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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
John 6

 

 

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Verse 1

1. After these things—After the narrative of the last chapter. If the feast in John 5:1, was a Passover, as most commentators think, the interval of a whole year intervenes.

Sea of Tiberias—The Greek name of lake Gennesaret, (see our note on Matthew 4:13,) given for the benefit of John’s Gentile readers.


Verses 1-14

§ 63.FIVE THOUSAND FED, John 6:1-14.

Matthew 14:13-22; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17.

The miracle of the feeding is one of the few which are recorded by all the Evangelists. They narrate it with that variety of manner, yet agreement in fact, that evinces independence of relation with common truth at bottom. It is, therefore, a well-attested narrative. Unless it can be denied that John wrote this Gospel, the so-called mythical hypothesis (which supposes that the gospel narratives formed and grew from popular imagination) is refuted by this single instance. The sordid character of a certain portion of the multitude gives a severe tone to the entire discourse. The bread with which they are fed, and the body which was upborne upon the sea, blend to form the topic of the allegory which runs through the whole.


Verse 2

2. Great multitude—Partly of Capernaites, and partly of passengers to the approaching Passover at Jerusalem.

Saw his miracles—Mere love of wonder-working was the low motive of the great number. To perform upon their whole mass a compassionate miracle, a miracle emblematic of his mission to the world, was the bridge upon which Jesus sought to bring them up to higher views.


Verse 4

4. The passover—A caravan on its way to the Passover may have furnished a large part of the concourse. These may have been specially taken with the idea of crowning Jesus as King Messiah, and bearing him in triumph to Jerusalem.


Verses 5-13

5-13. See parallel passage in Matthew.


Verse 14

14. Of a truth that Prophet—This expresses the popular expectation of the Messiah, based on Deuteronomy 17:15-20. Upon the same passage the Samaritan woman, with higher feeling, expected a Messiah who would “teach us all things;” some of these expect a Messiah who will fill their bellies gratis. A Messiah-king who will furnish them a good living and lazy enjoyment is just the Messiah for them!


Verse 15

15. Make him a king—Just as the devil had long before proposed. See note on Matthew 4:8.


Verses 15-21

§ 65.JESUS WALKS ON THE SEA, John 6:15-21.

Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56.


Verses 16-21

16-21. Compare notes on parallel passage in Matthew.


Verse 21

21. Willingly—As they had before dreaded his approach, so now they are eager to receive him on board; and as soon as his feet touched the deck the ship is at land. How, says the querist, was this miracle performed? We suppose that both the miracle of walking on the sea and moving the ship to land was performed, just as a writer moves his pen, by an act of will—of a will supernaturally, divinely powerful. Gravitation, so far as we can see, is the immediate effect of the divine volition holding the spheres in their places. That same volition could hold the water solid beneath the feet of Jesus, or cause his body to glide over the undisturbed surface.


Verse 22

22. The day following—The multitude on the next day find with astonishment that they are left by both Jesus and his disciples on the eastern or wilderness side of Jordan, where they had been fed. They wonder how Jesus had gone; for he went not with his disciples, and no other ship had gone over.

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Verse 23

23. There came other boats—That is, from the Tiberias or western side, but none had gone over to Capernaum.


Verse 24

24. The people—Not the whole five thousand, but a section of them who still stood on the other side of the sea. (John 6:22.) These were mostly of Capernaum, probably, and its near towns, as appears by John 6:42. This section was doubtless a small one. The great body either returned to their homes, or continued on their way to the Passover, or prosecuted their preparations for the journey.

Seeking for Jesus—How happy if they were seeking for Jesus as a true Saviour!


Verse 25

25. When they had found him—Jesus first landed at the plain of Gennesaret; but before these pursuers found him he had arrived in the synagogue of Capernaum. See notes on Matthew 14:34-36.


Verse 26

26. Ye seek me—This response of Jesus is even more abrupt than his opening reply to Nicodemus. See note on John 3:3. He promptly charges upon the animal nature of their motives.

