The Meaning of John 6:15 Explained

John 6:15

KJV: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

YLT: Jesus, therefore, having known that they are about to come, and to take him by force that they may make him king, retired again to the mountain himself alone.

Darby: Jesus therefore knowing that they were going to come and seize him, that they might make him king, departed again to the mountain himself alone.

ASV: Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.

What does John 6:15 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Moses had also provided military leadership for the Israelites and had liberated them from the oppression of the Egyptians. These Jews concluded that Jesus could do the same for them and sought to secure His political leadership forcefully. This decision marks the apogee of Jesus" popularity. Jesus realized their intention and withdrew from the crowd by ascending the mountainside farther by Himself to pray ( Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46). The time was not right for Him to establish His kingdom on earth.
This sign demonstrated Jesus" identity as the Son of God, and it prepared for Jesus" revelation of Himself as the Bread of Life ( John 6:22-59). [1]
". . . the feeding miracle is understood as falling within the fulfillment of the hope of a second Exodus. This flows together with the thought of the event as a celebration of the feast of the kingdom of God, promised in the Scriptures ( Isaiah 25:6-9)." [2]
Notice that this sign illustrates three solutions to problems that people typically try. First, Philip suggested that money was the solution to the problem ( John 6:7). Second, Andrew looked to people for the solution ( John 6:9). Third, Jesus proved to be the true solution ( John 6:11). A fourth solution appears in the other Gospel accounts of the miracle ( Matthew 14:15; Mark 6:36; Luke 9:12): get rid of the problem. The disciples told Jesus to send the people away, to let them fend for themselves (cf. Matthew 15:23).
In satisfying the need of the people, Jesus used what someone made available to Him. In this case, as in most others, He used a very insignificant person, in the sight of other people, with very insignificant resources. Jesus did not create food out of thin air.
"The practical lesson is clear: whenever there is a need, give all that you have to Jesus and let Him do the rest. Begin with what you have, but be sure you give it all to Him." [3]

Context Summary

John 6:15-21 - Jesus Brings Peace To Troubled Hearts
The most conclusive proof that our Lord was no weak fanatic or enthusiast is afforded by the calm temper which refused the eager impulse of the crowds to make Him king. Here the temptation of the wilderness was repeated; and only one who was filled with the unwavering determination to do God's will, could have refused this short cut to Messianic empire. Notice these withdrawals of our Lord to the calm of nature's stillness and the bosom of God. If he needed such spaces of undisturbed meditation and communion, surely we do.
He knew when he pressed the disciples into the boat, that the night would be full of storm, but He did not hesitate to expose them to its peril; he was conscious of His ability to turn that storm to the highest use by coming to their help. His advent is often delayed, but he always comes. Delays are not denials. He is as near in the storm as though already in the boat. The storm-waves are His pathway. Be not afraid! The people hurried across the Lake in the early morning, conveyed in the boats which had come to take them off; but as Jesus sorrowfully perceived, their object was to receive His gifts and not Himself. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 6

1  Jesus feeds five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes
15  Thereupon the people would have made him king;
16  but withdrawing himself, he walks on the sea to his disciples;
26  reproves the people flocking after him, and all the fleshly hearers of his word;
32  declares himself to be the bread of life to believers
66  Many disciples depart from him
68  Peter confesses him
70  Judas is a devil

Greek Commentary for John 6:15

Perceiving [γνους]
Second aorist active participle of γινωσκω — ginōskō It was not hard for Christ to read the mind of this excited mob. They were about Present active indicative of μελλω — mellō Probably the leaders were already starting. Take him by force Present active infinitive of αρπαζω — harpazō old verb for violent seizing (Matthew 11:12; Matthew 13:19). There was a movement to start a revolution against Roman rule in Palestine by proclaiming Jesus King and driving away Pilate. To make him king Purpose clause with ινα — hina and the first aorist active subjunctive of ποιεω — poieō with βασιλεα — basilea as predicate accusative. It was a crisis that called for quick action. Himself alone At first he had the disciples with him (John 6:3). But he sent them hurriedly by boat to the western side (Mark 6:45.; Matthew 14:22.) because clearly the apostles were sympathetic with the revolutionary impulse of the crowd. Then Jesus sent the multitudes away also and went up into the mountain alone. He was alone in every sense, for no one but the Father understood him at this stage, not even his own disciples. He went up to pray (Mark 6:46; Matthew 14:23). [source]
Would come [μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι]
Literally, are about to come. [source]
Take by force [ἁρπάζειν]
See on Matthew 11:12. [source]
A king []
Better, as Rev., king; over themselves. [source]
Himself alone [αὐτὸς μόνος]
Matthew has κατ ' ἰδίαν , privately, and both Matthew and Mark add, to pray. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 6:15

