John 6:27
Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him has God the Father sealed.
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(27) Labour not for the meat which perisheth.—This is one of the instances in which the reader of the English Bible has in the margin a much better rendering than in the text. Work not shows the verbal connection with John 6:28-30, which is wholly lost in “labour not.” It will be instructive to compare the other passages in this Gospel where the word occurs: John 3:21 (wrought in God); John 5:17; John 9:4. Work not is better than “work not for,” by which the words have been sometimes rendered The sense is, “Work not out—let it not be the result of your constant working—to have food (comp. John 4:32) which perisheth; but let your work be one worthy of your endeavour, food which endureth unto eternal life, which food the Son of Man will give to you.”

For him hath God the Father sealed.—The emphasis of the original is seen better by preserving the order of the words, for Him hath the Father sealed, even God. (Comp. Note on John 3:33.)

6:22-27 Instead of answering the inquiry how he came there, Jesus blamed their asking. The utmost earnestness should be employed in seeking salvation, in the use of appointed means; yet it is to be sought only as the gift of the Son of man. Him the Father has sealed, proved to be God. He declared the Son of man to be the Son of God with power.Labour not - This does not mean that we are to make no effort for the supply of our wants (compare 1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:10), but that we are not to manifest anxiety, we are not to make this the main or supreme object of our desire. See the notes at Matthew 6:25.

The meat that perisheth - The food for the supply of your natural needs. It perishes. The strength you derive from it is soon exhausted, and your wasted powers need to be reinvigorated.

That meat which endureth - The supply of your spiritual wants; that which supports, and nourishes, and strengthens the soul; the doctrines of the gospel, that are to a weak and guilty soul what needful food is to the weary and decaying body.

To everlasting life - The strength derived from the doctrines of the gospel is not exhausted. It endures without wasting away. It nourishes the soul to everlasting life. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint," Isaiah 40:31.

Him hath God the Father sealed - To seal is to confirm or approve as ours. This is done when we set our seal to a compact, or deed, or testament, by which we ratify it as our act. So God the Father, by the miracles which had been performed by Jesus, had shown that he had sent him, that he approved his doctrines, and ratified his works. The miracles were to his doctrine what a seal is to a written instrument. See the notes at John 3:33.

27. which the Son of man—taking that title of Himself which denoted His incarnate life.

shall give unto you—in the sense of Joh 6:51.

him hath God the Father sealed—marked out and authenticated for that transcendent office, to impart to the world the bread of an everlasting life, and this in the character of "the Son of man."

By the bread which perisheth, is not strictly to be understood bread, but whatsoever is necessary or accommodating to us in this life; all things of this nature are perishing, and perish with the using: nor is all labour as to them forbidden us; for we are to the contrary commanded, In the sweat of our face to eat our bread; and the apostle commandeth, that those that will not labour should not eat; and, Proverbs 31:27, the good woman is commended for not eating the bread of idleness: but excessive labour for these things is forbidden. So also is a first and greater labour for and seeking after them, than after

that meat which endureth to everlasting life; under which notion also unquestionably cometh whatsoever is necessary by God’s revealed will, that we may have in us the hopes of glory here, and may enter into the actual possession of that glory hereafter. Such as are, first, the knowledge of the gospel; then the believing of it, and the acceptance of that Saviour, and way of salvation, which God hath revealed in it for lost sinners; and that holiness of life which God hath made necessary to it. All which (saith he) I, who am the Son of man, (a name he ordinarily giveth to himself), will give unto you freely. Not that you are to do nothing; no, labour for it; though it be a gift, yet it is a gift upon labour, for all your labour will not procure it; there will be a great deal of free grace seen when you have given all diligence. And Christ must give it; for the Father, in whose hand this life is, hath (as men by their seals use to confirm the commissions they give out to any persons to do any thing for them, and in their name) confirmed Christ as his commissioner, to give out this eternal life to whomsoever he pleaseth. Labour not for the meat which perisheth,.... Meaning either food for the body, which is perishing; its virtue is perishing; man cannot live by it alone, nor does it last long; its substance is perishing; it is received into the stomach, and there digested; it goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught; and that which it supports, for a while, is perishing; and both the one, and the other, shall be destroyed; even meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: now, though it becomes men to work for their bread, to provide it for themselves and families; yet they should not be anxiously solicitous about it, or labour only for that, and prefer it to spiritual food: or else food for the mind is meant, and that either in a sensual way, as sinful lust and pleasures, the honours of this world, and the riches of it; which are sweet morsels, though bread of deceit, to carnal minds, and which they labour hard for: or, in a religious way, as superstition, will worship, external works of righteousness, in order to please God, and obtain eternal life and salvation; which to labour for in such a way, is to spend money for that which is not bread, and labour for that which profiteth not; and in each of these ways were these Jews labouring for perishing food, from which Christ dissuades them:

