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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
John 6

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 6

John 6:2. ἑώρων] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐθεώρουν, after A. B. D. L. א. Cursives, Cyr. The origin of this reading betrays itself through A., which has ἐθεώρων, judging from which ἑώρων must have been the original reading. The ἐθεώρ. was all the more easily received, however, because John invariably uses the Perfect only of ὁρᾶν.

After this Elz. has αὐτοῦ, against decisive testimonies.

John 6:5. ἀγοράσομεν] Scholz, Lachm., Tisch., read ἀγοράσωμεν, in favour of which the great majority of the testimonies decide.

John 6:9. ἓν] is wanting in B. D. L. א. Cursives, Or. Cyr. Chrys. and some Verss. Rejected by Schulz after Gersd., bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. But how easily might it have been overlooked, because superfluous, and coming after the syllable ON! For Lachm and Tisch. read ὅς, following decisive witnesses; transcribers were easily led to make changes according to the grammatical gender.

John 6:11. After διέδωκε Elz. has τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταί, words which are wanting in A. B. L. א.* Cursives, Fathers, and almost all Versions. An enlargement in imitation of Matthew 14:19 and parallels.

John 6:15. Lachm. and Tisch. have rightly deleted αὐτόν after ποιήσ.; an addition wanting in A. B. L. א. Cursives, Or. Cyr.

John 6:17. οὐκ] B. D. L. א. Cursives, Versions (not Vulgate), and Fathers read οὔπω. So Lachm. and Tisch. A gloss introduced for the sake of more minute definition.

John 6:22. ἰδών] Lachm. reads εἶδον, after A. B. Chrys. Verss. (L. ιδον); D. א. Verss. read οἶδεν. The finite tense was introduced to make the construction easier.

After ἓν Elz. Scholz have ἐκεῖνο εἰς ἐμέβησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, against very important authorities. An explanatory addition, with many variations in detail.

πλοῖον] Elz.: πλοιάριον against decisive witnesses. Mechanical and careless (John 6:17; John 6:21) repetition borrowed from what precedes.

John 6:24. αὐτοί] Elz. καὶ αὐτοί, against decisive witnesses.

John 6:36. με is bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. The authorities against it are insufficient (only A. א. among the Codices), and it might easily have been left out after TE.

John 6:39. After με Elz. has πατρός, the omission of which is overwhelmingly attested. An addition.

John 6:40. τοῦ πατρός μου] So also Lachm. and Tisch. The Textus Receptus is τοῦ πέμψαντός με. Preponderance of testimony is in favour of the former; the latter is a repetition from John 6:39, whence also, instead of γάρ, the received reading δέ was inserted.

τῇ ἐσχ. ἡμ.] According to A. D. K. L., etc., ἐν τ. ἐσχ. ἡμ. is to be restored, as in John 6:39, where ἐν, indeed, is wanting in many witnesses; but that it was the original reading is indicated by the reading αὐτόν (instead of αὐτό). In John 6:54, also, ἐν is sufficiently confirmed, and (against Tisch.) is to be in like manner restored.

John 6:42. The second οὗτος has against it B. C. D. L. T. Cursives, Verss. Cyr. Chrys.; bracketed by Lachm. But it might easily have been overlooked as being unnecessary, and because the similar OTI follows.

John 6:45. ἀκούσας] ἀκούων, which Griesbach received and Scholz adopted, has important authority, but this is outweighed by the testimonies for the Received reading. It is nevertheless to be preferred; for, considering the following μαθών, the Aorist would easily occur to the transcribers who did not consider the difference of sense, οὖν before ἀκούων is to be struck out (with Lachm. and Tisch.) upon sufficient counter testimony, as being a connective addition. In John 6:51; John 6:54; John 6:57-58, the form ζήσει is, upon strong evidence, to be uniformly restored.

Concerning the omission of the words ἣν ἐγὼ δώσω in John 6:51, see the exegetical notes.

John 6:55. For ἀληθῶς Lachm. and Tisch. have both times ἀληθής, which is powerfully confirmed by B. C. K. L. T. Cursives, Versions (yet not the Vulgate), and Fathers (even Clement and Origen). The genuine ἀληθής, as seeming inappropriate, would be glossed and supplanted now by ἀληθῶς and now by ἀληθινή (already in Origen once).

John 6:58. After πατέρες, Elz. Scholz have ὑμῶν τὸ μάννα, Lachm. simply τὸ μάννα, both against very important testimony. An enlargement.

John 6:63. λελάληκα] Elz. λαλῶ, against decisive witnesses. Altered because the reference of the Perfect was not understood. Comp. John 14:10.

John 6:69. χριστὸς υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ] The reading ἅγιος τ. θεοῦ is confirmed by B. C.* D. L. א. Nonn. Cosm., and adopted by Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. The Received reading is from Matthew 16:16, whence also came the addition τοῦ ζῶντος in the Elz.

John 6:71. ἰσκαριώτην] Lachm. and Tisch. read ἰσκαριώτου, after B. C. G. L. 33, and Verss. So, after the same witnesses in part, in John 13:26. But as in John 14:22 ἰσκαριώτης occurs critically confirmed as the name of Judas himself (not of his father), and as the genitive might easily be introduced as explanatory of the name ( ἀπὸ καριώτου, as א. and many Cursives actually read here), the Received reading is to be retained. Had John regarded the name as designating the father of Judas, it would not be apparent why he did not use the genitive in John 14:22 also. See, besides, the exegetical notes.


Verse 1

John 6:1. The account of the Feeding is the same with that given in Matthew 14:13 ff., Mark 6:30 ff., Luke 9:10 ff., and serves as the basis of the discourse which follows, though Schweizer denies that John 6:1-26 proceed from John. The discrepancies in matters of detail are immaterial, and bear witness to the independence of John’s account. The author of this narrative, according to Baur, must have appropriated synoptical material for the purpose of his own exposition, and of elevating into a higher sphere the miracle itself, which in the Synoptics did not go beyond the supply of temporal needs. The historical connection with what precedes is not the same in John and in the Synoptics, and this must be simply acknowledged. To introduce more or less synoptical history into the space implied in μετὰ ταῦτα (Ebrard, Lange, Lichtenstein, and many), is not requisite in John, and involves much uncertainty in detail, especially as Matthew does not agree with Mark and Luke; for he puts the mission of the disciples earlier, and does not connect their return with the Miraculous Feeding. To interpolate their mission and return into John’s narrative, inserting the former at chap. John 5:1, and the latter at John 6:1, so that the disciples rejoined Jesus at Tiberias, is very hazardous; for John gives no hint of it, and in their silence concerning it Matthew and John agree (against Wieseler and most expositors). According to Ewald, at a very early date, a section, “probably a whole sheet,” between chap. 5 and 6, was altogether lost. But there is no indication of this in the text, nor does it form a necessary presupposition for the succeeding portions of the narrative (as John 7:21).

μετὰ ταῦτα] after these transactions at the feast of Purim, chap. 5.

ἀπῆλθεν] from Jerusalem; whither? πέραν τ. θαλ., κ. τ. λ., tells us. Thuc. i. 111. 2, ii. 67. 1 : πορευθῆναι πέραν τοῦ ἑλλησπόντου; Plut. Per. 19; 1 Maccabees 9:34; and comp. John 6:17. To suppose some place in Galilee, of starting from which ἀπῆλθεν is meant (Brückner, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Godet, and earlier critics),

Capernaum, for example,—is, after John 5:1, quite arbitrary. ἀπῆλθε πέραν, κ. τ. λ., rather implies: ἀπολιπὼν ἱεροσόλυμα ἦλθε πέραν, κ. τ. λ. Comp. John 10:40, John 18:1.

τῆς τιβερ.] does not imply that He set sail from Tiberias (Paulus), as the genitive of itself might indicate (Kühner, II. 160), though this use of it does not occur in the N. T.; it is the chorographical genitive (Krüger, xlvii. 5. 5–7), more closely describing τῆς θαλάσσ. τῆς γαλιλ. (comp. Vulg. and Beza: “mare Galilaeae, quod est Tiberiadis”). Therefore “on the other side of the Galilaean lake of Tiberias,” thus denoting the southern half of the lake, on the western shore of which lay the town built by Antipas, and called after the emperor Tiberias. Comp. John 21:1. In Pausan. v. 7. 3, the entire lake is called λίμνη τιβερίς. In Matthew and Luke we find the name θάλασσα τῆς γαλιλ. only; in Luke 5:1 : λίμνη γεννησαρέτ. Had John intended τῆς τιβεριάδος not as a more exact description of the locality, but only for the sake of foreign readers (Lücke, Godet, Ewald, and others), it would have been sufficient to have omitted τῆς γαλιλ. (comp. John 21:1), which indeed is wanting in G. and a few other witnesses.


Verse 2-3

John 6:2-3. ἠκολούθει] on this journey, continuously.

ἑώρων] not had seen (against Schweizer, B. Crusius), but saw. He performed them ( ἐποίει) upon the way.

ἐπὶ τ. ἀσθ.] among the sick. Dem. 574. 3; Plat. Pol. iii. p. 399 A Bernhardy, p. 246.

εἰς τὸ ὄρος] upon the mountain which was there. See on Matthew 5:1. The mountain was certainly on the other side of the lake, but we cannot determine the locality more nearly. The loneliness of the mountain does not contradict Matthew 14:13, nor does the eastern side of the lake contradict Luke 9:10 ff. (see in loc.).


Verse 4

John 6:4. ἐγγύς] close at hand. See on John 5:1. Paulus wrongly renders it not long since past. See, on the contrary, John 2:13, John 7:2, John 11:55. The statement is intended as introductory to John 6:5, explaining how it happened (comp. John 11:55) that Jesus, after He had withdrawn to the mountain, was again attended by a great multitude (John 6:5),—a thing which could not have happened had not the Passover been nigh. It was another crowd (not, as is commonly assumed, that named in John 6:2, which had followed Him in His progress towards the lake), composed of pilgrims to the feast, who therefore were going the opposite way, from the neighbourhood of the lake in the direction of Jerusalem. Thus John 6:4 is not a mere chronological note (B. Crusius, Maier, Brückner, Ewald), against which the analogy of John 7:2 (with the οὖν following, John 6:3) is decisive; nor is it, because every more specific hint to that effect is wanting, to be looked upon as referring by anticipation(224) to the following discourse of Jesus concerning eating His flesh and blood as the antitype of the Passover (B. Bauer; comp. Baur, p. 262, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, and already Lampe).

