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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

John 6

 

 

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Verses 1-21

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 6:30-56. But the reader will do well to mark here again the important note of time introduced quite parenthetically at John 6:4.

Verse 4. And the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was nigh. This, according to our reckoning, was the third Passover since our Lord entered on His public ministry. See the note at Mark 6:34.

These verses are a little involved, from the Evangelist's desire to mention every circumstance, however minute, that might call up the scene as vividly to the reader as it stood before his own view.


Verse 22

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; The day following - that is, the day after the miracle of the loaves and the stormy night, or the day on which Jesus and His disciples landed at Capernaum.

When the people - `the multitude' [ ho (Greek #3588) ochlos (Greek #3793)].

Which stood on the other side of the sea - not the whole multitude that had been fed, but only such of them as remained over night about the shore, that is, on the east side of the lake; because we are supposed to have come, with Jesus and His disciples in the ship, to the west side, to Capernaum.

Saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered ... but that his disciples were gone away alone. The meaning is, the people had observed that there had been only one boat on the East side where they were, namely, the one in which the disciples had crossed at night to the other, the West side, and they had also observed that Jesus had not gone on board that boat, but His disciples had put off without Him.


Verse 23

(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)

(Howbeit - adds the Evangelist, in a lively parenthesis.

There came other boats from Tiberias - which lay near the south west coast of the lake, whose passengers were part of the multitude that had followed Jesus to the East side, and been miraculously fed: these boats were fastened somewhere, says the Evangelist.

Nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks) - thus he refers to the glorious "miracle of the loaves:" and now these boats were put in requisition to convey the people back again to the West side. For, says our Evangelist.


Verse 24

When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

When the people - `the multitude.'

Therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping - in these boats. And came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.


Verse 25

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea - at Capernaum, probably, as may be gathered perhaps from John 6:17-59; although one would infer from the other Gospels that He and the disciples had landed rather somewhere else-it may be in the neighbourhood of it (Matthew 14:34-35; Mark 6:55).

Jesus, questioned by the Multitudes that had run after Him, about His having gotten the start of them, changes the Subject, and, from the Loaves they had been filled with, discourses to them of the Bread of Life (John 6:25-59).

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? - astonished at His being there, and wondering how He could have accomplished it, whether by land or water, and when He came; for being quite unaware of His having walked upon the sea and landed with the disciples in the ship, they could not see how, unless He had traveled all night round the head of the lake alone, He could have reached Capernaum, and even then how He could have arrived before themselves. Jesus does not put them through their difficulty, says nothing of His treading on the waves of the sea, nor even notices their question, but takes advantage of the favourable moment for pointing out to them how forward, flippant, and superficial were their spirit and views, and how low their desires.


Verse 26

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.

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles , [ seemeia (Greek #4592)] - literally 'signs;' that is, supernatural tokens of a higher presence and a divine commission.

But because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. From this He proceeds at once to that other Bread, just as, with the woman of Samaria, to that other Water, (John 4:1-54.) We should have supposed all that follows to have been delivered by the wayside, or wherever they happened first to meet. But from John 6:59 we gather that they had probably met about the door of the synagogue-`for that,' says Lightfoot, 'was the day in which they assembled in their synagogues'-and that on being asked, at the close of the service, if He had any word of exhortation to the people, He had taken the two breads, the perishing and the living bread, for the subject of His profound and extraordinary discourse.


Verse 27

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.

Labour, [ ergazesthe (G2038), or 'work'] not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man - taking that title of Himself which denoted His incarnate life.

Shall give unto you - in the sense of John 6:51.

For him hath God the Father sealed , [ touton (Greek #5126) gar (Greek #1063) ho (Greek #3588) Pateer (Greek #3962) esfragisen (Greek #4972) ho (Greek #3588) Theos (Greek #2316)] - rather, perhaps, 'for Him hath the Father sealed, even God;' that is, marked out and authenticated for that transcendent office, to impart to the world the bread of an everlasting life, and this in the character of "the Son of Man."


