Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

John 6

Verse 1

After these things (μετα ταυταmeta tauta). A common, but indefinite, note of time in John (John 3:22; John 5:1; John 6:1; John 7:1). The phrase does not mean immediate sequence of events. As a matter of fact, a whole year may intervene between the events of chapter 5 in Jerusalem and those in chapter 6 in Galilee. There is no sufficient reason for believing that chapter 6 originally preceded chapter 5. The feeding of the five thousand is the only event before the last visit to Jerusalem recorded in all Four Gospels (Mark 6:30-44; Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13). The disciples have returned from the tour of Galilee and report to Jesus. It was the passover time (John 6:4) just a year before the end.

To the other side of the Sea of Galilee (περαν της ταλασσης της Γαλιλαιαςperan tēs thalassēs tēs Galilaias). The name given in Mark and Matthew. It is called Gennesaret in Luke 5:1 and “Sea of Tiberias” in John 21:1. Here “of Tiberias” (της Τιβεριαδοςtēs Tiberiados) is added as further description. Herod Antipas a.d. 22 built Tiberias to the west of the Sea of Galilee and made it his capital. See John 6:23 for this city. Luke (Luke 9:10) explains that it was the eastern Bethsaida (Julias) to which Jesus took the disciples, not the western Bethsaida of Mark 6:45 in Galilee.

Verse 2

Followed (ηκολουτειēkolouthei). Descriptive imperfect active, picturing the crowd, but without the details of the boat for Christ and the rapid race of the crowd on foot (Mark 6:32.; Matthew 14:13.).

They beheld (ετεωρουνetheōroun). Imperfect active of τεωρεωtheōreō They had been beholding the signs which Jesus had been doing (εποιειepoiei imperfect again) for a long time (John 2:23), most of which John has not given (Mark 1:29.; Mark 2:1; Mark 3:1; Mark 6:5). The people were eager to hear Jesus again (Luke 9:11) and to get the benefit of his healing power “on them that were sick” (επι των αστενουντωνepi tōn asthenountōn the weak or feeble, without strength, αa privative and στενοςsthenos strength).

Verse 3

Into the mountain (εις το οροςeis to oros). From the level of the Jordan valley up into the high hill on the eastern side. Mark (Mark 6:46) and Matthew (Matthew 14:23) mention that after the miracle Jesus went further up into the mountain to pray.

Sat (εκατητοekathēto). Imperfect middle of κατημαιkathēmai was sitting, a picture of repose.

Verse 4

The feast of the Jews (η εορτη των Ιουδαιωνhē heortē tōn Ioudaiōn). Here used of the passover (το πασχαto pascha) as in John 7:2 of the tabernacles. This is probably the third passover in Christ‘s ministry (John 2:13 and one unmentioned unless John 5:1 be it). In John 2:13, here, and John 11:55 (the last one) the adverb εγγυςeggus (near) is used. John is fond of notes of time. Jesus failed to go to this passover because of the hostility in Jerusalem (John 7:1).

Verse 5

Lifting up his eyes (επαρας τους οπταλμουςeparas tous ophthalmous). First aorist active participle of επαιρωepairō See the same phrase in John 4:35 where it is also followed by τεαομαιtheaomai John 11:41; John 17:1; Luke 6:20. Here it is particularly expressive as Jesus looked down from the mountain on the approaching multitude.

Cometh unto him (ερχεται προς αυτονerchetai pros auton). Present middle indicative, “is coming to him.” The same οχλος πολυςochlos polus (here πολυς οχλοςpolus ochlos) of John 6:2 that had followed Jesus around the head of the lake.

Whence are we to buy?
(Ποτεν αγορασωμενPothen agorasōmen). Deliberative subjunctive (aorist active). John passes by the earlier teaching and healing of the Synoptics (Mark 6:34.; Matthew 14:14.; Luke 9:11.) till mid-afternoon. In John also Jesus takes up the matter of feeding the multitude with Philip (from the other Bethsaida, John 1:44) whereas in the Synoptics the disciples raise the problem with Jesus. So the disciples raise the problem in the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:4; Matthew 15:33). See Numbers 11:13-22 (about Moses) and 2 Kings 4:42. (about Elisha).

(αρτουςartous). “Loaves” (plural) as in Matthew 4:3.

That these may eat
(ινα παγωσιν ουτοιhina phagōsin houtoi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist active subjunctive of εστιωesthiō (defective verb).

Verse 6

To prove him (πειραζων αυτονpeirazōn auton). Present active participle of πειραζωpeirazō testing him, not here in bad sense of tempting as so often (Matthew 4:1).

What he would do (τι ημελλεν ποιεινti ēmellen poiein). Indirect question with change of tense to imperfect. As in John 2:25 so here John explains why Jesus put the question to Philip.

Verse 7

Two hundred pennyworth of bread (διακοσιων δηναριων αρτοιdiakosiōn dēnariōn artoi). “Loaves of two hundred denarii.” The Roman coin originally for ten asses (afterwards sixteen), about 16-2/3 cents. The denarius was the usual pay for a day‘s labour (Matthew 20:2, Matthew 20:9, Matthew 20:13). This item in Mark 6:37, but not in Matthew or Luke.

That every one may take a little (ινα εκαστος βραχυ λαβηιhina hekastos brachu labēi). Final clause with ιναhina and second aorist active subjunctive of λαμβανωlambanō This detail in John alone.

Verse 8

One of (εις εκheis ek). So in John 12:4; John 13:23; Mark 13:1 without εκek

Simon Peter‘s brother (ο αδελπος Σιμωνος Πετρουho adelphos Simōnos Petrou). So described in John 1:40. The great distinction of Andrew was precisely this that he brought Simon to Christ. Philip and Andrew appear together again in John 12:20-22, but in the Synoptics he is distinguished only in Mark 13:3. In the Muratorian Fragment Andrew received the revelation for John to write the Fourth Gospel.

