The Meaning of John 6:66 Explained

John 6:66

KJV: From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

YLT: From this time many of his disciples went away backward, and were no more walking with him,

Darby: From that time many of his disciples went away back and walked no more with him.

ASV: Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

What does John 6:66 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Jesus lost many of His followers because of the Bread of Life discourse (cf. John 6:60). His explanation to them following the discourse did not change their minds. He had made no concessions. They had understood Him correctly the first time. The Greek phrase ek toutou can mean "from this time" or "for this reason." Both meanings fit here.
In this passage we see four responses to Jesus: seeking ( John 6:22-40), murmuring ( John 6:41-51), striving ( John 6:52-59), and departing ( John 6:60-71). [1]

Context Summary

John 6:60-71 - The Sifting Of Jesus' Followers
The teaching of this chapter involves a deliberate act of Christ to arrest the revolutionary movement that was gathering around His person and making Him its figure-head, John 6:15. He therefore set Himself to teach that these people had misconceived the meaning of His ministry, which was not intended to raise a standard of revolt against Rome, but to lead to a spiritual revolution. The effect of His words was precisely what he expected, and must have shattered any ambitions that had begun to stir in the hearts of His disciples. In John 6:41 the men who the night before wished to crown Him, murmured at Him. In John 6:52 they strove among themselves. In John 6:60 many of His disciples said that His sayings were hard to be understood, and still harder to be obeyed. In John 6:66 many went back. And now as the shades of evening began to fall and the synagogue was almost empty, he was left alone with the little company of twelve, who had sorrowfully watched the overthrow of their hopes. Christ's pathetic question-Will ye also go away?-elicited from Peter a reply which proved that the inner meaning of His words had already broken upon their souls. "Thy words give us and nourish within us the eternal life."
The questions on Section 1-28, to be found on pp. 232, 233, will serve as a review at this point. [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 6:66

Upon this [εκ τουτου]
Same idiom in John 19:12. “Out of this saying or circumstance.” Jesus drew the line of cleavage between the true and the false believers. Went back Aorist (ingressive) active indicative of απερχομαι — aperchomai with εις τα οπισω — eis ta opisō “to the rear” (the behind things) as in John 18:6. Walked no more with him Imperfect active of περιπατεω — peripateō The crisis had come. These half-hearted seekers after the loaves and fishes and political power turned abruptly from Jesus, walked out of the synagogue with a deal of bluster and were walking with Jesus no more. Jesus had completely disillusioned these hungry camp-followers who did not care for spiritual manna that consisted in intimate appropriation of the life of Jesus as God‘s Son. [source]
From that time [ἐκ τούτου]
Render, as Rev., upon this. As a result proceeding out of ( ἐκ ) this. Compare John 19:12. [source]
Went back [ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω]
The Greek expresses more than the English. They went away ( ἀπό ) from Christ, Literally, to the things behind, to what they had left in order to follow the Lord. [source]
Walked [περιεπάτουν]
Literally, walked about, with Jesus in His wanderings here and there. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 6:66

