Feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-15)

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In the Gospels, there are two separate miracle accounts of feeding the multitude. The first account, "Feeding of the 5,000", is recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-15). The second account, the "Feeding of the 4,000", with seven loaves of bread and fish, is reported by Matthew 15:32-39 and Mark 8:1-9, but not by Luke or John.

John's account is especially focused about putting this event into relation with signs (σημεῖον [sémeion]) of Jesus that are an important thematic device in the Gospel of John (John 6:14a) and link it with the popular expectation of the Prophet, an allusion to the prediction of Deuteronomy 18:15 (John 6:14b). In this way, the narrative is preparing a rationale for the following story of "the Bread of Life" where Jesus fully explain the magnitude and significance of this miracle.

The effect of the miracle sign is that people are seeking Jesus on the other side (John 6:24-25). This is one part of the desired behaviour by Jesus. However, as the story unveils, the crowd does not follow Jesus here because of the fulfillment of Israel's messianic hope, but because of the pragmatical means (John 6:26). Therefore, the second part of the behaviour is to believe in Jesus, which will later appear as a problematic requirement (John 6:29).

All of this is further highlighted by the occasion that the Passover festival is near. Such timing and other allusions to OT ( manna, Prophet-Moses) frame the story into typology of the second Exodus.


Word Meaning
ἀπέρχομαι go away
πέραν on the other side
θάλασσα, ης, ἡ lake; sea
Γαλιλαία, ας, ἡ Galilee
Τιβεριάς, άδος, ἡ Tiberias
ἀκολουθέω to follow
θεωρέω perceive, observe
ἐπί on (with G, D, A); on the account of (with D); against (with A)
ἀσθενέω be sick, be weak

Biblical text

6:1Μετὰ ταῦτα ἀπῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης τῆς Γαλιλαίας τῆς Τιβεριάδος.2ἠκολούθει δὲ αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς, ὅτι ἑώρων τὰ σημεῖα ἐποίει ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσθενούντων.3ἀνῆλθεν δὲ εἰς τὸ ὄρος Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐκεῖ ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ.4ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς τὸ πάσχα, ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων.5ἐπάρας οὖν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος ὅτι πολὺς ὄχλος ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν, λέγει πρὸς Φίλιππον Πόθεν ἀγοράσωμεν ἄρτους ἵνα φάγωσιν οὗτοι;6τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν πειράζων αὐτόν· αὐτὸς γὰρ ᾔδει τί ἔμελλεν ποιεῖν.7ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Φίλιππος Διακοσίων δηναρίων ἄρτοι οὐκ ἀρκοῦσιν αὐτοῖς, ἵνα ἕκαστος βραχύ τι λάβῃ.8λέγει αὐτῷ εἷς ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, Ἀνδρέας ἀδελφὸς Σίμωνος Πέτρου9Ἔστιν παιδάριον ὧδε ὃς ἔχει πέντε ἄρτους κριθίνους καὶ δύο ὀψάρια· ἀλλὰ ταῦτα τί ἐστιν εἰς τοσούτους;10εἶπεν Ἰησοῦς Ποιήσατε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀναπεσεῖν. ἦν δὲ χόρτος πολὺς ἐν τῷ τόπῳ. ἀνέπεσαν οὖν οἱ ἄνδρες τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὡς πεντακισχίλιοι.11ἔλαβεν οὖν τοὺς ἄρτους Ἰησοῦς καὶ εὐχαριστήσας διέδωκεν τοῖς ἀνακειμένοις, ὁμοίως καὶ ἐκ τῶν ὀψαρίων ὅσον ἤθελον.12ὡς δὲ ἐνεπλήσθησαν, λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Συναγάγετε τὰ περισσεύσαντα κλάσματα, ἵνα μή τι ἀπόληται.13συνήγαγον οὖν, καὶ ἐγέμισαν δώδεκα κοφίνους κλασμάτων ἐκ τῶν πέντε ἄρτων τῶν κριθίνων ἐπερίσσευσαν τοῖς βεβρωκόσιν.14Οἱ οὖν ἄνθρωποι ἰδόντες ἐποίησεν σημεῖον ἔλεγον ὅτι Οὗτός ἐστιν ἀληθῶς προφήτης ἐρχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον.15Ἰησοῦς οὖν γνοὺς ὅτι μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι καὶ ἁρπάζειν αὐτὸν ἵνα ποιήσωσιν βασιλέα, ἀνεχώρησεν πάλιν εἰς τὸ ὄρος αὐτὸς μόνος.