Verse 28

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? - such works, that is, as God will approve. To this question different answers may be given, according to the spirit which prompts the inquiry (see Micah 6:6-8; Luke 3:12-14). Here our Lord knowing whom He had to deal with, shapes His reply accordingly.


Verse 29

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent , [ apesteilen (Greek #649)] - 'Him whom He sent.' This lies at the threshold of all acceptable obedience, being not only the pre-requisite to it but the proper spring of it-in that sense it is the work of works, emphatically "the work of God."


Verse 30

They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? But how could they ask "a sign," when many of them scarce a day before had witnesses such a "sign" as had never until then been vouchsafed to men; when after witnessing it they could hardly be restrained from making Him a king; when they followed Him from the one side of the lake to the other; and when, in the opening words of this very discourse, He had chid them for seeking Him, "not because they saw the signs," but for the loaves? The truth seems to be, that they were confounded by the novel claims which our Lord had just advanced. In proposing to make Him a king, it was for far other purposes than dispensing to the world the bread of an everlasting life; and when He seemed to raise His claims even higher still, by representing it as the grand "work of God," that they should believe on Himself as His Sent One, they saw very clearly that He was making a demand upon them beyond anything they were prepared to accord to Him, and beyond all that man had ever before made. Hence, their question, "What dost thou work?"


Verse 31

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat - insinuating the inferiority of Christ's miracle of the loaves to those of Moses: q. d., 'When Moses claimed the confidence of the fathers, "he gave them bread from heaven to eat" - not for a few thousands, but for millions and not once only, but daily throughout their wilderness journey.'


Verse 32

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.

Then [or 'therefore' oun (G3767)] Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread , [ dedooken (Greek #1325) ton (Greek #3588)] - 'hath not given you the bread' "from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven."

From heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. Every word here is an emphatic contradiction to their statement. 'It was not Moses that gave you the manna, and even it was but from the lower heavens; "but My Father giveth you the true bread," and that "from heaven."'


Verse 33

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. This verse is perhaps best left in its own transparent grandeur-holding up, as it does, the Bread itself as divine, spiritual, and eternal; its ordained Fountain and essential Substance, Him who came down from heaven to give it, that Eternal Life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us (1 John 1:2); and its designed objects, "the world."


Verse 34

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

Then (or 'therefore') said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread - speaking now with a certain reverence, as at John 6:25; the perpetuity of the manna floating perhaps in their minds, and much like the Samaritan woman, when her eyes were but half opened, "Sir, give me this water," etc. (John 4:15).


Verse 35

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.

And (or, 'But') Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. Henceforth the discourse is all in the first person - "I," "Me" - which occurs in one form or other, as Stier reckons, 35 times.

He that cometh to me - to obtain what the soul craves, and as the only all-sufficient and ordained Source of supply.

Shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst - shall have conscious and abiding satisfaction.


Verse 36

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me - rather 'that ye have even seen Me.'

And believe not - that is, seen Him not in His mere bodily presence, but in all the majesty of His life, His teaching, His works.


Verse 37

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 [which] the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


Verse 38

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

For I came down [or 'have come down' katabebeeka (G2597)] from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.


Verse 39

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.

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me. The true reading beyond doubt here is, 'This is the will of Him that sent Me' [ patros (Greek #3962) having no sufficient authority].

That of all [that] which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last That of all [that] which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.


Verse 40

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 is the will of him that sent me. Here the reading of 'the Father which hath sent Me' has much better support than in John 6:39, though scarcely sufficient, perhaps, to justify its insertion (with Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles).

