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25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”


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25. On the other side of the sea. We have already said that Capernaum was not situated on the opposite shore; for Tiberias is situated on that part of the lake where it is broadest, Bethsaida follows next, and Capernaum lies near the lowest part, not far from where the river Jordan issues from the lake. Now, when John places it on the other side of the lake itself, we must not understand him as if its position were directly across, but because, at the lower extremity, the lake made a large winding, and, on account of the bay that intervened, it was impossible to go by land without a very circuitous journey. The Evangelist therefore says, on the other side of the sea, adopting the mode of expression used by the common people, because the only direct and ordinary mode of conveyance was by a boat.

26. Jesus answered them. Christ does not reply to the question put to him, which would have been fitted to show to them his power in having come thither by a miracle. 134134     “Ce qui eust este propre pour leur monstrer sa puissance, en ce qu’il estoit la venu par miracle.” But, on the contrary, he chides them for throwing themselves forward without consideration; for they were not acquainted with the true and proper reason of what he did, because they sought in Christ something else than Christ himself. The fault which he complains of in them is, that they seek Christ for the sake of the belly and not of the miracles And yet it cannot be denied that they looked to the miracle; nay more, the Evangelist has already told us that they were excited by the miracles to follow Christ. But because they abused the miracles for an improper purpose, he justly reproaches them with having a greater regard to the belly than to miracles. His meaning was, that they did not profit by the works of God as they ought to have done; for the true way of profiting would have been to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah in such a manner as to surrender themselves to be taught and governed by him, and, under his guidance, to aspire to the heavenly kingdom of God. On the contrary, they expect nothing greater from him than to live happily and at ease in this world. This is to rob Christ of his chief power; for the reason why he was given by the Father and revealed himself to men is, that he may form them anew after the image of God by giving them his Holy Spirit, and that he may conduct them to eternal life by clothing them with his righteousness.

It is of great importance, therefore, what we keep in view in the miracles of Christ; for he who does not aspire to the kingdom of God, but rests satisfied with the conveniences of the present life, seeks nothing else than to fill his belly. In like manner, there are many persons in the present day who would gladly embrace the gospel, if it were free from the bitterness of the cross, and if it brought nothing but carnal pleasures. Nay, we see many who make a Christian profession, that they may live in greater gaiety and with less restraint. Some through the expectation of gain, others through fear, and others for the sake of those whom they wish to please, profess to be the disciples of Christ. In seeking Christ, therefore, the chief point is, to despise the world and

seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
(Matthew 6:33.)

Besides, as men very generally impose on themselves, and persuade themselves that they are seeking Christ in the best manner, while they debase the whole of his power, for this reason Christ, in his usual manner, doubles the word verily, as if by the oath he intended to bring to light the vice which lurks under our hypocrisy.

27. Labour for food, not that which perisheth. He shows to what object our desires ought to be directed, namely, to eternal life; but because, in proportion as our understandings are gross, we are always devoted to earthly things, for this reason he corrects that disease which is natural to us, before he points out what we ought to do. The simple doctrine would have been, “Labour to have the incorruptible food;” but, knowing that the senses of men are held bound by earthly cares, he first enjoins them to be loosed and freed from those cords, that they may rise to heaven. Not that he forbids his followers to labor that they may procure daily food; but he shows that the heavenly life ought to be preferred to this earthly life, because the godly have no other reason for living here than that, being sojourners in the world, they may travel rapidly towards their heavenly country.

Next, we ought to see what is the present question; for, since the power of Christ is debased by those who are devoted to the belly and to earthly things, he argues what we ought to seek in him, and why we ought to seek it. He employs metaphors adapted to the circumstances in which his sermon was delivered. If food had not been mentioned, he would have said, without a figure, “You ought to lay aside anxiety about the world, and strive to obtain the heavenly life.” But as those men were running to their fodder like cattle, without looking to anything better, 135135     “Sans regarder a rien de meilleur.” Christ presents his sermon in a metaphorical dress, and gives the name of food to everything that belongs to newness of life. We know that our souls are fed by the doctrine of the gospel, when it is efficacious in us by the power of the Spirit; and, therefore, as faith is the life of the soul, all that nourishes and promotes faith is compared to food

Which endureth to eternal life. This kind of food he calls incorruptible, and says that it endureth to eternal life, in order to inform us that our souls are not fed for a day, but are nourished in the expectation of a blessed immortality; because the Lord

commences the work of our salvation, that he may perform it till the day of Christ, (Philippians 1:6.)

For this reason we must receive the gifts of the Spirit, that they may be earnests and pledges of eternal life. For, though the reprobate, after having tasted this food, frequently reject it, so that it is not permanent in them, yet believing souls feel that enduring power, when they are made partakers of the power of the Holy Spirit in his gifts, which is not of short duration, but, on the contrary, never fails.

It is a frivolous exercise of ingenuity to infer, as some do, from the word labor or work, that we merit eternal life by our works; for Christ metaphorically exhorts men, as we have said, to apply their minds earnestly to meditation on the heavenly life, instead of cleaving to the world, as they are wont to do; and Christ himself removes every doubt, when he declares that it is he who giveth the food; for what we obtain by his gift no man procures by his own industry. There is undoubtedly some appearance of contradiction in these words; but we may easily reconcile these two statements, that the spiritual food of the soul is the free gift of Christ, and that we must strive with all the affections of our heart to become partakers of so great a blessing.

For him hath God the Father sealed. He confirms the preceding statement, by saying that he was appointed to us for that purpose by the Father. The ancient writers have misinterpreted and tortured this passage, by maintaining that Christ is said to be sealed, because he is the stamp and lively image of the Father. For he does not here enter into abstruse discussions about his eternal essence, but explains what he has been commissioned and enjoined to do, what is his office in relation to us, and what we ought to seek and expect from him. By an appropriate metaphor, he alludes to an ancient custom; for they sealed with signets what they intended to sanction by their authority. Thus Christ — that it may not appear as if he claimed anything of himself, or by private authority 136136     “A fin qu’il ne semble que Christ vueille de soy-mesme et d’une authorite privee s’attribuer quelque chose.” — declares that this office was enjoined on him by the Father, and that this decree of the Father was manifested, as if a seal had been engraven on him. It may be summed up thus: As it is not every person who has the ability or the right 137137     “Que ce n’est pas une chose facile et commune a chacun.” to feed souls with incorruptible food, Christ appears in public, and, while he promises that he will be the Author of so great a blessing, he likewise adds that he is approved by God, and that he has been sent to men with this mark, which is, as it were, God’s seal or signet 138138     “Qui est comme le seau ou cachet de Dieu.”

