Why do you practice your faith the way that you do? Have you ever practiced part of your faith because you thought that doing so would get or keep God on your side? Or perhaps to encourage God to answer a prayer? It’s pretty normal to practice faith this way. But it comes with an undercurrent that might go unrecognized that could lead to some surprising, negative results. Gratefully, Jesus came to offer a different orientation…
After a dramatic narrative where Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath, followed by a heated exchange with Jewish leaders and a soliloquy discourse of sorts in John 5, we find another incredible story in John 6, followed by an interesting exchange and another soliloquy. Here’s how it went down:
After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. (John 6:1-14 NLT)
The feeding story shows up in all four Gospels, which is a pretty good indication that the story stuck in the minds of the earliest communities of Jesus followers. It’s a pretty amazing story, for sure. Who wouldn’t remember it? How could anybody forget such a miraculous display?
Depending who you read, however, determines how you understand what miracle took place. At face value, it appears that Jesus took five dinner rolls and a couple of sardines, said one hell of a prayer, and voila – the loaves and fishes multiplied like the trouble with tribbles on Star Trek (anybody with me?), producing way more than was needed. John tells us that this was around the time of year that Passover was celebrated, which would bring to the mind of all good Jewish people on the hillside the time in their history when God provided the bread-like manna from heaven as the people made their exodus from Egypt toward Israel. They would see in Jesus a reflection of Moses, the first to be used of God to pull off some pretty amazing miracles of God’s extraordinary breaking into our ordinary lives. Bread was once again coming from heaven! What an endorsement of Jesus’ identity! And the bread was made of barley, considered a “sinners offering” – what a communication about grace for all!
There is a different interpretation that focuses the spotlight on a different kind of miracle, which has God doing something amazing in a different kind of way. Have any of you ever gone to the coast for the day? Maybe Bodega or Stinson or Goat Rock? Let’s say you leave Napa around 9:30 or so, and you plan to head back around 3:00. What do you pack? If you say a swimsuit, sunscreen, and a beach umbrella, that tells us all that you are a tourist. A parka? Hand warmers? Insulated boots? Now we’re talking NorCal beaches… I digress. You would pack whatever beach gear suits you. What else? You would likely bring something to drink and something to eat, right? Or at least money to buy food and drink on the way? Jewish people in antiquity were apparently known for their lunchboxes. It’s what the boy was carrying. A small basket just big enough to hold enough for the day, carried by a strap over your shoulder. What do you think? If people are going to spend the day listening to Jesus talk on a hillside by the lake, do you think they would go without packing food? Of course not! In this view, the miracle is that they shared with each other instead of holding onto their resources for themselves alone, encouraged by the generosity of the kid who gave up his lunch. The crowd was generous enough to allow for the leftovers to be collected – 12 lunch baskets full. A nod to provisions for the 12 disciples? A metaphor for the feeding of the 12 tribes of Israel? Or one basket for every inch of a footlong Subway sandwich? Okay, nobody thinks the last one has merit… Our nature is to hoard, not give. It’s still miraculous, the stirring of God in their midst. Maybe this miracle is more like one needed today where there is more than enough food to feed all the people in the world, and yet one in seven people do not have enough food for a healthy life, and one third of available food is wasted. Do it again, God!
Miracles are never the point in and of themselves – they are meant to point to something else. The crowd, in this case, got ahead of themselves and wanted to run with the little they knew – they had a miracle worker in their midst! – and needed to slow down, take a deep breath, and go deeper.
Jesus followed up with them:
“I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (John 6:26-27 NLT)
Jesus goes on to build on what he is saying here, but they don’t get it. He talks of the importance of eating the bread as a symbol of his body. People freaked out. We would, too, if we took him literally. What he was getting at was deeply connected to spending energy on seeking the eternal life he came to proclaim – a life infused by the eternal Spirit of God, not heaven after life is over. What he was getting at is actually quite profound, and it has to do with who is eating.