Matthew 11:12 The violent take it by force [βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν]
This was proved by the multitudes who followed Christ and thronged the doors where he was, and would have taken him by force (the same word) and made him a king (John 6:15). The word take by force means literally to snatch away, carry off. It is often used in the classics of plundering. Meyer renders, Those who use violent efforts, drag it to themselves. So Tynd., They that make violence pull it unto them. Christ speaks of believers. They seize upon the kingdom and make it their own. The Rev., men of violence, is too strong, since it describes a class of habitually and characteristically violent men; whereas the violence in this case is the result of a special and exceptional impulse. The passage recalls the old Greek proverb quoted by Plato against the Sophists, who had corrupted the Athenian youth by promising the easy attainment of wisdom: Good things are hard. Dante has seized the idea:“Regnum coelorum (the kingdom of heaven) suffereth violenceFrom fervent love, and from that living hope That overcometh the divine volition;-DIVIDER-
Not in the guise that man o'ercometh man,-DIVIDER-
But conquers it because it will be conquered,-DIVIDER-
And conquered, conquers by benignity.”Parad., xx., 94-99. [source]

Matthew 14:22 Constrained [ηναγκασεν]
Literally, “compelled” or “forced.” See this word also in Luke 14:23. The explanation for this strong word in Mark 6:45 and Matthew 14:22 is given in John 6:15. It is the excited purpose of the crowd to take Jesus by force and to make him national king. This would be political revolution and would defeat all the plans of Jesus about his kingdom. Things have reached a climax. The disciples were evidently swept off their feet by the mob psychology for they still shared the Pharisaic hope of a political kingdom. With the disciples out of the way Jesus could handle the crowd more easily, till he should send the multitudes away The use of the aorist subjunctive with εως — heōs or εως ου — heōs hou is a neat and common Greek idiom where the purpose is not yet realized. So in Matthew 18:30; Matthew 26:36. “While” sometimes renders it well. The subjunctive is retained after a past tense instead of the change to the optative of the ancient Attic. The optative is very rare anyhow, but Luke uses it with πριν η — prin ē in Acts 25:16. [source]
Luke 19:38 The king cometh [ο ερχομενοσ ο βασιλευς]
The Messianic hopes of the people were now all ablaze with expectation of immediate realization. A year ago in Galilee he had frustrated their plans for a revolutionary movement “to take him by force to make him king” (John 6:15). The phrase “the coming king” like “the coming prophet” (John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15) expressed the hope of the long-looked-for Messiah. They are singing from the Hallel in their joy that Jesus at last is making public proclamation of his Messiahship. [source]
Luke 9:21 To tell this to no man [μηδενι λεγειν τουτο]
Indirect command with the negative infinitive after commanded It had been necessary for Jesus to cease using the word Messiah (Χριστος — Christos) about himself because of the political meaning to the Jews. Its use by the disciples would lead to revolution as was plain after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:15). [source]
John 6:14 That should come [ὁ ἐρχόμενος]
Literally, the one coming. Rev., that cometh. John 6:15-21. Compare Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-52. [source]
John 2:24 Because He knew [διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν γινώσκειν]
Literally, on account of the fact of His knowing. John describes the Lord's knowledge by two words which it is important to distinguish. Γινώσκειν , as here, implies acquired knowledge; knowledge which is the result of discernment and which may be enlarged. This knowledge may be drawn from external facts (John 5:6; John 6:15) or from spiritual sympathy (John 10:14, John 10:27; John 17:25). Εἰδέναι (John 1:26) implies absolute knowledge: the knowledge of intuition and of satisfied conviction. Hence it is used of Christ's knowledge of divine things (John 3:11; John 5:32; John 7:29), Of the facts of His own being (John 6:6; John 8:14; John 13:1), and of external facts (John 6:61, John 6:64; John 13:11). In John 21:17the two words appear together. Peter says to Jesus, appealing to His absolute knowledge, “Thou knowest ( οἶδας ) all things:” appealing to his discernment, “Thou knowest or perceivest ( γινώσκεις ) that I love Thee.” [source]
John 1:21 And they asked him [και ηρωτησαν αυτον]
Here the paratactic και — kai is like the transitional ουν — oun (then). What then? Argumentative ουν — oun like Paul‘s τι ουν — ti oun in Romans 6:15. Quid ergo? Art thou Elijah? The next inevitable question since Elijah had been understood to be the forerunner of the Messiah from Malachi 4:5. In Mark 9:11. Jesus will identify John with the Elijah of Malachi‘s prophecy. Why then does John here flatly deny it? Because the expectation was that Elijah would return in person. This John denies. Jesus only asserts that John was Elijah in spirit. Elijah in person they had just seen on the Mount of Transfiguration. He saith Vivid dramatic present. I am not Short and blunt denial. Art thou the prophet? “The prophet art thou?” This question followed naturally the previous denials. Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) had spoken of a prophet like unto himself. Christians interpreted this prophet to be the Messiah (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37), but the Jews thought him another forerunner of the Messiah (John 7:40). It is not clear in John 6:15 whether the people identified the expected prophet with the Messiah, though apparently so. Even the Baptist later became puzzled in prison whether Jesus himself was the true Messiah or just one of the forerunners (Luke 7:19). People wondered about Jesus himself whether he was the Messiah or just one of the looked for prophets (Mark 8:28; Matthew 16:14). And he answered First aorist passive (deponent passive, sense of voice gone) indicative of αποκρινομαι — apokrinomai to give a decision from myself, to reply. No Shortest possible denial. [source]
John 10:12 He that is a hireling [ο μιστωτος]
