The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50
4. Jesus the bread of life, 6:1-71
iii] The living breadSynopsis
The Bread of Life discourse resumes as Jesus, using the imagery of Isaiah 55 and of God's gift of manna to Israel during the wilderness wanderings, continues with his exposition of the text "he gave them bread from heaven to eat", v31.
Jesus is the bread of life, a life-giving divine revelation gifted to all who believe in / come to him.
i] Context: See 6:22-33.
ii] Structure: The living bread:
The discourse proper:
"He gave them bread from heaven to eat", v25-59:
A food that endures to eternal life, v25-33;
Jesus provides the life-giving food, v34-51;
Jesus' sacrifice is the life-giving food, v52-59.
The interrogation-response structure continues:
#4. "Always give us this bread", v34:
"whoever comes to me will never go hungry ...believes ... shall have eternal life ...", v35-40.
#5. "How can he say that he came down from heaven?" v41-42:
"Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me", v43-46.
Review: Jesus' messianic testimony, v47-51:
"The bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world."
Part 2 of the discourse Jesus the Bread of Life makes the point that God's saving grace is realized in coming to Jesus. Jesus is the bread of life; by eating him = believing in him / looking on him / coming to him / receiving him, ...., a person may gain life everlasting.
In v30-33 "the Jews" (Israel's religious establishment) ask Jesus for a confirming sign comparable to Moses' giving of manna. Rather than point out the obvious (the feeding of the 5,000), Jesus notes that the manna provided by Moses only sustained for a moment, but the bread that God the Father provides is life-sustaining. This prompts question / statement #4, doV hJmin ton arton touton, "give us this bread", v34; possibly "a perpetual supply of this bread." Verses 35-40 explain that Jesus is the bread, life-giving bread, a hunger-relieving bread (and thirst-quenching drink). Not only does Jesus give this bread, he is the bread for those who come to him / believe in him. Those who come / believe will possess eternal life and rise in the last day; it is they who are God's elect people, eternally gifted to the Son by God the Father.
Jesus' claim to be the bread come down from heaven prompts grumbling, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph ......? This leads to question / statement #5, pwV nun legei oJti ek tou ouranou katababhka, "How can he say that he came down from heaven?", v41-42. Rather than answering the question, Jesus explains why "the Jews" are having difficulty accepting his testimony, v43-46 (See also 5:41-47 where we learnt that "the Jews" are not open to the divine calling because of their vanity and nomism - sanctification by obedience to the Law). The point has already been made that those the Father gives the Son come to / believe in him and so receive eternal life, now the point is restated - none come unless the Father elkush/, "draws, attracts", them, v44. Working off a quote from Isaiah 54:13, v45, Jesus explains how the Father does the drawing. Any knowledge of the divine is dependent on a divine prerogative, namely, God's willingness to reveal that knowledge. In an act of gracious kindness God the Father reveals that knowledge in the scriptures. The problem for "the Jews" is that they are not open to the Father's revelation in scripture, and so similarly are not open to the Father's revelation in Christ, the one who is from God and the only one who has ever seen God, v46.
Review: A summary of Jesus' messianic testimony, v47-51. Jesus is the bread of life, the new divine manna which, when consumed, brings life eternal. The argument reaches its climax in v51 where belief / faith is identified as reliance on the efficacy of Jesus' lifting up / glorification / sacrifice for sin.
"All those the Father gives me come to me", v37, cf., v65, 70. The strongly predestinarian notion of the Father giving Jesus his followers is often repeated in this gospel, cf. 10:29, 18:9. Naturally, a word like "gives" prompts the age-old Calvinist / Arminian debate which then prompts numerous theories, eg., those whom the Father gives to Jesus are given in the sense that "faith is God's work", Schlatter.
John emphasizes a collective giving, the giving of an elect people of God to Jesus, which collective, by its very nature, attaches itself to Jesus. The question is, how does one become a member of this elect, predestined, chosen, "given", people of God? For the stranger outside the gates in Old Testament times, the answer was to get through the gates of a righteous Jew, get into his courtyard and under his spiritual protection. Zechariah put it nicely when he called on Gentiles to hold onto one of the tassels of a righteous Jew as he enters the new Jerusalem. For us, the righteous Jew is Jesus, and so all we need to do is hold onto his tassel, or as John puts it, eat / come / believe in Jesus. We link ourselves to the divine collective, the "given" people, when we believe in Jesus. As for the salvation of this people, that lies in the hands of our sovereign God. John constantly "underscores the human inability to gain salvation apart from divine enablement", Kostenberger.
