John 6:60
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(60) Many therefore of his disciples—i.e., of the disciples in the wider sense; those who more or less fully were accepting His teaching, and were regarded as His followers. From John 6:64, the Apostles would seem to be included in the more general designation. In John 6:67 they are separately addressed.

This is an hard saying; who can hear it?i.e., not hard to be understood, but hard to hear, a stumbling-block in the way of their faith. For the word itself, comp. Matthew 25:24. His meaning was, indeed, not read by them, but the literal meaning was painfully clear, and one to which they will not listen. (Comp. John 10:20.) They do not raise any formal objection to Him, but friends and companions who had talked together of the Teacher and His teaching before, talk again now, and many of them who have followed Him up to this point can follow Him no more.

John 6:60. Many of his disciples — That is, of those who followed him as such; when they had heard this — Had heard the above discourse; said, This is a hard saying — A strange discourse, a doctrine difficult to be believed. Hard indeed it must have appeared, as it does still appear, to the children of the world, but sweet to the children of God. Scarce ever did our Lord speak more sublimely even to the apostles in private. Who can hear it — Who can understand, believe, and obey it? “Most of the metaphors in this discourse (and particularly that of food, to signify doctrine, and of eating and drinking, to signify believing) were abundantly easy, and might have been understood at the very first by the Jews, being found in their Scriptures, and used in their schools. Only, not being able to comprehend what he meant by his flesh, they took the whole literally, and were so offended at the thought of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, a thing not only prohibited by Moses, but repugnant to the customs of all civilized nations, that many of them who were his disciples, when they heard it, said it was absurd.”6:60-65 The human nature of Christ had not before been in heaven, but being God and man, that wondrous Person was truly said to have come down from heaven. The Messiah's kingdom was not of this world; and they were to understand by faith, what he had said of a spiritual living upon him, and his fulness. As without the soul of man the flesh is of no value, so without the quickening Spirit of God all forms of religion are dead and worthless. He who made this provision for our souls, alone can teach us these things, and draw us unto Christ, that we may live by faith in him. Let us apply to Christ, thankful that it is declared that every one who is willing to come unto him shall be made welcome.Many of his disciples - The word "disciple" means "learner." It was applied to the followers of Christ because they were taught by him. It does not imply, of necessity, that those to whom it was given were real Christians, but simply that they were under his teaching, and were professed learners in his school. See Matthew 17:16; Mark 2:18; John 9:28; Matthew 10:24. It is doubtless used in this sense here. It is, however, often applied to those who are real Christians.

This is an hard saying - The word "hard" here means "offensive, disagreeable" - that which they could not bear. Some have understood it to mean "difficult to be understood," but this meaning does not suit the connection. The doctrine which he delivered was opposed to their prejudices; it seemed to be absurd, and they therefore rejected it.

Saying - Rather doctrine or speech - Greek, λόγος logos. It does not refer to any particular part of the discourse, but includes the whole.

Who can hear it? - That is, who can hear it patiently - who can stay and listen to such doctrine or believe it. The effect of this is stated in John 6:66. The doctrines which Jesus taught that were so offensive appear to have been:

1. that he was superior to Moses.

2. that God would save all that he had chosen and those only.

3. that he said he was the bread that came from heaven.

4. that it was necessary to partake of that; that it was necessary that an atonement should be made, and that they should be saved by that.

These doctrines have always been among the most offensive that men have been called on to believe, and many, rather than trust in them, have chosen to draw back to perdition.

60-65. Many … of his disciples—His pretty constant followers, though an outer circle of them.

hard saying—not merely harsh, but insufferable, as the word often means in the Old Testament.

who can hear—submit to listen to it.