Old word from μιστοω — misthoō to hire (Matthew 20:1) from μιστος — misthos (hire, wages, Luke 10:7), in N.T. only in this passage. Literally, “the hireling and not being a shepherd” Note ουκ — ouk with the participle ων — ōn to emphasize the certainty that he is not a shepherd in contrast with μη εισερχομενος — mē eiserchomenos in John 10:1 (conceived case). See same contrast in 1 Peter 1:8 between ουκ ιδοντες — ouk idontes and μη ορωντες — mē horōntes The hireling here is not necessarily the thief and robber of John 10:1, John 10:8. He may conceivably be a nominal shepherd (pastor) of the flock who serves only for the money, a sin against which Peter warned the shepherds of the flock “not for shameful gain” (1 Peter 5:2). Whose own Every true shepherd considers the sheep in his care “his own” Vivid dramatic present, active indicative of τεωρεω — theōreō a graphic picture. The wolf coming Present middle predicate participle of ερχομαι — erchomai Leaveth the sheep, and fleeth Graphic present actives again of απιημι — aphiēmi and πευγω — pheugō The cowardly hireling cares naught for the sheep, but only for his own skin. The wolf was the chief peril to sheep in Palestine. See Matthew 10:6 where Jesus says: “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” And the wolf snatcheth them and scattereth them Vivid parenthesis in the midst of the picture of the conduct of the hireling. Bold verbs these. For the old verb αρπαζω — harpazō see John 6:15; Matthew 11:12, and for σκορπιζω — skorpizō late word (Plutarch) for the Attic σκεδαννυμι — skedannumi see Matthew 12:30. It occurs in the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:5) where because of the careless shepherds “the sheep became meat to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered.” Jesus uses αρπαζω — harpazō in John 10:29 where no one is able “to snatch” one out of the Father‘s hand. [source]
John 8:29 Is with me [μετ εμου εστιν]
The Incarnation brought separation from the Father in one sense, but in essence there is complete harmony and fellowship as he had already said (John 8:16) and will expand in John 17:21-26. He hath not left me alone First aorist active indicative of απιημι — aphiēmi “He did not leave me alone.” However much the crowds and the disciples misunderstood or left Jesus, the Father always comforted and understood him (Mark 6:46; Matthew 14:23; John 6:15). That are pleasing to him This old verbal adjective, from αρεσκω — areskō to please, in N.T. only here, Acts 6:4; Acts 12:3; 1 John 3:22. The joy of Jesus was in doing the will of the Father who sent him (John 4:34). [source]
John 11:48 If we let him thus alone [εαν απωμεν αυτον ουτως]
Condition of third class with εαν — ean and second aorist active subjunctive of απιημι — apiēmi “Suppose we leave him thus alone.” Suppose also that he keeps on raising the dead right here next door to Jerusalem! All will believe on him Future active of πιστευω — pisteuō The inevitable conclusion, “all” as now. And the Romans will come Another inevitable result with the future middle of ερχομαι — erchomai Only if the people take Jesus as their political Messiah (John 6:15) as they had once started to do. This is a curious muddle for the rulers knew that Jesus did not claim to be a political Messiah and would not be a rival to Caesar. And yet they use this fear (their own belief about the Messiah) to stir themselves to frenzy as they will use it with Pilate later. And take away both our place and our nation Future active of αιρω — airō another certain result of their inaction. Note the order here when “place” (job) is put before nation (patriotism), for all the world like modern politicians who make the fate of the country turn on their getting the jobs which they are seeking. In the course of time the Romans will come, not because of the leniency of the Sanhedrin toward Jesus, but because of the uprising against Rome led by the Zealots and they will destroy both temple and city and the Sanhedrin will lose their jobs and the nation will be scattered. Future historians will say that this fate came as punishment on the Jews for their conduct toward Jesus. [source]
John 18:33 Again [παλιν]
Back into the palace where Pilate was before. Called First aorist active indicative of πωνεω — phōneō Jesus was already inside the court (John 18:28). Pilate now summoned him to his presence since he saw that he had to handle the case. The charge that Jesus claimed to be a king compelled him to do so (Luke 23:2). Art thou the King of the Jews? This was the vital problem and each of the Gospels has the question (Mark 15:2; Matthew 27:1; Luke 23:3; John 18:33), though Luke alone (Luke 23:2) gives the specific accusation. Thou Emphatic. Jesus did claim to be the spiritual king of Israel as Nathanael said (John 1:49) and as the ecstatic crowd hailed him on the Triumphal Entry (John 12:13), but the Sanhedrin wish Pilate to understand this in a civil sense as a rival of Caesar as some of the Jews wanted Jesus to be (John 6:15) and as the Pharisees expected the Messiah to be. [source]
John 6:24 When the multitude therefore saw [οτε ουν ειδεν ο οχλος]
Resumption and clarification of the complicated statements of John 6:22. That Jesus was not there Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. They still did not understand how Jesus had crossed over, but they acted on the basis of the plain fact. They themselves got into Second aorist active indicative of εμβαινω — embainō followed by εις — eis (both εν — en and εις — eis together as often in N.T.). Seeking Jesus Present active participle of ζητεω — zēteō They had a double motive apart from the curiosity explained in John 6:22. They had clearly not given up the impulse of the evening before to make Jesus king (John 6:15) and they had hopes of still another bountiful repast at the hands of Jesus as he said (John 6:26). [source]
John 8:31 Which had believed him [τους πεπιστευκοτας αυτωι]
Articular perfect active participle of πιστευω — pisteuō with dative αυτωι — autōi (trusted him) rather than εις αυτον — eis auton (on him) in John 8:30. They believed him (cf. John 6:30) as to his claims to being the Messiah with their own interpretation (John 6:15), but they did not commit themselves to him and may represent only one element of those in John 8:30, but see John 2:23 for πιστευω εις — pisteuō eis there. If ye abide in my word Third-class condition with εαν — ean and first aorist (constative) active subjunctive. Are ye truly my disciples Your future loyalty to my teaching will prove the reality of your present profession. So the conclusion of this future condition is put in the present tense. As then, so now. We accept church members on profession of trust in Christ. Continuance in the word (teaching) proves the sincerity or insincerity of the profession. It is the acid test of life. [source]