Did eat… were filled For the stomach’s sake they would make him king, and for that same sake they tracked him across the lake and are here before him. He points them to an effort for the higher boon within his gift as Son of man, of which this lower is but the type and yet the pledge. With a purpose and spirit so low and animal, these men were beneath the reach of, and unsusceptible to, the Father’s drawings. They had no susceptibility for those drawings to take hold of; just as wood is unaffected by the attraction of the magnet.


Verses 26-59

Second great discourse of Jesus to the hostile Jews, John 6:26-59.

Now commences a great oration of Jesus founded on the temper of this set of people, the miracle of their feeding, and the wonder of his walking on the water. Their temper regarded their view of his miracles. The Samaritans embraced Jesus not for miracle but for his sublime and holy doctrine; Nicodemus based on his miracles a need of proceeding to a deeper experience; but this populace, apparently destitute of any moral susceptibility, look to his miracles as a means of livelihood. Their traits of character appear specially in John 6:26; John 6:42-43; John 6:52.


Verse 27

27. Labour not—Let this clause be thus punctuated:

Labournot for the meat which perisheth, butfor that meat which endureth unto everlasting life. This makes our Lord (not to forbid labour for bodily food, but) command solely labour for eternal life. It limits his command to seeking the heavenly; it does not make him prohibit a due attention to the earthly.

Endureth unto everlasting life—Like the water springing up into everlasting life, John 4:14.

The Son of man—Our Lord centres his discourse on his own divine person.

Sealed—By the stupenduous miracle by which they had been so fed and startled.


Verse 28

28. Work the works of God—The Greek word labour in John 6:27 is the same as this word work and works, and should have been rendered uniformly. Christ tells them, John 6:27, to work a divine work for eternal life; they here, in reply, ask how they shall work this godly work. In this inquiry they seem for one hopeful instant disposed to direct their view to the higher object. Jesus grasps at it in the next verse, and makes one effort to bring them to himself. This is the crisis of their destiny.


Verse 29

29. Believe on himFaith in Christ is the great saving work. Faith is work. Faith and work are one. Faith is the work in which all works is embodied. Be there a true perfect faith, and all works of righteousness will come into it and be one with it. Upon such a faith God forgives; by such a faith a man is graciously held just; consequent upon such a faith is present and eternal salvation.

To these men it was an explanation, too condensed to be overlooked, and too clear to be misunderstood. Fresh from the great miracle under whose influence they were confessedly acting, he places the offer of divine life, through faith in himself as God’s own Son, before their acceptance so plainly, that they completely see it—and finally REJECT it.


Verse 30

30. What sign—Here they propose to negotiate. Can you, like Moses, furnish us a free maintenance for life from the skies? The bountiful rural repast he has already furnished induces them to think that he can. The reality of that sign they do not propose to question but to waive; and this proposal of a sign is simply an opening the way for a consent on his part, that the sign of Moses shall be accorded them, namely, manna for their future living. Let that come and he shall be their crowned Messiah. The perplexity of a Strauss, how these men should ask for a sign when they had just seen and tasted so great a sign as the miraculous bread, manifests a comprehension not much higher than theirs.


Verse 31

31. Our fathers did eat manna—Just so. In the middle of the second month after their start from Egypt, the Israelites went forth one morning and found a small round thing upon the ground, and they cried, (Man-hu?)

“What is this?” And they found that it was bread rained from the skies; and their question, Man-hu?—manna, became its name. Exodus 16:14-15. And this bread was their food until their arrival under Joshua at Gilgal. “The manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten or the old corn of the land, neither had the Children of Israel manna any more.” Joshua 5:12. The only trace left on earth of its existence was, (Exodus 16:32,) an omer thereof, kept by Jehovah’s command, “for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth out of the land of Egypt.” The different vegetable productions to which, from some apparent suiting to the Scripture description the name manna has been applied, have no other title to the name than resemblance.

