Barrett's Commentary on John 13-21
(The Book of Glory)
28. The Supper to the Departure of Judas. 13.1-30
29. Transition to the Last Discourses. 13.31-8
30. The Departure of Jesus a Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31
31. The True Vine. 15.1-17
32. The Hatred of the World. 15.18-27
33. The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15
34. The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33
35. The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26
36. The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11
37. The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27
38. Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16
39. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 19.17-30
40. The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42
41. The Empty Tomb and the first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18
42. Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31
43. The Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14
44. The Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25
Isolated Text: The Woman Taken In Adultery 7.53-8.11
(Extensive editing has been done on this e-text. Assuming in today's students a less detailed knowledge of the biblical languages than was expected by Dr. Barrett, we have replaced most of the Greek and Hebrew phrases in his text with the corresponding English of the NRSV. However, some Greek and Hebrew words are transliterated here, [using Í for Íta and Ű for Űmega], where an interpretive point is made on the basis of a particular term. Also, in in order to focus on the main line of his exegesis, we have shortened Dr Barrett's text a little, omitting many of his minor text-critical asides, as well as his footnotes, and some of his references to earlier commentators, now little known. The page numbering is at the bottom of each page, along with a running "footer".)
28. The Supper to the Departure of Judas. 13.1-30
The day before Passover Jesus and his
disciples took supper together. The meal was not the Passover meal, nor any
identifiable in the Jewish calendar. During (or after - see the note on v. 2)
supper Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and there followed conversation
on washing, and on humility and love. The unity of the small group of
friends, though close, was not perfect; Jesus foretold that Judas, though he
had eaten with him, would betray him. This intelligence he communicated to
the disciple "whom he loved".
The narrative which may be thus
briefly outlined raises noteworthy critical and historical difficulties. It
contains on the one hand material closely parallel to the synoptic narratives
and in all probability derived from them - the fact that a supper was taken
on the last night of Jesus' life, and the prediction of the betrayal by
Judas. On the other hand, John places the supper on a different day from that
given by the synoptists, omits altogether the synoptic words in explanation
of the bread and wine eaten and drunk at the supper (the "Institution of
the Eucharist"), and includes the narrative of the feet-washing, which
is contained in no other gospel. On the date of the last supper see
Introduction, pp. 39ff. ; on the omission of the eucharistic passage see
Introduction, pp. 42, 71; the feet-washing is probably to be regarded as a
Johannine construction based on the synoptic tradition that Jesus was in the
midst of his disciples as ho diakonŰn Ė the one who serves (Luke
22.27). The humble service of the Son of man is thus brought out in a telling
narrative. It is not impossible that the incident was already to be found in
pre-Johannine tradition; but in its present form it bears unmistakably the
imprint of John's thought. This is indeed true of the section as a whole.
It has already been suggested (p. 13; see also pp. 378ff.) that chs. 13-17 are to be regarded as explanatory of the
passion narrative which follows them. In this explanation 13.1-30 plays a special
part. There stands first a symbolic narrative, the washing of the disciples'
feet, which prefigures the crucifixion itself, and in doing so points the way
to the interpretation of the crucifixion. The public act of Jesus on Calvary,
and his private act in the presence of his disciples, are alike in that each
is an act of humility and service, and that each proceeds from the love of
Jesus for his own. The cleansing of the disciples' feet represents their
cleansing from sin in the sacrificial blood of Christ (1.29; 19.34). When the
significance of what is taking place is explained to him, Peter exclaims,
Lord, not my feet only, but also my head and my hands (v. 9); so Jesus being
lifted up on the cross draws all men to himself (12.32). Just as the cross is
the temporal manifestation of the eternal movement of Christ from the Father
who sends him into the
363 (The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
world, and again from the world to the
Father, so the feet-washing is enacted by Jesus in full recognition of the
same fact (vv. i, 3). Perhaps, in a secondary way, the sacraments of baptism
and the eucharist are also prefigured; see the notes on vv. 10, 18. In any
case, the act of washing is what the crucifixion is, at once a divine deed by
which men are released from sin and an example which men must imitate.
Out of this twofold significance of
the feet-washing and of the death of Jesus two further points arise, (i)
Through the work of Christ God has cleansed a people for himself; yet the
people are not all cleansed. Satan finds in Judas, one of the Twelve, a tool
ready to his hand. John, as was noted above, uses synoptic material here, but
he welds it into his own scheme of thought (vv. 10f., 18f.). Sin, even the
ultimate apostasy of Judas, remains possible (cf. 1 John 5.16). (ii) The
apostles, the disciples and servants of Jesus who is teacher and lord, must
follow his example: they must show the same humility, must, in fact, take up
the cross and follow Jesus. So far as they do so, they share his authority.
To receive a man sent by Christ is to receive Christ; to receive Christ is to
receive God (v. 20). Thus the Church is the responsible envoy of Christ,
sharing his dignity and obliged to copy his humility and service.
Notwithstanding its authority, it enj'oys no absolute security, since even
one of the Twelve may prove to be a traitor.
At the end of this section Judas goes
out into the darkness; from this point Jesus is alone with the faithful. They
are slow of heart, and their loyalty is about to be shaken to the
foundations, but to them the mystery of God may be unfolded.
1. before the feast of Passover
(pro de tÍs heortÍs tou pascha.) Cf. 12.1. That John means in fact the
day before the Passover is shown by 18.28; 19.14,31,42. By this note he
clearly distinguishes between the last supper and the Jewish Passover; in
doing so he contradicts the synoptic narrative, according to which the last
supper was the Passover meal, and Jesus died a day later than John allows. On
this difference, and the date of the crucifixion, see Introduction, pp.
3a.fr. By this alteration, and by his omission of any reference to the bread
and wine of the supper, John emphasizes that the eucharist was not simply a
Christian, or Christianized, Passover. He may also have been influenced by a disciplina
arcanorum, and unwilling to betray factual details about the origin and
conduct of the Christian rite; this, however, cannot be regarded as certain.
Ílthen autou hÍ hŰra
, the hour of his death and exaltation. See on 2.4.
. The explanatory hina is characteristic of John; there is
no need to regard it as a misrendering of the Aramaic, here intended as a
temporal particle. metabainein is well chosen to express transference
from one world to another; it is equally applicable to the thought of death
as a departure, and to ascension into heaven.
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
ek tou kosmou toutou
see on 1.10. The word is common throughout the gospel, but ho
kosmos (houtos) occurs 40 times in the last discourses. The
emphasis lies on the distinction between the world, and the disciples
(representing the Church), who are chosen out of it. This distinction is
naturally a qualitative one; yet it is not forgotten that in the primitive
Christian tradition ho kosmos (aiŰn) houtos, representing ha'olam
ha-zeh, (this age), is an eschatological expression, and behind the
qualitative distinction there remains a temporal. In the eschatological
terminology it had been said that the full manifestation of Jesus and his own
lay in a real chronological future. John does not lose sight of this future,
but his stress upon the centrality of the incarnate life of Jesus, and
particularly of his death and exaltation, makes possible an ontological
distinction between Jesus and his own on the one hand, and the world on the
other. It is in view of his own imminent departure from the sphere of this
world that Jesus regulates the life of his own who, since they belong to him
and will for ever be united to him yet continue to live in the world, will
henceforth live a twofold existence.
Having loved his own who were in
the world (agapÍsas tous idious tous en tŰ kosmŰ).
See the last note. For hoi idioi cf. 1.11, where however the
expression is used in a different sense. 10.3f.,12 form a closer parallel,
but the meaning is perhaps best brought out by 15.19; Jesus loves his own,
and the world similarly loves its own (to idion) and hates those who
belong to Jesus. John emphasizes the contrast between Jesus and the world and
thereby prepares the way for the whole of chs. 13-17. The disciples, though
belonging to Jesus, are nevertheless en tŰ kosmŰ, where their Master
He loved them to the end (Eis telos
ÍgapÍsen autous). In Hellenistic Greek eis
telos may be an adverbial phrase with the meaning "completely",
"utterly". This would yield a satisfactory sense here: Jesus' love
for his own was capable of any act of service or suffering. But it is
probable that here (and at Mark 13.13 and parallels, 1 Thess. 2.16) TeAos retains
something of its primary significance of "end". Jesus loved his own
up to the last moment of his life. Moreover telos recalls the
eschatology of the earlier gospels; the "hour" of Jesus, the hour
of his suffering, was an anticipation of the last events.
2. After supper (deipnou ginomenou).
For deipnon see on 12.2. Here it undoubtedly means an evening meal (v.
30), supper. At 1 Cor. 11.20 it is used with reference to the agapÍ or
eucharist. For ginomenou, genomenou is fairly well attested in
the mss.; it is not however so appropriate to the context as ginomenou,
since the supper was still in progress (v. 26). There is no indication in
John's narrative at what point the events connected with the institution of
the eucharist may have taken place.
Tou diabolou ÍdÍ beblÍkotos eis tÍn
kardian hina paradoi auton Ioudas. "The
devil had already made up his mind that Judas should betray him
[Jesus]." The translation of R.V. (The devil having already put into the
heart of Judas... to betray him) can be maintained only if the genitive of
the name Judas is read. This however is probably a simplifying gloss, and
should be rejected. For the construction cf. Job. 22.22, analabe Ö en
kardia sou, and I Sam. 29.10, mÍ thÍs en kardia sou (no
corresponding Hebrew). See also Luke 21.14 (and parallels adduced in
365 (The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
For the thought cf. v. 27, and 6.70, ex humŰn heis diabolos
estin (Luke is the only other evangelist to connect Judas's treachery
directly with Satan). paradoi is the form of the verb that appears in
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, an obviously vernacular form - as its papyrus
record shows - it may safely be assumed right... Though a late form of the
optative coincides with it, there is not the slightest syntactical reason for
doubt that in the New Testament it is always subjunctive.
3. eidŰs hoti panta edŰken autŰ ho
patÍr eis tas cheiras. - The construction is awkward; either autŰ or eis tas cheiras would have sufficed alone. The primary intention here and
in the next clause is to emphasize the humility of the Lord and Master, who
stoops to serve his servants. Jesus washes their feet in full knowledge that
he is the Son of God and the heavenly Man. edŰken is a
"timeless" aorist; no particular moment of giving is in mind. Cf.
3.35, ho patÍr Ö panta dedŰken en tÍ cheiri autou, and the less
general statements of 5.22,26.
Knowing... that he had come from
God and was going to God. Cf. v. 1; the hour of
departure was at hand, and in fact Jesus was going to his eternal glory with
the Father through the humiliation of the cross, of which the humiliation of
the feet-washing was an intended prefigurement. This glory in humiliation is
one of the major themes of chs. 13-17, and the opening acted parable states
it very clearly.
4. he set aside his clothing (tithÍsin
ta himatia,) apotithenai would have been a more natural word. Cf.
the use of tithenai (with psychÍn) at 10.11,15,17f; 13-37f.
When Jesus lays aside his garments in preparation for his act of humility and
cleansing he foreshadows the laying down of his life. Cf. 19.23.
here, and v. 5, only in the New Testament. It is a Latinism, a
transliteration of linteum, but not uncommon in later Greek (see L.S. s.v.)
The linteum is worn by a slave in Suetonius, Caligula, 26.
5. ballei is of course used in
the weak sense common in Hellenistic Greek; the addition of AccfScov by D 9
sin is due to assimilation to labŰn lention in v. 4.
. The word is hap. leg. in the New Testament, and not
attested elsewhere (except in ecclesiastical Greek). It is regularly formed
from niptein formed from niptein (to wash); substantives
in ĖtÍr "are chiefly names of agents and instruments"
This word brings out the force of erchetai in the next verse; he
proceeded to wash each in turn. This is therefore not the redundant Semitic
use of "to begin" as an auxiliary.
niptein tous podas tŰn mathÍtŰn
. The washing of the master's feet was a menial task which was not
required of the Jewish slave (in distinction from slaves of other
nationalities; Mekhilta Ex. 21.2). The degrading character of the task
should not however be exaggerated. Wives washed the feet of their husbands,
and children of their parents. Disciples were expected to perform acts of
personal service for their rabbis (e.g. Berakoth 7b: R, Johanan (f
A.D. 279) said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yochai (c. A.D. 150): The service
of the Law [that is, of teachers of it] is more important than learning it.
See 2 Kings 3.11: Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, which
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
poured water on the hands of Elijah.
It does not say "who learnt" but "who poured"; that
teaches that the service is the greater of the two). The point in the present
passage is that the natural relationship is reversed in an act of unnecessary
and striking (as Peter's objection, vv. 6, 8, shows) humility. In John's
understanding the act is at once exemplary, revelatory, and salutary. The
disciples must in turn wash each other's feet (vv. 14f.); the act of loving
condescension reveals the love of Jesus for his own (v. 1), just as the
mutual love of the disciples will reveal their relationship with Christ (v.
35); and the feet-washing represented a real act of cleansing which did not
need to be repeated (vv. 8, 10).
6. legei autŰ. Many MSS.
indicate the change of subject: ekeinos, D θω; Simon, the Syriac VSS.; Petrus,
The pronouns are placed together in a position of emphasis: Do you wash my
sy ouk oidas arti, gnŰsÍ de meta
tauta. Cf. 2.22; 12.16, where it is noted by John
that only after the death and resurrection did the disciples perceive the
full meaning of the cleansing of the Temple and the triumphal entry. This
failure to understand is emphasized by John, and its reason is brought out at
7.39; 14.26; 16.13. Only by the Spirit can men understand Jesus at all; and
his disciples no less than the Jewish opposition are included here. The
equivalence in this verse of the synonymous words etSevcn, yivcboxeiv, should
8. D G prefix to Peter's speech the
vocative Kupie, assimilating to v. 6.
You shall never wash.
. For the construction cf. 11.26; the negation is very strong.
Peter's sense of what is fitting for his master is completely outraged; cf.
Mark 8.32 (and parallels). John has no direct equivalent to this Marcan
saying; it is possible that he intentionally supplied the want here, since
(as has been noted) the feet-washing prefigures the crucifixion.
If I do not wash you, you have no
part with me. Cf. Mark 8.33 (the reply to Peter's
remark quoted above), Depart.. Satan, for you do not think the thoughts of
God but of humans. Peter for all his apparent devotion to Jesus is in
danger of taking the wrong side. His objection to receiving Jesus' love and
service is in fact Satanic pride. For meros echein cf. Matt. 24.51
(=Luke 12.46); also Acts 8.21. If Peter is not washed he will have no share
in the benefits of Jesus' passion, and no place among his people. The
practice of Christian baptism, the regular gateway into the Church, is at
once suggested; cf. 3.5. Apparently John conceived the feet-washing as in
some sense equivalent to baptism (cf. Schweitzer, 360-2), though this
equivalence must not be taken too rigidly, as though John argued: All
Christians must be baptized; the apostles were Christians; therefore the
apostles must have been baptized, and if not in the ordinary way then by some
equivalent. Rather, John has penetrated beneath the surface of baptism as an
ecclesiastical rite, seen it in its relation to the Lord's death, into which
converts were baptized (cf. Rom. 6.3), and thus integrated it into the act of
humble love in which the Lord's death was set forth before the passion.
9. mÍ.nipsÍs must be supplied.
If washing is to be the only way to have fellow ship with Christ, Peter would
be washed entirely, no part of him being left unwashed.
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
10. There are in this verse two major
forms of textual tradition (with minor variations which need not here be
noted): (a) a long text, "he that has been bathed has no need save to
wash his feet"; (b) a short text, "he that has been bathed has no
need to wash". The former is supported by the majority of MSS. The
textual question cannot be settled apart from the interpretation of the verse
as a whole; both readings are unquestionably ancient, and that must be
preferred which is more intelligible in the context. It must be noted first
that while the two verbs used are not identical in meaning, John's fondness
for pairs of words makes it impossible to feel certain that he distinguished
clearly between them; this of course applies only in (b); in (a) the
additional words make a clear distinction. Secondly, it should be noted that
v. 8b makes it impossible to suppose that what Jesus has just done can be
regarded as trivial; it is of fundamental importance and indispensable - that
is, it is not a secondary "wasning" subordinate to an initial
"bath". Thirdly, it seems to have been customary at least in some
quarters for guests at a meal to take a bath before leaving home, and on
arrival at their host's house to have their feet, but only their feet,
washed. Knowledge of such a custom as this might have caused the expansion of
(b) into (a). Fourthly, the verb louein, though not common in the New
Testament, is connected with religious washings. This is true in
non-Christian Greek (see Bauer, Worterbuch s.v.). In Heb. 10.22 there is a
probable allusion to Christian baptism; cf. the use of the noun loutron
in Eph. 5.26; Tit. 3.5.
If these facts are borne in mind it
seems probable that the meaning of the verse is as follows. John wrote the
text in the form (b). He introduced the verb louein as a synonym of niptein,
but as a word which also suggested rather more definitely a background of
religious washings, and thus the rite of baptism. The intention of the saying
was to point out the foolish misunderstanding of Peter, who supposed that,
because Jesus' act in washing his feet represented the humble ministry of his
death, he would get more good by having his hands and head washed also, as if
washing with water were in itself a religious benefit. Against this Jesus
points out that once one has received the benefit of his love and death
("has been baptized into his death") he is "entirely
clean"; further washings are pointless. The disciples have now been
initiated into his death and there is no more to do. This statement was
however misunderstood, partly because it was not grasped that Aoueiv and
viirreiv were synonyms, and partly because of the social custom mentioned
above. The text was then expanded, regardless of the fact that it introduced
the implication that the feet-washing was a comparatively unimportant
addition to the process of bathing. The opinion that the feet-washing
represents the eucharist, while the "bathing", being apparently
unrepeatable, represents baptism, is very far-fetched, and implies a much too
rigid sacramental interpretation of the acted parable.
. Holos means here "in every part" (as feet,
head, hands, and so
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
on) of the body. For katharos
cf. 15.3, the only other passage in John (in addition to v. 11) where it is
. The reference is of course to Judas, as the next verse points
out. Judas has been washed with the other disciples; all possibility
therefore of a merely mechanical operation of salvation, whether by baptism
or otherwise, is excluded. Cf. 6.63f.; also the Matthean parables
(13.24-30,36-43, the wheat and the tares; 13.47-50, the dragnet) which stress
the mixed quality of those who are gathered into the kingdom, and 1 Cor.
10.1-13. Judas's feet were washed, but he did not enter into the meaning of
Jesus' act of humility and love.
11. therefor you are all clean.
These words dia Ö este are omitted by D. As an explanation they are
somewhat otiose, and may possibly have entered the text as a marginal gloss..
ginŰskete ti pepoiÍka hymin
Cf. v. 7. The interpretation of the act of Jesus seems now to
change. In the preceding verses it was a symbolical action (like those of the
Old Testament prophets), indicative of the purification effected by Jesus in
men's hearts. Here it becomes an example of humility. The two interpretations
do not however exclude but rather imply each other. The purity which Jesus
effects consists in an active and serviceable humility. Those who have been
cleansed by him do in fact love and serve one another, and there is no other
test of their having been cleansed than this (v. 35; cf. 1 John 3.16f.,23; 4.11 et al.). The death of Christ is at once the means by which men are
cleansed from sin, and the example of the new life which they must henceforth
13. ho didaskalos kai ho kyrios.
These words are nominative, not accusative (second object of fŰneite); they are therefore the articular nominative used for the vocative. didaskalos
represents the title Rabbi (Rabboni); see on 1.38; 20.16. kyrios
is a frequent designation of Jesus in John. A rabbi might expect his feet to
be washed by his disciples (see on v. 5); a kyrios, a potentate
whether divine or human, might expect any service from his inferiors (the
word correlative to kyrios is doulos).
14. you ought also (kai humeis
ofeilete). Arguments of this kind a minori ad maius are very
common in rabbinic writings (and are there known as "light and
heavy"). It would however be ridiculous to claim this as a Jewish, or
rabbinic, feature of John's style. Such arguments are used wherever men think
and speak logically; and the Jewish qol wahomer is not unrelated to
Hellenistic logic and rhetoric.
15. hypodeigma. For the word
cf. Heb. 4.11; 8.5; 9.25; James 5.10; 2 Peter 2.6. It means both
"pattern" and "example" or "instance", and it
is interesting to note the occurrence of the phrase hypodeigma aretÍs
in inscriptions (see L.S. s.v.). hypodeigma was well established in
Koine Greek, but incurred the condemnation of Phrynichus (IV; Rutherford, 62; the classical paradeigma is to be preferred).
John's common "explanatory" hina, indicating both the
purpose and the content of the example.
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
16. not greater than the one who
sent him. This corresponds to the argument of v. 14. Cf. Matt. 10.24,
"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the
master." On the general question of the sending of Jesus by the Father
and of the apostles by Jesus, and of the relations between sender and sent,
see on 20.21. The meaning here is plain. The disciples are not to expect
better treatment than their Lord received, nor are they to think themselves
too important to perform the acts of service which he performed. apostolos
is used here only in John, though the cognate verb apostellein is
common, as is pempein. It is not here a technical term (as it often is
in the New Testament), but is used simply as a passive verbal noun, almost
equivalent to apestalmenos. The fact that it is used with the one
who sent him shows clearly that John did not distinguish between the two
roots and groups of words.
17. If you had known these things.
It is not clear to what tauta refers. It appears at first to refer to
the fact that a servant is not greater than his master, nor a person sent
than the sender; but it is impossible to speak of "doing" these
things. Probably the construction is ad sensum and John means,
"If you know that, in view of these considerations and of what you have
seen, it is a good thing to wash one another's feet, happy are you if you do
it". V. 16 is almost parenthetical. John elsewhere (12-47f.) emphasizes
the necessity of doing as well as hearing the word of Jesus; so indeed does
the New Testament as a whole, e.g. Matt. 7.21,24-7. In this verse sin
has "If you know these things and do them, blessed are you"; et
haec scientes beati eritis. It seems not improbable that he is right and
that the reference to "doing" was introduced by analogy with other
passages, but introduced in different places.
18. I am not speaking of all of you.
The discussion of the significance of the feet - washing is interrupted by
the thought of the traitor, who has separated himself from the community
which is united in the love of Jesus. The words just spoken are not
applicable to him. Yet Jesus has not blundered in admitting him to the circle
of the Twelve; he has rather acted in such a way as to fulfil Scripture and
thus promote rather than weaken faith.
I know whom I have chosen
- The bearing of these words and their connection with the
following sentence are not clear. They may mean (a) I know whom I have really
chosen, and of course I have not really chosen Judas; or (b) I know (the
characters of) those whom I have chosen, and therefore know that Judas,
though I have chosen him, will betray me. If (b) is accepted, a considerable
ellipse must be supplied before hina: I know whom I have chosen; therefore I know that Judas is a traitor, but I have chosen him in order
that... An alternative, but less probable, explanation is that hina
with the subjunctive is used as a substitute for the imperative - "But
let the Scripture be fulfilled".
'The one who ate my bread has
lifted his heel against me.' The quotation is
from Ps. 41 (40). 10. On the whole John is nearer to the Hebrew than to the
Greek of the LXX though he departs
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
from the Hebrew where the LXX renders
it literally. Probably John was rewriting freely; trŰgein is a word of
his own used in the discourse on the bread of life (6.54,56ff.), and the
singular arton not only corresponds to the Hebrew (as pointed by the
Massoretes, lahmi) but also suggests the eucharistic loaf of which, it
may be presumed, Judas had unworthily partaken. The last four words of the
LXX clumsily render an idiom meaning "to scorn"; John's substitute
suggests to Hoskyns (518) the sudden kick of a horse; perhaps better the
action of one who "shakes off the dust of his feet against"
I tell you this now. Here, and at 14.7 only in John. In this place the
meaning must be "now", as the parallel in 14.29 (I have told you
this before it occurs) shows. The words of Jesus are not understood as he
utters them (cf. v. 7), but later they will be remembered (under the
influence of the Spirit, 14.26) and become an occasion of faith.
before it occurs
. The subject is the betrayal of Judas, which is also the subject
that I am he
. Cf. 14.29 where in a similar saying we have simply that you
may believe. For I am (egŰ eimi) without a predicate see on 8.24,
to which, as to this passage, there is a very close parallel in Isa. 43.10 (I
am God, and also henceforth I am He), where the speaker is God.
20. The thought in this passage
oscillates rapidly between the intimate union which exists between Christ and
his faithful disciples, and the prophecy of the traitor. For the present
saying cf. Matt. 10.40 and parallels. It may be suggested by the claim
implied in the use of egŰ eimi (v. 19). Men do truly meet God in the
person of Jesus.
6 receives him who sent me. Cf.
the converse statement in v. 16. On the mission of Jesus from the Father, and
of the disciples from Jesus, see on 20.21. The exact parallelism between the
two commissions is to be particularly noted; similar but by no means
identical parallels are made by Ignatius (Mag. 6.1; Trall. 3.1; Smyrn. 8.1).
As at 12.45,50, the effect is to give to the mission of Jesus and the mission
of the Church an absolute theological significance; in both the world is
confronted by God himself. The activity of Jesus is coextensive with that of
the Father (5.19), and to see him is to see the Father (1.18; 14.9); the
disciples will in their turn do greater works than Jesus (14.12) and their
mutual love will reveal the unity of the Father and the Son (13.35).
21. The thought moves back to the
presence of unfaithfulness among the Twelve; now however the act of betrayal
is specifically mentioned.
was troubled in spirit.
The reference is not to the Holy Spirit, but to the human spirit,
the seat of emotion, within Jesus. Cf. the use of psychÍ in I2.27 and
especially 11.33, he was greatly disturbed in spirit; see the note on
he testified (emartyrÍsen)
. Martyrein and its cognates are common and important words
in John (see on 1.7); here however it seems to be used in the sense of making
an important and solemn declaration (cf. 1.32; 4.44).
"Very truly, I tell you, one
of you will betray me." For the whole
sentence cf. Mark 14.18, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
Matt. 26.21; Luke 22.21). John has
already given more fully the Marcan allusion to Ps. 41.10 (see v. 18). It
seems probable that he is here dependent upon Mark.
22. Cf. Mark 14.19.
23. was reclining next to Jesus.
Persons taking part in a meal reclined on the left side; the left arm was
used to support the body, the right was free for use. The disciple to the
right of Jesus would thus find his head immediately in front of Jesus and
might accordingly be said to lie in his bosom. Evidently he would be in a
position to speak intimately with Jesus, but his was not the place of
greatest honour; this was to the left of the host. The place occupied by the
beloved disciple was nevertheless the place of a trusted friend; cf. Pliny,
Epist. iv, xxii, 4, Cenabat Merua cum paucis; Ueiento proximus atque etiam
in sinu recumbebat. The expression eis ton kolpon is not however
exhausted by this simple observation. At 1.18 the only begotten Son is
described as close to the Father's heart. 13-20, emphasizing the
relationship between God, Christ, and those whom Christ sends, points forward
to the special case in which the specially favoured disciple is represented
as standing in the same relation to Christ as Christ to the Father. It is
further to be noted that the fact that Jesus and the disciples reclined at
table (and did not sit) is an indication that the meal in question was the
Passover meal, for which re clining was obligatory (see Jeremias, 22-6). That
is, this detail (and cf. vv. 26, 29.) contradicts the general Johannine
dating of the supper (see v. 1) and supports the Marcan. See Introduction,
pp. 39ff. This point is however less convincing in John than in the
synoptists. The custom of reclining at the Passover meal was probably a
borrowing from the Roman world, and John, familiar with that world, may
simply have described what he thought must have taken place at any meal,
independently of any histori cal tradition about the last supper. Or, again,
John may simply be dependent on the synoptic material. In any case, so far as
historical value is attached to his statement that Jesus and the disciples
reclined and did not sit, so far value must be deducted from his statement
(v. 1) that the supper took place before the Passover.
whom Jesus loved
. The "beloved disciple" is here mentioned for the first
time. See also 19.26f.; 20.2 (where the verb is filein); 21.7,20. Here
the following points may be noted, (a) The disciple is present at the last
supper. John nowhere says that none but the Twelve were present at the
supper, but this is explicitly stated by Mark (14.17), whose account John
probably knew and does not contradict. The disciple was therefore probably
one of the Twelve, (b) The part of the narrative which includes special
reference to this disciple has a secondary appearance. It combines the Marcan
account of a general prediction with the Matthean tradition (a difficult one)
that the traitor was named in the hearing of the whole company. John says,
The man was named but only to a specially intimate disciple. He does not
however make clear why that disciple took no action, (c) The disciple
occupies a higher place than Peter. It has been pointed out that the place of
highest honour was that to the left of the host, but Peter cannot have taken
it, for if he had he would not have been able to make signs to the disciple
to ask his
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
question for him, nor would he have
needed to do so. (Speculation on the question who did occupy the place of
honour at Jesus' left hand is fruitless. For the suggestion that it was
either Judas Iscariot or James the brother of John see Bernard, ad loc). (d)
There is in this passage no ground whatever for supposing that the beloved
disciple is to be thought of as a purely "ideal" disciple,
corresponding to no historical character. It is no special revelation which
is accorded to him but a plain statement of fact.
24. motioned to him. Cf. Acts
24.10. Evidently Peter was not in a position to ask his own question; he
could only beckon to the beloved disciple.
of whom he was speaking
... is much simpler and more characteristic of John's style than the
alternative, pythesthai tis an eiÍ, contained in (D) (G) GO (sin). Sinaiticus
combines the readings.
25. reclining. See on 6.10. By
throwing back his head the disciple would be able actually to touch the chest
(cnrfj6os) of Jesus, and then to speak very quietly. For houtws cf.
26. the one to whom I give this
piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish. "autw" is
redundant and corresponds to Semitic usage. Translation must not however be
assumed; Cf. Mark 14.20; Matt. 26.23. pswmion, a diminutive of pswmos
need not refer to bread; in the synoptic gospels it refers most naturally to
the dipping of the bitter herbs of the Passover meal in the haroseth
sauce: (Passover Haggadah: Take an olive's bulk of bitter herbs, dip it in
the haroseth and say the blessing). John represents the supper as taking
place before the Passover, but his use of baptein and pswmion
may be regarded as a trace of the earlier synoptic tradition in which the
supper was a Paschal meal (cf. v. 23). In the Passover Haggadah the Passover
supper is distinguished from all other meals in several ways including
"on all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night
is omitted by X* D 0 GO it vg sin pesh, perhaps rightly, for lambanei
may have been added to recall the notable action of Jesus at the last
supper, repeated in the eucharist, of taking the bread before distribution.
Judas son of Simon Iscariot
. On the name and the text see on 6.71. It is plain from the
narrative that the beloved disciple must have understood that Judas was the
traitor. To say that he failed to grasp the meaning of the sign is to make
him an imbecile. His subsequent inactivity is incomprehensible, and, as was
suggested above, casts doubt on John's narrative.
27. Satan entered into him. Cf.
v. 2. The name Satan is not used elsewhere in John; diabolos at 6.70; 8.44; 13.2. The crucifixion, though within the purpose of God, was yet
compassed by Satan; tote marks the precise moment when, in fulfilment
of his plan (v. 2), Satan took control of Judas (this is not quite consistent
with 6.70). meta states a temporal but not a causal relation; receiving the morsel did not make Judas Satan's tool. Cf. T. Simeon 2.7, I
set my mind against him to destroy him [Joseph], because the prince of deceit
sent forth the spirit of jealousy and blinded my mind.
6 "Do quickly what you are
going to do." poieis is either an inchoative present
("Do what you
(The Supper to the Departure
of Judas. 13.1-30)
are about to do"), or means
"What you are bent on doing", "cannot leave undone". For
the latter meaning cf. (Bauer, 175) Epictetus iv, ix, 18. For tacheion
(this form is used by WH; later grammarians prefer tachion) see M. 11,
164f.; B.D., 29/., 109, Anhang, 42. It took the place of the Attic thatton.
Its meaning here is not certain. It may be elative, and mean
"quickly"; it may mean "as quickly as possible "; but it
is perhaps best to take it as a simple comparative, "more quickly (than
you are at present doing)". Cf. 20.4, where the word is a simple
28. Now no one at the table knew
this. Touto is the direct object of eipein. Pros ti
is "to what purpose", "for what end", or simply
"why". None of the company understood what Jesus said; this
presumably includes the beloved disciple and Peter (though the former at
least must have understood the act of Jesus). The weakness in the narrative
suggests its secondary value; John is exonerating the Eleven from complicity
in Judas's sin.
29. The Eleven had however heard what
Jesus said, and had to account for it. Judas's financial duties supplied the
most natural explanation.
. See on 12.6.
for the festival
. This is consistent with John's representation of the last supper
as taking place twenty-four hours before the Passover, inconsistent with the synoptic
tradition. The question whether work (such as this would be) was permitted on
the night of which John writes was in dispute. Pesahim 4.5: The Sages say: In
Judaea they used to do work until midday on the eves of Passover, but in
Galilee they used to do nothing at all. In what concerns the night [between
the 13th and 14th of Nisan], the School of Shammai forbid [any work], but the
School of Hillel permit it until sunrise.
he should give something to the
poor. The construction changes abruptly. AEyEi
introduces first direct speech ("buy"), then an indirect command
"he should give"). This explanatory use of hina is common in
John. Not only the construction changes but also the historical setting. The
supposed command to give to the poor would be particularly appropriate on
Passover night (see Jeremias, 29); cf. v. 23, and contrast the last note.
30. he immediately went out..
Cf. v. 27. Judas was now simply and entirely a servant of Satan. Even so, and
though he no longer holds his place with the Eleven, he is instantly obedient
to the word of Jesus and goes out as he is bidden.
And it was night.
When he goes out it is into the outer darkness (Matt. 8.12; 22.13; 25.30). It is the hour of the power of darkness (Luke 22.53). John was
of course aware that the hour was evening (see on v. 2, deipnon, and
cf. 1 Cor. 11.23, on the night) but his remark is far from being
merely historical. In going into the darkness (see on 1.5 and elsewhere)
Judas went to his own place. So far as the remark is historical it suggests
that the event took place on Passover night (in agreement with the Marcan
tradition). Normally in Palestine the main meal was taken in the late
afternoon, not in the evening; "but the Passover-offering could be eaten
only during that night and only until midnight" (Zebahim 5.8).
Cf. v. 23, and see Jeremias, 20f.
29. Transition to the Last Discourses. 13.31-8
With the departure of Judas the long
looked for hour of the departure and glorification of Jesus strikes, and he
immediately declares, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified (v.
31). The disciples would be left to show to the world their relation to him
by means of their mutual love. Even Peter could not follow Jesus at once; indeed he was to deny Christ that night.
In this paragraph the distinctive
Johannine theme of departure and glory, which is developed throughout the
last discourses, is united with the synoptic prediction of Peter's denial,
which is introduced in highly dramatic form, being contrasted with the
perfect obedience of Jesus. Peter still shows the attitude to Jesus which he
expressed in 13.8; he is himself too proud to countenance the humility of
Jesus. By laying down his life he means to accompany Jesus in suffering and
glory. The inadequacy of his good intentions must be exposed before he can
follow Jesus where he goes (21.15-22). What is said in this short paragraph
to Peter is repeated for the whole body of disciples; see 16.29-32, where the
confidence of the disciples is met by the prediction that they are about to
desert their Master. The present paragraph thus anticipates the themes, and
even the form, of chs. 14-16.
31. The action of the supper is now
completed and the final discourse begins. The difficulty of time, setting,
and interpretation which mark this discourse as a whole appear at once in
this verse and the following, in the use of now and in the tenses -
has been glorified, will be glorified,. The true setting of these
chapters is the Christian life of the end of the first century, but from time
to time John, whose intention it is to bind the life of the Church in his own
age to the history upon which it was founded, consciously brings back his
narrative to what is ostensibly its original setting, the night in which
Jesus was betrayed.
Now.. has been glorified, and God
has been glorified. See on v. 1; the hour which
has now struck is both the hour of Jesus' departure in death, and the hour of
his glory. The passion is regarded as already worked out (it has been visibly
expressed in the feet-washing), and the glory of Jesus has thereby been
revealed (cf. 12.23). At tne same time, God has been glorified in Jesus, by
his offering of perfect obedience.
6 Son of Man. On the use of
this title in John see Introduction, pp. 6of., and on 1.51. Outside the New
Testament the Son of man is regularly a figure of glory (Dan. 7.13; 1 Enoch
passim). The distinctive synoptic contribution is that he must suffer. John
combines the two notions, bringing together into one composite whole
experiences of suffering and glory which in Mark are chronologically
32. Before this verse the following
words are inserted by 9 CO vg and Origen:
375 (Transition to the Last
if God has been glorified in him,
they are omitted by S* B D W it sin. They make no addition to the
sense of the passage; their addition could be explained by dittography, their
omission by haplography. In the circumstances it seems inevitable to follow
the majority of the earlier authorities and accept the short text. The longer
probably owes its popularity to Origen.
God will also glorify him in
himself. The aorist edoxasthÍ now changes
to a future as John reverts to the historical position of the last night of
Jesus' life; this will be fully resumed in the next verse. Jesus would be
glorified (so common belief had it) in his resurrection, ascension, and
parousia. in himself (so himself must be accentuated; heautŰ
is read by D 6 CO) must mean "in God". The glory achieved by
Jesus in his death on the cross (see next note) is sealed by his exaltation
to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was (17.5). God
was glorified in Jesus' temporal act of self-consecration; Jesus is glorified
in the eternal essence of God the Father, which, in a sense, he re-enters at
the resurrection and ascension. Dr Torrey (75, 77f.) transfers tv ocCrrcjS to
the end of the next clause and supposes that it represents b'naphsheh
"at the cost of his life". Jesus "was to glorify the Father by
the supreme act of yielding up his life".
. It will not be necessary to wait for the parousia before Christ
enters the glory of the Father. His glory appears at once in the
resurrection, the gift of the Spirit, and his abiding presence with his own.
This fact is worked out in the next three chapters.
33. Little children. This
address is used nowhere else in John; it is frequent in 1 John (7 times; also
Gal. 4.19, si v.L). John uses -paidia at 21.5 (twice in 1 John).
I am with you only a little longer
. For the "little while" cf. 14.19; 16.16-19: 7.33; 12.35. For the departure of Christ and the fruitlessness of search for him
cf. 8.21. The words plainly in their present context look forward to the
departure of Christ in death, but they are equally applicable to his
departure in the ascension. The disciples cannot yet share either the death
or the glory of Jesus.
You will seek me
. ZÍtein (seek) is a frequent word in John 1-12; in the
last discourses it occurs only here and at 16.19. The change in frequency
seems adequately accounted for by the change in subject matter.
As I said
. Cf. 7.33; 8.21.
I am going
. See on 7.33. The word hypagŰ is relatively much more
common in the last discourses than in the rest of the gospel (in ch. 17 it
naturally gives place to erchesthai). There can be no doubt that it is
intended to cover both the departure of Jesus in death and his ascent to the
glory of the Father. The use of the word arises out of John's characteristic
thinking about the death of Jesus, not from translation or imitation of the
Semitic root 'azel, though it is true that this root is much more
frequently used with the meaning " to depart out of this life"
(="to die") than is hypagein in Greek. Cf. however Mark
14.21; Matt. 26.24.
you cannot come
. The ambiguity is maintained. The disciples are incapable (as
appears in the next verses) of following Jesus to death; equally they cannot
accompany him at once into the presence of the Father.
so now I say to you
. The disciples must not suppose that they are better than
(Transition to the Last Discourses.
the Jews. Their faith and knowledge
are both inadequate; they are still of this world.
34. The disciples cannot accompany
Christ in his death; they are to be left to live in this world (cf. v. 1).
For the direction of their life in this new situation (a messianic community
living between the advents of the Messiah) Jesus leaves one new commandment.
a new commandment
. The word commandment is especially characteristic of the
Johannine epistles (1 John, 14 times; 2 John, 4 times; many of these relate
to the command of love), and of the last discourses (John 13-17, 7 (or 6)
times; the rest of John, 4 times). The command that men, especially within
the nation of Israel or a group of disciples, should love one another, was
not "new" in the sense that it had never previously been promulgated.
Cf. Lev. 19.18, and P. Aboth 1.12: Hillel said: Be of the disciples of Aaron,
loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind and bringing them nigh to the
Law. It is new, however, in that it corresponds to the command that regulates
the relation between Jesus and the Father (10.18; I2.49f.; (14.31); 15.10); the love of the disciples for one another is not merely edifying, it reveals
the Father and the Son. See below on I5-I2f. The command of Jesus was new
also in that it was delivered in and for the new age which was inaugurated by
his life and death. Cf. I John 2.8, I am writing you a new commandment..
because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
In virtue of this fact Jesus was" able to deal authoritatively with the
Law (cf. Matt. 5-43f., and other passages).
love one another
. It is manifestly not John's intention to contract the universal
love of the Sermon on the Mount, which extends even to enemies, to a narrow
sectarian affection. The mutual love of Christian disciples is different from
any other; it is modelled upon, and in some measure reveals, the mutual love
of the Father and the Son. The Father's love for the Son, unlike his love for
sinful humanity, is not unrelated to the worth of its object, since it is a part
of the divine excellence of both Father and Son that each should love the
other. Similarly, it is of the essence of the Christian life that all who are
Christians should love one another, and in so far as they fail to do so they
fail to reproduce the divine life which should inspire them and should be
shown to the world through them. For a general note on agapan), in
John see on 3.16.
as I have loved you
. The immediate reference is to the feet-washing (cf. w 14f.); but
since this in its turn points to the death of Christ this last must be
regarded as the ultimate standard of the love of Christians (cf. 15.13).
35. In this is taken up by the
clause introduced by ean; elsewhere in John by hina or hoti; but by ean at 1 John 2.3.
everyone will know that you are my
disciples. Mutual love is the proof of Christian
discipleship, and its evident token. See above, and on 15.12f,17.
36. Dissatisfied with the command of
love, Peter takes up v. 33 in his desire to follow Christ at once. Knowledge
and religious experiences are more attractive than obedience.
where are you going?
Peter, like the Jews at 7.35 (cf. 8.21), fails to understand
Jesus' saying about his departure; though, as v. 37 shows, he has some idea
that death may be involved.
377 (Transition to the Last Discourses. 13.31-8)
you cannot follow me now; but you
will follow afterward. The characteristic
ambiguity of hupagein is maintained and, perhaps, made even clearer.
Peter is not at present ready, in spite of his confident assertion, to give
his life for Christ, though eventually he will do so (21.18f.). Neither can
he at present enter into the presence of God in heaven, yet this also will
eventually be granted him (cf. 14.3). akolouthein is an important
Johannine word; see on 1.37. "Following" is the basic requirement
of one who would be a disciple of Jesus, and to follow Jesus must mean in the
end to follow him both to death and to glory.
37. Kyrie (omitted by 8* vg
sin) was probably added by assimilation to v. 36.
why can I not follow you now?
Peter is unwilling to abide by the distinction of "now"
and "then", the eschatological distinction which for John is also a
spiritual distinction. Cf. 3.3-8; following Jesus, like entering the kingdom
of God, is not a simple human possibility, waiting only upon a human
decision. It can take place only in a future guaranteed by the Spirit.
Peter's intentions are excellent, but he remains within the world of sin,
ignorance, and unbelief.
I will lay down my life for you.
. For Peter's boast cf. Mark 14.29 and parallels. The language (lay
down life) however is Johannine (cf. 10.11); that is, John makes Peter
assume language which is peculiarly applicable to Jesus. But this is absurd; to lay down one's life in the sense in which Jesus lays down his means
complete obedience to the Father and perfect love for men, neither of which
does Peter possess (though later Christians will lay down their lives for one
another, 15.13). In fact, the truth is the reverse of what Peter thinks.
38. before the cock crows. Mark
(14.30, not Matt, or Luke) adds twice. Phrynichus advises the use not
of alektŰr but alektrŰon.
you will have denied me three times
. The prediction is fulfilled in 18.17f, 25-7; this incident, like
the prediction itself, is synoptic. In Matthew and Mark the prediction is
made after the supper; in Luke (22.34) and John at the supper itself. This
may be a sign that John knew Luke; on this question see Introduction, pp.