What do the individual words in John 6:15 mean?

Jesus therefore having known that they are about to come and to seize Him that they might make [Him] king withdrew again to the mountain Himself alone
Ἰησοῦς οὖν γνοὺς ὅτι μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι καὶ ἁρπάζειν αὐτὸν ἵνα ποιήσωσιν βασιλέα ἀνεχώρησεν πάλιν εἰς τὸ ὄρος αὐτὸς μόνος

Ἰησοῦς  Jesus 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Ἰησοῦς  
Sense: Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor.
γνοὺς  having  known 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: γινώσκω  
Sense: to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel.
ὅτι  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
μέλλουσιν  they  are  about 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: μέλλω  
Sense: to be about.
ἔρχεσθαι  to  come 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Middle or Passive
Root: ἔρχομαι  
Sense: to come.
ἁρπάζειν  to  seize 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: ἁρπάζω  
Sense: to seize, carry off by force.
ἵνα  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἵνα  
Sense: that, in order that, so that.
ποιήσωσιν  they  might  make  [Him] 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ποιέω  
Sense: to make.
βασιλέα  king 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: βασιλεύς  
Sense: leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king.
ἀνεχώρησεν  withdrew 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀναχωρέω  
Sense: to go back, return.
πάλιν  again 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πάλιν  
Sense: anew, again.
ὄρος  mountain 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ὄρος  
Sense: a mountain.
αὐτὸς  Himself 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
μόνος  alone 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: μόνος  
Sense: alone (without a companion), forsaken, destitute of help, alone, only, merely.