The Bible does not explicitly state whether the fish was raw or cooked. However, there are some clues that imply what may have been the state of the fish mentioned.
The Story of the 5,000
This story is actually found in all four gospels, making it a rather significant story. In the account given by John, there is a detail mentioned that may indicate the preparation of the fish.
“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9).
It began with a little boy offering his meal of five loaves and two small fish. This was likely a meal prepared for him from home for later in the day. Being evening at this point, (Matthew 14:14), implies that the fish was cooked in some way to keep from perishing, rather than raw.
The Story of the 4,000
In the story of the feeding of the four thousand, there is another clue that the fish in this story had been prepared in such a way that it would last for a longer period of time.
Jesus had been healing those in the multitude for three days with no food and did not want to send the people away hungry (Matthew 15:32). He looked to His disciples for any food to serve, saying: “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish”(Matthew 15:34).
These fish were probably cooked in such a way to still be edible after being with them for three days. The likely method would have been smoking and drying the fish. This would make it basically a type of jerky, which would be able to last for several days. Smoked fish is a means of fish preparation in Jewish cuisine, thus making it probable.
Jesus Himself gave an example of cooking fish with His disciples, which further makes it a possibility that the fish prior mentioned had been cooked. “Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread… Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord” (John 21:9, 12).
The lesson in these stories
The stories of multiplying the food shows that even though the believers’ possession may not seem to be sufficient for God’s work, if they move forward in faith, believing in the all-sufficient power of God, abundant resources will open before them. If the work be of God, He Himself will provide the means for its accomplishment (Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11).
In His service,
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