John 6


Jesus passes the sea of Tiberias, and a great multitude follow

him, 1-4.

He feeds five thousand with five loaves, and two fishes,


They acknowledge him to be the prophet that should come into

the world, 14.

They purpose to force him to become their king; and he withdraws

from the multitude, 15.

The disciples take ship, and go towards Capernaum, and are

overtaken with a storm, 16-18.

Christ comes to them, walking upon the water, 19-21.

The people take boats and follow him, 22-24.

He reproves their fleshly motives, 25-27.

They profess a desire to be instructed, 28.

Christ preaches to them, and shows them that he is the bread of

life, and that they who reject him are without excuse, 29-40.

They are offended, and cavil, 41, 42.

He asserts and illustrates his foregoing discourse, 43-51.

They again cavil, and Christ gives farther explanations, 52-59.

Several of the disciples are stumbled at his assertion, that

unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they could not

have life, 60.

He shows them that his words are to be spiritually understood,


Several of them withdraw from him, 66.

He questions the twelve, whether they also were disposed to

forsake him, and Peter answers for the whole, 67-69.

Christ exposes the perfidy of Judas, 70, 71.


Verse 1. After these things] This is a sort of indefinite

expression, from which me can gather nothing relative to the time

in which these things happened. It refers no doubt to transactions

in the preceding year.

Jesus went over the sea of Galilee] Or, as some translate the

words, by the side of the sea of Galilee. From Luke, Lu 9:10, we

learn that this was a desert place in the vicinity of Bethsaida.

The sea of Galilee, Genesaret, and Tiberias, are the same in the

New Testament with the sea of Cinnereth in the Old. Tiberias was a

city in Galilee, situated on the western side of the lake.

See Clarke on Jo 6:22.

Verse 2. They saw his miracles which he did] John does not

mention these miracles; but Matthew details them, Mt 12:2-14:13.

John seems more intent on supplying the deficiencies of the other

evangelists than in writing a connected history himself.

Verse 3. Went up into a mountain] This mountain must have been

in the desert of Bethsaida, in the territories of Philip, tetrarch

of Galilee. Our Lord withdrew to this place for a little rest; for

he and his disciples had been so thronged with the multitudes,

continually coming and going, that they had not time to take

necessary food. See Mr 6:31.

Verse 4. And the passover-was nigh.] This happened about ten or

twelve days before the third passover which Christ celebrated

after his baptism. Calmet. For a particular account of our Lord's

four passovers See Clarke on Joh 2:13.

For thirty days before the Passover there were great

preparations made by the Jews, but especially in the last nineteen

days, in order to celebrate the feast with due solemnity.

Lightfoot supposes that what is here related happened within the

last fifteen days. See Calmet's opinion above.

Verse 5. Saw a great company] See this miracle explained at

large on Mt 14:13, &c.; Mr 6:31, &c.; Lu 9:10, &c.

In speaking of the passovers, and various other matters, it does

not appear that John follows any strict chronological order.

From Joh 6:15, it appears that our Lord had come down from the

mountain, and fed the multitudes in a plain at the foot of it.

Saith unto Philip] This, with what follows, to the end of

Joh 6:7 the seventh verse, is not mentioned by any of the

other evangelists.

Philip was probably the provider for the disciples, as Judas

was the treasurer.

Whence shall we buy bread] Instead of αγορασομεν, shall we buy,

I should read αγορασωμεν, may we buy, which is the reading of

ABDEHLS, Mt. VB, and many others. As Philip was of Bethsaida,

Joh 1:44; 12:21, he must have been much better acquainted with

the country in which they then were than any other of the


Verse 6. This he said to prove him] To try his faith, and to see

whether he and the other apostles had paid proper attention to the

miracles which they had already seen him work; and to draw their

attention more particularly to that which he was now about to

perform. This is an observation of the evangelist himself, who

often interweaves his own judgment with the facts he relates,

which St. Matthew rarely ever does. The other evangelists say

that, previously to this miracle, he continued to instruct and

heal the multitudes till it was near the close of the day.

Mt 14:14, 15; Mr 6:34, 35; Lu 9:11, 12.

Verse 7. Two hundred pennyworth] This sum, rating the denarius

at 7 3/4d., would amount to 6. 9s. 2d. of our money, and

appears to have been more than our Lord and all his disciples were

worth of this world's goods. See the notes on Mt 18:28.

Verse 8. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith] The other

evangelists attribute this answer to the apostles in general. See

the passages referred to above.

Verse 9. There is a lad here] παιδαριον, a little boy, or

servant, probably one who carried the apostles' provisions, or

who came on purpose to sell his bread and fish.

Five barley loaves] Barley scarcely bore one-third of the value

of wheat in the east: see Re 6:6. That it was a very

mean fare appears from Eze 13:19, where the false prophetesses

are said to pollute the name of God for handfuls of barley, i.e.

for the meanest reward. And Plutarch, in Apoph. p. 174, speaking

concerning the flight of Artaxerxes Mnemon, says he was reduced to

such distress as to be obliged to eat barley bread. See Kypke.

From this and other circumstances we may plainly perceive that the

self-denying doctrine preached by Christ and his apostles was

fully exemplified in their own manner of living.