Eating the flesh of Christ, cf., v51. Unlike those who ate the manna in the wilderness, those who eat the true bread from heaven (believe, come, see) will live eternally. Jesus aligns this bread with his flesh, flesh given for the life of the world. Commentators generally agree that this "flesh" is Jesus' sacrifice for the life of the world, a truth implied by John's Passover context. The following passage, v52 -59, seems designed to cause offense to a pious Jew. To top it off, Jesus' explanation to his disciples is somewhat illusive. Presumably this teaching serves as a hard saying that sifts the chaff from the wheat.
Note that the word "flesh" is often aligned with the bread of the eucharist, although it should be noted that the word used for flesh here is sarx and not swma, the more common word used when referring to the bread of Lord's Supper.
iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 6:34
The Bread of Life discourse, v25-71: ii] Jesus provides the food that endures to eternal life, v34-51. Jesus, continuing to exegete the text "he gave them bread from heaven to eat", announces that he is the true bread from heaven, such that whoever comes to him, whoever believes in him, will have eternal life. #4:
"Always give us this bread." In much the same terms as the Samaritan woman, the crowd responds by asking for an endless supply of this spiritual life-giving bread, v35-40. Jesus says plainly that he is the true "bread from heaven", the life-giving bread. Anyone who "comes to" him, anyone who "believes in" him (the phrases have the same meaning), will, unlike those who ate the manna, never hunger (nor thirst). In v32 Jesus changed the personal pronoun in the quote from "them" to "you". Now, in v36, Jesus explains why he has done this. Unlike their forefathers who saw the manna and believed, this crowd does not believe. The Father has given Jesus the responsibility to gather and care for the new Israel. This fact the crowd needs to know, and know also that those who come to Jesus, those who believe in Jesus, who want to join God's new wilderness community through Jesus, will be preserved by him eternally. They will be preserved because Jesus does God's will and not his own. The survival of this community is assured. The bottom line is, everyone who "looks to" Jesus, the Word of God, the divine revelation ("looks to" means the same as "comes to", "believes in", as does "eat" later in the discourse), will join in the resurrection of the righteous and so share in God's new eternal community.
oun "-" - therefore. Here likely transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue, and so left untranslated.
pantote adv. "from now on" - [they said to him, lord,] always, constantly. Temporal adverb; the position is emphatic.
hJmin dat. pro. "[give] us" - [give this bread] to us. Dative of indirect object. Note the similarities with the Samaritan woman and the move that is about to take place from actual bread/water to a spiritual bread/water, of which Jesus is the source.
egw eimi "I am" - [jesus said to them] i am. Best translated as an emphatic "I myself am [the bread]". The presence of the predicate, "the bread", means that "I am" is probably not being used as a divine title, cf., 8:24. Jesus is further exegeting v31 by pointing out that rather than acting as a Moses type figure who expedites the bread for the people, or God who gives the bread, Jesus is actually the bread. "I am the spiritual sustenance from heaven that gives eternal life."
thV zwhV (h) "[the bread] of life" -. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / producer, "the bread which produces life", is life-giving; "the bread that/which gives life", Carson.
oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. part. "he who comes / whoever comes" - the one coming [toward me]. As with oJ pisteuwn, "the one believing", the participle serves as a substantive. Note the parallelism here where "comes" and "believes" carries the same sense. Continuing with the exegesis of v31, Jesus makes the point that those who ate the manna got hungry and had to eat again. Imaging such passages as Isaiah 49:10, those who eat the heavenly bread will neither hunger nor thirst again. Once a person has tasted / come to / believed in the life-giving Christ, they will be eternally satisfied / saved.
ou mh peinash/ (peinaw) aor. subj. "will never be hungry" - no no = never hungers [and the one believing in me will never thirst again]. The double negative with the subjunctive here, as with "thirsty", expresses a strong negation (a subjunctive of emphatic negation, although note how diyhsei, "thirst" is fut. ind., sometimes used to replace the subj.). "Will certainly never ever be hungry."
