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Introduction to The
The English word “gospel” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word godspell, which can mean either “a story about God,” or “a good story.” The latter meaning is in harmony with the Greek word translated “gospel,” euangellion, which means “good news.” In secular Greek, euangellion referred to a good report about an important event. The four gospels are the good news about the most significant events in all of history—the life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense of the word, since they do not intend to present a complete life of Jesus (cf. Jn 20:30; 21:25). Apart from the birth narratives, they give little information about the first 30 years of J esus’ life. While J esus’ public ministry lasted over three years, the gospels focus much of their attention on the last week of His life (cf. Jn 12–20). Though they are completely accurate historically, and present important biographical details of J esus’ life, the primary purposes of the gospels are theological and apologetic (Jn 20:31). They provide authoritative answers to questions about J esus’ life and ministry, and they strengthen believers’ assurance regarding the reality of their faith (Lk 1:4). Although many spurious gospels were written, the church from earliest times has accepted only Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as inspired Scripture. While each gospel has its unique perspective (see the discussion of the “Synoptic Problem” in the Introduction to Mark: Interpretive Challenges), Matthew, Mark, and Luke, when compared to John, share a common point of view. Because of that, they are known as the synoptic (from a Greek word meaning “to see together,” or “to share a common point of view”) gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, for example, focus on Christ’s Galilean ministry, while John focuses on His ministry in Judea. The synoptic gospels contain numerous parables, while John records none. John and the synoptic gospels record only two common events (Jesus’ walking on the water, and the feeding of the 5,000) prior to Passion Week. These differences between John and the synoptic gospels, however, are not contradictory, but complementary. As already noted, each gospel writer wrote from a unique perspective, for a different audience. As a result, each gospel contains distinctive elements. Taken together, the four gospels form a complete testimony about Jesus Christ. Matthew wrote primarily to a Jewish audience, presenting Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s longawaited Messiah and rightful King. His genealogy, unlike Luke’s, focuses on J esus’ royal descent from Israel’s greatest king, David. Interspersed throughout Matthew are OT quotes presenting various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry as the fulfillment of OT messianic prophecy. Matthew alone uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” avoiding the parallel phrase “kingdom of God” because of the unbiblical connotations it had in first-century Jewish thought. Matthew wrote his gospel, then, to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christians, and it provides a useful apologetic tool for Jewish evangelism. Mark targeted a Gentile audience, especially a Roman one (see Introduction to Mark: Background and Setting). Mark is the gospel of action; the frequent use of “immediately” and “then” keeps his narrative moving rapidly along. Jesus appears in Mark as the Servant (cf. Mk 10:45) who came to suffer for the sins of many. Mark’s fast-paced approach would especially appeal to the practical, action-oriented Romans. Luke addressed a broader Gentile audience. As an educated Greek (see Introduction to Luke: Author and Date), Luke wrote using the most sophisticated literary Greek of any NT writer. He was a careful researcher (Lk 1:1–4) and an accurate historian. Luke portrays J esus as the Son of Man (a
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Introduction to the Gospels
title appearing 25 times), the answer to the needs and hopes of the human race, who came to seek and save lost sinners (Lk 9:56; 19:10). John, the last gospel written, emphasizes the deity of Jesus Christ (e.g., 5:18; 8:58; 10:30–33; 14:9). John wrote to strengthen the faith of believers and to appeal to unbelievers to come to faith in Christ. The apostle clearly stated his purpose for writing in 20:31: “ . . . these are written that you may believe that J esus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Taken together, the four gospels weave a complete portrait of the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth. In Him were blended perfect humanity and deity, making Him the only sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the worthy Lord of those who believe.
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// Title The title of the fourth gospel continues the pattern of the other gospels, being identified originally as “According to John.” Like the others, “The Gospel” was added later.
// Author and Date Although the author’s name does not appear in the gospel, early church tradition strongly and consistently identified him as the apostle John. The early church father Irenaeus (ca. a.d. 130–200) was a disciple of Polycarp (ca. a.d. 70–160), who was a disciple of the apostle John, and he testified on Polycarp’s authority that John wrote the gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when he was advanced in age (Against Heresies 2.22.5; 3.1.1). Subsequent to Irenaeus, all the church fathers assumed John to be the gospel’s author. Clement of Alexandria (ca. a.d. 150–215) wrote that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel” (see Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 6.14.7). Reinforcing early church tradition are significant internal characteristics of the gospel. While the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) identify the apostle John by name approximately 20 times (including parallels), he is not directly mentioned by name in the gospel of John. Instead, the author prefers to identify himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). The absence of any mention of John’s name directly is remarkable when one considers the important part played by other named disciples in this gospel. Yet, the recurring designation of himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” a deliberate avoidance by John of his personal name, reflects his humility and celebrates his relation to his Lord Jesus. No mention of his name was necessary since his original readers clearly understood that he was the gospel’s author. Also, through a process of elimination based primarily on analyzing the material in chaps. 20, 21, this disciple “whom Jesus loved” narrows down to the apostle John (e.g., 21:24; cf. 21:2). Since the gospel’s author is exacting in mentioning the names of other characters in the book, if the author had been someone other than John the apostle, he would not have omitted John’s name. The gospel’s anonymity strongly reinforces the arguments favoring John’s authorship, for only someone of his well-known and preeminent authority as an apostle would be able to write a gospel that differed so markedly in form and substance from the other gospels and have it receive unanimous acceptance in the early church. In contrast, apocryphal gospels produced from the mid-second century onward were falsely ascribed to apostles or other famous persons closely associated with Jesus, yet universally rejected by the church. John and James, his older brother (Ac 12:2), were known as “the sons of Zebedee” (Mt 10:2–4), and Jesus gave them the name “sons of thunder” (Mk 3:17). John was an apostle (Lk 6:12–16) and one of the three most intimate associates of Jesus (along with Peter and James—cf. Mt 17:1; 26:37), being an eyewitness to and participant in Jesus’ earthly ministry (1Jn 1:1–4). After Christ’s ascension, John became a “pillar” in the Jerusalem church (Gal 2:9). He ministered with Peter (Ac 3:1; 4:13; 8:14) until he went to Ephesus (tradition says before the destruction of Jerusalem), from where he wrote this gospel and from where the Romans exiled him to Patmos (Rev 1:9). Besides the gospel that bears his name, John also authored 1–3 John and the book of Revelation (Rev 1:1).
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Introduction to John
Because the writings of some church fathers indicate that John was actively writing in his old age and that he was already aware of the Synoptic Gospels, many date the gospel sometime after their composition, but prior to John’s writing of 1–3 John or Revelation. John wrote his gospel ca. a.d. 80–90, about 50 years after he witnessed Jesus’ earthly ministry.
// Background and Setting Strategic to John’s background and setting is the fact that according to tradition John was aware of the Synoptic Gospels. Apparently, he wrote his gospel in order to make a unique contribution to the record of the Lord’s life (“a spiritual gospel”) and, in part, to be supplementary as well as complementary to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The gospel’s unique characteristics reinforce this purpose: First, John supplies a large amount of unique material not recorded in the other gospels. Second, he often supplies information that helps the understanding of the events in the Synoptics. For example, while the Synoptics begin with Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, they imply that Jesus had a ministry prior to that (e.g., Mt 4:12; Mk 1:14). John supplies the answer with information on Jesus’ prior ministry in Judea (chap. 3) and Samaria (chap. 4). In Mk 6:45, after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus compelled His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida. John recorded the reason. The people were about to make Jesus king because of His miraculous multiplying of food, and He was avoiding their ill-motivated efforts (6:26). Third, John is the most theological of the Gospels, containing, for example, a heavily theological prologue (1:1–18), larger amounts of didactic and discourse material in proportion to narrative (e.g., 3:13–17), and the largest amount of teaching on the Holy Spirit (e.g., 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7–14). Although John was aware of the Synoptics and fashioned his gospel with them in mind, he did not depend upon them for information. Rather, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he utilized his own memory as an eyewitness in composing the gospel (1:14; 19:35; 21:24). John’s gospel is the second (cf. Lk 1:1–4) that contains a precise statement regarding the author’s purpose (20:30, 31). He declares, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). The primary purposes, therefore, are twofold: evangelistic and apologetic. Reinforcing the evangelistic purpose is the fact that the word believe occurs approximately 100 times in the gospel (the Synoptics use the term less than half as much). John composed his gospel to provide reasons for saving faith in his readers and, as a result, to assure them that they would receive the divine gift of eternal life (1:12). The apologetic purpose is closely related to the evangelistic purpose. John wrote to convince his readers of Jesus’ true identity as the incarnate God-Man whose divine and human natures were united perfectly into one person who was the prophesied Christ (“Messiah”) and Savior of the world (e.g., 1:41; 3:16; 4:25, 26; 8:58). He organized his whole gospel around eight “signs” or proofs that reinforce Jesus’ true identity leading to faith. The first half of his work centers around seven miraculous signs selected to reveal Christ’s person and engender belief: 1) water made into wine (2:1–11); 2) the healing of the royal official’s son (4:46–54); 3) the healing of the lame man (5:1–18); 4) the feeding of a multitude (6:1–15); 5) walking on water (6:16–21); 6) healing of the blind man (9:1–41); and 7) the raising of Lazarus (11:1–57). The eighth sign is the miraculous catch of fish (21:6–11) after Jesus’ resurrection.
// Historical and Theological Themes In accordance with John’s evangelistic and apologetic purposes, the overall message of the gospel is found in 20:31: “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” The book, therefore, centers on the person and work of Christ. Three predominant words (“signs,” “believe,” and “life”) in 20:30, 31 receive constant reemphasis throughout the gospel to enforce the theme of salvation in Him, which is first set forth
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Introduction to John
in the prologue (1:1–18; cf. 1Jn 1:1–4) and re-expressed throughout the gospel in varying ways (e.g., 6:35, 48; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11–14; 11:25; 14:6; 17:3). In addition, John provides the record of how men responded to Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offered. Summing up, the gospel focuses on: 1) Jesus as the Word, the Messiah, and the Son of God; 2) who brings the gift of salvation to mankind; 3) who either accept or reject the offer. John also presents certain contrastive sub-themes that reinforce his main theme. He uses dualism (life and death, light and darkness, love and hate, from above and from below) to convey vital information about the person and work of Christ and the need to believe in Him (e.g., 1:4, 5, 12, 13; 3:16–21; 12:44–46; 15:17–20). There are also seven emphatic “I AM” statements which identify Jesus as God and Messiah (6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5).
// Interpretive Challenges Because John composed his record in a clear and simple style, one might tend to underestimate the depth of this gospel. Since John’s gospel is a “spiritual” gospel (see Authorship and Date), the truths he conveys are profound. The reader must prayerfully and meticulously explore the book, in order to discover the vast richness of the spiritual treasures that the apostle, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (14:26; 16:13), has lovingly deposited in his gospel. The chronological reckoning between John’s gospel and the Synoptics presents a challenge, especially in relation to the time of the Last Supper (13:2). While the Synoptics portray the disciples and the Lord at the Last Supper as eating the Passover meal on Thursday evening (Nisan 14) and Jesus being crucified on Friday, John’s gospel states that the Jews did not enter into the Praetorium in order “to avoid ceremonial uncleanness . . . because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover” (18:28). So, the disciples had eaten the Passover on Thursday evening, but the Jews had not. In fact, John (19:14) states that Jesus’ trial and crucifixion were on the day of Preparation for the Passover and not after the eating of the Passover, so that with the trial and crucifixion on Friday Christ was actually sacrificed at the same time the Passover lambs were being slain (19:14). The question is, “Why did the disciples eat the Passover meal on Thursday?” The answer lies in a difference among the Jews in the way they reckoned the beginning and ending of days. From Josephus, the Mishna, and other ancient Jewish sources we learn that the Jews in northern Israel calculated days from sunrise to sunrise. That area included the region of Galilee, where Jesus and all the disciples, except Judas, had grown up. Apparently most, if not all, of the Pharisees used that system of reckoning. But Jews in the southern part, which centered in Jerusalem, calculated days from sunset to sunset. Because all the priests necessarily lived in or near Jerusalem, as did most of the Sadducees, those groups followed the southern scheme. That variation doubtlessly caused confusion at times, but it also had some practical benefits. During Passover time, for instance, it allowed for the festival to be celebrated legitimately on two adjoining days, thereby permitting the temple sacrifices to be made over a total period of four hours rather than two. That separation of days may also have had the effect of reducing both regional and religious clashes between the two groups. On that basis the seeming contradictions in the gospel accounts are easily explained. Being Galileans, Jesus and the disciples considered Passover day to have started at sunrise on Thursday and to end at sunrise on Friday. The Jewish leaders who arrested and tried Jesus, being mostly priests and Sadducees, considered Passover day to begin at sunset on Thursday and end at sunset on Friday. By that variation, predetermined by God’s sovereign provision, Jesus could thereby legitimately celebrate the last Passover meal with His disciples and yet still be sacrificed on Passover day. Once again one can see how God sovereignly and marvelously provides for the precise fulfillment of His redemptive plan. Jesus was anything but a victim of men’s wicked schemes, much less
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Introduction to John
of blind circumstance. Every word He spoke and every action He took were divinely directed and secured. Even the words and actions by others against Him were divinely controlled. See, e.g., 11:49– 52; 19:11.
I. The Incarnation of the Son of God (1:1–18) A. His Eternality (1:1, 2) B. His Pre-incarnate Work (1:3–5) C. His Forerunner (1:6–8) D. His Rejection (1:9–11) E. His Reception (1:12, 13) F. His Deity (1:14–18)
II. The Presentation of the Son of God (1:19—4:54) A. Presentation by John the Baptist (1:19–34) 1. To the religious leaders (1:19–28) 2. At Christ’s baptism (1:29–34) B. Presentation to John’s Disciples (1:35–51) 1. Andrew and Peter (1:35–42) 2. Philip and Nathanael (1:43–51) C. Presentation in Galilee (2:1–12) 1. First sign: water to wine (2:1–10) 2. Disciples believe (2:11, 12) D. Presentation in Judea (2:13—3:36) 1. Cleansing the temple (2:13–25) 2. Teaching Nicodemus (3:1–21) 3. Preaching by John the Baptist (3:22–36) E. Presentation in Samaria (4:1–42) 1. Witness to the Samaritan woman (4:1–26) 2. Witness to the disciples (4:27–38) 3. Witness to the Samaritans (4:39–42) F. Presentation in Galilee (4:43–54) 1. Reception by the Galileans (4:43–45) 2. Second sign: healing the royal official’s son (4:46–54)
III. The Opposition to the Son of God (5:1—12:50) A. Opposition at the Festival in Jerusalem (5:1–47) 1. Third sign: healing the paralyzed man (5:1–9) 2. Rejection by the Jews (5:10–47) B. Opposition During Passover (6:1–71) 1. Fourth sign: feeding the 5,000 (6:1–14) 2. Fifth sign: walking on water (6:15–21) 3. Bread of Life discourse (6:22–71) C. Opposition at the Festival of Tabernacles (7:1—10:21) 1. The opposition (7:1—8:59) 2. Sixth sign (9:1—10:21)
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Introduction to John
D. Opposition at the Festival of Dedication (10:22–42) E. Opposition at Bethany (11:1—12:11) 1. Seventh sign: raising of Lazarus (11:1–44) 2. Pharisees plot to kill Christ (11:45–57) 3. Mary anointing Christ (12:1–11) F. Opposition in Jerusalem (12:12–50) 1. The triumphal entry (12:12–22) 2. The discourse on faith and rejection (12:23–50)
IV. The Preparation of the Disciples by the Son of God (13:1—17:26) A. In the Upper Room (13:1—14:31) 1. Washing feet (13:1–20) 2. Announcing the betrayal (13:21–30) 3. Discourse on Christ’s departure (13:31—14:31) B. On the Way to the Garden (15:1—17:26) 1. Instructing the disciples (15:1—16:33) 2. Interceding with the Father (17:1–26)
V. The Execution of the Son of God (18:1—19:37) A. The Rejection of Christ (18:1—19:16) 1. His arrest (18:1–11) 2. His trials (18:12—19:16) B. The Crucifixion of Christ (19:17–37)
VI. The Resurrection of the Son of God (19:38—21:23) A. The Burial of Christ (19:38–42) B. The Resurrection of Christ (20:1–10) C. The Appearances of Christ (20:11—21:23) 1. To Mary Magdalene (20:11–18) 2. To the disciples without Thomas (20:19–25) 3. To the disciples with Thomas (20:26–29) 4. Statement of purpose for the gospel (20:30, 31) 5. To the disciples (21:1–14) 6. To Peter (21:15–23)
VII. Conclusion (21:24, 25)
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//The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the and the Word was with God, b and the Word was God. c 2 He was with God in the beginning. d 3 Through him all t hings were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. e 4 In him
1:1 a Rev 19:13 b Jn 17:5; c Php 2:6
1:2 d Ge 1:1 1:3 e 1Co 8:6;
Col 1:16; Heb 1:2
1:4 f Jn 5:26; 11:25; 14:6 g Jn 8:12 1:5 h Jn 3:19
1:1–18 These verses constitute the prologue that introduces many of the major themes that John will treat, especially the main theme that “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” (vv. 12–14, 18; cf. 20:31). Several key words repeated throughout the gospel (e.g., life, light, witness, glory) appear here. The remainder of the gospel develops the theme of the prologue as to how the eternal “Word” of God, Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, became flesh and ministered among men so that all who believe in Him would be saved. Although John wrote the prologue with the simplest vocabulary in the NT, the truths the prologue conveys are the most profound. Six basic truths about Christ as the Son of God are featured in the prologue: 1) the eternal Christ (vv. 1–3); 2) the incarnate Christ (vv. 4, 5); 3) the forerunner of Christ (vv. 6–8); 4) the unrecognized Christ (vv. 9–11); 5) the omnipotent Christ (vv. 12, 13); and 6) the glorious Christ (vv. 14–18). 1:1 In the beginning. In contrast to 1Jn 1:1 where John uses a similar phrase (“from the beginning”) to refer to the starting point of J esus’ ministry and gospel preaching, this phrase parallels Ge 1:1 where the same phrase is used. John uses the phrase in an absolute sense to refer to the beginning of the time-space-material universe. was. The verb highlights the eternal preexistence of the Word, i.e., Jesus Christ. Before the universe began, the Second Person of the Trinity always existed; i.e., He always was (cf. 8:58). This word is used in contrast with the verb “were made” in v. 3, which indicates a beginning in time. Because of John’s theme that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, the Second Person of the Trinity, he did not include a genealogy as Matthew and Luke did. While in terms of Jesus’ humanity, He had a human genealogy; in terms of His deity, He has no genealogy. the Word. John borrowed the use of the term “Word” not only from the vocabulary of the OT but also from Gr. philosophy, in which the term was essentially impersonal, signifying the rational principle of “divine reason,” “mind,” or even “wisdom.” John, however, imbued the term entirely with OT and Christian meaning (e.g., Ge 1:3 where God’s Word brought the world into being; Pss 33:6; 107:20; Pr 8:27 where God’s Word is His powerful self-expression in creation, wisdom, revelation, and salvation) and made it refer to a person, i.e., Jesus Christ. Greek philosophical usage, therefore, is not the exclusive background of John’s thought. Strategically, the term “Word” serves as a bridgeword to reach not only Jews but also the unsaved Greeks. John chose this concept because both Jews and Greeks were familiar with it. the Word was with God. The Word, as the Second Person of the Trinity, was in intimate fellowship with God the Father throughout all eternity. Yet, although the Word enjoyed the splendors of heaven and eternity with the Father (Isa 6:1–13; cf. 12:41; 17:5), He willingly gave up His heavenly status, taking the form of a man, and became subject to the death of the cross (see notes on
was life, f and that life was the light g of all man kind. 5 The light s hines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome a it. h 6 There was a man sent from God whose name a 5 Or understood
Php 2:6–8). was God. The Gr. construction emphasizes that the Word had all the essence or attributes of deity, i.e., Jesus the Messiah was fully God (cf. Col 2:9). Even in His incarnation when He emptied Himself, He did not cease to be God but took on a genuine human nature/body and voluntarily refrained from the independent exercise of the attributes of deity. 1:3 Through him all things were made. Jesus Christ was God the Father’s agent involved in creating everything in the universe (Col 1:16, 17; Heb 1:2). 1:4, 5 life . . . light . . . darkness. John introduces the reader to contrastive themes that occur throughout the gospel. “Life” and “light” are qualities of the Word that are shared not only among the Godhead (5:26) but also by those who respond to the gospel message regarding Jesus Christ (8:12; 9:5; 10:28; 11:25; 14:6). John uses the word “life” about 36 times in his gospel, far more than any other NT book. It refers not only in a broad sense to physical and temporal life that the Son imparted to the created world through His involvement as the agent of creation (v. 3), but especially to spiritual and eternal life imparted as a gift through belief in Him (3:15; 17:3; Eph 2:5). In Scripture “light” and “darkness” are very familiar symbols. Intellectually, “light” refers to biblical truth while “darkness” refers to error or falsehood (cf. Ps 119:105; Pr 6:23). Morally, “light” refers to holiness or purity (1Jn 1:5) while “darkness” refers to sin or wrongdoing (3:19; 12:35, 46; Ro 13:11–14; 1Th 5:4–7; 1Jn 1:6; 2:8–11). “Darkness” has special significance in relationship to Satan (and his demonic cohorts) who rules the present spiritually dark world (1Jn 5:19) as the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” promoting spiritual darkness and rebellion against God (Eph 2:2). John uses the Greek term skotia for “darkness” 14 times (8 in the gospel and 6 in 1 John) out of its 17 occurrences in the NT, making it almost an exclusive Johannine word. In John, “light” and “life” have their special significance in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word (v. 9; 9:5; 1Jn 1:5–7; 5:12, 20). 1:5 overcome. Darkness is not able to overcome or conquer the light. Just as a single candle can overcome a room filled with darkness, so also the powers of darkness are overcome by the person and work of the Son through His death on the cross (cf. 19:11a). 1:6 sent from God. As forerunner to Jesus, John was to bear witness to Him as the Messiah and Son of God. With John’s ministry, the “400 silent years” between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT period, during which God had given no revelation, ended. John. The name “John” always refers to John the Baptist in this gospel, never to the apostle John. The writer of this gospel calls him merely “John” without using the phrase “the Baptist,” unlike the other gospels, which use the additional description to identify him (Mt 3:1; Mk 6:14; Lk 7:20). Moreover, John the apostle
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was John. i 7 He came as a witness to testify j con cerning that light, so that t hrough him all m ight believe. k 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light l that g ives light to everyone m was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and t hough the w orld was made t hrough him, n the w orld did not recognize him. 11 He
1:6 i Mt 3:1 1:7 j ver 15, 19, 32 k ver 12
l 1Jn 2:8
m Isa 49:6
1:10 n Heb 1:2 1:12 o ver 7
p 1Jn 3:23 q Gal 3:26
1:13 r Jn 3:6; Jas 1:18;
1Pe 1:23; 1Jn 3:9 1:14 s Gal 4:4; Php 2:7, 8; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 2:14
(or, son of Zebedee) never identified himself directly by name in the gospel even though he was one of the three most intimate associates of Jesus (Mt 17:1). Such silence argues strongly that John the apostle authored the gospel and that his readers knew full well that he composed the gospel that bears his name. For more on John the Baptist, cf. Mt 3:1–6; Mk 1:2–6; Lk 1:5–25, 57–80. 1:7 witness to testify. The terms “witness” or “to testify” receive special attention in this gospel, reflecting the courtroom language of the OT where the truth of a matter was to be established on the basis of multiple witnesses (8:17, 18; cf. Dt 17:6; 19:15). Not only did John the Baptist witness regarding J esus as Messiah and Son of God (vv. 19–34; 3:27–30; 5:35), but there were other witnesses: 1) the Samaritan woman (4:29); 2) the works of Jesus (10:25); 3) the Father (5:32–37); 4) the OT (5:39, 40); 5) the crowd (12:17); and 6) the Holy Spirit (15:26, 27). that through him all might believe. “Him” refers not to Christ but to John as the agent who witnessed to Christ. The purpose of his testimony was to produce faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. 1:8 He . . . was not the light. While John the Baptist was the agent of belief, Jesus Christ is the object of belief. Although John’s person and ministry were vitally important (Mt 11:11), he was merely the forerunner who announced the coming of the Messiah. Many years after John’s ministry and death, some still failed to understand John’s subordinate role to Jesus (Ac 19:1–3). 1:9 The true light . . . coming into the world. This phrase highlights the incarnation of Jesus Christ (v. 14; 3:16). gives light to everyone. Through God’s sovereign power, every man has enough light to be responsible. God has planted His knowledge in man through general revelation in creation and conscience. The result of general revelation, however, does not produce salvation but either leads to the complete light of Jesus Christ or produces condemnation in those who reject such “light” (see notes on Ro 1:19, 20; 2:12–16). The coming of Jesus Christ was the fulfillment and embodiment of the light that God had placed inside the heart of man. the world. The basic sense of this Gr. word meaning “an ornament” is illustrated by the word “adornment” (1Pe 3:3). While the NT uses it a total of 185 times, John had a particular fondness for this term, using it 78 times in his gospel, 24 times in 1–3 John and 3 times in Revelation. John gives it several shades of meaning: 1) the physical created universe (v. 9; cf. v. 3; 21:24, 25); 2) humanity in general (3:16; 6:33, 51; 12:19); and 3) the invisible spiritual system of evil dominated by Satan and all that it offers in opposition to God, His Word, and His people (3:19; 4:42; 7:7; 14:17, 22, 27, 30; 15:18, 19; 16:8, 20, 33; 17:6, 9, 14; cf. 1Co 1:21; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:19). The latter concept is the significant new use that the term acquires in the NT and that predominates in John. Thus, in the majority of times that John uses the word, it has decidedly negative overtones. 1:11 his own . . . his own. The first usage of “his own” most likely refers to the world of mankind in general, while the second refers to the Jewish nation. As Creator, the world belongs to the Word as His property but the world did not even recognize Him due to spiritual blindness (cf. also v. 10). John uses the second occurrence
came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to t hose who believed o in his name, p he gave the right to become children of God q — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human deci sion or a husband’s will, but born of God. r 14 The Word became flesh s and made his dwell ing a mong us. We have seen his glory, the glory
of “his own” in a narrower sense to refer to Jesus’ own physical lineage, the Jews. Although they possessed the Scriptures that testified of His person and coming, they still did not accept Him (Isa 65:2, 3; Jer 7:25). This theme of Jewish rejection of their promised Messiah receives special attention in John’s gospel (12:37–41). 1:12, 13 These verses stand in contrast to vv. 10, 11. John softens the sweeping rejection of Messiah by stressing a believing remnant. This previews the book since the first 12 chapters stress the rejection of Christ, while chaps. 13–21 focus on the believing remnant who received Him. 1:12 to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name. The second phrase describes the first. To receive Him who is the Word of God means to acknowledge His claims, place one’s faith in Him, and thereby yield allegiance to Him. gave. The term emphasizes the grace of God involved in the gift of salvation (cf. Eph 2:8–1 0). the right. Those who receive Jesus, the Word, receive full authority to claim the exalted title of “children of God.” his name. Denotes the character of the person himself. See note on 14:13, 14. 1:13 of God. The divine side of salvation: ultimately it is not a man’s will that produces salvation but God’s will (cf. 3:6–8; Titus 3:5; 1Jn 2:29). 1:14 The Word became flesh. While Christ as God was uncreated and eternal (see notes on v. 1), the word “became” emphasizes Christ’s taking on humanity (cf. Heb 1:1–3; 2:14–18). This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that the Infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the Invisible became visible; the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural. In the incarnation, however, the Word did not cease to be God but became God in human flesh, i.e., undiminished deity in human form as a man (1Ti 3:16). made his dwelling. Meaning “to pitch a tabernacle,” or “live in a tent.” The term recalls to mind the OT tabernacle where God met with Israel before the temple was constructed (Ex 25:8). It was called the “tent of meeting” (Ex 33:7; “tabernacle of witness”—LXX) where “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Ex 33:11). In the NT, God chose to dwell among His people in a far more personal way through becoming a man. In the OT, when the tabernacle was completed, God’s Shekinah presence filled the entire structure (Ex 40:34; cf. 1Ki 8:10). When the Word became flesh, the glorious presence of deity was embodied in Him (cf. Col 2:9). We have seen his glory. Although His deity may have been veiled in human flesh, glimpses of His divine majesty exist in the Gospels. The disciples saw glimpses of His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1–8). The reference to Christ’s glory, however, was not only visible but also spiritual. They saw Him display the attributes or characteristics of God (grace, goodness, mercy, wisdom, truth, etc.; cf. Ex 33:18–23). glory of the one . . . who came from the Father. Jesus as God displayed the same essential glory as the Father. They are one in essential nature (cf. 5:17–30; 8:19; 10:30). one and only. The Gr. word for this term has the idea of “the only beloved one.” It, therefore, has the idea of singular uniqueness, of being beloved like no other. By this
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of the one and only Son, who came from the Fa ther, full of grace and truth. t 15 (John testified u con cerning him. He c ried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) v 16 Out of his full ness w we have all received g race in p lace of g race already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; x grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. y 18 No one has ever seen God, z but the one and only Son, who is himself God and a a is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
1:14 t Jn 14:6 1:15 u ver 7 v ver 30; Mt 3:11 1:16 w Eph 1:23; Col 1:19 1:17 x Jn 7:19 y ver 14 1:18 z Ex 33:20; Jn 6:46; Col 1:15; 1Ti 6:16 a Jn 3:16, 18; 1Jn 4:9 1:19 b Jn 2:18; 5:10, 16; 6:41, 52
confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Mes siah.” c 21 They a sked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” d He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” e He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself ?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the v oice of one calling in the wilderness, f ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” c g 24 Now the Phar i sees who had been sent
1:20 c Jn 3:28; Lk 3:15, 16 1:21 d Mt 11:14 e Dt 18:15 1:23 f Mt 3:1 g Isa 40:3
//John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah 19 Now
this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders b b in Jerusalem sent priests and Le vites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to
Some manuscripts but the only Son, who b 19 The Greek term traditionally translated the Jews (hoi Ioudaioi) refers here and elsewhere in John’s Gospel to those Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus; also in 5:10, 15, 16; 7:1, 11, 13; 9:22; 18:14, 28, 36; 19:7, 12, 31, 38; 20:19. c 23 Isaiah 40:3
emphasized distinct aspects regarding Him. The events in these verses took place in a.d. 26/27, just a few months after John’s baptism of Jesus (cf. Mt 3:13–17; Lk 3:21, 22).
word, John is emphasizing the exclusive character of the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Godhead (cf. 3:16, 18; 1Jn 4:9). It does not connote origin but rather unique prominence; e.g., it was used of Isaac (Heb 11:17) who was Abraham’s second son (Ishmael being the first; cf. Ge 16:15 with Ge 21:2, 3). full of grace and truth. John probably had Ex 33, 34 in mind. On that occasion, Moses requested that God display His glory to him. The Lord replied to Moses that He would make all His “goodness” pass before him, and then as He passed by God declared “the Lord . . . compassionate and gracious . . . slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex 33:18, 19; 34:5–7). These attributes of God’s glory emphasize the goodness of God’s character, especially in relationship to salvation. Jesus as Yahweh of the OT (8:58; “I am”) displayed the same divine attributes when He tabernacled among men in the NT era (Col 2:9).
1:19 John. John, born into a priestly family, belonged to the tribe of Levi (Lk 1:5). He began his ministry in the Jordan Valley when he was approximately 29 or 30 years old and boldly proclaimed the need for spiritual repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. He was the cousin of Jesus Christ and served as His prophetic forerunner (Mt 3:3; Lk 1:5–25, 36). the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. This may refer to the Sanhedrin, the main governing body of the Jewish nation. The Sanhedrin was controlled by the family of the high priest, and thus the envoys would naturally be priests and Levites who would be interested in John’s ministry, both his message and his baptism.
1:15 John the Baptist’s testimony corroborates John the apostle’s statement regarding the eternality of the Incarnate Word (cf. v. 14).
1:20 I am not the Messiah. Some thought that John was the Messiah (Lk 3:15–17).
1:16 grace in place of grace. This phrase emphasizes the superabundance of grace that has been displayed by God toward mankind, especially believers (Eph 1:5–8; 2:7).
1:21 Are you Elijah? Malachi 4:5 (see note there) promises that the prophet Elijah will return before Messiah establishes His earthly kingdom. If John was the forerunner of Messiah, was he Elijah, they asked? The angel announcing John’s birth said that John would go before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk 1:17), thus indicating that someone other than literal Elijah could fulfill the prophecy. God sent John who was like Elijah, i.e., one who had the same type of ministry, the same power and similar personality (2Ki 1:8; cf. Mt 3:4). If they had received Jesus as Messiah, John would have fulfilled that prophecy (see notes on Mt 11:14; Mk 9:13; Lk 1:17; Rev 11:5, 6). Are you the Prophet? This is a reference to Dt 18:15–18, which predicted God would raise up a great prophet like Moses who would function as His voice. While some in John’s time interpreted this prophecy as referring to another forerunner of Messiah, the NT (Ac 3:22, 23; 7:37) applies the passage to Jesus.
1:17, 18 Corroborating the truth of v. 14, these verses draw a closing contrast to the prologue. The law, given by Moses, was not a display of God’s grace but God’s demand for holiness. God designed the law as a means to demonstrate the unrighteousness of man in order to show the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ (Ro 3:19, 20; Gal 3:10–14, 21–26). Furthermore, the law revealed only a part of truth and was preparatory in nature. The reality or full truth toward which the law pointed came through the person of Jesus Christ. 1:18 who is . . . in closest relationship with the Father. This term denotes the mutual intimacy, love, and knowledge existing in the Godhead (see 13:23; Lk 16:22, 23). made him known. Theologians derived the term “exegesis” or “to interpret” from this word. John meant that all that Jesus is and does interprets and explains who God is and what He does (14:8–10). 1:19–37 In these verses, John presents the first of many witnesses to prove that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, thus reinforcing his main theme (20:30, 31). The testimony of John the Baptist was given on three different days to three different groups (cf. vv. 29, 35, 36). Each time, he spoke of Christ in a different way and
1:23 John quoted and applied Isa 40:3 to himself (cf. Mt 3:3; Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4). In the original context of Isa 40:3, the prophet heard a voice calling for the leveling of a path. This call was a prophetic picture that foreshadowed the final and greatest return of Israel to their God from spiritual darkness and alienation through the spiritual redemption accomplished by the Messiah (cf. Ro 11:25–27). In humility, John compared himself to a voice rather than a person, thus focusing the attention exclusively upon Christ (cf. Lk 17:10).
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John 1:25 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 “I bap tize with a water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, h the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, i where John was baptizing.
1:27 h ver 15, 30 1:28 i Jn 3:26; 10:40 1:29 j ver 36;
Isa 53:7; 1Pe 1:19; Rev 5:6 1:30 k ver 15, 27
//John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
//John Testifies About Jesus next day John saw J esus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, j who takes away the sin of the w orld! 30 This is the one Im eant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ k 31 I my self did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and re main on him. l 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water m told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will bap tize with the Holy Spirit.’ n 34 I have seen and I testify that this is G od’s Chosen One.” b o
1:40-42pp —Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:2-11
1:32 l Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10 1:33 m Mk 1:4 n Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8 1:34 o ver 49; Mt 4:3 1:35 p Mt 3:1 1:36 q ver 29
35 The next day John p was t here a gain with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw J esus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” q 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” a 26 Or in;
also in verses 31 and 33 (twice) b 34 See Isaiah 42:1; many manuscripts is the Son of God.
1:25 baptize. Since John had identified himself as a mere voice (v. 23), the question arose as to his authority for baptizing. The OT associated the coming of Messiah with repentance and spiritual cleansing (Eze 36, 37; Zec 13:1). John focused attention on his position as forerunner of Messiah, who used traditional proselyte baptism as a symbol of the need to recognize those Jews who were outside God’s saving covenant like Gentiles. They, too, needed spiritual cleansing and preparation (repentance—Mt 3:11; Mk 1:4; Lk 3:7, 8) for Messiah’s advent. See notes on Mt 3:6, 11, 16, 17 for an explanation of the significance of John’s baptism.
writings (19:36; cf. Rev 5:1–6; 7:17; 17:14) and that appears in other NT writings (e.g., 1Pe 1:19). sin of the world. See note on v. 9; cf. 3:16; 6:33, 51. In this context “world” has the connotation of humanity in general, not specifically every person. The use of the singular “sin” in conjunction with “of the world” indicates that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin potentially reaches all human beings without distinction (cf. 1Jn 2:2). John makes clear, however, that its efficacious effect is only for those who receive Christ (vv. 11, 12). For discussion of the relation of Christ’s death to the world, see note on 2Co 5:19.
1:27 John the Baptist’s words here continue a theme of the preeminence of Messiah in the prologue (vv. 6–8, 15) and demonstrate extraordinary humility. Each time John had opportunity to focus on himself in these encounters, he instead shifted the focus onto Messiah. John went so far as to state that he, unlike a slave that was required to remove his master’s shoes, was not even worthy of performing this action in relationship to Messiah.
1:31 I . . . did not know him. Although John was Jesus’ cousin, he did not know Jesus as the “Coming One” or “Messiah” (v. 30).
1:28 Bethany. Some translations render this word as “Bethabara.” Some feel that John incorrectly identified Bethany as the place of these events. The solution is that two Bethanys existed, i.e., one near Jerusalem where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived (11:1) and one “on the other side of the Jordan” near the region of Galilee. Since John took great pains to identify the other Bethany’s close proximity to Jerusalem, he most likely was referring here to that other town with the same name. 1:29–34 The verses introduce a series of Messianic titles that refer to Jesus: Lamb of God (vv. 29, 36), Messiah/Christ (v. 41), God’s Chosen One (v. 34), Son of God (v. 49), king of Israel (v. 49), Son of Man (v. 51), and “the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote” (v. 45). 1:29 The next day. These events took place the day after John’s encounter with those sent from the Pharisees (v. 19ff). This same phrase occurs two more times (vv. 35, 43). the Lamb of God. The use of a lamb for sacrifice was very familiar to Jews. A lamb was used as a sacrifice during Passover (Ex 12:1–36); a lamb was led to the slaughter in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 53:7); a lamb was offered in the daily sacrifices of Israel (Lev 14:12–21; cf. Heb 10:5–7). John the Baptist used this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, a theme that John the apostle carries throughout his
1:32 the Spirit come down. God had previously communicated to John that this sign was to indicate the promised Messiah (v. 33), so when John witnessed this act, he was able to identify the Messiah as Jesus (cf. Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22). 1:34 God’s Chosen One. Lit. “sons of God.” Although, in a limited sense, believers can be called “chosen,” John uses this phrase with the full force as a title that points to the unique oneness and intimacy that Jesus sustains to the Father as “Chosen.” The term carries the idea of the deity of Jesus as Messiah (v. 49; 5:16–30; cf. 2Sa 7:14; Ps 2:7; see notes on Heb 1:1–9). 1:35–51 This portion deals with John’s witness to a third group, i.e., some of John’s disciples, on the third day (see vv. 19–28, 29–34 for the first and second groups) regarding Jesus. Consistent with John’s humility (v. 27), he focuses the attention of his own disciples onto Jesus (v. 37). 1:37 they followed Jesus. Although the verb “follow” usually means “to follow as a disciple” in the writing of the apostle (v. 43; 8:12; 12:26; 21:19, 20, 22), it may also have a neutral sense (11:31). The “following” here does not necessarily mean that they became permanent disciples at this time. The implication may be that they went after Jesus to examine Him more closely because of John’s testimony. This event constituted a preliminary exposure of John the Baptist’s disciples to Jesus (e.g., Andrew; v. 40). They eventually dedicated their lives to Him as true disciples and apostles when J esus called them to permanent service after these events (Mt 4:18–22; 9:9; Mk 1:16–20). At this point in the narrative, John the Baptist fades from the scene and the attention focuses upon the ministry of Christ.
