Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 6 February 2016; Revised 27 March 2019
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Anointing in Bethany, 12:1–11
Arrival of King Messiah, 12:12–19
Hellenistic Jews Seek Yeshua, 12:20–26
Prophecy of Death, 12:27–36
Midrash of John: The Enigma of Unbelief, 12:37–43
Yeshua's Proclamation, 12:44–50
John passes over the Synoptic narrative of Yeshua's activities after his arrival in Ephraim (John 11:54). The time between the end of chapter eleven and the beginning of chapter twelve is about three months. After leaving Ephraim Yeshua went "along the border between Samaria and Galilee" and encountered ten lepers on the way (Luke 17:11–19). During this time Yeshua spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Luke 17:20–21), as well as his eschatological coming (Luke 17:22–37). He then told the parables of the persistent widow and of the Pharisee and tax–collector (Luke 18:1–17).
He also met the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–28) and spoke again of his impending death (Luke 18:31–34). He then told the parable of the workers in the vineyard and responded to the request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matt 20:1–28). From there he went through Perea and Jericho en route to Jerusalem and met and healed blind Bartimaeus (Matt 20:29–34; Luke 18:35–43). While on the road he also encountered Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10) and told the parable of the ten talents (Luke 19:11–28).
Chapter Twelve "fast forwards" to the key events that will fulfill Yeshua's prophecy of his sufferings, death and resurrection. In all the apostolic narratives the events of Yeshua's final days occupies the greatest number of chapters.
See my article The Final Days of Yeshua for a detailed explanation of Yeshua's appointment calendar and the chronology of this period.
Friday, Nisan 8, A.D. 30
Anointing in Bethany, 12:1–11
Parallel: Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9
1 So six days before the Passover Yeshua came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Yeshua raised from the dead.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The third application fits here, considering the time gap between the end of chapter eleven and the beginning of this chapter narrative. six: Grk. hex, the cardinal number six. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The first usage applies here with a hint of the third usage.
before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The second usage applies here. the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to mean (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14–21, celebrating deliverance from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion–meal at sunset of Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15–21 (cf. Num 28:16–25; Deut 16:1–3; 2Chr 30:24; 35:8–9).
The detailed instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Talmud Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are found in Tractate Hagigah. The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God’s great work of redemption (Ex 23:14–15; Lev 23:4–8; Num 28:16–25; Deut 16:1–8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people.
God expressly commanded the Israelites to celebrate the feast of Passover annually in perpetuity, that is, forever (Ex 12:14). Failing to observe Passover would be a sin (Num 9:13). Josephus summarized the schedule and reason for the continued observance:
"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover" (Ant. III, 10:5).
Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God’s plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11–13). By the apostolic era the term "Passover" had come to mean the eight days of Nisan 14–21 (Josephus, Ant. II, 15:1; BAG 639). In fact, Luke emphasizes this very point, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover" (Luke 22:1). This unity can be seen as early as the celebration of Passover in the time of King Josiah when offerings for the eight–day festival included both lambs, goats and bulls (2Chr 35:1–9). For a detailed description of Passover observance in biblical times see my web article The Messianic Meal.
With this introduction John has concluded his narrative of Yeshua's public ministry and sets the stage for the most important event in the history of the world since creation. John purposely selects four events he considers very important as a prelude to Yeshua's final meal with his disciples: (1) the anointing in Bethany, (2) the royal entry into Jerusalem, (3) the visit of Hellenistic Jews seeking an audience with Yeshua and (4) a final prophetic teaching. John starts his narrative here with "six days before Passover." There is no reason not to take John's calendar reference as factual. He was an eyewitness to the events he describes.
Normally Jewish time references are inclusive (the first and last days are counted) and so Clarke supposes that six days before Passover would include the first day of Passover (Thursday, Nisan 14), meaning that Yeshua arrived in Bethany on the Sabbath, Nisan 9. However, as Gill notes, Jews did not travel on the Sabbath and so Yeshua must have arrived the day before or Friday, Nisan 8.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to Bethany: Grk. Bēthania, which transliterates Heb. Beit-Anyah ("house of the poor," Stern 61), located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two miles southeast of Jerusalem. Yeshua had spent the previous day in Jericho where he healed two blind men (Matt 20:29-34) and stayed at the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). where: Grk. hopou, adv., in what place. Lazarus: Grk. Lazaros, a transliteration of Heb. Eleazar ("God has helped"), a personal friend of Yeshua, the same man mentioned in 11:1.
was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Yeshua raised: Grk. egeirō, aor., to rise from a recumbent or lower position. Egeirō appears frequently in the Besekh in reference to resurrection. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to introduce an aspect of separation or origin, lit. "out of, from within." the dead: Grk. nekros, without life in the physical sense; dead.
2 So they made him a supper there and Martha was serving, but Lazarus was one of the ones reclining with him.
So: Grk. oun, conj. they made: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) bringing about a state of condition or result that may be good or bad; do, act, perform, work. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Poieō also renders the special word bara (SH-1254), 'shape, fashion, create,' used of God's creative deeds (first in Gen 1:1). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, masc.; alluding to Yeshua.
a supper: Grk. deipnon can mean (1) the daily main meal, generally in the evening (Luke 14:12; 1Cor 11:21; 4Macc 3:9), (2) a royal feast or formal banquet (Matt 23:6; Mark 6:21; 12:39; Luke 14:16-17; 20:46), (3) the Passover Seder (John 13:2, 4; 21:20), (4) the Lord's Supper (1Cor 11:20), and (5) an eschatological meal (Rev 19:9, 17). In the LXX deipnon occurs in Daniel for Heb. pathbag (SH-6598), portion of food, delicacies (Dan 1:16) and Aram. lechem (SH-3900), feast (Dan 5:1) (DNTT 2:521). The meaning intended here is of an evening meal, but made special due to the honored guest. The meal might have been eaten after sundown, but since sundown began the Sabbath, preparation had to be completed before sundown.
