Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 25 November 2014; Revised 18 August 2017
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
The Fourth Sign - Feeding the Multitude, 6:1-15
The Fifth Sign - Walking on the Water, 6:16-21
The Searching Crowd, 6:22-24
Midrash of Yeshua: The Work of God, 6:25-40
Midrash of Yeshua: The Bread of Life, 6:41-59
Midrash of Yeshua: Words of Life, 6:60-71
Spring A.D. 29
The Fourth Sign - Feeding the Multitude, 6:1-15
Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17
1 After these things Yeshua went away across the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias).
After these things: An indefinite time reference alluding to the events of chapter five, at least a year later. Up to this point many events have occurred as a result of Yeshua beginning his public ministry in Galilee (Mark 1:14-6:30). The events John narrates in this chapter follow Yeshua's visit to Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6), his sending the twelve on their first mission (Mark 6:7-13, 30), and then his invitation to his disciples to get away from the crowds for a time after the death of Yochanan the Immerser (Mark 6:31). Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning of Yeshua, his identity, and the translation of his name see my web article Who is Yeshua?.
went away: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. On this occasion the movement was accomplished with the aid of a boat. According to the Synoptic Narratives Yeshua made this trip in order to have a private time with his disciples, sort of a spiritual retreat after hearing about the death of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 14:13; Mark 6:32). across: Grk. peran, adv., on the other side, which would be toward the east. None of the apostolic narratives identify the point of embarkation on the western side.
the Sea: Grk. thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam) used of both a sea, such as the Mediterranean, and inland bodies of water, i.e., lake. The English language "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa (as its Hebrew counterpart) simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. The seas (Heb. yammim) were formed on the third day of creation (Gen 1:10), but the present configuration of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers came about in the aftermath of the Noahic deluge (cf. Job 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-16; 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3-10; 65:5-9).
of Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. At this time the Romans had given the name "Galilee" to a province bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judaea on the south. However, to the Jews in the first century the name Galil encompassed the territory on the eastern side of the Jordan and around the lake ("Galilee," JE; Morris, fn 98, 163). Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. Yeshua grew up in Nazareth of Galilee (Matt 2:23), devoted most of His earthly ministry to Galilee, and was also known as the Galilean (Matt 26:69).
The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake situated in the hills of southern Galilee, thirty miles to the west of the Mediterranean. Its surface is nearly 700 feet below sea level, but the surrounding hills reach an altitude of well over 1,000 feet above sea level. Fed chiefly by the Jordan River, the sea is thirteen miles long north to south and eight miles at its widest point. Because of its location, it is subject to sudden and violent storms which are usually of short duration. According to the Synoptic Narratives the destination of "across the Sea of Galilee" was a secluded place near Bethsaida (Mark 6:45; Luke 9:10).
(Tiberias): Grk. Tiberias, an alternate name for the Sea of Galilee used by Jews (e.g., Baba Kama 81a; Baba Bathra 74b; Bechoroth 55a). In the Tanakh this sea is called Chinnereth (Num 34:11), because it is shaped like a harp (kinnor in ancient Hebrew). Luke transliterated the Hebrew name into Greek as Gennēsaret (Luke 5:1). John notes the local name of the Sea as "Tiberias," because of the prominence of the city of Tiberias. See verse 23 below for a description of the city.
2 And a large crowd followed him, because they were observing the signs which he was doing for the ailing.
And: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). Here the third usage applies. a large: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. of number or size; many, much, numerous, large, great (BAG). crowd: Grk. ochlos refers to an assembled company of people. The noun occurs 60 times in the LXX to translate several different Hebrew words, each pertaining to a different context. Ochlos designates those that came to hear Yeshua from a particular locality. In many passages the people are contrasted with the ruling classes (Pharisees, scribes, Saduccees) who despised the ochlos as ignorant masses accursed for not keeping Torah (DNTT 2:800f). Given Yeshua's popularity "large crowd" could mean scores of people.
followed: Grk. akoloutheō, impf., to be in motion in sequence behind someone; follow. him: The crowd endeavored to keep up with Yeshua. because they were observing: Grk. theōreō, impf., may mean (1) to pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive. the signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token or pledge; (3) a proof, evidence; (4) a wonder, remarkable event, extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a work of wonder or miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth and like it means (a) sign, mark, token; (b) miraculous sign or miracle (DNTT 2:626).
Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, such as the plagues on Egypt and the Red Sea crossing (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 11:3; 26:8), the many miracles for Israel's benefit during the years of wilderness wandering (Deut 4:34; 7:19) and the shadow’s advance on the palace steps (2Kgs 20:9). Sometimes the miraculous sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6). These meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise.
which he was doing: Grk. poieō, impf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition, such as carrying out an obligation or responsibility; do, act, perform, work. for the ailing: Grk. astheneō, pres. part., may mean (1) experience weakness in body, be sick; or (2) lack capacity for something, be weak, be deficient; or (3) lack necessities, be in need. Mounce adds "to be infirm." The verb is plural, so Marshall has "the ailing ones."
In the year since healing the invalid in Jerusalem and prior to the miraculous feeding of the five thousand Jesus had performed 16 specific miracles in Galilee, including nine healings. Besides identified recipients of healing the Synoptics summarize that many others were healed and helped in particular localities (Matt 4:24; 8:16; 9:35; Mark 1:34; 3:10; Luke 4:40; 5:15; 6:18-19; 8:2-3). Certain miracles would have been regarded as signs, but also the sheer number of miracles combined to serve as signs. Following are the identified miracles prior to the feeding of the five thousand.
Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11)
Healing the royal official's son (John 4:46-54)
Healing a possessed man at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-26)
Healing Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:30-31)
Healing a leper (Mark 1:40-42)
Healing a paralyzed man (Mark 2:3-12)
Healing a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-5)
Healing the centurion's servant (Matt 8:5-13)
The great catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11)
Raising the widow son from the dead in Nain (Luke 7:11-15)
Calming the storm (Mark 4:37-41)
Exorcism of the Gadarene demoniacs (Mark 5:1-13)
Raising Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22-42)
Healing a woman with a hemorrhage (Mark 5:25-29)
Healing two blind men (Matt 9:27-31)
Exorcism of a dumb man (Matt 9:32-33)
The demanding public, ignorant of Yeshua's purpose and unconcerned about the needs of these servants of God, prevented Yeshua from conducting his spiritual retreat. The district of Bethsaida-Julias was only a few hours' sail from Capernaum, but an even a shorter distance by land. The crowd saw what direction the boat headed and as people followed on foot, many others from neighboring villages would have joined them. It would not have been hard to track the progress of the boat's sail. Some were so fleet of foot as to arrive at the place before Yeshua's boat.
3 And Yeshua went up into the hill country, and there sat with his disciples.
And: Grk. de, conj. See the note on the previous verse. Yeshua: See the note on verse 1 above. went up: Grk. anerchomai, aor., to go up or come up from a lower place to a higher. The verb emphasizes the change in topography and elevation from the point of departure of Bethsaida-Julius. As ever Yeshua led the way to a place he had in mind. into: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. Several versions translate the verbal phrase as "went up on" to emphasize the conclusion of the destination (CEV, DHE, ESV, MW, NASB, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NKJV, RSV). The ASV, CJB, DRA, HNV, and KJV have "went up into."
the hill country: Grk. oros means "mountain," "hill," or "hill-country." The corresponding Heb. word, har, is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks in Israel. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. Most versions render oros here as "mountain," reflecting the arbitrary standard of modern science rather than recognizing that a single Hebrew and Greek word was used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height. A few versions render the singular noun as "hill" (ERV, EXB, MSG, NCV, NLT, TEV, WE) or "hills" (CJB, RSV-CE, TLB), but given the preposition I think "hill country" fits better.
Luke indicates that Yeshua withdrew to the vicinity of Bethsaida (Heb. Beth-Tzaida), 'the house of fishing,' or 'Fisher-town,' as we might call it (Luke 9:10). The town was located on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, just inside the territory of Gaulanitis within the Tetrarchy of Herod Philip. See a map of Bethsaida here. Originally a small village, Herod had converted it into a town and named it Julias, after Caesar's daughter (Edersheim 464). This area is about ten miles north of the border of the Decapolis and it's not impossible that the crowd mentioned in verse 5 below had representatives from that region.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. Obviously Yeshua arrived on the side of a particular hill. The exact topographical location cannot be determined, but the location is likely the "secluded place" mentioned in Mark 6:32. sat: Grk. kathēmai, impf., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. Taking a sitting position implies teaching since rabbis typically taught while seated. with his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. John's mention of "disciples" from this point on implies the complete group of twelve (see verse 67 below), who had been called into service in the past year.
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple’s will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Judeans, was near.
Now the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to mean (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14-21, celebrating deliverance from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion-meal at sunset of Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15-21 (cf. Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-3; 2Chron 30:24; 35:8-9). The month of Nisan corresponds to March-April on the Julian calendar. The detailed instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Talmud Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are found in Tractate Hagigah.
The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God’s great work of redemption (Ex 23:14-15; Lev 23:4-8; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people. Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God’s plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11-13).
Josephus, the Jewish historian, summarized the schedule and reason for the continued observance:
"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover" (Ant. III, 10:5).
By the apostolic era the term "Passover" had come to mean the eight days of Nisan 14-21 (Josephus, Ant. II, 15:1; BAG 639). In fact, Luke emphasizes this very point, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover" (Luke 22:1).
the festival: Grk. heortē, a public religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) Paul also uses the term generally of festivals observed by the Jewish people (Col 2:16). In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290), about 52 times, and Heb mo'ed, appointed time, place or meeting, especially of sacred seasons and festivals (BDB 417), about 29 times (DNTT 1:626).
of the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, occurring 194 times in the Besekh, is used to identify biological descendants of Jacob and adherents of the Judean religion. Stern's translates Ioudaioi as an adjective "Judean festival." The genitive case of Ioudaioi most likely is a subjective genitive indicating that the festival was conducted according to the dictates of the Judeans, namely the Sanhedrin. However, as an objective genitive the noun would indicate that the participants were primarily Judean Jews, whether from the local area, Samaria, Galilee or the Diaspora. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19.
was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense. John uses the word in the sense of the calendar, likely meaning the 30-day period immediately preceding the festival. Travel to Jerusalem for passover would not begin until after the completion of Purim (14 Adar). During this period (15 Adar to 14 Nisan) Jews would engage in many preparations, including paying the temple tax and repairing roads, streets, bridges, graves and various structures in public areas (Shekalim 1:1). Within two weeks of the festival Jews would participate in lectures on the laws of Passover to ensure they carried out everything properly (Pesachim 6a). See the fictional Shlomo's Passover Adventure for the details of festival preparations. (Click in the upper right corner to advance the slides.)
Whether Yeshua went up to this feast is not certain, because no narrative follows describing his attendance. From what is said in John 7:1, it looks as if he did not. The feast is likely given as a time reference for the event that follows, since the Synoptic accounts make no mention of it. The next time he goes to Jerusalem for the Passover it will be his last one on earth.
5 Then Yeshua, lifting up his eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, said to Philip, "How may we buy bread that these may eat?"
Then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding - so, therefore, consequently, then; (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, then; or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative -so, then. The third application fits here. Yeshua lifting up: Grk. epairō, aor. part., to raise up over, here of the physical action of lifting up or looking up. his eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the sensory organ of the eyes. and seeing: Grk. theaomai, aor. mid. part., to look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. The description of "lifting up eyes and seeing" is a vivid verbal word picture common to Hebraic narrative writing (e.g., Gen 13:10, 14; 18:2; 24:63-64; 31:10, 12; 33:1, 5; 43:29; Num 24:2; Deut 3:27; Josh 5:13; Jdg 19:17; 1Chron 21:16; Zech 2:1).
that a large crowd: See the note on verse 2 above. was coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or to go with the focus on the goal for movement. toward: Grk. pros, prep., with the root meaning of 'near, facing; to, toward. him: personal pronoun referring to Yeshua, which indicates the crowd was not interested in Yeshua's disciples, only him. Yeshua could see that his retreat was about to be interrupted. said: Grk. legō, to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; lit. "says.” In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.
to Philip: Grk. Philippos, "fond of horses," composed etymologically from philia, "fondness, affection," and hippos, "horse." This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. It might seem strange for Philip to have a Greek name since he was an Hebraic Jew from Bethsaida (John 1:44), but such a practice was not uncommon in Israel and other apostles have Greek names. Also, Bethsaida was located within the tetrarchy of Philip, son of Herod the Great (Luke 3:1) (Atlas 86), so the parents may have named Philip in honor of the ruler. If this were the case, then Philip the apostle was younger than Yeshua. Besides Philip the apostle and the Tetrarch there is one other Philip in the Besekh, one of the first deacons and evangelist (Acts 6:5). This Philip is mentioned 15 times in the Besekh, 11 of which are in the book of John.
How: Grk. pothen, interrogative adv., direct or indirect, regarding an answer to account for something. The focus of the question may be (1) a direction or source; 'from where, whence;' or (2) the manner something is done; 'how is it that, how can it be that.' In the LXX pothen typically is used to mean "from where." In the Besekh pothen is used primarily to mean "from where," which almost all versions use in this verse. However, a few passages use pothen with the sense of "how" (Mark 12:37; Luke 1:43; John 1:48), and the RSV renders the adverb here with "how." Delitzsch likewise translates the Greek word with the interrogative Heb. ek, "how" (BDB 32).
may we buy: Grk. agorazō, aor. subj., to buy or purchase, in regard to a commercial transaction. bread: pl. of Grk. artos, bread (Heb. lechem), which refers to a baked product made from cereal grain without respect to leavening. Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, it was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). that these may eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. subj., to consume food, whether derived from grain, vegetables, fruits or meat of animals. In the LXX esthiō translates Heb. akal, to eat (SH-398; BDB 37), generally literal of eating food, first occurring in Genesis 2:16, but also fig. uses, such as of being consumed by fire (Lev 10:2), slaying with a sword (Deut 32:42), destroying by famine and pestilence (Ezek 7:21), and oppressing of the poor (Prov 30:14).
In the Tanakh all food of whatever source is understood as a gift of God (Deut 14:14; Ps 22:26), and thus places man under direction from God (Gen 3:2-3). In the beginning Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants apparently subsisted on a vegetarian diet, because after the global flood, God expressly told Noah to add meat to his diet (Gen 9:1-4). Two thousand years later God commanded His people Israel to abstain from consumption of certain foods that were permitted of other nations (Lev 11). The righteous and devout do not need to worry about their food (Ps 127:2; Isa 3:10; Matt 6:25). Since eating is not something that man should do in isolation but is an expression of relationship with God, one must share one's bread with the hungry (Isa 58:7; cf. Luke 16:19-20) (DNTT 2:271-272).
In keeping with the theology of sharing food in the Tanakh and given the content of the next two verses it seems more likely that Yeshua is asking "how may we buy enough bread." The source for procuring bread was the least of the problems, although in a normal situation a market would need to be located, most likely in Bethsaida. The Synoptic Narratives report that initially the disciples wanted to send the crowd away (Matt 14:15; Luke 9:12), but emphasize that Yeshua had compassion on them (Matt 14:14; Mark 6:34). The question posed here occurred after a period of teaching on the kingdom of God (Mark 6:34; Luke 9:11).
6 Now this he said testing him, for he knew what he was about to do.
Now this he said testing him: The verb is Grk. peirazō, pres. part., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive or negative; tempt, test. for he knew: Grk. oida, plperf. (the perf. tense of Grk. eidon, to see), to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The pluperfect tense refers to action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge: (1) to know someone or about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to someone; (3) to know or understand how to do something, be able; (4) understand, recognize, or come to know by experience; and (5) to remember (BAG).
In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality. Yeshua had knowledge of human nature (cf. John 2:25), so he could anticipate the reaction to his question. what he was about: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf. See the note on verse 2 above. Yeshua knew how Philip would react and he knew in his own mind how he would solve the problem.
7 Philip answered him, "Bread of two hundred denarii is not sufficient for them, for every one to receive a little."
Philip answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). John likely uses the verb in the Hebraic sense of advancing the narrative. Bread: pl. of Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. The plural noun in comprehensive in nature. of two hundred: pl. of Grk. diakosioi, a numerical value of two hundred. denarii: pl. of Grk. dēnarion, a Roman silver coin, first minted in 211 B.C., about 4.55 grains. The coin could only be produced in Rome. The denarius is the most frequently mentioned currency in the Besekh.
The denarius was probably equal to the daily wage of a farm laborer or soldier (Matt 20:2). If a man worked for six days a week, 200 denarii would represent the pay for thirty-three weeks, about eight months (Tenney). is not sufficient: Grk. arkeō, to be adequate enough to meet a need; be enough, suffice. for them, that each one: Grk. hekastos, adj. in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. may receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. subj. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take or receive. a little: Grk. brachus, short, brief, little, here used of quantity. The specific amount Philip named implies that this would be the minimum cost of feeding the large crowd and he may also be implying that their treasury did not have adequate funds.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
One: Grk. heis, a numerical term meaning 'one.' of his disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above. Andrew: Grk. Andreas, derived from andros the genitive case of anēr "of a man." Andrew is the brother of Simon Peter and apparently the first disciple to join Yeshua (John 1:40). Andrew, being a Greek name, may have been only a nickname or a translation of his real Hebrew name, which is not known. There is a Hebrew name Anêr ("boy") found twice in the Tanakh, once of an Amorite chieftain who aided Abraham in the pursuit of the four invading kings (Gen 14:13, 24) and once of a Levitical city west of the Jordan in Manasseh allotted to the Kohathite Levites (1Chr 6:70). "Andrew" could also have been chosen by his father because he liked the name or wished to honor someone important to the family.
the brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant "brother." In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. It is an interesting detail that Andrew is almost always identified as the brother of Simon, but Simon is never called the brother of Andrew. Such order might imply that Simon was older or simply a nod to the preeminence of Simon as one of the chief apostles. Like Philip, Andrew and Simon were originally from Bethsaida (John 1:44).
of Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this name does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe the descended from him (Num 1:22-23). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." The apostle may well have been named in honor of the patriarch. Little considered by commentators is Simon's ancestry. The name of Simon's father is given in John 1:42 and 21:15-17 as "John" (Grk. Iōannēs; Heb. Yochanan). Yet, Yeshua addressed him as "Simon Barjona" (Heb. bar Yona) (Matt 16:17), which means that Simon's family descended from the prophet Jonah.
Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Aramaic name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495). The name was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was married (Mark 1:30; 1Cor 9:5) and had a home in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29). Together with Andrew they engaged in a business of fishing from the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:2-3; John 21:3), including working in partnership with the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10). We should note that even though Yeshua gave Simon another name he only used "Simon" in directly addressing him (Luke 7:40; 22:31; Mark 14:37; and John 21:15-17).
The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times in the Besekh, all but three (Matt 16:16; Luke 5:8; 1Pet 1:1) in the book of John. The frequent use by John is noteworthy and must be significant even though he never explains his purpose. We might draw a parallel between the facts that in the original allotment of land in Israel the tribe of Simeon was located wholly within the borders of Judah (Josh 19:1) and that Yeshua was of the tribe of Judah. Simon's life was circumscribed by devotion to the Messiah from Judah. Then, Yeshua's choice of naming Simon "Kêpha" indicated confidence in his ability to be a prominent leader and pillar of the Body of Messiah. Using the combination name conveyed John's respect for his fellow apostle who would become a powerful spokesman for Yeshua.
said to him: Andrew interjects himself into the conversation and addresses Yeshua with the following comment.