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They said, “Rabbi” r (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they s pent that day with him. It was a bout four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first t hing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). s 42 And he brought him to J esus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be c alled t Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter a ). u
//Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael 43 The
next day Jesus decided to leave for Gali lee. Finding Philip, v he said to him, “Follow me.” w
1:38 r ver 49; Mt 23:7 1:41 s Jn 4:25 1:42 t Ge 17:5, 15 u Mt 16:18 1:43 v Mt 10:3; Jn 6:5‑7; 12:21, 22; 14:8, 9 w Mt 4:19
1:44 x Mt 11:21; Jn 12:21
1:45 y Jn 21:2
z Lk 24:27 a Lk 24:27 b Mt 2:23; c Lk 3:23
1:47 e Ro 9:4, 6 f Ps 32:2
1:49 g ver 38; Mt 23:7 h ver 34; Mt 4:3 i Mt 2:2; 27:42; Jn 12:13
1:39 four in the afternoon. Lit. about the tenth hour. The Jews divided the daylight period of the day into 12 hours (starting at sunrise, approximately 6 a.m.). This would make it 4 p.m. John is reckoning time by the Roman method of the day beginning at midnight. See note on Mk 15:25. This would make the time about 10:00 a.m. John mentions the precise time most likely to emphasize that he was the other disciple of John the Baptist who was with Andrew (v. 40). As an eyewitness to these events occurring on three successive days, John’s first meeting with Jesus was so life changing that he remembered the exact hour when he first met the Lord. 1:41 Messiah. The term “Messiah” is a transliteration of a Heb. or Aram. verbal adjective that means “Anointed One.” It comes from a verb that means “to anoint” someone as an action involved in consecrating that person to a particular office or function. While the term at first applied to the king of Israel (“the Lord’s anointed”—1Sa 16:6), the high priest (“the anointed priest,” Lev 4:3) and, in one passage, the patriarchs (“my anointed ones,” Ps 105:15), the term eventually came to point above all to the prophesied “Coming One” or “Messiah” in His role as prophet, priest, and king. The term “Christ,” a Gr. word (verbal adjective) that comes from a verb meaning “to anoint,” is used in translating the Heb. term, so that the terms “Messiah” or “Christ” are titles and not personal names of Jesus. 1:42 Jesus looked at him. Jesus knows hearts thoroughly (vv. 43– 51) and not only sees into them (vv. 47, 48) but also transforms a person into what He wants him to become. You will be called Cephas. Up to this time, Peter had been known as “Simon the son of John” (“Jonah” in some translations; the name “Jonah” in Aram. means “John”; cf. 21:15–17; Mt 16:17). The term “Cephas” means “rock” in Aram. which is translated “Peter” in Greek. Jesus’ assignment of the name “Cephas” or “Peter” to Simon occurred at the outset of His ministry (cf. Mt 16:18; Mk 3:16). The statement is not only predictive of what Peter would be called but also declarative of how Jesus would transform his character and use him in relationship to the foundation of the church (cf. 21:18, 19; Mt 16:16–18; Ac 2:14—4:32). 1:43–51 This section introduces the fourth day since the beginning of John the Baptist’s witness (cf. vv. 19, 29, 35).
1:46 d Jn 7:41,
John 1:49 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. x 45 Philip found Nathanael y and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, z and about whom the prophets also wrote a — Jesus of Nazareth, b the son of Joseph.” c 46 “Naz areth! Can anything good come from there?” d Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite e in whom there is no deceit.” f 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were s till under the fig tree before Philip c alled you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, g you are the Son of God; h you are the king of Israel.” i a 42
Cephas (Aramaic) and Peter (Greek) both mean rock.
1:44 Andrew and Peter . . . from . . . Bethsaida. While Mk 1:21, 29 locates Peter’s house in Capernaum, John relates that he was from Bethsaida. Resolution centers in the fact that Peter (and Andrew) most likely grew up in Bethsaida and later relocated to Capernaum in the same way that Jesus was consistently identified with His hometown of Nazareth, though He lived elsewhere later (Mt 2:23; 4:13; Mk 1:9; Lk 1:26). 1:45 the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote. This phrase encapsulates the stance of John’s whole gospel: Jesus is the fulfillment of OT Scripture (cf. v. 21; 5:39; Dt 18:15–19; Lk 24:44–47; Ac 10:43; 18:28; 26:22, 23; Ro 1:2; 1Co 15:3; 1Pe 1:10, 11; Rev 19:10). 1:46 Can anything good come from there? Nathanael was from Cana (21:2), another town in Galilee. While Galileans were despised by Judeans, Galileans themselves despised people from Nazareth. In light of 7:52, Nathanael’s scorn may have centered in the fact that Nazareth was an insignificant village without seeming prophetic importance (cf., however, Mt 2:23). Later, some would contemptuously refer to Christians as the “the Nazarene sect” (Ac 24:5). 1:47 no deceit. Jesus recognized that Nathanael’s forthright comment (v. 46) revealed him to be a man of sincerity and honesty who was open to the truth about Christ. The term reveals an honest, seeking heart. The reference here may be an allusion to Ge 27:35 where Jacob, in contrast to the sincere Nathanael, was known for his trickery. The meaning may be that the employment of trickery characterized not only Jacob but also his descendants. In Jesus’ mind, an honest and sincere Israelite had become an exception rather than the rule (cf. 2:23–25). 1:48 I saw you. A brief glimpse of Jesus’ supernatural knowledge. Not only was Jesus’ brief summary of Nathanael accurate (v. 47), but He also revealed information that could only be known by Nathanael himself. Perhaps Nathanael had some significant or outstanding experience of communion with God at the location, and he was able to recognize Jesus’ allusion to it. At any rate, Jesus had knowledge of this event not available to men. 1:49 the Son of God . . . the king of Israel. Jesus’ display of supernatural knowledge and Philip’s witness removed Nathanael’s doubts, so John added the witness of Nathanael to this section.
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John 1:50 50 Jesus said, “You believe a because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, b you b will see ‘heaven open, j and the an gels of God ascending and descending k on’ c the Son of Man.” l
1:51 j Mt 3:16
k Ge 28:12 l Mt 8:20
2:1 m Jn 4:46; 21:2 n Mt 12:46
2:4 o Jn 19:26 p Mt 8:29
q Mt 26:18;
2:5 r Ge 41:55 2:6 s Mk 7:3, 4; Jn 3:25
//Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. m Jesus’ mother n was t here, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, J esus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, d o why do you involve me?” p Jesus replied. “My hour q has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatev er he tells you.” r 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, s each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. e
2:9 t Jn 4:46 2:11 u ver 23;
Jn 3:2; 4:48; 6:2, 14, 50 Or Do you believe . . . ? 51 The Greek is plural. c 51 Gen. 28:12 d 4 The Greek for Woman does not denote any 26, 30; 12:37; 20:30 v Jn 1:14 w Ex 14:31 disrespect. e 6 Or from about 75 to about 115 liters
The use of “the” with “Son of God” most likely indicates that the expression is to be understood as bearing its full significance (cf. v. 34; 11:27). For Nathanael, here was One who could not be described merely in human terms. 1:51 Very truly. Cf. 5:19, 24, 25. A phrase used frequently for emphasizing the importance and truth of the coming statement. heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending. In light of the context of v. 47, this verse most likely refers to Ge 28:12 where Jacob dreamed about a ladder from heaven. Jesus’ point to Nathanael was that just like Jacob experienced supernatural or heaven-sent revelation, Nathanael and the other disciples would experience supernatural communication confirming who Jesus was. Moreover, the term “Son of Man” replaced the ladder in Jacob’s dream, signifying that Jesus was the means of access between God and man. Son of Man. See note on Mt 8:20. This is Jesus’ favorite self-designation, for it was mostly spoken by Jesus who used it over 80 times. In the NT, it refers only to Jesus and appears mostly in the Gospels (cf. Ac 7:56). While the term at times may refer merely to a human being or as a substitute for “I” (6:27; cf. 6:20), it especially takes on an eschatological significance referring to Da 7:13, 14 where the “Son of Man” or Messiah comes in glory to receive the kingdom from the “Ancient of Days” (i.e., the Father). 2:1–11 John relates the first great sign performed by Jesus to demonstrate His deity, the turning of water into wine. Only God can create from nothing. John identifies eight miracles in his gospel that constitute “signs” or confirmation of who Jesus is. Each of the eight miracles were different; no two were alike (cf. v. 11). 2:1 On the third day. This phrase has reference to the last narrated event, i.e., the calling of Philip and Nathanael (1:43). wedding. A Jewish wedding could last up to seven days. It was the groom’s responsibility to pay for the festivities. To run out of wine for the guests would have been an embarrassment to the groom and could have made him vulnerable to legal consequences from the bride’s relatives. Cana in Galilee. Cana was the home of Nathanael (21:2). Its exact location is unknown. A probable location is Khirbet Qana, a village now in ruins approximately nine mi. N of Nazareth. 2:2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. The fact that Jesus, His mother, and His disciples were all present on this occa-
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been t urned into wine. t He did not realize w here it had come from, though the servants who had d rawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to d rink; but you have s aved the best till now.” 11 W hat Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the f irst of the signs u through which he re vealed his glory; v and his disciples believed in him. w
sion probably indicates that the wedding was for a relative or a friend of the family. The disciples who accompanied Him are the five mentioned in chap. 1: Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and the unnamed disciple (1:35) who was surely John, who also witnessed this miracle. 2:3 wine. The wine served was subject to fermentation. In the ancient world, however, to quench thirst without inducing drunkenness, wine was mixed with water to dilute its strength. Due to the climate and circumstances, even “new wine,” or “sweet wine,” fermented quickly and had an inebriating effect if not mixed (Ac 2:13). Because of a lack of water purification process, wine mixed with water was also safer to drink than water alone. While the Bible condemns drunkenness, it does not necessarily condemn the consumption of wine (Ps 104:15; Pr 20:1; see notes on Eph 5:18). 2:4 Woman. Jesus’ tone was not disrespectful, but abrupt. why do you involve me? Lit. “What (is that) to me and to you? The expression, common in Semitic idiom (Jdg 11:12; 2Sa 16:10), always distances the two parties, the speaker’s tone conveying some degree of reproach. Jesus’ tone was not rude, but abrupt. The phrase asks what is shared in common between the parties. The thrust of Jesus’ comment was that He had entered into the purpose for His mission on earth, so that He subordinated all activities to the fulfillment of that mission. Mary had to recognize Him not so much as a son whom she raised but as the promised Messiah and Son of God. Cf. Mk 3:31–35. My hour has not yet come. The phrase constantly refers to Jesus’ death and exaltation (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). He was on a divine schedule decreed by God before the foundation of the world. Since the prophets described the messianic kingdom as having an abundance of wine (Jer 31:12; Hos 14:7; Am 9:13, 14), Jesus was likely referring to the fact that the necessity of the cross must come before the blessings of the millennial age. 2:6 used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. Stone jars were used because stone was more durable than earthenware and also less susceptible to uncleanness. As a result, stone was preferable for symbolic washings (cf. Mk 7:3, 4). 2:11 signs. By this word, John emphasizes that miracles were not merely displays of power but had a significance beyond the mere acts themselves.
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12 After this he went down to Capernaum x with his mother and brothers y and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
2:12 x Mt 4:13 y Mt 12:46
2:13 z Jn 11:55 a Dt 16:1‑6;
//Jesus Clears the Temple Courts 2:14-16pp —Mt 21:12,13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45,46 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Pass over, z Jesus went up to Jerusalem. a 14 In the tem
2:16 b Lk 2:49
2:12 After this. John often uses this phrase to connect two narratives in his gospel (e.g., 3:22; 5:1, 14; 6:1; 7:1; 11:7, 11; 19:28, 38). John placed this verse here as a transition to explain Jesus’ movement from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventual arrival at Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Capernaum was on the NW shore of Galilee about 16 mi. NE of Cana. 2:13–25 John used this section where Jesus cleansed the temple in righteous indignation to reinforce his main theme that He was the promised Messiah and Son of God. In this section, he highlights three attributes of Jesus that confirm His deity: 1) His passion for reverence (vv. 13–17); 2) His power of resurrection (vv. 18–22); and 3) His perception of reality (vv. 23–25). 2:13–17 The first way John demonstrated Christ’s deity in the narrative of the temple cleansing was to show His passion for reverence. God alone exercises the right to regulate His worship. 2:13 Jewish Passover. This is the first of three Passovers that John mentions (v. 13; 6:4; 11:55). Jews selected the lamb on the tenth of the month, and celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the lunar month of Nisan in late March or early April. They slaughtered the lamb between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. on the night of the festival. Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt when the angel of death “passed over” Jewish homes in Egypt whose “door frames” were sprinkled with blood (Ex 12:23–27). Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Jesus’ journeying to Jerusalem for the Passover was a standard annual procedure for every devout Jewish male over 12 years old (Ex 23:14–17). Jewish pilgrims crowded into Jerusalem for this greatest of Jewish festivals. 2:14 people selling . . . exchanging money. During the celebration of Passover, worshipers came from all over Israel and the Roman Empire to Jerusalem. Because many traveled large distances, it was inconvenient to bring their sacrificial animals with them. Opportunistic merchants, seeing a chance to provide a service and probably eyeing considerable profit during this time, set up areas in the outer courts of the temple in order for travelers to buy animals. The ones
ple c ourts he found people selling cattle, s heep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchang ing money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house b into a market!”
exchanging money, commonly known as money changers, were needed because the temple tax, paid annually by all Jewish men (Ex 30:13, 14; Mt 17:24–27), had to be in Jewish or Tyrian coinage (due to its high content of silver). Those coming from foreign lands would need to exchange their money into the proper coinage for the tax. The money changers charged a high fee for the exchange. With such a large group of travelers and because of the seasonal nature of the celebration, both the animal dealers and money exchangers exploited the situation for monetary gain (“den of robbers”; Mt 21:13). Religion had become crass and materialistic. 2:15 As John recorded this cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Synoptic Gospels record a temple cleansing at the end of Jesus’ ministry during the final Passover week before Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt 21:12–17; Mk 11:15–18; Lk 19:45, 46). The historical circumstances and literary contexts of the two temple cleansings differ so widely that attempts to equate the two are unsuccessful. Furthermore, that two cleansings occurred is entirely consistent with the overall context of Jesus’ ministry, for the Jewish nation as a whole never recognized Jesus’ authority as Messiah (Mt 23:37–39). Instead, they rejected His message as well as His person, making such repeated cleansing of the temple highly probable (as well as necessary). drove all from the temple courts. When the holiness of God and His worship was at stake, Jesus took fast and furious action. The “all” indicates that He drove not only men out but also animals. Yet, although His actions required brute force, they were not cruel. The moderation of His actions is seen in the fact that no riotous activity occurred; otherwise Roman troops would have rapidly intervened. Although the primary reference is to the actions of the Messiah in the millennial kingdom, Jesus’ actions in cleansing the temple were an initial fulfillment of Mal 3:1–3 (and Zec 14:20, 21) that speak of Messiah’s purifying the religious worship of His people. 2:16 Stop turning. The force of the Gr. imperative indicates that Jesus made a strong demand that they stop their current practice. God’s holiness demands holiness in worship. my Father’s. John
/ The Eight Signs \ Turns water into wine (Jn 2:1–12) Heals a royal official’s son (Jn 4:46–54) Heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:1–17) Feeds 5,000 (Jn 6:1–14) Walks on water, stills a storm (Jn 6:15–21) Heals a man blind from birth (Jn 9:1–41) Raises Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:17–45) Causes abundant catch of fish (Jn 21:6)
Jesus is the source of life. Jesus is master over distance. Jesus is master over time. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is master over nature. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus has power over death. Jesus is master over the animal world. ©1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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John 2:17 17 His dis ciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” a c 18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to p rove your authority to do all this?” d 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it a gain in t hree days.” e 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six y ears to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in t hree days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. f 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. g Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
2:17 c Ps 69:9 2:18 d Mt 12:38 2:19 e Mt 26:61;
27:40; Mk 14:58; 15:29 2:21 f 1Co 6:19 2:22 g Lk 24:5‑8; Jn 12:16; 14:26
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Pass over Festival, h many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. b 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimo ny about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. i
//Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
2:23 h ver 13 2:25 i Mt 9:4;
Jn 6:61, 64; 13:11 3:1 j Jn 7:50; 19:39 k Lk 23:13
gives a subtle hint of Jesus’ divine Sonship as well as His messiahship with the recording of this phrase (see 5:17, 18). house into a market. Jesus may have intended a play on words. The word “market” pictures a trading house filled with wares. 2:17 Quoted from Ps 69:9 to indicate that Jesus would not tolerate irreverence toward God. When David wrote this psalm, he was being persecuted because of his zeal toward God’s house and his defense of God’s honor. The disciples were afraid that Jesus’ actions would precipitate the same type of persecution. Paul quotes the latter half of Ps 69:9 in Ro 15:3 (“The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me”), clearly indicating the messianic nature that the psalm had for the early church. 2:18–22 The second way John demonstrated Christ’s deity in the account of the temple cleansing was to show His power over death through resurrection. Only God has this right. 2:18 The Jews. Most likely the temple authorities or representatives of the Sanhedrin (cf. 1:19). sign. The Jews demanded that Jesus show some type of miraculous sign that would indicate His authority for the actions He had just taken in regulating the activities of the temple. Their demand of a sign reveals that they had not grasped the significance of Jesus’ rebuke that centered in their need for proper attitudes and holiness in worship. Such an action itself constituted a “sign” of Jesus’ person and authority. Moreover, they were requesting from Jesus a crass display of miracles on demand, further displaying their unbelief. 2:19 At His trial, the authorities charged Jesus (Mk 14:58; cf. Mk 15:29) with making a threatening statement against the temple, revealing that they did not understand Jesus’ response here. Once again John’s gospel supplements the other gospels at this point by indicating that Jesus enigmatically referred to His resurrection. As with His usage of parables, Jesus’ cryptic statement most likely was designed to reveal the truth to His disciples but conceal its meaning from unbelievers who questioned Him (Mt 13:10, 11). Only after His resurrection, however, did the disciples understand the real significance of this statement (v. 22; cf. Mt 12:40). Importantly, through the death and resurrection of Christ, temple worship in Jerusalem was destroyed (cf. 4:21) and reinstituted in the hearts of those who were built into a spiritual temple called the church (Eph 2:19–22). 2:20 forty-six years to build this temple. This was not a reference to the Solomonic temple, since it had been destroyed during the Babylonian conquest in 586 b.c. When the captives returned from Babylon, Zerubbabel and Jeshua began rebuilding the temple (Ezr 1–4). Encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Ezr 5:1—6:18), the Jews completed the work in 516 b.c. In 20/19 b.c.
Now there was a Pharis ee, a man named Nic odemus j who was a member of the Jewish rul ight and said, ing council. k 2 He came to J esus at n “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has a 17 Psalm 69:9 b 23 Or in
Herod the Great began a reconstruction and expansion. Workers completed the main part of the project in 10 years, but other parts were still being constructed even at the time Jesus cleansed the temple. Interestingly, the finishing touches on the whole enterprise were still being made at its destruction by the Romans along with Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The famous “Wailing Wall” is built on part of the Herodian temple foundation. 2:23–25 The third way John demonstrated Christ’s deity in the account of the temple cleansing was to show His perception of reality. Only God truly knows the hearts of men. 2:23, 24 many . . . believed in his name. . . . But Jesus would not entrust himself to them. John based these two phrases on the same Gr. verb for “believe.” This verse subtly reveals the true nature of belief from a biblical standpoint. Because of what they knew of Jesus from His miraculous signs, many came to believe in Him. However, Jesus made it His habit not to wholeheartedly “entrust” or “commit” Himself to them because He knew their hearts. Verse 24 indicates that Jesus looked for genuine conversion rather than enthusiasm for the spectacular. The latter verse also leaves a subtle doubt as to the genuineness of the conversion of some (cf. 8:31, 32). This emphatic contrast between vv. 23, 24 in terms of type of trust, therefore, reveals that, lit., “belief into His name” involved much more than intellectual assent. It called for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life as Jesus’ disciple (cf. Mt 10:37; 16:24–26). 3:1–2 1 The story of Jesus and Nicodemus reinforces John’s themes that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (apologetic) and that He came to offer salvation to men (evangelistic). John 2:23, 24 actually serves as the introduction to Nicodemus’s story, since chap. 3 constitutes tangible evidence of Jesus’ ability to know men’s hearts and thereby also demonstrates Jesus’ deity. Jesus also presented God’s plan of salvation to Nicodemus, showing that He was God’s messenger, whose redemptive work brings about the promised salvation to His people (v. 14). The chapter may be divided into two sections: 1) Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus (vv. 1–10); and 2) Jesus’ discourse on God’s plan of salvation (vv. 11–21). 3:1–10 This section on Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus may be divided into three sections: 1) Nicodemus’s inquiry of Jesus (vv. 1–3); 2) Jesus’ insight into Nicodemus (vv. 4–8); and 3) Jesus’ indictment of Nicodemus (vv. 9, 10). 3:1 Pharisee. See note on Mt 3:7. The word “Pharisee” most likely comes from a Heb. word meaning “to separate” and therefore probably means “separated ones.” They were not separatists in the sense of isolationists but in the puritanical sense, i.e., they were highly zealous for ritual and religious purity according to the
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N come from God. For no one could perform the signs l you are doing if God were not with him.” m 3 Jesus replied, “Very tru ly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. a ” n 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot en ter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. o 6 Flesh gives birth
3:2 l Jn 9:16, 33
to flesh, but the Spirit b gives birth to spirit. p 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You c must be born a gain.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its s ound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” d 9 “How can this be?” q Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” r said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly
m Ac 2:22;
3:3 n Jn 1:13; 1Pe 1:23
3:5 o Titus 3:5
3:6 p Jn 1:13; 1Co 15:50 3:9 q Jn 6:52, 60 3:10 r Lk 2:46
Mosaic law as well as their own traditions that they added to the OT legislation. Although their origin is unknown, they seem to have arisen as an offshoot from the “Hasidim” or “pious ones” during the Maccabean era. They were generally from the Jewish middle class and mostly consisted of laity (businessmen) rather than priests or Levites. They represented the orthodox core of Judaism and very strongly influenced the common people of Israel. According to Josephus, 6,000 existed at the time of Herod the Great. Jesus condemned them for their hyper-concentration on externalizing religion (rules and regulations) rather than inward spiritual transformation (vv. 3, 7). Nicodemus. Although Nicodemus was a Pharisee, his name was Gr. in origin and means “victor over the people.” He was a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (“a member of the Jewish ruling council”). Nothing is known about his family background. He eventually came to believe in Jesus (7:50–52), risking his own life and reputation by helping to give Jesus’ body a decent burial (19:38–42). a member of the Jewish ruling council. This is a reference to the Sanhedrin (see note on Mt 26:59), the main ruling body of the Jews in Israel during the Greco-Roman period. It was the Jewish “supreme court” or ruling council of the time and arose most likely during the Persian period. In NT times, the Sanhedrin was composed of the high priest (president), chief priests, elders (family heads), and scribes for a total of 71 people. The method of appointment was both hereditary and political. It executed both civil and criminal jurisdiction according to Jewish law. However, capital punishment cases required the sanction of the Roman procurator (18:30–32). After a.d. 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin was abolished and replaced by the Beth Din (court of Judgment) that was composed of scribes whose decisions had only moral and religious authority. 3:2 came to Jesus at night. While some have thought that Nicodemus’s visit at night was somehow figurative of the spiritual darkness of his heart (cf. 1:5; 9:4; 11:10; 13:30) or that he decided to come at this time because he could take more time with Jesus and be unhurried in conversation, perhaps the most logical explanation lies in the fact that, as a ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus was afraid of the implications of associating openly in conversation with Jesus. He chose night in order to have a clandestine meeting with Jesus rather than risk disfavor with his fellow Pharisees among whom Jesus was generally unpopular. 3:3 born again. The phrase lit. means “born from above.” Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus does not even ask. He read Nicodemus’s heart and came to the very core of his problem, i.e., the need for spiritual transformation or regeneration produced by the Holy Spirit. New birth is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the believer (2Co 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1Pe 1:3; 1Jn 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). Chapter 1:12, 13 indicates that “born again” also carries the idea “to become children of God” through trust in the name of the incarnate Word. no one can see the kingdom of God.
The Greek for again also means from above; also in verse 7. spirit c 7 The Greek is plural. d 8 The Greek for Spirit is the same as that for wind. b 6 Or but
In context, this is primarily a reference to participation in the millennial kingdom at the end of the age, fervently anticipated by the Pharisees and other Jews. Since the Pharisees were supernaturalists, they naturally and eagerly expected the coming of the prophesied resurrection of the saints and institution of the messianic kingdom (Isa 11:1–16; Da 12:2). Their problem was that they thought that mere physical lineage and keeping of religious externals qualified them for entrance into the kingdom rather than the needed spiritual transformation that Jesus emphasized (cf. 8:33–39; Gal 6:15). 3:4 A teacher himself, Nicodemus understood the rabbinical method of using figurative language to teach spiritual truth, and he was merely picking up Jesus’ symbolism. 3:5 born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is referring not to literal water here but to the need for “cleansing” (e.g., Eze 36:24–27). The Old Testament sometimes uses water as a metaphor for spiritual cleansing or renewal (Nu 19:17–19; Ps 51:9, 10; Isa 32:15; 44:3–5; 55:1–3; Jer 2:13; Joel 2:28, 29). Thus, Jesus made reference to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment of salvation (cf. Eph 5:26; Titus 3:5), required for belonging to His kingdom. 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. Jesus’ point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings but its effects can be witnessed, so also it is with the Holy Spirit. He cannot be controlled or understood, but the proof of His work is apparent. Where the Spirit works, there is undeniable and unmistakable evidence. 3:10 Israel’s teacher. Nicodemus was a renowned master-teacher in the nation of Israel, an established religious authority par excellence. He enjoyed a high standing among the rabbis or teachers of his day. Jesus’ reply emphasized the spiritual bankruptcy of the nation at that time, since even one of the greatest of Jewish teachers did not recognize this teaching on spiritual cleansing and transformation based clearly in the OT (cf. v. 5). The net effect is to show that externals of religion may have a deadening effect on one’s spiritual perception. 3:11–21 The focus of these verses turns away from Nicodemus and centers on Jesus’ discourse regarding the true meaning of salvation. The key word in these verses is “believe,” used seven times. The new birth must be appropriated by an act of faith. While vv. 1–10 center on the divine initiative in salvation, vv. 11–21 emphasize the human reaction to the work of God in regeneration. In vv. 11–21, the section may be divided into three parts: 1) the problem of unbelief (vv. 11, 12); 2) the answer to unbelief (vv. 13–17); and 3) the results of unbelief (vv. 18–21). 3:11, 12 Jesus focused on the idea that unbelief is the cause of ignorance. At heart, Nicodemus’s lack of understanding Jesus’ words pointed not so much to his mental capacity but to his unwillingness to embrace Jesus’ testimony.
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I tell you, we speak of what we know, s and we testify to what we have seen, but still you peo ple do not accept our testimony. t 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I s peak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven u ex cept the one who came from heaven v — the Son of Man. a 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, w so the Son of Man must be lift ed up, b x 15 that everyone who believes y may have eternal life in him.” c 16 For God so l oved z the w orld that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. a 17 For God did not send his Son into the world b to condemn the world, but to save the w orld through him. c 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, d but whoever does not believe s tands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of G od’s one and only Son. e 19 This is the
3:11 s Jn 1:18; 7:16, 17 t ver 32 3:13 u Pr 30:4; Ac 2:34; Eph 4:8‑10 v Jn 6:38, 42 3:14 w Nu 21:8, 9 x Jn 8:28; 12:32 3:15 y ver 16, 36 3:16 z Ro 5:8; Eph 2:4; 1Jn 4:9, 10 a ver 36; Jn 6:29, 40; 11:25, 26 3:17 b Jn 6:29, 57; 10:36; 11:42; 17:8, 21; 20:21 c Jn 12:47; 1Jn 4:14 3:18 d Jn 5:24 e 1Jn 4:9
3:19 f Jn 1:4; 8:12 3:20 g Eph 5:11, 13 3:22 h Jn 4:2 3:24 i Mt 4:12; 14:3
3:11 you . . . do not accept our testimony. The plural “you” here refers back to the “we” of v. 2, where Nicodemus was speaking as a representative of his nation Israel (“we know”). Jesus replies in v. 11 with “you” indicating that Nicodemus’s unbelief was typical of the nation as a collective whole. 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven. This verse contradicts other religious systems’ claims to special revelation from God. Only He had His permanent abode in heaven prior to His incarnation and, therefore, only He has the true knowledge regarding heavenly wisdom (cf. Pr 30:4). 3:14 so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Cf. 8:28; 12:32, 34; 18:31, 32. This is a veiled prediction of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus referred to the story of Nu 21:5–9 where the Israelite people who looked at the serpent lifted up by Moses were healed. The point of this illustration or analogy is in the “lifted up.” Just as Moses lifted up the snake on the pole so that all who looked upon it might live physically, those who look to Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, will live spiritually and eternally. 3:15 eternal life. This is the first of 17 references to “eternal life” in John’s gospel. The same Gr. phrase is translated in some versions as “everlasting life.” The two expressions appear in the NT nearly 50 times. Eternal life refers not only to eternal quantity but also to divine quality of life. It means lit. “life of the age to come” and refers therefore to resurrection and heavenly existence in perfect glory and holiness. This life for believers in the Lord Jesus is experienced before heaven is reached. This “eternal life” is in essence nothing less than participation in the eternal life of the Living Word, J esus Christ. It is the life of God in every believer, yet not fully manifest until the resurrection (Ro 8:19–23; Php 3:20, 21). 3:16 For God so loved the world. The Son’s mission is bound up in the supreme love of God for the evil, sinful “world” of humanity (cf. 6:32, 51; 12:47; see notes on 1:9; Mt 5:44, 45) that is in rebellion against Him. The word “so” emphasizes the intensity or greatness of His love. The Father gave His unique and beloved Son to die on behalf of sinful men (see note on 2Co 5:21). eternal life. See note on v. 15; cf. 17:3; 1Jn 5:20. 3:18 believed in the name. This phrase (lit. “to believe into the name”) means more than mere intellectual assent to the claims of
verdict: Light f has come into the world, but peo ple loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. g 21 But whoever lives by the t ruth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the s ight of God.
//John Testifies Again About Jesus 22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. h 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were com ing and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) i 25 An argument developed a 13
Some manuscripts Man, who is in heaven b 14 The Greek for lifted up also means exalted. c 15 Some interpreters end the quotation with verse 21.
the gospel. It includes trust and commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior that results in receiving a new nature (v. 7) that produces a change in heart and obedience to the Lord (see note on 2:23, 24). 3:22–36 This section constitutes John the Baptist’s last testimony in this gospel regarding Christ. As his ministry faded away, Jesus’ ministry moved to the forefront. In spite of the fact that John the Baptist received widespread fame in Israel and was generally accepted by the common people of the land as well as those who were social outcasts, his testimony regarding Jesus was rejected, especially by the leaders of Israel (cf. Mt 3:5–10; Lk 7:29). 3:22 into the Judean countryside. While the previous episode with Nicodemus took place in Jerusalem (2:23), which was part of Judea, the phrase here means that Jesus went out into the rural areas of that region. baptized. Chapter 4:2 specifically says that Jesus did not personally baptize but that His disciples carried on this work. 3:23 Aenon near Salim. The exact location of this reference is disputed. The phrase may refer to either Salim near Shechem or Salim that is six mi. S of Beth Shan. Both are in the region of Samaria. Aenon is a transliterated Heb. word meaning “springs,” and both of these possible sites have “plenty of water.” 3:24 before John was put in prison. This provides another indication that John supplemented the Synoptic Gospels by providing additional information that helps further understanding of the movements of John the Baptist and Jesus (see Introduction). In Matthew and Mark, Christ’s temptation is followed by John’s imprisonment. With this phrase, John the apostle fills in the slot between Jesus’ baptism and temptation and the Baptist’s imprisonment. 3:25 An argument developed. The argument probably concerned the relation of the baptismal ministries of John and Jesus to the Jews’ purification practices alluded to in 2:6. The real underlying impetus, however, centered in the concern of John’s disciples that Jesus was in competition with him. 3:25–3 6 This section may be divided into three parts that highlight the significance of what was occurring in relationship to John’s and Jesus’ ministry: 1) John the Baptist constituted the end of the old age (vv. 25–29); 2) the transition to Jesus’ ministry (v. 30); and
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b etween some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. j 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, k that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified l about — look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” 27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent a head of him.’ m 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. n The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. o 30 He must become greater; I must become less.” a 31 The one who comes from above p is a bove all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. q The one who comes from heaven is a bove all. 32 He testi
3:25 j Jn 2:6 3:26 k Mt 23:7 l Jn 1:7
3:28 m Jn 1:20, 23 3:29 n Mt 9:15
o Jn 16:24; 17:13; Php 2:2; 1Jn 1:4; 2Jn 12 3:31 p ver 13 q Jn 8:23; 1Jn 4:5
fies to what he has seen and h eard, r but no one accepts his testimony. s 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent t speaks the w ords of God, for God b gives the Spirit u without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his h ands. v 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, w but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
//Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
3:32 r Jn 8:26;
15:15 s ver 11 3:34 t ver 17 u Mt 12:18; Lk 4:18; Ac 10:38 3:35 v Mt 28:18; Jn 5:20, 22; 17:2 3:36 w ver 15; Jn 5:24; 6:47 4:1 x Jn 3:22, 26 4:3 y Jn 3:22
3) Jesus’ ministry as constituting the beginning of the new age (vv. 31–36). Instead of jealousy, John exhibited humble faithfulness to the superiority of Jesus’ person and ministry. 3:26 everyone is going to him. The potential conflict between John and Jesus was heightened by the fact that both were engaged in ministry in close proximity to one another. Because baptism is mentioned in v. 22, Jesus may have been close to Jericho near the fords of the Jordan, while John was a short distance N baptizing at Aenon. John’s followers were especially disturbed by the fact that so many were flocking to Jesus whereas formerly they had come to John. 3:27 given them from heaven. This verse emphasizes God’s sovereign authority in granting ministry opportunity (cf. 1Co 4:7; 15:10). 3:29 bridegroom . . . friend who attends the bridegroom. John used an illustration to clarify his role for his disciples. The “friend of the bridegroom” was essentially the best man. He helped organize the details of the ceremony and took great pleasure in seeing the wedding proceed without incident. Most likely, John also alluded to OT passages where faithful Israel is portrayed as the bride of the Lord (Isa 62:4, 5; Hos 2:16–20). 3:31–36 In these verses, John the Baptist gave five reasons for Christ’s superiority to him: 1) Christ had a heavenly origin (v. 31); 2) Christ knew what was true by firsthand experience (v. 32); 3) Christ’s testimony always agreed with God (v. 33); 4) Christ experienced the Holy Spirit in an unlimited manner (v. 34); and 5) Christ was supreme because the Father sovereignly had granted that status to Him (v. 35). 3:34 the Spirit without limit. God gave the Spirit to the Son without limits (1:32, 33; Isa 11:2; 42:1; 61:1). 3:36 This constitutes an appropriate conclusion to the third chapter of John’s gospel. John the Baptist laid out two divergent paths, sincere faith and stubborn disobedience. As John faded from the forefront, he offered an invitation to faith in the Son and clearly expressed the ultimate consequence of failure to believe, i.e., “God’s wrath.” 4:1–26 The story of the Samaritan woman reinforces John’s main theme that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. The thrust of these verses is not so much her conversion but that Jesus is Messiah (v. 26). While her conversion is clearly implied, the apostle’s
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had eard that he was gaining and baptizing h more disciples than John x — 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea y and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he a 30
Some interpreters end the quotation with verse 36. b 34 Greek he
focus centers on J esus’ declaration foretold in the Scriptures (v. 25). Important also is the fact that this chapter demonstrates Jesus’ love and understanding of people. His love for mankind involved no boundaries, for He lovingly and compassionately reached out to a woman who was a social outcast. In contrast to the limitations of human love, Christ exhibits the character of divine love that is indiscriminate and all-encompassing (3:16). 4:3 he left Judea. John the Baptist and Jesus had official scrutiny focused on them because of their distinctive message regarding repentance and the kingdom. Most likely, Jesus wanted to avoid any possible trouble with John’s disciples who were troubled with His growing popularity and, since the Pharisees were also focusing on His growing influence, Jesus decided to leave Judea and travel N in order to avoid any conflict. 4:4 he had to go through. Several roads led from Judea to Galilee: one near the seacoast; another through the region of Perea; and one through the heart of Samaria. Even with the strong antipathy between Jews and Samaritans, the Jewish historian Josephus relates that the custom of Judeans at the time of the great festivals was to travel through the country of the Samaritans because it was the shorter route. Although the verb “had to” may possibly refer to the fact that Jesus wanted to save time and needless steps, because of the gospel’s emphasis on the Lord’s consciousness of fulfilling His Father’s plan (2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 14:31), the apostle may have been highlighting divine, spiritual necessity, i.e., Jesus had an appointment with divine destiny in meeting the Samaritan woman, to whom He would reveal His messiahship. Samaria. When the nation of Israel split politically after Solomon’s rule, King Omri named the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel “Samaria” (1Ki 16:24). The name eventually referred to the entire district and sometimes to the entire northern kingdom, which had been taken captive (capital, Samaria) by Assyria in 722 b.c. (2Ki 17:1–6). While Assyria led most of the populace of the 10 northern tribes away (into the region that today is northern Iraq), it left a sizable population of Jews in the northern Samaritan region and transported many non-Jews into Samaria. These groups intermingled to form a mixed race through intermarriage. Eventually, tension developed between the Jews who returned from captivity and the Samaritans. The Samaritans withdrew from the worship of
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came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of g round Jacob had given to his son Jo seph. z 6 Jacob’s well was t here, and J esus, t ired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw wa ter, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town a to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samarit an b woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. a ) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a d rink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” c 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well d and drank
4:5 z Ge 33:19; 48:22; Jos 24:32 4:8 a ver 5, 39 4:9 b Mt 10:5; Lk 9:52, 53 4:10 c Isa 44:3; Jer 2:13; Zec 14:8; Jn 7:37, 38; Rev 21:6; 22:1, 17 4:12 d ver 6
4:14 e Jn 6:35
f Jn 7:38 g Mt 25:46
4:15 h Jn 6:34 4:19 i Mt 21:11
Y ahweh at Jerusalem and established their worship at Mt. Gerizim in Samaria (vv. 20–22). Samaritans regarded only the Pentateuch as authoritative. As a result of this history, Jews repudiated Samaritans and considered them heretical. Intense ethnic and cultural tensions raged historically between the two groups so that both avoided contact as much as possible (v. 9; Ezr 4:1–24; Ne 4:1–6; Lk 10:25–37). See note on 2Ki 17:24. 4:5, 6 These verses refer back to Ge 48:22 where Jacob bequeathed a section of land to Joseph that he had purchased from the “sons of Hamor” (cf. Ge 33:19). When the Jews returned from Egypt, they buried Joseph’s bones in that land at Shechem. The precise location of “Jacob’s well” has been set by a firm tradition among Jews, Samaritans, Muslims, and Christians and lies today in the shadow of the crypt of an unfinished Orthodox church. The term used here for “well” denotes a running spring, while in vv. 11, 12 John uses another term for “well” that means “cistern” or “dugout-well,” indicating that the well was both dug out and fed by an underground spring. This spring is still active today. 4:5 Sychar. This town was located where the village of Askar is today, on the side of Mount Ebal, opposite of Mount Gerizim. Ancient tradition identifies Jacob’s well to be about a half-mile south of Askar. 4:6 tired . . . from the journey. Since the Word became flesh (1:14), He also suffered from physical limitations in His humanity (Heb 2:10–14). about noon. If John used the Jewish reckoning of time, calculated from sunrise at about 6:00 a.m., the time was about noon. If John used Roman time, which started reckoning from 12:00 p.m., the time would be about 6:00 p.m. 4:7 a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Women generally came in groups to collect water, either earlier or later in the day to avoid the sun’s heat. If the Samaritan woman came alone at 12:00 p.m., this may indicate that her public shame (vv. 16–19) caused her to be isolated from other women. Will you give me a drink? For a Jewish man to speak to a woman in public, let alone to ask from her, a Samaritan, a drink was a definite breach of rigid social custom as well as a marked departure from the social animosity that existed between the two groups. Further, a “rabbi” and reli-
from it himself, as did also his sons and his live stock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty a gain, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never t hirst. e Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water f welling up to eternal life.” g 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I w on’t get thirsty h and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are r ight when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is q uite true.” 19 “Sir,” the wom an said, “I can see that you are a prophet. i 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this a 9 Or do
not use dishes Samaritans have used
gious leader did not hold conversations with women of ill repute (v. 18). 4:8 to buy food. This verse indicates that since Jesus and His disciples were willing to buy food from Samaritans, they did not follow the beliefs of stricter Jews, who would never have ingested food from outcast Samaritans. 4:10 living water. The OT is the background for this term, which has important metaphorical significance. In Jer 2:13, Yahweh decries the disobedient Jews for rejecting Him, the “spring of living water.” The OT prophets looked forward to a time when “living water will flow out from Jerusalem” (Eze 47:9; Zec 14:8). The OT metaphor spoke of the knowledge of God and His grace that provides cleansing, spiritual life, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Isa 1:16–18; 12:3; 44:3; Eze 36:25–27). John applies these themes to Jesus Christ as the living water that is symbolic of eternal life mediated by the Holy Spirit from Him (cf. v. 14; 6:35; 7:37–39). Jesus used the woman’s need for physical water to sustain life in this arid region in order to serve as an object lesson for her need for spiritual transformation. 4:15 The woman, like Nicodemus (3:4), did not realize that Jesus was talking about her spiritual needs. Instead, in her mind, she wanted such water in order to avoid her frequent trips to Jacob’s well. 4:16 call your husband. Since the woman failed to understand the nature of the living water He offered (v. 15), Jesus abruptly turned the dialogue to focus sharply on her real spiritual need for conversion and cleansing from sin. His intimate knowledge of her morally depraved life not only indicated His supernatural ability, but also focused on her spiritual condition. 4:18 not your husband. She was living conjugally with a man who Jesus said was not her husband. By such an explicit statement, our Lord rejected the notion that when two people live together it constitutes marriage. Biblically, marriage is always restricted to a public, formal, official, and recognized covenant. 4:19 you are a prophet. His knowledge of her life indicated He had supernatural inspiration.
