The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

4. Jesus the bread of life, 6:1-71

i] Jesus feeds the five thousand


The story of the feeding of the five thousand is a further sign by which Jesus reveals his glory and thus the true nature of his messiahship. Jesus is again in Galilee, shortly before the Passover. In the story, Jesus miraculously feeds a multitude who have followed him "because they saw the signs he had performed." The miracle prompts an enthusiastic response from the crowd with some wanting to "make him king by force." So, Jesus hurries the disciples away by boat, joining them later by walking to them on the lake. Of course, this rather amazing nature miracle leaves the disciples transfixed with fear.


Like the God of Israel's wilderness wandering, Jesus feeds his people with the bread of life and carries them safely to a distant shore.


i] Context: See 2:13-25. Dodd treats the miracle of Jesus' feeding of the five thousand and its related discourse as the third episode in The Book of Signs, giving it the title The Bread of Life, 6:1-71. Following Lindars arrangement of the gospel, these notes treat chapter 6 as the fourth episode in The Ministry of the Messiah. The status of the associated miracle / sign of Jesus walking on water is unclear. It may simply serve as an interlude, so Kostenberger, but more likely carries Mosaic / Exodus allusions associated with the manna / bread of the feeding of the five thousand.

A short narrative follows the miracles where the crowds search for Jesus, v22-25. Then follows the associated dialogue / discourse, a discourse which bears a strong relationship with the sign / miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. As Dodd has argued, the discourses in John's gospel serve as expositions of the gospel. In Jesus the Bread of Life, 6:1-71, the sign, serving as an attached illustration, pointedly introduces a discourse which answers to the desire of humankind for food that is eternal.

See 6:22-33 for an overview of the discourse argument of chapter 6.


ii] Structure: The feeding of the 5,000 and walking on water:

The feeding of the five thousand, v1-15:

A1. Jesus meets the crowd at a mountain, v1-4;

B1. There is no food, v5-9;

C. Jesus meets the need, v10-11;

B2. There is an abundance of food, v12-13;

A2. Jesus escapes the crowd up a mountain, v14-15.

Jesus walks on the water, v16-21:

The trouble faced by the disciples, v16-18;

Jesus' appearance, v19-20;

Homeward bound, v21.


This nature miracle sits next to an itinerary narrative, v22-25. One tells the story of the disciples' and Jesus' journey to the other side of the lake, while the second tells the story of the crowd's journey to the other side of the lake. Both have a similar structure.


iii] Interpretation:

Both the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on water are similar to the narratives in the synoptic gospels, although with little verbal similarity. John separates the two narratives with the attempt by the crowd to make Jesus a king. This prompts Jesus to get away from the crowd, escaping up the mountain, while the disciples head off across the lake by boat. John gives some weight to the Sinai imagery evident in these narratives, with his main focus being the Passover - "The Jewish Passover Festival was near." Jesus is the prophet like unto Moses, even a king like David, but more particularly he is the bread of the Passover. Dodd thinks there are eucharistic overtones here; an issue long debated. Jesus is not going to be a Moses type who provides manna to his people, he is actually going to provide his very self, his very being, a sacrifice that will enliven his own, and this because he is the bread of life. Of course, in all this the disciples are blindsided, just as they were when Jesus came walking toward them on the lake. Some will even abandon Jesus, but those who stay with him will reach the far shore.


iv] Synoptics:

Numerous theories abound as to the source of these two miracle stories. For example, Barrett argues that John uses the synoptic record while Dodd argues that he uses an independent tradition. Of course, the matter is not settled and so we are still left with the possibility that each gospel writer knew of the account from their own oral or written source, shaping it to suit their own didactic purpose. When John's account is compared with the synoptic records, we can see clearly how he has underlined a number of "wilderness" images in his account of the feeding. This comparison aids in an understanding of John's didactic purpose - Jesus is the bread of life. See Brown for a full discussion on the relationship between John's account and that of the synoptic gospels.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 6:1