Verse 9

A lad here (παιδαριον ωδεpaidarion hōde). Old word, diminutive of παιςpais here only in N.T., not genuine in Matthew 11:16. How he came to have this small supply we do not know.

Barley (κριτινουςkrithinous). Adjective, here and John 6:13 only in N.T., in the papyri, from κριτηkrithē barley (Revelation 6:6). Considered an inferior sort of bread.

(οπσαριαopsaria). Late diminutive of οπσονopson common in papyri and inscriptions for delicacies with bread like fish. In N.T. only here, John 6:11; John 21:9-13. Synoptics have ιχτυαςichthuas f0).

Verse 10

Sit down (αναπεσεινanapesein). Literally, “fall back,” lie down, recline. Second aorist active infinitive of αναπιπτωanapiptō

Much grass (χορτος πολυςchortos polus). Old word for pasture, green grass (Mark 6:39) or hay (1 Corinthians 3:12). It was spring (John 6:4) and plenty of green grass on the hillside.

The men
(οι ανδρεςhoi andres). Word for men as distinct from women, expressly stated in Matthew 14:21.

In number
(τον αριτμονton arithmon). Adverbial accusative (of general reference).

(οςhos). General estimate, though they were arranged in orderly groups by hundreds and fifties, “in ranks” like “garden beds” (πρασιαιprasiai Mark 6:40).

Verse 11

The loaves (τους αρτουςtous artous). Those of John 6:9.

Having given thanks (ευχαριστησαςeucharistēsas). The usual grace before meals (Deuteronomy 8:10). The Synoptics use “blessed” ευλογησενeulogēsen (Mark 6:41; Matthew 14:19; Luke 9:16).

He distributed
(διεδωκενdiedōken). First aorist active indicative of διαδιδωμιdiadidōmi old verb to give to several (διαdia between).

To them that were set down
(τοις ανακειμενοιςtois anakeimenois). Present middle participle (dative case) of ανακειμαιanakeimai old verb to recline like αναπεσεινanapesein in John 6:10.

As much as they would
(οσον ητελονhoson ēthelon). Imperfect active of τελωthelō “as much as they wished.”

Verse 12

And when they were filled (ως δε ενεπληστησανhōs de eneplēsthēsan). First aorist (effective) passive indicative of εμπιμπλημιempimplēmi old verb to fill in, to fill up, to fill completely. They were all satisfied. The Synoptics have εχορταστησανechortasthēsan like John 6:26 (εχορταστητεechortasthēte).

Gather up (συναγαγετεsunagagete). Second aorist active imperative of συναγωsunagō to gather together.

Broken pieces
(κλασματαklasmata). From κλαωklaō to break. Not crumbs or scraps on the ground, but pieces broken by Jesus (Mark 6:41) and not consumed.

Be lost
(αποληταιapolētai). Second aorist middle subjunctive of απολλυμιapollumi with ιναhina in purpose clause. Only in John. There was to be no wastefulness in Christ‘s munificence. The Jews had a custom of leaving something for those that served.

Verse 13

Twelve baskets (δωδεκα κοπινουςdōdeka kophinous). One for each of the apostles. What about the lad? Stout wicker baskets (coffins, Wycliff) in distinction from the soft and frail σπυριδεςsphurides used at the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:8; Matthew 15:37). Here all the Gospels (Mark 6:43; Matthew 14:20; Luke 9:17; John 6:13) use κοπινοιkophinoi The same distinction between κοπινοιkophinoi and σπυριδεςsphurides is preserved in the allusion to the incidents by Jesus in Mark 8:19, Mark 8:20; Matthew 16:9, Matthew 16:10.

Unto them that had eaten (τοις βεβρωκοσινtois bebrōkosin). Articular perfect active participle (dative case) of βιβρωσκωbibrōskō old verb to eat, only here in N.T., though often in lxx.

Verse 14

Saw the sign which he did (ιδοντες α εποιησεν σημειαidontes ha epoiēsen sēmeia). “Signs” oldest MSS. have. This sign added to those already wrought (John 6:2). Cf. John 2:23; John 3:2.

They said (ελεγονelegon). Inchoative imperfect, began to say.

Of a truth
(αλητωςalēthōs). Common adverb (from αλητηςalēthēs) in John (John 7:40).

The prophet that cometh
(ο προπητης ο ερχομενοςho prophētēs ho erchomenos). There was a popular expectation about the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15 as being the Messiah (John 1:21; John 11:27). The phrase is peculiar to John, but the idea is in Acts (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37). The people are on the tiptoe of expectation and believe that Jesus is the political Messiah of Pharisaic hope.

Verse 15

Perceiving (γνουςgnous). Second aorist active participle of γινωσκωginōskō It was not hard for Christ to read the mind of this excited mob.

They were about (μελλουσινmellousin). Present active indicative of μελλωmellō Probably the leaders were already starting.

Take him by force
(αρπαζεινharpazein). Present active infinitive of αρπαζωharpazō old verb for violent seizing (Matthew 11:12; Matthew 13:19). There was a movement to start a revolution against Roman rule in Palestine by proclaiming Jesus King and driving away Pilate.

To make him king
(ινα ποιησωσιν βασιλεαhina poiēsōsin basilea). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of ποιεωpoieō with βασιλεαbasilea as predicate accusative. It was a crisis that called for quick action.

Himself alone
(αυτος μονοςautos monos). At first he had the disciples with him (John 6:3). But he sent them hurriedly by boat to the western side (Mark 6:45.; Matthew 14:22.) because clearly the apostles were sympathetic with the revolutionary impulse of the crowd. Then Jesus sent the multitudes away also and went up into the mountain alone. He was alone in every sense, for no one but the Father understood him at this stage, not even his own disciples. He went up to pray (Mark 6:46; Matthew 14:23).