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mountain, j but you Jews claim that the place here we must worship is in Jerusalem.” k w 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming l when you will worship the Father nei ther on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. m 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; n we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. o 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come p when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit q and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, r and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) s “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then J esus declared, “I, the one speaking to you — I am he.” t
4:20 j Dt 11:29; Jos 8:33 k Lk 9:53 4:21 l Jn 5:28; 16:2 m Mal 1:11; 1Ti 2:8 4:22 n 2Ki 17:28‑41 o Isa 2:3; Ro 3:1, 2; 9:4, 5 4:23 p Jn 5:25; 16:32 q Php 3:3 4:24 r Php 3:3 4:25 s Mt 1:16 4:26 t Jn 8:24; 9:35‑37
4:27 u ver 8 4:29 v ver 17,
18 w Mt 12:23; Jn 7:26, 31 4:31 x Mt 23:7 4:32 y Job 23:12; Mt 4:4; Jn 6:27 4:34 z Mt 26:39; Jn 6:38; 17:4; 19:30
4:20 on this mountain. Both Jews and Samaritans recognized that God had commanded their forefathers to identify a special place for worshiping Him (Dt 12:5). The Jews, recognizing the entire Hebrew canon, chose Jerusalem (2Sa 7:5–13; 2Ch 6:6). The Samaritans, recognizing only the Pentateuch, noted that the first place Abraham built an altar to God was at Shechem (Ge 12:6, 7), which was overlooked by Mt. Gerizim, where the Israelites had shouted the blessings promised by God before they entered the Promised Land (Dt 11:29, 30). As a result, they chose Mt. Gerizim for the place of their temple. 4:21 neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. There was no reason to debate locations, since both places would be obsolete soon and neither would have any role to play in the lives of those who genuinely worship God. Jerusalem would even be destroyed with its temple (a.d. 70). 4:22 you do not know. The Samaritans did not know God. They did not have the full revelation of Him, and thus could not worship in truth. The Jews did have the full revelation of God in the OT; thus they knew the God they worshiped, because salvation’s truth came first to them (see note on Lk 19:9) and through them to the world (cf. Ro 3:2; 9:4, 5). 4:23 a time. This refers to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to God, having completed redemption. true worshipers. Jesus’ point is that in light of His coming as Messiah and Savior, worshipers will be identified, not by a particular shrine or location, but by their worship of the Father through the Son. With Christ’s coming, previous distinctions between true and false worshipers based on locations disappeared. True worshipers are all those everywhere who worship God through the Son, from the heart (cf. Php 3:3). 4:24 God is spirit. This verse represents the classical statement on the nature of God as Spirit. The phrase means that God is invisible (Col 1:15; 1Ti 1:17; Heb 11:27) as opposed to the physical or material nature of man (1:18; 3:6). The word order of this phrase puts an emphasis on “spirit,” and the statement is essentially emphatic. Man could never comprehend the invisible God unless He revealed Himself, as He did in Scripture and the incarnation. must worship. Jesus is not speaking of a desirable element in worship but that which is absolutely necessary. in the Spirit and in truth. The word “spirit” refers not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. Jesus’ point here is that a person must worship not simply by external conformity to religious rituals and places (out-
//The Disciples Rejoin Jesus 27 Just then his dis ciples returned u and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me ev erything I ever did. v Could this be the Messiah?” w 30 They came out of the town and made their way to ward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, x eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat y that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will z of
wardly) but inwardly (“in the spirit”) with the proper heart attitude. The reference to “truth” refers to worship of God consistent with the revealed Scripture and centered on the “Word made flesh” who ultimately revealed His Father (14:6). 4:25 Messiah. The Samaritans also anticipated Messiah’s coming. 4:26 I, the one speaking to you—I am he. Jesus forthrightly declares Himself to be Messiah, though His habit was to avoid such declarations to His own Jewish people who had such crassly political and militaristic views regarding Messiah (cf. 10:24; Mk 9:41). The “he” in this translation is not in the original Gr., for Jesus lit. said, “I who speak to you am.” The usage of “I am” is similar to 8:58 (see notes there). This claim constitutes the main point of the story regarding the Samaritan woman. 4:27–42 These verses reinforce Jesus’ acknowledgment that He was Messiah by offering proof for His claim. John gives five genuine, but subtle, proofs that Jesus was truly Messiah and Son of God, which reinforces his main theme of 20:31: 1) proof from His immediate control of everything (v. 27); 2) proof from His impact on the woman (vv. 28–30); 3) proof from His intimacy with the Father (vv. 31–34); 4) proof from His insight into men’s souls (vv. 35–38); and 5) proof from His impression on the Samaritans (vv. 39–42). 4:27 Just then. Had the disciples arrived earlier, they would have interrupted and destroyed the conversation, and if they had arrived any later, she would have gone and they would not have heard His declaration of messiahship. This feature subtly reveals J esus’ divine control over the situation that was occurring. 4:28–31 to the people. Jesus had such an impact on the woman that she was eager to share the news among the townspeople whom she had previously avoided because of her reputation. Her witness and candor regarding her own life so impressed them that they came to see Jesus for themselves. 4:32, 33 I have food. Just like the Samaritan woman’s misunderstanding of Jesus’ words regarding literal water (v. 15), Jesus’ own disciples thought only of literal food. John commonly used such misunderstanding to advance the argument of his gospel (e.g., 2:20; 3:3). 4:34 My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me. Most likely Jesus echoed Dt 8:3, where Moses stated, “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (cf. Mt 4:4; Lk 4:4). When He talked with the Samaritan
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him who sent me and to finish his work. a 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s s till four m onths until har vest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. b 36 Even now the one who r eaps draws a wage and harvests c a crop for eternal life, d so that the sower and the reap er may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ e is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not w orked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
4:34 a Jn 19:30 4:35 b Mt 9:37;
Lk 10:2 4:36 c Ro 1:13 d Mt 25:46 4:37 e Job 31:8; Mic 6:15 4:39 f ver 5 g ver 29
//Jesus Heals an Official’s Son 43 After
the two days i he left for Galilee. Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) j 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galil eans wel comed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, k for they also had been there. 46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. l And there was a certain royal official w hose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man h eard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, m he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 48 “Unless you people see s igns and wonders,” n Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 44 (Now
//Many Samaritans Believe 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town f believed in him because of the woman’s testi mony, “He told me everything I ever did.” g 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they u rged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his w ords many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer be
lieve just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” h
4:42 h Lk 2:11; 1Jn 4:14 4:43 i ver 40 4:44 j Mt 13:57; Lk 4:24 4:45 k Jn 2:23 4:46 l Jn 2:1‑11 4:47 m ver 3, 54 4:48 n Da 4:2, 3; Jn 2:11; Ac 2:43; 14:3; Ro 15:19; 2Co 12:12; Heb 2:4
woman, Jesus was performing the will of the Father and thereby received greater sustenance and satisfaction than any mere physical food could offer Him (5:23, 24; 8:29; 17:4). Obedience to and dependence upon God’s will summed up Jesus’ whole life (Eph 5:17). God’s will for Him to finish is explained in 6:38–40 (see note on 6:40).
servant, was healed; and 3) Jesus was far more negative regarding the official’s faith (v. 48) than the centurion’s (Mt 8:10). One may divide this section into three parts: 1) Jesus contemplating unbelief (vv. 43–45); 2) Jesus confronting unbelief (vv. 46–49); and 3) Jesus conquering unbelief (vv. 50–54).
4:35 four months until harvest. The event probably happened in Dec. or Jan., which was four months before the normal spring harvest (mid-Apr.). Crops were planted in Nov., and by Dec. or Jan. the grain would be sprouting up in vibrant green color. Jesus used the fact that they were surrounded by crops growing in the field and waiting to be harvested as an object lesson to illustrate His urgency about reaching the lost, which the “harvest” symbolized. Jesus points out the Samaritan woman and people of Sychar (“open your eyes”) who were at that moment coming upon the scene (v. 30) looking like a ripened “harvest” that urgently needed “gathering,” i.e., evangelizing. ripe for harvest. Lit. “white for harvest.” Their white clothing seen above the growing grain may have looked like white heads on the stalks, an indication of readiness for harvest. J esus knew the hearts of all (2:24), so was able to state their readiness for salvation (cf. vv. 39–41).
4:43 left for Galilee. After two days in Samaria, Jesus traveled to Galilee, resuming the trip that began in v. 3.
4:36–38 The Lord’s call to His disciples to do the work of evangelism contains promises of reward (“a wage”), fruit that brings eternal joy (v. 36), and the mutual partnership of shared privilege (vv. 37, 38). 4:42 Savior of the world. This phrase occurs also in 1Jn 4:14. The verse constitutes the climax to the story of the woman of Samaria. The Samaritans themselves became another in a series of witnesses in John’s gospel that demonstrated the identity of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. This episode represents the first instance of cross-cultural evangelism (Ac 1:8). 4:43–54 The episode of Jesus’ healing of the official’s son constitutes the second major “sign” of eight that John uses to reinforce Jesus’ true identity for producing belief in his readers (v. 54). In this episode, J esus chided the official’s unbelief in needing a miraculous sign in order to trust in Christ (v. 48). While some believe that this story is the same as the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:5–13; Lk 7:2–10), sufficient differences exist to demonstrate that it is different from the synoptic account; e.g., 1) no evidence exists that the official’s son was a Gentile; 2) the official’s son, not his
4:44 a prophet has no honor in his own country. This proverb (also in Mt 13:57; Mk 6:4) contrasts the believing response of the Samaritans (v. 39) with the characteristic unbelief of Jesus’ own people in Galilee (and Judea) whose reticent faith depended so much on Jesus’ performance of miracles (v. 48). While in Samaria, Jesus had enjoyed His first unqualified and unopposed success. His own people’s hearts were not open to Him, but exhibited reluctance and hardness. 4:45 the Galileans welcomed him. The apostle may have meant these words as irony, especially in light of the surrounding context of vv. 44, 48. The reception was likely that of curiosity seekers whose appetite centered more on seeing miracles than believing in Jesus as Messiah—as it had been at “the Passover Festival” (see notes on 2:23–25). 4:46 Cana in Galilee. The deep irony of the statement in v. 45 increases with the fact that Jesus had only recently performed a miracle in Cana at the wedding. Instead of responding in belief, the people wanted more (see note on v. 48). The basis of their welcome was extremely crass. royal official. This term most likely designated someone officially attached to the service of King Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee from 4 b.c. to a.d. 39. sick at Capernaum. Capernaum was approximately 16 mi. NE of Cana. 4:47 begged him. The language here indicates that he repeatedly begged Jesus to heal his son. His approach to Jesus was out of desperation, but he had little appreciation of who Jesus was. In light of v. 46, apparently the official’s motivation centered in Jesus’ reputation as a miracle worker rather than as Messiah. 4:48 Unless you people see signs and wonders. The “you” is plural. Jesus addresses these words to the Galileans as a whole and not just to the royal official (see notes on vv. 45, 46). The response of the Galileans was fundamentally flawed because it disregarded
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N 49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down be fore my child dies.” 50 “Go,” J esus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and depart ed. 51 While he was s till on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” 53 Then the father realized that this was the ex act time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household o believed. 54 This was the second sign p Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
4:53 o Ac 11:14 4:54 p ver 48;
surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a g reat number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  b 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight y ears. 6 When Jesus saw him ly ing there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” s 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on w hich this took p lace was a Sab bath, t 10 and so the Jewish leaders u said to the
Jn 2:11 5:2 q Ne 3:1; 12:39 r Jn 19:13, 17, 20; 20:16; Ac 21:40; 22:2; 26:14
//The Healing at the Pool
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now t here is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate q a pool, which in Aramaic r is called Bethesda a and which is
5:8 s Mt 9:5, 6;
Mk 2:11; Lk 5:24
5:9 t Jn 9:14 5:10 u ver 16
the person of Christ and centered in the need for a constant display of miraculous signs. Such an attitude represents the deepest state of unbelief. 4:50 your son will live. Jesus met the demands of Galilean unbelief by healing the official’s son, revealing not only His sympathy, but His marvelous graciousness in spite of such a faithless demand for miracles. 4:52 one in the afternoon. Lit. seventh hour. About 1 p.m., reckoning from sunrise (6 a.m.) using the Jewish method. 4:53 the exact time. The time when the official’s son improved corresponded precisely with the time that he had spoken with Jesus. This served to strengthen the official’s faith and, as a result, the “whole household” believed. 5:1—7:52 This section evidences the shift from reservation and hesitation about Jesus as Messiah (3:26; 4:1–3) to outright rejection (7:52). The opposition started with controversy regarding Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath (vv. 1–18), intensified in chap. 6 with many of His disciples abandoning Him (6:66), and finally hardened in chap. 7 into official opposition against Him with the religious authorities’ unsuccessful attempt to arrest Him (7:20–52). Accordingly, the theme of this section is the rejection of Jesus as Messiah. 5:1–18 Although opposition to Jesus smoldered beneath the surface (e.g., 2:13–20), the story of Jesus’ healing at the Pool of Bethesda highlights the beginning of open hostility toward Him in Jerusalem. The passage may be divided into three parts: 1) the miracle performed (vv. 1–9); 2) the Master persecuted (vv. 10–16); and 3) the murder planned (vv. 16–18). 5:1 Jewish festivals. Throughout his gospel, John highlighted various Jewish festivals (John 2:13—Passover (a.d. 27); 6:4—Passover (a.d. 29); 7:2—Tabernacles; 10:22—Hanukkah or Festival of Dedication; and 11:55—Passover (a.d. 30), but this reference is the only instance when he does not identify the particular festival occurring at the time. 5:2 Sheep Gate. A reference to the gate identified in Ne 3:1, 32; 12:39. It was a small opening in the N wall of the city, just W of the NE corner. there is . . . a pool. Some have suggested that John
Some manuscripts Bethzatha; other manuscripts Bethsaida Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed — and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had. b 3,4
wrote his gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, because his usage of “is” here implies that the pool still existed. However, John frequently uses what is known as a “historical present” to refer to past events, so this argument carries little weight. For more on the date of writing, see Introduction: Author and Date. Bethesda. “Bethesda” is the Gr. transliteration of a Heb. (or Aram.) name meaning “house of outpouring.” 5:3a lie. It was a custom at that time for people with infirmities to gather at this pool. Intermittent springs may have fed the pool and caused the disturbance of the water (v. 7). Some ancient witnesses indicate that the waters of the pool were red with minerals, and thus thought to have medicinal value. 5:3b, 4 See NIV footnote. 5:5 thirty-eight years. John included this figure to emphasize the gravity of the debilitating disease that afflicted the individual. Since his sickness had been witnessed by many people for almost four decades, when Jesus cured him everyone knew the genuineness of the healing (cf. v. 9). 5:6 learned. The word implies supernatural knowledge of the man’s situation (1:47, 48; 4:17). Jesus picked the man out from among many sick people. The sovereign initiative was His, and no reason is given as to His choice. 5:8 Get up! Pick up . . . walk. In the same way that He spoke the world into being at creation (Ge 1:3), Jesus’ spoken words had the power to cure (cf. 1:3; 8:58; Ge 1:1; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2). mat. The straw mat was not heavy. It could easily be rolled up, lifted, and carried by an able-bodied individual (cf. Mk 2:11). 5:9 picked up his mat and walked. This phrase emphasizes the completeness of the cure (cf. v. 5). 5:10, 11 The OT prohibited working on the Sabbath but did not stipulate what kind of “work” was specifically indicated (Ex 20:8–11). Scripture implies that “work” consisted of one’s regular employment, but rabbinical opinion had developed oral tradition beyond the OT which stipulated 39 activities that were forbidden, including transporting an item from one area to another. Thus, the man had broken oral tradition, not OT law (see notes on v. 16).
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man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” v 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was h ealed had no idea who it was, for J esus had slipped away into the c rowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus f ound him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well a gain. Stop sinning w or something w orse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders x that it was Jesus who had made him well.
//The Authority of the Son 16 So, because Jesus was doing these t hings on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to perse cute him. 17 In his defense J esus said to them, “My Father is always at his work y to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried
5:10 v Ne 13:15‑22; Jer 17:21; Mt 12:2
5:14 w Mk 2:5;
Jn 8:11 5:15 x Jn 1:19 5:17 y Jn 9:4; 14:10
5:18 z Jn 7:1
a Jn 10:30, 33;
5:19 b ver 30;
Jn 8:28 5:20 c Jn 3:35 d Jn 14:12 5:21 e Ro 4:17; 8:11 f Jn 11:25 5:22 g ver 27; Jn 9:39; Ac 10:42; 17:31 5:23 h Lk 10:16; 1Jn 2:23 5:24 i Jn 3:18 j 1Jn 3:14
5:10 the law forbids you. The phrase reveals that the Judaism during Jesus’ time had degenerated into pious hypocrisy. Such hypocrisy especially enraged the Lord Jesus (cf. Mt 22, 23), who used this incident to set up a confrontation with Jewish hyper-legalism and identified the need for national repentance. 5:14 Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. The basic thrust of Jesus’ comments here indicates that sin has its inevitable consequences (cf. Gal 6:7, 8). Although Scripture makes clear that not all disease is a consequence of sin (cf. 9:1–3; Lk 13:1–5), illness at times may be directly tied into one’s moral turpitude (cf. 1Co 11:29, 30; Jas 5:15). Jesus may specifically have chosen this man in order to highlight this point. 5:16 on the Sabbath. Jesus did not break God’s law since in it there was no prohibition of doing good on that day (Mk 2:27). However, J esus disregarded the oral law of the Jews that had developed, i.e., “the tradition of the elders” (cf. also Mt 15:1–9). Most likely, Jesus deliberately practiced such healing on the Sabbath to provoke a confrontation with their religious hypocrisy that blinded them to the true worship of God (see vv. 17–47 for the main reason for Jesus’ confrontation; see notes on vv. 10, 11). persecute. The verb tense means that the Jews repeatedly persecuted Jesus, i.e., continued hostile activity. This was not an isolated incident of their hatred toward Him because of His healings on the Sabbath (cf. Mk 3:1–6). 5:17–47 These verses reveal the ultimate reason Jesus confronted the Jews’ religious hypocrisy, i.e., the opportunity to declare who He was. This section is Christ’s own personal statement of His deity. As such, it is one of the greatest Christological discourses in Scripture. Herein Jesus makes five claims to equality with God: 1) He is equal with God in His person (vv. 17, 18); 2) He is equal with God in His works (vv. 19, 20); 3) He is equal with God in His power and sovereignty (v. 21); 4) He is equal with God in His judgment (v. 22); and 5) He is equal with God in His honor (v. 23). 5:17 Jesus’ point is that God is continuously at work, and since Jesus Himself worked continuously, He also must be God. Furthermore, God does not need a day of rest, for He never wearies (Isa 40:28). For Jesus’ assertion to be true, the same attributes
all the more to kill him; z not only was he break ing the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. a 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; b he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son c and s hows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, d so that you will be a mazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, e even so the Son gives life f to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judg es no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, g 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. h 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be j udged i but has c rossed over from death to life. j 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is
that apply to God must also apply to Him. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:8)! Interestingly, even the rabbis admitted that God’s work had not ceased after the Sabbath, because He sustains the universe. 5:18 This verse confirms that the Jews instantly grasped the implications of His remarks that He was God (see notes on v. 17). 5:19 Very truly. Cf. vv. 24, 25; 1:51. This is an emphatic way of saying “I’m telling you the truth.” In response to Jewish hostility at the implications of His assertions of equality with God, Jesus became even more fearless, forceful, and emphatic. Jesus essentially tied His activities of healing on the Sabbath directly to the Father. The Son never took independent action that opposed the Father’s will. The Son only did those things that were in perfect agreement with the Father. Jesus thus implied His equality to the Father since He alone could do what the Father does. 5:20 greater works. This refers to the powerful work of raising the dead. God has that power (cf. 1Ki 17:17–24; 2Ki 4:32–37; 5:7) and so does the Lord J esus (vv. 21–29; 11:25–44; 14:19; 20:1–18). 5:23 honor the Son. This verse explains why God bestowed all judgment to the Son, i.e., so that all should honor the Son as they honor the Father. Jesus is not a mere herald sent from the heavenly court; He is the King Himself, possessing full equality with the Father (cf. Php 2:9–11). honor the Father. Jesus turned the tables on the Jewish accusation against Him of blasphemy. Instead, Jesus affirmed that the only way anyone can honor the Father is through receiving the Son. Therefore, the Jews were the ones who actually blasphemed the Father by rejection of His Son. 5:24 crossed over from death to life. This develops the truth of v. 21, that Jesus gives life to whomever He desires. The people who receive that life are here identified as those who hear the Word and believe in the Father and the Son. They are the people who have eternal life and never will be condemned (Ro 8:1; Col 1:13). 5:25–29 The theme of these verses is resurrection. Jesus related that all men, saved and unsaved, will be literally and physically resurrected from the dead. However, only the saved experience a spiritual (“born again”), as well as physical, resurrection unto
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coming and has now come k when the dead will hear l the voice of the Son of God and t hose who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in him self, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge m because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is com ing n when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out — those who have done what is good will rise to live, and t hose who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. o 30 By myself I can do nothing; p I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, q for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. r
//Testimonies About Jesus 31 “If
I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. s 32 There is another who testifies in my fa vor, t and I know that his testimony a bout me is true. 33 “ You have sent to John and he has test i fied u to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; v but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that b urned and gave
5:25 k Jn 4:23 l Jn 8:43, 47
5:27 m ver 22;
Ac 10:42; 17:31
5:28 n Jn 4:21 5:29 o Da 12:2; Mt 25:46
5:30 p ver 19
q Jn 8:16 r Mt 26:39;
Jn 4:34; 6:38
5:31 s Jn 8:14 5:32 t ver 37; Jn 8:18
5:33 u Jn 1:7 5:34 v 1Jn 5:9
5:35 w 2Pe 1:19 5:36 x 1Jn 5:9 y Jn 14:11; z Jn 3:17;
b Dt 4:12; 1Ti 1:17; Jn 1:18 5:38 c 1Jn 2:14 d Jn 3:17 5:39 e Ro 2:17, 18 f Lk 24:27, 44; Ac 13:27 5:41 g ver 44 5:44 h Ro 2:29
eternal life. The unsaved will be resurrected unto judgment and eternal punishment through separation from God (i.e., the second death; cf. Rev 20:6, 14; 21:8). These verses also constitute proof of the deity of Jesus Christ since the Son has resurrection power (vv. 25, 26), and the Father has granted Him the status of Judge of all mankind (v. 27). In the light of other Scripture, it is clear that Jesus speaks generally about resurrection, but not about one, general resurrection (see notes on Da 12:2; 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:16). 5:25 time is coming and has now come. Cf. 4:23. This phrase reveals an already/not yet tension regarding the resurrection. Those who are born again are already “spiritually” resurrected (“has now”; Eph 2:1; Col 2:13), and yet a future physical resurrection still awaits them (“time is coming”; 1Co 15:35–54; Php 3:20, 21). 5:26 he has granted the Son. The Son from all eternity had the right to grant life (1:4). The distinction involves Jesus’ deity versus His incarnation. In becoming a man, Jesus voluntarily set aside the independent exercise of His divine attributes and prerogatives (Php 2:6–11). Jesus here affirms that even in His humanity, the Father granted Him “life-giving” power, i.e., the power of resurrection (see note on v. 20). 5:27 authority. Cf. 17:2; see note on Mt 28:18. 5:29 those who have done what is good . . . what is evil. Jesus was not teaching justification by works (see 6:29). In the context, the “good” is believing on the Son so as to receive a new nature that produces good works (3:21; Jas 2:14–20), while the “evil” done is to reject the Son (the unsaved) and hate the light, which has the result of evil deeds (3:18, 19). In essence, works merely evidence one’s nature as saved or unsaved (see notes on Ro 2:5–10), but human works never determine one’s salvation. 5:30 to please . . . him who sent me. In summarizing all He has said from v. 19 on about His equality with God, Jesus claimed that the judgment He exercised was because everything He did was dependent upon the Father’s word and will (cf. vv. 19, 20).
5:37 a Jn 8:18
light, w and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightie r than that of John. x For the works that the Father has given me to finish — the very works that I am doing y — testify that the Father has sent me. z 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified con cerning me. a You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, b 38 nor does his word dwell in you, c for you do not believe the one he sent. d 39 You study a the Scriptures e diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. T hese are the very Scriptures that testify about me, f 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, g 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you ac cept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God b ? h a 39 Or 39Study b 44
Some early manuscripts the Only One
5:32–47 The background of these verses is Dt 17:6; 19:15 where witnesses were to establish the truthfulness of a matter (see note on 1:7). Jesus Himself emphasized the familiar theme of witnesses who testify to the identity of the Son: 1) John the Baptist (vv. 32–35); 2) Jesus’ works (vv. 35, 36); 3) the Father (vv. 37, 38); and 4) the OT Scriptures (vv. 39–47). 5:36 the works that the Father has given me. Cf. 10:25. The miracles of Jesus were witness to His deity and messiahship. Such miracles are the major signs recorded by John in this gospel, so as to fulfill his purpose in 20:30, 31 (see Introduction: Historical and Theological Themes). 5:37 Father . . . has himself testified. Cf. Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22. 5:39 You study. Although the verb “study” could also be understood as a command (i.e., “Study the Scriptures!”), most prefer this translation as an indicative. The verb implies diligent scrutiny in investigating the Scriptures to find “eternal life.” However, Jesus points out that with all their fastidious effort, they miserably failed in their understanding of the true way to eternal life through the Son of God (see notes on Mt 19:16–25; cf. 14:6; 2Ti 3:15). testify about me. Cf. v. 45. Christ is the main theme of Scripture. See note on 1:45. 5:40 refuse to come. They searched for eternal life but were not willing to trust its only source (cf. v. 24; 1:11; 3:19). 5:41 glory from human beings. If Jesus agreed to be the kind of Messiah the Jews wanted, providing miracles and food along with political and military power, He would receive honor and glory from them. But He sought only to please God (vv. 19ff.). 5:43 you will accept him. The Jewish historian Josephus records that a string of messianic pretenders arose in the years before a.d. 70. This verse contrasts the Jewish rejection of their true Messiah because they did not love or know God (v. 42), with their willing acceptance of charlatans.
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John 5:45 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, i on whom your hopes are set. j 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he w rote a bout me. k 47 But since you do not believe what he w rote, how are you going to believe what I say?” l
5:45 i Jn 9:28 j Ro 2:17
5:46 k Ge 3:15;
Lk 24:27, 44; Ac 26:22 5:47 l Lk 16:29, 31 6:2 m Jn 2:11 6:3 n ver 15 6:4 o Jn 2:13; 11:55 6:5 p Jn 1:43 6:8 q Jn 1:40
//Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand 6:1-13pp —Mt 14:13-21; Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17
Some time after this, J esus c rossed to the far s hore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people fol lowed him because they saw the signs m he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside n and sat down with his dis ciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival o was near. 5 When J esus looked up and saw a g reat c rowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, p “Where shall we buy b read for t hese people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Phil ip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages a to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Pe ter’s brother, q spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five
6:9 r 2Ki 4:43 6:11 s ver 23;
Mt 14:19 6:14 t Jn 2:11 u Dt 18:15, 18; Mt 11:3; 21:11 6:15 v Jn 18:36 w Mt 14:23; Mk 6:46
5:46 Moses . . . for he wrote about me. Jesus does not mention any specific passage in the five books of Moses although there are many (e.g., Dt 18:15; cf. 1:21; 4:19; 6:14; 7:40, 52). 6:1–14 The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is the fourth sign John employed to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. It is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Mt 14:13–23; Mk 6:30–46; Lk 9:10–17). Since John most likely wrote to supplement and provide additional information not recorded in the Synoptics (see Introduction: Background and Setting), his recording of this miracle emphasizes its strategic importance in two ways: 1) it demonstrated the creative power of Christ more clearly than any other miracle, and 2) it decisively supported John’s purposes of demonstrating the deity of Jesus Christ while also serving to set the stage for Jesus’ discourse on the “bread of life” (vv. 22–40). Interestingly, both creative miracles of Jesus, the water into wine (2:1–10) and the multiplying of bread (vv. 1–14), speak of the main elements in the Lord’s Supper or communion (v. 53). 6:1 Some time after this. A large gap of time may exist between chaps. 5 and 6. If the festival in 5:1 is Tabernacles, or Booths, then at least six months passed (Oct. to Apr.). If the festival of 5:1 is Passover, then a year passed between these chapters. the Sea of Galilee. Chapter 6 is very close to the same structure as chap. 5 since both occur around a Jewish festival and both lead to a discourse of Jesus’ deity. While chap. 5 takes place in the S around Judea and Jerusalem, chap. 6 takes place in the N around Galilee. The result of both chapters is the same: He is rejected not only in the southern but also in the northern regions. See note on 21:1. 6:2 they saw the signs. The crowds followed not out of belief but out of curiosity concerning the miracles that He performed (v. 26). However, in spite of the crowd’s crass motivations, Jesus, having compassion on them, healed their sick and fed them (cf. Mt 13:14; Mk 6:34).
small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” r 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that p lace, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, s and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and f illed twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by t hose who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign t Jesus per formed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” u 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king v by force, withdrew again to a moun tain by himself. w
//Jesus Walks on the Water 6:16-21pp —Mt 14:22-33; Mk 6:47-51 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat a 7 Greek
take two hundred denarii
6:7 half a year’s wages. Lit. “two hundred denarii.” Since one denarius was a day’s pay for a common laborer, 200 denarii would be approximately 8 months’ wages. The crowd, however, was so large that such a significant amount was still inadequate to feed them 6:10 five thousand. The number of men was 5,000, not including women and children, who probably brought the total up to 20,000. 6:14 the Prophet. The crowd referred to “the Prophet” of Dt 18:15. Sadly, these comments, coming right after Jesus healed and fed them, indicate that the people desired a Messiah who met their physical, rather than spiritual, needs. Apparently, no recognition existed for the need of spiritual repentance and preparation for the kingdom (Mt 4:17). They wanted an earthly, political Messiah to meet all their needs and to deliver them from Roman oppression. Their reaction typifies many who want a “Christ” that makes no demands of them (cf. Mt 10:34–39; 16:24–26), but of whom they can make their selfish personal requests. 6:15 make him king by force. John supplements the information in Matthew and Mark by indicating that the reason Jesus dismissed the disciples and withdrew from the crowd into a mountain alone was because of His supernatural knowledge of their intention to make Him king in light of His healing and feeding of them. The crowd, incited by mob enthusiasm, was ready to proceed with crassly political intentions that would have jeopardized God’s will. 6:16–21 The story of Jesus’ walking on the water constituted the fifth sign in John’s gospel designed to demonstrate the writer’s purpose that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (20:30, 31). The miracle demonstrates Jesus’ deity by His sovereignty over the laws of nature.
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N and set off a cross the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the wa ters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, a they saw J esus approaching the boat, walking on the water; x and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” y 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat r eached the shore w here they were heading. 22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake z realized that only one boat had been there, and that J esus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. a 23 Then some b oats from Tibe here the people had rias b landed near the place w eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. c 24 Once the crowd realized that neither J esus nor his disciples were t here, they got into the b oats and went to Capernaum in s earch of J esus.