36f. John "spares the Twelve" perhaps even less than does Mark; cf.
30. The Departure of
Jesus a Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31
In view of his death, now so close at
hand, Jesus sums up the meaning of his life and ministry, and explains that
his departure to the Father is for the benefit of his disciples. It will not
mean complete separation, for they will continue to enjoy the divine
presence, though in another mode.
378 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
It is strongly suggested by vv. 30f. that
this chapter contains the whole of the words spoken by Jesus to the disciples
in the room where they had supped, and in view of the continuation of the
discourse through three more chapters (15-17) considerable difficulties are
raised, of which various solutions have been offered, (a) It has been
suggested that the material contained on chs. 15-17 should be thought of as
spoken in the streets of Jerusalem, or in the neighbourhood of the Temple, as
Jesus made his way to the garden mentioned in 18.1. This seems incredible,
even when allowance is made for the fact that John's primary interest is in
his discourses rather than in their settings. He cannot have inserted the
words "Arise, let us go hence" without recognizing that they
implied a departure from the house, (b) It is suggested that the words of
Jesus egeiresthe, agŰmen enteuthen do not mean, Rise from the supper
table, let us leave the house, but Arise, let us go to the Father; that is,
let the departure to the Father, which has been the main theme of the
discourse, now take place. But this suggestion makes the use of the plural
verbs (especially the second person plural) unintelligible. (c) A more
popular view is that the chapter has been displaced, and that the material in
chs. 13-17 should run as follows: 13.1-31a; 15; 16; 13.31b-8; 14; 17 (so
Bernard; Dr Bultmann suggests 13.1-30; 17; 13.31-5; 15; 16; 13.36-14-31; other suggestions have been made). This view avoids the difficulties that
have been already mentioned, and also that of 13.36; 16.5 (on which see the
notes). On the other hand, it is supported by no positive evidence whatever,
and it may be questioned whether it really improves the connections in the
material. The questions, which are a characteristic feature of ch. 14 (vv. 5,
8, 22), are much less intelligible if we must suppose that chs. 15, 16 have
already been spoken, and vv. 16f. read like the first introduction of the
Paraclete. On the alleged displacements elsewhere in the gospel, and for
general considerations bearing on the subject, see Introduction, pp. 18-21.
(d) The most probable explanation is that in ch. 14 (or 13.31-14.31) and chs.
15-17 (16) we have alternative versions of the last discourse. This
hypothesis is easily credible if we may suppose that the gospel material was collected
over a period, and particularly so if some of it was first delivered orally
(it is a plausible hypothesis that the last discourses were originally
eucharistic sermons). It is confirmed by a striking series of parallels
between ch. 14 and chs. 15, 16 (for details see the notes). In each set of
material Jesus speaks of his relation to the Father (14.6f., 28: 15.10,23f; 16.15; 17-if-)4f-58,10,21-6); of his departure to the Father and of his
coming again (14.2f.,18-20,22f.,28: 16.5-7,16-22,28; 17.11,13); of his
revelation of the Father (14.9: 17.6,26); of prayer in his name (14.13:
16.23f.26, cf. 15.7); of keeping his commands (14.15,
379 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
21,23: 15.10,12-14,17); of the
Paraclete (14.16f.,26: 15.26; 16.7-15); of the peace which he gives (14.27,
cf. 14.1: 16.33), and of the judgement of the prince of this world (14.30:
16.11, cf. 16.33). The two passages cover substantially the same ground.
To the discourse as a whole there is
no parallel in the synoptic gospels (for occasional echoes of synoptic
language see the notes). It stands at a point in John similar to, though not
identical with, that of the eschatological discourse in Mark (13). This
resemblance sheds light upon the intention and interpretation of the Johannine
discourse. It is dominated by the thought of the departure and return of
Jesus, but his return is no longer, as in Mark, conceived in apocalyptic
terms. By his death Jesus enters at once into his glory with the Father, but
subsequently returns, with his Father also, to manifest himself not to the
world, as the Son of man upon the clouds of heaven, but to believers; in the
first instance, to his waiting disciples. Truly eschatological thought is not
abandoned; Jesus prepares a place for his own in heaven and, at their death
or at the last day, he will receive them into the prepared abode. The thought
of the coming of Jesus to the believer is enriched by the conception of the
Paraclete, by whom the divine presence is effected. The spiritual presence of
Jesus, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, are secured only through the
departure of Jesus in death. His crucifixion, therefore, though it must at
first be felt by his friends as a staggering blow, is in fact a blessing to
them; by it the prince of this world is defeated, the Father is glorified,
the revelation of God is consummated in the complete obedience of Jesus, and
the disciples receive the gift of peace.
1. To this verse D adds a prefix and
he said to his disciples (sin, Jesus said). No doubt it was desired to
make a suitable introduction to the last discourses as a whole (possibly for
lectionary purposes; cf. the similar addition at the beginning of this
passage in the Gospel for St Philip and St James's day).
Do not let your hearts be troubled
. For the language cf. v. 27, and 4 Ezra 10.55, Tu ergo noli
timere, neque expauescat cor tuum. At this point the discourse takes up
and proceeds at once to elaborate the theme enunciated at 13.33, tne
departure of Jesus. He is about to leave the disciples, but they must not be
afraid; the separation is a temporary one, and ultimately for their benefit.
Believe in God, believe also in me
. This sentence may be taken in several ways; we may take both
verbs to be imperatives, or both to be indicatives; or we may take the former
to be an indicative and the latter to be an imperative; thus-(a) Believe in
God and believe in me: (b) You believe in God and you believe in me; (c) You
believe in God; believe in me also. (The fourth variation, in which the
former verb is taken as an imperative, the latter as an indicative, is not
quite impossible, but it means taking the former clause as an imperatival
condition, the latter as an apodosis introduced by kai - (d) (If you)
believe in God (and) you (will) believe in me.) None of these variations is
repugnant to the sense of the passage as a whole, but the imperative tarassesthŰ
suggests that the later verbs may be imperatives also,
380 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
and they are so taken in nearly all
the Old Latin MSS., and by many early Fathers, pisteuein eis is the
common Johannine phrase for trust in God or Christ; see on 1.12. The faith is
to be based upon the relations between the Father and the Son, and upon the
work of the Son, which the discourse proceeds to describe.
2. In my Father's house. Cf.
Luke 2.49, the place of my father, and John 2.16. Both of these
passages refer to the Temple. The thought of heaven as God's habitation is of
course very widespread in most religions; see Eccles. 5.1, and many passages
in the Old Testament. Cf. Philo, Som. 1, 256, so you cannot go up to your
paternal dwelling, where the thought (of the return of the soul from
exile in the flesh to heaven) is taken from current religious philosophy.
Jesus speaks of God as his Father in a special sense, and his Father's home
is also his own, to.which he is now returning through death.
There are many mansions.
MonÍ in Pausanias (e.g. x, xxxi, 7) means a
"stopping-place", or "station" (for other evidence see
L.S. s.v., and cf. the Latin mansio); and some commentators, ancient
and modern, take the word in this sense in this passage: the life of heaven
includes progression. But this interpretation is almost certainly wrong; as
v. 23 shows, monÍ is the noun corresponding to the common and important
Johannine verb menein, and hence it will mean a permanent, not a
temporary, abiding-place (or, perhaps, mode of abiding). This is confirmed by
the one use of monÍ in the LXX (1 Macc. 7.38, let them fall by the
sword;.. let them live no longer.), and by indications of a Jewish belief
in compartments, or dwelling-places, in heaven (1 Enoch 39.4; cf. 2 Enoch
If there were not
cf. v. 11. "If there were not such abiding-places",
that is, "otherwise"; cf. Rev. 2.5,16; Mark 2.21f.; generally in
the New Testament.
Would I have told you
. The question is whether a stop should be placed after hymin,
or the sentence should run on with hoti. If no stop is made we may
continue either with a statement of fact "... if not, I would have told you
that I go to prepare a place for you"), or with a question ("if
not, would I have told you that...?"). The former of these does not seem
to make good sense; the latter encounters the difficulty that, in John's
narrative, Jesus has not yet told the disciples that he is going to prepare a
place for them. It seems best to take would I have told you as a
parenthesis, and to connect hoti with v. 2a: "There will be many
abiding-places (and if it had not been so I would have told you), for I am
going to prepare a place for you."
. Cf. hypagŰ in 13.33. There is no difference in meaning.
The journeying away of Jesus means (a) his death, and (b) his going to the
prepare a place for you
. Cf. Mark 10.40; but John is thinking here of the whole process
of the passion and glorification of Jesus as the means by which believers are
admitted to the heavenly life.
3. I will come again and will take
you. The future will take with the explanatory clause so that..
you may demand a future meaning for the present erchomai. Jesus
promises to return to bring his disciples to the heavenly dwelling-places
381 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
which he is about to prepare; the
primary reference of Epyonai therefore is to the eschatological advent of Jesus,
or at any rate to his coming to the individual disciple at his death. But the
ensuing discourse, in which the theme of "going and coming" is
constantly repeated, shows clearly that John's thought of the advent is by no
means exhausted in the older synoptic notion of the parousia. The communion
of Jesus with his disciples, their mutual indwelling (monÍ - menein)
is not deferred till the last day, or even to the day of a disciple's death.
4. where I go you know,. This
is the reading of X B W; it is ungrammatical and obscure (Bernard, ad loc).
But the longer reading (you know the way to the place where I am going)
is a simplification and improvement and should be rejected. It is based upon
Thomas's question in v. 5, which in any case however must be taken to give
the sense of the shorter and more difficult text. The disciples ought to know
that Jesus is going to the Father, and that the way lies through the shame
and glory of the crucifixion and resurrection.
5. Thomas said to him. Thomas
(see on 11.16 and cf. 20.24) appears in John as a loyal but dull disciple,
whose misapprehensions serve to bring out the truth.
6. egŰ eimi. See on 6.35.
. The second half of the verse (no one comes.) shows that
the principal thought is of Jesus as the way by which men come to God; that
is, the way which he himself is now about to take is the road which his
followers must also tread. He himself goes to the Father by way of
crucifixion and resurrection; in future he is the means by which Christians
die and rise. The expression also calls to mind the description of the
Christian faith and life as hÍ hodos; (Acts 9.2; 22.4; 24.14); and the
Jewish term halakah. Cf. also the claim of Isis (I.G. xn, v, I, 14.17), I
have shown the ways of the stars.
the truth, and the life
. For alÍtheia in John see on 1.14 (nowhere else is it said
"I am the truth"); for 3cor| in John see on 1.4 and 3.15, and
especially 11.25, I am the resurrection and the life see the note on
the text). Both words are inserted here as explanatory of hodos. Because
Jesus is the means of access to God who is the source of all truth and life
he is himself the truth and the life for men (cf. vv. 7, 9). Life and truth
are characteristic themes of the first and second parts of the gospel
respectively (zŰÍ: ch. 1-12, 32 (31) times; chs. 13-21, 4 times; alÍtheia:
chs. 1-12, 13 times; chs. 13-21, 12 times).
No one comes to the Father except
through me. If John, here and elsewhere, used
some of the notions and terminology of the religions of his day, and there
are many indications that he was not unfamiliar with them, he was quite sure
that those religions were ineffective and that there was no religious or
mystical approach to God which could achieve its goal. No one has ascended
into heaven but the Son of man who came down from heaven (3.13); he alone is
the link between God and men (cf. 1.51), and there is no access to God
independent of him.
7. If you know me, you will know my
Father also. This is the reading of B; for Ídeite some mss
substitute egnŰkeite, without substantial change. In D however the
verbs are egnŰkate, gnŰsesthe. The two readings give quite
382 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
different senses to the verse. That of
B utters a reproach: If you had known me, and though you ought to have
done so you do not, you would have known my Father also. That of D is a promise:
If you have come to know me, as you have done, you shall know my Father also.
V. 7b suggests the latter sense; the former reading may be due to
assimilation to 8.19, or more probably to the fact that Philip's question,
and the reply in v. 9, suggest that the disciples did know neither Jesus nor
the Father. The reading of sin (If you have not known me, will you know my
Father also?) seems to be an accidental error, but may lend some support to
that of X D.
refers to the moment when Jesus having completed the revelation of the Father
departs in glory. The last discourses as a whole represent this
"moment" of completion (cf. also 19.30, tetelestÍ).
8. Philippos. Only in John are special
words and deeds ascribed to Philip; see on 1.44. His uncomprehending question
here serves simply, according to John's method, to advance the argument.
show us the Father, and we will be
satisfied. Philip expresses the universal longing
of the religious man. Cf. Ex. 33.18 (LXX), show yourself to us; Berakoth 17a: In the world to come there is neither eating nor drinking, no
marital relations, no business affairs, no envy, hatred nor quarrelling; but
the righteous sit with their garlands on their heads, enjoying the splendid
light of the Shekinah [the presence of God], as it is said: And they beheld
God, and did eat and drink (Ex. 24.11). Nothing more can be desired than the
vision of the true God; but just as there is no access to, so there is no knowledge
of, God apart from Jesus. By this statement John prepares for his exposition
of the work of Jesus as revealer. The form of the sentence is that of the
imperatival condition; it is equivalent to "If you will show... it will
9. Have I been with you all this
time. The accusative (which commonly expresses duration of time) is the
easier reading and that of K D should be preferred. The dative suggests (if
we may suppose John to have been handling his cases with care) that the whole
period of the ministry is regarded as a unity, a point in time.
Whoever has seen me has seen the
Father. Philip's question is otiose and rests
upon failure to understand the person and work of Jesus, which are declared
as early as the Prologue to be directed towards the revelation of God (1.18).
To see Jesus is to see the Father, because the Father is in him and is in
fact the agent of his works; see the following verses. Philip's question,
natural as it is, has now lost its point, since all search for God must look
to the decisive revelation in Jesus.
10. Do you not believe? It is
presumed that a disciple ought to have this faith.
I am in the Father and the Father
is in me, and other passages in the prayer of ch.
17. The relation between the Father and the Son is not completely reciprocal,
yet each can (in slightly different senses) be said to be in the other. The
Father abiding in the Son does his works; the Son rests from, and to,
eternity in the Father's being.
383 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
the words.. his works
Cf. 12.49. John's exalted Christology never permits him to suggest
that the activity of Jesus can be understood without reference to the
transcendent God. Cf. 5.19. John is able to pass readily from the words to
the works of Jesus since both alike are revelatory and both are full of
11. Believe me, not
"believe in me" but "accept the following statement as
true". See on 1.12.
if not, then because of the works
themselves. Men ought to believe what Jesus says; if they refuse to be convinced on these terms they should consider his works.
Throughout this gospel the erga or sÍmeia are presented as
events which ought to and sometimes do elicit faith (e.g. 2.11). The contrast
between this treatment and the refusal of Jesus in the synoptic gospels to
grant signs is less striking than appears at first sight; see Introduction,
pp. 43f., 62f., and on 2.11. Cf. also Matt. n.21=Luke 10.13.
12. the one who believes in me.
The construction with pisteuein changes; we now have eis with
the accusative, indicating the true believer who trusts in Christ.
will also do the works that I do
and, in fact, will do greater works than these.
The power to work miracles was universally credited to the apostles and their
contemporaries (cf. for example 1 Cor. I2.9f.), and seems to have continued,
especially as the power of exorcism, till a late date. John, however, though
he doubtless accepted the miracles of his day, thought of the erga
primarily as acts in which the power and character of God are made known; cf.
13.15,35. The greater works therefore are the gathering of many converts into
the Church through the activity of the disciples (cf. 17.20; 20.29).
because I am going to the Father
The death and exaltation of Jesus are the condition of the Church's
mission. When Jesus is glorified the Spirit will be given (7.39); when he is
in heaven he will hear and answer his disciples' prayers. Further, the
"greater works" are directly dependent upon the "going"
of Jesus, since before the consummation of the work of Jesus in his ascent to
the Father all that he did was necessarily incomplete. The work of the
disciples on the other hand lies after the moment of fulfilment.
13. en tŰ onomati mou Cf.
15.16; 16.23. "In my name" means with the invocation of my name.
See Beginnings v, 121-34, Note xi. But John's thought is by no means magical; cf. 1 John 5.14 (if we ask anything according to his will), and v. 15,
where it is presumed that the disciples will love Christ and keep his
I will do it. Christ himself will
hear and answer prayer; cf. the passages just referred to, where God gives
what is asked for. John would not have allowed that any contradiction was
involved: the Father acts in and through the Son.
because I am going to the Father
. The Father is glorified in the Son's activity, both in himself
and through his followers, since in all things the Son seeks (and achieves)
his Father's glory; 5.41; 7.18; 8.50,54.
14. The whole verse is omitted by X b
sin, no doubt because it seemed redundant after v. 13.
384 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
15. If you love me. This
protasis controls the grammar of the next two verses (15-173), and the
thought of the next six (15-21). The relation between Jesus and the disciples
which is created by the Holy Spirit depends upon their mutual love.
you will keep my commandments.
. Cf. vv.21,23; also l John 5.3, we love the children of God,
when we love God and obey his commandments 1 Clem. 49.1, whoever has
love for Christ will keep the commandments of Christ. John never permits
love to devolve into a sentiment or an emotion. Its expression is always
moral and is revealed in obedience. This is true even of the love of the Son
for the Father; cf. 15.10.
And I will ask the Father,.
One consequence of the disciples' love for Christ will be their
obedience to his commandments; another will be that Christ for his part will
obtain for them the gift of the Paraclete. At this point the Paraclete is
said to be given by the Father at the Son's request; at v. 26 the Father
sends him in Christ's name; at 15.26 Christ sends him from the Father,
and he proceeds from the Father; at 16.7 Christ sends him. John
intends no significant difference between these expressions.
and he will give you another
Advocate Either another or advocate may
be taken adjectivally, and we may accordingly translate: He will give (a)
another Paraclete, or (b) another person to be a Paraclete, (a) implies that
Jesus himself is a Paraclete (cf. 1 John 2.1, the only use of TrapccKAT|TOs,
outside John, in the New Testament, Trocp&KXriTov... 'ITIO-OOV Xptariv
Sfxaiov); this is nowhere else stated in the gospel. But the context (and
that of the other uses of paraklÍtos) suggests very strongly
continuity between the offices of Jesus and the Paraclete, so that
translation (a) may be accepted with little hesitation. On the place of the
Holy Spirit in John's thought see Introduction, pp. 74-7.
On the word paraklÍtos see
J.T.S. new series i, (1950), 7-15. The primary meaning of the Greek word is
"legal assistant, advocate" (L.S. s.v.), and with this meaning it
was transliterated into Hebrew and Aramaic (e.g. P. Aboth 4.11: He that
performs one precept gets for himself one advocate). This meaning does not
however seem to be prominent in John's usage; there is a forensic aspect of
the Paraclete's work (16.8-11), but he is a prosecuting rather than a
defending counsel. The meaning of paraklÍtos in John is best arrived
at by considering the use of parakalein and other cognates in the New
Testament. This is twofold, (a) parakalein and paraklesis both
refer to prophetic Christian preaching (and to the same preaching
communicated by apostolic letter); e.g. Acts 2.40; 1 Cor. 14.3. This
corresponds to a normal Greek usage in which parakalein means "to
385 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
exhort", (b) Both words are used
in another sense which seems to have little or no basis in Greek that is
independent of the Hebrew Bible; they refer to consolation, and in particular
to the consolation to be expected in the messianic age. This usage is common
in the Old Testament (e.g. Isa. 40.1), recurs in the New Testament (e.g.
Matt. 5.4; Luke 2.25), and is paralleled in the rabbinic nehamah,
(e.g. Makkoth 5b). The two usages, (a) and (A), though distinct, are
closely combined: the main burden of the (prophetic exhortation) is that men
should enter, or accept, the (messianic salvation), which has been brought
into being through the work of Jesus; cf. 1 Cor. 14.24,31.
Comparison with the verses in John 14-16
which speak of the Paraclete shows that his functions correspond closely with
the points that have just been expressed. He witnesses about Christ; he takes
"the things of Christ" and declares them (15.26; 16.14; for the
meaning of this declaration cf. 2.22; 12.16). He also declares what is to
come (16.13); he realizes the future eschatological judgement and thus reproves
or exposes (16.8f) the unbelieving world. He does so by the same means as the
Christian preachers: he announces the departure of Christ to the Father (and
for John this includes his death, resurrection, and ascension), the judgement
of Satan, and the necessity of faith. The Paraclete is the Spirit of
Christian paraklesis (cf. the very common rabbinic description of the
Holy Spirit as the " Spirit of prophecy "). See further on all the
passages where paraklÍtos is used (14.16f.,25f.; 15.26; 16.7-15). For
consideration of the view that these Paraclete passages have been
interpolated into the last discourses see Introduction, pp. 75f.
to be with you forever
. There is no need to suppose that hina Í mistranslates an
Aramaic relative clause, "who shall be with you". The Spirit is
given in order that the divine presence may be with the disciples
continually, after the ascension.
17. the Spirit of truth. This
expression is used three times (14.17; 15.26; 16.13), always in definition of
the Paraclete. Already in this chapter (v. 6) Jesus has declared himself to
be the truth (hÍ alÍtheia). The Spirit of truth will guide the
disciples into all the truth (16.13) by bringing to their remembrance what
Jesus had said and done. Cf. 1 John 4.6 (the Spirit of truth; the Spirit
of falsehood); 5.6 (the Spirit is truth). T. Judah 20.1,5 (The
spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit... the spirit of truth testifieth
all things, and accuseth all), which is sometimes quoted, is not relevant,
since the "spirits" seem to be the good and evil
"inclinations", tÍs alÍtheias is not simply a defining
genitive (equivalent, for example, to alÍthinÍ at 15.1), nor is it
simply a substitute for Jesus (the Spirit of Jesus, who is the truth). John
means "the Spirit who communicates truth" - a meaning closely
parallel to that which has been ascribed above to paraklÍtos,
especially when it is borne in mind that in Jewish and early Christian
literature dXrfitxa often means the truth proclaimed by a missionary preacher
and accepted by his converts (e.g. 2 Cor. 4.2).
whom the world cannot receive
. For kosmos in John see on 1.10. Cf. I Cor. 2.14; the
world means mankind over against God, and by definition the Spirit is alien
to it. The contrast between the disciples and the world, a frequent theme in
these chapters, is strongly brought out.
(Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
You know him,.. he abides with you. The presents anticipate
the future gift (estai for estin (K D2 vg, against B D* it cur
pesh), is plainly a correction), and reflect the time at which John wrote. you
again emphasizes the contrast between the disciples and the unbelieving
world, menein is used of the abiding of the Father in the Son and the
Son in the Father, and of the Son in the disciples and the disciples in the
Son. Par hy#min, like meth' humŰn (v. 16), suggests the
presence of the Spirit in the Church, en hy#min his indwelling in the
18. orfanous, literally,
orphans, children left without a father; but the word was used also of
disciples left without a master. Cf. Plato, Phaedo 116a, the friends of
Socrates at his death left bereft, to continue their lives like orfans,
lacking a father; also Lucian, de morte Peregrini 6, the master has left
I am coming to you
. In v. 3 the coming again of Jesus seemed to refer most
naturally to his parousia, but it must not be inferred that the erchomai
of this verse necessarily refers to the same coming. The alternatives are the
coming of Jesus in the resurrection appearances (cf. 20.19, Jesus came; 20.26, Jesus comes), and the coming of Jesus in the person of the Holy
Spirit. Of these, the latter is improbable, since we ought not to suppose
that John simply confounds Jesus with the Holy Spirit, and the former is
supported by the following verses. It is however by no means impossible that
John consciously and deliberately used language applicable to both the
resurrection and the parousia, thereby emphasizing the eschatological
character of the resurrection.
19. In a little while. Cf.
16.16-19 (without eti).
the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me. The simplest reference of
these words, and one which is suggested by the context and by the parallel in
16.16ff., is to the crucifixion and resurrection. When Jesus is dead and
buried the world will see him no more; but the disciples, to whom he will
appear in his risen body, will see him. Nevertheless, the words are also
applicable, and John, it seems, intended them to be applicable, to the whole
of Christian history, throughout which the Church is united to Jesus while
the world does not know him. Cf. vv. 22f.
because I live, you also will live
. These words may be run on from the previous sentence
"...you behold me because I live and you shall live"; or they may
be taken as an independent sentence "because I live you shall live
also". The former interpretation suits the context better and is to be
preferred. The latter introduces a fresh idea, that the life of Christians is
dependent upon that of Christ, which, though thoroughly Johannine, is not in
question here. On the other hand, with the former interpretation the thought
is clear; even though Jesus dies the disciples will see him because he will
be alive, risen from the dead, and they too will be spiritually alive and
capable of seeing him.
20. On that day. Cf. 16.23.
"That day" is a phrase drawn from eschatological usage (cf. e.g.
Mark 13.32); here however it looks back to I come to you in v. 18. In
both places the primary reference is to the resurrection,
387 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
but the thought is extended (see
especially v. 20b) to the permanent presence of Christ with his own. Here, as
frequently in the last discourses, it is significant that eschatological
language is borrowed to describe these events which fall within the
time-sequence: they are events of eternal quality and significance.
I am in my Father
. Cf. v. 11. What is there required as a matter of faith will
clearly appear (to the disciple) when Jesus has overcome death and returned
to his own.
you in me, and I in you
. The unity of the Father and the Son could not be perceived except
on the basis of unity between Jesus and the disciples; cf. v. 19b. The
resurrection of Jesus and his presence with his own points unmistakably to
the continuity of the divine life which flows from the Father, through the
Son, and in the Church.
21. who have my commandments.
The thought resumes v. 15; have here means "to grasp firmly with
the mind". It is a not uncommon use; see e.g. Sophocles, Philoctetes
789, echete to pragma.
and keep them:
observes them as well as knows and understands them. are those
who love me. Obedience is the mark of love. This is simply the converse
of v. 15.
will be loved by my Father
. John does not mean, though his language is such as might be
taken to imply, that God's love is conditional upon man's obedience. He is
not contradicting such passages as 3.16; 13.34; 15.9,12; 17.23. His thought
is at this point (and frequently in the last discourses) concentrated upon
the mutuality of the relation between Father, Son, and believers; see on
13.34. Because the disciples love one another they will appear to men as
members of the divine family; their love for Christ, and union with him,
means that the Father loves them in him. They enjoy the Father's love merely
as his creatures (cf. 1 John 4.10); but as Christians they represent even
more than an extension of the incarnation; they are an extension of the
social personality of the Godhead.
I will love them and reveal myself
to them. The love of Christ for his disciple is
declared in self-manifestation. emfanizein is used again in the next
verse; nowhere else in John, and nowhere else in the New Testament in this
sense. It is an appropriate word since it is used of theophanies: e.g. Ex.
33.13,18, reveal yourself to me (quoted by Philo, L. A. in, 101); Wisd. 1.2, [The Lord] appeared to those who did not believe in him; cf. Josephus, Ant. xv, 425, emfaneia tou theou. The manner of the
manifestation is not made clear in this verse. It might refer to a
resurrection appearance, or to a spiritual revelation of Christ; and it would
not be inappropriate to the appearance of Christ in glory at the last day.
22. Judas (not Iscariot). On
Judas Iscariot (whose name is regularly given by D as here) see on 6.71. The
synoptic gospels mention a Judas among the brothers of Jesus (Mark 6.3; Matt.
13.55; cf - Jude 1). Only Luke-Acts mentions an apostle of this name; see
Luke 6.16 (Judas son of James, mentioned between Simon called Zelotes
and Judas Iscariot, at the end of the list), and Acts 1.13 (Judas son of
James, mentioned last, after Simon Zelotes). There is no sufficient
ground for identifying him with Thaddaeus in the Marcan list, or Lebbaeus in
the Matthean. For
388 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
"Judas, not Iscariot", sah
has Judas Cananites, sin has Thomas, cur has Judas Thomas. On the apparent
identification of Judas and Thomas in the Syriac-speaking Church see on
11.16. In view of the fact that, in place of not Iscariot, b has sed
aliiis, it seems not impossible that the original text read simply Judas.
This however cannot be concluded with certainty.
Lord, how is it
. cf. 9.36 for a similar construction. The kai adds vigour
to the question: "Yes, but how is it...?" But kai may be due
to dittography. kyrie would in an uncial MS. be written KE; if the
letters KE were repeated they might well be taken as an equivalent for mi,
since E for at is a very common itacism.
you will reveal yourself to us, and
not to the world. hÍmin stands first for
emphasis, and in contrast with tŰ kosmŰ at the end of the sentence.
How is it that it is to us thou wilt manifest thyself, and not to the world?
Cf. Acts 10.41, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as
witnesses. In Acts the reference is undoubtedly to the resurrection
appearances; only believers had seen the risen Christ. This meaning is
suggested for John also by vv. 18f. (see the notes). But John's thought was
neither simple nor static, and at this point a further stage has been
reached. It was contrary to the earliest expectations of the Church that a
long interval should intervene between the death of Jesus and his appearance
in glory before the eyes of the whole world (Mark 13.26; Rev. 1.7). This
glorious appearance on the clouds of heaven had not taken place, and the
question attributed to Judas is one which was doubtless asked by many
perplexed Christians (cf. 2 Peter 3.4, Where is the promise of his coming?).
John here gives a solution of the problem. Part of the truth lies in the
coming of Jesus to his followers at the resurrection; part lies in his
coming, as expected, at the last day (John never denies and occasionally
confirms this hope); but between these comings there is a different kind of
parousia and manifestation.
23. Those who love me will keep my
word. Cf. vv. 15, 21. The word (singular) of Jesus is the whole saving
message that he brought; cf. e.g. 5.24,6 whoever listens to my word Ö has
we will come to them
. The plural alone (the singulars we will come and we
will make, read by D cur, are an accommodation to better-known ideas) is
sufficient to show that John has in mind neither the resurrection appearances
nor the parousia of the last day. To the man who becomes a Christian (for the
notion of conversion cf. Wisd. 1.2 quoted above) both the Father and the Son
(their equality is implied) will come. This is the parousia upon which John's
interest is concentrated, and it is the interval, unforseen by apocalyptic
Christianity, between the resurrection and the consummation that he proposes
to explain. The explanation is in terms of the "mystical" abiding
of God with the believer.
will will make our home with them
. For the expression cf. Josephus, Ant. XIII, 41, Jonathan made
his home in Jerusalem. For monÍ see on v. 2; it is simply the
verbal noun derived from the characteristic Johannine menein. The
Father and the Son will make their permanent dwelling with the Christian. The
Old Testament is primarily concerned with the dwelling of God with man (cf.,
e.g., 3 Kdms. 8.27, whether it is true that God dwells with men upon earth; Zech. 2.10, I will come and pitch my tent amoung you); John, having
389 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
basic solution at 1.14, comes here to
its personal outcome. Intimate mystical union with God was the goal of many
religions in antiquity, not least the mystery cults and gnostic theosophies.
The climax of the Hermetic religion is that elect souls growing strong,
lived in God (C.H. 1, 26); they are so closely united with God as to be
deified (theŰthÍnai). In many places Philo speaks of God and also of
the Word as dwelling in man (see for many references Bauer, 186). John's
thought is distinguished from that of his contemporaries by (a) his
insistence upon the historical framework of Christianity, (b) his insistence
upon moral obedience and love as a prerequisite of the indwelling of God.
24. Whoever does not love me does
not keep my words. The converse of v. 23a. It is possible that a contrast
is intended between ton logon... tous logous - lack of love to
Christ is manifested in transgression of his precepts; but the return to ho
logos (singular) in the second half of this verse may suggest that no
difference was intended.
the word that you hear
. Perhaps the message of Jesus as a whole; perhaps the word just
spoken and heard. The speech of Jesus, like his actions, is not his own. For
the complete unity of action of Father and Son see 5.19 and the gospel
passim; it is essential to John's presentation of the Gospel.
25. I have said these things.
The reference is to the words of consolation which Jesus has spoken; but they
will only have their effect through the future ministry of the Paraclete (v.
while I am still with you
. The first menein of Jesus with his disciples is broken
sharply by his death.
26. the Holy Spirit; so the
majority of MSS.; a few assimilate to the the Spirit of truth of v.
17; 15.26; 16.13. sin omits to hagion; this short reading may be
original; it would account for the two variants.
the Father will send in my name
. See on v. 16. "In my name" can hardly mean
"because you ask in my name"; perhaps, "because I ask",
or "to act in relation to me, in my place, with my authority". Cf.
Mark 13.6, where those who claim to be Christ (iycb etiai) are said to come in
will teach you everything
. One of the primary functions of the Paraclete is to teach. For
the words used cf. Ps. 25(24).5,9, 66r|yTia6v HE ETTI Tf)v &Ar|0Ei<iv
crou, KCC 8fSa£6v HE... 66r|yT|aEi Trpqeels iv KplaEi, 616dßEi TrpiyEls oSous
carrou. Cf. also 1 John 2.20,27.
and remind you
. There is a parallel to the words in C.H. xiii, 2: this kind
of knowledge [the teaching about regeneration], o child, you will not
be taught, but if you wish, you will be reminded by God. But here it is
the contrast rather than the parallel in thought which serves to bring out
John's meaning. In the Hermetica the recollection is of the hidden origin and
true nature of man and the universe, and it is called up from within; in John
the Paraclete reminds the believer not of anything within himself but of the
spoken, though not fully understood, words of Jesus. There is no independent
revelation through the Paraclete, but only an application of the revelation
in Jesus. The Paraclete recalls all that I have said to you. The egŰ
is very emphatic; it is omitted by some mess. For I have said, D has I
wish to say. This gives an entirely different meaning to the
390 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
work of the Paraclete, who (according
to this reading) receives fresh teaching from Jesus and transmits it to the
Church. This is contrary to the meaning of the passage as a whole.
27. peace. Jesus is taking
leave of his disciples and uses the conventional word of farewell, Peace, (shalom).
EirÍnÍ is used in John only here and at 16.33 (m a similar sense); and
as a greeting at 20.19,21,26. But the word had already acquired much more
than conventional depth; thus in the Old Testament, Num. 6.26; Ps. 28.11; Isa. 54.13; 57.19; Ezek. 37.26; and in the New Testament, Rom. 1.7; 5.1; 14.17 and many other passages. There is a similar use in Philo; see especially
Mos. 1, 304, God gave Phineas the greatest good, peace, which no man can
achieve by himself. The rest of this verse shows that peace means the
absence of fear and perturbation of heart; and that it is the gift of Christ
I leave with you
. For afiÍmi with the meaning "to bequeath" (a
meaning not quoted in L.S.) see Ps. 17(16).14, left the remainder to their
infants; Eccles 2.18; cf. Mark 12.22.
not as the world gives
. The peace of Christ is not the world's peace (since he has it at
the moment of supreme peril and distress), and accordingly he gives it in a
novel way. Cf. the synoptic promise of assistance in time of persecution
(Mark 13.11, do not be anxious in advance).
Do not let your hearts be troubled
. Cf. v. 1. mÍde deiliatŰ Let it not play the coward.
28. h#kousate. Cf. vv. 2-4,
12,18f, 21,23. The discourse is recapitulated in the repetition of the
key-words hypagein, erchesthai. Jesus will return to the glory of the
Father through death; yet he will come to his disciples and be closer to them
than ever. The fact that the discourse is recapitulated in this way lends
some weight to the view that ch. 14 is a discourse complete in itself. This
cannot however be pressed in view of John's generally repetitive style.
If you loved me, you would rejoice
. An unfulfilled condition. "If you loved me (as you do not)
you would..." True love for Jesus, which they did not yet possess, would
have made the disciples rejoice in his exaltation just as true understanding
would have enabled them to see that his departure was for their advantage.
the Father is greater than 1.
John is not thinking of the essential relations of the Father and
the Son, but of the humiliation of the Son in his earthly life, a humiliation
which now, in his death, reached both its climax and its end. But see,
further, Introduction, pp. 77f.
29. Cf. 13.19.
30. I will no longer talk much with
you. These words raise forcibly the question whether v. 31 was originally
planned as the end of the discourse, that is, the question of the original
order of chs. 14, 15, 16. See pp. 378ff. They do not however solve the
question. With the gospel in its present state it can still be reasonably
maintained that the words are valid, since no more prolonged public teaching
for the ruler of this world is
coming; that is, primarily, the events of the
passion are about to begin (see the preceding note). For the ruler of this
world see on 12.31.
391 (Ground of Hope and Confidence. 14.1-31)
For the devil as precipitating the death
of Jesus cf. 6.70; 13.2,27. The passion itself may be regarded as a conflict
between Jesus and Satan.
He has no power over me
seems to be equivalent to the Hebrew expression "he has
no claim upon me". Cf. 8.46. Since Jesus is not of this world (8.23,
cf. 18.36) the ruler of this world can make no claim against him. It is not
implied (as in some later theories of the atonement) that the devil was
deceived. It is not certain whether we should punctuate with a comma or a
colon after ouden. The sentence may be taken thus: (a)... has nothing
in me, but [this happens] in order that the world may know... Rise...
(b)...has nothing in me. But that the world may know..., rise... Neither
punctuation can be ruled out as impossible, (a) is perhaps to be preferred. See
on the next verse.
31. but.. so that. With the
punctuation tentatively suggested above some supplement is needed before so
that. This is in accord with John's style; for similar elliptical
constructions see 9.3; 13.18; 15.25; 1 John 2.19. It is easy to supply either
"These things are happening", or "I am acting in this
that the world may know that I love
the Father. Love is shown by keeping commandments
(vv. 15, a 1, 23); the Son keeps the Father's commandments and it is
therefore demonstrated that he abides in the Father's love (15.10). The
obedience and love of the Son find they supreme demonstration in his willing
acceptance of the commandment that he lay down his life (10.17f).
Rise, let us be on our way
. Cf. Mark 14.42, Rise, let us go (spoken not in the supper
room but in Gethsemane immediately before the arrest). It seems more probable
that John is here echoing the Marcan words than that he refers to the ascent
of Christ to the Father, though the latter view might be suggested by
punctuation (b) of v. 30 (see above): Let me go to death and exaltation that
the world may know.... The problem of the construction of chs. 14, 15, 16 is
raised again, since these words are most naturally read as the conclusion of
the upper room discourse, immediately before the departure and arrest of
Jesus. On this question see pp. 378ff. The difficulty can be removed by
translation into Aramaic (Torrey, 135, 138-40). Only very slight alterations
are required to turn "... thus I do. Rise, let us go hence" into
"...thus I do. I will arise and go hence". But the hypothesis
requires belief in a continuous Aramaic text underlying the Greek of John,
and it is easier to accept the Greek as it stands. The discourse comes to a
close; it was originally intended to be followed at once by 18.1.
31. The True Vine.
If the view maintained above, that
chs. 15-17 (16) are an alternative "last discourse" to ch. 14, be
correct, it must be concluded that the present passage could be taken as
following directly upon the narrative of
392 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
the supper. Such a connection would
confirm the view of the symbolism which is taken in the notes: it is at least
in part eucharistic, and the union of believers with Christ which it
represents is a union in his death.
This union is the theme of the present
and of the next section. Only in Christ can Christians live. In him there is
the fruitfulness of true service to God, of answered prayer, and of obedience
in love. All who are in him are his friends, and they are necessarily united
with each other in love.
Symbolic speech based upon vines and
vineyards is found in the synoptic gospels; Mark 12.1-9; Matt. 21.33-41; Luke
20.9-16; Matt. 20.1-16; 21.28-32; cf. Luke 13.6-9. All these parables have in
common the fact that the vineyard, or persons connected with it, represent
Israel, or a section of Israel. A contrast is drawn between the fruit which
Israel, as God's vineyard, or the labourers in his vineyard, ought to bear,
or to produce by labour, and the scanty results which in fact appear. In
pointing this contrast the New Testament follows in the steps of the Old
Testament (e.g. Isa. 5.1-7). What must be noted here is the twofold
transformation of the traditional material which John has effected, and which
is visible in both the form and the substance of the parable, (a) John
withdraws the point of the parable from the eschatological crisis of the
ministry of Jesus and applies it to the continuous life of the Church, (b)
The vine in his handling of the material ceases to represent Israel and
becomes a Christological definition applied to Jesus himself. The change in
the form of the parabolic material appears in the facts (a) that no clear
story is told; we do not hear the fate of a particular vine or vineyard, but
rather certain general observations on viticulture; (b) that the whole
symbolism is governed by the opening words "egŰ eimi" (I am): Jesus is all that the
vine truly symbolizes.
There is abundant evidence that John
was well aware of the historical fact of the rejection of Jesus by Judaism
(see especially 12.36b~5o). But this rejection he has already set forth, and
here, as regularly in the last discourses, his major interest is in the life
of the Church, in the question who are and who are not true disciples of
1. egŰ eimi. See on 6.35.
I am the true vine
. John introduces abruptly one of his great symbols; cf. 10.1ff.
for that of the shepherd. The vine is one of the most prized of plants and in
allegorical usage naturally represents the most privileged among nations and
men. This usage appears in the Old Testament where Israel is described as a
vine. See e.g. Jer. 2.21, the true vine, Ezek. 15.1-8; 19.10-14; Ps -
80.9-16. In these passages the pure and favoured origin, but often also the
degeneration or danger, of Israel are described. The same use is to be found
in rabbinic literature; the fullest example is Lev. R. 36.2 (quoted at length
in S.B. 11, 563f). As the vine is the lowest of all plants and yet becomes
the king of all plants, so the Israelites appear lowly in this
393 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
world, but in the future (i.e. the
messianic age) they will obtain possession from one end of the world to the
other. In later Judaism Wisdom (Sir. 24.27) and the Messiah (2 Baruch 39.7)
appear under the likeness of the vine. Philo gives a characteristically
non-historical interpretation to the vine when, quoting Isa. 5.7 (The
vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel), he immediately
explains that "Israel" means "seeing God", so that the
soul, which houses the mind, which sees God, is "that most holy vineyard
which has for its fruit that divine growth, virtue" (Som. 11, 172f).
Vine-symbolism has a prominent place in certain other non-Christian sources
(e.g. the cult of Dionysos, and the Mandaean literature, though the latter
seems here to be certainly dependent on Christian imagery), but these have no
particular relevance here. It is more interesting to note that among the
ornaments of Herod's Temple was a notable golden vine (Middoth 3.8; Josephus,
Bel. v, 210; Tacitus, Historiae v, 5), and that the disciples of Johanan b.
Zakkai at Jabneh (Jamnia) after A.D. 70 were called kerem b'yabhneh,
the vineyard of Jabneh; Ketuboth 4.6, el al.).
This last point would be the more
interesting if we followed Pallis (32) in taking ampelos to mean
"vineyard". "In Modern Greek ampeli and klÍma
are specific terms for vineyard and vine respectively" (loc. cit.).
There is some papyrus support for this meaning of ampelos; see M.M.
s.v. Most important however is the Old Testament use of the vine as a symbol
for Israel, and the connection of this chapter with the synoptic accounts of
the last supper (it is possible that originally ch. 15 was planned to follow
immediately upon the supper without the intervention of ch. 14; see pp.
378ff.). In the Marcan account one of the central features is the blessing of
a cup of wine which is afterwards given to the disciples with the words
"This is my blood of the covenant which is shed for many" (Mark
14.24; cf. Matt. 26.28; also Luke 22.20, but this verse may not be part of
the original text of Luke). In the next verse the wine is described as the
fruit of the vine in the eschatological saying "I will no more drink
of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of
God" (cf. Luke 22.18 "...until the kingdom of God come"). This
recalls the usual Jewish benediction over wine, "Blessed art Thou, O
Lord... who create the fruit of the vine" (peri hagefen). In the
synoptic narratives the fruit of the vine is thus at once the means by which
the disciples are made sharers in the sacrificial death of Christ and an
anticipation of the life of the age to come. Union with Christ (and contact
thereby with the other world) forms the basis and theme of the whole of ch.
