Vincent's Word Studies
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
See on Matthew 4:18.
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
See on John 1:19.
Imperfect tense, denoting not merely the following on this occasion, but generally.
Rev., beheld. See on John 1:18.
Omit his. Render, as Rev., the signs.
He did (ἐποίει)
Imperfect, was doing, from time to time.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
A mountain (τὸ ὄρος)
Strictly, the mountain. The writer speaks as one familiar with the district.
He sat (ἐκάθητο)
Imperfect: was sitting, when he saw the multitude approaching (John 6:5).
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
A feast (ἡ ἑορτὴ)
With the definite article, the feast; pointing to something well known.
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
Better, is coming. Unto Him (πρός) is rather toward.
Properly, loaves. See on Matthew 4:1.
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
To prove (πειράζων)
Literally, proving. See on Matthew 6:13. Wyc., tempting.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
See on Matthew 20:2. Two hundred pennyworth would represent between thirty and thirty-five dollars.
That every one may take a little
Peculiar to John.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
A lad (παιδάριον)
Diminutive. Only here in the New Testament. Only John mentions the lad.
A detail peculiar to John. The word occurs in the New Testament only here and John 6:13. An inferior sort of bread is indicated by the term. Pliny and some of the Jewish writers describe barley as food fit for beasts. Suetonius speaks of a turgid rhetorician as a barley orator, inflated like barley in moisture: and Livy relates how cohorts which had lost their standards were ordered barley for food.
The word occurs only here and at John 21:9. The Synoptists use ἰχθυές. The A.V., small fishes, is intended to render the diminutive. The word means anything that is eaten with bread, and may apply to meat generally, or to what is eaten with bread as a relish. Homer speaks of an onion as a relish (ὄψον) for drink ("Iliad," 11, 630). The term was applied to fish par excellence. Fish became among the Greeks a chief dainty to gourmands, so that Demosthenes describes a glutton and spendthrift as one who is extravagant in fish.
But what are they among so many?
Peculiar to John, though the idea is implied in Luke 9:13.
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Sit down (ἀναπεσεῖν)
Originally an enclosure. Thus Homer speaks of Peleus offering a sacrifice, αὐλῆς ἐν χόρτῳ, in the enclosure of the court ("Iliad," xi., 774). Hence a feeding-place, and so grass, provender. The sense is merely that of our abstract pasture. Matthew and Mark mention the grass, Mark with the epithet green. Wyc., hay.
And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
All the Synoptists relate his looking up to heaven and blessing. Perhaps he used the familiar formula, "Blessed art thou Jehovah our God, King of the world, who causes to come forth bread from the earth."
To the disciples, and the disciples
The best texts omit. Render, as Rev., He distributed to them that were set down.
Likewise of the fishes
So also Mark.
As much as they would
Peculiar to John.
When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
From κλάω, to break. Rev., broken pieces.
That remain (περισσεύσαντα)
Rev., remain over. Literally, exceed the necessary supply. Only John gives the Lord's command to collect the fragments, and the reason for it, that nothing be lost.
Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
See on Matthew 14:20. Wyc., coffins.
With the fragments, etc.
John goes into fuller detail than the Synoptists. Mark alone notes the gathering of the remains of the fishes. John also uses ἐγέμισαν, filled, for they took up, or were taken up, of the Synoptists.
Five barley loaves
A detail peculiar to John, emphasizing the identity of the fragments with the original loaves.
Unto them that had eaten (βεβρωκόσιν)
Only here in the New Testament.
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
That should come (ὁ ἐρχόμενος)
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Would come (μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι)
Literally, are about to come.
Take by force (ἁρπάζειν)
See on Matthew 11:12.
Better, as Rev., king; over themselves.
Himself alone (αὐτὸς μόνος)
Matthew has κατ' ἰδίαν, privately, and both Matthew and Mark add, to pray.
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
An adjective; ὄψιος, late with ὥρα, hour, understood.
And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
Rev., boat. See on Luke 5:2. The best texts omit the article.
The imperfect, were going. So Rev.
Mark has Bethsaida.