Have you ever wondered why primitive cultures lit up burnt offerings in worship to God? Grain offerings. Birds. Goats. Cows. Sheep. Humans. It was to appease the gods with a meal of sorts, something to satisfy the gods’ wrath by satisfying their hunger for vengeance. Literally. That’s how people thought. That’s still how a lot of people think. Maybe we don’t literally burn stuff, but we are very naturally transactional in our thinking about God, largely related to our lizard brains and religious traditions which continue to perpetuate the view. So, we wheel and deal to get what we want. We even buy a line of Christian orthodoxy which erroneously boils things down to saying the magic words to insure you get into heaven. Hint: it’s off point and against everything Jesus was actually about.
When Jesus was saying that we had to eat the bread as if it were his body, he was turning the tables on the whole paradigm. Instead of us sacrificing stuff to get God to not kill us or perhaps help us, God is wanting to be taken within us, to be ingested, to become a part of us as intimately as possible. Actually, the Spirit of God is already intimately part of us – the bread is perhaps a reminder for us to believe it and live in its truth. Stop trying to get God to not kill you – that’s never been God’s intent. Stop trying to win God’s favor – you’ve always had it. Live in the identity that God is forever with you, loving you, longing to restore you when you’re a wreck, celebrating when you reach new heights.
What does that look like? The story itself gives us some examples to work with. First, we have Jesus, who simply raises the consciousness of the disciples with a good question. Philip let’s everybody know they’re running short on cash to clarify what won’t be happening. Andrew recognizes what is available, what might be built on. He brings a kid to Jesus. The nameless little boy offers his meals for the day – was he there with his family to listen? Now he simply offers what he has on center stage. Crowd members respond in kind, inspired by the kid’s act of love born out of something within he cannot yet articulate. All characters stirred by the same spirit operating within them to do their part to make something beautiful happen.
What can you offer? What questions can you raise to bring awareness to the needs around you? How can you be helpful in bringing clarity to the situation? How can you be used to bring someone else into the equation who might love getting involved? How might you offer what you have in faith, something you may deem insignificant yet might make a world of difference? How might you be someone in the crowd who “gets it” and responds to the prompt of the spirit to do the inspired thing?
To eat the bread – to really eat the bread – is to accept the very real presence of God anew in your life while at the same time embracing the opportunity to respond with the love you’ve been given. Take and eat, and then use its energy to draw others to do the same.
Stuff to think about…
1. How do you interpret the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000? Why?
2. What is the message of the miracle if the loaves and fishes literally multiplied before everyone’s eyes? What is the upside of this interpretation? What is the downside?
3. What is the message of the miracle if the loaves and fishes did not multiply, but rather the hearts of the people miraculously opened up? What is the upside of this interpretation? What is the downside?
4. How did you resonate with the characters in the story? Which one seems to hit home right now for you?
5. What do you learn from the other characters in the story? How do they inform your sense of what God might be calling you to do?
Select Academic Notes…
Gail O’Day, The New Interpreters Bible
6:5–15. The miracle story proper contains elements standard in the miracle story form: an introduction (vv. 5–9), the miracle itself (vv. 10–11), the aftermath and results of the miracle (vv. 12–15). The miracle is initiated by Jesus (v. 5). Just as Jesus initiated contact with the Samaritan woman (4:9) and initiated the healing of the man by the pool (5:6), so also here he anticipates the hunger of the crowd. His question, “Where are we to buy food?” is asked to test Philip (v. 6). Jesus knows the answer to the question—he knows what he is going to do—and he wants to discover whether Philip does. As noted earlier, the whence of Jesus’ gifts is an important christological question in the Fourth Gospel (e.g., 2:9; 4:11); if one knows the source of Jesus’ gifts, one comes close to recognizing Jesus’ identity (cf. 4:10). Neither Philip (v. 7) nor Andrew (vv. 8–9) is able to answer Jesus’ question, however. Instead of seeing that Jesus’ question is about himself, the two disciples interpret the question on the most conventional level and so give conventional answers: There is neither money nor food enough to feed so many people.
This exchange between Jesus and his disciples prepares for the miracle in several ways. Philip’s and Andrew’s responses communicate how daunting the size of the crowd is and hence the huge quantity of food that would be required to feed them. More important, the disciples’ answers show how traditional categories cannot comprehend in advance what Jesus has to give. Conventional expectations offer no solutions to the crowd’s needs; Jesus alone knows how to meet those needs.