ἑορτὴ τ. ἰουδαίων] κατ. ἐξοχήν. There is no intimation that Jesus Himself went up to this feast (Lücke). See rather John 7:1.


Verse 5-6

John 6:5-6. According to the reading ἀγοράσωμεν, whence are we to buy? deliberative conjunctive. The fact that Jesus thus takes the initiative (as host, Ewald thinks, but this is not enough), and takes action without the prompting of any expressed need, however real, is not to be explained merely on the supposition that this is an abridgment (Lücke, Neander, Hengstenberg) of the synoptical account (Matthew 14:15); it is a discrepancy, which, however, does not destroy the fact that John was an eye-witness. It is purely arbitrary on Baur’s part to assume the design to be that of directing attention more directly to the spiritual purpose of the miracle, or, with Hilgenfeld, to regard all here as composed out of synoptical materials to prove the omnipotence of the Logos. The most simple and obvious course is to explain the representation given as flowing from the preponderating idea of the Messiah’s autonomy.(225) See on Matthew 14:15. It is an analogous case when Jesus Himself gave occasion to and introduced the miracle at Bethesda, John 5:6. It is a supplement to the narrative in the Synoptics, that Jesus discussed with Philip (John 1:44) the question of bread. Why with him? According to Bengel, because it fell to him to manage the res alimentaria, which is improbable, for Judas was treasurer, John 13:29. Judging from John 6:6, we might say it was because Philip had to be tested according to his intellectual idiosyncrasy (John 14:8 ff.), and convinced of his inability to advise. The πειράζειν does not signify the trial of faith (so usually, even Hengstenberg), but, as αὐτὸς γὰρ ᾔδει shows, was a test whether he could here suggest any expedient; and the answer of the disciple (John 6:7) conveys only the impression that he knew of none. This consciousness, howzever, was intended also to prepare the disciple, who so closely resembled Thomas, and for whom the question, therefore, had an educative purpose, the more readily to feel, by the new and coming miracle, how the power of faith in the divine agency of his Lord transcended all calculations of the intellect. This was too important a matter for Jesus with respect to that disciple, to allow us to suppose that πειράζων αὐτόν is a mere notion of John’s own, which had its origin among the transfiguring recollections of a later time (Ewald). ηἴδει τῶν ΄αθητῶν τοὺς ΄άλιστα δεο΄ένους πλείονος διδασκαλίας, Theodore of Mopsuestia; in which there is nothing to suggest our attributing to Philip a “simplicité naïve,” Godet.

αὐτός] Himself, without having any need to resort to the advice of another.

Vers. 7–9. For 200 denarii (about 80 Rhenish Guldens, nearly £7) we cannot get bread enough for them, etc. This amount is not named as the contents of the purse, but generally as a large sum, which nevertheless was inadequate to meet the need. Different in Mark 6:37.

John 6:8-9. A special trait of originality.

εἷς ἐκ τ. μαθητ. αὐτοῦ] may seem strange, for Philip was himself a disciple, and it is explained by Wassenbach as a gloss. It has, however, this significance; Philip had been specially asked, and after he had answered so helplessly, another from the circle of the disciples, viz. Andrew, directed a communication to the Lord, which, though made with a consciousness of helplessness, was made the instrument for the further procedure of Jesus.

παιδάριον ἕν] who had these victuals for sale as a market boy, not a servant of the company, B. Crusius. It may be read one single lad (Matthew 11:16), or even one single young slave (see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 240; Schleusner, Thes. III. p. 160). Comp. the German ein Bürschchen (a lad), as also the manner in which παιδιόν is used (Aristoph. Ran. 37; Nub. 131). In which of the two senses it stands here we cannot decide. In neither case can ἕν stand for τί, but ἕν, as well as the diminutive παιδίον, helps to describe the meagre-ness of the resource, the emphasis, however, being on the latter; and hence ἕν follows, which is not to be taken as an argument against its genuineness (Gersd. p. 420; Lücke, and most others), though in all other places, when John uses εἷς with a substantive (John 7:21, John 8:41, John 10:16, John 11:50, John 18:14, John 20:7), the numeral has the emphasis, and therefore takes the lead. But here: “one single lad,” a mere boy, who can carry little enough!

ἄρτους κριθίνους] comp. Xen. Anab. iv. 5. 31; Luc. Macrob. 5. Barley bread was eaten mainly by the poorer classes; Judges 7:13, and Studer, in loc.; Liv. xxvii. 13; Sen. ep. xviii. 8; see also Wetstein and Kypke, I. p. 368.

ὀψάριον] denotes generally a small relish, but in particular used, as here (comp. John 21:9; John 21:13), of fish. It belongs to later Greek. See Wetstein.

εἰς τοσούτους] for so many. Comp. Xen. Anab. i. 1. 10 : εἰς δισχιλίους μισθόν.


Verses 10-13

John 6:10-13. οἱ ἄνδρες] They were men only who formally sat down to the meal, as may be explained from the subordinate position of the women and children; but the feeding of these latter, whose presence we must assume from John 6:4, is not, as taking place indirectly, excluded.

τὸν ἀριθμόν] Accusative of closer definition. See Lobeck, Paralip. p. 528.

John 6:11. εὐχαρ.] The grace before meat said by the host. See on Matthew 14:19. There is no indication that it contained a special petition (“that God would let this little portion feed so many,” Luthardt, comp. Tholuck).

διέδωκε] He distributed the bread (by the disciples) collectively to those who were sitting; and of the fishes as much as they desired.(226)

John 6:12. It is not given as a command of Jesus in the synoptical account. As to the miracle itself,(227) and the methods of explaining it away, wholly or in part, see on Matthew 14:20-21, note, and on Luke 9:17, and observe besides on John 6:13, that according to John the twelve baskets were filled with fragments of bread only (otherwise in Mark 6:43).

Luthardt, without any sanction from the text, assumes a typical reference in the baskets to the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus will not have anything wasted, and each apostle fills his travelling wallet with the surplus. John indicates nothing further, not even that the Lord wished to provide ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ φαντασία τις τὸ γενόμενον (Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, and most others).


Verse 14-15

John 6:14-15. προφήτης, κ. τ. λ.] the Prophet who (according to the promise in Deuteronomy 18:15) cometh into the world, i.e. the Messiah.

ἁρπάζειν] come and carry Him away by force (Acts 8:39; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17), i.e. to Jerusalem, as the seat of the theocracy, whither they were journeying to the feast.

πάλιν] comp. John 6:3. He had come down from the mountain on account of the feeding, John 6:11.

αὐτὸς μόνος] as in John 12:24. See Toup. ad Longin. p. 526; Weisk.; Heind. ad Charm, p. 62.

The enthusiasm, of the people being of so sensuous a kind, does not contradict John 6:26.

The solitude which Jesus sought was, according to Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, that of prayer, and this does not contradict John’s account; both accounts supplement each other.


Verses 16-21

John 6:16-21. Comp. Matthew 14:22 ff., Mark 6:45 ff., which do not refer to a different walking on the sea (Chrysostom, Lücke).

ὡς δὲ ὀψία ἐγένετο] According to John 6:17, the time meant is late in the evening, i.e. the so-called second evening, as in Matthew 14:24, from the twelfth hour until the ( σκοτία, John 6:17. See on Matthew 14:15.

εἰς τὸ πλοῖον] into the ship, in which they had crossed over (John 6:1). In it they now return to the western side of the lake. So Luthardt rightly. But it does not follow that Jerusalem could not have been the place of departure in John 6:1; John 6:1 rather implies that they had travelled from Jerusalem to the western shore of the lake, and had crossed over from thence.

ἤρχοντο] They were upon their return journey, coming across, but the coming was not yet completed. Lampe and Paulus erroneously speak of their actual arrival, what follows being taken as supplementary. In Mark 6:45 Bethsaida is named (on the western shore). An immaterial discrepancy. See on Matthew 14:22-23.

καὶ σκοτίαδιηγείρετο] describing how little they could have expected that Jesus would come after them.

John 6:19. ὡς σταδίουςτριά κοντα] indicative of an eye-witness, and almost agreeing with μέσον in Matthew 14:24, for the lake was forty stadia or one geographical mile wide (Josephus, Bell. iii. 10. 7).

θεωροῦσι and ἐφοβήθ.] Correlatives; quite unfavourable to the naturalistic interpretation, according to which ἐπὶ τ. θαλ. is said to mean not on the sea, but towards the sea (so Paulus, Gfrörer, and many, even B. Crusius; but see, on the contrary, note on Matthew 14:25).

John 6:21. ἤθελον, κ. τ. λ.] comp. John 1:44; but observe the Imperfect here. After Jesus had reassured them by His call, they wish to take Him into the ship, and straightway (while entertaining this ἐθέλειν) the ship is at the land, i.e. by the wonder working power of Jesus, both with respect to the distance from the shore, which was still far off, and the fury of the sea, which had just been raging, but was now suddenly calmed. The idea that Jesus, to whom the disciples had stretched out their hands, had just come on board the ship, introduces a foreign element (against Luthardt and Godet), for the sake of bringing the account into harmony with Matthew and Mark. The discrepancy with Matthew and Mark, according to whom Christ was actually received into the ship, must not be explained away, especially as in John a more wonderful point, peculiar to his account, is introduced by the καὶ εὐθέως, etc., which makes the actual reception superfluous (Hengstenberg, following Bengel, regards it as implied). An unhappy attempt at harmonizing renders it, “they willingly received Him” (Beza, Grotius, Kuinoel, Ammon, etc.; see, on the contrary, Winer, p. 436 [E. T. p. 586]; Buttmann, N. T. Gk. p. 321 [E. T. p. 375]), which cannot be supported by a supposed antithesis of previous unwillingness (Ebrard, Tholuck), but would be admissible only if the text represented the will and the deed as undoubtedly simultaneous. See the passages given in Sturz, Lex. Xen.; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. 596. John would in that case have written ἐθέλοντες οὖν ἔλαβον.

εἰς ὑπῆγον] to which they were intending by this journey to remove.

