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Bible Commentaries
John 6

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

John 6:1

6:1–71 Each story in this chapter uses the setting of the Passover Festival (6:4) to communicate a deeper meaning.

6:1–15 Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 recalls the great OT miracle of bread when Israel was in the wilderness (Exod 16:1–36). The rabbis of Jesus’ day expected the coming Messiah to “rain down food from heaven” once again (Exod 16:4), and he did.

See also ZSBNIV

[Only the Apostle John supplied information bilingually in the New Testament (cf. John 1:38, John 1:42; John 4:25; John 6:1; John 9:7; John 11:16; John 19:13, John 19:17, John 19:20; John 20:16; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 3:14; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 12:9).]

Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias (cf. 21:1). This lake is also known as the Kinneret.

Verse 2

John 6:2

6:2 because they saw the signs. Not because they wanted to obey Jesus (cf. John 2:23).

Verse 3

John 6:3

6:3 Mountain may refer not to any specific mountain but to the hill country east of the lake, known today as the Golan Heights (cf. Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46).

Verse 4

John 6:4

Since this was the second Passover John mentioned (John 2:13, John 2:23), and since he mentioned at least one other Passover (John 13:1 [John 5:1 refers to an unnamed feast of the Jews]), Jesus’ ministry extended for about three years. The events in chapter 6, then, took place about one year before He was crucified.

Verse 5

John 6:5

cf. John 1:43-44 Philip was from Bethsaida which was the closest town, and he would know the local resources.

Verse 6

John 6:6

he said this to test him The narrator clarifies that the purpose of Jesus’ question is didactic. He is not seeking knowledge from Philip.

God tests people to refine their faith, never to tempt them to do evil (cf. Genesis 22:1-18; James 1:2, James 1:13-15; 1 Peter 1:7).

Verse 7

John 6:7

The amount needed was a large sum of money: literally, “200 denarii.” One denarius was the wage for a day’s work; this would have been eight months’ wages. (Matthew 20:2; cf. John 12:5).

Even if the bread had been available, the disciples did not have nearly that much money. The disciples were supported by people who responded to Jesus’ ministry (cf. Luke 8:3; Mark 6:7-13).

Verse 8

John 6:8

Andrew, in contrast with Philip, had gone into the crowd to determine its resources. All he could come up with was a little boy’s lunch.

Andrew is pictured three times bringing someone to Jesus. 1) his brother Peter, John 1:41; 2) this boy; 3) and some Greeks, John 12:22. Some churches have conducted evangelistic efforts called "Operation Andrew" to brings others to Christ.

Verse 9

John 6:9

Barley was the grain of the poor. The loaves were similar to pita bread. The two fish would have been salted, and with the five loaves of bread would make one meal.

Verse 10

John 6:10

Mark 6:39 "And he ordered them all to recline in groups on the green grass." LEB

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus made the “sheep” (Mark 6:34) sit down in green pastures (cf. Ps. 23:2). According to Mark 6:40, the people were seated in groups of 50 and 100. This made the crowd easy to count and the food easy to distribute.

The headcount of about 5,000 reflected the men alone (Matthew 14:21), as social custom dictated. With women and children included, the total number was far greater, totaling perhaps as many as 20,000 people fed.

Verse 11

John 6:11

Since the area was desolate and the time was Passover, Jesus was like Moses with the people in the wilderness who needed a miraculous feeding.

Echoing the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35), Moses had first supplied Israel with heavenly bread; Jesus was the new supplier.

Verse 12

John 6:12

See BKC for modernist interpretations of this miracle. "Some scholars try to explain away the miracle by saying that this was merely a sacramental or symbolic meal. Others say the “miracle” was in the people’s sharing. But these rationalizations are far from the clear meaning of John’s words."

Let nothing be wasted -- The excess food was probably distributed to the needed.

Verse 13

John 6:13

twelve. May symbolize that the Lord has enough to supply the needs of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Baskets -- These probably came from the boat and were used to hold the fish they caught.

Verse 14

John 6:14

the Prophet. Refers to the prophet like Moses in Jesus’ providing so much bread to so many people in a wilderness area.

the Prophet. The people here see Jesus as fulfilling the prediction of a prophet like Moses who was promised in Deuteronomy 18:15, Deuteronomy 18:18. (Cf. In Acts 3:22-23 Peter identifies Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy; cf. Acts 7:37.) However, “prophet” is not a common title for Jesus and is more often used by those who know little about him (e.g., Matthew 16:14; John 4:19), since Jesus is much more than a prophet. Hebrews 1:1-2.

Verse 15

John 6:15

make him king -- . The people recognized Jesus as the Messiah but wrongly equated that idea with political revolution to overthrow the Roman occupation. This marks the highpoint of Jesus’ popularity about one year before his crucifixion.

The nature of Jesus’ kingship becomes a major issue in his appearance before Pilate (John 18:33-39; John 19:3, John 19:14-15, John 19:19).

Verse 16

John 6:16

Verse 17

John 6:17

6:17 a boat Most likely a fishing boat since several of the disciples were professional fishermen before Jesus called them.

