to buy bread?” [lit. loaves]. πόθεν may either mean “from what village,” or “from what pecuniary resources”. Cf. πόθεν γὰρ ἔσται βιοτά; Soph., Philoct., 1159.
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.John 6:7. Philip swiftly calculating declares it impossible to provide bread for so vast a multitude, Διακοσίων … λάβῃ. “Two hundred denarii worth of loaves are not enough for them that each should receive a little.” “Denarius” means containing ten; and originally the denarius contained ten asses. The as was originally an ingot of copper, aes, weighing one lb.; but long before imperial times it had been reduced to one ounce, and the denarius was reckoned as equal to sixteen asses or four sesterces, and taking the Roman gold piece like our sovereign as the standard, the denarius was equivalent to about 9½d., which at that time was the ordinary wage of a working man; sufficient therefore to support a family for a day. If half was spent in food, then, reckoning the family at five persons, one denarius would feed ten persons, and 200 would provide a day’s rations for 2000; but as Philip’s calculation is on the basis not of food for a whole day, but only for one meagre meal, a short ration (βραχύ τι), it is approximately accurate. There were between five and ten thousand mouths. See Expositor, Jan., 1890.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,John 6:8. With the same matter-of-factness as Philip εἷς … Πέτρου, “one of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,” a description apparently inserted in forget fulness that it has already been given, John 1:41, supplementing Philip’s judgment, cf. John 12:22, λέγει αὐτῳ, “says to Him” [the dative still holds its place after λέγει, and has not quite given way, as in modern Greek, to πρός with accusative, cf. John 6:5]. Ἔστι παιδάριον ἓν ὧδε. “There is here one little boy.” [ἓν is rejected by modern editors. May it not have been rejected because unnecessary? At the same time it must be borne in mind that although in Mt. (Matthew 8:19; Matthew 26:69) εἷς is used as an indefinite article—as in German, French, etc.—it is not so used in John. The Vulgate has “est puer unus hic”. Meyer thinks it is inserted to bring out the meagreness of the resources, “but one small boy”.]
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?John 6:9. ὃ ἔχει … ὀψάρια. The Synoptic account speaks of these provisions as already belonging to the disciples.—κριθίνους, the cheapest kind of bread; see Ezekiel 13:19, and the extraordinary profusion of illustrations in Wetstein, among which occurs one from the Talmud: “Jochanan dixit, hordeum factum est pulchrum. Dixerunt ei: nuncia equis et asinis”; and from Livy, “Cohortibus, quae signa amiserant, hordeum dari jussit”.—καὶ δύο ὀψάρια, in Matthew 14:17, ἰχθύας, see also John 21:10.—ὀψάριον is whatever is eaten with bread as seasoning or “kitchen,” hence, pre-eminently, fish. So Athenaeus, cited by Wetstein. In Numbers 11:22 we have τὸ ὄψος τῆς θαλάσσης.—ἀλλὰ ταῦτα τί ἐστιν εἰς τοσούτους; exhibiting the helplessness of the disciples and inadequacy of the means, as the background on which the greatness of the miracle may be seen.
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.John 6:10. The moral ground for the miracle being thus prepared Jesus at once says, ποιήσατε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀναπεσεῖν. [For the form of speech cf. Soph., Philoct., 925, κλύειν … με … ποιεῖ.] This order was given for two reasons: (1) that there might be no unseemly crowding round Him and crushing out of the weaker; and (2) that they might understand they were to have a full meal, not a mere bite they could take in their hand in passing. Obedience to this request tested the faith of the crowd. They trusted Jesus.—ἦν δὲ χόρτος πολὺς ἐν τῷ τόπῳ, “now there was much grass in the place,” contrasting with the corn-lands and olive-yards of the opposite shore, where the large crowd could not easily have found a place to lie down. Mark rather brings out the contrast between the colours of the dresses and the green grass (John 6:39): ἐπέταξεν αὐτοῖς ἀνακλῖναι πάντας συμπόσια συμπόσια ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ. καὶ ἀνέπεσαν πρασιαὶ πρασιαί, like beds of flowers.—ἀνέπεσον [better ἀνέπεσαν] οὖν οἱ ἄνδρες … the men reclined, not counting women and children (χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων, Matthew 14:21), in number about five thousand; the women, though not specified, would take their places with the men. Some of the children might steal up to Jesus to receive from His own hand.
And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.John 6:11. Facing the vast and hungry crowd Jesus took up and gave thanks for the slender provision, ἔλαβε δὲ [better ἔλαβεν οὖν] τοὺς ἄρτους, the loaves already mentioned, καὶ εὐχαριστήσας [Phrynichus says εὐχαριστεῖν οὐδεὶς τῶν δοκίμων εἶπεν, ἀλλὰ χάριν εἰδέναι; and Rutherford says Polybius is the first writer who uses the word in the sense of “give thanks”]. Pagans, by libation, or by throwing a handful on the household altar, gave thanks before a meal; Jews pronounced a blessing, ἁγιασμός or εὐλογία. (Luke 24:30, Matthew 14:19, and especially 1 Timothy 4:4. See also Grotius’ note on Matthew 26:27.) Having given thanks Jesus διέδωκε … τοῖς ἀνακειμένοις. The words added from the Synoptists give a fuller account of what actually happened. But curiosity as to the precise stage at which the multiplication occurred, or whether it could distinctly be seen, is not satisfied. They all received ὅσον ἤθελον, not the βραχύ τι of Philip; and even this did not exhaust the supply; for (John 6:12) ὡς δὲ ἐνεπλήσθησαν, when no one could eat any more, there were seen to be κλάσματα περισσεύσαντα, pieces broken off but not used. These Jesus directs the disciples to gather ἵνα μή τι ἀπόληται, “that nothing be lost”. The Father’s bounty must not be wasted. Infinite resource does not justify waste. Euthymius ingeniously supposes the order to have been given ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ φαντασία τις τὸ γενόμενον; but of course those who had eaten already knew that the provision was substantial and real.