9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"
There is a lad: Grk. paidarion, a relatively young child, gender context-specific; lad. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. According to Mark the boy was found after Yeshua told the disciples to check their resources. Gill summarizes the guesses as to the identity of the boy. He may have been a relative of a disciple, or was employed to carry their provisions for them, or belonged to someone in the multitude; or even he came there to sell what had been prepared at home. The Synoptic narrative seems to favor the boy being related to one of the disciples (cf. Mark 6:38). who has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application, here meaning the object is under one's control or at one's disposal.
five: Grk. pente, a numerical value of five. barley: Grk. krithinos, adj., made of barley flour. Although barley and wheat were both planted in the autumn, barley matured faster and would be harvested first in the early Spring (Deut 8:8; Ruth 1:22). Barley was the most common cereal grain grown in ancient Israel. Priests waved the first sheaves of barley (called Reishit Katzir, "first fruits of harvest") before the LORD in the temple on the day after the Sabbath that follows Passover (Lev 23:9-14). Barley was considered the bread of the poor, which symbolizes that Yeshua came to give the good news of the Kingdom to the poor and needy (Luke 4:18; 7:22; 14:21) and a continual reminder that the Body of Messiah must minister to the needy (Matt 25:34-36; Rom 12:13; Gal 2:10; 6:10; 1Jn 3:17).
loaves: pl. of Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. and two: Grk. duo, the numerical value of two. fish: pl. of Grk. opsarion, diminutive of opson, 'dish prepared for eating' (frequently fish); a small plate of fish, then by extension 'fish.' Gill suggests they were salted or pickled fish. The Synoptic accounts of this feeding use the term ichthus ("fish"), species unknown. In the Synoptic accounts of the feeding of the four thousand the fish are identified as "small" (Matt 15:34; Mark 8:7). The Talmud has an interesting saying in regards to small fish: "One who eats regularly small fish will not suffer with his bowels. Moreover, small fish stimulate propagation and strengthen a man's whole body" (Ber. 40a).
but what are these for so many people: pl. of Grk. tosoutos, correlative adj. used to express intensity relative to something mentioned in context in terms of quantity; so many. Andrew's solution borders on the ludicrous. Surely someone else in the multitude, including the disciples, had brought some food! It is very possible that the boy was close to the conversation and in simple childlike generosity offered his food to help. Actually, Andrew could have considered a similar miracle of the feeding of a hundred men in Elisha's school of prophets.
"Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, "Give them to the people that they may eat." 43 His attendant said, "What, will I set this before a hundred men?" But he said, "Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, `They shall eat and have some left over.' "44 So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD." (2Kgs 4:41-44 NASB)
The Jewish Sages interpreted the historical account to mean that each loaf was set before a hundred men and therefore enhanced the total number of men who dined with Elisha to 2,200 (Ketubot 106a) (Lightfoot 3:302).
10 Yeshua said, "Make the people recline." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men reclined, in number about five thousand.
Yeshua said: Yeshua immediately took charge of the situation and issued instructions. Make: Grk. poieō, aor. imp. See the note on verse 2 above. Yeshua immediately gave his disciples something to do. This verbal command is intended to be communicated. the people: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). The word is used here of the multitude, which included women and children (Matt 14:21).
recline: Grk. anapiptō, aor. inf., to lie down or recline, especially at a meal. The verb can also mean to lean or lean back (BAG). Reclining reflected a relaxed atmosphere. The instruction is remarkable, nonetheless, given that non-festival meals were normally eaten while sitting on the floor or ground (cf. Gen 27:19; 1Sam 20:5; Jer 16:8; Ezek 44:3; Matt 14:19; 15:35; Luke 17:7). Now there was much: Grk. polus, adj. See the note on verse 2 above. grass: Grk. chortos, green growth, here associated with a field or meadow; grass. in the place: Grk. topos. See verse 6 above. a spatial area, here of an unspecified geographical terrain; place.
So the men: pl. of Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to age or marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Hebrew words, among which are the three words translated by anthrōpos (adam, ish, and enosh), but also ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household; gibbôr, hero, warrior; zaqen, elder; nasi, prince; and adôn, lord (DNTT 2:562). Delitzsch chose to translate anēr with Heb. ish. In the Hellenistic world anēr signified a male who had grown up and had the attendant responsibility and recognition in a structured society. In Hebrew society a male was treated as an adult and accountable to the Torah (Heb. bar mitzvah, "son of the commandment") when he became thirteen years and a day old (Ab. 5:21; Kidd. 63b). There was no ceremony among Jews in ancient times to mark this rite of passage as today.
reclined: Grk. anapiptō, aor. The fact that the men reclined might imply the women and children took a seated position, but the men may have been referenced because they were the ones counted. The description evokes the imagery of Psalm 23:2 of the Lord who makes David to "lie down in green pastures." in number: Grk. arithmos, number or total, and may refer to a specific number, a total number of something or the numerical value assigned to specific letters of the alphabet (BAG). about: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here of a numerical estimate; about, nearly, close to. five thousand: pl. of Grk. pentakischilioi, lit. "five thousands." Since only the men were counted, then the total number of the crowd would be considerably more.
The number could be easily determined since, according to Mark, the crowd was divided into groups of "hundreds and fifties" (Mark 6:40). Luke records that the people reclined in groups of fifty (Luke 9:14). Numbering the men was part of Jewish culture going back to the time when Moses organized the men into tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands according to the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law (Ex 18:21, 25). In the second year into the wilderness God directed the counting of all the sons of Israel at least 20 years old (Num 1:2-3). Stern notes that Elisha, by a similar miracle of creation, fed one hundred people with twenty loaves of bread (2Kgs 4:42–44), but Yeshua fed perhaps ten thousand with fewer loaves (52). Various commentators have found a symbolic meaning to the group organization.
Lane finds in this arrangement an allusion to the Mosaic camp in the wilderness and notes that Qumran documents use these subdivisions to describe true Israel assembled in the desert in the period of the last days (229). Thus, the people taught by Yeshua are shown to be "the people of the new exodus who have been summoned to the wilderness to experience messianic grace." Yeshua is portrayed as the second Moses who transforms the leaderless flock into the people of God. In any event the group size is divisible by ten, the minimum number (Heb. minyan) for any group meeting or religious activity, including saying grace (Meg. 3:2).
11 Yeshua then took the bread, and having offered a blessing, he distributed to the ones reclining; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.
Yeshua then: Grk. oun, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. took: Grk. lambanō, aor. See the note on verse 7 above. the bread: pl. of Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. and having offered a blessing: Grk. eucharisteō, aor. part., to thank or to give thanks. For the verb here God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (DNTT 3:818). The verb eucharisteō occurs 38 times in the Besekh in a variety of contexts in relation to something that has been received (cf. Ps 100:4; Php 4:6; 1Tim 2:1; Rev 7:12). I translated the verb with "offered a blessing" rather than "gave thanks" to emphasize the fact that Yeshua followed Jewish custom as reported in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). The CJB has "after making a b'rakhah" and the OJB has "having made the bracha." Delitzsch translates the verb with the Heb. va-y'barek, "and he blessed."
Yeshua as a Jew learned to bless God on many occasions for every enjoyable thing in life (cf. Ps 103:1; Eph 5:20; 1Thess 5:18). (These may be found in the Talmud tractate Berakoth.) He also followed the Pharisaic practice of blessing God before eating (Ber. 35a), whereas the Torah only requires blessing God after eating (Deut 8:10). Reference to this custom occurs in 18 verses, some with eulogeō ("to praise, to bless," Matt 14:19; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 14:22; Luke 9:16; 24:30 and 1Cor 10:16) but most with eucharisteō (here, Matt 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Luke 22:17, 19; John 6:23; Acts 27:35; Rom 14:6; and 1Cor 11:24). Christian Bibles typically mistranslate passages with eulogeō as blessing the food or asking God to bless the food or contain inconsistent translation, correct in some verses and incorrect in other verses.
The b'rakah or blessing is a sentence or paragraph of praise and thanksgiving to God, commencing with the formula, Barukh attah Adonai, ("Blessed are you, O LORD," quoting Psalm 119:12) (Ber. 1:4) and continuing with an action verb and phrase that describes what God does that merits praise or thanksgiving. For bread the blessing (called Motzi) ends with "who brings forth [Heb. ha-motzi] bread [Heb. lechem] from the earth [Heb. min ha-aretz]" (Ber. 6:1). The phrase "King of the universe" in Jewish blessings that follows the opening invocation is a later rabbinic addition to emphasize the kingship of God over His people (Ber. 12a; 40b; 49a). The phrase may have been inserted in reaction to Yeshua being identified as the King of Israel (John 1:49) and King of the Jews (Matt 2:2; Mark 15:2; John 19:19), but Yeshua is also the King of the universe (John 1:3; Eph 1:10; Col 1:16-17; Rev 5:13).
The "grace" before eating said by Christians typically asks God to bless the food, but this is not what Yeshua did. Jews bless God, not food. Blessing God for food (or anything else) does not mean conveying something to God He doesn’t already have or to change Him in some way. Blessing God is also not simply an expression of gratitude, although that is included in the concept. Blessing God recognizes His omnipotent power over the natural processes necessary to food production and attributes the honor due Him for His gracious provision. Since the root meaning of barakh is to kneel, it's not hard to see how we can bless God. We can kneel before the Creator God of Israel and acknowledge our utter dependence on Him. (For more on this subject see Irene Lipson, Blessing the King of the Universe: Transforming Your Life Through the Practice of Biblical Praise. Lederer Books, 2004.)
John's narrative omits the Synoptic description of Yeshua "breaking" the bread (Matt 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). For Jews the traditional way of sharing bread is to tear it rather than cut it with a knife. Although the use of a knife is allowed there has been a longstanding custom of refraining from using a knife or other utensil, as a symbol of the day when there will no longer be nation lifting up sword against nation (Isa 2:4). Hence, the common biblical and Jewish phrase for this is "breaking bread (Heb. betziat lechem) (Kasdan 150. See Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 24:30, 35; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7; 1Cor 10:16). None of the narratives of the miracle offer a description of how the breaking provided sufficient quantity for thousands of people, but there can be no question but that Yeshua performed a special creation-type miracle. Contrary to evolutionist theory nothing multiplies itself by chance, especially inanimate objects.
he distributed: Grk. diadidōmi, aor., pass on, hand over; distribute, give. After tearing the bread the pieces were handed over to the disciples to give to the crowd. to the ones reclining: Grk. anakeimai, pres. mid. part., to lie down for eating. Reclining was customarily done for festival meals, such as Passover as a sign of freedom (Pesachim 10:1), which had been the practice since ancient times. Rabbinic custom specified that reclining was not lying on the back or on the right side, but only on the left side to facilitate eating with the right hand (Pes. 108a). Since the previous verse describes the men as having reclined the statement here may indicate distribution to the heads of households. In any event, every person present received food. likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., likewise, in similar manner, similarly.
also of the fish: pl. of Grk. opsarion. See the note on verse 9 above. The grammar implies that Yeshua spoke the customary blessing for the fish. The b'rakah for the fish, since they do not grow from the earth, ends with she-ha-kol ni-h'yeh bid-va-ro, "by whose word all things exist" (Ber. 6:3; 40b). as much as: Grk. hosos, pronoun denoting a spatial and temporal equation, here in reference to quantity; as much as. they wanted: Grk. thelō, impf., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. There was no stingy provision of the bread and fish, but sufficient to satisfy everyone's appetite.
12 When they were filled, he said to his disciples, "Gather the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost."
When they were filled: Grk. empimplēmi, aor. pass., to fill, always of something that provides complete satisfaction. As Gill points out the people had not only eaten, but had made a full meal, and were thoroughly satisfied, having eaten as much as they could, or chose to eat. he said to his disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above. Gather: Grk. sunagō, aor. imp., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. the leftover: Grk. perisseuō, aor. part., to be more than enough, be left over (BAG). fragments: pl. of Grk. klasma, something broken off; broken piece, fragment. so that nothing: lit. "not anything." will be lost: Grk. apollumi, aor. subj., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The second meaning applies here. According to Jewish custom, destruction of consumable food is prohibited (Stern 171; Shabbath 50b; 147b). In other words, waste not, want not. Lightfoot points out that it was a custom of the time that when people ate together they should leave something to those that served (3:302).
13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
So they gathered: Grk. sunagō, aor. See the note on the previous verse. and filled: Grk. gemizō, aor., to load something; fill. The disciples carried out Yeshua's instructions. twelve: pl. of Grk. dōdeka, the numerical value of twelve. baskets: pl. of Grk. kophinos, a relative large sturdy container, probably produced in various sizes; basket. According to Lane these were the small wicker baskets every Jew took with him when away from home (231). In it he carried his lunch and some needed essentials so that he would not have to eat defiling Gentile food. Thus every disciple gathered up fragments in his own basket.
with fragments: pl. of Grk. klasma. See the note on the previous verse. from the five barley loaves: See the note on verse 9 above. which were left over: Grk. perisseuō, aor. See the note on the previous verse. by those who had eaten: Grk. bibrōskō, perf. part., to eat. Not only were all the people fed and their hunger satisfied, but there was more left over at the end than there had been at the beginning. There was also left-over fish (Mark 6:43), but none of the narratives give the quantity. The implication is that each basket also contained some fish.
14 Therefore the people, seeing the sign he performed, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is coming into the world."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. the people: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See the note on verse 10 above. seeing: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. the sign: Grk. sēmeion. See the note on verse 2 above. he performed: Grk. poieō, aor. See the note on verse 2 above. The miracle no doubt elicited considerable discussion among the crowd. The implications were staggering. If Yeshua could feed a multitude with a small lunch, what could he do for the whole nation? What did such power signify about his identity? This is truly: Grk. alēthōs, adv., corresponding to what is really so; truly, really, actually.
the Prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. However, "the Prophet" mentioned here is a Messianic figure. who is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 5 above. The present tense is used here in the sense of a future fulfillment.
into the world: Grk. kosmos usually translated "world," has a variety of uses in the apostolic writings, including (1) the entire cosmic universe including the earth; (2) the planet upon which mankind lives; (3) the inhabitants of the earth; (4) everything in the world that opposes God and is ruined and depraved of character (BAG). The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as "world" is only found in later Greek writings of the LXX (Wis., 2nd Macc., 4th Macc.). The Tanakh has no word for the "world" corresponding to the Greek kosmos.
The Tanakh mainly calls the universe "heaven and earth," but some writings use Heb. hakkol, lit. meaning "the all," (Ps 103:19); also without the article, kol (Ps 8:7). The Tanakh presents the universe as consisting of three areas: above the earth (the heavens, which are also three), the earth, and under the earth, the underworld (Hades, Sheol). Under the influence of Hellenistic Judaism the original temporal understanding of the Heb. olam ("age, a long duration, antiquity or futurity," BDB 761)") acquired the spatial meaning of kosmos in the sense of "world, universe, the world of men. The DSS preserved the original meaning of olam, but the spatial meaning of "world" is found frequently in Rabbinic usage.
The change of meaning especially impacted Jewish apocalyptic writings. "This world," like "this age," is described in Rabbinic literature as being under the domination of Satan, sin and death (DNTT 1:522-524). Defining the "world" in this context is not simple since in a few passages the term is used of Jews (John 6:33; 12:19; 14:19; 17:6). Then other passages use "world" to refer to the nations outside Israel (Luke 12:30; John 14:22), but more generally to recipients of the good news of salvation and objects of reconciling grace (Matt 26:13; Mark 16:15; John 3:17; Rom 11:12, 15; 2Cor 5:19). From the point of view of the multitude their "world" was the Jewish world.
Yeshua was regarded as a prophet (Matt 16:14; 21:11; Luke 7:16; 9:8, 19; John 4:19), but the declaration in this verse alludes to the prediction of Moses that some day God would send another leader like him:
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. … I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him." (Deut 18:15, 18)
Yochanan the Immerser was asked whether he was the expected prophet like Moses, but he denied that he was (John 1:21, 25). Later, some people will declare Yeshua to be "the Prophet" (John 7:40), because of the signs he performed (John 7:31). After Pentecost the apostles will confirm that Yeshua did indeed fulfill the prophecy of Moses (Acts 3:18-22; 7:37, 52).
15 So Yeshua, perceiving that they were about to come and seize him that they might make a king, withdrew again to the hill country by himself alone.
So Yeshua, perceiving: Grk. ginoskō, aor. part., to be in receipt of information with the focus on awareness or to form a judgment or to draw a conclusion. It's not clear whether Yeshua's knowledge was supernatural or simply a deduction based on observation of group dynamics. that they were about: Grk. mellō, pres., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. inf. See the note on verse 5 above. and seize: Grk. arpazō, pres. mid. inf., to take away by seizure; take away, seize. him that they might make: Grk. poieō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 2 above.
a king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek. In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. A common belief in Christianity is that God rejected Israel because Israel rejected Yeshua. In reality, as John demonstrates in his book, it was the religious leaders that rejected Yeshua, not the people. This verse along with Paul's firm declaration in Romans 11:1-2 is a powerful refutation of Christianity's prejudice. Once before in Israel's history the people insisted on a king (Saul, 1Sam 8:6, 19-20; 9:19-24) and that turned out to be disastrous. The problem then as in this situation is that the people wanted a king who would do everything for them.
withdrew: Grk. anachōreō, aor., to depart from this or that place; withdraw, go away or off. again: Grk. palin, adv., with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. to the hill country: Grk. oros. See the note on verse 3 above. by himself alone: Grk. monos, adj. signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. Yeshua purposed not to be a political victim of the crowd's dissatisfaction with the current government of the Roman provinces. As Reinhartz points out, the risk in being made king by popular acclaim, rather than as a Roman vassal, was that the Romans would regard such an act as treasonous and would execute the would-be-ruler (170). They did not understand that Yeshua's kingdom was not of this world. So, Yeshua did the only thing he could. He left and found a solitary place to seek his Father in prayer (cf. Matt 14:23; Mark 6:46).
The Fifth Sign - Walking on the Water, 6:16-25
Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-51
16 Now when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
Now when evening: Grk. opsia, a variant form of opsios, the period between daylight and darkness, evening. By itself "evening" is not a definite clock time, and determination must be made from the context. Jews reckoned a day (Heb. yom) in two ways. Yom was first defined as an evening and morning (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 31). Days listed on a Hebrew calendar begin at sundown the day before. This practice is obvious with the observance of Passover which occurs after sundown on Nisan 14 (Ex 12:6). Yom was also defined as "morning and evening" (e.g. 1Sam 17:16; Acts 28:23).
In other words "until the sun passed the meridian all was morning; after that, all was afternoon or evening" (Clarke, comment on Ex 12:6). Hours of the day were measured from sunrise. The morning and evening sacrifices specified in (Ex 29:39, 41; Num 28:1-4) were conducted about 9 A.M. (the third hour) and about 3 P.M. (the ninth hour) respectively (Edersheim-Temple 108; Josephus, Ant. XIV, 4:3). Yeshua had probably dismissed the crowd at least by mid-afternoon and coincided the beginning of his prayer time with the afternoon prayer time associated with the evening sacrifice at the temple, about 3 P.M.
came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., may mean (1) come into being by birth or natural process; (2) to exist through application of will or effort by someone or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development. The first meaning applies here. his disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 1 above. went down: Grk. katabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is down; come or go down. The verb alludes to the difference in elevation of the hilly location where Yeshua went to pray and the lake. to: Grk. epi, prep., lit. 'on, upon,' in the sense of on top of. Here the preposition is used of direction, so 'to, up to.' the sea: Grk. thalassa. See the note on verse 1 above; the Sea of Galilee (through verse 25).