Before further explaining more on "the bread from heaven" in v47-51, Jesus "takes a stand against those who, although they have seen him act in the fullness of his messianic power and authority, still do not believe in him", Ridderbos. The bread from heaven is for them ("you", v32), but they refuse to eat it.
all (alla) "but" - but. Adversative / contrastive. "Yet", Phillips.
oJti "-" - [i told you] that. Usually taken to introduce a recitative clause, ie., introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus had said to the crowd, namely "that you have seen me and still you do not believe." The trouble is there is no record of him saying anything like this to them. Borgen in Observations on the Midrashic Character of John 6 suggests that hoti here introduces a causal clause; "because". Jesus is still exegeting v31 and is explaining why he uses "you" in v32 when the quote says "them". "I have said 'you', because, though you have seen, you still do not believe."
kai .... kai "- ... and" - Correlative construction, "both ....... and ......" The correlating ideas are obviously both negative. On the one hand the crowd has "seen" Jesus, but obviously only superficially sense, ie., they view him as a wonderworker and not the messiah. On the other hand they do not believe in him.
me pro. "me" - [you have seen] me [and do not believe]. The "me" is not found in many manuscripts, although most translations personalize what the crowd had seen, namely, Jesus. NEB and REB leave it out. If the miracle of the loaves is what they had seen, then it could be said that Israel drew spiritual significance from the miracle of the manna, but this crowd is more interested in another free-freed.
Barrett suggests the following sense for v37-40, "I have come down to do, not my will, but the will of God who sent me. It is God's will that none whom he has given me should perish, but that they all should receive life and be raised up at the last day. Therefore, I will receive and raise up everyone who 'comes to me', since he is the Father's gift to me and it is the Father's will that I should do so."
pan oJ "all that / all those" - all which = whoever. The neuter singular is used instead of the more obvious masculine plural (everyone who, whoever...) to emphasize the collective force of the elect given to Jesus by the Father. "All", NIV, solves the problem, but a reader can only be confused by "everything", Phillips.
didwsin (didwmi) pres. "gives" - [the father] presents, gives. The durative present sense of the giving serves to transcend time.
moi dat. pro. "to me" - [all which] to me. Dative of indirect object.
hJxei (hJkw) fut. "will come" - will move toward, arrive, reach. Note that the sense of this word in John's gospel is different to the word "come [to Jesus]" which is used in parallel with "believe". So, "come" and "comes" in this verse have different meanings. The collective covenant community given to Jesus by the Father will be eternally joined to Jesus, attached to Jesus, while those who come to / believe in Jesus, will continue in that community eternally. "The elect community of believers that the Father gives to me will be attached to me eternally."
ton ercomenon (ercomai) pres. part. "whoever comes" - [and] the one coming [to me]. The participle serves as a substantive.
ou mh ekbalw (ekballw) aor. subj. "I will never drive away" - no no = by no means i will cast. This construction forms a subjunctive of emphatic negation. Although we may question the idea that God selects individuals for inclusion in Christ's community, divine sovereignty probably does extend to maintaining a believer within God's eternal community; see Zwingli on the perseverance of the saints. Carson suggests that the speech-form here is a litotes where an idea is promoted by negating the contrary. The intended meaning therefore is "I will certainly keep / preserve"; "I will certainly not reject", Harris.
exw adv. "-" - outside. This adverb of place reinforces the sense of the ek prefix of the verb ballw, "to throw", "to throw out + outside."
oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus will preserve those who come to / believe in him, namely, because he doesn't set out to do his own thing, but rather the will of the Father, and the Father's will is that his covenant community will be preserved to eternity.
katabebhka (katabainw) perf. "I have come down" - i having come down. The perfect tense expresses a present state resulting from a past action. Obviously drawing on the imagery of the manna coming down.
apo "from [heaven]" - out of, from [heaven]. Expressing source/origin.
iJna + subj. "to [do]" - [not] that [i may do the will the of me (= which is mine)]. Possibly introducing an epexegetic clause explaining what God's will is, although purpose / aim, is more likely; "for I have come down from heaven (in order that) I may carry out , not my will, but the will of him who sent me."