When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.John 6:13. Συνήγαγον οὖν … βεβρωκόσιν, the superabundance, the broken pieces of the five loaves which were in excess of the requirements, ἃ ἐπερίσσεύσε, filled δώδεκα κοφίνους, that is to say, far exceeded the original five loaves.—κόφινος [French, Coffin, petit panier d’osier; cf. our “coffin” and “coffer”], a large wicker basket or hamper used in many countries by gardeners for carrying fruit, vegetables, manure, soil; and identified with the Jew by Juvenal (John 3:14), “Judaeis quorum cophinus foenumque supellex”. (See further Mayor’s note on the line, and Sat., vi. 541.) This gives colour to the idea that each of the apostles may have carried such a basket, which would account for the twelve. But why they should have had the baskets with nothing to carry in them does not appear.
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.John 6:14-25. The immediate impression made by the miracle and the consequent movements of Jesus and the crowd.
John 6:14. The conclusion drawn from the miracle by those who had witnessed it, was that this was “the beginning of that reign of earthly abundance, which the prophets were thought to have foretold”. See Lightfoot, Hor. Heb., 552. This at once found expression in the words οὗτός ἐστιν … κόσμον. “This is indeed,” or “of a truth,” as if the subject had been previously debated by them, or as if some had told them He was “the prophet who should come into the world,” ὁ ἐρχόμενος, used of the Messiah by the Baptist (Matthew 11:3) without further specification; but John adds his favourite expression εἰς τὸν κόσμον. That the people meant the Messiah (cf. Deuteronomy 18:14-19) is shown by the action they were prepared to take.
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.John 6:15. For Jesus perceived that they were on the point of coming and carrying Him off to make Him king. ἁρπάζειν, to snatch suddenly and forcibly (derived from the swoop of the falcon, the ἅρπη; hence, the Harpies). This scene throws light on the use of ἁρπάζουσιν in Matthew 11:12. Their purpose was to make Him king. Their own numbers and their knowledge of the general discontent would encourage them. But Jesus ἀνεχώρησε πάλιν εἰς τὸ ὄρος αὐτὸς μόνος, “withdrew again (cf. John 6:3) to the mountain,” from which He may have come down some distance to meet the crowd. Now He detached Himself even from His disciples. [μὴ παρέχων μηδὲ τούτοις ἀφορμὴν, Origen.] The Synoptic account is supplementary. The disciples remained behind with fragments of the crowd, but, when it became late, they went down to the sea, and having got on board a (not “the”) boat, they were coming across to Capernaum [Mark says Jesus told them to go to Bethsaida, but that is quite consistent, as they may have meant to land at the one place and walk to the other] on the other side, and it had already become dark, and Jesus had not, or “not yet,” come to them, and the sea was rising owing to a strong wind blowing.
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.John 6:19. ἐληλακότες οὖν ὡς σταδίους εἰκοσιπέντε ἢ τριάκοντα. The Vulgate renders “cum remigassent ergo,” and modern Greek ἐκωπηλάτησαν, rightly; see Aristoph., Frogs, 195; and other passages in Elsner. The stadium was about 194 (Rich gives 202) yards, so that nine rather than eight would go to a mile. The disciples had rowed about three miles. [The best discussion of the direction they were taking is in the Rob Roy on the Jordan, p. 374.] θεωροῦσι τὸν Ἰησοῦν περιπατοῦντα ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης “they see Jesus walking on the sea”. It has been suggested that this may only mean that Jesus was walking “by” the sea, ἐπί being used in this sense in John 21:1. But that ἐπί can mean “on” the sea is of course not questioned (see Lucian’s Vera Historia, where this incident is burlesqued; also Job 9:8, where, to signalise the power of God, He is spoken of as ὁ περιπατῶν ὡς ἐπʼ ἐδάφους ἐπὶ θαλάσσης). Besides, why should the disciples have been afraid had they merely seen Jesus walking on the shore? They manifested their fear in some way, and He says to them, Ἐγώ εἰμι, I am He, or It is I.
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.John 6:20. Hearing this, ἤθελον οὖν λαβεῖν αὐτὸν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον, by which Lücke, Holtzmann, Weiss, Thayer, and others suppose it is meant, that they merely wished to take Him into the boat, but did not actually do so. The imperfect tense favours this sense; and so do the expressions ἤθελον πιάσαι αὐτόν, John 7:44; and ἤθελον αὐτὸν ἐρωτᾷν, John 16:19; whereas two of the passages cited against this meaning by Alford are in the aorist, a tense which denotes accomplished purpose. On the other hand, the imperfect may here be used to express a continuous state of feeling, and accordingly the A.V, following the Geneva Bible, against Wiclif and Tindale, rendered “they willingly received Him”. So Grotius “non quod non receperint, sed quod cupide admodum”. So, too, Sanday: “The stress is really on the willingness of the disciples, ‘Before they shrank back through fear, but now they were glad to receive Him’ ”. And this seems right. The R.V has “they were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat”. The καί with which the next clause is introduced is slightly against the supposition that Jesus was not actually taken into the boat (but see Weiss in loc.); and the Synoptic account represents Jesus as getting into the boat with Peter. The immediate arrival at the shore was evidently a surprise to those on board. Sanday thinks that the Apostle was so occupied with his devout conclusions that he did not notice the motion of the boat.
 Authorised Version.
 Revised Version.
Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;John 6:22-24 form one sentence, in which John describes the observations made by the crowd the following morning and their consequent action. The observations they made are described under ἰδών, which never finds its verb, but is resumed in ὅτε οὖν εἴδεν of John 6:24; and their consequent action is described in the main verbs of the sentence ἐμέβησαν (John 6:24) καὶ ᾖλθον. With the unconscious but accurate observation of a fishing population in such matters, the crowd had noticed that there was only one boat lying on the beach at that point, and further that the disciples had gone away in it and had not taken Jesus with them. But in the morning, having presumably passed the night in the open air, and having gathered at the lake-side below the scene of the miracle, they found that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there. Apparently they expected that the disciples would have returned for Jesus, and that they might find both Him and them on the shore. Disappointed in this expectation, and concluding that Jesus had returned by land as He had come, or had left in one of the Tiberias boats, they themselves entered the boats from Tiberias, which had been driven ashore by the gale of the previous night, and crossed to Capernaum. This account of the movements and motives of the crowd seems to give each expression its proper force. The fact parenthetically introduced, John 6:23, that boats from Tiberias had put in on the east shore, is an incidental confirmation of the truth that a gale had been blowing the night before. What portion of the belated crowd went back to Capernaum in these Tiberias boats we do not know.—εὑρόντες αὐτὸν πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης, having found Him on the other side of the lake, that is, on the Capernaum side, εἶπον … γέγονας, “they said to Him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” “Quaestio de tempore includit quaestionem de modo” (Bengel). For this use of γέγονας cf. John 6:19; and Cebes, Tabula, πρὸς τὸν ἰατρὸν γινόμενος, and Lucian, Asinus, ἐπεὶ δὲ πλησίον τῆς πόλεως ἐγεγόνειμεν (Kypke). They came seeking Him, but were surprised to find Him. To their question Jesus makes no direct reply. He does not tell them of His walking on the water.
In John 6:26-65 we have the conversation arising out of the miracle. The first break in it is at John 6:41. From John 6:26-40 Jesus explains that He is the Bread of Life.
(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.John 6:26. Ἀμὴν … ἐχορτάσθητε. In this pursuing crowd Jesus sees no evidence of faith or spiritual hunger, but only of carnality and misunderstanding. Ye follow me οὐχ ὅτι εἴδετε σημεῖα, “not because you saw signs,” not because in the feeding of the 5000 and other miracles you saw the Kingdom of God and glimpses of a spiritual world, ἀλλʼ ὅτι ἐφάγετε ἐκ τῶν ἄρτων καὶ ἐχορτάσθητε, but because you received a physical satisfaction. This gave the measure of their Messianic expectation. He was the true Messiah who could maintain them in life without toil. Sense clamours and spirit has no hunger.—χορτάζειν, from χόρτος, means “to give fodder to animals,” and was used of men only “as a depreciatory term”. In later Greek it is used freely of satisfying men; see Kennedy’s Sources of N.T. Greek, p. 80; Lightfoot on Php 4:12.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.John 6:27. ἐργάζεσθε … ὑμῖν δώσει. “Work not for the meat which perisheth.” ἐργάζομαι means “I earn by working,” “I acquire,” see passages cited by Thayer in voc. The food which He had given them the evening before He called βρῶσιν ἀπολλυμένην: they were already hungry again, and had toiled after Him for miles to get another meal. Rather must they seek τὴν βρῶσιν … αἰώνιον, the food which abides εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, that is, which is not consumed in the eating but rather grows as it is enjoyed. Cf. John 4:14. This food ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὑμῖν δώσει. He does not call Himself “the Prophet,” as they had called Him yesterday, because this would have excited false expectations; but in calling Himself the Son of Man He suggests His sympathy with all human wants and at the same time indicates to the initiated that He claims the Messiahship. The guarantee is given in the words τοῦτον γὰρ … ὁ θεός, “For Him hath the Father, God, sealed”. By giving the Son the miracle of the previous day and other signs to do, the Father has sealed or authenticated Him as the Giver of that which nourishes life everlasting. [For the idea, approved by Delitzsch, that the seal refers to the stamping of loaves with the name of the maker, see O. T. Student, Sept, 1883, and Expositor, 1885. Elsner with more reason cites passages showing that a person ordering a banquet gave his seal to the slave or steward commissioned to provide it: and thus that Christ here declares “se a Patre constitutum esse ad suppeditandum Ecclesiae salutarem cibum”. The various meanings of the word are given by Suicer.] Some at least of the crowd are impressed; and conscious that their toil was, as Jesus said, commonly misdirected, they ask Him (John 6:28) τί ποιοῦμεν [better, ποιῶμεν] ἵνα ἐργαζώμεθα τὰ ἔργα τοῦ θεοῦ; that is, how can we so labour as to satisfy God? What precisely is it that God waits for us to do, and will be satisfied with our doing? To which Jesus, always ready to meet the sincere inquirer, gives the explicit answer (John 6:29) τοῦτό ἐστι … ἐκεῖνος. If God has sent a messenger it is because there is need of such interposition, and the first duty must be to listen believingly to this messenger. To this demand that they should accept Him as God’s ambassador they reply (John 6:30) τί οὖν ποιεῖς … “Judaeis proprium erat signa quaerere,” 1 Corinthians 1:22, Lampe. Grotius and Lücke think this asking for a sign could not have proceeded from those who saw the miracle of the previous day. But Lampe rightly argues that they were the same people, and that they did not consider either the miracle of the previous day or the ordinary cures wrought by Jesus to be sufficient evidence of His present claim.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.John 6:31. This is proved by the suggestion added in John 6:31. οἱ πατέρες … φαγεῖν; they demanded that He as Messiah should make good His claim by outdoing Moses. Schoettgen and Lightfoot quote from Rabbinical literature a relevant and significant saying: “Qualis fuit redemptor primus (Moses) talis erit redemptor ultimus (Messias). Redemptor prior descendere fecit pro iis Manna, sic et Redemptor posterior descendere faciet Manna, sicut scriptum est,” Psalm 73:16. See other instructive passages in Lightfoot. According to this expectation that the Messiah would feed His people supernaturally the crowd now insinuate that though Jesus had given them bread He had not fulfilled the expectation and given them bread from heaven. (For the expression “bread of heaven” see Exodus 14:4 and Psalm 78:23-24.) To this challenge to fulfil Messianic expectation by showing Himself greater than Moses Jesus replies (John 6:32), οὐ Μωσῆς … ἀληθινόν. A double denial; not Moses, but “my Father” s the giver, and although the manna was in a sense “bread from heaven” it was not “the true bread from heaven,” τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τὸν ἀληθινόν. This my Father is now giving to you; ὁ γὰρ ἄρτος … τῷ κόσμῳ.