22. Next day, the multitude standing on the other side of the sea, when they saw that there was no other ship there but only that into which his disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone; 23. And other ships came from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten bread, after that the Lord had given thanks.24. When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they also entered into the ships, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.25. And having found him on the opposite side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
22. Next day. Here the Evangelist relates circumstances from which the multitude might conclude that Christ had gone across by divine power. There had been but one ship; they see it go away without Christ; next day, ships come from other places, by which they are conveyed to Capernaum; and there they find Christ. It follows that he must have been conveyed across in a miraculous manner. There is an intricacy and apparent confusion (anakolouthon) in the words, but still the meaning of them is plain enough; for, in the 22nd verse, John says that there had been but one ship, and that all saw it leave the shore and that place, and that it had not Christ as a passenger; and, in the 23rd verse, he adds that ships came from Tiberias, by which the multitude passed over, which had remained on the shore, blockading, as it were, every outlet, that Christ might not escape.
23. Near the place where they had eaten bread. The meaning of the words is doubtful; for they may be explained, either that Tiberias was near the place where Christ had fed them with five loaves, or that the ships reached the shore which was near and below that place. I approve more highly of the latter exposition; for Bethsaida, near which Luke states that the miracle was performed, is half-way between Tiberias and Capernaum. Accordingly, when ships came down from that place, which was farther up the lake, they sailed along that shore on which the multitude were standing; and there can be no doubt that they came to land for the purpose of taking in passengers.
After that the Lord had given thanks. When John again mentions that Christ gave thanks, it is not a superfluous repetition; for he means that Christ obtained by prayer that those few loaves were sufficient for feeding so many people; and as we are cold and indolent in prayer, he presses upon us the same thing a second time.
25. On the other side of the sea. We have already said that Capernaum was not situated on the opposite shore; for Tiberias is situated on that part of the lake where it is broadest, Bethsaida follows next, and Capernaum lies near the lowest part, not far from where the river Jordan issues from the lake. Now, when John places it on the other side of the lake itself, we must not understand him as if its position were directly across, but because, at the lower extremity, the lake made a large winding, and, on account of the bay that intervened, it was impossible to go by land without a very circuitous journey. The Evangelist therefore says, on the other side of the sea, adopting the mode of expression used by the common people, because the only direct and ordinary mode of conveyance was by a boat.