4:21 A boat, dated from around or before the first century a.d. by radiocarbon analysis and associated pottery, was found in the Sea of Galilee south of Kibbutz Ginnosar in 1986 (see Galilean Fishing Boat). It is consistent with boat representations in mosaics from Migdal/Magdala (also on the Sea of Galilee). Approximately 26.5 feet long and 7.5 feet wide (8 by 2.3 m), it could hold about 15 people (including four rowers and a helmsman). It probably had both fore and aft decks and a central mast and sail, with positions for two sets of oars on both sides.

Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1826). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

See BKC.

Verse 18

John 6:18

6:18 East-west winds blowing down over the western cliffs of the Sea of Galilee late in the day commonly caused very rough waters and turbulent storms. They were headed directly into it and found themselves making little progress. They were “straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48). The Sea of Galilee is notable for its sudden and severe storms.

Verse 19

John 6:19

This occurred in the “fourth watch” of the night, that is, between 3 and 6 o’clock in the morning (Matthew 14:25; Mark 6:48).

6:19 three or four miles: Greek 25 or 30 stadia [4.6 or 5.5 kilometers]. A stadion was an eighth of a Roman mile, about 185 meters (607 feet). They were roughly halfway across the sea to Capernaum. The distance from the eastern shore to Capernaum was six miles or more.

The disciples’ fear of the storm was now surpassed by their fear of Jesus, who came walking on the water to help them.

Walking on the sea is not something Jesus did just to amaze the disciples, but rather it is a powerful, visible demonstration of Jesus’ sovereignty over the world that he created (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:10). In the OT, God alone rules over the seas (Psalms 29:10-11; Psalms 89:9; Psalms 107:28-30).

Verse 20

John 6:20

6:20 Jesus’ words, “It is I,” represent the Greek phrase egō eimi, which in other contexts can be translated “I am.” Here it may allude to God’s self-identification as “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14) and may thus be an indication of Jesus’ divinity. This connection becomes more clear when the phrase is repeated in later verses (see John 6:35; John 8:24; John 8:58).

Jesus identified himself by the name God had revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai . “I am” (Exodus 3:14; see Isaiah 43:10)

Verse 21

John 6:21

6:21 to take him into the boat Matthew records Peter’s attempt to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-32).

6:21 Immediately the boat was at the land is a miraculous instance of what is taught in Psalms 107:23-32 (esp. vv. Psalms 107:29-30): God alone stills the storm, and he is the one who brings those who travel the sea safely to their destination.

Verse 22

John 6:22

6:22–25. The crowd who had been fed were still on the eastern shore of the sea. They saw Jesus compel His disciples to get into the one boat which was there. But since Jesus did not get into the boat, the crowd supposed that He had stayed in the area. After some time they realized He was no longer there.

Verse 23

John 6:23

Tiberias. This chief and largest city on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee was founded early in the first century by Herod Antipas in honor of his patron, the Roman emperor Tiberius (a.d. 14–37); it subsequently continued as the Galilean royal city under Agrippa I (a.d. 39–44). The city was built upon an old cemetery, and thus was considered unclean by many Jews until the second century, when it became the center of Palestinian rabbinic Judaism.

Verse 24

John 6:24

After some time the people realized that Jesus was no longer there and decided to seek Jesus in the Capernaum region and got into the boats.

The crowd sailed north to Capernaum in search for Jesus because he had made Capernaum his home in Galilee (Matthew 4:13; Mark 2:1).


Verse 25

John 6:25

Rabbi ... John 1:38

The people’s question, When did You get here? introduces His long discourse in Capernaum (John 6:59). Jesus did not explain how or when He crossed the lake, for His walking on the water was a private sign for the disciples only.

Verse 26

John 6:26

6:26–59 This dialogue took place in the synagogue at Capernaum (John 6:59) shortly before Passover (John 6:4), when Jews read the account of the exodus from Egypt (see Exod 1–15).

6:26. Jesus began with the solemn words, I tell you the truth. Jesus spoke these words four times in this discourse (John 6:26, John 6:32, John 6:47, John 6:53). This drew attention to the importance of what He was about to teach.

But because you ate your fill of the loaves implies that people were seeking Jesus only for the physical or material benefit that he gave, whereas they should have sought him because they saw miraculous signs that pointed to Jesus’ divine nature and identity as the true Messiah.

Verse 27

John 6:27

6:27 Jesus’ most profound gift was not physical bread, but eternal life, which the Father authorized him to give. Physical bread is perishable; the gift of Jesus, who is himself the bread of life (John 6:35), will last forever.

Son of Man . . is a title Jesus used for himself.

6:27 set his seal . . A seal made of wax, clay, or various kinds of soft metal would signify either ownership or authentication of an item or a document; the second sense is probably in view here.

God’s seal, mark of authentcity, on Jesus was the miracles which He did.

Verse 28

John 6:28

6:28. The people recognized that Jesus was saying God had a requirement for them. They would do God’s requirement if He would inform them what it was.

