《Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary – John (Vol. 1)》(Heinrich Meyer) Commentator

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06 Chapter 6


John 6:2. ἑώρων] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐθεώρουν, after A. B. D. L. א . Cursives, Cyr. The origin of this reading betrays itself through A., which has ἐθεώρων, judging from which ἑώρων must have been the original reading. The ἐθεώρ. was all the more easily received, however, because John invariably uses the Perfect only of ὁρᾶν.

After this Elz. has αὐτοῦ, against decisive testimonies.

John 6:5. ἀγοράσομεν] Scholz, Lachm., Tisch., read ἀγοράσωμεν, in favour of which the great majority of the testimonies decide.

John 6:9. ἓν] is wanting in B. D. L. א . Cursives, Or. Cyr. Chrys. and some Verss. Rejected by Schulz after Gersd., bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. But how easily might it have been overlooked, because superfluous, and coming after the syllable ON! For ὅ Lachm and Tisch. read ὅς, following decisive witnesses; transcribers were easily led to make changes according to the grammatical gender.

John 6:11. After διέδωκε Elz. has τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταί, words which are wanting in A. B. L. א .* Cursives, Fathers, and almost all Versions. An enlargement in imitation of Matthew 14:19 and parallels.

John 6:15. Lachm. and Tisch. have rightly deleted αὐτόν after ποιήσ.; an addition wanting in A. B. L. א . Cursives, Or. Cyr.

John 6:17. οὐκ] B. D. L. א . Cursives, Versions (not Vulgate), and Fathers read οὔπω. So Lachm. and Tisch. A gloss introduced for the sake of more minute definition.

John 6:22. ἰδών] Lachm. reads εἶδον, after A. B. Chrys. Verss. (L. ιδον); D. א . Verss. read οἶδεν. The finite tense was introduced to make the construction easier.

After ἓν Elz. Scholz have ἐκεῖνο εἰς ὃ ἐμέβησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, against very important authorities. An explanatory addition, with many variations in detail.

πλοῖον] Elz.: πλοιάριον against decisive witnesses. Mechanical and careless (John 6:17; John 6:21) repetition borrowed from what precedes.

John 6:24. αὐτοί] Elz. καὶ αὐτοί, against decisive witnesses.

John 6:36. με is bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. The authorities against it are insufficient (only A. א . among the Codices), and it might easily have been left out after TE.

John 6:39. After με Elz. has πατρός, the omission of which is overwhelmingly attested. An addition.

John 6:40. τοῦ πατρός μου] So also Lachm. and Tisch. The Textus Receptus is τοῦ πέμψαντός με. Preponderance of testimony is in favour of the former; the latter is a repetition from John 6:39, whence also, instead of γάρ, the received reading δέ was inserted.

τῇ ἐσχ. ἡμ.] According to A. D. K. L., etc., ἐν τ. ἐσχ. ἡμ. is to be restored, as in John 6:39, where ἐν, indeed, is wanting in many witnesses; but that it was the original reading is indicated by the reading αὐτόν (instead of αὐτό). In John 6:54, also, ἐν is sufficiently confirmed, and (against Tisch.) is to be in like manner restored.

John 6:42. The second οὗτος has against it B. C. D. L. T. Cursives, Verss. Cyr. Chrys.; bracketed by Lachm. But it might easily have been overlooked as being unnecessary, and because the similar OTI follows.

John 6:45. ἀκούσας] ἀκούων, which Griesbach received and Scholz adopted, has important authority, but this is outweighed by the testimonies for the Received reading. It is nevertheless to be preferred; for, considering the following μαθών, the Aorist would easily occur to the transcribers who did not consider the difference of sense, οὖν before ὁ ἀκούων is to be struck out (with Lachm. and Tisch.) upon sufficient counter testimony, as being a connective addition. In John 6:51; John 6:54; John 6:57-58, the form ζήσει is, upon strong evidence, to be uniformly restored.

Concerning the omission of the words ἣν ἐγὼ δώσω in John 6:51, see the exegetical notes.

John 6:55. For ἀληθῶς Lachm. and Tisch. have both times ἀληθής, which is powerfully confirmed by B. C. K. L. T. Cursives, Versions (yet not the Vulgate), and Fathers (even Clement and Origen). The genuine ἀληθής, as seeming inappropriate, would be glossed and supplanted now by ἀληθῶς and now by ἀληθινή (already in Origen once).

John 6:58. After πατέρες, Elz. Scholz have ὑμῶν τὸ μάννα, Lachm. simply τὸ μάννα, both against very important testimony. An enlargement.