Two small fishes] δυοοψαρια. The word of οψαριον signifies

whatever is eaten with bread, to perfect the meal, or to make it

easy of deglutition, or to help the digestion. There is no word in

the English language for it, which is a great defect. The

inhabitants of Scotland, and of the north and north-west of

Ireland, use the word kytshen, by which they express what ever is

eaten with bread or potatoes, as flesh, fish, butter, milk, eggs,

&c., no satisfactory etymology of which word I am able to offer.

In the parallel places in the other three evangelists, instead of

οψαριαιχθυας is used; so that the word evidently means fish in

the text of St. John: See Clarke on Joh 21:5.

Verse 10. There was much grass in the place.] Perhaps newly mown

grass, or hay, is meant, (so the Vulgate faenum,) and this

circumstance marks out more particularly that the passover was at

hand. In Palestine the grass is ready for mowing in March; and

this miracle seems to have been wrought only a few days before the

commencement of that festival: see Joh 6:4.

Verse 11. Jesus took the loaves] See the notes on Mt 14:19-21.

As there were five loaves and five thousand people, so there was

one loaf to every thousand men, independently of the women and


Verse 12. Gather up the fragments] "Great will be the punishment

of those who waste the crumbs of food, scatter seed, and neglect

the law." Synops Sohar. Among the Jews the peah, or residue

after a meal, was the property of the servitors.

Verse 14. This is of a truth that prophet] Spoken of, De 18:15,

viz. the Messiah. How near were these people at this time to the

kingdom of heaven!

Verse 15. Take him by force, to make him a king] The Jews had

often suffered by famine in those times in which their enemies

were permitted to prevail over them; but, finding that Jesus had

such power as to multiply a few loaves to feed thousands, they

took it for granted that while he was at their head no evil could

possibly happen to them, and therefore were determined immediately

to proclaim him king, and rid themselves at once of Herod and the

Romans. Our Lord perceiving this, either by some words which

they had dropped, or by his penetration of their hearts, retired

before the project had been fully formed, or could be put into

execution. It was not till a considerable time afterwards that

even the disciples fully understood that his kingdom was not of

this world.

Into a mountain] That on which he was with his disciples

previously to his working this miracle: see Joh 6:3.

St. Matthew, Mt 14:22, 23, and Mark, Mr 6:45, 46, say that,

before this, Jesus constrained his disciples to embark in the

vessel, and go along the sea coast towards Capernaum, or

Bethsaida-see here Joh 6:17, and the note on Mr 6:45; and that,

after they were gone, he dismissed the multitudes, having, no

doubt, given them such advices as the nature of the case required;

after which he went into the mountain to pray.

Worldly wisdom would have said, "Declare thyself king: yield to

the desires of the people: this will be the readiest way of

converting the Jews." No. Jesus must die for the sin of the

world.-No man's heart can be turned to God by outward pomp or

splendour-no saving change can be brought about by any might or

any power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. Zec 4:6.

Verse 17. Toward Capernaum.] St. Mark says, Mr 6:45, that our

Lord commanded them to go along to Bethsaida; and in the course of

the history we find they got neither to Bethsaida nor Capernaum,

but landed in the country of Genesaret: Mt 14:34. Our Lord seems

to have desired them to go either to Bethsaida or Capernaum, which

were only a very few miles distant, and on the same side of the

sea. The reason why they could reach neither was the storm which

the evangelists say rose at the time, and the wind being contrary:

the storm being probably excited by the prince of the power of the

air. Capernaum lay at the northern part of this sea, and they went

along the Galilean or western coast, probably expecting Christ to

come to them, on which account they might keep in close by the

land. But there are great difficulties in fixing the places

mentioned by the evangelists. By some writers Bethsaida and

Capernaum are placed on opposite sides of this lake: by others on

the same side. Sometimes when our translation speaks of passing

over the sea, &c., a coasting voyage only is meant, as we find the

disciples landing on the same side from which they had departed:

See Clarke on Joh 6:22.

Verse 19. Had rowed] Their vessel was a small one only,

something of the boat kind: as to sails, if they had any, they

could not now venture to carry them, because of the storm.

Five and twenty or thirty furlongs] Between three and four

miles. The sea of Tiberias, on which they now were, was, according

to Josephus, War, book iii. chap. 25, forty furlongs, or five

miles in breadth; and one hundred and forty furlongs, or eighteen

miles, in length. Pliny, lib. v. chap. 15, makes it about six

miles broad, and sixteen long.

They see Jesus] See Clarke on Mt 14:25, &c.

Verse 21. Immediately the ship was at the land] How far they

were from the place at which they landed, when our Lord came to

them, we know not. But the evangelist seems to speak of their

sudden arrival there as extraordinary and miraculous.

Verse 22. The people which stood on the other side] εστηκως

περαντηςθαλασσης, Standing by the sea side. The people were not

on the other side, i.e. in Perea, as our version states, but on

that side where Bethsaida lay: see the notes on Mt 14:25, 34, and

on Mr 6:45. The Greek word,

περαν, says Bishop Pearce, seems to signify in Scripture

sometimes on the side of, and sometimes on this side of: see

Jos 5:1. and 1 Macc. 9:34. The Hebrew word

abar, signifies by the side: Ex 28:26, and is translated

on this side in De 4:29. It has the same meaning in the

Septuagint, De 1:5; 3:8; 4:46.