Verse 16

When evening came (ως οπσια εγενετοhōs opsia egeneto). “The late hour” (ωραhōra understood), and so in late Greek the adjective is used as a substantive. It is late evening (real evening), not the early evening in mid-afternoon (Matthew 14:15). The disciples were in no hurry to start back to Bethsaida in Galilee (Mark 6:45), Capernaum in John (John 6:17).

Verse 17

Were going (ηρχοντοērchonto). Picturesque imperfect.

It was now dark (σκοτια ηδη εγεγονειskotia ēdē egegonei). Past perfect active of γινομαιginomai While they were going, “darkness had already come.”

And Jesus had not yet come to them
(και ουκ εληλυτει προς αυτους ο Ιησουςkai ouk elēluthei pros autous ho Iēsous). Another past perfect active of ερχομαιerchomai with negative ουπωoupō Darkness had come, but Jesus had not come, while they were going over the sea. The tenses in these verses are very graphic.

Verse 18

And the sea was rising (η τε ταλασσα διεγειρετοhē te thalassa diegeireto). Imperfect (without augment) passive of διεγειρωdiegeirō late compound to wake up thoroughly, to arouse.

By reason of a great wind that blew (ανεμου μεγαλου πνεοντοςanemou megalou pneontos). Genitive absolute with present active participle of πνεωpneō to blow, “a great wind blowing.”

Verse 19

When therefore they had rowed (εληλακοτες ουνelēlakotes oun). Perfect active participle of ελαυνωelaunō old verb to march (Xenophon), to drive (James 3:4), to row (Mark 6:48).

Furlongs (σταδιουςstadious). Stadia, accusative of extent of space, a little over halfway across, “in the midst of the sea” (Mark 6:47). It was about forty stadia (six miles) across.

They behold
(τεωρουσινtheōrousin). Graphic dramatic present active indicative of τεωρεωtheōreō vividly preserving the emotions of the disciples.

(περιπατουνταperipatounta). Present active participle in the accusative case agreeing with ΙησουνIēsoun

Drawing nigh unto the boat
(εγγυς του πλοιου γινομενονeggus tou ploiou ginomenon). Present middle participle of γινομαιginomai describing the process. “Coming near the boat.” They behold Jesus slipping closer and closer to them on the water.

They were afraid
(εποβητησανephobēthēsan). Ingressive aorist passive indicative of ποβεομαιphobeomai “they became afraid.” Sudden change to the regular historical sequence.

Verse 20

Be not afraid (μη ποβειστεmē phobeisthe). Prohibition with μηmē and present middle imperative of ποβεομαιphobeomai So in Mark 6:50 (Matthew 14:27). John does not tell that the disciples thought Jesus was an apparition (Mark 6:49; Matthew 14:26), nor does he give the account of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:28-31).

Verse 21

They were willing therefore (ητελον ουνēthelon oun). Inchoative imperfect, “they began to be willing.” This does not contradict Mark 6:51 as Bernard thinks. Both Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat.

Whither they were going (εις ην υπηγονeis hēn hupēgon). Progressive imperfect active, “to which land they had been going” (intransitive use of υπαγωhupagō to lead under, to go under or away as in John 6:67; John 7:33; John 12:11; John 18:8.

Verse 22

Which stood (ο εστηκωςho hestēkōs). Perfect active (intransitive) participle of ιστημιhistēmi to put, to stand. Jesus had sent the multitudes away the evening before (Mark 6:45; Matthew 14:22), but evidently some did not go very far, still lingering in excitement on the eastern side of the lake next morning.

Boat (πλοιαριονploiarion). Diminutive of πλοιονploion little boat (Mark 3:9).

Entered not with
(ου συνεισηλτενou suneisēlthen). Second aorist active of the double compound verb συνεισερχομαιsuneiserchomai followed by associative instrumental case ματηταιςmathētais

Went away alone
(μονοι απηλτονmonoi apēlthon). Second aorist active indicative of απερχομαιaperchomai to go away or off. ΜονοιMonoi is predicate nominative. These people noted these three items.

Verse 23

Howbeit (αλλαalla). John 6:23 is really an explanatory parenthesis in this long sentence. Tiberias, capital of Herod Antipas, diagonally across the lake, is only mentioned in John in the N.T. (John 6:1, John 6:23; John 21:1).

Boats (πλοιαploia). Called “little boats” (πλοιαριαploiaria) in John 6:24.

Verse 24

When the multitude therefore saw (οτε ουν ειδεν ο οχλοςhote oun eiden ho ochlos). Resumption and clarification of the complicated statements of John 6:22.

That Jesus was not there (οτι Ιησους ουκ εστιν εκειhoti Iēsous ouk estin ekei). Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. They still did not understand how Jesus had crossed over, but they acted on the basis of the plain fact.

They themselves got into
(ενεβησαν αυτοι ειςenebēsan autoi eis). Second aorist active indicative of εμβαινωembainō followed by ειςeis (both ενen and ειςeis together as often in N.T.).

Seeking Jesus
(ζητουντες τον Ιησουνzētountes ton Iēsoun). Present active participle of ζητεωzēteō They had a double motive apart from the curiosity explained in John 6:22. They had clearly not given up the impulse of the evening before to make Jesus king (John 6:15) and they had hopes of still another bountiful repast at the hands of Jesus as he said (John 6:26).

Verse 25

When they found him (ευροντες αυτονheurontes auton). Second aorist active participle of ευρισκωheuriskō Found him after search and in the synagogue as John explains (John 6:59) in Capernaum, perhaps that very synagogue built by a centurion (Luke 7:5).

Rabbi (αββειRabbei). See note on John 1:38 for this courteous title.

When camest thou hither?
(ποτε ωδε γεγονασpote hōde gegonas). Second perfect active indicative of γινομαιginomai “When hast thou come?” We sought you anxiously on the other side of the lake and could not see how you came across (John 6:22-24).

