When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said to them, Does this offend you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured.—The tenses in the original describe the scene in the present: Jesus as knowing, the disciples as murmuring. The knowledge is in Himself, uninformed by them, and His teaching is addressed to the thoughts of their hearts. They were placing themselves in the position of the Jews (John 6:41), and were making the stepping-stone of spiritual knowledge, up which faith would have walked, into a rock of offence over which blindness fell.John 6:61-65. When Jesus knew — Greek, ειδως δε ο Ιησους εν εαυτω, Jesus knowing in himself; that his disciples murmured at it — Though they did not speak out their objections and scruples; said, Doth this, which you have just now heard, offend you — And do you stumble at it as incredible? What if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up — Αναβαινοντα, ascending; where he was before? — How much more incredible will it then appear to you, that he should give you his flesh to eat? Or, will not that convince you of the truth of my having come down from heaven? Will it not show you, likewise, that I never intended you should eat my flesh in a corporeal manner? It is very probable that what Christ here says of his ascension, was, partly at least, intended to intimate to them the necessity of taking his discourse in a figurative sense, as it would so soon be evidently impossible to eat his flesh, which was to be received into heaven. It is the Spirit — The spiritual meaning of these words; that quickeneth — By which God giveth spiritual life. The flesh —
The bare, carnal, literal meaning; profiteth nothing. The words that I speak, the doctrines that I preach, unto you are spirit and life — Are to be taken in a spiritual sense; and when they are so understood and believed, or marked, learned, and digested, they are made the means of spiritual and eternal life to the hearers. There are some of you who believe not — And so receive no life by them; for Jesus knew from the beginning — Namely, of his ministry; who they were that believed not, and who should betray him — He knew the inward disposition of every particular person that heard him, and foresaw which of his disciples would be so base as to betray him. From this we infer with certainty that God foresees future contingencies:
“But his foreknowledge causes not the fault, Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.”
Therefore said I, &c. — Because I know perfectly the inward frame of your minds, that the prejudices of corrupt nature lie strongly against such a doctrine as I publish, and that nothing but divine grace can subdue them, therefore I told you plainly, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father — And it is given to those only who will receive it on God’s own terms. See the note on John 6:37; John 6:44.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.
knew in himself; which is opposed to a knowledge from the hearing of his own ears, as man heareth, whether more immediately from the sound of their words, (for we read of nothing they spake audibly), or from the relation of others, as what they had heard: he knew in himself their thoughts by his Divine prerogative and property of searching the hearts, and trying the reins, and discerning the thoughts of men afar off. Knowing their thoughts, he saith, Doth this give you occasion of stumbling?
that his disciples murmured at it; at the doctrine he had delivered, looking upon it as absurd, incredible, and contrary to sense and reason:
he said unto them, does this offend you? or trouble you? cannot you get over this? cannot you understand it? or account for it? if not, how will you be able to digest some other things, or reconcile them to your minds, which are less known, and more unexpected, and will appear at first sight more surprising?When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 6:61-62. Ἐν ἑαυτῷ] In Himself, without communication; αὐτόματος, Nonnus.
γογγύζ.] as in John 6:41.
περὶ τούτου] concerning this harshness of His discourse.
τοῦτο ὑμ. σκανδ.] Question of astonishment: this, namely, which you have found so hard in my discourse (Jesus knew what it was), does this offend you? Are you so mistaken in your opinion and feelings towards me? Comp. John 6:66.
ἐὰν οὖν θεωρῆτε, κ.τ.λ.] Aposiopesis, which, especially “in tam infausta re” (Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 362), takes the place of the impassioned statement. See on Luke 19:41; Acts 23:9; Romans 9:22. The completion of it must be derived solely from the context, and therefore is not τί ἐρεῖτε or the like (Nonnus, Euthymius Zigabenus, Kuinoel, and many); but τοῦτο ὑμᾶς οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον σκανδαλίσει (comp. Winer, p. 558 [E. T. p. 750]; Fritzsche, Conject. pp. 22, 31): “Will not this impending sight serve to offend you still more?” By ἀναβαίνειν ὅπου ἦν τὸ πρότερον Jesus indicates His death; and, indeed, as He—in whom Daniel’s prophecy of the Son of man was to be fulfilled (comp. John 12:23; Matthew 26:24)—contemplated it in the consciousness of His heavenly origin and descent (John 3:13), of which He had already spoken in John 6:58. His death, therefore, so far as it would be to Him, by means of the resurrection and ascension therewith connected, a return to the δόξα which He had before His incarnation. Comp. John 17:5, and the ὑψωθῆναι ἐκ τῆς γῆς, John 12:32. To the spectators, who only saw the humiliating and shameful outward spectacle of His death, it served only to give the deepest offence. The concluding argument a minori ad majus which lies in οὖν, is like that in John 3:12. The interpretation of the ancient Church, which referred the words to the corporeal ascension in and by itself (so also Olshausen, Lindner, Maier, Ebrard, Kahnis, p. 120, Hilgenfeld, Hofmann, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein, Godet, Harless), would require us of logical necessity to supply, not the supposed increase of offence (Baeumlein), but a question expressing doubt or denial: “would ye still take offence then?” Comp. John 8:28. But this import of the aposiopesis, which even Ewald and Brückner adopt, though not explaining the words merely of the ascension, has the οὖν itself decidedly against it, instead of which ἀλλά would be logically required; and the reference to the ascension as such, as an event by itself, is totally without analogy in the discourses of Jesus, and quite un-Johannean. So also the θεωρῆτε, in particular, is against this view; for, with the Present participle ἀναβαίνοντα, it would describe the ascension expressly as a visible event (in answer to Luthardt’s observations, who explains it of the ascension, but with Tholuck regards its visibility as a matter of indifference, so far as the present passage is concerned), though its visible occurrence is attested by no apostle, while in the non-apostolic accounts (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9) only the disciples in the narrower sense, the twelve, who are just those not meant by the “ye” in our text, are represented as the eye-witnesses. On the other hand, the opinion that there lies in θεωρ. only the possibility of those present being eye-witnesses (Kahnis, Hofmann) is nothing more than a subtle evasion, unsupported by the ἐάν (comp. John 12:32, John 14:3, John 16:7), and no better than Hengstenberg’s assertion (comp. Tholuck): “those who were present at the ascension were the representatives of the collective body of the disciples.” Parallel with ἀναβαίνειν is the designation of the death of Jesus as a going to God, John 7:33, John 13:3, John 14:12; John 14:28, John 16:5; John 16:28, John 17:11; John 17:13. That He here describes His death not according to its low and painful phase, but according to the essence of its triumphant consummation as present to His own consciousness, is therefore quite Johannean; comp. also John 17:5, John 12:23. The reference to the gift of the Spirit, the exaltation being intended as the medium of effecting this (Lange), is remote from the context, and is not indicated by any word in the sentence, for nothing is spoken of but the seeing with the eyes the future departure.
Upon τὸ πρότερον, see on Galatians 4:13. It refers to the period preceding His present form of being, when as to the divine part of His nature, i.e. as the Logos, He was in heaven; comp. John 17:5; John 17:24, John 8:58.
 Appeal is made, but unreasonably, not only to John 3:13, but likewise to John 20:17 (see especially Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, 517, and Godet). Jesus there is speaking after His death, when that blessed end was still future, in reference to which before His death he was wont to describe that event as a departure and an ascension to the Father. There, accordingly, He could not avoid mentioning the ascension alone.
 “For they would certainly see Him die, but they would see Him ascend only if they remained His disciples,” Hofmann. The former is as incorrect as the latter. For Jesus is speaking to His Galilean disciples, and, indeed, to His disciples in the wider sense (ver. 67), of whom therefore we cannot say that they would certainly he present at His death in Jerusalem; while the witnesses of the ascension were not those who remained faithful to Him generally, but the apostles. According to Harless, Christ means to say that they must not think of His flesh and blood in His state of humiliation, but of both in His state of glory. But flesh and blood is the contradictory of δόξα. The glorified body of Christ in the form of flesh and blood is inconceivable (1 Corinthians 15:49-50).
 The meaning is not that “we immediately substitute another subject” (Beyschlag, Christol. p. 29); but, in harmony with the witness of Jesus regarding Himself elsewhere in John, we have given us a more definite mention of the state wherein the Son of man had His pre-existence in heaven. That He had this as the Son of man, as Beyschlag, p. 85, explains (understanding it of the eternal divine image, whose temporal realization Jesus, by an intuition given Him on earth, knew Himself to be), the text does not say; it says: “the Son of man, i.e. the Messiah, will ascend up where He was before.” There can be no doubt, if we will follow John, in what form of existence He previously was in heaven. Neither is there any doubt if we ask Paul, who speaks of the pre-existence of Jesus ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ. See on Php 2:6; comp. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9. He does not there mean that He pre-existed as Jesus, but as the υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ. For the rest, comp. ver. 46, John 8:58, John 7:5, John 1:8. If it be true, as Keim says (Geschichtl. Chr. p. 102, ed. 3), that “not one particle of the self-consciousness of Jesus reaches back beyond His temporal existence,” the fundamental Christological view not only of the fourth Gospel, but of Paul also, is based upon a great illusion. As to the Synoptics, see on Matthew 11:27John 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.61. knew in himself] Again He appears as the reader of the heart. Comp. John 1:42; John 1:47, John 2:24-25, John 4:18, John 5:14; John 5:42, John 6:26, &c. More literally the verse runs: Now Jesus knowing in Himself that His disciples are muttering about it: see on John 6:41, John 7:12. They talked in a low tone so that He could not hear: but He knew without hearing.John 6:61. Ἐν ἑαυτῷ, in Himself) without any external informant.—τοῦτο ὑμᾶς σκανδαλίζει; does this offend you?) Enallage [change of form of expression]: that is [He means], whether are ye offended at this truth? The passion of Christ was “to the Jews a stumbling-block.”Verse 61. - But Jesus, knowing in himself - not necessarily by supernatural penetration, for many signs of impatience may have been manifested - that his disciples murmured (see ver. 41, note) concerning this hard argument, said unto them, Doth this cause you to stumble? (see note on John 16:1).
Rev., cause to stumble. See on Matthew 5:29. Wyc., slandereth you.
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