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.John 6:33. Moses therefore could not give this bread, since it comes down out of heaven. It is characterised by two attributes: (1) it is ὁ καταβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, that which cometh down out of heaven—not, as Godet renders, “He who cometh down from heaven”; at least the request of John 6:34 shows that those who heard the words did not take them in this sense; (2) the other characteristic of the bread of God is that it giveth life to the world; a fuller life-giving power than that of the manna is implied; and it is of universal application and not merely to their fathers. Hearing this description of “the bread of God” the crowd exclaim (John 6:34) Κύριε, πάντοτε δὸς ἡμῖν τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον, precisely as the woman of Samaria had exclaimed Κύριε δός μοι τοῦτο τὸ ὕδωρ, when Jesus had disclosed to her the properties of the living water. And as in her case the direct request brought the conversation to a crisis, so here it elicits the central declaration of all His exposition of the bearing of the miracle: Ἐγὼ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς. [It is not impossible that some of them may have had a glimmering of what He meant and uttered their request with some tincture of spiritual desire; for among the Rabbis there was a saying, “In seculo venturo neque edunt neque bibunt, sed justi sedent cum coronis suis in capitibus et aluntur splendore majestatis divinae”.] “I am the bread of life,” “I am the living bread” (John 6:51, in a somewhat different sense), “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:41), or, “the true bread from heaven”—all these designations our Lord uses, and that the people may quite understand what is meant, He adds ὁ ἐρχόμενος … πώποτε. The repetition of the required action ὁ ἐρχόμενος, and ὁ πιστεύων, and of the result οὐ μὴ πεινάσῃ, and οὐ μὴ διψήσῃ, is for clearness and emphasis, not for addition to the meaning. The “believing” explains the “coming”; and the “quenching of thirst” more explicitly conveys the meaning of “never hungering,” that all innocent and righteous cravings and aspirations shall be gratified. The “coming” was not that physical approach which they had adopted in pursuing Him to Capernaum, but such a coming as might equally well be called “believing,” a spiritual approach, implying the conviction that He was what He claimed to be, the medium through which God comes to man, and man to God.
Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.John 6:36. But although God and this perfect satisfaction were brought so near them, they did not believe: ἀλλʼ εἶπον … πιστεύετε. Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Godet, Weiss, etc., understand that εἶπον refers to John 6:26. Euthymius, preferably, says εἰκὸς τοῦτο ῥηθῆναι μὲν, μὴ γραφῆναι δέ. Lampe gives the alternatives without determining. Undoubtedly, although the reference may not be directly to John 6:26, the ἑωράκατε means seeing Jesus in the exercise of His Messianic functions, doing the works given Him by the Father to do. But seeing is not in this case believing. It was found very possible to be in His company and to eat the provision He miraculously provided, and yet disbelieve. If so, what could produce belief? Might not His entire manifestation fail to accomplish its purpose?
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.John 6:37. No; for πᾶν ὃ δίδωσι … ἥξει. “Everything which the Father gives”; the neuter is used as being more universal than the masculine and including everything which the Father determines to save from the world’s wreck, viewed as a totality. Cf. John 6:39. ἀναστήσω αὐτό: and the collective neuter, as in Thucyd., iii. 16, τὸ ἐπιόν for τοὺς ἐπιόντας. Lampe thinks the neuter is used, “quia hae personae spectantur ut reale peculium, haereditas, merces, genus, semen, sacerdotium, sanctuarium Domini”. What is meant by δίδωσι? It is an act on God’s part prior to the “coming” on man’s part; the coming is the result of the giving. Calvinistic interpreters have therefore identified the giving with election. “Donandi verbum perinde valet ac si dixisset Christus, quos elegit Pater, eos regenerat”—Calvin. “Patrem dare filio est eligere”—Melanchthon; and similarly Beza and Lampe. On the other hand, Reynolds represents a number of interpreters when he says, “It is the present activity of the Father’s grace that is meant, not a foregone conclusion”. This identifies the Father’s “giving” with His “drawing,” John 6:44. It would rather seem to be that which determines the drawing, the assigning to Jesus of certain persons who shall form His kingdom. This perhaps involves election but is not identical with it. Cf. John 17:6. Euthymius replies, from a Semi-Pelagian point of view, to the objections which arise from an Augustinian interpretation of the words. The purpose of the verse is to impart assurance that Christ’s work will not fail. καὶ τὸν ἐρχόμενον … ἔξω. Grotius thinks the “casting out” refers to the School of Christ; Lücke thinks the kingdom is referred to. It is scarcely necessary to think of anything more than Christ’s presence or fellowship. This strong asseveration οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω, and concentrated Gospel which has brought hope to so many, is here grounded on the will of the Father.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.John 6:38-39. ὅτι καταβέβηκα … ἡμέρᾳ. Everywhere Jesus forestalls the idea that He is speaking for Himself, and is uttering merely human judgments, or is in any way regulated in His action by what is arbitrary: it is the Supreme Will He represents. And this will requires Him to protect and provide for all that is committed to Him. ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκέ μοι, on this nominative absolute, see Lücke or Raphel, who justify it by many instances. The positive and negative aspects of the Redeemer’s work, and the permanence of its results, are indicated. On ἀναστήσω … ἡμέρᾳ, Bengel says: “Hic finis est ultra quem periculum nullum,” and Calvin finely: “Sit ergo hoc animis nostris infixum porrectam esse nobis manum a Christo, ut nos minime in medio cursu deserat, sed quo ejus ductu freti secure ad diem ultimum oculos attollere audeamus”. It is a perfect and enduring salvation the Father has designed to give us in Christ.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.John 6:40. In John 6:40 Jesus describes the recipients of salvation from the human side, πᾶς ὁ θεωρῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτόν, the latter, “believing,” being necessary, as already shown, to complete the former. The neuter πᾶν necessarily gives place to the masculine. καὶ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸν ἐγὼ τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. This promise recurs like a refrain, John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54; each time the ἐγώ is expressed and emphatic, “I, this same person who here stands before you, I and no other”. Christ gives His hearers the assurance that in this respect He is superior to Moses, that the life He gives is not confined to this present time. In itself it is a stupendous declaration.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.John 6:41-51. In this paragraph we are first told how the Jews were staggered by our Lord’s affirming that He had come down from heaven; second, how Jesus explains that in order to understand and receive Him they must be taught of God; and third, how He reiterates His claim to be the Bread of Life, adding now the explanation that it is His flesh which He will give for the life of the world.