περαν, says Vorstius, is the same with παρα, near to. This

is evidently the meaning of the word in Mt 4:15; as it appears,

from what is said of the land of Zabulon and Nepthali, that by

περαν is not meant beyond, but by the side of; because those two

tribes inhabited the western side of Jordan, which was the side

lying nearest to Judea and Galilee: See Clarke on Mt 19:1.

Verse 23. There came other boats] After Jesus and his disciples

had departed.

From Tiberias] Herod Antipas built this city near the lake of

Genesaret, in the best parts of Galilee, and called it Tiberias,

in honour of Tiberius, the Roman emperor: see Jos. Ant. book

xviii. chap. 2. sect. 3.

Verse 24. They also took shipping] That is, as many of them as

could get accommodated with boats took them and thus got to

Capernaum; but many others doubtless went thither on foot, as it

is not at all likely that five or six thousand persons could get

boats enow to carry them.

Verse 25. On the other side of the sea] That is, on the sea

coast, to the northward of it, where Capernaum lies in the land of

Genesaret: but see the note, on Joh 6:17, 22. It was in one of

the synagogues of Capernaum that he delivered the following

discourse: see Joh 6:59.

Verse 26. Ye seek me, not because ye saw, &c.] Though the

miracle of the loaves was one of the most astonishing that ever

was wrought upon earth; and though this people had, by the

testimony of all their senses, the most convincing proof of its

reality; yet we find many of them paid little attention to it, and

regarded the omnipotent hand of God in it no farther than it went

to satisfy the demands of their appetite! Most men are willing to

receive temporal good from the hands of God; but there are few,

very few, who are willing to receive spiritual blessings.

Verse 27. Labour not for the meat] That is, for that only, but

also for the bread, &c. Our Lord wills every man to be active

and diligent in that employment in which providence has placed

him; but it is his will also that that employment, and all the

concerns of life, should be subservient to the interest of his


But for that meat, &c.] He who labours not, in the work of his

salvation, is never likely to enter into the kingdom of God.

Though our labour cannot purchase it, either in whole or in part,

yet it is the way in which God chooses to give salvation; and he

that will have heaven must strive for it. Every thing that can be

possessed, except the salvation of God, is a perishing thing: this

is its essential character: it can last to us no longer than the

body lasts. But, when the earth and its produce are burnt up, this

bread of Christ, his grace and salvation, will be found remaining

unto eternal life. This is the portion after which an immortal

spirit should seek.

Him hath God the Father sealed.] By this expression, our Lord

points out the commission which, as the Messiah, he received from

the Father, to be prophet and priest to an ignorant, sinful

world. As a person who wishes to communicate his mind to another

who is at a distance writes a letter, seals it with his own seal,

and sends it directed to the person for whom it was written, so

Christ, who lay in the bosom of the Father, came to interpret the

Divine will to man, bearing the image, superscription, and seal of

God, in the immaculate holiness of his nature, unsullied truth of

his doctrine, and in the astonishing evidence of his miracles. But

he came also as a priest, to make an atonement for sin; and the

bread which nourishes unto eternal life, he tells us, Joh 6:51,

is his body, which he gives for the life of the world; and to this

sacrifice of himself, the words, him hath God the Father sealed,

seem especially to relate. It certainly was a custom, among

nations contiguous to Judea, to set a seal upon the victim which

was deemed proper for sacrifice. The following account of the

method of providing white bulls among the Egyptians, for

sacrifices to their god Apis, taken from HERODOTUS, Euterpe, b.

ii. p. 117, casts much light upon this place. "They sacrifice

white bulls to Apis; and for that reason make the following trial.

If they find one black hair upon him, they consider him as

unclean: that they may know this with certainty, the priest

appointed for this purpose views every part of the animal, both

standing and lying on the ground. After this, he draws out his

tongue, to see if he be clean by certain signs: in the last place,

he looks upon the hairs of his tail, that he may be sure they are

as by nature they should be. If, after this search, the bull is

found unblemished, he signifies it by tying a label to his horns;

then, having applied wax, he seals it with his ring, and they lead

him away: for it is death to sacrifice one of these animals,

unless he have been marked with such a seal.

The Jews could not be unacquainted with the rites and ceremonies

of the Egyptian worship; and it is possible that such precautions

as these were in use among themselves, especially as they were so

strictly enjoined to have their sacrifices without SPOT, and

without blemish. Infinite justice found Jesus Christ to be

without spot or blemish, and therefore sealed, pointed out and

accepted him, as a proper sacrifice and atonement for the sin of

the whole world. Collate with this passage, Heb 7:26-28;

Eph 5:27; 2Pe 3:14; and especially Heb 9:13, 14:

For if the blood of BULLS and of goats, and the ashes of a

heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth-how much more shall the

blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself

WITHOUT SPOT to God, purge your consciences from dead works! The

rabbins talk much of the seal of God, which they suppose to be

emeth, or truth; and that this is a representation of the

unoriginated and endless perfections of God. This doctrine is

just; but their method of proving it is not so satisfactory. Aleph

, say they, is the first letter of the alphabet; mem the

middle; and tau the last: these three letters make

emeth, TRUTH, because God is the first-there was none before him;

he is the middle-none mingles with him; and he is the last-there

can be none after him. Hieros. Sanhed. fol. 18. See also

1Pe 1:18, 19.