Verse 26

Not because ye saw signs (ουχ οτι ειδετε σημειαouch hoti eidete sēmeia). Second aorist active indicative of the defective verb οραωhoraō They had seen the “signs” wrought by Jesus (John 6:2), but this one had led to wild fanaticism (John 6:14) and complete failure to grasp the spiritual lessons.

But because ye ate of the loaves (αλλ οτι επαγετε εκ των αρτωνall' hoti ephagete ek tōn artōn). Second aorist active indicative of εστιωesthiō defective verb.

Ye were filled
(εχορταστητεechortasthēte). First aorist passive indicative of χορταζωchortazō from χορτοςchortos (grass) as in John 6:10, to eat grass, then to eat anything, to satisfy hunger. They were more concerned with hungry stomachs than with hungry souls. It was a sharp and deserved rebuke.

Verse 27

Work not for (μη εργαζεστεmē ergazesthe). Prohibition with μηmē and present middle imperative of εργαζομαιergazomai old verb from εργονergon work.

The meat (την βρωσινtēn brōsin). The act of eating (Romans 14:17), corrosion (Matthew 6:19), the thing eaten as here (2 Corinthians 9:10). See note on John 4:32.

Which perisheth
(tēn apollumenēn). Present middle participle of apollumi They were already hungry again.

Unto eternal life
(την απολλυμενηνeis zōēn aiōnion). Mystical metaphor quite beyond this crowd hungry only for more loaves and fishes. Bernard thinks that John has here put together various sayings of Christ to make one discourse, a gratuitous interpretation.

Will give
(απολλυμιdōsei). Future active indicative of εις ζωην αιωνιονdidōmi The outcome is still future and will be decided by their attitude towards the Son of man (John 6:51).

For him the Father, even God, hath sealed
(δωσειtouton gar ho patēr esphragisen ho theos). Literally, “For this one the Father sealed, God.” First aorist active indicative of διδωμιsphragizō to seal. See elsewhere in John 3:33 (attestation by man). Sealing by God is rare in N.T. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). It is not clear to what item, if any single one, John refers when the Father set his seal of approval on the Son. It was done at his baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon him and the Father spoke to him. Cf. John 5:37.

Verse 28

What must we do? (Τι ποιωμενTi poiōmen). Present active deliberative subjunctive of ποιεωpoieō “What are we to do as a habit?” For the aorist subjunctive (ποιησωμενpoiēsōmen) in a like question for a single act see Luke 3:10. For the present indicative (ποιουμενpoioumen) of inquiry concerning actual conduct see John 11:47 (what are we doing?).

That we may work the works of God (ινα εργαζωμετα τα εργα του τεουhina ergazōmetha ta erga tou theou). Final clause with ιναhina and the present middle subjunctive, “that we may go on working the works of God.” There may have been an element of vague sincerity in this question in spite of their supercilious attitude.

Verse 29

The work of God that ye believe (το εργον του τεου ινα πιστευητεto ergon tou theou hina pisteuēte). In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul speaks of “your work of faith” (υμων του εργου της πιστεωςhumōn tou ergou tēs pisteōs). So here Jesus terms belief in him as the work of God. These Jews were thinking of various deeds of the Pharisaic type and rules. Jesus turns their minds to the central fact. “This simple formula contains the complete solution of the relation of faith and works” (Westcott). Note the present active subjunctive πιστευητεpisteuēte “that ye may keep on believing.”

On him whom he hath sent (εις ον απεστειλεν εκεινοςeis hon apesteilen ekeinos). The pronominal antecedent (εις τουτον ονeis touton hon) is omitted and the preposition ειςeis is retained with the relative ονhon really the direct object of απεστειλενapesteilen (sent). Note εκεινοςekeinos for God (emphatic he).

Verse 30

For a sign (σημειονsēmeion). Predicate accusative, as a sign, with τιti (what). As if the sign of the day before was without value. Jesus had said that they did not understand his signs (John 6:26).

That we may see, and believe thee (ινα ιδωμεν και πιστευσωμενhina idōmen kai pisteusōmen). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of οραωhoraō and the first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of πιστευωpisteuō “that we may come to see and come to have faith in thee.” It is hard to have patience with this superficial and almost sneering mob.

What workest thou?
(Τι εργαζηιTi ergazēi). They not simply depreciate the miracle of the day before, but set up a standard for Jesus.

Verse 31

Ate the manna (το μαννα επαγονto manna ephagon). The rabbis quoted Psalm 72:16 to prove that the Messiah, when he comes, will outdo Moses with manna from heaven. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah and able to give bread for eternal life (John 6:27). Lightfoot (Biblical Essays, p. 152) says: “The key to the understanding of the whole situation is an acquaintance with the national expectation of the greater Moses.” They quote to Jesus Exodus 16:15 (of. Numbers 11:7; Numbers 21:5; Deuteronomy 8:3). Their plea is that Moses gave us bread “from heaven” (εκ του ουρανουek tou ouranou). Can Jesus equal that deed of Moses?

Verse 32

It was not Moses that gave you (ου Μωυσης εδωκεν υμινou Mōusēs edōken humin). “Not Moses gave you.” Blunt and pointed denial (aorist active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi) that Moses was the giver of the bread from heaven (the manna). Moses was not superior to Christ on this score.

But my Father (αλλ ο πατηρ μουall ho patēr mou). Not “our Father,” but same claim as in John 5:17. Which caused so much anger in Jerusalem.

(διδωσινdidōsin). Present active indicative, not aorist (εδωκενedōken). Continual process.

The true bread out of heaven
(τον αρτον εκ του ουρανου τον αλητινονton arton ek tou ouranou ton alēthinon). “The bread out of heaven” as the manna and more “the genuine bread” of which that was merely a type. On αλητινοςalēthinos see John 1:9; John 4:23.

