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John 6:9

ESV “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
NIV Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'
NASB There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?'
CSB "There's a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish--but what are they for so many? "
NLT There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?'
KJV There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

What does John 6:9 mean?

Jesus is testing His disciples, in order to deepen their faith (John 6:6). This came in the form of a hungry crowd, numbering 5,000 men plus some number of women and children. So far, the disciples have alternately suggested ignoring the problem (Mark 6:36), solving it with money (John 6:7), and now Andrew brings a donation of food from a small boy.

Rather than start with an appeal to money, or charity, Jesus will teach the disciples to begin by simply bringing all we have to God (John 6:11).

The contents of the boy's lunch are significant, since it's mostly barley loaves. The crowd who was following Jesus at this time was almost exclusively Jewish, and they would have been aware that one of Elisha's miracles was multiplying twenty small barley loaves to feed a crowd of 100 men, with food left over (2 Kings 4:42–44). Jesus will perform a miracle even more dramatic than that by feeding thousands with even less. This will mark Jesus as one greater than the prophet Elisha, and inspire the crowd to proclaim Him the long-awaited Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15).
What is the Gospel?
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