John 6:52
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(52) The Jews therefore strove among themselves.—They have passed beyond the murmuring of John 6:41. They understand that He means, though His own words have not yet expressed it, that His flesh is to be eaten, and is thus to supply the principle of life. They contend one with another as to how this can really be.

John 6:52-53. The Jews therefore strove among themselves — Greek, εμαχοντο, literally, they fought, that is, they debated with great violence, some being inclined to believe, others to reject this doctrine; some, doubtless, taking his words in one sense, others in another, and some vindicating, and others deriding and censuring them, and, as if what he had advanced was to be taken in a literal sense, the generality saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? — What a monstrous and unintelligible doctrine is this! Observe, reader, the effects of this discourse of Christ: the Jews are tried here; the disciples, John 6:60; John 6:66; the apostles, John 6:67. Then Jesus — Proceeding in the same figurative language he had used before, and without condescending to make any further explication; said unto them, Verily, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, &c., ye have no life in you — As if he had said, However you may censure my doctrine as unintelligible and absurd, yet nothing can be more certain than it, or more important to you. For except you be entirely united to me by a firm and lively faith in the truth and importance of my doctrine, and a cordial dependance, for acceptance with God, on the merit of the sacrifice which I shall offer for the sins of the world, thereby deriving spiritual strength and nourishment from me, through the influences of my Spirit, in the use of those means of grace which I shall institute, you can have no spiritual life in you here, nor attain eternal life hereafter. The reader will easily observe, that by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, our Lord did not mean any corporeal action whatever, but men’s receiving in faith, and with gratitude, those blessings, to confer which he assumed the human nature. The expression therefore implies a true and lively faith in “the revelation he came to make, concerning the merciful counsels of God for the salvation of sinners; or, as he himself expresses it, John 6:63, The word that he spake to them, especially concerning his incarnation, and his dying to make atonement for sin. Which articles of the Christian faith, being particularly understood here, give propriety to the metaphors of eating Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood, by which the whole of that faith is denominated. The reason is, of all the discoveries made by Christ, those concerning his incarnation, and the nature and ends of his death, received and meditated upon with a lively faith, afford sovereign and salutary nourishment unto the minds of sinners. They are as effectual for sustaining the spiritual life in the soul, as flesh, fitly prepared, is for nourishing the animal life in the body.” The sacrament of the eucharist was plainly intended to affect our minds with a sense of these important truths, and our Lord might probably think of that intended institution while he spoke: but as this was a future thing, and utterly unknown to his hearers, it would be very unwarrantable to interpret this text as chiefly referring to that ordinance. See Macknight and Doddridge.6:52-59 The flesh and blood of the Son of man, denote the Redeemer in the nature of man; Christ and him crucified, and the redemption wrought out by him, with all the precious benefits of redemption; pardon of sin, acceptance with God, the way to the throne of grace, the promises of the covenant, and eternal life. These are called the flesh and blood of Christ, because they are purchased by the breaking his body, and the shedding of his blood. Also, because they are meat and drink to our souls. Eating this flesh and drinking this blood mean believing in Christ. We partake of Christ and his benefits by faith. The soul that rightly knows its state and wants, finds whatever can calm the conscience, and promote true holiness, in the redeemer, God manifest in the flesh. Meditating upon the cross of Christ gives life to our repentance, love, and gratitude. We live by him, as our bodies live by our food. We live by him, as the members by the head, the branches by the root: because he lives we shall live also.The bread that I will give is by flesh - That is, his body would be offered as a sacrifice for sin, agreeably to his declaration when he instituted the Supper: "This is my body which is broken for you," 1 Corinthians 11:24.

Life of the world - That sinners might, by his atoning sacrifice, be recovered from spiritual death, and be brought to eternal life. The use of the word world hero shows that the sacrifice of Christ was full free ample, and designed for all men, as it is said in 1 John 2:2, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." In this verse Jesus introduces the subject of his death and atonement. It may be remarked that in the language which he used the transition from bread to his flesh would appear more easy than it does in our language. The same word which in Hebrew means "bread," in the Syriac and Arabic means also "flesh."

52. Jews strove among themselves—arguing the point together.

How can, &c.—that is, Give us His flesh to eat? Absurd.

They will still understand spiritual things in a carnal sense; yet it is hard to conceive how they could imagine that Christ spake of giving them his flesh to eat, as men eat the flesh of oxen or sheep; but which way soever they did understand it indeed, their captious temper inclined them to conceal any other sense they had of it, and to represent what our Saviour said as exceedingly absurd. The Jews therefore strove among themselves,.... Fell to cavilling and disputing one among another; some understanding Christ, and others not; some being for him, and vindicated what he said; and others being against him, and who were the majority, objected,

saying how can this man give us his flesh to eat? which is to be understood, not physically, but as morally impossible and unlawful; since, with the Jews, it was not lawful to eat the flesh of any creature alive, and much less the flesh of man; for the Jews understood Christ of a corporeal eating of his flesh, being strangers to a figurative or spiritual eating of it by faith, in which sense he meant it.