Written—Quoted nearly correctly from Psalms 78:24-25 : “God… rained down manna for them to eat. Man did eat angels’ food.” Psalms 105:40 : “He satisfied them with the bread of heaven.” If Jesus will give them this true Mosaic sign, they will pledge their full allegiance to him as king of the Jews.


Verse 32

32. Verily—These men have fallen below the level possible for Jesus, or for the full sweep of divine mercy to reach. He now simply states, in terms they can comprehend, that his is a gift greater than Moses conferred; a bread of which that manna was but a type, imparting a life infinitely higher than the bread of the wilderness could nourish.

The true bread—The real bread of which the heaven-descended manna was an emblem.


Verse 33

33. Is he—The modest third person for himself. He comes in the full power of the first person in his next response. John 6:35. And in these two verses the Lord uses restrained language; terms which could be applied to either the physical heaven-descended manna sustaining temporal life, or the true bread of eternal life.


Verse 34

34. Lord—This title, like the Rabbi of John 6:25, indicates a yet remaining reverence for the Feeder of the five thousand.

Give us this bread—They are themselves in ambiguous suspense, arising from the Lord’s restrained language in the preceding verse. But whatever miraculous supply he has at command, they would like to receive, not transiently, like the late great repast, but permanentlyevermore. In his next response the Lord relieves them from this ambiguity for ever.

In the remainder of this discourse (John 6:35-71) three groups of character clearly present themselves. In the foreground are the men who have thus far replied to him, the Jews of John 6:41. With them is the present contest lace to face. In the background is a body of converts by his miracles, the disciples of John 6:60 and John 6:66. A large minority of these are shaken and carried off into the ranks of his opposers. Aside of both these, foreground and background, are the twelve, intense spectators of the scene, awhile tremulous but finally firm.

To the opposers, confronting him, Jesus declares that theirs is not the sort of character that the Father has given to him for salvation, 35-47; and (not so much for them as for his disciples, his twelve, and for us) he describes himself as the dying Saviour, who gives us life by his death, under the successive figures of bread and flesh. The bread is suggested by the miraculous feeding; the body and flesh by his bodily walking the sea.


Verse 35

35. I am the bread of life—The he of John 6:33 now rises into the sublime I. The restrained language of that verse is now unbound. A style is adopted which they at once see passes beyond their scope. And yet, before giving it the fullest expansion, our Lord pauses to tell them that its grand range of promise and glory is not for such as they.


Verse 36

36. I said—When this was said in express terms is not recorded. But the full import of the expression is found in John 6:26. They had seen his miracles, but believed not on him as being what in truth he is. To refer to John 5:37-44 as Alford does, is strangely ignoring that those words were uttered at Jerusalem, perhaps a year ago.

Believe not—They were fixedly sordid in their views; seeking a feeder for their stomachs, not a Saviour for their souls.


Verse 37

37. All—It is remarkable that this word is in the Greek neuter. It expresses not so much a person as a nature, a thing, a character: The whole sort that the Father giveth me. These gross men did not belong to those given, because, entertaining nothing but hopes of mercenary gain from Christ and his miracles, they truly believed not, as in the last verse is said. See note on John 6:26. So in John 6:45 it is more fully explained; it is only every one that hath learned of the Father that cometh unto me.

The Father, finding the willing soul, teaches by his law; attracts, convinces, and convicts by his Spirit; but when the soul has perfectly obeyed all their influences with a living faith, the Father does not himself save, but He draws and hands him over to Christ. Thither coming, and embracing Christ with a full faith, the man is not cast out but accepted and redeemed. But the Father giveth none to Christ who reject his teachings and drawings, none who do not freely consent to be given and go to his Son. Such is the great scheme of salvation.

Shall come unto meWill come unto me. It is the simple future; the shall expresses no authority or securement of the coming. Every one who freely yields to the teachings and drawings of the Father, is, by the Father, given, and comes to Christ. Such a person coming to Christ will be accepted. For the Father gives none but such as will freely come. The giving by the Father is consequent upon the obedient learning; not the learning upon the giving. See notes on John 6:44-45; John 6:65.