Hence it follows that the desire of those who shall present their souls to Christ, to be fed by him, will not be disappointed. Let us know, therefore, that life is exhibited to us in Christ, in order that each of us may aspire to it, not at random, but with certainty of success. We are, at the same time, taught that all who bestow this praise on any other than Christ are guilty of falsehood before God. Hence it is evident that the Papists, in every part of their doctrine, are altogether liars; for as often as they invent any means of salvation in the room of Christ, so often do they — by erasing, as it were, the impression which has been made — spoil and deface, with wicked presumption and base treachery, this seal of God, which alone is authentic. That we may not fall into so dreadful a condemnation, let us learn to keep pure and entire for Christ all that the Father has given to him.

28. What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? The multitude understood well enough that Christ had exhorted them to aim at something higher than the conveniences of the present life, and that they ought not to confine their attention to the earth, since God calls them to more valuable blessings. But, in putting this question, they are partly mistaken by not understanding the kind of labor; for they do not consider that God bestows upon us, by the hand of the Son, all that is necessary for spiritual life. First, they ask what they ought to do; and next, when they use the expression, the works of God, they do not understand what they say, and talk without any definite object. 139139     “Ils n’entendent point ce qu’ils disent, et parlent sans certain but.” In this manner they manifest their ignorance of the grace of God. And yet they appear here to murmur disdainfully against Christ, as if he were accusing them groundlessly. “Dost thou suppose,” say they, “that we have no solicitude about eternal life? Why, then, dost thou enjoin us to do what is beyond our power?” By the works of God we must understand those which God demands, and of which he approves.

29. The work of God is this. They had spoken of works Christ reminds them of one work, that is, faith; by which he means that all that men undertake without faith is vain and useless, but that faith alone is sufficient, because this alone does God require from us, that we believe For there is here an implied contrast between faith and the works and efforts of men; as if he had said, Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavor to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal. This is a remarkable passage, showing that, though men torment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still they lose their pains, if they have not faith in Christ as the rule of their life. Those who infer from this passage that faith is the gift of God are mistaken; for Christ does not now show what God produces in us, but what he wishes and requires from us.

But we may think it strange that God approves of nothing but faith alone; for the love of our neighbor ought not to be despised, and the other exercises of religion do not lose their place and honor. So then, though faith may hold the highest rank, still other works are not superfluous. The reply is easy; for faith does not exclude either the love of our neighbor or any other good work, because it contains them all within itself. Faith is called the only work of God, because by means of it we possess Christ, and thus become the sons of God, so that he governs us by his Spirit. So then, because Christ does not separate faith from its fruits, we need not wonder if he make it to be the first and the last. 140140     “Proram et puppim,” literally, “stem and stern,” a Latin idiom for the whole. The Author’s French version (ed. 1558) renders the clause, “il ne se faut point esbahir s’il constitue en elle la fin et le commencement;” — “we must not be astonished if he makes it to be the end and the beginning;” and in ed. 1564, it runs thus, “ce n’est pas merveille que la foy est tout ce que Dieu requiert;” — “it is not wonderful that faith is all that God requires.”

That you believe in him whom he hath sent. What is the import of the word believe, we have explained under the Third Chapter. It ought always to be remembered that, in order to have a full perception of the power of faith, we must understand what Christ is, in whom we believe, and why he was given to us by the Father. It is idle sophistry, under the pretext of this passage, to maintain that we are justified by works, if faith justifies, because it is likewise called a work First, it is plain enough that Christ does not speak with strict accuracy, when he calls faith a work, just as Paul makes a comparison between the law of faith and the law of works, (Romans 3:27.) Secondly, when we affirm that men are not justified by works, we mean works by the merit of which men may obtain favor with God. Now faith brings nothing to God, but, on the contrary, places man before God as empty and poor, that he may be filled with Christ and with his grace. It is, therefore, if we may be allowed the expression, a passive work, to which no reward can be paid, and it bestows on man no other righteousness than that which he receives from Christ.

30. What sign doest thou? This wickedness abundantly proves how truly it is said elsewhere, This wicked generation seeketh a sign, (Matthew 12:39.) They had been at first drawn to Christ by the admiration of his miracles or signs, and afterwards, through amazement at a new sign, they acknowledged Christ to be the Messiah, and, with that conviction, wished to make him a king; but now they demand a sign from him, as if he were a man unknown to them. Whence came such sudden forgetfulness, but because they are ungrateful to God, and, through their own malice, are blind to his power, which is before their eyes? Nor can it be doubted that they treat disdainfully all the miracles which they had already beheld, because Christ does not comply with their wishes, and because they do not find him to be what they imagined him to be. If he had given them expectation of earthly happiness, he would have been highly applauded by them; they would undoubtedly have hailed him as a Prophet, and the Messiah, and the Son of God; but now, because he blames them for being too much addicted to the flesh, they think that they ought not to listen to him any more. And in the present day, how many are there who resemble them! At first, because they promise to themselves that Christ will flatter their vices, they eagerly embrace the gospel, and call for no proof of it; but when they are called to deny the flesh and to bear the cross, then do they begin to renounce Christ and ask whence the gospel came. In short, as soon as Christ does not grant their prayers, he is no longer their Master.

31. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness. Thus we see that Christ put his finger on the sore, when he told them that they came like brute beasts to fill their belly; for they discover this gross disposition, when they demand a Messiah by whom they are to be fed. And as to the magnificent terms in which they extol the grace of God in the manna, they do this cunningly, in order to bury the doctrine of Christ, by which he condemned them for immoderate desire of corruptible food; for they contrast with it the magnificent title bestowed on the manna, when it is called heavenly bread But when the Holy Spirit bestows on the manna the honorable appellation of the bread of heaven, (Psalm 78:24,) it is not with this intention, as if God fed his people, like a herd of swine, and gave them nothing more valuable; and, therefore, they are without excuse, when they wickedly reject the spiritual food of the soul, which God now offers to them.

32. Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread from heaven. Christ appears to contradict what was quoted from the psalm, but he speaks only by comparison. The manna מן is called the bread of heaven, but it is for the nourishment of the body; but the bread which ought truly and properly to be reckoned heavenly, is that which gives spiritual nourishment to the soul. Christ therefore makes a contrast here between the world and heaven, because we ought not to seek the incorruptible life but in the kingdom of heaven. In this passage, truth is not contrasted with shadows, as is often done elsewhere; but Christ considers what is the true life of man, or, in other words, what it is that makes him different from brute beasts, and excellent among the creatures.

My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. When he adds these words, the meaning is,” The manna which Moses gave to your fathers did not bring heavenly life, but now heavenly life is truly exhibited to you.” True, it is the Father whom he calls the giver of this bread, but he means that it is given by his own hand. Thus the contrast relates, not to Moses and God, but to Moses and Christ. Now, Christ represents his Father rather than himself as the Author of this gift, in order to procure for himself deeper reverence; as if he had said, “Acknowledge me to be the minister of God, by whose hands he wishes to feed you to eternal life.” But, again, this appears to be inconsistent with the doctrine of Paul, who calls the mannaspiritual food, (1 Corinthians 10:3.) I reply, Christ speaks according to the capacity of those with whom he has to deal, and this is not uncommon in Scripture. We see how variously Paul speaks about circumcision. When he writes about the ordinance, he calls it the seal of faith, (Romans 4:11;) but when he has to contend with false apostles, he calls it rather a seal of cursing, and that by taking it with the qualities which they ascribed to it, and according to their opinion. 143143     “Et ce en la prenant avec les qualitez qu’ils luy attribuoyent, et selon leur sens.” Let us consider what was the objection made against Christ, namely, that he did not prove himself to be the Messiah, if he did not supply his followers with bodily food. Accordingly, he does not inquire what it was that was prefigured by the manna, but maintains that the bread with which Moses fed their bellies was not true bread.

33. For the bread of God. Christ reasons negatively from the definition to the thing defined, in this manner: “The heavenly bread is that which hath come down from heaven to give life to the world In the manna there was nothing of this sort; and, therefore, the manna was not the heavenly bread.” But, at the same time, he confirms what he formerly said, namely, that he is sent by the Father, in order that he may feed men in a manner far more excellent than Moses. True, the manna came down from the visible heaven, that is, from the clouds; but not from the eternal kingdom of God, from which life flows to us. And the Jews, whom Christ addresses, looked no higher than that the bellies of their fathers were well stuffed and fattened in the wilderness.

What he formerly called the bread of heaven, he now calls the bread of God; not that the bread which supports us in the present life comes from any other than God, but because that alone can be reckoned the bread of God 144144     “Pain de Dieu.” which quickens souls to a blessed immortality. This passage teaches that the whole world is dead to God, except so far as Christ quickens it, because life will be found nowhere else than in him.

Which hath come down from heaven. In the coming down from heaven two things are worthy of observation; first, that we have a Divine life in Christ, because he has come from God to be the Author of life to us; secondly, that the heavenly life is near us,

so that we do not need to fly above the clouds or to cross the sea,
(Deuteronomy 30:12, 13; Romans 10:6-8;)

for the reason why Christ descended to us was, that no man could ascend above.

34. Give us always this bread. There is no doubt that they speak ironically, to accuse Christ of vain boasting, when he said that he was able to give the bread of life. Thus wretched men, while they reject the promises of God, are not satisfied with this evil alone, but put Christ in their room, as if he were chargeable with their unbelief.

35. I am the bread of life. First, he shows that the bread, which they asked in mockery, is before their eyes; and, next, he reproves them. He begins with doctrine, to make it more evident that they were guilty of ingratitude. There are two parts of the doctrine; for he shows whence we ought to seek life, and how we may enjoy it. We know what gave occasion to Christ to use those metaphors; it was because manna and daily food had been mentioned. But still this figure is better adapted to teach ignorant persons than a simple style. When we eat bread for the nourishment of the body, we see more clearly not only our own weakness, but also the power of divine grace, than if, without, bread, God were to impart a secret power to nourish the body itself. Thus, the analogy which is traced between the body and the soul, enables us to perceive more clearly the grace of Christ. For when we learn that Christ is the bread by which our souls must be fed, this penetrates more deeply into our hearts than if Christ simply said that he is our life

It ought to be observed, however, that the word bread does not express the quickening power of Christ so fully as we feel it; for bread does not commence life, but nourishes and upholds that life which we already possess. But, through the kindness of Christ, we not only continue to possess life, but have the beginning of life, and therefore the comparison is partly inappropriate; but there is no inconsistency in this, for Christ adapts his style to the circumstances of the discourse which he formerly delivered. Now the question had been raised, Which of the two was more eminent in feeding men, Moses or Christ himself? This is also the reason why he calls it bread only, for it was only the manna that they objected to him, and, therefore, he reckoned it enough to contrast with it a different kind of bread The simple doctrine is, “Our souls do not live by an intrinsic power, so to speak, that is, by a power which they have naturally in themselves, 145145     “Qu’elles ayent en elles naturellement.” but borrow life from Christ.”

He who cometh to me. He now defines the way of taking this food; it is when we receive Christ by faith. For it is of no avail to unbelievers that Christ is the bread of life, because they remain always empty; but then does Christ become our bread, when we come to him as hungry persons, that he may fill us. To come to Christ and to believe mean, in this passage, the same thing; but the former word is intended to express the effect of faith, namely, that it is in consequence of being driven by the feeling of our hunger that we fly to Christ to seek life.

Those who infer from this passage that to eat Christ is faith, and nothing else, reason inconclusively. I readily acknowledge that there is no other way in which we eat Christ than by believing; but the eating is the effect and fruit of faith rather than faith itself. For faith does not look at Christ only as at a distance, but embraces him, that he may become ours and may dwell in us. It causes us to be incorporated with him, to have life in common with him, and, in short, to become one with him, (John 17:21.) It is therefore true that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand in what manner faith unites us to him.

Shall never thirst. This appears to be added without any good reason; for the office of bread is not to quench thirst, but to allay hunger. Christ therefore attributes to bread more than its nature allows. I have already said, that he employs the word bread alone because it was required by the comparison between the manna and the heavenly power of Christ, by which our souls are sustained in life. At the same time, by the word bread, he means in general all that nourishes us, and that according to the ordinary custom of his nation. For the Hebrews, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, use the word bread for dinner or supper; and when we ask from God our daily bread, (Matthew 6:11,) we include drink and all the other parts of life. The meaning therefore is, “Whoever shall betake himself to Christ, to have life from him, will want nothing, but will have in abundance all that contributes to sustain life.”

36. But I have told you. He now reproves them for wickedly rejecting the gift of God, which is offered to them. Now, that man is chargeable with wicked contempt of God, who rejects what he knows that God has given him. If Christ had not made known his power, and plainly showed that he came from God, the plea of ignorance might have alleviated their guilt; but when they reject the doctrine of him whom they formerly acknowledged to be the Lord’s Messiah, it is extreme baseness. It is no doubt true, that men never resist God purposely, so as to reflect that they have to do with God; and to this applies the saying of Paul,

They would never have crucified the Lord of glory, if they had known him
(1 Corinthians 2:8.)

But unbelievers, because they willingly shut their eyes against the light are justly said to see that which immediately vanishes from their sight, because Satan darkens their understandings. This, at least, is beyond all controversy, that when he said that they saw, we must not understand him to mean his bodily appearance, but rather that he describes their voluntary blindness, because they might have known what he was, if their malice had not prevented them.

37. All that the Father giveth me. That their unbelief may not detract anything from his doctrine, he says, that the cause of so great obstinacy is, that they are reprobate, and do not belong to the flock of God. His intention, therefore, in distinguishing here between the elect and the reprobate is, that the authority of his doctrine may remain unimpaired, though there are many who do not believe it. For, on the one hand, ungodly men calumniate and utterly despise the word of God, because they are not moved by reverence for it; and, on the other hand, many weak and ignorant persons entertain doubts whether that which is rejected by a great part of the world be actually the word of God. Christ meets this offense, when he affirms, that all those who do not believe are not his own, and that we need not wonder if such persons have no relish for the word of God, but that it is embraced by all the children of God. In the first place, he says, that all whom the Father giveth him come to him; by which words he means, that faith is not a thing which depends on the will of men, so that this man and that man indiscriminately and at random believe, but that God elects those whom he hands over, as it were, to his Son; for when he says, that whatever is given cometh, we infer from it, that all do not come. Again, we infer, that God works in his elect by such an efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that not one of them falls away; for the word give has the same meaning as if Christ had said, “Those whom the Father hath chosen he regenerates, and gives to me, that they may obey the Gospel.”

And him that cometh to me I will not cast out. This is added for the consolation of the godly, that they may be fully persuaded that they have free access to Christ by faith, and that, as soon as they have placed themselves under his protection and safeguard, they will be graciously received by him. Hence it follows, that the doctrine of the Gospel will be salutary to all believers, because no man becomes a disciple of Christ who does not, on the other hand, feel and experience him to be a good and faithful teacher.

38. For I came down from heaven. This is a confirmation of the preceding statement, that we do not seek Christ in vain. For faith is a work of God, by which he shows that we are his people, and appoints his Son to be the protector of our salvation. Now the Son has no other design than to fulfill the commands of his Father. Consequently, he will never reject those whom his Father hath sent. Hence, finally, it follows, that faith will never be useless. As to the distinction which Christ makes between his own will and the will of the Father, in this respect, he accommodates himself to his hearers, because, as the mind of man is prone to distrust, we are wont to contrive some diversity which produces hesitation. To cut off every pretense for those wicked imaginations, Christ declares, that he has been manifested to the world, in order that he may actually ratify what the Father hath decreed concerning our salvation.

39. And this is the will of the Father. He now testifies, that this is the design of the Father, that believers may find salvation secured in Christ; from which again it follows, that all who do not profit by the doctrine of the Gospel are reprobate. Wherefore, if we see that it turns to the ruin of many, we have no reason to despond, because those men willingly draw down the evil on themselves. Let us rest satisfied with this, that the Gospel will always have power to gather the elect to salvation.

That I should lose none of it. That is, “That I should not suffer it to be taken from me or perish;” by which he means, that he is not the guardian of our salvation for a single day, or for a few days, but that he will take care of it to the end, so that he will conduct us, as it were, from the commencement to the termination of our course; and therefore he mentions the last resurrection. This promise is highly necessary for us, who miserably groan under so great weakness of the flesh, of which every one of us is sufficiently aware; and at every moment, indeed, the salvation of the whole world might be ruined, were it not that believers, supported by the hand of Christ, advance boldly to the day of resurrection. Let this, therefore, be fixed in our minds, that Christ has stretched out his hand to us, that he may not desert us in the midst of the course, but that, relying on his goodness, we may boldly raise our eyes to the last day.

There is also another reason why he mentions the resurrection. It is because, so long as our life is hidden, (Colossians 3:3,) we are like dead men. For in what respect do believers differ from wicked men, but that, overwhelmed with afflictions, and like sheep destined for the slaughter, (Romans 8:36,) they have always one foot in the grave, and, indeed, are not far from being continually swallowed up by death? Thus there remains no other support of our faith and patience but this, that we keep out of view the condition of the present life, and apply our minds and our senses to the last day, and pass through the obstructions of the world, until the fruit of our faith at length appear.