It was now dark (σκοτία ἤδη ἐγεγόνει)
Literally, darkness had already come on. On darkness, see on John 1:5.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
It is lamentable how the A.V. misses the graphic force of these imperfects. Rev., rightly, was rising. Literally, was being awakened. The imperfects convey the sense of gathering danger, and throw into stronger relief the fact of Jesus' appearance. They were going; the darkness had already fallen, the sea was rising, and Jesus had not yet come.
That blew (πνέοντος)
Literally, blowing. That was blowing would be better. John's narrative at this point is more detailed and graphic than the others.
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
Had rowed (ἐληλακότες)
Literally, had driven or propelled (the boat).
Five and twenty, etc.
The lake being about forty furlongs, six miles, at its broadest, they had gone only a little more than half-way.
They see (θεωροῦσι)
Rev., behold; with an intent gaze. See on John 1:18. Both Luke and John use this word frequently.
Literally, becoming nigh. Wyc., to be made next to the boat. Mark adds, He would have passed by them, and Luke that they thought Him a phantom.
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
They willingly received (ἤθελον λαβεῖν)
Wrong. Rev., correctly, they were willing to receive; after being reassured by His voice. The imperfect denotes a continuous state of feeling, not a mere impulsive and temporary wish.
Whether Jesus actually entered the boat or not, John does not say. The more natural inference is that he did. Both Matthew and Mark say so. Their immediate and miraculous arrival at the shore was simultaneous either with their entertaining the wish to receive Him, or with His actually coming on board. Only John mentions this incident. Matthew and Mark say that the wind ceased.
They went (ὑπῆγον)
The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;
Which stood (ὁ ἑστηκὼς)
Having remained daring the night near the scene of the miracle, and being there still.
Diminutive: little boat.
That - whereinto His disciples were entered
Omit, and read as Rev., save one.
(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
Howbeit there came other boats (ἄλλα δὲ ἧλθεν πλοιάρια).
Some editors omit δὲ, howbeit, change ἄλλα, other, into ἀλλὰ, but, and read, but there came boats.
When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
The miracles (σημεῖα)
Both the insertion of the definite article and the translation miracles in the A.V. tend to obscure the true sense of the passage. Jesus says: You do not seek me because you saw signs. What you saw in my works was only marvels. You did not see in them tokens of my divine power and mission.
Were filled (ἐχορτάσθητε)
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Him hath God the Father sealed
The Rev. makes the sentence culminate properly in God: "for Him the Father, even God, hath sealed." According to the strict Greek order it is: for Him the Father sealed, even God. On sealed (ἐσφράγισεν) see on John 3:33. Wyc., betokened Him.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
What shall we do? (τί ποιοῦμεν)
Literally, what do we do? The best texts read ποιῶμεν, what are we to do?
The question is from the legal standpoint, works being regarded as the condition of obtaining the living bread.
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Faith is put as a moral act or work. The work of God is to believe. Faith includes all the works which God requires. The Jews' question contemplates numerous works. Jesus' answer directs them to one work. Canon Westcott justly observes that "this simple formula contains the complete solution of the relation of faith and works."
They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
Since He had claimed to be the One sent of God.
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Properly, the manna, referring to the familiar historic fact. A passage is cited from a Hebrew commentary on Ecclesiastes, as follows: "As the first Redeemer made the manna to descend, as it is written, 'Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you'; so the later Redeemer also shall make the manna to descend, as it is written, 'May there be abundance of corn in the earth.'"
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
Moses gave you not (οὐ Μωσῆς δέδωκεν ὑμῖν)
The antithesis is between Moses and my Father. So Rev., rightly, "it was not Moses that gave you," etc. - "but my Father giveth," etc. Some editors change the perfect tense, δέδωκεν, hath given, to the aorist, ἔδωκεν, gave.
The true bread from heaven (τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦοὐρανοῦ τὸν ἀληθινόν)
The translation would gain by following the Greek order, "the bread out of heaven, the real bread."
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
He which cometh down (ὁ καταβαίνων)
So it may be rendered; but also that which, referring to ἄρτος, bread: and so, better, as Rev., since Jesus does not identify Himself with the bread until John 6:35.
Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
I am the bread of life
Cometh - believeth
Faith in its active aspect and in its resting aspect.
Never (οὐ μὴ)
Rather, in nowise, or by no means. Rev., shall not.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
Though you have seen as you asked, I repeat what I said to you that you have seen and do not believe.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
All that (πᾶν ὃ)
The neuter singular of the adjective and pronoun. All believers are regarded as one complete whole. Compare John 17:24, according to the correct reading, "that which Thou hast given me."
