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JOHN EXEGESISgk Chapter 06

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         1  After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  2  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.3  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4  Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  5  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”6  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.7  Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”        8   One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.  But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.”  Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14  When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”        15  When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.     16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.  It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about 3 or 4 miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I, do not be afraid. 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.                                       22  The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there.  They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.          25  When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”             26  Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.27  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”     28  Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30  So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you?  What work are you performing?31  Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”                32  Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.33  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”         34  They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”      35  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.    36  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.            37  Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38 for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.        39  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.40  This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” 41  Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43  Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.       45  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.       46  Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47  Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  53  So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.       54  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;  55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.  58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59  He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.                           60  When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you?”    62  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?    63  It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  64  But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.65  And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”          66  Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.    67  So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”   68  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go?  You have the words of eternal life.69  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”          70  Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve?  Yet one of you is a devil.”71  He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot,” for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. 6:1-14 The feeding of the five thousand, which is significant in this Gospel primarily as the basis for the subsequent discourse.  But it also continues to present Jesus as giver of life, and ends with recognition of him as the one promised by Moses (which does tell in favour of an intended reference to Deut 18 in 5:461  The introductory meta tauta is imprecise, allowing for a movement from Jerusalem not described. The preposition peran can simply represent a Jewish perspective, ie. eastern (though one can understand those who suspect dislocation, usually from immediately after chapter 4 – see 4:54). 2f  Setting of the scene. All three verbs in v.2 are in the imperfect tense – this is a continual pattern. The reason given for their “following” shows it to be mere physical following, not discipleship. In v.3 to o`roj is probably simply high ground, ie. the Golan Heights east of the lake. 4  A time note which is probably theologically motivated, ie. helping to draw attention to Second Exodus connotations of the incident and discourse. 5-7  Serves to underline the miracle and to contrast Jesus’ level of thought with Philip’s. Philip’s question could be seen as echoing Moses’ question in Numbers 11:13. This connection is made more likely by the presence of other possible parallels between John 6 and Numbers 11 – see Köstenberger, p.201(n.10). By contrast with Philip, Jesus knew what he was going to do. Jesus’ knowledge is a characteristic Johannine emphasis, but here may have special importance if there is a parallel with Numbers 11. If Philip’s question is like that of Moses, then Jesus’ assured knowledge is like that of God.        8f  The dimension of the miracle further underlined. It may be significant that the words paidarion and ovyaria are both diminutives, although paidarion can refer to a teenager or even very young adult. The mention of barley cakes (more like our rolls than our loaves) may be merely incidental Johannine detail (these were the cheap bread of the poor), but may well help to recall II Kings 4:42-44 - a greater than Elisha!   