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John 6:60

ESV When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
NIV On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'
NASB So then many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This statement is very unpleasant; who can listen to it?'
CSB Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, "This teaching is hard. Who can accept it? "
NLT Many of his disciples said, 'This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?'
KJV Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

What does John 6:60 mean?

The term disciples is sometimes used in a general sense, and other times in reference to a particular group of men. The Greek term is mathētōn, which simply means a student. Any person who had been following Jesus and learning from Him, would at this point be considered a disciple. This is not exactly the same as the twelve disciples, meaning the core group of men Jesus would be with at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17–20). The crowd of people who came to see Jesus' miracles (John 6:2) is already deeply offended at His recent teachings (John 6:52). Most of them seem to assume a shallow, crass meaning behind Jesus description of Himself as the "Bread of Life." Others, including those who have been listening to Jesus' other teachings, recognize that He is speaking in a symbolic way. And yet, as this verse shows, this is still a difficult message to accept.

Part of the difficulty in Jesus' recent teaching is in the symbolism of flesh and blood and of bread from heaven. The other difficulty is in the idea of Messiah being anything other than a conquering, military-political king. Speaking of His role as the "Bread of Life" in terms of being consumed suggests sacrifice, not conquest. Even the most fervent Jewish follower of Jesus would have been bothered by the idea that the Promised One was not meant to be another Joshua or David.

The phrase "hard saying" here comes across in English with much less force than it does in Greek. The teachings of Jesus are being described here as sklēros, which means "offensive or intolerable." To these people, Jesus' words are not merely "difficult," they are "unacceptable."
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