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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

John 6



Other Authors
Verse 1

The sea

See on Matthew 4:18.

Verse 2

Multitude ( ὄχλος )

See on John 1:19.

Followed ( ἠκολούθει )

Imperfect tense, denoting not merely the following on this occasion, but generally.

Saw ( ἑώρων )

Rev., beheld. See on John 1:18.

His miracles

Omit his. Render, as Rev., the signs.

He did ( ἐποίει )

Imperfect, was doing, from time to time.

Verse 3

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).

Verse 4

A feast ( ἡ ἑορτὴ )

With the definite article, the feast; pointing to something well known.

Verse 5

Come ( ἔρχεται )

Better, is coming. Unto Him ( πρός ) is rather toward.

Bread ( ἄρτους )

Properly, loaves. See on Matthew 4:1.

Verse 6

To prove ( πειράζων )

Literally, proving. See on Matthew 6:13. Wyc., tempting.

Verse 7

Pennyworth ( δηναρίων )

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.

Verse 9

A lad ( παιδάριον )

Diminutive. Only here in the New Testament. Only John mentions the lad.

Barley ( κριθίνους )

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.

Fishes ( ὀψάρια )

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.

Verse 10

Sit down ( ἀναπεσεῖν )

Literally, recline.

Grass ( χόρτος )

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.

Verse 11

Given thanks

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.

Verse 12

Fragments ( κλάσματα )

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.

Verse 13

Baskets ( κοφίνους )

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.

Verse 14

That should come ( ὁ ἐρχόμενος )

Literally, the one coming. Rev., that cometh. John 6:15-21. Compare Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-52.

Verse 15

Would come ( μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι )

Literally, are about to come.

Take by force ( ἁρπάζειν )

See on Matthew 11:12.

A king

Better, as Rev., king; over themselves.

Himself alone ( αὐτὸς μόνος )

Matthew has κατ ' ἰδίαν , privately, and both Matthew and Mark add, to pray.

Verse 16

Even ( ὀψία )

An adjective; ὄψιος , late with ὥρα , hour, understood.

Verse 17

Ship ( πλοῖον )

Rev., boat. See on Luke 5:2. The best texts omit the article.

Went ( ἤρχοντο )

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.

Verse 18

Arose ( διηγείρετο )

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.

Verse 19

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.

Drawing nigh

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.

Verse 21

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.

Immediately ( εὐθέως )

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 )

Imperfect: were going. Literally, were going away. The verb has the sense of retiring from something. Compare John 6:67; John 7:33, on which see note; John 12:11; John 18:8.

Verse 22

Which stood ( ὁ ἑστηκὼς )

Having remained daring the night near the scene of the miracle, and being there still.

Boat ( ποιάριον )

Diminutive: little boat.

That - whereinto His disciples were entered

Omit, and read as Rev., save one.

Verse 23

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.

Verse 26

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 )

See on Matthew 5:6; see on Luke 15:16.

Verse 27

Meat ( βρῶσιν )

See on John 4:32. In Matthew 6:19, Matthew 6:20, and there only, it is used in the sense of rust, that which eats or corrodes. Similarly, corrode is from rodo, to gnaw.

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.

Verse 28

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.

Verse 29


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.”

Verse 30


Since He had claimed to be the One sent of God.

Verse 31


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.'”

Verse 32

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.”

Verse 33

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.

Verse 35

I am the bread of life

A form of expression peculiar to John. See John 6:41, John 6:48, John 6:51; John 8:12; John 10:7, John 10:9, John 10:11, John 10:14; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1, John 15:5.

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.

Verse 36


Though you have seen as you asked, I repeat what I said to you that you have seen and do not believe.

Verse 37

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.

Cometh ( ἐρχόμενον )

A different verb, emphasizing the process of coming.

Verse 38

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.

Verse 39

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.

Verse 40

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.

Seeth ( θεωρῶν )

The word is designedly used. The saving vision of Christ is not here seeing, but earnest contemplation. Rev., beholdeth. See on John 1:18. Compare ye have seen me, and believe not (John 6:36).

Verse 41

Then ( οὖν )

Rev., rightly, therefore: because of His words.

Murmured ( ἐγγόγυζον )

See on Judges 1:16, and compare 1 Corinthians 10:10; Philemon 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.”

Tempest1, 2, 249.

At Him ( περὶ αὐτοῦ )

Implying that they addressed their remonstrances to Him. But περί means about or concerning. So Rev., properly, concerning.

Verse 42

We know

Not implying necessarily that Joseph was still alive, but merely the fact that Joseph was recognized as the father of Jesus.

Verse 44

Draw ( ἑλκύση )

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.”

Verse 45

Taught of God ( διδακτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ )

The idea is thrown into a compound adjective, θεοδίδακτοι , in 1 Thessalonians 4:9.

Verse 46

Hath seen

As contrasted with hearing and learning (John 6:45). The Father is not seen immediately, but through the Son. Compare John 1:18; John 14:9; 1 John 3:2, Matthew 11:27.

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.

Verse 49

Are dead ( ἀπέθανον )

The aorist points, not to their present condition but to the historical fact; they died. So Rev.

Verse 51

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.

Verse 52

Strove ( ἐμάχοντο )

The murmuring (John 6:41) now breaks out into open contention among the Jews themselves.

Verse 53

Eat the flesh

Appropriate the life. Compare Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17.

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.

Verse 54

Eateth ( τρώγων )

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.

Verse 55

Indeed ( ἀληθῶς )

Literally, truly. The best texts read ἀληθὴς , true: true meat, true drink.

Verse 56

Dwelleth ( μένει )

Render, as Rev., abideth. The word is a favorite one with John, occurring more frequently than in all the rest of the New Testament.

Verse 57

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.

Verse 59

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.

Verse 60

Hard ( σκληρός )

See on Matthew 25:24; see on Judges 1:14. According to the Greek order, hard is this saying.

Hear it ( αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν )

Αὐτοῦ may be rendered Him, but this is not probable. Hear means a docile hearing, with a view to receiving what is heard. Compare John 10:3, John 10:16, John 10:27; John 12:47; John 18:37.

Verse 61

Offend ( οκανδαλίζει )

Rev., cause to stumble. See on Matthew 5:29. Wyc., slandereth you.

Verse 62

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?

Ascend ( ἀναβαίνοντα )

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.

Verse 64

Should betray ( παραδώσων )

See on Matthew 4:12; see on Mark 4:29. Judas is once in the New Testament designated by the noun προδότης , traitor, Luke 6:16.

Verse 66

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.

Walked ( περιεπάτουν )

Literally, walked about, with Jesus in His wanderings here and there.

Verse 67

The twelve

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).

Verse 68

Simon Peter

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.

Verse 69

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).

Verse 70

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.

Verse 71

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.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 6:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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