The gathering of twelve baskets full of fragments (v. 13) is standard in the tradition (Matt 14:20; Mark 6:43; Luke 9:17) and serves to emphasize the prodigiousness of the miracle; not only did the people eat their fill, but there were leftovers as well (cf. 2:6; 4:13–14). (Seven baskets of fragments are collected in Matt 15:37 and Mark 8:8). Jesus’ words in v. 12 are unique to the Johannine version of the miracle and make an important connection between this story and the manna story of Exodus 16. In Exod 16:19, Moses asked that the people not leave any extra manna around, but the people disobeyed Moses and the leftover manna “bred worms and became foul” (Exod 16:20 NRSV). Jesus’ words in 6:12 seem to caution against a repetition of Exodus 16. The connection between the feeding miracle and the manna story, so pivotal to 6:25–59, is thus introduced early on.
In v. 15 Jesus displays his omniscience (cf. 1:48; 2:23–25; 4:16–18) by knowing in advance the crowd’s intent. The people’s desire to make Jesus king by force resolves the ambiguity of v. 14 and confirms that the people’s response cannot be trusted. The kingship of Jesus is an important theme in the Fourth Gospel, first introduced in 1:49. Israel’s desire for a king is part of its messianic expectations, the hope for a second David. Jesus will be “king” in the Fourth Gospel, but he will be king according to his definition of kingship (18:36–38), not forced to fit the world’s definition. The kingship theme reaches its resolution in the crucifixion narrative of John 18–19. (See Reflections at 6:16–24.)
Jesus’ words in v. 20 are the key to understanding the miracle of 6:16–21. The words “I am [ἐγώ εἰμι egō eimi]; do not be afraid” are found in all three accounts (Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50) and hence belong to the common fund of oral tradition, but they have a particular meaning in the christological context of the Fourth Gospel. A good case can be made that egō eimi should not be translated as a simple identification formula (“It is I,” NIV and NRSV), but should be translated as an absolute egō eimi saying, “I am” (see Fig. 10, “The ‘I AM’ Sayings in John,” 602). As Jesus walks across the water, he identifies himself to his disciples with the divine name, “I AM.” The background for this use of the divine name can be found in the LXX of Second Isaiah (Isa 43:25; 51:12; 52:6). The Fourth Evangelist portrays Jesus as speaking the way Yahweh speaks in Second Isaiah. This reading of egō eimi is supported by Jesus’ second words to his disciples, “Do not be afraid.” These words, too, are spoken by Yahweh in Second Isaiah. They are the words of the salvation oracle, words of comfort spoken to end the distress of God’s people (e.g., Isa 43:1; 44:2, 8). “Do not be afraid” is also a standard element of theophanies (e.g., Gen 15:1; Matt 28:5; Luke 2:10). Jesus’ words in v. 20 confirm that his walking on water is a theophany and that this “manifestation of the divine” is the source of the disciples’ fear.
…The Fourth Gospel does not narrate the stilling of the storm (cf. Matt 14:32; Mark 6:51) because John 6:16–21 is not a nature miracle, a demonstration of Jesus’ power over the forces of nature. It is a miracle of theophany, of the revelation of the divine in Jesus.
The theophanic focus of this narrative is confirmed by the density of OT allusions and images in this passage. In addition to the echoes of Second Isaiah in v. 20, the story builds on a variety of OT texts that describe God as the one who walks upon the water (Job 9:8 LXX) and who makes a path through the sea (Isa 43:2, 16; Pss 77:19; 107:23–32). God’s dominion over the waters of chaos is a symbol in the OT of God’s sovereignty and care, and in John 6:16–21 that symbolism is applied to Jesus. This story thus illustrates the truth of John 5:19–20: Jesus shares in God’s work and identity. Many of the sea allusions in the OT texts that form the background of vv. 16–21 also contain allusions to Israel’s safe crossing of the Reed Sea at the exodus (e.g., Isa 43:2), and those exodus allusions are appropriate for the setting of this miracle in John 6.