That everyone which seeth, [ theooroon (G2334), rather, 'beholdeth'] the Son, and believeth on him, may (or should) have everlasting life: and I will raise him up - rather, 'and that I should raise him up'

At the last day. This comprehensive and very grand passage is expressed with a special artistic precision. The opening general statement (John 6:37) consists of two members: First, "ALL THAT THE FATHER GIVETH ME SHALL COME TO ME:" - q. d., 'Though ye, as I told you, have no faith in Me, My errand into the world shall in no wise be defeated; because all that the Father giveth Me shall infallibly come to Me.' Observe, what is given Him by the Father is expressed in the singular number and neuter gender-literally, 'all [that] which' [ pan (Greek #3956) ho (Greek #3739)]; while those who come to Him are put in the masculine gender and singular number-`him that cometh' [ ton (Greek #3588) erchomenon (Greek #2064)]. The whole mass, so to speak, is gifted by the Father to the Son as a unity, which the Son evolves, one by one, in the execution of His trust; so (John 17:2) "that He should give eternal life to all that which thou hast given him" [ pan (Greek #3956) ho (Greek #3739) dedookas (Greek #1325)].

The "shall come" of John 6:37 expresses the glorious certainty of it; the Father being pledged to see to it that the gift become a reality. Second, "AND HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT." Since the former was the divine, this is just the human side of the same thing. True, the "coming" ones of the second clause are just the "given" ones of the first. But had our Lord merely said, 'When those that have been given me of My Father shall come to Me, I will receive them,'-besides being very flat, the impression conveyed would have been quite different, sounding as if there were no other laws in operation, in the movement of sinners toward Christ, but such as are wholly divine and inscrutable to us; whereas, though He does speak of it as a sublime certainty which men's refusals cannot frustrate, He speaks of that certainty as taking effect only by men's voluntary advances to Him and acceptance of Him - "Him that cometh to me," "whosoever will" - thus throwing the door wide open. Only it is not the simply willing, but the actually coming, whom He will not cast out. "In no wise" [ ou-mee (Greek #3364)] is an emphatic negative, to meet the fears of the timid-as in Revelation 21:27, to meet the presumption of the hardened. These, then, being the emphatic members of the general opening statement, what follows is meant to resume and reiterate them both in another form. But first, we have a parenthetic and emphatic explanation that His mission from heaven to earth had but one object-to carry into effect the Father's purposes: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will" - not to act an independent part - "but," in respect of both the foregoing things, both the divine and the human side of salvation, to do "the will of Him that sent Me" (John 6:38). What this two-fold will of Him that sent Him is, we are next sublimely told, John 6:39-40. Thus:

First, "ALL THAT WHICH THE FATHER GIVETH ME SHALL COME TO ME."

This is now emphatically reiterated:

"AND THIS IS THE WILL OF HIM THAT SENT ME, THAT OF ALL THAT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN ME I SHOULD LOSE NOTHING, BUT SHOULD RAISE IT UP AGAIN AT THE LAST DAY."

So much for the divine side of man's salvation, whose every stage and movement is inscrutable to us, but infallibly certain.

Secondly,

"AND HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT."

This also is now emphatically reiterated:

"AND THIS IS THE WILL OF THE FATHER WHICH HATH 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."

This is just the human side of the same thing, (See the note at John 6:54.)

Thus God has a two-fold will about the salvation of men. He wills that those whom He has given in trust to His Son shall be presented faultless before the presence of His glory-redeemed from all iniquity, and their sleeping dust raised incorruptible. But He further wills that if any poor sinner, all ignorant of this secret purpose, but attracted by the grace and glory of His Son, shall believe on Him, he shall have eternal life and be raised up at the last day.


Verse 41

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

The Jews then murmured at him - or 'muttered' [ egonguzon (Greek #1111)], not in our Lord's hearing, but He knew it (John 6:43; John 2:25).

Because he said I am the bread which came down from heaven.


Verse 42

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?

And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he - or 'this man' [ houtos (Greek #3778)].

Saith I came down from heaven? Missing the sense and glory of this, and having no relish for such sublimities, they harp upon the "Bread from heaven." 'What can this mean? Do we not know all about him-where, when, and of whom he was born? And yet he says he came down from heaven?'


