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Walking on Water

16 Now when evening came, his disciples went down to the lake,[a] 17 got into a boat,[b] and started to cross the lake[c] to Capernaum.[d] (It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.)[e] 18 By now a strong wind was blowing and the sea was getting rough. 19 Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles,[f] they caught sight of Jesus walking on the lake,[g] approaching the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat came to the land where they had been heading.

22 The next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the lake[h] realized that only one small boat[i] had been there, and that Jesus had not boarded[j] it with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came to shore[k] near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.[l] 24 So when the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats[m] and came to Capernaum[n] looking for Jesus.

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  1. John 6:16 tn Or “sea.” The Greek word indicates a rather large body of water, but the English word “sea” normally indicates very large bodies of water, so the word “lake” in English is a closer approximation.
  2. John 6:17 sn A boat large enough to hold the Twelve would be of considerable size. In 1986 following a period of drought and low lake levels, a fishing boat from the first century was discovered on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was excavated and preserved and can now be seen in the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar north of Tiberias. The remains of the boat are 27 ft (8.27 m) long and 7.5 ft (2.3 m) wide; it could be rowed by four rowers and had a mast for a sail. The boat is now known as the “Jesus boat” or the “Sea of Galilee boat” although there is no known historical connection of any kind with Jesus or his disciples. However, the boat is typical for the period and has provided archaeologists with much information about design and construction of boats on the Sea of Galilee in the first century.
  3. John 6:17 tn Or “sea.” See the note on “lake” in the previous verse.
  4. John 6:17 sn Capernaum was a town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, 680 ft (204 m) below sea level. It existed since Hasmonean times and was a major trade and economic center in the North Galilean region. The population in the first century is estimated to be around 1,500. Capernaum became the hub of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry (Matt 4:13; Mark 2:1). In modern times the site was discovered in 1838 by the American explorer E. Robinson, and major excavations began in 1905 by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger. Not until 1968, however, were remains from the time of Jesus visible; in that year V. Corbo and S. Loffreda began a series of annual archaeological campaigns that lasted until 1985. This work uncovered what is thought to be the house of Simon Peter as well as ruins of the first century synagogue beneath the later synagogue from the fourth or fifth century A.D. Today gently rolling hills and date palms frame the first century site, a favorite tourist destination of visitors to the Galilee.
  5. John 6:17 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
  6. John 6:19 tn Grk “about twenty-five or thirty stades” (a stade as a unit of linear measure is about 607 feet or 185 meters).sn About three or four miles. The Sea of Galilee was at its widest point 7 mi (11.6 km) by 12 mi (20 km). So at this point the disciples were in about the middle of the lake.
  7. John 6:19 tn Or “sea.” See the note on “lake” in v. 16. John uses the phrase ἐπί (epi, “on”) followed by the genitive (as in Mark, instead of Matthew’s ἐπί followed by the accusative) to describe Jesus walking “on the lake.”
  8. John 6:22 tn Or “sea.” See the note on “lake” in v. 16.
  9. John 6:22 tc Most witnesses have after “one” the phrase “which his disciples had entered” (ἐκεῖνο εἰς ὃ ἐνέβησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, ekeino eis ho enebēsan hoi mathētai autou) although there are several permutations of this clause ([א* D] Θ13 33] M [sa]). The witnesses that lack this expression are, however, significant and diffused (P75 א2 A B L N W Ψ 1 565 579 1241 al lat). The clarifying nature of the longer reading, the multiple variants from it, and the weighty testimony for the shorter reading all argue against the authenticity of the longer text in any of its variations.
  10. John 6:22 tn Grk “entered.”
  11. John 6:23 tn Or “boats from Tiberias landed”; Grk “came.”
  12. John 6:23 tc D 091 a e sys,c lack the phrase “after the Lord had given thanks” (εὐχαριστήσαντος τοῦ κυρίου, eucharistēsantos tou kuriou), while almost all the rest of the witnesses (P75 א A B L W Θ Ψ 0141 [ƒ1] ƒ13 33 M as well as several versions and fathers) have the words (though l672 l950 syp read ᾿Ιησοῦ [Iēsou, “Jesus”] instead of κυρίου). Although the shorter reading has minimal support, it is significant that this Gospel speaks of Jesus as Lord in the evangelist’s narrative descriptions only in 11:2; 20:18, 20; 21:12; and possibly 4:1 (but see tc note on “Jesus” there). There is thus but one undisputed preresurrection text in which the narrator calls Jesus “Lord.” This fact can be utilized on behalf of either reading: The participial phrase could be seen as a scribal addition harking back to 6:11 but which does not fit Johannine style, or it could be viewed as truly authentic and in line with what John indisputably does elsewhere even if rarely. On balance, in light of the overwhelming support for these words it is probably best to retain them in the text.
  13. John 6:24 tn Or “embarked in the boats.”
  14. John 6:24 sn See the note on Capernaum at John 6:17.