Verse 28. That we might work the works of God?] That is, Divine

works, or such as God can approve.

Verse 29. This is the work of God, that ye believe] There is

nothing you can be employed in more acceptable to God than in

yielding to the evidence set before you, and acknowledging me as

your Messiah and the Saviour of a lost world.

Verse 30. What sign] τισημειον, What miracle; so the word is

evidently used, Joh 2:11, 23, and in many other places.

That we may see, and believe thee] That, having seen the

miracle, we may believe thee to be the promised Messiah. They had

already seen the miracle of the five loaves, and did not believe;

and it was impossible for them to see any thing more descriptive

of unlimited power and goodness. Even miracles themselves are lost

on persons whose hearts are fixed on the perishing things of the

world, and whose minds are filled with prejudice against the


Verse 31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert] Their

argument seems to run thus: Thou hast, we grant, fed five thousand

men with five loaves and two small fishes; but what is this in

comparison of what Moses did in the desert, who for forty years

fed more than a million of persons with bread from heaven: do

something like this, and then we will believe in thee, as we have

believed in Moses.

Verse 32. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven] Our Lord

refutes the argument of the Jews, by proving: 1. That it was not

Moses, but God, who gave the manna. 2. That this bread was not the

true bread, but was merely a type of it. 3. That God had given

them now a bread infinitely more excellent. 4. That himself is

that heavenly nourishment of which he spake, and who was typified

by the manna in the desert.

To show that himself was the true bread from heaven, he proves

two things: 1. That his doctrine was the true nourishment of the

soul, and that those who were to be put in possession of the

blessings promised in it must come to God by faith. 2. That he

would give his body for the life of the world: that as bread is

the staff that supports the natural life of man, so the salvation

procured by his death should be that by which the bodies and souls

of believers should be preserved unto life eternal.

Verse 34. Lord, evermore give us this bread.] Either meaning,

"Let the miracle of the manna be renewed, and continue among us

for ever:" or, "Let that bread of which thou hast spoken, become

our constant nourishment." The Jews expected that, when the

Messiah should come, he would give them all manner of delicacies,

and, among the rest, manna, wine, and spicy oil. From the

following extract, we may see where Mohammed got his Paradise.

"Many affirm, says Rab. Mayemon, that the hope of Israel is this:

That the Messiah shall come and raise the dead; and they shall be

gathered together in the garden of Eden, and shall eat and drink

and satiate themselves all the days of the world. There the houses

shall be all builded with precious stones; the beds shall be made

of silk; and the rivers shall flow with wine and spicy oil. He

made manna to descend for them, in which was all manner of tastes;

and every Israelite found in it what his palate was chiefly

pleased with. If he desired fat in it, he had it. In it, the young

man tasted bread, the old man honey, and the children oil. So

shall it be in the world to come, (i.e. the days of the Messiah.)

He shall give Israel peace, and they shall sit down in the garden

of Eden, and all nations shall behold their condition; as it is

said, My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry, &c.,

Isa 65:13." See


Verse 35. I am the bread of life] That is, the bread which gives

life, and preserves from death.

He that cometh to me] The person who receives my doctrine, and

believes in me as the great atoning sacrifice, shall be perfectly

satisfied, and never more feel misery of mind. All the guilt of

his sins shall be blotted out, and his soul shall be purified unto

God; and, being enabled to love him with all his heart, he shall

rest, fully, supremely, and finally happy, in his God.

Verse 37. All that the Father giveth me] The neuter gender, παν,

is probably used here for the masculine, πας.

Shall come to me] All that are drawn by the Father, Joh 6:44,

i.e. all those who are influenced by his Spirit, and yield to

those influences: for as many as are LED (not driven or dragged)

by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God, Ro 8:14. God

sent his prophets to proclaim his salvation to this people; and he

accompanied their preaching with the influence of his Spirit.

Those who yielded were saved: those who did not yield to these

drawings were lost. This Spirit still continued to work and to

allure; but the people being uncircumcised both in heart and ears,

they always resisted the Holy Ghost; as their fathers did, so did

they; Ac 7:51. And though Christ

would have gathered them together, as a hen would her chickens

under her wings, yet they would not.

See Clarke on Mt 23:37.

Those who come at the call of God, he is represented here as

giving to Christ, because it is through his blood alone that

they can be saved. God, by his Spirit, convinces of sin,

righteousness, and judgment; those who acknowledge their iniquity,

and their need of salvation, he gives to Christ, i.e. points out

unto them the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Our Lord may here also refer to the calling of the Gentiles; for

these, according to the ancient promise, Ps 2:8, were given to

Christ: and they, on the preaching of the Gospel, gladly came unto

him. See ample proofs of this in the Acts of the Apostles.

