John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:17 - 6:17

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:17 - 6:17

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17.It was now dark. John passes by many circumstances which the other Evangelists introduce; such as, that for several hours they struggled with a contrary wind; for it is probable that the storm arose immediately after the night began to come on; and they tell us that Christ did not appear to his disciples till about the fourth watch of the night, (Mat_14:28; Mar_6:48.) Those who conjecture that they were still about the middle of the lake when Christ appeared to them, because John says that they had then advanced about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, are led into a mistake by supposing that they had sailed to the farther or opposite bank; for Bethsaida, near which town, Luke tells us, the miracle was performed, (Luk_9:10,) and Capernaum, which the ship reached, (Joh_6:16,) were situated on the same coast.

Pliny, in his fifth book, states that this lake was six miles in breadth, and sixteen in length. Josephus (in the third book of the Wars of the Jews) assigns to it one hundred furlongs in length, and forty in breadth; (132) and as eight furlongs make one mile, we may easily infer how little the one description differs from the other. So far as relates to the present sailing, my opinion is, that they did not go over so great a space by direct sailing, but through being driven about by the tempest. (133) However that may be, the Evangelist intended to show that, when Christ presented himself to them, they were in the utmost danger. It may be thought strange that the disciples should be tormented in this manner, while others had nothing to disturb them in sailing; but in this manner the Lord often makes his people fall into alarming dangers, that they may more plainly and familiarly recognize him in their deliverance.

(132) Our Author quotes inaccurately the measurement given by Josephus, whose words are: “ this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country, adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty. ” — Wars of the Jews, III. 10. 7. — Ed.

(133) “Mais estans agitez de tempeste.”