17 and embarking into a boat, they began across the sea to Capernaum. And, now darkness had come and Yeshua had not yet come to them.
and embarking: Grk. embainō, aor. part., used predominately of entry into a boat or ship; get into, go on board, board, embark. The exact point of embarkation is unknown but the miraculous feeding occurred in the vicinity of Bethsaida-Julius (cf. Luke 9:10). into a boat: Grk. ploion in biblical times denoted any vessel that could go out on a body of water, whether lake, inland sea or ocean; used frequently of the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. In modern times "ships" are classified as vessels that can traverse oceans, whereas "boats" cannot, and it is this distinction that has probably guided translation of the word in modern Bible versions. This is no doubt the same boat they used to come to this area.
they began: Grk. archō, impf. mid., may mean (1) to rule or (2) to begin. across: Grk. peran, prep., on the other side. the sea to Capernaum: Grk. Kapharnaoum (from the Heb. K’far-Nachum, "village of Nahum”) was located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 2½ miles west of the entrance of the Jordan. Capernaum was probably founded after the return from exile in the second century B.C. The site had no defensive wall and extended along the shore of the nearby lake (from east to west). As an economic center in Galilee it was more significant than tradition has often allowed. The designation "city" (Grk. polis) in Mark 1:33 distinguishes it from a mere village. It had its own synagogue (Mark 1:21), in which Yeshua frequently taught.
Capernaum was a center for collecting custom and taxes (where Matthew worked) due to being an important center commanding both sea and land trade routes. Fishing and farming, as well as other light industries, were important to the local economy. Although Yeshua centered his ministry there and performed many miracles in and around the city, he eventually cursed the city for their unbelief (Matt 11:23-24; Luke 10:15). So strikingly did this prophecy come true that only recently has Tell Hum been identified confidently as ancient Capernaum (NIBD). John notes that the intended destination was Capernaum, but the Synoptics report that when the drama described here concluded the group actually landed at Gennesaret (Mark 6:53), a village a few miles southwest of Capernaum.
And now: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. darkness: Grk. skotia may mean (1) condition prevailing when it is night; darkness; or (2) an inward state or condition amounting to ignorance or benightedness in moral or spiritual matters; darkness. The first meaning applies here. John states a simple fact of physics and lack of available sunlight. had come: Grk. ginomai, plperf. See the note on the previous verse. and Yeshua: See the note on verse 1 above. had not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating that an activity, circumstance or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. come: Grk. erchomai, plperf. See the note on verse 5 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the disciples.
The verse describes in panoramic fashion the actions of the disciples of getting into a boat and using their sailing skills to move their craft across the water toward their destination. They probably assumed that Yeshua would walk around the shore to the town just as people used that route to find them at the beginning of this story.
18 The sea was being stirred up by a great wind blowing.
The sea was being stirred up: Grk. diegeirō, impf. pass., to wake up, to rouse in the physical sense. In reference to the sea the implication is that the water became rough. by a great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great, here used of intensity or speed. wind: Grk. anemos, wind in the sense of the air currents that influence weather. In general the air currents normally move out of the west, although wind locally can come from any direction. The wind is very important in the hydrologic cycle to transfer water vapor from the oceans to the land in the form of precipitation. blowing: Grk. pneō, pres. part, to blow. The verb occurs only seven times in the Besekh, all in reference to the wind.
According to Matthew's account (14:24) the disciples seem only to have encountered the full force of the wind when they were about the middle of the lake. Such storms result from differences in temperatures between the seacoast and the mountains beyond. The Sea of Galilee lies 680 feet below sea level. It is bounded by hills, especially on the east side where they reach 2000 feet high. These heights are a source of cool, dry air. In contrast, directly around the sea, the climate is semi-tropical with warm, moist air. The large difference in height between surrounding land and the sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills.
The Sea of Galilee is small, and these winds may descend directly to the center of the lake with violent results. When the contrasting air masses meet, a storm can arise quickly and without warning. Small boats caught out on the sea are in immediate danger. The Sea is relatively shallow, just 200 feet at its greatest depth. A shallow lake is "whipped up" by wind more rapidly than deep water, where energy is more readily absorbed. (Sea of Galilee, ChristianAnswers.net)
19 Therefore, having rowed about twenty five or thirty stadia, they saw Yeshua walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.
Therefore having rowed: Grk. elaunō, perf. part., to apply force for forward movement, here used of rowing a boat. about twenty: Grk. eikosi, adj., the numerical value of twenty. five: Grk. pente, adj., the numerical value of five, added to the twenty. or thirty: Grk. triakonta, the numerical value of thirty. The adverb "about" indicates that these are reasonable estimates, not exact measurements. stadia: pl. of Grk. stadion. A stade was a measure of distance used by Greeks and Romans roughly equivalent to 607 English feet or 192 meters (BAG). A few versions have "furlong," which is an older British term for the closest equivalent distance of 201 meters (ASV, DRA, JUB, KJV, YLT). The lit. translation of "stadia" is found in a few versions (Darby, EXB, HNV, LEB, OJB, TLV, and WEB). Many modern versions render the distance as three or four miles. Matthew records the distance as "many stadia" (Matt 14:24)
Mark's narrative states the relative position of the boat as being in the middle (Grk. mesos, at a point near the center, midst, middle) of the lake (Mark 6:47). With the distance mentioned here and Mark's mention of mesos the boat could have been blown south to the geographical center of the lake, which is 8 miles across at its widest point. The boat had departed from a point near Bethsaida-Julius (cf. Luke 9:10) and headed for Capernaum (verse 17 above), which would have meant a trip of about 5 miles. Some versions translate mesos in Mark 6:47 with "midst" (ASV, Darby, DRA, JUB, KJ21, KJV, YLT) and other versions give it an idiomatic meaning of "out" or "far out" on the sea (CJB, ESV, MSG, NRSV, RSV, Voice, WE). Thus, mesos could just as easily mean the middle point between departure and destination.
they saw: Grk. theōreō, pres., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; or (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see. Yeshua walking: Grk. peripateō, pres. part., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. According to Mark's account Yeshua came walking during the fourth watch. The "watch" corresponded to the periods in which Levitical guards were on duty at the Temple during the night. (See Edersheim-Temple, Chap. 7.) There was some difference of opinion among the Jews about whether the night should be divided into three watches or four watches (as observed by the Romans). The latter, beginning at 6:00 P.M., was adopted by most Jewish authorities (Edersheim 471; Berachot 3b). The fourth watch would be 3-6 A.M.
on: Grk. epi, prep., here emphasizing the position of being on top of something, so 'on, upon.' the sea: Yeshua's feet had contact with the water, but he was walking freely as on land. Yeshua's demonstration of power over the natural element on this occasion was not a precedent. In the Tanakh there are the stories of Moses parting the Red Sea (Ex 14:21-22), Joshua parting the Jordan River (Josh 3:3-17), Elijah parting the Jordan (2Kgs 2:8), Elisha parting the Jordan (2Kgs 2:14), and Elisha making an ax head float in the Jordan (2Kgs 6:4-7). Then, Yeshua had demonstrated his power over the wind and waves in the months previous to this time by calming a storm (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25).
and drawing: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 16 above. near: Grk. engus, prep. See the note on verse 4 above. to the boat: Grk. ploion. See the note on verse 17 above. and they were frightened: Grk. phobeō, aor. pass., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, fearful and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning applies here, perhaps "scared out of their wits" would capture their emotion at the moment. They would have been naturally scared because of the storm just as they had on the prior occasion (Luke 8:24), but seeing a figure walking on the water elevated their fear.
20 But he said to them, "I AM; fear not."
But he said to them: Yeshua spoke words to calm his frightened disciples. I AM: Grk. egō eimi. The expression occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a way of identifying himself to his disciples and others (Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5, 6, 8; Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). However, in John's writings Yeshua couples egō eimi with a descriptive metaphor, known as the "Seven I Am Sayings" (John 6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 9:15; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the metaphoric expressions imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental.
In the LXX egō eimi is used to translate the personal pronoun ani (SH-58) or anoki (SH-595), meaning "I" and occurring in occasional self-references by men, e.g., Abraham (Gen 18:27; 23:4); Solomon (Songs 5:8), Isaiah (Isa 6:8) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:6). Predominately the pronoun-verb combination is spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first without qualification, such as "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14; also in Isa 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 47:8, 10; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (Ex 7:5; 8:22; 16:12; 20:2, 5; 29:46; Lev 11:44, 45; 26:1, 13, 44; Deut 5:6; 32:39; Isa 45:8, 18, 19; 61:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 7:9; 28:22, 23, 24, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15; 33:29; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 9, 12, 15; 36:11, 23; 37:6, 13, 28; 39:6, 7, 22, 28).
Yeshua's declaration likely intends an allusion to Exodus 3:14 in which God addresses Moses, "I Am Who I Am." Then He said, 'You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, 'I AM' has sent me to you'" (TLV). "I Am" is the verb eheyeh , the Qal imperfect of hayah (Owens 1:247), indicating continuing existence. The personal name of YHVH, and its derivative Yah, is derived from hava, the older form and rare synonym of haya, "be, become" (TWOT 1:210). Thus, YHVH is a shortened version of the longer name God gave to Moses. For more discussion on this sacred name see my web article The Blessed Name.
fear: Grk. phobeomai, pres. mid. imp.. See the note on the previous verse. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). Yeshua issues a strong command to exercise the will against the emotion of fear. He can insist on this expectation because he represents the Creator-God, the God of Israel, who created and controls the wind and waves (cf. Ps 89:9). As a result of this command Peter asked Yeshua to invite him for a walk on the waves and for a brief time Peter experienced the same miracle (Matt 14:28-31). The Synoptics record that after Yeshua entered the boat the fierce wind ceased (Matt 14:32; Mark 6:51).
21 So they were willing to receive him into the boat, and shortly the boat arrived at the land to which they were going.
So they were willing: Grk. thelō, impf. See the note on verse 11 above. to receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. inf. See the note on verse 7 above. The expression of "willingness to receive" seems rather curious, but John may have wished to show that their attitude of fear had changed to welcome (Morris). him into the boat: Grk. ploion. See the note on verse 17 above. The Synoptics complete the narrative of the encounter. Having been satisfied that they had been greeted by Yeshua and not by a ghost (Mark 6:49), they were eager to assist him into the boat. The Synoptics record after Peter walked on water the disciples received him and Yeshua into the boat (Matt 14:32; Mark 6:51) and then they worshipped Yeshua, declaring "Truly you are the Son of God" (Matt 14:33 NIV).
and shortly: Grk. eutheōs, adv., at once, immediately (BAG). Danker has 'immediately, forthwith, right away.' Thayer adds 'straightway' and 'shortly.' Most versions render the word as "immediately." the boat arrived: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See the note on verse 16 above. The aorist tense describes action in past time or completed action, and here denotes a state culminating from action. at land: Grk. gē, can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). The term is used here of the shore where the boat landed or would be docked.
to which they were going: Grk. hupagō, impf., to proceed from a position, here with the focus on an objective destination; go, go away, leave. The expression of being "immediately" at their destination seems confusing to the Western mind. Stern, assuming that Yeshua found the boat in the geographical center of the lake (see the note on verse 19 above), suggests that another miracle occurred not mentioned by the Synoptics, that of speeding up the boat to arrive at its destination. However, if the boat had been on a relative line between the point of departure and the intended destination, then 3 or 4 miles would have put the boat most of the way across the lake. Then, "immediately" would have an idiomatic sense of "without further delay." The journey was quickly completed because of the short distance and the wind worked for them instead of against them.
There is certainly no indication that "eutheōs" is equivalent to Paul's use of atomos, "moment" (i.e., split second) or rhipē, "twinkling of an eye" to describe the speed of the resurrection (1Cor 15:52). If the boat that was ordinarily rowed for movement suddenly became a speed boat without need for oars, the apostles would surely have commented on it. There was also no need for such a miracle and Yeshua did not perform miracles just to show he could. While eutheōs often has the sense of a very short period of time, the word also has a relative intention with respect to time. The relative use may be seen in Matthew 24:29 where it says "But immediately (eutheōs) after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened" and in 3 John 1:14, "but I hope to see you shortly (eutheōs), and we will speak face to face." In any event the experience of the disciples may be aptly described by the Psalmist:
"Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; 24 They have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. 25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. 27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end. 28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. 29 He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven." (Ps 107:23-30 NASB)
The Searching Crowd, 6:22-24
22 The next day the crowd that stood across the sea saw that no other small boat was there, except one, and that Yeshua had not entered with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples had gone away alone.
The next day: Grk. epaurion, adv., on the morrow, the next day. John mentions the time reference 5 times (1:29, 35, 43; 12:12). Tracking a timeline is purposeful for the narrative. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See the note on verse 2 above. These people were the ones fed by the miracle meal. that stood: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., be in an upright position, to stand, used of bodily posture. across: Grk. peran, prep., on the other side, refers to the eastern shore. the sea saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to see with the eyes or to perceive with the mind; the former here.
that no: Grk. ou, a strong negation of fact. other: Grk. allos, adj., 'other or another' in reference here to a mode of transport. small boat: Grk. ploiarion, diminutive of ploion; small boat, boat, skiff (BAG). The use of the term may indicate that the boat that transported Yeshua in this instance was not a regular fishing boat (e.g., Mark 1:19), but a commercial vessel that would accommodate passengers (Lindsey 5). was there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place.' except: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." one: Grk. heis, adj., the numerical value of one.
and that Yeshua had not entered with: Grk. suneiserchomai, aor., to enter in along with. his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above. into the boat: Grk. ploion. See the note on verse 17 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. with a strong and emphatic adversative meaning, but. that his disciples had gone away: Grk. aperchomai, aor. See the note on verse 1 above. alone: Grk. monos, adj. See the note on verse 15 above. One can easily imagine that the large crowd of people who had received free food would keep an eye on the provider. They knew that the disciples had left in a boat without Yeshua and that Yeshua had gone off alone. Where was he?
Other: pl. of Grk. allos, adj. See the note on verse 22 above. boats: pl. of Grk. ploion. See the note on verse 17 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See the note on verse 5 above. News of the miracle meal spread quickly and many people came for more miracles as related in the Synoptic narratives. John then gives the point of departure and then the point of arrival for the boats. from Tiberias: Grk. Tiberias, the name of a leading Gentile city located about the middle of the west coast of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:23) and about ten miles south of Capernaum. The town was constructed by Herod Antipas not many years before Yeshua's entry into ministry. Scholars give different dates for the town's founding (A.D. 18, 20, and 26) but Herod named the town in honor of the second emperor of the Roman Empire (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 2:3).
It was said to have occupied the site of Rakkath, an old town of Naphtali (Josh 19:35), and to have been built over a graveyard (NIBD 1050). Jews were initially hesitant to settle in Tiberias considering the location unclean. Herod had trouble in finding occupants for it. To populate the city Herod gathered people of the poorer class, foreigners, and others "not quite freemen" who were drawn by the prospect of good houses and land which he freely promised them. With its stadium, its palace, and its senate, Tiberias was properly described as a Hellenistic city, although it also contained a place of prayer for the Jews (Josephus, Life §54). In his desire to win the favor of the Jews, Herod built for them "the finest synagogue in Galilee" ("Tiberias," ISBE). Although Tiberias was an important city during the days of Yeshua's ministry there is no record of him visiting it.
near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, either in a spatial sense or a temporal sense. The former meaning fits here. of the place: Grk. topos. See verse 10 above. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where. The location description may allude either to Bethsaida or the hill country near Bethsaida. they ate: Grk. esthiō, aor. See the note on verse 5 above. the bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. Here the term refers to food generally since the meal included fish. News of the miracle had apparently reached the city. the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to translate Heb. words for God.
In the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), kurios replaces the Heb. YHVH. In addition, kurios stands in for the divine titles Adonai, Elohim, El and Eloah. In contrast to its use for deity kurios also renders Heb. adon (owner, master) 310 times, generally in recognition of superior rank (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples addressed or referred to Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. Considering the preceding two creation miracles it seems appropriate to call Yeshua "Lord," and reflects John's point of view and not the crowd.
having offered a blessing: Grk. eucharisteō, aor. part. See the note on verse 11 above. Many versions render the second half of the verse as "where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks." There is no preposition "after" in the Greek text and its usage could mislead interpretation and imply that the blessing from the public point of view was a magical spell that caused the bread to multiply. There is no cause and effect implication in John's narrative. The point of mentioning the b'rakah is that Yeshua served a meal at which he sat as host and offered the customary b'rakah. The people were completely satisfied so the blessing is even more significant considering the bountiful supply by the benevolent God.
24 So when the crowd saw that Yeshua was not there, nor his disciples, they embarked into small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Yeshua.
So when the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See the note on verse 2 above. saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the note on verse 22 above. Looking everywhere around them produced no evidence. that Yeshua was: Grk. eimi, pres., lit. "is." See the note on verse 2 above. The present tense is used for dramatic purposes. not there nor: Grk. oude, conj., links a negative statement as complement to a preceding negative; nor. his disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above.
they embarked: Grk. embainō, aor. See the note on verse 17 above. into small boats: pl. of Grk. ploiarion. See the note on verse 22 above. and came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See the note on verse 5 above. to Capernaum: Grk. Kapharnaoum. See the note on verse 17 above. seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. part., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; seek, look for; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; deliberate, discuss; (3) have an interest in; desire, seek; or (4) press for; expect, demand. The first meaning applies here. Yeshua: the miracle worker and the one they wanted to be king.
Midrashim of Yeshua: 6:25-66
Many scholars treat the material beginning in verse 25 to the end of the chapter as one discourse. I have separated the verses into three blocks of teaching material, because Yeshua spoke to three different groups and the theme is slightly different with each group: (1) to the crowd, "The Work of God," verses 25-29; (2) to the crowd and to leaders, "The Bread of Life," verses 30-59; (3) to disciples, "The Words of Life," verses 60-71.
Morris comments that three main lines of interpretation may be found among Christian scholars for the entire section: (1) The instructional material applies to the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist, since John does not include a comparable narrative of the Last Supper as found in the Synoptic Narratives; (2) the material refers to purely spiritual realities; and (3) the words are primarily a teaching about spiritual realities, but does not deny that there may be a secondary reference to the sacrament (352-354). Morris favors the third interpretation.
Little considered by Christian commentators who interpret Yeshua's discourses is that Yeshua taught as a rabbi and not as a Christian preacher. An important form of teaching was the midrash. The term midrash (pl. midrashim, study, exposition, treatise, commentary, SH-4097) occurs twice in the Tanakh of records by prophet historians (2Chron 13:22; 24:27). In Jewish practice a midrash may halakhic, explanation and application of Torah, or aggadic, homiletical or expository teaching that employs a wide variety of techniques. The following discourses are clearly of the aggadic type.
Midrash of Yeshua: The Work of God, 6:25-29
25 And finding him across the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"
And finding: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., to come upon by seeking; find, locate or by something happening; find, come across, discover. him across the sea they said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Rabbi: Grk. Rhabbi, voc. case, which transliterates the Hebrew rabbi ("rah-bee", lit. "my lord, my master”), derived from Heb. rab (SH-7227, "great, lord, master") (BAG). Rhabbi or the Hebrew Rabbi does not occur in the Tanakh, LXX, or DSS. Rhabbi is found 15 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives (eight of which are in John). A derivative form rhabbouni occurs twice (Mark 10:51; John 20:16). On most occasions the title is used to address Yeshua by a present or future disciple.