but for that which endureth unto everlasting life; either the grace of Christ, which, as meat, is quickening and refreshing, strengthening and supporting, and which causes nourishment and growth, and by virtue of which work is done; and this springs up unto everlasting life, and is inseparably connected with it; and particularly the blessings of grace, such as sanctification, adoption, pardon, and justification: or the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which are refreshing, and strengthening, and by which the saints are nourished up unto everlasting life; or rather the flesh of Christ eaten, in a spiritual sense, by faith, of which Christ so largely discourses in the following part of the chapter:

which the son of man shall give unto you; meaning either everlasting life, which is in Christ's gift, and is a free grace gift of his; or else the meat which endures unto it: for though it is to be laboured for, not so as to prepare it, or to purchase it, but by asking for it in prayer, and by attending on ordinances, and exercising faith on Christ; yet it is his gift, and he gives it freely; grace, and the blessings of it, are freely given by him, and so are the Gospel and its ordinances; and also his own flesh, which is first given by him, by way of sacrifice, in the room and stead of his people, and for the life of them, John 6:51; and then it is given unto them to feed upon spiritually by faith, and which is here designed:

for him hath God the Father sealed; designated and appointed to be the Saviour, and Redeemer of his people, and has sent, authorized, and commissioned him as such; and has made him known, and approved of him, by the descent of the Spirit on him, and by a voice from heaven, declaring him his beloved Son; and has confirmed him to be the Messiah by the miraculous works he gave him to finish; for all which several uses seals are, as to distinguish one thing from another, to render anything authentic, to point it out, or to confirm it.

{d} 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 {e} sealed.

(d) Bestow your labour and pain.

(e) That is, whom God the Father had distinguished from all other men by planting his own power in him, as though he had sealed him with his seal, so that he might be a vivid example and representation of him: and furthermore he installed him to this office, to reconcile us men to God, and bring us to everlasting life, which office belongs only to Christ.

John 6:27. “Strive to obtain, not the food which perisheth, but the food which endureth unto life eternal.” The activity and labour of acquiring implied in ἐργάζεσθαι (laborando sibi comparare; comp. ἐργάζ. τὰ ἐπιτήδεια, Dem. 1358. 12; ἐργάζ. βρῶμα, Palaeph. xxi. 2; ἐργάζ. θησαυρούς, Theodot. Prov xxi. 6; see especially Stephan. Thes. Ed. Hase, III. p. 1968) consists, when applied to the everlasting food, in striving and struggling after it, without which effort Jesus does not bestow it. We must come believingly to Him, must follow Him, must deny ourselves, and so on. Then we receive from Him, in ever-increasing measure, divine grace and truth, by a spiritual appropriation of Himself; and this is the abiding food, which for ever quickens and feeds the inner man; the thing itself not being really different from the water, which for ever quenches thirst (John 4:14). See on βρῶσις, John 4:32, also, and the οὐράνιος τροφή in Philo, de profug. p. 749; Allegor. p. 92. According to this view, the thought conveyed in ἐργάζεσθαι, as thus contrasted with that of δώσει on the other side, cannot be regarded as strange (against De Wette); both conceptions rather are necessary correlatives. Php 2:12-13.

τὴν ἀπολλυμ.] not merely in its power, but in its very nature; it is digested and ceases to be (Matthew 15:17; 1 Corinthians 6:13). On the contrast, τ. μένουσ. εἰς ζ. αἰ., comp. John 4:14, John 12:25.

ἐσφραγ.] sealed, i.e. authenticated (see on John 3:33), namely, as the appointed Giver of this food; in what way? see John 5:36-39.

ὁ θεός] emphatically added at the end to give greater prominence to the highest authority.John 6:27. ἐργάζεσθεὑμῖν 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 βρῶσιναἰώνιον, 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 γὰρὁ 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[58], 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 ἐστιἐκεῖνος. 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.

[58] Septuagint.27. Labour not for, &c.] Better, Work not for, &c. The translation in the margin is preferable, to keep up the connexion with John 6:28-30. The people keep harping on the word ‘work.’

the meat which perisheth] Better (to avoid all ambiguity), the food that perisheth: ‘meat’ in the sense of ‘flesh-meat’ is not intended. Comp. (John 4:13) ‘whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.’ The discourse with the Samaritan woman should be compared throughout: ‘the food which abides’ here corresponds with ‘the living water’ there; ‘the food that perisheth’ with the water of the well. ‘Perisheth’ not merely in its sustaining power, but in itself: it is digested and dispersed (Matthew 15:17; 1 Corinthians 6:13).

endureth unto everlasting life] Better, abideth unto eternal life: see on John 1:33 and John 3:16.