40. And this is the will of him who sent me. He had said that the Father had committed to him the protection of our salvation; and now he likewise describes the manner in which it is accomplished. The way to obtain salvation, therefore, is to obey the Gospel of Christ. This point he had, indeed, glanced at a little before but now he expresses more fully what he had spoken somewhat obscurely. And if it is the will of God that those whom he has elected shall be saved, and if in this manner he ratifies and executes his eternal decree, whoever he be that is not satisfied with Christ, but indulges in curious inquiries about eternal predestination, such a person, as far as lies in his power, desires to be saved contrary to the purpose of God. The election of God is in itself hidden and secret; the Lord manifests it by calling, that is, when he bestows on us this blessing of calling us 146146     “C’est a dire, quand il nous fait ce bien de nous appeler.”

They are madmen, therefore, who seek their own salvation or that of others in the whirlpool of predestination, not keeping the way of salvation which is exhibited to them. Nay more, by this foolish speculation, they endeavor to overturn the force and effect of predestination; for if God has elected us to this end, that we may believe, take away faith, and election will be imperfect. But we have no right to break through the order and succession of the beginning and the end, since God, by his purpose, hath decreed and determined that it shall proceed unbroken. 147147     “Or ne nous est-il permis de rompre l’ordre et la suite du commencement avec la fin, puis que Dieu par son conseil l’a ainsi ordonne et voulu que cela allast d’un fil.” Besides, as the election of God, by an indissoluble bond, draws his calling along with it, so when God has effectually called us to faith in Christ, let this have as much weight with us as if he had engraven his seal to ratify his decree concerning our salvation. For the testimony of the Holy Spirit is nothing else than the sealing of our adoption, (Romans 8:15.) To every man, therefore, his faith is a sufficient attestation of the eternal predestination of God, so that it would be a shocking sacrilege 148148     “Un sacrilege horrible.” to carry the inquiry farther; for that man offers an aggravated insult to the Holy Spirit, who refuses to assent to his simple testimony.

Whosoever seeth the Son, and believeth in him. He uses the words, see and believe, in contrast with what he had formerly said; for he had reproached the Jews with not believing, even though they saw, (verse 36.) But now, speaking of the sons of God, with the feeling which they have of the power of God in Christ, he joins the obedience of faith. Moreover, these words show that faith proceeds from the knowledge of Christ; not that it desires anything beyond the simple word of God, but because, if we trust in Christ, we must perceive what he is, and what he brings to us.

41. The Jews therefore murmured concerning him. The Evangelist explains the cause of the murmuring to have been, that the Jews were offended at the mean condition of Christ’s human nature, 150150     “De la petitesse de Christ, et de sa humaine condition;” — “at the meanness of Christ, and of his human condition.” and did not perceive in him any thing Divine or heavenly. Yet he shows that they had a twofold obstruction. One they had framed for themselves out of a false opinion, when they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? Another arose from a wicked sentiment, that they did not think that Christ was the Son of God, because he came down to men clothed with our flesh. 151151     “Prenant nostre chair.” But we are guilty of excessive malignity, if we despise the Lord of glory because on our account

he emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant,
(Philippians 2:7;)

for this was rather an illustrious proof of his boundless love towards us, and of his wonderful grace. Besides, the Divine majesty of Christ was not so concealed under the mean and contemptible appearance of the flesh, as not to give out the rays of his brightness in a variety of ways; but those gross and stupid men wanted eyes to see his conspicuous glory.

We, too, sin daily in both of these ways. First, it is a great hinderance to us, that it is only with carnal eyes that we behold Christ; and this is the reason why we perceive in him nothing magnificent, for by our sinful views we pervert all that belongs to him and to his doctrine, so unskilful are we to profit by them, or to view them in the proper light. 152152     “Tant nous sommes mal adroits a faire nostre profit des choses, et les prendre de la sorte qu’il faut.” Secondly, not satisfied with this, we adopt many false imaginations, which produce a contempt of the Gospel. Nay, there are even many who frame for themselves monsters, that they may make them a pretense for hating the Gospel. In this manner the world deliberately drives away the grace of God. Now the Evangelist expressly names the Jews, in order to inform us that the murmuring proceeded from those who gloried in the title of faith and of the Church, that we may all learn to receive Christ with reverence, when he comes down to us, and that, in proportion as he comes nearer to us, we may more cheerfully approach to him, that he may raise us to his heavenly glory.

43. Murmur not among yourselves. He throws back on them the blame of the murmuring, as if he had said, “My doctrine contains no ground of offense, but because you are reprobate, it irritates your envenomed breasts, and the reason why you do not relish it is, that you have a vitiated taste.”

44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. He does not merely accuse them of wickedness, but likewise reminds them, that it is a peculiar gift of God to embrace the doctrine which is exhibited by him; which he does, that their unbelief may not disturb weak minds. For many are so foolish that, in the things of God, they depend on the opinions of men; in consequence of which, they entertain suspicions about the Gospel, as soon as they see that it is not received by the world. Unbelievers, on the other hand, flattering themselves in their obstinacy, have the hardihood to condemn the Gospel because it does not please them. On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.

Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, 153153     “Que nuls ne sont tirez sinon ceux qui le veulent estre.” as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him.

45. It is written in the Prophets. Christ confirms by the testimony of Isaiah what he said, that no man can come to him, unless he be drawn by the Father He uses the word prophets in the plural number, because all their prophecies had been collected into one volume, so that all the prophets might justly be accounted one book. The passage which is here quoted is to be found in Isaiah 54:13, where, speaking of the restoration of the Church, he promises to her, sons taught by the instruction of God Hence it may easily be inferred, that the Church cannot be restored in any other way than by God undertaking the office of a Teacher, and bringing believers to himself. The way of teaching, of which the prophet speaks, does not consist merely in the external voice, but likewise in the secret operation of the Holy Spirit. In short, this teaching of God is the inward illumination of the heart.

And they shall be all taught by God. As to the word all, it must be limited to the elect, who alone are the true children of the Church. Now it is not difficult to see in what manner Christ applies this prediction to the present subject. Isaiah shows that then only is the Church truly edified, when she has her children taught by God Christ, therefore, justly concludes that men have not eyes to behold the light of life, until God has opened them. But at the same time, he fastens on the general phrase, all; because he argues from it, that all who are taught by God are effectually drawn, so as to come; and to this relates what he immediately adds,

Whosoever therefore hath heard my Father. The amount of what is said is, that all who do not believe are reprobate and doomed to destruction; because all the sons of the Church and heirs of life are made by God to be his obedient disciples. Hence it follows, that there is not one of all the elect of God who shall not be a partaker of faith in Christ. 154154     “Qu’il n’y en a pas un de tous les eleus de Dieu qui ne viene a estre participant de la foy.” Again, as Christ formerly affirmed that men are not fitted for believing, until they have been drawn, so he now declares that the grace of Christ, by which they are drawn, is efficacious, so that they necessarily believe.