10-13  Again, the strongest note is the extent of the miracle. Clearly the number 5,000 contributes strongly to this, and the fact that this figure is a count of oi` avndrej suggests that the full number is probably considerably more than 5,000. The gathering of what is left over accords with Jewish custom, but here certainly draws attention to God’s bountiful supply, which may be suggestive of the messianic age.       14  In context this seems to be an identification of Jesus as the second Moses, again providing supernatural supply. But some commentators favour a broader interpretation, given v.15, i.e. a merging of prophet and king in the figure of the Messiah.Textual variant: Metzger seems to be right in seeing o` Ivhsouj as a clarifying addition, given the change of subject and the low probability of its being dropped. He also favours the singular o` shmeion over the plural a` shmeia on the grounds of likely scribal assimilation to 2:23 and 6:2, but (as he concedes) the witnesses for the plural are significant ones, and a change to fit the immediate context better is possible. 15  This serves to link the feeding of the five thousand with the next incident, but also to provide another note of Jesus’ knowledge and to inform us of a climate of Messianic hope (which probably helps us to understand the Synoptics).      16-21  There has been some debate about the reason for this sign’s inclusion [see Carson, pp.273f].  It lacks clear connection with any discourse.  Some (eg. Morris) have tried to link it with 7:1-52  (see 7:3f.,11f.,25-31) but this is far from obvious.  I think it is best to see it as useful to the narrative (establishing the circumstances of verse 22), but also serving to show how Jesus’ signs helped to establish Jesus’ identity. Consider the combined effect of Jesus’ walking on the water, the terror of the disciples, and the two parts of Jesus’ statement (v.20: Evgw eivmi mh fobeisqe). This has the character of a theophany.  Perhaps it also furthers the Exodus connection (as a miraculous water crossing).  6:22-59  This discourse, in which Jesus speaks of himself as the Bread of Life, interprets the sign of the feeding of the five thousand but draws also upon the background of Passover and especially of the manna in the wilderness.  Its primary meaning, one at least potentially accessible to Jesus’ hearers as well as John’s readers, is (I believe) metaphorical.  It speaks of a full receiving and believing, in line with the rest of the Gospel and especially Peter’s response in vv.68f.  The metaphor, as with much in the discourses in John, is surprising and confronting, but not as difficult as some have suggested. As Beasley-Murray points out (p.99) metaphorical use of eating and drinking is generally common [eg “devouring” a book, “drinking in” someone’s words] while, more specifically, the rabbis often interpreted Ecclesiastes 8:15 metaphorically, including of the study of the Law. Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine that John could have failed to expect that the passage would make Christian readers (or even seriously interested enquirers) think of the Lord’s Supper (especially verses 53-59).  I agree with those who see such a secondary reference as present, but governed by the primary, metaphorical sense, ie. this passage speaks of the same truth as the Supper [see Morris, pp. 311-315 for a helpful account of the sacramental debate; also Schnackenburg II,65-69 for another useful account from a more sacramental perspective]. I think it is likely, but by no means certain, that John has chosen to omit the Last Supper but to deal with the meaning of the Lord’s Supper in this indirect fashion because he is correcting a false sacramentalism (which emphasises the mere act of eating and drinking).I like the words of F.D. Maurice cited by Leon Morris (p.313, n.58): “If you ask me, then, whether he is speaking of the Eucharist here, I should say, ‘No’.  If you ask me where I can learn the meaning of the Eucharist, I should say, ‘Nowhere so well as here’.” 22-24  Essentially a connecting statement.  What seems to have happened is that some of those who were fed have lingered, probably hoping to see Jesus again.  They have apparently noticed that Jesus did not accompany his disciples in the only boat, and initially assume that he must still be nearby.  But they are disappointed in their expectation so, when boats are available, they travel back to Galilee and look for Jesus in Capernaum, his family’s home town at this point [cf. 2;12].But it is a little more than a narrative connection: it serves to draw attention to the connection in thought between the discourse and the feeding, and possibly also the walking on the water (by implied reference to his manner of crossing the lake).  If the latter is relevant it is perhaps because this sign justifies Jesus’ focus on himself.Textual variants (v.23): The first variant is an excellent example of a case where a bewildering array of variants makes decision difficult, but there is little significance for meaning. The second is a little more interesting, since the inclusion of kurioj would give some slight encouragement to seeing a reference to the Supper. The solid ms. support has prompted the UBS4’s B rating for this (vs. C of UBS3), but an original without specific subject could have led to two clarifying alternatives. 25  Ironic.  John underlines the sign of walking on the water but the crowd are merely puzzled.  Their R`abbi is thus inadequate, yet right as far as it goes.  But they are about to reject the teaching he gives.            26f  Jesus does not appear to answer their question, but perhaps he does in a sense.  His statement says that the miracle which they have seen has not proved fruitful, so why tell them of another?  And it may challenge the addressing of him as R`abbi: you come to me not for meaning but for material benefit (ie. as worldly Messiah? cf. Verse 15).  As with the Samaritan woman, he points them toward a different level of thought, toward the eternal life which he has authority to offer. Michaels expresses the opinion concerning the final sentence that it “is best understood as the Gospel writer’s reflection on the baptism of Jesus” (p.117), and the aorist tense verb evsfragisen can certainly be read this way. But it makes good sense in the mouth of Jesus himself (whether the reference is to his baptism, or his signs, or more general), given what he is going to say soon. 28  They focus too exclusively on one element within his reply, ie. evrgazesqe  (without weighing dwsei). 29  So Jesus makes it clear what God does require: faith in himself as the One sent by God.  The antithesis is not quite in Pauline terms, but is very similar in substance. 30f  They demand miraculous accreditation before they will believe, comparable to God’s accreditation of Moses.  They presumably want either repetition of the feeding miracle or something even greater, but John seems to want us to see their unbelief.  There was probably an expectation at that time of manna from heaven at the coming of the Messiah - certainly there was by the second century [see Brown, I, 265f].  There is some debate about the Scripture reference in 31b, but Psalm 78:24 (read verses 17-24) seems probable.               32f  Jesus seizes upon the key term, avrtoj evk tou ouvranou, and uses it to correct and redirect their attention:(i)  It is not Moses but God who is the supplier of need, and God as the Father of Jesus(ii) It is not the manna given in the past which is now important, but Jesus himself who is being given by God in the present(iii) It is not material supply for Israel which is now available but eternal life for all peopleIn relation to the second point, it is relevant that the expression o` katabainwn evk tou ouvranou can be understood impersonally of the bread or personally of Jesus. John probably intends the reader to see this possibility or, if, as Michaels again believes (pp.117-118), this is an authorial aside, it could even be the primary sense. 34  In view of what follows, this clearly does not represent understanding - it is parallel to the response of the Samaritan woman.  But again there is irony: the wording is susceptible of a meaning which would constitute a response of faith (including the kurie). 35  Jesus corrects the misunderstanding by directly claiming to be the bread of life (the first of the evgw eivmi… sayings).  He probably also indicates that he does not need to keep giving (in one sense, at least, as in ch. 13, but balanced by ch. 15) - it is necessary once to come to him.  There is debate over possible reference, but Ecclesiasticus 24:21 (cf. vv.1,22-26) is attractive: this would have Jesus claiming to be greater than Wisdom/Torah and would help to explain the broadening of the metaphor (though this also serves to strengthen the parallel with ch.4, and to anticipate vv 53-56). 36  Probably a reference back to verse 26. This is a more obvious understanding if we follow the variant reading which lacks me. Its inclusion by UBS4 is only rated a C, although ms. evidence certainly favours it, since addition is easier to understand than omission. Even with me, it is the best specific reference available. If so, they are being rebuked for failure to accept the opportunity given.      37f  Seems to take up possible inference from verse 36 that Jesus’ mission is a failure.  Rather than that, he accomplishes the Father’s purpose.  The neuter pan is surprising, but probably emphasises inclusiveness, even cosmic significance. Another suggestion is that the combination of neuter and singular, here and in v.39, conveys that Jesus initially thinks of all believers as a single corporate entity, before offering a promise to believing individuals in v.40. Even if we prefer the first view, the focus is clearly human: to see is not enough, unless God gives a person to the One whom he sends, but those so given to the Son will never be cast out by the Son [verse 39 favours this interpretation, over that of initial welcoming]. 39f  God’s saving purpose in Jesus is now traced through to th evscath h`mera: this is where the success of his mission will finally be vindicated.  Again there is the neuter in verse 39, but not verse 40, suggesting a human focus within a broader prospect of restoration, or an individual within a corporate. The inclusiveness of God’s saving will here (for all who believe) balances the implied selectivity of vv.37 and 44. The evgw is placed unusually in 40b, presumably for increased emphasis. 41f  The reaction of oi` Ivoudaioi (here, it would seem, in view of later distinction <verse 60>, the non-disciples among his hearers).  The use of the verb gogguzw is probably meant to recall the behaviour of faithless Israel in the wilderness [the same Greek word is used in Exodus 16:2,8f. of the complaining which was answered by the gift of manna].  They reject Jesus’ claims on commonsense grounds, thus revealing their narrow conception of signs. 43f  Jesus again rebukes them, repeating his earlier statement but with a negative slant. Köstenberger (p.213) suggests a possible background to the concept of God’s “drawing” (e`lkw) in rabbinic use of the expression “to bring near to the Torah” with reference to conversion. In this instance, of course, it is to the Son that the Father draws, and to whom people must come. So Jesus’ point is probably that their discussion falsely assumes independence, the right and ability to accept or reject as they choose.     45  This seems to be meant to amplify the concept of God’s drawing, by appealing to Scripture [probably Isaiah 54:13 - see Barrett, p.296 for other possibilities], then commenting.  The comment maintains the emphasis on divine initiative but the use of the participle maqwn seems to introduce the requirement of human response. Ridderbos (pp.232-233) points out that the quotation itself, certainly if we accept the Isaiah origin, declares the saving purpose of God, which tells against the view that v.44 implies that God only wants to save some. 46 This does not follow easily, and is perhaps John’s parenthetical note. It seems to guard against an interpretation of verse 45 as allowing for a mystical experience of God prior to and independent of coming to Jesus. 47f  Resumptive both of the call for faith and of Jesus’ pointing to himself as the object of faith. 49-51  Again stresses the superiority of what Jesus offers.  Verse 51c is a little difficult, but the future tense dwsw plus u`per suggests an allusion to the Cross, and if this so some association with the Supper seems inevitable. Those who deny this generally give great weight to the use of the word sarx, rather than  swma. The question of the extent to which this verse and other features of this discourse should be interpreted sacramentally is discussed by most commentators. One who attaches his discussion to this verse is Ridderbos (pp.235-239).  52  The understandable reaction, used by John to introduce the final section of the discourse.  