John 6:63. λελάληκα] Elz. λαλῶ, against decisive witnesses. Altered because the reference of the Perfect was not understood. Comp. John 14:10.

John 6:69. ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ] The reading ὁ ἅγιος τ. θεοῦ is confirmed by B. C.* D. L. א . Nonn. Cosm., and adopted by Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. The Received reading is from Matthew 16:16, whence also came the addition τοῦ ζῶντος in the Elz.

John 6:71. ἰσκαριώτην] Lachm. and Tisch. read ἰσκαριώτου, after B. C. G. L. 33, and Verss. So, after the same witnesses in part, in John 13:26. But as in John 14:22 ἰσκαριώτης occurs critically confirmed as the name of Judas himself (not of his father), and as the genitive might easily be introduced as explanatory of the name ( ἀπὸ καριώτου, as א . and many Cursives actually read here), the Received reading is to be retained. Had John regarded the name as designating the father of Judas, it would not be apparent why he did not use the genitive in John 14:22 also. See, besides, the exegetical notes.

Verse 1

John 6:1. The account of the Feeding is the same with that given in Matthew 14:13 ff., Mark 6:30 ff., Luke 9:10 ff., and serves as the basis of the discourse which follows, though Schweizer denies that John 6:1-26 proceed from John. The discrepancies in matters of detail are immaterial, and bear witness to the independence of John’s account. The author of this narrative, according to Baur, must have appropriated synoptical material for the purpose of his own exposition, and of elevating into a higher sphere the miracle itself, which in the Synoptics did not go beyond the supply of temporal needs. The historical connection with what precedes is not the same in John and in the Synoptics, and this must be simply acknowledged. To introduce more or less synoptical history into the space implied in μετὰ ταῦτα (Ebrard, Lange, Lichtenstein, and many), is not requisite in John, and involves much uncertainty in detail, especially as Matthew does not agree with Mark and Luke; for he puts the mission of the disciples earlier, and does not connect their return with the Miraculous Feeding. To interpolate their mission and return into John’s narrative, inserting the former at chap. John 5:1, and the latter at John 6:1, so that the disciples rejoined Jesus at Tiberias, is very hazardous; for John gives no hint of it, and in their silence concerning it Matthew and John agree (against Wieseler and most expositors). According to Ewald, at a very early date, a section, “probably a whole sheet,” between chap. 5 and 6, was altogether lost. But there is no indication of this in the text, nor does it form a necessary presupposition for the succeeding portions of the narrative (as John 7:21).

μετὰ ταῦτα] after these transactions at the feast of Purim, chap. 5.

ἀπῆλθεν] from Jerusalem; whither? πέραν τ. θαλ., κ. τ. λ., tells us. Thuc. i. 111. 2, ii. 67. 1 : πορευθῆναι πέραν τοῦ ἑλλησπόντου; Plut. Per. 19; 1 Maccabees 9:34; and comp. John 6:17. To suppose some place in Galilee, of starting from which ἀπῆλθεν is meant (Brückner, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Godet, and earlier critics),

Capernaum, for example,—is, after John 5:1, quite arbitrary. ἀπῆλθε πέραν, κ. τ. λ., rather implies: ἀπολιπὼν ἱεροσόλυμα ἦλθε πέραν, κ. τ. λ. Comp. John 10:40, John 18:1.

τῆς τιβερ.] does not imply that He set sail from Tiberias (Paulus), as the genitive of itself might indicate (Kühner, II. 160), though this use of it does not occur in the N. T.; it is the chorographical genitive (Krüger, xlvii. 5. 5–7), more closely describing τῆς θαλάσσ. τῆς γαλιλ. (comp. Vulg. and Beza: “mare Galilaeae, quod est Tiberiadis”). Therefore “on the other side of the Galilaean lake of Tiberias,” thus denoting the southern half of the lake, on the western shore of which lay the town built by Antipas, and called after the emperor Tiberias. Comp. John 21:1. In Pausan. v. 7. 3, the entire lake is called λίμνη τιβερίς. In Matthew and Luke we find the name θάλασσα τῆς γαλιλ. only; in Luke 5:1 : λίμνη γεννησαρέτ. Had John intended τῆς τιβεριάδος not as a more exact description of the locality, but only for the sake of foreign readers (Lücke, Godet, Ewald, and others), it would have been sufficient to have omitted τῆς γαλιλ. (comp. John 21:1), which indeed is wanting in G. and a few other witnesses.

Verse 2-3

John 6:2-3. ἠκολούθει] on this journey, continuously.