Shall come (ἥξει)
Emphasizing the idea of reaching or arriving.
A different verb, emphasizing the process of coming.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
From heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ)
But the best texts read ἐκ, from, instead of ἐκ, out of, the idea being rather that of departure (I came down) than of origin. I came down should be as Rev. (I am come down). The tense is the perfect.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
The Father's will
Omit the Father's. Render, the will of Him, etc.
That of all which He hath given me (ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκέ μοι)
The construction is a peculiar and broken one. All which He hath given, stands alone as an absolute nominative; a very emphatic and impressive mode of statement. Literally it reads, that all which He hath given me I should lose nothing out of it.
At the last day (ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ)
The phrase occurs only in John.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
And this (δέ)
The best texts read γὰρ, for. There is a logical connection between the last sentence and the following. The Father's will in preserving and raising up that which he has given to the Son, includes in its fulfillment the believing contemplation of the Son and its issue in eternal life.
Of Him that sent me
The best texts substitute πατρός, you, of my Father.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
Rev., rightly, therefore: because of His words.
See on Jde 1:16, and compare 1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14. The word is constantly used in the Septuagint of the murmuring of Israel in the wilderness. Wyc., grudged of Him. So Chaucer, "Judas grucched agens the Maudeleyn whan sche anoynted the hed of oure Lord" ("Parson's Tale"); and Shakespeare,
Without or grudge or grumbling."
"Tempest" 1, 2, 249.
At Him (περὶ αὐτοῦ)
Implying that they addressed their remonstrances to Him. But περί means about or concerning. So Rev., properly, concerning.
And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
Not implying necessarily that Joseph was still alive, but merely the fact that Joseph was recognized as the father of Jesus.
Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Two words for drawing are found in the New Testament, σύρω and ἑλκύω. The distinction is not habitually observed, and the meanings often overlap. Σύρω is originally to drag or trail along, as a garment or torn slippers. Both words are used of haling to justice. (See Acts 8:3; Acts 17:6; Acts 16:19) In Acts 14:19, συ.ρω, of dragging Paul's senseless body out of the city at Lystra. In John 21:6, John 21:8, John 21:11, both words of drawing the net. In John 18:10, ἑλκύω, of drawing Peter's sword. One distinction, however, is observed: σύρω is never used of Christ's attraction of men. See John 6:44; John 12:32. Ἑλκύω occurs only once outside of John's writings (Acts 16:19). Luther says on this passage: "The drawing is not like that of the executioner, who draws the thief up the ladder to the gallows; but it is a gracious allurement, such as that of the man whom everybody loves, and to whom everybody willingly goes."
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Taught of God (διδακτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ)
The idea is thrown into a compound adjective, θεοδίδακτοι, in 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
Of God (παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ)
More correctly, as Rev., from, with an idea of association with: from with God. Παρά is used of procession from a personal object, indicating it generally as the starting-point.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
Are dead (ἀπέθανον)
The aorist points, not to their present condition but to the historical fact; they died. So Rev.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The living bread (ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν)
Literally, the bread the living (bread). Wyc., quick bread.
I will give
The ἐγω, I, is emphatic, in contrast with Moses (John 6:32).
See on John 1:14.
Which I will give
The best texts omit. Read, as Rev., my flesh for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
The murmuring (John 6:41) now breaks out into open contention among the Jews themselves.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Eat the flesh
Drink His blood
Appropriate the saving merit of His death. The passover was approaching, and the reference may well have been to the flesh and blood of the paschal lamb.
Have no life in you (οὐκ ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς)
Not according to the Greek. Rightly, as Rev., ye have not life in yourselves. All true life must be in Christ. Compare Colossians 3:3.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Another verb for eating is used. With the exception of Matthew 24:38, it is found only in John, and always in connection with Christ. No special significance can be fairly attached to its use here. It seems to be taken as a current word, and ἔφαγον is resumed in John 6:58.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Literally, truly. The best texts read ἀληθὴς, true: true meat, true drink.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Render, as Rev., abideth. The word is a favorite one with John, occurring more frequently than in all the rest of the New Testament.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
The living Father (ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ)
A phrase found nowhere else in the New Testament. On living and live, see John 1:4.