Verse 33

The bread of God (ο αρτος του τεουho artos tou theou). All bread is of God (Matthew 6:11). The manna came down from heaven (Numbers 11:9) as does this bread (ο καταβαινωνho katabainōn). Refers to the bread (ο αρτοςho artos masculine). Bernard notes that this phrase (coming down) is used seven times in this discourse (John 6:33, John 6:38, John 6:41, John 6:42, John 6:50, John 6:51, John 6:58).

Giveth life (ζωην διδουςzōēn didous). Chrysostom observes that the manna gave nourishment (τροπηtrophē), but not life (ζωηzōē). This is a most astounding statement to the crowd.

Verse 34

Lord (ΚυριεKurie). Used now instead of Rabbi (25) though how much the people meant by it is not clear.

Evermore give us this bread (παντοτε δος ημιν τον αρτον τουτονpantote dos hēmin ton arton touton). Second aorist active imperative second singular like δοςdos in Matthew 6:11 (urgent petition). What kind of bread do they mean? The Jewish commentaries and Philo speak of the manna as typifying heavenly bread for the soul. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:3 seems to refer to the manna as “spiritual food.” Like the woman at the well (John 4:15) they long “always” to have “this bread,” a perpetual supply. It is probably to this crowd as the water in John 4:15 was to the woman.

Verse 35

I am the bread of life (Εγω ειμι ο αρτος της ζωηςEgō eimi ho artos tēs zōēs). This sublime sentence was startling in the extreme to the crowd. Philo does compare the manna to the τειος λογοςtheios logos in an allegorical sense, but this language is far removed from Philo‘s vagueness. In the Synoptics (Mark 14:22; Matthew 26:26; Luke 22:19) Jesus uses bread (αρτοςartos) as the symbol of his body in the Lord‘s Supper, but here Jesus offers himself in place of the loaves and fishes which they had come to seek (John 6:24, John 6:26). He is the bread of life in two senses: it has life in itself, the living bread (John 6:51), and it gives life to others like the water of life, the tree of life. John often has Jesus saying “I am” (εγω ειμιegō eimi). As also in John 6:41, John 6:48, John 6:51; John 8:12; John 10:7, John 10:9, John 10:11, John 10:14; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1, John 15:5.

He that cometh to me (ο ερχομενος προς εμεho erchomenos pros eme). The first act of the soul in approaching Jesus. See also John 6:37.

Shall not hunger
(ου μη πεινασηιou mē peinasēi). Strong double negative ου μεou me with first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive, “shall not become hungry.”

He that believeth on me
(ο πιστευων εις εμεho pisteuōn eis eme). The continuous relation of trust after coming like πιστευητεpisteuēte (present tense) in John 6:29. See both verbs used together also in John 7:37.

Shall never thirst
(ου μη διπσησει πωποτεou mē dipsēsei pōpote). So the old MSS. the future active indicative instead of the aorist subjunctive as above, an even stronger form of negation with πωποτεpōpote (John 1:18) added.

Verse 36

That ye have seen me (οτι και εωρακατε μεhoti kai heōrakate me). It is not certain that μεme is genuine. If not, Jesus may refer to John 6:26. If genuine, some other saying is referred to that we do not have. Note καιkai (also or even).

And yet believe not (και ου πιστευετεkai ou pisteuete). Use of καιkai = and yet.

Verse 37

All that (παν οpān ho). Collective use of the neuter singular, classic idiom, seen also in John 6:39; John 17:2, John 17:24; 1 John 5:4. Perhaps the notion of unity like ενhen in John 17:21 underlies this use of παν οpān ho

Giveth me (διδωσιν μοιdidōsin moi). For the idea that the disciples are given to the Son see also John 6:39, John 6:65; John 10:29; John 17:2, John 17:6, John 17:9, John 17:12, John 17:24; John 18:9.

I will in no wise cast out
(ου μη εκβαλω εχωou mē ekbalō exō). Strong double negation as in John 6:35 with second aorist active subjunctive of βαλλωballō Definite promise of Jesus to welcome the one who comes.

Verse 38

I am come down (καταβεβηκαkatabebēka). Perfect active indicative of καταβαινωkatabainō See note on John 6:33 for frequent use of this phrase by Jesus. Here αποapo is correct rather than εκek with του ουρανουtou ouranou

Not to do (ουχ ινα ποιωouch hina poiō). “Not that I keep on doing” (final clause with ιναhina and present active subjunctive of ποιεωpoieō).

But the will
(αλλα το τελημαalla to thelēma). Supply ινα ποιωhina poiō after αλλαalla “but that I keep on doing.” This is the fulness of joy for Jesus, to do his Father‘s will (John 4:34; John 5:30).

Verse 39

That of all that which (ινα παν οhina pān ho). Literally, “That all which” (see John 6:37 for παν οpan ho), but there is a sharp anacoluthon with πανpān left as nominativus pendens.

I should lose nothing (μη απολεσω εχ αυτουmē apolesō ex autou). Construed with ιναhina “that I shall not lose anything of it.” ΑπολεσωApolesō from απολλυμιapollumi can be either future active indicative or first aorist active subjunctive as is true also of αναστησωanastēsō (from ανιστημιanistēmi), “I shall raise up.”

At the last day
(τηι εσχατηι εμεραιtēi eschatēi hemerāi). Locative case without ενen Only in John, but four times here (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:44, John 6:54) “with the majesty of a solemn refrain.” In John 7:37 it is the last day of the feast of tabernacles, but in John 11:24; John 12:48 of the day of judgment as here. Christ is the Agent of the general resurrection in John 5:28 as in 1 Corinthians 15:22 while here only the resurrection of the righteous is mentioned.

Verse 40

Should have eternal life (εχηι ζωην αιωνιονechēi zōēn aiōnion). Present active subjunctive with ιναhina “that he may keep on having eternal life” as in John 3:15, John 3:36.

Beholdeth (τεωρωνtheōrōn). With the eye of faith as in John 12:45.

And I will raise him up
(και αναστησωkai anastēsō). Future active indicative (volitive future, promise) as in John 6:54.