John 6:41. Ἐγόγγυζον … οὐρανοῦ. “The Jews,” not as we might expect, “the Galileans,” probably because John identifies this unbelieving crowd with the characteristically unbelieving Jews. ἐγόγγυζον in Exodus 16:7-9, 1 Corinthians 10:10, etc., has a note of malevolence, but in John 7:32 no such note. “Murmur” thus corresponds to it, as carrying both meanings. The ground of their murmuring was His asserting Ἐγώ εἰμι … οὐρανοῦ. Cf. John 6:33, ὁ καταβαίνων, and John 6:38, καταβέβηκα. Lücke says: “When John makes the descent from heaven the essential, inherent predicate of the bread, he uses the present: when the descent from heaven is regarded as a definite fact in the manifestation of Christ, the aorist”. They not merely could not understand how this could be true, but they considered that they had evidence to the contrary (John 6:42), καὶ ἔλεγον, Οὐχ … καταβέβηκα; the emphatic ἡμεῖς more clearly discloses their thought. We ourselves know where He comes from. The road from heaven, they argued, could not be through human birth. This was one of the real difficulties of the contemporaries of Jesus. The Messiah was to come “in the clouds,” suddenly to appear; but Jesus had quietly grown up among them. From this passage an argument against the miraculous birth of our Lord has been drawn. The murmurers represent the current belief that He had a father and mother, and in His reply Jesus does not repudiate His father. But He could not be expected to enter into explanations before a promiscuous crowd. As Euthymius says: He passes by His miraculous birth, “lest in removing one stumbling block He interpose another”. To explain is hopeless.
And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.John 6:43. Therefore He merely says Μὴ γογγύζετε μετʼ ἀλλήλων. That was not the way to light. Nor could He expect to convince all of them, for οὐδεὶς … ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, “no one can come to me unless the Father who hath sent me draw him”. ἑλκύειν has the same latitude of meaning as “draw”. It is used of towing a ship, dragging a cart, or pulling on a rope to set sails. But it is also used, John 12:32, of a gentle but powerful moral attraction; “I, if I be lifted up, ἑλκύσω, will draw, etc.” Here, however, it is an inward disposing of the soul to come to Christ, and is the equivalent of the Divine teaching of John 6:45. And what is affirmed is that without this action of God on the individual no one can come to Christ. In order to apprehend the significance of Christ and to give ourselves to Him we must be individually and inwardly aided by God. [Augustine says: “Si trahitur, ait aliquis, invitus venit. Si invitus venit, non credit, si non credit, nec venit. Non enim ad Christum ambulando currimus, sed credendo, nec motu corporis, sed voluntate cordis accedimus. Noli te cogitare invitum trahi: trahitur animus et amore.” And Calvin says: “Quantum ad trahendi modum spectat, non est ille quidem violentus qui hominem cogat externo impulsu, sed tamen efficax est motus Spiritus Sancti, qui homines ex nolentibus et invitis reddit voluntarios”. All that Calvin objects to is that men should be said “proprio motu” to yield themselves to the Divine drawing. cf. a powerful passage from Luther’s De libero Arbitrio quoted in Lampe; or as Beza concisely puts it: “Verum quidem est, neminem credere invitum, quum Fides sit assensus. Sed volumus quia datum est nobis ut velimus.”]
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.John 6:45. In confirmation of His assertion in John 6:44, Jesus, as is His wont, cites Scripture: ἔστι γεγραμμένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, that is, it is written in that part of Scripture known as “the Prophets”. The passage cited is Isaiah 54:13, where, in describing Messianic times, the prophet says, “Thy children shall all be taught of God,” ἔσονται πάντες διδακτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, and what this being taught of God means He more fully explains in the words πᾶς οὖν … μαθὼν, “every one who has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me”. Both the hearing and the learning refer to an inward spiritual process. The outward teaching of Scripture and of Christ Himself was enjoyed by all the people He was addressing; but they did not come to Him. It is therefore an inward and individual illumination by the special operation of God that enables men to come to Christ. Whether these verses teach “irresistible grace” may be doubted. That they teach the doctrine which Augustine asserted against Pelagius, viz., that power to use grace must itself be given by God, is undeniable. That is affirmed in the statement that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draw him. But whether it is also true that every one whom God teaches comes is not here stated; the καὶ μαθὼν introduces a doubtful element. [Wetstein quotes from Polybius διαφέρει τὸ μαθεῖν τοῦ μόνον ἀκοῦσαι.]