15. There is a mutual indwelling of Father, Son, and disciple. The historical
foundation of this relation is in the call of Christ (I have chosen you),
and its outcome is the mutual love of Christians for one another (v. 13).
Conversely, the hatred of the world for the Church arises out of its hatred
for Christ (vv. 23f., cf. vv. 9f.). The mission of the Son provokes hatred as
it provokes love, and the inevitable effect is a cleavage between the
children of light and the children of darkness. This divine mission is
continued in the witness of the Paraclete and of the Church (vv. 26f, and ch.
16). For alÍthinos see on 1.9. Here as often the adjective draws a
contrast with some other object less real than that described by John. Thus
Israel is called a vine; but the true vine is not the apostate people but
Jesus, and those who are, as branches, incorporated in him. For a different
use of vine-symbolism cf. Didache 9.2.
394 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
my Father is the vinegrower
, is in supreme control of the whole process. cf. 1 Cor. 3.6-9.
There is a different picture in the parable of Mark 12.1-12, where the owner
of the vineyard lets it out to farmers.
2. every branch. The word branch,
though it can be used generally, is particularly applied to vine-branches; see L.S. s.v. pan..mÍ is not a Semitism; the order is not that of the
characteristically Semitic lo.. kol; M. 11, 434.
The interpretation of the unfruitful branches may be twofold. The original
branches in God's vine were the Jews; these, being unfruitful (unbelieving), God
removed. Cf. Matt. 21.41, where the thought is very similar, and Rom. 11.17, if
some branches are broken off; also Matt. 15.13, every plant will be
uprooted. This seems to have been the earliest Christian interpretation
of the vine-symbolism, and it may well have been at the back of John's mind; but ev enof shows that his primary thought was of apostate Christians.
i. The paronomasia suggests original Greek composition, not the
translation of a Semitic original. kathairein is equally suitable for
agricultural processes and for religious purgation. It is used of cleansing
corn by winnowing (Xenophon, Oeconomicus xvin, 6) and of clearing
weeds from the ground before sowing (ibid, xx, 11). It is used of religious
ceremony (Iliad XVT, 228, purifying a cup for a libation), and in a
moral sense (Plato, Phaedo 114c, sufficiently purified by
philosophy). Philo uses the agricultural process in a moral allegory
(Som. 11, 64). For the means of purification see the next verse; the purpose
to make it bear more fruit
. The bearing of fruit is simply living the life of a Christian
disciple (see vv. 5, 8); perhaps especially the practice of mutual love (v.
3. You have already been cleansed.
The adjective cleansed, like the cognate verb, is used in agriculture,
and can be quoted in special connection with the growth of vines; Xenophon, Oeconomicus
xx, 20,... that the vines may be cleansed.
The disciples as the initial members
of the new people of God have already undergone the process of purification.
by the word that I have spoken to
you. For the active power of the word of Jesus
cf. 12.48 (will judge you) ; also 15.7; 17.8 (rÍmata). No
particular word is in mind (contrast perhaps v. 7). There is no inconsistency
with 13.10, nor in John's mind any wish to contrast a cleansing activated by
physical means (baptism) with a cleansing wrought by the spoken word only. In
both ch. 13 and ch. 15 he is thinking of the total effect of what Jesus was
and did for his own. In the former the process of washing represents, as we
have seen, the whole loving service of Jesus to men, culminating in his
death; in the latter his "word" is the message of salvation which
he brings, and in himself is. Cf. 6.63, where John passes from the eating of
flesh and the drinking of blood to the rÍmata of Jesus as spirit and
4. Abide in me as I abide in you. This
is the basic thought of the chapter; see on v. 1. The sentence may be taken
in three ways, (a) kai introduces a comparison : abide in me, as I
abide in you. (b) kai introduces the apodosis of a conditional
sentence, the protasis of which is expressed by an imperative
395 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
(Robertson, 948f.): if you abide in
me, I will abide in you. V. 5 however suggests that (c) we should take the
two balanced clauses very closely together: let there be mutual indwelling.
The Christian life is unthinkable except in union with Christ.
The present (continuous) tenses are more suitable to the context, but for
that very reason the aorists (if original) might have been changed.
5. The thought of the previous verse
is repeated in different words. Such repetitions are characteristic of John; see on 1.2.
6. is thrown away like a branch and
withers. For these "timeless" aorists cf. Isa. 40.7 and M. 1,
134, 247; B.D., 148. The usage is notunclassical; cf. Euripides, Alcestis
386. The verbs which follow (synagousin...) show how these are to be
taken. An unfaithful Christian suffers the fate of an unfruitful branch.
gathered.. and burned
. The construction and tense change but not the sense; the third
person plurals active are used for passives, in a manner recalling Hebrew and
Aramaic usage. Cf. 20.2 and see M. 11, 447f. Accordingly it is fruitless to
ask who are the subject of the verbs. On the tense see the preceding note.
thrown into the fire
. The words are primarily parabolic; that is, it is unfruitful
branches which are cast into the fire and burned. Yet John would probably not
have denied a similar fate for faithless Christians; cf. 5.29.
7. If you abide in me, and my words
abide in you. Cf. vv. 4f. for the mutual indwelling of Jesus and the
believer, and v. 3 for the cleansing effect of his word. Here rÍmata
are probably the specific sayings and precepts of Jesus (cf. v. 10); these
must remain in the Christian's mind and heart.
ask for whatever you wish
. Cf. 14.13 (and note); 16.23. The prayer of a truly obedient
Christian cannot fail, since he can ask nothing contrary to the will of God.
For it will be done for you cf. Mark 11.24.
8. My Father is glorified by this.
For the aorist cf. v. 6. In John it is usually the Son who is glorified, but
cf. 12.28; 13.31; 14.13. The Father is glorified in the Son - in his
obedience and perfect accomplishment of his work. It is therefore but a short
step to see the glorification of the Father in the obedience and fruitfulness
of those who are united to the Son. In this is followed by an
explanatory hina in John's manner.
you become my disciples
. To bear fruit is a proof of the reality of discipleship. Cf.
13.35, where mutual love is the sign of discipleship, and v. 12 where the
same thought is resumed. In the text of WH (which is that of B D 9 it vg sah)
become is directly dependent upon hina, and the two
subjunctives are co-ordinate with one another.
9. As the Father has Ö so I have.
kagŰ introduces an apodosis, "so also I...". The notion of a
correspondence between the relation of Father and Son and that of Son and
disciples is especially frequent in chs. 13-17. The aorist denotes the whole
act of love lavished by Jesus upon his disciples and consummated in his
death. The love of the Father for the Son
396 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
is expressed by continuous tenses at
3.35; 5-20; 10.17; here, and at 17.24,26, the aorist is used, by analogy with
the aorist used for the love of Jesus for the disciples, and also perhaps
with reference to the pretemporal relations of Father and Son. A different
punctuation is adopted by WH, who place only a comma after riycnrriaa. If
this is followed we must translate, "As my Father loved me and I loved
you, abide...". This does not seem preferable to the interpretation
The aorist imperative may be used for emphasis (Bernard, ad loc); perhaps
rather it is a summons to the disciples to enter into and so to abide in the
love of Jesus.
in my love
, "my love for you". What it is to abide in the love of
Jesus is shown in the next verse.
10. if you keep my commandments.
Cf. 14.15,21, and the notes.
The parallel shows that love and obedience are mutually dependent. Love arises
out of obedience, obedience out of love.
11. I have said these things.
that my joy may be in you
. The joy of Jesus springs out of his obedience to the Father and
his unity with him in love. The seal upon his obedience and love is his
ascent to the Father, and this should make his disciples rejoice (14.28; 16.20-4; 17-I3) - But in addition they too may experience the joy of mutual
love and obedience.
may be complete. The expression is Johannine; 3.29; 16.24; 17.13; 1 John 1.4; 2 John 12.
12. this is my commandment. The
commandment (now become singular, summarizing all commandments, v. 10) which
will keep in the love of Christ those who observe it is itself the
commandment of love. Love is, as it were, the bond of existence within the
unity of Father, Son, and believers (the Holy Spirit is not here in mind).
that you love one another as I have
loved you. Cf. 13.34f, and for the latter clause
v. 9. The whole ministry of Jesus, including his glorification in death (cf.
Mark 10.45), is summed up as the service of love to those who by it are
redeemed; every Christian owes the same service of love to every other.
13. See the note on 13.34. Once more,
John is not narrowing the scope of Christian love, or of the love of God. He
does not deny God's universal love for the kosmos, but views love from
a different standpoint. God's love for the kosmos resulted in the
separation from it of a small group of filoi (not in the conversion of
the whole world; cf. v. 25, They hated me without a cause). In a
special sense the love of Jesus was lavished upon these "friends"
to the end that among them and in them love in turn might grow. Their mutual
love was a reflection of Jesus' love for them, more, of the mutual love which
exists eternally between the Father and the Son. The eternal divine love
reached its complete and unsurpassable expression in the death of Christ,
which was at the same time the death of a man for his friends.
to lay down one's life
. hina and the subjunctive are explanatory of tautÍs.
For to lay down life see on 10.11.
for one's friends
. John seems to draw no distinction between agapan and filein
accordingly we may render here, "... for those whom he loves"
397 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
(for the common passive sense of filos
see L.S. s.v.). The further, and specifically Christian, meaning of filos
is brought out in the next verses.
14. if you do what I command you.
It is clear that the status of friend is not one which precludes obedient
service; this is rather demanded. Cf. v. 10 and the parallels noted there; there is no essential difference between being Christ's filos and
abiding in his agapÍ.
15. I do not call you servants any
longer Ö I have called you friends. The contrast is an evident one and
occurs for example in Philo. See Mig. 45, where the friend of God is Moses.
In Sob. 56 Philo quotes Gen. 18.17 with the description of Abraham as my
friend; this reading may be dependent on Isa. 41.8. In Wisd. 7.27, Wisdom
is said to make men friends of God. In the LXX filos is sometimes used
for a highly placed official at court (1 Macc. 2.18; 3.38; 10.65). It was
similarly used in the Ptolemaic court (possibly this Egyptian usage affected
the Greek of the LXX). There is however no need to suppose (Deissmann, 383)
that this usage strongly influenced John, with whom the most important
factors are the connection of filos with filein, and the
contrast between friends and slaves. According to him, the difference between
a doulos and a filos lies not in doing or not doing the will of
God, but in understanding or not understanding it. The disciples are filoi
because Jesus has declared to them the whole counsel of God (cf. 16.12). Cf.
the contrasts between servants and sonsat Gal. 4.1-7; Heb. 3.5. It is
characteristic of John that that which (according to him) distinguishes the
friend from the slave is knowledge, and that knowledge should be very closely
related to love. The existence of a superior group of filoi,
distinguished from douloi, recalls both gnosticism and the mystery
cults (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VII, 11, where the gnostikos
is teleios, filos, and huios); but it must always be remembered
that for John the distinguishing marks of those who become filoi are
the obedience and humility shown by Jesus himself. filos probably
became a technical term for "Christian"; see on 11.11.
I made known
. The aorist contemplates the completed work of Christ.
16. You did not choose me but I
chose you. The analogy with groups of initiated gnostics, superficially
attractive as it is, again breaks down. The initiates had chosen their way of
life for themselves. Cf. Stobaei Hermetica, Excerpt xviii, 3 (W. Scott,
Hermetica 1, (1924) 446) and many similar passages. In the gospel narrative,
however (and this is as true of the synoptic gospels as of John), Jesus
chooses, calls, and appoints his disciples. The initiative is entirely his; the egŰ is emphatic. This emphasis governs the interpretation of the
whole passage. Men are not Jesus' friends because they have a natural
affinity with him, but because he has named them his friends. If they lay
down their lives in love, it is because he first laid down his life for them.
I appointed you
. This use of tithenai is not Greek, but there are numerous
parallels in the New Testament: Acts 13.47; 20.28; Rom, 4.17; 1 Cor. 12.28; 1
398 (The True Vine. 15.1-17)
5.9; 1 Tim. 1.12; 2.7; 2 Tim. 1.11; Heb. 1.2; 1 Peter 2.8. In all these passages tithenai is used actively
with a personal object, or passively with a personal subject. Two of them
(Acts 13.47; Rom. 4.17) are quotations of the Old Testament (Isa. 49.6; Gen.
17.5), and in these places the Hebrew verb is nathan. This verb (or
rather a recollection of it and of one of its Greek renderings) may underly
the present passage; or possibly ethÍka is a rendering or echo of samak,
originally "to close", "to join", hence "to lay the
hands on (the head of)", that is, "to ordain" (the word
commonly used of the ordination of a scholar as rabbi).
to go and bear fruit
. The metaphor looks back to the metaphor of the vine with which
the chapter opened. go and refers to the mission of the apostles to
the world. It is sufficiently explained without recourse to the view (Torrey,
40, 44) that it is a mistranslation of a well-known Semitic idiom which
should have been rendered, "that you may bear more and more fruit".
fruit that will last
. Cf. 4.36. The fruits of the apostolic mission will be gathered
in, and not be lost.
he will give you
. Here the Father himself is the giver. This clause seems to be
co-ordinate with, not dependent upon, hina... fereteÖ menÍ.
Bearing fruit, and prayer which is sure of its answer, are the twin
privileges which flow from the appointment of Jesus. 17. This verse forms a
transition to the next paragraph; it repeats the thought of vv. 10, 12, and
32. The Hatred of the
In the previous section the thought
was concentrated upon the small group of the friends of Jesus, their union in
love with each other and with him, their obedience, their prayers. John now
looks outward to consider their surroundings. They live in the midst of the kosmos
(see the notes on 1.10; 3.16). To the love which flourishes within the circle
of believers corresponds the hatred of the world, which first hated Jesus and
naturally continues to hate those who are his, since the world can only love
its own. It is as truly the nature of the world to hate as it is the nature
of the Christians to love. Because the Christians are in Christ, hatred of
them is hatred of Christ, and hatred of Christ is hatred of the Father who
sent him. The unpopularity of Christians in the world is due ultimately to
the attitude of the world to God.
The hatred of the world for Christians
is a theme of the synoptic gospels also. It appears in the Marcan apocalypse:
399 (The Hatred of the World. 15.18-27)
Some of the Matthean parallels to this
material are in the mission charge (Matt. 10.17-22) and in the same context
there is further material (Matt. 10.23-39) "with parallels in Luke
12.2-9,51-3; 14.26f.; 17.33. Cf. also the sayings of Mark 8.34; Matt.
16.24f.; Luke 9.23f In spite of rearrangements made by Matthew it seems
probable that most (at least) of these sayings were originally eschatological
predictions: the hatred to be endured by the disciples was given absolute
significance by being placed in the framework of events expected to herald
the end of history. When the sufferings of the Church became actual and
pressing, probably in the time of the Neronic persecution, a similar
interpretation was maintained and appears in Mark: Roman Christians must hold
the faith and endure to the end; if they do so they will be saved and will
see the joy that is to follow the affliction. John also gives the prediction
of persecution absolute significance, but he changes the setting. The hatred
of the world for Christ's people is, as has already been noted, hatred of God
himself. John's thought recalls rather the conflict between light and
darkness in gnostic systems than early Christian eschatology. At the close of
the chapter the Paraclete is again introduced. The connection is that it is
on account of their witness to Christ that the disciples incur the world's
hatred; but their witness is continuous with that of the Spirit.
18. If the world hates you, as
in fact it does. The hatred of the world was a known datum of Christian
experience long before John wrote. Cf. Tacitus, Annales xv, 44, per
flagitia inuisos. ginwskete may be either indicative or
imperative. Either would make sense. The older VSS. give the imperative (e.g.
it vg, scitote), and in default of other argument may well be
before it hated you
. prŰtos is incorrectly used in comparison; but cf. 1.15.
19. If you belonged to the world.
This condition, unlike that of the previous verse, is not fulfilled. The
disciples have been "of the world" and they continue to be "in
the world" (17.11), but they have been chosen out of the world.
neuter, "that which belongs to it". For a neuter representing a
group of persons cf. 6.37,39; 17-2J and perhaps 1.11, though here there seems
to be a contrast between ta idia and hoi idioi.
I have chosen you
. Cf. v. 16 and the note. A further point of difference between John's
thought and the gnostic systems is brought out. The disciples were not in
themselves alien to the world, an essentially superior group; they were
chosen out of the world.
20. Remember the wordÖ if they
persecuted me, they will persecute you. A special application of the logos
400 (The Hatred of the World. 15.18-27)
to. Doubtless John's readers knew its
truth from experience, but the reference to persecution is too vague for us
to use it in dating the gospel. See 16.1f.
if they kept my word, they will
keep yours also. John means, If there are some
who persecute you, there will also be others who will keep your word. The
mission of the Church will result in the same twofold response as the work of
Jesus himself (cf. especially 12.44-50). Cf. the work of the Old Testament
prophets: the rejection of their message by the people as a whole and the
formation of a remnant; no less, the work of the Hermetic prophets - see
especially C.H. I, 29.
On account of my word
, "because of me". The disciples will be neither hated
nor believed on their own account but on account of Christ who sends them. It
is conceivable that there may be an allusion here to persecution "for
the name", but the general New Testament usage of TO OVOUCC (and the
common Hebrew and Aramaic lashem, "for the name of"
="for the sake of") does not favour this view.
because they do not know him who
sent me. Cf. 14.7; 17-3, and especially 16.3. To
know God, that is, to recognize him in Jesus, is to transfer oneself from the
world to the friends of Jesus, the Church. The one who sent me is a
very common Johannine description of the Father.
22. they have no excuse for their
sin, which is very common in the LXX and is to be preferred here and in
v. 24, see M. 1, 52; II, 194; Robertson, 335; B.D., 39). In this apodosis
(after an unfulfilled condition in past time) an would have been
expected (as in v. 24); but in Hellenistic Greek "the addition of av in
the apodosis is no longer obligatory" (B.D., 158). Cf. 8.39; 19.11. For
the thought of the verse cf. 9.39-41 and the notes there. The coming of Jesus
makes possible the ultimate and unmistak able manifestation of sin, which is
disbelief in him (16.9); accordingly it passes judgement on the world. It is
clear that by sin John means conscious and deliberate rejection of the light.
("but now in fact", "as it is") -they would not have
excuse is not used elsewhere in John, and the other New Testament uses
(Mark 12.40 ( =Matt. 23.13; Luke 20.47); Acts 27.30; Phil. 1.18; 1 Thess.
2.5) do little to explain the meaning here. The best rendering is
"excuse"; see L.S. s.v., and cf. e.g. Xenophon, Cyropaedia in, i,
27. Those who have seen and heard Jesus are deprived of excuse because Jesus
both exposes sin and is its remedy. The thought is taken further in 16.8-11.
23. Whoever hates me hates my
Father also. Cf. 13.20 where the corresponding positive statement is
made. John always insists that the work of Jesus is unthinkable apart from
the constant activity of God. What Jesus does is done by God, and every attitude
of men to him is an attitude to God.
24. ta erga. On the works of
Jesus and their value for faith see on 4.34; 5.36. In them divine activity
was plainly visible; they therefore leave men without excuse for their
they would not have sin.
For the text, accidence, syntax, and meaning, cf. v. 22.. In
spite of the kai it seems best to supply, as the object of they
have seen.. my works.
401 (The Hatred of the World. 15.18-27)
they have hated
in tense follows they have seen and also draws attention to
the enduring hatred of the Jews. both me and my Father - as follows
from v. 23.
25. It was to fulfill. Either
the expression is elliptic ("These things are so happening in order that
the word may be fulfilled") or hina with the subjunctive is used
imperativally ("But let the word be fulfilled"-cf. Mark 14.49). The
ellipse is perhaps more probable; cf. 9.3; 13.18 and the references there
given. For fulfill with a reference to Scripture cf. 12.38; 13.18; 17.12; 19.24,36. Explicit references to the verbal fulfilment of Scripture
are com paratively rare in John (see J.T.S. old series XLVIII, (1947),
155-69) and when they do occur are generally of special significance. Here
the point (see next note) is that the Jews, who hate Jesus, are convicted out
of their own Law.
in their law,
For nomos as including more than the Pentateuch see on
10.34. Jesus distinguishes himself and his disciples from the Jews by
speaking of "their Law"; see on "your Law" at 10.34. The
Jews' hatred of Jesus is referred to and described as causeless in their own
Law; they are self-condemned and without excuse.
'They hated me without a cause
. The reference is either to Ps. 35(34).19 or to Ps. 69(68).5. In
both occur the words hated me without a cause. Bernard (ad loc.)
plausibly suggests that John had in mind the latter Psalm because it was
regarded as messianic.
26. When the Advocate comes.
For the word paraklÍtos, and for the teaching connected with it, see
the Spirit of truth
. Cf. 14.26.
whom I shall send
. It is doubtful whether John intended any difference between the
two statements, either in the gender of the relative or the subject of the
who comes from the Father
. The mission of the Spirit is closely parallel to that of the
Son; cf. 8.42; 13.3; 16.27, cf. vv. 28, 30; 17.8.
The gender changes; the Spirit is thought of in personal terms.
he will testify on my behalf
. Witnessing is one of the primary themes of the gospel; see on
1.7. Here only is the Spirit said to bear witness; his work in this respect
is more fully expounded (though without the use of martyrein) in ch.
16. The connection with the context is important. Jesus testifies against the
Jews, who hate him, and crowns his testimony with a reference to the Jews'
own Bible. The Paraclete will continue to testify to Jesus. The disciples
also bear witness (v. 27) and this introduces (16. if.) the subject of
persecution; and at 16.8 John returns to the convicting work of the
Paraclete. The whole paragraph bears such strong marks of unity that it seems
very improbable that the verses about the Paraclete have been inserted into
already prepared material.
27. You also are to testify.
Cf. Acts 5.32. The Spirit and the disciples both continue the work of Jesus.
you have been with me from the
beginning. Their qualification is their long
402 (The Hatred of the World. 15.18-27)
Jesus. For this use of archÍ
cf. 16.4; elsewhere in John archÍ refers not to the beginning of the
ministry but the beginning of creation, or of time, eore suggests continuity; the disciples have been and still at the moment of speaking are with Jesus; indeed their unity with him (as the last discourses constantly repeat) can
never be permanently broken.
33. The Judgement of the
The separation of the Church from the
world is of ultimate significance; it means, since the world's attitude to
the Church discloses its attitude to God, the judgement of the world. The
synoptic apocalypses, already alluded to (see the introduction to 15.18-27),
move to and culminate in the theme of judgement; and so do the Johannine
discourses. Once more however the theme is transposed.The judgement is no
longer primarily future (see however v. 13 and the note), but proceeds
continuously through the operation of the Paraclete in the Church. The
Paraclete brings to bear, both upon the Church and the world, the truth, the
truth of God which was manifested in Jesus (1.18). Through him the ministry
of Jesus is prolonged. The process of conviction in respect of sin,
righteousness, and judgement serves as an analysis both of the ministry of
Jesus and also of the mission of the Church. The sin of the world, the
righteousness of God, and the judgement which takes place when the two meet,
are laid bare. But the seal is set upon the whole process by the departure of
Jesus to be with the Father, and the gift, subsequent to his glorification,
of the Spirit. This is why the departure of Jesus, painful though it may be,
is nevertheless for the advantage of his disciples. This thought is developed
in the next section.
1. I have said these things to you.
Cf. 14.25. Here these things refers to the hatred of the world
(15.18-27), which is mentioned again in greater detail in the next verse,
while the judgement of the world by the Paraclete follows.
to keep you from stumbling
. The only other use of stumbling in John (the word is
especially characteristic of Matthew) is at 6.61. In both places it has
considerable force, and means "to cause to give up the Christian
faith". This use appears in later Christian writings, e.g. Didache 16.5,
Hennas, Vis. iv, i. 3, Mand. vin, 10 (in the passages in Hermas, however, the
eskandalismenoi are waverers rather than apostates). John was
undoubtedly thinking of the possibility that Christians might give up their
faith under persecution; perhaps he had reason to know that the possibility
was real. Such lapses took place: cf. Rev. 21.8; also, referring, it may well
be, to defections made under persecution at about the same time, Pliny, Ep.
x, xcvi, 6, [Christianos] fuisse quidem, sed desisse, quidam ante plures
annos, non nemo etiam ante uiginti quoque
403 (The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15)
(i.e. c. A.D. 92). The disciples are
forewarned so that no surprise of persecution (cf. 1 Peter 4.12) may shake
2. They will put you out of the
synagogues. See on 9.22.
For this pregnant use of alla ("and not only so, but
further...") cf. 1 Cor. 3.2; 2 Cor. 7.11; Phil. 1.18. See B.D., 204.
an hour is coming.
For this phrase see on 4.21,23. Here it refers to a real future; from the viewpoint of the last night of Jesus' life the time of persecution
that) is explanatory; there is no need to suppose that it misrepresents
the Aramaic da, intended as a temporal particle (cf. 12.23; 13.1; 16-32; see M. 11, 470).
offering worship to God
. John may be given credit for perceiving the sincerity of motive
which prompted the Jewish opposition to Christianity. Cf. Sanhedrin 9.6: If a
man stole a sacred vessel or cursed by Kosem or made an Aramean woman his
paramour, the zealots may fall upon him. If a priest served [at the Altar] in
a state of uncleanness his brethren the priests did not bring him to the
court, but the young men among the priests took him outside the Temple Court
and split open his brain with clubs. Also Num. R. 21.4 (with reference to
Num. 25.13): Did he then bring an offering, that power to make atonement
should be attributed to him? This will teach you that every one who sheds the
blood of the godless is like one who brings an offering. It would, of course,
be a grave error to suppose that either of these passages gave general
approval to indiscriminate bloodshed; or indeed was ever taken very
seriously. John writes ironically here, as at 11.50-2. The death of the Christians
in persecution truly is an offering to God. Acrrpefa occurs nowhere else in
John, and in only four other places in the New Testament. In three (Rom. 9.4; Heb. 9.1,6) it refers to the worship of the Temple, and corresponds to the
3. The whole verse is omitted by sin,
perhaps through homoeoarcton. V. 4 begins halen (alla not being
represented), and in the archetype v. 3 may have begun with halen (or w'halen,
as in pesh). After poiÍsousin, hymin is added by Augustine.
They did not recognise
... Cf. I5.21,23f. The aorist egnŰsan if given its full
force means that the Jews will persecute the Christians because they failed
to recognize God in the person and work of Jesus.
4. Cf. v. 1. When the time of
persecution comes the disciples will remember that Jesus had foretold it, and
it will therefore not weaken but strengthen their faith, because they will
see in it the fulfilment of his word and the confirmation of his supernatural
. Cf. Luke 22.53, this is your hour. Translate "their
hour" (of your persecutors), not "the hour of these things"
(which I have foretold). The "hour" of Jesus appears to mean his
failure but is in fact his exaltation and glory; that of his enemies appears
to mean their victory but is in fact their defeat.
When I was with you
. There was no need to warn the disciples of danger while Jesus
was with them for they were then under his immediate protection; cf.
18.8f.,... I lost none of them.
404 (The Judgement of the World.
5. I am going to him who sent me.
The language is characteristically Johannine. For hupagein see
especially 7.33; 13.-33.
none of you asks me, 'Where are you
going? It seems both necessary and justifiable to
emphasize the present tense erŰta. John does not write asked,
which would involve a flagrant contradiction with 13.36; 14.5. Here he is
dealing simply with the disciples' immediate reaction to the words of Jesus.
The thought of his departure fills them with grief; but if only they had
asked where he was going, and grasped that it was to the Father, they would
not have grieved but recognized that his departure was for their advantage
(v. 7). Their preoccupation with their own affairs is the cause of their
sorrow (there is an interesting parallel in 2 Kings 6.15).
6. sorrow is characteristic of
this chapter; see vv. 20, 21, 22.
. It is unusual for ĖplÍroun (active and transitive) to
have as its subject that with which the object is filled. The effect is to
give an almost personal force to lupÍ: Grief has pervaded, taken possession
of, your heart. Cf. Ps. 47.7 (LXX).
7. I tell you the truth. On alÍtheia
see on 1.14. It is quite possible that alÍtheia here means no more than
truth as opposed to falsehood. "It is no lie I am telling you; it is
really true that my departure will be to your advantage." It is however
by no means impossible that the fuller meaning may have been intended. The
Gospel itself consists in the fact that Jesus departs, for his departure
means his death, his exaltation to heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
it is to your advantage
. Cf. 11.50; 18.14 (the only other uses of symferei in
John). Both refer to the departure of Jesus in death and the consequent
benefits, and though spoken by Caiaphas are regarded by John as unwittingly
and ironically true. symferei is usually followed by an infinitive
(with or without article); John in accordance with his style substitutes an
explanatory hina clause.
the Advocate will not come
. On paraklÍtos see on 14.16. The thought is identical with
that of 7.39: the coming of the Spirit waits upon the glorifying of Jesus.
The Spirit is the agent of the creation of the Church and the salvation of
the world; in this sense the coming of the Spirit depends upon the completion
of the work of Christ. I will send him. See on 14.16.
8. he will prove the world wrong.
See Introduction, pp. 76f. elegchein means "to expose ", for
example, of sin, or error; hence "to convict". It is used primarily
by Greek moralists (e.g. Philo) of the conscience; many examples could be
given. In some important passages Philo speaks of the Word (and kindred
beings) as an elegchos; so e.g. Det. 146 (though God punishes us he
will of his mercy correct our faults), reprove the wise person; make him
aware of his own word; but it is to be noticed that Philo is speaking of
those who are already reproved in conscience. The effect of God's Word
is thus to intensify the work of conscience. It is accordingly natural in the
present passage to see in the work of the Paraclete an operation upon the
conscience of the world, though John does not say in what way this operation
will be effected. He has already said, however, at 14.17, that the world
cannot receive the Paraclete, and we must therefore think of his work as
405 (The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15)
through the Church, which alone can
receive him, and in particular of the Spirit - inspired utterances of
Christian preachers which convict the world. There may be a reminiscence here
(and also in the word paraklÍtos) of the synoptic sayings (Mark 13.11
and parallels) in which the assistance of the Spirit is promised to disciples
when on trial. If so, John has characteristically (cf. chs. 9, 18f.) pressed
home the idea so that the Spirit, not content with defending the believers,
takes the offensive against the world.
about sin and righteousness and
judgment: see the following verses in which John
defines his meaning.
9. about sin, because... The
structure of the sentence depends upon the way in which peri and hoti
are taken. The main possibilities are three, (a) peri means "in
regard to". The sentence may then be paraphrased "He will convict
the world (of its error) in regard to sin, showing it that sin consists in
not believing in me". If peri be translated in this way, hoti
can hardly have any meaning other than that assigned to it in the paraphrase.
(b) elegchein peri means "to convict of". In this case two
meanings of hoti are possible. One is "because". "He will
convict the world of its sin because that sin reached its complete
demonstration in men's failure to believe in me", (c) It is also
possible to accept the rendering of elegchein peri given in (b), and
to give hoti the meaning "that", "in that". We may
then paraphrase, "He will convict the world of its sin, in that men do
not believe in me (or, namely, that they do not believe in me)". None of
these interpretations can be dismissed as impossible, (a) is particularly
attractive because it is easily adaptable to the three words, sin,
righteousness, and judgement. The world has wrong notions of all three. It
believes that Jesus was a sinner, justly punished by crucifixion; it believes
on the other hand that its own righteousness is all that can be required, and
it believes that in these opinions it has rightly judged Jesus and itself,
and that its judgement will receive divine confirmation. It is however the
work of the Spirit to rectify these wrong notions, and to show that sin
consists in the rejection of Jesus, that the only acceptable righteousness is
that of Jesus, since he alone has been exalted to the Father's right hand,
and that it is not Jesus but the prince of this world who has been judged.
That this interpretation is sufficiently "Johannine" cannot be
disputed, but it is a grave objection to it that it requires us to give to elegchein
peri a sense different from that which it has at 8.46, where it must mean
"Which of you convicts me of sin" (=shows me to be a sinner)? and
cannot possibly mean "Which of you convicts me of having wrong views of
sin?" It will be necessary then to accept either (b) or (c). As has been
noted, these do not give as neat a connection with the next two verses as
does (a), but the difficulty is not in fact great; see the notes on vv. 10f.
The sense is, He will convict the world of the fact of sin (in men), of the
fact of righteousness (in me), and of the fact of judgement, (b) seems
preferable to (c). John seems to be giving the fundamental ground of
conviction of sin (and righteousness and judgement) rather than stating the content
of sin (and righteousness and judgement). The present verse, then, will have
the following meaning. The Spirit, operating upon the conscience of men
through the witness of the Church (which is not confined to preaching, though
preaching is its plainest expression), will convince them of their sin (this
is confirmed by the interpretative
406 (The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15)
reading of the Sinaitic Syriac - its
sins). This the Spirit can do, because the sin of the world is concentrated
in its rejection of Jesus. The light shone in the darkness, but men preferred
the darkness (3.19-21). The rejection of Jesus is not the only sin, but it is
the type and crown of all sin, and ultimately the sin of the world amounts to
the crucifixion of Christ.
10. See on v. 9. It is essential to
remember the general significance in John of I am going to the Father,
and of you will see me no longer. They refer to the departure and
disappearance of Jesus in an event which was at once truly death and truly a
glorious exaltation. This compound event is throughout the New Testament
regarded as setting the seal upon the righteousness of Jesus, and the
righteousness of God; see especially Rom. 3.21-31. John does not separate the
two elements in the compound event, but it may be said that Jesus' death
proved his complete obedience to the will of God, and his exaltation proved
that his righteousness was approved by more than human acclamation. The word
righteousness occurs only in this context in John.
11. the ruler of this world has
been condemned. Cf. 12.31; 14.30, with the notes. The death of Jesus
involved the downfall of Satan (the perfect has been condemned is
written from the standpoint of the Church). It is on the basis of this
historical event that men may be convinced by the Spirit of the fact of
judgement, and thus of their own judgement by God.
12. I still have many things to say
to you. Cf. v. 4b. There were things Jesus had not said during the course
of his ministry; some he could not say even at the end.
you cannot bear them now
. For bastazein = "to endure",
"support" cf. Acts 15.10; Gal. 5.10; Rev. 2.2f. This use of
bastazein is not common. For the thought of truth which cannot be conveyed by
teaching but only by the direct act of God cf. C.H. XIII, 2, (the truth about
regeneration) he is not taught, he is reminded by God. See on 14.26.
the Spirit of truth
. See on 14.16.
will guide you: hodÍgein is a word characteristic of the Psalms. The
(inspired) Hermetic prophet is summoned to become a kathodÍgos to the
worthy, that they may through him be saved by God (C.H. 1, 26). Cf. also
Wisd. 9.11; 10.10,17. In some mystery religions there was a mystagŰgos
who led candidates for initiation into the mysteries. For will guide you,
the Vulgate and some Old Latin MSS. seem to have read will explain to you;
this seems to be an intended "improvement".
into all the truth
. This is the reading of WH, who as usual follow B, which here has
little support. But in all the truth has the best attestation and
should probably be preferred. It need not be regarded as a
"correction" to LXX usage, where lead is often followed by in,
since John himself certainly knew the LXX and may for that very reason have
written in. The difference in meaning between the two readings is
slight, but whereas into all suggests that, under the Spirit's
guidance, the disciples will come to know all truth, in all suggests
guidance in the whole sphere of truth; they will be kept in the truth of God
(see on 1.14) which is guaranteed by the mission of Jesus.
407 (The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15)
he will not speak on his own
, as Jesus had not spoken of himself (7.17; 12.49; 14.10). John
never tires of emphasizing that the words and deeds of Jesus were not those
of a wise and good man, or of a demi-god; they came from the only true God.
Similarly the teaching of the Spirit is not merely inspiration in the
ordinary sense; it is the teaching of God.
The variant readings are: (a) what
he hears (b) what he will hear (c) what he may hear (d) whatever
Of these readings (b) should be
preferred. The future in (b) is due to John's careful emphasis upon the
future operation of the Spirit; cf. 7.39 and the future tenses of 14.16 (he
will give); 14.26 (he will send, give, remind), etc. The words
conveyed by the Spirit to the Church and to the world are the words of God.
will declare to you the things that
are to come. anaggellein is used at 4.25; (5.15); 16.13,14,15 and perhaps at 16.25 (v.l. anaggellein). At 4.25
(and 16.25) it is applied to the revelation of divine truth, and it is
apparent that it is so used here. The difficulty lies in the identification
of the things that are to come. Two interpretations may be suggested,
(a) From the standpoint of the night "in which Jesus was betrayed" the
things that are to come are the events of the passion, which was about to
take place, and include perhaps both the crucifixion and the resurrection.
(b) From the standpoint of the
evangelist the things to come must be events still future, that is
properly eschatological events. There can be little doubt that, if we view
the last discourses as a whole, their standpoint appears to be that of the
author. Accordingly, the things to come are real future events. It does
not follow from this that the work of the Spirit described here is simply
that of inspiring predictive prophecy, though no doubt John (like Paul) would
have accepted this as a genuine charisma (cf. the fragment of the
Preaching of Peter preserved in Clement, Stromateis vi, 6, where the apostles
are said to have declared the things to come in order that men might
be without defence in the judgement). The final eschatological event is the
unveiling of sin and righteousness, and hence of judgement; and it is
precisely this function that John has just attributed to the Spirit. When the
Spirit declares the things that are to come he declares them as already
operative; the final judgement is anticipated in the conviction of the world
by the Paraclete. It is not necessary, however, in accepting (b) to rule out
(a); it is probable that John had both trains of thought in mind, since (as
the language of going and coming, of seeing and not seeing, shows) he thought
of the death and resurrection of Jesus as themselves eschatological events.
The meaning of the last discourse, and especially of the Paraclete sayings,
is that the interval between the last night of Jesus' life and the
evangelist's own day is annihilated by faith. The whole Church enters the
supper room and participates in the glory of Christ, which was manifested in
his death and resurrection and will be manifested eschatologically, as a
14. He will glorify me. Glory
is the natural accompaniment of the Messiah in his coming at the last day; cf. Mark 13.26, and many other passages in
408 (The Judgement of the World. 16.1-15)
Jewish and Christian literature. The
Spirit, by realizing the eschatological functions of Christ, gives him this
glory by anticipation. Cf. 7.39; edoxasthÍ in that verse refers to a
simple fact, the exaltation of Christ before the coming of the Spirit, doxasei
in this verse to the Spirit's work in bringing home the glory of Christ to
the world. How this will be done is explained in the hoti clause.
he will take what is mine and
declare it to you. With ek tou emou cf.
the plural form (ema) in the next verse (which in turn gives place
again to the singular). The meaning of ek tou emou is determined by
the use of will declare, and by the contents of the preceding verses.
It is the truth not simply of the teaching but of the mission and being of
Christ which the Spirit declares to the world, as he puts into effect
Christ's judgement of the world. The revelation apprehended by men is not
however the whole sum of divine truth; hence the partitive ek tou emou
, and the reminder in the next verse of the plurality of things which the Son
shares with the Father.
15. All that the Father has is mine.
Cf. 3.35; 5.20 and the notes.
he will take
. The change of tense (cf. lÍmpsetai, v. 14) does not seem
to be significant.
34. The Future, Distant
and Immediate. 16.16-33
This paragraph gathers together the
striking language of the last discourses - of going and coming, grief and
joy, tribulation and peace, asking and receiving, seeing and not seeing,
parable and open speech, unbelief and faith, the world and God. Most of this
language is marked by a studied ambiguity. For example, the sayings about
going and coming can be interpreted throughout of the departure and return of
Jesus in his death and resurrection; but they can equally well be interpreted
of his departure to the Father at the ascension and his return at the
parousia. By this ambiguity John means to convey that the death and
resurrection were themselves eschatological events which both prefigured and
anticipated the final events. The Church of John's own day was living in the erchomenos
(16.13) which it was the Spirit's work to declare. The connection with
16.8-15 is close and appropriate. Cf. 14.19-24 and the notes.
Vv. 25-33 bring the discourse back to
the situation in the room of the supper in the hours immediately preceding
the arrest and crucifixion. Two synoptic themes are again brought out - that
of parables (cf. Mark 4.10-12) and that of the desertion of Jesus by the
disciples (see the notes on vv. 29, 32). The two are closely related for they
both signify that not even the Twelve were able to grasp the meaning of the
life and teaching of Jesus and to adhere firmly to him, apart from the divine
aid which was conditional upon the complete working out of God's purpose
regarding Jesus - the glorification of the Son of man in death.
409 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
16. mikron. See on 14.19. See
also Isa. 26.20, hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath of the
Lord is past (and see the whole passage, Isa. 26.16-21, of which further
parts are quoted at v. 21).
(regarded as Semitic by Torrey, 51) you will no longer see me. Cf.
14.19; 16.10; 17.11. Clearly it is possible to take this disappearance of Jesus
as that of his burial or that of his ascension.
you will see me
. There is no doubt that the future of horan may here mean
simply, "In two or three days, that is after my resurrection, you will
see me again". The word has however a connotation of its own. In Mark
the future tense opsesthai is used almost (perhaps quite) exclusively
of the apocalyptic vision of the glorious Son of man (see 13.26; 14.62; and,
on 16.7, R. H. Lightfoot, Locality and Doctrine in the Gospels (1938), 61-5).
In John note i-5of.; 11.40, where a beholding of glory strictly dependent
upon Jesus is referred to in terms which are partly though not exclusively
eschatological. So here, opsesthe has an apocalyptic connotation but
is not exclusively apocalyptic. Cf. 14.23 where Jesus and the Father
"come" in a coming which is not simply that of the resurrection or
that of the parousia. The vision of God, denied as a possible experience of
the present life by Judaism as reflected in John (1.18, no one has ever
seen God), is the goal of Hellenistic religion, and indeed of most
religions. It is the peculiar Christian eschatology, which affirms the
partial but not complete fulfilment of the conditions of the age to come,
that enables John to use this Hellenistic language (see on 3.3); he retains
the primitive Christian affirmations about the resurrection and the parousia,
but fills in the period between them.
After this verse because I am going
to the Father is added by vg sin pesh. It was probably added to prepare for
the last part of the question in v. 17.
17. The question of this verse is a
clear indication that, in John's own view, novel teaching has been given, and
not unambiguously expressed.
of his disciples, "some of...". See on 7.40.
I am going to the Father. If the long reading in v. 16 is 1 ejected we must look back to
v. 5, and earlier in the discourse.
18. ti lalei or ti legei,
(D) 0: om. B. B is probably right; the omission is supported by the fact that
two different supplements are found.
19. knew. Perhaps the use of ginwskein
rather than akouein suggests that John thought of supernatural
discernment on the part of Jesus; though since the disciples were speaking to
one another there is no reason why Jesus should not have heard them.
about this looks forward to and is explained in John's manner by the hoti clause.
20. you will weep and mourn. ThrÍnein
is found here only in John; klaiein is used only in connection with
death (11.31,33; 20.11,13,15). For the conjunction of the two verbs cf. Luke
7.32, we wailed, and you did not weep. The pronoun humeis is
emphatic, and brings out the contrast between the disciples and the world.
410 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
the world will rejoice
. On the kosmos see on 1.10. Here it stands over against
the believing Christians, and over against Christ himself, as rejoicing in
(emphatic again - you, in contrast with the world). LupÍ is grief,
caused often, though not necessarily (cf. e.g. Rom. 9.2; 2 Cor. 2.1) by
death, or the prospect of death. The primary reference is to the grief of the
disciples at the death of Jesus (16.6).
will turn into joy
. Cf. 20.15f.,20. ginesthai eis is a construction common in
the New Testament; e.g. Mark 12.10 (and parallels); Luke 13.19; Acts 5.36. It
corresponds to the Hebrew hayah le. See M. 11, 462; B.D., 70.