alla "but" - Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ....."
tou pemyantoV (pempw) gen. aor. part. "[the will] of him who sent [me]" - [that i may do the will] of the one having sent [me]. The participle serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, either possessive or subjective, "the will determined by him who sent me. "The will" of the Father is that "the Son should lose none of those entrusted to him by the Father", Harris, cf., v39.
de "and" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue.
tou pemyantoV (pempw) gen. aor. part. "[the will] of the one who sent [me]" - [this is the will] of the one having sent [me]. See v38.
iJna + subj. "that" - that. This construction introduces an epexegetic / appositional clause explaining / defining the content of God's will; "this is the will of him who sent me, namely that ...."
pan adj. "[I shall lose none of] all" - all [which he has given me i should not lose from it = them]. Pendent nominative. The use of singular neuter "all" again serves to emphasize the collective sense of the community; "that I should not lose one of the whole community", Barrett. The neuter singular autou, "it", "[not lose from] it", is also collective = community = the total sum of God's people = "not lose from them." The preposition ex, "from", stands in the place of a partitive genitive, so "not lose of them." "It is his will that of all he gave me I should lose none", Rieu.
alla "but" - Strong adversative in a counter point construction, "not ....., but ....."; "but rather than lose them, that I will raise them on the last day."
th/ escath/ hJmera/ dat. "at the last day" - [i will raise up it = them on] the last day. The dative is temporal, so also if we read the variant en, "in". Referring to the resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ. Note, John also seems to have a resurrection of the unrighteous in that day, 5:28-29.
gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why God's gift endures to eternal life for those "given" to Christ, namely, because it is the Father's will that those who believe in his Son / discern his Son should possess that life.
touto "-" - this [is the will of the father of me]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. As in v39, the pronoun references forward to the stated content of God's will.
iJna "that" - that. Again forming an epexegetic / appositional clause explaining / defining what is God's will. "For what my Father wants is (namely) that ....", TEV.
oJ qewrwn (qewrew) pres. part. "[everyone] who looks [to the Son]" - [everyone / all] seeing, looking at, observing, beholding (looking with spiritual insight and perception*). As with pisteuwn, "believing", the participle serves as a substantive. What we have here is another synonym for "believing in." In fact Bultman classifies the two participles as a hendiadys, a single idea expressed with two words. In this context Dodd defines the word as "the discerning vision which recognizes the eternal reality behind or within the phenomenal facts of the life and death of Jesus Christ." Again, Exodus imagery may be in mind where Israel looked and believed for their salvation in the golden snake lifted up before them. "Everyone who sets their eyes on Jesus will have eternal life."
eiV + acc. "[believes] in [him]" - [and believing] into [him]. Spacial, metaphorical, expressing direction of action and arrival at. When used of believing eiV is interchangeable with en, "in".
aiwnion adj. "eternal [life]" - [may have life] eternal. The adjective limits "life", the accusative direct object of the verb "to have." Note how eternal life is placed here with being raised in the last day. The two are not synonyms, nor is eternal life an eternal heavenly existence. Eternal life is a quality of spiritual existence which a person possesses now and through eternity. Possessing it enables a person to be raised in the last day. Eternal life is the divine spark that enlivens the soul, moving it from mortality to immortality.
en + dat. "at [the last day]" - [and i will raise up him] in, on [the last day]. This preposition is a variant reading, as in v39, either way, the dative is temporal. John's realized eschatology has prompted some commentators to question the originality of references to the "last day." "These last words return like a refrain in the following verses (v, 39, 40, 44, and 54), not as a later addition (to offset a one-sided "realized eschatology"), but to bring to full expression the heavenly, transcendent character ... of Jesus' mission", Ridderbos.