These two clauses utterly overturn the whole power of free will, of which the Papists dream. For if it be only when the Father has drawn us that we begin to come to Christ, there is not in us any commencement of faith, or any preparation for it. On the other hand, if all come whom the Father hath taught, He gives to them not only the choice of believing, but faith itself. When, therefore, we willingly yield to the guidance of the Spirit, this is a part, and, as it were, a sealing of grace; because God would not draw us, if He were only to stretch out his hand, and leave our will in a state of suspense. But in strict propriety of language He is said to draw us, when He extends the power of his Spirit to the full effect of faith. They are said to hear God, who willingly assent to God speaking to them within, because the Holy Spirit reigns in their hearts.

Cometh to me. He shows the inseparable connection that exists between him and the Father. For the meaning is, that it is impossible that any who are God’s disciples shall not obey Christ, and that they who reject Christ refuse to be taught by God; because the only wisdom that all the elect learn in the school of God is, to come to Christ; for the Father, who sent him, cannot deny himself.

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father. As he has hitherto magnified the grace of his Father, so now he earnestly directs believers to himself alone. For both must be joined together; that no knowledge of Christ can be obtained, until the Father enlighten by his Spirit those who are by nature blind; and yet that it is in vain to seek God, unless Christ go before; for the majesty of God is so lofty, that the senses of men cannot reach him. Nay, more, all that knowledge of God which men may think that they have attained out of Christ will be a deadly abyss. When he says that he alone hath known the Father, he means that it is an office which belongs peculiarly to himself, to manifest God to men, who would otherwise have been concealed.

47. He who believeth in me. This is an explanation of the former statement. For we are taught by these words that it is when we believe in Christ that God is made known to us; for then do we begin to see, as in a mirror, or as in a bright and lively image, God who was formerly invisible. Accursed then be every thing that is declared to us concerning God, if it do not lead us to Christ. What it is to believe in Christ I have already explained; for we must not imagine a confused and empty faith, which deprives Christ of his power, as the Papists do, who believe in Christ just as far as they think fit. For the reason why we obtain life by faith is, that we know that all the parts of our life are contained in Christ.

The inference which some draw from this passage — that to believe in Christ is the same thing as to eat Christ, or his flesh — is not well founded. For these two things differ from each other as former and latter; and in like manner, to come to Christ and to drink him, for coming to him is first in order. I acknowledge that Christ is not eaten but by faith; but the reason is, because we receive him by faith, that he may dwell in us, and that we may be made partakers of him, and thus may be one with him. To eat him, therefore, is an effect or work of faith.

48. I am the bread of life Besides what he formerly said, that he is the life-giving bread, by which our souls are nourished, in order to explain it more fully, he likewise repeats the contrast between this bread and the ancient manna, together with a comparison of the men.

49. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. He says that the manna was a perishing food to their fathers, for it did not free them from death. It follows, therefore, that souls do not find anywhere else than in him that food by which they are fed to spiritual life. Besides, we must keep in remembrance what I formerly stated, that what is here said does not relate to the manna, so far as it was a secret figure of Christ; for in that respect Paul calls it spiritual food, (1 Corinthians 10:3.) But we have said that Christ here accommodates his discourse to the hearers, who, caring only about feeding the belly, looked for nothing higher in the manna. Justly, therefore does he declare that their fathers are dead, that is, those who in the same manner, were devoted to the belly, or, in other words, who thought of nothing higher than this world. 155155     “C’est a dire, ne pensoyent plus haut que ce monde.” And yet he invites them to eat, when he says that he has come, that any man may eat; for this mode of expression has the same meaning as if he said, that he is ready to give himself to all, provided that they are only willing to believe. That not one of those who have once eaten Christ shall die — must be understood to mean, that the life which he bestows on us is never extinguished, as we stated under the Fifth Chapter.

51. I am the living bread. He often repeats the same thing, because nothing is more necessary to be known; and every one feels in himself with what difficulty we are brought to believe it, and how easily and quickly it passes away and is forgotten. 156156     “Il nous escoule et vient a estre mis en oubli.” We all desire life, but in seeking it, we foolishly and improperly wander about in circuitous roads; and when it is offered, the greater part disdainfully reject it. For who is there that does not contrive for himself life out of Christ? And how few are there who are satisfied with Christ alone! It is not a superfluous repetition, therefore, when Christ asserts so frequently that he alone is sufficient to give life. For he claims for himself the designation of bread, in order to tear from our hearts all fallacious hopes of living. Having formerly called himself the bread of life, he now calls himself the living bread, but in the same sense, namely, life-giving bread. — Which have come down from heaven He frequently mentions his coming down from heaven, because spiritual and incorruptible life will not be found in this world, the fashion of which passes away and vanishes, but only in the heavenly kingdom of God.

If any man eat of this bread. Whenever he uses the word eat, he exhorts us to faith, which alone enables us to enjoy this bread, so as to derive life from it. 157157     “Laquelle seule fait que nous tirons vie de ce pain.” Nor is it without good reason that he does so, for there are few who deign to stretch out their hand to put this bread to their mouth; and even when the Lord puts it into their mouth, there are few who relish it, but some are filled with wind, and others — like Tantalus — are dying of hunger through their own folly, while the food is close beside them.

The bread which I shall give is my flesh. As this secret power to bestow life, of which he has spoken, might be referred to his Divine essence, he now comes down to the second step, and shows that this life is placed in his flesh, that it may be drawn out of it. It is, undoubtedly, a wonderful purpose of God that he has exhibited life to us in that flesh, where formerly there was nothing but the cause of death. And thus he provides for our weakness, when he does not call us above the clouds to enjoy life, but displays it on earth, in the same manner as if he were exalting us to the secrets of his kingdom. And yet, while he corrects the pride of our mind, he tries the humility and obedience of our faith, when he enjoins those who would seek life to place reliance on his flesh, which is contemptible in its appearance.