Verse 29

John 6:29

Jesus replies that the work God requires is that people believe in the Messiah, the Christ.

WORKS - James 2:24, James 2:26, John 12:42, Galatians 5:6, Acts 10:34-35, Matthew 7:21, Hebrews 5:9.

Kinds of Works

1. Works of the flesh- Galatians 5:19-21

2. Our own works- Acts 7:41, 2 Timothy 1:9

3. Works of the law of Moses Galatians 2:16

4. Works of obedience- Acts 10:34-35, Luke 6:46, John 6:29.

Verse 30

John 6:30

6:30 A strange question, since Jesus had miraculously fed them the previous day.

6:30 The crowd demanded a miraculous sign to demonstrate Jesus’ status as Messiah. Jews believed that when the Messiah appeared, he would duplicate the great miracle of Moses. Manna would once again fall, and everyone would consider it a second exodus.

How well Paul knew this kind of people, 1 Corinthians 1:22.

Verse 31

John 6:31

They thought Jesus’ feeding was less significant because manna fed the whole nation for 40 years. But they missed two things. First, many of the Israelites who were fed 40 years did not believe. Second, both Moses and Jesus were authenticated by God’s signs; therefore both should be listened to and believed.

Verse 32

John 6:32

Verse 33

John 6:33

Verse 34

John 6:34

Verse 35

John 6:35

I am the bread of life: Jesus is the true manna that descended from God (6:38). He satisfies the spiritual hunger of those who believe in him (cp. 4:10–13).

Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (ego eimi, Gr.) in the Greek text of this gospel (4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). In several of these, He joins His “I AM” with seven tremendous metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world.
“I AM the Bread of life” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51).
“I AM the Light of the world” (John 8:12).
“I AM the Door of the sheep” (John 10:7, 9).
“I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14).
“I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25).
“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
“I AM the true Vine” (John 15:1, 5).

MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1591). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

Verse 36

John 6:36

Verse 37

John 6:37

Verse 38

John 6:38

Some Various Comings of Christ

*1 Emmanuel, Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; John 6:38; Galatians 4:4 This was the coming of the Lord in the flesh, his birth at Bethlehem.

2 Pentecost, Matthew 16:28 (Mark 9:1) Mark 14:62, Matthew 26:64 In some significant way it could be said that Christ also came on Pentecost representatively when he sent his promise of the Holy Spirit.

3 To Paul at His Conversion __ Acts 26:16, Acts 22:7-9 ; 1 Corinthians 15:8 The Lord came to Paul so he could see him alive after his crucifixion and thus qualify him to be an apostle.

4 In Visions -- To Paul at Jerusalem, Acts 22:17-18 (after conversion); At Corinth, Acts 18:9; again at Jerusalem, Acts 23:11

5 AD 70, His coming in judgment upon the Jews for their rejection. Matthew 24:27, Matthew 24:30, Matthew 24:44, Matthew 24:39; Mark 13:26-30; Luke 21:20-27; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:8

This brought an end to their nation, the temple, the physical priesthood coming from Levi, the end of animal sacrifices, etc. ("Last days"[of the Jewish dispensation] plural)

*6 The Resurrection Day (His Second Coming, -- Cf. "Last Day" singular) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 ff; John 14:1-3;

John 5:28; John 11:24; John 6:39; John 6:40; John 6:44;

Verse 39

John 6:39

The Resurrection Day (His Second Coming, -- Cf. "Last Day" singular) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 ff; John 14:1-3;

John 5:28; John 11:24; John 6:39; John 6:40; John 6:44;

Verse 40

John 6:40

The Resurrection Day (His Second Coming, -- Cf. "Last Day" singular) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 ff; John 14:1-3;

John 5:28; John 11:24; John 6:39; John 6:40; John 6:44;

Verse 41

John 6:41

Verse 42

John 6:42

Verse 43

John 6:43

Verse 44

John 6:44

The Resurrection Day (His Second Coming, -- Cf. "Last Day" singular) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 ff; John 14:1-3;

John 5:28; John 11:24; John 6:39; John 6:40; John 6:44;

Verse 45

John 6:45

Verse 46

John 6:46

Verse 47

John 6:47

Verse 48

John 6:48

Verse 49

John 6:49

Verse 50

John 6:50

Verse 51

John 6:51

Verse 52

John 6:52

Verse 53

John 6:53

Verse 54

John 6:54

Verse 55

John 6:55

Verse 56

John 6:56

Verse 57

John 6:57

Verse 58

John 6:58

Verse 59

John 6:59

Verse 60

John 6:60

Verse 61

John 6:61

Verse 62

John 6:62

Verse 63

John 6:63

Verse 64

John 6:64

Verse 65

John 6:65

Verse 66

John 6:66

Verse 67

John 6:67

Verse 68

John 6:68

Verse 69

John 6:69

Verse 70

John 6:70

Verse 71

John 6:71

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on John 6". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/john-6.html. 2021.
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