John 10:19 There was a division [σχίσμα ἐγένετο]
Rev., more correctly, there arose. The word σχίσμα , division, from σχίζω , to cleave, describes a fact which continually recurs in John's narrative. See John 6:52, John 6:60, John 6:66; John 7:12, John 7:25sqq.; John 8:22; John 9:16, John 9:17; John 10:19, John 10:24, John 10:41; John 11:37sqq.; John 12:19, John 12:29, John 12:42; John 16:18, John 16:19. [source]
John 10:19 There arose a division again [σχισμα παλιν εγενετο]
As in John 7:43 in the crowd (also in John 7:12, John 7:31), so now among the hostile Jews (Pharisees) some of whom had previously professed belief in him (John 8:31). The direct reference of παλιν — palin (again) may be to John 9:16 when the Pharisees were divided over the problem of the blind man. Division of opinion about Jesus is a common thing in John‘s Gospel (John 6:52, John 6:60, John 6:66; John 7:12, John 7:25.; John 8:22; John 9:16.; John 10:19, John 10:24, John 10:41; John 11:41.; John 12:19, John 12:29, John 12:42; John 16:18.). [source]
John 2:2 Jesus also was bidden [εκλητη και ο Ιησους]
First aorist passive indicative of καλεω — kaleō “was also invited” as well as his mother and because of her presence, possibly at her suggestion. And his disciples Included in the invitation and probably all of them acquaintances of the family. See note on John 1:35 for this word applied to John‘s followers. This group of six already won form the nucleus of the great host of “learners” through the ages who will follow Jesus as Teacher and Lord and Saviour. The term is sometimes restricted to the twelve apostles, but more often has a wider circle in view as in John 6:61, John 6:66; John 20:30. [source]
John 20:14 She turned herself back [εστραπη εις τα οπισω]
Second aorist passive indicative of στρεπω — strephō in an intransitive and almost reflective sense. In the disappearance of the aorist middle before the aorist passive see Robertson, Grammar, p.817. See also στραπεισα — strapheisa (second aorist passive participle) in John 20:16. On εις τα οπισω — eis ta opisō see John 6:66; John 18:6. Standing Second perfect active (intransitive) of ιστημι — histēmi Instinctively Mary felt the presence of some one behind her. Was Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse after ηιδει — ēidei (knew). [source]
John 7:3 His brethren [οι αδελποι αυτου]
“His brothers” (half-brothers actually), who “were not believing on him” Depart hence Second aorist active imperative of μεταβαινω — metabainō to pass to another place (John 5:24; John 13:1). It was impertinence on their part. That thy disciples also may behold Final clause with ινα — hina and the future active indicative of τεωρεω — theōreō Jesus had many disciples in Judea at the start (John 2:23; John 4:1) and had left it because of the jealousy of the Pharisees over his success (John 4:3). The brothers may have heard of the great defection in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:66), but the advice is clearly ironical. Which thou doest To what works they refer by this language we do not know. But Jesus had been away from Galilee for some months and from Judea for a year and a half. Perhaps the brothers of Jesus may actually have been eager to rush Jesus into the hostile atmosphere of Jerusalem again. [source]
John 7:12 Much murmuring [γογγυσμος πολυς]
This Ionic onomatopoetic word is from γογγυζω — gogguzō for which verb see John 6:41, John 6:61; John 7:32, for secret displeasure (Acts 6:1) or querulous discontent (Philemon 2:14). Among the multitudes “The multitudes” literally, plural here only in John. These different groups were visitors from Galilee and elsewhere and were divided in their opinion of Jesus as the Galileans had already become (John 6:66). A good man Pure in motive. See Mark 10:17.; Romans 5:7 (absolute sense of God). Superior to δικαιος — dikaios Jesus had champions in these scattered groups in the temple courts. Not so, but he leadeth the multitude astray Sharp clash in the crowd. Present active indicative of εκεινος ο πλανος — planaō to go astray (Matthew 18:12.), like our “planets,” to lead others astray (Matthew 24:4, Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:11, etc.). In the end the rulers will call Jesus “that deceiver” (ekeinos ho planos Matthew 27:63). The Jewish leaders have a following among the crowds as is seen (John 7:31.). [source]
John 7:12 Among the multitudes [εν τοις οχλοις]
“The multitudes” literally, plural here only in John. These different groups were visitors from Galilee and elsewhere and were divided in their opinion of Jesus as the Galileans had already become (John 6:66). A good man Pure in motive. See Mark 10:17.; Romans 5:7 (absolute sense of God). Superior to δικαιος — dikaios Jesus had champions in these scattered groups in the temple courts. Not so, but he leadeth the multitude astray Sharp clash in the crowd. Present active indicative of εκεινος ο πλανος — planaō to go astray (Matthew 18:12.), like our “planets,” to lead others astray (Matthew 24:4, Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:11, etc.). In the end the rulers will call Jesus “that deceiver” (ekeinos ho planos Matthew 27:63). The Jewish leaders have a following among the crowds as is seen (John 7:31.). [source]
Galatians 1:15 From my mother's womb [ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου]
Before I was born. Others, from the time of my birth. A few passages in lxx. go to sustain the former view: Isaiah 64:2,24; 66:1,5. That view is also favored by those instances in which a child's destiny is clearly fixed by God before birth, as Samson, Judges href="/desk/?q=jud+16:17&sr=1">Judges 16:17; comp. Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; John the Baptist, Luke 1:15. See also Matthew 19:12. The usage of ἐκ as marking a temporal starting point is familiar. See John 6:66; John 9:1; Acts 9:33; Acts 24:10. [source]

What do the individual words in John 6:66 mean?

From that [time] many out of the disciples of Him departed to the back and no longer with Him walked
Ἐκ τούτου πολλοὶ ‹ἐκ› τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ οὐκέτι μετ’ αὐτοῦ περιεπάτουν

τούτου  that  [time] 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
πολλοὶ  many 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: πολύς  
Sense: many, much, large.
‹ἐκ›  out  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐκ 
Sense: out of, from, by, away from.
μαθητῶν  disciples 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: μαθητής  
Sense: a learner, pupil, disciple.
αὐτοῦ  of  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἀπῆλθον  departed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀπέρχομαι  
Sense: to go away, depart.
ὀπίσω  back 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὀπίσω 
Sense: back, behind, after, afterwards.
οὐκέτι  no  longer 
Parse: Adverb
Root: οὐκέτι  
Sense: no longer, no more, no further.
περιεπάτουν  walked 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: περιπατέω  
Sense: to walk.