for him hath God the Father sealed] Better (preserving the emphasis of the Greek order), for Him the Father sealed, even God. ‘Sealed,’ i.e. authenticated (John 3:33), as the true giver of this food (1) by direct testimony in the Scriptures, (2) by the same in the voice from Heaven at His Baptism, (3) by indirect testimony in His miracles and Messianic work.John 6:27. Ἐργάζεσθε, [tractate] trade in) So τὴν θάλασσαν ἐργάζεσθαι, Revelation 18:17. Devote your exertions [labour for, Engl. Vers.], saith He, to the everlasting food: just as you are now seeking Me with great earnestness for the sake of bread. Jesus gives no reply to the When? of the Jews [John 6:25, When earnest Thou hither?]: and so often in His discourses He has regard rather to those things which the series of circumstances and the state of souls require, than to the unseasonable interruptions of the speakers.—μή, not) Very similar things are opposed to one another: ch. John 4:10, [Jesus to the woman of Samaria] “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.”—τὴν ἀπολλυμένην, that perisheth) John 6:12, “Gather up the fragments—that nothing be lost; ἀπόληται:” 1 Corinthians 6:13, “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them.” The food of the body perisheth; therefore it confers not immortality.—ἥν) βρῶσιν. Ye ought not, saith He, ask from Me nutriment for the body, but for the soul. First it is set before us as food [meat], John 6:27; next as bread, John 6:32, “The true bread from heaven;” then in express terms, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, John 6:51; John 6:53, “The bread that [will give, is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world:—Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”—δώσει, will give) John 6:51.—γάρ, for) This Ætiology [enunciating not merely the proposition, but also, at the same time, the reason and cause of it] appertains to the μένουσαν, which endureth.—ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ Θεός, God the Father) Therefore Jesus Christ is the Son of God.—ἐσφράλισεν, hath sealed) Hath pointed out and distinguished Him by this very miracle, John 6:14 [as the anointed Prophet: “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”]; as also by His whole testimony, which in its turn needed to be sealed by the faith of the hearers: John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent;” ch. John 3:33, “He that hath received His testimony hath set to His seal that God is true.” By a seal, that which is genuine is stamped with commendation, and all that is not genuine is excluded.Verse 27. - Labour (work, toil, rush, as you are doing, from Bethsaida Julias to Capernaum, or from either to Jerusalem) not for the food that is perishable, which soon loses its effect and must be renewed, which is corruptible and worthless if not partaken of at once, which, like manna, may breed worms, or vanish in the sun; labour not for the merely outward and vanishing and perishable elements in my work. Christ did not mean that these multitudes were not to toil for their daily bread, which could only be secured for them by labour and the sweat of the brow; but to labour for the food which endureth (or, abideth) unto eternal life (this last clause Moulton would separate from the μένουσαν, and considers to relate to the principal verb of the sentence; i.e. "labour for the abiding food," with a view to, or unto, eternal life). The bread that abideth unto eternal life, however, corresponds very closely with the water of life (John 4:14), which, when once appropriated, flows and springs up with perennial energy within the soul, conferring the consciousness and the beginning of eternal life. There is a food which is imperishable and incorruptible, feeding the heavenly life within the soul, and which, if once assimilated, becomes Divine life itself. Labour for that life which the Son of man will give to you. This grand idea, viz. the gift of eternal life in and by Christ himself, was one of the main themes of the Gospel of John. Christ knew himself to be the Giver of eternal life - a life of perfect blessedness, irrespective of time, and sense, and flesh, and the world, and death. The Lord here calls himself "Son of man," rather than "Son of God." The whole of the subsequent discourse expands and rests upon this gift of the perfect and blessed life in and by his humanity. In the previous chapter attention was called to the Divine Sonship and the Divine activity. Here equal emphasis was laid upon the human sonship and on the acceptance and assimilation by man of this supreme gift. The power or function of the Son of man to bestow this life is sustained by the assertion, For him (this very one) the Father, even God, hath sealed. Σφραγίζειν (see John 3:33)means here to ratify and accredit as worthy and competent to discharge such duties, to render indubitable, to confirm by outward visible sign. or seal, as one empowered to do so Divine a thing. The Father has made "the Son of man" the steward of his bounty. The Son of man has the key to this boundless treasure, this eternal blessing. Men, however, must labour to receive so great a gift. It will prove to be a gift, even if they put forth the most strenuous energy to receive it. This first dialogue contrasts the carnal and spiritual reasons for seeking Jesus, and brings into sharp relief the Galilaean conception of the Christ, as Miracle worker, temporal Potentate, prophetic Leader of some vast host of triumphant enthusiasts, and contrasts with it the Lord's own conception. of himself as the Giver, the Medium, the divinely appointed Almoner of a spiritual blessing, for which, while the Father-God freely and lavishly gives it, the sons of men must eagerly toil. The next question and answer bring out the moral condition on which alone the gift can be dispensed. Meat (βρῶσιν)

See on John 4:32. In Matthew 6:19, Matthew 6:20, and there only, it is used in the sense of rust, that which eats or corrodes. Similarly, corrode is from rodo, to gnaw.

Him hath God the Father sealed

The Rev. makes the sentence culminate properly in God: "for Him the Father, even God, hath sealed." According to the strict Greek order it is: for Him the Father sealed, even God. On sealed (ἐσφράγισεν) see on John 3:33. Wyc., betokened Him.

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