ἑώρων] not had seen (against Schweizer, B. Crusius), but saw. He performed them ( ἐποίει) upon the way.

ἐπὶ τ. ἀσθ.] among the sick. Dem. 574. 3; Plat. Pol. iii. p. 399 A Bernhardy, p. 246.

εἰς τὸ ὄρος] upon the mountain which was there. See on Matthew 5:1. The mountain was certainly on the other side of the lake, but we cannot determine the locality more nearly. The loneliness of the mountain does not contradict Matthew 14:13, nor does the eastern side of the lake contradict Luke 9:10 ff. (see in loc.).

Verse 4

John 6:4. ἐγγύς] close at hand. See on John 5:1. Paulus wrongly renders it not long since past. See, on the contrary, John 2:13, John 7:2, John 11:55. The statement is intended as introductory to John 6:5, explaining how it happened (comp. John 11:55) that Jesus, after He had withdrawn to the mountain, was again attended by a great multitude (John 6:5),—a thing which could not have happened had not the Passover been nigh. It was another crowd (not, as is commonly assumed, that named in John 6:2, which had followed Him in His progress towards the lake), composed of pilgrims to the feast, who therefore were going the opposite way, from the neighbourhood of the lake in the direction of Jerusalem. Thus John 6:4 is not a mere chronological note (B. Crusius, Maier, Brückner, Ewald), against which the analogy of John 7:2 (with the οὖν following, John 6:3) is decisive; nor is it, because every more specific hint to that effect is wanting, to be looked upon as referring by anticipation(224) to the following discourse of Jesus concerning eating His flesh and blood as the antitype of the Passover (B. Bauer; comp. Baur, p. 262, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, and already Lampe).

ἡ ἑορτὴ τ. ἰουδαίων] κατ. ἐξοχήν. There is no intimation that Jesus Himself went up to this feast (Lücke). See rather John 7:1.

Verse 5-6

John 6:5-6. According to the reading ἀγοράσωμεν, whence are we to buy? deliberative conjunctive. The fact that Jesus thus takes the initiative (as host, Ewald thinks, but this is not enough), and takes action without the prompting of any expressed need, however real, is not to be explained merely on the supposition that this is an abridgment (Lücke, Neander, Hengstenberg) of the synoptical account (Matthew 14:15); it is a discrepancy, which, however, does not destroy the fact that John was an eye-witness. It is purely arbitrary on Baur’s part to assume the design to be that of directing attention more directly to the spiritual purpose of the miracle, or, with Hilgenfeld, to regard all here as composed out of synoptical materials to prove the omnipotence of the Logos. The most simple and obvious course is to explain the representation given as flowing from the preponderating idea of the Messiah’s autonomy.(225) See on Matthew 14:15. It is an analogous case when Jesus Himself gave occasion to and introduced the miracle at Bethesda, John 5:6. It is a supplement to the narrative in the Synoptics, that Jesus discussed with Philip (John 1:44) the question of bread. Why with him? According to Bengel, because it fell to him to manage the res alimentaria, which is improbable, for Judas was treasurer, John 13:29. Judging from John 6:6, we might say it was because Philip had to be tested according to his intellectual idiosyncrasy (John 14:8 ff.), and convinced of his inability to advise. The πειράζειν does not signify the trial of faith (so usually, even Hengstenberg), but, as αὐτὸς γὰρ ᾔδει shows, was a test whether he could here suggest any expedient; and the answer of the disciple (John 6:7) conveys only the impression that he knew of none. This consciousness, howzever, was intended also to prepare the disciple, who so closely resembled Thomas, and for whom the question, therefore, had an educative purpose, the more readily to feel, by the new and coming miracle, how the power of faith in the divine agency of his Lord transcended all calculations of the intellect. This was too important a matter for Jesus with respect to that disciple, to allow us to suppose that πειράζων αὐτόν is a mere notion of John’s own, which had its origin among the transfiguring recollections of a later time (Ewald). ηἴδει τῶν ΄αθητῶν τοὺς ΄άλιστα δεο΄ένους πλείονος διδασκαλίας, Theodore of Mopsuestia; in which there is nothing to suggest our attributing to Philip a “simplicité naïve,” Godet.

αὐτός] Himself, without having any need to resort to the advice of another.

Vers. 7–9. For 200 denarii (about 80 Rhenish Guldens, nearly £7) we cannot get bread enough for them, etc. This amount is not named as the contents of the purse, but generally as a large sum, which nevertheless was inadequate to meet the need. Different in Mark 6:37.

John 6:8-9. A special trait of originality.

