The Fourfold Gospel
6:1 After these things1 Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee2, which is [the sea] of Tiberias3.
FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN.
(Spring, A.D. 29.)
A. RETURN OF THE TWELVE AND RETIREMENT TO THE EAST SHORE OF GALILEE.
Matthew 14:13; Mark 6:30-32; Luke 9:10; John 6:1
- After these things. See Matthew 14:13.
- Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee. See Mark 6:32.
- Which is [the sea] of Tiberias. see Luke 5:1.
6:2 And a great multitude followed him1, because they beheld the signs which he did on them that were sick.
FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN.
(Spring, A.D. 29)
B. FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND.
Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:2-14
- And a great multitude followed him. See Mark 6:33.
6:3 And Jesus went up into the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples1.
- And Jesus went up into the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. The level plain did not afford a good platform from which
to address the people.
6:4 Now the passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand1.
- Now the passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. This passover is computed to have been held on April 16, A.D. 29. This statement as
to the time of year prepares us for his further statement that there
was much grass in the plain. It also explains in part the gathering of
a multitude in this secluded region. Pilgrims on their way to the
passover would gladly go several miles out of their way to see the
great Prophet perform a miracle. The excitement, due to the mission of
the twelve and the death of the Baptist, also tended to swell the
6:5 Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude cometh unto him, saith unto Philip, Whence are we to buy bread, that these may eat1?
- Whence are we to buy bread, that these may eat? Jesus tested Philip to see which way he would turn in his weakness. Jesus asked where the
bread might be bought, knowing that power to feed the multitude resided
in himself (Isaiah 55:1), but Philip wondered where the money was to be
had to buy it.
6:7 Philip answered him, Two hundred shillings' worth of bread is not sufficient for them1, that every one may take a little.
- Two hundred shillings' worth of bread is not sufficient for them,
- that every one may take a little. See Mark 6:37.
6:9 There is a lad here, who hath five barley loaves, and two fishes1: but what are these among so many?
- There is a lad here, who hath five barley loaves, and two fishes. See Mark 6:38.
6:10 Jesus said, Make the people sit down1. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand2.
- Jesus said, Make the people sit down. See Mark 6:39.
- So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. See Mark 6:44.
6:11 Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks1, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.
- And having given thanks. See Mark 6:41.
6:12 And when they were filled, he saith unto his disciples, Gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost1.
- Gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost. Christ is the economist of the universe. This command was in keeping
with his laws which permit nothing to suffer annihilation. Ruin and
destruction have no other effect than merely to change the form of
things. Every atom of the material world which was here at the
beginning of creation is here today, though it may have changed its
form a million times in the progress of events.
6:14 When therefore the people saw the sign which he did, they said, This is of a truth the prophet that cometh into the world1.
- This is of a truth the prophet that cometh into the world. That is to say, this is the Messiah, the prophet promised at Deuteronomy 18:15. Their
desire to avenge the death of John made them feverishly anxious for the
appearance of the Messiah, but this faith was inconstant.
16:15 Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.
FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN.
(Spring, A.D. 29.)
C. THE TWELVE TRY TO ROW BACK. JESUS WALKS UPON THE WATER.
Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-21
- Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself
alone. Jesus had descended to the plain to feed the multitude, but,
perceiving this mistaken desire of the people, he frustrated it by
dismissing his disciples and retiring by himself into the mountain.
6:17 and they entered into a boat, and were going over the sea unto Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them1.
- And it was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. See Mark 6:47.
6:18 And the sea was rising by reason of a great wind that blew1.
- And the sea was rising by reason of a great wind that blew. See Mark 6:48.
6:19 When therefore they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they behold Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat1: and they were afraid2.
- They behold Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat. See Mark 6:48.
- And they were afraid. See Mark 6:49.
6:20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid1.
- But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. See Mark 6:50.
6:21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat1: and straightway the boat was at the land whither they were going.
- They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Superstitious fears are not always so soon allayed. His voice brought
6:22 On the morrow1 the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea2 saw that there was no other boat there, save one3, and that Jesus entered not with his disciples into the boat, but [that] his disciples went away alone
DISCOURSE ON SPIRITUAL FOOD AND TRUE DISCIPLESHIP. PETER'S
(At the synagogue in Capernaum.)
- On the morrow. The morrow after Jesus fed the five thousand.
- The multitude that stood on the other side of the sea. On the east side, opposite Capernaum.
- Saw that there was no other boat there, save one, etc. This sentence (John 6:22-24) is a complicated one, because it contains much in
condensed form. On the evening of the miracle the multitude had seen
that there was but one boat, and that the disciples had gone away in
it, leaving Jesus in the mountain. Jesus had dispersed the multitude,
but many of them had not gone very far.