I will in no wise cast out.] The words are exceedingly

emphatical-ουμηεκβαλωεξω, I will by no means thrust out of

doors; excellently rendered by Matthew of Erberg in his Italian

Bible-Io non cacciaro fuori, I will not chase him out of the

house. Our blessed Lord alludes to the case of a person in deep

distress and poverty, who comes to a nobleman's house, in order to

get relief: the person appears; and the owner, far from treating

the poor man with asperity, welcomes, receives him kindly, and

supplies his wants. So does Jesus. Newer did he reject the suit of

a penitent, however grievous his crimes might have been. He is

come to the house of mercy; he is lying at the threshold: the

servants bid him come in-he obeys, and stands trembling, waiting

for the appearing of the Master, doubtful whether he is to be

received or rejected: the Master appears, and not only grants his

suit, but receives him into the number of his family: he alleges

his unfitness, his unworthiness, his guilt, his crimes, his

ingratitude: no matter, all shall be blotted out through the blood

of the Lamb, and he be put among the children, and on none of

these accounts shall he be put out of the house. The Gentiles

shall be as welcome as the Jews; and the invitation to them be as

free, as full, and as hearty: they shall become his adopted

children, and never be cast out, as the Jews have been. O thou God

of love! how able and WILLING art thou to save the vilest of the

vile, who come unto thee! Thou art not the God of the Jews only,

thou art also the God of the Gentiles. Rejoice, therefore, ye

Gentiles, with his people.

Verse 38. Not to do mine own will] I am come, not to act

according to human motives, passions, or prejudices; but according

to infinite wisdom, goodness, and mercy. Jewish passions and

prejudices would reject publicans and sinners as those alluded to,

and shut the gate of heaven against the Gentiles; but God's mercy

receives them, and I am come to manifest that mercy to men.

Verse 39. I should lose nothing] It is the will of God that

every soul who believes should continue in the faith, and have a

resurrection unto life eternal. But he wills this continuance in

salvation, without purposing to force the persons so to continue.

God may will a thing to be, without willing that it shall be.

Judas was given to Christ by the Father, Joh 17:12. The Father

willed that this Judas should continue in the faith, and have a

resurrection unto life eternal: but Judas sinned and perished. Now

it is evident that God willed that Judas might be saved, without

willing that he must be saved infallibly and unconditionally.

When a man is a worker together with the grace of God, he is

saved; when he receives that grace of God in vain, he is lost-not

through a lack of will or mercy in God, but through lack of his

co-operation with Divine grace. God saves no man as a stock or a

stone, but as a reasonable being and free agent. "That which thou

hast heard, thou mayest hold fast, and persevere in, if thou

wilt," Says St. Augustin. In eo quod audieras, et tenueras,

perseverares, si velles. De Correct. & Grat. c. 7. See Calmet.

Raise it up again at the last day] The Jews believed that the

wicked should have no resurrection; and that the principle that

led to the resurrection of the body, in the righteous, was the

indwelling Spirit of God. This is positively asserted in the Shir

Hashirim Rabba. See Schoettgen.

Verse 40. This is the will of him that sent me] Lest they should

take a wrong meaning out of his words, as many have done since, he

tells them that, far from any person being excluded from his

mercy, it was the will of God that every one who saw him might

believe and be saved. The power, without which they could not

believe, he freely gave them; but the use of that power was their

own. God gives the grace of repentance and faith to every man; but

he neither repents nor believes for any man. Each must repent for

his own sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus, through the grace

given, or perish.

Verse 41. The Jews then murmured] Because the whole of his

discourse event to prove that he was infinitely greater than

Moses; and that he alone could give present peace and eternal

glory to men.

Verse 44. Except the Father-draw him] But how is a man drawn?

St. Augustin answers from the poet, Trahit sua quemque voluptas; a

man is attracted by that which he delights in. Show green herbage

to a sheep, he is drawn by it: show nuts to a child, and he is

drawn by them. They run wherever the person runs who shows these

things: they run after him, but they are not forced to follow;

they run, through the desire they feel to get the things they

delight in. So God draws man: he shows him his wants-he shows the

Saviour whom he has provided for him: the man feels himself a lost

sinner; and, through the desire which he finds to escape hell, and

get to heaven, he comes unto Christ, that he may be justified by

his blood. Unless God thus draw, no man will ever come to Christ;

because none could, without this drawing, ever feel the need of a

Saviour. See August. Tract. 26, in Joan. and Calmet.

Drawing, or alluring, not dragging is here to be understood.

"He," say the rabbins, "who desires to cleave to the holy and

blessed God, God lays hold of him, and will not cast him off."

Synops. Sohar. p. 87. The best Greek writers use the verb in the

same sense of alluring, inciting, &c.

Verse 45. It is written in the prophets] Isa 54:13; Jer 31:34.

They shall be all taught of God.] This explains the preceding

verse. God teaches a man to know himself, that, finding his need

of salvation, he may flee to lay hold on the hope which his

heavenly Father has set before him in the Gospel. God draws men by

his love, and by showing them what his love has done for them.

Fear repels, but love attracts. He who is ever preaching the

terrors of the law, and representing God as a vindictive judge,

will never bring sinners to him. They are afraid of this terrible

God: but they love him, who so loved the world that he gave his

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not

perish, but have everlasting life.

