John 6:52 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 6:52, NIV: "Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'"

John 6:52, ESV: "The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”"

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

John 6:52, NASB: "Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?'"

John 6:52, NLT: "Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' they asked."

John 6:52, CSB: "At that, the Jews argued among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat? ""

What does John 6:52 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Earlier in this story, the same crowd speaking to Jesus seemed willing to use force to make Him king (John 6:15). They demanded yet another miracle when Jesus began to correct their traditional views (John 6:30). They complained when Jesus claimed to be the "Bread of Life" sent by God (John 6:41). Now, Jesus has specifically said that the "Bread of Life," which brings salvation to those who believe, is His own flesh (John 6:51). While this is symbolic of His impending crucifixion, the people react with even more aggression. Their conduct is described with the Greek word emachonto, which can include anything from vigorous debate all the way to brawling.

The primary problem, as always, is that the crowd is interpreting a spiritual idea with a physical bias. Their first thought, then, is that Jesus is somehow suggesting cannibalism. For Jesus to suggest that belief, not good works, are required for salvation is scandalous enough. To invoke something as bizarre as eating His flesh is outrageous (Genesis 9:3–4; Leviticus 17:10–16).

In the next verses, Jesus will continue to expand on this metaphor, but most of the people will not accept it. Even for those who assume Jesus is speaking in metaphor, the idea that the Messiah is not a conquering king, but a sacrifice, is extremely hard to accept (John 6:60).