The miracle itself cannot be resolved into a natural occurrence,(228) nor be regarded as a story invented to serve Docetic views (Hilgenfeld); see on Matthew 14:24-25. The latter opinion appears most erroneous, especially in the case of John,(229) not only generally because his Gospel, from John 1:14 onwards to its close, excludes all Docetism, but also because he only introduces, with all brevity, the narrative before us by way of transition to what follows, without taking pains to lay emphasis upon the miraculous, and without adding any remark or comment, and consequently without any special doctrinal purpose; and thus the attribution of the occurrence of any symbolical design, e.g. prophetically to shadow forth the meetings of the risen Lord with His disciples (Luthardt), or the restless sea of the world upon which Christ draws nigh to His people after long delay (Hengstenberg), is utterly remote from a true exegesis. Weizsäcker’s narrowing of the event, moreover,—abstracting the miraculous element in the development of the history,—into an intervention of the Lord to render help, does such violence to the text, and to the plain meaning of the evangelist, that the main substance of the narrative would be thus explained away. The design, however, which Baur propounds, viz. that the greedy importunity of the people might be set forth, only to experience the cold hand of denial, and to bring out the spiritual side of the miracle of the feeding, would not have required this miraculous voyage in order to its realization.


Verses 22-24

John 6:22-24. The complicated sentence (so seldom occurring in John; comp. John 13:1 ff., 1 John 1:1 ff.) here proceeds in such a manner that the ὄχλος which, without further government, stands at the head as the subject of the whole, is again taken up(230) in John 6:24 by ὅτι οὖν εἶδεν ὄχλος, while John 6:23 is a parenthesis, preparing the way for the passing over of the people in the following clause. The participial clause, ἰδὼν ὅτι ἀπῆλθον, is subordinate to the ἑστηκὼς πέραν τ. θαλ., and gives the explanation why the people expected Jesus on the next day still on the east side of the lake. John’s narrative accordingly runs thus: “The next day, the people who were on the other side of the lake, because (on the previous evening, John 6:16 f.) they had seen that no other ship was there save only the one, and that Jesus did not get into the ship with His disciples, but that His disciples only sailed away, [but other ships came from Tiberias near to the place, etc.],—when now the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples,(231) finding themselves mistaken in their expectation of meeting with Him still on the eastern shore, they themselves embarked in the ships,” etc. As to details, observe further, (1) that πέραν τ. θαλ. in John 6:22 means the eastern side of the lake in John 6:1, but in John 6:25 the western; (2) that ἰδών is spoken with reference to the previous day, when the multitude had noticed the departure of the disciples in the evening, so that the conjecture of εἰδώς (Ewald) is unnecessary; that, on the contrary, ὅτι οὖν εἶδεν, John 6:24, indicates that they became aware to-day,—a difference which is the point in the cumbrously constructed sentence that most easily misleads the reader; (3) that the transit of the ships from Tiberias, John 6:23, occurred while the people were still on the eastern shore, and gave them an appropriate opportunity, when they were undeceived in their expectation, of looking for Jesus on the western shore; (4) that αὐτοί, ipsi, indicates that, instead of waiting longer for Jesus to come to them, they themselves set out, and availed themselves of the opportunity presented of looking for Jesus on the other side, by embarking in the ships that had arrived, and sailing across to Capernaum, the well-known place of our Lord’s abode; (5) that the circumstantial character of the description of things throughout indicates the vivid communication of an eye-witness, which John had received, and does not permit of our taking the transit of the people (which, however, must not be pressed as including the whole 5000) as invented to confirm the story of the walking on the sea (Strauss).


Verse 25-26

John 6:25-26.(232) πέραν τ. θαλάσσ.] in the synagogue at Capernaum, John 6:59. But πέραν τ. θαλ. has importance pragmatically, as showing that it formed a subject of amazement to them to find Him already on the western shore.

πότε] when? for it must have been, at the earliest, after the arrival of the disciples (John 6:22); and in this lay the incomprehensible how? no other boat having crossed, and the journey round by land being too far. They have a dim impression of something miraculous; “quaestio de tempore includit quaestionem de modo,” Bengel. Jesus does not enter upon their question, nor gratify their curiosity, but immediately charges them with the unspiritual motive that prompted them to seek Him, in order to point them to higher spiritual food. For γέγονας, venisti, see on John 1:15.

οὐχἀλλ.] not “non tam … quam” (Kuinoel, etc.); the ὅτι εἴδετε σημ. is absolutely denied. Comp. Fritzsche, ad Marc. Exc. II. p. 773. In the miraculous feeding they should have seen a divinely significant reference to the higher Messianic bread of life, and this ought to have led them to seek Jesus; but it was only the material satisfaction derived from the miraculous feeding that brought them to Him, as they hoped that He would further satisfy their carnal Messianic notions.

σημεῖα] They had seen the outward miracle, the mere event itself, but not the spiritual significance of it,—that wherein the real essence of the σημεῖον, in the true conception of it, consisted. The plural is not intended to include the healings of the sick, John 6:2 (Bengel, Lücke, and most others), against which see John 6:4, but refers only to the feeding, as the antithesis ἀλλʼ ὅτι shows, and it is therefore to be taken generically, as the plural of category.


Verse 27

John 6:27. “Strive to obtain, not the food which perisheth, but the food which endureth unto life eternal.” The activity and labour of acquiring implied in ἐργάζεσθαι (laborando sibi comparare; comp. ἐργάζ. τὰ ἐπιτήδεια, Dem. 1358. 12; ἐργάζ. βρῶμα, Palaeph. xxi. 2; ἐργάζ. θησαυρούς, Theodot. Prov xxi. 6; see especially Stephan. Thes. Ed. Hase, III. p. 1968) consists, when applied to the everlasting food, in striving and struggling after it, without which effort Jesus does not bestow it. We must come believingly to Him, must follow Him, must deny ourselves, and so on. Then we receive from Him, in ever-increasing measure, divine grace and truth, by a spiritual appropriation of Himself; and this is the abiding food, which for ever quickens and feeds the inner man; the thing itself not being really different from the water, which for ever quenches thirst (John 4:14). See on βρῶσις, John 4:32, also, and the οὐράνιος τροφή in Philo, de profug. p. 749; Allegor. p. 92. According to this view, the thought conveyed in ἐργάζεσθαι, as thus contrasted with that of δώσει on the other side, cannot be regarded as strange (against De Wette); both conceptions rather are necessary correlatives. Philippians 2:12-13.

τὴν ἀπολλυμ.] not merely in its power, but in its very nature; it is digested and ceases to be (Matthew 15:17; 1 Corinthians 6:13). On the contrast, τ. μένουσ. εἰς ζ. αἰ., comp. John 4:14, John 12:25.

ἐσφραγ.] sealed, i.e. authenticated (see on John 3:33), namely, as the appointed Giver of this food; in what way? see John 5:36-39.

θεός] emphatically added at the end to give greater prominence to the highest authority.


Verse 28-29

John 6:28-29. The people perceive that a moral requirement is signified by τὴν βρῶσιν τ. μένουσαν, etc.; they do not understand what, but they think that Jesus means works, which God requires to be done ( ἔργα τ. θεοῦ, comp. Matthew 6:33; Revelation 2:26; Baruch 2:9; Jeremiah 48:10). Therefore the question, “What are we to do, to work the works required by God?” (which thou seemest to mean). ἐργάζεσθαι ἔργα, “to perform works,” very common in all Greek (see on John 3:21): ἐργάζ. here, therefore, is not to be taken as in John 6:27.

John 6:29. See Luthardt in the Stud. u. Krit. 1852, p. 333 ff. Instead of the many ἔργα θεοῦ which they, agreeably to their legal standing-point, had in view, Jesus mentions only one ἔργον, in which, however, all that God requires of them is contained—the work (the moral act) of faith. Of this one divinely appointed and all-embracing work—the fundamental virtue required by God—the manifold ἔργα τοῦ θεοῦ are only different manifestations.

In the purpose expressed by τοῦτοἵνα there lies the idea: “This is the work which God wills, ye must believe.” Comp. John 5:47, John 15:8; John 15:12, John 17:3; 1 John 4:17; 1 John 5:3. See on Philippians 1:9. And this fundamental requirement repeatedly recurs in the following discourses, John 6:35-36; John 6:40; John 6:47, etc.


Verse 30-31

John 6:30-31. οὖν] What doest thou, therefore, as a sign? for they knew well enough that by ὃν ἀπέστ. ἐκεῖνος He meant Himself, and that, too, as Messiah. Hence also the emphatic σύ, thou, on thy part. The question itself does not imply that it is asked by those who had not seen the miraculous feeding the day before (Grotius), or by prominent Jews in the synagogue (Kuinoel, Klee). Moreover, this demand for a sign after the miracle of the feeding must not be regarded as contradictory and unhistorical (Kern, B. Bauer, Weisse), nor as a proof of the non-Johannine origin (Schweizer), or non-miraculous procedure (Schenkel), in the account of the feeding. For the questioners, in their ἀναίσθησις (Chrysostom), indicate at once (John 6:31), that having been miraculously fed with earthly food, they, in their desire for miracles, require something higher to warrant their putting the required faith in Him, and expect a sign from heaven, heavenly bread, such as God had given by Moses. Thus they explain their own question, which would be strange only if John 6:31 did not immediately follow. Their eagerness for Messianic miraculous attestation (John 6:14-15) had grown during the night. This also against De Wette, who, with Weisse, concludes that this discourse was not originally connected with the miraculous feeding; see, on the contrary, Brückner.

τί ἐργάζῃ] a sarcastic retorting of the form of the requirement given, John 6:27; John 6:29. Not to be explained as if it were τί σὺ ἐργ. (De Wette), but what dost thou perform (as σημεῖον)?

γεγραμμ.] a free quotation of Psalms 78:24; comp. Psalms 105:40, Exodus 16:4, where the subject of ἔδωκεν is God, but by the medium of Moses, this being taken for granted as known (John 6:32). The Jews regarded the dispensing of the manna as the greatest miracle (see Lampe). As they now regarded Moses as in general a type of Christ (Schoettgen, Hor. II. p. 475), they also hoped in particular, “Redemtor prior descendere fecit pro iis manna; sic et redemtor posterior descendere faciet manna.” Midrash Coheleth, f. 86. 4.


Verse 32-33

John 6:32-33. Jesus does not mean to deny the miraculous and heavenly origin of the manna in itself (Paulus), nor to argue polemically concerning the O. T. manna (Schenkel), but He denies its origin as heavenly in the higher ideal sense (comp. τὸν ἀληθινόν). The antithesis is not between the ἀήρ and the κυρίως οὐρανός (Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Grotius, and most others), but between the type and the antitype in its full realization.

ὑμῖν] your nation.

ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ] here and in the second half of the verse to be joined to δέδωκεν (and δίδωσιν): “It is not Moses who dispensed to you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who dispenseth to you from heaven that bread which is the true bread.” In John 6:31, too, ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ is to be joined with ἔδωκεν; and observe also, that in Exodus 16:4 מִן הַשָּׁמָיִם belongs not to לֶחֶם, but to מַמְטִיר. The expression ἐκ τοῦ οὐρ. is taken from Exodus 16:4; for, if we follow Psalms 78:24; Psalms 105:40 (where שׁמים is an attribute of bread), we should have ἄρτον οὐρανοῦ. Comp. Targ. Jonath. Deuteronomy 34:6 : “Deus fecit descendere filiis Israel panem de coelo.”

δίδωσιν] continuously; for Jesus means Himself and His work.

τὸν ἀληθινόν] corresponding in reality to the idea. See on John 1:9. ἐκεῖνος γὰρ ἄρτος τυπικὸς ἦν, προτυπῶν, φησὶν, ἐμὲ τὸν αὐτοαλήθειαν ὄντα, Euthymius Zigabenus. This defining word, placed emphatically at the end, explains at the same time the negative statement at the beginning of the verse.

John 6:33. Proof that it is the Father who gives, etc. (John 6:32); for it is none other than the bread which is being bestowed by God, that comes down from heaven and giveth life to the world. The argument proceeds ab effectu ( καταβ.… κόσμῳ) ad causam ( ἄρτος τοῦ θεοῦ).

καταβαίνων, κ. τ. λ.] refers to ἄρτος, and states its specific property, both as to its origin and working, both being essentially connected; it does not refer to Jesus (“He who cometh down,” etc.), though, in the personal application of the general affirmation, Jesus, by the bread, represents, and must represent, Himself; and hence the expression “cometh down” (against Grotius, Dav. Schulz, Olshausen, Fritzsche in his Novis opusc. p. 221, Godet, and others). The direct reference to Jesus would anticipate the subsequent advance of the discourse (John 6:35), and would require καταβάς (John 6:41; comp. John 6:48). See on John 6:50.

ζωήν] life. Without this bread, humanity ( κόσμος) is dead in the view of Jesus—dead spiritually (John 6:35) and eternally (John 6:39-40).


Verse 34

John 6:34 ff. πάντοτε] emphatically takes the lead.

The request is like that in John 4:15, but here, too, without irony (against Calvin, Bengel, Lampe), which would have implied unbelief in His power to give such bread. To explain the words as prompted by a dim presentiment concerning the higher gift (Lücke, B. Crusius, and most other expositors), is not in keeping with the stiffnecked antagonism of the Jews in the course of the following conversation. There is no trace of a further development of the supposed presentiment, nor of any approval and encouragement of it on the part of Jesus. The Jews, on the contrary, with their carnal minds, are quite indifferent whether anything supersensuous, and if so, what, is meant by that bread. They neither thought of an outward glory, which they ask for (Luthardt),—for they could only understand, from the words of Jesus, something analogous to the manna, though of a higher kind, perhaps “a magic food or means of life from heaven” (Tholuck),—nor had their thoughts risen to the spiritual nature of this mysterious bread. But, at any rate, they think that the higher manna, of which He speaks, would be a welcome gift to them, which they could always use. And they could easily suppose that He was capable of a still more miraculous distribution, who had even now so miraculously fed them with ordinary bread. Their unbelief (John 6:36) referred to Jesus Himself as that personal bread of life, to whom, indeed, as such, their carnal nature was closed.

John 6:35-36. Explanation and censure.

ἐγώ] with powerful emphasis. Comp. John 4:26.

ἄρτος τ. ζωῆς] ζωὴν διδοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ, John 6:33. Comp. John 6:68.

ἐρχόμ. πρός με] of a believing coming (John 5:40); comp. John 6:47; John 6:44-45; John 6:65. For ἐρχόμ. and πιστεύων, as also their correlatives οὐ μὴ πειν. and οὐ μὴ διψ., do not differ as antecedent and consequent (Weiss), but are only formally kept apart by means of the parallelism. This parallelism of the discourse, now become more excited, occasioned the addition of the οὐ μὴ διψήσῃ, which is out of keeping with the metaphor hitherto employed, and anticipates the subsequent turn which the discourse takes to the eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood. We must not imagine that by this a superiority to the manna is intended to be expressed, the manna being able to satisfy hunger only (Lücke); for both οὐ μὴ πειν. and οὐ μὴ διψ. signify the same thing—the everlasting satisfaction of the higher spiritual need. Comp. Isaiah 49:10.

ἀλλʼ εἶπον ὑμῖν] But I would have you told that, etc. Notice, therefore, that on ὅτι ἑωράκ., κ. τ. λ., does not refer to a previous declaration, as there is not such a one (Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein, Godet, and most others: to John 6:26; Lücke, De Wette: to John 6:37-40; Euthymius Zigabenus: to an unwritten statement; Ewald: to one in a supposed fragment, now lost, which preceded chap. 6; Brückner: to a reproof which runs through the whole Gospel); on the contrary, the statement is itself announced by εἶπον (dictum velim). See, for this use of the word, Bernhardy, p. 381; Kühner, II. § 443. 1. In like manner John 11:42. In classical Greek, very common in the Tragedians; see especially Herm. ad Viger. p. 746.

καὶ ἑωράκ. με κ. οὐ πιστ.] ye have even seen me (not simply heard of me, but even are eye-witnesses of my Messianic activity), and believe not. On the first καί, comp. John 9:37, and see generally Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 3. 1; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 149 ff.


Verse 37

John 6:37 ff. Through this culpable οὐ πιστεύετε, they were quite different from those whom the Father gave Him. How entirely different were all these latter; and how blessed through me, according to the Father’s will, must their lot be!

πᾶν] Neuter, of persons as in John 3:6, John 18:2; 1 Corinthians 1:27. It designates them as a “totam, quasi massam,” Bengel.

δίδ. μοι πατ.] viz. by the efficacious influence of His grace (John 6:44-45), whereby He inclines them to come, and draws them to me; οὐ τὸ τυχὸν πρᾶγμα πίστις εἰς ἐμέ. ἀλλὰ τῆς ἄνωθεν δεῖται ῥοπῆς, Chrysostom. Moral self-determination (John 5:40, John 7:17; Matthew 23:37) may obey this influence (John 6:40), and may withstand it; he who withstands it is not given Him by the Father, Philippians 2:13. “There is implied here a humble, simple, hungering and thirsting soul,” Luther. Explanations resting on dogmatic preconceptions are: of the absolute election of grace (Augustine, Beza, and most others(233)), of the natural pietatis studium (Grotius), and others.

πρὸς ἐμέ] afterwards πρός ΄ε. But ἐ΄έ is emphatic. The ἥξει is not more (arrivera jusqu’à moi, Godet) than ἐλεύσεται, as John 6:35 already shows; comp. the following κ. τ. ἐρχό΄ενον, with which ἥξω is again resumed.

οὐ ΄ὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω] I certainly will not cast him out, i.e. will not exclude him from my kingdom on its establishment; comp. John 6:39-40; John 15:6; also Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13. The negative expression is a litotes full of love; Nonnus adds: ἀλλὰ νόῳ χαίροντι δεδέξομαι.

John 6:38-39. “How could I cast them out, seeing that I am come only to fulfil the divine will? and this requires of me, not the rejection of any one, but the blessed opposite.”

οὐχ ἵνα, κ. τ. λ.] Comp. John 5:30.

τοῦτο δὲ πέ΄ψ. ΄ε] impressive repetition of the same words.

πᾶν δέδωκε, κ. τ. λ.] Nominative absolute, unconnected with the following, and significantly put first. Comp. John 8:38, John 15:2, John 17:2; and see on Matthew 7:24; Matthew 10:14; Matthew 10:32; Matthew 12:36; Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 325 [E. T. p. 379]. Here the Perfect δέδωκε, because spoken from the standing-point of the future.

μὴ ἀπολ. ἐξ αὐτοῦ] sc. τι; see Fritzsche, Conject. p. 36. The conception of losing (i.e. of letting fall down to eternal death; see the antithesis ἀλλὰ, etc.) is correlative to that of the δέδωκέ ΄οι. Comp. John 17:12.

ἀναστήσω, κ. τ. λ.] of the actual resurrection at the last day (comp. John 5:29, John 11:24, John 12:48), which, as a matter of course, includes the transformation of those still living. The designation of the thing is a potiori. It is the first resurrection that is meant (see on Luke 14:14; Luke 20:34; Philippians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:23), that to the everlasting life of the Messianic kingdom. See on John 5:29. Bengel well says: “hic finis est, ultra quem periculum nullum.” Comp. the recurrence of this blessed refrain, John 6:40; John 6:44; John 6:54, which, in the face of this solemn recurrence, Scholten regards as a gloss.


Verse 40

John 6:40. Explanation, and consequently an assigning of the reason for the statement of God’s will, John 6:39; the words τοῦτο, etc., being an impressive anaphora, and τοῦ πατρός μου being spoken instead of τοῦ πέμψ. με, because at the close Jesus means to describe Himself, with still more specific definiteness, as the Son.

θεωρ. τὸν υἱὸν κ. πιστ. εἰς αὐτ.] characterizes those meant by the δέδωκέ μοι. There is implied in θεωρ. the attenta contemplatio ( τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς τῆς ψυχῆς, Euthymius Zigabenus), the result of which is faith. Observe the carefully chosen word (Tittmann, Synon. p. 121; Grotius, in loc.). The Jews have seen Him, and have not believed, John 6:36. One must contemplate Him, and believe.

ἔχῃ and ἀναστήσω are both dependent upon ἵνα. There is nothing decisive against the rendering of καὶ ἀναστ. independently (Vulgate, Luther, Luthardt, Hengstenberg), but the analogy of John 6:39 does not favour it. Observe the change of tenses. The believer is said to have eternal Messianic life already in its development in time (see on John 3:15), but its perfect completion(234) at the last day by means of the resurrection; therefore ἀναστήσω after the ἔχειν of the ζωὴ αἰών.