{12} The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

(12) Flesh cannot make a difference between fleshly eating, which is done by the help of the teeth, and spiritual eating, which consists in faith: and therefore it condemns that which it does not understand: yet nonetheless, the truth must be preached and taught.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 6:52-53. The Jews rightly add φαγεῖν, borrowing it from the preceding context; but the meaning and reference of the expression, which they certainly recognised as somehow to be taken figuratively, are to them so indistinct, that they fall into a dispute with each other (“non jam solum murmurabant uti John 6:41,” Bengel) upon the question: “How can this man give us his flesh (τὴν σάρκα, also without the αὐτοῦ, a gloss in Lachm.) to eat?” Not as if they had missed hearing something (Luthardt: “the futurity implied in the expression, John 6:51”), but they did not understand the enigmatical statement. Instead now of explaining the how of their question, Jesus sets before them the absolute necessity of their partaking, and in still more extreme terms lays down the requirement, which seemed so paradoxical to them; for He nows adds the drinking of His blood, in order thus to bring more prominently into view the reference to His death, and its life-giving power to be experienced by believing appropriation.

τοῦ υἱοῦ τ. ἀνθρ.] This prophetic and Messianic self-designation (John 1:51, John 3:13-14), which could now less easily escape the notice of His hearers than in John 6:27, serves as a still more solemn expression in place of μου, without, however, affecting the meaning of the eating and drinking.

οὐκ ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτ.] “ye have not life in yourselves,” “life is foreign to and remote from your own inner nature,”—death is the power that ye have in you, spiritual and eternal death; life must first, by that eating and drinking, be inwardly united with your own selves. In that appropriation of the flesh and blood of Jesus, this life flows forth from His life (John 6:56-57; John 5:26); and it is attached to faith only, not to the use of any outward element (comp. Harless, p. 124).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 δύναταιφαγεῖν. 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.52. strove among themselves] Their excitement increases; they have got beyond muttering among themselves (John 6:41).

give us his flesh to eat] ‘To eat’ is their own addition; they wish to bring out in full the strangeness of His declaration.John 6:52. Ἐμάχοντο, began to strive) They now did not merely murmur, as at John 6:41.—οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, the Jews) The successive steps are to be observed: the Jews, in this place; the disciples, John 6:60; John 6:66, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?—Many—went back and walked no more with Him;” the apostles, John 6:67, [Jesus to the Twelve] “Will ye also go away?”—πῶς, how) The How they repeat here again: comp. John 6:42, “How is it that He saith, I came down from heaven?” To neither the one nor the other how does Jesus reply, but proceeds with His own discourse, and saith, Thus it must be: John 6:53, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, etc., ye have no life in you.”—τὴν σάρκα, the flesh) Again they fasten on that statement, as being the one which seemed to them especially hard.Verses 52-59. -

(d) The conflict among the Jews leads Christ to insist further on separate participation of his flesh and blood as the condition of life. Verse 52. - The Jews therefore strove one with another (ἐμάχοντο represents more vigorous demonstration of their difficulties than the ἐγόγγυζον of ver. 41). They were not unanimous in their judgment. Some said one thing, and others said another. The "Jews" had not yet come to a unanimous opinion that this wonderful Being was talking sheer heresy or incomprehensible mystery. They knew his habit of metaphoric speech, and that underneath common imagery he was in the habit of conveying doctrines the full purport of which was not at once apparent. Some denounced him as uttering an intolerable riddle. Some saw, in a measure, through it, and hated the doctrine that was thereby conveyed. How could he be so essential to the life of the world? and how, said the pure materialist, "how can he give us his flesh to eat?" A question of great interest arises. He has already identified, in ver. 35, "coming to him," "reaching him" under the drawing of the Father, with the transcendent blessing of life eternal, of victory, over death, and resurrection. In ver. 40 "beholding" and "believing" are cognate or equivalent conditions of life and resurrection. In ver. 47, again, "believing," per se, is the essential and all-comprehensive condition. Now, has Christ added, in this verse, anything fresh to the fundamental ideas? Let it be pondered that he has already equated "believing" with eating a bread that endureth to everlasting life (vers. 27-29). He has declared himself to be the "Bread of life," and to be appropriated by "coming" and "believing." He has spoken of himself as "living Bread," which, coming for the life of the world from heaven itself, is offered as food. Now, what more than this has he said when he declared that he will offer his "flesh" as heavenly food? The Jews undoubtedly show, by their mutual contest, that he had put some part of the previous oracle in a still more enigmatical, if not offensive, form. So far the imagery was not altogether beyond them. Here it takes on a form which excites angry controversy. If they understood him to mean "doctrine," "truth," "cause," even "office," as Head of a spiritual school - as one providing by his gracious will ample nutriment for all who would eat of the rich banquet of his words - they would, to some extent, follow him. The eating of the tree of life was a well known figure in Hebrew Scripture (Proverbs 4:17; Proverbs 9:5); cf. the language of Isaiah (Isaiah 55:2), the action of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:1-3), and the imagery of Hosea (Hosea 10:13). In the "Midrash on Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 8:15," "eating and drinking" is said always to refer to the Law (Edersheim and Wunsche). But when he spoke of giving his "flesh" for the life of the world, he passed beyond the limits of their interpreting power. They did not see through his imagery; nor did Jesus exactly answer the angry query which they were putting one to another. Strove (ἐμάχοντο)

The murmuring (John 6:41) now breaks out into open contention among the Jews themselves.

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