Verse 46. Not that any man hath seen the Father] He does not

teach men by appearing personally before them, or by any other

outward voice than that of his word and messengers; but he teaches

by his Spirit. This teaching from God implies: 1. That they shall

have proper instruction. 2. That they shall comprehend it; for,

when God teaches, there is no delay in learning. And, 3. That this

teaching should be by the influence of the Holy Ghost upon their


He which is of God] That is, Christ alone: neither Moses nor any

of the prophets had ever seen God: Jesus, who lay in the bosom of

the Father, HE saw and revealed him, Joh 1:18.

Verse 47. Hath everlasting life.] He is entitled to this, on his

believing me to be the Messiah, and trusting in me alone for

salvation. Our blessed Lord recapitulates here what he had said in

the preceding discourse. The person who is saved is, 1. drawn by

the Father; 2. hears his instructions; 3. accepts the salvation

offered; 4. is given to Christ Jesus, that he may be justified by

faith; 5. is nourished by the bread of life; 6. perseveres in the

faith; 7. is not lost, but is raised up at the last day; and 8. is

made a partaker of eternal life.

Verse 48. I am that bread of life.] I alone afford, by my

doctrine and Spirit, that nourishment by which the soul is saved

unto life eternal.

Verse 49. Your fathers did eat manna-and are dead.] That bread

neither preserved their bodies alive, nor entitled them to life

eternal; but those who receive my salvation, shall not only be

raised again in the last day, but shall inherit eternal life. It

was an opinion of the Jews themselves that their fathers, who

perished in the wilderness, should never have a resurrection. Our

Lord takes them on their own ground: Ye acknowledge that your

fathers who fell in the wilderness shall never have a

resurrection; and yet they ate of the manna: therefore that manna

is not the bread that preserves to everlasting life, according

even to your own concession.

Verse 50. This is the bread, &c.] I am come for this very

purpose, that men may believe in me, and have eternal life.

Verse 51. Is my flesh, which I will give, &c.] Our Lord explains

his meaning more fully, in these words, than he had done before.

Having spoken so much of the bread which feeds and nourishes the

soul, and preserves from death, the attention of his hearers was

fixed upon his words, which to them appeared inexplicable; and

they desired to know what their meaning was. He then told them

that the bread meant his flesh, (his life,) which he was about

to give up; to save the life of the world. Here our Lord plainly

declares that his death was to be a vicarious sacrifice and

atonement for the sin of the world; and that, as no human life

could be preserved unless there was bread (proper nourishment)

received, so no soul could be saved but by the merit of his death.

Reader, remember this: it is one of the weightiest, and one of the

truest and most important sayings in the book of God.

Verse 52. How can this man give us his flesh to eat?] Our Lord

removes this difficulty, and answers the question, in Joh 6:63.

Verse 53. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man] Unless ye

be made partakers of the blessings about to be purchased by my

blood, passion, and violent death, ye cannot be saved. As a man

must eat bread and flesh, in order to be nourished by them, so a

man must receive the grace and Spirit of Christ, in order to his

salvation. As food in a rich man's store does not nourish the poor

man that needs it, unless it be given him, and he receive it into

his stomach, so the whole fountain of mercy existing in the bosom

of God, and uncommunicated, does not save a soul: he who is saved

by it must be made a partaker of it. Our Lord's meaning appears to

be, that, unless they were made partakers of the grace of that

atonement which he was about to make by his death, they could not

possibly be saved. Bishop Pearce justly observes that the ideas of

eating and drinking are here borrowed to express partaking of,

and sharing in. Thus spiritual happiness on earth, and even in

heaven, is expressed by eating and drinking; instances of which

may be seen, Mt 8:11; 26:29; Lu 14:15; 22:30; and Re 2:17.

Those who were made partakers of the Holy Spirit are said by St.

Paul, 1Co 12:13, to be

made to drink into (or of) one Spirit. This, indeed, was a very

common mode of expression among the Jews.

Verse 54. Hath eternal life] This can never be understood of the

sacrament of the Lord's supper. 1. Because this was not instituted

till a year after; at the last Passover. 2. It cannot be said that

those who do not receive that sacrament must perish everlastingly.

3. Nor can it be supposed that all those who do receive it are

necessarily and eternally saved. On the contrary, St. Paul

intimates that many who received it at Corinth perished, because

they received it unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body: not

distinguishing between it and a common meal; and not properly

considering that sacrifice for sin, of which the sacrament of the

Lord's super was a type: see 1Co 11:30.

Verse 55. My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink

indeed.] Or, rather, My flesh is the true meat, &c. In both

clauses of this verse, instead of αληθως, the adverb, I read

αληθης, the adjective, agreeing with βρωσις. This reading is

supported by BCKLT, and twenty-one others; both the Arabic,

Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, two copies of the Itala, Clement,

Origen, Cyril, Chrysostom, and Damascenus. Our Lord terms his

flesh, the true meat, and his blood the true drink, because those

who received the grace merited by his death would be really

nourished and supported thereby unto eternal life. He calls

himself the true vine, Joh 15:1, in exactly the same sense in

which he calls himself the true bread, Joh 6:32, and the

true meat and drink in this verse.