Jesus feeds a great crowd, v1-15: i] Jesus goes to a mountain to minister to a sheep without a shepherd, v1-4. Jesus has moved to another site on the edge of lake Galilee, later officially called the sea of Tiberias, and is, as usual, beset by crowds which have seen his miracles and want to see more. That Jesus is up on the side of a mountain carries Sinai / Exodus overtones, overtones further reinforced by the statement that the Passover is near.

meta tauta "some time after this" - after these things = later on. Temporal construction.

peran + gen. "crossed to the far shore" - [jesus departed] beyond, across, to the shore. Spacial. Crossed the sea of Galilee. Note the possible conflict that exists in Mark and Luke regarding the actual site of the feeding.

thV GalilaiaV (a) gen. "[the sea] of Galilee" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / locative, limiting "sea"; "(which is) located in Galilee."

TiberiadoV (aV) gen. "that is the Sea of Tiberias" - of tiberias. The genitive is again adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / identification, limiting "Galilee"; "(which is) known as Tiberias", but it can also be treated as epexegetic, as NIV. Only John gives this name to lake Galilee, a name that was popular late in the first century.


de "and" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative. See also v3, 4, 6.

hkolouqei (akolouqew) imperf. "followed" - [a great crowd] were following. At this point, the use of imperfect verbs in the narrative discourse probably implies the communication of background information. None-the-less, a durative / progressive sense may also be intended; "kept following", NAB. Note the use of a plural verb with a singular collective noun.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the crowd followed Jesus.

eqewroun (qewrew) imperf. "they saw [the miraculous signs]" - they were seeing [the signs]. The word is used of observing something with continuity and attention, often with the implication that what is observed is something unusual*. In 2:3 the crowd's seeing is not with the eyes of faith. The imperfect, being durative, expresses ongoing action, possibly in the sense of witnessing a number of Jesus' signs, but as indicated above, its prime purpose is to indicate background information in the narrative discourse.

epi + gen. "by healing" - [which he was doing] upon, on. Spacial; "they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick", ESV.

twn asqenountwn (asqenew) pres. part. "the sick" - the ones being sick, ill. The participle serves as a substantive.


eiV "[went up on a mountainside]" - [but/and jesus went up] to [the mountain, hill]. Expressing direction of action and arrival at. The feeding might have taken place on the side of a hill, but the description of Jesus going up on "the mountain" is a Sinai image. The image serves as a cue to the reader, cf., the sermon on the mount. The RSV "the hills", recognizes the presence of the definite article, although the noun is not plural, so "the mountain", NRSV.

ekaqhto (kaqhmai) imperf. "sat down" - [and there] he was sitting down. The imperfect is probably used to express durative action. In typical rabbinic fashion, Jesus sits down to teach, although John does not mention that he was actually teaching anything, unlike the synoptic gospels. "He was sitting there with his disciples."

meta + gen. "with [his disciples]" - with [the disciples of him]. Expressing association / accompaniment.


twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "The Jewish" - [but/and the passover was near, the feast] of the jews. The genitive is adjectival, best taken attributive, as NIV, or idiomatic, "the festival which the Jews celebrate", as Novakovic. Here "the Jews" is used in a neutral sense, referring to the Jewish population of Palestine. Note that "the festival of the Jews" stands in apposition to "the Passover".

to pasca "the Passover" - Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The second Passover in John's chronology, although the shape of his book defies chronology. Assuming that Dodd is correct when he describes the book as a collection of signs with related discourses, each in itself a statement of the gospel, then trying to trace a chronology through a collection of signs can be misleading. Note how the desire for a geographical sequence has prompted numerous theories for the rearrangement of the gospel. There is a great temptation to move this chapter to the beginning of chapter 5 so that we have Jesus at Canna in chapter 4, then on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in chapter 6, then going up to Jerusalem in chapter 5 and off around Judea in chapter 7. All this is rather futile. See Introduction.

hn (eimi) imperf. "was" - The imperfect is often used for the provision of background information, as here; "Was drawing near."


ii] The disciples find that the people are without food - "how can we feed so many with so little?", v5-9. The wilderness scene continues with a hungry crowd pushing in on Jesus. Jesus tests Philip out to see whether he can see any way of feeding the crowd, but he is lost for a solution. - Manna from heaven is not on his list of possibilities. Andrew has found a "little boy" with some barley bread and pickled fish, a meal for a poor person, but he, like Philip, is at a loss to see how so little can aid so many.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So Jesus, looking up and seeing ..."