In the first century Rhabbi was a title of respect exclusively used for Torah scholars, scribes, Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin. The title did not become associated with the congregational leader of a local synagogue until Medieval times. In The Talmud Rabbi is used only of Sages from the land of Israel. Babylonian Sages of later periods are identified in the Talmud by Rab or Rabban ("Rabbi, Rabbinate," Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., Vol. 17, p. 11). Ordinarily the title "Rabbi" was used of someone that had been ordained by a board of three elders established by the Sanhedrin through a ceremony of laying on of hands, called in Hebrew semikhah (DNTT 3:115). The practice hearkens back to the occasion when Moses "laid hands" on Joshua to appoint him as his successor to lead Israel after his death (Num 27:18, 23).
An ordained rabbi was granted the right to judge and to decide points of halakhah or application of Torah. Some rabbis had pupils or disciples who studied his expositions and were duty bound to obey his instructions. Yeshua, of course, never sought such formal recognition, but like other rabbis of his time Yeshua gathered and taught disciples, expecting them to change and conform to his will. Unlike other rabbis Yeshua taught as one possessing independent authority (Matt 7:29; Mark 1:22; John 3:2). He did not need to speak in the name of one of the Sages or one of the two prominent authorities of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Yeshua never appealed to any other authority other than his Father or the Scriptures.
when: Grk. póte, an interrogative temporal adv. used in a direct or an indirect question; when. did you come: Grk. ginomai, perf. See the note on verse 16 above. The perfect tense indicates action completed in past time with continuing results to the present. Morris comments that the perfect tense is unexpected and the simple aorist would be more appropriate. He suggests the question perhaps conflates two thoughts: "When did you come?" and "How long have you been here?" (357). here: Grk. hōde. See the note on verse 9 above. The people were mystified as to how Yeshua managed to elude them and get across the sea without sailing with his disciples.
Morris suggests that the teaching that follows in verses 26-29 occurred in the synagogue in Capernaum as mentioned in verse 59 below on the assumption that verses 25-71 constitute one discourse narrative. It should be noted that the narrative does not state that the people found Yeshua in Capernaum, only that they looked for him there. The Synoptics record that after Yeshua landed a Gennesaret (a few miles southwest of Capernaum) he entered various villages and cities and people came from everywhere around to be healed (cf. Matt 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-55). The midrash addressed to the crowd could have been given in any village, but Capernaum is likely place given the transition in verse 30 to addressing synagogue leaders and verse 59 confirms the location of the preceding midrash.
26 Yeshua answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the food and were filled.
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See the note on verse 7 above. them: i.e., the crowd. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See the note on the previous verse. The opening clause could also be translated "And Yeshua answered them, saying." The use of "answered and said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation.
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, in the Torah people responded with "amen" for each of the curses as they were pronounced (Deut 27:15 +11t) and on other occasions "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48). In the Synoptic narratives amēn occurs 57 times in declarative statements of Yeshua, of which 34 are unique.
According to standard versions amēn is used to introduce axiomatic statements in Kingdom instruction, parables and prophecies. Stern contends, though, that many of those occurrences follow Jewish practice and rather than introducing statements the "amen" actually affirms the sentence spoken immediately before. (Examine the context of Matt 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; 10:15, 42; 13:17; 18:18; 23:36; 24:34, 47; and 26:13). Christian interpreters may have assumed "amen" begins statements because of the arbitrary verse divisions imposed on the Greek text in the mid-16th century by Robert Stephanus (aka Robert Estienne). However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 24:2; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). However, Yeshua employs amēn in a different manner here.
truly: Grk. amēn is repeated. In the Besekh the double use of amēn occurs only in the Book of John (25 times). The double "amen" does occur in the Tanakh as a response to a priestly declaration (Num 5:22; Neh 8:6), as well as in the construction "amen and amen" as the appropriate affirmation of a blessing (Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52). However, Yeshua uses "amēn amēn" as a prefix to the statement that follows, which is without parallel in Jewish literature (Morris 169). There is no good reason not to accept the grammar as authentic and Yeshua was quite capable of being innovative. The double use of amēn reinforces the complete reliability and truthfulness of Yeshua's prophetic teaching. Moreover, the double "amen," spoken in the presence of God, asserts the character of the Messiah who is the Truth (John 14:6) and implies God's endorsement.
I say: Grk. legō, pres., lit. "I am saying." to you: Sometimes the "truly, truly" expression is directed to his disciples, sometimes to a crowd, and sometimes to individuals, but here the plural noun refers to the miracle-seeking crowd. you seek: Grk. zēteō, pres. See the note on verse 24 above. me: Yeshua acknowledges that he was the object of their search and implies that he did not ask to be found. not because you saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the note on verse 14 above. This "seeing" was of their eyes only and not their hearts. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See the note on verse 2 above. The plural number is probably intended in a corporate sense of both bread and fish being multiplied to thousands of people. Yeshua is not referring to signs performed prior to this date.
but because you ate: Grk. esthiō, aor. See the note on verse 5 above. of the food: pl. of Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. By the plural form Yeshua implies the complete meal of bread and fish. and were filled: Grk. chortazō, aor. pass., originally used of feeding plant growth to animals to the point of satisfaction; be satisfied, have one's fill. Yeshua sharply criticizes the motives of the people. They did not understand the spiritual meaning of the miracle meal, nor did they reflect on their need for God. They selfishly wanted Yeshua to keep on filling their stomachs.
27 "Work not for the food that perishes, but the food that remains into eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for this one, the Father, the only God, has marked with a seal."
Work: Grk. ergazomai, pres. mid. imp., to work, be at work, do, carry out, either with the focus on effort itself in the course of activity or the result of effort. Yeshua's command flies in the face of Christian assumption that one does not need to "work" but only "believe." not: Grk. mē. See the note on verse 20 above. for the food: Grk. brōsis may mean (1) the activity of one who eats, eating or (2) what is consumed by eating, food. Both meanings could apply here. In the LXX brōsis translates the Heb. word group connected with the verb achal, to eat (e.g., Gen 1:29, 30; 2:9, 16; 3:6; 9:3) (DNTT 2:268). In Scripture God has assigned food to both men and animals and has looked after his people's food throughout their history (Gen 41:35-37; Ps 78:18, 30).
that perishes: Grk. apollumi, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 12 above. The noun and participle could also be "the perishing food." Lightfoot suggests that the background of this saying is that under the law a workman or farm laborer had the right to eat of what he harvested (Baba Metzia 89b) (3:303). but the food: Grk. brōsis. that remains: Grk. menō, pres. part., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay, lit. "the remaining food." In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb is particularly used of God to emphasize His constancy (DNTT 3:224). In this instance Yeshua engages in a word play using the second mention of food in a spiritual sense, a theme which he will develop more fully below.
into eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios renders Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or indefinite futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time" (DNTT 3:827).
life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. "Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Both the Pharisees and Essenes embraced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14). Reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hadēs in the depths of the earth. This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-26). Eternal life, however, is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. For that reason Yeshua taught that the abundant life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies.
which the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3), and this too applies here. of Man: Grk. anthrōpos. See the note on verse 10 above.
The title "Son of Man" translates the Heb. ben adam. "Son of man," or "son of the first man, namely Adam." The idiom "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. "Son of Man" is a Messianic title that refers primarily to the eschatological supra-natural figure from heaven who establishes a kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:13-14, 27). However, Yeshua added the unexpected element of suffering in order to bring salvation from sin. For a full discussion on this important title see the note on John 1:51.
will give you: Grk. didōmi, fut., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). This giving could refer to resurrection life on the last day or the spiritual life that is made possible by Yeshua's atoning death, perhaps both. for this One: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, 'this,' frequently used to represent a person. The antecedent is the "food that remains," which itself alludes to Yeshua. Some versions translate houtos as "for on Him" (ESV, KJ21, NASB, NIV, RSV, TLV) or simply "on him" (HCSB, NIRV, NKJV, NRSV) to reflect the action that follows. The CJB renders the pronoun with the lengthy translation "for this is the one on whom."
the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27). Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7).
While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
the only God: Grk. theos with the definite article, which gives emphasis to the title of Father. The Father is the only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and the God of Israel. In the LXX theos renders the generic designations of God, El (which occurs over 200 times, including combinations such as El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Shaddai) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9), making Him the "God of Israel" an expression that occurs frequently in Scripture.
The God of the Bible is not a philosophical belief in monotheism or a generic term for the deities worshipped by all people. All the other deities worshipped by religions in the world are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. Parallel to this formula is "God of Jacob,” which appears 21 times in Scripture, 13 of which include the longer formula, "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." Every nation had their deity, but only to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then Moses did the true God reveal His name, His character and His commandments. This God may be the God of the Gentiles (Rom 3:29), but only if they accept the revelation that He is the God of Israel and join themselves to Israel. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20).
has marked with a seal: Grk. sphragizō, aor., to mark with a seal as a means of identification and declaration of ownership. The mark also carries with it the protection of the owner. The verb has both a literal usage, such as the sealing the tomb of Yeshua (Matt 27:66) and an idiomatic usage as here, perhaps alluding to the work of the Holy Spirit as Paul describes (cf. 2Cor 1:22; Eph 1:3; 4:30). Of special interest is that the verb occurs seven times in the book of Revelation, four of which denote the 144,000 Israelites (Messianic Jews) sealed for protection (Rev 7:3-5, 8). Some versions translate the verb as "set (or 'put') his seal" (CJB, ESV, KJV, LEB, MW, NASB, NKJV, OJB, TLV), but a number of versions interpret the verb as a means of showing approval (GW, HCSB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TEV).
However, BAG points out that the verb in this context means to 'endue with power from heaven' (804). Two versions convey the insight of BAG (EXB, NCV). Lightfoot says that the Jews Sages spoke much of the "seal of God" (3:303). For example, "R. Hanina said: This proves that the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is emet [truth]" (Sanhedrin 64a). This saying is the conclusion of a story of the great synagogue weeping, praying and fasting after the destruction of Jerusalem. "They fasted for three days, entreating for mercy; thereafter their sentence [Heb. "little scroll"] fell from Heaven, the word emet [truth] written upon it." Yeshua asserts that the Father has confirmed that he is the "way, truth and life."
28 Then they said to him, "What may we do, that we may work the works of God?"
Then they said to him: In typical Jewish manner some people in the crowd further the dialog with a second question in response to Yeshua's declaration of verse 27 while ignoring his criticism in verse 26. What may we do: Grk. poieō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 2 above. The present tense indicates the beginning and continuing of an action. The focus is clearly practical. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable or potential and thus makes the question seem more rhetorical than a genuine desire. that we may work: Grk. ergazomai, pres. mid. subj. See the note on the previous verse. The verb likely has the sense of "perform with success."
the works: pl. of ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. In John's narrative "works" is a major theme with the word occurring 25 times and referring either to evil actions of men, good actions of men or the missional actions of God and Yeshua in the form of revelation, miracles, signs, and sacrifice, the ultimate good works. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on the previous verse. Stern suggests that the people are probably not asking how to do miracles but how to please God. Some versions give the same benefit of the doubt with their translation. For example, the CEV has "what exactly does God want us to do?" The NIV has "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
However, the Greek text does not support such a generous interpretation. Taking the question literally the "works of God" alludes to the power to perform miracles. Yeshua correctly discerned their motivation in verse 26 above. The people were interested in the "works of God" from the standpoint of how they might benefit. In other words, they wanted free food and health care. To the people Yeshua was an ordinary man and if he could perform miracles they could too. They only wanted him to tell them how. In modern times people have for all practical purposes deified government and expect such welfare services to be provided free of charge, not understanding that for socialism to work requires a miracle of the magnitude of the creation of the universe.
29 Yeshua answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in whom He sent."
Yeshua answered and said to them: For this manner of Hebraic address, see the note on verse 26 above. The combination of the verbs indicates that Yeshua answers their question in a truthful manner and offers important teaching at the same time. This is the work of God: The word "God" is in the genitive case, which qualifies the meaning of a preceding noun ("work") and is typically translated with "of.” The genitive case may be subjective or objective. As a subjective genitive "work of God" would mean that God manifests or performs the work. As an objective genitive God receives the work. An argument could be made for each option, but perhaps there is an element of both involved.
that you believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. subj., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable (cf. Matt 7:21; Heb 11:6). Yeshua teaches what many Christians have denied for centuries, that believing is a work. Christian theology seeks to separate believing or trusting from works, but they are intimately interconnected as Yeshua (Matt 7:21-23; 19:16-17), Paul (Eph 2:8-10; Heb 11) and Jacob (Jas 2:14-26) declare.
in whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun alluding to Yeshua. He: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun alluding to the Father; lit. "that one." sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. Originally in Greek culture apostellō was used of sending an envoy to represent a king or a personal representative with legal powers. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). First century Judaism institutionalized the office of shaliach (Grk. apostolos), who acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender, as the Mishnah says, "the agent is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5).
Yeshua stresses 40 times in the book of John that he was sent by the Father, and thus deserves to be heard and believed. Thus, Yeshua changes the focus and answers the question they should have asked, "how can we please God?"
Midrash of Yeshua: The Bread of Life, 6:30-59
30 So they said to him, "What sign then will you do, that we may see, and believe you? What are you working?
So they said to him: The people respond with two more questions. What sign then will you do: This question is very much like the request of scribes and Pharisees (Matt 12:38; 16:1), a desire for proof or evidence. The question seems strange in the context. If the questioners saw the miracle on the hillside why ask the question? We should probably not assume that all the multitude at the meal saw the miraculous breaking of bread and fish. Considering the organization of the crowd into groups sitting and reclining on the ground over a wide area, perhaps many or most simply received the food from the disciples without considering how so much food had become available. The ones wanting to crown Yeshua as king (verse 15 above) may have personally witnessed the miracle or if they didn't see it they would still be impressed by the extraordinary logistics of obtaining and distributing the food.
Anyone who could take care of a multitude definitely qualified as king material. It is even possible that the question is asked by people who had not eaten of the bread and fish and are asking "what sign will you do for us?" that we may see, and believe you: For these people seeing was necessary for believing. In the context of the Synoptic narrative Yeshua had already performed many miracles. Why didn't they believe? Perhaps because they had not personally benefited from a miracle, or perhaps they forgot what God had done just as the ancient Israelites in the wilderness. Unbelief has a short memory. What are you working: The verb is present tense. Since the present tense can refer to an anticipated future event or an action purposed the question could have the meaning of "Are you going to keep on doing miraculous signs to take care of us?"
31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.' "
Our fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor. Here the word alludes to the generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt. ate: Grk. esthiō, aor. See verse 5 above. the manna: Grk. manna (which transliterates the Heb. man), a special food associated with Israel's experience in the wilderness, first mentioned in Exodus 16:12. The meaning of Heb. man may have come from the question the Israelites asked when they first saw them: "What is it (Heb. man hu)?" (Ex 16:15). Another suggestion is that the word derives from an Egyptian word meaning "gift" or "coming from the sky every day" (Feinberg 75). Manna came with the dew in the night (Num 11:9) and the people found it around their camp in the morning (Ex 16:13-14). There is no evidence that manna contained leaven or yeast, because it would melt with the heat of the day (Ex 16:21).
God directed that a jar of manna be kept in the Holy Place before the Ark of the Testimony as a constant reminder of His sovereign provision (Ex 16:32-34). The color of manna is described as white (Ex 16:31) and compared to the color of bdellium (Heb. bedolach) in Numbers 11:7. Bdellium has not been conclusively identified, so some versions use that word (ASV, DRA, ESV, HCSB, HNV, KJV, NASB, NET, NKJV, RSV). Most scholars believe bdellium to be an odoriferous transparent gum resin (BDB 95; NIBD 569) and several versions translate the term as "resin" (CEB, CJB, GW, MSG, NEB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB). OJB translates as a "white gum resin." Other scholars believe that bdellium was a precious stone, most likely pearls from the Persian Gulf.
in the wilderness: Grk. erēmos, unpopulated region, desert or lonely place. The word alludes to the entire territory of Sinai where the Israelites wandered. The peninsula included the named areas of The Negev, the Wilderness of Zin, The Wilderness of Shur, the Wilderness of Paran and the Wilderness of Sin (Atlas 59). We should not assume that the topography and ecology of the territory was as it is today. The logistics of providing for about a million people and their vast herds of livestock, as well as the daily and seasonal religious requirements of the tabernacle, relied on a land plentiful in natural resources. The first mention of manna occurred in the second month after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and came into the wilderness of Sin ("seen") (Ex 16:1-4). Ironically, God provided the manna after the Israelites complained about reduced food provisions.
Scholars have speculated that manna was a naturally occurring phenomenon that Moses would have learned about during his 40 years herding sheep in Midian. BDB says that manna is known to Bedouin in Sinai Peninsula as a juice exuding in heavy drops from twigs (some say also the leaves) of the arfa tree (tamarix gallica mannifera) in West Sinai Peninsula, occurring at the end of May and in June, with a sweet, sticky, honey-like texture (577). HBD concurs, saying that today a type of manna has been identified with the secretions left on tamarisk bushes by insects feeding on the sap. However, the sap of the tamarisk hardly fits the description of manna in the wilderness narratives.
According to Moses the substance appeared six days each week but never on the Sabbath (Ex 16:25). The food was then ground and baked into cakes or boiled (Ex 16:14-36; Num 11:8). Manna had the texture of coriander seed (Ex 16:31; Num 11:7) and it tasted like "wafers with honey" (Ex 16:31) and "cakes baked with oil" (Num 11:8). The provision continued for 40 years as a year-round supply and ended after Israel crossed over into Canaan (Josh 5:12). The Bible emphasizes that God caused manna to appear at the right time and place to meet His people's needs. If there was a natural explanation for manna surely Moses would have told the ignorant people (and us) about his experience and manna's availability. Claiming that manna was the sap of a shrub or the secretion of a bug essentially denies the miracle. In reality manna cannot be identified with any known food (NIBD 674).
as it is written: Grk. grapho, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe a document, with focus on the physical act of writing, as well as the expression of thought. The phrase "it is written," occurring 60 times in the Besekh, is the standard formula for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for Yeshua and his apostles it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g., Ex 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; 2Pet 1:20-21), and in this case the man who wrote the Scripture was Moses.
He gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See the note on verse 27 above. As Stern points out that the critics attribute the "giving" to Moses. them bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. out of: Grk. ek, prep., out of, from within. heaven: Grk. ouranos, the area above the earth that encompasses the sky, interstellar space and associated phenomena or the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2).
The use of the expression "bread of heaven" alludes to Psalm 105, which recounts the exodus story: "They asked, and He brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread [Heb. lechem, "bread;" LXX artos] of heaven" (Ps 105:40). A parallel statement occurs in Psalm 78:24, "He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food [Heb. dagan, "grain;" LXX artos] from heaven." to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See the note on verse 5 above. Here the expression "gave them bread out of heaven" obviously serves as a euphemism for divine provision with "heaven" as a circumlocution for God and "out of" heaven alludes to the divine decree. In other words, manna was miracle bread. It did not naturally occur.
32 Then Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the permanent bread out of heaven.
For the opening clause see the note on verse 26 above. Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel born about 1525 BC. The name Moses is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt, the second his years in Midian, and the third the wilderness period after the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.
Moses was born into the house of Levi, the son of Amram and his wife Jochebed, who was Amram's aunt (Ex 6:20). God would later forbid a man to marry his aunt (Lev 18:12-14). The only siblings mentioned as born into the household were a brother, Aaron, and a sister, Miriam (Num 26:59). Moses had two wives, both non-Israelites, Zipporah, a Midianite (Ex 2:15-16, 21; 4:25; 18:2) and a Cushite woman (Num 12:1). Zipporah bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Ex 18:3-4), but no children of the Cushite wife are named. Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and oppression and their journey through the wilderness. At Mount Sinai Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.
Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land. He was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. Yet, due to an tragic incident of disobedience to God's instructions Moses was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan with the nation (Num 20:8-12). At the end God allowed Moses to view the land from the top of Mt. Pisgah before his death and there he died at the age of 120. God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). However, Moses' death was not the end of his importance or influence, because Scripture asserts that Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of God's Word. Moses was a giant of a man.
did not give: Grk. didōmi, perf. See the note on verse 27 above. you the bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. from heaven: Grk. ouranos. See the note on the previous verse. Yeshua reiterates the miraculous nature of the manna as something God provided, not a natural resource that Moses found and shared. but My Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 27 above. Even though God prophesied through Jeremiah that Israel would call God "My Father" (Jer 3:19), Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to do so. There are 44 verses in the apostolic narratives in which Yeshua refers to the God of Israel as "My Father," more than half of which are in John. Yet, Yeshua's use of "Father" in this personal sense was predicted. God informed David,
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
In a Messianic psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the son of David would declare, "You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation" (Ps 89:26). Yeshua's usage of My Father, then, is perfectly in accord with prophecy.
gives: Grk. didōmi. The present tense contrasts with the perfect tense of the same verb just preceding. you the permanent: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. All Bible versions translate with "true," which does not adequately clarify the intended meaning here. Yeshua does not mean "true" in contrast to "false," so the first meaning of dependability seems most relevant here.
Delitzsch translates alēthinos with the Hebrew word amitti, the adj. form of emet, "firmness, faithfulness" (BDB 54). Rosten gives the first meaning of emet as "permanency, durability" (19). Thus, what the Father has given is permanent. bread out of heaven: While the former mention of "heaven" is euphemistic, this use of "heaven" is literal. The contrast that Yeshua draws is that while the manna in the wilderness was temporary, lasting only 40 years; he is the permanent bread of life, lasting forever. For other points of comparison between Moses and Yeshua see my web article Moses and Yeshua.
33 "For the Bread of God is The One-Coming-Down-Out-of-Heaven-and-Giving Life-to-the-World."
For the Bread of God: Yeshua uses a parabolic expression as a name or title for himself, alluding to the miracle manna, which God provided. is The One-Coming-Down: Grk. katabainō, pres. part. See the note on verse 16 above. The present tense might seem strange since the participle is personifying bread to allude to Yeshua, but the present tense may be used to depict a past event in a vivid manner or an anticipated future event. In reference to Yeshua the present tense could well carry both meanings, the past event of the incarnation and the future event of the Coming of the Son of Man in the clouds. Out-of-Heaven: Grk. ouranos. See the note on verse 31 above. Yeshua declared in John 3:13 and verse 38 below that he descended from heaven and Paul affirmed the same truth (1Cor 15:47; Php 2:5-8; Heb 4:14).
and-Giving: Grk. didōmi, pres. part. See the note on verse 27 above. The verb should be interpreted in the sense of offering or presenting as a gift. Life: Grk. zōē. See the note on verse 27 above. to-the-World: Grk. kosmos. See the note on verse 14 above. Yeshua does not depict a universal salvation, but draws an analogy to creation. God created life in the beginning and so he offers eternal life, first to his people Israel and then to all among the nations who will believe. The two verbs in the verse could function a simple actions performed by the Messiah, but being participles makes them verbal adjectives. In Hebrew and Greek grammar a participle not only describes actions but the action serves as a character attribute of the person. I believe the entire participial clause, as indicated in my translation above, functions as a divine title or name that points to the Messiah's identity.
Yeshua's use of a lengthy descriptive name is not unlike the Messianic title string consisting of four names given in Isaiah 9:6, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." In Hebrew "Counselor" is a Qal participle (Owens 4:28). Descriptive names of God are not uncommon in the Tanakh, such as "You are a God Who Sees" (Gen 16:13), "the Everlasting God" (Gen 21:33), "The LORD Will Provide" (Gen 22:14), "I, the LORD, am Your Healer" (Ex 15:26), "the LORD is My Banner" (Ex 17:15), "I am the LORD Who Sanctifies You" (Lev 20:8), "the LORD is Peace" (Jdg 6:24), "the LORD is My Shepherd" (Ps 23:3), "the LORD our Righteousness" (Jer 23:6) and "the LORD is There" (Ezek 48:35).
34 Then they said to him, "Sir, always give us this bread."
Sir: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 23 above. The people address Yeshua respectfully as the Samaritan woman (4:11), but they certainly don't mean "Lord" in the sense of master. always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times. give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp. See the note on verse 27 above. The imperative mood is meant to convey an entreaty. us this bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. The request is similar to that of the Samaritan woman (John 4:15). There was an expectation that the Messiah would provide bread from heaven (2 Baruch 29:8; Sibylline Oracles Frag. 3:60). A Midrash expresses the idea in terms of Moses: "As the former redeemer caused manna to descend, as it is stated, 'Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you' (Ex 16:4), so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend, as it is stated 'May he be as a rich cornfield in the land' (Ps 72:16) (Eccl. Rabbah 9) (quoted by Morris 363).
Like the Samaritan woman these people have a materialistic viewpoint. They want to be relieved of the work of providing for themselves. If someone else provides their food then they can spend their time on other important tasks. Since Yeshua caused the miracle meal, he could and should do it again. If Yeshua could keep on supplying bread to the population he would prove to be the Messiah. Such an attitude reduces God to a vending machine.
35 Yeshua said to them, "I AM, the Bread of Life; the one coming to me by no means hungers, and the one believing in me by no means will ever thirst.
Yeshua proceeds to correct their thinking. I AM: Grk. egō eimi. See the note on verse 20 above. the Bread of Life: Here Yeshua converts a parabolic comparison into a divine name or title, a variation on "Bread of God" in verse 33. The name could be rendered the "Food of Life." Yeshua uses a variety of inanimate objects to symbolize his character and nature, including a door (John 10:7, 9), unleavened bread (Mark 14:22), light (John 8:12; 9:15), and a vine (John 15:1, 5). Human beings require food to physically live. Our spirits also require food, spiritual nourishment, and this is what Yeshua says he is. the one coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 5 above. to me: The participial phrase describes a person who accepts and follows Yeshua. Morris characterizes the action as moving away from the old life with its beggarly famine and its total inability to satisfy, and into all that association with Yeshua means.
by no means: Grk. ou mē. The double negative (lit. "not, not") conveys the sense of impossibility. hungers: Grk. peinaō, aor. subj., to be hungry or to hunger in a special sense, but used here figuratively of a strong desire for something (cf. Matt 5:6). Yeshua echoes the proverb, "The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger" (Prov 10:3). David likewise said, "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing" (Ps 34:10). Coming to Yeshua satisfies the hunger of the human heart (cf. Matt 5:6). and the one believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. See the note on verse 29 above. in me: the participial phrase forms a parallelism with "the one coming" and describes one who trusts Yeshua with complete devotion. by no means: The double negative is repeated to the same effect.
will ever: Grk. pōpote, adv. always used with a negative, 'to an indefinite point in time past;' at any time, ever. thirst: Grk. dipsaō, fut., to be thirsty in a physical sense, but used here figuratively for a deep longing. Yeshua's words are not unlike Nehemiah's prayer recounting God's provision in the wilderness, "You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst" (Neh 9:15). The same theme is found in Isaiah 49 where God promises that Israel will be a light to the nations and in consequence the ones receiving the light "will not hunger or thirst, nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; for He who has compassion on them will lead them and will guide them to springs of water" (Isa 49:10). John will later hear similar words spoken in his heavenly visit of those gathered around the throne, "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore" (Rev 7:16).
36 "But I said to you that you also have seen me, and do not believe.
But: Grk. alla, adversative conj. See the note on verse 22 above. I said: Grk. legō, aor. See the note on verse 25 above. to you: the pronoun is plural. that you also have seen: Grk. horaō, perf. See the note on verse 14 above. me, and do not believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. See the note on verse 29 above. Yeshua points out a paradox. Normally "seeing is believing." In this case the people had seen him, but had not accepted his true identity and were not really willing to follow him.
37 "All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one coming to me by no means I will cast outside.
All: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. that the Father: Grk. patēr; i.e., the God of Israel. See the note on verse 27 above. gives: Grk. didōmi, pres. See the note on verse 27 above. to me will come: Grk. hēkō, fut., have come, have arrived, be present, with the sense of the perfect tense. The plan of the Father is as good as completed. to me: The first part of the verse may allude to the practice of distributing an inheritance (cf. Matt 21:38). and the one coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 5 above. to me: As in verse 35 the "coming" means accepting and following Yeshua. by no means: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not," an expression of impossibility. See the note on verse 35 above.
I will cast: Grk. ekballō, aor. subj., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition. The verb can have strong nuances of meaning, such as to put out, to drive out, or to reject. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46). The word is also used of relationships in the sense of not being included in a group or community (e.g., Mark 4:11). To be "cast outside" represents an act of judgment (cf. Matt 5:13; 13:48; 21:39; 1Cor 5:12-13; Rev 22:15). Stern says of Yeshua's declaration,
"This is as forthright a statement of the paradox of predestination and free will as can be found. The Father has given certain people to Yeshua. How do I find out if I am one of them? By coming to Yeshua: I have free will and can choose to come, and I have Yeshua’s word that he will not turn me away. Some claim that New Testament faith is exclusivist, but here we see that Yeshua is available universally (see also Rom 10:11–13)."
I would say this verse is an example of Jewish block logic. That is, Yeshua combines two axiomatic principles that seem paradoxical but are both true. The "all" does not necessarily mean a predetermined select group. Consider the statements: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:32), "All Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26) and "who desires all men to be saved" (1Tim 2:4). In essence the Father has given all the world to Yeshua because he died for all (John 4:42; Rom 5:18; 6:10; 2Cor 5:14-15; 1Tim 4:10; 1Pet 3:18; 1Jn 4:14). Yet, only those who confess their sins and accept Yeshua as their Savior will in fact be saved (John 3:18; 10:19; Acts 2:21; 11:14-18; 13:38-39; 16:31; 17:30; Rom 10:9-13).
38 "For I have come down from heaven, not that I may do my will, but the will of the One having sent me.
For: Grk. hoti, conj. that links two sets of data, here indicating an inference from what was previously said; for. I have come down: Grk. katabainō, perf. See the note on verse 16 above. The "coming down" includes the principle of taking on the form of a servant (Php 2:7). from heaven: Grk. ouranos. See the note on verse 31 above. Here the term refers to the location of the throne of God. not that I may do: Grk. poieō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 2 above. my will: Grk. thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire.
but the will of the One: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20) and echoed the Shema, "Hear O Israel YHVH Eloheinu YHVH one" (Deut 6:4). having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or complete a task; send. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; 48:6; Jer 26:5, 12; 35:15; Ezek 2:3).
me: Grk. egō. Yeshua emphasizes an important point that the Father sent him from heaven on a mission and Yeshua was committed to completing that mission. For more discussion on this subject see my web article The Will of God.
39 "And this is the will of the One having sent me, that all that He has given me I will not lose, but resurrect in the last day.
And this is the will: Grk. thelēma. See the note on the previous verse. of the One having sent me: See the previous verse. that all that He has given me: Grk. didōmi, perf. See the note on verse 27 above. This statement alludes to what Yeshua said in verse 37. I will not lose: Grk. apollumi, aor. subj. See the note on verse 12 above. The subjunctive mood represents mild contingency or probability; it looks toward what is conceivable or potential. The verb does not represent so-called "eternal security," but what the Father wants. God does not wish "for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9). The sad fact is that many will perish who began to follow Yeshua (Matt 7:21-23; 25:11-12, 26-30, 41-46; Luke 9:62). Remember Judas (John 17:12; Acts 1:25).
but resurrect: Grk. anistēmi, aor. subj., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or recumbent position or simply standing. The verb also has a variety of fig. uses (Matt 22:24; Mark 3:26; Luke 4:38; Acts 3:22; 5:36-37; 7:18, 37; Rom 15:12). In the Besekh the verb anistēmi is used 31 times (out of 108) in an idiomatic sense of restoring to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 20:9; Acts 2:24, 32; 10:41; 13:33-34; 17:3, 31; 1Th 4:14), and nine times of the resurrection associated with the end time (Mark 12:23, 25; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:23-24; 1Th 4:16).
In the LXX anistēmi normally renders Heb. qum, to arise, stand up, stand, (BDB 877), which occurs with similar meanings as in the Besekh. However, anistēmi does occur in a few Tanakh passages that refer to the dead coming back to life: in Job 14:12 for Heb. ur, "to awake," where Job questions the possibility of life after death; then in Job 19:26 without Heb. equivalent that translates "in my flesh" and where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God; in Isaiah 11:10 for Heb. amad, "to take one's stand, to stand," in reference to the root of Jesse; and in Daniel 12:13 of the last days' resurrection.
Several people in Bible history were brought back to life from the dead, such as the Shunammite’s son (2Kgs 4:34-36) and the man thrown into Elisha’s grave (2Kgs 13:20-21). Paul states that in former times many unnamed people were brought back from the dead (Heb 11:35). Yeshua himself raised the widow’s son (Luke 7:14-15) and Lazarus, brother of Miriam and Martha (John 11:43-44). Matthew records that at the crucifixion of Yeshua a number of dead persons came out of tombs alive (Matt 27:52-53). The last mention of a resurrection is of Tabitha raised by Peter (Grk. Dorcas, Acts 9:40).
There are some important differences between past resurrections and the resurrection to come. First, in the past all were raised within a very short time after dying; none of them had decayed into dust. Second, previously raised people were still liable to physical weakness, suffering, pain or disease. Third, all of those people eventually died again. The resurrection to come will provide the saints with immortal and incorruptible bodies like that of the Lord (Rom 8:29; 1Cor 15:42-54; Php 3:20; 1Jn 3:2). The ones being resurrected by Yeshua in this verse are those who participate in the resurrection of the righteous, the first resurrection (Luke 14:14; Rev 20:5-6). For more on this topic see my article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
in the last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; last, here in relation to time. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). In this chapter Yeshua says four times that He will resurrect (lit. "raise up") those who believe in him on the "last day" (John 6:40, 44, 54). Martha affirmed her belief in the resurrection on the last day (John 11:24). Yeshua also asserted that judgment would occur on the last day (John 12:48), which pretribulationists don’t associate with the resurrection. The simultaneous action of judgment and resurrection is also asserted in John 5:28-29.
Yeshua offers a simple declaration of when to expect the resurrection, the last day. Three important facts should be considered. First, what does the word last mean? It means that nothing comes after it or it wouldn’t be called last. The last day is always the last in a series of days, such as referring to the last day of a prescribed festival (Neh 8:18; John 7:37). Second, the word day is singular. Yeshua does not merely say that he will raise the dead in the last days, but on a specific day, the last day. In the resurrection passages the series of days that the last day concludes is the present age. In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps coinciding with the great covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel and David (Ecc 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26).
Yeshua and the apostles speak of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). When Yeshua spoke of the last day, he meant the last day of the present age. Daniel was promised resurrection "at the end of the age" (Dan 12:13). The resurrection occurs on the last day of this present age because the next day will be the first day of the age to come. The last day would not be last if there were three and a half or seven years of the tribulation following it. For more discussion on this topic see my article The Rapture Debate.
40 "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone beholding the Son and believing in him will have eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the last day."
For this is the will: Grk. thelēma. See the note on verse 38 above. of my Father: See the note on verse 32 above. that everyone beholding: Grk. theōreō, pres. part. See the note on verse 2 above. The verb refers to paying attention to and perceiving the truth about. the Son: See the note on verse 27 above. Yeshua here speaks of himself in the third person simply as "the Son," a self-reference that occurs on only two occasions in the Synoptic Narratives, both involving revelation (Matt 11:27; para. Luke 10:22; Matt 24:36; para. Mark 13:32). In the book of John the self-reference occurs on six occasions (John 3:16-17; 5:19-23, 26; 6:40; 8:36; 14:13; and 17:1).
and believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part., trusting with devotion See the note on verse 29 above. in him: lit. "into him." The present participial phrase "the one believing into him" reflects a continuing relationship, not simply a one-time action. will have: Grk. echō, pres. subj., lit. "possesses," but the subjunctive mood implies a future fulfillment. See the note on verse 9 above. eternal life: See the note on verse 27 above. and I will resurrect him on the last day: See the note on the previous verse. This statement offers powerful assurance of salvation. No one has to wonder whether they're saved.
41 Therefore the Judeans were murmuring about him, because he said, "I am the bread having come down out of heaven."
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. See the note on verse 5 above. the Judeans: pl. of Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, occurring 194 times in the Besekh, is used to identify biological descendants of Jacob and adherents of the Judean religion. In this verse John might be using the term as shorthand for adversarial rulers in Jerusalem as he does frequently in his book. This midrash may have been given within the same time period as the discussion with Pharisees and scribes who come from Jerusalem and challenge Yeshua concerning eating with unwashed hands, which the Synoptics record as occurring after the miraculous walk on the sea (Matt 15:1; Mark 7:1).
Christian versions generally render Ioudaioi here with "Jews," except for a few versions that have "the people" (CEV, EXB, NCV, NLT, TEV). Messianic Jewish versions vary in translation. GNC has "Jews." MW has "sectarian Jews," which seems a non sequitur. The CJB and TLV have "Judeans," although a TLV marginal note suggests an alternative of "Galileans" (TLV-Notes 1167). DHE has the Heb. Yehudim and OJB has "those of Yehudah." The point is that these adversaries were Judean Jews. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19.
were murmuring: Grk. gonguzō, impf. (originally derived from a Greek word meaning to speak inarticulately, mumble, mutter) may mean (1) fault-finding muttering; to grumble, murmur, complain; or (2) community buzz without a negative component; whisper. The first meaning applies here. Rienecker identifies the verb as inceptive, "they began to complain." about him: the preposition-pronoun implies a general relationship. because he said: The verb "said" introduces a conflation of Yeshua's words in verses 35 and 38. Conflation, or combining words or phrases from different statements, was a typical rabbinic mode of quotation. The apostolic writings frequently use this manner of quoting passages from the Tanakh. I am: Grk. egō eimi. See the note on verse 20 above. the bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. having come down: Grk. katabainō, aor. part. See the note on verse 16 above and verse 33. The critics change the present tense of Yeshua's actual words in verse 33 to aorist tense, which introduces the confusion concerning his paternity in the next verse.
out of heaven: Grk. ouranos. See the note on verse 31 above. (See also the note on verse 33 above concerning the title "The One-Coming-Down-Out-of-Heaven-and-Giving Life-to-the-World.") Apparently synagogue leaders listened to Yeshua's instruction to the crowd and were troubled by his words. It was one thing for them to believe that the Messiah would supply bread as Moses did, but Yeshua seemed to be going beyond that concept. Was Yeshua giving himself names that belong only to God? Was he treating manna as a symbol of the Messiah? Could Yeshua be saying he was the manna the people ate in the wilderness? The concept is simply too ridiculous to be true. They would probably react the same way to Paul's statement that Yeshua was the water-producing rock that followed Israel in the wilderness (1Cor 10:4).
And they were saying: This is a type of Hebraic phrasing to introduce quoted material. Is this not Yeshua: Putting the question in the negative form feigns confusion and mentioning Yeshua's paternity is intended to rebut his statement about being from heaven. the son of: Grk. huios, son in the biological sense. See the note on verse 27 above. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef , pronounced "yo-safe," and means "he adds, increases" (Gen 30:24; BDB 415). There are seven men identified as Joseph in the Tanakh and five in the Besekh, including a half-brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55). Almost all that is known about this Joseph is given in the nativity narratives. (See my commentary on Matthew 1; 2; Luke 1; 2.)
