A Neglected Miracle -- By: E. Schuyler English

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:504 (Oct 1969)
Article: A Neglected Miracle
Author: E. Schuyler English


A Neglected Miracle

E. Schuyler English

[E. Schuyler English, Editor, The New Scofield Reference Bible, Merion, Pennsylvania.]

About a quarter of a century ago I was having luncheon in New York with a long-time friend and associate, Dr. Frank E. Gaebelein, who was on his way to fulfill a speaking appointment. When I inquired about his subject he answered, “The Almost Forgotten Miracle.” It was to be an address on the feeding of the four thousand. Upon my return to my home I lifted from a bookcase a commentary on Matthew’s Gospel that I had written several years earlier. Turning to chapter fifteen I discovered to my chagrin that this is what I had said concerning the feeding of the four thousand: “The lessons that we learned from the feeding of the five thousand in the preceding chapter may be applied to this miracle too, so we pass over it without comment.”1

Some research has brought to light that mine is not the only exposition that has neglected this miracle. Furthermore, in the camp of the liberals the miracle is discredited as being no more than a second account of the feeding of the five thousand, a rather strange premise in view of the fact that the two evangelists who wrote of the feeding of the four thousand also spoke of the earlier miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish. “It seems difficult to escape the conclusion,” says one of them, “that the evangelist [Mark] having on hand a second version of the story of the feeding [of the five thousand], which he believed referred to a different occasion, was compelled to create a place for it…. The points of agreement are so numerous and important that they must be regarded as different forms of the same tradition.”2

All four evangelists record the feeding of the five thousand;3 only two, Matthew and Mark, tell of the feeding of

the four thousand.4 The fact that Matthew and Mark narrate both of the miracles is evidence that both of them occurred and that the proposition that the second miracle is an invention and was written only to enlarge upon the power of Christ, is not valid. For were this the purpose of the accounts of the second miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, the miraculous elements of the story would almost certainly have been expanded, not diminished—more people would have been fed with lesser supplies.

There are indeed a number of important points of agreement in the two miracles: (1) Both occurred in a desert place. (2) In b...

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