53  Best understood in the light of verse 35  - ouv mh peinash  and ouv mh diyhsei are picked up by faghte and pihte.  Noting also 51c and the use of the aorist, this seems to speak of coming in faith to Jesus as the one who lays down his life, and thus entering into a close identification with him.  The Supper is not the means of doing this but is a means of remembering this.  The combination of sarx and ai`ma may well serve to point to the Incarnation as well as the Supper, i.e. the importance of the unique life which is laid down in death.  54-56  The shift to the present tense together with the word menw suggests a movement through to a continuing in the life of faith-identification, marked by a continuing dependence on the Son for life.  Once again, the Supper comes appropriately to mind as symbolic of the same truth.  The progression is completed by reference to final resurrection, which Jesus claims as his work (kagw avnasthsw auvton). 57 This seems both to establish a chain (we receive life from the Father through the Son) and to imply a model: Jesus shows us what it means to be in perfect union with and dependence on the Father, which is how we should live in relation to the Son.  58  The theme of superiority and fulfilment is reiterated.  59  A note of occasion [evn sunagwgh is probably best understood like our “in church”, ie. of the gathering], but it is not clear whether or not it applies to the whole of verses 25-59 [Carson suggests 27-59; Painter 41-59]. Köstenberger (p.217) cites Abrahams as claiming that there is evidence that some synagogue services allowed the kind of exchange found in this passage. 6:60-71Beasley-Murray appropriately entitles this section “The Result of the Revelation: Defection and Confession”.  It sets in contrast the drawing back of those disciples who are offended by the extent of Jesus’ claims (and possibly the demand which these involve) and the strong affirmation of faith by Peter on behalf of the Twelve.  But Judas is distinguished from the others, making the contrast more complex.  It seems likely that John intends this section to invite his readers to relate the discourse to themselves, and certainly it is of great importance in the contemporary exposition of the passage.  We are warned against drawing back, and even against too complacently assuming that we are proof against so doing (since Judas outwardly continues at this point), but encouraged to identify with Peter’s words of affirmation.     60f  A shift from Ivoudaioi (v.52) to maqhtai  but identifying a similar attitude in the latter (even to the use of the same word gogguzw).  As earlier with faith, John distinguishes between a shallow, temporary discipleship and the real thing.  In verse 60 sklhroj is best understood as meaning harsh, or hard to accept, rather than difficult to understand (which is not to deny that this could be said of the discourse). Jesus’ response suggests that they are “offended” (skandalizw) by his teaching. 62  Jesus’ initial response is ambiguous, both as regards its reference (the Cross, resurrection, ascension, final judgment, some combination?) and the expected reaction (faith or greater offence or the possibility of either?) [See Morris, 383f for a helpful discussion]. 63  Also somewhat difficult.  In this context it seems best to understand this as both a cautioning against literalism and an allusion to Jesus’ offering the new life of the Spirit (cf. Chapter 3). Note the emphatic evgw. 64f  This brings us back to themes of the necessity of faith and of God’s drawing, but also of Jesus’ special knowledge, by means of which the complication of Judas’ presence among the Twelve is introduced. Köstenberger (p.220) sees these verses as marking a shift of focus from the wider circle of followers to the Twelve, and thinks that evx avrchj  probably refers to the point at which the Twelve attached themselves to Jesus. But the plural oi` mh pisteuontej in v.64 and the placement of the turning away of many disciples in v.66 tell against this. I would interpret evx avrchj more broadly to speak of Jesus’ knowledge of people throughout his ministry, as in 2:24-25. These comments rely on the UBS4 B reading, whereas the textual variant lacking the mh would encourage an exclusive focus on the Twelve. Weight of manuscript evidence favours their reading, although a change in either direction would be understandable (contra Metzger). Omission of the whole clause also occurs but is rare, and understandable as the eye passing on to similar words. 66  The language is insistent, probably serving both to underline the tragedy and to invite comparison with apostates from the church (peripatew is often used metaphorically).  Cf. I John 2:19.  67  Jesus challenges the Twelve (and John his readers).  The pronoun u`meij is emphatic (doubly so with the kai), and the introductory mh asks for a negative answer. 68f  Peter’s response, on behalf of the Twelve and potentially of John’s readers: he accepts Jesus’ own claims (r`hmata zwhj); he declares the asked-for pistij in terms suggestive of firmness and continuance (with ginwskw, both in perfect tense); he addresses him both as kurioj (in this context, much more than courtesy) and o` a`gioj tou qeou  (probably Messianic, but in this context perhaps best understood as accepting Jesus at his own estimation, as the one sent by God and in unique relationship with him). There are, of course, several textual variants which introduce the term cristoj. But the UBS4 confidently rejects these (A reading). There are several significant manuscripts without this addition, while their vary variety and the likelihood of such an addition tell against accepting it. The language of verse 68 also serves to declare a sense of the impossibility of turning away. 70f  It is a little surprising that John doesn’t conclude with the words of faith.  Perhaps it is merely because he feels it is necessary to note that Judas is not truly included in these words, thus avoiding any misunderstanding regarding “the twelve”.  But possibly there is more, possibly there is the implication that it is not sufficient to stand among believers and rely on the declarations of others.  Each of us is required to make Peter’s declaration consciously our own.

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