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.John 6:46. Lest His hearers should suppose that in Messianic times direct knowledge of God was to be communicated, He adds, οὐχ ὅτι τὸν πατέρα τις ἑώρακεν, it is not by direct vision men are to learn of God. One alone has direct perception of the Father, ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, He whose origin is Divine; not ὁ ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ Θεοῦ, a designation which belonged to all prophets, but He whose Being is directly derived from God. Similarly, in John 7:29, we find Jesus saying ἐγὼ οἶδα αὐτόν ὅτι παρʼ αὐτοῦ εἰμί καὶ ἐκεῖνός με ἀπέστειλεν, where the source of the mission and the source of the being are separately mentioned. To refer this exclusive vision of the Father to any earthly experience seems out of the question. No one who was not more than man could thus separate himself from all men. See John 1:18. Having thus explained that they could not believe in Him without having first been taught of God, He returns (John 6:47) to the affirmation of John 6:40, ἀμὴν … ζωῆς. Their unbelief does not alter the fact, nor weaken His assurance of the fact. This consciousness of Messiahship was so identified with His spiritual experience and existence that nothing could shake it. But now He adds a significant confirmation of His claim.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.John 6:49-50. οἱ πατέρες … μὴ ἀποθάνῃ, “Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and died: this is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die”. In other words: The manna which was given to your fathers to maintain them in physical, earthly life, could not assert its power against death, and maintain them continually in life. Your fathers died physically. The bread which comes down from heaven does not give physical life; it is not sent for that purpose, but the life which it is given to maintain, it maintains in continuance and precludes death. Taken in connection with the context, the words interpret themselves. Godet however says: “Jesus, both here and elsewhere, certainly denies even physical death in the case of the believer. Cf. John 8:51. That which properly constitutes death, in what we call by this name, is the total cessation of moral and physical existence. Now this fact does not take place in the case of the believer at the moment when his friends see him die.” This seems to misrepresent the fact of death for the sake of misrepresenting the present passage.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.John 6:51. In John 6:51 Jesus adds two fresh terms in explanation of the living bread, which, however, through their want of apprehension, increased their difficulty. The first is ἐγώ εἰμι … ζωῆς. In giving this explanation He slightly alters the designation of Himself as the Bread: He now claims to be not “the bread of life,” but ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν, “the living bread”. Godet says: “The manna, as not itself living, could never impart life. But Jesus, because He Himself lives, can give life.” That is correct, but is not the full meaning. ὁ ζῶν contrasts the bread with the βρῶσις ἀπολλυμένη; and as “living water” is water running from a fountain in perpetual stream, and not a measured quantity in a tank, so “living bread” is bread which renews itself in proportion to all needs like the bread of the miracle. The second fresh intimation now made is ὁ ἄρτος ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω ἡ σάρξ μου ἐστίν … This intimation is linked to the foregoing by a double conjunction καὶ ὁ ἄρτος δέ, “and besides” indicating, according to classical usage, a new aspect or expansion of what has been said. The new intimation is at first sight an apparent limitation: instead of “I am the bread,” He now says “My flesh is the bread”. Accordingly some interpreters suppose that by “flesh” the whole manifestation of Christ in human nature is meant. Cf. ὁ λόγος σάρξ ἐγένετο. Thus Westcott says: “The life of the world in the highest sense springs from the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. By His Incarnation and Resurrection the ruin and death which sin brought in are overcome. The thought here is of support and growth, and not of Atonement.” To this there are two objections. (1) If σάρξ is equivalent to the whole manifestation of Christ in the flesh, this is not a new statement, but a repetition of what has already been said. And (2) the δώσω compels us to think of a giving yet future. Besides, the turn taken by the conversation, John 6:53-57, seems to point rather to the atoning sacrifice of Christ. [So Euthymius: τὴν σταύρωσιν αὐτοῦ προσημαίνει. τὸ δὲ, ἣν ἐγὼ δώσω, τὸ ἑκούσιον ἐμφαίνει τοῦ τοιούτου πάθους. So too Cyril: Ἀποθνήσκω, φησὶν, ὑπὲρ πάντων, ἵνα πάντας ζωοποιήσω διʼ ἐμαυτοῦ, καὶ ἀντίλυτρον τῆς ἁπάντων σαρκὸς τὴν ἐμὴν ἐποιησάμην. Bengel says: “Tota haec de carne et sanguine Jesu Christi oratio passionem spectat”. Beza even finds in δώσω the sense “offeram Patri in ara crucis”.] The giving of His flesh, a still future giving which is spoken of as a definite act, is, then, most naturally referred to the death on the cross. This was to be ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς, “for the sake of the life of the world”. ὑπέρ when used in connection with sacrifice tends to glide into ἀντί; see the Alcestis of Eurip. passim and Lampe’s note on this verse. Here, however, the idea of substitution is not present. It is only hinted that somehow the death of Christ is needed for the world’s life. This statement, however, only bewilders the crowd; and the next paragraph, John 6:52-59, gives expression to and deals with this bewilderment.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?John 6:52. Ἐμάχοντο … The further explanations sprang from a fresh question put not directly to Jesus, but to one or other of the crowd. They differed in their judgment of Him. Some impatiently denounced Him as insane: others suggesting that there was truth in His words. The discussion all tended to the question πῶς δύναται … φαγεῖν. He had only spoken of “giving” His flesh for the life of the world: but they not unreasonably concluded that if so, it must be eaten. Their mistake lay in thinking of a physical eating.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.John 6:53-54. εἶπεν οὖν … ἡμέρᾳ. Instead of explaining the mode Jesus merely reiterates the statement. The reason of this is that their attention was thus more likely to be fixed on the necessity of using Him as the living bread. The difficulty of the statement disappears when it is perceived that the figure of speech is not to be found in the words “flesh” and “blood,” but in the words “eating” and “drinking”. The actual flesh and blood, the human life of Christ, was given for men; and men eat His flesh and drink His blood, when they use for their own advantage His sacrifice, when they assimilate to their own being all the virtue that was in Him, and that was manifested for their sakes. As Lücke points out, the σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα form together one conception and are equivalent to the με of John 6:57. If αἷμα stood alone it might refer especially to the death of Christ, but taken along with σάρξ it is more natural to refer the double expression to the whole manifestation of Christ; and the “eating and drinking” can only mean the complete acceptance of Him and union with Him as thus manifested. [τρώγω, originally the munching of herbivorous animals, was latterly applied to ordinary human eating.]