Verse 38

38. Not to do mine own will—Not to separate myself by personal self-will from the Father, but perfectly to cooperate and carry out his scheme of redeeming mercy.


Verse 39

39. Of all which he hath given me—Namely, all who fully obey the Father’s drawings and come to Christ.

I should lose nothing—There will be no erratic self-will in Christ, darting off from the divine plan; no remissness, no oversight, no failure. All who perseveringly believe in him, he will as faithfully and powerfully save as the will of the Father can require.

Raise it up—From the dead.

At the last day—The day that closes the series of human history and inaugurates the final judgment.


Verse 40

40. Believeth on him—So long as he performs the condition, so long is he heir of the salvation. When he ceases to be a believer he loses all claim to the divine promise, and all interest in eternal life. That he has once believed no longer secures him heaven, any more than the fact that he has once disbelieved secures eternal death.


Verse 41

41. The Jews—Used in an adverse sense, as opposers of Christ.

Murmured—The character and destiny he has assigned them (36-40) now elicit their hostility.

Down from heaven—The popular view of the coming of the Son of man from heaven, was doubtless modeled on the scene described in Daniel 7.


Verse 42

42. Whose father and mother we know—These Jews therefore were familiar with Nazareth. Their terms are not now, as before, Rabbi and Lord. They have discarded from their memory the miraculous feeding, and so, doubtless, they carefully forget the Davidic descent of his parents, and all reference to his miraculous birth. They scout the idea of his having come down from heaven.


Verse 43

43. Murmur not—There is the stern authority of a future judge in this supreme silencing of the mutter of these unhappy men. He hushes them as reprobates condemned already.


Verse 44

44. No man can come to me—Men are by nature so depraved and lost that they have no power to attain salvation, but for a gracious ability bestowed. (John 1:4-5.) That ability consists in a great degree of those special drawings purchased for them by the atonement.

Except the Father… draw him—That is, attract him; shed drawing influences upon him, and inwardly empower him to a full obedience; but not obliging or securing that obedience. Nor will that drawing avail unless the man freely use his natural and grace-given power to obey.


Verse 45

45. The prophets—That section of the Old Testament popularly styled the prophets. The quotation is probably from Isaiah 54:13 : All thy children shall be taught of Jehovah. This teaching is part of the great system of the Father’s drawing to Christ. Hath heard—Hath willingly listened.

Hath learned—Hath applied his powers to know. Such a man has complied with the Father’s drawings. Cometh unto me—He is assigned by the Father to the Son for salvation. He exercises repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To this class belonged not these Jews.


Verse 46

46. Not… seen the Father—From the phrase hath heard the Father, his opponents might represent him as teaching the visibility, of God to men. He, therefore, guards his language by limiting the true vision, or seeing of God, to himself.

He which is of God—Rather from God, referring to himself.


Verse 47

47. He that believeth… hath everlasting life—This verse, in its literal sense. embraces all that is figuratively embodied to John 6:58.


Verses 47-59

Reception of the body and blood of Christ, John 6:47-59.

This paragraph is celebrated in what is called the Sacramentarian controversy. It will be made clear, perhaps, by viewing it in three parts:

I. John 6:47-50. Here Jesus gives the key to the whole paragraph, by explicitly showing that what the manna was to the fathers who received it by eating, that Himself is to the souls of all who receive him by faith. The manna was temporal life to Israel; He is eternal life to all believers. The spiritual faith is parallel to the physical eating. Those unperverted and unperverting hearers, therefore, disposed to accept him by faith, would be ready to accept this true interpretation through all that follows. Perverts would simply pervert his meaning, and still more pervert themselves.