Verse 41

Murmured (εγογγυζονegogguzon). Imperfect active of the onomatopoetic verb γογγυζωgogguzō late verb in lxx (murmuring against Moses), papyri (vernacular), like the cooing of doves or the buzzing of bees. These Galilean Jews are puzzled over what Jesus had said (John 6:33, John 6:35) about his being the bread of God come down from heaven.

Verse 42

How doth he now say? (Πως νυν λεγειPōs nun legei). They knew Jesus as the son of Joseph and Mary. They cannot comprehend his claim to be from heaven. This lofty claim puzzles sceptics today.

Verse 43

Murmur not (μη γογγυζετεmē gogguzete). Prohibition with μηmē and the present active imperative, “stop murmuring” (the very word of John 6:41). There was a rising tide of protest.

Verse 44

Except the Father draw him (εαν μη ελκυσηι αυτονean mē helkusēi auton). Negative condition of third class with εαν μηean mē and first aorist active subjunctive of ελκυωhelkuō older form ελκωhelkō to drag like a net (John 21:6), or sword (John 18:10), or men (Acts 16:19), to draw by moral power (John 12:32), as in Jeremiah 31:3. ΣυρωSurō the other word to drag (Acts 8:3; Acts 14:19) is not used of Christ‘s drawing power. The same point is repeated in John 6:65. The approach of the soul to God is initiated by God, the other side of John 6:37. See Romans 8:7 for the same doctrine and use of ουδε δυναταιoude dunatai like ουδεις δυναταιoudeis dunatai here.

Verse 45

Taught of God (διδακτοι τεουdidaktoi theou). A free quotation from Isaiah 54:13 with this phrase in the lxx. There is here the ablative case τεουtheou with the passive verbal adjective διδακτοιdidaktoi (Robertson, Grammar, p. 516). In 1 Thessalonians 4:9 we have the compound verbal τεοδιδακτοιtheodidaktoi The same use of διδακτοςdidaktos with the ablative occurs in 1 Corinthians 2:13.

And hath learned (και ματωνkai mathōn). Second aorist active participle of μαντανωmanthanō It is not enough to hear God‘s voice. He must heed it and learn it and do it. This is a voluntary response. This one inevitably comes to Christ.

Verse 46

This one has seen the Father (ουτος εωρακεν τον πατεραhoutos heōraken ton patera). Perfect active indicative of οραωhoraō With the eyes no one has seen God (John 1:18) save the Son who is “from God” in origin (John 1:1, John 1:14; John 7:29; John 16:27; John 17:8). The only way for others to see God is to see Christ (John 14:9).

Verse 47

He that believeth (ο πιστευωνho pisteuōn). This is the way to see God in Christ.

Verse 48

I am the bread of life (εγω ειμι ο αρτος της ζωηςegō eimi ho artos tēs zōēs). Jesus repeats the astounding words of John 6:35 after fuller explanation. The believer in Christ has eternal life because he gives himself to him.

Verse 49

And they died (και απετανονkai apethanon). Physical death. The manna did not prevent death. But this new manna will prevent spiritual death.

Verse 50

That a man may eat thereof, and not die (ινα τις εχ αυτου παγηι και μη αποτανηιhina tis ex autou phagēi kai mē apothanēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist active subjunctive of εστιωesthiō and αποτνησκωapothnēskō The wonder and the glory of it all, but quite beyond the insight of this motley crowd.

Verse 51

The living bread (ο αρτος ο ζωνho artos ho zōn). “The bread the living.” Repetition of the claim in John 6:35, John 6:41, John 6:48, but with a slight change from ζωηςzōēs to ζωνzōn (present active participle of ζαωzaō). It is alive and can give life. See John 4:10 for living water. In Revelation 1:17 Jesus calls himself the Living One (ο ζωνho zōn).

For ever (εις τον αιωναeis ton aiōna). Eternally like αιωνιονaiōnion with ζωηνzōēn in John 6:47.

I shall give
(εγω δωσωegō dōsō). Emphasis on εγωegō (I). Superior so to Moses.

Is my flesh
(η σαρχ μου εστινhē sarx mou estin). See note on John 1:14 for σαρχsarx the Incarnation. This new idea creates far more difficulty to the hearers who cannot grasp Christ‘s idea of self-sacrifice.

For the life of the world
(υπερ της του κοσμου ζωηςhuper tēs tou kosmou zōēs). Over, in behalf of, υπερhuper means, and in some connexions instead of as in John 11:50. See John 1:30 for the Baptist‘s picture of Christ as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. See also John 3:17; John 4:42; 1 John 3:16; Matthew 20:28; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:14.; Romans 5:8. Jesus has here presented to this Galilean multitude the central fact of his atoning death for the spiritual life of the world.

Verse 52

Strove (εμαχοντοemachonto). Imperfect (inchoative) middle of μαχομαιmachomai to fight in armed combat (Acts 7:26), then to wage a war of words as here and 2 Timothy 2:24. They were already murmuring (John 6:41), now they began bitter strife with one another over the last words of Jesus (John 6:43-51), some probably seeing a spiritual meaning in them. There was division of opinion about Jesus in Jerusalem also later (John 7:12, John 7:40; John 9:16; John 10:19).

How can? (Πως δυναταιPōs dunatai). The very idiom used by Nicodemus in John 3:4, John 3:9. Here scornful disbelief.

This man
(ουτοςhoutos). Contemptuous use pictured in John 6:42.

His flesh to eat
(την σαρκα αυτου παγεινtēn sarka autou phagein). As if we were cannibals! Some MSS. do not have αυτουautou but the meaning is clear. The mystical appropriation of Christ by the believer (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17) they could not comprehend, though some apparently were against this literal interpretation of “flesh” (σαρχsarx).

