What does John 6:23 mean?
ESV: Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
NIV: Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
NASB: Other small boats came from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
CSB: Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
NLT: Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten.
KJV: (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
Verse Commentary:
Crowds were already following Jesus as a result of His healing miracles (John 6:2). Now, thanks to His public feeding of thousands (John 6:9–14), even more have come to seek Him out. To some extent, this was the purpose behind the supernatural works Jesus performed. These are signs, according to John, which are meant to explain some particular message or meaning. The people are right to respond, but the upcoming verses will show that their motivations are wrong. Their real interest is in free food, and entertainment, not spiritual truth (John 6:26).

This verse is also interesting for making a specific reference to Jesus giving thanks to God prior to His miracle (John 6:11). At least for John, the meaning of that miracle is not lost: it is God's power, not ours, which actually gets results. Jesus' feeding of more than five thousand people was accomplished by appealing to God's will, and God's provision, before using human efforts to solve the problem. Those earthly efforts are still necessary, but they're also secondary. For John, the writer of this gospel, the fact that Jesus appealed to heaven prior to the miracle is a central fact.
Verse Context:
John 6:22–40 describes the initial aftermath of Jesus' feeding of thousands the previous day. The crowd's actual desire is for another supernatural spectacle and more free food. In this passage, Christ begins to explain the true meaning behind His miracle and His ministry. This includes the first of seven ''I AM'' statements in the gospel of John—moments where Jesus declares His own divinity. Jesus clarifies that physical things such as bread are meant to be symbols of a spiritual truth. In the following segment, the crowd will stop seeking and start complaining.
Chapter Summary:
In chapter 6, Jesus feeds thousands of people who had been following Him. He does this by miraculously dividing the contents of a small lunch, leaving more left over than He had to begin with. At first, the crowd is amazed and they enthusiastically praise Jesus. After sending the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, and rescuing them from a storm by walking on the water, Jesus once again addresses the crowd. This time, He emphasizes the spiritual lesson behind His prior miracle. In response, most of those who had been praising Jesus turn away from Him in disappointment.
Chapter Context:
John chapter 6 occurs some months after the events of chapter 5, bringing the narrative to about one year prior to Jesus' crucifixion. As with the rest of the Gospel of John, the purpose is not to repeat information from the other three Gospels, but to focus on Jesus' status as God incarnate. This chapter continues to expand the list of Jesus' miraculous signs and the witnesses to His divine nature. Here, Jesus also gives the first of seven ''I AM'' statements found in this Gospel. Chapter 7 will once again skip ahead to a major public step in Jesus' path to the cross.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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