21. When a woman is in labor, she
has pain. The parallel is in itself a simple one: the short travail pains
give place to satisfaction at the birth of a child - the short sorrow of Good
Friday and the following day give place to the joy of Easter. But the analogy
has a deeper meaning. It belongs to the Old Testament; see especially Isa.
26.16-19; 66.7-14. In these passages the messianic salvation which relieves
the affliction of the people is compared to the relief and joy of childbirth,
and from them (and like passages) was drawn the later Jewish doctrine of the heble
ha-mashiah, the "travail pains of the Messiah", a period of
trouble which must intervene before the final consummation. The significance
of these facts is that the death and resurrection of Jesus were described in
language which is properly eschatological; that is, John treats them as types
and anticipations of eschatological events. The resurrection means, in an
anticipa tory way, the realization of the messianic salvation.
because her hour has come
. Cf. the frequent references in John to the "hour" of
Jesus, e.g. 17.1, (read by D it sin pesh) may attempt a more general
reference to the "day of the Lord".
is used in its proper sense, a human being (contrast foi'ip, an
Eis ton kosmon
. Cf. the rabbinic phrase "those who come into the
world", for human beings; see on 1.9. But the phrase is a self-evident
one and there is no ground here for the view that John's thought was formulated
in a specifically Jewish way.
22. kai humeis, "you in
the same way".
Cf. vv. 5f.; the mere prediction of Jesus' departure was
sufficient to grieve the disciples, vuv, however, refers primarily to the
time of Jesus' departure, and also to the interval of waiting between the
resurrection and the parousia. Cf. v. 33. will have (DWG it) is a
pedestrian "improvement" and should be rejected.
I will see you again, and your
hearts will rejoice. Cf. Isa. 66.14. John's
allusion to the Old Testament seems beyond question, and the change from
"You shall see" to "I shall see" can hardly be
accidental. Cf. Gal. 4.9, you have come to know God, or rather to be known
by God; 1 Cor. 13.12. John's grasp of the eschatological situation of the
411 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
allows him to speak of " seeing
Christ" and so of "seeing God in Christ" (see v. 16, 14.9; 1.18); yet he holds so surely the fundamental biblical faith in the
invisibility of God (his self-disclosure in Christ excepted) that here he
insists upon the prior truth: I shall see you (cf. 15.16, I chose you).
no one will take your joy from you
. John's thought returns to the opening verses of the chapter,
which dealt with persecution. The same thought recurs in v. 33.
23. On that day. In the New
Testament "that day" or "those days" often refers to the
last days, the end of the age; so, e.g., Mark 13.11,17,19, 24,32; 14.25; Acts
2.18; 2 Tim. 1.12,18; 4.8; Heb. 8.10; 10.16 (= Jer. 31.32 (38.33)); Rev. 9.6.
John must have been aware of this Christian usage; see on 14.20.
you will ask nothing of me
. The interpretation here depends upon the meaning of erŰtan.
In classical usage it is distinguished from the partial synonym erŰtein
in that it means "to ask a question", while aitein means
"to ask for something". In later Greek however erŰtan, while
retaining its original meaning, is sometimes used in the same sense as aitein.
(a) It is possible that this may be so here. John does use erŰtan with
the meaning "to ask for something" (see 4.31,40,47; 14.16; 16.26; 17.9), and he also has the habit of working with pairs of synonyms (e.g. agapan
and filein). If this view is accepted the point of the present verse
lies in the contrast between ask nothing of meÖask of the Father: The
disciples will have immediate access to the Father, who himself loves them
(v. 27) and will grant their requests, (b) It seems however more probable
that in this verse erŰtan and aitein are to be distinguished.
John always uses aitein with the meaning "to ask for something"
(see 4.9f.; 11.22; 14.13f.; 15.7,16; 16.23f.,26) and does upon occasion use erŰtan
with the meaning "to ask a question" (see 1.19,21,25; 9.2,19,21; 16.5,19,30). This is, in particular, the prevailing usage in this chapter.
Moreover, John is drawing out a contrast between the present (the time of the
ministry) and the future ("in that day"). The disciples have not
asked Jesus for any thing, but in chs. 13-16 they have asked many questions
(13.24f,37; 14.5,8,22; 16.17f.). John's meaning seems to be that in the time
when the Holy Spirit is given and guides the believers in all the truth they
will no longer ask such questions as, What is the meaning of the "little
while" of which Jesus speaks? Cf. 1 John 2.20. The Christians are the
true gnostics. If this view is right, it will be well (with WH margin) to
place a full stop after ouden. The next words introduce a fresh point.
Very truly, I tell you
. See on 1.51, and the last note. The formula amÍn, amÍn usually
introduces a fresh thought rather than a contrast.
if you ask anything of the Father
in my name. For the construction and thought cf.
14.13f.; 15.16; for the construction, 20.23.
24. Until now you have not asked
for anything, "YOU have made no petition". It would not be true
to say that they had asked no questions.
so that your joy may be complete
. Cf. 15.11, but the completion of joy is now more closely
defined; it consists in the access to God which is described as asking and
412 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
25. I have said these things to you
in figures of speech. On paroimia see on 10.6. Here the contrast
with plainly (see below) makes it clear that veiled speech, difficult
of comprehension, is meant. This makes it unlikely that the reference is
simply to the analogy of the woman in childbirth in v. 21. It is rather to
such discourses as that of the shepherd (ch. 10) or the vine (ch. 15), or
perhaps to the teaching of Jesus as a whole, which John certainly represents
as not having been understood (e.g. 14.9).
The hour is coming
. See on 4.21,23. The "hour" is not that of the
immediately following sentences, but of the period after the resurrection,
when the Spirit is given.
I will no longer speak to you in
figures. For figures see on 7.4. The closest
parallels to the present passage are 10.24; 11.14. This contrast recalls that
of Mark 4.11 (To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but
for those outside, everything comes in parables). In Mark a contrast is
drawn between two groups; one is mystified by the teaching of Jesus, the
other seizes upon the true meaning of the parables, because to it has been
given the secret of the kingdom of God, which ultimately is the secret of the
person of Jesus. John is well aware of this radical division brought about by
the teaching and work of Jesus; but he is perhaps truer to the facts than
Mark when he suggests that even the Twelve remained to the end among the
mystified. For him the contrast is not between the multitudes on the one hand
and the immediate circle of Jesus on the other, but between multitudes and
disciples alike during the ministry, and the disciples after the
resurrection. Cf. 2.22; 12.16; 13.7; and see in the next verses the
horrifying emphasis laid by Jesus on the approaching desertion and denial.
Only with the Spirit to teach them (when the "hour" comes) will the
disciples know and believe the truth.
I will tell you plainly of the
Father.. All Jesus' incarnate life had been a
revelation of the Father (1.18; 14.9); in the age of his glory there will be
no new theme.
26. On that day you will ask in my
name. For both parts of the sentence cf. v. 23.
I do not say
... There is no division between the Persons of the Godhead. Any
thought of a merciful Son over against a just or wrathful Father is excluded; indeed, ou Aeyco may suggest the combating of some such view as this. It
would not however be true to say that John contradicts Rom. 8.34; Heb. 7.25,
which speak of the heavenly intercession of the Son, since these deal not
with petitionary prayer but with the status of the Christian before God, a
status which rests entirely upon the eternal consequences of the priestly
work of Christ. Cf. 1 John 2.1.
27. the Father himself loves you.
It may be that autos represents an Aramaic proleptic pronoun (on this
usage see Black, 70-4), and is quite unemphatic. It is better, however, with
Field (104), to compare the classical use of autos, proprio motu
- the Father himself, of his own accord, loves you, and needs no prompting
413 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
you have loved me and have believed
. On John's teaching about love see on 3.16; also on 13-34f.; 15.12f., where it is shown that John does not narrow the idea of love when he
speaks of the love of God for the disciples, and of their own mutual love. It
must be admitted that in this verse, taken alone, John's language is open to
serious misunderstanding, but it must not be supposed that he means to
represent the love of God as contingent upon the love and faith of men. Rather,
he is elaborating the language and thought of 15.13-15, where the disciples
are called the filoi of Jesus since with him they form a unique circle
of love. In the present passage the point is that the Father himself stands
within this circle (as is indeed implied by 15.9f.).
The text at the end of this verse and
the beginning of the next is in some confusion. The following points are
worthy of notice, (a) I came from the Father (v. 28) is omitted by D W
b sin. The two verses are thus united: You have believed that I came forth
from God and have come into the world. The attestation is strong and the
reading may be original; cf. 14.4; here as there the shorter reading is
somewhat clumsy and the expansion "improves" it. (b) If the short
reading in v. 28 is accepted (as suggested above), WH may be followed in the
reading para tou patros (B D); otherwise para theou, the
reading which differs from v. 28, would seem better, (c) Within the long
reading in v. 28 there are the variants ek tou patros (B); if the whole
clause is not rejected, ek, which differs from para in v. 27,
should be preferred.
28. If this verse is taken as it
stands in WH it is a complete summary, in John's manner, of the Christian
faith. It expresses God's movement to the world in Christ; the moment of
humiliation and revelation (I have come into the world) ; the return
of Christ to the Father, which is both the consummation of his - glory and
the redemption of the world, since, as the discourses of chs. 13-16 have been
designed to show, it was the condition and signal for the coming of the
Spirit and the inauguration of a new dispensation of knowledge and life. If
the shorter text (see above) is preferred, we have either such a summary,
depending on you believed; or (a break being made before palin)
a statement of the disciples' belief in the mission of Jesus from God, and a
return to the theme of his going to the Father.
29. The chapter, and with it the last
discourses, closes with a striking example of Johannine irony. In spite of
Jesus' warning that the hour for plain speech was coming (and had not come,
v. 25) the disciples leapt to the conclusion that, because they had acquired
an orthodox faith (vv. 28f.), they fully understood his meaning. They were
answered by an unsparing disclosure of the truth about themselves.
PlainlyÖ not in any figure of
speech. On this contrast see on v. 25.
30. Now we know. nun is
repeated emphatically from v. 29; the disciples are confident that now
already, before the death and exaltation of Jesus, before the coming of the
Spirit, they have reached the moment of knowledge. Their exposure (vv. 31f.)
can therefore serve as the exposure of gnostic claims founded outside the
you know all things
. This might be taken generally ("You have all knowledge"),
but the next clause,
414 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
you do not need to have anyone
question you, seems to necessitate a special
reference to v. 19; Jesus had answered their question before they had asked
it. Jesus knows the thoughts of men's hearts. (Cf. 2.24f.; it is attractive
to conjecture that the original reading in the present verse was pantos..
panta being a corruption - cf. 1 John 2.20 for a similar corruption). Hina
is explanatory as often in John.
This was a slight foundation for their (formally quite correct) belief. Cf.
i.48f.; 4.19,29 for faith grounded in Jesus' supernatural knowledge. Whether
kv is causal or local it may, but need not, represent the Semitic be; M. ii, 463.
31. Do you now believe? The question
does not perhaps deny the existence of some kind and measure of faith; but
its complete inadequacy is shown in the next verse.
32. The hour is coming. The
contrast with v. 25 is marked; the time of knowledge is future; the present
is a time of offence and disaster. This clause is followed as often by an
explanatory hina, which need not be thought to represent the Aramaic de
used as a temporal particle (M. ii, 470).
you will be scattered, each one to
his home. The prediction finds a prompt fulfilment
in Mark 14.50, All of them deserted him and fled, which however has no
parallel in John, where on the contrary the evangelist is at pains to
represent as present at the crucifixion the beloved disciple (10.26f.) and a
witness (perhaps identical with the beloved disciple, 19.35). 21.2 however
seems to presuppose a return of the disciples, including the beloved
disciple, to their homes in Galilee. A formal contradiction is avoided by the
use of to his own at 19.27 - the beloved disciple also went to his home; but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that John is trying to represent
two things at the same time: on the one hand the isolation of Jesus and the
complete failure even of the Twelve to understand and believe in him before
the coming of the Spirit, and on the other the continuity between Jesus and
the Church which in the person of the ideal apostle was present at the
supreme moment of the death and exaltation of the Lord. The former theme is
almost certainly better history, and perhaps better theology too; the
resurrection and the gift of the Spirit are the theological as well as the
historical foundation of the Church. At the time of the crucifixion Jesus was
all the "Church" there was.
"and yet". This meaning of kai is not necessarily Semitic,
and based on wa adversative.
the Father is with me
. Cf. 8.16,29. It is possible that John is here combating a
misunderstanding of Mark 15.34. All Jesus' works, including the greatest,
were wrought in harmony and communion with the Father; his isolation was
33. I have said this to you.
Cf. 14.25. this may refer simply to the preceding verse: I have
foretold your desertion that you may know that it was not unforeseen, and may
therefore not be tormented by remorse but have peace. More probably it refers
to the whole of the discourse (especially from 16.1) which sets in its true
context the persecution the disciples will have to endure, and so
ensure their peace.
415 (The Future, Distant and Immediate. 16.16-33)
. Cf. 14.27 and the note. In the world. On the relation
between the disciples and the world see especially 15.18-25.
. Cf. v. 21. In the New Testament thlipsis is used in two
main senses: (a) of eschatological woes (e.g. Mark 13.19,24; Rom. 2.9), (b)
of the afflictions, and especially the persecutions, of the Church (e.g. Mark
4.17; Acts 11.19; Eph. 3.13). These two senses are not to be sharply
distinguished, for it seems certain that the primitive Church regarded its
sufferings as having eschatological significance (Rev. 7.14 is a particularly
clear instance of the use of thlipsis in both senses simultaneously).
This is John's thought here, as v. 21 shows. Through the Church, and
especially through its love, its joy in the Spirit, and its persecutions, the
eschatological salvation, anticipated in the crucifixion and resurrection and
hoped for at the last day, is continually presented to the world. (thlipsis
is here treated as properispomenon, not, as by WH, as paroxytone. See B.D.,
10; M. 11, 57 thinks thlipsis may be defended.)
I have conquered the world
. nikan occurs here only in John, but it is characteristic
of 1 John (2.13f; 4.4; 5-4f). In 1 John 5.4f. we read of "overcoming the
world"; cf. 4.4, "overcoming antichrists". The humiliation of
Jesus in the crucifixion is more truly seen as his departure in glory to the
Father and the overthrow of the world, which, with a special clarity in chs.
13-17, is set forth as the opponent of Jesus and the Church, as humanity
organized apart from God (see further on 1.10). Usually it is the
"prince of this world" who stands out as the adversary of Jesus; see on 12.31. There are traces in the synoptic gospels also of the view that
the death of Jesus was a struggle between him and evil powers (see H.S.G.T.
66ff.), but the thought becomes explicit in John. The present passage differs
however from others in that it is not the "prince " but the world
itself that is defeated. What this means is not made clear. Superficially,
John appears to distinguish the believers and the world so rigidly that (as
in certain gnostic and similar systems) the final result can be only the
complete destruction of the world by the victorious god. Yet clearly John
thought that there would be (and doubtless was himself familiar with) conversions
from the world to the Church (17.20; 20.29). Nevertheless there remains
within the world a principle of evil (17.15) which can only be defeated and
destroyed. In fact the defeat and destruction have already taken place. Evil
can no longer harm those who belong to Christ; it is exposed by the
Paraclete; and in the end all the children of God will be safely gathered
together in one.
35. The Prayer of Jesus
This chapter falls into four
divisions. In the first (vv. 1-5), Jesus addresses the Father, recalls his
obedient completion of the work entrusted to him in the incarnation, and
prays that the approaching hour (of his passion) may prove to be the decisive
means by which he glorifies the Father and the Father glorifies him, the act
at once of divine grace and of human obedience whereby he ascends to that
416 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
of glory which was his in the
beginning with the Father. In the second (vv. 6-19), Jesus prays for the
disciples who are gathered about him. They have been drawn together out of
the world and they will be exposed to its attacks. Hitherto Jesus has himself
preserved and enlightened them; he prays that in his absence they may be kept
in the truth of God. They are to be kept in unity, with each other, in himself
and in God, and there is committed to them a mission to the world in which
they continue to live. In the third section (vv. 20-4), the scope of the
prayer is extended, not indeed to the world but to later generations of
believers, who are dependent on the word of the apostles. They too must be
one: and their unity will be the means of convincing and persuading the
world. The final destiny of all believers is to live with Christ in the
eternal world and to behold his glory. Lastly (vv. 25f.), Jesus reviews the
result of his ministry. The world did not recognize God; but the believers
have recognized the mission of Jesus from the Father, and therein have found,
and will eternally find, knowledge and love.
The synoptic gospels speak frequently
of the prayers of Jesus (Mark 1.35; 6.46; 14.32-9; 15.34; Matt 14.23; 19.13
26.36-44; 27.46; Luke 3.21; 5.16; 6.12; 9.18,28f.; 11.1; 22.41-5; 23.(34),
46), but only on rare occasions are we informed of the contents of his
prayers. The most notable exceptions are the prayers in Gethsemane and those
uttered from the cross. In John, Jesus offers a prayer at the raising of
Lazarus, 11-41f.; also at 12.27. The present prayer is a summary of Johannine
theology relative to the work of Christ. It emphasizes his obedience to the Father,
obedience even unto death; the fact that his death is the means by which the
glory of God is manifested; the choosing of the disciples out of the world; the revealing to them of God in the person of Jesus; their mission to the
world; their ultimate unity in love, and their dwelling in Christ and in God.
The effect of putting this summary into the form of a prayer is to consummate
the movement of Christ to God which is the theme of the last discourses, and
anticipates his lifting up on the cross. This is more important than the fact
that certain other Hellenistic revelatory discourses, such as the first
tractate (Poimandres) of the Corpus Hermeticum, also end in
prayers (C.H. 1, 31f.).
It will be seen from this account of
the chapter that the common description of it as the "High-priestly
prayer", or the "prayer of consecration", does not do justice
to the full range of the material contained in it. It is a setting forth of
the eternal unity of the Father and the Son in its relation to the
incarnation and the temporary (and apparent) separation which the incarnation
involved. Thus there arise the themes which have already been noted. They are
dealt with elsewhere in the gospel, in teaching and in action; but here they
are made to stand forth as they eternally are in the relation of the Son to
the Father, for while the Son of God remains truly and visibly man it is in
prayer that his union with God can be most clearly shown.
417 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
It will be observed that there is in
this chapter no reference to the Holy Spirit (contrast chs. 14-16). It seems
that for John the Holy Spirit remained a fundamentally eschatological concept
(see Introduction, pp. 74-7), and was not yet expressed in terms of an
eternal relationship within the Godhead (cf. 7.39).
1. Jesus had spoken these words.
Cf. 14.25. tauta refers to the discourses of chs. 13-16. John
emphasizes that the address of Jesus to the disciples is over, and clearly
distinguishes it from his address to the Father.
he looked up to heaven
. See on 11.41. For a number of references to the directions in
which persons praying looked see A. D. Nock and A. J. Festugiere, Corpus
Hermeticum (1945), 11, 398f. (n. 342); but note also C.H. v, 10, where
the author deprecates looking in any spatial direction (anw, katŰ, esŰ,
exw) for God.
Cf. 11.41; 12.27. This name for God is very frequent in John and the most
natural for use in a prayer ascribed to Jesus.
the hour has come
. Cf. 2.4; 12.23. As in tne latter passage, the hour which has
been so long looked for and has now arrived is the hour of the Son's glory.
Equally, it is the hour of his death. The gospel as a whole moves towards
this point, and from this point John sees the possibility of the Christian
faith and the Christian Church emerge.
glorify your Son
. This is more explicit than 12.23; the glory of the Son proceeds
from the Father, and is the consequence of the Son's obedience.
so that the Son may glorify you
. If the Father glorifies the Son by accepting his obedient
suffering and through it exalting him to heaven, this is in order that the
Son may by his obedience, thus ratified, glorify the Father. The religious
papyrus quoted on 11.4 is valuable here (a) because it so strikingly
illustrates the Johannine language, and (b) because it reveals precisely the
opposite process of thought. In the papyrus a wonder-worker prays to be
glorified because he has glorified the name of Horus; Jesus prays to be
glorified in order that he may glorify the Father. See however vv. 4f., where
John's thought approximates more closely to that of the papyrus.
2. Corresponding to the glorification
for which Jesus prays, is the position he occupied, and the authority
given him, before the incarnation.
you have given him authority over
all people. The Semitism all flesh (kol
basar) occurs here only in John. For exousiaa see on 1.12 and for
the gift of authority 5.27, he has given him authority to execute judgment; but here the authority, as explained in the following words, is wider. The
aorist may refer to a special empowering for the earthly ministry of the
incarnate Son, or to a pre-temporal act proper to the constitution of the
Godhead; the Son receives authority from the Father as fons diuinitatis. On
the latter view the aorist would be in the strictest sense timeless. The
former view however is to be preferred, and we should compare 1.32f.: the Son
receives the Spirit that he may baptize with the Spirit. Cf. also C.H. 1, 27,
where the prophet, having received the divine revelation, is sent forth to
418 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
to give eternal life
. Hina is partly purposive ("...gave him authority...
in order that he might give..."), partly explanatory ("...gave him
authority to give..."). The aorist points to a specific gift - the gift of
eternal life through the completed work of Jesus. The reading of D smooths
the construction and is certainly secondary.
all whom you have given him.
The autois which follows shows that pan, although
neuter singular, refers to the disciples. Their unity is thus represented in
the strongest possible way (not -nwres, "all", but "the
whole"). Cf. v. 24. The theme of unity is constantly repeated in this
chapter (vv. 1 if, 2off., 24, 26); here however the unity is assumed as a
fact, whereas elsewhere it is the subject of prayer. It is also stated here
and repeated later (vv. 6, 9, 24) that the disciples are men whom God has
given to Christ; and in this way prominence is given in this chapter to the
idea of predestination, which appears elsewhere in the gospel (e.g. 12.37-41; 15.16). The small group of disciples, previously selected by and known to
God, stands over against the world. Two points distinguish John's conception
from those of many gnostic systems in which a small circle of gnostics is
foreordained to knowledge and life: in John the status of believers rests
entirely upon the act and gift of God, and upon the historic work and call of
. The completed work of Jesus thus means (a) the glorifying of the
Father, and (b) the gift of eternal life to men. For zŰÍ aiŰnios; see
on 1.4; 3.15. The phrase is very common in chs. 1-13; in chs. 14-17, only
here and in the next verse (cf. 14.6, zŰÍ) - The reason for this
change is that in the earlier part of the gospel John represents the Gospel
message to the world, the offer of eternal life to all who believe; in the
final discourses he concentrates upon the group of believers who have been
chosen out of the world and emphasizes the necessity of Christian love.
3. This verse must be regarded as
parenthetical; John felt the necessity of a definition of eternal life, and
being unable to use a footnote incorporated it into the prayer, to which it
is grammatically attached.
this is eternal life, that they may
know you. On aiŰnios zŰÍ see on 1.4; 3.15.
The notion that knowledge of God is essential to life (salvation) is common
to Hebrew and Hellenistic thought (see Introduction, pp. 3if. 33, 68). In the
Old Testament knowledge is characteristic of the Wisdom literature (e.g.
Prov. 11.9, Through knowledge (da'at) shall the righteous be
delivered); but the use of the word in the prophets is even more important.
See e.g. the prophecy of the good age in Hab. 2.14, The earth shall be filled
with the knowledge (da'at) of the glory of the Lord, and the
significant negative statement of Hos. 4.6, My people are destroyed for
lack of knowledge. Similar passages can be found in rabbinic Judaism.
Thus Berakoth 63a Bar Qappara (c. A.D. 220) said: What is the smallest
section of Scripture on which all the essentials of the Law hang? Prov. 3.6,
Acknowledge him (literally, Know him, da'atho), and he shall direct
thy paths. Similarly Makkoth 24a: Amos came and reduced them [the
commandments of the Law] to one, thus: (Amos 5.4) Seek ye me, and ye shall
live [seeking God of course implies seeking to know him]. In Judaism,
knowledge of God comes primarily
419 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
through the Law, and the Law is life
(see on 5.39). For the equivalence of Law and Knowledge see e.g. Song of
Songs R. 1.24 where Hos. 4.6 (Because you have rejected knowledge, I will
also reject you) is paraphrased, You have forgotten the Law of thy God,
therefore will I also forget your children. Outside Judaism, the vision of
God which the initiate received in the Hellenistic and oriental cults was the
source of life and salvation. This notion in various forms reappears in, and
indeed was the foundation of, gnosticism. It is found in a particularly
refined form in the Corpus Hermeticum. Since the knowledge of God is
central both in Judaism and in Hellenism it is not surprising to find it in
Hellenistic Judaism also. See Philo, passim.
Clearly then the notion of knowledge
as the ground of salvation is very widespread, but it must not be assumed
that in all the sources quoted "knowledge" means the same thing.
For a discussion of this question see on 1.10 and Introduction, p. 68. The
following points suggested by this verse may be noted here, (a) Knowledge of
God and Christ gives life; but the same result follows from believing
(20.31). Knowing and believing are not set over against one another but
correlated. This suggests that John's conception of knowledge is close to
that of the Old Testament, (b) Knowledge has also an objective, factual,
side. Men must know the only true God. This objectivity is partly Greek but
owes something to the native Jewish conception that God reveals himself, and
is known, in concrete historical events, (c) Knowledge of God cannot be
severed from knowledge of his incarnate Son; cf. 14.7; 20.31 and many other
passages. This fact makes possible a unique fusion of the Greek and Hebrew
conceptions of knowledge. Saving knowledge is rooted in knowledge of a
historical person; it is therefore objective and at the same time a personal
the only true God
. Cf. Philo, Spec. 1, 332, to hena kai alÍthinon theon; Leg.
ad Gaium 366, alÍthinon theon; 3 Macc. 6.18, alÍthinos theos; I Thess. 1.9; 1 John 5.20. The use of monos helps to explain the
meaning of alÍthinos (here and elsewhere). The God whom to know is to
have eternal life is the only being who may properly be so described; he and,
it must follow, he alone is truly theos;. See on 1.9.
Jesus Christ whom you have sent
. Parallelism with the previous phrase Ė you the only true God -suggests
that whom you have sent should be taken as the direct object, Jesus
Christ being in explanatory apposition: "...that they should know...
him whom you have sent, that is to say, Jesus Christ". For the mission
of Jesus from the Father see on 20.21.
4. I glorified you on earth.
The past tense contrasts with the forward-looking subjunctive of v. 1 (hina...
doxasthÍ). A different kind of glorification is here in view. In v. 1
(cf. v. 2) the Son will glorify the Father by giving life to men; here the
meaning of glorification is brought out by the next clause.
finishing the work
. The participle teleiŰsas should be translated "by
finishing the work...". The Son glorifies the Father by his complete
obedience and faithful fulfilment of his task. TeleiŰsas looks back
upon the completed life
420 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
of Jesus, and probably upon his death
too (cf. 19.30 tetelestÍ). For ergon cf. 4.34.
. The "explanatory" ivcc, used for the infinitive.
5. So now, Father, glorify me.
The nun, the aorist imperative, and the sharply juxtaposed pronouns
are intended to bring out a contrast. In his obedient ministry Jesus has
glorified the Father; now, in response to the death which sets the seal upon
his obedience and his ministry, let the Father glorify him.
, (in your own presence) that is, by causing me to return
to the position I enjoyed before the incarnation; cf. para soi, and
with both cf. 1.1, pros ton theon. The glory, that is, is the heavenly
glory of Christ; the prayer is a prayer for exaltation and ascension. After
the crucifixion the Son of man will ascend where he was before (6.62). With before
the world existed cf. 8.58.
6. The thought now turns to the
disciples, the first-fruits of the completed work of Christ.
I have made your name known
. Cf. v. 26 (I made known). Revealing the name of God is a
notion peculiar in John to this chapter. The aorist efanerŰsa sums up
the work of the ministry (cf. edoxasa, v. 4). Cf. Ps. 22(21).23, I
made your name known to my brethren. For "the name" as
embodying the (revealed) character of God see B.D.B. 1028a, b, and the
references there given. Cf. Ex. 3.15, and especially Isa. 52.6, where
knowledge of the name of God is promised for the future (my people shall
know my name). In later Jewish literature the name of God commonly refers
to the sacred tetragrammaton (YHWH), which was no longer pronounced,
except by the high priest in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Sometimes
"the Name" (hashem) was used as a reverential substitute for
the word God. Jesus' manifestation of the name of God is his declaration of
the invisible God (1.18). ek tou kosmou. See on 15.19.
They were yours, and you gave them
to me. The disciples belonged to God from the
beginning, because from the beginning he had predestinated them as his
children. He gave them to Jesus to be his disciples as part of his gift of
all authority (v. 2), and as contributory to his act of revelation. The love
of Jesus for his own, shown in the fact that he laid down his life for them,
and the mutual love of the disciples, are the true revelation of God in his
essential activity of love.
they have kept your word
. The third person plural perfect ending began to come into use in
the second century B.C., and is undoubtedly the right reading here. Nowhere
else in John do we hear of men keeping the word of God. Jesus keeps it (8.55; cf. 15.10, entolas), and he bids his disciples keep his word (8.51f.; 14.23; cf. 14.24, logous; 14.15,21; 15.10, entolas). It is
shown at 14.23f that a distinction should be drawn between word (singular)
and words (plural). The former means the divine message brought by Jesus
taken as a whole, the latter is nearer in meaning to entolas,
precepts. That the disciples have kept the word of God means that they have
loyally accepted, and faithfully proclaimed, the truth of God in Jesus. This
can hardly refer to the period of the ministry (especially in view of 16.3if.
and similar passages). John is looking back (perhaps from the end of the
first century) upon the work of the apostles.
421 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
7. nun. The meaning seems to be
different from that of vv. 5, 13; not "now, in the moment of
glory", but "now, at the end of the ministry". Cf. 16.30.
seems to be the true reading. For this form of the verb see on they have
kept, v. 6. In fact Jesus is still speaking of the disciples. The present
verse and the next are explanatory of the last clause. The disciples have
recognized that "all things" have come to Jesus from God; "all
things" include rÍmata, words; receiving the words of Jesus means
keeping the word of God.
everything you have given me
. It would have been simpler, and less tautologous, if John had
written "Everything I have is from you" rather than "all
things that you have given me are from you"; but John as ever emphasizes
the dependence of Jesus, in his incarnate mission, upon the Father.
8. hoti. The disciples know the
truth only because Jesus has given it to them and they have received it.
. In the incarnate mission of Jesus the logos of v. 6 is
necessarily differentiated into numerous sayings, rÍmata. The
disciples have received the word of God in accepting the sayings of Jesus.
Cf. 6.63: by receiving the words of Jesus the disciples have received life
. They have also, in the rÍmata of Jesus, found knowledge,
and learned the truth (and it is thus by receiving knowledge that they have
received life). The truth is that Jesus has come not in his own name but from
God. For the expression cf. 7.26. It may be that alÍthŰs has been
attracted away from exÍlthon to the verb in the principal sentence.
. It is idle to seek a distinction between the two hoti clauses.
"Knowing" and "believing" are used in the closest
parallelism. On the relation between the two see on 17.3.
you sent me
. See on 20.21. As there, so in this prayer, the thought of the
mission of the Son leads to the complementary thought of the mission of the
disciples to the world (see especially v. 18).
9. I am asking on their behalf.
After the introductory vv. 6-8 the prayer for the disciples begins. erŰtan
is here certainly synonymous with aitein. The content of the prayer
becomes explicit in the following verses; first, however, it is brought out
by the contrast of the next clause.
I am not asking on behalf of the
world. The order of the words indicates the
emphasis: It is not for the world that I pray. See on 15.19. It must be
emphasized once more that John, having stated (3.16) the love of God for the kosmos,
does not withdraw from that position in favour of a narrow affection for the
pious. It is clear (see especially v. 18) that in this chapter also there is
in mind a mission of the apostolic Church to the world in which men will be
converted and attached to the community of Jesus. But to pray for the kosmos
would be almost an absurdity, since the only hope for the kosmos is
precisely that it should cease to be the kosmos (see on 1.1 o).
422 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
because they are yours
. The world cannot be prayed for because, as the kosmos, it
has set itself outside the purpose of God. The disciples on the other hand
belong to God as they do to Christ.
10. All mine are yours, and yours
are mine. For the change from masculine to neuter cf. v. 2. There seems to
be here a definite intention of broadening the thought. Not only are the
disciples at once the Father's and the Son's; there is a complete mutuality
of interest and possession between the Father and the Son. The Father and the
Son are thus equal; yet their equality springs, as it were, from the Father's
I have been glorified in them
is most naturally taken as neuter, with reference to the panta
held in common by the Father and the Son; it is however possible that ta
ema.. ema should be taken as a parenthesis, and autois will then
look back to wn (v. 9, the disciples). The latter, the more personal,
interpretation is perhaps the better in view of 13.31f.; 14.13. In these
passages the Father is glorified in the Son, by the Son's obedient
self-offering. In the former the stress lies upon the act of obedience, in
the latter upon the fruit of that act (the prevailing prayer of the
disciples). Here the disciples are the place (iv seems to be locative, though
perhaps instrumental as well) where Christ is glorified, and, as the next
verse shows, he will be glorified by their faithful fulfilment of their
mission. The perfect tense should be noted. Jesus had already in his ministry
been glorified by the obedient trust of the Twelve, but the word also
reflects the later standpoint of the evangelist.
11. Jesus once more, as very
frequently in the last discourses, explains his approaching passion as going
to the Father (erchesthai, rather than hupagein or poreusthai,
is used here because Jesus is speaking to the Father in prayer). The
disciples are left in the world, in, that is, the position he himself
occupied. They now, with the Holy Spirit, must bear witness to the world, and
endure its hostility.
. Cf. vv. i, 5, 25; also the prayer in Singer, 36, and especially
Didache 10.2, where trd-rep ayts occurs in the eucharistic prayer. It is
natural to suppose that the epithet "holy" has special relevance to
the petition that follows; and this is indeed so. The prayer for the disciples
is that as Christ has sanctified himself, so they may be sanctified in unity
with one another, in Christ,, and for God. It is the original holiness of the
Father which makes intelligible and possible the consecration of Jesus and
the Church. This is John's equivalent of the Old Testament "Ye shall be
holy for I am holy" (Lev. 11.44), which elsewhere in the New Testament
is reproduced in a predominantly ethical sense (1 Peter 1.16, cf. Matt.
5.48). John, though no one could stress more strongly the ethical result of
holiness in love, is careful to bring out the root of holiness in a
protect them in your name
; that is, preserve them as what they are, a group of men
separated from the world as God's own possession. in your name may
simply express this thought - "keep them as thine, as thy
423 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
property" - or the en may
be instrumental. The name of God (see vv. 6, 26) is his revealed character.
that you have given me
. And God's revealed character has been committed to Jesus. cf.
1.18; 14.9. Jesus himself has kept the disciples (see the next verse) and in
so doing has acted in the character and with the authority of God. This is
expressed by saying that God has given to Jesus his name. To whom must
refer to onoma, and it is doubtless the correct reading, hous and
ho, which are attested by a few MSS., are "corrections"; the
former introduces again the notion that the disciples were given by God to
Jesus (cf. vv. 2, 6, 9); the latter avoids the attraction of the relative.
There is no need to suppose (Burney, 102f.) that hw is a
mistranslation of the Aramaic relative "I, which should have been
rendered ous. It is true that ous gives a characteristically Johannine
thought; but so does hw.
so that they may be one
. The disciples are to be kept by God not as units but as a unity.
The unity of the disciples in love has already been stressed in the last
discourses (13.34f; 15.13), and will be stressed again in the prayer (vv.
21ff.); it is a demonstration of the truth of the Gospel.
as we are one
. It is such a demonstration because it is no merely human
unanimity but is modelled upon, and springs from, the unity of the Father and
the Son. This thought is developed through the rest of the prayer; see below.
12. During the ministry Jesus himself
watched over his own in the person of God.
I protected them. Efulaxa
is ordinarily a stronger word than tÍrein, but its
military meaning is not to be pressed; cf. 12.25,47, the only other uses of
the word in John. It is probably no more than a synonymous variation, in
John's style, of tÍrein. The aorist sums up the process represented by
the imperfect etÍroun.
not one of them was lost
, none has been lost as a disciple. Cf. 18.9 for the fulfilment of
Jesus' claim. On apwleia see on 3.16.
except the one destined to be lost
, Judas Iscariot. In the New Testament apwleia commonly
means eschatological perdition, damnation (Matt. 7.13; Acts 8.20; Rom. 9.22; Phil. 1.28; 3.19; 1 Tim. 6.9; Heb. 10.39; 2 Peter 2.1; 3.7; (3.16); Rev.
17.8,11), and the same Semitic expression (huios tÍs apwleias = man
destined for perdition) occurs in 2 Thess. 2.3, in an apocalypse in which it
is foretold that the parousia of Christ will not take place "except the
falling away come first, and the man of sin (anthrŰpos tÍs hamartias)
be revealed, the son of perdition (huios tÍs apwleias)". It seems
probable that John saw in Judas this eschatological character who must appear
before the manifestation of the glory of Christ (just as in 1 John 2.18,22; 4.3 heretical teachers are represented as Antichrist). It should be noted
that the Semitism is traditional, not Johannine; it cannot be used to prove
the existence of a Semitic source, or even of Semitic thought - rather the
424 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
so that the scripture might be
fulfilled - probably the grafÍ (Ps. 41.10)
quoted in 13.18 rather than any prediction of Antichrist.
13. now I am coming to you.
Once more the movement of Jesus to the Father is underlined, here in order to
bring out the contrast between the time when he was able in his earthly life
to guard his own, and the time of his withdrawal.
I speak these things Öso that they may have
may refer to the content of the last discourses as a whole; in
this case cf. 15.11. If these things refers to the prayer, cf. 11.42,
where Jesus prays aloud because of the crowd. He himself, as the
eternal Son in perpetual communion with the Father, has no need of the formal
practice of prayer; but this human practice is the only means by which the
communion he enjoys can be demonstrated to human observation, and forms the
pattern for the communion which his disciples will subsequently enjoy. Hence
it helps to convey to them his joy, which springs, as will theirs, from
unsparing obedience to and unbroken communion with the Father.
14. I have given them your word.
Cf. v. 6, and for the word of God which Jesus gave to his disciples see v.
17, your word is truth. Jesus committed to them the truth of his
relation to God, which they truly received (v. 8). To know this truth is to
have eternal life (17.3; 20.31).
the world has hated them
. Cf. 15. 18f. for the inevitable hatred of the world for that
which is intrinsically other than itself. The aorist has hated is
written from the evangelist's standpoint. Force is lost if it is supposed
(Torrey, 109, 114) to be due to the wrong pointing of s'na' (perfect)
instead of sane' (participle).
as I do not belong to the world
. The disciples share this "otherness" of Jesus because he
has chosen them out of the world (15.19), and because they have been born of
the Spirit (3.3-8), not in any human way (1.13). These words are omitted by D
it sin, perhaps because they seemed redundant in view of v. 16. This verse is
omitted by a few MSS., perhaps for a similar reason.
15. to take them out of the world.
hina with the subjunctive replaces the infinitive that should follow ask; so at Mark 7.26; Luke 7.36; 16.27; John 4.47; 19.3l:3; 2 John 5 (not
elsewhere in the New Testament). The disciples, though not of the world, are
in it (v. 11). It is their vocation to stay in it. It is possible that John
intended to correct the apocalyptic view that the Christians would very
shortly, at the parousia, be caught up from the earth.
but to protect them from the evil
one. Cf. vv. 11f. It is impossible to be certain
whether John means evil or the evil one. The only other uses of
ponÍros in the gospel are 3.19; 7.7 - both adjectival. But the use in
1 John (2.13f; 3.12; 5.18f.) suggests strongly that John is thinking of the
Evil One, not of evil. The death of Jesus means the judgement of the prince
of this world (12.31; 14.30; 16.11), but he is not deprived of the power to
harm the disciples, if they are left without divine aid.
16. Cf. v. 14.
17. Sanctify them. The hagios
group of words is of infrequent occurrence in John. hagiazein occurs
at 10.36; 17.17,19; hagios at 6.69; 17.11 (and at 1.33;
425 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
14.26; 20.22 with pneuma).
These uses, few as they are, are nevertheless important. The present verse is
significant not least because whatever hagiazein means here, it can
scarcely mean anything different in v. 19, where Jesus says I sanctify
myself. At 10.36 God is said to have sanctified Jesus, clearly for his
mission to the world. This is a normal and very common use of ayiajEiu; a
person is set apart for a sacred duty. For example, Jeremiah was sanctified
to be a prophet (Jer. 1.5); Aaron and his sons were sanctified to be priests
(Ex. 28.41). The setting of the present verse is similar to that of 10.36; as
there, the word apostellein is in the context. The disciples in their
turn are to be set apart by God for a mission to the world. There is
certainly no reason to think that they are consecrated to death.
sanctified in truth
. On alÍtheia in John see on 1.14. The article makes it
difficult to translate simply "in reality", "in truth",
as might otherwise be done. Here, as for example at 8.32, and as is required
by the next clause, it means the saving truth revealed in the teaching and
activity of Jesus. It is this truth which designates and separates the
apostles for their mission.
your word is truth
. For the word of God cf. vv. 6, 14. Both logos and alÍtheia,
"message" and "truth", approximate to the person of Jesus
himself, who, as John emphasizes, is the Word and the Truth.
18. As you have sent me Ö so I have
sent them. The introduction of an apodosis by kai may be Semitic.
For the thought see on 13.20; 20.21. Here the mission of the apostles is taken
up into the supreme moment of the mission of the Son in which the task
appointed him by the Father is com pleted. The aorist apesteila is
used of the sending of the disciples, although they are in fact not sent till
20.21 (pempw, present). John writes from the standpoint of his own
age, but also regards the mission of the Son as virtually completed, and the
mission of the Church as virtually begun, at the last supper, in which the
love, obedience, and glory of Jesus are fully represented.
Into the world
. Both Jesus and the apostles have a mission to the world. This
fact must be set beside the limitation of Jesus' prayer to the disciples (v.
9) and to those who believe through their word (v. 20), the emphasis upon his
love for his own (13.1 et al.), and the command that the disciples should
love one another (13.34; 15.12f.). The world is to be invited, through the
witness of the Holy Spirit and of the disciples, to enter this circle of
prayer and love.
19. for their sakes I sanctify
myself. See on v. 17, and on 10.36. There is nothing in the word sanctify
itself to make a reference to the death of Jesus necessary; this reference
lies rather in the context, especially in the use of huper; cf.
11.50-52; 15.13; 10.11; cf. also 1.29 and Mark 10.45, ransom for many.
To consecrate oneself is the act of a servant of God, who makes himself ready
for his divinely appointed task, and the task immediately ahead of Jesus was
that of dying for his friends. The language is equally appropriate to the
preparation of a priest and the preparation of a sacrifice; it is therefore
doubly appropriate to Christ. Except as indicated in the note on v. 17, there
is little Jewish material to illustrate the thought. The expression
"sanctify yourself" occurs, but generally has an ethical sense. Cf.
however C.H. I, 32; it is plain that the Hermetic prophet wishes in some
sense to share the holiness of God. Dr. Festugiere (in
426 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
A. D. Nock and A. J. Festugiere,
Corpus Hermeticum (1945) 1, 19) translates; "...veut te preter aide dans
l'oeuvre de sanctification". Here apotheosis, or something of the kind,
is in mind; and, though apotheosis strictly understood is foreign to John's
thought, the present passage looks in the same direction. The Son who has prayed
to be glorified now asks again in other terms that he may re-enter the divine
life, in order that he may take his disciples with him and so, as it were,
incorporate them into God.
. Here (contrast v. 17) there is no article, and if this verse stood
alone the translation "may be truly sanctified", "may be
sanctified indeed" would be necessary. But in view of the parallel in v.
17 it seems at least possible that John is restating the same thought, though
he does not express himself without ambiguity.