ἐγώ] from the consciousness of Messianic power. Comp. John 6:44; John 6:54.


Verse 41-42

John 6:41-42. “They murmured, and this μετʼ ἀλλήλων, John 6:43, against Him with reference to what He had said, viz. that,” etc. Upon all the rest they reflect no further, but this assertion of Jesus impresses them all the more offensively, and among themselves they give expression half aloud to their dissatisfaction. This last thought is not contained in the word itself (comp. John 7:32; John 7:12; according to Pollux, v. 89, it was also used of the cooing of doves), but in the context ( οἱ ἰουδαῖοι). We are not therefore, as De Wette supposes, to think of it merely as a whispering. Comp. rather John 6:61; Matthew 20:11; Luke 5:30; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 14:27; Sirach 10:24; Judith 5:22; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 358.

οἱ ἰουδαῖοι] The opposition party among the Jews were therefore among the ὄχλος (John 6:5; John 6:22; John 6:24). Even in the congregation of the synagogue itself (John 6:59), though it included many followers of Jesus (John 6:60), there may have been present members of the spiritual aristocracy (see on John 1:19). The assumption that the ὄχλος itself is here called οἱ ἰουδαῖοι, on account of its refusal to recognise Jesus (De Wette, Tholuck, Baur, Brückner, Hengstenberg, Godet, and most others), is more far-fetched, for hitherto the ὄχλος had shown itself sensuously eager indeed after miracles, but not hostile.

ἐγώ εἰμι ἄρτος κ. τ. λ.] compiled from John 6:33; John 6:35; John 6:38.

οὗτος] on both occasions, contemptuously.

ἡμεῖς] we on our part.

οἴδαμεν τ. πατ. κ. τ. μητ.] This human descent which they knew (comp. Matthew 13:55) seemed to them in contradiction with that assertion, and to exclude the possibility of its truth. Hebrews 7:3 ( ἀπάτωρ ἀμήτωρ) does not apply here, because it is not a question of the Messiahship of Jesus, but of His coming down from heaven.

τὸν πατέρα κ. τὴν μητ.] The words, on the face of them, convey the impression that both were still alive; the usual opinion that Joseph (whom subsequent tradition represents as already an old man at the time of his espousal with Mary; see Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 361) was already dead, cannot, to say the least, be certainly proved (comp. also Keim, Gesch. J. I. 426), though in John also he is entirely withdrawn from the history.


Verse 43-44

John 6:43-44. Jesus does not enter upon a solution of this difficulty, but admonishes them not to trouble themselves with it; they should not dwell upon such questions, but upon something far higher; the “drawing” of the Father is the condition of participation in His salvation.

The ἑλκύειν is not simply a strengthening of the διδόναι in John 6:37-38, but specifies the method of it, an inner drawing and leading to Christ through the working of divine grace (comp. LXX. Jeremiah 31:3), which, however, does not annul human freedom, but which, by means of the enlightening, animating, and impelling influence, and of the instruction appropriated by the man, wins him over. Comp. John 12:32. ἑλκύειν (John 6:45) includes the Father’s teaching by His witness to Christ (Weiss), but this is not all that it comprehends; it denotes rather the whole of that divine influence whereby hearts are won to the Son. In the consciousness of those who are thus won, this represents itself as a holy necessity, to which they have yielded. Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 19:4, where the opposite, the attraction of evil, appears as a necessity which draws them along, yet without destroying freedom. See Grimm, Handb. p. 292 f. Comp. also the classical ἕλκομαι ἦτορ (Pind. Nem. iv. 56), ἕλκει τὸ τῆς φύσεως βάρβαρον (Dem. 563, 14), and the like. Augustine already compares from the Latin the “trahit sua quemque voluptas” of Virgil. The word(235) in itself may denote what involves force, and is involuntary (Acts 16:19; 3 Maccabees 4:7; 4 Maccabees 11:9; Homer, Il. xi. 258; xxiv. 52, 417; Soph. O. C. 932; Aristoph. Eq. 710; Plato, Rep. iv. p. 539 B, and often; see Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 682), which is always expressed by σύρειν (comp. Tittm. Syn. p. 56 ff.); but the context itself shows that this is not meant here (in the classics it may even stand for invitare; see Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. 142). Accordingly it is not, as Calvin judges, false and impious to say: “non nisi volentes trahi;” and Beza’s “Volumus, quia datum est, ut velimus,” is true and pious only in the sense of Philippians 2:13. Comp. Augustine: “non ut homines, quod fieri non potest, nolentes credant, sed ut volentes ex nolentibus fiant.”

πέμψ. με] a specific relationship with which the saving act of the ἑλκύειν essentially corresponds.

καὶ ἐγὼ ἀναστήσω, κ. τ. λ.] the same solemn promise which we have already, John 6:39-40, but with the ἐγώ of Messianic authority and power, as in John 6:54.


Verse 45-46

John 6:45-46 serve more fully to explain ἑλκύειν.

ἐν τοῖς προφ.] in volumine prophetarum, Acts 7:42; Acts 13:40; Romans 9:24. The passage is Isaiah 54:13 (a free quotation from the LXX.), which treats of the divine and universal enlightenment of Israel in the time of the Messiah (comp. Joel 3:1 ff.; Jeremiah 31:33-34): “and they shall be wholly taught of God.” The main idea does not lie in πάντες, which, moreover, in the connection of the passage refers to all believers, but in διδακτοὶ θεοῦ (a Deo edocti; as to the genitive, see on 1 Corinthians 2:13, and Kühner, II. § 516, b), which denotes the divine drawing viewed as enlightening and influencing. The διδακτὸν θεοῦ εἶναι is the state of him who hears and has learned of the Father; see what follows.

πᾶς ἀκούων, κ. τ. λ.] The spurious οὖν rightly indicates the connection (against Olshausen); for it follows from that promise, that every one who hears and is taught of the Father comes to the Son, and no others; because, were it not so, the community of believers would not be unmixedly the διδακτοὶ θεοῦ. ἀκούειν παρὰ τοῦ πατρός is the spiritual perception of divine instruction; the subject-matter of which, as the whole context clearly shows, is the Son and His work. The communication of this revelation is, however, continuous (hence ἀκούων), and the “having learned” is its actual result, by the attainment of which through personal exertion the ἔρχεται πρός με is conditioned. One hears and has learned of the Father; in no other way is one in the condition which internally necessitates a believing union with the Son. Comp. Matthew 11:25 ff.

John 6:46. By this hearing and having learned of the Father, I do not mean an immediate and intuitive fellowship with Him, which, indeed, would render the coming to the Son unnecessary; no; no one save the Son only has had the vision of God (comp. John 1:18, John 3:13, John 8:38), therefore all they who are διδακτοὶ θεοῦ have to find in the Son alone all further initiation into God’s grace and truth.

οὐκ ὅτι] οὐκ ἐρῶ, ὅτι. See Hartung, II. 154; Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 318 ff. [E. T. p. 372].

It serves to obviate a misunderstanding.

εἰ μὴ, κ. τ. λ.] except He who is from God, He hath seen the Father (that is, in His pre-existent state).(236) Comp. Galatians 1:7.

ὢν παρὰ τ. θ.] for He is come from the Father, with whom He was (John 1:1). See on John 1:14, John 8:42, John 7:29, John 16:27.


Verse 47-48

John 6:47-48. Jesus had given His answer to the murmurings of the Jews in John 6:43-46. He now returns to the subject which He had left, and first repeats in solemn asseveration what He had said in John 6:40; then He again brings forward the metaphor of the bread of life, which sets forth the same thought.


Verse 49-50

John 6:49-50. οἱ πατέρες, κ. τ. λ.] “regeruntur Judaeis verba ipsorum John 6:31,” Bengel.

ἀπέθανονἀποθάνῃ] a diversity in the reference which is full of meaning: loss of earthly life, loss of eternal life, whose development, already begun in time (see on John 3:15), the death of the body does not interrupt (John 11:25).

οὗτός ἐστιν ἄρτος, κ. τ. λ.] of this nature is the bread which cometh down from heaven: one ( τὶς) must eat thereof, and (in consequence of this eating) not die. This representation is contained in οὗτοςἵνα; see on John 6:29. The expression, however, is not conditional ( ἐάν τις), because the telic reference ( ἵνα) does not belong to the last part merely. The present participle shows that Jesus does not mean by οὗτος His own concrete Personality, which is not named till John 6:51, but intends to set forth and exhibit the true bread from heaven generally, according to its real nature (comp. John 6:58). On τὶς, one, comp. Dem. Phil. i. 8, and Bremi, p. 118; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. 883; Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 299, ed. 3.


Verse 51

John 6:51. Continuation of the exposition concerning the bread of life, which He is. “I am not only the life-giving bread ( ἄρτος τ. ζωῆς, John 6:48); I am also the living bread; he who eats thereof shall live for ever,” because the life of this bread is imparted to the partaker of it. Comp. John 5:26, John 14:19. Observe the threefold advance: (1) ἄρτος τ. ζωῆς, John 6:48, and ἄρτος ζῶν, John 6:51; (2) the universal καταβαίνων, John 6:50, and the historically concrete καταβάς, John 6:51; (3) the negative μὴ ἀποθάνῃ, John 6:50, and the positive ζήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, John 6:51.

καὶ ἄρτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω] Christ is the bread, and He will also give it (consequently give Himself); how this is to take place, He now explains. The advance lies in ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω; hence also the καὶ δέ which carries on the discourse, and the emphatic repetition of the thought, ἣν ἐγὼ δώσω. Translate: “and the bread also which I (I on my part, ἐγώ) will give [instead now of saying: is myself, He expresses what He means more definitely] is my flesh,” etc. Concerning καὶδέ, atque etiam, καὶ being and, and δέ expressing the idea on the other hand, see in particular Krüger, and Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 3; Bäumlein, Partik. p. 149. It often introduces, as in this case, something that is specially important. See Bremi, ad Dem. Ol. II. p. 173. Observe, moreover, that what Christ promises to give is not external to His own Person (against Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 142 f.).