εἷς ἐκ τ. μαθητ. αὐτοῦ] may seem strange, for Philip was himself a disciple, and it is explained by Wassenbach as a gloss. It has, however, this significance; Philip had been specially asked, and after he had answered so helplessly, another from the circle of the disciples, viz. Andrew, directed a communication to the Lord, which, though made with a consciousness of helplessness, was made the instrument for the further procedure of Jesus.

παιδάριον ἕν] who had these victuals for sale as a market boy, not a servant of the company, B. Crusius. It may be read one single lad (Matthew 11:16), or even one single young slave (see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 240; Schleusner, Thes. III. p. 160). Comp. the German ein Bürschchen (a lad), as also the manner in which παιδιόν is used (Aristoph. Ran. 37; Nub. 131). In which of the two senses it stands here we cannot decide. In neither case can ἕν stand for τί, but ἕν, as well as the diminutive παιδίον, helps to describe the meagre-ness of the resource, the emphasis, however, being on the latter; and hence ἕν follows, which is not to be taken as an argument against its genuineness (Gersd. p. 420; Lücke, and most others), though in all other places, when John uses εἷς with a substantive (John 7:21, John 8:41, John 10:16, John 11:50, John 18:14, John 20:7), the numeral has the emphasis, and therefore takes the lead. But here: “one single lad,” a mere boy, who can carry little enough!

ἄρτους κριθίνους] comp. Xen. Anab. iv. 5. 31; Luc. Macrob. 5. Barley bread was eaten mainly by the poorer classes; Judges 7:13, and Studer, in loc.; Liv. xxvii. 13; Sen. ep. xviii. 8; see also Wetstein and Kypke, I. p. 368.

ὀψάριον] denotes generally a small relish, but in particular used, as here (comp. John 21:9; John 21:13), of fish. It belongs to later Greek. See Wetstein.

εἰς τοσούτους] for so many. Comp. Xen. Anab. i. 1. 10 : εἰς δισχιλίους μισθόν.

Verses 10-13

John 6:10-13. οἱ ἄνδρες] They were men only who formally sat down to the meal, as may be explained from the subordinate position of the women and children; but the feeding of these latter, whose presence we must assume from John 6:4, is not, as taking place indirectly, excluded.

τὸν ἀριθμόν] Accusative of closer definition. See Lobeck, Paralip. p. 528.

John 6:11. εὐχαρ.] The grace before meat said by the host. See on Matthew 14:19. There is no indication that it contained a special petition (“that God would let this little portion feed so many,” Luthardt, comp. Tholuck).

διέδωκε] He distributed the bread (by the disciples) collectively to those who were sitting; and of the fishes as much as they desired.(226)

John 6:12. It is not given as a command of Jesus in the synoptical account. As to the miracle itself,(227) and the methods of explaining it away, wholly or in part, see on Matthew 14:20-21, note, and on Luke 9:17, and observe besides on John 6:13, that according to John the twelve baskets were filled with fragments of bread only (otherwise in Mark 6:43).

Luthardt, without any sanction from the text, assumes a typical reference in the baskets to the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus will not have anything wasted, and each apostle fills his travelling wallet with the surplus. John indicates nothing further, not even that the Lord wished to provide ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ φαντασία τις τὸ γενόμενον (Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, and most others).

Verse 14-15

John 6:14-15. ὁ προφήτης, κ. τ. λ.] the Prophet who (according to the promise in Deuteronomy 18:15) cometh into the world, i.e. the Messiah.

ἁρπάζειν] come and carry Him away by force (Acts 8:39; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17), i.e. to Jerusalem, as the seat of the theocracy, whither they were journeying to the feast.

πάλιν] comp. John 6:3. He had come down from the mountain on account of the feeding, John 6:11.

αὐτὸς μόνος] as in John 12:24. See Toup. ad Longin. p. 526; Weisk.; Heind. ad Charm, p. 62.

The enthusiasm, of the people being of so sensuous a kind, does not contradict John 6:26.

The solitude which Jesus sought was, according to Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, that of prayer, and this does not contradict John’s account; both accounts supplement each other.

Verses 16-21

John 6:16-21. Comp. Matthew 14:22 ff., Mark 6:45 ff., which do not refer to a different walking on the sea (Chrysostom, Lücke).

ὡς δὲ ὀψία ἐγένετο] According to John 6:17, the time meant is late in the evening, i.e. the so-called second evening, as in Matthew 14:24, from the twelfth hour until the ( σκοτία, John 6:17. See on Matthew 14:15.