Verse 56. Dwelleth in me, and I in him.] Of all connections and

unions, none is so intimate and complete as that which is effected

by the digestion of aliments, because they are changed into the

very substance of him who eats them; and this our Lord makes the

model of that union which subsists between himself and genuine

believers. He lives in them, and they in him; for they are made

partakers of the Divine nature: 2Pe 1:4. To this verse the

following addition is made in the Codex Bezae, three copies of the

Itala, and Victorinus. After these words-dwelleth in me, and I in

him, they add, as the Father in me, and I in the Father. Verily,

verily, I say unto you, that unless ye receive the body of the Son

of man as the bread of life, ye have not life in him. This is a

very remarkable addition, and is between thirteen and fourteen

hundred years old.

Verse 57. So he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.] From

which we learn that the union between Christ and his followers

shall be similar to that which subsists between God and Christ.

Verse 59. In the synagogue-in Capernaum.] From Joh 6:26, to

this verse, the evangelist gives us the discourse which our Lord

preached in the synagogue, in which he was repeatedly interrupted

by the Jews; but this gave him the fuller opportunity to proclaim

the whole truth relative to his passion and death, to edify the

disciples, and confute these gainsayers.

Verse 60. Many therefore of his disciples] So it appears that he

had many more than the twelve, who constantly accompanied him.

This is a hard saying; who can hear it?] Who can digest such

doctrine as this? It is intolerable: it is impracticable. There is

a similar saving in Euripides, to the σκληροςλογος of the

evangelist. ποτεραθελειςσοιμαλθακαψευδηλεγωησκληραληθη

φραζε; Tell me whether thou wouldst that I should speak unto thee,

a SOFT LIE, or the HARSH TRUTH? The wicked word of a lying world

is in general better received than the holy word of the God of


Verse 61. Jesus knew in himself] By giving them this proof that

he knew their hearts he also proved that he was God; that he could

not be deceived himself, and that it was impossible for him to

deceive any; consequently, that the doctrine he taught them must

be the truth of God.

Verse 62. If ye shall see the Son of man ascend] Ye need not be

stumbled at what I say concerning eating my flesh and drinking my

blood, for ye shall soon have the fullest proof that this is

figuratively spoken, for I shall ascend with the same body with

which I shall arise from the dead; therefore my flesh and blood,

far from being eaten by men, shall not even be found among them.

Verse 63. It is the spirit that quickeneth] It is the spiritual

sense only of my words that is to be attended to, and through

which life is to be attained, 2Co 3:6. Such only as

eat and drink what I have mentioned, in a spiritual sense, are

to expect eternal life.

The flesh profiteth nothing] If ye could even eat my flesh and

drink my blood, this would not avail for your salvation. These

words contain a caution that the hearers should not understand his

words in the strict literal sense, as if his body were really

BREAD, and as if his flesh and blood were really to be eaten and


The words that I speak Or, I have spoken. Instead of λαλω, I

speak, I read λελαληκα, I have spoken, on the authority of

BCDKLT, thirteen others; the Syriac, all the Arabic, all the

Persic, Coptic, AEthiopic, Gothic, Slavonic, Vulgate, all the

Itala; Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Basil, Cyril, Chrysostom,

Tertullian, Ambrosias, Augustin, Gaudentius, and Vigilius Taps.

This is an important reading, and plainly shows that our Lord's

words here do not refer to any new point of doctrine which he was

then inculcating, but to what he had spoken concerning his being

the living bread, and concerning the eating of his flesh, and

drinking of his blood, in the preceding verses.

Are spirit, and they are life.] As my words are to be

spiritually understood, so the life they promise is of a spiritual

nature: see Bishop Pearce.

Verse 64. But there are some of you that believe not.] This is

addressed to Judas, and to those disciples who left him:

Joh 6:66.

And who should betray him] Or, who would deliver him up. Because

he knew all things; he knew from the first, from Judas's call to

the apostleship, and from eternity, (if the reader pleases,) who

it was who would (not should) deliver him up into the hands of the

Jews. Should, in the apprehension of most, implies necessity and

compulsion; would implies that he was under the influence of his

own free will, without necessity or constraint. The former takes

away his guilt: for what a man is irresistibly compelled to do, by

the supreme authority of God, he cannot avoid; and therefore to

him no blame can attach: but Judas having acted through his own

free will, abusing his power, and the grace he had received, he

was guilty of the murder of an innocent man, and deserved the

perdition to which he went.

Verse 65. Therefore said I unto you] Joh 6:44. see the note


Except it were given unto him] None can come at first, unless he

be drawn by the Father; and none can continue, unless he continue

under those sacred influences which God gives only to those who do

not receive his first graces in vain. St. Augustin himself grants

that it was the sole fault of these disciples that they did not

believe, and were saved. Quare non POTERANT credere, si a me

quaeratur, cito respondeo, quia NOLEBANT. If I be asked why these

could not believe, I immediately answer, because they WOULD NOT.

Aug. Tract. 53, in Joan.

Verse 66. Many of his disciples went back] They no longer

associated with him, nor professed to acknowledge him as the

Messiah. None of these were of the twelve. Christ had many others

who generally attended his ministry, and acknowledged him for the


Verse 67. Will ye also go alway?] Or, Do YE also desire, &c.