But an objection is brought, that the flesh of Christ cannot give life, because it was liable to death, and because even now it is not immortal in itself; and next, that it does not at all belong to the nature of flesh to quicken souls. I reply, though this power comes from another source than from the flesh, still this is no reason why the designation may not accurately apply to it; for as the eternal Word of God is the fountain of life, (John 1:4,) so his flesh, as a channel, conveys to us that life which dwells intrinsically, as we say, in his Divinity. And in this sense it is called life-giving, because it conveys to us that life which it borrows for us from another quarter. This will not be difficult to understand, if we consider what is the cause of life, namely, righteousness. And though righteousness flows from God alone, still we shall not attain the full manifestation of it any where else than in the flesh of Christ; for in it was accomplished the redemption of man, in it a sacrifice was offered to atone for sins, and an obedience yielded to God, to reconcile him to us; it was also filled with the sanctification of the Spirit, and at length, having vanquished death, it was received into the heavenly glory. It follows, therefore that all the parts of life have been placed in it, that no man may have reason to complain that he is deprived of life, as if it were placed in concealment, or at a distance.

Which I shall give for the life of the world. The word give is used in various senses. The first giving, of which he has formerly spoken, is made daily, whenever Christ offers himself to us. Secondly, it denotes that singular giving which was done on the cross, when he offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father; for then he delivered himself up to death for the life of men, and now he invites us to enjoy the fruit of his death. For it would be of no avail to us that that sacrifice was once offered, if we did not now feast on that sacred banquet. It ought also to be observed, that Christ claims for himself the office of sacrificing his flesh. Hence it appears with what wicked sacrilege the Papists pollute themselves, when they take upon themselves, in the mass, what belonged exclusively to that one High Priest.

52. The Jews therefore debated among themselves. He again mentions the Jews, not by way of honor, but to reproach them with their unbelief, because they do not receive the well known doctrine concerning eternal life, or, at least, do not inquire modestly into the subject, if it be still obscure and doubtful. For when he says that they debated, it is a sign of obstinacy and contempt; and those who dispute so keenly do, indeed, block up against themselves the road to the knowledge of the truth. And yet the blame imputed to them is not simply that they inquired into the manner; for the same blame would fall on Abraham and the blessed Virgin, (Genesis 15:2; Luke 1:34.) Those persons, therefore, are either led astray through ignorance, or are deficient in candour, who, without taking into account the hardihood and eagerness to quarrel, which alone the Evangelist condemns, direct all their outcry against the word how; as if it had not been lawful for the Jews to inquire about the manner of eating the flesh of Christ 158158     “De manger la chair de Christ.” But it ought rather to be imputed to sloth than ascribed to the obedience of faith, if we knowingly and willingly leave unsolved those doubts and difficulties which are removed for us by the word of the Lord. Not only is it lawful, therefore, to inquire as to the manner of eating the flesh of Christ, but it is of great importance for us to understand it, so far as it is made known by the Scriptures. Away, then, with that fierce and obstinate pretense of humility, “For my part, I am satisfied with that single word of Christ, when he declares that his flesh is truly food: to all the rest I willingly shut my eyes.” As if heretics would not have equal plausibility on their side, if they willingly were ignorant that Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, because, believing that he is the seed of Abraham, they make no farther inquiry. Only we ought to preserve such moderation about the secret works of God, as not to desire to know anything more than what he determines by his word.

53. Verily, verily, I say to you. The just resentment which Christ felt, 159159     “Un juste despit que Christ a conceu.” when he saw his grace rejected with such haughty disdain, constrained him to employ this oath. For he does not now make use of simple doctrine, but likewise mingles threatenings for the purpose of striking terror. He denounces eternal perdition against all who refuse to seek life from his flesh; as if he had said, “If you hold my flesh in contempt, rest assured that there remains for you no other hope of life.” The vengeance that awaits all despisers of the grace of Christ is, that with their pride they miserably perish; and the reason why they must be urged with plainness and severity is, that they may not continue to flatter themselves. For if we threaten with death those diseased persons who refuse to take medicines, what must we do with wicked men, when they strive, as far as lies in their power, to destroy life itself?

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man. When he says, the flesh of the Son of man, the expression is emphatic; for he reproves them for their contempt, which arose from perceiving that he resembled other men. The meaning therefore is: “Despise me as much as you please, on account of the mean and despicable appearance of my flesh, still that despicable flesh contains life; and if you are destitute of it, you will nowhere else find any thing else to quicken you.”

The ancients fell into a gross error by supposing that little children were deprived of eternal life, if they did not dispense to them the eucharist, that is, the Lord’s Supper; 160160     “C’est a dire, la Cene.” for this discourse does not relate to the Lord’s Supper, but to the uninterrupted communication of the flesh of Christ, 161161     “De la chair de Christ.” which we obtain apart from the use of the Lord’s Supper. Nor were the Bohemians in the right, when they adduced this passage to prove that all without exception ought to be admitted to the use of the cup. With respect to young children, the ordinance of Christ forbids them to partake of the Lord’s Supper; because they are not yet able to know or to celebrate the remembrance of the death of Christ. The same ordinance makes the cup common to all, for it commands us all to drink of it, (Matthew 26:27.)

54. He who eateth my flesh. This is a repetition, but is not superfluous; for it confirms what was difficult to be believed, That souls feed on his flesh and blood, in precisely the same manner that the body is sustained by eating and drinking Accordingly, as he lately testified that nothing but death remains for all who seek life anywhere else than in his flesh, so now he excites all believers 162162     “Tous les fideles.” to cherish good hope, while he promises to them life in the same flesh.