Verse 43

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.


Verse 44

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.

No man can come to me (in the sense of John 6:35), except the Father which hath sent me - that is, except the Father as the Sender of Me, and to carry out the design of My mission.

Draw him - by an internal and efficacious operation; though by all the means of rational conviction, and in a way altogether consonant to their moral nature. (Song of Solomon 1:4; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:3-4.)

And I will raise him up at the last day. See the note at John 6:54. Thus this weighty statement mounts to the following: 'Be not either startled or stumbled at these sayings; because it needs divine teaching to understand them, divine drawing to submit to them.'


Verse 45

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.

It is written in the Prophets (in Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33-34) Other similar passages may also have been in view. Our Lord thus falls back upon Scripture authority for this seemingly hard saying.

And they shall be all taught of God - not by external revelation merely, but by internal illumination, corresponding to true "drawing" of John 6:44.

Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father (who hath been thus efficaciously taught of Him), cometh unto me - with absolute certainty, yet in every case voluntarily, as above explained:

q. d., 'As none can come to Me except as divinely drawn, so none thus drawn shall fail to come.'


Verse 46

Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

Not that any man hath seen the Father, except he which is of God , [ para (Greek #3844) tou (Greek #3588) Theou (Greek #2316)] - or 'from God;' but in the sense of John 1:14, "the Only begotten [forth] from the Father." Lest they should confound that "hearing and learning of the Father," to which believers are admitted by divine teaching, with His own immediate access to Him, He here throws in a parenthetical explanation; stating, as explicitly as words could do it, how totally different the two cases were, and that only He who is "from God" hath this naked, immediate access to the Father.


Verse 47

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. See the note at John 3:36; and at John 5:24.


Verse 48

I am that bread of life.

I am that bread of life. This is repeated from John 6:35, 'As he that believeth in Me hath everlasting life, so I am Myself the everlasting Sustenance of that life.'


Verse 49

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

Your fathers - of whom ye spake (John 6:31). Observe, He does not say 'Our fathers'-by which, as Bengel remarks, He would hint that He had a higher descent of which they dreamt not.

Did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead - recurring to their own point about the manna, as one of the noblest of the ordained preparatory illustrations of His own office: 'Your fathers, ye say, ate manna in the wilderness, and ye say well, for so they did; but they are dead-even they whose carcasses fell in the wilderness did eat of that bread: the Bread whereof I speak cometh down from heaven, which the manna never did, that men, eating of it, may live forever.'


Verse 50

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

This ...


Verse 51

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.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread , [ kai (Greek #2532) ho (Greek #3588) artos (Greek #740) de (Greek #1161) 'aye, and,' or 'yea, and the Bread'] that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.} 'Understand, it is of MYSELF I now speak as the Bread from heaven; of ME if a man eat he shall live forever; and "THE BREAD WHICH I WILL GIVE IS MY FLESH WHICH I WILL GIVE FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD." Here, for the first time in this high discourse, our Lord explicitly introduces His sacrificial death-for what impartial student of Scripture can doubt this?-not only as that which constitutes Him the Bread of life to men, but as THAT very element IN HIM WHICH POSSESSES THE LIFE-GIVING VIRTUE. From this time forth, observes Stier-and the remark is an important one-we hear no more in this discourse of "Bread:" that figure is dropped, and the Reality takes its place. The words "I will give" may be compared with the words of institution at the Supper, "This is My body which is given for you (Luke 22:19), and, as the apostle reports it, "broken for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24).


Verse 52

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

The Jews therefore strove among themselves (arguing the point keenly among themselves, saying), How can this man give us his flesh to eat? - `Give us his flesh to eat? Absurd.'


Verse 53

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.