Joseph was descended from King David and Yeshua's legal father, as Matthew makes clear (Matt 1:6, 16). Indeed the success of the entire Messianic enterprise depended on the willingness of Joseph to assume the stewardship role of being a surrogate father to Yeshua. Joseph of the nativity played an important role in God's plan to bring deliverance to His people, but a much more significant deliverance, freedom from sin. It was to Joseph of Nazareth that an angel appeared prohibiting him to divorce Miriam (Matt 1:20), instructing him to name the boy Yeshua (Matt 1:21), later directing him in a dream to take his family to Egypt (Matt 2:13) and again directing him to leave Egypt and return to Israel (Matt 2:19-20).
Joseph was a righteous man (Matt 1:19), so Yeshua had a godly male role model during his youth and as a result Yeshua "grew both in wisdom and in stature" (Luke 2:52). In Matthew 13:55 we learn that Joseph was a carpenter and from Mark 6:3 that Yeshua had adopted this trade. The reference to paternity by the synagogue leaders in this verse is not a mere genealogical statement, but an indication that the critics knew of Joseph. It is noteworthy that they say "son of Joseph" and not "son of Miriam" (which only occurs in Mark 6:3). Indeed, Yeshua is identified more frequently as the son of Joseph (also Matt 13:55; Luke 2:48; 3:23; 4:22) than of his mother.
whose father: Grk. patēr, father, used normally of a biological male parent or ancestor. See the note on verse 27 above. and mother: Grk. mētēr (=Heb. ima) refers to a biological female parent, although occasionally in the Besekh the word is used as a metaphor (Rom 16:13). we know: Grk. oida, perf. See the note on verse 6 above. The verb in this context could indicate a close personal acquaintance or simply mean "to know about,” alluding to knowledge of their existence and reputation. The perfect tense, which emphasizes completed action in past time with continuing results into the present, could be translated "have known" as in a few versions (DARBY, WYC, YLT). Presumptively the "father and mother" were still alive at this point and could have been living in the vicinity of Capernaum.
Most Bible scholars assume that Joseph died sometime before Yeshua's public ministry began. Several observations lend credence to this supposition. Joseph is not mentioned as a participant in any narrative after the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover when Yeshua was 12 (Luke 2:41, 48). When Miriam and Yeshua's siblings go to confront him some time after the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Joseph is not present (Mark 3:32). The differences between the paternity references in the Nazareth visit narrative of Matthew and Mark fog the issue. In Matthew the people say, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother called Miriam? (Matt 13:55 TLV), whereas Mark has the question, "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Miriam?" (Mark 6:3 TLV) Matthew's version could imply that Joseph was alive at that point, but surely the people would have used his name. Substituting "carpenter" for Joseph would be a respectful way of preserving his memory.
Yeshua passed the care of his mother to John the apostle just before his death (John 19:26-27), so she would certainly have been a widow at that point. This verse lends weight to the assumption of Joseph being dead based on identifying the antecedent of "father and mother." If the antecedent were Yeshua, then the perfect tense of "know" would imply that Joseph was still alive at that point and that "father and mother" refers to Joseph and Miriam. However, the relative pronoun "whose," being of the same genitive case as Joseph, would indicate that the Judean Jews mentioned in the previous verse speak of Joseph's parents. Thus, they mean "we know Yeshua's grandparents."
How: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? can he now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present; now or just now. say I have come down: Grk. katabainō. See the note on verse 16 above. Here the verb is perfect tense, whereas in the previous verse it is a simple aorist (action completed in the past). out of heaven: Grk. ouranos. See the note on verse 31 above. The question essentially charges Yeshua with giving false witness.
43 Yeshua answered and said to them, "Do not murmur with one another."
Yeshua answered and said to them: For the verbal combination of "answered and said" see the note on verses 26 and 29 above. Do not murmur: Grk. gonguzō, pres. imp. See the note on verse 41 above. The present imperative commands the cessation of an action in progress. with one another: Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun, each other, one another. Yeshua issues an instruction to cease their verbal grumbling and then proceeds to answer their misbelief.
44 "No one is able come to me unless the Father who sent me should draw him; and I will resurrect him on the last day.
No one is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. Most versions translate the verb here as "can." The verb points to an inherent lack in the human personality. come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf. See the note on verse 5 above. to me: i.e., Yeshua. The verbal phrase of "come to me" most likely refers to becoming a disciple (verse 35 above; cf. Matt 16:24; 19:21), but there could also be the nuance of coming into the Kingdom (cf. Matt 19:14) or receiving spiritual grace (cf. Luke 19:9; John 7:37). unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." the Father: Grk. patēr, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 27 above. who sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See the note on verse 38 above. Yeshua repeats the fact of his heavenly commission.
me should draw: Grk. helkō, aor. subj., to cause to move forward; draw, as of a physical pulling motion, or here in a fig. sense of attract. Again, Yeshua is not describing salvation for only a select group, but of the process of the Messiah establishing his kingdom. No one can come to God by his own will or power (cf. John 1:13). God took and takes the initiative and we are saved because of His faithfulness, not our faith, His empowerment, not our ability. him; and I will resurrect: Grk. anistēmi, fut. See the note on verse 39 above. him on the last day: See the note on verse 39 above.
45 "It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will be all taught of God.' Everyone hearing from the Father and learning comes to me.
It is written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, usually in reference to documents. The perfect tense depicts action completed in past time with continuing results to the present. The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula in the Besekh for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. In the LXX graphō appears about 300 times and translates the Heb. verb kathab (SH-3789), "write." The first use of kathab in the Tanakh is Exodus 17:14, "ADONAI said to Moses, 'Write [LXX katagraphō, "write down"] this for a memorial in the book and rehearse it in the hearing of Joshua" (TLV).
The first use of graphō in the LXX is Exodus 24:4, "And Moses wrote all the words of ADONAI." The phrase "it has been written" is the standard formula in the apostolic writings for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for the Jew it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g., Ex 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; 2Pet 1:20-21). The physical writing of Scripture is mentioned 10 times in the book of John, generally in reference to fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, thereby emphasizing the inscribed, inspired and infallible nature of the Word of God.
The appeal to Scripture is significant since the opponents of Yeshua often appealed to tradition whenever they disagreed with something he or his disciples did (e.g. Matt 12:2, 10; 15:2; 19:3). God's intention from the establishment of his covenant with Israel is that his people would ground their lives in the Scripture received by Moses and the Hebrew Prophets from God and written down (Ex 24:4-8, 12; Lev 10:11; 26:46; Num 36:13; Deut 17:18-20; 27:2-3, 8, 26), not man's interpretations and rules that often contradict Scripture or substitute for Scripture.
in the Prophets: pl. of Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. Some prophets left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings.
Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The apostolic writings assert the continuation and place of biblical prophecy, which would eventually be replaced in Rabbinic Judaism by the authority of the Sages (Baba Bathra 12a; cf. John 8:53). The phrase "in the prophets" is an allusion to the Nevi'im portion of the Tanakh, which includes the historical books Joshua to 2 Kings and the books of the prophets Isaiah to Malachi.
Yeshua then quotes from Isaiah 54:13. And they will be: Grk. eimi, fut. See the note on verse 2 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. conveying comprehensiveness; all, every. Both the MT and LXX insert "of your sons" after pas. The fact that Yeshua omits "sons" indicates that the following benefit is not the exclusive property of ethnic Israel or men. taught: Grk. didaktos, adj., may mean (1) subject to receipt of instruction; taught, instructed, used of persons; or (2) imparted as instruction; taught, used of subject matter. The first meaning applies here. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 27 above. What will be the content of this teaching from the God of Israel that "all," including the nations, will receive? The Torah (cf. Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2).
Everyone hearing: Grk. akouō, aor. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first two meanings apply here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). In Hebraic thought to hear is to obey. from the Father: See the note on verse 27 above. and learning: Grk. manthanō, aor. part., acquire knowledge, learn, whether through formal instruction or example or experience. comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 5 above. to me: Yeshua. This is a profound and important truth. Yeshua is the only path to heaven. Anyone who does not come to Yeshua as Messiah and Savior is "hearing and learning" from a false god.
46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; this one has seen the Father.
Yeshua repeats the affirmation of John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time; the Only One, God, The One, as the bosom of the Father, That One has declared the Father." The negative statement could be interpreted in one of two ways. First, since theos stands for Elohim in the LXX John may mean that no one has seen the fullness or completeness of the triune God. The Ruakh and Father are spirit (John 4:24) and so cannot be seen. Yeshua may also be alluding to Exodus 33:20, which says, "And [God] said, ‘You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live." The spiritual meaning of "seen" in John 1:18 is that no one had ever understood God or perceived God in any kind of complete sense. Before the Jews saw through a glass darkly (1Cor 13:12), but now in Yeshua they see God as He wants to be seen.
However, Yeshua is very specific. No one has seen the Father in a physical sense. That is not quite the same thing as saying no one has seen God in a physical sense. In the Tanakh an important figure known as the "Angel of the LORD [Heb. Malak-YHVH] meets with and speaks to twelve different people: Hagar (Gen 16:7), Abraham (Gen 22:11), Moses (Ex 3:2), Balaam (Num 22:22), Deborah (Jdg 5:23), Gideon (Jdg 6:11), the wife of Manoah (Jdg 13:3), Manoah (Jdg 13:13), Gad (2Sam 24:11, 16), Elijah (1Kgs 19:7), Isaiah (2Kgs 19:35), and Zechariah (Zech 1:11), as well as the nation of Israel (Jdg 2:1). The "Angel of YHVH" does not refer to an ordinary angel, but is a direct spokesman of Elohim, most likely a pre-incarnate visitation of the Word-Logos-Memra (John 1:1) or Daniel's Son of Man.
Abraham's experience with the Angel of YHVH is instructive. Genesis 12:7 and 17:1 says that "YHVH appeared" [Heb. ra'ah, to see] to Abraham and gave him promises and expectations. Genesis 18:1 says that "YHVH appeared" [Heb. ra'ah] to Abraham in the form of a man in a group of three (18:2). YHVH was the spokesman for the group (18:13, 15, 17, 20, 26, 28-32), whom Abraham called Adonai (18:32). In Genesis 19:1 two of the three are identified as angels. Then in Genesis 22 Elohim (as the Father) directs Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and then in verse 11 the Angel of YHVH intervenes to stop the sacrifice and provides a ram in his place. Afterwards the Angel of YHVH gave Abraham the great promise that his seed would be as the stars of the heavens and the sand on the seashore (verse 17).
YHVH then "appeared" [Heb. ra'ah] to Abraham's heirs, Isaac (Gen 26:2, 24) and Jacob (twice, Gen 28:13; 35:1, 9). Then we read that the Angel of YHVH appeared to Moses (Ex 3:2) and instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that YHVH had appeared to him (Ex 3:16; 4:5), demonstrating that the "the Angel of YHVH" is not just an ordinary angel. YHVH also appeared" to other significant Israelites, including Samuel (1Sam 3:21), David (2Chron 3:1), Solomon (twice, 1Kgs 3:5; 9:2; 2Chron 7:12), and Jeremiah (Jer 31:3). YHVH and the Angel of YHVH and Yeshua are one and the same. Significant in the Tanakh is the fact that when God speaks to anyone it is generally through YHVH, e.g., "thus says YHVH" (over 450 times).
47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, the one believing has eternal life.
Truly, truly: For this double affirmation see the note on verse 26 above. I say to you: "I who has seen the Father am telling you, so pay attention." the one believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. with the definite article. See the note on verse 29 above. The participle indicates both action and character of the individual. Again Yeshua emphasizes trusting faithfulness, not cognitive assent. has: Grk. echō, possesses. See the note on verse 9 above. The present tense represents a continuing reality. eternal life: See the note on verse 27 above. This is an iron-clad promise to every disciple.
48 "I AM the Bread of Life.
I AM: Grk. egō eimi, an allusion to the Hebrew name of God YHVH. See the note on verse 20 above. the Bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 5 above. The term could also be translated as "food." of Life: Grk. zōē. See the note on verse 27 above. Yeshua repeats the Messianic title already given in verses 33 and 35. This simple but profound declaration affirms that Yeshua is the source of all that the disciple needs for his life, both now and into the age to come.
49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died.
Your fathers: This is an allusion to the wilderness generation. ate: Grk. esthiō, aor. See the note on verse 5 above. the manna: See the note on verse 31 above. in the wilderness: Grk. erēmos. See the note on verse 31 above. and died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor., to die, generally used of physical death. Yeshua omits reminding his hearers that the wilderness generation died because of God's judgment on their unbelief (Num 14:35). The only adult men over the age of 20 who came out of Egypt to survive the 40 years of wandering and enter the promised land were Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:30, 38; 26:65; 32:11-12).
50 "This is the Bread, The One Coming Down Out of Heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die.
This is the Bread: Yeshua shortens the "Bread of God" (verse 33) and the "Bread of Life" (verse 48) to simply the "Bread." The One Coming Down: Grk. katabainō, pres. part. Out of Heaven: The present participial clause functions as a Messianic name as in verse 33 above. See the note on verse 33 concerning descriptive names of God in the Tanakh. that anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, especially used in narrative and discourse to indicate non-specification; someone, anyone. This pronoun makes it clear that any person, male or female, Jew or Gentile, may partake of the bread of heaven.
may eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 5 above. The verb is used here in a fig. sense. of it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; he, she, it. The pronoun is in the genitive case and could be masculine or neuter. No Bible version translates the pronoun as "him" even though Yeshua will proceed to assert that meaning. and not: Grk. mē, not. See the note on verse 20 above. die: apothnēskō, aor. subj. See the note on the previous verse. The verb is used here in a fig. sense since all die in a physical sense (Heb 9). Beginning in this verse Yeshua through verse 58 mentions the act of eating 8 times. Yeshua's use of the verb is in the figurative sense, clearly borrowing the word picture from the Tanakh.
As John declared in chapter one Yeshua is the Word of God who came down from heaven and God declared through Isaiah that His Word gives bread to the eater:
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." (Isa 55:10-11 NASB)
The message through Isaiah is in accord with what Moses told Israel,
"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." (Deut 8:3 NASB; cf. Matt 4:4; Luke 4:4)
Similarly, Jeremiah reported, "Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart" (Jer 15:16 NASB).
Both Ezekiel and John reported visionary experiences where they ate the words of God on scrolls:
"Then He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.' 2 So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3 He said to me, 'Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.' Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. 4 Then He said to me, 'Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.'" (Ezek 3:1-4 NASB)
"Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, 'Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.' 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, 'Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.' 10 I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter." (Rev 10:8-10 NASB)
The metaphor of "eating" God’s word refers to mentally absorbing, meditating on and understanding the truth presented. David described the words of God this way, "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Ps 119:103). "Eating the bread of heaven," means to partake of Yeshua's life.
51 "I AM the Bread, The Living One, The One Having Come Down Out of Heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
I AM: Grk. egō eimi. See the note on verse 20 above. the Bread: Grk. artos with the definite article. See the note on the previous verse. The Living One: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. In the LXX zaō renders the Heb. adjective chay (SH-2416), alive, living, used for animal and human life (Gen 1:20; 3:20); the verb chayay (SH-2425), live, revive, save life (Gen 3:22; Ex 33:20); and the verb chayah (SH-2421), live, which appears often in texts describing how long someone lived (Gen 5:21) and in other passages as a reward of God for righteousness (Prov 4:4).
All Bible versions render the participle here as an adjective modifying "bread." However, the presence of the definite article with the verb would also favor treating it as a substantive, a distinct divine name apart from "the Bread." As a name the "Living One" alludes to various passages in the Tanakh that emphasize YHVH as "the living one" in contrast to pagan deities that have no existence (Deut 5:25-26; Isa 37:4, 17; 57:15-19; Jer 4:2; 10:10). There is also the oft repeated refrain "as the LORD lives" (e.g., Judg 8:9; 1 Sam 14:39; Jer 12:16; Hos 4:15). Indeed Yeshua is the Living One (Luke 24:5; Rev 1:18).
The One Having Come Down: Grk. katabainō, aor. part. For the sake of his audience Yeshua changes the verb tense to their use in verse 41, but his intention is to point to the divine-human incarnation. Out of Heaven: See the note on the previous verse. See the note on verse 33 for discussion of the name "The One Coming Down Out of Heaven." if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone eats: Grk. esthiō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 5 above. The verb is used fig. of consuming food for the soul. Morris comments that the aorist tense refers to the act of "appropriating" Yeshua, not participating in the Lord's Supper (373). of this bread: i.e., the Bread of God and the Bread of Life, names of Yeshua.
he will live: Grk. zaō, fut. forever: Grk. aiōn, may mean (1) a long period of time and in reference to the future a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. The prepositional phrase could be lit. "into the age," that is, into the age to come, the Messianic Age. and the bread: used again in a fig. sense. of himself. also which I will give: Grk. didōmi, fut. See the note on verse 27 above. The future tense points to the gift that would be offered on Golgotha. for: Grk. huper, prep. that expresses a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, emphasizing either (1) a supportive aspect; in behalf of, in the interest of; or (2) a replacement aspect; in place of, instead of, in the name of. In this context the preposition clearly expresses a substitutionary gift.
the life: Grk. zōē. See the note on verse 27 above. of the world: Grk. kosmos. See the note on verse 14 above. is my flesh: Grk. sarx, "flesh," has a variety of literal and figurative uses in Scripture: (1) the tissue that covers the skeleton of a human or animal; (2) the whole body viewed as a substance; (3) man of flesh and blood in contrast to God and supernatural beings; (4) human or mortal nature, with its limitations; (5) corporeality, physical limitations, life here on earth; (6) the external or outward side of life; (7) theologically the willing instrument of sin that stands in opposition to the Spirit; and (8) the genitals without any suggestion of sinfulness connected with it (BAG).
In the LXX sarx stands for Heb. basar, which denotes flesh as (1) the food of men, Gen 41:2; (2) tissues or parts of the human body, Gen 2:21; (3) the human body in its entirety, specifying the part for the whole, Ps 63:2; and also figurative of close relations, Gen 29:14, and even all mankind, Job 34:15 (DNTT 1:672). Frequently basar emphasizes man's essential nature in contrast with God, e.g., man's transitoriness, frailty, dependence or incapacity (Ps 78:39; 119:120; Prov 5:11; Isa 31:3; 40:6, 8).
Yeshua alludes to the principle of lex talionis in the Torah (Ex 21:23; Deut 19:21), a life for life. He will give his physical life for the spiritual life of the world. This is a great exchange, an extravagant gift, because through Yeshua's sacrifice people will gain his spiritual life in the present age and his physical life in the age to come. Yeshua also makes the important point that no one could take his life from him; rather, he voluntarily surrendered his life. In essence he refused to heal himself on the cross in order to let himself die.
52 Then the Judeans argued with one another, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Then the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See the note on verse 41 above. argued: Grk. machoami, impf. mid., to fight, in the sense of engaging in quarreling or heated disputation. with one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See the note on verse 25 above. How: Grk. pōs, adv. See the note on verse 42 above. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 44 above. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." give: Grk. didōmi, aor. inf. See the note on verse 27 above. us his flesh: Grk. sarx. See the note on the previous verse. to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See the note on verse 5 above.
The fact that the synagogue leaders quarreled among themselves implies positing different interpretations of Yeshua's words in an effort to make sense of them. The "how" question as presented does not suppose they took Yeshua's entire declaration in a literalistic sense. If even one of them had said, "Maybe he means to cut off a hand and offer it to us as food," the instant response would be "Don't be stupid." They would have understood him to be speaking figuratively, but the meaning of the shocking parable eluded them.