//Jesus the Bread of Life 25 When
they found him on the other side of
6:19 x Job 9:8 6:20 y Mt 14:27 6:22 z ver 2
the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, d when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, e not because you saw the signs f I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures g to eternal life, h which the Son of Man i will give you. For on him God the Father has p laced his seal j of approval.” 28 Then they a sked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe k in the one he has sent.” l 30 So they a sked him, “What sign m then will you give that we may see it and believe you? n What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the man na o in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ b ” p 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who g ives you the
a ver 15‑21
6:23 b ver 1 c ver 11
6:25 d Mt 23:7 6:26 e ver 24 f ver 30;
6:27 g Isa 55:2 h ver 54;
Mt 25:46; Jn 4:14 i Mt 8:20 1Co 9:2; 2Co 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2Ti 2:19; Rev 7:3 6:29 k 1Jn 3:23 l Jn 3:17 6:30 m Jn 2:11 n Mt 12:38 6:31 o Nu 11:7‑9 p Ex 16:4, 15; Ne 9:15; Ps 78:24; 105:40 j Ro 4:11;
6:17 for Capernaum. Matthew 14:22 and Mk 6:45 indicate that as soon as Jesus had fed the multitudes, He immediately dismissed His disciples to travel W toward Capernaum (vv. 16, 17). 6:18 A strong wind was blowing. The Sea of Galilee is almost 700 ft. below sea level. Cooler air from the northern mountains and southeastern tablelands rushes down into the lake and displaces the warm, moist air, causing violent churning of the water. 6:19, 20 J esus . . . walking on the water. The Synoptics reveal that in fear and the darkness, they thought He was a ghost (Mt 14:26; Mk 6:49). The Son of God, who made the world, was in control of its forces and, in this case, He suspended the law of gravity. The act was not frivolous on Jesus’ part, for it constituted a dramatic object lesson to the disciples of Jesus’ true identity as the sovereign Lord of all creation (cf. 1:3). 6:21 immediately the boat reached the shore. This wording indicates that another miracle occurred besides walking on the water, i.e., the boat miraculously and instantly arrived at its precise destination as soon as Jesus stepped into the boat. 6:22–58 Jesus’ famous discourse on the bread of life. The key theme is v. 35, i.e., “I am the bread of life,” which is the first of seven emphatic “I AM” statements of Jesus in this gospel (8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). This analogy of Jesus as “the bread” of life reinforces John’s theme of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God (20:30, 31). Although John records J esus’ miracles to establish His deity, he moves quickly to Jesus’ discourse on the spiritual realities of His person in order to define correctly who Jesus Christ was, i.e., not merely a wonder-worker but the Son of God who came to save mankind from sin (3:16). This discourse took place in the synagogue at Capernaum (v. 59). 6:22, 23 These verses indicate that the crowds who witnessed Jesus’ healings and His feeding of the multitudes were still at the original site of these miracles (E of the lake) and, out of heightened curiosity, desired to find Jesus once again. Other boats loaded with people from Tiberias (on the NW shore of the lake) also heard of the miracles and sought Him out.
a 19 Or about
5 or 6 kilometers b 31 Exodus 16:4; Neh. 9:15; Psalm
6:26 because you ate. This phrase emphasizes Jesus’ point that the crowds following Him were motivated by superficial desire for food rather than any understanding of the true spiritual significance of Jesus’ person and mission (8:14–21; Mk 6:52). 6:27 food that spoils. Jesus rebuked the crowd for regarding the messianic kingdom in a wholly earthly, physical way. (cf. v. 26; 4:15). Although Messiah’s kingdom would be literal and physical someday, the people failed to see the overriding spiritual character and blessing of “eternal life” given immediately to those who believe the witness of God to His Son. food that endures to eternal life. The continuing discourse indicates that this was a reference to Jesus Himself (v. 35). 6:28 the works God requires. They thought Jesus was saying that God required them to do some works to earn everlasting life, which they thought they would be able to do. 6:29 The work of God is this: to believe. The crowd misunderstood Jesus’ prohibition in v. 27 (“Do not work”), which prompted Jesus to remind them that an exclusive focus on material blessings is wrong. The only work God desires is faith or trust in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God (cf. Mal 3:1). The “work” that God requires is to believe in His Son (cf. 5:24). 6:30 What will you do? The question demonstrated the obtuseness, the spiritual blindness of the crowd, and their shallow, selfish curiosity. The feeding of 20,000 (v. 10) was a sufficient enough sign to demonstrate Christ’s deity (cf. Lk 16:31). 6:31 Our ancestors ate the manna. The crowd’s logic appeared to be that Jesus’ miraculous feeding was a small miracle compared to what Moses did. In order for them to believe in Him, they would need to see Him feed the nation of Israel on the same scale that God did when He sent manna and fed the entire nation of Israel during their wilderness wanderings for 40 years (Ex 16:11–36). They were demanding that Jesus outdo Moses if they were to believe in Him. They quoted from Ps 78:24. 6:32 true bread from heaven. The manna God gave was temporary and perished and was only a meager shadow of what God offered
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true b read from heaven. 33 For the b read of God is the b read that comes down from heaven q and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” r 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. s Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. t 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father g ives me u will come to me, and whoever c omes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. v 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all
6:33 q ver 50 6:34 r Jn 4:15 6:35 s ver 48, 51 t Jn 4:14
6:37 u ver 39;
Jn 17:2, 6, 9, 24
6:38 v Jn 4:34; 5:30
6:39 w Jn 10:28; 17:12; 18:9 x ver 40, 44, 54 6:40 y Jn 3:15, 16 6:42 z Lk 4:22 a Jn 7:27, 28 b ver 38, 62 6:44 c ver 65; Jer 31:3; Jn 12:32
them in the true bread, Jesus Christ, who gives spiritual and eternal life to mankind (“the world,” v. 33). 6:33 bread of God. This phrase is synonymous with the phrase “bread from heaven” (v. 32). 6:34 Sir, . . . always give us this bread. This statement once again demonstrates the blindness of the crowd, for they were thinking of some physical bread and failed to understand the spiritual implication that Jesus was that “bread” (cf. 4:15). 6:35 I am the bread of life. The obtuseness in v. 34 prompted Jesus to speak very plainly that He was referring to Himself. 6:37 All those the Father gives me will come to me. This verse emphasizes the sovereign will of God in the selection of those who come to Him for salvation (cf. vv. 44, 65; 17:6, 12, 24). The Father has predestined those who would be saved (see notes on Ro 8:29, 30; Eph 1:3–6; 1Pe 1:2). The absolute sovereignty of God is the basis of Jesus’ confidence in the success of His mission (see note on v. 40; cf. Php 1:6). The security of salvation rests in the sovereignty of God, for God is the guarantee that “all” He has chosen will come to Him for salvation. The idea of “gives me” is that
/ The “I AM” Statements \ Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (ego eimi, Gr.) in the Greek text of this gospel (Jn 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). In several of these, He joins His “I AM” with seven tremendous metaphors that are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world. “I AM the Bread of life” (Jn 6:35, 41, 48, 51). “I AM the Light of the world” (Jn 8:12). “I AM the Gate for the sheep” (Jn 10:7, 9). “I AM the Good Shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14). “I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25). “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). “I AM the true Vine” (Jn 15:1, 5). ©1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
t hose he has given me, w but raise them up at the last day. x 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him s hall have eternal life, y and I will r aise them up at the last day.” 41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, z whose father and mother we know? a How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” b 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me d raws them, c and I will
every person chosen by God and drawn by God (v. 44) must be seen as a gift of the Father’s love to the Son. The Son receives each “love gift” (v. 37), holds on to each (v. 39), and will raise each to eternal glory (vv. 39, 40). No one chosen will be lost (see notes on Ro 8:31–39). This saving purpose is the Father’s will that the Son will not fail to do perfectly (v. 38; cf. 4:34; 10:28, 29; 17:6, 12, 24). 6:40 everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him. This verse emphasizes human responsibility in salvation. Although God is sovereign, He works through faith, so that a person must believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God who alone offers the only way of salvation (cf. 14:6). However, even faith is a gift of God (Ro 12:3; Eph 2:8, 9). Intellectually harmonizing the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is impossible humanly, but perfectly resolved in the infinite mind of God. raise them. Lit. “raise him.” 6:41–50 This section constitutes the beginning of the crowd’s reaction to Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life and may be divided into three sections: 1) the murmuring reaction of the crowd (vv. 41, 42); 2) Jesus’ rebuke of the crowd for their reaction (vv. 43–46); and 3) Jesus’ reiteration of His message to the crowd (vv. 47–51). 6:41 the Jews. In this gospel, the term “Jews” is often associated with hostility toward Christ. It is used ironically to indicate the incongruity of their rising hostility toward their Messiah. Since they hardened their hearts, God judicially hardened their hearts also (cf. 12:37–40; Isa 6:10; 53:1; Mt 13:10–15). In the Tribulation, Israel will turn to Jesus as their true Messiah and be saved (Ro 11:25–27; Rev 1:7; 7:1–8; cf. Zec 12:10–14). grumble. The reaction of the synagogue crowds to Jesus’ statements was the same as the Jews in the wilderness who grumbled against God both before and after the manna was given to them (Ex 16:2, 8, 9; Nu 11:4–6). because he said, “I am the bread . . . from heaven.” The Jews’ anger centered in two things: 1) that Jesus said He was the bread, and 2) that He came down from heaven. Both the Jews in Jerusalem (5:18) and the Galileans reacted negatively when Jesus placed Himself equal with God. 6:42 whose father and mother we know? On the human level, they knew Jesus as a fellow Galilean. These words are reminiscent of Jesus’ words in 4:44, “a prophet has no honor in his own country.” Their hostility sprang from the root of unbelief. Jesus’ death was impending because hostility had resulted everywhere He went. 6:44 draws them. Cf. v. 65. A comparison of v. 37a and v. 44 demonstrates that the divine drawing of sinners to salvation cannot be relegated to what is referred to as “prevenient grace,” i.e., that somehow the power to come to Christ is allegedly dispensed to all of mankind, thus enabling everyone to accept or reject the gospel according to their own will alone. Scripture indicates that no
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raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ a d Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him c omes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; e only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. f 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. g 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, h which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” i 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, j “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Very tru ly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man k and drink his b lood, you have no life in you. 54 Who ever eats my flesh and d rinks my b lood has eter nal life, and I will r aise them up at the last day. l 55 For my flesh is real food and my b lood is real
6:45 d Isa 54:13;
Jer 31:33, 34; Heb 8:10, 11; 10:16 6:46 e Jn 1:18; 5:37; 7:29 6:48 f ver 35, 51 6:49 g ver 31, 58 6:50 h ver 33 6:51 i Heb 10:10 6:52 j Jn 7:43; 9:16; 10:19 6:53 k Mt 8:20 6:54 l ver 39
drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and d rinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. m 57 Just as the living Father sent me n and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this b read will live forever.” o 59 He said this w hile teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
//Many Disciples Desert Jesus
6:56 m Jn 15:4‑7; 1Jn 3:24; 4:15
6:57 n Jn 3:17 6:58 o ver 49‑51; Jn 3:36
6:60 p ver 66 6:61 q Mt 11:6 6:62 r Mk 16:19;
Jn 3:13; 17:5 6:63 s 2Co 3:6 6:64 t Jn 2:25
“free will” exists in man’s nature, for man is enslaved to sin (total depravity) and unable to believe apart from God’s empowerment (Ro 3:1–19; Eph 2:1–3; 2Co 4:4; 2Ti 1:9). While “whosoever will” may come to the Father, only those whom the Father gives the ability to will toward Him will actually come to Him. The drawing here is selective and efficacious (producing the desired effect) upon those whom God has sovereignly chosen for salvation, i.e., those whom God has chosen will believe because God has sovereignly determined that result from eternity past (Eph 1:9–11). 6:45 J esus paraphrased Isa 54:13 to support the point that if someone comes to faith and repentance to God, it is because they have been taught, and hence drawn, by God. The “drawing” and “learning” are just different aspects of God’s sovereign direction in the person’s life. Those taught by God to grasp the truth are also drawn by God the Father to embrace the Son. 6:49, 50 Jesus contrasted the earthly and heavenly bread. The manna that was given in the wilderness, although sent from heaven to help sustain the Israelites for their physical needs, could not impart eternal life nor meet their spiritual needs as could the “bread of life” (v. 48) that came down from heaven in the person of Jesus the Messiah. The proof of this contrast centers in the irrefutable fact that all the fathers died who ate the wilderness manna. 6:51–59 This section may be divided into three divisions: 1) Jesus’ pronouncement (v. 51); 2) the crowd’s perplexity (v. 52); and 3) Jesus’ promises (vv. 53–59). 6:51 This pronouncement exactly reiterates vv. 33, 35, 47, 48. bread is my flesh. Jesus refers here prophetically to His impending sacrifice upon the cross (cf. 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 2:24). Jesus voluntarily laid down His life for evil, sinful mankind (10:18; 1Jn 2:2). 6:52 argue. Once again the perplexity of the Jews indicates that they failed to understand the spiritual truth behind Jesus’ illustration. Every time Jesus had given them a veiled saying or physical illustration, the Jews failed to see its spiritual significance (e.g., 3:4; 4:15). The Mosaic law prohibited the drinking of blood or the
60 On hear ing it, many of his disciples p said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, J esus said to them, “Does this offend you? q 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man as cend to where he was before! r 63 The Spirit gives life; s the flesh c ounts for nothing. The w ords I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spir it b and life. 64 Yet t here are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had k nown t from the be ginning which of them did not believe and who a 45 Isaiah 54:13 b 63 Or are
Spirit; or are spirit
eating of meat with blood still in it (Lev 17:10–14; Dt 12:16; Ac 15:29). The Jews, unable to go beyond the mere physical perspective, were perplexed and angered. 6:53–58 eat . . . drink. Jesus’ point was an analogy that has spiritual, rather than literal, significance: just as eating and drinking are necessary for physical life, so also is belief in His sacrificial death on the cross necessary for eternal life. The eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood metaphorically symbolize the need for accepting Jesus’ cross work. For the Jews, however, a crucified Messiah was unthinkable (cf. Ac 17:1–3). Once again, the Jews, in their willful and judicial blindness, could not see the real spiritual significance and truth behind Jesus’ statements. Moreover, Jesus’ reference here to eating and drinking was not referring to the ordinance of communion for two significant reasons: 1) communion had not been instituted yet, and 2) if Jesus was referring to communion, then the passage would teach that anyone partaking of communion would receive eternal life. 6:60–71 These verses constitute the reaction of Jesus’ disciples to His sermon on the “bread of life.” As with the crowds’ response in Jerusalem (chap. 5) and in Galilee (chap. 6), the response of many of His disciples was unbelief and rejection of Him. John lists two groups and their reactions: 1) the false disciples’ reaction of unbelief (vv. 60–66), and 2) the true disciples’ reaction of belief (vv. 67–71). After this sermon, only a small nucleus of disciples remained (v. 67). 6:61 his disciples were grumbling. Many of Jesus’ disciples had the same reaction as the Jews in v. 41 and of the first generation of Israelites to manna, i.e., they grumbled (Ex 16:2). 6:64 Jesus had known. Reminiscent of John’s words in 2:23–25, Jesus knew the hearts of men, including those disciples who followed Him. He supernaturally knew that many did not believe in Him as Messiah and Son of God so He did not entrust Himself to them. These false disciples were simply attracted to the physical phenomena (e.g., miracles and food), and failed to understand the true significance of Jesus’ teaching (v. 61).
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would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” u 66 From this time many of his disciples v turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to l eave too, do you?” J esus asked the Twelve. w 68 Simon Peter answered him, x “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” y 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, z the T welve? Yet one of you is a devil!” a 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
6:65 u ver 37, 44 6:66 v ver 60 6:67 w Mt 10:2 6:68 x Mt 16:16 6:69 y Mk 8:29;
Lk 9:20 6:70 z Jn 15:16, 19 a Jn 13:27
7:1 b Jn 1:19 c Jn 5:18
7:2 d Lev 23:34; Dt 16:16
7:3 e Mt 12:46 7:5 f Mk 3:21
6:65 I told you. See notes on vv. 37, 44. Although sinners are commanded to believe and will be held responsible for rejecting the truth, genuine faith is a gift of God that He initiates. Once again, in the face of unbelief, Jesus reiterated God’s sovereignty involved in selection for salvation. 6:66 disciples . . . no longer followed him. The language indicates that the abandonment was decisive and final (cf. 1Pe 2:6–8; 1Jn 2:19). 6:69 We have come to believe. Peter’s words were somewhat pretentious in that he implied that the true disciples somehow had superior insight and, as a result, came to belief through that insight. 6:70 Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? In response to Peter’s words that the disciples had come to believe in Jesus, He reminds them that He sovereignly chose them (vv. 37, 44, 65). They could take no credit for God’s sovereign selection of them. a devil. The word devil means “slanderer” or “false accuser.” The idea perhaps is better rendered “one of you is the devil.” This meaning is clear from 13:2, 27; Mk 8:33; Lk 22:3. The foremost enemy of God so works behind the scenes through human agents that his malevolence becomes theirs (cf. Mt 16:23). Jesus supernaturally knew the source and correctly identified it. This clearly fixes the character of Judas, not as a well-intentioned but misguided man trying to force Jesus to exert His power and set up His kingdom (as some suggest), but as a tool of Satan doing unmitigated wickedness (see notes on 13:21–30). 6:71 Iscariot. The word most likely is from a Heb. word meaning “man of Kerioth,” the name of a village in Judah. As with the other three gospels, as soon as he was named, he became identified as the betrayer. 7:1—8:59 The main thrust of this section can be summarized as “high intensity hatred” since the smoldering dislike of Jesus in chaps. 5, 6 erupted into a blazing inferno. The culmination of this hatred occurs in 11:45–57 where the Jewish authorities plot to kill the Son of God, culminating ultimately in His crucifixion. Both chapters deal with Jesus at the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths, in Jerusalem. Especially noteworthy is the fact that two major themes associated with Tabernacles, i.e., water and light, come to prominence in these two chapters (vv. 37–39; 8:12). At the next Passover following this celebration of Tabernacles, Jesus was crucified. The central truth that dominates this whole passage is that Jesus was on a divine timetable. His life was not random, but operated according to God’s sovereign and perfect timing and direction. 7:1–13 This section has two parts: 1) Jesus’ avoidance of the wrong time in God’s sovereign plan (vv. 1–9), and 2) J esus’ perfect obedience to the right time in God’s sovereign plan (vv. 10–13).
//Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want a to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders b there were looking for a way to kill him. c 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles d was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers e said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the w orks you do. 4 No one who w ants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own broth ers did not believe in him. f a 1
Some manuscripts not have authority
7:1 After this. A six-month gap most likely took place between chaps. 6 and 7. While chap. 6 occurred around Passover (6:4— Apr.), chap. 7 occurs at the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths (Oct.). John wrote nothing about those months since his purpose was not to present an exhaustive chronology of Christ’s life but to portray Him as the Messiah and Son of God and show how men reacted to Him. went around in Galilee. Chapter 6 indicates Jesus spent two days with the multitude of 20,000 people (6:22), but He spent seven months teaching His 12 disciples who believed in Him. This phrase subtly highlights the great importance of discipleship, for Jesus concentrated great lengths of time upon training His future spiritual leaders. 7:2 Festival of Tabernacles. See note on 5:1. The Festival of Tabernacles was connected in the OT with the harvest of grapes and olives (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:33–36, 39–43; Dt 16:13–15). The festival lasted a full week from the fifteenth to the twenty-first of Ethanim (September–October). The Jewish historian Josephus indicates that, of Israel’s three major festivals (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), this one was the most popular. In order to commemorate the Israelites’ trek through the wilderness, the people built makeshift shelters out of leaves and branches (hence, “booths” or “tabernacles”; cf. Lev 23:42). Both a water-drawing and a lamp-lighting ceremony were featured. (“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink”—vv. 37, 38 and “I am the light of the world”—8:12). 7:3 Jesus’ brothers. Matthew 13:55 lists Jesus’ brothers as “James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.” James authored the NT epistle that bears his name and became the leader of the Jerusalem church, and Judas (or Jude) wrote the epistle that also bears his name. Because of Jesus’ virgin birth, they were only the half brothers of Jesus since Mary, not Joseph, was Jesus’ only human parent (cf. Mt 1:16, 18, 23; Lk 1:35). 7:4 to become a public figure . . . show yourself to the world. Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to put on a display of His miracles. Although the text does not clearly state their motivation, perhaps they made the request for two reasons: 1) they wanted to see the miracles for themselves to determine their genuineness, and 2) they may have had similar crass political motives as did the people, namely that He would become their social and political Messiah. Jerusalem’s acceptance of Him was to be the acid test for them as to whether His own family would believe in Him as Messiah. 7:5 As with the crowds in Jerusalem and Galilee, even His own brothers did not believe in Jesus at first. They did not become His followers until after the resurrection (Ac 1:14; 1Co 15:7).
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6 Therefore J esus told them, “My time g is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it h ates me h because I testi fy that its works are evil. i 8 You go to the festival. I am not a going up to this festival, because my time j has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the fes tival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus k and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the c rowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” l 13 But no one w ould say anything publicly a bout him for fear of the leaders. m
7:6 g Mt 26:18 7:7 h Jn 15:18, 19 i Jn 3:19, 20
7:8 7:11 k Jn 11:56 7:12 l ver 40, 43 7:13 m Jn 9:22; j ver 6
7:14 n ver 28; Mt 26:55 7:15 o Jn 1:19 p Ac 26:24 q Mt 13:54 7:16 r Jn 3:11; 14:24 7:17 s Ps 25:14; Jn 8:43 7:18 t Jn 5:41; 8:50, 54 7:19 u Jn 1:17 v ver 1; Mt 12:14
7:6 My time is not yet here. This recalls the response to Jesus’ mother at the wedding in Cana (see 2:4). It also reveals the first reason why Jesus would not go to the festival: it was not in God’s perfect timing. The sentence reveals Jesus’ complete dependence on and commitment to the Father’s sovereign timetable for His life (cf. 8:20; Ac 1:7; 17:26). Furthermore, Jesus never committed Himself to being motivated by unbelief, even that of His own half brothers. for you any time will do. Because Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him, they were of the world and therefore, knew nothing of God or His purposes. Because of unbelief, they did not listen to His word, did not recognize God’s schedule, and could not perceive the incarnate Word before them. As a result, any time would do for them, preferably that moment. 7:7 The world cannot hate you. The world cannot hate Jesus’ brothers because they belonged to the world and the world loves its own (cf. 15:18, 19). The evil world system and all who reject the Word and Son of God lie in the control of the evil one himself (1Jn 5:19). I testify that its works are evil. A true born-again believer who is living a life for God’s glory should experience the hatred and antagonism of the world (cf. 15:18–25; 16:1–3; 2Ti 3:12). 7:8 my time has not yet fully come. This reveals the second reason why Jesus would not go to the festival in Jerusalem. The Jews could not kill Him before God’s perfect timing and plan was ready (cf. Gal 4:4). Jesus’ commitment to God’s timetable would not permit any deviance from what God had decreed. 7:10 in secret. The assumption is that the Father had directed Jesus to permit Him to go to Jerusalem. The secrecy of His journey indicates His maximum discretion that was the complete opposite of what His brothers had demanded of Him (cf. v. 4). 7:12, 13 Among the crowds . . . widespread whispering. The crowds, made up of Judeans, Galileans, and Diaspora (scattered) Jews, expressed various opinions regarding Christ. The spectrum ranged from superficial acceptance (“He is a good man”) to cynical rejection (“he deceives the people”). The Jewish Talmud reveals that the latter view of deception became the predominant opinion of many Jews (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a). 7:14–24 The increasing hostility to Jesus did not prevent His teaching ministry. Instead, Jesus relentlessly set forth His claims regarding His identity and mission. In the midst of the Festival of Tabernacles, when Jews from all over Israel had migrated into Jerusalem, Jesus once again began to teach. In this section, Jesus
//Jesus Teaches at the Festival 14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple c ourts and begin to teach. n 15 The Jews o there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning p without having been taught?” q 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. r 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out s whether my teaching comes from God or wheth er I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, t but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; t here is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? u Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” v a 8
Some manuscripts not yet
set forth the justification of His ministry and taught with authority as God’s Son. In this passage, five reasons are set forth as to why Jesus’ claims regarding Himself are true: 1) His supernatural knowledge originated from the Father Himself (vv. 15, 16); 2) His teaching and knowledge could be confirmed by testing (v. 17); 3) His actions demonstrated His selflessness (v. 18); 4) His impact on the world was startling (vv. 19, 20); and 5) His deeds demonstrated His identity as the Son of God (vv. 21–24). 7:14 halfway through the festival. Jesus may have waited until the middle of the festival in order to prevent a premature “triumphal entry” that some may have forced upon Him for political motivations. up to the temple courts and begin to teach. Jesus taught according to the custom of the teachers or rabbis of His day. Prominent rabbis would enter the temple environs and expound on the OT to crowds who sat around them. 7:15 amazed. Jesus’ knowledge of Scripture was supernatural. The people were amazed that someone who had never studied at any great rabbinical centers or under any great rabbis could display such profound mastery of Scripture. Both the content and manner of Jesus’ teachings were qualitatively different than any other teacher. 7:16 the one who sent me. The qualitative difference of Jesus’ teaching was found in its source, i.e., the Father gave it to Him (8:26, 40, 46, 47; 12:49, 50). It originated from God the Father Himself, in contrast to rabbis who received it from man (Gal 1:12). While rabbis relied on the authority of others (a long chain of human tradition), J esus’ authority centered in Himself (cf. Mt 7:28, 29; Ac 4:13). 7:17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out. Those who are fundamentally committed to doing the will of God will be guided by Him in the affirmation of His truth. God’s truth is self-authenticating through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (cf. 16:13; 1Jn 2:20, 27). 7:18 he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him. While other saviors and messiahs acted for their own selfish interests, thereby revealing their falseness, Jesus Christ as God’s Son came solely to glorify the Father and accomplish the Father’s will (2Co 2:17; Php 2:5–11; Heb 10:7). 7:19, 20 kill me. If Jesus were another religious fake, the world never would have reacted in such hatred. Since the evil world system loves its own, its hatred toward Him demonstrates that He came from God (15:18, 19).
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John 7:20 20 “You are demon-possessed,” w the c rowd an swered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all a mazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision x (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), y you cir cumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a m an’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearanc es, but instead judge correctly.” z
//Division Over Who Jesus Is 25 At that p oint some of the people of Jerusa lem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the
7:20 w Jn 8:48;
7:22 x Lev 12:3 y Ge 17:10‑14
7:24 z Isa 11:3, 4; Jn 8:15
7:26 a ver 48 7:27 b Mt 13:55; Lk 4:22
7:28 c ver 14
d Jn 8:14 e Jn 8:26,
7:29 f Mt 11:27 7:30 g ver 32, 44; Jn 10:39
7:31 h Jn 8:30 i Jn 2:11
7:21 one miracle. The context makes clear (vv. 22, 23) that Jesus had reference to the healing of the paralytic that evoked the beginning of persecution against Him by the Jewish authorities because it took place on the Sabbath (see 5:1–16). 7:22 but from the patriarchs. The patriarchal period during the time of Abraham when God instituted the sign of circumcision (Ge 17:10–12), which was later included as part of the Mosaic covenant at Sinai (Ex 4:26; 12:44, 45). This observation demonstrated that this rite preceded the Mosaic law (Gal 3:17). Furthermore, circumcision antedates the Sabbath law also. 7:23 on the Sabbath. According to Mosaic law, baby boys were to be circumcised on the eighth day (Lev 12:1–3). If a son was born on the Sabbath, then the eighth day (including his birthday) would come on the following Sabbath, when the Jews would circumcise the child. Jesus’ point was that the Jews broke their own Sabbath law with the circumcision of the child. Their hypocrisy is evident. healing a man’s whole body. Jesus used an argument of the lesser to the greater. If ceremonial cleansing of one part of the body is permitted on the Sabbath through the act of circumcision (the less), how much more so should the actual healing of the entire body be permitted on the Sabbath (the greater). 7:24 judge correctly. While Jesus forbade harsh, censorious judgment that self-righteous legalism promotes (Mt 7:1), He demanded the exercise of moral and theological discernment. 7:25–36 In this section, John once again reiterates the claims of Jesus to His identity as the Messiah and Son of God. He focuses on His divine origin and citizenship. While some believed in Him at this time (v. 31), the religious leaders became even more angry at Him and nefariously planned to seize Him (v. 32). Jesus confronted the people with three dilemmas recorded in these verses: 1) the problem of dense confusion (vv. 25–29); 2) the problem of divided conviction (vv. 30–32); and 3) the problem of delayed conversion (vv. 33– 36). These three problems left Jerusalem in a state of utter despair. 7:26 Here he is, speaking publicly. What surprised the masses was that in spite of the ominous threat from the religious authorities (vv. 20, 32), Jesus boldly proclaimed His identity. Have the authorities really concluded . . . ? The question indicates the crowds and the rulers were in great confusion and uncertainty as to who Jesus was and what to do about Him. They did not really have any firm convictions regarding Jesus’ identity, for their ques-
authorities a really concluded that he is the Mes siah? 27 But we know w here this man is from; b when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, c cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know w here I am from. d I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. e You do not know him, 29 but I know him f because I am from him and he sent me.” 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, g because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. h They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more s igns i than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
tion reveals their doubt and unbelief. They were also perplexed at the religious leaders’ failure to arrest and silence Him if He really were a fraud. Such dense confusion caused the crowd to wonder if the religious authorities in private concluded that He was indeed the Christ. Mass confusion among all groups reigned regarding Jesus. Messiah. See notes on 1:20, 41. 7:27 no one will know where he is from. Only information regarding Messiah’s birthplace was revealed in Scripture (Mic 5:2; Mt 2:5, 6). Beyond that, a tradition had developed in Jewish circles that Messiah would appear suddenly to the people, based on a misinterpretation of Isa 53:8 and Mal 3:1. In light of this, the meaning of this phrase most likely is that the identity of the Messiah would be wholly unknown until He suddenly appeared in Israel and accomplished Israel’s redemption. In contrast, Jesus had lived His life in Nazareth and was known (at least superficially) to the people (v. 28). 7:28 cried out. Jesus gave the greatest publicity to this important teaching by voicing it loudly (cf. v. 37; 1:15; 12:44). you know me, and you know where I am from. These words stand in antithesis with 8:19 where Jesus told His enemies that they did not know either Him or the Father, thus indicating a deep irony and sarcasm on Jesus’ part here. Jesus’ point is that contrary to what they thought, they really had no true understanding of who He was. They knew Him in the earthly sense, but not in the spiritual sense, because they didn’t know God either. You do not know him. Although they thought that they were acutely perceptive and spiritually oriented, their rejection of Jesus revealed their spiritual bankruptcy (Ro 2:17–19). 7:30 his hour had not yet come. This reveals the reason why they could not seize Him, i.e., God’s sovereign timetable and plan for Jesus would not allow it. 7:31 many . . . believed. Divided conviction existed among the people regarding Jesus. While some wanted to seize Him, a small remnant of genuine believers existed among the crowds. The question here anticipates a negative answer, i.e., the Messiah could do no greater kinds of miracles than those Jesus had done. 7:32 the chief priests and the Pharisees. See note on 3:1. The Pharisees and chief priests historically did not have harmonious relationships with each other. Most of the chief priests were Sadducees, who were political and religious opponents to the Pharisees. John repeatedly links these two groups in his gospel (see also v.
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N 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, j and then I am going to the one who sent me. k 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” l 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go w here our people live scattered m among the Greeks, n and teach the G reeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, o Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. p 38 Whoev er believes in me, as Scripture has said, q rivers of living water r will flow from within them.” a s 39 By this he meant the Spirit, t whom those who be lieved in him were later to receive. u Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. v
7:33 j Jn 13:33;
40 On hear ing his w ords, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” w 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? x 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants y and from Bethlehem, z the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided a because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. b
16:16 k Jn 16:5, 10, 17, 28 7:34 l Jn 8:21; 13:33 7:35 m Jas 1:1 n Jn 12:20; 1Pe 1:1 7:37 o Lev 23:36 p Isa 55:1; Rev 22:17 7:38 q Isa 58:11 r Jn 4:10 s Jn 4:14 7:39 t Joel 2:28; Ac 2:17, 33 u Jn 20:22 v Jn 12:23; 13:31, 32
//Unbelief of the Jewish Leaders 7:40 w Mt 21:11;
Jn 1:21 7:41 x ver 52; Jn 1:46 7:42 y Mt 1:1 z Mic 5:2; Mt 2:5, 6; Lk 2:4 7:43 a Jn 9:16; 10:19 7:44 b ver 30 7:46 c Mt 7:28 7:47 d ver 12
45; 11:47, 57; 18:3) in order to emphasize that their cooperation stemmed from their mutual hatred of Jesus. Both were alarmed at the faith of those indicated in v. 31 and, in order to avoid any veneration of Jesus as Messiah, attempted unsuccessfully to arrest Him (v. 30). temple guards. These functioned as a kind of police force composed of Levites who were in charge of maintaining order in the temple environs. They could also be used by the Sanhedrin in areas outside the temple environs in religious disputes that did not affect Roman policy. 7:34 where I am, you cannot come. Jesus refers here to His return to His heavenly origin with His Father after His crucifixion and resurrection (see 17:15). 7:35, 36 John again highlights the ignorance of the Jews regarding Jesus’ words. The words were spoken to mock Jesus. 7:35 teach the Greeks. The phrase “teach the Greeks” probably had reference to Jewish proselytes, i.e., Gentiles. John may have been citing this phrase with ironic force since the gospel eventually went to the Gentiles because of Jewish blindness and rejection of their Messiah. See notes on Ro 11:7–11. 7:37–52 This section catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims. These reactions have become universal patterns for reactions to Him through the ages. This section may be divided into the claim of Christ (vv. 37–39) and the reactions to Christ (vv. 40–52). The reactions may be subdivided into five sections: 1) the reaction of the convinced (vv. 40–41a); 2) the reaction of the contrary (vv. 41b–42); 3) the reaction of the hostile (vv. 43, 44); 4) the reaction of the confused (vv. 45, 46); and 5) the reaction of the religious authorities (vv. 47–52). 7:37 On the last and greatest day. This suggests that this occasion occurred on a different day than the controversy in vv. 11– 36. Let anyone who is thirsty. A tradition grew up in the few centuries before Jesus that on the seven days of the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths, a golden vessel containing water from the pool of Siloam was transported in a priestly procession back to the temple. As it came to the Water Gate, three trumpet blasts were sounded to mark the joy of the occasion. At the temple, as the people watched, the priests would march around
the temple g uards went back to the c hief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” c the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” d the a 37,38 Or me.
And let anyone drink 38who believes in me.” As Scripture has said, “Out of him (or them) will flow rivers of living water.”
the altar carrying the water container while the temple choir sang the Hallel (Pss. 113–118). The water was then offered as a sacrifice to God. The use of the water symbolized the blessing of adequate rainfall for crops. Jesus used this event as an object lesson and opportunity to make a very public invitation on the last day of the festival for His people to accept Him as the living water. His words recall Isa 55:1. thirsty come . . . drink. These three words summarize the gospel invitation. A recognition of need leads to an approach to the source of provision, followed by receiving what is needed. The thirsty, needy soul feels the craving to come to the Savior and drink, i.e., receive the salvation that He offers. 7:38 living water. The water-pouring rite also foreshadowed the millennial rivers of living water described in Eze 47:1–9 and Zec 13:1. The significance of Jesus’ invitation centers in the fact that He was the fulfillment of all the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths, anticipated, i.e., He was the One who provided the living water that gives eternal life to man (cf. 4:10, 11). 7:39 he meant the Spirit. The impartation of the Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual and eternal life. See note on 16:7. 7:41 from Galilee. This betrays the people’s great ignorance, because Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, not Galilee (Mic 5:2 cf. Mt 2:6; Lk 2:4). They did not even bother to investigate His true birthplace, showing their lack of interest in messianic credentials. 7:43 divided. See Mt 10:34–36; Lk 12:51–53. 7:44 See notes on vv. 8, 30. 7:45 the temple guards. The officers failed in their attempt to arrest Jesus when they were confronted with His person and powerful teaching. Since they were religiously trained, Jesus’ words struck at their very heart. For their identity, see notes on v. 32. 7:47, 48 The Pharisees mocked the officers, not on professional (as police officers) but religious grounds (as Levites). In essence, they accused them of being seduced by a deceiver (i.e., Jesus) in contrast to the Pharisees themselves who arrogantly and selfrighteously felt that in their wisdom and knowledge no one could ever deceive them.
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Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? e 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law — there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, f who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law con demn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They re plied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” g
[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53 — 8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]
they all went home, 1 but Jesus went to the ount of Olives. h M 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. i 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in
7:48 e Jn 12:42 7:50 f Jn 3:1; 19:39 7:52 g ver 41 8:1 h Mt 21:1 8:2 i ver 20;
8:5 j Lev 20:10; Dt 22:22 8:6 k Mt 22:15, 18 l Mt 12:10 8:7 m Dt 17:7 n Ro 2:1, 22 8:11 o Jn 3:17 p Jn 5:14 8:12 q Jn 6:35 r Jn 1:4; 12:35
7:49 mob. The Pharisees condescendingly labeled the people as a “mob.” The rabbis viewed the common people (or, people of the land) as ignorant and impious in contrast to themselves. This ignorance was not only because of their ignorance of Scripture, but especially the common people’s failure to follow the Pharisees’ oral traditions. curse on them. The people were considered damned because they did not belong to the elite group or follow their beliefs regarding the law. 7:50–52 Nicodemus’s (see 3:10) mind had not closed regarding Christ’s claims, so that while not defending Jesus directly, he did raise a procedural point in Jesus’ favor. 7:51 Does our law condemn a man . . . ? No explicit OT text can be cited that makes Nicodemus’s point. Most likely he referred to rabbinical traditions contained in their oral law. 7:52 a prophet does not come out of Galilee. The real ignorance lay with the arrogant Pharisees who did not carefully search out the facts as to where Jesus was actually born. While they accused the crowds of ignorance, they too were really as ignorant (v. 42). Furthermore, the prophet Jonah did come from Galilee. 7:53—8:11 This section dealing with the adulteress most likely was not a part of the original contents of John. It has been incorporated into various manuscripts at different places in the gospel (e.g., after vv. 36, 44, 52, or 21:25), while one manuscript places it after Lk 21:38. External manuscript evidence representing a great variety of textual traditions is decidedly against its inclusion, for the earliest and best manuscripts exclude it. Many manuscripts mark the passage to indicate doubt as to its inclusion. Significant early versions exclude it. No Gr. church father comments on the passage until the twelfth century. The vocabulary and style of the section also are different from the rest of the gospel, and the section interrupts the sequence of v. 52 with 8:12ff. Many, however, do think that it has all the earmarks of historical veracity, perhaps being a piece of oral tradition that circulated in parts of the Western church, so that a few comments are in order. In spite of all these considerations of the likely unreliability of this section, it is possible
a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses command ed us to s tone such women. j Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, k in order to have a basis for accusing him. l But Jesus bent down and started to w rite on the g round with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the f irst to t hrow a s tone m at her.” n 8 Again he s tooped down and w rote on the ground. 9 At this, those who h eard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one con demned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” o Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” p
//Dispute Over Jesus’ Testimony 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am q the light of the world. r Whoever
to be wrong on the issue, and thus it is good to consider the meaning of this passage and leave it in the text, just as with Mk 16:9–20. 8:6 a trap . . . accusing him. If Jesus rejected the law of Moses (Lev 20:10; Dt 22:22), His credibility would be gone. If He held to Mosaic law, His reputation for compassion and forgiveness would have been questioned. 8:7 any one of you who is without sin. This directly refers to Dt 13:9; 17:7, where the witnesses of a crime are to start the execution. Only those who were not guilty of the same sin could participate. 8:8 Cf. v. 6. This seems to have been a delaying device, giving them time to think. 8:11 leave your life of sin. (cf. 3:17; 12:47; Mt 9:1–8; Mk 2:13–17). 8:12–21 Excluding the story of the adulterous woman in 7:53— 8:11, this verse attaches itself well to 7:52. The word again indicates that Jesus spoke once more to the people at this same Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths (see 7:2, 10). While Jesus first used the water-drawing rite (7:37–39) as a metaphor to portray the ultimate spiritual truth of Himself as Messiah who fulfills all that the festival anticipated, He then turned to another rite that traditionally occurred at the festival: the lighting ceremony. During Tabernacles, four large lamps in the temple’s court of women illuminated a joyous celebration that took place there, with people dancing, holding burning torches, and singing songs of praise. Levitical musicians also played. Jesus took this opportunity of the lighting celebration to portray another spiritual analogy for the people: “I am the light of the world.” 8:12 I am the light of the world. This is the second “I am” statement (see 6:35). John has already used the “light” metaphor for Jesus (1:4). Jesus’ metaphor here is steeped in OT allusions (Ex 13:21, 22; 14:19–25; Pss 27:1; 119:105; Pr 6:23; Eze 1:4, 13, 26– 28; Hab 3:3, 4). The phrase highlights Jesus’ role as Messiah and Son of God (Ps 27:1; Mal 4:2). The OT indicates that the coming age of Messiah would be a time when the Lord would be a light for His people (Isa 60:19–22; cf. Rev 21:23, 24) as well as for the whole earth (Isa 42:6; 49:6). Zechariah 14:5b–8 has an emphasis
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follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” s 13 The Phar isees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimo ny is not valid.” t 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and w here I am going. u But you have no idea where I come from v or w here I am going. 15 You judge by hu man standards; w I pass judg ment on no one. x 16 But if I do judge, my deci sions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. y 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two wit nesses is true. z 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” a 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” b Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Fa ther also.” c 20 He spoke t hese w ords w hile teach ing d in the temple courts near the place where
8:12 s Pr 4:18; Mt 5:14 8:13 t Jn 5:31 8:14 u Jn 13:3; 16:28 v Jn 7:28; 9:29 8:15 w Jn 7:24 x Jn 3:17 8:16 y Jn 5:30 8:17 z Dt 17:6; Mt 18:16 8:18 a Jn 5:37 8:19 b Jn 16:3 c Jn 14:7; 1Jn 2:23 8:20 d Mt 26:55
e Mk 12:41
f Mt 26:18; h Jn 7:34;
13:33 8:23 i Jn 3:31; 17:14 8:24 j Jn 4:26; 13:19 8:26 k Jn 7:28 l Jn 3:32; 15:15
on God as the light of the world who gives living waters to His people. This latter passage probably formed the liturgical readings for the Festival of Tabernacles. For further significance of Jesus as the “light,” see notes on 1:4, 5; 1Jn 1:5. Whoever follows me. The word “follows” conveys the idea of someone who gives himself completely to the person followed. No half-hearted followers exist in Jesus’ mind (cf. Mt 8:18–22; 10:38, 39). A veiled reference exists here to the Jews, following the pillar of cloud and fire that led them during the exodus (Ex 13:21). 8:13 appearing as your own witness. The Jews mockingly brought up Jesus’ own words from 5:31. However, Jesus’ words there and here are reconciled by the fact that OT law required not one but multiple witnesses to establish the truth of a matter (Dt 17:6). Jesus was not alone in His witness that pointed to Him as Messiah, for many had already testified concerning this truth (see note on 1:7). 8:14–18 These verses give three reasons why Jesus’ witness was true: 1) Jesus knew His origin and destiny while the Jews were ignorant even of basic spiritual truths, making their judgment limited and superficial (vv. 14, 15); 2) the intimate union of the Son with the Father guaranteed the truth of the Son’s witness (v. 16); and 3) the Father and Son witnessed harmoniously together regarding the identity of the Son (vv. 17, 18). 8:17 In your own Law it is written. Cf. Dt 17:6; 19:15. See notes on 1:7. 8:19 Where is your father? The Jews, as was their habit (e.g., 3:4; 4:11; 6:52), once again thought merely on human terms in asking about Jesus’ paternity. 8:21–30 Jesus revealed the consequence of the rejection of Him as Messiah and Son of God, i.e., spiritual death (v. 24; cf. Heb 10:26–31). These verses reveal four ways that ensure people will die in their sins and, as a result, experience spiritual death: 1) being self-righteous (vv. 20–22); 2) being earthbound (vv. 23, 24); 3) being unbelieving (v. 24); and 4) being willfully ignorant (vv. 25–29). The Jews who rejected Jesus displayed all four of these characteristics. 8:21 Jesus repeated His message of 7:33, 34 but with more omi-
8:21 g Eze 3:18
the offerings were put. e Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come. f
//Dispute Over Who Jesus Is 21 Once
more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die g in your sin. W here I go, you cannot come.” h 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill him self ? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this ould die in your world. i 24 I told you that you w sins; if you do not believe that I am he, j you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trust worthy, k and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” l
nous overtones regarding the consequences of rejecting Him. I am going away. By means of His impending death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. 8:22 Will he kill himself . . . . The Jews spoke either in confusion (see notes on 7:34, 35) or, perhaps more likely, in mockery of Christ. Jewish tradition condemned suicide as a particularly heinous sin that resulted in permanent banishment to the worst part of Hades (Josephus, Jewish Wars iii.viii.5 [iii.375]). God did deliver Him to be killed (Ac 2:23); thus, as God, He gave up His own life (10:18). 8:23 You are from below. The contrast here is between the realm of God and that of the fallen, sinful world (i.e., “from below”). The world in this context is the invisible spiritual system of evil dominated by Satan and all that it offers in opposition to God, His Word, and His people (see notes on 1:9; 1Jn 5:19). Jesus declared that His opponents’ true kinship was with Satan and his realm. By this domination, they were spiritually blinded (see 2Co 4:4; Eph 2:1–3). 8:24 if you do not believe. Jesus emphasized that the fatal, unforgivable, and eternal sin is failure to believe in Him as Messiah and Son of God. In truth, all other sins can be forgiven if this one is repented of. See notes on 16:8, 9. I am he. The word “he” is not part of the original statement. Jesus’ words were not constructed normally but were influenced by OT Heb. usage. It is an absolute usage meaning “I AM” and has immense theological significance. The reference may be to both Ex 3:14 where the Lord declared His name as “I am” and to Isa 40–55 where the phrase “I am” occurs repeatedly (especially 43:10, 13, 25; 46:4; 48:12). In this, Jesus refers to Himself as the God (Yahweh—the Lord) of the OT, and directly claims full deity for Himself, prompting the Jews’ question of v. 25. See note on v. 58. 8:25 Who are you? The Jews were willfully ignorant because chaps. 1–8 demonstrate that multiple witnesses testified to Jesus’ identity, and J esus Himself in words and actions persistently proved throughout His ministry on earth that He was the Son of God and Messiah. from the beginning. The start of Jesus’ ministry among the Jews.