6:23 (howbeit there came boats from Tiberias1 nigh unto the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks):
- Howbeit there came boats from Tiberias. In the meantime the keen- eyed boatmen about Tiberias, then the largest city on the lake, seeing
the multitude on the farther shore, saw in their presence there an
opportunity to earn a ferry fee, so they soon crossed the lake to
accommodate the people.
6:24 when the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples1, they themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus2.
- When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples. After some time they became convinced that he was not
there, because if he had been, his disciples would have returned to
- They themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. As Capernaum was the well-known headquarters of Jesus, the
boatmen were directed to proceed thither that the multitude might find
6:25 And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither1?
- Rabbi, when camest thou hither? They found him at Capernaum in the synagogue, having but lately arrived from the land of Gennesaret.
Though their question relates only to the time when Jesus crossed, it
implies and includes a desire to know the manner also.
6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily1, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs2, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled3.
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51. Jesus' answer was as serious as their question was flippant.
- Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs. Jesus includes the healing of the sick as well as the feeding of the multitude.
- But because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. They did not seek Jesus because they saw in him a divine Friend who could satisfy
the deep needs of the soul, but as a wonder-worker who could fill their
bodies with food when occasion required.
6:27 Work not for the food which perisheth1, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life2, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed3.
- Work not for the food which perisheth. Bodily food.
- But for the food which abideth unto eternal life. Spiritual food.
- Which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed. In our land a man consents to and makes a written
instrument his own--an expression of his will--by signing it; but in
the East he did this by affixing his seal to it (1 Kings 21:8; Esther 3:12; Esther 8:10
Father had commissioned him as Messiah, and had authenticated his
mission as such by the works which he had given him to do.
6:28 They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God1?
- What must we do, that we may work the works of God? They wished to know what to do in order to earn the abiding food; that is, by what
works they might so please God as to obtain it. Humanity, in seeking to
answer this question, has invented pilgrimages, penances, fasts,
mutilations, and many other methods of self-punishment; not heeding the
plain and decisive answer of Jesus.
6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent1.
- This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God is the one all-comprehensive work
which pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus reiterates this important truth
several times in this discourse; see, for example, John 6:35,36,40,47,
and the doctrine contained in it is elaborated in the epistles of Paul.
6:30 They said therefore unto him, What then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee1? what workest thou?
- What then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee?
- what workest thou? The trend of questions and answers in this discourse forms a close parallel to that at John 4:1-42, but with a different
conclusion. There Jesus discoursed of life under the figure of water,
and here under the figure of bread. There the woman vacillated between
her good and evil impulses until her better nature triumphed. Here
there was a like vacillation, terminating in opposite result.
6:31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness1; as it is written2, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat3.
- Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. In John 4:12, the woman compared Jesus with Jacob, the well-digger; here the people
compare him with Moses, the manna-giver--each comparing him
- As it is written. See Psalms 78:24; Psalms 105:40.
- He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. See Exodus 16:4,15.
6:32 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily1, I say unto you, It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven2; but my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven3.
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51.
- It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven. In testing the claims of Jesus the Jews proceeded upon the hypothesis that the
Messiah must be greater than all the prophets, and that this greatness
must be authenticated or sealed by greater signs than those wrought by
others. Proceeding under this method, they compared the miracle just
wrought by Jesus with the fall of manna in the days of Moses and drew
conclusions unfavorable to Jesus. They reason thus: Moses fed many
millions for forty years with bread from heaven, but Moses was less
than Messiah. This man fed but five thousand for only one day and gave
them barley bread. This man is even less than Moses, and consequently
far less than the Messiah.
- But my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven. See John 6:48,50.
6:34 They said therefore unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread1.
- Lord, evermore give us this bread. They readily recognized the insufficiency of manna and the possibility of God sending a better
bread, and in a vague, wondering, half-credulous mood they asked for it
just as the woman asked for water (John 4:15). In answer to each set
of questions Jesus proceeded to reveal himself, and to show that the
blessings sought were not external to himself, but were in himself and
were obtained by belief in him. When Jesus stood thus self-revealed,
the Samaritan woman believed in him and was satisfied; but these Jews
at Capernaum disbelieved and murmured.
6:35 Jesus said unto them. I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst1.
- I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. Compare
6:36 But I said unto you, that ye have seen me, and yet believe not1.
- But I said unto you, that ye have seen me, and yet believe not. The personality of Jesus was the great proof of his divinity, but the Jews,
though familiar with that personality, refused to consider it, and kept
clamoring for a sign. Hence Jesus states the hopelessness of the
situation. If one refused to believe in the sun when he sees its light,
feels its heat and witnesses its life-giving power, by what sign will
you demonstrate to him the existence of the sun?
6:37 All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me1; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out2.
