The NET Bible

John 6:59–66

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Many Followers Depart

6:59 Jesus96 said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue97 in Capernaum.98 6:60 Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things,99 said, “This is a difficult100 saying!101 Who can understand it?”102 6:61 When Jesus was aware103 that his disciples were complaining104 about this, he said to them, “Does this cause you to be offended?105 6:62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?106 6:63 The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help!107 The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.108 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)109 6:65 So Jesus added,110 “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come.”111

Peter’s Confession

6:66 After this many of his disciples quit following him112 and did not accompany him113 any longer.

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tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) is specified in the translation for clarity.


sn A synagogue was a place for Jewish prayer and worship, with recognized leadership (cf. Luke 8:41). Though the origin of the synagogue is not entirely clear, it seems to have arisen in the postexilic community during the intertestamental period. A town could establish a synagogue if there were at least ten men. In normative Judaism of the NT period, the OT scripture was read and discussed in the synagogue by the men who were present (see the Mishnah, m. Megillah 3–4; m. Berakhot 2).


map For location see Map1-D2; Map2-C3; Map3-B2.


tn The words “these things” are not present in the Greek text but are implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, and must be supplied for the English reader.


tn Or “hard,” “demanding.”


tn Or “teaching”; Grk “word.”


tn Or “obey it”; Grk “hear it.” The Greek word ἀκούω (akouō) could imply hearing with obedience here, in the sense of “obey.” It could also point to the acceptance of what Jesus had just said, (i.e., “who can accept what he said?” However, since the context contains several replies by those in the crowd of hearers that suggest uncertainty or confusion over the meaning of what Jesus had said (6:42; 6:52), the meaning “understand” is preferred here.


tn Grk “When Jesus knew within himself.”


tn Or “were grumbling.”


tn Or “Does this cause you to no longer believe?” (Grk “cause you to stumble?”)

sn Does this cause you to be offended? It became apparent to some of Jesus’ followers at this point that there would be a cost involved in following him. They had taken offense at some of Jesus’ teaching (perhaps the graphic imagery of “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood,” and Jesus now warned them that if they thought this was a problem, there was an even worse cause for stumbling in store: his upcoming crucifixion (John 6:61b–62). Jesus asked, in effect, “Has what I just taught caused you to stumble? What will you do, then, if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?” This ascent is to be accomplished through the cross; for John, Jesus’ departure from this world and his return to the Father form one continual movement from cross to resurrection to ascension.


tn Or “he was formerly?”


tn Grk “the flesh counts for nothing.”


tn Or “are spirit-giving and life-producing.”


sn This is a parenthetical comment by the author.


tn Grk “And he said”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


tn Grk “unless it has been permitted to him by the Father.”


tn Grk “many of his disciples went back to what lay behind.”


tn Grk “were not walking with him.”