eparaV (epairw) aor. part. "when [Jesus] looked up" - [jesus] having lifted up [the eyes and having seen]. This participle, as with "having seen", is adverbial, best viewed as temporal, as NIV, or even modal, "looking up and seeing", or possibly attendant on "he says." "When he looked around", Weymouth.

oJti "-" - that [a great crowd is coming]. Here introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus saw. Was there a crowd already with Jesus and this is an extra one (note "crowd" is anarthrous, without an article - "a great crowd") or was the crowd following him and had only now caught up? Again, descriptive detail may not be the point of the reference. The people come to Jesus as they came to Moses at the mountain.

proV + acc. "toward [him]" - Spacial, expressing movement toward.

agoraswmen (agorazw) aor. subj. "[where] shall we buy [bread]" - [he says to philip, from where] may we buy [bread]. Deliberative subjunctive. Matthew records a similar question. Note again the use of Sinai imagery. Moses asks "where am I to get meat to give all these people?" Num.11:13. cf. other cues, Num.11:1, 7-9, 13, 22. "Where shall we ever by bread for these people to eat?"

iJna + subj. "for" - that [these ones may eat]? Expressing purpose, "in order that these ones (people) may eat." Or, making the subject, "these", the object, "where are we to buy bread to (in order that we may) feed these people?", REB.


peirazwn (peirazw) pres. part. "[he asked this only] to test [him]" - [but/and this he was saying] testing [him]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as final, expressing purpose, "in order to test". Taking the sense: try to learn the nature or character of someone or something by submitting such to thorough and extensive testing*. Yet, the word also carries a sense of trickery, or temptation, but it seems unlikely that Jesus is trying to wrong-foot Philip. What we have here is an editorial note allaying any implication that Jesus' question implies he didn't know what to do about the situation. Possibly "he said this to Philip to test his trust and creativity", Junkins.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus' request was only a test.

autoV "he" - Emphatic use; "he himself knew ...."

h/dei (oida) pluperf. "already had in mind" - he knew. This pluperfect translates as an imperfect, and is used with the imperfect elegen, "was saying", to express background information apart from the main narrative. "The truth is that Jesus knew what he would do even before he asked Philip", TH.

poiein (poiew) pres. inf. "[he was going] to do" - . The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be about to."


autw/ dat. pro. "[Philip answered] him" - [philip said] to him. Dative of direct object after the verb to answer.

diakosiwn dhnariwn (on) "eight months' wages / half a year's wages" - [loaves] of two hundred denarii [are not enough]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / price; "loaves (which amounts) to the value of two hundred denarii." A denarius was the standard pay for a day's work. The NIV equivalent is best, given the way inflation devalues a financial equivalent, eg., "ten pounds", Phillips.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - for them. Dative of interest, advantage.

iJna + subj. "for" - that [each one may take a little certain amount = portion]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to buy only a little bread for each of these people", CEV. Possibly consecutive, expressing result; "so that each one could get a little", Novakovic.


ek + gen. "of [his disciples]" - [one] of [the disciples]. Serving as a partitive genitive.

SimwnoV Petrou (oV) "Simon Peter's [brother]" - [andrew, the brother] of simon peter. The genitive is adjectival, relational, limiting brother. "The brother of Simon Peter" stands in apposition to "Andrew."

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [says] to him. Dative of indirect object.


w|de adv. "Here" - Adverb of place.

paidarion (on) "[is] a boy" - a boy, servant [is here]. The diminutive arion gives us "little boy", as with the fish, "little fish." Nominative subject of the verb to-be. If an allusion to Gehazi, Elisha's servant, is intended, then "servant", rather than "boy, little boy" is possibly in John's mind; "servant", Moffatt. John is the only gospel writer to identify the source of the bread and fish.

artouV kriqinouV "barley loaves" - [who has five] barley breads. Accusative direct object of the verb "to have." Barley bread was the staple for the poor. Wheat bread was more expensive. The boy (lad, servant) had five loaves/rolls, probably flat breads. Luke implies three was a staple meal, Lk.9:5.

oyaria (on) "fish" - [and two] dried or preserved fish (for eating with bread). Only John uses the word for "little fish" indicating that the fish were to serve as a condiment for the bread. John uses the same word in chapter 21 for the meal prepared by Jesus for his disciples.

alla "but" - Adversative / contrastive, as NIV.

ti "how [far will they go]" - what [is these]. Introducing a rhetorical question. Following typical form, a neuter plural takes a singular verb, "is these" = "are these." Andrew is probably using the child's lunch to illustrate the impossibility of providing food for such a large crowd, but then God is not restricted by our limitations. "What use is that for a crowd like this?", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "among [so many]" - to [so many]. Adverbial, either expressing interest, advantage, used instead of en, "for so many", AV, or reference /respect, "with respect to so many."


iii] The breaking and distribution of the miraculous food, v10-11. Having seated the crowd, Jesus says a blessing over the food in the form of a thanksgiving and then distributes it (the disciples are not mentioned so as to maintain the focus on Jesus - the story is told from their perspective). We are told that the crowd is completely satisfied.

anapesein (anapiptw) aor. inf. "sit down" - [jesus says, make the men] to lie down, recline. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech / commanding, expressing the content of Jesus' command, namely, "sit down." The noun "the men" serves as the accusative subject of the infinitive. "Reclining was the normal posture for eating, although not necessarily a good posture for digestion! "Tell the people to sit down", TH.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, here to a descriptive comment, as NIV. The use of an imperfect verb to-be indicates that it is an aside.

cortoV (oV) "grass" - [there was much] grass. Note, Mark emphasizes that it is "green grass" - lush.

en + dat. "in [that place]" - in [the place]. Local; expressing space.

oun "therefore" - Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "therefore."

oiJ andreV (hr roV) "the men" - the men [reclined]. Nominative subject of the verb "to recline." It seems likely that "men", rather than "people" (anqrwpouV, "make the people sit down") is intended. The crowd is obviously larger than 5,000 given that the women are children have not been counted.

wJV "about [five thousand]" - [the men the number] as [five thousand]. The comparative particle, when used before numbers, expresses approximation; so "about five thousand". The accusative "the number" is adverbial, reference / respect, "with respect to the number."


oun "then" - therefore. Either inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so", or just transitional, "then", as NIV.

eucaristhsaV (eucaristew) aor. part. "gave thanks" - [jesus took the loaves and] having given thanks. The participle is probably attendant circumstance, expressing action accompanying the main verb "he took", and so translated as a finite verb, "Jesus took the loaves [and] gave thanks to God, ....", Moffatt, but possibly temporal, "Jesus took the loaves and when he had given thanks ..." Audet argues that John is using the word with its particular Jewish meaning of "blessing". Jesus is performing the accustomed Jewish blessing over the bread, prior to eating, eg. "blessed are you, O Lord, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." None-the-less, an act of thanksgiving is more likely. There is strong pressure to maintain the idea of "thanksgiving" in that the Lord's Supper is often seen as a thanksgiving. In fact, a number of words in this account of the feeding appear in early communion services, but this does not mean that John is drawing from the eucharistic tradition of his day, evidence of which we only have from the second century. The opposite is obviously the case - the key liturgical phrases are sourced from John, not the other way around. "He thanked God for them", Barclay.

diedwken (diadidwmi) 3rd. sing. aor. "distributed" - he distributed. Used in the sense of give something to a series of persons*. In the synoptic gospels, the disciples help in the distribution, and from a practical point of view this would be necessary. John is telling the story to emphasize Jesus as the one who gives the bread of life, in the same way that God gave the bread to Israel in the wilderness.

toiV anakeimenoiV (anakeimai) dat. pres. part. "to those who were seated" - the broken bread to the ones reclining. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

o{son "as much as [they wanted]" - Adverbial use of the pronoun. From the little there was much, such that all ate to the full.

oJmoiwV adv. "he did the same" - likewise, so to [also]. Adverb of manner; "in like manner."

