John 6:1-14

1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

[After these things] This is a rather indefinite expression, similar to the way our word, "Later" is used today. It is likely that between the end of chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 the events recorded in Matthew 4:12 through Matthew 14:12 took place.

[Jesus went over the sea of Galilee] From Luke 9:10 we learn that this was a desert place in the vicinity of Bethsaida. The sea of Galilee, Genesaret and Tiberias are the same in the New Testament with the sea of Cinnereth in the Old. Tiberias was a city in Galilee, situated on the western side of the lake.

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

[They saw the miracles which he did] Miracles attract a crowd, especially those which alleviate our problems here on earth. Assisting people with their earthly problems often provides opportunity for spiritual assistance. James 2:15-16.

3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

[Went up into a mountain] This mountain must have been in the desert of Bethsaida, in the territory of Philip, tetrarch of Galilee. Our Lord withdrew to this place for a little rest; for he and his disciples had been so thronged by the multitudes that they had little time for food or rest.

4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

[And the passover...was nigh] This happened about ten or twelve days before the third passover which Christ celebrated after his baptism.
For thirty days before the passover there were great preparations made, but especially in the last ninteen days, in order to celebrate the feast with due solemnity.

5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

[Saith unto Phillip] This conversation with Philip is not mentioned by any of the other evangelists. Philip was probably the provider for the disciples as Judas was the treasurer.

6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

[This he said to prove him] To try his faith and to see whether he and the other disciples had paid proper attention to the miracles which they had already seen him work; and to draw their attention more particularly to that which he was about to perform.

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

[Two hundred pennyworth] Philip, from the human viewpoint, saw this as a near-impossible challenge. The money, which was used as a measure of the quantity of food required, was probably not available. In addition, it would be difficult to obtain that much food on short notice and transport it to this location.

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

[Five barley loaves] Very ordinary bread. Barley scarcely bore one-third of the value of wheat in the east. Revelation 6:6

[Two small fishes] The Greek word used here signifies, "Whatever is eaten with bread", flesh, fish, butter, milk, eggs and so on. In the parallel places the other evangelists use the precise word for "fish" so the word used here evidently refers to fish.

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

[So the men sat down] Organization and discipline. Christ had a systematic plan and the people were willing to follow instructions. They were hungry and food was about to be served.
Christ also has a long term plan for meeting mankind's spiritual needs, but, since the yearning is not so immediate, people are less inclined to seek and follow his instructions.

11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

[And Jesus took the loaves] The math is inescapable. Five loaves, one for each 1000 men present, and two fishes, one for each 2500 men, not counting, it appears, women and children, were divided and delivered to the crowd. Philip was discouraged at the thought of providing to each, "a little", Christ provided as much as each person could eat.

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

[Gather up the fragments] Proof of the miracle. There was enough and some left over.

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

[This is of a truth that prophet] Spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15, the Messiah. How near were these people at this time to the Kingdom of Heaven!

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 11/17/2006

Copyright (C) 1999,2003,2006 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved