John 6:

5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Philip failed the test. Andrew volunteered to say something:

8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

Did Andrew have some inkling that Jesus would perform a miracle with the boy's lunch?

3 Answers 3


The short answer is, we are not told. However, we should note the intent of the literature and force of the drama which was to contrast the response of Philip with Andrew (two men with conspicuously Greek names):

  • Philip focused on the size of the problem - responding to Jesus question about buying bread
  • Andrew focused on how small a contribution he had found.

Note that according to Ellicott, the fact that the "lad" or "boy" [παιδάριον used only in Matt 11:16 and John 6:9 - possibly meaning young slave] was the only person with any food - Ellicott speculates that the young slave had brought this in the hope of selling it. This, again, would make Andrew's response consistent with Jesus' question about where to buy food - Andrew found a seller but with very little to sell.

This is typical of other occasions: Philip is focused on goals (John 14:8) and Andrew is focused on spiritual realities and solutions, eg, John 1:41, 12:22, etc.

Thus, the contrast could be stated this way -

Philip: look at how huge the problem is - its hopeless!

Andrew: here is something, but it is not much

Thus, it is entirely possible that Andrew, not Philip, sensed that Jesus could do something with even their meager resources!


Did Andrew have some inkling that Jesus would perform a miracle with the boy's lunch?

Why this is a valid question

This is the fourth of seven signs. Note John's emphasis on believing:

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, ESV)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13, ESV)

With the first sign:

 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11, ESV)

With the second sign:

 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (John 4:48, ESV)

See What is/was the significance of Jesus’s response regarding sign-seeking in John 4:48?

Thus, this question is consistent with the signs. Unlike the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John mentions Philip and Andrew by name and that the fishes and loaves came from a boy.

What faith did Andrew show?

While John 6:1-15 gives no indication that he expected Jesus to perform a miracle with the boys fishes and loaves, the boy who somehow offered through Andrew the fishes and loaves is the one showing the best faith. All we have is:

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:8–9, ESV)

Andrew was sensitive enough to the boy's faith to think it worthy of telling Christ. Note the boy's faith willing to give up his food for Jesus in contrast to the crowd who followed Jesus to Capernaum.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (John 6:25–26, ESV)

What we don't know is how many other apostles had the opportunity to speak up about the boy. We don't have much indication that Andrew expected a miracle. He did know Jesus valued children and seeing people show exceptional faith.

The testing wasn't for Jesus to find out about Philip. It was for Philip to find out about himself and learn from what happened.

  • I like this answer as well - very good thoughts.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 22:43

The miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand is narrated in all four gospels. Here we are consideriing the narration of John's Gospel.

The most likely OT source for the miraculous feeding is Elisha's Miraculous Feeding of a Hundred People:

42 Now a man from Baal Shalisha brought some food for the prophet – twenty loaves of bread made from the firstfruits of the barley harvest, as well as fresh ears of grain. Elisha said, “Set it before the people so they may eat.” 43 But his attendant said, “How can I feed a hundred men with this?” He replied, “Set it before the people so they may eat, for this is what the Lord says, ‘They will eat and have some left over.’44 So he set it before them; they ate and had some left over, just as the Lord predicted. 2 Kings 4:42-44.

Within this short pericope, there is an apparent quotation from within the OT, but it is not sourced by the NET Bible, and I haven't inquired in other thranslations. My guess is that it may be a reference to Psalms 132:15, which would be possible, if 2 Kings is from the 7-6th century BCE.

If Andrew had an inkling that Jesus was hinting at Elisha's Miraculous Feeding of a Hundred People, it is possible that he felt like "playing his part" in the preniminary stage of the miracle.

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