ek + gen. "with [the fish]" - from [the fish, as much as they were wanting]. Serving in the place of a partitive genitive; "of the fish".


iv] The people are fed and there is "enough left over for twelve baskets", v12-13. As with the manna in the wilderness, all have enough to eat. Of the remaining pieces (these are not the scraps, but most likely food that was not distributed), twelve baskets are collected. Again, Exodus imagery is being employed by underlining the number twelve.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

wJV "when" - as = when. This comparative conjunction is most likely temporal here, as NIV.

eneplhsqhsan (empiplhmi) aor. pas. "they had all had enough" - they were satisfied with food, filled with food. A different verb is used in verse 26 where "eaten your fill" takes a negative sense. Here the sense is positive. The crowd is fully satisfied by the bread that Jesus provides. "When they had their fill", NAB.

toiV maqhtaiV (hV ou) dat. "to [his] disciples" - [he says] to the disciples [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

sunagagete (sunagw) aor. imp. "gather" - gather up. The aorist is possibly ingressive where the focus is on the beginning of the action - "start gathering." Another allusion to the wilderness wanderings of Israel and the provision of manna, Ex.16:16ff. Only found in John.

perisseusanta ( "pieces" - [the fragments] having been left over (resulting from the action of breaking*). The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the fragments." The disciples are probably not cleaning up the scraps, but rather unused portions of the broken bread.

iJna "-" - that [nothing be lost]. Introducing an adverbial clause, final, expressing purpose; "so that nothing may be wasted", Moffatt. Bruce notes an object lesson here, namely that given the starvation level in Palestine, to leave the scraps lying around would be "an insult to the divine giver." Yet, given the value set on food at this time, any scraps would have been happily carried off by those present. What is left over is surely the undistributed food. In another object lesson Bruce notes that God is never impoverished by his generosity, which truth applies to his people such that when they imitate his liberality the proverb applies, "one man freely gives, yet grows all the richer", Prov.11:24 - this concept is widely misused in relation to Christian giving! Such object lessons are interesting, if not misleading. It seems more likely that collecting the remaining food into twelve baskets serves to proclaim the dawning of the day of plenty, the full realization of the promised blessings of the covenant, overflowing and abundant - the manna divine is now.


oun "so" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, as NIV.

sunhgagon (sunagw) aor. "they gathered them" - they gathered [and filled]. There is no object in the Greek, but for meaning "them" is often supplied.

dwdeka "twelve [baskets]" - [twelve] baskets. "Baskets", woven baskets of various size. Were these twelve baskets for the twelve apostles? This is unlikely. Again John is interested in the symbolic weight attached to the fact - twelve baskets for twelve tribes. Note also how the bread gets a repeat performance, but the fish fades into obscurity. The discourse is about the bread of life with allusions to the wilderness manna. A fish has no symbolic value, certainly not till someone thought up the fish acrostic (A friend of mine constantly proclaimed that it is wise to give a wide birth to a car driven by a person with a bald head, wearing a hat, or with a fish symbol on the rear window! At times the list grew longer, but it would be unwise of me to publish it!!).

klasmatwn (a atoV) gen. "with the pieces" - of fragments. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of content; "full of fragments." As noted above, these are not scraps of partly eaten food. The scraps would be left as a gift to the birds, although in affluent Western societies it is viewed as littering.

ek "of" - from. Serving here as a partitive genitive.

toiV bebrwkosin (bibrwskw) dat. perf. part. "by those who had eaten" - [the loaves of barley which were left over] to the ones having eaten. The participle serves as a substantive, instrumental dative, expressing agency.


v] Jesus withdraws from the crowd to "the mountain", v14-15. Having witnessed the sign, the people conclude that Jesus is the coming prophet, probably the prophet like unto Moses. The trouble is, someone greater than Moses is standing before them. The crowd sees in Jesus someone who will free them from the tyranny of Rome, but Jesus won't have a bar of it.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so", or transitional, as NIV.

idonteV (eidon) aor. part. "after [the people] saw" - [the men] having seen. The participle is adverbial, best taken to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV, although causal is possible, "because the people saw."