His disciples; his followers, not those that were his disciples indeed, but in name; for many followed him that did not believe in him; and many (in a sense) believed, to whom he did not commit himself, John 2:23,24. Now, many of these disciples, having heard these sayings, and being no way able to comprehend so great mysteries, nor having their eyes opened by the Spirit of illumination, said within themselves, These are sayings hard, or impossible, to be understood; who is able to hear or to understand them? or who is able to bear them? Many therefore of his disciples,.... Not of the twelve, nor of the seventy, but of the multitude of the disciples, who followed him from place to place, attended on his ministry, and might be baptized in his name; see John 4:1;

when they had heard this; that his flesh and blood were truly and really meat and drink, and that none had life in them, or should have eternal life, but such as eat and drink the same:

said, this is an hard saying; or it is to be objected to; so "an hard thing", the word here used in the Syriac version, and , "it is to me a hard thing", are phrases used to express an objection in the Talmudic writings, where they are often met with: or it is difficult to be understood and received; so , "an hard saying", or "an hard cause", is a cause difficult to be tried and determined, Exodus 18:26, and is used of that which seems incredible and absurd, and is surprising and unaccountable: so it is said (z), that

"it happened to a certain woman, that she came before R. Abika: she said to him, I have seen a spot; he said to her, perhaps there is a wound in thee; she answered him, yes, and it is healed; he replied, perhaps it may be opened, and the blood brought out; she answered him, yes; and he pronounced her clean. R. Abika saw his disciples look upon one another; and he said unto them, , "is this an hard saying with you?"''

is it a difficult thing with you? does it seem absurd to you? or are you surprised at it? anything difficult, or which seems irreconcilable, is so called: so the slaying the passover between the two evenings is called by Aben Ezra, in Exodus 12:6, , "an hard saying". In like sense the phrase is used here; and the allusion may be to food that is hard of digestion, since Christ had been speaking of himself under the metaphors of bread and meat. As some of the doctrines of Christ are comparable to milk, which is easy of digestion; others are like to strong meat, which belongs to those of full age, and cannot be digested by children, by babes in Christ, and much less be received, ate, and digested, with ease and pleasure, by carnal minds; who therefore say, as these Capernaites did,

who can hear it? this saying, or doctrine, concerning eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Christ; or "him" Christ, who delivered this doctrine: such preaching, and such a preacher, are intolerable; there is no hearing, nor bearing them: hence we afterwards read, that these withdrew from the ministry of Christ, John 6:66.

(z) Misn. Nidda, c. 8, sect. 3.

{13} Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

(13) The reason of man cannot comprehend the uniting of Christ and his members: therefore let it worship and revere that which is better than itself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 6:60. Πολλοὶ οὖν] Many therefore, for in Capernaum He had many adherents (μαθηταί is here used in the wider sense, not of the apostles; see John 6:67).

σκληρός] hard, harsh, the opposite of μαλακός (Plat. Legg. x. p. 892 B; Prot. p. 331 D);—in a moral sense, Matthew 25:24; Sir 3:24; Sirach 3 Esdr. 2:27; Soph. Oed. R. 36, Aj. 1340; Plat. Locr. p. 104 C, and often;—of speeches, comp. Soph. Oed. C. 778: σκληρὰ μαλθακῶς λέγων; Genesis 42:7; Genesis 21:11, Aq.; Proverbs 15:1. It here denotes what causes offence (σκανδαλίζωι, John 6:61), does not comply with preconceived views, but is directly antagonistic, the relation in which the assurances and demands of Jesus from John 6:51 stood to the wishes and hopes of His disciples.[246] He had, indeed, from John 6:51 onwards, required that they should eat His flesh (which was to be slain), and drink His blood (which was to be shed), in order to have life. By this—whether they rightly understood it or not—they felt sorely perplexed and wounded. The bloody death, which was certainly the condition of the eating and drinking, was an offence to them, just as in that lay the lasting offence of the Jews afterwards, John 12:34; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11; comp. also Matthew 16:21 ff. The explanation “difficult to be understood” (Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Grotius, Olshausen) lies neither in the word nor in the context, for τίς δύναται, κ.τ.λ. affirms: “it is a thing not to be borne, to listen to the discourse,” such insuperable offence does it excite. Tholuck, following early writers, finds the offence to be that Jesus seemed arrogant in making life dependent upon participation in His flesh and blood. But it was not the arrogant, it was the lowly and suffering, Messiah that was a σκάνδαλον to the Jew. As little did the offence consist in the requirement that Christ “would be all, and they were to be nothing” (Hengstenberg), which, indeed, is only an abstract inference subsequently drawn from His discourse.