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. This is the harshest word He had yet uttered in their ears. They asked how it was possible to eat His flesh. He answers with great solemnity, 'It is indispensable.' Yet even here a thoughtful hearer might find something to temper the harshness. He says they must not only "eat His flesh" but "drink His blood," which could not but suggest the idea of His death-implied in the separation of one's flesh from his blood. And as He had already hinted that it was to be something very different from a natural death, saying, "My flesh I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51), it must have been pretty plain to candid hearers that He meant something above the gross idea which the bare terms expressed. And further, when He added that they "had no life in them unless they thus ate and drank," it was impossible they should think He meant that the temporal life they were then living was dependent on their eating and drinking, in this gross sense, His flesh and blood.

Yet the whole statement was certainly confounding, and beyond doubt was meant to be so. Our Lord had told them that in spite of all they had "seen" in Him they "did not believe' (John 6:36). For their conviction, therefore, He does not here lay Himself out; but having the ear not only of them but of the more candid and thoughtful in the crowded synagogue, and the miracle of the loaves having led up to the most exalted of all views of His Person and Office, He takes advantage of their very difficulties and objections to announce, for all time, those most profound truths which are here expressed, regardless of the disgust of the unteachable, and the prejudices even of the most sincere, which His language would seem only designed to deepen. The truth really conveyed here is no other than that expressed in John 6:51, though in more emphatic terms-that Himself, in the virtue of His sacrificial death, is the spiritual and eternal life of men; and that unless men voluntarily appropriate to themselves this death, in its sacrificial virtue, so as to become the very life and nourishment of their inner man, they have no spiritual and eternal life at all. Not as if His death were the only thing of value, but it is what gives all else in Christ's Incarnate Person, Life, and Office, their whole value to us sinners.


Verse 54

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Whose (or 'He that') eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. This is just the positive expression of what in the former verse He had expressed negatively. There it was 'Unless ye so partake of Me, ye have not life;' here it is, 'Whosoever does so hath life everlasting.'

And I will raise him up at the last day. For the fourth time this is repeated (see John 6:39-40; John 6:44) - showing most clearly that the "eternal life" which such a man "hath" cannot be the same with the future resurrection-life, from which it is carefully distinguished each time, but a life communicated here below immediately on believing (John 3:36; John 5:24-25); but at the same time giving to the resurrection of the body, as that which consummates the redemption of the entire man, a prominence which, in the current theology, it is to be feared, it has seldom had. (See the note at Romans 8:23; and at 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 throughout.)


Verse 55

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.


Verse 56

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As our food becomes incorporated with ourselves, so Christ and those who eat His flesh and drink His blood become spiritually one life, though personally distinct.


Verse 57

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

As the living Father hath sent me [ apesteilen (Greek #649)] - 'sent Me,' to communicate His own life.

And live by the Father , [ dia (Greek #1223) ton (Greek #3588) Patera (Greek #3962)] - not 'through,' but 'by reason of the Father;' My life and His being one life, though Mine is that of Son, whose it is to be "of the Father" (see John 1:18; John 5:26).

So he that eateth me, even he shall live by me , [ di' (Greek #1223) eme (Greek #1691)] - not 'through,' but 'by reason of Me.' So that though one spiritual life with Him, "the Head of every man is Christ, as the head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 3:23.)


Verse 58

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.

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 forever. This is a sort of summing up of the whole discourse, on which let this one further remark suffice-that as our Lord, instead of softening down His figurative sublimites, or even putting them in naked phraseology, leaves the great truths of His Person and Office, and our participation of Him and it, enshrined for all time in those glorious forms of speech, so when we attempt to strip the truth of these figures, figures though they be, it goes away from us, like water when the vessel is broken; and hence, our wisdom lies in raising our own spirit, and attuning our own ear, to our Lord's chosen modes of expression. It should be added that although this discourse has nothing to do with the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Sacrament has everything to do with it, as the visible embodiment of these figures, and to the believing partaker giving a real, yea the most lively and affecting participation of His flesh and blood, and nourishment thereby of the spiritual and eternal life here below.