Verse 53

Except ye eat (εαν μη παγητεean mē phagēte). Negative condition of third class with second aorist active subjunctive of εστιωesthiō Jesus repeats the statement in John 6:50, John 6:51. Note change of μουmou (my) in John 6:51 to του υιου του αντρωπουtou huiou tou anthrōpou with same idea.

And drink his blood (και πιητε αυτου το αιμαkai piēte autou to haima). Same condition with second aorist active subjunctive of πινωpinō This addition makes the demand of Jesus seem to these Jews more impossible than before if taken in a baldly literal sense. The only possible meaning is the spiritual appropriation of Jesus Christ by faith (John 6:47), for “ye have not life in yourselves” (ουκ εχετε ζωην εν εαυτοιςouk echete zōēn en heautois). Life is found only in Christ.

Verse 54

He that eateth (ο τρωγωνho trōgōn). Present active participle for continual or habitual eating like πιστευετεpisteuete in John 6:29. The verb τρωγωtrōgō is an old one for eating fruit or vegetables and the feeding of animals. In the N.T. it occurs only in John 6:54, John 6:56, John 6:58; John 13:18; Matthew 24:38. Elsewhere in the Gospels always εστιωesthiō or επαγονephagon (defective verb with εστιωesthiō). No distinction is made here between επαγονephagon (John 6:48, John 6:50, John 6:52, John 6:53, John 6:58) and τρωγωtrōgō (John 6:54, John 6:56, John 6:57, John 6:58). Some men understand Jesus here to be speaking of the Lord‘s Supper by prophetic forecast or rather they think that John has put into the mouth of Jesus the sacramental conception of Christianity by making participation in the bread and wine the means of securing eternal life. To me that is a violent misinterpretation of the Gospel and an utter misrepresentation of Christ. It is a grossly literal interpretation of the mystical symbolism of the language of Jesus which these Jews also misunderstood. Christ uses bold imagery to picture spiritual appropriation of himself who is to give his life-blood for the life of the world (John 6:51). It would have been hopeless confusion for these Jews if Jesus had used the symbolism of the Lord‘s Supper. It would be real dishonesty for John to use this discourse as a propaganda for sacramentalism. The language of Jesus can only have a spiritual meaning as he unfolds himself as the true manna.

Verse 55

Meat indeed (αλητης βρωσιςalēthēs brōsis). So the best MSS., “true food.” See note on John 4:32 for βρωσιςbrōsis as equal to βρωμαbrōma (a thing eaten).

Drink indeed (αλητης ποσιςalēthēs posis). Correct text, “true drink.” For ποσιςposis see Romans 14:17; Colossians 2:16 (only N.T. examples).

Verse 56

Abideth in me and I in him (εν εμοι μενει καγω εν αυτωιen emoi menei kagō en autōi). Added to the phrase in John 6:54 in the place of εχει ζωην αιωνιονechei zōēn aiōnion (has eternal life). The verb μενωmenō (to abide) expresses continual mystical fellowship between Christ and the believer as in John 15:4-7; 1 John 2:6, 1 John 2:27, 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:16. There is, of course, no reference to the Lord‘s Supper (Eucharist), but simply to mystical fellowship with Christ.

Verse 57

The living Father (ο ζων πατηρho zōn patēr). Nowhere else in the N.T., but see John 5:26 and “the living God” (Matthew 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). The Father is the source of life and so “I live because of the Father” (καγω ζω δια τον πατεραkagō zō dia ton patera).

He that eateth me (ο τρωγων μεho trōgōn me). Still bolder putting of the mystical appropriation of Christ (John 6:51, John 6:53, John 6:54, John 6:56).

Because of me
(δι εμεdi' eme). The same idea appears in John 14:19: “Because I live ye shall live also.” See John 11:25. Jesus Christ is our ground of hope and guarantee of immortality. Life is in Christ. There is no real difficulty in this use of διαdia with the accusative as with δια τον πατεραdia ton patera just before. It occurs also in John 15:3. As the Father is the fount of life to Christ, so Christ is the fount of life to us. See 1 John 4:9 where διαdia is used with the genitive (δι αυτουdi' autou) as the intermediate agent, not the ground or reason as here.

Verse 58

This is the bread (ουτος εστιν ο αρτοςhoutos estin ho artos). Summary and final explanation of the true manna (from John 6:32 on) as being Jesus Christ himself.

Verse 59

In the synagogue (εν συναγωγηιen sunagōgēi). Definite like our in church, though article absent. Only use of the word in John except John 18:20. “Among the ruins at Tell Hum, the probable site of Capernaum, have been found among the remains of a synagogue a block of stone perhaps the lintel, carved with a pot of manna, and with a pattern of vine leaves and clusters of grapes” (Vincent).

Verse 60

A hard saying (σκληροςsklēros). “This saying is a hard one.” Old adjective, rough, harsh, dried hard (from σκελλωskellō to dry), probably the last saying of Jesus that he was the bread of life come down from heaven and they were to eat him. It is to be hoped that none of the twelve joined the many disciples in this complaint.

Hear it (αυτου ακουεινautou akouein). Or “hear him,” hear with acceptation. For ακουωakouō with the genitive see John 10:3, John 10:16, John 10:27.

Verse 61

Knowing in himself (ειδως εν εαυτωιeidōs en heautōi). Second perfect active participle of οιδαoida See John 2:25 for this supernatural insight into men‘s minds.

Murmured (γογγυζουσινgogguzousin). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse. See John 6:41 for γογγυζωgogguzō

At this
(περι τουτουperi toutou). “Concerning this word.”

Cause to stumble
(σκανδαλιζειskandalizei). Common Synoptic verb from σκανδαλονskandalon for which see Matthew 5:29. In John again only in John 16:1.

Verse 62

What then if ye should behold (εαν ουν τεωρητεean oun theōrēte). No “what” in the Greek. Condition of third class with εανean and present active subjunctive, “if ye then behold.”

Ascending (αναβαινονταanabainonta). Present active participle picturing the process.