And I will raise him up at the last day. It ought to be observed, that Christ so frequently connects the resurrection with eternal life, because our salvation will be hidden till that day. No man, therefore, can perceive what Christ bestows on us, unless, rising above the world, he places before his eyes the last resurrection From these words, it plainly appears that the whole of this passage is improperly explained, as applied to the Lord’s Supper. For if it were true that all who present themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made partakers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain life; but we know that there are many who partake of it to their condemnation. And indeed it would have been foolish and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord’s Supper, before he had instituted it. It is certain, then, that he now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. 163163     “De la maniere perpetuelle et ordinaire de manger la chair de Christ, qui se fait par la foy seulement.” And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation 164164     “Comme nn seau et confirmation.” of this sermon. This is also the reason why the Evangelist John makes no mention of the Lord’s Supper; and therefore Augustine follows the natural order, when, in explaining this chapter, he does not touch on the Lord’s Supper till he comes to the conclusion; and then he shows that this mystery is symbolically represented, whenever the Churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper, in some places daily, and in other places only on the Lord’s day.

55. For my flesh is truly food. He confirms the same statement by other words, “As the body is weakened and consumed by the want of food, so the soul, if it be not fed with heavenly bread, will soon perish with hunger.” For when he declares that his flesh is truly food, he means that souls are famished, if they want that food. Then only wilt thou find life in Christ, when thou shalt seek the nourishment of life in his flesh. Thus we ought to boast, with Paul, that we reckon nothing to be excellent but Christ crucified; because, as soon as we have departed from the sacrifice of his death, we meet with nothing but death; nor is there any other road that conducts us to a perception of his Divine power than through his death and resurrection. Embrace Christ, therefore, as the Servant of the Father, (Isaiah 42:1,) that he may show himself to thee to be the Prince of life, (Acts 3:15.) For when he emptied himself, (Philippians 2:7,) in this manner we were enriched with abundance of all blessings; his humiliation and descent into hell raised us to heaven; and, by enduring the curse of his cross, he erected the banner of our righteousness as a splendid memorial of his victory. 165165     “Il a dresse l’enseigne de nostre justice comme un memorial magnifique de sa victoire.” Consequently, they are false expounders of the mystery of the Lord’s Supper, 166166     “Ceux-la donc ne sont pas bons et droicts expositeurs du mystere de la Cene.” who draw away souls from the flesh of Christ.

And my blood is truly drink. But why does Christ mention his blood separately, when it is included in the word flesh? I reply, he did so in condescension to our weakness. For when he expressly mentions food and drink, he declares that the life which he bestows is complete in every respect, that we may not imagine to ourselves a life which is only half or imperfect; as if he had said, that we shall want nothing that belongs to life, provided that we eat his flesh and drink his blood. Thus also in the Lord’s Supper, which corresponds to this doctrine, not satisfied with the symbol of the bread, he adds also the cup, that, having in him a twofold pledge, we may learn to be satisfied with him alone; for never will a man find a part of life in Christ, until he has entire and complete life in him.

56. He who eateth my flesh. This is another confirmation; for while he alone has life in himself, he shows how we may enjoy it, that is, by eating his flesh; as if he had affirmed that there is no other way in which he can become ours, than by our faith being directed to his flesh. For no one will ever come to Christ as God, who despises him as man; and, therefore, if you wish to have any interest in Christ, you must take care, above all things, that you do not disdain his flesh.

Dwelleth in me, and I in him. When he says that he dwelleth in us, the meaning is the same as if he had said, that the only bond of union, and the way by which he becomes one with us, is, when our faith relies on his death. We may likewise infer from it, that he is not now speaking of the outward symbol, which many unbelievers receive equally with believers, and yet continue separated from Christ. It enables us also to refute the dream of those who say, that Judas received the body of Christ as well as the other apostles, when Christ gave the bread to all; for as it is a display of ignorance to limit this doctrine to the outward sign, so we ought to remember what I have formerly said, that the doctrine which is here taught is sealed in the Lord’s Supper. Now, it is certain, in the first place, that Judas never was a member of Christ; secondly, it is highly unreasonable to imagine the flesh of Christ to be dead and destitute of the Holy Spirit; and, lastly, it is a mockery to dream of any way of eating the flesh of Christ without faith, since faith alone is the mouth — so to speak — and the stomach of the soul.

57. As the living Father hath sent me. Hitherto Christ has explained the manner in which we must become partakers of life. He now comes to speak of the principal cause, for the first source of life is in the Father. But he meets an objection, for it might be thought that he took away from God what belonged to him, when he made himself the cause of life. He makes himself, therefore, to be the Author of life, in such a manner, as to acknowledge that there was another who gave him what he administers to others.

Let us observe, that this discourse also is accommodated to the capacity of those to whom Christ was speaking; for it is only with respect to his flesh that he compares himself to the Father. For though the Father is the beginning of life, yet the eternal Word himself is strictly life But the eternal Divinity of Christ is not the present subject; for he exhibits himself such as he was manifested to the world, clothed with our flesh.

I also live on account of the Father. This does not apply to his Divinity simply, nor does it apply to his human nature simply and by itself, but it is a description of the Son of God manifested in the flesh. Besides, we know that it is not unusual with Christ to ascribe to the Father every thing Divine which he had in himself. It must be observed, however, that he points out here three degrees of life. In the first rank is the living Father, who is the source, but remote and hidden. Next follows the Son, who is exhibited to us as an open fountain, and by whom life flows to us. The third is, the life which we draw from him. We now perceive what is stated to amount to this, that God the Father, in whom life dwells, is at a great distance from us, and that Christ, placed between us, is the second cause of life, in order that what would otherwise be concealed in God may proceed from him to us.

58. This is the bread which came down from heaven. He returns to the comparison between the manna and his flesh, with which he had begun; for it was necessary that he should close the sermon in this manner: “There is no reason why you should prefer Moses to me, because he fed your fathers in the wilderness; since I supply you with far more excellent food, for I bring heavenly life with me.” For — as was formerly said — the bread is said to have come down from heaven, because it has nothing earthly or corruptible in its nature, but breathes the immortality of the kingdom of God. They who were only bent on feeding the belly, did not find such virtue in the manna; for while the manna had a twofold use, the Jews, with whom Christ is now disputing, beheld in it nothing else than bodily food. But the life of the soul is not fading, but makes continual progress until the whole man is renewed.




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