shmeion (on) "the miraculous sign" - miracle, sign [what he did]. Accusative direct object of the participle "having seen", serving as the antecedent of the pronoun o}, "what, which"; "when the people saw the sign which he had done." Some texts have the plural, such that the feeding was one sign (obviously a chief sign) among many.

elegon (legw) imperf. "they began to say" - were saying. The imperfect is probably inceptive, as NIV, where the focus is on the beginning of the action.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of direct speech expressing what they were saying.

oJ profhthV "the prophet" - [this one is truly] the prophet. Predicate nominative. Given the context, the crowd probably thought in terms of the prophet like unto Moses, rather than the promised Elijah, cf. Deut.18:15-19. Jesus had certainly acted in a Moses like way. Note the later view of Rabbi Isaac, c.AD.300, which was the likely sentiment of those who ate of the fish and loaves; "As the first redeemer caused manna to descend ..... so will the last redeemer cause manna to descend."

oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. mid. part. "who is to come" - the one coming. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "prophet", as NIV. The present tense may be futuristic; "This must be the prophet, the one who the scriptures say, will come into the world."

eiV + acc. "into [the world]" - Spacial, expressing direction toward, and arrival at.


oun "-" - therefore. Transitional - left untranslated, as NIV.

gnousV (ginwskw) aor. part. "knowing" - [jesus] having known. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, "because Jesus knew that."

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus knew.

arpazein (arpazw) pres. inf. "-" - [they are about to come and] to seize [him]. As with "to come", this infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "are about."

iJna + subj. "-" - that [they may make]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to make him a king".

basilea (basileuV) "a king" - [him] a king. Accusative complement of an assumed personal pronoun "him". If the crowd thought Jesus was the promised prophet, why try to crown him king? It is possible that they combined the roles of prophet and king in their understanding of the messiah, although not probable. It is likely that they failed to recognize Jesus as the messiah, but made a simple move from a Moses type leader to a popular messianic freedom-fighter who would lead a revolution against Rome. They failed to see that someone greater than Moses stood before them. Their failure was of "Golden Calf" proportions and caused Jesus to "flee" back up the mountain.

anecwrhsen (anacwrew) aor. "withdrew" - went back, departed [again]. Note that a variant text exists which may well be original: "fled back", NJB, "escaped", JB.

to oroV "a mountain" - [into] the mountain, hill. The definite article may serve to identify a particular hill, or the hill they are already on the side of, or possibly an allusion to Mount Sinai.

autoV pro. "[by] himself" - he [alone]. Technically this pronoun, and its adjectival modifier monoV, "alone", stands in apposition to IhsouV, "Jesus", "Jesus .... he alone withdrew", but it virtually functions as an adverbial modifier of the verb "to withdraw"; Jesus withdrew "he alone" = "by himself" = "privately", cf., BDAG 152.1.e.


Jesus walks on the sea, v16-21. i] The trouble faced by the disciples, v16-18: The disciples also leave, but by boat. John gives us no reason for the boat trip, but possibly the disciples need to be removed from a situation bordering on rebellion against Rome. During the crossing of the lake the disciples are hit by a strong headwind.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

wJV "when" - as. Here temporal, serving to introduce a temporal clause, "when", as NIV.

oyia adj. "evening" - [evening] came. Probably the disciples set off late afternoon.

epi + acc. "to [the lake]" - [the disciples of him went down] upon, on [the sea]. Spacial.


embanteV (embainw) aor. part. "got into a boat" - [and] having embarked [into a boat]. The participle is adverbial, modifying the verb "they were going", possibly modal, expressing manner, "embarking in a boat they started across the sea", Moffatt. "Embarked on a boat", Barclay.

hrconto (ercomai) imperf. "set off" - they were going. Either action is possible, "made their way across the lake", Phillips; "intending to cross the lake", NAB.

peran + gen. "across [the lake]" - across [the sea to capernaum]. Spacial.

h[dy adv. "by now [it was dark]" - [and darkness] already, now [had come]. Temporal adverb.

elhluqei (ercomai) pluperf. "[Jesus] had [not yet] joined [them]" - [and jesus not yet] had come [to them]. The pluperfect "highlights the nonoccurence of Jesus' arrival in the antecedent past", Novakovic re Fanning. This phrase, along with "by now it was dark", explains why they embarked, not why they were expecting Jesus to come to them while they were sailing in the boat.