- All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me. These words of Christ arise naturally out of the situation. The Jews, having
wavered between belief and disbelief, had settled in a proud disbelief
which was about to be expressed in murmuring and scorn. They were
complacently self-satisfied, and felt that they had displayed great
wisdom in arriving at this decision. But Jesus strikes at their pride
by informing them that they are not his because God has rejected them
as unworthy to be given to him. There is no suggestion or hint that the
Father acts arbitrarily in selecting whom he shall give to Christ. The
Son of God "followed a prescribed course" in the winning of men. If
this did not win them, it was the Father's decree that they were not
- And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If this course did win them, Jesus in nowise rejected them, no matter how lowly their
station, or how vile their past record.
6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life1; and I will raise him up at the last day2.
- For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life. It was the
purpose of God the Father to offer to the sons of men an eternal life
through the life-giving power of Jesus Christ. The power which was to
work in men a fitness for this exalted honor was a belief in the Son.
How could signs and wonders be wrought contrary to the Father's will?
They ought to have believed for the signs and wonders he had already
wrought, instead of pretending that he had wrought none that were
conclusive of his claims.
- And I will raise him up at the last day. See John 6:44,54.
6:41 The Jews therefore murmured concerning him1, because he said, I am the bread which came down out of heaven.
- The Jews therefore murmured concerning him. The Jews had entered with Christ upon a discussion as to whether he was a greater prophet
than Moses, and as they denied even this fact, it is not to be wondered
that they murmured at the turn which the discussion had taken.
6:42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how doth he now say, I am come down out of heaven1?
- How doth he now say, I am come down out of heaven? In asserting that he came down from heaven, etc., Jesus ascribed to himself a
participation in the divine glory which entitled him to an absolute
superiority over all men, prophets or others. This claim was to them
insufferable, and they thought they had a sufficient answer to it in
that they supposed themselves to be acquainted with his birth and
6:43 Jesus answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves1.
- Murmur not among yourselves. Jesus rebukes their murmuring as out of place. They thought themselves offended by what they believed to be
an intolerable assumption on his part.
6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him1: and I will raise him up in the last day2.
- No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him. But they were really offended in him for an entirely different cause, viz.:
because they were not drawn by the Father.
- And I will raise him up in the last day. See John 6:40,54.
6:45 It is written in the prophets1, And they shall all be taught of God2. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me3.
- It is written in the prophets. See Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33,34.
- And they shall all be taught of God. The Father had given the law as a tutor to draw to Christ (Galatians 3:24), and he had also sent forth
his prophets for the same purpose. Those who had availed themselves of
this instruction, and had learned the Father's lessons, were ready to
come to Christ. The sense of misery and desire of redemption begotten
by the law drove one to Christ, and all the yearnings and aspirations
inspired by the prophets attracted him thither.
- Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me. The Father had taught, but the people had not learned, just
as their fathers had not learned; and Jesus accuses them in language
kindred to the accusation of Moses (Deuteronomy 29:4). In each case the people
were to blame.
6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he hath seen the Father1.
- Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he hath seen the Father. The Jews might have construed the words of Jesus
as indicating an immediate relation to the Father and of obtaining
instruction directly from him. Such a doctrine would strike at the
mediation of Christ. Jesus therefore guards against this false
apprehension by denying humanity's direct access to God the Father, and
claiming it as his own exclusive right. The teaching of the Father
which he spoke of was obtained through the Scriptures and (in earlier
times) the prophets, who were the authors of the Scriptures.
6:47 Verily, verily1, I say unto you, He that believeth hath eternal life.
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51.
6:48 I am the bread of life1.
- I am the bread of life. Jesus here reasserts the proposition to which the Jews had objected. Having paused to speak of the cause of
their objections, he now asserts the main propositions, that he may
enlarge upon them.
6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died1.
- Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. Manna did not stay death. During the forty years' sojourn in the wilderness
all the grown men who started from Egypt died save two (Numbers 26:65).
6:50 This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die1.
- This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. He quietly condescends to contrast the two
breads. Manna simply sustained the body like any other natural food; it
did no more. Jesus is supernatural food; he sustains the spirit unto
6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world1.
- The bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. He had declared himself to be the bread of life, but bread must be
assimilated. The assimilation of natural bread requires eating, but
Jesus, the spiritual bread, is assimilated by believing on him. But he
was not then perfected as the bread of life. It was necessary that he
should sacrifice himself for our sins before sins could be forgiven,
and it was necessary for sins to be forgiven before men could have life
with God. By his sacrifice on the cross he opened the fountain of
forgiveness. By raising his humanity from the dead and by taking it
with him in his ascension into heaven, he showed the results which men
may expect to accrue to them by his death upon the cross.
6:52 The Jews therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat1?