20. not on behalf of these,
those gathered with Jesus at supper, probably (though this is never
explicitly stated) the Eleven.
on behalf of those who will believe
in me through their word. John has already
referred to the mission of the disciples (v. 18). As their faith was itself
the result of Jesus' mission to the world, so their mission will evoke faith.
John now deliberately turns to view this process, the history of the Church.
For him there is no problem in the continued existence of an earthly society
after the Lord's resurrection; Jesus himself willed it and prayed for those
who should join it (cf. 20.29).
Pisteuein eis is a common Johannine idiom (see on 1.15s) and eis ene
should probably be constructed with pisteuontŰn. Yet it must be admitted
that the order of words would make it more natural to take eis eme
with logou, and this is not impossible. For the use of such a
prepositional phrase with logos cf. 2 Cor. 1.18, our word to you.
If this construction is accepted the meaning will be "their word of
testimony to me".
21. that they may all be one.
As at v. 15, hina expresses the content of the request. Jesus prays
that the whole Church may be one, as he has already prayed that his own
disciples may be one (v. n). Its unity however is not merely a matter of
unanimity, nor does it mean that the members severally lose their identity.
The unity of the Church is strictly analogous to the unity of the Father and
the Son; the Father is active in the Son - it is the Father who does his
works (14.10)-and apart from the Father the deeds of the Son are meaningless,
and indeed would be impossible; the Son again is in the Father, eternally
with him in the unity of the Godhead, active alike in creation and
redemption. The Father and the Son are one and yet remain distinct. The
believers are to be, and are to be one, in the Father and the Son, distinct
from God, yet abiding in God, and themselves the sphere of God's activity
so that the world may believe that
you have sent me. The unity of the Church in God
is the supreme testimony to the truth of the claim that Jesus is God's
authorized emissary. The existence of such a community is a supernatural fact
which can be explained only as the result of a supernatural cause. Moreover,
it reveals the pattern of the divine activity which constitutes the Gospel:
the Father sends the Son, and in his works the love of the Father for mankind
427 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
is manifest, because the Son lives
always in the unity of love with the Father; the Son sends the Church, and in
the mutual charity and humility which exist within the unity of the Church
the life of the Son and of the Father is manifest. It seems to be implied
here that the kosmos as a whole will believe, and therefore be saved.
With this apparent universalism contrast 16.33. John retains the customary
New Testament tension between universalism and the predestination of an elect
remnant. In fact, the inevitable human imperfection of the Church means
inevitably an imperfect faith on the part of the world, and Church and world
alike must ever remain under the judgement and mercy of God.
22. In this and the next verses the
theme of unity is repeated, but with variations of expression which introduce
a number of new thoughts.
The glory that you have given me
. It is difficult to think that this statement does not presuppose
the answer to the prayer of vv. 1, 5. John looks back upon the completed work
of Christ, in which the glory of God has been bestowed upon him in his return
to the Father.
I have given them
. Christ has been glorified, and he has communicated his glory to
the Church, which, being in God, could not fail to share in the glory of God.
This does not however teach a crude theologia gloriae. The glory is the glory
of Christ, and the glory of Christ is acquired through, and is most
completely expressed in, the crucifixion. The Church receives glory on
precisely the same terms, by unity in faith with the death and resurrection
of Jesus, and expresses it in obedience, and pre-eminently in humiliation,
poverty, and suffering. This is certainly not a promise of visible
prosperity; cf. 16.33.
that they may be one, as we are one
. See v. 21.
23. I in them and you in me.
See on v. 21. It is impossible to draw any sharp distinction between "I
in them" and "they in us". It may be said with equal truth
that Christ is in the Father and the Father in Christ, and the relation
between the disciples and the Godhead is of a similar reciprocal kind.
that they may become completely one
, "that they may attain perfect unity". In John teleioun
is used at 4.34; 5.36; 17.4 of carrying out, or completing, a task; at 19.28
of the fulfilment of Scripture. No other word of the teleios group is
used in John. There seems to be reason for thinking (see Lightfoot on Col.
1.28) that Paul sometimes used these words with the initiatory rites of the
mystery religions in mind, but there is no ground for such a view with regard
to John. The idea of completeness is all that is involved here. Final
completeness and unity can of course be achieved only when the. number of the
elect is accomplished at the time of the end, but these words do not exclude
the notion that the Church may be complete at every stage of its growth.
so that the world may know..
Cf. v. 21. On the relation between believing and knowing see
Introduction, p. 68, and on 1.10; 17.1.
428 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
24. patÍr. The nominative (B)
should probably be accepted, the vocative in the majority of MSS. being an
assimilation to v. 1. It is however possible that patÍr should be
regarded as a form of the vocative. See Robertson, 264, 461, and cf. v. 25,
where patÍr is combined with a vocative adjective (in v. 21 it would
be possible to regard patÍr as a real nominative).
certainly to be preferred to hous. The tendency to alter the neuter
into conformity with ekeinoi would be very strong, though the neuter
is in fact Johannine (e.g. v. 2).
. The ordinary language of prayer breaks down because Jesus is
speaking, as it were, within the Godhead. He expresses his will, but his will
is identical with the Father's (4.34; 5-30; 6.38). After thelw, hina
with the subjunctive is used for the infinitive to express the content of the
wish; cf. the use of the same construction after erŰtan (vv. 15, 21).
that these may be with me where I
am. Contrast 13.33,36, where Jesus says that even
the disciples cannot follow him, to be where he is, "now". To Peter
he gives the promise, you will follow me later. This prayer
contemplates the time when such following becomes possible; that is, the
thought of the last discourses comes finally to the eschatological hope that
in the end the Church will be with Christ in God. The way to this glory lies
through suffering, for if Peter is to follow Jesus it will be in suffering
before it is in triumph (cf. 21.18f). Jesus is going to the Father's glory,
through death; the disciples cannot follow him now because they are to be
left in the world (v. 11); but they will follow.
to see my glory
. This means the glory of Christ within the Godhead, his glory as
God. In 2 Cor. 3.18 the Christians in this life behold the heavenly glory of
Christ as in a mirror (so H. Windisch, Der zŰeite Korintherbrief
(1924), H. Lietzmann and W. G. Kummel, An die Korinther I, II (1949); otherwise W. L. Knox, St Paul and the Church of the Gentiles (1939), 132),
and are themselves transformed by the vision from glory to glory. But this
does not seem to be John's view; he thinks of the future consummation.
because you loved me
. The ultimate root of the final hope of men lies in the love of
the Father for the Son, that is in the eternal relationship of love which is
thus seen to be of the essence of the Holy Trinity.
before the foundation of the world
. The word foundation is not used elsewhere in John, but is
fairly common in the New Testament (Matt. 13.35; 25.34; Luke 11.50; Eph. 1.4; Heb. 4.3; 9.26; 1 Peter 1.20; Rev. 13.8; 17.8). The beginning and end of time
are here brought together to find their meaning in the historical mission of
Jesus and its results.
25. patÍr (on this form see on
v. 24) dikaie. Cf. v. 11, patÍr hagie. The short final
section of the prayer begins. John applies the adjective dikaios to no
other than God, and the whole group of words is of infrequent occurrence. It is
significant here because it is by God's righteous judgement that the world is
shown to be wrong, and Jesus and the disciples right, in their knowledge of
the world Ö that you have sent me
. These words, with those of the next verse, summarize, and were
no doubt intended to summarize, the substance of the
429 (The Prayer of Jesus 17.1-26)
Gospel. The world (see on 1.10) does
not know God. There exists however a unique reciprocal knowledge between the
Father and the Son. The Son alone, who from eternity has been in the bosom of
the Father, knows him, as God knows all men. The disciples do not step into
the place of Christ and know God as Christ knows him; but they know that God
has sent Christ, and that accordingly Christ is the authorized agent and revealer
of God. Their knowledge of God is mediated through Christ; and this, so far
as John knows, is the only saving knowledge of God accessible to men. This
thought is developed in the next verse. In this sentence the initial raf is
obscure. It was probably intended to co-ordinate the statement about the
world and the disciples: " It is true both that the world did not know
you... and that these men knew...". This involves treating egŰ se
egnŰ as a parenthesis, though of course a very important one.
26. I made your name known to them.
Cf. v. 6, efanerŰsa; no difference in meaning is intended, yvcopfjsiv
is used at 15.15; not elsewhere in John. Jesus conveyed the revealed
character of God to his disciples not only in his teaching but in his deeds
and in his own person (14.9; 1.18).
and I will make it known
, in personal union, and through the work of the Holy Spirit.
so that the love Ö may be in them
. En autois may be rendered either "within them",
that is, "within each one of them", or "among them". It
is impossible to draw a sharp line between the two interpretations, and it
may be said that each implies the other. If we take the former it means that
the love of God as an active divine principle is at work within the heart of
the Christian; but if this is so the same divine love cannot fail to be the
relation existing between those who are so inspired. Because the love of God
is in them it must needs be among them; and vice versa.
with which you have loved me
. Cf. v. 24. The love which inspires and rules the Church, and is
its life, is the essential inward love of the Godhead, the love with which
the Father eternally loves the Son (the love which God is, 1 John 4.8,16).
See on 15.12-17.
and I in them
. Here also sv probably means both "in" and
"among". That God would dwell in the midst of his people was a
regular feature of the messianic hope. The only proper object of the love
with which the Father loves the Son is the Son, and it is because he is in
the disciples, and in their midst, that they can be said to enjoy this love.
Cf. 14.20, where the double relationship you in me and I in you, is
expressed. Cf. Matt. 28.20; the promise of the presence of Jesus is
interpreted in the light of Paul's doctrine of the mutual indwelling of Christ
and the believer. Jesus is leaving the world and going to the Father not that
his disciples may be left solitary but in order that he may abide in them and
36. The Arrest of Jesus.
The last supper ended, Jesus,
accompanied by his disciples, went out, with no specified motive, to a garden
(orchard, or plantation) beyond the Kedron, which was a common meeting place
for them. Thither Judas the traitor led a mixed company of Roman soldiers and
430 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
police. Jesus, thus confronted with
the power of this world, at once took the initiative. On his declaration of
his identity his adversaries fell to the ground, and he secured the safe
withdrawal of his friends. Peter, unwilling to be thus protected, struck off
the right ear of a slave named Malchus, only to receive the rebuke of Jesus.
Neither inward shrinking, nor outward force, nor the embarrassments of his
friends could prevent him from laying down his life at his own time, in
obedience to the Father and for the salvation of the world.
It was inevitable that the passion
narrative should contain an account of the arrest of Jesus, especially
because the arrest was bound up with the betrayal, but John in giving this
account was probably dependent on the work of his predecessors, notably Mark.
Detailed points of resemblance and difference between the Johannine and the
earlier narratives are mentioned in the notes; here the following main
tendencies in John's work may be observed.
(a) Topographical and other details
are introduced. It is difficult to see how any theological purpose can be
served by the names Kedron, Peter, and Malchus, and it may therefore be
supposed either that John possessed other valuable sources of traditional
material in addition to the synoptic gospels, or that with the lapse of time
the earlier tradition came to be enriched with such personal details.
Comparison with the apocryphal gospels (cf. e.g. Gospel of Peter 31, where
the name, Petronius, of the centurion is given; Acts of Pilate 1.1) suggests
that the latter is the more probable alternative. (b) The Romans are
introduced at the opening of the passion narrative. This is historically
improbable (see the note on v. 3) and seems to be due to John's desire to
show that the whole kosmos was ranged against Jesus. (c) The synoptic
narrative of the agony in Gethsemane is entirely omitted, though there is a
plain allusion to it in v. 11 (cf. also 12.27-30 and the notes); we cannot
suppose that John was ignorant of this tradition, but it did not accord with
his purpose to represent the issue as in any sense doubtful.
(d) There is throughout the narrative
an emphasis upon the authority of Jesus. He, not Judas or the tribune, is in
command. He goes out (v. 1) to his arrest; he interrogates his captors, and
fells them to the ground with a word; he rebukes and also preserves his own
(e) Jesus thus acts in defence of his
disciples, that none of them may be lost, suffering on their behalf (cf. Mark
These points have been fully brought
out here because they recur throughout the Johannine passion narrative.
1. After he had spoken. By
these words the passion narrative is bound to the discourses at the last
supper; cf. 14.25; 16.1; 17.1; also 16.25.
he went out
, out of the room where the supper had been held; but see 14.31
and the note.
431 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
across the Kidron valley.
cheimarros is an adjective, meaning
"winter-flowing", which was used as a noun, meaning
"torrent", "brook", or "water-course"
containing water perhaps only in the winter. Accordingly it represents the
Hebrew nahal. Thus nahal Qidron in 2 Sam. 15.23; 1 Kings 2.37; 2 Kings 23.6,12; 2 Chron. 15.16; 29.16; 30.14 is rendered cheimarros
KedrŰn; in these places (and in Jer. 31.39 (38.40) where we have nahal
Qidron). KedrŰn is clearly an undeclinable noun, transliterated
from the Hebrew. In 1 Kings 15.13, however, we find en tŰ cheimarrŰ tŰn
KedrŰn, where the article shows KedrŰn to be the genitive plural
of kedros, a cedar. The same phrase is inserted by the LXX without any
basis in our Hebrew texts in 2 Sam. 15.23, along with the transliterated
where there was a garden
. John is the only evangelist to use kÍpos in narrative
(cf. Luke 13.19). Mark and Matthew describe the scene of the arrest as a place
and give the name Gethsemane, which is mentioned by neither Luke nor John.
Luke says that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (i.e. across the brook
Kedron). kÍpos, if it means "orchard" or
"plantation", will agree well enough with place. John says
also, with less probability, that the crucifixion and burial took place in a kÍpos
(19.41). entered in vv.1, 4, suggest a walled enclosure, and from v. 2
we learn that Jesus and his disciples frequented the place. It is not
profitable to guess at its owner.
and his disciples
. John omits the agony of Jesus (see on v. 11, and on 12.27) and
consequently does not distinguish between the whole body of disciples and the
three mentioned in Mark 14.33 and parallels.
2. Judas knew. This verse
suggests that what Judas betrayed to the Jewish authorities was the place
where Jesus might be found and conveniently arrested. Whether such a betrayal
was necessary or even helpful is doubtful (see A. Schweitzer, The Mystery
of the Kingdom of God (E.T. 1925), 214-18), but John does not help us to
find any other explanation.
who betrayed him
. The participle has become almost a technical term in the
gospels: Matt. 26.25,46,48; (27.3, v.l. paradous); Mark 14.42,44; Luke
22.21; John 13.11; 18.2,5. Cf. the other forms paradous, Matt, 10.4; John 19.11; paradŰsŰn, John 6.64; mellŰn paradidonai, John
432 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
. This is possible if the Johannine account of the ministry is
presupposed, but it is inconsistent with the one short visit to Jerusalem of the
The passive of sunagein is unusual in the singular
(otherwise than with a collective noun). We must translate "Jesus often
met there with...".
3. brought a detachment. In the
synoptic gospels Judas appears at the head of a crowd (polus ochlos
Matthew). The participation of Roman forces at this stage of the proceedings
against Jesus seems improbable, since the first step was apparently for the
Jews to frame a charge that might be brought before the Governor, and Roman
soldiers would have taken Jesus at once to Pilate, not to the high priest, speira
usually means a cohort, a unit of the Roman army containing (normally) 600
men; but it could also mean a maniple (200 men), and probably means a company
no larger than this at Mark 15.16. If John was freely constructing his
narrative he may well have meant cohort (this is supported by the appearance
in v. 12 of the tribune, the commander of a cohort); but if there is any
historical basis for his statement maniple is more probable; the larger detachment
would have been unnecessary and might have left the city dangerously
unguarded. It may well be asked what authority Judas had to "take"
a detachment of soldiers of any size; but since the commander was present
John probably means no more than that Judas acted as guide (and, of course,
as instigator of the proceedings).
from the chief priests and the
Pharisees. For the construction cf. 1.24. See
also 7.32 and the note. The two groups are several times mentioned together
(7.32,45; 11.47,57) - By dtpxiepEts John evidently means the priestly
aristocracy. The Pharisees (see on 1.24) do not appear again after this
point. Clearly John regards the archiereis as the official leaders
of" the Jews " who put Jesus to death; but it cannot be said that
he wished to exonerate the Pharisees, or they would not have been mentioned
at this decisive point. The Sadducees are not referred to in John. HupÍretai,
in John, are always a sort of military police (7.32,45 18.3,12,18,22; 19.6; cf. 18.36, the hupÍretai of Jesus); doubtless the Temple guard, acting
under orders of the Temple officer (sagan hacohenim; cf. Acts 4.1),
whose usual function was to watch the Temple at night (Middoth 1.2). Their
arms and methods are recalled in a "street-ballad" (Klausner, 337):
Woe is me, for the house of Boethus! woe is me, for their club!
Woe is me, for the house of Annas: woe is me, for their
Woe is me, for the house of Kathros (Kantheras): woe is me, for
Woe is me, for the house of Ishmael (ben Phiabi): woe is me, for
For they are the high priests, and
their sons the treasurers: their sons - in-law are Temple-officers, and their
servants beat the people with their staves. (Pesahim 57a; T. Menahoth
lanterns and torches and weapons
. Cf. Phrynichus XL (Rutherford, I3if.). Lanterns and torches are
mentioned only by John. They need not be thought out of place on the night of
the Paschal full moon; they may have been intended for use in case of
433 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
an attempt at concealment, or the
night may have been cloudy. It is not impossible however that John may have
intended by means of these feeble lights to stress the darkness of the night
in which the light of the world was for the moment quenched. For weapons
cf. the passage quoted in the preceding note.
4. all that was to happen to him,
the things that were about to befall him. Cf. 16.13, the only other place in
the gospel where erchomena is used in the sense of "things to
. Out of the garden; Jesus gives himself up to death of his
own will; cf. 10.18.
5. "Jesus of Nazareth."
Apart from this context John uses the adjective NazŰraios once only
(19.19, in the titulus on the cross). It is found twice in Matt. (2.23; 26.71), once in Luke (18.37) and six times in Acts (and once more of the
Christians, 24.5). John once describes Jesus as from Nazareth (1.45).
Mark uses NazarÍnos four times, Luke twice. NazŰraios is simply
a patrial and means one from Nazareth (see the full and important note
by G. F. Moore in Beginnings 1, 426-32). It seems not to have been much used
in the Greek-speaking Church (not in the New Testament epistles, Revelation,
the Apostolic Fathers, or the Apologists) and its appearance in John may
probably be taken as a proof that the evangelist was familiar with
traditional gospel material other than that contained in Mark.
. I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you seek. Cf. 9.9, egŰ eimi,
I am the man who was born blind. The predicate of egŰ eimi is thus to
be supplied from the context; but it is possible that there is a reminiscence
of words spoken (13.19) before the departure of Judas,... that you may
know when this happens that I am he. For the meaning of the words see on
13.19, and on 8.24; cf. 6.35 and note. After eimi the word IÍsous
is added by B, probably added by dittography of the following letters.
Judas.. was standing
. In John the traitor does not identify Jesus by a kiss (cf. Mark
14.44!.); Jesus identifies himself, and gives himself up. Judas moreover
remains standing with his followers. The ancient interpretation that he was
blind, or paralysed and unable to move, goes perhaps too far, but it rightly
conveys the thought, which John means to suggest, of the complete impotence
of all but Jesus.
they stepped back and fell to the
ground. The thought is stressed further. The mere
speech of Jesus (perhaps because expressed in language proper to God himself
- see on 8.24) is sufficient to repel his adversaries. The language may have
been modelled upon Ps. 55(56). Cf. Ps. 26(27). Eis ta opisŰ is an
unnecessarily long way of saying opisŰ; it is found several times in
the New Testament. It occurs at 6.66, and conse-
434 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
quently cannot here be given a violent
meaning. to the ground (chamai) is peculiar to John in the New
Testament (9.6; 18.6); properly it means "on the ground", but it is
often used in place of chamaze, "to the ground".
7f. Question and answer are repeated,
and the independence and authority of Jesus underlined.
let these men go
. Jesus purchases the safety of the disciples at the cost of his
own life. It is by no means impossible that an apologetic motive may be
detected in this ascription of the disciples' flight to the intention of
Jesus himself, but, especially in view the clause which follows, it seems to
be John's primary intention to show, in an acted parable, that the "Good
Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (10.11); cf. Mark 10.45.
9. to fulfill the word that he had
spoken. The phrase to fulfill is several times used in John and
often elsewhere in the New Testament, of the fulfilment of prophecy; only in
John (here and 18.32) is it used of the fulfilment of words of Jesus (cf.
however Mark 13.31). The reference here is to 17.12; the exception (the
one destined to be lost) is not mentioned here because Judas had already
taken his place with the powers of darkness (v. 5b).
those whom you gave me
. This clause forms a nominativus pendens taken up by of them.
This construction is very characteristic of John's style; cf. e.g. v. 11.
10. Simon Peter. The double
name is common in John. The incident here described is found in the synoptic
gospels (Mark 14.47 and parallels), but none of them names the aggressive follower
of Jesus. It is characteristic of the later tradition to add names and make
identifications which are not in the earlier sources (cf. 12.4). See Lagrange
and Dr V. Taylor on Mark 14.47, who suggest that EIS TIS means "a
certain person known to me". Mark knew (it is suggested) that the man
who struck the blow was Peter, but for reasons of security or respect did not
mention his name.
who had a sword
. Cf. Luke 22.38. The word machaira means knife, or dagger,
rather than sword, and the anarthrous participle means no more than "he
happened at that moment to have with him a sword". It is often said that
to carry such a weapon on Passover night was forbidden. On this question see
Dalman cf., Jeremias 42-4; on the general question of the date of the last supper
see Introduction, pp. 39ff. In any case regulations would be dispensed with
by men who foresaw real and imminent danger.
the high priest's slave
. The article seems to draw attention to the particular slave
named, Malchus; but it appears also in the synoptic gospels where no name is
given, so that it is not impossible that some particular official of the high
priest is referred to. We have however no information on this score.
This diminutive is used by Mark; Matthew has the more usual wtion for ear.
his right ear
. This detail is added by Luke also (not by Matthew and Mark). It
is possible that both Luke and John were independently embroidering the
Marcan narrative (which epaisen and wtarion strongly suggest
was known to John), but perhaps more probable that John was familiar with
Luke as well as Mark (on the general question see Introduction, pp. 36f.). It
is true that John omits the healing of the slave's ear (found in Luke only); but from
435 (The Arrest of Jesus. 18.1-11)
this we should probably infer not that
Luke was unknown to John, but that the latter thought it inappropriate that
such a cure should have been performed; the gulf between Jesus and his
adversaries, between light and darkness, was now unbridgeable.
The man is named only in John. The name is probably derived from the common
Semitic root m-l-k (e.g. Hebrew melek, king). Other sources
connect the name chiefly with Arabs; see e.g. 1 Macc. 11.39 Josephus, Ant.
11. Put your sword back into its
sheath. Among the synoptists only Matthew (26.52) has a parallel to this
saying, but since there are no words in common (except machaira) it
would be unwise to infer knowledge of Matthew on the part of John. No moral
generalization such as Matthew's follows. As always, John's attention is
focused on the Christological significance of his material. Peter must
sheathe his sword not because if he fails to do so another sword will smite
him but because nothing may hinder the destiny appointed by the Father for
the Son. ballein is used here in the weakened sense of
"put"; thÍkÍ may be any receptacle into which a thing is
put; it is used for a sheath of a sword by Pollux and in a papyrus (see L.S.
and M.M. s.v.).
For the nominativus pendens cf. v. 9. In John the word potÍrion is
used nowhere else, either literally or metaphorically. In Mark (followed in
the main by Matthew and Luke) it is used (a) of the cup of suffering which
Jesus must drink, and the sons of Zebedee may share (Mark 10.38f.); (b) of
the sufferings of Jesus contemplated by him in his agony (Mark 14.36); (c) of
the cup at the last supper, which is clearly connected with his death (Mark
14.24, Touto estin to haima mou tÍs diathÍkÍs). John, who omits the
prayer in Gethsemane before the arrest, shows his knowledge of it, but
emphasizes two further points, (a) He uses the expression not in a prayer
that the cup may pass but in a calm determined acceptance of it. (b) The cup
is the Father's gift; Jesus' suffering is not the arbitrary and unfortunate
result of circumstances but the work appointed him by the Father. It is right
to note the freedom with which John handles the synoptic material, but also
his faithfulness to its meaning, and the fact that behind the peculiarly
Johannine language there lies the common vocabulary of the primitive
Am I not to drink it. Ou mÍ
is not commonly used in questions; elsewhere in the New Testament
only at Luke 18.7.
37. The Jewish Trial:
Peter's Denial. 18.12-27
After his arrest Jesus is immediately
handed over to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas. In
examination Jesus is questioned regarding his disciples and teaching, and
refuses to answer, alleging that evidence should be brought in proper form.
436 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
descend from the illegal to the
abusive, and Jesus is sent in custody from Annas to Caiaphas. Interwoven with
this narrative is another which deals with two disciples who follow Jesus.
One, who has the entree at least to the courtyard of the high priest's house,
brings in with him Peter, who is thus exposed to the scrutiny and challenge
of the high priest's household. Under this challenge he three times denies
Christ before cockcrow.
It has been possible to give a fairly
coherent outline of this piece of narrative, but only by means of omissions
and glosses. In John's own account great difficulties appear at once. The
most notable is the impossibility of combining the statements made about the
high priest; why should Jesus be sent to Caiaphas (v. 24) when the high
priest (who, John tells us (v. 13), was Caiaphas) has already questioned him
(v. 19) ? Why is Jesus first of all brought to Annas, if Caiaphas is to
question him ? Why do we hear nothing at all of the result of the examination
before Caiaphas? It was doubtless to alleviate these difficulties that the
variant discussed at v. 13 arose; the variant must of course be rejected, but
the fact that it exists shows that the difficulties are real.
In spite of marked variations John
seems to be at least partially dependent on Mark. Numerous verbal
coincidences (see the notes) make this probable. That the denials of Peter
should be separated into two sections is easily explicable, and it will be
recalled that Mark seems to represent two Jewish trials, at night and in the
early morning (Mark 14.53; 15>1). It is probably out of this Marcan
narrative that the two "trials", before Annas and Caiaphas
respectively, arose. It is striking that before neither Annas nor Caiaphas is
there anything corresponding to the taking of evidence and the interrogation
of Mark 14.53-64. The Jewish trial is in John glossed over with extreme
rapidity; in fact there is really no trial narrative at all. This may be due
to two reasons: (i) John wished to avoid the strongly apocalyptic tendency of
the Marcan narrative; (ii) he had already given with great fullness his
account of the controversy between Jesus and the Jews in chs. 7-10, which
chapters (especially ch. 9 - see the introduction and notes) in a sense
anticipate the trial. It is however assumed at 18.31 that the Jews have at
some time decided that Jesus must be put to death.
12. the soldiers, their officer,
and the police. The chiliarchos is properly "captain of a
thousand" (and so represents shar elep), but it was especially a
technical term in the Roman army, tribunus (militum), the commander of
13. The paragraph vv. 13-24 presents,
as will appear below, very great difficulties in sequence and arrangement.
Probably for this reason variant orders appeared. Sin has the verses in the
order: 13, 24, 14, 15, 19-23, 16-18; the MS. 225 has 13a, 24, 13b, 14-23. But
the "improvements" are manifestly secondary and are themselves not
free from objection (see especially Bultmann, 498).
First they took him to Annas
. Annas is mentioned only by Luke (3.2, cf. Acts
437 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
4.6) and John among the evangelists.
John however clearly recognizes that Annas was not high priest, whereas Luke
seems to confuse Annas and Caiaphas in this office, or at least to express
himself obscurely. Annas had been high priest from A.D. 6-15 (Josephus, Ant.
xviii, 26-35) and was succeeded not only by his son-in-law Caiaphas but also
by four sons, so that Luke and John are doubtless correct in suggesting that
he retained great influence, especially since his deposition by the Roman
procurator Gratus could have no validity in Jewish opinion. Accordingly there
is no historical difficulty in the statement that Jesus first appeared before
him (Klausner, 340, referring to Josephus, Ant. iv, 186 (this seems to be the
passage intended but the reference is obscure), Horayoth 3.4, Megillah
1.9, Makkoth 2.6, T. Toma 1.4 (180)). John's prŰton distinguishes two
examinations; cf. v. 24. In the former Jesus is interrogated about his
disciples and his teaching, and struck for his answer, but the narrative is
complicated by the fact that it is the high priest (Caiaphas, not Annas) who
questions Jesus; cf. vv. 19, 22. No information is given about the latter.
Mark also mentions two judicial meetings, a "trial" (14.53-64) held
before the high priest (who is not named) and ending in a verdict of guilty,
and secondly an action on the part of the whole Sanhedrin by which Jesus was
handed over to Pilate (15.1). Matthew follows Mark (adding the name
Caiaphas); Luke retains only one examination. The legal basis of the Jewish
action in John is quite incoherent. No charge is brought against Jesus, much
less proved. The Jews bring him to Pilate with the incredible remark, If he
had not been an evildoer we should not have delivered him to you (18.30); they are however convinced that it is necessary to put him to death (18.31).
Only in 19.7 is a charge formulated: he made himself Son of God, a
charge of which no Roman official could have taken cognizance. In 18.33; 19.12,14f,19, the charge of pretended kingship, which certainly would have
been of greater interest to Pilate, is assumed, but it is nowhere explicitly
stated. On the absence of a Jewish "trial" in John see the
introduction to this section. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that
the trial narratives have been rewritten by John in order to bring out what,
in his opinion, were the points at issue, and that no reliance can be placed
on his version of the story (though probably numerous historical details
remain in it).
the father-in-law of Caiaphas
. For this statement we have no authority other than John's. It is
in itself entirely credible.
high priest that year
. See on 11.49.
14. See on 11.50.
15. Simon Peter..followed Jesus.
All the evangelists narrate Peter's denial. Mark's language at this point
(and later) is strikingly similar to John's: Peter followed him at a
distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest (Mark 14.54).
and another disciple
. The singular verb covers both subjects in the Hebrew manner
(G.K. 489-92) but is by no means without precedent in Greek. The "other
disciple" is not mentioned by Mark and his identity is obscure. It is
quite possible to identify him with the disciple "whom Jesus loved"
(see Introduction, pp. 97ff., and on 13.23), but there is no definite ground
for doing so. In view of the description of him which follows (see the next
note) it is very improbable that he was John the son of Zebedee. It is not
impossible that John was aware of an objection to the traditional
438 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
narrative, that Peter would not have
been admitted to the scene of the trial, and introduced the other disciple to
disciple was known to the high
priest. The precise force of gnŰstos is
not certainly known. In the LXX it sometimes represents the Pu'al participle
of "to know" (m'yudda'), which seems to be used for
"familiar friend"; see 4 Kdms. 10.11, and especially Ps. 54(55).
14, It was thou, a man mine equal, my companion, and my familiar friend. The
collateral form, gnŰstos, may mean "kinsman" or even
"brother" (e.g. Iliad xv, 350, "brothers and sisters").
It would therefore be unwise to dismiss the acquaintance between the disciple
and the high priest as slight (see however on the contrary Schlatter, 332),
and it is very difficult to see how any such acquaintance as gnŰstos
suggests could exist between a Galilean fisherman and Gaiaphas. It is not
inconceivable that this verse is itself the foundation of the statement of
Polycrates (see Introduction, p. 84) that John was himself a priest and wore
the petalon; but this view cannot be more than conjecture.
into the courtyard of the high
priest. AulÍ has a wide range of meanings (see
L.S. s.v. and cf. 10.1), and its sense here will be determined by the general
view that is taken of the examinations as John records them (cf. Mark
14.54,66; 15.16). If we are to think (see on v. 13) of a preliminary and
informal investigation held by Annas before the formal trial by the Sanhedrin
under Caiaphas, aulÍ will probably mean the atrium of Annas's house; if however the examination presided over by Annas was held before the
Sanhedrin, the scene may have been within the Temple (see on v.24).
16. outside. Naturally the proceedings
were private. We do not know Peter's motive in following Jesus. He can hardly
have hoped to renew profitably the violence John ascribes to him in v. 1 o,
though the possibility of escape may still have seemed open. Perhaps he
expected a divine intervention.
the woman who guarded the gate
. For woman porters cf. 2 Kdms. 4.6 (not Hebrew); Acts 12.13 and
references in M.M. s.v. thurŰros. If this is an accurate report the
scene must be a private house (Annas's), not the Temple; but it may be simply
a construction on the basis of Mark 14.66 (see on v. 17).
brought Peter in
. The subject may be the "other disciple" or the thurŰros; "he introduced" or "she admitted".
17. The woman said to Peter. In
Mark (14.66,69) it is one of the high priest's maidservants who
challenges Peter. John seems to be dependent on Mark at this point, and
apparently uses Peter's entry into the court as an appropriate moment for the
first recognition and denial. The reference to hÍ thurŰros; may be
based on nothing more than Mark's paidiskÍ. This word meant in later
Greek "female slave"; earlier it was equivalent to neanis
(see Phrynichus CCXVI; Rutherford, 3121".).
you're not also
in direct questions commonly expects the answer "No".
But kai su -"you also in addition to the man recognized as both a
disciple and a friend of the high priest's" - suggests that the answer
expected is "Yes". Probably here mÍ is the mÍ of
cautious assertions" (M. 1, 10,2f.). The question does not seem to have
been put in a hostile manner: "You have come with X, whom we know; perhaps you too are a disciple."
Cf. the use of egŰ eimi without predicate at v. 5, and elsewhere,
439 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
18. In this verse John seems to show
dependence on Mark. See Mark 14.54, sitting with the servants and warming
the slaves and the police
. The personal slaves of the high priest and the Temple guard (see
on v. 3).
made a charcoal fire
. Cf. 21.9; only in these two passages in the New Testament is anthrakia
found. In the Temple a fire was kept burning in the Chamber of Immersion for
the comfort of priests who had to immerse themselves during the night (Tamid
1.1); but this would not have been available for others than priests; nor
would it have been said to have been specially made
it was cold
. This might be an indication that the narrative is based on the
account of an eye-witness who himself remembered the cold night (cf.
10.22f.); but it may equally well be an inference from the fire mentioned,
but not explained, in Mark.
Peter joined the group by the fire in
the courtyard (katŰ, according to Mark 14.66) while the interrogation
described in the next verses took place within. We hear no more of the
19. Then the high priest. The
high priest was Caiaphas; but the prisoner had been taken to Annas (v. 13),
and was subsequently sent to Caiaphas (v. 24). It is uncertain whether John
was loosely but understandably referring to Annas as high priest (cf. Luke
3.2; Acts 4.6), or thought that Caiaphas was present and conducted the former
. This interrogation is the only feature of the Jewish
"trial" in John. In Mark (14.55-9) the proceedings begin with the
taking of testimony. This is not merely not mentioned by John but seems to be
excluded by v. 21, ask those who heard. On the legality of the
procedure see on v. 21. Here it may be observed that John completely omits
the two points on which the synoptic trial turns: the question regarding the
messiah-ship of Jesus, and the accusation of blasphemy. The high priest's
question is put in a surprising form, since he inquires about Jesus'
disciples and teaching, but not about his person, which, according to the
Jews both in John (19.7) and in the other gospels, was the real centre of
dispute and accusation.
about his disciples
. This question is not followed up and its bearing consequently
remains obscure. If it be read in the light of the synoptic narratives it may
be taken to indicate apprehension of an armed rising with Jesus at its head:
"Why do you gather followers? How do you propose to exercise the
authority you have over them?" Cf. 18.36. But it is doubtful whether
John had this in mind; probably he simply states a general inquiry.
about his teaching
. This takes the place of the more precise Marcan question about
messiahship (see above). Possibly it reflects questions put to Christians on
trial for their faith; see especially Acta Martyrii S. Iustini et Sociorum
2, and cf. Mart. Poly. 10.1 and Eusebius, H.E. v, i, 31 (Pothinus, bishop of
Lugdunum); also Pliny's discovery by the examination of deaconesses that
Christianity was nihil aliud quam superstitionem prauam itnmodicam (Ep. x,
20. parrÍsia. See on 7.4. The
contrast with in secret proves that the meaning here is
440 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
. ho kosmos in the sense of tout le monde occurs in
late Greek; e.g. Dittenberger, O.G.I.S. 458.40f., (9 B.C.); P. Oxy. 1298.8,
(fourth century A.D.). But the special Johannine use of kosmos should
be recalled; see 1.10 and the note there.
This word, and the next sentence, cannot be intended to exclude all private
teaching, of which there is a good deal in John.
In the temple
. Cf. 7.14,28; 8.20. The article is used with hieron (not
with sunagŰgÍ) because there was one Temple, but many synagogues.
where all the Jews come together
; clearly an editorial note. Probably the whole reply was composed
by John, perhaps on the basis of Mark 14.49, Day after day I was with you
in the temple teaching.
takes up openly cf. 7.10, where it is contrasted with fanerŰs.
21. Why do you ask me? It seems
to have been regarded in rabbinic law as improper to attempt to make an
accused person convict himself. This principle is not explicitly stated
before Maimonides (on Sanhedrin 6.2; "Our true Torah does not inflict
the penalty of death upon a sinner either by his own confession or by the
declaration of a prophet that the accused had done the deed"), and it
was argued by Dr H. Danby (J.T.S. old series xxi (1920), 51-76) that it
should not be accepted as ancient. But Abrahams has shown (Studies 11, 132-4)
that Maimonides's was a legitimate inference from the texts. It was therefore
incorrect procedure for the high priest to open a trial (if the examination
was so formal) by interrogating Jesus himself. If however this was an
informal inquiry direct questions might well be in place.
Ask those who heard what I said
. "Ask them what I have said "; that is, take testimony in
the legal manner. This was done (though the witnesses were false witnesses)
in the synoptic account of the "first trial".
22. rapisma (struck a blow).
Cf. 19.3 (the soldiers at the Johannine "mockery"); Mark 14.65 (the
servants - as here-at the "first trial"). Cf. Matt. 26.67,
Epdrnaccv. The word is used in the sense condemned by Phrynichus (CLII; Rutherford, 257-65) of a blow on the face with the flat of the hand.
Is that how you answer the high
priest? Cf. Ex. 22.27; Acts 23.4f.; also
Josephus, c. Apion. II, 194. Jesus had in fact refused to answer what might
well be regarded as an improperly put question.
23. The truth is always objectionable
to those who are concerned to establish a case at all costs. It is easier and
more effective to answer it with blows than with arguments.
24. Cf. Mark 15.1, and see the note on
v. 13. It is very probable that John was aware of a tradition of two
"trials", since he has nothing to say about that which he
represents as taking place before Caiaphas. It may be that his introduction
of the two names, Annas and Caiaphas, is due to the fact that two inquiries
have to be accounted for. It is not clear where Jesus was sent; see on vv.
13, 15. "Sending" need not imply movement from one building to
another, perhaps no more than remission from one court-room in the Temple to
another. The specific mention in this verse of Caiaphas as high
441 (The Jewish Trial: Peter's Denial. 18.12-27)
priest underlines the difficulty of
vv. 19, 22; if Caiaphas had already been present at the first inquiry why
should Jesus be sent to him ?
25. warming himself. See on v.
18. There follow the second and third denials of Peter; the first was
separated from them because the girl (paidiskÍ) who challenged him was
identified with the thurŰros.
They said (eipon)
- the group standing by the fire (v. 18).
were not you? (mÍ kai su;)
. Their words are almost identical with those of the doorkeeper
He denied it
. The word was not used in v. 17, but it is repeated in v. 27. Cf.
Mark 14.68,70. It calls to mind the saying of Jesus about those who deny (arneisthai)
him before men (Matt. 10.33 =Luke I2-9)j John seems however to mean no more
by the word than that Peter said he was not what he had been alleged to be.
26. a relative of the man. Only
John knows the name of the man who was struck (see on v. 10); he only knows
of this relationship. We must conclude either that behind the Johannine
passion narrative there stands a first-hand source, or that John is himself
elaborating details in the manner of the apocryphal gospels. The general lack
of coherence in the narrative does not confirm the former alternative.
COTIOV. In v. 10, WTCtpiov (but COT(OV
occurs as a textual variant).
In the garden
. See v. 1; but v. 4 suggests that Jesus came out of the garden
before the arrest.
27. John does not mention the oaths
and curses with which (Mark 14.71 and parallels) Peter denied Jesus.
the cock crowed
. Cf. 13.38 where the denial is predicted. John's abrupt ending is
more dramatic and effective than Mark's explanation (14.72) that Peter
remembered what Jesus had said. Peter now disappears from the story till
38. Jesus, Pilate, and
the Jews. 18.28-19.16
This long continuous piece includes
conversation between Jesus and Pilate, and between Pilate and the Jews; Jesus
no longer has direct converse with representatives of his own nation. For the
most part he remains within the Praetorium; Pilate goes outside to speak to
the Jews, who refrain from entering in order to avoid ceremonial pollution. The
Jews constantly seek Pilate's condemnation of Jesus (on the ground that they
have not the power to put anyone to death), alleging first in general terms
that he is an evil doer (18.30), secondly that he made himself Son of God
(19.7), and finally that by making himself a king he was engaging in
rebellion, which Pilate, if he released him, would be abetting (19.12). In
their first conversation (18.33-7), Pilate questions Jesus about his
kingship, and Jesus speaks of the truth to which he
442 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
bears witness; in the second (19.8-11)
the theme is authority. The Jews are constantly malevolent, and seek the
blood of Jesus (18.30,40; 19.6,15), even at the cost of denying their own
faith (19.15); Pilate on the other hand declares three times that Jesus is
innocent (18.38; 19.4,6), seeks to release him (18.39 (the Jews however
choose Barabbas); 19.12), and is compelled to crucify him only by the threat
of 19.12. Into this sequence the scourging and mockery (carried out by Pilate's
subordinates) are rather oddly inserted (19.1-3).
Most of this material is based upon
the Marcan narrative, which supplies not only the basic fact of an
examination before Pilate, his unwillingness to condemn Jesus, the reference
to Barabbas and the custom of releasing one prisoner at the feast, the
scourging, the mockery, the clamour for the death of Jesus, and the ultimate
handing over of Jesus to crucifixion, but also the main theme of the
conversations between Pilate and Jesus - that of kingship. John's additions
and alterations do not inspire confidence in his historical reliability.
Details are given in the notes, but it may be observed here in general that
it is highly improbable that reliable information respecting private
conversations between the prisoner and the judge (if any took place) should
have reached the evangelist. It is surprising that when the Jews first
approach Pilate no accusation is brought against Jesus; it is assumed in
18.33 tnat Pilate knows the charge. That the charge on which the governor in
fact acted was one of alleged kingship is probably true; but the discussions
of this subject, and of true authority (18.33-7; 19.1) are unmistakably in
the Johannine idiom, and the theology is not the eschatological thought on
which the synoptic teaching about the kingdom of God is based. The scourging
and mockery are as they stand (19.1-3) incomprehensible, since at this point
Pilate intends not merely to release Jesus (cf. Luke 23.16) but to acquit him
altogether. The mockery is probably retained however in order to provide for
the dramatic effect of 19.5. John seems to have been uncertain on points both
of Roman and of Jewish law (see 18.28,31,39; 19.1-3,6,16, and the notes). His
only topographical addition to the earlier tradition is the name Lithostroton
(Gabbatha). It is impossible at present to check the value of this
information (see on 19.13).
The historical value of John's account
is much lower than Mark's (on the conflicting dates ascribed by the two
evangelists to the crucifixion see Introduction, pp. 39ff.). But it must be
repeated that John has with keen insight picked out the key of the passion
narrative in the kingship of Jesus, and has made its meaning clearer,
perhaps, than any other New Testament writer.