The two miracles of John 6:1–15 and 16–21 present the interpreter with two vivid enactments of the revelation of God’s grace and glory in Jesus. On the one hand, this grace and glory are revealed outside conventional human experience and expectations—in the miraculous feeding of over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish; in Jesus’ miraculous walking on water. On the other hand, the occasions where Jesus’ grace is offered and his glory revealed are familiar occasions of human need—the need for food, the need for safety and rescue from danger. The fears and needs that Jesus’ miracles meet belong to the common fund of human experience.
As in the healing of 4:46–54, Jesus’ grace is not revealed in a “spiritual” gift, but in a tangible, physical gift. A hungry crowd sat on the grass and ate bread and fish. Their spiritual needs were not the presenting problem for Jesus; their physical needs were (6:5). The interpreter, therefore, needs to be careful lest he or she adopt a purely symbolic interpretation of John 6:1–15 and cast its corporeality aside. The miraculous feeding dramatically demonstrates that Jesus has gifts and resources to meet the full range of human needs. He supplies the daily bread that people need to sustain life (cf. Matt 6:11; Luke 11:3). The feeding of the crowd thus confirms that Jesus is the source of life (cf. 6:33, 35, 58).
Jesus’ feeding miracle so impresses the crowd that they declare him to be a prophet (6:14) and intend to make him king (6:15). The crowd’s reaction shows how difficult it is to receive Jesus’ gifts on his terms without translating them immediately into one’s own categories. Jesus’ gift of food, the offer of his grace, provided the crowd with a glimpse of his identity, but they immediately tried to twist that identity to serve their own purposes. To make Jesus king is to take his grace and twist it to conform to pre-existent systems of power and authority. To make Jesus king is to judge him according to human glory (5:44) rather than to see in him God’s glory. When Jesus withdrew from the crowd (6:15), he showed that he would offer his gift of grace without claiming worldly power. In that moment his glory was revealed, because true glory has nothing to do with worldly power. In John 6:1–15, Jesus’ gift of grace thus becomes the vehicle for the revelation of his glory.
In John 6:16–21, by contrast, the revelation of Jesus’ glory is the vehicle for his gift of grace. If the crowd’s intention to make Jesus king distorts Jesus’ glory, then Jesus’ walking on water and his words to his disciples (“I am; do not fear”) counterbalance that distortion with a true picture of his glory. In 6:16–21, Jesus reveals himself to his disciples as one with God, sharing in God’s actions (e.g., Job 9:8; Isa 43:2), identifying himself with God’s name (e.g., Isa 43:25), speaking God’s words. Yet this manifestation of the divine in Jesus is not bravura, not a moment of glory for the sake of glory, but a moment of glory for the sake of grace. Jesus reveals himself to his disciples in order to allay their fears, to ensure their safe passage, to remind them that God has been, is, and will be their rescue. Jesus’ glory is not revealed for power, but for grace-filled pastoral care.
These two miracle stories raise important questions about the balance between grace and glory. In 6:1–15, the heart of the story is Jesus’ grace, Jesus’ extraordinary, unprecedented gift. Yet the crowd is intrigued by the possibilities of glory, and they want to force Jesus to be king. John 6:16–21 narrates the most dramatic self-revelation of Jesus to this point in the Gospel; yet it occurs in the solitude of his disciples’ fears. Jesus will not allow his grace to be controlled by the crowd’s desire for glory, and so he hides himself. But he will not hold back his glory from those in need, because this is his mission: to make God known (1:18). How believers hold the grace and glory of Jesus in balance is critical to the life of faith. The grace is destroyed if one tries to harness it for false power and authority, and the glory is lost if one does not recognize its presence in the quiet places of Jesus’ grace. Both the grace and the glory are essential to God’s revelation in Jesus: “and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (1:14).
Figure 10: The “I AM” Sayings in John
Absolute “I AM” sayings without a predicate nominative:
4:26 Jesus said to her, “I AM, the one who is speaking to you.”
6:20 But he said to them, “I AM; do not be afraid.”
8:24 “I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I AM.”
8:28 “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”
8:58 “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
13:19 “I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I AM.”
