John 6:21
Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
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(21) Then they willingly received him.—This is doubtless correct as an interpretation, but it is too full for a translation. The Greek cannot mean more than, “Then they were willing to receive Him.” They are re-assured by His voice, and their fears cease. That they did receive Him into the ship is stated by St. Matthew and St. Mark, and is implied here. That the words may mean more than a “wish” to receive Him is shown by St. John’s usage in John 1:44; John 5:35; John 8:34.

And immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.—Better, . . . whither they were going. It follows from John 6:19 that they were at this time about half-way across the lake—i.e., from two to three miles from the shore. No such explanation as that they were near the shore, but in the darkness and confusion of the storm did not know it, is consistent with the plain meaning of these definite words. On the other hand, it is not necessary to suppose that St. John here adds the narrative of another miracle. Where all was miraculous this may well, indeed, have been thought so too; but the analogy of the miracles of our Lord does not lead us to expect the use of divine power to accomplish what was within the reach of human effort. It would on this supposition be difficult to understand why the earlier Gospels omit what would surely have seemed to be among the greatest miracles, and why St. John mentions it only in a passing sentence. The words appear rather to contrast the ease and rapidity with which the second half of the voyage was accomplished in His presence, before which the winds and waves were hushed into a calm, and their fears and doubts passed into courage and hope; with the first half, when the sea kept rising, and a strong wind kept blowing, and they rowed against it for five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs. The word rendered “immediately”—which is more exactly our straight-way—may find its full meaning in the straight line of the boat’s after-course, as contrasted with its being tossed hither and thither during the storm. The whole context seems to find its full meaning in the sense of difficulty and danger before our Lord was received into the boat, and in the sense of safety and peace afterwards. The Psalmist of the English Christian Year has expressed this in familiar words—

“Thou Framer of the light and dark,

Steer through the tempest Thine own ark;

Amid the howling wintry sea

We are in port if we have Thee.”

It is scarcely too much to think that the familiar words of him who is Psalmist of Jewish and Christian year alike were present to the mind of St. John—

“For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind,

Which lifteth up the waves of (the deep).

They mount up to the heaven,

They go down again to the depths:

Their soul is melted because of trouble.

He maketh the storm a calm,

So that the waves thereof are still.

Then are they glad because they be quiet;

So he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”

(See the whole passage, Psalm 107:23-33.)

The miracle is followed in the other accounts by the healings in the land of Genesareth. (See Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-56.) For St. John the whole leads up to the discourse at Capernaum. He has told how our Lord and the disciples have crossed again to the west of the lake, but the narrative at once returns to the multitude who have seen the sign, and for whom there remains the interpretation.

6:15-21 Here were Christ's disciples in the way of duty, and Christ was praying for them; yet they were in distress. There may be perils and afflictions of this present time, where there is an interest in Christ. Clouds and darkness often surround the children of the light and of the day. They see Jesus walking on the sea. Even the approaches of comfort and deliverance often are so mistaken, as to become the occasions of fear. Nothing is more powerful to convince sinners than that word, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; nothing more powerful to comfort saints than this, I am Jesus whom thou lovest. If we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, though the night be dark, and the wind high, yet we may comfort ourselves, we shall be at the shore before long.Immediately - Quickly. Before a long time. How far they were from the land we know not, but there is no evidence that there was a miracle in the case. The word translated "immediately" does not of necessity imply that there was no interval of time, but that there was not a long interval. Thus, in Matthew 13:5, in the parable of the sower, "and immediately (the same word in Greek) they sprung up," etc., Mark 4:17; Matthew 24:29; 3 John 1:14. 21. willingly received him into the ship—their first fears being now converted into wonder and delight.

and immediately the ship was at the land—This additional miracle, for as such it is manifestly related, is recorded here alone. Yet all that is meant seems to be that as the storm was suddenly calmed, so the little bark—propelled by the secret power of the Lord of Nature now sailing in it—glided through the now unruffled waters, and while they were wrapt in wonder at what had happened, not heeding their rapid motion, was found at port, to their still further surprise.

See Poole on "John 6:17"

Then they willingly received him into the ship,.... When they knew who he was; and especially he was the more welcome, as they were in distress; and he able, as they well knew, to help them:

and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went; which was done, as Nonnus observes, by a divine motion; for not only the wind ceased, but another miracle was wrought; the ship was in an instant at the place whither they intended to go.

Then they {c} willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

(c) They were afraid at first, but when they recognized his voice they became new men and took him willingly into the ship, the very one whom they had shunned and fled from before.