[246] Not as if they had understood the eating and drinking of the flesh and blood in a literal and material sense (hence the expression “manducatio Capernaitica”), and so nonsensical an affirmation had provoked them (Augustine, Grotius, Lücke, Keim, and many others). The speakers are μαθηταί; but not even the Ἰουδαῖοι, ver. 52, so grossly misunderstood Jesus.John 6:60-71. The crisis in Galilee.60–71. Opposite Results of the Discourse

60. Many therefore of his disciples] Including many more than the Apostles.

This is a hard saying] Or, Hard is this speech. Not hard to understand, but hard to accept. The word for ‘hard’ means originally ‘dry,’ and so ‘rough;’ and then in a moral sense, ‘rough, harsh, offensive.’ Nabal the churl has this epithet, 1 Samuel 25:3; and the slothful servant in the parable of the Talents calls his master a ‘hard man,’ Matthew 25:24. Here the meaning is: ‘This is a repulsive speech; who can listen to it?’ It was the notion of eating flesh and drinking blood that specially scandalized them. See on John 5:47.John 6:60. Σκληρός, hard) There are no doubt many things which the carnal nature cannot but shrink from in this discourse, which is, if considered by itself, a most delightful one. His discourse is difficult, not hard [harsh]: whereby the evil are deterred; but genuine disciples are proved, disciplined, and established. Hardly anywhere can you see a passage where the Lord spake more sublimely, even when apart from the multitude with His apostles. Let us receive it with pious admiration!—τὶς δύναται, who can) Very differently Peter thought, John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”—αὐτοῦ, Him [Engl. Vers. it]) They seem to mean this: who can hear Jesus? Comp. ch. John 10:20, “He hath a devil, and is mad. Why hear ye Him?” This is the head and crowning point of their misery, to refuse to hear.Verses 60-71. -

(4) The twofold effect of these instructions. Verses 60-66.-

(a) The unbelief of some, which led him to predict the ascension of his humanity to where HE was before. Verse 60. - Many therefore of his disciples. This word is used in a wider sense than of the twelve. The synoptists tell us of much labour already done in this neighbourhood, and a considerable harvest of souls reaped, so far as a general acknowledgement of his claims and an expectation that he was the Messiah was involved: When they heard it (i.e. the entire instruction given in open synagogue), said, This is a hard saying (λόγος cannot or need not be confined to any one of these ῤήματα, but may easily embrace them all). The discourse was σχληρός, harsh, the opposite of μαλακός, a word used by the unprofitable servant of his master (Matthew 25:24). It does not mean "hard to be understood," but difficult to accept or be content with. Luthardt here reiterates his conviction that there is no reference in it to the death of Christ, and that the disciples were simply unwilling to accept the idea of his supreme claims and his constant return to the. eating and drinking of his flesh and blood and identification of this eternal life with participation in his corporality. But surely Meyer and Wcstcott, etc., are far nearer to the truth in referring the expression to their unwillingness to accept the bloody death of their Messiah, or to entrust themselves to a Divine Personality whose most distinctive act would be his sacrifice. This was the gross and terrible offence which made the cross a stumbling block to the Jew (see John 12:34; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11; Matthew 16:2l, etc.). Who is able to listen to him? This seems not only to be the possible, but most probable, translation of the genitive with ἀκούω. It was the language, not of "the Jews," but of "the disciples." Hard (σκληρός)

See on Matthew 25:24; see on Jde 1:14. According to the Greek order, hard is this saying.

Hear it (αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν)

Αὐτοῦ may be rendered Him, but this is not probable. Hear means a docile hearing, with a view to receiving what is heard. Compare John 10:3, John 10:16, John 10:27; John 12:47; John 18:37.

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