28. from Caiaphas - to whom he
had been taken in v. 24. Cf. Mark 15.1; but John has said nothing whatever
about Caiaphas's dealings with Jesus, a, with several other Old Latin MSS.
and many MSS. of the vg, reads ad caipham; this reading is probably due to
the difficulty which has just been mentioned; cf. the rearrangement of verses
given in sin (see on v. 13).
443 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
to Pilate's headquarters
. The praetorium (praitŰrion) was the official residence of
a governor of a province; here, Pilate's residence. The procurator of Judaea
normally lived at Caesarea (where there was another praetorium, Acts 23.35),
but came to Jerusalem for the great feasts, to quell disturbances, eis
is loosely used; it appears later in the verse that though the Jews went to (pros)
the praetorium they would not go into it.
It was early in the morning
. The last two watches of the night (on the Roman reckoning) were alektŰros
and prŰi. Cockcrow was now past, and early morning (before 6 a.m.) had
- the subject of they took, the Jews responsible for
transferring the case from the local court to the Procurator's.
to avoid ritual defilement
. Cf. Oholoth 18.7,9: The dwelling-places of Gentiles are unclean...
The rules about the dwelling-places of Gentiles do not apply to colonnades.
In ordinary circumstances a Jew would enter a Gentile's house, but he would
become unclean-technically unclean (see Bonsirven 11, 262, and the article by
A. Buchler (J.Q.R. xvii (1926-7), 1-81) there cited). On the day before the
Passover therefore (for a comparison of the Johannine with the Marcan dating
of the last supper and crucifixion see Introduction, pp. 39ff.) the Jews
remained outside. The irony of this intention is characteristically
Johannine: those who plot the murder of the Son of God mind to the last
detail their formal religious punctilio. But it is not certain that it is
rightly based on facts. The uncleanness the Jews would have incurred by
entering the Praetorium would last only till the end of the day when it could
be removed by a bath; in the immediately ensuing evening (the beginning of
the next day) the Passover could be eaten. Moreover, only a small number of
priests was concerned, and "if the congregation or the greater part
thereof contracted uncleanness, or if the priests were unclean but the
congregation clean, the Passover may be kept in uncleanness" (Pesahim
7.6; the Mishnah adds that if a minority of the congregation are unclean they
must keep the second Passover). It does not seem possible to escape this
difficulty by supposing that, in this context, to pascha means not the
Passover offering itself but the festal offering (hagigah) of the
first day of the feast (see S.B. 11, 838-40). John's statement, therefore,
that the Jews acted as they did in order that they might be able to eat the
Passover, seems very questionable. This is an important example of the way in
which some of John's detailed historical notes, which add verisimilitude to
his narrative and have led to the view that he was an eyewitness, break down
when they are subjected to criticism.
29. he went out. Josephus's
account of Pilate does not lead the reader to expect such accommodating
compliance. Yet it is not impossible. A Roman governor would show wisdom in
being no more provocative than necessary, especially at Passover time. But,
as we have seen, the whole incident is probably unhistorical.
30. If this man were not a criminal...
This remark reveals either extraordinary and almost incredible impudence, or
an understanding between the Jews and Pilate. The latter alternative is
excluded because Pilate in referring the case back to the Jews shows that he
did not understand that a capital sentence was required. Since the former
alternative also strains the imagination we may suppose that we have here an
attempt on the part of John (or of earlier
444 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
tradition on which he depended) to
fasten the guilt of the condemnation of Jesus yet more firmly upon the Jews
and to exonerate the Romans - a tendency frequently visible in early
. Probably the charges brought against Christians in early
persecutions were general rather than specific; cf. 1 Peter 2.12; 3.17; 4.15; also Tacitus, Annales xv, 44,... per flagitia inuisos...
haudperinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis...
31. Take him yourselves. The
last word is emphatic; Pilate like Gallio was not minded to be a judge of
Jewish quarrels. Whether a provincial governor would have allowed to pass out
of his hands a disturber of the peace must be regarded as doubtful. Pilate's
action, however, places all the responsibility on the Jews.
We are not permitted to put anyone
to death. Evidently the Jews have already decided
that Jesus must be put to death, but John has not told us when, where, or by
what authority. The question whether the Jews had or had not the right (under
the procurators) to carry out capital sentences is very difficult, and is
still disputed among scholars. Perhaps the best, though not the most recent,
discussion of the question is in J. Juster, Les Juifs dans l'Empire romain
(1 g 14) 11, 127-49. ia) The following are among the arguments brought in
support of John's statement that the Jews in this period had not the right to
carry out executions, (i) Josephus (Bel. ii, 117) says that the first
procurator, Coponius, was sent by Augustus mechri tou kteinein labŰn para
Kaisaros exousian; but a governor could hardly have been appointed
without this authority and it by no means follows that the competent local
courts were deprived of it. (ii) The same author says (Ant. xx, 202) ouk
exon Ín AnanŰ [the high priest] chŰris tÍs ekeinou [the
procurator's] gnŰmÍs kathisai sunedrion; but this can hardly have been
a general regulation, (iii) In T. Sanhedrin 1, 18a, 34; 7, 24b, 41 it is
stated that the right of pronouncing sentences of life and death was taken
from Israel forty years before the destruction of the Temple (in A.D. 70). It
is suggested that while the forty-year period may be a mistake the statement
itself may be accepted; during the interval A.D. 6-70 (that is, under the
procurators) the Jews could not pronounce capital sentences. According to
Juster (11, 133, note 1), however, the statement in T. Sanhedrin, loc. cit.,
is no more than a deduction from the statement (Abodah garah 8b) that
forty years before the destruction of the Temple the Sanhedrin migrated
thence, and the belief that capital sentences could be passed only in the
Temple (cf. Sanhedrin 41a). (iv) It has also been argued that the very fact
that Jesus was handed over to the Romans for crucifixion proves that the
Sanhedrin itself had no authority to stone him; but this argument carries no
weight. A popular court can only carry out sentences that have the backing of
popular opinion; if only the priestly aristocracy (and perhaps the Pharisaic
theologians) seriously wished the death of Jesus the simplest means of
achieving their end was to hand him over to the Roman governor on a charge
(such as sedition) that would be certain to secure his condemnation, (b) The
following arguments may be brought against John's statement, (i) The Mishnah
tractate Sanhedrin contains full regulations regarding the different
kinds of capital sentence - burning, stoning, strangling, and beheading. It
is difficult to believe that all the details given are either imaginary, or
have been preserved
445 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
from the period before A.D. 6. (ii) At
least one crime is known to have been punishable with death at the hands of
Jewish authorities - that of a Gentile who trespassed within the inner part
of the Temple (see the Temple inscription discovered in 1871 by
Clermont-Ganneau, most conveniently accessible in Deissmann, 75; also
Josephus, Bel. v, 10,3f.; vi, 124-6; Ant. xv, 417). For this offence even
Romans were liable to punishment; it is therefore not improbable that Jews
who were not Romans could be punished by the Sanhedrin for other religious
offences, (iii) Several executions in the relevant period are known to us. In
the New Testament there is the death of Stephen (Acts 6, 7; parts of the
narrative read like the story of a lynching rather than a judicial act, but a
session of the Sanhedrin is described); Paul's refusal to be tried by a
Jewish court should also be noted (Acts 2 5.9ff.). Josephus gives an account
of the stoning of James the brother of Jesus (Ant. xx, 200; see also
Eusebius, H.E. n, i, 4; xxiii, 4-18). In the Mishnah there is
Sanhedrin 7.2: R. Eliezer b. Zadok said: It happened once that a priest's
daughter committed adultery and they encompassed her with bundles of branches
and burnt her [this was not the proper method of carrying out the death
sentence of burning]. They said to him: Because the court at that time had not
right knowledge. The Tosephta (9.11 (429)) adds that Eliezer himself
had seen the event as a child, so that its date must fall within the period
of the procurators. The Gemara (52b) adds that the ill-instructed court was
composed of Sadducees; its method of execution is criticized, but its right
to execute is not questioned. A few other probable examples may be found in
the Talmud. In the face of this evidence it is difficult to assent to the
view that the Sanhedrin could not have executed Jesus without reference to
Pilate. The evidence is not however unequivocal, and in view of this Hoskyns
suggested (616f.) that it may be "legitimate to find in the phrase put
to death a subtle reference to shedding blood as distinct from
stoning". It is their own Law which does not permit (this is the usual
reference of exestin in the New Testament) the Jews to shed blood, and
the shedding of blood is the point of vital significance for John. "It
is of little importance to him whether the formal accusation be blasphemy or
sedition; both are equally false. It is, however, vital to him that the blood
of Jesus should be poured out for the salvation of the world... Crucifixion,
therefore, not stoning, fulfils the divine plan of salvation and the
prophecies of the Lord." It is strongly in favour of this interpretation
that it makes much better sense of v. 32 than the view that the Sanhedrin was
incapable of inflicting death by any means. But, as we have seen, we are not
compelled by the evidence to accept this view; and it must be observed
further that there is no evidence for the belief that apokteinein
means to kill with rather than without bloodshed, and that it can hardly be
said that John in the rest of the gospel lays special stress on the blood of
32. See 12-32f.
33. entered again; that is, he
went back where he had been before.
either there is a scornful stress on su - "You, a prisoner,
deserted even by your friends, are a king, are you?" - or the expression
is an interrogative correlative of the Johannine ego eimi (for which
see on 6.35; 8.24).
446 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
Are you the King of the Jews?
. The reader has not been prepared for the introduction of this
title, but it plays a large part in the ensuing narrative and dialogue. The Jews
are not reported to have brought any formal accusation (see v. 30), but it
must be understood from v. 35 that they made a charge similar to that implied
by the Marcan narrative (see Mark 15.2). John's narrative indeed at this
point follows Mark closely. Pilate's opening question is the same, and vv.
34-7 may be regarded as a Johannine expansion of Mark's you have said it.
The phrase King of the Jews has not been used earlier in the gospel,
but cf. 1.49 and 3.3,5. What is meant by the kingship of Jesus is brought out
in the following verses.
34. on your own (apo seautou).
The reading af heautou should probably be preferred as the harder. In
Hellenistic Greek heautŰn is commonly used for the second person
plural of the reflexive pronoun; but heautou for seautou is
much less common. The only other possible usage in the New Testament is 1
Cor. 10.29. See M. 11, 181; B.D., 31. It is impossible for Jesus to answer
the question until he knows what it means. It is conceivable that Pilate is
inquiring because he has himself apprehended the true and unique royalty of
Jesus; but if, as is much more probable, he is merely testing a political
charge brought by the Jews further explanation is necessary (v. 36).
35. I am not a Jew, am I? Such
questions are nothing to me. Your own national authorities have brought the
charge; what is its basis? Of what seditious activities are you guilty? Here mÍti
clearly expects the answer No; contrast 21.5.
36. My kingdom is not from this
world. Jesus admits that he is a king, but proceeds at once with such a
definition of his kingship as removes it from the sphere of sedition and
rebellion. On Koajjos in John see on 1.10.
The Johannine idiom partly corresponds
to the synoptic (and apocalyptic) "this age" (ho aiŰn houtos).
In the synoptic gospels the kingdom of God is essentially not of this age but
of the age to come; it is possible to speak of it as present just in so far
as it is true that in the ministry of Jesus the age to come broke into the
present age. In the Johannine transposition of the synoptic ideas this belief
tends to become the conviction that the kingdom is not from this world
(cf. 8.23), that is, of the field (rather than period) in which humanity and
the spiritual world are organized over against God. That the metaphor is
spatial rather than temporal is confirmed by the use at the end of the verse
of from here; the last clause duplicates the first and from here
is equivalent to from this world.
my followers would be fighting to
keep me from.. is omitted altogether by B*, and
variously placed by other MSS.; it was probably inserted to regularize the
grammar. The disciples are described by the same word as the Temple police
(v. 3); but the word had already been taken over into Christian usage (Luke
1.2; Acts 13.5; 26.16; 1 Cor. 4.1), and John doubtless availed himself of it
as a means of practising his customary play on words. Kings of this world
naturally fight for supremacy; that Jesus and his followers do not do so
shows that his kingdom is of a different order. being handed over; this may refer to the betrayal, or to 19.6,16.
37. So you are a king? The
argumentative particle oukoun seeks a definite answer: "Very
well; so you are a king?"
447 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
You say it
. Cf. Mark 15.2. Jesus himself will neither affirm nor deny his
kingship. If it is to be spoken of it must be on the lips of others. Pilate
is clearly pressing (not necessarily in a hostile manner) for an answer in
terms of kingship in "this world"; such an answer Jesus refuses to
give (he cannot give an outright "No" since, though his kingship is
not "of this world" he has been sent "into this world"
(3.16; 17.18)), but proceeds to define his mission in fresh and more suitable
This is taken up and explained in the Johannine manner by hina.
I was born. The birth of Jesus is
nowhere else explicitly mentioned (see on 1.13); it is synonymous with his
entry into the world. The description of birth as an entry into the world is
not in this context accidental. Jesus himself, like his kingdom, is not of
this world, not from here. Nevertheless he has entered this world for
the purpose of witnessing (for this important Johannine theme see on 1.7) to
the truth, that is, to the eternal reality which is beyond and above the phenomena
of the world, and, in particular, to the true and eternal kingdom of God
which is the fount and pattern of all human authority (19.11).
Everyone who belongs to the truth
. This phrase prepares the way for Pilate's uncomprehending
inquiry, What is truth? The witness of Jesus to the truth can be grasped only
by those who are themselves related to the truth (cf. 3.3,21).
listens to my voice
. Cf. 10.3,16,27.
38. What is truth? As in the
synoptic gospels, Pilate is represented as not unfriendly to Jesus; he does
not wish to put him to death, and he sees that he is the victim of a Jewish
plot. Yet sympathy is, in John's mind, a quite inadequate attitude to Jesus; like Nicodemus (7.50f.), Pilate for all his fair play and open-mindedness is
not of the truth; he is of this world.
I find no case against him.
Like the earlier evangelists John does not lose the opportunity
of emphasizing the political innocence of Christianity.
39. But you have a custom. Cf. Mark
15.6 and parallels. There is no extra-biblical evidence for this custom, and
the parallels that have been adduced are of little value. The releases at the
Roman Lectisternia (Livy v, 13; Dionysius of Halicarnassus xn, 9) are
irrelevant; the papyrus quoted by Deissmann (266f.; P. Flor. 61.59-62) is
closer but differs in important particulars. The prefect of Egypt in A.D. 85,
G. Septimius Vegetus, declares to a prisoner, you deserve to be flogged Ö
I hand you over to the crowd. It will be observed that this is a single
act of grace, not a custom, and that the prisoner is not on a capital charge.
The custom mentioned by John is not however impossible, though if official it
would have required a special imperial dispensation.
Do you want me to release for you
the King of the Jews? Cf. Mark 15.9, in almost
the identical words. For the construction see M. 11, 421; B.D., 160; the
subjunctive immediately after the second person of thelein, boulesthai
is classical. There is no question of Semitism. Pilate, who wishes to release
Jesus, determines to take advantage of the custom; perhaps the Jews will
accept Jesus as the prisoner to be released under its terms. It is not clear
however why Pilate describes him as the "King of
Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
the Jews", (a) He has apparently
himself decided that Jesus is not a king in the ordinary sense of the word,
(b) Since the Jews were using the charge that Jesus was or desired to be king
of the Jews as a means of getting rid of him it was hardly a title likely to
commend him to them. John has probably taken the title straight out of the
earlier tradition; though it also suits his purpose, which is to portray
Jesus in his humility as in fact the true king of Israel.
40. They shouted (ekraugasan).
A strong word, suitable for a mob; cf. 19.6.
though the Old Latin and a few Greek MSS. substitute pantes (all),
should probably be read. It is out of place here, and borrowed from Mark
Not this man, but Barabbas!
. The unexplained introduction of Barabbas presupposes knowledge
of an earlier narrative, probably the Marcan. Barabbas might represent
bar-'abba', (son of the father), or bar-rabban, (son of the
master). The former, a common name, is much more probable. On the occurrence
of Abba as a name see Abrahams, Studies 11, 20ff.
is a very brief description of Barabbas in comparison with Mark
15.7 and parallels. According to Mark he had been involved in a stasis
(revolt); that is, he was a political prisoner, whose position was
therefore comparable with that of Jesus, since the latter was accused of a
messianic rebellion. There is some evidence that lÍstÍs was used of a
guerrilla (see L.S. s.v.; in Mark 14.48 Jesus asks those who are arresting
him, Have you come.. to arrest me as though I were a bandit?). There
is also a possible reference to the LÍstai of ch. 10.
1. had him flogged. mastigoun
"is the regular term for punishment by scourging" (M.M. s.v.; cf.
the papyrus quoted above on 18.39). Scourging normally preceded crucifixion
(see e.g. Josephus, Bel. v, 449, having been flogged.. they were crucified; Livy XXXIII, 36, alios uerberatos crucibles affixit). If, as appears,
the scourging preceded the verdict, it was of course irregular; but John does
not make clear when the formal sentence was passed. In Mark (15.15, fragellwsas)
the scourging takes place after the sentence; in Luke there is no scourging,
though one is threatened (23.16,22).
2. wove a crown Ö and put it.
It is very probable that John is here dependent on Mark 15.17, after
twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.. See J.T.S. new
series iii (1952), 66-75 (H. St. J. Hart).
3. They kept coming up to him.
The words might well seem superfluous, but in fact they contribute to a vivid
picture of the mocking approach of the soldiers pretending to do reverence to
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
Cf. Mark 15.18. See M. 1, 70f.: "Descriptiveness is... the
note of the articular nominative of address in the New Testament: so in...
John 19.3, where we may represent the nuance by... 'Hail, you
"King"! ' In the latter passage [John 19.3] we can easily feel the
inappropriateness of the basileu found in Sinaiticus, which
would admit the royal right, as in Acts 26.7. Its appearance in Mark 15.18 is
merely a note of the writer's imperfect sensibility to the more delicate
shades of Greek idiom."
striking him on the face
(on rapismata see on 18.22). Cf. Mark 15.19, They
struck his head with a reed; also (at the trial before the high priest,
449 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
14.65) the guards also took him
over and beat him. (with a parallel in John 18.22). Cf. Luke 22.63-5. The
details of this mockery are clear in themselves, and so are their theme and
motive: Jesus is mocked as the king of the Jews. The probable inference is
that the charge brought from the Sanhedrin and preferred before Pilate was
that of claiming to be the king of the Jews, that is, the Messiah. It is thus
with excellent historical justification that John brings out the theme of
kingship in his passion narrative. Further details are added in the Gospel
of Peter, 6-9: And having taken the Lord they pushed him as they ran, and
said: Let us hail the Son of God, now that we have gotten authority over him.
And they put on him a purple robe, and made him sit upon the seat of
judgement, saying: Give righteous judgement, you King of Israel. And one of
them brought a crown of thorns and set it upon the Lord's head; and others
stood and spat in his eyes, and others buffeted his cheeks; and others pricked
him with a reed, and some of them scourged him, saying: With this honour let
us honour (or at this price let us value) the son of God. See below on v. 13.
Other passages, such as Philo, In Flaccum 36-42, Dio Chrysostom, de
Regno iv, 66-70, have been quoted in explanation of the mockery. They in
fact explain nothing, and there is nothing for them to explain. See M.-J.
Lagrange, Evangile selon Saint Marc (1920), 393-5.
4. Look, I am bringing him out to
you. This act is introduced in preparation for the dramatic pronouncement
of v. 5. The situation is highly dramatic but equally improbable. A Roman
judge would have released or executed his prisoner.
I find no case against him.
5. akanthinon (wearing the crown of
thorns). The adjective is not used in v. 2, but it is used in Mark 15.17.
behold the man!
This is one of the most dramatic moments in the gospel; cf. v. 14
(and, for the use of behold in an announcement, 1.29). A series of
striking contrasts is involved, (i) Jesus is dressed as a king, and is
announced as the man. (ii) In v. 7 his claim to be the Son of God is
mentioned; the claimant to divine honours is announced as the man. (iii) The
man announced by Pilate with mingled pity and contempt was to the readers of
the gospel their Lord and their God. By ho anthrŰpos John may however
have meant something much more precise. ho anthrŰpos calls to mind
those Jewish and Hellenistic myths of the heavenly or primal Man which lie
behind John's use of the phrase ho huios tou anthrŰpou (see
Introduction, pp. 60f., and on 1.51). "The Son of man" is however a
gross Semitism which would be quite out of place on Pilate's lips (it is
never used by Paul though he moves in the same sphere of ideas); besides,
"the Son of man" would lack the ambiguity which marks Pilate's
words (see on 3.3). He hits the truth accidentally (as Caiaphas did,
11.50-2). Jesus, in his complete humiliation, is set forth as the heavenly
Man (and this is the essence of John's teaching about the Son of man).
6. On chief priests see on
7.32; on the police cf. 18.3; on shouted cf.18.40.
Cf. Mark 15.13. The demand for this kind of punishment implies
the recognition that the case had passed into Roman hands.
450 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
Take him yourselves
. The pronoun yourselves is emphatic. This of course the
Jews could not do; according to 18.31 they were not allowed to inflict
capital punishment; and even if they had done so they would have inflicted
death by stoning, not by crucifixion; moreover, a Roman official could not
have transferred his own responsibility to any local court. If the words were
spoken by Pilate they must have been a taunt; probably they were intended to
fasten responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Jews rather than the
7. We have a law. nomos
is here used in the sense of a particular statute (huq), not in the
general sense of Torah. The law of blasphemy is meant; cf. Lev. 24.16 and Sanhedrin
7.5; Kerithoth 1.1f. The question of blasphemy is not raised in the very short
account of the Jewish "trials" in ch. 18, but it is central in Mark
14.55-64, and in earlier chapters in John (e.g. 5.18; 10.33,36).
he has claimed to be the Son of God
. Cf. 5.18; 10.33. poiein here means "make out to
be"; cf. 1 John 1.10. It is far from clear in Mark on what the charge of
blasphemy is founded; in John there is no difficulty; Jesus blasphemes in
claiming for himself essential equality with God.
8. he was more afraid. Pilate's
fear is aroused by Jesus' reported claim to supernatural dignity. The
translation "he was the more afraid" may be justified if 18.38 is
held to imply fear (the word fobeisthai itself is not used before the
present verse); but it is probably better to suppose that mallon (the
comparative of mala) is here elative "he was very much
9. entered his headquarters. On
praitŰrion see on 18.28. Presumably he brought Jesus in with him,
since at v. 5 Jesus had been brought out.
Where are you from?
The form of the question recalls Luke 23.6, he asked whether the
man was a Galilean, and may be based upon a recollection of it. If this
is so, the meaning has been transformed in Johannine style; or rather, a
characteristic double meaning has been attached. John does not think
primarily of the province of Jesus' birth but of the fact that, being Son of
God, he is "from above". His origin is both known and not known; see 3.8; 8.14; 9.29 and the notes. It is for this reason that
Jesus gave him no answer
. This question (like the question "Are you a king?") is
not capable of a simple answer. In Mark the silence of Jesus is mentioned at
14.6of.; 15.5. In Luke Jesus does not answer Herod (23.9). The silence of
Jesus is much less prominent in John than in the other gospels because much
more conversation is introduced into the story.
10. Do you refuse to speak to me?
The silence of Jesus disturbs Pilate, who desires to release him. By
provoking the next question the silence continues the conversation as
effectively as a reply.
I have power
. For exousia see on 1.12; 7.1; 10.18. What Pilate has is potestas; it rests entirely with him to release or to execute Jesus. Cf. Digest,
L, xvii, 37, Nemo, qui condemnare potest, absoluere non potest.
11. You would have no power over me.
Pilate's assertion is radically (oudemian is very emphatic) qualified.
The reading eiches is
451 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
probably to be preferred, though the
verb ought to be accompanied by an; for its absence cf. 8.39. This
verse shows one of John's common literary devices in reverse. Several times
(e.g. 3.3-8) a theological word used by Jesus is misunderstood when the
hearers take it in a literal sense; here Pilate uses the word
"authority" in an un-theological sense; Jesus takes the word out of
his mouth and uses it absolutely, speaking of the authority not of Rome but
unless it had been given you from
above. All human authority is derived from God's
(cf. Rom. 13.1). For anwthen see on 3.3. It is implied primarily that
in condemning and crucifying Jesus Pilate acts with divine consent - the
crucifixion does not contravene the authority of God but lies within his
purpose; perhaps also that the Roman authority in general is of divine
appointment and consent. Cf. 8.20; authority to arrest Jesus was not given
until the moment appointed by God had come. Therefore, because your
authority is not your own.
the one who handed me over to you
. The use of paradidonai (6.64,71; 12.4; 13.2,11,21; 18.2,5; 21.20), and the singular number of the participle, suggest Judas; but
Judas did not deliver Jesus to Pilate, and paradidonai is also used of
the act of the Jewish authorities (18.30,35). Nevertheless, Judas, the devil
(6.70), the tool of Satan (13.2,27), is probably intended.
a greater sin
is a Johannine phrase (9.41; 15.22,24; 1 John 1.8; nowhere else
in the New Testament). Here hamartia plainly means "guilt".
12. From then on, (ek toutou)
"for this reason" or "from this time". See on 6.66. If
the causal sense be adopted the present verse is parallel to v. 8.
no friend of the emperor
. See on 15.15; but it is unnecessary to see any technical
significance in the word here. filos need mean no more than
"loyal supporter ".
sets himself against the emperor. For the verb antilegein
cf. e.g. Isa. 65.2, a disobedient, contrary people. Bauer (219)
cites evidence of the significance and frequency of the charge of maiestas
in the time of Tiberius; it is perhaps more to the point to note that similar
conditions prevailed under Domitian (for a summary see C.A.H. xi, 27-33),
when this gospel was probably taking shape. Yet in allowing the theme of
kingship (and maiestas) to govern the decisive stages of the narrative
up to v. 16 John is probably true to history. These arguments rather than any
others would compel Pilate to act.
13. the judge's bench. Cf.
Matt. 27.19. The word bÍma is used in Hellenistic Greek for the
tribunal of a magistrate, and in the New Testament for the judgement-seat of
God (or Christ); cf. Rom. 14.10; 2 Cor. 5.10. For a judgement-seat out of
doors in Jerusalem cf. Josephus, Bel. 11, 301: Floras lodged at the palace,
and on the following day had a tribunal (bÍma) placed in front of the
building and took his seat; the chief priests, the nobles, and the most
eminent citizens then presented themselves before the tribunal (bÍmati).
It is not easy to determine who sat
upon the bÍma. The verb ekathisen may be intransitive - Pilate
sat upon the tribunal; or transitive - he caused Jesus to sit upon the
tribunal. In favour of the latter rendering the following points may be urged.
(i) It gives great dramatic force to Pilate's words in v. 14, behold your
king. (ii) In doing so it provides a parallel to vv. 2, 3, 5. (iii) If
Pilate sat on the
452 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
judgement-seat it must have been to
pronounce sentence; but no sentence is recorded, (iv) There are traces
elsewhere of a similar tradition. See Justin 1 Apol., 35, he sat him on
the throne of judgment and saidÖ; Gospel of Peter 7 (see on v. 3), they
sat him on the throne of judgment saying, Judge justly, o king of Israel.
Against the transitive rendering the following arguments may be brought, (i)
In the only other place in John in which kathizein occurs (12.14; cf.
8.2) it is intransitive; and so it commonly is in the rest of the New
Testament. This is a strong argument, (ii) Such an act as is suggested would
not have been becoming to a Roman governor. It will however be recalled that
(according to Luke 13.1) Pilate had committed the grim jest of mingling the
blood of worshippers with their sacrifices; and it may be that the deed is
not historical, (iii) The Johannine narrative suggests that Pilate was afraid
(v. 8), and more anxious to release Jesus than to mock him (v. 12). This also
is a good argument. It seems impossible to decide between these alternatives; both are supported by good arguments. Probably John was conscious of both
meanings of ekathisen. We may compare his habit of playing on words of
double meaning (see on 3.3) and also his subtle presentation of the
investigation in ch. 9, where ostensibly the blind man is examined while
through him Jesus himself is being tried, only to turn the tables on his
accusers by judging them. We may suppose then that John meant that Pilate did
in fact sit on the bÍma, but that for those with eyes to see behind
this human scene appeared the Son of man, to whom all judgement has been
committed (5.22), seated upon his throne.
a place called (legomenon):
introduces a proper name, as e.g. at 4.5.
. As an adjective the word means "paved with stones"; it
may mean a tesselated or mosaic pavement. In the absence of further evidence
greater precision cannot be attained.
. Cf. 5.2; 19.17,20; 20.16. Here the form of the word Gabbatha
shows clearly that Aramaic is meant.
. This should represent gabb'etha. John does not say that
the Greek name translates the Hebrew (Aramaic); contrast his different
expression at 1.38 (where see the note). The derivation is obscure. It may be
a variant of gubta, which appears in several spellings, and means a
hill or a pit, and is used as the name of several places. A similar meaning
("raised place") would result if we accepted the suggestion that it
represents gabbahta "a high forehead". In the Palestinian
Syriac Lectionary at Matt. 26.23 gbta' renders trublion,
"a dish". Another suggestion is that Gabbatha should be
split up into gab baitha, "hill of the house", that is,
Temple mound, or Temple ridge); but this does not give good sense. The
attempt to make Gabbatha (by way of the root g-b-b, "to
collect") mean "mosaic" fails to grasp that lithostroton
is not intended as a translation of Gabbatha. The locality of Gabbatha is not
known; presumably it was adjacent to the Praetorium.
14. it was the day of Preparation.
The use of paraskeuÍ for a date is not Greek (see L.S. s.v.); it
represents the Hebrew 'ereb, here ereb hapesach. The meaning of
this phrase in Jewish literature is quite clear. It does not mean
453 (Jesus, Pilate, and the Jews. 18.28-19.16)
Friday (ereb shabbat, "eve
of Sabbath") in Passover week, but "eve of Passover", Nisan
14. For the significance of this date, and the conflict with the synoptic
gospels, see Introduction, pp. 39ff.
it was about noon
. Another conflict with the synoptic gospels; contrast Mark 15.25,
It was the third hour (9 am) when they crucified him. The disagreement
may have arisen by accident, through the confusion of the Greek numerals Gamma
(3) and Zeta (6); or through the use of a Hebrew sign which in square
character is waw (6), but on some old coins gimel (3). Or there
may have been a conscious change. Mark's "third" may have arisen
because he was anxious at 15.33 to depict darkness "at noonday"; John's "sixth" may have arisen because he wished to represent the
death of Jesus as that of the true Paschal lamb (the passover sacrifices were
killed in the course of the afternoon). This is in fact probably John's
motive for inserting the note of time; or he may have wished to show in the
simplest terms that the "hour" of Jesus (see on 2.4) had now come.
Here is your King!
In the dramatic narrative the clever argument of the Jews is
thrust back upon them with bitter irony; the helpless prisoner of Rome is the
only king they are likely to have. But throughout the passion story John
works so frequently with the theme of kingship (see on 18.33) that it seems
likely that here he has intentionally put into the mouth of Pilate an
unintended truth. Just as Pilate inscribes on the cross (vv. 19, 22) the
royal title of Jesus, so here, in spite of all appearances, he truly
proclaims Jesus as the king of Israel. The title recalls the messianic claim,
and the charge on which Jesus was no doubt prosecuted in the Roman court. cf.
v. 5; the representative Man is also the true king of the human race.
15. aron. "Away with
him!" The parallel, quoted by most commentators and by M.M. s.v. in P.
Oxy. 119.10, in which the mother of a tiresome schoolboy says anastatoi
me. Arron auton ("he upsets me; away with him!"), is poor
(since the circumstances are so different); but it is hard to find a better.
Shall I crucify your King?
Pilate resumes his irony, and leads up to the Jews' blasphemy.
We have no king but the emperor
. Cf. Judges 8.23; I Sam. 8.7, and many other passages of the Old
Testament, where it is insisted that the only true king of Israel is God himself,
and that even a Jewish king can be tolerated only on condition of his
obedience to God and fidelity to the national religion. In denying all claim
to kingship save that of the Roman Emperor Israel abdicated its own unique
position under the immediate sovereignty of God.
16. he handed him over. This is
the nearest approach to a sentence of death that John gives. It is far from
clear how it can be intended. Pilate could not hand Jesus over to the Jews
for crucifixion which was a Roman punishment and must have been carried out
by Roman troops. Either John uses paredŰken loosely - Pilate gave
Jesus up to the fate the Jews demanded; or he inaccurately supposed that the
Jews did crucify Jesus (but see vv. 23, 25, the soldiers). Cf. Mark
15.15, where nothing is amiss; probably John simply borrowed the word paredŰken
from this source, not noticing that by the addition of to them he had
introduced an absurdity.
39. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
Jesus, now delivered over to death,
carries his own cross to Golgotha and is there crucified between two others,
his cross bearing the legend, Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews, a
legend to which the Jews object in vain. His clothing is, in fulfilment of
Scripture, shared among the soldiers, who cast lots for his tunic. In the
presence of certain women Jesus presents his mother and the beloved disciple
to each other as mother and son. In fulfilment of another passage of
Scripture Jesus is given vinegar to drink; then, with the declaration that the
work of God is completed, he dies.
Again, the essential events are
paralleled in Mark: the journey to Golgotha, the royal title on the cross,
the division of the clothes, the presence of the women, the vinegar and the
death. John makes additions and omissions. Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15.21)
disappears, and Jesus carries the cross for himself. The fulfilment of
prophecy is stressed in both the division of the clothes and the drink
offered to Jesus. The committing of the mother and the beloved disciple to each
other is peculiar to John, as is the objection of the Jews to Pilate's notice
of condemnation. There is no mockery (cf. Mark 15.29-32). Jesus dies not as
in Mark 15.34 witn a cry of dereliction but with an affirmation of
fulfilment, and the words (paredŰke to pneuma, v. 30) by which his
death is described recall the words of final commendation (paratithomai to
pneuma mou) in Luke 23.46. John is probably dependent on Mark, but either
he, or intermediate tradition, has modified the source markedly.
Every one of the alterations is at
least connected with a dogmatic motive. Once more John brings out the theme
of the royalty of Jesus (see above on 18.33, et passim), and the fact that
the crucifixion was the fulfilment of prophecy, and the perfect performance
by Jesus of the Father's will. He does not allow himself even to suggest that
Jesus was deserted by God. The men crucified with Jesus are forgotten as soon
as mentioned. They are not introduced by John for their own sake, but in
order to make possible the narrative of 19.31-7. The incident regarding the
mother and the beloved disciple is a crux in the Johannine problem. It is
most naturally explained as simple historical reminiscence due to the beloved
disciple himself. Against this view however must be ranged the historical
difficulties mentioned in the notes; it cannot be regarded as satisfactory.
On the other hand, the theological interest of the incident is too slight to
make it seem plausible that the whole matter was created for this purpose. The
probability must remain that John was using what was already in his day
traditional material, which, from the historical point of view, can only be
classified as bad tradition, yet was material which caught his eye on account
of its theological suggestiveness.
455 (The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 19.17-30)
17. carrying the cross by himself.
Contrast the Marcan account (15.21) of Simon of Cyrene, who was compelled to
carry the cross. It is of course possible to harmonize the Marcan and
Johannine narratives by supposing that Jesus began to carry the cross
himself, fainted under the burden, and was relieved by the forced assistance
of Simon; yet, if it is true that John knew Mark, his words read like a
correction, and its motive must be sought. The Fathers (e.g. Chrysostom, In
Joh. Hom, LXXXV, I) saw a type of Christ bearing the cross in Isaac, (Gen.
22.6) who carried the materials for the sacrifice of himself. Philo had
already commented on this incident (Abr., 171) and it seems not impossible
that John also may have had in mind some such typology, and conformed the
narrative to it. This connection is perhaps reinforced by the fact that the
comment on Gen. 22.6 in Gen. R. 56.4 is "...as one bears the cross on
his shoulder". On the other hand, if John had intended this Old
Testament allusion he might have been expected to make his meaning clearer.
An alternative explanation is that he wished to avoid the possibility of the
view adopted by some Docetists that at the last moment a substitution was
effected so that Simon of Cyrene was crucified instead of the impassible Son
of God (Irenaeus, adv. Haer. 1, xix, 2). But most probable is the view
that John wished once more to emphasize the all- sufficiency of Jesus; he
needed no help in effecting the redemption of the world. It was customary for
a criminal to bear not the whole cross but the cross-beam.
what is called The Place of the
Skull. For this use of legomenon to
introduce a proper name cf. v. 13. The place was probably called
"Skull-place" from its appearance. On the tradition that it was the
place where Adam's skull was buried see G. Dalman, Sacred Sites and Ways
(E.T. 1935), 347 - The site has not been identified.
which in Hebrew is called Golgotha
: the Aramaic is gulgultha, a skull or head.
18. and with him two others,.
Cf. Mark 15.27, Suo ATIOT&S; John gives no hint that he knows the Lucan
tradition of the penitence of one of these malefactors (Luke 23.40-43). They
are mentioned only in order that it may later (vv. 31-7) be emphasized that
no bone of Jesus was broken, and that from his side there flowed blood and
one on either side
suggests a Semitic construction (cf. Num. 22.24. The expression
indicates a Semitic mind, but not translation from a Semitic original.
Jesus between them
, "and Jesus as the middle one".
19. Pilate also had an inscription
written. Here grafein clearly means "cause to be
written"; cf. 21.24 and the note. titlos is a transliteration of
the Latin titulus. For the custom of exposing such a notice cf. e.g.
Suetonius, Caligula 32, praecedente titulo qui causam poenae
Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the
Jews. The charge against Jesus appears in similar
forms in the other gospels: Mark 15.26;
The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
Matt. 27.37; Luke 23.38. Of all these
forms the Marcan is probably the oldest; but no evangelist adds any
significant, or misleading, point. It has already been pointed out that the
charge of claiming to be king (Messiah) must almost certainly have been that
which compelled the Roman governor to act, and that kingship is a fundamental
theme of John's theological treatment of the passion narrative.
20. the place..was near the city.
See on v. 17; the place is unknown.
written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in
Greek. For the first word, see vv. 13, 17, above.
The second, and related words, are not uncommon in late Greek; EllÍnisti
is used as early as Plato. For the adverbial suffix see M. 11, 163. Polyglot
notices in the Hellenistic age were probably almost as common as they are in
continental railway carriages today. Cf. e.g. Josephus, Ant. xiv, 191, I
will that it be publicly displayed on a tablet of brass, both in Greek and in
Latin; Bel. VI, 125; and the well-known Latin and Greek inscriptions of
the Res Gestae Diui Augusti.
21. The Jews' objection to the titulus
was natural. In the first place, they had just declared that they had no king
but Caesar, and the titulus, if they accepted it, was tantamount to an
admission of sedition; and in the second place, to suggest that a powerless,
condemned and dying outcast was the king of their nation was a studied
insult. To state only that the crazy fellow had claimed to be king would be
22. Pilate, no doubt anxious to avenge
himself upon the Jews who had forced him to act against his will, refused to
alter what he had written. Accordingly Jesus went to his death under a title
unintentionally but profoundly true. Cf. v. 14. Another of the evangelist's
consummate dramatic touches reaches its mark.
23. Cf. Mark 15.24. The clothes of an
executed criminal were a recognized perquisite of the executioners (Digest
XLVIII, XX, 6).
they took his clothes
. To himation (singular) means always the outer garment; but the plural when used generally (as here) is equivalent to our
divided them into four parts
. There were therefore four soldiers. Probably they formed a
military unit; cf. the tetradia of Acts 12.4.
also his tunic
. Evidently the accusative is dependent only on they took,
not on they divided; the construction could be improved. The chitŰn
was an undergarment, corresponding both etymologically and in usage with the
Hebrew kethoneth. At Lev. 16.4 both Hebrew and Greek words are used of
the high priest's tunic.
now the tunic was seamless, woven
in one piece. arafos is from raptein,
"to sew together". It can hardly be insignificant that Josephus
(Ant. iii, 161) describes the high priest's tunic in similar language: This
tunic is not made of two pieces.. but is one long woven piece with an opening
for the neck; and that Philo (Fug., 110-12) treats the tunic as a symbol
of the Word which holds all the parts together. It seems probable that
the make-up of the tunic was a matter of common knowledge and, in Hellenistic
Judaism, of allegory. Once
457 (The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 19.17-30)
John's thought was set in motion in
the manner to be noted in the next verse, he would probably think, not of the
Word as the unifying element of the universe, but of the death of Christ as
bringing into one flock the scattered children of God (cf. 11.52). It seems
very unlikely that there is an allusion to Joseph, with his coat, his
brothers (prefiguring the disciples) and his two fellow-prisoners. There the
reference is not to garments such as that which Jesus wore, but to garments
whether sewn together or not.
from the top
. anwthen, or ek tŰn anŰ (8.23) would have expressed
the fact better, but the meaning is clear.
24. to fulfill the scripture.
Many MSS. add which says. The quotation is from Ps. 22(21).19, given
exactly according to the LXX. It need not be supposed that this Old Testament
passage gave rise to the whole incident as recorded by all the evangelists; it was an incident that might very well happen at any execution. But it does
seem likely that the distinction drawn between the himatia (which were
merely divided) and the chitŰn (for which the men cast lots) arose out
of a failure to understand that in the parallel form of Hebrew verse, himatia
and himatismos are to be regarded as synonyms, and not to be
what the soldiers did
. The soldiers are mentioned again (with the resumptive use of men
oun) in order to bring out yet another of John's dramatic contrasts. Over
against the soldiers stand the faithful disciples.
25. Just as the division of the
clothes of Jesus is in itself a probable event, so the presence near the
cross of friends of Jesus is improbable, though it is recorded in the
synoptic gospels as well as in John (Mark 15.4of., Mary Magdalene, and Mary
the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome... and many other
women; though it is here stated, with much greater plausibility, that they
were looking on from a distance.
his mother, and his mother's
sisterÖand Mary Magdalene. It is possible that
only two women are referred to (Jesus' mother = Mary the daughter (or sister)
of Clopas, and her sister, Mary Magdalene), or three (Jesus' mother, her
sister = Mary the daughter (or sister, or wife) of Clopas, and Mary
Magdalene); but more probable that John intended his readers to think of
four. Identifications are easy to conjecture but impossible to ascertain.
John never mentions the name of the mother of Jesus.
Mary the wife of Clopas
. It is possible that this Clopas should be identified with the Klewpas
of Luke 24.18.
and Mary Magdalene
. This Mary has not previously been mentioned in John; she
reappears as the first witness of the risen Christ (20.1-18). In Matthew and
Mark also she is mentioned only as a witness of the crucifixion and
resurrection, and is so mentioned at Luke 24.10; but at Luke 8.2 she is named
with other women who ministered to Jesus, and it is said that seven demons
had gone out of her. It is to be noted that this is all we know of her; there
are no serious grounds for identifying her with Mary the sister of Martha and
Lazarus, the woman who anoints Jesus at Mark 14.3, or the sinner of Luke
458 (The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 19.17-30)
26. the disciple whom he loved,
the beloved disciple, on whom see Introduction, pp. 97ff., and on 13.23. It
is not certain that John the son of Zebedee was intended; if it was it
remains beyond proof that he was related to the mother of Jesus.
as at v. 14, an interjection, not governing an accusative.
. The form of words recalls formulas of adoption.
Here is your mother
. Henceforward, the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple are
to stand in the relation of mother and son; that is, the beloved disciple
moves into the place of Jesus himself. It is not inconceivable that Jesus, as
the head of the family (supposing his brothers to have been younger than he,
not sons of Joseph by a former wife), should have made provision for the care
of his mother after his death. It is however surprising that the brothers
should be overlooked, for their lack of faith in Jesus (7.5) could not annul
their legal claim, and indeed Mark suggests (3.20-35) that their unbelief was
shared by the mother also. When we add to this the improbability that friends
of Jesus would be allowed near the cross it seems that the historical
foundation of the incident is slight; and we note that at Acts 1.14 the
mother of Jesus appears in company with his brothers.