σάρξ μού ἐστιν] He promises to give His flesh, i.e. by His bloody death, to which He here, as already in John 2:19, and to Nicodemus, John 3:14-15, prophetically points. σάρξ is the living corporeal substance; this His living corporeity Christ will give, give up, that it may he slain ( ἣν ἐγὼ δώσω), in order that thereby, as by the offering of the propitiatory sacrifice,(237) He may be the means of procuring eternal life for mankind, i.e. ὑπὲρ (for the benefit of) τῆς τοῦ κόσ΄ου ζωῆς; comp. 1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:14. But as the atoning efficacy which this giving up of His flesh has, must be inwardly appropriated by faith, Christ’s σάρξ, according to the figure of the bread of life, inasmuch as He means to give it up to death, appears as the bread which He will give to be partaken of ( ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω). In the repeated δώσω there lies the ἑκούσιον of the surrender (Euthymius Zigabenus). But observe the difference of reference, that of the first δώσω to the giving up for eating, and that of the second to the giving up to death.(238) That eating is the spiritual manducatio,(239) the inward, real appropriation of Christ which, by means of an ever-continuing faith that brings about this appropriation, and makes our life the life of Christ within us (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17), takes place with regard to all the benefits which Christ “carne sua pro nobis in mortem tradita et sanguine suo pro nobis effuso promeruit.” Forma Concordiae, p. 744. On the idea of the life of Christ in believers, see on Philippians 1:8. On σάρξ, so far as it was put to death in Christ by His crucifixion, comp. 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20 ff.; Hebrews 10:20. This explanation, which refers the words to Christ’s propitiatory death, is that of Augustine, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Aretius, Grotius, Calovius, Wetstein, Lampe, and most others, also of Kuinoel, Lücke, Tholuck, Ammon, Neander, J. Müller (Diss. 1839), Lange, Ebrard, Dogma v. Abendm. I. p. 78 ff.; Keim, in the Jahrb. f. d. Theol. 1859, p. 109 ff.; Weiss; comp. also Ewald, Kahnis (Dogmat. I. p. 624), Godet.(240) Others, following Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil, have understood by σάρξ the entire human manifestation of the Logos, which He offered up for the world’s salvation, including therein His death (so in modern times, in particular, Paulus, D. Schulz, Lehre vom Abendm., B. Crusius, Frommann, De Wette, Baeumlein; comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 345, and Reuss). Not only is the future δώσω opposed to this view, but the drinking of the blood in John 6:53 still more distinctly points to Christ’s death as exclusively meant; because it would not be apparent why Jesus, had He intended generally that collective dedication of Himself, should have used expressions to describe the appropriation of it, which necessarily and directly point to and presuppose His death. That general consecration was already affirmed in ἐγὼ εἰμι ἄρτος, κ. τ. λ.; the advance from being and giving now demands something else, a concrete act, viz. His atoning death and the shedding of His blood. This tells also against the profounder development of the self-communication of Jesus which is said to be meant here, and is adopted by Hengstenberg and Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 245 ff.), following Luther;(241) viz. that faith in the human nature of Jesus eats and drinks the life of God, or that His life-giving power is bound up in His flesh, i.e. in His actual human manifestation (Brückner). Others, again, have explained it of the Lord’s Supper; viz. Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, most of the Fathers (among the Latin Fathers, Cyprian, Hilary, perhaps also Augustine, etc.) and Catholic writers, also Klee and Maier, further, Calixtus too, strongly opposed by Calovius; and among moderns, Scheibel, Olshausen, Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 140 ff.; Lindner, Köstlin, Delitzsch in Rudelbach’s Zeitschrift, 1845, ii. p. 29; Kaeuffer in the Sächs. Stud. 1846, p. 70 ff.; Kahnis, Abendm. p. 104 ff.; Luthardt; Richter in the Stud. u. Krit. 1863, p. 250; further, while also calling in question the genuineness of the discourse, Bretschneider, Strauss, Weisse, Baur, Hilgenfeld, and many others. Thus, as John 3:5 refers to baptism, we have now, it is said, a reference to the second sacrament. This explanation(242) has already this against it, that the eating and drinking is regarded as continuous (John 6:56); and, moreover, it can be maintained only by surrendering the authenticity of John. But if this be assumed, and the discourse be regarded as historical, Jesus could not Himself speak in the manner in which He here does of the Lord’s Supper. Had this been His reference, He would have spoken inappropriately, and in terms which differ essentially from His own mode of expression at the institution of the holy meal, irrespective of the fact that a discourse upon the Lord’s Supper at this time would have been utterly incomprehensible to His hearers, especially to the ἰουδαίοι who were addressed. Moreover, there nowhere occurs in the Gospels a hint given beforehand of the Supper which was to be instituted; and therefore, that this institution was not now already in the thoughts of Jesus (as Godet, following Bengel and others, maintains), but was the product of the hour of the Supper itself, appears all the more likely, seeing how utterly groundless is the assumption based on John 6:4, that Jesus, in the feeding of the multitude, improvised a paschal feast. To this it must be added, that the promise of life which is attached to the eating and drinking could apply only to the case of those who worthily partake. We would therefore have to assume that the reporter John (see especially Kaeuffer, l.c.; comp. also Weisse, B. Crusius, Köstlin, etc.) had put this discourse concerning the Lord’s Supper into the mouth of Christ; and against this it tells in general, that thus there would be on John’s part a misconception, or rather an arbitrariness, which, granting the genuineness of the Gospel, cannot be attributed to this most trusted disciple and his vivid recollections; and in particular, that the drinking of the blood, if it were, as in the Lord’s Supper, a special and essential part, would not have remained unmentioned at the very end of the discourse, John 6:57-58; and that, again, the evangelist would make Jesus speak of the Lord’s Supper in terms which lie quite beyond the range of the N. T., and which belong to the mode of representation and language of the apostolic Fathers and still later writers (see the passages in Kaeuffer, p. 77 ff.; Rückert, p. 274 f.; Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 278).(243) This is specially true of the word σάρξ, for which all places in the N. T. referring to the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26 ff.; Mark 14:22 ff.; Luke 24:24 ff.; 1 Corinthians 11:23 ff.) have σῶμα; so that here accordingly there ought to have been stated the identity, not of the bread and the flesh (which Baur in particular urges), but of the bread and the body; while with reference to the blood, the element identified (the wine) ought also to have been mentioned. Further, the passage thus taken would speak of the literal “eating and drinking” of the flesh and blood, which is a much later materializing of the N. T. κοινωνία in the Lord’s Supper; and lastly, the absolute necessity of this ordinance,(244) which John 6:53 ff. would thus assert, is not once mentioned thus directly by the Fathers of the first centuries; whereas the N. T., and John in particular, make faith alone the absolutely necessary condition of salvation. Had John been speaking of the Lord’s Supper, he must have spoken in harmony with the N. T. view and mode of expression, and must have made Jesus speak of it in the same way. But the discourse, as it lies before us, if taken as referring to the Lord’s Supper, would be an unexampled and utterly inconceivable ὕστερον πρότερον; and therefore even the assumption that at least the same idea which lay at the root of the Lord’s Supper, and out of which it sprang, is here expressed (Olshausen, Kling, Lange, Tholuck, etc.; comp. Kahnis, Keim, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Ewald, Godet), is only admissible so far as the appropriation of Christ’s life, brought about by faith in His death, which here is enjoined with such concrete vividness as absolutely necessary,(245) likewise constitutes the sacred and fundamental basis presupposed in the institution of the Supper and forms the condition of its blessedness; and therefore the application of the passage to the Lord’s Supper (but at the same time to baptism and to the efficacy of the word) justly, nay necessarily, arises. Comp. the admirable remarks of Harless, p. 130 ff.

According to Rückert (Abendm. p. 291 f.), the discourse is not intended by Jesus to refer to the Supper, but is so intended by John, through whose erroneous and crude method of apprehension the readers are supposed to be taught, whether they themselves believed in an actual eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood, or whether this was a stumbling-block to them. An interpretation this which is neither indicated by the text nor has any historical basis.

Upon the history of the interpretation of our text, see Lücke, ed. 2, App. 2; Lindner, vom Abendm. p. 241 ff.; Tischendorf, De Christo pane vitae, 1839, p. 15 ff.; Mack, Quartalschr. 1832, I. p. 52 ff.; Kahnis, p. 114 ff.; Rückert, p. 273 ff. The exposition which takes it to refer to faith in the atoning death forms the basis of Zwingle’s doctrine of the Eucharist. See Dieckhoff, evangel. Abendmahlslehre, I. p. 440.


Verse 52-53

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).


Verse 54-55

John 6:54-55. He now more fully explains Himself, onwards to John 6:58, with regard to the saving efficacy of this spiritual eating and drinking: “He who eateth my flesh,” etc.

τρώγων] Previously the word was φάγητε, but there is in the change no special intention as if to use a stronger term (to chew, to crunch), as the repetition of πίνων shows. Comp. Dem. 402. 21 : τρώγειν καὶ πίνειν. Plut. Mor. p. 613 B Polyb. xxxii. 9. 9. Comp. also John 13:18; Matthew 24:38.

ζωὴν αἰών.] Fuller definition of the general ζωή which precedes; it signifies the eternal Messianic life, but the development of this in time as spiritual life is included in the thought; therefore ἔχει (John 3:15), and the result of the possession of this life: ἀναστήσω, κ. τ. λ. Comp. John 6:40.

John 6:55. Proof of the assertion ἔχειἡμέρᾳ; for if the flesh of Jesus were not true food (something which in very deed has nourishing power), etc., the effect named in John 6:54 could not ensue. It is self-evident that food for the inner man is meant; but ἀληθής (see the critical notes) is not the same as ἀληθινή (this would mean genuine food, food that realizes its own ideal). It denotes the opposite of that which is merely apparent or so called, and therefore expresses the actual fact (1 John 2:27; Acts 12:9), which the Jews could not understand, since they asked πῶς δύναται, κ. τ. λ., John 6:52.


Verse 56-57

John 6:56-57. A statement parallel with what precedes, concerning him “who eats,” etc., and explaining how that comes to pass which is said of him in John 6:54.

ἐν ἐμοὶ μένει κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ] an expression distinctively Johannean of abiding, inner, and mutual fellowship (John 15:4 ff., John 17:23; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:16), by virtue of which we live and move continually in Christ, and Christ works and rules in our minds, so that thus Christ’s life is the centre and circumference, i.e. the all-determining power of our life.