Verse 59

These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Those things said he in the synagogue, as he taught (or 'teaching') in Capernaum. This would seem to intimate the breaking up of the congregation; rendering it probable that what follows took place after, but probably just after, they had begun to disperse.


Verse 60

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Many therefore of his disciples - His pretty constant followers, though an outer circle of them.

When they heard this, said, This is an hard saying - not merely harsh, but insufferable, as the word often means in the Old Testament.

Who can hear it? - or submit to listen to it.


Verse 61

When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?


Verse 62

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 'If ye are stumbled at what I have said, how will ye bear what I now say?' Not that His ascension itself would stumble them more than His death, but that after recoiling from the mention of the one they would not be in a state of mind to take in the other.


Verse 63

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. Much of His discourse had been about "flesh;" but flesh as such, mere flesh, and all religious notions which originate in the flesh, could profit nothing, much less impart that life which the Holy Spirit atone communicates to the soul. The words that I speak unto you - rather, 'have spoken' [for lelaleeka (Greek #2980) is the preferable reading].

They are spirit, and they are life - the whole burden of this discourse was "spirit," not mere flesh, and "life" in its highest, not its lower sense; and the words I employed were to be interpreted solely in that sense.


Verse 64

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.

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. As if He had said, 'But it matters little to some of you in what sense I speak, for ye believe not.' This was said, adds the Evangelist, not merely of the outer, but of the inner circle of His disciples; because He knew the traitor, though it was not yet time to expose him.


Verse 65

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given [or, 'have been given' ee (G2228) dedomenon (G1325)] unto him of my Father: - q.d., 'That was why I spoke to you of the necessity of divine teaching, which some of you are strangers to.' This last expression - "except it have been given him of my Father" - plainly shows that by the Father's "drawing" (John 6:44,) was meant an internal and efficacious operation; because in recalling the statement here, He says it must be "given to a man to come" to Christ.


Verse 66

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

From that time , [ ek (Greek #1537) toutou (Greek #5127)] - or 'In consequence of this.'

Many of his disciples went back. Those last words of our Lord seem to have given them the finishing stroke-they could stand it no longer. And walked no more with him. Many a journey, it may be, they had taken with Him, but now they gave Him finally up!


Verse 67

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Then said Jesus unto the twelve. This is the first time that they are so called by our Evangelist.

Will ye also go away? [ thelete (Greek #2309) hupagein (Greek #5217)] - 'Are ye also minded to go away.' The "ye also" [ kai (Greek #2532) humeis (Greek #5210)] is specially emphatic, and the appeal is singularly affecting. Evidently Christ felt the desertion of Him even by those miserable men who could not abide His statements; and seeing a disturbance even of the wheat by the violence of the wind which blew away the chaff (not yet visibly showing itself, but open to His eyes of fire), He would nip it at once by this home question. Doubtless there were other hearers besides the Twelve in whose hearts there was some good thing toward the Lord Jesus in spite of their prejudices and difficulties. But matters were too critical with the Twelve at this moment to admit of attention being now given to any others.


Verse 68

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Then Simon Peter - whose forwardness in this case was noble, and to the wounded spirit of His Lord doubtless very grateful.

Answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 'We cannot deny that we have been staggered as well as they, and seeing so many go away who, as we thought, might have been retained by teaching a little less hard to take in, our own endurance has been severely tried, nor have we been able to stop short of the question, Shall we follow the rest, and give it up? But when it came to this, our light returned and our hearts were reassured. For as soon as we thought of going away, there rose upon us that awful question, "To WHOM shall we go?" To the lifeless formalism and wretched traditions of the elders? to the gods many and lords many of the pagan around us? or to blank unbelief? Nay, Lord, we are shut up. They have none of that "ETERNAL LIFE" to offer us whereof Thou hast been discoursing, in words rich and ravishing as well as in words staggering to human wisdom. That life we cannot want; that life we have learnt to crave as a necessity of the deeper nature which Thou hast awakened; "the words of that eternal life" (the authority to reveal it and the power to confer it) Thou hast: Therefore will we stay with Thee-we must.'