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.John 6:55-56. This is further shown in John 6:55-56. ἡ γὰρ σάρξ μου ἀληθῶς [better ἀληθής] ἐστι βρῶσις, “For my flesh is a genuine food and my blood is a genuine drink”; with an implied contrast to those things with which men ordinarily endeavour to satisfy themselves. The satisfying, genuine character of Christ as the bread consists especially in this, that ὁ τρώγων … ἐν ἐμοὶ μένει κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ. He becomes as truly assimilated to the life of the individual as the nourishing elements in food enter into the substance of the body. The believer abides in Christ as finding his life in Him (Galatians 2:20); and Christ abides in the believer, continually imparting to him what constitutes spiritual life. For in Christ man reaches the source of all life in the Father (John 6:57), καθὼς ἀπέστειλέ με ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ … διʼ ἐμέ. The living Father has sent Christ forth as the bearer of life. He lives διὰ τὸν πατέρα, not equivalent to διὰ τοῦ πατρός, through or by means of the Father, but “because of,” or “by reason of the Father”. The Father is the cause of my life; I live because the Father lives. [Beza quotes from the Plutus of Aristoph., 470, the declaration of Penia that μόνην Ἀγαθῶν ἁπάντων οὖσαν αἰτίαν ἐμὲ Ὑμῖν, διʼ ἐμέ τε ζῶντας ὑμᾶς.] The Father is the absolute source of life; the Son is the bearer of that life to the world; cf. John 5:26, where the same dependence of the Son on the Father for life is expressed. The second member of the comparison, introduced by καί (see Winer, p. 548; and the Nic. Ethics, passim), is not, as Chrys. and Euthymius suggest, κἀγὼ ζῶ, but καὶ ὁ τρώγων με, κἀκεῖνος ζήσεται (better ζῆσει) διʼ ἐμέ. (For the form of the sentence cf. John 10:14.) Every one that eateth Christ will by that connection participate in the life of God.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.John 6:58. οὗτός ἐστιν … αἰῶνα. These characteristics, now mentioned, identify this bread from heaven as something of a different and superior nature to the manna.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.John 6:59. With his usual exact specification of time and place John adds ταῦτα … ἐν Καφαρναούμ. Lampe says: “Colligi etiam inde potest, quod haec acciderint in Sabbato”; but the synagogue was available for teaching on other days, and it is not likely that on a Sabbath so many persons would have followed Him across the lake.
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?John 6:60-71. The crisis in Galilee.
John 6:60. Πολλοὶ οὖν … ἀκούειν; many of His disciples [i.e., of the larger and more loosely attached circle of His followers, as distinct from the Twelve, John 6:67] having heard the foregoing utterances, said Σκληρός ἐστιν οὗτος ὁ λόγος. Σκληρός is rather “hard to receive” than “hard to understand”. Abraham found the command to cast out Hagar σκληρός, Genesis 21:11. Euripides opposes σκληρʼ ἀληθῆ, distasteful, uncompromising truths to μαλθακὰ ψευδή, flattering falsehoods (Frag., 75, Wetstein). The λόγος referred to was especially, John 6:58, οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς as is proved by John 6:61-62. But this must be taken together with His statement in John 6:51, that He would give His flesh, and the development of this idea in John 6:53-54, τίς δύναται αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν; “who can listen to Him?”
When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?John 6:61. This apparently was said out of the hearing of Jesus, for John 6:61 says εἰδὼς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν ἑαυτῷ, “Jesus knowing in Himself,” that is, perceiving that they were murmuring, He intuitively understood what it was they were stumbling at, and said τοῦτο ὑμᾶς … πρότερον; “Does this saying stumble you? If then ye see the Son of Man ascending where He was before—” What are we to supply? Either, Will you not be much more scandalised? Or, Will you not then be convinced? According to the former, the sense would be: If now you say, how can this Man give us His flesh to eat? much more will you then say so when His flesh wholly disappears. But the second interpretation gives the better sense: You will find it easier to believe I came down from heaven, when you see me returning thither. Cf. John 3:13; John 13:3. You will then recognise also in what sense I said that you must eat my flesh. τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστι τὸ ζωοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν. It was therefore the spirit animating the flesh in His giving of it which profited; not the external sacrifice of His body, but the spirit which prompted it was efficacious. The acceptance of God’s judgment of sin, the devotedness to man and perfect harmony with God, shown in the cross, is what brings life to the world; and it is this Spirit men are invited to partake of. It is therefore not a fleshly but a spiritual transaction of which I have been speaking to you. [Bengel excellently: “Non sola Deitas Christi, nec solus Spiritus sanctus significatur, sed universe Spiritus, cui contradistinguitur caro”.] τὰ ῥήματα … ἐστιν, His entire discourse at Capernaum, and whatever other sayings He had uttered, were spirit and life. It was through what He said that He made Himself known and offered Himself to them. To those who believed His words, spirit and life came in their believing. By believing they were brought into contact with the life in Him.
