How Many People Did Jesus Feed With 2 Fish And 5 Loaves of Bread?

By Charalampos •  Updated: 04/04/23 •  6 min read

Have you ever wondered how many people did Jesus feed in the Bible? It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking story, one that teaches us about God’s miracles as well as lessons on faith and charity.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the Biblical account of Christ feeding five thousand men – plus women and children – with just two fish and five loaves of bread. 

The Miracle in The Gospels: Jesus Feeds 5000 People

Jesus Feeds 5000 People

The miracle is mentioned in all four gospels, which means it’s a story that is not only important to Christians but is also seen as very significant.

All gospels agree on the core story: Jesus fed a large group of people with only five loaves of bread and two small fish. At the same time, other information differs.

The story of the feeding of the people can be found in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14.

It speaks about a story when Jesus and his disciples were in a deserted place, and a large crowd gathered to hear His preaching.

When it was time for the people to eat, Jesus took five loaves and two fish and miraculously fed the entire crowd.

Related Read: Did Jesus Eat Fish?

Differences Between The Gospels

We will consider some differences in the details. For example, in Matthew’s gospel, the number of men who were fed is mentioned as “five thousand, besides women and children.” It means that Matthew counted only men, who also had family members. It can make the actual number at least twice more.

The Gospel of Mark gives similar information, saying that the crowd numbered “about five thousand men.”

The Gospel of Luke says that “about five thousand men were there.” However, we already know that there were also women and children.

The Gospel of John is the only one to mention the boy who gave the loaves and fish, but it doesn’t say a specific number for the size of the crowd. Based on this information we can be sure that there were children.

Based on the gospels we can know that Jesus fed at least five thousand men. However, since women and children were there as well, the actual number of people who were fed could have been much higher, around 10-20 thousand.

A large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus, and most probably every man had a wife and many children, there could also be unmarried women, that’s why the number of people wouldn’t be five thousand.

Different Versions of The Miracle

Miracle of feeding 5000 people

Some people say that the story of the feeding of the 5000 men was simply a case of people sharing their food, and not a true miracle. However, the number of people in the desert was too large for such sharing of food.

The Bible also says about twelve baskets of leftovers showing that there was more food at the end of the meal than there was at the beginning.

Another version is that the feeding of the people was a genuine miracle, in which Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the crowd.

This interpretation is the true one and the most famous since all four apostles who wrote the Gospel describe the event as a miraculous one.

Seeing such a powerful demonstration of God’s love and provision inspired the crowd to place their trust in Jesus and follow him more closely. In this case, the large number of people wouldn’t be a problem for Jesus, He could feed even 50 thousand the same way.

Read Also: What Did Jesus Eat?

The Opinion of The Church Fathers

Opinion of The Church Fathers on Jesus Feeding 5000 People

In his homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Saint John Chrysostom estimated the number of people fed by Jesus to be around 15,000, based on the fact that the Gospel mentions “five thousand men, besides women and children” (Matthew 14:21). It’s the amount which other researchers say about since it’s between 10 and 20 thousand.

He also wrote about the spiritual significance of the miracle, seeing it as a sign of the divine power of Jesus Christ and the abundance of grace available to people who follow Him.

Saint Augustine also wrote in his commentary on the Gospel of John about the feeding of many people which he describes as a miracle that demonstrates Jesus’ power over the material world.

He says that the number of people who Jesus fed is significant not only because there were a lot of them, but because it represented the spiritual nourishment that Jesus offers to those who believe in Him.

Saint Augustine believed that this miracle was a display of Jesus’ divine power and a foreshadowing of the spiritual sustenance that all believers can receive from Him. Thus, the feeding of thousands of people plays a role not only as a miracle but also as a symbol of spiritual help according to the interpretation of Saint Augustine.

Church Fathers often wrote about the meaning of the miracle rather than the number of people who Jesus fed.

For example, Saint Ambrose saw the miracle as an example of Christ’s compassion and generosity, as well as His ability to provide for the needs of His followers both materially and spiritually. (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke). The saint shares the same opinion with two previous Church Fathers.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria in his commentary on the Gospel of John wrote about the symbolic significance of the number of loaves and fish, which he saw as representing the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament, and the abundance of spiritual nourishment available to believers through Christ in the New Testament.

Saint Gregory the Great in his Homilies on the Gospel interpreted the feeding of the people as a symbol of the unity of the Church, as well as a demonstration of Christ’s power to satisfy the spiritual hunger of His followers. This shows that many Church Fathers saw also a symbolic significance in the miracle.

Final Thoughts

It can be concluded that the feeding of so many people was a true miracle that made people believe in Jesus.

Based on the quotes from the Bible we can be sure that there were not only 5 thousand men, but also women and children.

Most researchers say that all amount of people can equal 15 thousand, others state that the number may have been from 10 thousand people up to 15 thousand people.


Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily XLV
Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tractate XXIV
Saint Ambrose, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Luke, Book VI, Chapter X
Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book IV, Chapter II
Saint Gregory the Great, Homilies on the Gospel, Homily XVII on Matthew


Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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