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John 8:27 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up a the Son of Man, m then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, n for I always do what pleases him.” o 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him. p
8:28 m Jn 3:14; 5:19; 12:32
8:29 n ver 16;
Jn 16:32 o Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:38 8:30 p Jn 7:31 8:31 q Jn 15:7; 2Jn 9 8:32 r Ro 8:2; Jas 2:12 8:33 s ver 37, 39; Mt 3:9 8:34 t Ro 6:16; 2Pe 2:19
//Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
31 To the Jews who had be lieved him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, q you are real ly my disciples. 32 Then you will know the t ruth, and the t ruth will set you free.” r 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s de scendants s and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we s hall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a s lave to sin. t 35 Now a s lave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs
8:35 u Gal 4:30 8:37 v ver 39, 40 8:38 w Jn 5:19, 30;
14:10, 24 8:39 x ver 37; Ro 9:7; Gal 3:7 8:40 y ver 26 8:41 z ver 38, 44 a Isa 63:16; 64:8 8:42 b 1Jn 5:1
8:28 When you have lifted up the Son of Man. Jesus’ impending crucifixion. you will know that I am he. Having refused to accept Him by faith and having nailed Him to the cross, they would one day awaken to the terrifying realization that this One whom they despised was the One they should have worshiped (cf. Php 2:9– 11; Rev 1:7). Many Jews believed on Christ after His death and ascension, realizing that the One whom they rejected was truly the Messiah (Ac 2:36, 37, 41). 8:31–36 These verses are a pivotal passage in understanding genuine salvation and true discipleship. John emphasizes these realities by stressing truth and freedom. The focus in the passage is upon those who were exercising the beginnings of faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. Jesus desired them to move on in their faith. Saving faith is not fickle but firm and settled. Such maturity expresses itself in full commitment to the truth in Jesus Christ resulting in genuine freedom. The passage has three features: 1) the progress of freedom (vv. 31, 32); 2) the pretense of freedom (vv. 33, 34); and 3) the promise of freedom (vv. 35, 36). 8:31 who had believed him. The first step in the progress toward true discipleship is belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God. If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. This reveals the second step in the progress toward true discipleship. Perseverance in obedience to Scripture (cf. Mt 28:19, 20) is the fruit or evidence of genuine faith (see Eph 2:10). The word “hold” means to habitually abide in Jesus’ words. A genuine believer holds fast, obeys, and practices Jesus’ teaching. The one who holds to His teaching has both the Father and the Son (2Jn 9; cf. Heb 3:14; Rev 2:26). Real disciples are both learners (the basic meaning of the word) and faithful followers. 8:32 the truth. “Truth” here has reference not only to the facts surrounding Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God but also to the teaching that He brought. A genuinely saved and obedient follower of the Lord Jesus will know divine truth and both freedom from sin (v. 34) and the search for reality. This divine truth comes not merely by intellectual assent (1Co 2:14) but saving commitment to Christ (cf. Titus 1:1, 2).
to it forever. u 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abra ham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, v because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, w and you are doing what you have heard from your father. b ” 39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” x said J esus, “then you would c do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I h eard from God. y Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.” z “We are not illegitim ate children,” they pro tested. “The only Father we have is God him self.” a 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you w ould love me, b for I have come here from a 28
The Greek for lifted up also means exalted. b 38 Or presence. Therefore do what you have heard from the Father. c 39 Some early manuscripts “If you are Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then
8:33 never been slaves of anyone. Because the Jews had often been in political subjection to many nations (Egypt, Assyria, Bab ylon, Greece, Syria, and Rome), they must have been referring to their inward sense of freedom. 8:34 Very truly. See note on 1:51. everyone who sins. The kind of slavery that Jesus had in mind was not physical slavery but slavery to sin (cf. Ro 6:17, 18). The ultimate bondage is not political or economic enslavement but spiritual bondage to sin and rebellion against God. Christ did not allow Himself to be embraced as merely a political deliverer. 8:35, 36 The notion of slavery in v. 34 moves to the status of slaves. While the Jews thought of themselves only as free sons of Abraham, in reality, they were slaves of sin. The genuine son in the context is Christ Himself, who sets the slaves free from sin. Those whom Jesus Christ liberates from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of legalism are really free (Ro 8:2; Gal 5:1). 8:39 If you were Abraham’s children. The construction of this phrase indicates that Jesus was denying that mere physical lineage was sufficient for salvation (see Php 3:4–9). The sense would be “if you are Abraham’s children, but you are not, then you would act like Abraham did.” Just as children inherit genetic characteristics from their parents, so also those who are truly Abraham’s offspring will act like Abraham, i.e., imitate Abraham’s faith and obedience (see Ro 4:16; Gal 3:6–9; Heb 11:8–19; Jas 2:21–24). what Abraham did. Abraham’s faith was demonstrated through his obedience to God (Jas 2:21–24). Jesus’ point was that the conduct of the unbelieving Jews was diametrically opposed by the conduct of Abraham, who lived a life of obedience to all that God had commanded. Their conduct toward Jesus demonstrated that their real father was Satan (vv. 41, 44). 8:41 We are not illegitimate children. The Jews may well have been referring to the controversy surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Jews knew the story about Mary’s betrothal and that Joseph was not Jesus’ real father; thus they implied that Jesus’ birth was illegitimate (see Mt 1:18–25; Lk 1:26–38). 8:42 If God were your Father, you would love me. The con-
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God. c I have not come on my own; d God sent me. e 43 Why is my language not c lear to you? Be cause you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, f and you want to carry out your father’s desires. g He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the t ruth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he s peaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. h 45 Yet because I tell the truth, i you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you p rove me g uilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you be ears what lieve me? 47 Whoever belongs to God h God says. j The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
8:42 c Jn 16:27; 17:8 d Jn 7:28 e Jn 3:17 8:44 f 1Jn 3:8 g ver 38, 41 h Ge 3:4 8:45 i Jn 18:37 8:47 j Jn 18:37; 1Jn 4:6 8:48 k Mt 10:5 l ver 52; Jn 7:20 8:50 m ver 54; Jn 5:41 8:51 n Jn 11:26
//Jesus’ Claims About Himself
8:53 o Jn 4:12 8:54 p ver 50
Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan k and demon-pos sessed?” l 49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said J esus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; m but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” n 52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that
q Jn 16:14;
s Jn 7:28, 29 t Jn 15:10
8:56 u ver 37,
39 v Mt 13:17; Heb 11:13
8:58 w Jn 1:2; 17:5,
24 x Ex 3:14 8:59 y Lev 24:16; Jn 10:31; 11:8 z Jn 12:36 9:2 a Mt 23:7 b ver 34; Lk 13:2; Ac 28:4 c Eze 18:20 d Ex 20:5; Job 21:19
struction here (as in v. 39) denies that God is truly their Father. Although the OT calls Israel His “firstborn son” (Ex 4:22) and affirms that God is Israel’s father by creation and separation (Jer 31:9), the unbelief of the Jews toward Jesus demonstrated that God was not their Father spiritually. Jesus stressed that the explicit criterion verifying the claim to be a child of God is love for His Son, Jesus. Since God is love, those who love His Son also demonstrate His nature (1Jn 4:7–11; 5:1). 8:44 your father, the devil. Sonship is predicated on conduct. A son will manifest his father’s characteristics (cf. Eph 5:1, 2). Since the Jews exhibited the patterns of Satan in their hostility toward Jesus and their failure to believe in Him as Messiah, their paternity was the exact opposite of their claims, i.e., they belonged to Satan. He was a murderer from the beginning. Jesus’ words refer to the fall when Satan tempted Adam and Eve and successfully killed their spiritual life (Ge 2:17; 3:17–24; Ro 5:12; Heb 2:14). Some think that the reference may also refer to Cain’s murder of Abel (Ge 4:1–9; 1Jn 3:12). 8:46 prove me guilty of sin. Only a perfectly holy One who has the closest and most intimate communion with the Father could speak such words. The Jews arguing against Jesus could marshal no genuine evidence that He had ever sinned against God. 8:48 you are a Samaritan. Since the Jews could not attack Jesus’ personal life and conduct (v. 46), they tried an ad hominem attack of personal abuse toward Him. The reference to Jesus as a “Samaritan” probably centers in the fact that the Samaritans, like Jesus, questioned the Jews’ exclusive right to be called Abraham’s children (see vv. 33, 39). 8:51 never see death. Heeding Jesus’ teaching and following Him results in eternal life (6:63, 68). Physical death cannot extinguish such life (see 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25, 26).
8:55 r ver 19
you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever o beys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you great er than our father Abraham? o He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, p my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you c laim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. q 55 Though you do not know him, r I know him. s If I said I did not, I w ould be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. t 56 Your father Abraham u rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it v and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” J esus answered, “be fore Abraham was born, w I am!” x 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, y but Jesus hid himself, z slipping away from the temple grounds.
//Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
As he went a long, he saw a man b lind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, a who sinned, b this man c or his parents, d that he was born blind?”
8:52 Abraham died. Jesus’ assertion that anyone who keeps His word will never die (v. 51) prompted the Jews to offer a retort that once again revealed their thinking on strictly a literal and earthly level (see 3:4; 4:15). 8:56 Hebrews 11:13 indicates that Abraham saw Christ’s day (“saw them . . . from a distance”; see note there). Abraham particularly saw in the continuing seed of Isaac the beginning of God’s fulfilling the covenant (Ge 12:1–3; 15:1–21; 17:1–8; cf. 22:8) that would culminate in Christ. 8:58 Very truly. See note on 1:51. I am. See note on 6:22–58. Here Jesus declares Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the Lord of the OT. Basic to the expression are such passages as Ex 3:14; Dt 32:39; Isa 41:4; 43:10 where God declared Himself to be the eternally preexistent God who revealed Himself in the OT to the Jews. See also notes on vv. 24, 28. 8:59 they picked up stones. The Jews understood Jesus’ claim and followed Lev 24:16, which indicates that any man who falsely claims to be God should be stoned. hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. Jesus repeatedly escaped arrest and death because His hour had not yet come (see notes on 7:8, 30). The verse most likely indicates escape by miraculous means. 9:1–13 Jesus performed a miracle by re-creating the eyes of a man who was born with congenital blindness (v. 1). Four features highlight this healing: 1) the problem that precipitated the healing (v. 1); 2) the purpose for the man’s being born blind (vv. 2–5); 3) the power that healed him (vv. 6, 7); and 4) the perplexity of the people who saw the healing (vv. 8–13). 9:2 who sinned. While sin may be a cause of suffering, as clearly indicated in Scripture (see 5:14; Nu 12; 1Co 11:30; Jas 5:15), it is not always the case necessarily (see Job; 2Co 12:7; Gal 4:13). Like most first-century Jews, the disciples thought that sin was the
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John 9:3 3 “Nei ther this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God m ight be displayed in him. e 4 As long as it f is day, we must do the w orks of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” g 6 After saying this, he spit h on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” i (this word m eans “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. j 8 His neigh bors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” k 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call J esus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and w ashed, and then I could see.” l
9:3 e Jn 11:4 9:4 f Jn 11:9; 12:35 9:5 g Jn 1:4; 8:12;
12:46 9:6 h Mk 7:33; 8:23 9:7 i ver 11; 2Ki 5:10; Lk 13:4 j Isa 35:5; Jn 11:37 9:8 k Ac 3:2, 10 9:11 l ver 7
9:14 m Jn 5:9 9:15 n ver 10 9:16 o Mt 12:2
p Jn 6:52; 7:43; 10:19 9:17 q Mt 21:11 9:18 r Jn 1:19
primary, if not exclusive, cause of all suffering. In this instance, however, Jesus made it clear that personal sin was not the reason for the blindness (see v. 3). 9:3 Jesus did not deny the general connection between sin and suffering, but refuted the idea that personal acts of sin were the direct cause. God’s sovereignty and purposes play a part in such matters, as is clear from Job 1, 2. 9:4 As long as it is day. Jesus meant as long as He was still on earth with His disciples. The phrase does not imply that Christ somehow ceased to be the light of the world once He ascended, but that the light shone most brightly among men when He was on the earth doing the Father’s will (cf. 8:12). Night is coming. See notes on 1:4, 5; 1Jn 1:5–7. The darkness has special reference to the period when Jesus was taken from His disciples during His crucifixion (v. 5). 9:5 I am the light of the world. See note on 8:12; cf. 1:5, 9; 3:19; 12:35, 46. Not only was Jesus spiritually the light of the world, but He would also provide the means of physical light for this blind man. 9:6 made some mud with the saliva. As He had done when He originally made human beings out of the dust of the ground (Ge 2:7), Jesus may have used the clay to fashion a new pair of eyes. 9:7 wash in the Pool of Siloam. The term “Siloam” is Heb. for “Sent.” The Pool of Siloam was SE of the original City of David. Water flowed into it from the spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley by way of Hezekiah’s tunnel. It may be identified with the “lower pool” or “old pool” mentioned in Isa 22:9, 11. Water for the waterpouring rites at the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths, was drawn from this pool (see notes on 7:37–39). 9:8, 9 In ancient times, such severe physical deformities as congenital blindness sentenced a person to begging as the only means of support (see Ac 3:1–7). The drastic change in the healed man caused many to faithlessly believe that he was not the person born blind.
is this man?” they a sked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
//The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been b lind. 14 Now the day on w hich Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. m 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his s ight. n “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” o But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such s igns?” So they were divided. p 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” q 18 They r still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they
9:13–34 This section in the story of the healing of the blind man reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief: 1) unbelief sets false standards; 2) unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough; 3) unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis; 4) unbelief rejects the facts; and 5) unbelief is self-centered. John included this section on the dialogue of the Pharisees with the blind man most likely for two reasons: 1) the dialogue carefully demonstrates the character of willful and fixed unbelief, and 2) the story confirms the first great schism between the synagogue and Christ’s new followers. The blind man was the first known person thrown out of the synagogue because he chose to follow Christ (see 16:1–3). 9:13 They. This has reference to the blind man’s “neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging” (v. 8). to the Pharisees. The people brought the blind man to the Pharisees most likely because the miracle had happened on the Sabbath (v. 14), and they were aware that the Pharisees reacted negatively to those who violated the Sabbath (cf. 5:1–15). The people also wanted advice from their local synagogue and religious leaders. 9:16 not from God. The reasoning may have been that since Jesus violated their interpretation of the Sabbath law, He could not be the promised Prophet of God (Dt 13:1–5). divided. Earlier the crowds were divided in opinion regarding Jesus (7:40–43); here the authorities also became divided. 9:17 He is a prophet. While the blind man saw clearly that Jesus was more than a mere man, the sighted but obstinate Pharisees were spiritually blind to that truth (see v. 39). Blindness in the Bible is a metaphor for spiritual darkness, i.e., inability to discern God or His truth (2Co 4:3–6; Col 1:12–14). 9:18 sent for the man’s parents. While neighbors may have been mistaken about the man’s identity, the parents would know if this was their own son. The authorities considered the witness of the healed man worthless.
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a sked. “Is this the one you say was born b lind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the par ents an swered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will s peak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, s who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out t of the synagogue. u 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” v 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” w they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” x 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already y and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! z 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” a
9:22 s Jn 7:13 t ver 34;
Lk 6:22 16:2 9:23 v ver 21 9:24 w Jos 7:19 x ver 16 9:27 y ver 15 9:28 z Jn 5:45 9:29 a Jn 8:14 u Jn 12:42;
30 The man an swered, “Now that is remark able! You d on’t know where he comes from, yet he o pened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly per son who does his will. b 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born b lind. 33 If this man were not from God, c he could do nothing.” 34 To this they re plied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; d how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. e
9:31 b Ge 18:23‑32;
Ps 34:15, 16; 66:18; 145:19, 20; Pr 15:29; Isa 1:15; 59:1, 2; Jn 15:7; Jas 5:16‑18; 1Jn 5:14, 15 9:33 c ver 16; Jn 3:2 9:34 d ver 2 e ver 22, 35; Isa 66:5 9:36 f Ro 10:14 9:37 g Jn 4:26 9:38 h Mt 28:9 9:39 i Jn 5:22 j Jn 3:19 k Lk 4:18 l Mt 13:13 9:40 m Ro 2:19
9:24 Give glory to God. This means that the authorities wanted the man to own up and admit the truth that Jesus was a sinner because He violated their traditions and threatened their influence (cf. Jos 7:19). We know this man is a sinner. Enough unanimity existed among the religious authorities to conclude that Jesus was a sinner (cf. 8:46). Because of this already predetermined opinion, they refused to accept any of the testimony that a miracle had actually taken place. 9:27 In order to forcefully emphasize their hypocrisy, the healed man resorted to biting sarcasm when he suggested they desired to be Jesus’ disciples. 9:28 You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! At this point, the meeting degenerated into a shouting match of insults. The healed man’s wit had exposed the bias of his inquisitors. As far as the authorities were concerned, the conflict between Jesus and Moses was irreconcilable. If the healed man defended Jesus, then such defense could only mean that he was Jesus’ disciple. 9:30 The healed man demonstrated more spiritual insight and common sense than all of the religious authorities combined who sat in judgment of J esus and him. His penetrating wit focused in on their intractable unbelief. His logic was that such an extraordinary miracle could only indicate that Jesus was from God, for the Jews believed that God responds in proportion to the righteousness of the one praying (see Job 27:9; 35:13; Pss 66:18; 109:7; Pr 15:29; Isa 1:15; cf. 14:13, 14; 16:23–27; 1Jn 3:21, 22). The greatness of the miracle could only indicate that Jesus was actually from God. 9:34 how dare you lecture us! The Pharisees were incensed with the man, and their anger prevented them from seeing the penetrating insight that the uneducated, healed man had demonstrated.
35 Jesus h eard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man a sked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” f 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” g 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. h 39 Jesus said, a “For judgment i I have come into this world, j so that the blind will see k and those who see will become blind.” l 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” m a 38,39 Some early manuscripts do not have Then the man said . . . 39Jesus said.
The phrase also revealed their ignorance of Scripture, for the OT indicated that the coming messianic age would be evidenced by restoration of sight to the blind (Isa 29:18; 35:5; 42:7; cf. Mt 11:4, 5; Lk 4:18, 19). 9:35–41 While vv. 1–34 dealt with Jesus’ restoration of physical sight in the blind man, vv. 35–41 featured Jesus bringing spiritual “sight” to him. 9:35 Do you believe . . . ? Jesus invited the man to put his trust in Him as the One who revealed God to man. Jesus placed great emphasis on public acknowledgment of who He was and confession of faith in Him (Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8). Son of Man. Cf. 1:51; 3:13, 14; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28. 9:36 sir. Since the blind man had never seen Jesus (v. 7) nor met Him since he went to wash in the pool, he did not recognize Jesus at first as the One who healed him. 9:38 Lord. The Gr. word translated “sir” in v. 36 is the same word translated “Lord” here. At first, the blind man spoke to Christ out of respect; however, in v. 38 he spoke to the “Son of Man” (v. 35) as Messiah. 9:39 For judgment. Not that His purpose was to condemn, but rather to save (12:47; Lk 19:10); saving some, nevertheless, involves condemning others (see notes on 3:16, 18). The last part of this verse is taken from Isa 6:10; 42:19 (cf. Mk 4:12). the blind. Those people who know they are in spiritual darkness. those who see. Refers in an ironic way to those who think they are in the light, but are not (cf. Mk 2:17; Lk 5:31). 9:40 Are we blind too? Apparently Jesus found (v. 35) the man in a public place, where the Pharisees were present listening.
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John 9:41 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you c laim you can see, your guilt remains. n
9:41 n Jn 15:22, 24 10:2 o ver 11, 14 10:3 p ver 4, 5, 14, 16, 27
10:6 q Jn 16:25
//The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the s heep pen by the gate, but c limbs in by some other way, is a t hief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. o 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. p He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on a head of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not rec ognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, q but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
10:8 r Jer 23:1, 2 10:11 s ver 14;
Isa 40:11; Eze 34:11‑16, 23; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 5:4; Rev 7:17 t Jn 15:13; 1Jn 3:16 10:12 u Zec 11:16, 17 10:14 v ver 11 w ver 27
9:41 your guilt remains. Jesus had particular reference to the sin of unbelief and rejection of Him as Messiah and Son of God. If they knew their lostness and darkness and cried out for spiritual light, they would no longer be guilty of the sin of unbelief in Christ. But satisfied that their darkness was light, and continuing in rejection of Christ, their sin remained. See note on Mt 6:22, 23. 10:1–39 Jesus’ discourse on Himself as the “good shepherd” flowed directly from chap. 9, as Jesus continued to talk to the very same people. The problem of chap. 9 was that Israel was led by false shepherds who drew them astray from the true knowledge and kingdom of Messiah (9:39–41). In chap. 10, Jesus declared Himself to be the “good shepherd” who was appointed by His Father as Savior and King, in contrast to the false shepherds of Israel who were self-appointed and self-righteous (Ps 23:1; Isa 40:11; Jer 3:15; cf. Isa 56:9–12; Jer 23:1–4; 25:32–38; Eze 34:1– 31; Zec 11:16). 10:1 sheep pen. J esus spoke in vv. 1–30 using a lengthy illustration drawn from the tending of sheep. The sheep were kept in a pen, which had a gate through which the sheep entered and departed. The shepherd engaged a “gatekeeper” (v. 3) or “hired hand” (v. 12) as an undershepherd to guard the gate. But those who wanted to steal or harm the sheep would attempt entrance by another way. The words of Eze 34 most likely form the background to Jesus’ teaching since God decried the false shepherds of Israel (i.e., the spiritual leaders of the nation) for not caring properly for the flock of Israel (i.e., the nation). The gospels themselves contain extensive sheep/shepherd imagery (see Mt 9:36; Mk 6:34; 14:27; Lk 15:1–7). 10:3 The gatekeeper. The gatekeeper was a hired undershepherd who recognized the true shepherd of the flock, opened the gate for Him, assisted the shepherd in caring for the flock, and especially guarded them at night. the sheep listen to his voice. Near Eastern shepherds stand at different locations outside the sheep pen, sounding out their own unique calls that their sheep recognize. As a result, the sheep gather around the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name. This shepherd goes even further by calling each sheep by its own special name. Jesus’ point is that He comes to the fold of Israel and calls out those who belong to Him. In some way, they are already His sheep before He calls them by name (see vv. 25–27; 6:37, 39, 44, 64, 65; 17:6, 9, 24; 18:9).
7 Therefore J esus said a gain, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me r are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. a They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. s The good shep herd lays down his life for the sheep. t 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. u Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; v I know my s heep w and my sheep know me — 15 just as the Father a 9 Or kept
10:4, 5 In contrast to Western shepherds who drive their flocks from behind, Near Eastern shepherds lead their sheep, using their voice to prompt the sheep to follow. NT spiritual leadership is always by example, i.e., a call to imitate conduct (cf. 1Ti 4:12; 1Pe 5:1–3). 10:6 figure of speech. This phrase conveys the idea that something cryptic or enigmatic is intended in it. It occurs again in 16:25, 29 but not in the Synoptics. Having given the illustration (vv. 1–5), Jesus then began to draw salient spiritual truth from it. 10:7–10 I am the gate. This is the third of seven “I am” statements of Jesus (see 6:35; 8:12). Here, He changes the metaphor slightly. While in vv. 1–5 He was the shepherd, here He is the gate. While in vv. 1–5, the shepherd led the sheep out of the sheep pen, here He is the entrance to the pen (v. 9) that leads to proper pasture. This section echoes Jesus’ words in 14:6 that He is the only way to the Father. His point is that He serves as the sole means to approach the Father and partake of God’s promised salvation. As some Near Eastern shepherds slept in the gateway to guard the sheep, Jesus here pictures Himself as the gate. 10:9, 10 These two verses are a proverbial way of insisting that belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God is the only way of being “saved” from sin and hell and receiving eternal life. Only Jesus Christ is the one true source for the knowledge of God and the one basis for spiritual security. 10:11–1 8 Jesus picked up another expression from vv. 1–5, i.e., He is the “good shepherd” in contrast to the present evil leadership of Israel (9:40, 41). This is the fourth of seven “I am” statements of Jesus (see vv. 7, 9; 6:35; 8:12). The term “good” has the idea of “noble” and stands in contrast to the “hired hand” who cares only for self-interest. 10:11 lays down his life for the sheep. This is a reference to J esus’ substitutionary death for sinners on the cross. Cf. v. 15; 6:51; 11:50, 51; 17:19; 18:14. 10:12 sees the wolf coming . . . runs away. The hired hand likely represents religious leaders who pretend to care for the flock in good times but who abandon the sheep when danger comes. They stand in contrast to Jesus, who laid down His life for His flock (see 15:13).
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knows me and I know the Father x — and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep y that are not of this s heep pen. I must b ring them also. They too will listen to my v oice, and t here shall be one flock z and one shepherd. a 17 The rea son my Father loves me is that I lay down my life b — only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. c I have authorit y to lay it down and authority to take it up a gain. This command I received from my Father.” d 19 The Jews who h eard t hese w ords were a gain divided. e 20 Many of them said, “He is demonpossessed f and raving mad. g Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. h Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” i
//Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims 22 Then came the Festival of Dedication a at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. j 24 The Jews k who were there gathered around
10:15 x Mt 11:27 10:16 y Isa 56:8 z Jn 11:52;
Eph 2:11‑19 a Eze 37:24; 1Pe 2:25 10:17 b ver 11, 15, 18 10:18 c Mt 26:53 d Jn 15:10; Php 2:8; Heb 5:8 10:19 e Jn 7:43; 9:16 10:20 f Jn 7:20 g Mk 3:21 10:21 h Mt 4:24 i Ex 4:11; Jn 9:32, 33 10:23 j Ac 3:11; 5:12 10:24 k Jn 1:19
l Jn 16:25, 29
10:25 m Jn 8:58 n Jn 5:36
10:26 o Jn 8:47 10:27 p ver 14 q ver 4
10:28 r Jn 6:39 10:29 s Jn 17:2, 6, 24 t Jn 14:28 10:30 u Jn 17:21‑23 10:31 v Jn 8:59 10:33 w Lev 24:16; Jn 5:18 10:34 x Jn 8:17; Ro 3:19 y Ps 82:6
10:16 not of this sheep pen. This refers to Gentiles who will respond to His voice and become a part of the church (cf. Ro 1:16). Jesus’ death was not only for Jews (see notes on vv. 1, 3), but also for non-Jews whom He will make into one new body, the church (see notes on 11:51, 52; cf. Eph 2:11–22). 10:17, 18 take it up again. Jesus repeated this phrase twice in these two verses, indicating that His sacrificial death was not the end. His resurrection followed in demonstration of His messiahship and deity (Ro 1:4). His death and resurrection resulted in His ultimate glorification (12:23; 17:5) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (7:37–39; cf. Ac 2:16–39). 10:19–21 The Jews once again had a mixed reaction to Jesus’ words (see 7:12, 13). While some charged Him with demon possession (see 7:20; 8:48; cf. Mt 12:22–32), others concluded His works and words were a demonstration of God’s sanction upon Him. 10:22, 23 Festival of Dedication. The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which celebrates the Israelite victory over the Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes, who persecuted Israel. In ca. 170 b.c. he conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up a pagan altar to displace the altar of God. Under the leadership of an old priest named Mattathias (his family name was called the Hasmoneans), the Jews fought guerrilla warfare (known as the Maccabean Revolt—166–142 b.c.) against Syria and freed the temple and the land from Syrian dominance until 63 b.c. when Rome (Pompey) took control of the region. It was in 164 b.c. on 25 Kislev (Dec. approximately), that the Jews liberated the temple and rededicated it. The celebration is also known as the “Festival of Lights” on account of the lamps and candles lit to commemorate the event in Jewish homes. It was winter. John indicates by this phrase that the cold weather drove Jesus to walk on the eastern side of the temple in the sheltered area of Solomon’s porch, which after the resurrection became the regular gathering place of Christians where they would proclaim the gospel (see Ac 3:11; 5:12). 10:24 tell us plainly. In light of the context of vv. 31–39, the Jews
him, saying, “How long will you keep us in sus pense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” l 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, m but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, n 26 but you do not believe be cause you are not my sheep. o 27 My sheep listen to my v oice; I know them, p and they follow me. q 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. r 29 My Father, who has given them to me, s is great er than all b; t no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” u 31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up s tones to stone him, v 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of t hese do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” w 34 Jesus an swered them, “Is it not written in your Law, x ‘I have said you are “gods” ’ c ? y 35 If he a 22 That
is, Hanukkah b 29 Many early manuscripts What my Father has given me is greater than all c 34 Psalm 82:6
were not seeking merely for clarity and understanding regarding who Jesus was, but rather wanted Him to declare openly that He was Messiah in order to justify attacking Him. 10:26, 27 This clearly indicates that God has chosen His sheep and it is they who believe and follow (see notes on vv. 3, 16; cf. 6:37–40, 44, 65). 10:28, 29 J esus’ sheep are secure because he is the Good Shepherd, who has . . . them safe. Neither thieves and robbers (vv. 1, 8) nor the wolf (v. 12) can harm them. Verse 29 makes clear that the Father ultimately stands behind the sheep’s security, for no one is able to steal from God, who is in sovereign control of all things (Col 3:3). See notes on Ro 8:31–39. No stronger passage in the OT or NT exists for the absolute, eternal security of every true Christian. 10:30 I and the Father are one. Both Father and Son are committed to the perfect protection and preservation of Jesus’ sheep. The sentence, stressing the united purpose and action of both in the security and safety of the flock, presupposes unity of nature and essence (see 5:17–23; 17:22). 10:31 For the third time John records that the Jews attempted to stone Jesus (see 5:18; 8:59). Jesus’ assertion (v. 30) that He was One with the Father affirmed His claim to deity and caused the Jews to seek His execution (v. 33). Although the OT permitted stoning in certain instances (e.g., Lev 24:16), the Romans reserved the right of capital punishment for themselves (18:31). Nevertheless, out-of-control Jews attempted a mob action in lieu of legal proceedings (see Ac 7:54–60). 10:33 you . . . claim to be God. There was no doubt in the minds of those Jews that Jesus was claiming to be God (cf. 5:18). 10:34–36 Quoted from Ps 82:6 where God calls some unjust judges “gods” and pronounces calamity against them. Jesus’ argument is that this is an argument from the lesser to the greater. If mere men could, in some sense, be referred to as “gods,” why would anyone object to the Son of God Himself being called by that title?
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c alled them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart z as his very own a and sent into the world? b Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? c 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. d 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and un derstand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” e 39 Again they t ried to s eize him, f but he escaped their grasp. g 40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan h to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he s tayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, i all that John said about this man was true.” j 42 And in that p lace many be lieved in Jesus. k
10:36 z Jer 1:5
a Jn 6:69 b Jn 3:17 c Jn 5:17, 18
d ver 25;
Jn 15:24 10:38 e Jn 14:10, 11, 20; 17:21 10:39 f Jn 7:30 g Lk 4:30; Jn 8:59 10:40 h Jn 1:28 10:41 i Jn 2:11; 3:30 j Jn 1:26, 27, 30, 34 10:42 k Jn 7:31
11:1 l Mt 21:17 m Lk 10:38
11:2 n Mk 14:3; Lk 7:38; Jn 12:3 11:3 o ver 5, 36 11:4 p ver 40; Jn 9:3 11:7 q Jn 10:40 11:8 r Mt 23:7 s Jn 8:59; 10:31
10:35 Scripture cannot be set aside. An affirmation of the absolute accuracy and authority of Scripture (see notes on Mt 5:17–19). 10:38 believe the works. Jesus did not expect to be believed merely on His own assertions. Since He did the same things that the Father does (see notes on 5:19), His enemies should consider this in their evaluation of Him. The implication is, however, that they were so ignorant of God that they could not recognize the works of the Father or the One whom the Father sent (see also 14:10, 11). 10:40 Jesus went back across the Jordan. Because of the increasing hostility (see v. 39), Jesus went from the region of Judea into the unpopulated area across the Jordan. to the place where John had been baptizing. Cf. Mt 3:1–6; Mk 1:2–6; Lk 3:3–6. This is probably a reference to either Perea or Batanea, the general area in the tetrarchy of Philip in the E and NE of the Sea of Galilee. The statement is ironic, since the area where John first began became the last area in which Jesus stayed before He left for Jerusalem and crucifixion. The people remembered John’s testimony to Christ and affirmed their faith in Him (vv. 41, 42). 11:1—12:50 The previous passage (10:40–42) marked the end of John’s treatment of Jesus’ public ministry. At that point, He began to move into seclusion and minister to His own disciples and those who loved Him as He prepared to face death. Israel had her day of opportunity; the sun was setting and the night was coming. These two chapters form the transition to chaps. 13–21, which record the passion of Christ, i.e., the events surrounding the cross. 11:1–57 As chap. 11 begins, Jesus stands in the shadow of facing the cross. The little time that He had in the area beyond the Jordan (cf. Mt 19:1—20:34; Mk 10:1–52; Lk 17:11—19:28) would soon come to an end. John picked up the story (vv. 55–57) after He moved back into the area of Jerusalem, and His death on the cross was only a few days away. In those last few days before His death, the scene in John’s gospel changes from hatred and rejection (10:39) to an unmistakable and blessed witness of the glory of Christ. All the rejection and hatred could not dim His glory as displayed through the resurrection of Lazarus. That miracle evidences His glory in three ways: 1) it pointed to His deity; 2) it strengthened the faith of the disciples; and 3) it led directly to the cross (12:23). The chapter can be divided as follows: 1) the preparation for the miracle (vv. 1–16); 2) the arrival of J esus (vv. 17–36); 3) the miracle itself (vv. 37–44); and 4) the results of the miracle (vv. 45–57).
//The Death of Lazarus
Now a man n amed Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, l the village of Mary and her sister Martha. m 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and w iped his feet with her hair.) n 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love o is sick.” 4 When he h eard this, Jesus said, “This sick ness will not end in d eath. No, it is for G od’s glo ry p so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” q 8 “But Rabbi,” r they said, “a s hort w hile ago the Jews there tried to stone you, s and yet you are going back?”
11:1 Lazarus. The resurrection of Lazarus is the climactic and most dramatic sign in this gospel and the capstone of His public ministry. Six miracles have already been presented (water into wine [2:1– 11], healing of the royal official’s son [4:46–54], restoring the lame man [5:1–15], multiplying the loaves and fishes [6:1–14], walking on the water [6:15–21], and curing the man born blind [9:1–12]). Lazarus’s resurrection is more potent than all those and even more monumental than the raising of the widow’s son in Nain (Lk 7:11– 16) or Jairus’s daughter (Lk 8:40–56) because those two resurrections occurred immediately after death. Lazarus was raised after four days of being in the grave with the process of decomposition already having started (v. 39). Bethany. This Bethany is different from the other “Bethany on the other side of the Jordan” in 1:28 (see note there). It lies on the E side of the Mt. of Olives about two mi. from Jerusalem (v. 18) along the road leading toward Jericho. Mary . . . Martha. This is the first mention of this family in John. John relates the story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus in 12:1–8, but this reference may indicate that the original readers were already familiar with the event. Cf. Lk 10:38–42. 11:3 sent word to Jesus. Since Jesus was in the Transjordan and Lazarus was near Jerusalem, the message to Jesus would most likely have taken one whole day to reach Him. Surely by omniscience, Jesus already knew of Lazarus’s condition (see v. 6; 1:47). He may have died before the messenger reached Jesus, since he was dead four days (v. 17) when Jesus arrived, after a two-day delay (v. 6) and a one-day journey. the one you love. This phrase is a touching hint at the close friendship Jesus had with Lazarus. Cf. 13:1. 11:4 God’s Son may be glorified. This phrase reveals the real purpose behind Lazarus’s sickness, i.e., not death, but that the Son of God might be glorified through his resurrection (cf. v. 4; see note on 9:3). 11:6 he stayed where he was two more days. The decision to delay coming did not bring about Lazarus’s death, since Jesus already supernaturally knew his plight. Most likely by the time the messenger arrived to inform Jesus, Lazarus was already dead. The delay was because He loved the family (v. 5) and that love would be clear as He greatly strengthened their faith by raising Lazarus from the dead. The delay also made certain that no one would wrongly think Lazarus’ resurrection was merely a resuscitation, since he had been dead for so long. 11:7, 8 The disciples realized that the animosity toward Jesus was
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9 Jesus answered, “Are t here not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this w orld’s light. t 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 11 Af ter he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our f riend u Lazarus has fallen asleep; v but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he s leeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples t hought he m eant natu ral sleep. w 14 So then he told them plain ly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas x (also k nown as Didymus a ) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
11:9 t Jn 9:4; 12:35 11:11 u ver 3 v Ac 7:60
11:13 w Mt 9:24 11:16 x Mt 10:3;
Jn 14:5; 20:24‑28; 21:2; Ac 1:13
11:17 y ver 6, 39 11:18 z ver 1 11:19 a ver 31;
Job 2:11 11:20 b Lk 10:38‑42
//Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus 17 On
his arrival, Jesus found that Lazar us had already been in the tomb for four days. y 18 Now Bethany z was less than two miles b from Jerusa lem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of t heir broth eard that J esus was coming, er. a 20 When Martha h she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. b
11:21 c ver 32, 37 11:22 d ver 41, 42; Jn 9:31
11:24 e Da 12:2;
Jn 5:28, 29; Ac 24:15 11:25 f Jn 1:4 11:27 g Lk 2:11 h Mt 16:16 i Jn 6:14 11:28 j Mt 26:18; Jn 13:13 11:30 k ver 20 11:31 l ver 19
so great that His return could result in His death because of the murderous Jews (cf. 8:59; 10:31). 11:9, 10 During the light of the sun, most people did their work safely. When darkness came, they stopped. The proverbial saying, however, had a deeper meaning. As long as the Son performed His Father’s will (i.e., during the daylight period of His ministry when He is able to work), He was safe. The time would soon come (nighttime) when, by God’s design, His earthly work would end and He would “stumble” in death. Jesus was stressing that as long as He was on earth doing God’s will, even at this late time in His ministry, He would safely complete God’s purposes. 11:11–13 fallen asleep. A euphemistic term used in the NT to refer to death, particularly with reference to believers who will be physically raised to eternal life (cf. 1Co 11:30; 15:51; 1Th 4:13). 11:14, 15 The resurrection of Lazarus was designed to strengthen His disciples’ faith in Him as the Messiah and Son of God in the face of the strong Jewish rejection of Him. 11:16 Thomas’s words reflect loyal devotion and, at the same time, pessimism over the fact that they would probably all die. His fears were not unrealistic in the face of bitter hostility toward Jesus, and had not the Lord protected them in the garden (18:1–11), they may also have been arrested and executed. Cf. 20:24–29. 11:17 in the tomb. The term “tomb” means a stone sepulcher. In the eastern Mediterranean basin, such a grave was common. Either a cave or rock area would be hewn out, the floor inside leveled and graded to make a shallow descent. Shelves were cut out or constructed inside the area in order to bury additional family members.