"And the sea was getting up under a strong wind", Moffatt.

te "-" - and. Coordinate conjunction, "and, and so", here with the sense "moreover", Brown.

pneontoV (pnew) gen. pres. part. "a [strong wind was] blowing" - [the sea of a strong wind] blowing [was being roused]. Zerwick, Novakovic and Harris classify the genitive participle with the genitive "strong wind" as a genitive absolute construction, causal, rather than temporal; "because a strong wind was blowing, the sea became rough", but temporal is still possible, "while the sea was mounting under a strong wind", Berkeley. "The sea was getting up (rising / mounting / becoming rough) from a strong wind."


ii] Jesus appears to the disciples, v19-20: Having covered only about three miles because of the gail, the disciples are confronted by Jesus walking on the water (not "walking beside the sea" as some more liberal commentators suggest). Jesus reassures the disciples by showing them that he is not some water ghost, but their master. It is possible that the form of words allude to the divine name - "I am." The disciples have just had their own "burning bush" experience.

elhlakonteV (elaunw) perf. part. "when they rowed" - [therefore] having striven = rowed. The participle is adverbial, best treated as introducing a temporal clause, as NIV. cf., Lk.8:29.

wJV "about" - as. The comparative is used here to express an approximation; "about", as NIV.

stadiouV (on) "[three or four] miles" - [twenty five or thirty] stades. Accusative of measure. A stade is about 200 metres, just under a furlong.

peripatounta pres. part. "walking" - [they see jesus] walking. The present tense indicating ongoing action, while the participle, as with ginomenon, "coming / approaching", serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "Jesus" standing in a double accusative construction.

epi + gen. "on [the water]" - upon [the sea]. This spacial preposition, "upon, on", used a number of times already of being "on the lake", here takes the genitive. This has prompted some to suggest that John is not describing a miracle, but rather that Jesus is walking on the edge of the lake, "by the seashore." Of course, if this was so, the whole point of the story is lost. The synoptic gospels use the epi + acc., "upon the lake", and their account of the same incident is clearly miraculous.

efobhqhsan (fobew) aor. pas. "they were terrified" - [and coming near the boat and] they were afraid. The aorist is probably ingressive, where a slight stress is placed on the beginning of the action. The passive voice is obviously mediopassive; "fear gripped them", Barclay.


de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; often translated here as an adversative, as NIV.

autoiV dat. pro. "[he said] to them" - [he says] to them. Dative of indirect object with the historic / narrative present tense verb "to say." The article oJ serves as the personal pronoun autoV

egw eimi "it is I" - i am. Possibly being used to indicate that the miracle is a theophany; an allusion to the great "I AM." See Bultmann's commentary where he canvases all the possible meanings. For "I AM" see 8:24.

mh fobeisqe (fobew) pres. imp. "do not be afraid" - Serving as a prohibition. The present tense, being durative, gives the sense "do not keep on being afraid."


iii] Homeward bound, v21: The disciples "want" Jesus to get into the boat, but we are not quite sure if he does. Probably Jesus does get into the boat, the wind becomes more manageable and they make quick headway to their destination. And so we are reminded that Jesus will carry us safe to that distant shore.

oun "therefore" - Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so", or transitional, "then", as NIV.

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "[they were willing] to take him [into the boat]" - [they were willing] to take, receive [him into the boat]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "were willing." There is debate over whether this is a fulfilled, or unfilled, wish, ie., did Jesus actually get into the boat? At any rate, the disciples, having heard Jesus speak, are reassured that he is no apparition, he is not a spirit of the sea out to do them harm. "They gladly took him aboard", Phillips.

euqewV "immediately" - [and] immediately [the boat came upon the land to which they were going]. Temporal adverb. Barrett suggests that John is recording another miracle, but this is unlikely. He is surely just emphasizing that the boat reached the shore unheeded. So, rather than "the boat instantly reached the land", Moffatt, we would do better to go with "and the boat quickly reached the far shore."


John Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]