Verse 69

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

And we believe and are sure , [ heemeis (Greek #2249) pepisteukamen (Greek #4100) kai (Greek #2532) egnookamen (Greek #1097)] - 'And we have believed and know.' The 'we' is emphatic: 'Whatever may be the case with others, we' etc.

That thou art that Christ , [ ho (Greek #3588) Christos (Greek #5547)] - rather, 'the Christ.'

The Son of the living God. (See the note at Matthew 16:6.) Peter seems to have added this not merely-probably not so much-as an assurance to His Lord of his heart's belief in Him, as for the purpose of fortifying himself and his faithful brethren against that recoil from those harsh statements of His which he was probably struggling against with difficulty at that moment.


Verse 70

Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen, [ exelexameen (G1586), 'Did I not choose'] you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 'Well said, Simon Barjonas, but that "we" embraces not so wide a circle as in the simplicity of thine heart thou thinkest; for though I have chosen only twelve of you, one of you twelve is a "devil." Remarkable expression, at a period comparatively so early, before yet, probably, the slightest evidence of it had come out to any but His eyes that spake it. It is not "hast," but "is" a devil; not only the tool, but the temple of Satan [not daimoon (Greek #1142), but diabolos (Greek #1228)].


Verse 71

He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. These explanatory remarks constitute one of the many striking characteristics of this Gospel-as observed in the Introduction to it.

Remarks:

(1) We have seen how, in John 5:1-47, our Lord teaches the essential Unity of the Father and the Son, and yet the Distinction of the Persons, and the Relations of Each to the Other-both in Their own Nature and in the economy of Redemption. Let us now see how the same things are here taught under new aspects. The essential divinity of the Son is so obviously implied in the following statements, that without it they either are so many turgid nothings, or they are blasphemous assumptions: "I am the Bread of Life" - "The Bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." "If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever" - "He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" - "Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you" - "Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." That His death should be the world's life, and men believing on Him-or drawing from Him thereby the virtue of His death-should never hunger and never thirst, but have in them even now an eternal life, and be by Him raised up at the last day, is what no other man ever ventured to affirm of himself, and no creature could affirm without absurdity.

But Christ here affirms and reiterates it in every possible form. Nor, in doing so, does He go beyond what He taught to the woman of Samaria, what He taught afterward in the streets of Jerusalem, regarding the living water (John 4:10; John 4:13-14; John 7:37-39), and what He taught in His great proclamation of Rest for the weary (Matthew 11:28-30). But while asserting these claims to what is essentially divine, how careful is our Lord, in those very statements, to intimate that His consecration, and mission from heaven to earth, to discharge these great functions for the world, was all of God, and that He is but the Father's voluntary Agent in every step of man's salvation: "The Son of man shall give unto you the meat that endureth to everlasting life, for Him hath God the Father sealed" - "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" - "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" - "Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto Me." But this introduces a new and still more striking expression both of the proper divinity of the Son and of the ineffable harmony with which the Father and the Son cooperate in every step of man's salvation.