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.John 6:64. But τινὲς οὐ πιστεύουσιν, and therefore do not receive the life. This Jesus said ἤδει γὰρ … αὐτόν, for Jesus knew from the first who they were that believed not, and who it was who should betray Him. “Hoc ideo addidit Evangelista, ne quis putet temere judicasse Christum de suis auditoribus,” Calvin. Euthymius says it illustrates His forbearance. ἐξ ἀρχῆς, from the beginning of His connection with individuals. Weiss supposes it means from the beginning of their not believing. He gave utterance to this knowledge in John 6:26. He even knew who it was who should betray Him. This is said in anticipation of John 6:70-71. This declaration raises the question, Why then did Jesus call Judas to the Apostolate? Holtzmann indeed supposes that this intimation is purely apologetic and intended to show that Jesus was not deceived in appointing Judas. It is unnecessary to increase the difficulty by supposing the ἐξ ἀρχῆς to refer to the time previous to his call. Jesus saw in Judas qualities fitting him to be an Apostle; but seeing him among the others He recognised that he was an unfaithful man. To suppose that He called him in the clear knowledge that he would betray Him is to introduce an unintelligible or artificial element into the action of Christ. [Neither Calvin nor Beza makes any remark on the clause. Bruce, Training of the Twelve; and Reith, in loc., should be consulted.] Jesus already recognised in what manner His death would be compassed: by treachery. The fact stated in John 6:64, that some of His own disciples could yet not believe in Him, illustrates the truth of what He had said, John 6:44, that no one can come to Him except the Father draw him.
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.John 6:65. He therefore points this out, διὰ τοῦτο … πατρός μου. All that brings men to Christ is the Father’s gift.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.John 6:66. ἐκ τούτου, “on this”; neither exclusively “from this time” ἔκτοτε (Euthymius), “from this moment onwards” (Lücke), nor exclusively “on this account,” but a combination of both. Cf. John 19:12. Here the time is in the foreground, as is shown by the οὐκ ἔτι following. Lampe has: “Qui ab illo tempore Iesum deserebant, clare indicabant, quod propter hunc sermonem istud fecerint”. πολλοὶ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω … περιεπάτουν. Many of those who had up to this time been following Him and listening to His teaching, returned now to their former ways and no longer accompanied Jesus. [ὀπίσω δὲ νόει μοι, καὶ τὸν πρότερον βίον αὐτῶν, εἰς ὃν πάλιν ὑπέστρεψαν, Euthymius.] εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω occurs John 18:6, John 20:14; also Mark 13:16. But the most instructive occurrence is in Psalm 44:18, οὐκ ἀπέστη εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν, where the literal sense passes into the spiritual meaning, apostasy, abandonment of God.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?John 6:67. This giving up of their adherence to Christ was probably manifested in an immediate and physical withdrawal from His presence. For He turned to the Twelve with the words: μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε ὑπάγειν; “Sciebat id non facturos,” Lampe, who adds six reasons for the question, of which the most important are: “ut confessionem illam egregiam eliceret, qua se genuinos discipulos Jesu esse mox probaturi erant”; and “ut edoceret, se nonnisi voluntarios discipulos quaerere”. Probably also that they might be confirmed in their faith by the expression of it, and that He might be gladdened.
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.John 6:68. Simon Peter answered in name of all, Κύριε … ζῶντος. He gives a threefold reason why they remained faithful while others left. (1) πρὸς τίνα ἀπελευσόμεθα; “To whom shall we go away?” implying that they must attach themselves to some one as a teacher and mediator in divine things. They cannot imagine that any one should be to them what already Jesus had been. (2) Especially are they bound to Him. because He has words of eternal life, ῥήματα ζωῆς αἰωνίου ἔχεις. They had experienced that His words were spirit and life, John 6:63. In themselves a new life had been quickened by His words, a life they recognised as the true, highest, eternal life. To have received eternal life from Christ makes it impossible to abandon Him. (3) καὶ ἡμεῖς (John 6:69), “we for our part,” whatever others think, πεπιστεύκαμεν καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν “have believed and know,” cf. 1 John 4:16, ἡμεῖς ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν, which shows we cannot press the order [cf. Augustine’s “credimus ut intelligamus”] but must accept the double expression as a strong asseveration of conviction: we have believed and we know by experience ὅτι σὺ εἶ … ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ occurs in Mark 1:24, Luke 6:34; cf. Acts 3:14; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30; Revelation 3:7. The expression is not Johannine; but the idea of the Messiah as consecrated or set apart is found in John 10:36, ὃν ὁ Πατὴρ ἡγίασε. Peter’s confession here is equivalent to his confession at Caesarea Philippi, recorded in the Synoptic Gospels.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?John 6:70. ἀπεκρίθη … ἐστιν; this reply of Jesus to Peter’s warmhearted confession at first sight seems chilling. Peter had claimed for himself and the rest a perfect loyalty; but this confidence of Peter’s carried in it a danger, and must be abated. Also it was well that the conscience of Judas should be pricked. Therefore Jesus says: Even in this carefully selected circle of men, individually chosen by myself from the mass, there is not the perfect loyalty you boast.—ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν. Even of you one is a devil. Lücke, referring to Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1, where Haman is called ὁ διάβολος, as being “the slanderer,” or “the enemy,” suggests that a similar meaning may be appropriate here. But Jesus calls Peter “Satan” and may much more call Judas “a devil”. Besides in the present connection “traitor” is quite as startling a word as “devil”.
He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.John 6:71. Using the knowledge brought by subsequent events John explains that Judas was meant, ἔλεγε δὲ τὸν Ἰούδαν Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτην [better Ἰσκαριώτου, which shows that the father of Judas was also known as Iscariot], ἔλεγε with the accusative, meaning “He spoke of,” is classical, and see Mark 14:71. The word “Iscariot” is generally supposed to be equivalent to אִישׁ קְרִיּו̇ת, Ish Keriyoth, a man of Kerioth in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:25). Cf. Ishtob, a man of Tob (Joseph., Ant., vii. 6, 1, quoted in Smith’s Dict.). The name Judas now needs no added surname.