These words are very emphatical. Will YOU abandon me?-you, whom I

have distinguished with innumerable marks of my affection-you,

whom I have chosen out of the world to be my companions,-you, to

whom I have revealed the secrets of the eternal world-you, who

have been witnesses of all my miracles-you, whom I intend to seat

with me on my throne in glory; will YOU go away? Reader, in what

state art thou? Hast thou gone back from Christ, or art thou going

back? Wilt thou go? Thou, whom he has redeemed by his blood-thou,

whom he has upheld by his power, and fed by his providence-thou,

into whose wounded soul he has poured the balm of pardoning

mercy-thou, whom he has adopted into the heavenly family-thou,

whom he has comforted in so many tribulations and

adversities-thou, whose multiplied offences he has freely and

fully pardoned; wilt thou go away?

Verse 68. Simon Peter answered] With his usual zeal and

readiness, speaking in behalf of the whole, To whom shall we go?

Where shall we find a more gracious master-a more powerful

Redeemer-a more suitable Saviour? Thou alone hast the words of

eternal life. None can teach the doctrine of salvation but

thyself; and none can confer the gift of eternal life but thou

alone. Reader, let me ask, whither art thou going? Has the

world-the devil-the flesh-the words of eternal life? Art thou

turning thy back upon God and Christ? For thy zealous services,

what has Satan to give thee? Death! hell! and eternal misery! O

stop! Cleave to Jesus; he will give thee that happiness which, in

vain, thou seekest in the pleasures of sin.

Verse 69. We believe] On the authority of thy word; and are

sure-have known, εγνωκαμεν, by the evidence of thy miracles, that

thou art the Christ, the promised Messiah. [-Anglo-Saxon-] And we

belyfath and witen that thu eart Crist Godes Son. Anglo-Saxon. How

near is the mother to the daughter tongue!

Instead of Christ the Son of the living God, some excellent

MSS., BCDL, and others, read οαγιοςτουθεου, the holy one of

God; and this reading Griesbach has received into the text,

leaving out τουζωντος, the living. χριστος, and αγιος

convey nearly the same meaning; but the AEthiopic, as usual,

retains both. τουζωντες is omitted by BCDL, H, the Coptic,

Sahidic, Armenian, later Persic, Vulgate, all the Itala but one,

and by the Anglo-Saxon; which last Griesbach has not noticed.

Verse 70. Have not I chosen you twelve] Have I not, in an

especial manner, called you to believe in my name, and chosen you

to be my disciples and the propagators of my doctrine!

Nevertheless, one of you is a devil, or accuser, enlisted on the

side of Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning.

Verse 71. He spake of Judas-for he it was that should betray

him] ουτοςγαρημελλεναυτονπαραδιδοναι, He who was about to

deliver him up. By referring to this matter so often, did not our

blessed Lord intend to warn Judas? Was not the evil fully exposed

to his view? And who dare say that it was impossible for him to

avoid what he had so often been warned against? When the

temptation did take place, and his heart, in purpose, had brought

forth the sin, might he not have relented, fallen at his injured

master's feet, acknowledge his black offense, and implored

forgiveness? And surely his most merciful Lord would have freely

pardoned him.

1. ON the subject of the disciples sailing off without Christ,

and the storm that overtook them, it may be necessary to make a

few observations, chiefly for the encouragement of the labourers

in God's vineyard. It was the duty of the disciples to depart at

the commandment of the Lord, though the storm was great, and the

wind contrary. It was their duty to tug at the oar, expecting the

appearing of their Lord and master. So it is the duty of the

ministers of Christ to embark, and sail even into the sea of

persecution and dangerous trial, in order to save souls. There may

be darkness for a time-they must row. The waves may rise high-they

must row on. The wind may be contrary-still they must tug at the

oar. Jesus will appear, lay the storm, and calm the sea, and they

shall have souls for their hire. The vessel will get to land, and

speedily too. There are particular times in which the Lord pours

out his Spirit, and multitudes are quickly convinced and

converted. "Alas!" says one, "I see no fruit of my labour; no

return of my prayers and tears." Take courage, man; tug on; thou

shalt not labour in vain, nor spend thy strength for nought. What

he does thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Great

grace, and great peace await thee; take courage, and tug on!

2. When a man forsakes the living God, and gives way to avarice,

which appears to have been the case with Judas, he is fit for any

thing in which Satan may choose to employ him. Beware of the love

of money! The cursed lust of gold induced a disciple of Christ to

betray his God: and has it not been the ruin of millions since?

Few people love money merely for its own sake: they love it

because it can provide them with the necessaries, conveniences,

and comforts of life; those who have not God for their portion

incessantly long after these things, and therefore are covetous.

While a man watches unto prayer, and abides in the love of Christ

Jesus the Lord, so long he is safe, for he is contented with the

lot which God has given him in life. Reader, art thou like Judas

(in his best state) put in trust for the poor, or for the Church

of Christ. Do not covet; and take heed that thou grudge not; nor

permit thy heart to be hardened by repeated sights and tales of

wo. Thou art but a steward; act faithfully, and act

affectionately. Because the ointment that prefigured the death of

our Lord was not applied just as Judas would have it, he took

offense; betrayed and sold his master; saw and wished to remedy

his transgression; despaired and hanged himself. Behold the fruit

of covetousness! To what excesses and miseries the love of money

may lead, God alone can comprehend. If any man love the world, the

love of the Father is not in him.

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