After representing it as the very work of God that men should believe in Him whom He had sent, He says, "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." What creature could possibly say either of these things-that the work of works which God demands from every man is to believe on him, and yet, that this cannot be done by any man without a special divine operation upon his heart? But the glory of Christ's proper divinity shines, if possible, yet brighter in such statements as these-that it is the express will of His Father, which He came down to do, that of all that which He had given Him He should lose nothing, and that everyone that beholdeth the Son and believeth on Him should have everlasting life, and He should raise him up at the last day. Who could possibly credit this of a creature? And what creature? And what creature, on the faith of it, would come to a creature to get eternal life? Even if he could hope thus to get it, how could he possibly be sure in coming to Him, that Christ would know that he had come, or would know when he came, so as not to cast him out? And what insufferable presumption would it be in any creature to say to any other creature, 'If you come to me for eternal life, I will not cast you out?' In short, He that can say without falsehood and without presumption to the whole world-`If any man come to Me, I will give unto him eternal life, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out, since all that the Father hath given Me shall come to Me; I have gotten charge from Him accordingly to receive them, to lose nothing and none of them, but to give them even now eternal life, and to raise every one of them up at the last day'-He must be essentially and properly divine, personally distinct from, yet in absolute harmony with the Father about the matter of man's salvation in general, and every individual's salvation in particular; nor will, nor can any soul, on the faith of such words, come to Jesus and surrender itself into His hands for salvation accordingly, unless in the perfect assurance, that He knows the fact of his doing so-knows when he does it-knows "that He is able to keep that which He has committed unto Him against that day" (see the note at 2 Timothy 1:12).

(2) See here the double view of faith ever presented in Scripture-as at once a duty comprehensive of all other duties, and a grace, of special divine communication. It is the duty of duties; because "This is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He hath sent:" and it is a grace comprehensive of every other; for though "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out," yet "no man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" - "Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto Me" - "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come to Me except it were given unto Him of My Father." Pity that, in the attempts to reconcile these, so much vain and unsavoury controversy has been spent, and that one of them is so often sacrificed to the other; because then they are not what Jesus says they are, but rather a caricature of them. The link of connection between divine and human operation will probably never be reached on earth-if even in heaven. Let us, then, implicitly receive and reverentially hold both; remembering, however, that the divine in this case ever precedes, and is the cause of, the human-the "drawing" on God's part of the "coming" on ours; while yet our coming is as purely spontaneous, and the result of rational considerations presenting themselves to our minds, as if there were no supernatural operation in the matter at all.

(3) What bright marks of truth does the concluding scene of this chapter exhibit! The last thing that would occur to any biographer of a mythical Christ-or even filling up from his own fancy a few meager fragments of real history-would be the entrance of doubts into the innermost circle of those who believed in Him. Or, if even that be conceivable, who would ever have managed such a thought as it is here? The question, "Will ye also go away?" is not more the affecting language of wounded feeling-springing from conscious desert of other treatment-than is the reply of Peter the expression of a state of mind too profoundly natural and pregnant ever to have been conceived if it had not been actually uttered. And the answer to this again-to the effect that what Peter expressed would be all that could be desired if it were the mind and feeling of them all; but that, so far from this, out of only twelve men whom He had chosen one would be found a devil-this has such originality stamped upon it as secures its own reception, as true history, by every intelligent and guileless reader.

(4) There are seasons when one's faith is tried to the utmost, particularly by speculative difficulties; the spiritual eye then swims, and all truth seems ready to depart from us. At such seasons, a clear perception, like that of Peter here, that to abandon the faith of Christ is to face blank desolation, ruin, and death; and, on recoiling from this, to be able to fall back, not merely on first principles and immovable foundations, but on personal experience of a Living Lord, in whom all truth is wrapt up and made flesh for us-this is a relief unspeakable. Under that blessed Wing taking shelter, until we are again fit to grapple with the questions that have staggered us, we at length either find our way through them, or attain to a calm satisfaction on the discovery that they lie beyond the limits of present apprehension.

(5) The narrowness of the circle of those who rally around the truth, and the unpopularity of their profession, are no security that all of them are true-hearted; for one even of the Twelve was a devil. And the length of time during which Judas remained within the innermost circle of Christ's followers, without discovering to his brethren his real character, or probably being aware of it himself, and the fact that when it did come out, it was drawn forth, as appears, quite casually, and then was matured with such frightful rapidity-do not these things cry aloud to all who name the name of Christ, "Rejoice with trembling!" "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall"! "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation"!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 6:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-6.html. 1871-8.

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