John 6:57. Consequence of this spiritual union: life, i.e. true imperishable life, as proceeding from the Father to the Son, so from the Son to believers. Observe (1) that the consequent clause does not begin with κἀγώ (Chrysostom and his followers); but, as John 6:56 requires, with κ. τρώγ. με, so also he that eateth me; (2) that in the antecedent clause the emphasis is on ζῶν and ζῶ (therefore ἀπέστειλε does not introduce any strange or unnatural thought, as Rückert supposes), while in the consequent it is upon the subject, which accordingly is made prominent by κἀκεῖνος, he also.

ζῶν πατήρ] the living Father (comp. John 6:26), the Living One absolutely, in whose nature there is no element of death, but all is life.

κἀγὼ ζῶ διὰ τ. πατ.] and I—by virtue of my community of essence with the Father—am alive because of the Father. διά with the accus. does not denote the cause (Castalio, Beza, De Wette, Gess, Rückert, and several), per patrem; nor for the Father (Paulus, Lange); but, according to the context, the reason: because of the Father, i.e. because my Father is the Living One. See on John 15:3; Plat. Conv. p. 203 E: ἀναβιώσκεται διὰ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς φύσιν; and see Nägelsbach, Ilias, p. 39 ff. ed. 3.

τρώγων με] This sufficed to denote the relation, and is in keeping with the transition to John 6:58; whereas, if the discourse referred to the Lord’s Supper, the eating and drinking of the flesh and blood should again have been mentioned, as in John 6:53-56. Note also that τρώγων με expresses a permanent, continuous relation, not one taking place from time to time, as in the Lord’s Supper.

ζήσει] in contrast with spiritual and eternal death.

διʼ ἐμέ] on account of me, because he thus takes up my life into himself.


Verse 58-59

John 6:58-59. A concluding summary, repeating the figure from which the whole discourse arose, John 6:32.

οὗτος] of this nature, as explained in John 6:32-57. Comp. John 6:50; not: “this, which gives life to him who partakes of it” (Lücke); nor: “this, i.e. my flesh and blood” (De Wette); what follows requires in οὗτος the idea of modality.

οὐ καθὼς, κ. τ. λ.] It is the bread that came down from heaven, but not in the same way and manner that the fathers did eat heavenly bread. It is quite different in the case of this bread.

John 6:59 is simply an historical observation, without any further significance (Chrysostom: in order to impress us with the great guilt of the people of Capernaum). That ταῦτα means simply the discourse from John 6:41 onwards, and that what precedes down to John 6:40 was not spoken in the synagogue, but elsewhere, upon the first meeting with the people, John 6:24-25 (Ewald), would need to have been more distinctly indicated. Taking John’s words as they stand, ἐν συναγωγῇ, etc., is a more definite (according to Schenkel, indeed, mistaken) supplementary explanation of the vague πέραν τ. θαλάσσης of John 6:25.

ἐν συναγωγῇ, without the Art., as in John 18:20 : in synagogue; then follows the still more detailed designation of the locality, “teaching in Capernaum.”


Verse 60

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; Sirach 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.


Verse 61-62

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.(247) 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)(248) 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;(249) comp. John 17:5; John 17:24, John 8:58.


Verse 63-64

John 6:63-64. Instead of appending to the foregoing protasis its mournful apodosis (see on John 6:62), Jesus at once discovers to His disciples with lively emotion (hence also the asyndeton) the groundlessness of the offence that was taken. It is not His bodily form, the approaching surrender of which for spiritual food (John 6:51) was so offensive(250) to them, but His spirit that gives life; His corporeal nature was of no use towards ζωοποιεῖν. But it was just His bodily nature to which they ascribed all the value, and on which they built all their hope, instead of His life-giving Divine Spirit, i.e. the Holy Spirit given Him in all fulness by the Father (John 3:34), who works in believers the birth from above (John 3:6), and with it eternal life (comp. Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:6). Hence His death, through which His σάρξ as such would disappear, was to them so offensive a σκάνδαλον. Observe further, that He does not say τὸ πνεῦ΄ά ΄ου and σάρξ ΄ον, but expresses the above thought in a general statement, the personal application of which is to be to Himself. Comp. Hofmann, II. 2, p. 252. Note once again that σάρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν does not contradict what was previously said of the life-giving participation in the flesh of Jesus; for this can take place only by the appropriating of the spirit of Christ by means of faith, and apart from this it cannot take place at all. Romans 8:2; Romans 8:6; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:17. Comp. 1 John 3:24. The flesh, therefore, which “profiteth nothing,” is the flesh without the Spirit; the Spirit which “quickeneth” is the Spirit whose dwelling-place is the flesh, i.e. the corporeal manifestation of Christ, the corporeity which must be offered up in His atoning death (John 6:51), in order that believers might experience the full power of the quickening Spirit (John 7:39). When Harless, following Luther, understands by the flesh which profiteth nothing, the σάρξ of Christ in His humiliation, and by the quickening Spirit, “the spirit which perfectly controls the flesh of the glorified Son of man,” he imports the essential point in his interpretation, and this, too, in opposition to the N. T., according to which the conception of σάρξ is quite alien to the σῶ΄α τῆς δόξης of the Lord, Philippians 3:21; see 1 Corinthians 15:44-50; so that the σῶ΄α πνευ΄ατικόν cannot possibly be regarded as flesh pervaded by spirit (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:18). In no form is σάρξ ever ascribed to the exalted Lord. The antithesis here is not between carnal flesh and glorified flesh, but simply between flesh and spirit. According to others, τὸ πνεῦμα is the human soul, which makes the body to have life (Beza, Fritzsche in his Nov. Opusc. p. 239). But ζωοποιοῦν must, according to the import of the preceding discourse, be taken in a Messianic sense. Others say: τὸ πνεῦμα is the spiritual participation, σάρξ the material (Tertullian, Augustine, Rupertius, Calvin, Grotius, and most others; also Olshausen, comp. Kling and Richter); but thus again the peculiar element in the exposition, viz. the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, is foisted in.(251) Others, interpolating in like manner, interpret τὸ πνεῦμα as the spiritual, and σάρξ as the unspiritual, sensuous understanding (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Mosheim, Lampe, Klee, Ammon, etc.(252)); comp. Tholuck. Others differently still.(253) “Quantopere sit hic locus variis expositionibus exagitatus, vix credibile est,” Beza.

τὰ ῥήματα ἐγὼ, κ. τ. λ.] This does not mean that we are to hold to His words instead of to His corporeal flesh (Rückert, Keim), His words which remain as a compensation to us after His death (Lücke, De Wette, B. Crusius). It stands (seeing that σάρξ has already its full antithesis in what precedes) in close connection with the following ἀλλʼ εἰσὶν ἐξ ὑμῶν τινες οἱ οὐ πιστ., and therefore a comma only is to be placed after ζωή ἐστιν. “The words which I have spoken unto you” (meaning the discourse in the synagogue just ended(254)), “so far from containing any real ground for σκάνδαλον, are rather spirit and life, i.e. containing and revealing the divine spirit in me, and the Messianic life brought about by me; but the real guilt of the offence lies with you, for among you are many who believe not.” He, namely, who does not believe in Him as the true Messiah, who secures by His death the life of the world, but expects Messianic salvation by His corporeal manifestation alone, which is not to die, but to triumph and reign—to him who is such a μαθητὴς of Jesus the discourse concerning feeding upon His flesh and blood can only be a stumbling-block and an offence. And of such τινές there were πολλοί, John 6:60.

ἐγώ and ἐξ ὑμῶν stand in emphatic antithesis.

πνεῦμα ἐστι καὶ ζωή ἐστιν] The two predicates are thus impressively kept apart, and the designation by the substantive is fuller and more exhaustive (comp. John 3:6; Romans 8:10) than would be that by the adjective ( πνευματικὰ καὶ ζωηρά, Euthymius Zigabenus).

ᾔδει γάρ, κ. τ. λ.] an explanation added by John himself of the preceding words, ἀλλʼ εἰσὶν, κ. τ. λ., which imply a further knowledge; comp. John 2:24-25.

οἳ οὐ πιστεύουσιν] result of their wavering; for they are μαθηταί, who, from an imperfect and inconstant faith, have at last come to surrender faith altogether. They had been πρόσκαιροι (Matthew 13:21). Here we have οὐ with the relative, then μή with the participle accompanied by the article (John 3:18), both quite regular.

ἐξ ἀρχῆς] neither “from the first beginning” (Theophylact, Rupertius); nor “before this discourse, and not for the first time after the murmuring” (Chrysostom, Maldonatus, Jansenius, Bengel, etc.); nor even “from the beginning of the acquaintance then existing” (Grotius, De Wette, B. Crusius, Maier, Hengstenberg, etc.; comp. Tholuck, “from the very time of their call”); but, as the context shows (see especially καὶ τίς ἐστιν, κ. τ. λ.), from the beginning, when He began to gather disciples around Him (comp. John 1:43; John 1:48, John 2:24), consequently from the commencement of His Messianic ministry. Comp. John 16:4, John 15:27. From His first coming forth in public, and onwards, He knew which of those who attached themselves to Him as μαθηταί did not believe, and in particular who should be His future betrayer. On this last point, see the note following John 6:70. Were we, with Lange and Weiss, to render: “from the beginning of their unbelief,” this would apply only to disciples in constant intercourse with Him, whom He always could observe with heart-searching eye,—a limitation, however, not justified by the text, which rather by the very example of Judas, as the sole unbeliever in the immediate circle of His disciples, indicates a range beyond that inner circle.


Verse 65

John 6:65. See on John 6:37; John 6:44.

διὰ τοῦτο] because many of you believe not, and therefore, though there is in them the outward appearance of discipleship, they lack the inward divine preparation.

ἐκ τοῦ πατρ. μ.] from my Father. See Bernhardy, p. 227 f; comp. Plat. Lys. p. 104 B: τοῦτο δέ μοί πως ἐκ θεοῦ δέδοται. Soph. Philoct. 1301: τὰς μὲν ἐκ θεῶν τύχας δοθείσας. Xen. Anab. i. 1. 6; Hellen. iii. 1. 6.