21. they willingly received him] Rather, they were willing to receive Him. The mistranslation seems to have arisen from a wish to make this account agree with that of S. Matthew and S. Mark, who say that he entered the boat. It is probably due to Beza, who for the Vulgate’s voluerunt recipere substitutes volente animo receperunt. S. John leaves us in doubt whether He entered the boat or not; he is not correcting the other two accounts: this would require ‘but before He could enter it the boat was at the land.’

immediately] We are probably to understand that this was miraculous; not a mere favourable breeze which brought them to land before they had recovered from their surprise: but the point is uncertain and unimportant.

whither they went] Better, whither they were going, or intending to go. The imperfect tense helps to bring out the contrast between the difficulty of the first half of the voyage, when they were alone, and the ease of the last half, when He was with them. The word for ‘going’ implies departure, and looks back to the place left.

The Walking on the Sea cannot be used as evidence that the writer held Docetic views about Christ, i.e. believed that His Body was a mere phantom. A Docetist would have made more of the incident, and would hardly have omitted the cry of the disciples ‘It is a spirit’ (Matthew 14:26; comp. Mark 6:49). Docetism is absolutely excluded from this Gospel by John 1:14, and by the general tone of it throughout. Comp. John 19:34-35, John 20:20; John 20:27.

John 6:21. [124] Ἤθελον λαβεῖν, they were willing to receive [they willingly received]) A concise mode of expression: there is to be understood, and received.—εὐθέως, immediately) A new miracle.

[124] καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν, and they were afraid) The night dark, the wind violent, the sea stormy, and the nearness of the spirit, as they supposed it to be, were striking terror into them.—V. g.

Verse 21. - Then they were willing to receive him into the ship: and straightway the ship was at the land whither they were going. Some expositors, who find discrepancy between this statement and that of the synoptists, say, "they were willing, but did not do it," because the vessel is said by some remarkable process to have been miraculously propelled to the shore (so Lucke, Meyer). There are many passages, however, where a similar expression is used, and where no doubt arises that that which the actors were willing to do they actually did (see Mark 12:38; certainly scribes were not only willing to, but actually did, wear long robes). Chrysostom felt this difficulty, and actually proposed to read η΅λθον instead of ἤθελον, which would remove the difficulty; and א veritably contains this reading, but it has every appearance of an unauthorized correction. The imperfect tense implies a lengthened willingness supervening on fear and outcry - a willingness or wish increased by the sound of his voice, following his first action, his apparent resolve to pass by them; and, still more, by the incident described in Matthew's Gospel, of Peter's desire to display the strength of his faith and the eminence of his position among the twelve. This occupied time, during which the wind may have been bearing them briskly in their true direction. They willed, wished, to take him into the ship, and did so, and the calm supervened as described in Matthew and Mark. Their wish is not frustrated by the fact now mentioned, but accompanied by it. "Straightway," etc. Most expositors confess this to be an additional miracle, that the twenty furlongs or thereabouts (two miles and a half) were suddenly traversed and miraculously abolished. There would be a greater miracle in this than in the two events which preceded. The annihilation of space and time is the obliteration of the very categories of thought, and would, if conveyed by the statement, suggest a stupendous and, so far as we can see, a useless portent. It would strongly tempt us to accept the rationalistic interpretation. Αὐθέως does not always mean "instantaneously," but simply that the next thing to notice or observe was the fact described. Take Mark 1:21, 29. It does not mean that any miraculous rapidity characterized the movement of Christ to the house of Simon and Andrew (Mark 4:17; Galatians 1:16 3John 14 John 13:32; and many other passages). The author of the "Christian Year" has consecrated in sweet lines the supposed addition to the miracle -

"Thou Framer of the light and dark,
Steer through the tempest thine own ark;
Amid the howling wintry sea,
We are in port, if we have thee."
But there are so many ways in which this "straightway" may be reconciled with an ordinary disembarkation, that there is no necessity to regard it as implied in John's narrative. John so often leaves gaps unfilled in his chronology and horology that no peat emphasis need be laid upon the annihilation (save in his adoring thought) of the hour before the dawn. John 6:21They willingly received (ἤθελον λαβεῖν)

Wrong. Rev., correctly, they were willing to receive; after being reassured by His voice. The imperfect denotes a continuous state of feeling, not a mere impulsive and temporary wish.

Immediately (εὐθέως)

Whether Jesus actually entered the boat or not, John does not say. The more natural inference is that he did. Both Matthew and Mark say so. Their immediate and miraculous arrival at the shore was simultaneous either with their entertaining the wish to receive Him, or with His actually coming on board. Only John mentions this incident. Matthew and Mark say that the wind ceased.

They went (ὑπῆγον)

Imperfect: were going. Literally, were going away. The verb has the sense of retiring from something. Compare John 6:67; John 7:33, on which see note; John 12:11; John 18:8.

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