Feeding of the Five Thousand and Feeding of the Four Thousand Compared

Updated on September 1, 2019
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Many people who read the Bible overlook the fact that there are two feeding narratives in the four gospels. One was the feeding of the five thousand in Jewish territory, and the other was the feeding of the four thousand in Gentile territory.

Not only do people fail to realize there are two feeding stories in the gospels, but they also don't realize that the four gospel writers reported the events differently. They wrote for their particular audience. When we read all the reports from the gospel writers, we must keep the stories separate and pay attention to who reported them.

The one that is the most familiar is the feeding of the five thousand. We do the gospel writers a disservice when we mix and match the stories instead of keeping them separate. That is the goal of this article.

Feeding of the Five Thousand

Each gospel writer recorded the feeding of the five thousand first before the feeding of the four thousand.

  • Matthew 14:13-21
  • Mark 6:30-44
  • Luke 9:10-17
  • John 6:1-24

It is easy to remember what took place during this miracle. Just remember the number five.

  • Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two small fish.
  • This miracle took place in Jewish territory which is reminiscent of the Pentateuch which consists of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
  • Twelve baskets of fragments were collected. This is paralleled to twelve tribes of Israel.

Remember five and twelve will help you remember this miracle and keep you from getting it confused with the four thousand that Matthew and Mark also recorded.

While the Bible says five thousand were fed, there were more. Only the men were counted. There were five thousand besides women and children (Matthew 14:21).

Feeding of the Five Thousand According to the Gospels

The accounts about the feeding of the five thousand are told by all four gospel writers. This is the first of the feeding miracles and it happened in Jewish territory.

Matthew

Matthew's focuses more on Jesus, the feeder, than on the food. This gospel writer says there were five thousand men besides women and children (Matthew 14:21).

Mark

Mark's gospel is the shortest of the gospel. However, it is interesting that his feeding stories are more detailed and longer than the other writers' stories. Mark focuses more on the food than on the feeder.

Jesus directed the disciples to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass in groups of hundreds and fifties. After breaking and blessing the five loaves and two fish, he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. After they all ate, the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

Luke

Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of about fifty each. Jesus blessed the five loaves and the two fish and gave thanks for them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. After everyone had eaten, the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

John

Only John mentions the little boy and his lunch that consisted of five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:8-9). Jesus directs the people to sit down in green pastures. After everyone had eaten, Jesus tells his disciples to gather the remaining fragments that fill twelve baskets (John 6:12-13).

Feeding of Five Thousand

Gospel Writer
Items Used
Baskets Left of Fragments
Instructions
Matthew
5 barley loaves, 2 fish
12 basketful
sit down on grass
Mark
5 barley loaves, 2 fish
12 basketful
sit down on green grass in groups of 100 or 50
Luke
5 barley loaves, 2 fish
12 basketful
sit down on grass in groups of 50
John
5 barley loaves, 2 fish that were the little boy's lun
12 basketful
sit down on grass

Feeding of the Four Thousand

Luke and John did not record the feeding of the four thousand that took place in Gentile territory. That's strange because Luke is the only Gentile writer of the Bible.

It is easy to remember what took place during this miracle. Just remember the number seven.

  • Seven loaves were used.
  • Seven baskets of fragments were collected.
  • The number seven is symbolic of completeness which is representative of all humanity and not just the Jews.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples to give to the waiting crowd. After the had eaten and were satisfied, the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.

Feeding of the Four Thousand

Gospel Writer
Items Used
Fragments Left Over
Instructions
Matthew
Seven loaves and a few small fish
Seven basketful
Sit on the ground
Mark
Seven loaves and a few small fish
Seven basketful
Sit on the ground

Was this information helpful?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      15 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Tamarajo, I decided to write the article about the two feedings after talking to a Bible teacher who admitted she didn't realize there were two different feeding miracles.

      I wrote the article with charts to show her and others that the feeding of the 5000 was different from the feeding of the 4000. Also, the charts show that all four gospel writers reported the miracles differently.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      15 months ago

      Very useful charts. The numerical cues help zero in on the purpose of the text as you well noted in the conclusion of the 4000

      "The number seven is symbolic of completeness which is representative of all humanity and not just the Jews." Seven being the fulfillment of a kingdom.

      It really helps pull that together in this type of format.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      15 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Neha J, thanks for reading about the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Feeding of the Four Thousand. Also, thank for the comment. I will continue to write.

    • youcanwin profile image

      Neha J 

      15 months ago from Delhi

      Very interesting..

      Keep writing

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)