18:5, 7 Jesus replied, “I AM.” When he said to them, “I am,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.
“I AM” sayings with a predicate nominative:
6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
9:5 “I am the light of the world.”
10:7, 9 “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”
10:11, 14 “I am the good shepherd.”
11:25–6 “I am the resurrection and the life.”
14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
15:1, 5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.”
George Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary
The Feeding of The Multitude (6:1–15)
That the event was an act of compassion on the part of Jesus is not mentioned by John (contrast Mark 8:2–3), but may have been assumed. The Christological emphasis within the chapter is emphasized from the outset in the initiative taken by Jesus (v 5), his knowledge of what he intends to do (v 6), and even his distribution of the bread and the fish (v 11; no mention is made of distribution through the apostles).
The statement as to the nearness of the Passover (v 4), the identification of Jesus as the prophet who should come (cf. Deut 18:15), and the discussion on the bread from heaven within the discourse (vv 31–33) combine to indicate that 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 (Isa 25:6–9). The eschatological significance of the sign is thus doubly underscored, and is part of its fundamental connection with the Lord’s Supper, which also is eschatologically oriented (cf. especially Luke 22:16, 18, 20, 29–30; within the discourse vv 39, 40, and esp. 54).
14–15 That the feeding was not a purely natural event, prompted for example through an encouragement to share available resources, but an act of God is assumed throughout the narrative, and underscored by the response of the crowd described in vv 14–15. It is scarcely to be doubted that the Evangelist viewed the attempt to make Jesus king as causally connected with the sign. The step from a prophet like Moses (v 14), the first Redeemer and worker of miracles, to a messianic deliverer was a short one for enthusiasts in contemporary Israel to make. Horsley has traced popular messianic movements in Israelite history that reflected the continuity of the hope among the populace, especially the peasantry, of a king who should lead them in a movement of liberation from their oppressors—from the kind of tyrant that Herod was, as well as from the Romans in the time of Jesus. Josephus speaks of leaders of popular revolts in this era, who “donned the diadem” or “claimed the kingship” or “were proclaimed king” by their followers; these, comments Horsley, were “clearly messianic pretenders, to be understood against the background of longstanding Jewish tradition of popular anointed kingship” (“Popular Messianic Movements around the Time of Jesus,” 484). Montefiore, in an article linking these expectations to the feeding miracle, suggested that the falling away of the disciples in 6:66 is strongly connected with this feature; Jesus’ refusal to accede to the multitude’s demands must be reckoned as one of the turning points in his ministry, for from this time Jesus and the crowds parted company (“Revolt in the Desert?” 140–41). Dodd strongly supported this understanding of the event; he suggested that the danger of Jesus being made a leader of a movement of revolt by the turbulent Galileans was a feature that the evangelists preferred to gloss over, but which John chose to preserve (Historical Tradition, 213–15, 221–22). In that the Evangelist did choose to mention it, the function of the discourse to reveal the nature of Jesus’ messiahship and his function as giver of spiritual bread of the kingdom of God is very much in place. This may well have contributed to the Evangelist’s decision to place the sacramental teaching in this setting and not in the Upper Room.
The Walking On The Sea (6:16–21)
The reason for the disciples’ departure alone is not stated by the Evangelist in v 16, but it is fairly evident: they were sent by Jesus out of the dangerous situation described in v 15. The disciples, too, were Jews, sharing their contemporaries’ understanding of the Messiah and his work, and they needed to be prevented from becoming embroiled in a threatened messianic uprising.