II. John 6:51-52. Jesus takes a step further, and identifies the bread with his flesh. At this point the perverts revolt, and a contest arises between them and the spiritual hearers. But as the bread was spiritual and the eating was by the act of faith, so must the flesh and its eating be spiritual and by faith.

III. John 6:53-59. Jesus to the bread and the flesh now adds the BLOOD. This completely sloughs off the perverts; and by opening a topic which could be understood only by future developments, he tries the faith of his disciples, and even of his twelve apostles. So far as the figures of bread and flesh extended, the meaning might be filled by his incarnation and living mission. But the figure of blood could only be explained by his propitiatory death; and then from his propitiatory death a new meaning is reflected back upon the bread and the flesh.


Verse 49

49. Eat manna—Parallel to that manna is Christ; parallel to their living by manna is our life by Christ; parallel to their gathering and eating is our faith in receiving Christ; as in John 6:47.

Dead—There is one great opposition in the parallels: the manna gave but a transient earthly life; this true manna gives heavenly and eternal life.


Verse 50

50. Not die—The old manna was but for the body, and gave but a temporal life, and its eaters are dead; but this new manna is for the soul, and it gives an eternal life. The Romish Church, indeed, (like the Jews in John 6:52,) holds that this flesh and blood of Christ are literal and bodily, and to be eaten and drank with the bodily mouth. But John 6:35 shows that the hunger and thirst to be assuaged by this eating and drinking are to be assuaged by coming to and believing in Christ. The act of eating is, therefore, the act of faith by which the soul appropriates Christ as the life within. Such is plainly also the drinking of John 4:14. If the drinking Christ’s blood is the drinking the sacramental cup, and is necessary to salvation, then the Romish laity cannot be saved, for they are not allowed to drink of the sacramental cup.


Verse 51

51. My flesh—Up to this word the unbelieving perverts could allow our Lord’s figure its true interpretation. He literally means, they would allow that faith in him secures eternal life. But this eating bread which is flesh, at once opens a divine mystery to his faithful hearers, but a terrible handle for perversion by the perverts.


Verse 52

52. Jews… strove among themselves—The contest is expressed in Greek by a word that signifies fought. One section (probably the low Nazarene party of John 6:42) would give a base, cannibal sense to his words; others (like the respectful speakers in John 6:34) might hold that the great feeder of the five thousand has some mysterious meaning in his words; others still (embracing perhaps some like his doubtful disciples of John 6:60) held that he meant, by eating his flesh, only faith in his supernatural person.


Verse 53

53. Drink his blood—From bread to flesh, and now from flesh we come to the blood. So far from shrinking back before the face of these Jews, Jesus presses forward with firmer face, with stronger language, and deeper mysteries. Deep mystery, indeed, this word blood contained; for even his twelve understood not until his cross explained it, and the Spirit of the Pentecost elevated their souls to take in its whole true meaning. The soul of man must by faith eat and drink in the efficacy of Christ’s slain body and shed blood, in order to its attainment of eternal life. While, then, these words drove off the clan of perverts to their own fixed affinities and their own proper place, they opened (like the parables; see our note on Matthew 3:1,) to his faithful believers lessons full of increasing meaning with advancing time. These words, by their very force of parabolic language, fixed themselves upon the memory, especially of this disciple whom Jesus loved. They were spoken then by Jesus with a resistless persistence, even for us upon whom these ends of the world are come.


Verse 54

54. Eateth my flesh… drinketh my blood—The truth which underlies these words lies as the basis of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Here is the thought clothed in symbolical words; there it is clothed in symbolical objects and actions. Christ, in order to live and die, must possess flesh and blood. His death must be by the breaking of his flesh; and its manifestation is by the shedding of blood, for the blood is the life. By faith in the merit of that death so presented, we appropriate its efficacy to the present salvation of our souls and the ultimate glorification of soul and body. Figure this in powerful emblematic words, and we have it that, by eating that flesh and drinking that blood, we eat and drink eternal life to our soul and body. The emblem of words prepares us for the emblem of action. We take for the flesh the fleshless bread, and for the blood the bloodless wine; and by eating one and drinking the other we set forth the truth, that by the propitiatory death of our blessed Lord Christ we have eternal life to our soul and body. There is, then, no support in this passage for the dismaying doctrine invented by the Romish Church that men actually devour the flesh of Christ’s real body.