Verse 66-67

John 6:66-67. ἐκ τούτου] not: “from this time forwards” (so usually even Lücke, De Wette, Hengstenberg), for a going away by degrees is not described; but (so Nonnus, Luthardt): on this account, because of these words of Jesus, John 6:61 ff., which so thoroughly undeceived them as regarded their earthly Messianic hopes. So also John 19:12; Xen. Anab. ii. 6. 4, iii. 3. 5, vii. 6. 13. Comp. ἐξ οὗ, quapropter, and see generally, concerning the ἐκ of cause or occasion, Matthiae, II. 1334; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. i. 551, who justly remarks: “His etiam subest fontis, unde aliquid exoriatur, notio.”

εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω] they went away, and went back, so that they no longer accompanied Him, but returned to the place whence they had come to Him. Comp. John 18:6, John 20:14; 1 Maccabees 9:47; Proverbs 25:9; Genesis 19:17; Luke 17:31; Plato, Phaedr. p. 254 B Menex. p. 246 B Polyb. i. 51. 8.

τοῖς δώδεκα] who and what they were, John takes for granted as well known.

μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς, κ. τ. λ.] but ye too do not wish to go away? Jesus knows His twelve too well (comp. John 13:18) to put the question to them otherwise than with the presupposition of a negative, answer (at the same time He knew that He must except one). But He wishes for their avowal, and therein lay His comfort. This rendering of the question with μὴ is no “pedanterie grammaticale” (Godet, who wrongly renders “vous ne voulez pas?”), but is alone linguistically correct (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 302 f.). According to Godet, the thought underlying the question is, “If you wish, you can,” which is a pure invention.


Verse 68-69

John 6:68-69. Peter, according to the position, for which the foundation is already laid in John 1:43, makes the confession, and with a resolution how deep and conscious!

ἀπελευσόμεθα] Future, at any time. “Da nobis alterum Te,” Augustine.

ῥήματα ζωής, κ. τ. λ.] Twofold reason for stedfastness: (1) ῥήματαἔχεις, and (2) καὶ ἡμεῖς, κ. τ. λ. Thou hast the words of everlasting life ( ζωὴν αἰώνιον προξενοῦντα, Euthymius Zigabenus; more literally: “whose specific power it is to secure eternal life”); an echo of John 6:63. The ῥήματα which proceed from the Teacher are represented as belonging to Him, a possession which He has at His disposal. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:26.

καὶ ἡμεῖς] and we for our part, as contrasted with those who had fallen away.

πεπιστ. κ. ἐγνώκ.] “the faith and the knowledge to which we have attained, and which we possess, is that,” etc. (Perfect). Conversely, John 17:8; 1 John 4:16. Practical conviction may precede (Philippians 3:10) and follow (comp. John 8:32) the insight which is the product of reason. The former quite corresponds to the immediate and overpowering impressions by which the apostles had been won over to Jesus, chap. 1. Both, therefore, are conformable with experience, and mutually include, and do not exclude, each other.

ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ (see the critical notes): He who is consecrated of God to be the Messiah through the fulness of the Spirit and salvation vouchsafed Him. See on John 10:36; 1 John 2:20; comp. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; Acts 4:27; Revelation 3:7.

The similar confession, Matthew 16:16, is so different in its occasion, connection, and circumstances, that the assumption that our passage is only another version of the synoptical account (Weisse and others) is unwarrantable. Who can take exception to the repetition of a confession (of which the apostles’ hearts were so full) upon every occasion which presented itself? Certainly, according to John (see already John 1:42 ff., John 2:19), it is untenable to suppose that in our passage, according to the right reading (see the critical notes), we have not yet a complete and unhesitating confession of the Messiah (Ewald); or that the disciples had only now attained a full faith in Him (Weizsäcker). We would have to assume in the earlier passages of chap. 1 a very awkward ὕστερον πρότερον on the part of the evangelist,—a view in which even Holtzmann acquiesces (Judenth. u. Christenth. p. 376).


Verse 70-71

John 6:70-71. Not a justification of the question in John 6:67, nor any utterance of reflection generally, but an outburst of grief at the sad catastrophe which He foresaw (John 6:64), in the face of that joyous confession which the fiery Peter thought himself warranted in giving in the name of them all.

The question extends only as far as ἐξελεξ.; then comes with the simple καὶ the mournful contrast which damps the ardour of the confessing disciple. Comp. John 7:19.

Observe the arrangement of the words, ἐγώ and ἐξ ὑμῶν impressively taking the lead: Have not I (even I, and no other) chosen you the twelve to myself? And of you (this one chosen by myself) one is devil! not the devil, but of devilish kind and nature. Comp. θεός, John 1:1. In what an awful contrast the two stand to each other! The addition of τοὺς δώδεκα to ὑμᾶς heightens the contrast, laying stress upon the great significance of the election, which nevertheless was to have in the case of one individual so contradictory a result.

διάβολος] not an informer (Theophylact, De Wette, Baeumlein), not an adversary or betrayer (Kuinoel, Lücke, B. Crusius, and earlier writers), but, in keeping with the deep emotion (comp. Matthew 16:23), and the invariable usage of the N. T. in all places where διάβ. is a substantive (in John 8:44; John 13:2; 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10): devil, whereby antagonism to Christ is set forth in its strongest manner, because in keeping with its demoniacal nature. That John would have written υἱὸς, or τέκνον διαβόλου (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10), is an arbitrary objection, and does not adequately estimate the strength of the emotion, which the expression employed, never forgotten by John, fully does.

John 6:71. ἔλεγε δὲ τὸν, κ. τ. λ.] He spoke of, like John 9:19; Mark 14:71; see Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 363 B. As to the name ἰσκαρ.,(255) man of Karioth, see on Matthew 10:4. Observe the sad and solemn emphasis of the full name ἰούδαν σίμωνος ἰσκαριώτην, as in John 13:22. ἰσκαριώτην itself is used quite as a name, as forming with ἰούδ. σί΄ωνος one expression. Bengel, therefore, without reason desiderates the article τόν before ἰσκαρ., and prefers on that account the reading ἰσκαριώτου (see the critical notes).

ἤ΄ελλεν, κ. τ. λ.] traditurus erat, not as if he was already revolving it in his mind (see, on the contrary, John 13:2), but according to the idea of the divine destiny (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 72). Comp. John 7:39, John 11:51, John 12:4; John 12:33, John 18:32; Wisdom of Solomon 18:4 : οδιʼ ὧν ἤμελλεδίδοσθαι; Judith 10:12. Kern has erroneously lowered the expression to the idea of possibility.

εἷς ὢν, κ. τ. λ.] although he, etc. Still ὤν is critically doubtful (omitted by Lachmann), and without it the tragic contrast is all the stronger.

Note 1.

With respect to the psychological difficulty of Jesus having chosen and retained Judas as an apostle, we may remark: 1. That we cannot get rid of the difficulty by saying that Jesus did not make or intend a definite election of disciples (Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 370 ff.), for this would be at variance with all the Gospels, and in particular with John 6:70. 2. Jesus cannot have received Judas into the company of the apostles with the foreknowledge that He was choosing His betrayer (Hengstenberg; comp. Augustine in Psalms 55 : electi undecim ad opus probationis, electus unus ad opus tentationis); this would be psychologically and morally inconceivable. He must have had confidence that each one of the twelve, when He selected them according to the variety of their gifts, temperaments, characters, etc., would become under His influence an effective supporter of His work; and, at any rate, the remark in John 6:64 is only a retrospective inference from the inconceivableness of so hideous an act in the case of one selected by the Lord Himself. The view in question also goes too far in this respect, that it attributes the crime not to the dangerous disposition of Judas, but to the knowledge of Christ from the outset, which would logically lead to the outrageous and inadmissible thought of Daub, that He purposely chose Judas, in order that he might betray Him. Comp. Neander, Lücke, Kern, Ullmann (Sündlosigk.), Tholuck, De Wette, Ewald, and many others. 3. Although the bent of the man, and his inclination towards an unhallowed development,—which, however, did not lead to a complete rupture until late (John 13:2),—must have been known to Christ, the reader of all hearts, yet it may have been accompanied with the hope, that this tendency might be overcome by the presence of some other apostolic qualification possessed by Judas, perhaps a very special gift for external administration (John 12:6, John 13:28). 4. As it became gradually evident that this hope was to be disappointed when the care of the money affairs became a special temptation to the unhappy man, it was the consciousness of the divine destiny herein manifesting itself (John 6:70-71; Acts 4:28) which prevented Jesus from dismissing Judas, and so disturbing the further progress of the divine purpose; while on the part of the Lord, we must, in conformity with His calling, suppose a continual moral influence bearing upon Judas, though this to the last remained without effect, and turned out to his condemnation,—a tragic destiny truly, whose details, besides, in the want of sufficient historical information concerning him before the commission of his bloody deed, are too far removed from the reach of critical judgment to enable them to lend any support to the difficulties arising therefrom as to the genuineness of John 6:70-71 (Weisse, Strauss, B. Bauer), or to warrant the assumption of any modification of the statement, which John, in accordance with his later view, might have given to it (Lücke, Ullmann, and others).

Note 2.

The aim of Jesus in the discourse John 6:26 ff. was to set before the people, who came to Him under the influence of a carnal belief in His miracles, the duty of seeking a true and saving faith instead, which would secure a deep living reception of and fellowship with Christ’s personal life, and that with a decision which, with an ever-advancing fulness, lays open this true work of faith in the appropriation of Himself to the innermost depth and the highest point of its contents and necessity. Baur’s opinion, that the discourse sets forth the critical process of the self-dissolution of a merely apparent faith, so that the latter must acknowledge itself as unbelief, has no such confession in the text to support it, especially as the ὄχλος and the ἰουδαῖοι are not identical. See, besides, Brückner, p. 143 ff. Regarding the difficulty of understanding this discourse, which even Strauss urges, it may partly be attributed to the Johannean idiosyncrasy in reproducing and elaborating his abundant recollections of the words of Jesus. The difficulty, however, is partly exaggerated (see Hauff in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, p. 595 ff.); and partly it is overlooked that Jesus, in all references to His death and its design, had to reckon on the light which the future would impart to these utterances, and sowing, as He generally did, for the future in the bosom of the present, He was obliged to give expression to much that was mysterious, but which would furnish material for, and support to, the further development and purification of faith and knowledge. The wisdom thus displayed in His teaching is justified by the history.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 6:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-6.html. 1832.

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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