A relevant discussion occurs in the Talmud about Messiah and his coming. R. Hillel claims that Messiah had already come, a claim which was opposed by others. Literally, he said, "…there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed [eaten/consumed] him during the reign of Hezekiah" (Sanh. 98b) (MW-Notes 391). So, the synagogue leaders could have been thinking of the teaching of Hillel.
53 So Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, you have no life in yourselves.
So Yeshua said to them, Truly, truly I say: For this opening clause see the note on verse 26 above. As Morris comments, Yeshua does not retract one iota of his declaration, but instead insists on its reliability by his use of the double amēn. to you: The pronoun is plural, so Yeshua is addressing the group of Jewish leaders mentioned in the previous verse. unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not," used to introduce a hypothetical proposition with real consequences. you eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 5 and 51 above. the flesh: Grk. sarx. See the note on verse 51 above. of the Son of Man: See the note on verse 27 above. The use of this title is purposeful, making this saying parallel to passages in the Synoptics that depict the suffering of the Son of Man as a ransom for sin (Matt 20:28). To Yeshua's audience the Son of Man was Daniel's eschatological man from heaven who would establish God's everlasting dominion on the earth. Yeshua added the puzzling dimension of the Son of Man suffering before the final victory.
A Messianic Jewish scholar, Daniel Gruber, suggests that the word picture of "eating the flesh" is drawn from the requirement of priests to eat of the sin offering (Ex 29:33; Lev 6:16-29; 10:17; 1Cor 10:18) (391). In addition, eating the sin offering was connected with making atonement because Moses said to the priests Nadab and Abihu, "Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD" (Lev 10:17). Both Yochanan the Immerser and the apostles declared Yeshua to be the once-for-all sin offering (John 1:29; 1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 3:18). God called Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6) and this is to be realized through the New Covenant (1Pet 2:5). Consequently, those who function as priests would be required to eat of the New Covenant sin offering.
While recognizing the source of the word picture is helpful, Gruber does not complete his analysis with an explanation of what the "eating" means. David Stern, another Messianic Jewish scholar, offers an excellent suggestion on the spiritual meaning in Yeshua's words:
"To eat the flesh of the Son of Man is to absorb his entire way of being and living. The Greek word "sarx" ("flesh") is also used to refer to human nature in general, to the physical, emotional, mental and volitional aspects of human existence. Yeshua wants us to live, feel, think and act like him; by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh he enables us to do so." (174)
and drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine, used here in a figurative sense. In the LXX pinō renders the Qal of Heb. shathah, to drink, usually of water, but also of wine and a few times fig. of blood (SH-8354; BDB 1059). The ability to satisfy thirst is attributed to God (Ps 65:9). Drink was understood as a gift which is continually received anew from God and is the cause of thanksgiving (Ex 15:22-24; Jdg 15:18). Correspondingly, thirst which cannot be quenched was understood as God's anger and punishment (Isa 5:13). When the quenching of thirst is taken for granted, God has been forgotten (Jer 2:6). Used figuratively, drinking can stand for the way God's gifts and judgments come to men, whether of wrath (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15-17) or of grace (Ps 116:13; Isa 55:1). Thus, "drink" leads to destruction or to salvation (DNTT 2:274-275).
of his blood: Grk. haima, blood, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and other vertebrates. In the LXX haima renders the Heb. dam, the blood of man or animal, which essentially represents life (Gen 9:14; Lev 17:14). "Blood" can be a euphemism for bloodshed (Deut 17:8; Matt 27:4), and the unlawful spilling of blood defiles the land (Gen 4:10; Num 35:33; Job 16:18; Ps 9:12). In sharp contrast the spilling of animal blood protected the firstborn in Egypt (Ex 12:22-23) and in Sinaitic legislation could accomplish atonement (Ex 29:16; Lev 16:6, 15-17), purification (Lev 14) and sanctification (Ex 29:30-31) (DNTT 1:221). Sprinkling blood belongs to the making of the covenant (Ex 24:6-8), which explains the relevance of blood to the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).
Outside of this passage the blood of Yeshua is mentioned also in the Last Supper narratives (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20), allusions to Yeshua's anticipated execution (Matt 27:4, 24-25) and blood that poured from Yeshua's body while on the cross (John 19:34). Thus, "his blood" would be an allusion to Yeshua dying as an atoning sacrifice. you have: Grk. echō. See the note on verse 9 above. no: Grk. ou, a strong negation of fact, not. life: Grk. zōē. See the note on verse 27 above. The term is used here fig. of spiritual life or eternal life. in: Grk. en, prep., lit. "inside." yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun referring to the group as potential recipients of the propositional consequences. The parabolic message of "eating" and "drinking" continue through verse 56.
Yeshua's declaration, as indicated in the previous verse, was mystifying and even shocking to the synagogue leaders. Consuming the blood of a living creature along with its flesh has been prohibited from the time of the covenant with Noah (Gen 9:4). The ban was repeated as a covenantal expectation at Sinai (Lev 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-14). The Targum of Jonathan adds, "of any living creature, that is, of any while it is alive" (Gill on Lev 7:26). Sacrificial animals also had to be drained of blood (Ex 29:16; Deut 12:16, 27). Since the priests ate portions of such meat (Lev 6:26-29; 1Cor 10:18), failure to drain the blood would result in a grave insult to God and an unforgivable sin (Lev 7:26-27; 17:14). Consuming the blood of an animal along with its flesh was associated with pagan idolatrous practices (Lev 19:26; Ps 16:4; 50:13; Ezek 33:25; cf. 1Cor 10:7-28).
That the Noahic and Sinaitic ban applies to all mankind was affirmed by the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:20, 29). The Jewish commentator Reinhartz suggests that Yeshua's invitation to drink his blood may allude to the practice of theophagy associated with Greco-Roman mystery cults such as the cults of Demeter and Dionysus (171). This suggestion reflects the unbelief of Reinhartz. Her comment is an insult to John and Yeshua and ignores the use of metaphor and parable in Scripture and other Jewish literature.
As already stated many Christian scholars have historically regarded John 6:53-56 as pertaining to the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist, since John does not include a comparable narrative of the Last Supper as found in the Synoptic Narratives. Moreover, in spite of the meaning given Yeshua's Passover meal in Scripture, the church fathers, beginning with the epistles of Ignatius (AD 30-107), determined the bread and cup to be the "very flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ" (Smyrnæans 7; Philadelphians 4), and the "medicine of immortality" (Ephesians 20). Ignatius demonstrates a new development in theology, since Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100) offers no hint of sacramentalism in a discussion of the Eucharist in his Epistle to the Corinthians written ten years earlier. In other words, the communion elements literally become the body and blood of Yeshua (called transubstantiation).
The doctrine of transubstantiation — from the Latin trans (across) and substantia (substance) — was controversial in church history and not made official dogma until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and reaffirmed again at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The belief in Yeshua being literally or mystically present in the Eucharist elements naturally led to treating the rite as a means of conveying salvation grace. To justify this viewpoint Catholic theologians appealed to a literalistic interpretation of John 6:53, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
The arguments against transubstantiation are straightforward. First, Yeshua addressed the teaching of verses 53-56 to Jewish synagogue leaders, not to his disciples. Second, John offers no theological instruction on the observance and meaning of the Lord's Supper as Paul does in 1Corinthians 11. Third, Yeshua does not describe any kind of religious ceremony to be conducted by priests. Fourth, John makes no connection to the bread and cup rituals of the Passover Seder. Fifth, in the Lord's Supper narratives Yeshua does not say, "this is my flesh (sarx)," but "this is my body (sōma)." Sixth, wine might be the "blood of grapes" (Deut 32:14), but drinking wine does not thereby constitute drinking human blood. Seventh, to conduct a ceremony that supposedly converts wine into Yeshua's blood, even in a mystical sense, violates God's instruction to Israel prohibiting the practice of sorcery.
Yeshua was not mentally confused about the difference between bread and wine and His own physical body. Literalistic interpretations could lead to some bizarre conclusions, such as the body of Yeshua must have been made of wood (John 10:7, 9) or at the last supper he cut out a piece of His own flesh and drained His blood for the disciples to ingest like cannibals (Matt 26:26-28). The texts on the Yeshua's Passover do not imply that the meal ingredients were infused with any divine attributes or that they were transformed into something else. There was also no promise of participants gaining any intrinsic spiritual benefit by partaking of the meal.
Contrary to common Christian belief there is no biblical evidence that Yeshua instituted a sacrament (of any kind). His instructions concerning immersion and the Lord's Supper did not envision destroying their Jewish meaning. There is no need to force the spiritual meaning of Yeshua's teaching into a post-apostolic and non-Jewish framework. See my article Eucharist or Messianic Passover?
The Biblical Background
To understand fully Yeshua's call to "drink his blood," we need to examine the use of this word picture in the Tanakh. There is one figurative use of "drinking blood" and it had to do with causing the death of another, principally an enemy.
The first mention of blood in relation to drinking is in the narrative of the first divinely caused calamity on Egypt in which Moses struck the Nile River with his staff and the water turned into blood (Ex 7:15-21; cf. Ps 78:44). The water became so foul that it was undrinkable. Centuries later God's judgment fell again on Egypt by the Babylonians, of which Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied,
"For that day belongs to the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes; and the sword will devour and be satiated and drink its fill of their blood; for there will be a slaughter for the Lord GOD of hosts, in the land of the north by the river Euphrates." (Jer 46:10 NASB)
"I will also make the land drink the discharge of your blood." (Ezek 32:6 NASB)
Balaam recounted Israel's victory over Egypt and then gave an important prophecy of the eventual victory of Israel over all its enemies.
"God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox. 23 For there is no omen against Jacob, nor is there any divination against Israel; at the proper time it shall be said to Jacob and to Israel, what God has done! 24 Behold, a people rises like a lioness, and as a lion it lifts itself; it will not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain." (Num 23:22-24 NASB)
The same word picture occurs in the depiction of God's judgment on end-time enemies of Israel.
"I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (Isa 49:26 NASB)
"As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 19 So you will eat fat until you are glutted, and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. 20 You will be glutted at My table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all the men of war,' declares the Lord GOD." (Ezek 39:17-20 NASB)
"Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, "Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it." (Rev 16:4-6 NASB)
In a poignant story of David's campaign against the Philistines Samuel recounts that on one occasion David was thirsty and verbalized that he wished someone could bring him a drink from the well of Bethlehem. So three of his mighty men secretly broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well and brought it to David. While David was touched by their bravery he would not drink it, but poured it on the ground saying, "Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" (2Sam 23:17 NASB)
Solomon offers this figurative use of eating and drinking in connection with the wicked, "For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence" (Prov 4:17 NASB).
For this portion of his midrash on the "bread of life" Yeshua employs a parabolic format that draws on concepts already present in Jewish culture. Since the "eating" of which Yeshua speaks is obviously figurative language, then the "drinking" must be also, and the two verbs used together function as a poetic parallelism. Stern says,
"Although Yeshua’s particular hearers may have been either shocked at what he said or seeking an excuse for not obeying his call to repentance and loyalty, not every Jewish audience would have reacted that way. The same kind of metaphor is used in the Midrash Rabbah to Ecclesiastes 2:24, "There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink.” The Midrash quotes rabbis from the 3rd–4th centuries A.D. and concludes that all references to eating and drinking in the book of Ecclesiastes signify Torah and good works.’ (173)
Gruber likens the call to drink Yeshua's blood to the drink offering (Heb. nesek) of wine prescribed in the Torah to accompany various sacrifices (Ex 29:40; Lev 23:13; Num 15:5-24; 28:2-15) (392). The drink offering, usually one-fourth of a hin (about 1 quart or liter), represented the life that was poured out to God. Paul spoke of his sacrificial service as a "drink offering" (Php 2:17; 2Tim 4:6). In the Talmud, a connection is made between pouring out blood, pouring out water and pouring out a drink offering (Pesachim 22a). In the Messianic Psalm 22 the afflicted one cries out, "I am poured out like water" (v. 14), and in the crucifixion of Yeshua a soldier pierced his side with a spear and out came "water and blood" (John 19:34).
While the Torah-required drink offering is a powerful word picture, its application to Yeshua's teaching here is problematic. No Torah passage describes the drink offering as symbolizing the blood of the sacrificial animal. The drink offering was offered by priests in connection with daily and festival burnt offerings and sin offerings, and sometimes the peace offering (Num 6:17). The drink offering was a distinct offering with the same function as that of the burnt offering, "a soothing aroma to the LORD" (Ex 29:41; Num 15:10). The description of "soothing" (Heb. nichoach, "a quieting, soothing, tranquilizing," SH-5207, BDB 629) "savor" (Heb. rêyach, "odor of soothing, a savour," SH-7381, BDB 926) is a technical term of placating God's wrath in order for God to accept people into His presence (cf. Gen 8:21; Ezek 20:41).
God never explains why the drink offering was necessary. However, the three types of offerings of animals, grain and wine represented the agricultural production that God provided to sustain the nation. In addition, the drink offering was not drunk, but poured out as a devotional act. In fact, priests were not allowed to drink any wine or strong drink when they were offering sacrifices (Lev 10:9; Isa 28:7; Ezek 44:21). Given the figurative use of "drinking blood" in the Tanakh it would seem that Yeshua alludes to being judged as an enemy of the Roman government (cf. Luke 23:2; John 19:12). He would be executed by means of crucifixion and regarded as accursed (Gal 3:13). He would bear the sins of the world as a sin offering.
Telling the Capernaum Jewish leaders "unless you eat … and drink" portends the action of Jerusalem Jewish leaders who will pronounce judgment on Yeshua and condemn him to death. Yet, paradoxically they would be able to benefit from this injustice by gaining true life for themselves. Yeshua will later ask his disciples "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink" (Mark 10:38). Stern suggests that drinking Yeshua's blood means "to absorb his self-sacrificing life-motivation and indeed his very life." Drinking the blood of Yeshua" is a powerful word picture of identifying with him in his sufferings (Php 3:10) and bearing one's cross (Matt 10:38). The combined figures of eating Yeshua's flesh and drinking his blood represent an admission that we need his atoning sacrifice. As the Torah says, "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev 17:11), and we must have his life in us to experience the quality and longevity of life God has planned for us.
54 "The one eating my flesh and drinking my blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.
The one eating: Grk. trōgō, pres. part., to chew vigorously, to eat. The use of this verb, which sharply contrasts with esthiō in the previous verse, strongly rebuts any eucharistic interpretation. my flesh: Grk. sarx. See the note on verse 51 above. and drinking: Grk. pinō, pres. part. See the note on the previous verse. my blood: Grk. haima. See the note on the previous verse. has: Grk. echō. See the note on verse 9 above. eternal life: See the note on verse 27 above. and I: Grk. kagō, conj., formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. will resurrect him on the last day: See the note on verse 39 above.
The present participles of the verbs "chewing" and "drinking" express both an ongoing activity but also the character of faithful disciples. We are in constant need of the merits of Yeshua's atoning sacrifice. Since disciples continually "fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23), then the constant cleansing by the blood of Yeshua is necessary to prevent condemnation. By contemplating his broken body and shed blood we recognize our unworthiness for such sacrifice and feel compelled to emulate that example. Yeshua then contrasts the present reality of eternal life with the future anticipation of resurrection.
55 "For my flesh is reliable food, and my blood is reliable drink.
For my flesh: Grk. sarx. See the note on verse 51 above. is reliable: Grk. alēthēs, adj., unconcealed, and so 'true.' The adjective may emphasize (1) in accordance with fact; (2) real or genuine; (3) in a straightforward, honest or truthful manner; and frequently (4) of reliability and trustworthiness. food: Grk. brōsis. See the note on verse 27 above. and my blood: Grk. haima. See the note on verse 53 above. is reliable drink: Grk. posis, drink, used of something that is drunk, or the act of drinking. In effect Yeshua contrasts himself with the manna that the Israelites ate for 40 years and the water from the rock that they drank for 40 years. The former provision had a temporary "shelf life." However, the sustaining power of Yeshua's life-giving sacrifice endures forever. He can always be counted on to meet our deepest spiritual needs.
56 "The one eating my flesh and drinking my blood remains in me, and I in him.
The one eating my flesh and drinking my blood: Yeshua repeats the clause exactly as it appears in verse 54, which is based on the teaching of verse 53. remains: Grk. menō. See the note on verse 27 above. in me: For Yeshua to say "in me" implies a very close association and relationship. and I: Grk. kagō, conj. See the note on verse 54 above. in him: Yeshua reverses the proposition to emphasize a two-way relationship. Yeshua is able to be "in" his disciples by virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
57 "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, also the one eating me, even that one will live because of me.
As: Grk. kathōs, conj., emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part. See the note on verse 51 above. Father: the God of Israel. See the note on verse 27 above. The mention of "the living Father" alludes to the description of "the living God" that occurs frequently in the Tanakh (Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10; 1Sam 17:26, 36; 2Kgs 19:4, 16; Ps 42:2; 84:2; Isa 37:4; Dan 6:20). sent: Grk. apostellō, aor. See the note on verse 29 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. and I: Grk. kagō, conj. See the note on verse 54 above. live: Grk. zaō. Yeshua could be referring to his eternal existence, that he has always been alive, but he more likely means his incarnation. because of: Grk. dia, prep., the root meaning is "through." the Father: Grk. patēr, acc. case. See the note on verse 27 above.
With the word "Father" in the accusative case the preposition indicates the reason why something happens and may be translated 'because of,' or 'for the sake of' (BAG). According to the grammar by Dana and Mantey the translation "because of" generally expresses cause, whereas "for the sake of" or simply "for" expresses purpose (114). Most versions translate the preposition as "because of" and while it is a good translation it may give the wrong impression of expressing cause, as if the Father created the Son, commonly known as the Arian heresy.
However, in context "because of" must mean "because of the Father's will I was sent to live on earth as a human being" as expressed in his later statement in John 8:42, "I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me." We might also consider that the preposition could express purpose, as found in two early English versions: "I live for the Father" (Wycliffe, 1395) and "I live for the Father's sake" (Coverdale, 1535). Yeshua always purposed to do the will of his Father (cf. Matt 12:50; Mark 14:36).
also the one eating: Grk. trōgō, pres. part. See the note on verse 54 above. me: Yeshua. even that one: Grk. kakeinos, adv. in reference to someone or something mentioned earlier in the narrative; 'also that one' or 'even that one.' will live: Grk. zaō, fut. The verb may point to the near future of experiencing the life of the Spirit or the far future of the resurrection. because of me: The prepositional phrase is in the same grammatical form as "because of the Father." Those who come to and follow Yeshua will experience eternal life now and future resurrection because of partaking his atoning sacrifice. There could also be the nuance of meaning, "for the sake of," that those receiving the benefits of his atoning sacrifice will pursue a life of devotion for him.
58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; the one eating this bread will live forever."
Yeshua conflates his own words found in verses 31, 49 and 51, and repeats the contrast between the wilderness generation and those who trust in Yeshua. The manna, while sustaining the Israelite population, functioned as symbolic of judgment. Because of their unbelief the ancient Israelites would never experience the agricultural prosperity and dietary variety of the Land of Canaan.