Where he was before
(οπου ην το προτερονhopou ēn to proteron). Neuter articular adjective as adverb (accusative of general reference, at the former time as in John 9:8; Galatians 3:13). Clear statement of Christ‘s pre-existence in his own words as in John 3:13; John 17:5 (cf. 1:1-18).

Verse 63

That quickeneth (το ζωοποιουνto zōopoioun). Articular present active participle of ζωοποιεωzōopoieō for which see John 5:21. For the contrast between πνευμαpneuma (spirit) and σαρχsarx (flesh) see note on John 3:6.

The words (τα ρηματαta rēmata). Those in this discourse (I have just spoken, λελαληκαlelalēka), for they are the words of God (John 3:34; John 8:47; John 17:8). No wonder they “are spirit and are life” (πνευμα εστιν και ζωη εστινpneuma estin kai zōē estin). The breath of God and the life of God is in these words of Jesus. Never man spoke like Jesus (John 7:46). There is life in his words today.

Verse 64

That believe not (οι ου πιστευουσινhoi ou pisteuousin). Failure to believe kills the life in the words of Jesus.

Knew from the beginning (ηιδει εχ αρχηςēidei ex archēs). In the N.T. we have εχ αρχηςex archēs only here and John 16:4, but απ αρχηςap' archēs in apparently the same sense as here in John 15:27; 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:11 and see Luke 1:2; 1 John 1:1. From the first Jesus distinguished between real trust in him and mere lip service (John 2:24; John 8:31), two senses of πιστευωpisteuō

(εισινeisin). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse.

And who it was that should betray him
(και τις εστιν ο παραδωσωνkai tis estin ho paradōsōn). Same use of εστινestin and note article and future active participle of παραδιδωμιparadidōmi to hand over, to betray. John does not say here that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him when he chose him as one of the twelve, least of all that he chose him for that purpose. What he does say is that Jesus was not taken by surprise and soon saw signs of treason in Judas. The same verb is used of John‘s arrest in Matthew 4:12. Once Judas is termed traitor (προδοτηςprodotēs) in Luke 6:16. Judas had gifts and was given his opportunity. He did not have to betray Jesus.

Verse 65

Except it be given him of the Father (εαν μη ηι δεδομενον αυτωι εκ του πατροςean mē ēi dedomenon autōi ek tou patros). Condition of third class with εαν μηean mē and periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of διδωμιdidōmi Precisely the same point as in John 6:44 where we have ελκυσηιhelkusēi instead of ηι δεδομενονēi dedomenon The impulse to faith comes from God. Jesus does not expect all to believe and seems to imply that Judas did not truly believe.

Verse 66

Upon this (εκ τουτουek toutou). Same idiom in John 19:12. “Out of this saying or circumstance.” Jesus drew the line of cleavage between the true and the false believers.

Went back (απηλτον εις τα οπισωapēlthon eis ta opisō). Aorist (ingressive) active indicative of απερχομαιaperchomai with εις τα οπισωeis ta opisō “to the rear” (the behind things) as in John 18:6.

Walked no more with him
(ουκετι μετ αυτου περιεπατουνouketi met' autou periepatoun). Imperfect active of περιπατεωperipateō The crisis had come. These half-hearted seekers after the loaves and fishes and political power turned abruptly from Jesus, walked out of the synagogue with a deal of bluster and were walking with Jesus no more. Jesus had completely disillusioned these hungry camp-followers who did not care for spiritual manna that consisted in intimate appropriation of the life of Jesus as God‘s Son.

Verse 67

Would ye also go away? (Μη και υμεις τελετε υπαγεινMē kai humeis thelete hupagein). Jesus puts it with the negative answer (μηmē) expected. See John 21:5 where Jesus also uses μηmē in a question. Judas must have shown some sympathy with the disappointed and disappearing crowds. But he kept still. There was possibly restlessness on the part of the other apostles.

Verse 68

Lord, to whom shall we go? (Κυριε προς τινα απελευσομεταKurie class="translit"> pros tina apeleusometha). Peter is the spokesman as usual and his words mean that, if such a thought as desertion crossed their minds when the crowd left, they dismissed it instantly. They had made their choice. They accepted these very words of Jesus that had caused the defection as “the words of eternal life.”

Verse 69

We have believed (ημεις πεπιστευκαμενhēmeis pepisteukamen). Perfect active indicative of πιστευωpisteuō “We have come to believe and still believe” (John 6:29).

And know (και εγνωκαμενkai egnōkamen). Same tense of γινωσκωginōskō “We have come to know and still know.”

Thou art the Holy One of God
(συ ει ο αγιος του τεουsu ei ho hagios tou theou). Bernard follows those who believe that this is John‘s report of the same confession given by the Synoptics (Mark 8:27.; Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18.), an utterly unjustifiable conclusion. The details are wholly different. Here in the synagogue in Capernaum, there on Mt. Hermon near Caesarea Philippi. What earthly difficulty is there in supposing that Peter could make a noble confession twice? That is to my mind a wooden conception of the apostles in their growing apprehension of Christ.

Verse 70

And one of you is a devil (και εχ υμων εις διαβολος εστινkai ex humōn heis diabolos estin). Jesus does not say that Judas was a devil when he chose him, but that he is one now. In John 13:2, John 13:27 John speaks of the devil entering Judas. How soon the plan to betray Jesus first entered the heart of Judas we do not know (John 12:4). One wonders if the words of Jesus here did not cut Judas to the quick.

Verse 71

Of Simon Iscariot (Σιμωνος ΙσκαριωτουSimōnos Iskariōtou). So his father was named Iscariot also, a man of Kerioth (possibly in Judah, Joshua 15:25, possibly in Moab, Jeremiah 48:24), not in Galilee. Judas was the only one of the twelve not a Galilean. The rest of the verse is like John 12:4.

One of the twelve (εις εκ των δωδεκαheis ek tōn dōdeka). The eternal horror of the thing.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.