27. from that hour; from that
moment; possibly, from the significant hour of the crucifixion.
Eis ta idia
, "to his own home". Cf. 1.11; 16.32. If we are justified
in seeing in John's reference to the indivisible chitŰn of Jesus a
symbol of the unity of the Church gathered together by his death, we may here
see an illustration of this unity. The Christian receives in the present age
houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands (Mark
10.30). There seems no sufficient ground for the view that the mother of
Jesus represents allegorically the faithful remnant of Israel from which the
Messiah sprang, now absorbed into the New Israel.
28. After this. For this
characteristic connecting link see on 2.12.
when Jesus knew
. From first to last in this passion narrative Jesus is in control
of all that takes place. The whole train of events is set in motion by him,
and at the appropriate moment he will terminate it.
that all was now finished
. Cf. Acts 13.29, when they had carried out everything that was
written about him; cf. Luke 22.37. Jesus had completed all the work he
had been sent into the world to do; the revelation and the deed of love were
complete. There is perhaps a special reference to the complete fulfilment of
Scripture, with the note that one prophecy remains to be enacted.
. See Ps. 69(68).21, for my thirst they gave me vinegar to
drink;. In no other gospel does Jesus declare his own thirst - in John as
usual he takes the initiative. In Mark a sponge of vinegar is offered (Mark
15.36, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to
him to drink; cf. Matt. 27.48; Luke 23.36). As in the mention of the
casting of lots for the clothes of Jesus John makes the Old Testament
allusion more explicit than do the earlier evangelists. He is probably
dependent on Mark or a similar source, and whether the Marcan incident is
historical narrative or a construction based simply on the Old Testament
passage is a question that need not be discussed here.
459 (The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 19.17-30)
29. a sponge. In the New
Testament the word is used in this context only; it seems very likely that
both Matthew and John (Luke does not use it) drew it from Mark 15.36.
"a small wall-growing plant, well adapted for sprinkling" (E.
Bib., s.v.). It is therefore ill adapted for presenting a wet sponge to
the lips of a crucified man; a bunch of hyssop would lack the necessary
stiffness (contrast the kalamis of Mark 15.36). In view of this it has
been suggested that through a primitive error hysswpw has taken the
place of hyssos ("a javelin", Latin pilum). This
conjectured reading (it occurs, probably by accident, in one late minuscule)
would undoubtedly ease the sense of the passage; but it is not necessarily
justified. It seems to have been John's purpose to set forth Jesus as the
true Paschal lamb, slaughtered for the deliverance of his people (see
1.29,36; 19.14,36), and it will be recalled that hyssop played an important
part in Passover observance; see Ex. 12.22, Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it
in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts
with the blood. Rather, hyssopos was probably an intentional alteration
of Mark's kalamis; the fact that hyssop could hardly be used in the
manner described is not one that would greatly concern the evangelist.
30. tetelestai. See on this
word in v. 28. Now that the last prophecy had been fulfilled it could be
spoken by Jesus himself. His work was done. The cry is to be thought of in
this positive sense, not as the mere announcement of the imminence of death.
Cf. 4.34; 17.4: I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you
gave me to do.
he bowed his head
, in the moment of death; yet even here Jesus remains the subject
of an active verb.
gave up his spirit
. This is probably equivalent to Mark's exepneusen (15.37; cf. Luke 23.46), paraphrased in Matthew (27.50) as afÍken to pneuma.
The words are not, however, the same, and it is possible that in John's mind pneuma
was not the human spirit of Jesus, given up when his body died, but the Holy
Spirit, which, when he died, he was able to hand over (paradidonai) to
the few representative believers who stood by the cross. This suggestion is
attractive because it corresponds to the undoubted fact that it was precisely
at this moment, according to John, that the gift of the Spirit became
possible (7.39). But it must reckon with these objections: (a) The expression
may be based upon, and explained by, Luke 23.46, Father, into your hands I
commend my spirit. (b) John describes circumstantially and impressively
the occasion on which Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to the Church: 20.23, receive
the holy spirit. There is no room for an earlier giving of the Spirit.
40. The Burial of Jesus.
Since it was necessary that the bodies
should be speedily removed from the crosses and disposed of the Jews asked that
the necessary steps might be taken to ensure death. The soldiers, however,
who had broken the legs of the two crucified with Jesus, found him already
460 (The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42)
Instead of breaking his legs, one
pierced his side with a lance, which caused the effusion of blood and water -
a fact upon which John lays stress. Afterwards Joseph of Arimathea obtained
permission to remove and bury the body of Jesus, and with the assistance of
Nicodemus effected the burial in the most sumptuous manner.
There are undoubted contacts here
between John and both Mark and Luke (see the notes); but much of the
material, especially the breaking of the legs and the lance thrust, is new.
The question of its historical value is of the utmost difficulty. On the one
hand John emphasizes that the effusion of blood and water caused by the lance
thrust was a historical event, vouched for by impeccable testimony (v. 35).
On the other, the presence of, an eye-witness is not probable, and the
alleged fact is clearly related to, and could conceivably have arisen out of,
John's theology. It seems, if we may judge from the character of the gospel
as a whole, unlikely that John is simply manufacturing an event for the sake
of its allegorical significance. For a full discussion of the problems
involved see Introduction, pp. ioof., and on the verse. The fact that no bone
of Jesus was broken is also of theological significance for John; see the
notes. John does not seem fully to have understood the Jewish reason for
removing the bodies from the crosses before nightfall, and the narrative of
the burial shows a marked development in the tradition from its earlier
This section is for the most part
simple narrative; but John means to bring out that Jesus truly died, that his
death was in accordance with the will of God revealed in Scripture and was
the source of life and cleansing for men; and that he was appropriately
31. the Jews. See on 1.19.
the day of Preparation
. Cf. v. 42. At v. 14 the word is used in a different sense. Here,
since there is no genitive, it must mean "the day before the
Sabbath", that is the twenty-four hours between 6 p.m. on Thursday and 6
p.m. on Friday. The death of Jesus therefore took place on Friday afternoon; the Sabbath was near. Cf. Mark 15.42 (it was the day of Preparation, that
is, the day before the sabbath), on which John is probably dependent.
did not want the bodies left on the
cross (that is, of all three victims) during
the sabbath. The prohibition of Deut. 21.22f. is that bodies should not
remain beyond nightfall; the Sabbath is here mentioned because it happened to
be the immediately following day; or perhaps because John misunderstood the
prohibition. Of course, it is true that what would have been objectionable on
any day was doubly so on so important a day.
that sabbath was a day of great
solemnity. "If this Sabbath, as the fourth
gospel supposes, was Nisan 15, it could be called 'great' since it was at the
same time the first Passover festival day. If it fell on Nisan 16, as the
synoptics suppose, the title 'great' is still suitable, since on it according
to Pharisaic tradition the Omer sheaf was presented (Lev. 23.11)" (S.B.
II, 581f.). Cf. Mart. Pol. 8.1; 21.1;
461 (The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42)
on these, Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers II, i, 690-3; Abrahams,
Studies II, 67-9.
to have the legs of the crucified
men broken. On the verbal form see M. 11, 189,
226; B.D., 32, 44. The crurifragium was sometimes an independent form
of punishment, sometimes, as here, an accompaniment of crucifixion.
and the bodies removed
. The subject changes and is now ta swmata, which, as a
neuter plural, took a singular verb earlier in the verse.
32. In the Gospel of Peter 14 one of
the malefactors does not have his legs broken but is left to die in torment.
33. saw that he was already dead.
So speedy a death was unusual. Victims of crucifixion sometimes lingered for
days. Cf. Mark 15.44, Pilate wondered if he were already dead.
they did not break his legs
. John brings out the significance of this fact (which he alone
records) in v. 36.
34. logchÍ. "Lance, spear,
javelin" (L.S.); the use of this word here makes it the more unlikely
that John wrote hystos at v. 29.
pierced his side
. The word ta pleura is more frequently used in the plural.
Cf. 20.20,25,27 where the wounded side is a mark of identification of the
risen Christ. This incident is mentioned elsewhere only in the textus
receptus of Matt. 27.49, where it is undoubtedly due to textual assimilation
to this passage in John.
at once blood and water came out
. This obscure statement was evidently regarded by John as a
matter of very great importance (see the next verse). (a) John certainly
intended to describe a real, not merely a symbolic, event. This is emphasized
by the stress laid on the eye-witness in v. 35. And it must be conceded that
the event as described is physiologically possible. Blood might flow from a
corpse if only a short time had elapsed since death; and a fluid resembling
water might issue from the region described as pleura. It may be
asked, however, whether John thought he was describing a normal event - one
which might have been observed in any corpse, or an abnormal event - one
which could have happened only in the body of Jesus, which was not to see
corruption. The former alternative is more probable, in view of the
anti-docetic interest of the Johannine literature generally; John intended to
provide evidence that Jesus was a real man, and that he really died, (b) But
John's intention is not to be confused with fact. We have already seen (on v.
25) that it is improbable that any disciple should have been in the immediate
vicinity of the cross. We may note further that there is no room for the
whole incident in the synoptic narrative (the centurion himself observes the
death of Jesus and informs Pilate - Mark 15.39,45), and that if Jesus was
already dead, as John says he manifestly was, there was no motive for the
lance thrust, unless we are to suppose that the soldier struck Jesus out of
mere spite or casual cruelty, (c) It is not inconsistent with John's
intention to narrate a historical event that he should intend also to
communicate a theological truth. There can be little doubt that he did so
intend, in view of the significance of blood and water
elsewhere in the gospel (and in 1 John 5.6,8, a passage which is probably in
some way dependent upon or related to this verse, but unfortunately does
little to explain it). There is" living water" which springs up
within the believer (4.14), and a water which is identified with the Holy
Spirit (7.38f. - this passage is especially important
462 (The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42)
if the words from his belly
refer to Christ - -see the note). It is of water and the Spirit that men are
begotten from above (3.5), and water is the means by which men are cleansed
(13.5). Again, the blood of Christ is the true drink of men (6.53ff.).
Through it alone, with the flesh of Christ, which equally is given for the
life of the world, may men have life in themselves. It is highly probable
then that in the effusion of blood and water from the pierced side of Christ
John saw a symbol of the fact that from the Crucified there proceed those
living streams by which men are quickened and the Church lives. Nor can it be
accidental that water signifies baptism and regeneration, and blood the
eucharistic cup. The Fathers sought in many ways (see Westcott and Hoskyns,
ad loc.) to make more precise identifications - e.g. the blood and water
signified the mixed chalice; but it is doubtful whether any of these
refinements was intended by John. He was not concerned to support this or
that detail of sacramental practice or terminology, but to emphasize, perhaps
against those who controverted it, that the real death of Jesus was the real
life of men.
35. He who saw this has testified. For
the collocation of these two characteristically Johannine words cf. 1.34; 3.11. On testified see on 1.7. He who saw this is presumably a
person who beheld the event just mentioned, the effusion of blood and water
from Jesus' side, and communicated the information either as the
author of the gospel, or to the author of the gospel. It is not
stated, nor is it clear, who this person was; it is generally assumed that he
was the beloved disciple (mentioned at v. 26), and this assumption may well
be true, since v. 27 does not necessarily mean that he took the mother of
Jesus to his home immediately. Cf. 21.24, where the identification is much
True.. the truth
. For these words see on 1.9.
and he knows
. ekeinos has been variously held to be (a) the witness
himself; (b) the author of the gospel (other than the witness); (c) Christ; (d) God. In favour of (a) is the grammatical construction; ekeinos
resumes autou. This suggests that the witness was not the author, but
this conclusion is not required by the sentence, ekeinos may be used
by an author about himself. (b) It does not seem easy to render "his
witness is true and I know that he is speaking the truth", yet
this is in fact done by Dr C. C. Torrey (50, 52f.), who takes tevos as an
over-literal rendering of hahu', literally "that man", but
occasionally "I". This view however depends upon the opinion that
John as a whole was translated from Aramaic, and is otherwise improbable, (c)
ekeinos is used of Christ in 3.28,30; 7.11; 9.28, and (d) of God in
1.33; 5.19,37; 6.29; 8.42; but it is manifestly ridiculous to suggest that it
must refer to God or Christ unless this is required by the context. Of all
these four interpretations (a) is the best; but it is not easy to say what it
implies about the authorship of the gospel.
that you also may believe
. This clause is only loosely constructed with the sentence, as
will appear if an attempt is made to take it closely with he tells the
truth. It indicates the general aim of the veracious testimony of the witness.
"You" (the readers of the gospel) "are not merely to believe
that blood and water did in fact issue from the side of the Crucified, but to
believe in the full Christian sense" (cf. 20.31 for the aim of the
gospel as a whole).
463 (The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42)
There is no doubt that this verse
claims eye-witness authority for at least one incident; for its bearing on
the authorship and authority of the gospel as a whole see Introduction, pp.
100f. It is true that neither Tertullian nor Cyprian quotes the verse, but
this does not prove that it did not stand in their texts; it is perhaps more
significant that it hardly appears in the writings of Augustine. In In
loan. Euang. cxx, 3, where Augustine seems to be following a Vulgate text,
it receives but a perfunctory comment. It may or may not be significant that
the Valentinians quoted by Clement of Alexandria in his Excerpta ex
Theodoto refer to vv. 34, 36, 37, but not to v. 35. If any conclusion at
all is to be drawn from these observations it might be that the gospel was at
first issued (perhaps in gnostic circles) without 19.35 and that this verse
was subsequently added to secure for the book authority (that of the
eye-witness = the beloved disciple = an apostle) among the orthodox. But the
evidence is so far much too slight to permit any such conclusion.
36. None of his bones shall be
broken. It is difficult to give the source of this quotation. Three or
four Old Testament passages come under consideration: Ex. 12.10 (cf. v. 46), Num.
9.12; Ps. 34(33).21. The Pentateuchal passages refer to the passover
sacrifice, of which no bone may be broken; that in the Psalter refers to
God's care of the faithful (the Lord will guard all of their bones).
It is probable that the reference is
primarily to the Passover (since Jesus died at the time of the sacrifice; hyssop has already been mentioned at v. 29; and Jesus had not been preserved
from death, even though his bones had not been broken); yet we cannot exclude
the influence of the Psalm since here only is the verbal form suntribÍsetai
37. It is clear that in this verse
(and this is probably true elsewhere) grafÍ (singular) means a
particular passage of scripture.
They will look on the one whom they
have pierced. John accurately follows Zech. 12.10
in the Hebrew. The LXX at this point diverges and reads katŰrchÍsanto,
a reading which must have arisen from a confusion of consonants in the
Hebrew, where "to pierce" was taken to be "to mock".
Clearly John is not dependent upon the LXX, but whether he himself translated
the Hebrew or used some existing version (perhaps a testimony book) it is
impossible to say. Cf. a different handling of this testimonium in
Rev. 1.7; also Mark 13.26; Didache 16.7; and Justin, 1 Apol., 52 (where also exekentÍsan
38. Joseph of Arimathea, not
previously mentioned in John but cf. Mark 15.43, whence this section is
a disciple of Jesus, though a
hidden one. According to Mark (loc. cit.) Joseph
was a respected member of the council, who was also waiting expectantly
for the kingdom of God, but Mark does not say that he was a disciple. For
secret disciples of rank cf. 12.42. The participle hidden is used
to let him take away the body
. Bodies of criminals condemned and executed by the Romans were
commonly left to the vultures. Victims of Jewish executions were buried in
places provided by the court (Sanhedrin 6.5).
464 (The Burial of Jesus. 19.31-42)
came and removed
. Plural verbs are read by some mss, probably with reference to
39. Nicodemus. John himself
supplies the cross-reference to 3. if. It is perhaps implied here that
Nicodemus too was a secret disciple; but (in spite of 7-50f.) this has not
been said earlier in the gospel.
a mixture of myrrh and aloes.
smyrna is myrrh, used for embalming the dead, e.g.
Herodotus 11, 86; cf. Matt. 2.11, the only other New Testament use of the
word. AloÍ is hap. leg. in the New Testament; in the Old Testament
aloes are referred to as providing perfume for the bed (Prov. 7.17) or for
the clothes (Ps. 45.9) but not as in use at burial. See the note on the next
about a hundred pounds
. For the litra see on 12.3. The total weight was about 35
kilos. Cf. the immense quantity of wine produced in 2.1-11.
40. linen cloths. Cf. keiria
in 11.44. othonion is in the New Testament peculiar to John (also in
20.5,6,7). It means a linen bandage, such as might be used for wrapping a
corpse. See e.g. P. Giss. 68.11f. (second century A.D.), othonia euwna,
"fine linen wrap pings for a mummy" (M.M.). The body is wrapped in
the bandages, the spices being sprinkled between the folds.
according to the burial custom of
the Jews. Cf. 11.44 for the burial of Lazarus.
Apparently this means of entombment is contrasted with the Egyptian method of
embalming; perhaps also with the Roman method of cremation. Other sources
suggest that among the Jews it was customary to use oil, not spices, for this
purpose; but S.B. 11, 53, and S. Krauss, Talmudische Archaologie
(1910-12) 11, 55, 474, are satisfied that the New Testament passages alone
are sufficient evidence for the use of spices (Daube, op. cit).
41. there was a garden in the place.
Among the canonical evangelists only John remarks that the crucifixion and
burial took place in a garden. According to the Gospel of Peter 24 the garden
was Joseph's. kÍpos (see on 18.1) means a large garden, orchard, or
plantation. If John had intended an allusion to the Garden of Eden it is
probable that he would have used the LXX word, paradeisos.
a new tomb
. Cf. Matt. 27.60. If John saw some special meaning in the fact
that the tomb was new he does not point it out. That the tomb was unused is
in keeping with the luxurious preparations of V 39.
in which no one had ever been laid
. Cf. Luke 23.53. The ugly collocation of sounds in both gospels
suggests that John was dependent on Luke.
42. it was the Jewish day of
Preparation. Cf. v. 31 and the note. In view of the near approach of the
sabbath rest it was desirable to dispose of the body (whether temporarily or
permanently) as quickly as possible. It was laid in the near by tomb; it
would be permissible on the Sabbath, if necessary, to wash and anoint it
41. The Empty Tomb and
the first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18
The early traditions of the
resurrection of Jesus took two forms, traditions of resurrection appearances
to various disciples (as in 1 Cor. 15.5-8), and traditions of the discovery
that the tomb in which the body of Jesus had been placed was empty (as in
Mark 16.1-8). In this paragraph, which John intends as his main statement of
the grounds of the Church's Easter faith (v. 8; vv. 19-23 contain the
apostolic commission), the two traditions are skilfully combined.
Mary, visiting the tomb early on
Sunday morning, finds it open. She supposes that either enemies or tomb
robbers have been at work, and informs Peter and the beloved disciple, who
run to the tomb, find it empty, and see the cloths in which the body of Jesus
had been wrapped. The beloved disciple, who was the first to reach the tomb,
followed Peter into it, and, when he saw, believed that Jesus had risen from
the dead. Mary had followed the two men, and when they left she remained
outside the tomb. Looking in she saw two angels. She tells them the reason of
her distress; but from that point the angels play no part in the story, for
Mary turning round sees Jesus himself, though it is only when he addresses
her by name that she recognizes him. He then sends her to the disciples with
the message of his coming ascension, which she duly conveys.
This narrative shows some traces of
the literary influence of the short Marcan resurrection story (Mark 16.1-8),
but in substance it is independent. This means that its historical value
cannot be accurately assessed. The following points however are relevant in
this connection, (i) The narrative is permeated with theological themes of a
Johannine kind: seeing and believing, and the ascent of Jesus to the Father,
(ii) A central place is given to the beloved disciple; this will affect the
historical estimate of the story according as it is thought that the beloved
disciple represents a serious historical source or not. (iii) The older
tradition says nothing of an appearance to Mary Magdalene, and the oldest
tradition nothing of the empty tomb. It may be added however that the oldest
traditions of the resurrection were probably richer and more varied than
those which have come down to us, and once more it is quite possible that
John is using traditional material, but presenting it in his own way. There
is no doubt that the present passage shows dramatic writing of great skill
The beloved disciple appears once more
in the company of Peter, and, though Peter is the first to enter the tomb,
the former is the first to believe in the resurrection; he holds, in this
sense, a primacy of faith. Cf. Peter's confession, Mark 8.29, and especially
the Matthean supplement, Matt. 16.17-19.
Tomb and first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18)
The resurrection is represented as a
stage in the process by which Jesus ascends to the Father. No further
ascension narrative is recorded, perhaps because John intends his readers to
think of the one compound event of crucifixion and resurrection as the means
by which Christ departed to the Father.
1. on the first day of the week.
Cf. Mark 16.2; Matt. 28.1; Luke 24.1. The use of the cardinal numeral for the
ordinal is probably to be regarded as a Semitism, in spite of the argument to
the contrary in M. 1, 95f. M. 11, 439 is non-committal, but B.D. allows that
Hebrew, which uses cardinals for all days of the month, provided a model. The
usage is also Aramaic. It cannot however be said that John was translating a
Semitic source; he probably drew the construction from Mark 16.2 (he repeats
it at v. 19). The plural is used with singular meaning for both
"Sabbath" and "week". It probably arose because the
Aramaic singular form shabb'tha, shabbatta (both vocalizations are
found) recalled the Greek neuter plural in -ta. The phrase had
beshavta in (literally, "one in the Sabbath (week) occurs e.g. in
Gen. R. 11.9. The "first day of the week" extended from 6 p.m. on
Saturday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
. See on 19.25. In Mark three, in Matthew two, and in Luke an indefinite
number of women go to the tomb. Both here and in v. 18 hÍ MagdalÍnÍ is
omitted by sin. The omission may be accidental, or it may be that the Syriac
Church thought of a different Mary as going to the tomb.
while it was still dark.
John must mean early on Sunday morning, not at the beginning of
the day according to Jewish reckoning. According to Mark the first visit to
the tomb was at dawn; Luke gives the same sense; Matt. 28.1 is very obscure,
and might possibly refer to Saturday evening.
the stone had been removed
. In 19.38-42 there is no mention of the closing of the sepulchre
with a stone. John must be dependent on some such narrative as the Marcan
(cf. Mark 15.46, He rolled a stone against the door of the tomb). John
no doubt implies that the stone had been taken away by supernatural means.
2. she ran and went to Simon Peter.
For the double name see on 1.42. In Mark 16.7 all the women are bidden to
inform "his disciples and Peter" of the resurrection.
the other disciple, the one whom
Jesus loved. allon means a disciple other
than Peter; there is no reference to a second "beloved disciple".
For the beloved disciple and his connection with Peter see Introduction, pp.
97ff., and on 13.23. Cf. also the allos mathÍtÍs in 18.15f.
They have taken the Lord
. The third person plural is impersonal and equivalent to a
passive; see 15.6 and the note there. Mary not unnaturally suspects activity
on the part of the enemies of Jesus, or of tomb-robbers. Cf. the important diatagma
(rescript or perhaps edict) of Claudius, published at Nazareth (see most
conveniently Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Claudius and Nero (1939),
collected by M. P. Charlesworth; No. 17, p. 15). This document, which may
well be in some way connected with Christian origins, threatens special
punishments for tomb-breaking. See, for a useful discussion and
467 (Empty Tomb and first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18)
bibliography, A. Momigliano, Claudius
the Emperor and his Achievement (E.T. 1934). 36,100f.
we do not know
. Only Mary brings the message and the plural verb is out of
place. It is another trace of the synoptic narrative in which several women
visit the tomb, but it is not simply borrowed from the synoptic narrative.
Not only does the word oidamen not occur there, but no such report as
this is brought by the women.
3. Cf. Luke 24.24; also Luke 24.12, a
Western Non - interpolation.
4. ran faster. The expression
is pleonastic. If the beloved disciple ran more swiftly than Peter, of course
he ran before him. Cf. v. 8; in these places the unnamed disciple seems to
take precedence of Peter.
5. He bent down. The word (parakupsas)
is often used of one looking down from a height (e.g. Judges 5.28; 1 Enoch
9.1; P. Oxy. 475.23; C.H. 1, 14), and might therefore be thought to imply a
grave dug or hewn in the ground; but it does not necessarily have this
meaning. It signifies a glance of any kind for which an inclination of the
head is required.
. See on 19.40.
he did not go in
. This hesitancy, which is perhaps not unnatural, could readily be
explained if we supposed that John wished to emphasize that the beloved
disciple was both the first to see the empty tomb (he is not in this gospel
preceded by Mary) and the first to believe in the resurrection. If the latter
point is to be fully made Peter must be brought into the tomb between the
arrival of the beloved disciple and his confession of faith.
6. 7. following him. This word
is usually significant in John (see on 1.37), and it may perhaps be intended
here to subordinate Peter to the beloved disciple.
the linen wrappings and the cloth
. For the separate soudarionov cf. 11.44. It is impossible
to say with certainty how John thought the resurrection had taken place. At
the raising of Lazarus the body, after being enlivened, was drawn out of the
tomb still wrapped in, and confined by, the bandages which had been used in
preparing it for burial. Here however it seems that the body had in some way
disappeared from, or passed through, the cloths and left them lying as they
were. Cf. v. 19, where the risen Jesus suddenly appears in a closed room.
in a place by itself
(eis hena topon). Either, the soudarion was in one
place, that is, neatly rolled up, not simply in a disordered state; or, hena
is used for tina, a Semitic usage.
8. he saw and believed. It is
implied that Peter had not been convinced of the resurrection by the sight of
the empty tomb and the grave-clothes. For "seeing and believing"
see on v. 29.
9. as yet they did not understand
the scripture. The disciple's faith was grounded simply upon what he had
seen at the tomb. By the time when John wrote the Church's faith in the
resurrection was supported by the conviction that it had been foretold in the
Old Testament, grafÍ seems commonly to be used of a single passage of
Scripture (see 19.37); but none is quoted here, and it may be that the
reference (like that of 1 Cor. 15.4) is to the Old Testament generally.
468 (Empty Tomb and first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18)
10. pros heautous. The
translation "went to their own homes" seems impossible; John would
have written pros ta idia (cf. 1.11; 16.32). The expression
corresponds exactly to the Aramaic ethic dative. But there is no need to
suppose that John is translating; cf. Num. 24.25; Josephus, Ant. viii, 124; and perhaps Polybius v, xciii, 1.
11. The men go away; Mary has
apparently returned to the grave with them. She has not noticed the abandoned
grave-clothes, but remains, overcome with grief.
12. two angels in white, sitting.
Cf. Mark 16.5, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on
the right side; Matt. 28.2f., an angel of the LordÖ rolled back the
stone and sat on it; Luke 24.4, two men in dazzling clothes. John
is drawing upon either the synoptic or some very similar tradition. The note
that the angels sat one where the head and the other where the feet of the
body of Jesus had been may be simply an elaboration of a source, not
13. Woman. See on 2.4. After why
are you weeping? D sin add "whom do you seek?" from v.
14. she turned around. Cf. 18.6.
15. gardener (kÍpouros). Hap.
leg. in the New Testament, but not uncommon in Hellenistic Greek; the keeper
of a kÍpos. To this word kyrie corresponds; not
"Lord" but "Sir". Contrast kyrios in vv. 13, 18.
I will take him away
. For the meaning "to take up and take away" see on
12.6. you is emphatic: "If you are the man who has taken
him...". In this verse John uses once more his literary formula of
enlightenment through initial misunderstanding; indeed this is the supreme
example of the device, for it is not a metaphor but Jesus himself who is
16. Mariam. The name alone is
sufficient to convince Mary of the identity of the speaker. The good shepherd
calls his own sheep by name and they recognize his voice (10.3).
. Presumably she had turned away from the supposed gardener to the
grave; now, when she recognized his voice, she turned back to him. For
"turned" sin has "she recognized him"; this reading is
defended in Black, 189f., but it may have arisen as an alleviation of the difficulty
caused by the fact that Mary had already (v. 14) turned towards Jesus.
. See on 19.13. The word is omitted in some mss.
. Cf. Mark 10.51. That the form here transliterated, rabbuni, was
that of early Palestinian Aramaic is shown by its appearance in the Targum
fragments from the Cairo Genizah (Black, 21). The Onqelos Targum has ribboni
(among other forms; see G. Dalman, The Words of Jesus (E.T. 1909), 324ff.,
which means Teacher
. Before didaskale, kyrie is inserted by D (it); evidently
it was thought that a more than human title was called for. For John's
469 (Empty Tomb and first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18)
Semitic terms see on 1.38, where the same translation is given
17. Do not hold on to me. The
present imperative with mÍ in a prohibition signifies the breaking off
of an action already in progress, or sometimes of the attempt to perform an
action. Accordingly we may suppose either that Mary had seized Jesus' feet
(in which case we may cf. Matt. 28.9) or that she was on the point of doing
so when Jesus prevented her. In view of the difficulties raised by these
words when taken with the following sentences Bernard (670f.) supposed that
textual corruption had taken place. The position of mou varies, and
the original MS. reading may therefore have been simply mÍ haptou,
this being itself a corruption of an earlier mÍ ptoou, "Fear
not". Such a conjecture should not however be resorted to unless all
other attempts to interpret the passage fail.
I have not yet ascended to the
Father. This is a statement of some difficulty.
It seems to be implied that it will be possible and permissible to touch
Jesus after the ascension, though not before; and this is the reverse of what
might have been expected. For the ascending of Jesus to the Father cf. 3.13; 6.62 (where anabainein is used), and 7.33; 13.1,3; 14.4,28; 16.5,17,28; 17.13 (where other words are used). It was for John an essential
act, completing what was done in the passion. It was moreover a condition for
the coming of the Spirit (7.39; 16.7). In v. 22 the Spirit is given and in v.
27 (cf. v. 20) Thomas, so far from being forbidden, is invited to touch the
hands and side of Jesus. A possible conclusion from these facts is that John
believed that between vv. 17 and 22 the ascension, or at least the complete
glorification, of Jesus had taken place. But it must be admitted that he does
not say so, and it is very strange that so vital a fact should be left as a
matter of inference. A more profitable line of interpretation is obtained
when it is noted (Lagrange, 512) that the but which follows go
applies in effect to ascend, the message to the "brothers"
being parenthetical. The verse may then be paraphrased, "Stop touching
me (or attempting to do so); it is true that I have not yet ascended to the
Father but I am about to do so; this is what you must tell my brothers".
This is perfectly intelligible. The resurrection has made possible a new and
more intimate spiritual union between Jesus and his disciples; the old
physical contacts are no longer appropriate, though touch may yet (v. 27) be
appealed to in proof that the glorified Lord is none other than he who was
go to my brothers
. Cf. Matt. 28.10. The use of the word adelfos in the
earlier tradition may have suggested John's "My Father and your
Father". It is clear from the context that by "brothers" the
disciples, not the unbelievers of 7.5, are meant.
I am ascending
. See the notes on previous clauses in this verse. The ascension
is not referred to again in John, and is not described in the realistic
manner of Acts 1.9 (and perhaps Luke, if the words he was taken up to
heaven are read in 24.51). It is a matter of common belief in the New
Testament that after his crucifixion Jesus took his place in glory at the
Father's right hand, but
470 (Empty Tomb and first Resurrection Appearance. 20.1-18)
only the author of Luke-Acts makes of
this belief an observable incident. See further on 3.13f.
my Father and your Father, my God
and your God. There is nothing unusual in the
description of God as the God and Father of Jesus Christ, or as the God and
Father of Christians. Here John emphasizes that the relation between Jesus
and God is different from that between the disciples and God, even though it
is described in the same terms and the disciples are said to be his brothers.
Jesus eternally is the Son of God; he gives to those who believe in him the
power to become the children of God (1.11).
18. Magdalene see on v. 1.
The future participle expressing purpose would have been more
appropriate, but in Hellenistic Greek the future participle was obsolescent,
and John probably used the present with a similar meaning.
I have seen the Lord
. For the report cf. Luke 24.9. hoti is loosely used; it
introduces first a piece of direct speech (hewraka ton kyrion) and
then a piece of indirect speech (he had said these things to her). In
later mss., various attempts were made to mend the grammar...
42. Jesus Appears to the
Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31
In these verses the gospel, as at
first planned, is brought to an end - a satisfying and indeed triumphant end.
It is almost impossible to read vv. 30f. otherwise than as the conclusion of
a work, and the preceding paragraphs, in which the Church is sent out upon its
task in the power of the Holy Spirit, say all that need be said to effect the
transition from the life of Jesus to the history of the Church.
In the first incident, which takes
place on the first Easter Day, the day on which Peter and the beloved disciple
had found the tomb empty and Mary had seen the Lord, the disciples meet
behind locked doors. Jesus, evidently able in his resurrection body to pass
through solid matter, appears among them, showing them his hands and side to
prove that, though his body is transformed, he is nevertheless the same. He
sends them out upon their mission, and bestows upon them the Holy Spirit and
the authority to remit and retain sins.
At this appearance Thomas was absent.
Accordingly a week later Jesus returns in similar circumstances to satisfy
the doubts of this
471 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven:
disciple. The sight of Jesus, whose
wounds are still visible, leads Thomas to the culminating confession of the
gospel, My Lord and my God. The last words of Jesus are a blessing upon those
who, unlike Thomas, have not seen him, but, like Thomas, have believed.
The evangelist ends his work by
recalling that he has given only a small selection of the significant acts of
Jesus, and that his selection has been made to the end that his readers may
have faith in Christ, and, by faith, life.
It is impossible to identify any of
John's sources here, and to estimate their worth. An appearance to the Twelve
(? the Eleven) is attested in 1 Cor. 15.5. John's main concern in the present
section, apart from the twofold nature of the resurrection body, which is
brought out incidentally, is with what is, from the standpoint of the first
Easter, the future: the life, witness, and authority of the Church, which are
never far from his thoughts at any point in the gospel. It is the mission of
Jesus himself which, through the Spirit, is perpetuated in the mission of the
Church; and the Church by its faith is related to Christ as Christ is to God.
19. When it was evening on that day.
Only Luke supplies a true parallel to this further appearance on the first
resurrection day; cf. Luke 24.31 (the two going to Emmaus), 24.34 (a reported
appearance to Simon), 24.36f". (to the assembled disciples). The last is
in several respects parallel to the present narrative; see below. Cf. also
the "longer ending" of Mark, 16.9-20.
the first day of the week
. See on v. 1.
the doors of the house were locked
. This fact and the motive given for it (for fear of the Jews)
are quite natural and understandable; there is however no parallel, and it is
probable that John's motive, whatever his authority may have been, for
mentioning that the doors were shut was to suggest the mysterious power of
the risen Jesus, who was at once sufficiently corporeal to show his wounds
and sufficiently immaterial to pass through closed doors. John offers no
explanation of this power, nor is it possible to supply one; though it is
legitimate to compare Paul's doctrine of the spiritual body (1 Cor. 15.44).
. It is important to consider whether "the disciples"
were the Ten only (the Twelve, without Judas and Thomas), or included others
also. The Lucan parallel (24.33, the eleven and their companions gathered
together) suggests the larger group; but it might be urged that the
description of Thomas as one of the twelve (v. 24) suggests the
smaller. The Twelve are mentioned (at least under that title) very
infrequently in John; see on 6.70. It is often impossible to say whether, by disciples,
John means the inner or outer circle of the followers of Jesus; consequently
it is not surprising (though it remains significant) that it should be
impossible to settle the question here with certainty. "In such a matter
the mere fact that doubt is possible is a striking one. It is in truth
difficult to separate these cases [after the resurrection] from the frequent
omission of the evangelists to distinguish the Twelve from other disciples...
Granting that it was probably to the Eleven that our Lord directly and
principally spoke on both these occasions [in John and Matthew]... yet it
still has to be considered in what capacity they were
472 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
addressed by him. If at the Last
Supper, and during the discourses which followed, when the Twelve or Eleven
were most completely secluded from all other disciples as well as from the
unbelieving Jews, they represented the whole Ecclesia of the future, it is
but natural to suppose that it was likewise as representatives of the whole
Ecclesia of the future, whether associated with other disciples or not, that
they had given to them those two assurances and charges of our Lord, about
the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the remitting or retaining of sins...,
and about his universal authority in heaven and on earth..." (Hort, 33).
This quotation has been given at length since it seems to express exactly the
true sense of the paragraph; the commission of v. 21, the gift of the Spirit
of v. 22, the authority of v. 23 are given to the apostolic Church.
stood among them
. A pregnant construction (for which cf. Mark 3.3, stand up in
the middle), but not unparalleled in classical Greek (e.g. Xenophon, Cyropaedia
iv, i, 1). Or perhaps eis to meson is simply an equivalent of en tŰ
mesŰ, eis and en being frequently confused in Hellenistic
Peace be with you.
(shalom, shelama "peace") were in very common
use as a conventional greeting. The normal meaning is no more than "May
all be well with you", but eirÍnÍ had acquired so full a sense in
Christian usage (cf. 14.27; 16.33) that much more is intended here. The
expression is repeated in vv. 21, 26.
20. he showed them his hands and
his side, that is, the parts of his body where wounds or scars were to be
seen. Cf. v. 27. The feet are not mentioned. In the earlier tradition there
is no reference to the nailing of Jesus to the cross, and it seems not
impossible that (as often happened) he was not nailed but tied to it with
ropes. Belief that wounds were inflicted by nails might have arisen out of
the theological significance ascribed to the blood of Christ (his death being
thought of as a sacrifice) and because they provided a valuable piece of
evidence that no substitution had taken place - the risen Jesus was the very
person who was crucified (cf. the doubts of Thomas, and their resolution,
the disciples rejoiced
- Cf. 16.20,22.
21. As the Father has sent me, so I
send you. The two verbs (apostellw, pempw) seem to be used
synonymously in this gospel. For Christ's being sent by the Father cf.
3.17,34; 5-36,38; 6.29,57; 7.29; 8.42; 10.36; 11.42; 17.3,8,18,21,23,25; 4.34; 5.23f., 30,37; 6.38f,44; 7.16,18,28,33; 8.16,18,26,29; 9.4; 12.44f.,49; 13-20f; 14.24f. (pempein; note especially the use of this word in the phrase
the Father who sent me, and that it is used of the sending of the
Paraclete, 14.26; 15.26; 16.7). For Christ's sending his disciples cf. 4.38; 17.18, 13. 16,20. The closest parallels to the present passage are 13.20; 17.18. In each the same pattern of sending is noted: the Father sends the
Son, and the Son sends the "apostles" (in John the word apostolos
is used once only (13.16), for convenience, with the simple meaning "one
who has been sent"; it is not used as a technical term). In view of the
generally synonymous use of the words apostellein and pempein,
and the construction of this sentence it does not seem possible to
distinguish between two kinds of sending, one in which the person sent is a
delegate with transferred authority (apostellein), and one
473 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
in which this is not so (pempein).
Parallelism, not contrast, between the two missions is emphasized here. It is
unnecessary to pursue doubtful parallels in the rabbinic usage of the terms shaluah,
shaliah; the form is that of a passive participle of the verb shalah,
"to send", in order to see that the sending of Jesus by God meant
that in the words, works and person of Jesus men were veritably confronted
not merely by a Jewish Rabbi but by God himself (1.18; 14.9; and many
passages). It follows that in the apostolic mission of the Church (see on v.
19) the world is veritably confronted not merely by a human institution but
by Jesus the Son of God (13.20; 17.18). It follows further that as Jesus in
his ministry was entirely dependent upon and obedient to God the Father, who
sealed and sanctified him, and acted in the power of the Spirit who rested
upon him (1.32), so the Church is the apostolic Church, commissioned by
Christ, only in virtue of the fact that Jesus sanctified it (17.19) and
breathed the Spirit into it (v. 22), and only so far as it maintains an
attitude of perfect obedience to Jesus (it is here, of course, that the
parallelism between the relation of Jesus to the Father and the relation of
the Church to Jesus breaks down). The life and mission of the Church are
meaningless if they are detached from this historical and theological
context. The Hellenistic world was not unfamiliar with the thought of a man
who was sent from God, and inspired and empowered for his mission. In John,
the inspiration follows at once.
22. breathed on them and said to
them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.. The first word is significant. Cf.
Gen. 2.7, the Lord Ö breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and
the man became a living being. Ezek. 37.9, Come from the four winds, O
breath, and breathe upon these slain. Wisd. 15.11, they failed to know
the one who formed them Ö and breathed a living spirit into them. That
John intended to depict an event of significance parallel to that of the
first creation of man cannot be doubted; this was the beginning of the new
creation. At the same time, the language of inspiration is not inappropriate
to the Hellenistic philosophical apostle; see on v. 21. It had been promised that
the Spirit would be given after the glorification of Jesus
474 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
(7.39f; 16.7) and there can be no
doubt that this is the gift intended. On its relation to the ascension see on
v. 17. It does not seem possible to harmonize this account of a special
bestowing of the Spirit with that contained in Acts 2; after this event there
could be no more "waiting" (Luke 24.48f; Acts 1.4f.); the Church
could not be more fully equipped for its mission. The existence of divergent
traditions of the constitutive gift of the Spirit is not surprising; it is
probable that to the first Christians the resurrection of Jesus and his
appearances to them, his exaltation (however that was understood), and the
gift of the Spirit, appeared as one experience, which only later came to be
described in separate elements and incidents.
23. If you forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
The best rendering is "If you forgive anyone's sins... if you
retain...". For the thought of this verse cf. Matt. 16.19; 18.18 (unless
in these verses "binding and loosing" mean "forbidding and
permitting") and Luke 24.47 (forgiveness only). Cf. also the fact that
Matthew (28.19), and the author of the "longer ending" of Mark
(Mark 16.16) both put into the mouth of Jesus before his departure a charge
to baptize, which carries with it the offer of forgiveness. There is probably
a reference to baptism in the Johannine charge also; the Church, by
conferring or not conferring baptism, opens or closes the door of the
redeemed community. But it is hardly necessary to restrict the meaning of the
saying to baptism. The authority conveyed implies an extension of the
ministry of Jesus through that of the Holy Spirit. Jesus (in chapter 9) gave
sight, and faith, to the blind man who knew he was blind; to those who
arrogantly claimed, "We see", he could say only, "Your sin
remains". This was both a statement of fact and a punishment. For the
work of the Spirit cf. 16.8-11; he perpetuates the ministry of Jesus, and
when he convicts of unbelief he convicts of sin, since the relation of men to
Christ determines their relation to God. This joint work, of Christ in
sending the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Spirit in bearing witness to Christ,
is exercised in and through the Church as represented by the disciples.
(literally, "to release", "to let go") is used here only
in John with the meaning "to remit". kratein signifies the
opposite; "to hold fast", "to retain".
24. Thomas, one of the twelve.
For Thomas cf. 11.16; 14.5; 21.2. The other gospels, and Acts, record only
his name. Doubt regarding the resurrection is however a feature of all the
gospels: see Matt. 28.17; Mark 16.14; Luke 24.11,25,37,41.
who was called the Twin
. It is conceivable, though not probable, that Thomas appears as
the doubting disciple on account of his name. didymos, a natural
rendering of thoma', a "twin", means primarily "
475 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
On the other hand, the earlier
references to Thomas suggest a loyal but obtuse, rather than a doubtful and
hesitating, character. His attitude to the resurrection appearances (like
that of Mary, v. 17) may be compared with that of the unthinking beholders of
signs earlier in the ministry (cf. e.g. 2.9; 3.4; 4.48; 6.26; et al).
