Lectionary Year B
August 13, 2000
John 6:35, 41-51

Step IV: Broader Context


Mark 14:22
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke, gave it to them, and said: "Take; this is my body."

Luke 22:19
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying: "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

[on the institution of the Lord's Supper, cf. 1 Cor 11:23ff.; Mt 26:26-29]

1 Corinthians 10:3; 5
and all ate the same spiritual food ... Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.

1 John 2:27
As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.

"Bread" in the NT
[source: Kittel. TDNT. "artos"]
1. "Bread" is used predominantly in combination with the "father/lord of the household," who takes the bread at the beginning of a meal, gives thanks, breaks it and distributes it to those who sit at the table.
2. "Bread" is sustenance/nourishment in the sense of the Hebrew word "lechem."
3. The thought of "participation of/in salvation" as "fagein arton en te basileia tou theou" -- to eat bread in the Kingdom of God; Lk 14:15. The participation is secured through eating the "bread of life (Jn 6:35; 48)," "the bread from heaven (Jn 6:1)," "the living bread (Jn 6:51)."


Deuteronomy 1:35
Not one of these - not one of this evil generation - shall see the good land that I swore to give to your ancestors.

Isaiah 54:13
All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.

Jeremiah 31:33-34
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within [does this happen to us by ingesting the "bread of life?"] them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

"The Bread of Life" in Rabbinic Judaism
[source: Strack/Billerbeck. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. (Commentary concerning the NT from Talmud and Midrash). vol. II. pp. 482ff.]

There is no exact parallel in Rabbinic Judaism. However, the perception of the "life-bread" can be found. According to Prov 3:18, the Torah is called "Tree of Life" (cf. Gn 2:9; 3:22); in Prov 3:8, 18 and 8:35 it is called "The Medicine of Life." Could the Torah have been also called "Bread of Life" since it was (and is) believed to provide sustenance for the people? In Prov 9:5, "Wisdom" tells the reader/hearer to "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed." And in Isaiah 3:1 it is written that "For now, the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, is taking away from Jerusalem and Judah support and staff--all support of bread, and all support of water--... ." Prov 25:21 admonishes the believer that "if your enemies are hungry, give them bread [perhaps: Torah] to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink." (for further references, cf. Isaiah 55:2; Prov 28:19) And after eating and drinking, "All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)"

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