59 These things he said teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum.
These things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun referring to the previous midrash. he said: Grk. legō, aor. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part., to teach or instruct, a verb used frequently of Yeshua. In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used primarily to render three Hebrew verbs: (1) lamad, "exercise in, learn, teach" (BDB 540), e.g., Deut 4:1; Psalm 94:10; 119:99; 144:1; (2) the Hiphal form of yada, "cause to know, teach" (BDB 393), e.g., Job 13:23; Prov 1:23; (3) yarah, "to throw, shoot, point out, direct, instruct" (BDB 434), e.g., Prov 4:4; 5:13; Isa 9:15; as well as six other Hebrew verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766).
in a synagogue: Grk. sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly and in the rest of the Besekh refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning as well as the congregation that met (Acts 6:9; 9:2), including that of Messianic Jews (Jas 2:2). The origin of the word sunagōgē dates back to the 5th century BC and in ancient times was used to refer to any collection of things or people. Sunagōgē had a particular usage by Gentile trade guilds to refer to both their business meetings and religious feasts. In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (the assembly or congregation of Israel, Ex 12:3) and qahal (a summons to an assembly, Ex 16:3). Interestingly, qahal was also translated with ekklēsia in the LXX, but edah was never translated by ekklēsia (DNTT 1:292ff).
The origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019). Pious Jews, far from their native land, without the ministry of the temple, no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the word of God and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. According to the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 B.C. - A.D. 50) synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39).
By the first century, synagogues emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings take place. The Talmud says that, at the time of the destruction of the second temple, there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem alone (Ket. 105a; TJ Sot. 7:7, 8; Yom. 7:1). As Jews emigrated west synagogues followed. In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary for their meetings. In Israel where the Sadducees exercised supervision over the temple, Pharisees supervised the learning of Torah in the synagogue.
in Capernaum: See the note on verse 17 above. Yeshua taught in synagogues throughout Galilee and Judea (Matt 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:39; Luke 4:14-15, 44; John 18:20) and especially in Capernaum. Apparently the synagogue in Capernaum was built by a Roman centurion (Luke 7:1-5), which probably means he funded the construction. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other.
Words of Life, 6:60-71
60 Therefore many of his disciples, having heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can understand it?"
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. See the note on verse 5 above. many: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. of number; many. of his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See the note on verse 45 above. this said: Grk. legō, aor. This is a difficult: Grk. sklēros, unyielding in nature, here of an uncompromising saying; difficult, hard. statement: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In Greek philosophical writings logos took on the meaning of a common universal law or truth and that which gives order in the universe. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, or matter (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087).
who can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 44 above. understand: Grk. akouō, pres. inf., lit. "hear.” it: The teaching in verses 53-56. The rhetorical question confesses an inability to comprehend what Yeshua meant by his words, because a straightforward interpretation would conflict with preconceived assumptions about the Messiah. Yeshua’s truth must be "spiritually appraised" (1Cor 2:14), and they did not possess the power of the Holy Spirit to gain such enlightenment.
61 But Yeshua, seeing that his disciples were whispering about this, said to them, "Does this shock you?
Yeshua observed that that his disciples were having a similar negative reaction as the synagogue leaders. They were whispering (Grk. gonguzō, to murmur, complain, whisper) about his teaching. See the note on verse 41 above for this verb. Yeshua then asked a good question to prompt self-examination. The disciples were not complaining in the same manner as Yeshua's critics in verse 41. They were confused, not upset. The verb shock is Grk. skandalizō, a verb drawn from the imagery of trap-setting or the laying of obstacles in another’s way. The verb can mean (1) cause someone to be guilty of transgression, cause to sin; or (2) cause reaction over what appears to be publicly offensive, shock. The second meaning fits here. John does not explain the nature of their puzzlement. The disciples’ reaction might have been "why can’t he make things simple?” or "why does he have to say things that make people upset?” or "what does this teaching have to do with the kingdom?”
62 "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
Yeshua then alludes to the promise he made to Nathanael (John 1:51), but changes the description and puts it in the form of a question. What then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. See the note on verse 5 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. See the note on verse 51 above. Yeshua essentially asks "Would it make a difference in your thinking if?” you see: Grk. theōreō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 2 above. The verb stresses personal physical observation. the Son of Man: See the note on verse 27 above. Yeshua means the celestial figure prophesied by Daniel. ascending: Grk. anabainō, pres. part., to go up to a point or place that is higher than the point of origin, sometimes in the context of going up steps. Idiomatically the verb means to enter or approach.
to where: Grk. hopou, conj. used adverbially of place; where. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See the note on verse 2 above. The imperfect tense stresses continuous action in pass time and in the case of Yeshua infinite time. before: Grk. proteros, adj. pointing to the past, whether indicating that something occurred prior to the current time, "earlier, former,” or that something occurred or existed prior to the current time, "in time past, earlier, before.” Yeshua hints at his future ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-10), in fact returning to where he was before.
63 "The Spirit is the life-giving one; the flesh benefits nothing; the words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
The Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). Pneuma is used for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). The Ruach first appears in Genesis 1:2 where He was moving over the Deep, assisting the Word in creation. Messianic Jewish Bible versions differ in rendering the word. The GNC, HNV and MW have "the spirit" (note lower case), but the CJB and TLV have "the Spirit" and the OJB has "The Ruach Hakodesh." Using the lower case "spirit" would indicate the human spirit and no human being ever gave life to himself.
is: Grk. eimi. See the note on verse 2 above. the life-giving one: Grk. zōopoieō, pres. part., cause to be alive, make alive, give life to. The verb is preceded by the definite article giving it a substantive character. Yeshua reminds his listeners that the Ruach Hakodesh not only assisted in the creation of the universe but also the creation of man (cf. Gen 1:26; 2:7; 6:3, 17).
the flesh: Grk. sarx. See the note on verse 51 above. The term is used here of human capability in contrast to the divine. benefits: Grk. ōpheleō, pres., may mean (1) to engage in activity that brings about something good above and beyond that which existed earlier either in the sense of (a) help, assist; (b) cause to benefit, be of advantage to, be of benefit to, or (c) be of value; or (2) be successful in an activity. nothing: Grk. ouk ouden, lit. "not anything." Stern comments, "This is not a downgrading of the body in some Greek dualistic sense, but rather a typically Jewish assertion that without the Spirit of God the physical things have no value of their own."
the words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek works rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done. In the Tanakh rhēma is often synonymous with Grk. logos, which means a vocalized expressed of the mind, ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form (DNTT 3:1119f). Interestingly both rhēma and logos occur together in the LXX of Exodus 34:27, "Write down these words [rhēma], for in accordance with these words [logos] I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. have spoken: Grk. laleō, perf., may mean (1) to make a sound, as of a trumpet or thunder; or (2) make an oral statement, to speak or talk about something. The phrase "words I have spoken" with its built in redundancy is typical of Hebrew culture. to you: i.e., the disciples, in contrast with the crowd and synagogue officials. are spirit: Grk. pneuma used here of a spiritual quality and emphasizes that the teaching in verses 53-56 should be taken figurative and not literalistically. and are life: Grk. zōē. See the note on verse 27 above. "Life" could be shorthand for "eternal life" in both its present and future meanings.
64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Yeshua knew from the beginning the ones not believing, and who was the one betraying him.
But there are some of you: Yeshua directs his comments to people who had been following him and standing before him at this time. who do not believe: Grk. pisteuō. See the note on verse 29 above. The fact that some of Yeshua's followers did not accept his Messianic claims implies they had selfish motives for their interest. For Yeshua knew: Grk. oida, plperf. See the note on verse 6 above. The verb likely alludes to an intuitive insight. from the beginning: Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority with these applications: (1) The point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm, often plural; ruler, authority; (3) an assigned position or sphere of activity; position, domain or jurisdiction. The first meaning is intended here, but it's not clear whether the "beginning" refers to the beginning of time or the beginning of his earthly ministry, probably the latter.
the ones not: Grk. mē, not. See the note on verse 20 above. believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part, plural in number. We should note that John does not use the word for unbelief, a willful rejection of truth. The subjective "not" combined with "believing" has the force of "not yet fully believing." and who was: Grk. eimi, pres., lit. "is." See the note on verse 2 above. the one betraying: Grk. paradidōmi, fut. part., to convey from one position to another, in general to hand over, often of subjecting a person to a custodial procedure and delivery to a judicial authority, here with the connotation of disloyalty and treachery. him: Yeshua predicted at least twice times that he would experience betrayal (Mark 9:31; 10:33).
65 And he said, "Because of this I have told you, that no one can come to me unless granted to him from the Father."
And he said: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement, used to introduce quoted material. See the note on verse 5 above. Because of this: prepositional phrase to introduce an explanation of what was said previously in verse 44 above. I have told: Grk. legō, perf. you, that no one: Grk. oudeis, a noun marker used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, nobody. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 44 above. come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf. See the note on verse 5 above. to me: to Yeshua, most likely in his role as savior. unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." granted: Grk. didōmi, perf. pass. part., to give. See the note on verse 27 above. The verb contains nuances of granting a privilege or an opportunity along with permission.
to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun meaning "he" or "she" depending on context. The dative case of autos here may be either masculine or neuter and in this context would not exclude women. from the Father: Grk. patēr. See the note on verse 27 above. Yeshua's point is not that God selects some to be saved and others to be damned, but that the provision of a Savior was a unilateral decision of the Father. Mankind has not sought a relationship with the Creator God and God of Israel, but rather God has sought mankind. We are saved because of God's faithfulness, not ours. See the note on verse 44 above and John 1:13.
66 From this time many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him.
From this time: Grk. ek toutou, lit. "from this." The prepositional phrase marks a milestone event. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See the note on verse 2 above. of his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 3 above. drew: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of destination; go, go away/off, depart, leave. back: Grk. opisō, adv., in a state, condition or situation that is subsequent, and may refer to (1) a spatial condition, behind; or (2) an earlier position, back. The Grk. phrase is actually eis (prep., "into") ta opisō, which could be rendered as "into a position that is behind." Danker says the combination of aperchomai with the phrase eis ta opisō, also occurring in John 18:6, is a special usage meaning "to draw back a short distance" (42).
and no longer: Grk. ouketi, neg. adv. of cessation of an activity or condition, no longer, no more. walked: Grk. peripateō, impf. See the note on verse 19 above. with: Grk. meta, prep., in the midst of, with. him: i.e., Yeshua. John is probably not describing complete abandonment, but pulling back out of a guilty conscience. Yeshua's words likely caused them to face their selfish reasons for following him.
67 So Yeshua said to the twelve, "You are not also wanting to leave?"
So Yeshua said to the twelve: Grk. dōdeka, the number twelve, mostly used in the Besekh of Yeshua's disciples and the tribes of Israel. The disciples to whom Yeshua gave specific authority to represent him are often referred to simply as "The Twelve," occurring 24 times in the apostolic narratives, only four of which are in John. The complete membership of the twelve is listed in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19). John does not provide a comparable list and in fact omits the names of Matthew, Simon the Zealot, Jacob the son of Alphaeus, Jacob the son of Zebedee and his own name in his book.
You: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. are not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 20 above. The negative particle actually begins the sentence in the Greek text and in that position has an interrogative function. also: Grk. kai, conj. The conjunction provides a contrast to the mention of other disciples in the previous verse who left Yeshua. wanting: Grk. thelō, pres., to wish or will. See verse 11 above. to leave: Grk. hupagō, pres. inf. See verse 21 above. Yeshua's question illustrates the fact that the decision to follow Yeshua may be revisited and reaffirmed from time to time due to unforeseen circumstances.
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
He saw Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimon ("he has heard"). Greek does not have the "sh" sound, so the Latin letter "S" is used. The apostle's name should be pronounced "Shee-mown," not "Sigh-mun." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this name does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimon appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." Then the tribe descended from him bore his name, which eventually had its territory within the area assigned to the tribe of Judah. There is one other man in the Tanakh named Simeon, a post-exilic Israelite noted for taking a foreign wife (Ezra 10:31). It's possible that the apostle Simon was named in honor of the patriarch.
Peter: Grk. Petros. This name was not given at birth by his parents, but by Yeshua himself (Mark 3:16). Actually, according to John 1:42 the name Yeshua gave Simon was the Aramaic name Kefa transliterated in the Greek as Kēphas and rendered in the English by the inaccurate "Cephas." Petros, then, is the translation of Kefa, which means "rock" in Aramaic (Stern 162). Simon is referred to eight times by his Aramaic name in Paul's letters (1Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14). The name Peter occurs most frequently in the Besekh (150+ times), but only twice in Paul's letters (Gal 2:7, 8). The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times, all but three in the book of John. The name of Simon's father is given in John 1:42; 21:15-17 as John (Grk. Iōannēs; Heb. Yochanan). Little considered by commentators is Simon's family ancestry. Yeshua later addressed him as "Simon Barjona" (Heb. bar Yona) (Matt 16:17), which means that Simon's family descended from the prophet Jonah. Simon was married (Mark 1:30; 1Cor 9:5) and maintained a residence in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29).
answered him: The verb is Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See the note on verse 7 above. Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 23 above. Simon intended the title in the sense of "master." to whom shall we go: Grk. aperchomai, fut. mid. See the note on verse 66 above. This is more than a rhetorical question. He was convinced that Yeshua was the Messiah. There was no way he could have been mistaken. You have: Grk. echō. See the note on verse 9 above. The declaration has the sense of "you're the only one possessing." words: Grk. rhēma. See the note on verse 63 above. of eternal life: See the note on verse 27 above. In the mind of Simon the only one with authoritative teaching about the age to come was Yeshua.
69 "And we believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Peter continues his answer to Yeshua as spokesman for the twelve. And we believe: Grk. pisteuō, perf. See the note on verse 29 above. The perfect tense points back to when they first accepted Yeshua's call to discipleship, and encompasses their trust in him and faithfulness to him that has continued to this present moment. and know: Grk. ginōskō, perf., to know, but has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. All of these meanings have application here.
In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality. As with "believe" the perfect tense points back to the original moment of recognizing the truth about Yeshua and maintaining that conviction. that you are: Grk. eimi. See the note on verse 2 above. the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (DNTT 2:224; SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Lev 11:44.
One: Grk. ho, a demonstrative pronoun functioning as a personal pronoun of the third person. In normal use it means "this one" or "that one," but here ho gives substantive character to hagios. In the Tanakh angels are referred to as "holy ones" (Deut 33:2-3; Job 5:1; Ps 89:5, 7; Dan 4:17; Zech 14:5). The title "the Holy One" (Heb. HaQadosh) is a common circumlocution for God in the Talmud and other Rabbinic writings, often followed by the Heb. barukh ha, "Blessed be He" (Stern 833). of God: Grk. theos. See the note on verse 27 above. As a reminder, the only true God, the God of the Bible is the God of Israel and He is referred to as the "Holy One of Israel" over 30 times in the Tanakh. The genitive case of "God" defines the relationship between the Holy One and God and reinforces Yeshua's own teaching that he came from God.
Yeshua was addressed as the "Holy One of God" on only one other occasion and that by a demoniac (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). The title alludes to its use for the Messiah in a psalm of David, "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay" (Ps 16:10), quoted by Peter in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:27) and Paul in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:35). Peter will use this title again in his letter to admonish Messianic Jews to emulate Yeshua, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior" (1Pet 1:14-15). Likewise, the apostle John will employ the title to his readers and recall Peter's words, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know" (1Jn 2:20).
Yeshua was set apart or consecrated to bring the words of salvation and eternal life to mankind. Considering that Yeshua is YHVH in the Tanakh, then a few passages in Isaiah must allude to his identity and role:
"For I am YHVH your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isa 43:3 Mine)
"I am YHVH, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King." (Isa 43:15 Mine)
"Our Redeemer, YHVH of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel." (Isa 47:5 Mine)
70 Yeshua answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you a devil?"
Yeshua answered them: See the note on verse 26 above for this opening clause. Did I not choose: Grk. eklegomai, aor. mid., to pick out for oneself; choose, select. The verb indicates a highly deliberative choice between alternatives or a selection out of a larger group. In the LXX eklegomai occurs about 150 times and nearly always renders Heb. bachar, choose, select, or prefer (DNTT 1:537). Eklegomai is used a small number of times for man's choice (e.g., Gen 6:2; 13:11; Deut 30:19; Josh 24:15, 22; Jdg 10:14; 1Sam 8:18; 2Sam 24:12; Prov 3:31).
Primarily eklegomai is used of God's choice: of priests (Num 16:5), of Aaron (Num 17:5), of encampment sites (Deut 1:33), of the descendants of the patriarchs (Deut 4:37), of Israel (Deut 7:7), of Jerusalem as His city and the place of sacrifice (Deut 12:14; 15:20), of a future king (Deut 17:15), of the Levites (Deut 18:5), of King Saul (1Sam 10:24), of King David (1Sam 16:8-10), of King Solomon (1Chr 28:6), of the tribe of Judah (Ps 78:68), and of Abraham (Neh 9:7). In the case of God's choice the purpose of His choosing is some commission or service, and can only meaningfully retain its validity in its fulfillment. When applied to Israel the concept of being chosen reflects God's intention to create among the nations a new and different type of community, a holy nation of priests (Ex 19:6; Deut 7:6; 14:2).
you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. the twelve: Grk. dōdeka. See verse 67 above. This is an important point. The disciples did not choose Yeshua; he chose them, just as he chose Israel for a special relationship. The fact that two disciples of Yochanan the Immerser sought out Yeshua very early (John 1:35-37) does not negate Yeshua's declaration. Even then Yeshua invited the two disciples to "come" (1:38) and "follow me" (1:43). and one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of you: Grk. humeis; i.e., the group of twelve.
a devil: Grk. diabolos, slanderer, accuser. Diabolos occurs 21 times in the LXX to translate the Heb. word satan, "adversary," mostly of the angelic adversary (13 times in Job alone), but also a wicked human opponent (e.g. 1Kgs 11:14, 23, 25). Diabolos occurs 37 times in the Besekh, primarily in reference to Satan (DNTT 3:468f). The term is also used of human adversaries. Yeshua described his Pharisaic opponents in Jerusalem as sons of the devil (John 8:44). In addition, Paul described Elymas the magician as a son of the devil (Acts 13:10), and used the plural form of diabolos to mean slanderers (1Tim 3:11; 2Tim 3:3; Titus 2:3).
71 Now he was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was about to betray him.
Now he was speaking: Grk. legō, impf. See the note on verse 5 above. of Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH.” The proper name Judas was very common in the time of Yeshua because it was not only the Greek form of one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. son: The word "son" does not appear in the Greek text but insert for clarity. of Simon: See the note on verse 68 above. Iscariot: Grk. Iskariōth is probably not a surname but a rendering into Greek of Hebrew ish-K'riot, "a man of K'riot," a town some twenty miles south of Jerusalem (Stern 38).
for he, one of the twelve: See verse 67 above. When Judas became a disciple of Yeshua is nowhere stated, but may have occurred during Yeshua's Judean ministry. The first occurrence of his name is his inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until this narrative of the miraculous feeding (verse 67 above).
was about: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. The verb stresses that even though Yeshua's arrest is a year away, the heart of Judas had already been infected with dissatisfaction. to betray him: "betray" is Grk. paradidōmi, pres. inf. See the note on verse 64 above. Judas would always be remembered for this one defining moment that brought shame to himself and his family.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Online.
Edersheim-Temple: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Temple: It's Ministry and Services (1874). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Online.
Feinberg: Jeffrey Enoch Feinberg, Walk Exodus. Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2000.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The University of York, 2000. [NA26]
Flusser: Daniel Flusser, The Sage from Galilee. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
JE: Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1906. 12 vols., gen. ed. Isidore Singer. Online at JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2002-2011.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Lindsey: Robert L. Lindsey, Jesus Rabbi & Lord: The Hebrew Story of Jesus Behind Our Gospels. Cornerstone Publishing, 1990.
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Owens: John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, 4 vols. Baker Book House, 1989.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Rosten: Leo Rosten, Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Bible. Schocken Books, 1975.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney, John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TLV-Notes: Messianic Jewish Family Bible: Tree of Life Version. Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, 2014. Annotations by editorial staff.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews. Online.
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