Category Archives: JOHN 6:47-58

JOHN 6:47-58

 

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 6, VERSES 47-58

6:47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.

6:48  I am that bread of life.

6:49  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

6:50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

6:53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

6:54  Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:55  For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

6:56  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

6:57  As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

6:58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

SECTION 5        Verses 47-59      EATING THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN

The section may be divided as follows:
Verses 47-50       (i)   Eating and living.
Verses 51-55       (ii)   Eating and assimilating.
Verse 56              (iii)  Eating and abiding.
Verses 57, 58    (iv)   Eating and depending.

(i) 6:47-50  EATING AND LIVING

6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.  

 Having established His unique ability to impart the knowledge of God, He invites faith in Himself, which will result in everlasting life being granted.  And everlasting life enables a person to know God, see John 17:3. 
The following verses tell us the following things about the life Christ gives:
Verse 47     Given life, not earned.
Verse 48     Sustained life, for Christ is the “bread” of the life He gives.
Verse 50     Superior life, unaffected by the death of the body.
Verse 51     Personal life, expressed in Christ when He was down here on earth.
Verse 53     Indispensable life, apart from Him there is no life.
Verse 54     Eternal life, the life of God Himself, which fits for His presence.
Verse 55     Real life, for His flesh is bread truly, genuinely.
Verse 56     Secure life, for the one possessing it is in Christ, and He in him.
Verse 57     Supported life, sustained by faith.

6:48 I am that bread of life.

 A repeat of the statement of verse 35, but now in connection with those who have come to Him in faith.  He is not only the bread which satisfies hunger, but He is the bread which sustains the everlasting life He gives.  Those who have everlasting life long to know God and His Son better, and Christ is the sustainer of that process, for He is equal with God.

6:49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

 Whilst the manna sustained physical life, it did not deliver from death.  Neither did it sustain for more than a day.  These are major reasons why Christ the bread of life is superior to the manna. 

6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

 Because He is eternal life personified, (see 1 John 1:2), then to “eat” Him, that is, to take into the mind the truth of His person, is to have a life within which can no more be successfully overwhelmed by death than His life can.  It is not simply that a man is sustained until he dies.  Such is the over-riding superiority of the life which is eternal, that death is as nothing in its presence.  “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death”, John 8:51; “He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die”, John 11:26. He came down from heaven, the place where death cannot come, in order that He might take believers to that deathless place.

(ii) 6:51-55  EATING AND ASSIMILATING

6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

 He did not begin to live at His birth, but is “that eternal life, which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2.  In verses 50-53, and verse 58, the word for eat is the initial act of putting into the mouth, whereas in verses 54-57 the word used has more the idea of chewing.  Also, in verses 50-53, the tense of the word eat suggests a deliberate action complete in itself, whereas in verses 54-57 the idea is that the one eating has the character of an eater, it is something he does habitually. Here the Lord makes life for ever available, but not in a state of sin, which is why He goes on to speak of giving His flesh for the life of the world.  Compare the words of Genesis 3:22, “Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever…”  In the mercy of God, (for in wrath He remembers mercy, Habakkuk 3:2), Adam and his wife were prevented from eating of the tree of life, and so be preserved in sin for ever.   Having introduced the subject by the use of the expression “Bread of God”, the way in which the bread becomes available to the world is now set out.  Belief in His person involves belief in what He did at Calvary.  There He gave all that He was as one who had lived on the earth well-pleasing to His Father, and He did this “in view of” the life of the world.  Note that it is a question of what is made available by His death; potentially the whole world could have life if every individual came to Christ in faith, such is the magnitude of the provision.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON TRANSUBSTANTIATION
This is the name given to the process the Roman Catholic church teaches the bread and wine of the Mass go through, so that they are changed into the real body and blood of Christ.  The language of Pope Pius the 10th is as follows: 
“The sacrifice of the mass is substantially that of the cross, in as far as the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on the cross is He who offers Himself by the hands of the priests His ministers on our altars”. 
This is wicked blasphemy.
We should remember that the Lord Jesus held the loaf that He described as His body in His hands as He spoke the words “This is my body”, Matthew 26:26.  We should also remember that He described the cup of wine as the fruit of the vine after He had said that it was the new covenant in His blood, Matthew 26:27,28.  If, on the night of the institution of the Supper, and with the Lord Jesus officiating, the bread and wine did not change, why should it be thought they change when mere mortals officiate?

There is a grammar rule in the Greek language to indicate when a statement is to be taken literally or figuratively.  The rule is as follows: “When a pronoun is used instead of one of the nouns, and the two nouns are of different genders, (Greek words are either masculine, feminine, or neuter), the pronoun is always made to agree with that noun to which it is carried, and not to the noun from which it is carried, and to which it properly belongs”. 
The nouns in this instance are ‘bread’ and ‘body’, and ‘this’ replaces the noun ‘bread’.  The pronoun ‘this’ is neuter.  The noun ‘bread’ is masculine.  The noun ‘body’ is neuter.  If the statement were literal, then the pronoun would be masculine.  As the pronoun is neuter, and agrees with the word body, which is neuter, then the statement is figurative and not literal. 

There are further reasons which may be given to show that eating the flesh of the Son of Man is not the physical eating of a piece of literal bread, or, as in the case of the Catholic Mass, a piece of wafer.

Verse 63 “The words I speak that unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”.  In other words, they should be understood on a spiritual level, not on the level of sense and feeling.

Verse 57 “And I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me”.  The way the Lord Jesus lived of, or by means of His Father, was not by eating literal bread, but by nourishing His soul on what the Father was, as expressed in what He said in His word. See Matthew 4:4.