Raise him up… last day—The glorification of the body is the last grand result to the believer of Christ’s atonement. The work begins in regeneration; it is continued in the bliss of the disembodied spirit in paradise; it terminates in the resurrection glory of the last day.


Verse 55-56

55, 56. Flesh… blood—The emphatic reiteration of these words is made by our Lord: 1. In firmness against his immediate gainsayers, who will thereby be sifted from among his followers. 2. To imply the greatness of the truth they embody. 3. To so impress the mystery upon the memory of his disciples that it shall rise to their recollection at the time of consummation.


Verse 58

4. To be placed on record by his apostolic reporter for the instruction of his Church through all generations. Blessed be the name of the Lord our God for the holy record!

58. Your fathers did eat manna—The figure of the manna, by his gainsayers first adduced, (John 6:31,) suggested by the bread to the five thousand, pervades all this discourse. Manna, bread, flesh, blood, Christ, are the serial terms along which the thought runs.


Verse 59

59. Said he in the synagogue… in Capernaum—Our Evangelist thinks, wisely, that he has here made a great record, and he carefully notes the place: he well remembers it.


Verse 60

60. His disciples—Second of the three groups distinguished in our note on John 6:34. These are in the background thus far, though they may have mingled somewhat with group first in the foreground. See note on 52. They are distinct from group third, 67, his

apostles. Hard saying—Not so much hard to understand as hard to accept, or willingly receive. The hard points especially were two: 1. The good offered by Christ was not as they desired, temporal, but eternal. It was not a miraculous feeding and earthly emolument, but a glorious resurrection upon their faith in him. 2. The awful interpretation that the unscrupulous Jews, (John 6:41,) in the foreground, were able to put upon his last mysterious sentences, made them feel (before its day) the offence of the cross. It was not, perhaps, what they so much felt themselves, as what others might say! Such discourse, say they, so persevered in, was unnecessary; it was imprudent; it was susceptible of a very horrible interpretation. Henceforth the current will be against us if we make ourselves responsible for him.


Verse 61

61. Offend you—It is the you which is here emphatic. Are you too offended, who have professed to be my pupils, (for such is the meaning of the term disciples,) and who have learned by many a miracle that I am the Son of man, and that my word, however mysterious, cannot be less than divine?


Verse 62

62. See the Son of man ascend—What if your own eyes shall hereafter witness, in my ascension to the abode whence I came, the full proof that I did descend, the living Saviour, from heaven? Jesus assumes to be speaking, not to gainsayers, but to believers troubled by a mysterious saying. He reminds them that a time of exaltation is in the future, which should prevent their hasty irritability in the present.


Verse 63

63. The spirit that quickeneth—It is the inspired Power, the impregnating Spirit, in his words, by which their souls ought to be quickened and rise into a living faith.

The flesh—The carnality which the sensual perverts would put into his words.

Profiteth nothing—Being akin to their vain expectation to be fed in the body by the Messiah’s constant miracle.

The words… are spirit—And should be interpreted in the highest sense of the Spirit, not by the low demands of appetite.


Verse 64

64. Some… that believe not—They had no living faith. To them his reference to his ascension, (John 6:62,) and his thrilling words of the Spirit, would be but a continuance of the hard saying. Jesus knew—His very humanity, by its close contact with divinity, would be fringed with a supernatural intuition. See note on John 2:25.

Who should betray him—Who was going to betray him. It is a simple future participle, and expresses no fatalism or predestination.


Verse 65

65. No man can come… except—Men, apart from the guidance and aid of the Father, furnished by the Spirit and the various means of grace, are hemmed into sin. They can neither will nor do acceptably to God. The Father first enables, but not obliges. For grace used, he adds more grace. For drawings obeyed, he adds more drawings. And when they so obey his drawings as to be ready for Christ, he gives and they come. But unless they use his grace and obey his drawings both will be withdrawn. But none ever missed the drawing of God who has not misused it.

Given… of my Father—And it was not given in consequence of their not having obediently learned and accepted previous grace, and having sunk themselves into gross hardness. So that because of their primary wilfulness the drawing could not reach them, and for want of those drawings it was not given them to come. See notes on John 6:26; John 6:37-39; John 6:44-45.


Verse 66

66. Disciples—Not apostles. See note on John 6:60.

Many—Doubtless a large minority.

Walked no more with him—Indicating that they avoided the odium suggested in note on John 6:60.


Verse 67

67. The twelve—At the close of John 6:58 we suppose the group of gainsayers to depart in violent disgust. At the close of 66, the wavering disciples have gradually disappeared. Now the twelve, who have been earnest watchers of the contest, alone remain. The number of the true believers having been sifted down to almost these twelve, and the number remaining present being but this twelve, the Lord (whose fan is in his hand terribly purging the floor) now sifts even the twelve. This is, not that he may be comforted in his desertion, but as a purifier to prove who of the degenerate sons of men can stand the Lord’s test.

Twelve—John here first mentions the full number of the apostles. He evidently assumes that his readers are acquainted with the Gospel history. See note on John 3:24.


Verse 68

68. Peter answered—John was one of these twelve present on this occasion. And although semi-infidels have pretended to find traces of rivalry between him and Peter, yet to Peter he assigns the honour of this memorable confession.

To whom… go—None of the founders of religions, or philosophies, or priesthoods, can fill this place.

Words of eternal life Peter might have said, Thou alone workest true divine miracles, and doubtless he so believed; and believed that the divinity in the miracles was full proof of the eternal life to be in his words; but it was the words of eternal life of which he truly stood in need.


Verse 69

69. We believe—A generous confiding we; proof of a good heart but of a fallible head. Here, as ever. there is a slight collapse after Peter’s magnanimous assumptions.

Christ, the Son of the living God—The words of this confession are given very differently in different ancient manuscripts. Alford decides for the reading, thou art the holy one of God. And this is fully as strong as the words in our English version. It, then, means that he is God’s sole holy one. He is, then, all he ever claims himself to be. Had the Jews, (John 6:41,) or the disciples of John 6:60 and John 6:66, had this simple faith in the very self of Jesus, they would not have been disturbed by the mystery of his discourse about himself. (John 6:51-58.) Thou art first of all— the holy one of God; then, what thy works or thy words, however mysterious, proclaim thee to be, that thou art; and that I believe so far as I understand, and trust so far as I understand not.


Verse 70

70. Chosen—Our Lord’s reply sifts them down to a visible remainder of eleven who are pronounced not reprobate; chosen and true elect.

A devil— Whether this word here is to signify adversary, accuser, prosecutor, calumniator, or devil, commentators differ largely. But thus much is plain; the speaker could not but know that the last and worst of these meanings was the most obvious, being the then most common. It could not have been, therefore, an unmeant meaning. He is called a devil, perhaps, as now having in his will a readiness for a devilish act. Or, it may be, from his relation to Christ as a dark opposing figure in the sacred circle, a miniature antichrist. Or, devil, because a fallen angel—an apostate apostle.

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Verse 71

71. Judas Iscariot the son of Simon—Alford adopts the reading, Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, that is, Simon of the town Kerioth. See note on Matthew 10:4.

Should betray him—Literally, was about to betray him. Note on John 6:64. The temper or state of purpose by which he was ready for such an act, upon due temptation, is probably the ground of his being a

devil. Of the twelve—John has given no list of the twelve. Nevertheless, as he purposes to give a full history of this apostle’s betrayal of Jesus, he now, doubtless, says this as marking the aggravation of the deed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-6.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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