By the Father (διὰ τὸν πατέρα)
Wrong. Render, because of, as Rev. Because the Father is the living One. So, because of me, instead of by me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
In the synagogue (ἐν συναγωγῇ)
But the definite article is wanting; so that we must either understand in a synagogue, or in an assembly. See on James 2:2. Among the ruins at Tell Hum, the probable site of Capernaum, have been found among the remains of a synagogue a block of stone, perhaps the lintel, carved with the pot of manna, and with a pattern of vine leaves and clusters of grapes. See a full account of these ruins in Thomson's "Land and Book, Central Palestine and Phoenicia," pp. 417-419.
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
See on Matthew 25:24; see on Jde 1:14. According to the Greek order, hard is this saying.
Hear it (αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν)
When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
Rev., cause to stumble. See on Matthew 5:29. Wyc., slandereth you.
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
What and if ye shall see (ἐὰν οὐν θεωρῆτε)
The question is marked by an aposiopesis, i.e., a breaking off of the sentence and leaving the hearer to complete it for himself. Literally, if then ye should behold, etc. - the completion would be, would not this still more cause you to stumble?
Rev., properly, renders the participle, ascending.
I speak (λαλῶ)
But the correct reading is λελάληκα, the perfect tense, I have spoken, or I have just spoken, referring to the preceding discourse.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Should betray (παραδώσων)
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
From that time (ἐκ τούτου)
Render, as Rev., upon this. As a result proceeding out of (ἐκ) this. Compare John 19:12.
Went back (ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω)
The Greek expresses more than the English. They went away (ἀπό) from Christ, Literally, to the things behind, to what they had left in order to follow the Lord.
Literally, walked about, with Jesus in His wanderings here and there.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
John assumes that the number is known. It is implied in the twelve baskets of fragments. As in so many other instances in this Gospel, facts of the synoptic narrative are taken for granted as familiar.
Will ye also go away? (μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε ὑπάγειν)
The interrogative particle μὴ shows that a negative answer is expected. Surely ye will not. Will ye go is not the future tense of the verb to go, but is expressed by two words, do ye will (θέλετε), to go away (ὑπάγειν). Rev., would ye. On the verb to go away, see on they went (John 6:21).
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Assailants of the authenticity of John's Gospel have asserted that it reveals an effort on the part of the writer to claim for the disciple whom Jesus loved a pre-eminence above Peter. The assertion is effectually contradicted by the narrative itself. See John 1:42; John 6:68; John 13:6; John 18:10, John 18:16; John 20:2, John 20:7; John 21:3, John 21:7, John 21:11, and notes on those passages. Peter's replying for the twelve, in this passage, is a case in point.
The words of eternal life (ῥήματα ζωῆς αἰωνίου)
There is no article. Thou hast words. Words of life are words which carry life with them. Compare the phrases bread of life, light of life, water of life, tree of life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Are sure (ἐγνώκαμεν)
Literally, have come to know. The order of the words believe and know is reversed in John 17:8; 1 John 4:16. In the case of the first disciples, faith, produced by the overpowering impression of Jesus' works and person, preceded intellectual conviction.
That Christ, the Son of the living God
The best texts substitute ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ, the holy one of God. The other reading has resulted from the attempt to bring Peter's confession here into accord with that in Matthew 16:16. The two confessions differ in that "here the confession points to the inward character in which the Apostles found the assurance of life; there the confession was of the public office and theocratic person of the Lord" (Westcott).
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
A devil (διάβολος)
See on Matthew 4:1. The word is an adjective, meaning slanderous, but is almost invariably used in the New Testament as a noun, and with the definite article. The article is wanting only in 1 Peter 5:8; Acts 13:10; Revelation 12:9; and perhaps Revelation 20:2. It is of the very essence of the devilish nature to oppose Christ. Compare Matthew 16:23.
He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
Judas Iscariot the son of Simon (Ἱούδαν Σίμωνος Ἱσκαριώτην).
The correct reading is Ἱσκαριώτου, Iscariot, agreeing in the genitive case with Σίμωνος, of Simon. Render, as Rev., Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Iscariot denotes the name of Simon's town: a man of Kerioth. See on Matthew 10:5.