- The Jews therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? They were not all of one mind with regard to
Christ, and they discussed from opposite sides the problem raised by
these mysterious words.
6:53 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily1, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves2.
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51.
- Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He here expressed in words what he
afterward expressed in symbols, when he gave the Lord's supper. The
vital force of a disciple is proportioned to his belief in, remembrance
of, and desire to assimilate the Christ.
6:54 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life1: and I will raise him up at the last day2.
- He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. The flesh to be eaten must be broken, and the blood, if it is to be
drunk, must be poured out. Christ speaks of himself as the sacrifice
given for the saving of the world, and one must appropriate to himself
by faith this expiation and find in it reconciliation with God if he
would live; but the next verse enlarges the thought and shows that it
includes more than the idea of expiation.
- And I will raise him up at the last day. See John 6:40,44.
6:56 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him1.
- He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. The thought of drinking blood was startling to the Jew, for
he was forbidden to taste even the blood of animals, and the reason
assigned was very pertinent--because the blood was the life of the
animal (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14). By insisting, therefore, on the drinking
of his blood, Jesus has insisted that his very life to be absorbed and
assimilated. To be disciples of other teachers it is only necessary
that we accept and follow their doctrine. But to be a disciple of
Christ is to do more than this. His divinity permits us to have a
spiritual communion and fellowship with him, an abiding presence, an
indwelling of his Spirit, and a veritable assimilation of life from
him. Were it otherwise he could not be food for the spirit--bread of
life. He had started to show to the Jews that he was to the spirit what
bread was to the body. It was difficult to bring home to their carnal
minds so spiritual a thought, and therefore Jesus clothed it in carnal
metaphors and made it as plain as possible. Christians today, being
more spiritually minded, and more used to spiritual language, are
somewhat confused by the carnal dress in which Jesus clothed his
6:57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me1.
- So he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. The result of our union or abiding with Christ is a perfect life. The life of the
Father enters the soul of the disciple through the mediatorship of the
Son. The Father, who is the fountain of life, sent forth the Son that
he might bestow it upon all who believe in him and abide in him.
6:58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live for ever1.
- He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. Thus Jesus sums up the comparison which the Jews had thrust upon himself and the manna.
6:59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum1.
- These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. It was in the synagogue built by the centurion, which we have before
mentioned. See Luke 7:5. Pots of manna appear to have been engraved
upon its walls, possibly upon the frieze, for Col. Wilson says of it:
"It was not without a certain strange feeling that, on
turning over one of the blocks (in the ruins), we found the
pot of manna engraved on its face, and remembered the
words, "I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna
in the wilderness, and are dead"."
6:62 [What] then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before1?
- [What] then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before? If the prophecy of his sacrifice disturbed their dreams
of a temporal kingdom, what would be the effect of his ascension on
those dreams? The Book of Acts answers our Lord's question. In the very
hour of the ascension, the very apostles were still expecting the
revival of the kingdom of David, with Jerusalem for its capital. But,
ten days later, at Pentecost, they had abandoned the earthly idea and
looked upon Jesus as enthroned at the right hand of God.
6:63 It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life1.
- The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life. Jesus here tells them plainly that his words relate to the spiritual
realm, and to life in that realm. It is his Spirit in our spirit which
gives eternal life. His flesh in our flesh would profit nothing, even
were a priest able, by his blessing, to perform the miracle of
transubstantiation. The life-principle of Jesus lay in his divinity,
and his divinity lay in his Spirit, and not in his flesh. We would not
come in contact with his divinity by eating that which represented his
6:64 But there are some of you that believe not1. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him.
- But there are some of you that believe not. Jesus here distinguishes between those who were drawn to him by divine influences, and who were
therefore ready to follow him as he really was, and those who were
drawn to him by mistaken notions concerning him, and who would desert
him as soon as they discovered that their conceptions of him were
incorrect. He knew the reason which prompted each to become his
6:66 Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him1.
- Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. He had sifted them, for their false following could be of no
benefit either to them or to his kingdom.
6:67 Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away1?
- Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away? Jesus had sifted the outer circle of his disciples, and the loss, though
prophetically anticipated, was not without its pang. In this verse he
proceeds to sift the innermost circle, and his words are full of
pathos. By giving them an opportunity to depart he called forth from
them an expression of loyalty which bound them more closely to him.
6:71 Now he spake of Judas [the son] of Simon Iscariot, for he it was that should betray him, [being] one of the twelve1.
- Now he spake of Judas [the son] of Simon Iscariot, for he it was that should betray him, [being] one of the twelve. We have seen from
he speaks of him openly. In a discourse which forecasted his passion it
was natural that he should allude to his betrayer, especially, when his
presence enforced remembrance. But there was another reason to mention
him at this time. He was an illustration of the truth that no man could
be a real follower of Jesus unless he became such by the drawing of the