19 Contrary to Bernard (185) and many others since his writing, we are not to understand that when the disciples saw Jesus walking ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, he was walking beside the sea. Certainly we read in 21:1 an appearance of the risen Lord ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, where the context makes it plain that Jesus was on the shore (21:4 states that Jesus stood εἰς τὸν αἰγιαλόν “on the beach”). Mark 6:47 uses precisely the same wording as the Fourth Evangelist, following the declaration that the boat was “in the midst of the sea” (6:47); Matthew writes first that Jesus was walking ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν (accusative), then that he was walking ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης (Matt 14:25). Had our Evangelist wished to correct an earlier misstatement or misunderstanding of the event, he could easily have written that Jesus was walking παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν (so Giffort, “ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης,” 36; for examples of that phrase cf. Mark 1:14; Acts 10:6). In reality he was concerned to do something quite different, as v 20 makes plain; there he records Jesus as appearing to his disciples on the sea with the words Ἐγώ εἰμι. He may have had in mind Job 9:8, but more obviously Ps 77:16, 19, which speaks of God coming in powerful theophany to the aid of his people at the Exodus: “The waters saw the, O God, they saw the and writhed in anguish.… Thy path was through the sea, thy way through mighty waters.…” The Evangelist was describing an event in which he saw Jesus as the revelation of God coming to his disciples in distress—in the second Exodus!
20 For the meaning of Ἐγώ εἰμι, see the lengthy note of Bultmann, 225–26, in which he conveniently summarizes the ways in which the phrase was used in the ancient world. He distinguishes four chief usages: (i) as a presentation formula, which replies to the question, “Who are you?” and in which the speaker introduces himself as so and so; (ii) as a qualificatory formula, which answers the question, “What are you?”, to which the reply is, “I am that and that”; (iii) as an identification formula, in which the speaker identifies himself with another person or object; (iv) as a recognition formula, answering the question, “Who is the one expected, asked for, spoken to?”, to which the reply is, “I am he.” In this last, unlike the previous three, the ἐγώ is predicate, not subject. In Bultmann’s view, the Ἐγώ εἰμι statements of John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 15:1, 5 employ the recognition formula, while those of 11:25 and 14:6 are probably an identification formula.
The absolute use of the expression is particularly striking (in 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19). While it is clear that in 6:20 Jesus is identifying himself to the fearful disciples, the usage in the passages just mentioned indicates a unique relation to God, recalling the divine name in Exod 3:14 and the affirmations of Deutero-Isaiah (e.g., 43:10–11; 45:5–6, 18, 21–22). In these affirmations of Jesus we find not identification of himself with God, but an expression of himself as “God’s eschatological revealer in whom God utters himself” (Schnackenburg, 2:88). The combinations of Ἐγώ εἰμι with various symbols (Jesus as the bread of life, light of the world, door (of the sheep), the good shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life, the vine—seven utterances!) may be said to summarize his role in revelation and in salvation. For further discussions Isa 43:10 is particularly significant in this regard: “You are my witnesses, says the Lord … that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.” This last phrase, in Hebrew אני הוא (anî hû), is rendered in the LXX as ἐγώ εἰμι. In this context “I am he” is an abbreviation for the expression in the next line, “I, I am the Lord”; not surprisingly אני הוא “I am he,” can appear as a substitute for אני יהוה (anî Yhwh), “I am the Lord.” There is indeed evidence that the expression אני הוא came to be regarded as the name of God. Isa 43:25, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions” appears in the LXX as ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἐξαλείφων τὰς ἀνομίας σου, “I am ‘I Am,’ who blots out your transgressions.” There were other related developments in the use of the divine name among the Jews which must be noticed later; it suffices here to observe that there was a direct line from אני הוא through the LXX ἐγώ εἰμι to the ἐγώ εἰμι of the Fourth Gospel (so E. Zimmermann, “Das absolute Ἐγώ εἰμι,” 270–71). The occurrences of ἐγώ εἰμι in sayings of Jesus indicate not an identification of himself with God but a solidarity or union with him, expressions of himself as “God’s eschatological Revealer in whom God utters himself” (Schnackenburg, 2:88). The combinations of ἐγώ εἰμι with various symbols may be said to summarize his role in revelation and salvation. For further discussions concerning the expression see E. Schweizer, Ἐγώ εἰμι (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1939); D. Daube, “The ‘I am’ of the Messianic Presence,” The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, 325–29; Dodd, Interpretation, 93–96, 349–50; H. Zimmermann, “Das absolute Ἐγώ εἰμι als die ntliche Offenbarungsformel,” BZ NF 4 (1960) 54–69, 266–76; Brown, 533–38; Schnackenburg, 2:79–89.