John 11:31 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. c 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” d 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise a gain in the resurrection e at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. f The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, g the Son of God, h who is to come into the world.” i 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher j is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. k 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, l noticed how quick ly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. a 16
Thomas (Aramaic) and Didymus (Greek) both mean twin. 3 kilometers
b 18 Or about
A rock was rolled in front to prevent wild animals or grave robbers from entering (see also v. 38). The evangelist made special mention of the fourth day (see note on v. 3) in order to stress the magnitude of the miracle, for the Jews did not embalm and by then the body would have been in a state of rapid decomposition. 11:18, 19 The point is that the family was well-known in that area. The mention of the Jews also indicates the great risk that Jesus faced by travelling so close to Jerusalem, which was seething with the leaders’ hatred for Him. 11:21 if you had been here. Cf. v. 32. Not a rebuke of Jesus but a testimony of her trust in His healing power. 11:22 whatever you ask. Based on her statement in v. 39, Martha was not saying she believed Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, but that she knew He had a special relationship to God so that His prayers could bring some good from this sad event. 11:25, 26 This is the fifth in a series of seven great “I am” statements of Jesus (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14). With this statement, Jesus moved Martha from an abstract belief in the resurrection that will take place “on the last day” (cf. 5:28, 29) to a personalized trust in Him who alone can raise the dead. No resurrection or eternal life exists outside of the Son of God. Time (“on the last day”) is no barrier to the One who has the power of resurrection and life (1:4) for He can give life at any time. 11:27 she replied. Martha’s confession is representative of the very reason John wrote this inspired gospel (cf. 20:30, 31). See Peter’s confession in Mt 16:16.
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John 11:32 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” m 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come a long with her also weeping, he was deeply m oved n in spirit and troubled. o 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. p 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” q 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the b lind man r have kept this man from dying?” s
//Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead 38 Jesus,
once more deeply m oved, t came to the tomb. It was a cave with a s tone laid a cross the entrance. u 39 “Take away the s tone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time t here is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” v 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, w you will see the glory of God?” x 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus
11:32 m ver 21 11:33 n ver 38 o Jn 12:27
11:35 p Lk 19:41 11:36 q ver 3 11:37 r Jn 9:6, 7 s ver 21, 32
11:38 t ver 33 u Mt 27:60; Lk 24:2; Jn 20:1 11:39 v ver 17 11:40 w ver 23‑25 x ver 4
looked up y and said, “Father, z I thank you that you have h eard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the peo ple standing here, a that they may believe that you sent me.” b 43 When he had said this, Jesus c alled in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” c 44 The dead man came out, his h ands and feet w rapped with strips of linen, d and a cloth around his face. e Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
//The Plot to Kill Jesus
11:41 y Jn 17:1 z Mt 11:25
11:42 a Jn 12:30 b Jn 3:17
11:43 c Lk 7:14 11:44 d Jn 19:40 e Jn 20:7
11:45 f ver 19
g Jn 2:23 h Ex 14:31; Jn 7:31 11:47 i ver 57 j Mt 26:3 k Mt 5:22 l Jn 2:11 11:49 m Mt 26:3 n ver 51; Jn 18:13, 14
11:32 See note on v. 21. 11:33 saw . . . the Jews . . . weeping. According to Jewish custom, a poor family must pay for at least a couple of flute players and a professional mourner to weep for the dead. Because the family may have been well-to-do, a rather large group appears present. he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. The phrase here does not mean merely that Jesus was deeply touched or moved with sympathy at the sight. The Gr. term “deeply moved” points to personal indignation (see v. 38; cf. Mt 9:30; Mk 1:43; 14:5). Most likely Jesus was angered at the emotional grief of the people because it implicitly revealed unbelief in the resurrection and the temporary nature of death. The group was acting like pagans who had no hope (1Th 4:13). While grief is understandable, the group was acting in despair, thus indicating a tacit denial of the resurrection and the Scripture that promised it. Jesus may also have been angered because He was indignant at the pain and sorrow in death that sin brought into the human condition. 11:35 Jesus wept. The Gr. word here has the connotation of silently bursting into tears in contrast to the loud lament of the group (see v. 33). His tears here were not generated out of mourning, since He was to raise Lazarus, but out of grief for a fallen world entangled in sin-caused sorrow and death. He was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isa 53:3). 11:39 bad odor. Although Jews used aromatic spices, their custom was not to embalm the body but to use the spices to counteract the repulsive odors from decomposition. They would wrap the body in linen cloth, adding spice in the layers and folds. The Jews did not wrap the body tightly like Egyptian mummies, but rather loosely with the head wrapped separately. This is indicated by the fact that Lazarus could move out of the tomb before he was unwrapped (v. 44; cf. 20:7). 11:41, 42 Jesus’ prayer was not really a petition, but thanksgiving
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, f and had seen what Jesus did, g be lieved in him. h 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief p riests and the Pharisees i called j a meeting of the Sanhedrin. k “What are we accomplishing?” they a sked. “Here is this man performing many s igns. l 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, n amed Caiaphas, m who was high priest that year, n spoke up, “You know
to the Father. The reason for the miracle was to authenticate His claims to be the Messiah and Son of God. 11:43 This was a preview of the power to be fully displayed in the final resurrection when all the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and live (5:25, 28, 29). 11:45, 46 Jesus’ teaching and actions often divided the Jews (e.g., 6:14, 15; 7:10–13, 45–52). While some believed (cf. v. 40), others, apparently with malicious intent, informed the Pharisees of Jesus’ action. 11:47 called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Alerted by the Pharisees, a Sanhedrin committee consisting of chief priests (former high priests and members of high priestly families) and Pharisees, called the Sanhedrin to session. The Pharisees could not by themselves take any judicial action against Jesus. Though subject to Roman control, the Sanhedrin was the most powerful judicial body in Israel and exercised judicial, legislative, and executive powers at that time. In Jesus’ day, the Sanhedrin was predominantly Sadducees, including the chief priests. The Pharisees made up a vocal minority. While the Pharisees and Sadducees were often in conflict, their mutual hatred of Jesus united them into action. 11:48 the Romans will come. The Jews were not willing to believe in Jesus as the Son of God even though Lazarus had been raised. They feared that escalating messianic expectations could start a movement against Roman oppression and occupation that would cause the Romans to come and take away all their rights and freedoms. 11:49 Caiaphas. Caiaphas became high priest ca. a.d. 18, being appointed by the Roman prefect, Valerius Gratus. He was the sonin-law of Annas, who had previously functioned in that same position from ca. a.d. 7–14 and who exercised great influence over the office even after his tenure (see 18:12–14). Caiaphas retained his position until a.d. 36 when, along with Pontius Pilate, he was removed by the Romans. He took a leading part in the trial and
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nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is bet ter for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” o 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. p 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life. q 54 T heref ore J esus no long er m oved a bout publicly among the people of Judea. r Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, w here he stayed with his disciples. 55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Pass over, s many went up from the country to Jeru salem for their ceremonial cleansing t before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for J esus, u and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief p riests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
11:50 o Jn 18:14 11:52 p Isa 49:6;
Jn 10:16 11:53 q Mt 12:14 11:54 r Jn 7:1 11:55 s Ex 12:13, 23, 27; Mt 26:1, 2; Mk 14:1; Jn 13:1 t 2Ch 30:17, 18 11:56 u Jn 7:11
12:1 v Jn 11:55 w Mt 21:17
12:2 x Lk 10:38‑42 12:3 y Mk 14:3 z Jn 11:2
12:4 a Mt 10:4 12:6 b Jn 13:29
condemnation of Jesus. In his court or palace, the chief priests (Sadducees) and Pharisees assembled and “schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him” (see Mt 26:3, 4). 11:50 one man die for the people. He only meant that Jesus should be executed in order to spare their own positions and nation from Roman reprisals, but Caiaphas unwittingly used sacrificial, substitutionary language and prophesied the death of Christ for sinners. Cf. 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 2:24. 11:51 he prophesied. Caiaphas did not realize the implications of what he spoke. While he uttered blasphemy against Christ, God parodied his statement into truth (cf. Ps 76:10). The responsibility for the wicked meaning of his words belonged to Caiaphas, but God’s providence directed the choice of words so as to express the heart of God’s glorious plan of salvation (Ac 4:27, 28). He actually was used by God as a prophet because he was the high priest and originally the high priest was the means of God’s will being revealed (2Sa 15:27). 11:52 bring them together and make them one. In context, this had reference to believing Jews of the dispersion who would be regathered in Israel to share in the messianic kingdom (Isa 43:5; Eze 34:12). In a wider sense, this also anticipated the Gentile mission (see 12:32). As a result of Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, both Jew and Gentile have been made into one group, the church (Eph 2:11–18). 11:53 from that day on. The phrase indicates that their course of action toward J esus was then fixed. It remained only to accomplish it. Notice that Jesus was not arrested to be tried. He had already been judged guilty of blasphemy. The trial was a mere formality for a sentence already passed (Mk 14:1, 2). 11:54 Ephraim. This probably refers to the OT city of Ephron (see 2Ch 13:19). Its modern village name is Et-Taiyibeh, and it is located 4 mi. NE of Bethel and about 12 mi. from Jerusalem. The location was far enough away for temporary safety until the time of Passover (v. 55).
//Jesus Anointed at Bethany 12:1-8Ref —Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Lk 7:37-39
Six days before the Passover, v Jesus came to Bethany, w where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, x while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint a of pure nard, an expensive perfume; y she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. z And the house was filled with the fragrance of the per fume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscario t, who was later to betray him, a objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. b ” 6 He did not say this because he c ared a bout the poor but because he was a t hief; as keeper of the money bag, b he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her a lone,” Jesus replied. “It was in tended that she should save this perfume for a 3 Or about
0.5 liter b 5 Greek three hundred denarii
11:55 Passover. This is the third Passover mentioned in John (see 2:13; 6:4) and the last in Jesus’ earthly ministry at which His sacrificial death occurred. For the chronology of the Passover Week, see Introduction to Luke: Outline. 11:56 They kept looking for Jesus. The Jews who filled Jerusalem for Passover were wondering if Jesus would show Himself at this time and were actively seeking to find Him. The plot of the chief priests and Pharisees (see v. 47; 7:12) was known widely enough to pique their curiosity as to whether Jesus would dare show Himself in Jerusalem. 11:57 anyone who found out. The plotters ensured that the whole city was filled with potential informants. 12:1–50 This chapter focuses on the reactions of love and hate, belief and rejection toward Christ, leading to the cross. 12:1 Six days before the Passover. This most likely was the previous Saturday with Passover coming six days later on Thursday evening through sunset Friday. See Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. 12:3 a pint of pure nard. “Nard” was an oil extracted from the root of a plant grown in India. poured it on Jesus’ feet. The dinner guests were reclined at the table with their feet extended away from it, making it possible for Mary to anoint the feet of Jesus. The act symbolized Mary’s humble devotion and love for Him. 12:5 a year’s wages. See NIV footnote. Since one denarius was a day’s wage given to common laborers, 300 was equivalent to a year’s wages (no money was earned on the Sabbath or other holy days). 12:6 a thief. Judas’s altruism was really a front for his own personal avarice. Because he was the apostolic band’s treasurer, he was able to secretly pilfer the group treasury for his own desires. 12:7 save . . . for the day of my burial. Mary performed this act to signal her devotion but, as in the case of Caiaphas (11:49–52), her act revealed more than she realized at the time. During the first
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the day of my burial. c 8 You will always have the poor a mong you, a d but you will not always have me.” 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. e 10 So the c hief p riests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him f many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. g
12:7 c Jn 19:40 12:8 d Dt 15:11 12:9 e Jn 11:43, 44 12:11 f ver 17, 18; Jn 11:45 g Jn 7:31
12:13 h Ps 118:25,
26 i Jn 1:49
//Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King 12:12-15pp —Mt 21:4-9; Mk 11:7-10; Lk 19:35-38 12 The next day the g reat c rowd that had come for the festival h eard that J esus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna! b ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” c h “Blessed is the king of Israel!” i 14 Jesus
found a y oung donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
12:15 j Zec 9:9 12:16 k Mk 9:32 l Jn 2:22;
12:17 m Jn 11:42 12:18 n ver 11 12:19 o Jn 11:47, 48 12:20 p Jn 7:35;
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. k Only after J esus was glorified l did they re alize that t hese t hings had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17 Now the crowd that was with him m when he called Lazarus from the tomb and r aised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had h eard that he had per formed this sign, n went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharis ees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the w hole world has gone after him!” o
//Jesus Predicts His Death 20 Now
t here were some Greeks p among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaid a q in Gal ilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we w ould
a 8 See
d 15 Zech. 9:9
12:21 q Mt 11:21;
century, lavish sums were spent on funerals, which included costly perfumes to cover the smell of decay (see note on 11:39). 12:8 This does not mean that alms should not be distributed to the poor (Dt 15:11) but was a reminder that, while the poor would remain, Jesus would not always be with them. See Mt 26:11; Mk 14:7. 12:11 going over to . . . believing. This phrase signaled both a conscious, deliberate move away from the religion of the authorities and a move toward genuine faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. 12:12–1 9 This section marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is one of the few incidents in Jesus’ life reported in all four gospels (Mt 21:1–11; Mk 11:1–11; Lk 19:29–38). By this action, He presented Himself officially to the nation as the Messiah and Son of God. The Sanhedrin and other Jewish leaders wanted Him dead but did not want Him killed during the Passover time because they feared stirring up the multitudes with whom He was popular (Mt 26:5; Mk 14:2; Lk 22:2). Jesus entered the city, however, on His own time and forced the whole issue in order that it might happen exactly on the Passover day when the lambs were being sacrificed. As the Scripture says, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1Co 5:7). In God’s perfect timing (see 7:30; 8:20), at the precise time foreordained from eternity, He presented Himself to die (v. 23; 10:17, 18; 17:1; 19:10, 11; cf. Ac 2:23; 4:27, 28; Gal 4:4). 12:12 The next day. The day after the crowds came to visit Him and Lazarus in Bethany (cf. 12:9). Jesus arrived in Bethany on Saturday (see note on 12:1). Then on Sunday a great number of Jews visited Him, angering the Jewish leaders (12:9–11). It would not have been until the following day (Monday) that Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem through the East Gate of the city. 12:13 took palm branches. The supply of date palms was plentiful; they still grow in Jerusalem today. The waving of palm branches
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” d j
Deut. 15:11. b 13 A Hebrew expression meaning “Save!” which became an exclamation of praise c 13 Psalm 118:25,26
had become a symbol of the fervent hope that the Messiah had come (6:14, 15). Hosanna! The term “hosanna” is a transliteration of a Heb. word that means “give salvation now.” It was a term of acclamation or praise occurring in Ps 118:25 that was familiar to every Jew, since that psalm was part of the Hallel (Pss 113–118) sung each morning by the temple choir during the Festival of Tabernacles (7:37) and associated with the Festival of Dedication (10:22) and especially the Passover. After shouting out the “Hosanna,” the crowds shouted Ps 118:26; significantly, the original context of Ps 118 may well have been the pronouncement of blessing upon a Messianic leader. Jewish commentaries have understood the verse to bear messianic implications. “He who comes in the name of the Lord” refers to Messiah, especially in context with the phrase “the king of Israel,” though that messianic title is not from Ps 118. 12:14, 15 The Synoptic Gospels give more information here regarding Jesus’ selection of a young donkey (see Mt 21:1–9; Mk 11:1–10; Lk 19:29–38). They convey the fact that Jesus deliberately planned to present Himself to the nation in this manner as a conscious fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Zec 9:9 (quoted here). The words “Do not be afraid” are not found in the Zechariah passage but were added from Isa 40:9. Only after His ascension did the disciples grasp the meaning of the triumphal entry (cf. 14:26). 12:19 the whole world has gone after him. “The whole world” means the people in general, as opposed to everyone in particular. Clearly, most people in the world did not even know of Jesus at that time, and many in Israel did not believe in Him. Often, “world” is used in this general sense (v. 47; 1:29; 3:17; 4:42; 14:22; 17:9, 21). 12:20, 21 Most likely Gentile proselytes to Judaism who had come up for the Passover and who, in their desire to see Jesus, stood in direct antithesis to the attitude of the national leaders who desired to kill Him. At the very moment when the Jewish authorities plotted virulently to kill Him, Gentiles began to desire His attention.
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like to see J esus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told J esus. 23 Jesus re plied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. r 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of w heat falls to the ground and dies, s it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it t for eter nal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. u My Fa ther will honor the one who s erves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, v and what shall I say? ‘Father, w save me from this hour’? x No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, y “I have glo rified it, and will glorify it a gain.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, z not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on orld b will be this world; a now the p rince of this w driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up a from the earth, c will draw all people to myself.” d 33 He said this to show the kind of d eath he was going to die. e 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, f so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man g must be lifted up’? h Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
12:23 r Jn 13:32; 17:1
12:24 s 1Co 15:36 12:25 t Mt 10:39; Mk 8:35; Lk 14:26
12:26 u Jn 14:3; 17:24; 2Co 5:8; 1Th 4:17
12:27 v Mt 26:38, 39; Jn 11:33, 38; 13:21 w Mt 11:25
x ver 23
12:28 y Mt 3:17 12:30 z Jn 11:42 12:31 a Jn 16:11
b Jn 14:30; 16:11; 2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2; 1Jn 4:4 12:32 c ver 34; Jn 3:14; 8:28 d Jn 6:44 12:33 e Jn 18:32 12:34 f Ps 110:4; Isa 9:7; Eze 37:25; Da 7:14 g Mt 8:20 h Jn 3:14
John 12:42 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light i just a little while longer. Walk w hile you have the light, j before darkness overtakes you. k Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the l ight, so that you may become chil dren of light.” l When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. m
//Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews 37 Even after Jesus had performed so many s igns n in t heir presence, they s till w ould not be lieve in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isa iah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” b o 39 For this reason they c ould not believe, be cause, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
j Eph 5:8 k 1Jn 2:11
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn — and I would heal them.” c p
m Jn 8:59
12:35 i ver 46
12:36 l Lk 16:8
12:37 n Jn 2:11 12:38 o Isa 53:1; Ro 10:16
12:40 p Isa 6:10; Mt 13:13, 15
12:41 q Isa 6:1‑4 r Lk 24:27
12:23 hour. Refers to the time of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and exaltation (v. 27; 13:1; 17:1). Up to this point, Jesus’ hour had always been future (2:4; 4:21, 23; 7:30; 8:20). Son of Man. See note on 1:51. 12:24 As the sown kernel dies to bring forth a rich harvest, so also the death of the Son of God will result in the salvation of many. 12:25, 26 Not only is the principle of death applicable to J esus (see v. 24) but it is also applicable to His followers. They, too, as His disciples may have to lose their life in service and witness for Him (see Mt 10:37–39; 16:24, 25). 12:27 my soul is troubled. The term used here is strong and signifies horror, anxiety, and agitation. Jesus’ contemplation of taking on the wrath of God for the sins of the world caused revulsion in the sinless Savior (cf. 2Co 5:21). 12:28 glorify your name. This request embodied the principle that Jesus lived by and would die by. See 7:18; 8:29, 50. I have . . . and will glorify. The Father answered the Son in an audible voice. This is only one of three instances during Jesus’ ministry when this took place (cf. Mt 3:17—His baptism; 17:5—His transfiguration).
said this because he saw J esus’ glory q and spoke about him. r 42 Yet at the same time many even among
The Greek for lifted up also means exalted. b 38 Isaiah 53:1
c 40 Isaiah 6:10
12:34 remain forever. The term “Law” was used broadly enough to include not only the five books of Moses but also the whole of the OT (see Ro 10:4). Perhaps they had in mind Isa 9:7, which promised that Messiah’s kingdom would last forever, or Eze 37:25 where God promised that the final David would be Israel’s prince forever (see also Ps 89:35–37). 12:35, 36 Jesus told them. A final invitation from Jesus was recorded by John to focus on his theme of believing in the Messiah and Son of God (see 20:30, 31). 12:37–40 In these verses, John gives the scriptural explanation for such large-scale, catastrophic unbelief on the part of the Jewish nation. The explanation was that the unbelief was not only foreseen in Scripture but necessitated by it. In v. 38, John quotes Isa 53:1 and in v. 40 he quotes Isa 6:10 (see Ro 10:16), both of which stress the sovereign plan of God in His judicial hardening of Israel (cf. Paul’s argument in Ro 9–11). Although God predestined such judgment, it was not apart from human responsibility and culpability (see 8:24).
12:31 the prince of this world. A reference to Satan (see 14:30; 16:11; cf. Mt 4:8, 9; Lk 4:6, 7; 2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2; 6:12). Although the cross might have appeared to signal Satan’s victory over God, in reality it marked Satan’s defeat (cf. Ro 16:20; Heb 2:14).
12:41 Isaiah . . . saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. This is a reference to Isaiah 6:1 (see notes there). John unambiguously ties Jesus to God or Yahweh of the OT (see note on 8:58). Therefore, since v. 41 refers to Jesus, it makes Him the author of the judicial hardening of Israel. That fits His role as Judge (see 5:22, 23, 27, 30; 9:39).
12:32 lifted up from the earth. This refers to His crucifixion (v. 33; 18:32). See note on 3:14.
12:42, 43 The indictment of vv. 37–41 is followed by the exceptions of vv. 42, 43 (see 1:10, 11 vs. 1:12, 13). While the people
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the leaders believed in him. s But because of the Pharisees t they w ould not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; u 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. v 44 Then J esus c ried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. w 45 The one who looks at me is see ing the one who sent me. x 46 I have come into the world as a light, y so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 “If anyone hears my w ords but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. z 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my w ords; the very w ords I have spoken will condemn them a at the last day. 49 For I did not s peak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me b to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eter nal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
//Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
It was just before the Passover Festival. c Jesus knew that the hour had come d for him to leave this w orld and go to the Father. e
12:42 s ver 11; Jn 7:48 t Jn 7:13 u Jn 9:22 12:43 v Jn 5:44 12:44 w Mt 10:40; Jn 5:24 12:45 x Jn 14:9 12:46 y Jn 1:4; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5 12:47 z Jn 3:17 12:48 a Jn 5:45 12:49 b Jn 14:31 13:1 c Jn 11:55 d Jn 12:23 e Jn 16:28
13:3 f Mt 28:18 g Jn 8:42; 16:27, 28, 30 13:5 h Lk 7:44 13:7 i ver 12 13:10 j Jn 15:3
seemed to trust Jesus with much more candor and fervency, the leaders of Israel who believed in Him demonstrated inadequate, irresolute, even spurious faith (see note on 2:23–25). The faith of the latter was so weak that they refused to take any position that would threaten their position in the synagogue. This is one of the saddest statements about spiritual leadership, for they preferred the praises of men above the praises of God in their refusal to publicly acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. 13:1—17:16 In these remaining chapters before His crucifixion, the record looks at Jesus’ devoting Himself to His own disciples. While chaps. 1–12 center on the rejection of Jesus by the nation (cf. 1:11), chaps. 13–17 center on those who did receive Him (see 1:12). Beginning in chap. 13, Jesus moved completely away from public ministry to private ministry with those who had received Him. Chapters 13–17 were spoken by Jesus as a farewell on the night of His betrayal and arrest to communicate His coming legacy to His followers (chaps. 13–16) and pray for them (chap. 17). The cross was only one day away. 13:1 to the end. Meaning “to perfection” with perfect love. God loves the world (3:16) and sinners (3:16; Mt 5:44, 45; Titus 3:4) with compassion and common grace, but loves His own with perfect, saving, eternal love. 13:2 evening meal. Passover on Thursday night after sunset. See Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. the devil . . . prompted Judas. This does not exonerate Judas, because his wicked heart desired exactly what the devil desired, the death of Jesus. The devil and Judas were in accord. 13:3 returning to God. Jesus faced the betrayal, agony, and death because He knew He would be exalted to the Father afterward, where He would receive the glory and fellowship He had eternally
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in prog ress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Si mon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, f and that he had come from God g and was return ing to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a ba sin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, h drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” i 8 “No,” said Pe ter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their w hole body is clean. And you are c lean, j though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray
enjoyed within the Trinity (see 17:4, 5). This was the “joy set before him” that enabled Him to “endure the cross” (Heb 12:2). 13:4, 5 The dusty and dirty conditions of the region necessitated the need for footwashing. Although the disciples would have likely been willing to wash Jesus’ feet, they would not consider washing each other’s feet. In their society, footwashing was a task assigned to the lowest-ranking household slaves. It was not an action performed by a peer, except possibly as a rare expression of profound love. Luke points out (22:24) that they were arguing about who was the greatest of them, so that none was willing to stoop to wash feet. When Jesus moved to wash their feet, they were shocked. His actions serve also as symbolic of spiritual cleansing (vv. 6–9) and a model of Christian humility (vv. 12–17). Through this action Jesus taught the lesson of selfless service that was supremely exemplified by His death on the cross. 13:6–1 0 These proceedings embarrassed all of the disciples. While others remained silent, Peter, perhaps on behalf of others (see Mt 16:13–23), spoke up in indignation that Jesus would stoop so low as to wash his feet. He failed to see beyond the humble service itself to the symbolism of spiritual cleansing involved (v. 7; cf. 1Jn 1:7–9). Jesus’ response made the real point of His actions clear: Unless the Lamb of God cleanses a person’s sin (i.e., as portrayed in the symbolism of washing), one can have no part with Him. 13:10 need only to wash their feet. The cleansing that Christ does at salvation never needs to be repeated—atonement is complete at that point. But all who have been cleansed by God’s gracious justification need constant washing in the experiential sense as they battle sin in the flesh. Believers are justified and granted imputed righteousness (Php 3:8, 9), but still need sanctification and personal righteousness (Php 3:12–14).
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him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ k and ‘Lord,’ l and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. m 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. n 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, o nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be b lessed if you do them. p
13:13 k Jn 11:28 l Lk 6:46; 1Co 12:3; Php 2:11 13:14 m 1Pe 5:5 13:15 n Mt 11:29 13:16 o Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40; Jn 15:20 13:17 p Mt 7:24, 25; Lk 11:28; Jas 1:25 13:18 q ver 10 r Jn 15:16, 19 s Mt 26:23 t Jn 6:70 u Ps 41:9 13:19 v Jn 14:29; 16:4 w Jn 8:24 13:20 x Mt 10:40; Lk 10:16 13:21 y Jn 12:27 z Mt 26:21 13:23 a Jn 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20
//Jesus Predicts His Betrayal 18 “I am not re ferring to all of you; q I know t hose I have chosen. r But this is to fulfill this pas sage of Scripture: ‘He who s hared my b read s has turned a t against me.’ b u 19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe v that I am who I am. w 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” x 21 After he had said this, J esus was troubled in spirit y and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” z 22 His disciples s tared at one another, at a loss to know w hich of them he m eant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, a was re clining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to
this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” 25 Lean ing back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” b 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have d ipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of b read, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscario t. 27 As soon as Judas took the b read, Satan entered into him. c So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had c harge of the money, d some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had tak en the bread, he went out. And it was night. e
//Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial 13:37,38pp —Mt 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:33,34
13:25 b Jn 21:20 13:27 c Lk 22:3 13:29 d Jn 12:6 13:30 e Lk 22:53 13:31 f Jn 7:39
g Jn 14:13; 17:4; 1Pe 4:11 13:32 h Jn 17:1 13:33 i Jn 7:33, 34 13:34 j 1Jn 2:7‑11; 3:11 k Lev 19:18; 1Th 4:9; 1Pe 1:22
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified f and God is glorified in him. g 32 If God is glorified in him, c God will glorify the Son in himself, h and will glorify him at once. 33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: W here I am going, you cannot come. i 34 “A new command j I give you: Love one an other. k As I have loved you, so you must love one a 18 Greek has lifted up his heel b 18 Psalm 41:9 c 32 Many early manuscripts do not have If God is glorified in him.
13:11, 12 not every one was clean. This verse refers to Judas (6:70), who was soon to lead the mob to capture Jesus (18:3).
13:27 Satan entered into him. Judas was personally possessed by Satan himself in his betrayal of Jesus. See note on v. 2.
13:15 an example. The word used here suggests both “example” and “pattern” (Heb 4:11; 8:5; 9:25; Jas 5:10; 2Pe 2:6). Jesus’ purpose in this action was to establish the model of loving humility.
13:30 it was night. Although this was a historical reminiscence of John, the phrase may also be imbued with profound theological implications. It was the hour for Judas to be handed over completely to the power of darkness (Satan; cf. Lk 22:53).
13:17 you will be blessed if you do them. Joy is always tied to obedience to God’s revealed Word (see 15:14). 13:18 those I have chosen. A reference to the 12 disciples whom the Lord had selected (see 15:16), whom the Lord knew perfectly, including Judas, who was chosen that the prophecy of Ps 41:9 would be fulfilled. 13:21 troubled. For the meaning of this word, see note on 12:27. 13:23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved. This is the first reference to John the apostle, the author of the gospel (see Introduction: Author and Date). He specifically mentions himself at the cross (19:26, 27), at the empty tomb (20:2–9), by the Sea of Tiberias (21:1, 20–23), and in the next to last verse where he is referenced as the author of the gospel (21:24). 13:26 he gave it to Judas. It was not uncommon for the host of a banquet to pass a choice morsel of food to a guest as a gesture marking honor and camaraderie. Here, Jesus demonstrates a final gesture of friendship to Judas, even as Judas is about to betray Him. Jesus was demonstrating a final gesture of His love for Judas even though he would betray Him.
13:31–33 glorified. With Judas gone, the final events were set in motion. Rather than looking at the agony of the cross, Jesus looked past the cross, anticipating the glory that He would have with the Father when it was over (see 17:4, 5; Heb 12:2). 13:33 as I told the Jews. That statement is recorded in 8:21. 13:34, 35 After indicating He was about to leave, Jesus specified what He expected of the disciples after His departure. Love is to serve as the distinguishing characteristic of discipleship (v. 35; cf. 1Jn 2:7–11; 3:10–12; 4:7–10, 20, 21). 13:34 A new command . . . . As I have loved you. The commandment to love was not new. Deuteronomy 6:5 commands love for God, and Lev 19:18 commands loving one’s neighbor as oneself (cf. Mt 22:34–40; Ro 13:8–10; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8). However, Jesus’ command regarding love presented a distinctly new standard for two reasons: 1) it was sacrificial love modeled after His love (“as I have loved you”; cf. 15:13), and 2) it is produced through the new covenant by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jer 31:29–34; Eze 36:24–26; Gal 5:22).
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another. l 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” m 36 Simon Peter a sked him, “Lord, w here are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, n but you will follow later.” o 37 Pe ter asked, “Lord, why c an’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, be fore the rooster c rows, you will disown me three times! p
14:11 a Jn 5:36;
here you are going, so how can we know the w way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way u and the t ruth and the life. v No one comes to the Father ex cept t hrough me. 7 If you really know me, you will know b my Father as well. w From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Phil ip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been a mong you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Fa ther. x How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and ords I say to you that the Father is in me? y The w I do not s peak on my own authority. z Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. a 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes b in me will do the works I have been doing, c and they will do even greater t hings than t hese, because I am going to
14:12 b Mt 21:21
a 1 Or Believe
13:34 l Jn 15:12;
Eph 5:2; 1Jn 4:10, 11 13:35 m 1Jn 3:14; 4:20 13:36 n ver 33; Jn 14:2 o Jn 21:18, 19; 2Pe 1:14 13:38 p Jn 18:27 14:1 q ver 27 14:2 r Jn 13:33, 36 14:3 s Jn 12:26 14:5 t Jn 11:16
//Jesus Comforts His Disciples
“Do not let your h earts be troubled. q You a believe in God ; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s h ouse has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going t here r to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be w here I am. s 4 You know the way to the place w here I am going.”
//Jesus the Way to the Father 5 Thomas t
said to him, “Lord, we d on’t know
14:6 u Jn 10:9 v Jn 11:25
14:7 w Jn 8:19 14:9 x Jn 12:45;
Col 1:15; Heb 1:3
14:10 y Jn 10:38 z Jn 5:19
c Lk 10:17
13:36 you cannot follow. His work was nearly finished; theirs was just beginning (Mt 28:16–20; Mk 16:15; Lk 24:47). Particularly, Peter had a work to do (see notes on 21:15–19). Only Jesus, as the sinless sacrifice for the trespasses of the world, could go to the cross and die (1Pe 2:22–24). Also, only He could be glorified in the presence of the Father with the glory that He possessed before His incarnation (see 12:41; 17:1–5). 13:38 See 18:25–27; cf. Mt 26:71–75; Mk 14:69–72; Lk 22:54–62. 14:1–31 This whole chapter centers in the promise that Christ is the One who gives the believer comfort, not only in His future return but also in the present with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (v. 26). The scene continues to the upper room where the disciples had gathered with Jesus before He was arrested. Judas had been dismissed (13:30) and Jesus had begun His valedictory address to the remaining 11. The world of the disciples was about to be shattered; they would be bewildered, confused, and ridden with anxiety because of the events that would soon transpire. Anticipating their devastation, Jesus spoke to comfort their hearts. 14:1 Instead of the disciples lending support to Jesus in the hours before His cross, He had to support them spiritually as well as emotionally. This reveals His heart of serving love (cf. Mt 20:26–28). troubled. Faith in Him can stop the heart from being agitated. See note on 12:27. 14:2 rooms. Or even apartments (in modern terms). All are in the large “Father’s house.” 14:2, 3 I am going there to prepare. His departure would be for their advantage since He was going away to prepare a heavenly home for them and will return to take them so that they may be with Him. This is one of the passages that refers to the rapture of the saints at the end of the age when Christ returns. The features in this description do not describe Christ coming to earth with His saints to establish His kingdom (Rev 19:11–15), but taking believers from earth to live in heaven. Since no judgment on the unsaved
in God b 7 Some manuscripts If you really knew me, you would know
is described here, this is not the event of His return in glory and power to destroy the wicked (cf. Mt 13:36–43, 47–50). Rather, this describes His coming to gather His own who are alive and raise the bodies of those who have died to take them all to heaven. This rapture event is also described in 1Co 15:51–54; 1Th 4:13–18. After being raptured, the church will celebrate the marriage supper (Rev 19:7–10), be rewarded (1Co 3:10–15; 4:5; 2Co 5:9, 10), and later return to earth with Christ when He comes again to set up His kingdom (Rev 19:11—20:6). 14:6 This is the sixth “I am” statement of Jesus in John (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 15:1, 5). In response to Thomas’s query (v. 4), Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God (1:14) and the life of God (1:4; 3:15; 11:25). In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach to the Father is emphatic. Only one way, not many ways, exist to God, i.e., Jesus Christ (10:7–9; cf. Mt 7:13, 14; Lk 13:24; Ac 4:12). 14:7–11 From now on, you do know him. They know God because they had come to know Christ in His ministry and soon in His death and resurrection. To know Him is to know God. This constant emphasis on J esus as God incarnate is unmistakably clear in this gospel (v. 11; 1:1–3, 14, 17, 18; 5:10–23, 26; 8:58; 9:35; 10:30, 38; 12:41; 17:1–5; 20:28). 14:12 they will do even greater things than these. Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:8) and would bring many to salvation because of the Comforter dwelling in them. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles. The book of Acts constitutes the beginning historical record of the impact that the Spiritempowered disciples had on the world (cf. Ac 17:6). because I am going to the Father. The only way Jesus’ disciples would be able to be used to do those greater works was through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He could not be sent as the Comforter until Jesus returned to the Father (v. 26; 7:39).
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the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask d in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
//Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. e 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate f to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth. g The world cannot accept him, h because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be a in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. i 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. j Be cause I live, you also will live. k 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, l and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my
14:13 d Mt 7:7 14:15 e ver 21, 23; Jn 15:10; 1Jn 5:3 14:16 f Jn 15:26; 16:7 14:17 g Jn 15:26; 16:13; 1Jn 4:6 h 1Co 2:14 14:18 i ver 3, 28 14:19 j Jn 7:33, 34; 16:16 k Jn 6:57 14:20 l Jn 10:38
14:21 m 1Jn 5:3 n 1Jn 2:5
14:22 o Lk 6:16;
Ac 1:13 p Ac 10:41
14:23 q ver 15 r 1Jn 2:24;
14:24 s Jn 7:16 14:26 t Jn 15:26;
16:7 u Ac 2:33 1Jn 2:20, 27
v Jn 16:13;
commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. m The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, n and I too will love them and show my self to them.” 22 Then Judas o (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” p 23 Jesus re plied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. q My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. r 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These w ords you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. s 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, t the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, u will teach you all things v and will remind you of everything I have a 17
Some early manuscripts and is
14:13, 14 In their hour of loss at the departure of Jesus, He comforted them with the means that would provide them with the necessary resources to accomplish their task without His immediate presence that they had come to depend upon. To ask in Jesus’ “name” does not mean to tack such an expression on the end of a prayer as a mere formula. It means: 1) the believer’s prayer should be for His purposes and kingdom and not selfish reasons; 2) the believer’s prayer should be on the basis of His merits and not any personal merit or worthiness; and 3) the believer’s prayer should be in pursuit of His glory alone. See note on 16:26–28; on the disciples’ prayer, see notes on Mt 6:9, 10.
indicates some distinction between the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers before and after Pentecost. While clearly the Holy Spirit has been with all who have ever believed throughout redemptive history as the source of truth, faith, and life, Jesus is saying something new is coming in His ministry. John 7:37–39 indicates this unique ministry would be like “rivers of living water.” Acts 19:1–7 introduces some old covenant believers who had not received the Holy Spirit in this unique fullness and intimacy. Cf. Ac 1:8; 2:1–4; 1Co 12:11–13.