25. Unless I see the mark of the
nails in his hands etc. Thomas required the grossest and most palpable
evidence that the body he knew to have been killed in a specific manner had indeed
been reanimated. He would be satisfied neither with a substituted body which
was not the body of the Lord who died on the cross, nor with a spiritual body
or apparition. The risen Christ must be both visibly and palpably identical
with the old. Such hesitation, so conclusively removed, had of course high
26. For the details of this verse see
on v. 19. With a week later contrast John's meta tauta when he
is not interested in the precise interval. He means the next Sunday after the
first appearances; both Sundays are, according to ancient custom, reckoned in
the enumeration. There may be a special intention in John's account of the
Lord's special presence on the first day of the week, the day of the Church's
27. Put your finger here and see my
hands... Jesus accepted the challenge of physical investigation. Contrast
v. 17 (see the note) and cf. v. 20. Thomas was offered exactly what he
sought. John does not say that he accepted the opportunity; rather he hints
(v. 29) that sight was sufficient. But John was evidently of opinion that the
resurrection body, though it could pass through closed doors, could also be
handled; it was physically "real".
doubt Ö believe
. Neither word occurs elsewhere in John. apistos many times
in 1 and 2 Cor. and twice in the Pastorals means the "unbeliever",
the person who is not a Christian. It may be that the rather clumsy
expression here means that Thomas is (or perhaps represents one who is)
neither apistos nor pistos; he is urged to become pistos,
a believing Christian. But ginesthai is often used with the meaning
"to show oneself..." (John 15.8; Matt. 5.45; 6.16; 10.16; 1 Cor.
14.20; 15.10,58; Col. 3.15; 1 Thess. 1.5; 2.7), and this is probably its
meaning here: "Show that you do believe".
28. My Lord and my God!. The
collocation of kyrios and theos is common in the LXX where it
represents Yahweh Elohim and similar expressions. It appears also in
pagan religious literature (see e.g. Deissmann 366f; among other sources, an
Egyptian inscription of 24 B.C. speaks of tŰ theŰ kai kyriŰ
soknopaiŰ and is well known to have been an imperial title much affected
by Domitian (Suetonius, Domitian 13, dominus et deus noster). kyrios
is a frequent Christian title for Jesus (for kyrios in John see on
13.13f, and appears in the confession of faith "Jesus is Lord",
probably a primitive credal formula used at baptism and similar occasions
(Rom. 10.9; 1 Cor. 12.3). When this confession was interpreted in terms of
the Old Testament, where kyrios = theos, the fuller formula was
close at hand. Philonic influence is unlikely, since Philo rarely calls the
Word God; but, as frequently, John's language is carefully chosen so
as to be both biblical and
476 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
Hellenistic. Christ is called theos
only in John (1.1; 1.18 cf. 5.18; 10.33) and in the Pastorals (and possibly,
but not probably, in Rom. 9.5). The difference between the present verse and
1.1 (where theos is anarthrous) cannot be pressed; here the articular
nominative is used for vocative. There can be no doubt that John intended
this confession of faith to form the climax of the gospel; it is his final
It may have been taken from a liturgical
setting; indeed the whole passage (from v. 19) may be liturgical in origin.
The disciples assemble on the Lord's Day. The blessing is given: eirÍnÍ
hymin. The Holy Spirit descends upon the worshippers and the word of
absolution (cf. v. 23) is pronounced. Christ himself is present (this may
suggest the eucharist and the spoken Word of God) bearing the marks of his
passion; he is confessed as Lord and God (cf. Pliny, Ep. x, xcvi, 7, carmenque
Christo quasi deo dicere). That such a setting as this was in John's mind
is supported by the fact that in the next verse the horizon of thought is
explicitly extended to include all Christians.
29. See the last note. At the close of
his gospel (see on v. 31) John emphasizes the continuity of the Church of his
own time with Jesus and his disciples. The wider community was in view from
the beginning (cf. 17.20).
6TI Have you believed because you
have seen me? This clause, punctuated as a question, could be taken as a
statement, and is perhaps better taken so; in this solemn and impressive
pronouncement Jesus does not ask questions, but declares the truth. It is
possible that John may have intended the meaning, Do you believe simply on
seeing me, that is, without the touch you asked for? But this seems
over-subtle. The contrast is not between seeing and touching, but between
seeing, and believing apart from sight, between Thomas who saw, and the later
Christian believers who did not. The words do not convey a reproach to
Thomas; the beloved disciple and Mary Magdalene also believed when they saw
(see especially v. 8); indeed, but for the fact that Thomas and the other
apostles saw the incarnate Christ there would have been no Christian faith at
Blessed are those
Cf. Matt. 5.3 and other passages. There are close parallels in
Ps. 2.12 (Happy are all who take refuge in him) and Sirach 48.11; but
it need not be supposed that John was dependent on either.
who have not seen and yet have come
to believe... The aorists in John may be
"timeless" but probably indicate the fact that when John wrote the
Church was composed of men who had seen no such resurrection appearance as
Thomas had seen, and yet had been converted (had come to believe). The
blessing is probably intended for all Christians other than eye-witness, not for
those only who were able to believe without signs and wonders. However, see
Bultmann 539f.: "Thomas's doubt is representative of the common attitude
of men... As miracle is granted to human weakness, so is the visible
appearance of the Risen One granted to the weakness of the disciples. Really
there should be no need of it! Really the sight of the Risen One should not
be the first thing to move the disciples to believe the word which Jesus
spoke, this word alone should have the power to convince them. Thus there is
477 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
the story of Thomas, as in the story
of Mary Magdalene (vv. if., 11-18), a characteristic criticism of the
evaluation of the Easter narratives: they can claim only relative value. And
the fact that Jesus' critical saying forms the conclusion of the Easter
narratives warns the hearer and reader not to take them as more than they can
be: neither as accounts of events such as he himself might wish or hope to
experience, nor as a substitute for such experiences of his own, the
experiences of others being able as it were to guarantee for him the
resurrection of Jesus, but rather as a proclaimed word, in which the narrated
events have become symbolical pictures for the community, in which he who has
ascended to the Father stands with his own "). Whatever be the
historical value of the resurrection narratives John himself takes historical
testimony with full seriousness. The disciples of the first generation had
the unique distinction of standing as a link between Jesus and the Church; John indicates in this saying that their successors equally may believe, and
that their faith places them on the same level of blessedness with the
eye-witnesses, or even above it. The following rabbinic passage is often
quoted, and indeed it appears to illustrate John's thought; but it is fairly
late (c. A.D. 250), and lays no stress on the thought, vital for John, of a
generation which beheld and mediated the faith to the next: R. Simeon b.
Laqish said: The proselyte is dearer to God than all the Israelites who stood
by Mount Sinai. For if all the Israelites had not seen the thunder and the
flames and the lightnings and the quaking mountain and the sound of the
trumpet they would not have accepted the law and taken upon themselves the
kingdom of God. Yet this man has seen none of all these things yet comes and
gives himself to God and takes on himself the yoke of the kingdom of God. Is
there any who is dearer than this man? (Tanhuma, ß6, 32a).
30. Now Jesus did many other signs.
For signs see Introduction, pp.63ff. John was probably familiar with
most of the synoptic tradition (see Introduction, pp. 34-7), and probably
possessed other sources also for the works of Jesus. The stress on signs done
by Jesus and beheld by his disciples is important and illuminates the
structure and method of the gospel as a whole; there is no disparagement of
the role of eye-witnesses (see above).
in the presence of
The term enwpion occurs here only in John, but is a common
Hellenistic word, common in Luke-Acts. It is not to be described as a
Semitism, though of course it could represent lepane'.
31. Both the purpose of the gospel and
the author's theology are summed up in this verse. "Le livre est
fini, tres bien fini" (Loisy, 514). Whoever may have written ch. 21,
this verse forms the conclusion and (with the confession of v. 28) the climax
of the gospel as originally planned. The words and themes mentioned here run
throughout the gospel. For "believing" see on 1.12, for Jesus as
Christ and Son of God, Introduction, pp. 59f.; for life see on 1.4; 3.15. in his name, however, has no real parallel. It cannot be
constructed with believing, since John's regular construction (see
1.12) is eis to onoma. Cf. 14.13f.; 15.16; 16.24,26 and especially
16.23, he will give you in my name. The meaning seems to be
"...that you may have life on account of him, by his agency, in virtue
of your believing relationship with him".
478 (Jesus Appears to the Eleven: Conclusion. 20.19-31)
. The present subjunctive (strictly interpreted) means " that
you may continue to believe, be confirmed in your faith", the aorist
"that you may here and now believe, that is, become Christians".
This variant raises acutely the question of the purpose of the gospel; was it
written to confirm the faithful, or as a missionary tract, to convert the
through believing you may have life
- Cf. 6.47. "John connects faith and life directly, without
righteousness as a middle term" (contrast Paul) (E. Stauffer, Die
Theologie des neuen Testaments, 150).
43. The Appendix: i. The
Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14
It has already been observed that
20.30f. mark the conclusion of the gospel as at first planned. If this is so
ch. 21 must be regarded as an addendum, and the question must be raised
whether it was composed by the author of chs. 1-20 or by some other. The
first criterion available to us, important though not decisive, is a
consideration of style and vocabulary. The data may here be briefly set out
Many words found in ch. 21 are absent
from chs. 1-20. Most of these are of no great significance: net and
others, for example, occur here only because of the subject matter of the
chapter. A few words and constructions however are of interest; the best
collection of evidence is that of Dr Bultmann (542f.): "adelfoi
as designation of the Christians (v. 23); exetazein instead of erŰtan
(ask, v. 12); epistrafÍnai instead of strafÍnai (turn,
1.38; 20.14,16) (v. 20); hischuein instead of dunasthai (be
able, v. 6); tolman (dare, v. 12). In addition, the
following are surprising: the address to the disciples as paidia (children,
v. 5; but cf. 1 John 2.14, 18); causal apo (v. 6), partitive apo
(v. 10) instead of the usual ek; also epi (v. 1) is used
otherwise than elsewhere in the gospel; so also faneroun (v. 1).
Unusual are hews (v. 22) instead of hews hotou (9.18); pleon
(v. 15) instead of mallon (3.19; 12.43); ou makran (v. 8)
instead of eggus (often, e.g. 11.18); hypagein with infinitive (v.
3, cf. on the other hand 4.16; 9.7; 15.16). Singular also is ti pros se
(what is it to you? v. 22, cf. 2.4)." We may add that whereas in
v. 4 prŰia is used, the form preferred elsewhere in the gospel is prŰi.
(Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by
the Lake. 21.1-14)
These linguistic and stylistic
considerations, when weighed against the undoubted resemblances between chs.
1-20 and ch. 21, are not in themselves sufficient to establish the belief
that ch. 21 was written by a different author. They do however furnish
confirmation for the view that it is extremely unlikely that an author,
wishing to add fresh material to his own book, would add it in so clumsy a
manner. The supplementary material would have been added by him before 20.30,
and the impressive conclusion left undisturbed. Moreover it is difficult to
think that an author would wish to spoil the effect of the apostolic mission
charge of 20.21-3 by representing the disciples, in a later narrative, as
having returned to their former avocation and as unable at first to recognize
the Lord when he appeared. Ch. 20 is a unit which needs no supplement; and
there appear to be some differences in outlook between chs. 1-20 and ch. 21
(see e.g. on v. 23). 21.24 seems to refer to the author of the gospel as a
whole, and we must conclude that this verse was not written by the author of
chs. 1-20. But this verse belongs (as will be shown below, contrary to the
opinion of most scholars) to vv. 1-23, and is not to be thought of as a
further addendum. Consequently it seems necessary to detach the whole of ch.
21 from the main body of the gospel.
It remains to ask why the chapter was
added. For detailed consideration of this question see below. The main point
seems to lie in the association and contrast of Peter and the beloved
disciple. It seems clear that both are, at the time of writing, dead, the
latter more recently than the former. They are represented as partners, of
whom neither can take precedence of the other. Peter is the head of the
evangelistic and pastoral work of the Church, but the beloved disciple is the
guarantor of its tradition regarding Jesus. It is conceivable, though this is
pure conjecture, that there is a polemical allusion to Mark, the gospel
guaranteed, according to tradition, by Peter, from which John differs in
certain notable points.
V. 25 is a second conclusion, somewhat
feebly imitating the style of 20.30f.
Vv. 1-14. Seven disciples, of whom one
is Peter and another the beloved disciple, following the lead of Peter
determine to resume their work of fishing in the sea of Tiberias. Their
night's work is fruitless, but in the morning an unknown person on the shore
instructs them to cast on the right side of the boat, which they do, with
instant success. The beloved disciple recognizes Jesus, Peter swims to shore,
and the rest follow with the net full offish. They find preparations for a
meal already afoot, and share it with Jesus, who distributes bread and fish
to them. Peter meanwhile, under orders from Jesus, draws up the net, which contains
The main point in this narrative, as
appears from the next, lies in the representation of the two chief disciples,
Peter the quicker to act,
480 (Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14)
the beloved disciple the quicker to
see and believe (as in 20.6-8). They, and the other disciples, share with
Jesus a meal which has evidently some eucharistic significance, and together,
but with the stress laid on Peter's part, they draw in the catch which
represents the fullness of the Church.
The narrative recalls Luke 5.1-11 (a
miraculous catch of fish, but not a resurrection appearance) and 24.13-35 (a
resurrection appearance in which a quasi-eucharistic meal takes place), and
does not seem to be a unity. There are several hints of unevenness in the
story; the miracle is wrought because the disciples have no fish; when they
come to land they find fish already cooking yet are bidden to bring fish from
their catch, though we do not hear that they do so. No fewer than three words
are used for fish in different parts of the narrative. It may be that two
traditional narratives, similar to those in Luke, have been combined; but
whether they were combined by the author of ch. 21, or were found by him in
their present state, cannot be determined. It is probable that v. 7 is in any
case his work, and was intended to prepare for vv. 15-24.
1. After these things. See on
2.12; 3.22; a general transition from the preceding narrative is intended.
Contrast 20.26 where a precise indication of time is given.
. faneroun is a Johannine word (1.31; 2.11; 3.21; 7.4; 9.3; 17.6), but elsewhere in the gospel it is not used of a resurrection
appearance (but cf. Mark 16.12,14).
the Sea of Tiberias
. Cf. 6.1, where however Tiberias does not stand independently
but is given as an explanation of Galilee.
2. This verse contains a number of
words and constructions characteristic of John's style and matter. For 6uou
cf. 4.36; 20.4. The double name Simon Peter, though used elsewhere, is
particularly common in John; see on 1.42. For Thomas called the Twin
(of whom John has more to say than any other evangelist), see on 11.16; for
Nathanael (mentioned by no other evangelist), see on 1.45-9. who came from
is a Johannine construction; cf. 1.45; (11.1); 12.21; (19.38). Cana is
mentioned only in John; see on 2.1.
the sons of Zebedee.
This is the first and only reference in John to the sons of
Zebedee (see among several synoptic passages Mark 1.19). The beloved disciple
is mentioned a little later (v. 7), and therefore may have been James or
John. On this question see Introduction, pp. 97ff.
two others of his disciples
. The presence of these unnamed disciples makes it possible that
the beloved disciple was not a son of Zebedee. The partitive use of ek
is very common in John.
There is a passage very similar to
this verse in the Gospel of Peter, 60: I, Simon Peter and my brother
Andrew took our nets and went to the sea, and with us were Levi the son of
Alphaeus whom the Lord... Unfortunately the extant fragment of the gospel
breaks off at this point and there is no means of knowing the rest of the
481 (Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14)
3. I am going fishing. On the
infinitive of purpose see M. 1, 205f. This use of the infinitive is in marked
contrast with John's frequent use (often where an infinitive would be
expected) of Hina and the subjunctive; e.g. 11.11, I will go and waken him.
That Peter and his brother disciples should contemplate a return to their
former occupation after the events of ch. 20 is unthinkable; see the
introduction to this section. If ch. 21 is an addition to an originally
complete gospel it is of course possible that this event is chronologically
earlier than 20.21-3; though it is difficult to see how this can in fact be
so. The author of ch. 21 was probably drawing on a different strand of
tradition, and it is possible that he intended that Peter's words should be
seen to have a double meaning and refer to the apostolic mission of
"catching men". See below. The commission of 20.21 is being carried
They went out and got into the boat
. The boat seems to be at hand; that is, the disciples are in
Galilee, not in Jerusalem, as in 20.1-29.
that night they caught nothing
. Cf. Luke 5.5, we have worked all night long but have caught
nothing. Night is said to have been the best time for fishing; but in the
absence of Jesus his disciples can achieve nothing; cf. 15.5. Elsewhere in
John (apart from v. 10 in this narrative) indgsiv is used for the arrest of a
person (7.30, 32,44; 8.20; 10.39; 11.57).
4. Just after daybreak.
Elsewhere in John (18.28; 20.1; cf. 1.41) the indeclinable form prŰi
they did not know
. Mentoi (but) is Johannine; it occurs at 4.27; 7-I3,"
12.42; 20.5; elsewhere in the New Testament only three times. The failure of
the disciples to recognize Jesus is difficult to understand if we are to
suppose that they had already seen him twice since the resurrection, -daylight
(especially if taken with the reading when it was) need not mean that the
light was not good enough to allow recognition; at Matt. 20.1, prŰi
refers to the beginning of the working day, and in Josephus, Ant. xiv, 65, it
refers to the offering of the daily morning sacrifice, when the whole east
was alight "as far as Hebron" (Tamid 3.2).
5. Children. This form of
address is not used elsewhere in John (the word occurs at 4.49; 16.21). It is
used in 1 John (2.14,18; (3.7)). At John 13.33; 1 John 2.1,12,28; 3.(7),18; 4.4; 5.21 teknia is used. paidia as an address (to adults) is
used in modern Greek; M. 1, 170.
have you anything to eat?
It would be possible to write mÍti, as at 4.29; 8.22; 18.35. In the last of these passages the answer expected is certainly No; in
the others, the question is hesitating and doubtful. The latter appears to be
the meaning here. prosfagion is not found elsewhere in the New
Testament, or in the Greek Old Testament; and it is rare elsewhere. Here prosfagion
probably means simply "fish" (used as a relish with bread).
6. Cast the net to the right side
of the boat. For the use of ballein cf. Matt. 4.18; in Luke 5-4f. chalan
is used. The right side is regularly the fortunate side
482 (Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14)
but John means only to suggest that
implicit obedience to Jesus brings instant success.
they were not able to haul it in
. The magnitude of the catch of fish is described in the Lucan
story in other terms: the net broke and the two boats were filled to sinking.
helkuein is a later form of helkein; in John (6.44; 12.32) it is
used of men's being drawn to Christ; this suggests that an allegorical
interpretation of the incident may have been intended - the fishing
expedition is the apostolic mission, the fish are converts. See onvv. 3, 11,
and cf. Mark 1.17 and parallels.
because there were so many
, "by reason of...". This causal use of apo does
not occur in John 1-20. It resembles a use of the Hebrew and Aramaic min
(cf. e.g. Gen. 9.11; Ps. 76.7; Isa. 6.4, with the LXX renderings), but must
not be described as a Semitism since it is classical and vernacular (M. 11,
7. That disciple whom Jesus loved.
See Introduction, pp. 97ff., and on 13.23; see on v. 2. As often this
disciple is connected with Peter; he is the first to recognize Jesus, as he
had been the first to believe in the resurrection (20.8). In John 1-20 ekeinos
is absent from the phrase, but it recurs in v. 23.
6 It is the Lord!. D sin
pesh have "Our Lord"; this is a possible instance of Syriac
influence on D, since sin and pesh use the common Syriac designation for the
Lord (maran) and the variant may well have originated in Syriac. But
such expansions also occur independently in D. The expression here coincides
exactly with the characteristically Johannine egŰ eimi (for which see
on 6.35; 8.24). It can mean only "It [the hitherto unidentified figure
on the shore] is the Lord".
he put on some clothes
. The word ependutÍn is not used elsewhere in the New
Testament. It is the outer garment in contrast with the inner
garment. Peter had been fishing naked, or nearly so (see L.S. s.v. gymnos,
5). To offer greeting was a religious act and could not be performed without
clothing; thus greetings were not given in the bath, where all were naked (T.
Berakoth 2, 4c, 38; see Schlatter, 367).
8. the boat. Ploiarion is used synonymously
with ploion (V. 3), as in John 6.24, and perhaps Luke 5.2.
about a hundred yards off
. For the contracted genitive plural pÍchwn (Hellenistic,
not Attic) see M. 11, 141; B.D., 24. The same construction occurs at 11.18; cf. Rev. 14.20.
9. a charcoal fire. For anthrakia
see on 18.18. For burning the Old Latin has incensos,
presupposing a Greek text kaiomenÍn.
(6.9,11) opsarion has the same meaning as prosfagion (v. 5). To
find fish already cooking on the fire before the fish caught by the disciples
had been brought is contrary to what might be expected. It is possible that
two stories have been combined, in one of which the disciples caught and
brought the fish, while in the other Jesus provided the meal.
. The material of the meal is the same as in 6.9, bread and fish.
The combination may have symbolical, or sacramental, significance; see on v.
483 (Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14)
10. some of the fish. In John
1-20 it is ek, not apo, which is commonly used partitively. The
fish which are here called for are never brought, as indeed there is no need
for them (v. 9). This may be another indication that the narrative is
you have just caught
, the aorist of "what has just happened" (M. 1, 135), as
the addition of nun shows.
11. a hundred fifty-three. The
number is significant or it would not have been recorded; it is improbable
that it represents the fortuitous but precise recollection of an eye-witness.
Many suggestions regarding its meaning have been made, but the most probable
is that it represents the full total of those who are "caught" by
the Christian fishermen, the apostles (themselves, in this narrative,
numbering seven; see below). Explanations which suppose that the "three"
in the number represents the Trinity are probably wrong (since (a) the
doctrine of the Trinity was not yet formulated clearly enough, and (b) John
would hardly put together divine and human persons in this way), and we are
left with the observation that 153 is a triangular number, and =1+2+3 Ö +17.
Seventeen itself is the sum of 7 and 10, both numbers which even separately
are indicative of completeness and perfection. The fish then represent the
full total of the catholic and apostolic Church. This observation increases the
probability that other features of the story (see vv. 3, 6, 9) should be
the net was not torn
. The Church remains one, in spite of the number and variety of
12. Come and have breakfast. Come,
almost exclamatory rather than an imperative, is often followed immediately
by an imperative or cohortative subjunctive (as at 4.29). In this passage
aptcrrSv must mean "to take breakfast, the first meal of the day"; cf. v. 4 (prŰias). ariston seem to refer to a later meal at
Luke 11 -37f.; 14.12, and probably at Matt. 22.4. The Lucan usage seems to be
that which was becoming more common in later Greek (see L.S. s.vv.), but the
position is by no means clear, and M.M. quote a papyrus where they (and
editors) give the meaning "breakfast".
. Cf. 4.27. It is possible that there is a reference to 8.25 where
the same words are used (cf. 1.19, where they are addressed to John the
Baptist). Now that Jesus has manifested himself (v. 1) to his own (14.22)
such questions are needless.
13. took the bread and gave it to
them - the act of the host who pronounces the blessing in a Jewish meal.
and did the same with the fish
. The parallel acts recall also the distribution by Jesus of the
bread and wine at the last supper. This meal was probably intended to call to
the minds of the readers eucha-ristic associations (cf. the manifestation of
Jesus to the two disciples at Emmaus, Luke 24.30f,35). A fish occurs along
with bread in some early representations of the eucharist; and fish-symbolism
was very widespread in early Christianity.
484 (Appendix: i. The Appearance of Jesus by the Lake. 21.1-14)
14. This was now the third time
that Jesus appeared. Apparently the appearance to Mary Magdalene is not
counted (perhaps because she was not a martus); that of 20.19-23 is
the first, that of 20.26-9 the second. It is impossible to fit the various
resurrection narratives of the other gospels (and of 1 Cor. 15) into this
scheme. Moreover, the present narrative looks more like a first than a third
appearance; see the introduction to this section, and on vv. 1, 3. The
impression is given that the present story does not belong to the carefully
composed narrative of ch. 20 but is a distinct incident drawn from another
source (perhaps two incidents from two sources; see on vv. 9f.) combined
rather clumsily with an already complete whole. The present appearance taken
by itself supports the Galilean tradition of the appearances against the
Jerusalem. On this issue see Beginnings, v, 7-16.
44. The Appendix ii. Jesus,
Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25
Peter, three times questioned by
Jesus, affirms his love for him three times, and is entrusted with the
pastoral care of Christ's flock. His death by crucifixion is predicted, and
he is bidden to "follow". Upon this Peter himself notices the
beloved disciple doing what he, Peter, has been told to do; he is following.
Peter asks concerning his fellow-disciple's lot, and the reply is an evasion,
by implication a rebuke. It would be no concern of Peter's should the beloved
disciple live till the return of Christ. This, the writer emphasizes, was no
prophecy, though it was understood as one. This man, he concludes, was the
disciple who wrote the gospel - that is, the earlier part of the gospel (chs.
It is of primary importance to inquire
with what motive the writer of ch. 21 introduced this section about
the two apostles. The three affirmations of Peter, and the three charges
given him by the Lord, doubtless correspond to the three denials.
Rehabilitation, however, though certainly in mind, is not the primary
thought, which is that a prediction was given of what Peter would become
in the Church: he would be the great pastor, and he would die a martyr's
death. He could thus be bidden to do what previously had been impossible for
him (13.36-8)-to follow. We are now introduced to the beloved disciple, who
is already following. It is not predicted that he will be a preeminent pastor
of the Church; but, the writer asserts, though he was not to be a martus
in the same way as Peter, he was a martus, and was responsible for the
marturia contained in the gospel itself. V. 24 is thus co-ordinate
with the prophecy about Peter and is therefore an integral part of the
paragraph, not an addition to it. Indeed, its inclusion was one of the
principal motives for the addition of ch. 21, since it appears to have been
intended to replace an older view, now proved false, of
485 (Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25)
the destiny intended by Christ for his
beloved disciple. He was not to survive, a living witness of Christ, till the
Parousia, but he was, through the written gospel, to constitute himself the
permanent guarantor of the Church's tradition.
15. they had finished breakfast.
See on v. 12.
Simon of John
. This reading is to be preferred; cf. 1.42, Simon son of
do you love me Öthat I love you
. The usage of these verbs agapan and filein throughout
the gospel makes it impossible to doubt that they are synonyms; filein
does not refer to an inferior kind of love. Note particularly (a) the fact
that the disciple whom Jesus loved is several times hon agapa, once
(20.2) hon efilei (it is highly improbable that there were two
"beloved disciples", one loved in a rather better way than the other); and (b) the parallelism of 14.23, if anyone loves me Ö my Father will love
him. That the words are taken as synonymous is confirmed by the fact that
Peter answers Jesus' question affirmatively (nai...): "Do you
love...?" "Yes, I do love...". The threefold question
corresponds to the threefold denial; so does the threefold charge to keep the
flock. In spite of the rebuke administered in v. 22 a very high view of the
office and importance of Peter is taken. He takes the lead in fishing (v. 3)
; he is also the chief shepherd. The total effect of the passage is not to
question but to affirm his love for Jesus.
more than these
. Toutous may be either masculine or neuter, and several
interpretations are possible. The two most important are (a) "Do you
love me more than these other disciples do?" and (b) "Do you love
me more than this fishing gear, which represents your ordinary life and which
now once more I am summoning you to leave?" (b) is less probable,
because the fishing gear, though no doubt presupposed, has not been mentioned
in the immediate context (and in any case represents not so much the
instruments of Peter's livelihood as the operations of the apostolic mission
- see on vv. 3, 11). Moreover, the comparative form of the question in (a)
forms a fitting rebuke for Peter who after the loudest boasts had failed most
completely (see 13.8,37f; 18.10f, 15). There may also be an allusion to
Peter's subsequent pre-eminence among the Twelve.
. Cf. 2.24f. Peter does not take up the comparison suggested by
Jesus, and throws the responsibility for his answer back upon Jesus.
Feed my lambs
. It does not appear that any distinction is intended between the
words in this and the following verses: boske = poimaine = boske; arnia
= probatia = probatia. None of these words occurs elsewhere in John. Probaton,
which occurs as a variant in three verses, 15, 16, 17, is probably an
assimilation to ch. 10. For Jesus and his sheep see 10.1-16,26. For Christian
ministers as shepherds see Acts 20.28f.; 1 Peter 5.2-4. It is because Peter
can answer Jesus' question affirmatively that he can be appointed shepherd of
486 (Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25)
17. Peter felt hurt, as at
16.20; cf. 16.6,20ff., lupÍ. Peter was grieved because the question
was asked three times, not because filein was used.
18. Very truly, I tell you. amÍn,
amÍn See on 1.51. This is a very characteristic, but, it must be
admitted, easily imitable, Johannine idiom.
when you were younger. neŰteros
need have no comparative force.. Cf. Ps. 36(37).25, I was
young and now I am old (quoted in Bauer, 238). It may be (Bultmann, 552)
that a proverb to the effect that "In youth man goes freely where he
wishes, in old age he must allow himself to be led, even where he does not
wish" underlies this verse; but if this is so, much additional material
has been imported into the proverb.
you will stretch out your hands.
There is abundant evidence for the reference of this expression
to crucifixion. Isa. 65.2 is taken as foreshadowing the crucifixion by
Barnabas (12.4), Justin (1 Apol, 35), Irenaeus (Demonstration of the
Apostolic Preaching, 79) and Cyprian (Test. 11, 20); similarly
Moses's outstretched hands (Ex. 17.12) by Barnabas (12.2, introducing the
verb eicretvEiv) and Justin (Trypho, gof.). Non-Christian writers have less
occasion to refer to crucifixion, but cf. Epictetus HI, xxvi, 22, he
stretched out as though to be crucified.
will fasten a belt around you
. Criminals were always fastened to the cross in part, and sometimes
wholly, by ropes; see on 20.20.
19. to indicate the kind of death.
Cf. 12.33, where the manner of Jesus' death is predicted.
by which he would glorify God
. To die in obedience and faith is to glorify God. Cf. 15.8. Jesus'
death had been an act by which God had disclosed his glory; the death of the
apostle would mean a grateful acknowledgement by man of the glory God had
revealed. This passage must be taken as comparatively early and good evidence
for the martyrdom of Peter by crucifixion, which it presupposes. Other
equally early evidence for this event is extremely slight; see especially 1
Clement 5.4; 6.1, and the writers quoted by Eusebius, H.E. ii, xxv. 1 Peter
(whether authentic or not) is evidence for an early interest in Peter in Asia
Minor; cf. Ignatius, Romans 4.3. See also Rev. n.3-13, interpreted by J.
Munck, Petrus und Paulus in der Offenbarung Johannis (1950). It cannot
be said that Peter is here introduced as a representative of the (Roman and
Western) Christians who opposed the Quartodeciman views regarding Easter, of
which the apostle John was taken to be a supporter; if this controversy had
been in mind it would have been much more clearly in evidence.
. Cf. 13.36, you will follow me later. It is probable that
this command means primarily that Peter must follow Jesus on the path of
martyrdom; but, as the next verse shows, if this is its primary meaning it is
a particulariza-tion of a wider conception of discipleship; cf. I2.25f. (cf.
Mark 8.34f.). To follow Jesus, whether or not it means martyrdom in blood, is
to deny oneself in complete obedience. See on 1.37.
487 (Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25)
20. the disciple whom Jesus loved.
See on 13.23. The reference is made unmistakable by the allusion to the last
supper and the disciple's question.
. The beloved disciple was already doing what Peter had just been
bidden to do (once more his superiority to Peter is implied). Cf. 1.38, if
one of the disciples there mentioned was John the son of Zebedee, and if the
beloved disciple was John the son of Zebedee. It is evident that for him
also, as for Peter, following meant following unto death, for (see below) vv.
22f. imply that his death had taken place.
21. When he saw him resumes the
previous verse blepei.
what of him?
This elliptic sentence is to be completed by the addition of some
such word as he asked; or we could write with a nominativus pendens in
the Johannine manner; The sense is clear: in colloquial English, "What
22. If it is my will that he remain
until I come,
might be expected, for the meaning cannot be other than, "If I will that
he should remain (alive) until I come...". The possibility is
contemplated, though (as John hastens to point out) not definitely affirmed,
that the beloved disciple might live until the return of Christ; cf. Mark
9.1. Undoubtedly the earliest Christian belief was that the parousia would
take place before the first generation of Christians had disappeared (cf.
especially 1 Thess. 4.15, we the living; 1 Cor. 15.51, all who have
fallen asleep). See further on v. 23.
Ti pros se?
"What has that to do with you?" Cf. 2.4.
You follow me
. su is in a very emphatic position: "Whatever may
happen to him, you must follow me".
23. would not die. The future
would be expected. See on v. 22. The primitive conviction that the parousia
would happen soon was evidently weakened with the lapse of time to the belief
that one of the first generation would survive till it took place. This
expectation however was possibly local; there seems to be no evidence for it
except in John.
Yet he did not say to him
. It seems probable that this disciple, who it was thought would
not die, had died. The writer of the present chapter explains
carefully that Jesus had made no prediction; he had simply expressed in the
strongest terms that the fate of the disciple, whatever it might be, was no
concern of Peter's. It seems however probable that the original meaning of
the saying (whatever its origin may have been) was that which it was
popularly supposed to have. The explanation of this disappointed hope given
here is quite different from the bold reinterpretation of Christian
eschatology presented in the body of the gospel.
488 (Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25)
24. This is the one. i.e. the
beloved disciple. On the interpretation of this verse see also Introduction,
who is testifying to these things
and has written them. The textual evidence is
somewhat confused. For marturein in John see on 1.7; it is sometimes
used absolutely, sometimes with a dative, sometimes, as here, with peri.
The most natural meaning of these words, and therefore the meaning to be adopted
unless very strong reasons are brought against it, is that the disciple
himself not only bore witness to but also wrote down Tavrra. It is
conceivable but perhaps not probable that grapsas should be translated
"caused to be written" (see on 19.19), and means no more than that
the disciple was the ultimate and responsible authority for "these
things". "These things" may refer to the last paragraph (vv.
15-23), to ch. 21, or more probably to the whole gospel (except this verse, and
perhaps v. 25). It seems however unlikely that the gospel as a whole was
written by an eyewitness (such as the beloved disciple), and it is
accordingly difficult to resist the view that if not the whole of ch. 21 at
least this verse is an addition to the original text of the gospel, though it
is certain that the gospel was never published without it, since no known
authority omits it. The close resemblance of this verse to 19.35 has often
been noted, but there are at least two significant differences. This verse
adds that the witness also wrote, and has "we know" in place of
"he knows". The best hypothesis seems to be that 21.24 was composed
with 19.35 as model and inserted by those who published the gospel and
claimed for it (no doubt in good faith) the authority of the beloved
disciple. On the relation of this verse to 21.1-23, see above.
The person of the verb separates this verse from the gospel as a whole and
calls for different authorship (unless the force of has written is to
be seriously weakened - see above). According to Clement of Alexandria (apud
Eusebius, H.E. vi, xiv, 7) and the Muratorian Canon (11.10-15, cohortantibus
condescipulis [sic] et episcopis suis... recogniscentibus cuntis [sic]...)
this gospel was in some sense a joint product; others beside the author took
responsibility for it. It is of course possible that these statements are no
more than inferences from the present passage. If they are in any degree
independent of it they may enshrine a memory of the publication of the book
by (it may be) the Church of Ephesus. The "we" is to be taken with
full seriousness; there exists an apostolic Church capable of verifying and
affirming the apostolic witness (see Introduction, pp. 118f.).
After this verse the Pericope
Adulterae (7.53-8.11) is inserted by A (probably). See pp. 4gof.
25. there are also many other
things that Jesus did. Cf. 20.30. The repetition is somewhat crude and
strongly confirms the view that ch. 21 is an addendum to the gospel.
Moreover, alla polla
489 (Appendix ii. Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. 21.15-25)
is inferior Greek in comparison with polla kai alla; this
may be a slight indication of different authorship.
every one of them
. Cf. Acts 21.19; kath' hen "one at a time".
I suppose that the world itself
could not contain. ou is rarely
constructed with the infinitive in New Testament Greek; this is perhaps a
reason for supposing that it properly belongs to olncn and has not (as is
sometimes suggested) been attracted from the subordinate into the principal
clause. "I do not suppose that the world would contain..." But
there was in Hellenistic Greek a tendency to write the aorist infinitive with
the ending of the present infinitive, so that chŰrÍsein may be
intended as an aorist, not a future, infinitive. Yet a future is required
here and may, in spite of the rarity of the form in the New Testament, have
been intended, kosmos is not used here in the characteristic Johannine sense
(for which see on 1.10). For the hyperbole itself many parallels can be
quoted; e.g. Ex. R. 30.22 (in the age to come "the whole world cannot
receive the reward"); Philo, Post., 144. Cf. 1 Macc. 9.22. It is neither
Greek nor Jewish, but a common human exaggeration.
Isolated Text: The Woman Taken
In Adultery 7.53-8.11
It is certain that this narrative is not
an original part of the gospel. Its textual history, of which only an outline
can be given here, is decisive on this score. Those authorities which contain
it differ markedly among themselves. Those which place it at this point in
John include the great mass of late (mediaeval) Greek minuscule MSS., but in
addition, among early Greek MSS., only D (though Jerome knew many Greek as
well as Latin MSS. which contained it (adv. Pelag. 11, 17)). Several Greek
MSS. which do contain it mark it with asterisks or obeli. It is found in the
Vulgate and in a few Old Latin MSS.; in the Palestine Syriac lectionary, in
the Ethiopic, and in a few MSS. of other VSS.; in Ambrose, Augustine and
Jerome, but in no earlier Western Father; and in no Eastern Father before the
tenth century at the earliest.
On the other hand, the whole passage
is omitted by many early Greek MSS., some of which leave a space after 7.52,
indicating that the copyist was aware of the existence of the pericope but
thought it right to omit it. It is omitted by the Old and Peshitto Syriac, by
the Coptic VSS., by some Old Latin MSS. and, as has been already indicated,
by all early Fathers (including
490 (The Woman Taken In Adultery 7.53-8.11)
Origen, Cyprian, Chrysostom and
Nonnus, who, in expounding, commenting or paraphrasing, pass directly from
7.52 to 8.12).
The weight of evidence against the
originality of the passage cannot be resisted, nor can any good reason be
found why the story, supposed original, should have been omitted from so many
documents, or should have remained unknown to so many ecclesiastical writers.
It cannot have been included in the gospel as at first published. What then
was its origin? And what is its historical value? It is probably ancient.
Eusebius (H.E. iii, xxxix, 16) sets it down that Papias "records another
story also, about a woman, accused in the Lord's presence of many sins, which
is contained in the gospel according to the Hebrews." In our narrative
the woman is accused of only one sin, but the correspondence is none the less
fairly close. In the Apostolic Constitutions 11, 24 (= the Syriac Didascalia
7; the documents are to be dated in the third century) a similar story is
used to caution bishops against too great severity in dealing with penitents.
"The elders set before him another woman who had sinned, handed over the
decision to him, and went out. But the Lord, who knows men's hearts, inquired
of her whether the elders had condemned her. When she said, 'No,' he said to
her, 'Go then; neither do I condemn you.' " This story, which may
possibly, like others in the Constitutions, have been drawn from the Gospel
of Peter, is not identical with the Johannine story but clearly resembles
it. It may be that stories on this theme were current in several forms at an
early date but did not attain canonical status because they seemed
inconsistent with the strict disciplinary treatment of adultery then
customary, and that the story as we know it came into the fourth gospel
because at some time it was combined with it (as originally non-biblical
material) in a lectionary.
The historical value of the story
cannot be assessed by objective standards, but the opinion may fairly be held
that (1) it closely resembles in form and style the synoptic narratives
(especially the style of Luke; see the notes); and (2) it represents the
character and method of Jesus as they are revealed elsewhere. It may have
been inserted at this point in John to illustrate the saying of 8.15, I judge
On the textual question see, in
addition to the Commentaries, C. Tischendorf, Nouum Testamentum Graece,
(1869), 1, 826-30; WH II, Appendix, 82-8; H. von Soden, Die Schriften des
Neuen Testaments (1911 - 13), I, 486-524.
53. The paragraph opens abruptly, and
suggests a piece from the Marcan narrative of the last week in Jerusalem,
when Jesus at night went out to Bethany and returned in the morning to the
city (Mark 11.11.19f.); cf. especially Luke 21.37 at night he would go out
and spend the night on the Mount of Olives.
491 (The Woman Taken In Adultery 7.53-8.11)
1. the Mount of Olives, neuter
plural, literally "the mountain of olive trees". This is the usual
New Testament expression, but elaiŰn (Olive-orchard) is sometimes
found in the Lucan writings.
2. This verse contains several points
of contact with the Lucan writings, as follows, (a) orthos occurs
elsewhere in the New Testament only at Luke 24.1; Acts 5.21. (b) paraginesthai
is a Lucan word (Luke 8 times, Acts 20; John 2 (including this verse); rest
of the New Testament 7). (c) laos is a Lucan word (Luke 37(36) times,
Acts 48; John 3 (including this verse); rest of the New Testament 56(55), of
which 22 are in Hebrews and Revelation), (d) he sat down and taught.
Cf. Luke 4.20; 5.3 (he sat down Ö he taught).
4. caught in the very act. ep'
autofwrŰ should be so written (not as one word). The phrase is hap.leg.
in the New Testament but by no means uncommon. autofwros is an
adjective meaning "self-detected". If punishment was to be
inflicted for adultery eye-witnesses were necessary (Abrahams, Studies 1, 73; Deut. 22.22, If a man be found...).
5. Now in the law. See Lev.
20.10; Deut. 22.22-4, If a man is caught lying with the wife of another
man (later spoken of a betrothed virgin, a virgin engaged to be
married). In the Mishnah the two cases are sharply distinguished (Sanhedrin
7.4: These are they that are to be stoned:... he that has connection with a
girl that is betrothed;
11.1: These are they that are to be
strangled:... he that has connection with another man's wife [the woman would
doubtless incur the same penalty]). We should suppose either that the woman
in this incident was betrothed, or that the author was inadequately informed
about Jewish laws. Abrahams (loc. cit.) thinks that the death penalty
"can never have been frequently enforced".
What do you say? Su
is in a position of emphasis, inviting Jesus to set himself
6. to test him,. This sentence
recalls several passages in the synoptic gospels, e.g. Mark 3.2; 10.2; also
Luke 6.7. peirazein is used in only one other place in John (6.6); the
wording is very similar, but there Jesus tests his disciples.
bent down and wrote
. It is fruitless to ask what Jesus wrote on the ground. His
action was simply a studied refusal to pronounce judgement; cf. 8.15, I
7. be the first. This recalls
Deut. 13.10(9); 17.7, The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to
put him to death. The aim of this answer was to produce the effect described
in v. 9. As v. 8 shows, Jesus maintained silence on the main issue. Cf. the
saying of Aqiba (Sotah 47b, et al., quoted in Abrahams Studies
1, 74) on the trial of a suspected adulteress by the ordeal of the bitter
waters: "Only when the [accusing] husband is himself free from guilt
will the waters be an effective test of his wife's guilt or innocence".
9. After when they heard it the
majority of MSS. add accused by conscience. SyneidÍsis (conscience)
occurs nowhere else in the gospels; in the New Testament it is a
predominantly Pauline word; elsewhere it was used by the Stoics, though it
did not originate with them. On accused see on 16.8; the function of
492 (The Woman Taken In Adultery 7.53-8.11)
the conscience was to expose, and it
was sometimes called an elegchos. Evidently none of the accusers could
claim to be without sin. Cf. Mark 14.19. The woman is no longer
"in the midst" in the proper sense (as in v. 3), but she remains
standing, as it were, in the centre of the stage.
10. woman (gynai). For this
mode of address cf. 2.4; 19.26. These passages clearly show that it is in no way
After Where are they some MSS.
add your accusers. If these words are read we should perhaps translate
"Where are they - your accusers?"
11. Neither do I condemn you (oute
egŰ se katakrinŰ.) See on v. 6 above. No extenuation of the offence is
implied; Jesus has come to save, not to condemn (3.17). Yet his very presence
has the effect of judging the self-righteous bystanders; cf. 8.15f., I judge
no man; yet if I judge, my judgement is true.