εἰς τὸ πλοῖον] into the ship, in which they had crossed over (John 6:1). In it they now return to the western side of the lake. So Luthardt rightly. But it does not follow that Jerusalem could not have been the place of departure in John 6:1; John 6:1 rather implies that they had travelled from Jerusalem to the western shore of the lake, and had crossed over from thence.

ἤρχοντο] They were upon their return journey, coming across, but the coming was not yet completed. Lampe and Paulus erroneously speak of their actual arrival, what follows being taken as supplementary. In Mark 6:45 Bethsaida is named (on the western shore). An immaterial discrepancy. See on Matthew 14:22-23.

καὶ σκοτία … διηγείρετο] describing how little they could have expected that Jesus would come after them.

John 6:19. ὡς σταδίους … τριά κοντα] indicative of an eye-witness, and almost agreeing with μέσον in Matthew 14:24, for the lake was forty stadia or one geographical mile wide (Josephus, Bell. iii. 10. 7).

θεωροῦσι and ἐφοβήθ.] Correlatives; quite unfavourable to the naturalistic interpretation, according to which ἐπὶ τ. θαλ. is said to mean not on the sea, but towards the sea (so Paulus, Gfrörer, and many, even B. Crusius; but see, on the contrary, note on Matthew 14:25).

John 6:21. ἤθελον, κ. τ. λ.] comp. John 1:44; but observe the Imperfect here. After Jesus had reassured them by His call, they wish to take Him into the ship, and straightway (while entertaining this ἐθέλειν) the ship is at the land, i.e. by the wonder working power of Jesus, both with respect to the distance from the shore, which was still far off, and the fury of the sea, which had just been raging, but was now suddenly calmed. The idea that Jesus, to whom the disciples had stretched out their hands, had just come on board the ship, introduces a foreign element (against Luthardt and Godet), for the sake of bringing the account into harmony with Matthew and Mark. The discrepancy with Matthew and Mark, according to whom Christ was actually received into the ship, must not be explained away, especially as in John a more wonderful point, peculiar to his account, is introduced by the καὶ εὐθέως, etc., which makes the actual reception superfluous (Hengstenberg, following Bengel, regards it as implied). An unhappy attempt at harmonizing renders it, “they willingly received Him” (Beza, Grotius, Kuinoel, Ammon, etc.; see, on the contrary, Winer, p. 436 [E. T. p. 586]; Buttmann, N. T. Gk. p. 321 [E. T. p. 375]), which cannot be supported by a supposed antithesis of previous unwillingness (Ebrard, Tholuck), but would be admissible only if the text represented the will and the deed as undoubtedly simultaneous. See the passages given in Sturz, Lex. Xen.; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. 596. John would in that case have written ἐθέλοντες οὖν ἔλαβον.

εἰς ἣ ὑπῆγον] to which they were intending by this journey to remove.

The miracle itself cannot be resolved into a natural occurrence,(228) nor be regarded as a story invented to serve Docetic views (Hilgenfeld); see on Matthew 14:24-25. The latter opinion appears most erroneous, especially in the case of John,(229) not only generally because his Gospel, from John 1:14 onwards to its close, excludes all Docetism, but also because he only introduces, with all brevity, the narrative before us by way of transition to what follows, without taking pains to lay emphasis upon the miraculous, and without adding any remark or comment, and consequently without any special doctrinal purpose; and thus the attribution of the occurrence of any symbolical design, e.g. prophetically to shadow forth the meetings of the risen Lord with His disciples (Luthardt), or the restless sea of the world upon which Christ draws nigh to His people after long delay (Hengstenberg), is utterly remote from a true exegesis. Weizsäcker’s narrowing of the event, moreover,—abstracting the miraculous element in the development of the history,—into an intervention of the Lord to render help, does such violence to the text, and to the plain meaning of the evangelist, that the main substance of the narrative would be thus explained away. The design, however, which Baur propounds, viz. that the greedy importunity of the people might be set forth, only to experience the cold hand of denial, and to bring out the spiritual side of the miracle of the feeding, would not have required this miraculous voyage in order to its realization.

Verses 22-24

John 6:22-24. The complicated sentence (so seldom occurring in John; comp. John 13:1 ff., 1 John 1:1 ff.) here proceeds in such a manner that the ὁ ὄχλος which, without further government, stands at the head as the subject of the whole, is again taken up(230) in John 6:24 by ὅτι οὖν εἶδεν ὁ ὄχλος, while John 6:23 is a parenthesis, preparing the way for the passing over of the people in the following clause. The participial clause, ἰδὼν
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