# 5, "Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph? How can he say that he came down from heaven?" v41-46. "The Jews" are not at all happy with Jesus because he has claimed that he is the bread from heaven referred to in v31. They know all about him and his family so why should they give ear and come to Jesus; hear him that their soul may live? cf., Isa.55:3. In v44-45 Jesus goes on to develop the argument that only seekers are saved - the problem for "the Jews" is that they are not seekers. God's revelation in the scriptures is only open to those who seek it, so inevitably only seekers will be drawn to Jesus, the source of all truth, and it is only they who will share in the resurrection of the righteous. In v46 Jesus clarifies the point he has just made so as not to leave the impression that people are drawn to Jesus by some personal revelation from God. Jesus himself attracts the seeker because he is "from God."
oun "at this" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "So, the Jews grumbled about him", ESV.
egogguzon (gogguzw) imperf. "grumble" - [the jews] were grumbling, complaining, murmuring [about him]. The complaining of Israel is nother allusion to the wilderness wanderings. The imperfect is again used to provide background information, although its durative nature may serve to highlight ongoing complaining. In John the term "the Jews" carries negative connotations. Usually referring to those who do no believe, who are hostile to Jesus, or more specifically the religious authorities in Jerusalem.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the Jews were complaining, namely, because Jesus had said ......
eipen (eipon) aor. "he said" - In the sense "he claimed". "Because he had exegeted the text, 'bread from heaven he gave them to eat', in such a way as to claim that he was the manna that came from heaven."
oJ katabaV (katabainw) aor. part. "[I am the bread] that came down" - [i am the bread] having come down [out of, from heaven]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "bread", as NIV.
elegon (legw) imperf. "they said" - [and] they were saying. The imperfect probably indicates that John has drawn aside from the main narrative, but it may just be durative, "they kept saying", NAB. Possibly iterative; "they began to grumble."
ouJtoV pro. "this" - [is] this person. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The use of the demonstrative pronoun here is a touch insulting. The crowd knows Jesus and his family and as is always the case, familiarity breeds contempt.
ouc "-" - not. This negation is used in a question expecting an affirmative answer.
IwshV gen. "[the son] of Joseph" - [jesus the son] of joseph [of whom we know the father and the mother]? As with the genitive pronoun ou|, "[the father and mother] of whom [we know] ("we" used emphatically)", the genitive is adjectival, relational. Jesus' human origin is, for the crowd, proof that Jesus obviously didn't come down from heaven.
pwV adv. "how" - how, in what way. The interrogative particle is used here to express an objection.
nun "now" - Adverb of time. There is a textual variant which takes the sense "therefore." This makes more sense, but it is probably the reason why it was changed from "now". Possibly best left out; "how can he say", Phillips, NAB.
oJti "-" - [does he say] that [i have come down out of heaven]? Introducing a dependent statement, direct speech / direct quote.
mh gogguzete (gugguzw) pres. imp. "stop grumbling" - [jesus answered and said to them] do not grumble. The durative force of the present tense with the negation mh may indicate that the command is to cease an action in progress, "do not keep on grumbling", Beasley-Murray. "Stop murmuring", NEB.
met (meta) + gen. "among [yourselves]" - with [yourselves]. Expressing association / accompaniment; "among".
autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus answered]" - [Jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.
elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "[can] come" - [no one is able] to come [to me]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb, "is able."
ean mh + subj. "unless [...... draws]" - if not / except, unless. Introducing a negated conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true, "if not / unless, as may be the case, the Father should draw him, then, he is not able to come to me"; "no one can turn toward me unless he is drawn by the Father", Cassirer.
oJ pemyaV (pempw) aor. part. "who sent [me]" - [the father] having sent [me]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Father", as NIV.
elkush/ (elkuw) aor. subj. "draws" - should draw, drag, attract [him]. Serving to fulfill Isaiah 54:13 quoted by Jesus in the next verse. The revelation of God, the Law, his Word .... draws / attracts those who are willing to hear. Beasley-Murray writes: "this leads Bultmann to interpret the 'drawing' by God as taking place when man abandons his own judgment and 'hears' and 'learns' from the Father, and so allows God to speak to him: the drawing by the Father occurs not, as it were, behind man's decision of faith, but in it'". R.H. Lightfoot in his commentary also sees the drawing as a Word-induced-attraction rather than a determining act of the divine will.
en + dat. "at [the last day]" - [and he will raise up him] in [the last day]. Temporal use of the preposition; "on the Last Day", Rieu.