14:15–31 In these verses, Jesus promises believers comfort from five supernatural blessings that the world does not enjoy: 1) a supernatural Helper (vv. 15–17); 2) a supernatural life (vv. 18, 19); 3) a supernatural union (vv. 20–25), 4) a supernatural teacher (v. 26); and 5) a supernatural peace (vv. 27–31). The key to all of this is v. 15, which relates that these supernatural promises are for those who love Jesus Christ, whose love is evidenced by obedience.
14:18, 19 I will come to you . . . you will see me. First, He was referring to His resurrection, after which they would see Him (20:19–29). There is no record that any unbelievers saw Him after He rose (see 1Co 15:1–9). In another sense, this has reference to the mystery of the Trinity. Through the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus would be back with His children (16:16; cf. Mt 28:20; Ro 8:9; 1Jn 4:13).
14:15 If you love me, keep my commands. Cf. vv. 21–24. Love for Christ is inseparable from obedience (see Lk 6:46; 1Jn 5:2, 3). “My commands” are not only Jesus’ ethical commandments in context (vv. 23, 24), but the entire revelation from the Father (see 3:31, 32; 12:47–49; 17:6). 14:16 ask the Father. The priestly and intercessory work of Christ began with the request that the Father send the Holy Spirit to indwell in the people of faith (7:39; 15:26; 16:7; see note on 20:22; cf. Ac 1:8; 2:4, 33). another. The Gr. word specifically means another of the same kind, i.e., someone like Jesus Himself who will take His place and do His work. The Spirit of Christ is the Third Person of the Trinity, having the same essence of deity as Jesus and as perfectly one with Him as He is with the Father. advocate. The Gr. term here lit. means “one called alongside to help” and has the idea of someone who encourages and exhorts (see note on 16:7). “Be with you” has to do with His permanent residence in believers (Ro 8:9; 1Co 6:19, 20; 12:13). 14:17 Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit of truth in that He is the source of truth and communicates the truth to His own (v. 26; 16:12–15). Apart from Him, people cannot know God’s truth (1Co 2:12–16; 1Jn 2:20, 27). lives with you and will be in you. This
14:18 orphans. In this veiled reference to His death, Jesus promised not to leave them alone (Ro 8:9).
14:19 you also will live. Because of His resurrection and by the indwelling life of the Spirit of Christ, believers possess eternal life (see Ro 6:1–11; Col 3:1–4). 14:20 On that day. This refers to His resurrection when He returns to them alive. 14:21–24 Once again, Jesus emphasized the need for the habitual practice of obedience to His commands as evidence of the believer’s love for Him and the Father (see note on v. 15). This is consistent with the teaching of Jas 2:14–26 that true saving faith is manifest by works produced by God in the transforming, regenerating power of the Spirit. Those works are expressions of the love that the Spirit pours into the believer’s heart (Ro 5:5; Gal 5:22). 14:23 them . . . them . . . them. Lit. him . . . him . . . him. 14:26 will teach you all things. The Holy Spirit energized the hearts and minds of the apostles in their ministry, helping them to produce the NT Scripture. The disciples had failed to understand many things about Jesus and what He taught; but because of this supernatural work, they came to an inerrant and accurate understanding of the Lord and His work, and recorded it in the Gospels and the rest of the NT Scriptures (2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:20, 21). See note on 16:7.
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said to you. w 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I orld g ives. give you. x I do not give to you as the w Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 “You h eard me say, ‘I am going away and I am ould coming back to you.’ y If you l oved me, you w be glad that I am going to the Father, z for the Fa ther is greater than I. a 29 I have told you now be fore it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. b 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world c is coming. He has no orld hold over me, 31 but he c omes so that the w may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. d “Come now; let us leave.
//The Vine and the Branches
“I am the true vine, e and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that
14:26 w Jn 2:22 14:27 x Jn 16:33;
Php 4:7; Col 3:15 14:28 y ver 2‑4, 18 z Jn 5:18 a Jn 10:29; Php 2:6 14:29 b Jn 13:19; 16:4 14:30 c Jn 12:31 14:31 d Jn 10:18; 12:49 15:1 e Isa 5:1‑7
15:3 f Jn 13:10; 17:17; Eph 5:26 15:4 g Jn 6:56; 1Jn 2:6 15:5 h ver 16 15:6 i ver 2 15:7 j Mt 7:7 15:8 k Mt 5:16 l Jn 8:31 15:9 m Jn 17:23, 24, 26
14:27 Peace I leave . . . not . . . as the world gives. The word “peace” reflects the Heb. “shalom,” which became a greeting to His disciples after the resurrection (20:19–26). On a personal level this peace, unknown to the unsaved, provides supernatural calm and comfort in the midst of trials (Php 4:7), and enables God’s people to respond to others in harmony (Col 3:15). The greatest reality of this peace will be in the messianic kingdom (Nu 6:26; Ps 29:11; Isa 9:6, 7; 52:7; 54:13; 57:19; Eze 37:26; Hag 2:9; cf. Ac 10:36; Ro 1:7; 5:1; 14:17). 14:28 greater than I. Jesus was not admitting inferiority to the Father (after claiming equality repeatedly, see note on vv. 7–11), but was saying that if the disciples loved Him, they would not be reluctant to let Him go to the Father because He was returning to the realm where He belonged and to the full glory He gave up (17:5). He was going back to share equal glory with the Father, which would be greater than what He had experienced in His incarnation. He will in no way be inferior in that glory, because His humiliation was over. 14:30 the prince of this world. Judas was only a tool of the “prince” who rules the system of darkness—Satan (6:70; 13:21, 27). no hold over me. The Heb. idiom means that Satan had nothing on Jesus, could make no claim on Him, nor charge Him with any sin. Therefore, Satan could not hold Him in death. Christ would triumph and destroy Satan (Heb 2:14). His death was no sign that Satan won, but that God’s will was being done. (v. 31). 15:1–17 Through this extended metaphor of the vine and branches, Jesus set forth the basis of Christian living. Jesus used the imagery of agricultural life at the time; i.e., vines and vine crops (see also Mt 20:1–16; 21:23–41; Mk 12:1–9; Lk 13:6–9; 20:9–16). In the OT, the vine is used commonly as a symbol for Israel (Ps 80:9–16; Isa 5:1–7; 27:2–6; Jer 2:21; 12:10; Eze 15:1–8; 17:1–21; 19:10–14; Hos 10:1, 2). He specifically identified Himself as the “true vine” and the Father as the “gardener” or caretaker of the vine. The vine has two types of branches: 1) branches that bear fruit (vv. 2, 8), and 2) branches that do not (vv. 2, 6). The branches that bear fruit are genuine believers. Though in immediate context the focus is upon the 11 faithful disciples, the imagery also encompasses all believers down through the ages. The branches that do not bear fruit are those who profess to believe, but their lack of fruit indicates genuine salvation has never taken place and they have no
does bear fruit he p runes a so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. f 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. g No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; h apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. i 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. j 8 This is to my Father’s glory, k that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. l 9 “As the Father has loved me, m so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my a 2
The Greek for he prunes also means he cleans.
life from the vine. Especially in the immediate context, Judas was in view, but the imagery extends from him to all those who make a profession of faith in Christ but do not actually possess salvation. The image of non-fruit-bearing branches being burned pictures eschatological judgment and eternal rejection (see Eze 15:6–8). 15:1 I am the true vine. This is the last of seven claims to deity in the form of “I am” statements by Jesus in the gospel of John (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6). 15:2 He cuts off. The picture is of the gardener (i.e., the Father) getting rid of dead wood while preserving the living, fruit bearing branches. The dead branches picture apostate Christians who never genuinely believed and will be taken away in judgment (v. 6; Mt 7:16; Eph 2:10). They have never truly experienced the life of Christ within them (8:31, 32; cf. Mt 13:18–23; 24:12; Heb 3:14– 19; 6:4–8; 10:27–31; 1Jn 2:19; 2Jn 9). he prunes. God removes all things in the believer’s life that would hinder fruit-bearing, i.e., He chastises to cut away sin and hindrances that would drain spiritual life just as the farmer removes anything on the branches that keep them from bearing maximum fruit (Heb 12:3–11). 15:4–6 Remain in me. The “remaining” is evidence that salvation has already taken place (1Jn 2:19) and not vice versa. The fruit or evidence of salvation is continuance in service to Him and in His teaching (8:31; Col 1:23; 1Jn 2:24). The remaining, or abiding, believer is the only legitimate believer. Abiding and believing actually are addressing the same issue of genuine salvation (Heb 3:6–19). For a discussion of the perseverance of the saints, see note on Mt 24:13. 15:6 The imagery here is one of destruction (cf. Mt 3:10–12; 5:22; 13:40–42, 50; 25:41; Mk 9:43–49; Lk 3:17; 2Th 1:7–9; Rev 20:10– 15). It pictures the judgment awaiting all those who were never saved. you . . . you. Lit. anyone . . . he. 15:7–10 True believers obey the Lord’s commands, submitting to His Word (14:21, 23). Because of their commitment to God’s Word, they are devoted to His will, thus their prayers are fruitful (14:13, 14), which puts God’s glory on display as He answers. 15:9, 10 remain in my love. Cf. Jude 21. This is not emotional or mystical, but defined in v. 10 as obedience. Jesus set the model by His perfect obedience to the Father, which we are to use as the pattern for our obedience to Him.
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commands, n you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. o 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. p 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. q 14 You are my friends r if you do what I command. s 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made k nown to you. t 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you u so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last — and so that whatev er you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. v
//The World Hates the Disciples 18 “If
the w orld h ates you, w keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you x out of the world. That is why the world hates you. y 20 Re
15:10 n Jn 14:15 15:11 o Jn 17:13 15:12 p Jn 13:34 15:13 q Jn 10:11; Ro 5:7, 8
15:14 r Lk 12:4 s Mt 12:50
15:15 t Jn 8:26 15:16 u Jn 6:70; 13:18
15:17 v ver 12 15:18 w 1Jn 3:13 15:19 x ver 16 y Jn 17:14
15:20 z Jn 13:16 a 2Ti 3:12
15:21 b Mt 10:22 c Jn 16:3
d Jn 9:41;
15:24 15:25 f Ps 35:19; e Jn 5:36
15:26 g Jn 14:16
h Jn 14:26 i Jn 14:17 j 1Jn 5:7
15:27 k Lk 24:48; 1Jn 1:2; 4:14 l Lk 1:2 16:1 m Jn 15:18‑27 n Mt 11:6
15:11 your joy may be complete. Just as Jesus maintained that His obedience to the Father was the basis of His joy, so also the believers who are obedient to His commandments will experience the same joy (17:13; cf. 16:24). 15:12 Cf. 13:34, 35. See note on 1Jn 2:7–11. 15:13 This is a reference to the supreme evidence and expression of Jesus’ love (v. 12), His sacrificial death upon the cross. Christians are called to exemplify the same kind of sacrificial giving toward one another, even if such sacrifice involves the laying down of one’s own life in imitation of Christ’s example (cf. 1Jn 3:16). 15:14, 15 friends. Just as Abraham was called “God’s friend” (Jas 2:23; 2Ch 20:7) through God’s revelation to him which he believed, so also those who follow Christ are privileged with extraordinary revelation through the Messiah and Son of God and, believing, become “friends” of God also. It was for His “friends” that the Lord laid down His life (v. 13; 10:11, 15, 17). 15:16 I chose you. Cf. v. 19. In case any pretense might exist among the disciples in terms of spiritual pride because of the privileges they enjoyed, Jesus made it clear that such privilege rested not in their own merit, but on His sovereign choice of them. God chose Israel (Isa 45:4; Am 3:2), but not for any merit (Dt 7:7; 9:4–6). God elected angels to be forever holy (1Ti 5:21). He elected believers to salvation apart from any merit (Mt 24:24, 31; see notes on Ro 8:29– 33; Eph 1:3–6; Col 3:12; Titus 1:1; 1Pe 1:2). bear fruit. One purpose of God’s sovereign election is that believers should produce spiritual fruit. The NT describes fruit as godly attitudes (Gal 5:22, 23), righteous behavior (Php 1:11), praise (Heb 13:15), and especially leading others to faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God (Ro 1:13–16). 15:18, 19 Since Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system in rebellion against God (14:30), the result is that the world hates not only Jesus but also those who follow Him (2Ti 3:12). Hatred toward J esus means also hatred toward the Father who sent Him (v. 23).
member what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ a z If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. a If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey y ours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, b for they do not know the one who sent me. c 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they w ould not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. d 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, e they would not be g uilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ b f
//The Work of the Holy Spirit 26 “When the Advocate g comes, whom I will send to you from the Father h — the Spirit of truth i who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me. j 27 And you also must testify, k for you have been with me from the beginning. l “All this m I have told you so that you will not fall away. n 2 They will put you out of
16 a 20 John
13:16 b 25 Psalms 35:19; 69:4
15:20 servant . . . master. That axiom, spoken also in 13:16, reflects the obvious truth that led Jesus to inform His disciples. They could expect to be treated like He was treated because those who hated Him don’t know God (v. 21) and would hate them also; and conversely, those who listened with faith to Him, would hear them also. 15:22–24 they would not be guilty of sin. Jesus did not mean that if He had not come, they would have been sinless. But His coming incited the severest and most deadly sin, that of rejecting and rebelling against God and His truth. It was the decisive sin of rejection, the deliberate and fatal choice of darkness over light and death over life of which He spoke. He had done so many miracles and spoken innumerable words to prove He was Messiah and Son of God, but they were belligerent in their love of sin and rejection of the Savior. See Heb 4:2–5; 6:4–6; 10:29–31. 15:25 Jesus quotes Pss 35:19; 69:4. The logic here is that if David, a mere man, could have been hated in such a terrible manner by the enemies of God, how much more would the wicked hate David’s perfect, divine Son who was the promised king who would confront sin and reign forever over His kingdom of righteousness (see 2Sa 7:16). 15:26, 27 When the Advocate comes. Again, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit (7:39; 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7, 13, 14). This time He emphasizes the Spirit’s help for witnessing—proclaiming the gospel. See note on 16:7. 16:1–15 Jesus continued the thoughts of 15:18–25 regarding the world’s hatred of His disciples and its opposition to the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding Him as Messiah and Son of God. In this section, He specified in greater detail how the Spirit confronts the world, i.e., not only does He testify about Jesus but He convicts men of sin. Through conviction of sin and testimony of the gospel, the Spirit turns the hostile hearts of men away from rebellion against God into belief regarding Jesus as Savior and Lord. This section may
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the synagogue; o in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. p 3 They will do such t hings be cause they have not known the Father or me. q 4 I have told you this, so that when t heir time c omes you will remember r that I warned you a bout them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. s None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ t 6 Rather, you are filled with g rief because I have said t hese t hings. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate u will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. v 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, w because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, x because I am going to the
16:2 o Jn 9:22 p Isa 66:5; Ac 26:9, 10; Rev 6:9 16:3 q Jn 15:21; 17:25; 1Jn 3:1 16:4 r Jn 13:19 16:5 s Jn 7:33 t Jn 13:36; 14:5 16:7 u Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26 v Jn 7:39 16:9 w Jn 15:22 16:10 x Ac 3:14; 7:52; 1Pe 3:18
Father, w here you can see me no longer; 11 and a bout judgment, because the prince of this world y now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. z 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, a comes, he will guide you into all the truth. b He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Fa ther is mine. c That is why I said the Spirit will re ceive from me what he will make known to you.”
16:11 y Jn 12:31 16:12 z Mk 4:33 16:13 a Jn 14:17
//The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy
b Jn 14:26
16:15 c Jn 17:10 16:16 d Jn 7:33 e Jn 14:18‑24
be divided into four parts: 1) the killing of the disciples by the world (vv. 1–4); 2) the comforting of the disciples by the Lord (vv. 5–7); 3) the conviction of men by the Holy Spirit (vv. 8–12); and 4) the guidance of the believer into all truth by the Holy Spirit (vv. 13–15). 16:1 All this. This is what He had just said in 15:18–25. fall away. The connotation of this word has the idea of setting a trap. The hatred of the world was such that it would seek to trap and destroy the disciples in an effort to prevent their witness to Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. Jesus did not want them to be caught unaware (v. 4). 16:2 they are offering a service to God. Paul, before he was saved, personified this attitude as he persecuted the church while thinking he was doing service for God (Ac 22:4, 5; 26:9–11; Gal 1:13–17; Php 3:6; 1Ti 1:12–17). After Paul’s conversion, the persecutor became the persecuted because of the hatred of the world (2Co 11:22–27; cf. Stephen in Ac 7:54—8:3). 16:4 I was with you. Jesus didn’t need to warn them because He was there to protect them. 16:5 None of you asks. Earlier they had done so (13:36; 14:5), but they were then so absorbed in their own sorrow and confusion that they lost interest in where He was going. They were apparently consumed with what would happen to them (v. 6). 16:7 the Advocate will not come. Again, the promise of the Holy Spirit being sent is given to comfort the disciples. See note on 15:26, 27. The first emphasis was on His life-giving power (7:37– 39). The next featured His indwelling presence (14:16, 17). The next marked His teaching ministry (14:26). His ministry of empowering for witness is marked in 15:26. 16:8 When he comes. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was approximately 40 or more days away at this point (see Ac 2:1–13). prove. This word has two meanings: 1) the judicial act of conviction with a view toward sentencing (i.e., a courtroom term—conviction of sin) or 2) the act of convincing. Here the second idea is best, since the purpose of the Holy Spirit is not condemnation but conviction of the need for the Savior. The Son does the judgment, with the Father (5:22, 27, 30). In v. 14, it is said that He will reveal the glories of Christ to His people. He will also inspire the writing of the NT, guiding the apostles to write it (v. 13), and He will reveal “what is yet to come,” through the NT prophecies (v. 13).
16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little w hile d you will see me no more, and then after a little w hile you will see me.” e
16:9 sin. The singular indicates that a specific sin is in view; i.e., that of not believing in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. This is the only sin, ultimately, that damns people to hell (see note on 8:24). Though all men are depraved, cursed by their violation of God’s law and sinful by nature, what ultimately damns them to hell is their unwillingness to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (cf. 8:24). 16:10 righteousness. The Holy Spirit’s purpose here is to shatter the pretensions of self-righteousness (hypocrisy), exposing the darkness of the heart (3:19–21; 7:7; 15:22, 24). While Jesus was on the earth, He performed this task especially toward the shallowness and emptiness of Judaism that had degenerated into legalistic modes without life-giving reality (e.g., 2:13–22; 5:10–16; 7:24; Isa 64:5, 6). With Jesus gone to the Father, the Holy Spirit continues His convicting role. 16:11 judgment. The judgment here in context is that of the world under Satan’s control. Its judgments are blind, faulty, and evil as evidenced in their verdict on Christ. The world can’t make righteous judgments (7:24), but the Spirit of Christ does (8:16). All Satan’s adjudications are lies (8:44–47), so the Spirit convicts men of their false judgment of Christ. Satan, the ruler of the world (14:30; Eph 2:1–3) who, as the god of this world, has perverted the world’s judgment and turned people from believing in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God (2Co 4:4), was defeated at the cross. While Christ’s death looked like Satan’s greatest victory, it actually was Satan’s destruction (cf. Col 2:15; Heb 2:14, 15; Rev 20:10). The Spirit will lead sinners to true judgment. 16:13 all the truth. This verse, like 14:26, points to the supernatural revelation of all truth by which God has revealed Himself in Christ (vv. 14, 15), particularly. This is the subject of the inspired NT writings. See note on v. 7. 16:14 He will glorify me. This is really the same as v. 13, in that all NT truth revealed by God centers in Christ (Heb 1:1, 2). Christ was the theme of the OT, as the NT claims (1:45; 5:37; Lk 24:27, 44; Ac 10:43; 18:28; Ro 1:1, 2; 1Co 15:3; 1Pe 1:10, 11; Rev 19:10). 16:16–19 Jesus was referring to His ascension (“you will see me no more”) and the coming of the Holy Spirit (“you will see me”), emphatically claiming that the Spirit and He are one (Ro 8:9; Php 1:19; 1Pe 1:11; Rev 19:10). Christ dwells in believers through the Holy Spirit—in that sense they see Him. See notes on 14:16–18.
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17 At this, some of his disciples said to one an other, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ f and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” g 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him a bout this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one an other what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn h while the world re joices. You will g rieve, but your g rief will turn to joy. i 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain j because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a c hild is born into the w orld. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, k but I will see you a gain l and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. m 24 Until now you have not a sked for any thing in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. n 25 “Though I have been speak ing figurative
16:17 f ver 16 g ver 5
16:20 h Lk 23:27 i Jn 20:20
16:21 j Isa 26:17; 1Th 5:3
16:22 k ver 6 l ver 16
16:23 m Mt 7:7; Jn 15:16 16:24 n Jn 3:29; 15:11
16:25 o Mt 13:34; Jn 10:6 p ver 2
16:26 q ver 23, 24 16:27 r Jn 14:21, 23 16:28 s Jn 13:3 16:29 t ver 25 16:32 u ver 2, 25 v Mt 26:31
w Jn 8:16, 29
16:33 x Jn 14:27 y Jn 15:18‑21 z Ro 8:37;
16:20 grief will turn to joy. The very event that made the hateful realm of mankind (“world”) rejoice and cause grief to Jesus’ disciples, will be the same event that will lead to the world’s sorrow and the believer’s joy. The disciples would soon realize the marvelous nature of God’s gift of salvation and the Spirit through what He accomplished, and the blessing of answered prayer (v. 24). Acts records the coming of the Holy Spirit and the power and joy (Ac 2:4–47; 13:52) of the early church. 16:22 I will see you. After the resurrection, Jesus did see His disciples (20:19–29; 21:1–23; cf. 1Co 15:1–8). Beyond that brief time of personal fellowship (Ac 1:1–3), He would be with them permanently in His Spirit (see notes on vv. 16–19; 14:16–19). 16:23 In that day. This is a reference to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came (Ac 2:1–13) and sorrow turned to joy. This is a reference also to the “last days” that were inaugurated after His resurrection and the Spirit’s coming (Ac 2:17; 2Ti 3:1; Heb 1:2; Jas 5:3; 2Pe 3:3; 1Jn 2:18). no longer ask me. After His departure and sending of the Spirit, believers will no longer ask Him since He is not present. Instead, they will ask the Father in His name (see notes on vv. 26–28; 14:13, 14). 16:24 joy will be complete. In this case, the believer’s joy will be related to answered prayer and a full supply of heavenly blessing for everything consistent with the purpose of the Lord in one’s life. See note on 15:11. 16:25 speaking figuratively. The Gr. used here refers to a “veiled, pointed statement” that is pregnant with meaning, i.e., something that is obscure. What seemed hard to understand for the disciples during the life of Jesus would become clear after His death, His resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit (see vv. 13, 14; 14:26; 15:26, 27). They would actually understand the ministry of
17:1 a Jn 11:41
ly, o a time is coming p when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. q I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me r and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the w orld; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” s 29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. t 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This m akes us believe that you came from God.” 31 “Do you now be lieve?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming u and in fact has come when you will be scattered, v each to your own home. You will l eave me all alone. Yet I am not a lone, for my Father is with me. w 33 “I have told you t hese t hings, so that in me you may have p eace. x In this w orld you will have trou ble. y But take h eart! I have overcome z the world.”
//Jesus Prays to Be Glorified
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven a and prayed:
Christ better than they had while they were with Him, as the Spirit inspired them to write the Gospels and epistles and ministered in and through them. 16:26–28 I am not saying. Christ was clarifying what He meant by praying in His name. He did not mean asking Him to ask the Father, as if the Father was indifferent to believers, but not to His Son. On the contrary, the Father loves Christ’s own. In fact, the Father sent the Son to redeem them and then return. Asking in Jesus’ name means simply asking on the basis of His merit, His righteousness, and for whatever would honor and glorify Him so as to build His kingdom. 16:33 in me you may have peace. See note on 14:27. trouble. This word often refers to eschatological woes (Mk 13:9; Ro 2:9) and to persecution of believers because of their testimony for Christ (cf. 15:18—16:4; Ac 11:19; Eph 3:13). overcome. The fundamental ground for endurance in persecution is the victory of Jesus over the world (12:31; 1Co 15:57). Through His impending death, He rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack His people, such attacks fall harmlessly, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a smashing defeat of the whole evil rebellious system. See notes on Ro 8:35–39. 17:1–26 Although Mt 6:9–13 and Lk 11:2–4 have become known popularly as the “Lord’s Prayer,” that prayer was actually a prayer Jesus taught to the disciples as a pattern for their prayers. The prayer recorded here is truly the Lord’s Prayer, exhibiting the faceto-face communion the Son had with the Father. Very little is recorded of the content of Jesus’ frequent prayers to the Father (Mt 14:23; Lk 5:16), so this prayer reveals some of the precious content of the Son’s communion and intercession with Him. This chapter is a transitional chapter, marking the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of His intercessory ministry for believ-
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“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. b 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. c 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and J esus C hrist, whom you have sent. d 4 I have brought you glory e on earth by finish ing the work you gave me to do. f 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you g before the world be gan. h
17:1 b Jn 12:23; 13:31, 32
17:2 c ver 6, 9, 24;
Da 7:14; Jn 6:37, 39 17:3 d ver 8, 18, 21, 23, 25; Jn 3:17 17:4 e Jn 13:31 f Jn 4:34 17:5 g Php 2:6 h Jn 1:2 17:6 i ver 26 j ver 2; Jn 6:37, 39 17:8 k ver 14, 26 l Jn 16:27 m ver 3, 18, 21, 23, 25; Jn 3:17 17:9 n Lk 22:32
//Jesus Prays for His Disciples 6 “I have re vealed you a i to those whom you gave me j out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me c omes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me k and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, l and they believed that you sent me. m 9 I pray for orld, but them. n I am not praying for the w
17:10 o Jn 16:15 17:11 p Jn 13:1
q Jn 7:33 r ver 21‑23 s Jn 10:30
17:12 t Jn 6:39 u Jn 6:70
17:13 v Jn 3:29 17:14 w Jn 15:19 x Jn 8:23
17:15 y Mt 5:37
ers (Heb 7:25). The prayer summarizes key themes from John’s gospel. These include: 1) Jesus’ faithful submission to the Father; 2) the Son’s commitment to glorify the Father; 3) the election and protection of His disciples; 4) their witness to a hostile world; 5) their unity with Christ and with one another; and 6) the glorious future that awaits them. The chapter divides into three parts: 1) Jesus’ prayer for Himself (vv. 1–5); 2) Jesus’ prayer for the apostles (vv. 6–19); and 3) Jesus’ prayer for all NT believers who will form the church (vv. 20–26). 17:1 the hour has come. The time of His death. See note on 12:23. Glorify your Son. The very event that would glorify the Son was His death. By it, He has received the adoration, worship, and love of millions whose sins He bore. He accepted this path to glory, knowing that by it He would be exalted to the Father. The goal is that the Father may be glorified for His redemptive plan in the Son. So He sought by His own glory the glory of His Father (13:31, 32). 17:2 authority over all people. Cf. 5:27; see note on Mt 28:18. to all those you have given him. A reference to God’s choosing of those who will come to Christ (see notes on 6:37, 44). The biblical doctrine of election or predestination is presented throughout the NT (15:16, 19; Ac 13:48; Ro 8:29–33; Eph 1:3–6; 2Th 2:13; Titus 1:1; 1Pe 1:2). 17:3 eternal life. See notes on 3:15, 16; 5:24; cf. 1Jn 5:20. 17:5 glorify me in your presence. Having completed His work (v. 4), Jesus looked past the cross and asked to be returned to the glory that He shared with the Father before the world began (see notes on 1:1; 8:58; 12:41). The actual completion of bearing judgment wrath for sinners was declared by Christ in the cry, “It is finished” (19:30). 17:6–10 They were yours. Again, the Son emphasized that those who believed in Him were given by the Father (see note on v. 2). “They were yours” (cf. v. 9) is a potent assertion that before conversion, they belonged to God (cf. 6:37). That is true because of
for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. o And glory has come to me t hrough them. 11 I will remain in the world no lon ger, but they are still in the world, p and I am coming to you. q Holy Father, protect them by the power of b your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one r as we are one. s 12 While I was with them, I protect ed them and kept them safe by c that name you gave me. None has been lost t except the one doomed to destruction u so that Scrip ture w ould be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy v within them. 14 I have given them your word and the w orld has hated them, w for they are not of the world any more than I am of the w orld. x 15 My p rayer is not that you take them out of the w orld but that you protect them from the evil one. y 16 They are a 6 Greek
your name b 11 Or Father, keep them faithful to them faithful to
c 12 Or kept
God’s election. They were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), when their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 17:8). Cf. Ac 18:10, where God says He has many people in Corinth who belong to Him but are not yet saved. See notes on 10:1–5, 16. 17:8 they believed. The Son of God affirmed the genuine saving faith of His disciples. 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer. So sure was His death and departure back to the Father that Jesus treated His departure as an already accomplished fact. He prayed here for His disciples because they would be exposed to the world’s snares and hatred, while He would no longer be with them physically (15:18—16:4). Based on the eternal nature of immutable God (“name”), He prayed for the eternal security of those who believed. He prayed that as the Trinity experiences eternal unity, so may believers. See Ro 8:31–39. 17:12 I . . . kept them safe by that name you gave me. Jesus protected them and kept them safe from the world as He said in 6:37–40, 44. One illustration of that can be seen in 18:1–11. Believers are secure forever because they are held by Christ and by God. See note on 10:28, 29. the one doomed to destruction. This identifies Judas by pointing to his destiny, i.e., eternal damnation (Mt 7:13; Ac 8:20; Ro 9:22; Php 1:28; 3:19; 1Ti 6:9; Heb 10:39; 2Pe 2:1; 3:7; Rev 17:8, 11). The defection of Judas was not a failure on Jesus’ part, but was foreseen and foreordained in Scripture (Pss 41:9; 109:8; cf. 13:18). 17:15 protect them from the evil one. The reference here refers to protection from Satan and all the wicked forces following him (Mt 6:13; 1Jn 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). Though Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the defeat of Satan, he is still loose and orchestrating his evil system against believers. He seeks to destroy believers (1Pe 5:8), as with Job and Peter (Lk 22:31, 32), and in general (Eph 6:12), but God is their strong protector (12:31; 16:11; cf. Ps 27:1–3; 2Co 4:4; Jude 24, 25).
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not of the world, even as I am not of it. z 17 Sanctify them by a the truth; your word is truth. a 18 As you sent me into the world, b I have sent them into the w orld. c 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
//Jesus Prays for All Believers 20 “My prayer is not for them a lone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. d May they also be in us so that the w orld may believe that you have sent me. e 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one f — 23 I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete uni ty. Then the w orld will know that you sent me g and have loved them h even as you have loved me. 24 “Fa ther, I want those you have given me to be with me w here I am, i and to see j my glory, the glory you have given me be
17:16 z ver 14 17:17 a Jn 15:3 17:18 b ver 3, 8, 21,
c Jn 20:21
17:21 d Jn 10:38
e ver 3, 8, 18, 23, 25;
17:22 f Jn 14:20 17:23 g Jn 3:17 h Jn 16:27
17:24 i Jn 12:26 j Jn 1:14
cause you loved me before the creation of the world. k 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, l I know you, and they know that you have sent me. m 26 I have made you b known to them, n and will con tinue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them o and that I myself may be in them.”
//Jesus Arrested 18:3-11pp —Mt 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-50; Lk 22:47-53
18 k ver 5;
17:25 l Jn 15:21;
16:3 m ver 3, 8, 18, 21, 23; Jn 3:17; 7:29; 16:27 17:26 n ver 6 o Jn 15:9 18:1 p 2Sa 15:23 q ver 26 r Mt 26:36 18:2 s Lk 21:37; 22:39 18:3 t Ac 1:16 u ver 12
17:17 Sanctify. This verb also occurs in John’s gospel at v. 19; 10:36. The idea of sanctification is the setting apart of something for a particular use. Accordingly, believers are set apart to serve the Lord exclusively so that the believer desires to obey God’s commands and walk in holiness (Lev 11:44, 45; 1Pe 1:16). Sanctification is accomplished by means of the truth, which is the revelation that the Son gave regarding all the Father commanded Him to communicate and is now contained in the Scriptures left by the apostles. Cf. Eph 5:26; 2Th 2:13; Jas 1:21; 1Pe 1:22, 23. 17:19 I sanctify myself. Meaning only that He was totally set apart for the Father’s will (cf. 4:34; 5:19; 6:38; 7:16; 9:4). He did that in order that believers might be set apart to God by the truth He brought. 17:21 all of them may be one. The basis of this unity is founded in obedience to the revelation of God given through Christ. Believers are also to be united in the common belief of the truth that was received in the Word of God (Php 2:2). This is not still a wish, but it became a reality when the Spirit came (cf. Ac 2:4; 1Co 12:13). It is not experiential unity, but the unity of common eternal life shared by all who believe the truth, and it results in the one body of Christ all sharing His life. See notes on Eph 4:4–6. 17:22 the glory that you gave me. This refers to the believer’s participation in all of the attributes and essence of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (v. 10; cf. Col 1:27; 2Pe 1:4), as v. 23 makes clear (“I in them”). 17:23 complete unity. The idea here is that they may be brought together in the same spiritual life around the truth that saves. That prayer was answered by the reality of 1Co 12:12, 13; Eph 2:14–22. 17:24 be with me. This will be in heaven, where one can see the full glory that is His (cf. v. 5). Someday believers will not only see His glory, but share it (Php 3:20, 21; 1Jn 3:2). Until then, we participate in it spiritually (2Co 3:18).
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. p On the other side there was a garden, q and he and his disciples went into it. r 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. s 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding t a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. u They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. a 17 Or them
to live in accordance with b 26 Greek your name
17:25, 26 This summarizes the prayer of this chapter and promises the continuing indwelling Christ and His love. Cf. Ro 5:5. 18:1–40 The events of Jesus’ arrest and trial receive emphasis in this chapter. Since John’s purpose was to present Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, he produced evidence to substantiate this purpose throughout his account of Jesus’ passion. Through all of the debasing, shameful acts that were directed toward Jesus, John skillfully shows that these events, rather than detracting from His person and mission, actually constitute decisive evidence confirming who He was and the reason for which He came (1:29; cf. 2Co 5:21). 18:1 Jesus left. Jesus’ supreme courage is seen in His determination to go to the cross, where His purity and sinlessness would be violated as He bore the wrath of God for the sins of the world (3:16; see note on 12:27). The time “when darkness reigns” had come (Lk 22:53; see notes on 1:5; 9:4; 13:30). the Kidron Valley. The Kidron Valley was between the temple mount on the E of Jerusalem and the Mt. of Olives further to the E. a garden. On the slopes of the Mt. of Olives, named for ever present olive groves, were many gardens. Matthew 26:36 and Mk 14:32 call this particular garden “Gethsemane,” which means “oil press.” went into. The wording here suggests a walled enclosure around the garden. 18:3 a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. A full cohort could have as many as one thousand men. Normally, however, a cohort consisted of six hundred men, but could sometimes refer to as little as two hundred. Though they were regularly kept at Caesarea, Roman auxiliary troops were brought into Jerusalem (to the Antonia Fortress near the temple) during festival days for added security (in order to ensure against mob violence or rebellion because of the large population that filled Jerusalem). The second group designated as “officials” refers to temple police who were the primary arresting officers since Jesus’ destination after the arrest was to be brought before the high priest (vv. 12–14). They came ready for resistance from Jesus and His followers (“weapons”).
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John 18:4 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, v went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” w 5 “Jesus of Nazar eth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” x “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let t hese men go.” 9 This happened so that the w ords he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” a y 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup z the Father has given me?” 12 Then the de tachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials a arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, b the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one
18:4 v Jn 6:64; 13:1, 11 w ver 7
18:7 x ver 4 18:9 y Jn 17:12 18:11 z Mt 20:22 18:12 a ver 3 18:13 b ver 24; Mt 26:3
who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. c
//Peter’s First Denial 18:16-18pp —Mt 26:69,70; Mk 14:66-68; Lk 22:55-57 15 Simon
Peter and another disciple were fol lowing Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, d he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, e 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was k nown to the high p riest, came back, s poke to the ser vant girl on duty there and b rought Peter in. 17 “You a ren’t one of this m an’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” f 18 It was cold, and the ser vants and officials stood around a fire g they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming him self. h
//The High Priest Questions Jesus 18:14 c Jn 11:49‑51 18:15 d Mt 26:3 e Mt 26:58;
Mk 14:54; Lk 22:54 18:17 f ver 25 18:18 g Jn 21:9 h Mk 14:54, 67
18:4 knowing all that was going to happen. John, in a matter-offact way, states that Jesus was omniscient, thus God. 18:4–8 Who is it you want? By twice asking that question (vv. 4, 7), to which they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth” (vv. 5, 7), Jesus was forcing them to acknowledge that they had no authority to take His disciples. In fact, He demanded that they let the disciples go (v. 8). The force of His demand was established by the power of His words. When He spoke, “I am he” (v. 6), a designation He had used before to declare Himself God (8:28, 58; cf. 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5), they were jolted backward and to the ground (v. 6). This power display and the authoritative demand not to take the disciples were of immense significance, as the next verse indicates. 18:9 I have not lost one. Jesus is saying that He protected the disciples from being arrested, so He would not lose any of them, thus fulfilling the promises He made earlier (6:39, 40, 44; 10:28; 17:12). He knew that being arrested and perhaps imprisoned or executed was more than they could bear, and it could shatter their faith. So He made sure it did not happen. All believers are weak and vulnerable if not protected by the Lord. But He will never let them be tempted beyond what they can bear (1Co 10:13), as evidenced here. Believers are eternally secure, not in their own strength, but by the gracious and constant protection of the Savior (cf. Ro 8:35–39). 18:10 Simon Peter. He surely aimed for Malchus’s head, ready to start the battle in defense of his Lord, but his was an ignorant love and courage. Christ healed Malchus’s ear (Lk 22:51). 18:11 not drink the cup . . . given me? Peter’s impetuous bravery in v. 10 not only was misguided, but exhibited failure to understand the centrality of the death that Jesus came to die. The “cup” in the OT is associated with suffering and especially judgment, i.e., the cup of God’s wrath (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15; Eze 23:31–34; see notes on Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42; cf. Rev 14:10; 16:19).
18:19-24pp —Mt 26:59-68; Mk 14:55-65; Lk 22:63-71 19 Meanwhile, the high p riest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. a 9 John
18:13 first to Annas. Annas held the high priesthood office from a.d. 6–15 when Valerius Gratus, Pilate’s predecessor, removed him from office. In spite of this, Annas continued to wield influence over the office, most likely because he was still regarded as the true high priest and, also, because five of his sons, and his son-inlaw Caiaphas, each held the position at different times. Two trials occurred: one Jewish and one Roman. The Jewish phase began with the informal examination by Annas (vv. 12–14, 19–23), probably giving time for the members of the Sanhedrin to hurriedly gather together. A session before the Sanhedrin was next (Mt 26:57–68), at which consensus was reached to send Jesus to Pilate (Mt 27:1, 2). The Roman phase began with a first examination before Pilate (vv. 28–38a; Mt 27:11–14), and then Herod Antipas (“that fox”—Lk 13:32) interrogated Him (Lk 23:6–12). Lastly, Jesus appeared again before Pilate (vv. 38b—19:16; Mt 27:15–31). 18:13, 14 Caiaphas. See notes on 11:49. The examination under Caiaphas was not reported by John (see Mt 26:57–68). 18:15 another disciple . . . this disciple. Traditionally this person has been identified with the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23, 24), i.e., John the apostle who authored this gospel, but he never mentions his own name (see Introduction: Author and Date). 18:16–18 Peter. Here is the record of the first of Peter’s predicted three denials (see note on 18:25–27). 18:16 known to the high priest. Apparently, John was more than just an acquaintance, because the term for “known” can mean a friend (Lk 2:44). The fact that he mentions Nicodemus (3:1) and Joseph (19:38) may indicate his knowledge of other prominent Jews. 18:19 Their main objection was Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God (19:7). According to Jewish law, a case had to be built upon the testimony of multiple witnesses. If this was an informal proceeding, Annas may have justified his actions on the premise
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N 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues i or at the temple, j where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. k 21 Why question me? Ask t hose who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the of ficials l nearby slapped him in the face. m “Is this the way you answer the high p riest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” n 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas o the high priest.