Verse 27 “Labour not for the meat that perisheth”.  A reference to the loaves He had miraculously multiplied the day before.  Even they did not endure, nor did they give eternal life to those who ate them, since at the end of the chapter the majority walked away, showing they were not believers.  No literal bread, even if miraculously provided by God, can give eternal life.

Verses 27-29 “Labour not…but labour for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life…this is the work of God, that ye believe…”  It is not a religious ritual, but living faith in Christ which gives eternal life.

6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

The fact that it was Passover time should have reminded them that they ate the flesh of the lamb.  Had they forgotten that John the Baptist had announced Christ to be the Lamb of God?  For all their religion, they failed to think of things in spiritual terms, interpreting the Lord’s words on a purely natural, physical level.  He will emphasise the fact that His words are spirit and truth.  They are not to be taken in a physical, but a spiritual sense.

6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

 Far from going back on His words, the Lord makes them even harder to understand by speaking of the drinking of blood.  This should have shown them that He was speaking metaphorically, for the drinking of literal blood was forbidden by God, Leviticus 3:17; 7:26,27.  That this command is not revoked is seen from Acts 15:29.  We are forced to the conclusion that these words must not be understood in a physical sense.  The Jews were perplexed about eating flesh, but now they are told that unless they do, they will not possess eternal life.  To a Jew, eternal life was the “life of the age”, that is, it fitted to share in the Kingdom age under the Messiah.  Here the Lord indicates that the means of becoming fit to enter the kingdom in any of its forms, is to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  Note how these men misunderstood the Lord’s words at every stage, but He does not seek to modify or dilute His teaching- they must accept what He says by faith, even if they do not understand perfectly. 

To eat the flesh of the Son of Man means to take in to the soul those doctrines that relate to Him as a man living on the earth, including the fact that He is God manifest in flesh.  To drink His blood means to take in the truths relative to His sacrificial death.  By means of His person and work, Christ makes Himself available to faith.  Note that it is not body and blood, but flesh and blood.  This extends the meaning to include all that the Lord Jesus was as one living on the earth; His whole person, not just the physical part of His person.

6:54 Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

 The tense now changes from an event complete in itself, as verse 53, to an ongoing habit, that of constantly eating.  So also the word for eat is now the one that emphasises the chewing of food, the means of gaining the most benefit from it.  This sort of eating is the customary occupation of those who have eternal life, and is one of their distinguishing features.  Eternal life is the present possession of those who thus eat, for the one they feed their souls upon is eternal life personified, and is the bread of life.  Note again the promise to raise up at the last day, the sure sign that the eternal life will be enjoyed the other side of death.  There is a double promise; to give eternal life and to give a part in resurrection.

6:55 For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is blood indeed.

 Indeed means truly, corresponding to the ideal.  This means that the flesh of the Son of man constitutes real and genuine food, and his blood genuine drink- they will not be superseded by other things, as the manna had been.  This also indicates that His flesh and blood give true and lasting satisfaction to the soul.

(iii) 6:56  EATING AND ABIDING

6:56 He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in Him.

 Now we have some of the consequences of this eating and drinking.  The one who shows himself to be a genuine believer by having a desire for genuine spiritual food, can be said to dwell in Christ.  This shows that to dwell or abide in Christ is not a further advance on believing in Him, but is rather the outcome of believing in Him.  The true believer has a settled place in Christ, for believing in Him has dealt with those sinful things that render a person unfit for this position.  But there is more, for Christ dwells within the believer too.  This is further explained in John 14, where the Lord Jesus sets out the truth regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit.  In verse 17 of that chapter the promise is “He shall be in you”, then in verse 20 “At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you”.  “That day” means the present period now that the Spirit of God has come on the Day of Pentecost.  By the illumination of the indwelling Spirit, believers know that the Son is in them, on the basis of the teaching of Scripture.  In Romans 8:9,10 the apostle strongly implies that to have the Spirit within is to have Christ within- “If so be the Spirit of God dwell in you…and if Christ be in you. 

(iv) 6:57, 58  EATING AND DEPENDING


6:57  As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

The Son has been given to have life in Himself, John 5:26, in order that He might be the readily available source of eternal life for those who desire it.  And the living Father, who shares His life with men when they believe on His Son, has sent that Son into the world on just that mission- “I am come that they might have life”, John 10:10.   As a dependant man here upon the earth, the Son of God lived by the Father, He did not live an independent life.  This is seen in the wilderness temptation, when the Devil tempted Him to make stones into bread to satisfy His hunger.  He refused, with the words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”, Matthew 4:4.  And this was characteristic of His whole life As those who are in Christ, associated with Him and sharing His nature, and as those who possess the same Spirit as moved Him, believers, too, live by the same principle.  They live by means of Him who is the food for their souls.  In this way His life of dependence and faith is reproduced in His people.

6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

 These words are a summary of the discourse, and serve to re-affirm the teaching given.  “Bread which came down from heaven” re-affirms verses 32-46.  “Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead” re-affirms 47-52.  “He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” re-affirms verses 53-57.  These sections all begin with “Verily, verily”.  The remainder of the chapter re-opens the question as to whether the people will seek the true bread by faith, or whether they will say as their fathers did, “Our soul loatheth this light bread”, Numbers 21:5.  This had been the theme of the first section, verses 26-31, again with its “Verily, verily”.  The ideal response to the Lord’s teaching in this discourse is that of Peter, who said, when asked by the Lord if he was going away, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”.

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