Jesus quotes from Isaiah 54:13, and then explains the text in v45-46, with an assumed conditional clause in v45, and an elliptical qualification in v46: "It is written, 'They will all be taught by God'. This means that if, as may be the case anyone hears what the Father says and learns from it, then they will come to me." In the next verse Jesus qualifies his exposition: This does not mean that (ouc oJti) they (anyone) have seen the Father; no one has seen the Father other than / except (ei mh) the one who is from God, only he has seen the Father."
gegrammenon (grafw) perf. mid. / pas. part. "[it is] written" - it has been written [in the prophets]. Along with the verb to-be estin, the participle forms a periphrastic perfect construction. Typical introduction to a scriptural text. The preposition en, "in", is local, expressing space. The citation is a free version of Isaiah 54:13. Why "prophets" instead of "the prophet Isaiah"? Some suggest it is from a collection of prophetic testimonies, others that John has forgotten the exact source (which is better than Jesus having forgotten the source!!!!).
qeou (oV) gen. "[taught] by God" - [and they shall all be taught ones] of god. The genitive could be treated as ablative, expressing the source of the teaching, "taught from God", but more likely adverbial, instrumental / agency, as NIV, a form that regularly follows a verbal adjective, so Novakovic.
oJ akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "[everyone] who listens / who has heard" - [all = everyone] the ones having heard [from the father and having learned from him]. If we treat the adjective paV, "all", as a substantive, "everyone", then this participle, as with maqwn, "having learned", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone". When the participles are taken as substantives there is a tendency to apply Grenville Sharps rule here - the one article associates both participles, as ESV, "heard and learned from the Father." Yet the sense is "Everyone who has heard what the Father says, and learnt from it, comes to Jesus." The aorist tense is probably gnomic, expressing no time sense, although REB opts for "has listened .... learned." The notion of God drawing people to Jesus (v44) is supported by this quote from Isaiah. This drawing is then explained in the terms of God's Word acting on a person who willingly and openly approaches the Word such that they are inevitably pointed to Jesus, ie., those who seek find.
proV + acc. "[comes] to [me]" - [comes] toward [me]. The preposition expresses movement toward.
This qualification is not overly clear, but it seems to reinforce the idea that only in Jesus, the Word of God, is the seeker of the divine able to find the divine / "be taught by God" - only Jesus has been personally taught by God.
ouc oJti "-" - not that (= this does not mean that). Here introducing an elliptical dependent statement expressing / specifying the negated qualification. See the introductory note to v45. The point is simple enough; "hearing and learning from the Father does not imply seeing him", Bruce.
eJwraken (oJraw) perf. "has seen [the Father]" - [anyone] has seen [the father]. The perfect tense expresses a present state resulting from a past action, here intensive. The only person with the privilege of having seen God is Jesus. Jesus is the perfect incarnation of divine truth; he is the Word of God, "the immediate knowledge of God", Barrett.
ei mh "except" - if not = except. Introducing an exceptive clause, expressing a contrast by designating an exception.
oJ w]n (eimi) "the one who is" - the one being. The articular participle of the verb to-be serves as a substantive, as NIV.
para + gen. "from [God]" - from beside [god]. Here expressing source / origin; "the one who was and is with God", Rieu.
ou|toV pro. "only he" - this one [has seen the father]. Demonstrative pronoun, nominative subject of the verb "to see", emphatic by use.
Review, v47-51: God provides new manna to the people of Israel. Unlike the manna expedited by Moses where the people ate and died, the new manna expedited by Jesus, the bread of life, when eaten, gives life eternal. This new manna, this bread, is Jesus' flesh - his lifting up, glorification, his sacrifice for the life of the world. Those who believe / eat this bread, in the sense of rest in faith on the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice, will possess life eternal.
uJmin dat. pro. "[very truly I tell] you" - [truly, truly i say] to you. Dative of indirect object. This statement serves to underline the following words; See 6:24.
oJ pisteuwn (pisteuw) pres. part. "he who believes" - the one believing [has life eternal]. The participle serves as a substantive. Correctly, "the believer", Moffatt, possibly better expressed "to believe is to have eternal life", Barclay. When expressed verbally we need an object. Often "in Jesus" is supplied, but John is slowly expanding what believing in Jesus entails. Jesus as messiah, the Christ, is central, but more particularly, a Son of Man messiah (the divine man with eternal authority), and a suffering servant messiah (the one who gives his life for the world).
egw "I" - i [am]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be, emphatic by use and position, although a subject pronoun verb-to be construction is accepted form.
thV zwhV (h) "of life" - [the bread] of life. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / product - this sort of bread is life-giving. "The bread which gives life", TH.
uJmwn "your [forefathers]" - [the fathers] of you. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Aren't they Jesus' forefathers as well? Brown suggests that this reflects the gap between the church and synagogue at the time of writing the gospel, but this is an unnecessary conclusion. Kostenberger thinks that Jesus uses "your" to distance himself from his opponents.
efagon (esqiw) aor. "ate" - ate [the manna in the wilderness and died]. The aorist is constative where the action is viewed as a whole, ie., they ate for 40 years.
en + dat. "in" - in [the wilderness and died]. Possibly temporal; "while in the wilderness."
ouJtoV pro. "but here [is the bread]" - this one[is the bread]. cf. Ex.16:15. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The pronoun serves to distinguish the bread of heaven from the bread referred to in v49. Expressed literally in English, the distinction is not clear; "This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die." For this reason the NIV opts for an adversative "but" to make the distinction clear. "The bread I am speaking of", Tasker.
oJ .... katabainwn (katabainw) pres. part. "that comes down" - [from heaven] coming down. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "bread", as NIV; "This bread (= the bread that I am referring to) is the bread which comes down from heaven."
iJna + subj. "which" - that. Expressing purpose, "in order that one may eat and not die", or possibly consecutive, expressing result, "with the result that / so that / such that."
tiV "a man / anyone" - a certain anyone. Nominative subject of the verb "to eat." "So that if anyone eats it", Barclay. The "anyone" "points to an open offer of salvation", Harris.
ex (ek) + gen. "-" - [may eat] from [it]. The preposition stands in place of a partitive genitive; "eat of it / the bread."
kai "and [not die]" - Here leaning toward a consecutive sense; "may eat, and as a consequence not die." Obviously not referring to physical death, but spiritual death; "die" with respect to God.
Jesus is the living bread, flesh offered up for the life of the world. Up till this point, Jesus' "bread of life" and "living bread" terminology is easily understood as symbolic. Jesus is the source of divine truth such that those who believe in him possess eternal life. Jesus now cranks up his imagery as he introduces the sacrificial element of his life, the giving up of his flesh to the cross, which giving expedites the gift of life. Of course, many commentators argue that this move toward literalism is shaped by eucharistic considerations, but this is unlikely. The opposite is the case in that the theology of John 6 shapes the eucharist.
egw eimi "I am" - "I myself", Anchor.
oJ zwn (zaw) pres. part. "[the] living [bread]" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, but possibly epexegetic / appositional, ie., specifying / defining = explaining "bread" = "the bread which gives life."
oJ ... katabaV (katabainw) aor. part. "that came down" - [the one out of heaven] having come down. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "bread". The change in tense from the present in v 50 to the aorist ushers in the fresh thoughts of this verse and indicates that the verse may properly introduce a new paragraph.
ean tiV + subj. "if anyone / whoever" - if a certain one, as the case may be [eats of this bread, then he will live into the age]. Relative conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of becoming true.
ek + gen. "-" - [eats] of [this bread]. Expressing source / origin, or standing in for a partitive genitive, "eats some of this bread."
eiV ton aiwna "[he will live] forever" - [he will live] into the age. A common phrase for "forever". Possible links with Ezekiel 47:1-12.
de "-" - but/and [and = indeed the bread i will give for the life of the world is the flesh of me]. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a new point.
hJ sarx (x koV) "[is my] flesh" - the flesh. If a eucharistic reference, we would expect swma, "body". The imagery relates to the Passover, not the eucharist.
dwsw (didwmi) fut. "I give" - i will give. Note the shift to the future tense. Another fresh thought is that instead of the Father giving the bread, Jesus now gives the bread - the giving up of his body to the cross for the life of the world, cf., Barrett p246.
uJper + gen. "for [the life of the world]" - Here expressing representation, "on behalf of the life of the world."