18:20 i Mt 4:23
iaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. u By now it was early morning, and to a void ceremo nial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, v because they wanted to be able to eat the Pass over. w 29 So Pilate came out to them and a sked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. x 33 Pi late then went back inside the palace, y summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” z 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus a sked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief p riests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom a is not of this world. If it were, my servants w ould fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. b But now my king dom is from another place.” c 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
j Mt 26:55 k Jn 7:26
18:22 l ver 3 m Mt 16:21;
Jn 19:3 18:23 n Mt 5:39; Ac 23:2‑5 18:24 o ver 13; Mt 26:3 18:25 p ver 18 q ver 17 18:26 r ver 10 s ver 1 18:27 t Jn 13:38
//Peter’s Second and Third Denials 18:25-27pp —Mt 26:71-75; Mk 14:69-72; Lk 22:58-62 25 Meanwhile,
Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. p So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” q 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, r challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” s 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. t
//Jesus Before Pilate 18:29-40pp —Mt 27:11-18,20-23; Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2,3,18-25 28 Then
the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Ca
18:28 u Mt 27:2;
Mk 15:1; Lk 23:1 Jn 19:9
v ver 33;
w Jn 11:55
18:32 x Mt 20:19;
26:2; Jn 3:14; 8:28; 12:32, 33
18:33 y ver 28, 29;
Jn 19:9 z Lk 23:3; Mt 2:2 18:36 a Mt 3:2 b Mt 26:53 c Lk 17:21; Jn 6:15
that such rules did not apply in this case. J esus, however, knew the law and demanded that witnesses be called (vv. 20, 21). An official knew Jesus was rebuking Annas and retaliated (v. 22). 18:23 In essence, Jesus was asking for a fair trial, while His opponents, who had already decided on the sentence (see 11:47–57), had no intention of providing one. 18:24 Annas recognized that he was not getting anywhere with Jesus and sent Him to Caiaphas because, if Jesus was taken to Pilate for execution, an official charge had to be presented by the current high priest (i.e. Caiaphas) on behalf of the Sanhedrin. See note on v. 13. 18:25–27 Simon Peter. Here was the final fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction that Peter would deny Him three times (cf. Mt 26:34). 18:28—19:16 This section deals with Jesus’ trial before Pilate. Although Pilate appears in every scene here, Jesus Himself and the nature of His kingdom occupy center stage. 18:28 palace of the Roman governor. The headquarters of the Roman military commander or governor (i.e., Pilate), who was normally in Caesarea, but made sure to be in Jerusalem during the festivals in order to quell any riots. Jerusalem became his headquarters. early. The word is ambiguous. Most likely, it refers to around 6:00 a.m. since many Roman officials began their day very early and finished by 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. to avoid ceremonial uncleanness. Jewish oral law indicated that a Jew who went into a Gentile house or dwelling was considered ceremonially unclean. They stayed outside in the colonnade to avoid being tainted. John loads this statement with great irony by noting the chief priests’ scrupulousness in the matter of ceremonial cleansing, when all the
time they were incurring incomparably greater moral defilement by their proceedings against Jesus. 18:29 What charges . . . ? This question formally opened the Roman civil phase of proceedings against Jesus (in contrast to the religious phase before the Jews in v. 24). 18:31 we have no right. When Rome began to rule Judea through a governor, starting in a.d. 6, the Jews lost the right to administer capital punishment. Thus, the Jewish leaders were forced to ask Pilate to authorize the crucifixion of Jesus. 18:32 to fulfill what Jesus had said. Jesus had said that He would die by being “lifted up” (3:14; 8:28; 12:32, 33). If the Jews had executed Him, it would have been by throwing Him down and stoning Him. But God providentially controlled all the political procedures to assure that when sentence was finally passed, He would be crucified by the Romans and not stoned by the Jews, as was Stephen (Ac 7:59). The Jews may have preferred this form of execution based on Dt 21:23. 18:34 others. Again (cf. vv. 20, 21), Jesus demanded witnesses. 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world. By this phrase, Jesus means that His kingdom is not connected to earthly political and national entities, nor does it have its origin in the evil world system that is in rebellion against God. If His kingdom was of this world, He would have fought. The governments of this world protect their interests by fighting with force. Messiah’s kingdom does not originate in the efforts of man but with the Son of Man forcefully and decisively conquering sin in the lives of His people and someday conquering the evil world system at His second coming when He establishes the earthly form of His kingdom. His kingdom was no
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Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the t ruth. d Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” e 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out a gain to the Jews gathered t here and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. f 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. g
18:37 d Jn 3:32 e Jn 8:47;
18:38 f Lk 23:4; Jn 19:4, 6
18:40 g Ac 3:14 19:1 h Dt 25:3;
Isa 50:6; 53:5; Mt 27:26 19:3 i Mt 27:29 j Jn 18:22
//Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified 19:1-16pp —Mt 27:27-31; Mk 15:16-20
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. h 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” i And they slapped him in the face. j 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the
19:4 k Jn 18:38 l ver 6;
o ver 4;
19:5 m ver 2 19:6 n Ac 3:13 19:7 p Lev 24:16 q Mt 26:63‑66;
Jn 5:18; 10:33 19:9 r Jn 18:33 s Mk 14:61 19:11 t Ro 13:1 u Jn 18:28‑30; Ac 3:13
threat to the national identity of Israel or the political and military identity of Rome. It exists in the spiritual dimension until the end of the age (Rev 11:15). 18:38 What is truth? In response to Jesus’ mention of “truth” in v. 37, Pilate responds rhetorically with cynicism, convinced that no answer exists to the question. The retort proved that he was not among those whom the Father had given to the Son (“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me”—v. 37; see notes on 10:1–5). no basis for a charge. Cf. 19:4. John makes it clear that Jesus was not guilty of any sin or crime, thus exhibiting the severe injustice and guilt of both the Jews and Romans who executed Him. 18:40 Barabbas . . . uprising. The Greek word could indicate that Barabbas had been a thief and/or an insurrectionist (cf. Mk 15:7). 19:1 flogged. Pilate appears to have flogged Jesus as a strategy to set Him free (see vv. 4–6). He was hoping that the Jews would be appeased by this action and that sympathy for Jesus’ suffering would result in their desire that He be released (see Lk 23:13–16). Flogging was a horribly cruel act in which the victim was stripped, tied to a post, and beaten by several torturers, i.e., soldiers who alternated when exhausted. For victims who were not Roman citizens, the preferred instrument was a short wooden handle to which several leather thongs were attached. Each leather thong had pieces of bones or metal on the end. The beatings were so savage that sometimes victims died. The body could be torn or lacerated to such an extent that muscles, veins, or bones were exposed. Such flogging often preceded execution in order to weaken and dehumanize the victim (Isa 53:5). Apparently, however, Pilate intended this to create sympathy for Jesus. 19:2 crown of thorns. This “crown” was made from the long spikes (up to 12 inches) of a date palm formed into an imitation of the radiating crowns that oriental kings wore. The long thorns would have cut deeply into Jesus’ head, adding to the pain and bleeding. purple robe. The color represented royalty. The robe probably was a military cloak flung around Jesus’ shoulders, intended to mock His claim to be King of the Jews.
Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out k to you to let you know that I find no ba sis for a charge against him.” l 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, m Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 As soon as the c hief priests and t heir officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and cru cify him. n As for me, I find no basis for a c harge against him.” o 7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, p because he claimed to be the Son of God.” q 8 When Pi late heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. r “Where do you come from?” he a sked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. s 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You w ould have no power over me if it were not given to you from a bove. t Therefore the one who handed me over to you u is guilty of a greater sin.”
19:4 I find no basis for a charge against him. See note on 18:38. 19:5 Here is the man! Pilate dramatically presented Jesus after His torturous treatment by the soldiers. Jesus would have been swollen, bruised, and bleeding. Pilate displayed Jesus as a beaten and pathetic figure hoping to gain the people’s choice of Jesus for release. Pilate’s phrase is filled with sarcasm since he was attempting to impress upon the Jewish authorities that Jesus was not the dangerous man they had made Him out to be. 19:6 You take him and crucify him. The pronouns “you” and “him” have an emphatic force indicating Pilate’s disgust and indignation at the Jews for their callousness toward Jesus. 19:7 We have a law. This probably refers to Lev 24:16: “anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death.” The charge of blasphemy (5:18; 8:58, 59; 10:33, 36) was central in Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas (see Mt 26:57–68). 19:8 more afraid. Many Roman officials were deeply superstitious. While Jews interpreted Jesus’ claims as messianic, to the GrecoRoman person, the title “Son of God” would place Jesus in the category of “divine men” who were gifted with supernatural powers. Pilate was afraid because he had just whipped and tortured someone who, in his mind, could bring down a curse or vengeance upon him. 19:9 Where do you come from? Pilate was concerned about J esus’ origins. His superstitious mind was wondering just what kind of person he was dealing with. 19:11 Jesus’ statement here indicates that even the most heinous acts of wickedness cannot circumvent the sovereignty of God. Pilate had no real control (vv. 10, 11), yet he still stood as a responsible moral agent for his actions. When confronted with opposition and evil, Jesus often found solace in the sovereignty of His Father (e.g., 6:43, 44, 65; 10:18, 28, 29). the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin. This could refer either to Judas or Caiaphas. Since Caiaphas took such an active part in the plot against Jesus (11:49–53) and presided over the Sanhedrin, the
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12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king v opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pi late h eard this, he b rought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat w at a p lace known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aram a ic x is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Prepar ation y of the Passover; it was a bout noon. z “Here is your king,” a Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. b
//The Crucifixion of Jesus 19:17-24pp —Mt 27:33-44; Mk 15:22-32; Lk 23:33-43
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carry ing his own cross, c he went out to the place of
19:12 v Lk 23:2 19:13 w Mt 27:19 x Jn 5:2
19:14 y Mt 27:62
z Mk 15:25 a ver 19, 21 19:16 b Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15; Lk 23:25 19:17 c Ge 22:6; Lk 14:27; 23:26
d Lk 23:33 e Jn 5:2
19:18 f Lk 23:32 19:19 g Mk 1:24 h ver 14, 21
19:20 i Heb 13:12 19:21 j ver 14
reference may center on him (18:30, 35). The critical point is not the identity of the person but guilt because of the deliberate, highhanded, and coldly calculated act of handing Jesus over to Pilate, after having seen and heard the overwhelming evidence that He was Messiah and Son of God. Pilate had not been exposed to that. See notes on 9:41; 15:22–24; Heb 10:26–31. 19:12 no friend of Caesar. This statement by the Jews was loaded with irony, for the Jews’ hatred of Rome certainly indicated they, too, were no friends of Caesar. But they knew Pilate feared Tiberius Caesar (the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion) since he had a highly suspicious personality and exacted ruthless punishment. Pilate had already created upheaval in Jerusalem by several foolish acts that had infuriated the Jews, and so was under the scrutiny of Rome to see if his ineptness continued. The Jews were intimidating him by threatening another upheaval that could spell the end of his power in Jerusalem, if he did not execute Jesus. 19:13 the judge’s seat. Pilate broke under pressure and prepared to render judgment on the initial accusation of sedition against Rome. This “judge’s seat” was the place Pilate sat to render the official verdict. The seat was placed on an area paved with stones known as “The Pavement.” The irony is that Pilate rendered judgment on the One who would one day render a just condemnation of Pilate (5:22). 19:14 day of Preparation of the Passover. This refers to the day before the Passover (according to the Judean calendar) when preparation for the Passover was done. In God’s timing, Jesus was being sentenced to death around the same time that lambs were being slain for the Passover. For the chronology of the week, see Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. about noon. Lit. about the sixth hour. John is here reckoning time by the Roman method of the day beginning at midnight. See note on Mk 15:25. Here is your king. That was Pilate’s mockery—that such a brutalized and helpless man was a fitting king for them. This mockery continued in the placard on the cross (vv. 19–22). 19:17 Carrying his own cross. This refers to the horizontal bar of the cross. Condemned prisoners were required to carry the heavy
the Skull d (which in Aramaic e is called Golgo tha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others f — one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, g the king of the jews. h 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, i and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man c laimed to be king of the Jews.” j 22 Pi late answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his c lothes, dividing them into four s hares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remain ing. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
crossbeam to the execution site. Jesus carried His cross as far as the city gate, but due to the effects of the previous brutal beating, someone else had to eventually carry it for Him, i.e., Simon of Cyrene (Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26). Golgotha. This term is an Eng. transliteration of the Gr. which, in turn, is a translation of the Aram. word meaning “skull.” The place probably derived its name from its appearance. The precise location of the site today is uncertain. 19:18 crucified him. Jesus was forced to lie down while His arms were stretched out and nailed to the horizontal beam that He had carried. The beam was raised up and affixed to the vertical post. His feet were then nailed to the vertical beam. Sometimes a small wooden board was added to create a makeshift seat that provided partial support for the victim’s weight. The latter, however, prolonged the agony, not alleviated it. Victims were stripped naked, beaten, and then hung outside where they would be exposed to both the mockery of the crowds and the elements of nature. Breathing was only possible by pushing up with the legs and straining the arms. It caused excruciating pain, but it was necessary to avoid asphyxiation (see note on Mt 27:31). two others. Matthew (27:38) and Luke (23:33) use the same word for these two as John used for Barabbas, i.e., guerrilla fighters. See note on 18:40. 19:19–22 had a notice prepared. A placard listing his crimes was often placed around the neck of the victim as he was taken to the execution site. The tablet would then be nailed to the victim’s cross (see Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Lk 23:38). Pilate used this opportunity for mocking revenge on the Jews who had so intimidated him into this execution (see note on v. 12). 19:23 his clothes . . . with the undergarment. By custom, the clothes of the condemned person were the property of the executioners. The division of the garments suggests that the execution squad was made up of four soldiers (cf. Ac 12:4). The undergarment was worn next to the skin. The plural “clothes” probably implies there were other garments, including an outer garment, belt, sandals, and head covering. 19:24 John cites Ps 22:18. In the psalm, David, beset by physical distress and mockery by his opponents, uses the symbolism of the
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This happened that the scripture m ight be ful filled k that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” a l So this is what the soldiers did. 25 Near the c ross m of Jesus s tood his mother, n his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. o 26 When Jesus saw his mother p there, and the disciple whom he loved q stand ing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, b here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
//The Death of Jesus 19:29,30pp —Mt 27:48,50; Mk 15:36,37; Lk 23:36 28 Lat er,
knowing that everything had now ould be been finished, r and so that Scripture w fulfilled, s Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar t was there, so they s oaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the d rink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” u
19:24 k ver 28, 36, 37; Mt 1:22 l Ps 22:18 19:25 m Mt 27:55, 56; Mk 15:40, 41; Lk 23:49 n Mt 12:46 o Lk 24:18 19:26 p Mt 12:46 q Jn 13:23 19:28 r ver 30; Jn 13:1 s ver 24, 36, 37 19:29 t Ps 69:21 19:30 u Lk 12:50; Jn 17:4
19:31 v ver 14, 42 w Dt 21:23; Jos 8:29; 10:26, 27 19:32 x ver 18 19:34 y Zec 12:10 z 1Jn 5:6, 8 19:35 a Lk 24:48 b Jn 15:27; 21:24 19:36 c ver 24, 28, 37; Mt 1:22 d Ex 12:46; Nu 9:12; Ps 34:20 19:37 e Zec 12:10; Rev 1:7
common practice in an execution scene in which the executioner divided the victim’s clothes to portray the depth of his trouble. It is notable that David precisely described a form of execution that he had never seen. The passage was typologically prophetic of Jesus, David’s heir to the messianic throne (see Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34). 19:25 Although the exact number of women mentioned here is questioned, John probably refers to four women rather than three, i.e., two by name and two without naming them: 1) “his mother” (Mary); 2) “his mother’s sister” (probably Salome [Mk 15:40] the sister of Mary and mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee [Mt 27:56, 57; Mk 15:40]); 3) “Mary the wife of Clopas” (the mother of James the younger and Joseph—Mt 27:56); and 4) Mary Magdalene (“Magdalene” signifies “Magdala,” a village on the W shore of Galilee, two or three mi. N of Tiberias). Mary Magdalene figures prominently in the resurrection account (see 20:1–18; cf. Lk 8:2, 3 where Jesus healed her from demon possession). 19:26 the disciple whom he loved. This is a reference to John (see note on 13:23; cf. Introduction: Author and Date). Jesus, as the first-born son of Mary, did not give the responsibility to His brothers because they were not sympathetic to His ministry nor did they believe in Him (7:3–5) and they likely were not present at the time (i.e., their home was in Capernaum—see 2:12). 19:29 The drink here is not the same as the “wine . . . mixed with gall” offered to Him as He arrived at Golgotha (Mt 27:34) which was intended to lessen the pain. The purpose of this cheap, sour wine (cf. Mk 15:36) was to prolong life and increase the torture. The term harkens back to Ps 69:21 where the same word is found in the Septuagint. Hyssop is a little plant that is ideal for sprinkling (see Ex12:22). 19:30 It is finished. The verb here carries the idea of fulfilling one’s mission and religious obligations (see 17:4). The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion. The single Gr. word here (translated “it is finished”) has been found in the papyri being placed on receipts for taxes meaning “paid in full” (see Col
With that, he b owed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Now it was the day of Prepar ation, v and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses w during the Sabbath, they asked Pi late to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. x 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 In stead, one of the soldiers pierced y Jesus’ side with a s pear, bringing a sudden flow of b lood and wa ter. z 35 The man who saw it a has given testimony, and his testimony is true. b He knows that he t ells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may be lieve. 36 These t hings happened so that the scrip ture would be fulfilled: c “Not one of his b ones will be broken,” c d 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” d e a 24 Psalm 22:18 b 26
The Greek for Woman does not denote any disrespect. c 36 Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:12; Psalm 34:20
d 37 Zech. 12:10
3:13, 14). he . . . gave up his spirit. The sentence signaled that Jesus “handed over” His spirit as an act of His will. No one took His life from Him, for He voluntarily and willingly gave it up (see 10:17, 18). 19:31 day of Preparation. This refers to Friday, the day before or the “Preparation” day for the Sabbath. See Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath. Though the Romans had no problem leaving crucified victims hanging on crosses long after they died (allowing their corpses to rot or be eaten by birds), the Jewish leaders insisted that Jesus’ body be taken down. The Mosaic law stipulated that a person hanged on a tree should not remain there overnight (Dt 21:22, 23). They would have been especially wary of this in light of the Passover celebration. to have the legs broken. In order to hasten death for certain reasons, soldiers would break the legs of the victim with an iron mallet. Doing so inhibited the dying man’s ability to push up with his legs in order to breath (see note on v. 18). Death by asphyxiation soon followed. 19:34 The soldier’s stabbing of Jesus’ side caused significant penetration because of the sudden flow of blood and water. Either the spear pierced Jesus’ heart or the chest cavity was pierced at the bottom. In either event, John mentions the outflow of “blood and water” to emphasize that Jesus was unquestionably dead. 19:35 The man who saw it. This has reference to John the apostle who was an eyewitness of these events (v. 26; 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20; cf. 1Jn 1:1–4). 19:36, 37 John quoted from either Ex 12:46 or Nu 9:12, since both stipulate that the bones of the Passover lamb must not be broken. Since the NT portrays Jesus as the Passover Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (1:29; cf. 1Co 5:7; 1Pe 1:19), these verses have special typologically prophetic significance for Him. This quote comes from Zec 12:10. The anguish and contrition of the Jews in the Zechariah passage, because of their wounding of God’s Shepherd, is typologically prophetic of the time of the coming of
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//The Burial of Jesus 19:38-42pp —Mt 27:57-61; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56 38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, f the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. a 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. g This was in accordance with Jew ish burial customs. h 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation i and since the tomb was nearby, j they laid Jesus there.
//The Empty Tomb 20:1-8pp —Mt 28:1-8; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-10
Early on the first day of the week, w hile it was still dark, Mary Magdalene k went
19:39 f Jn 3:1; 7:50 19:40 g Lk 24:12; Jn 11:44; 20:5, 7
h Mt 26:12
19:42 i ver 14, 31
j ver 20, 41 20:1 k ver 18; Jn 19:25
l Mt 27:60, 66
20:2 m Jn 13:23 n ver 13
20:3 o Lk 24:12 20:5 p ver 11 q Jn 19:40
20:7 r Jn 11:44 20:8 s ver 4 20:9 t Mt 22:29;
Jn 2:22 u Lk 24:26, 46
the Son of God, Messiah, when at His return, Israel shall mourn for the rejection and killing of their King (cf. Rev 1:7). 19:38 Joseph of Arimathea. This man appears in all four gospels, only in connection with Jesus’ burial. The Synoptics relate that he was a member of the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:43), he was rich (Mt 27:57), and he was looking for the kingdom of God (Lk 23:51). John treats the idea of secret disciples negatively (see 12:42, 43), but since Joseph publicly risked his reputation and even his life in asking for the body of Jesus, John pictures him in a more positive light. 19:39 Nicodemus. See notes on 3:1–10. about seventy-five pounds. Myrrh was a very fragrant gummy resin, which the Jews turned into a powdered form and mixed with aloes, a powder from the aromatic sandalwood. The Jews did not embalm but did this procedure to suppress the odor of decay (see note on 11:39). 19:40 spices, in strips of linen. The spices most likely were spread along the full length of the cloth strips, which were then wrapped around Jesus’ body. Additional spices were placed underneath the body and set around it. The sticky resin would help the cloth adhere. 19:41, 42 garden . . . new tomb. Only John relates that the tomb was near the place where Jesus was crucified. Since the Sabbath, when no more work was allowed, was nearly upon them (6:00 p.m., sunset), the close proximity of the tomb was helpful (Mt 27:58–61). For the time of the Lord’s death and burial, see note on Mt 27:45. 20:1–31 This chapter records the appearances of Jesus to His own followers: 1) the appearance to Mary Magdalene (vv. 1–18); 2) the appearance to the 10 disciples (vv. 19–23); and 3) the appearance to Thomas (vv. 24–29). Jesus did not appear to unbelievers (see 14:19; 16:16, 22) because the evidence of His resurrection would not have convinced them as the miracles had not (Lk 16:31). The god of this world had blinded them and prevented their belief (2Co 4:4). Jesus, therefore, appears exclusively to His own in order to confirm their faith in the living Christ. Such appearances were so profound that they transformed the disciples from cowardly men hiding in fear to bold witnesses for Jesus (e.g., Peter; see 18:27;
to the tomb and saw that the stone had been re moved from the entrance. l 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, m and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” n 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. o 4 Both were running, but the oth er disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in p at the s trips of linen q lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came a long behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of lin en lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. r The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the lin en. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, s also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They s till did not understand from Scripture t that J esus had to rise from the dead.) u a 39 Or about
cf. Ac 2:14–39). Once again John’s purpose in recording these resurrection appearances was to demonstrate that Jesus’ physical and bodily resurrection was the crowning proof that He truly is the Messiah and Son of God who laid down His life for His own (10:17, 18; 15:13; cf. Ro 1:4). 20:1 first day of the week. A reference to Sunday. From then on, believers set aside Sunday to meet and remember the marvelous resurrection of the Lord (see Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2). It became known as the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10). See notes on Lk 24:4, 34. while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Perhaps the reason why Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene was to demonstrate grace by His personal, loving faithfulness to someone who formerly had a sordid past; but clearly also because she loved Him so dearly and deeply, that she appeared before anyone else at the tomb. Her purpose in coming was to finish the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial by bringing more spices to anoint the corpse (Lk 24:1). 20:2 the one Jesus loved. This is the author John. They have taken. Though Jesus had predicted His resurrection numerous times, it was more than she could believe at that point. It would take His showing Himself alive to them by many “convincing proofs” (Ac 1:3) for them to believe. 20:5–7 looked in at the strips of linen lying there. A contrast existed between the resurrection of Lazarus (11:44) and that of Jesus. While Lazarus came forth from the grave wearing his graveclothes, Jesus’ body, though physical and material, was glorified and now able to pass through the graveclothes much in the same way that He later appeared in the locked room (see vv. 19, 20; cf. Php 3:21). strips of linen . . . cloth. The state of those items indicates no struggle, no hurried unwrapping of the body by grave robbers, who wouldn’t unwrap the body anyway, since transporting it elsewhere would be easier and more pleasant if it was left in its wrapped and spiced condition. All appearances indicated that no one had taken the body, but that it had moved through the cloth and left it behind in the tomb. 20:8 the other disciple. John saw the graveclothes and was convinced by them that Jesus had risen.
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John 20:10 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
//Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene 11 Now
Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb v 12 and saw two an gels in white, w seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you cry ing?” x “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” y 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, z but she did not realize that it was J esus. a 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? b Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Ar amaic, c “Rabboni!” d (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my
20:11 v ver 5 20:12 w Mt 28:2, 3; Mk 16:5; Lk 24:4; Ac 5:19 20:13 x ver 15 y ver 2 20:14 z Mt 28:9; Mk 16:9 a Lk 24:16; Jn 21:4 20:15 b ver 13 20:16 c Jn 5:2 d Mt 23:7
20:17 e Mt 28:10 f Jn 7:33
20:18 g ver 1
h Lk 24:10, 22, 23
20:19 i Jn 7:13
j Jn 14:27 k ver 21, 26; Lk 24:36‑39 20:20 l Lk 24:39, 40; Jn 19:34 m Jn 16:20, 22 20:21 n ver 19 o Jn 3:17 p Mt 28:19; Jn 17:18 20:22 q Jn 7:39; Ac 2:38; 8:15‑17; 19:2; Gal 3:2 20:23 r Mt 16:19; 18:18 20:24 s Jn 11:16
20:9 did not understand from Scripture. Neither Peter nor John understood that Scripture said Jesus would rise (Ps 16:10). This is evident by the reports of Luke (24:25–27, 32, 44–47). Jesus had foretold His resurrection (2:19; Mt 16:21; Mk 8:31; 9:31; Lk 9:22), but they would not accept it (Mt 16:22; Lk 9:44, 45). By the time John wrote this gospel, the church had developed an understanding of the OT prediction of Messiah’s resurrection (cf. “still”). 20:11–13 crying. Mary’s grief may have drawn her back to the tomb. She apparently had not crossed paths with Peter or John and thus did not know of Jesus’ resurrection (see v. 9). 20:12 two angels. Luke (24:4) describes both. Matthew (28:2, 3) and Mk (16:5) report only one. John’s reason for the mention of angels is to demonstrate that no grave robbers took the body. This was an operation of the power of God. 20:14 did not realize that it was Jesus. The reason for Mary’s failure to recognize Jesus is uncertain. She may not have recognized Him because her tears blurred her eyes (v. 11). Possibly also, the vivid memories of Jesus’ bruised and broken body were still etched in her mind, and Jesus’ resurrection appearance was so dramatically different that she failed to recognize Him. Perhaps, however, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, she was supernaturally prevented from recognizing Him until He chose for her to do so (see Lk 24:16). 20:16 Mary. Whatever the reason for her failure to recognize Jesus, the moment He spoke the single word, “Mary,” she immediately recognized Him. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (10:27; cf. 10:3, 4). 20:17 Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended. Mary was expressing a desire to hold on to His physical presence for fear that she would once again lose Him. Jesus’ reference to His ascension signifies that He would only be with them temporarily and though she desperately wanted Him to stay, He could not. Jesus was with them only for 40 more days and then He ascended (Ac 1:3–11).
brothers e and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Fa ther f and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene g went to the disciples h with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
//Jesus Appears to His Disciples 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, i Jesus came and s tood among them and said, “Peace j be with you!” k 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. l The disciples were overjoyed m when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! n As the Father has sent me, o I am sending you.” p 22 And with that he b reathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. q 23 If you forgive any one’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” r
//Jesus Appears to Thomas 24 Now
Thomas s (also known as Didymus a ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples a 24
Thomas (Aramaic) and Didymus (Greek) both mean twin.
After He went to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit (“the Advocate”) so that they would not feel abandoned (see note on 14:18, 19). my brothers. Disciples have been called “servants” or “friends” (15:15), but not “brothers,” until here. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross in place of the sinner, this new relationship to Christ was made possible (Ro 8:14–17; Gal 3:26, 27; Eph 1:5; Heb 2:10–13). 20:19 of that first day. See note on v. 1. with the doors locked. The Gr. word indicates the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Since the authorities had executed their leader, they reasonably expected that Jesus’ fate could be their own. Peace be with you. See notes on 14:27; 16:33. Jesus’ greeting complements His “It is finished,” for His work on the cross accomplished peace between God and His people (Ro 5:1; Eph 2:14–17). 20:20 Jesus proved that He who appeared to them was the same One who was crucified (cf. Lk 24:39). 20:21 This commission builds on 17:18. See Mt 28:19, 20. 20:22 Since the disciples did not actually receive the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost, some 40 days in the future (Ac 1:8; 2:1–3), this statement must be understood as a pledge on Christ’s part that the Holy Spirit would be coming. 20:23 See notes on Mt 16:19; 18:18. This verse does not give authority to Christians to forgive sins. Jesus was saying that the believer can boldly declare the certainty of a sinner’s forgiveness by the Father because of the work of His Son if that sinner has repented and believed the gospel. The believer with certainty can also tell those who do not respond to the message of God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ that their sins, as a result, are not forgiven. 20:24–26 Thomas has already been portrayed as loyal but pessimistic. Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his failure, but instead compassionately offered him proof of His resurrection. Jesus lovingly met him at the point of his weakness. Thomas’s actions indicated that Jesus had to convince the disciples rather forcefully of
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when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger w here the nails were, and put my hand into his side, t I will not believe.” u 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and s tood a mong them and said, “Peace v be with you!” w 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” x 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then J esus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; y blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” z
20:25 t ver 20 u Mk 16:11
20:26 v Jn 14:27 w ver 21
20:27 x ver 25; Lk 24:40
20:29 y Jn 3:15 z 1Pe 1:8
20:30 a Jn 2:11
b Jn 21:25 20:31 c Jn 3:15; 19:35 d Mt 4:3 e Mt 25:46 21:1 f Jn 20:19, 26 g Jn 6:1 21:2 h Jn 11:16
//The Purpose of John’s Gospel 30 Jesus per formed many other signs a in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. b 31 But these are written that you may believe a c that J esus is the Messiah, the Son of God, d and that by believing you may have life in his name. e
//Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, f by the Sea of Galilee. b g It hap pened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas h (also
i Jn 1:45 j Jn 2:1 k Mt 4:21
21:3 l Lk 5:5 21:4 m Lk 24:16; Jn 20:14
21:6 n Lk 5:4‑7 21:7 o Jn 13:23 21:9 p Jn 18:18 q ver 10, 13
His resurrection, i.e., they were not gullible people predisposed to believing in resurrection. The point is they would not have fabricated it or hallucinated it, since they were so reluctant to believe even with the evidence they could see. 20:28 My Lord and my God! With these words, Thomas declared his firm belief in the resurrection and, therefore, the deity of Jesus the Messiah and Son of God (Titus 2:13). This is the greatest confession a person can make. Thomas’s confession functions as the fitting capstone of John’s purpose in writing (see vv. 30, 31).
known as Didymus c ), Nathanael i from Cana in Galilee, j the sons of Zebedee, k and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that n ight they c aught nothing. l 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. m 5 He called out to them, “Friends, h aven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. n 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved o said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other dis ciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, a bout a hundred yards. d 9 When they landed, they saw a fire p of burning coals there with fish on it, q and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and d ragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so a 31 Or may continue to believe b 1 Greek Tiberias c 2 Thomas (Aramaic) and Didymus (Greek) both mean twin. d 8 Or about 90 meters
question is answered in vv. 15–17. 3) What about the future of the disciples now that they are without their Master? This question is answered in vv. 18, 19. 4) Was John going to die? Jesus answers this question in vv. 20–23. 5) Why weren’t other things that Jesus did recorded by John? John gives the answer to that in vv. 24, 25. 21:1 Sea of Galilee. An alternate name for the Sea of Tiberias, found only in John (see 6:1). 21:2 Simon Peter. In all lists of the apostles, he is named first, indicating his general leadership of the group (e.g., Mt 10:2).
20:29 Jesus looked ahead to a time when such physical evidence as Thomas received would not be available. When Jesus ascended permanently to the Father, believers would come to saving faith without the privilege of seeing the resurrected Lord. Jesus pronounced a special blessing on those who believe without having Thomas’s privilege (1Pe 1:8, 9).
21:3 I’m going out to fish. The most reasonable explanation for Peter and the others to go to Galilee in order to fish was that they went in obedience to the Lord’s command to meet Him in Galilee (Mt 28:16). Peter and the others occupied themselves with fishing, which was their former livelihood, while they awaited Jesus’ appearance.
20:30, 31 These verses constitute the goal and purpose for which John wrote the gospel (see Introduction: Background and Setting).
21:4 This could be another instance in which the Lord kept His disciples from recognizing Him (20:14, 15; cf. Lk 24:16).
21:1–25 John 21:1–25 constitutes the epilogue or appendix of John’s gospel. While 20:30–31 constitute the conclusion of the main body of the work, the information here at the end provides a balance to his prologue in 1:1–18. The epilogue essentially answers five lingering questions. 1) Will Jesus no longer directly provide for His own (cf. 20:17)? This question is answered in vv. 1–14. 2) What happened to Peter? Peter had denied Christ three times and fled. The last time Peter was seen was in 20:6–8 where both he and John saw the empty tomb but only John believed (20:8). This
21:7 the disciple whom Jesus loved. John immediately recognized that the stranger was the risen Lord, for only He had such supernatural knowledge and power (v. 6). Peter impulsively jumped in and headed to see the Lord.
21:9 fish . . . and some bread. Apparently, the Lord created this breakfast as He had created food for the multitudes (6:1–13). 21:11 153. John’s recording of the precise number reinforces the fact that he was an eyewitness author of the events he recorded
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many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disci ples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. r 14 This was now the third time Jesus ap peared to his disciples s after he was r aised from the dead.
21:13 r ver 9 21:14 s Jn 20:19, 26 21:15 t Mt 26:33, 35; Jn 13:37
u Lk 12:32
21:16 v Mt 2:6;
Ac 20:28; 1Pe 5:2, 3
//Jesus Reinstates Peter 15 When
they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” t Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” u 16 Again J esus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” v 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the
21:17 w Jn 13:38
x Jn 16:30 y ver 16
21:19 z Jn 12:33; 18:32 a 2Pe 1:14
21:20 b ver 7;
Jn 13:23 c Jn 13:25
21:22 d Mt 16:27; 1Co 4:5; Rev 2:25
e ver 19
21:23 f Ac 1:16
t hird time, “Do you love me?” w He said, “Lord, you know all things; x you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. y 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went w here you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your h ands, and some one else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death z by which Peter would glorify God. a Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved b was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back a gainst Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to be tray you?”) c 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus an swered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, d what is that to you? You must follow me.” e 23 Because of this, the rumor s pread among the believers f that this disciple would not die. But J esus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This is the dis ciple who testifies to these
(1Jn 1:1–4). Jesus’ action here in providing the fish also indicated that He would still provide for His disciples’ needs (see Php 4:19; Mt 6:25–33).
nourishing the sheep. This served as a reminder that the primary duty of the messenger of Jesus Christ is to teach the Word of God (2Ti 4:2). Acts 1–12 records Peter’s obedience to this commission.
21:14 the third time. The reference to the “third time” refers only to the appearances reported in John’s gospel, i.e., the first being in 20:19–23 and the second in 20:26–29.
21:17 Peter was hurt. The third time Jesus asked Peter, He used Peter’s word for love that signified something less than total devotion, questioning even that level of love Peter thought he was safe in claiming (see note on vv. 15–17). The lessons driven home to Peter grieved his heart, so that he sought for a proper understanding of his heart, not by what he said or had done, but based on the Lord’s omniscience (cf. 2:24, 25).
21:15–17 The meaning of this section hinges upon the usage of two synonyms for love. In terms of interpretation, when two synonyms are placed in close proximity in context, a difference in meaning, however slight, is emphasized. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter responded with a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was not because he was reluctant to express that greater love, but because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past. He was, perhaps, now reluctant to make a claim of supreme devotion when, in the past, his life did not support such a claim. Jesus pressed home to Peter the need for unswerving devotion by repeatedly asking Peter if he loved Him supremely. The essential message here is that Jesus demands total commitment from His followers. Their love for Him must place Him above their love for all else. Jesus confronted Peter with love because He wanted Peter to lead the apostles (Mt 16:18), but in order for Peter to be an effective shepherd, his overwhelming drive must exemplify supreme love for his Lord. 21:15, 16 more than these? This probably refers to the fish (v. 11) representing Peter’s profession as a fisherman, for he had gone back to it while waiting for Jesus (see v. 3). Jesus wanted Peter to love Him so supremely as to forsake all that he was familiar with and be exclusively devoted to being a fisher of men (Mt 4:19). The phrase may refer to the other disciples, since Peter had claimed he would be more devoted than all the others (Mt 26:33). Feed my lambs. The word “feed” conveys the idea of being devoted to the Lord’s service as an undershepherd who cares for His flock (see 1Pe 5:1–4). The word has the idea of constantly feeding and
21:18, 19 A prophecy of Peter’s martyrdom. Jesus’ call of devotion to Him would also mean that Peter’s devotion would entail his own death (Mt 10:37–39). Whenever any Christian follows Christ, he must be prepared to suffer and die (Mt 16:24–26). Peter lived three decades serving the Lord and anticipating the death that was before him (2Pe 1:12–15), but he wrote that such suffering and death for the Lord brings praise to God (1Pe 4:14–16). Church tradition records that Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero (ca. a.d. 67–68), being crucified upside down, because he refused to be crucified like his Lord. 21:20–22 Jesus’ prophecy regarding Peter’s martyrdom prompted Peter to ask what would happen to John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”—see 13:23). He may have asked this because of his deep concern for John’s future, since he was an intimate friend. Jesus’ reply, “You must follow me,” signified that Peter’s primary concern must not be John but his continued devotion to the Lord and His service, i.e., Christ’s service must be his all-consuming passion and nothing must detract from it. 21:22, 23 until I return. Jesus’ hypothetical statement for emphasis was that, if John lived until His second coming, it was none of Peter’s concern. He needed to live his own life in faithfulness, not compare it with any other. 21:24 the disciple who testifies. John is a personal witness of
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N things g and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. h 25 Jesus did many other t hings as well. i If every
21:24 g Jn 15:27
one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that w ould be written.
h Jn 19:35
21:25 i Jn 20:30
the truth of the events that he recorded. The “we” most likely is an editorial device referring only to John (see 1:14; 1Jn 1:1–4; 3Jn 12), or it may include the collective witness of his apostolic colleagues.
21:25 John explains that he had been selective rather than exhaustive in his testimony. Although selective, the truth revealed in John’s gospel is sufficient to bring anyone to faith in the Messiah and Son of God (14:26; 16:13).
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