there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. The antecedent of the adverb is probably Bethany in the previous verse. John does not identify who made the meal, but the Synoptic Narratives place the meal at the home of Simon, a man whom Yeshua had healed of a skin disorder (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions and beginning verses with a conjunction, as in verse 12 below, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
Martha: Grk. Martha, fem. name, a transliteration of Heb. Marta, "mistress" (BAG), i.e., a female head of household. Danker and Thayer identify the name as Aramaic, an assumption probably resting on historical references. Plutarch, the Greek historian mentions a Syrian woman named Martha who had the gift of prophecy (Life of Marius 17:1–3, cited in BAG 492). Lightfoot (3:360) notes the name of Martha as very frequent in Talmudic writings, identified as a mother or wife of various Sages, e.g., "Isaac bar Martha," "Abba bar Martha" (Yeb. 120a), and "Joshua ben Gamla married Martha the daughter of Boethus" (Yeb. 6:4). (NOTE: The Jewish name is spelled "Martha" in the English translation of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud.) This is the only woman named Martha in the entire Bible. Her name appears 13 times in the Besekh, three in Luke (10:38–41) and ten in John.
was serving: Grk. diakoneō, impf., to serve, especially in meeting of personal needs or attending to in some practical manner. True to her name, Martha was someone who would take charge. She welcomed Yeshua as a guest in her home on a previous occasion (Luke 10:38) and she was concerned with meeting her hostess obligations (Luke 10:40). In this situation Martha's "serving" probably means she was supervising the serving of the supper, perhaps at the request of Simon. but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG).
Lazarus: See the previous verse. John uses the conjunction de to note the contrast between the activity of Lazarus and his sister. was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. of the ones reclining: Grk. anakeimai, pres. mid. part., to lie or recline. The verb occurs 14 times in the Besekh and always of reclining to eat a meal. The verb occurs not at all in the canonical LXX, but does occur in Josephus and 1Esdras 4:10 (BAG). People normally sat to eat a meal (e.g., Gen 37:25; Ex 16:3; 32:6; Jdg 19:6; Ruth 2:14; 1Sam 20:24).
However, reclining to eat was done on special occasions, such as a festive gathering (Matt 9:10), a wedding banquet (Matt 22:10, 11), a royal banquet (Mark 6:26), and the Passover Seder (Mark 14:18; John 13:23). This verb is also used of the reclining of the 5,000 to eat the miraculous bread and fish (John 6:11). Reclining at table had been considered a sign of freedom since ancient times (Pesachim 10:1; 99b; 101b; 102a). Rabbinic custom specified that reclining was not lying on the back or on the right side, but only on the left side to facilitate eating with the right hand (Pes. 108a). The verb is masculine, implying that only men were reclining. with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or connection, in this case the former. him: Grk. autos, used of Yeshua. We may assume that a large group shared the meal and the fact of reclining to eat implies a room with sufficient capacity.
3 Then Miriam, having taken a pound of ointment of pure costly nard, anointed the feet of Yeshua, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Miriam: Grk. Mariam, fem. name, which is intended to stand for Heb. Miryam ("Miriam" in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although Thayer's lexicon suggests the name means "rebelliousness or obstinacy," a theory favored in Christianity. The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning it's unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation I've found is at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love."
There are seven women identified as "Miriam" in the Besekh. Besides Miriam of Bethany there is (1) Miriam of Nazareth, the mother of Yeshua (Matt 1:16), (2) Miriam of Magdala (Matt 27:56), (3) Miriam, the mother of Jacob and Joseph (Matt 27:56), (4) Miriam, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), (5) Miriam, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), and (6) Miriam of Rome (Rom 16:6). (NOTE: most scholars think #3 and #4 refer to the same person.) Thayer notes that Mariam is also an exact transliteration of Aramaic Mariam, which is used in the Targums and may explain its presence in the apostolic writings.
The Greek texts of the apostolic narratives present a puzzling use of the name. The Grk. name Maria occurs 27 times and Grk. Mariam also appears 27 times. Maria is used of six of the seven women whereas Mariam is used of three of the seven women. In John's narrative Maria occurs 5 times, but Mariam occurs 10 times, mostly in reference to Miriam of Bethany. The use of Grk. Maria in the Besekh is inexplicable since it does not appear in any ancient Jewish writings. The Latin Vulgate (405) translated both Mariam and Maria with Mariae. The use of the English "Mary" in Christian Bibles began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since. The choice to use "Mary" instead of the Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize her Jewish identity.
There are four accounts of Yeshua being anointed by a woman in the apostolic narratives (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50 and here). Luke's account occurs much earlier in Yeshua's ministry and does not identify the woman, except to call her a "sinner." An interpretation that has held long appeal in Christianity began in the sixth century with Pope Gregory the Great who associated the woman in all four stories with Miriam of Magdala. The imagined story is that Luke recorded Miriam's deliverance from a life of sin and was restored to her family in Bethany. The identification of Miriam, sister of Lazarus, with Miriam of Magdala, not to mention the woman in Luke 7, is pure inventive fiction, but making her a reformed harlot is the worst calumny. (See my web article Miriam of Magdala that sets the record straight.) In any event, the story in Luke 7 is not parallel to the anointing of Yeshua shortly before his crucifixion.
having taken: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take or receive. a pound: Grk. litra, a weight of 12 ounces. of ointment: Grk. muron, a fragrant ointment. of pure: Grk. pistikos, adj. expressing quality; genuine, of high quality. Mounce adds "unadulterated, pure." costly: Grk. polutimos, adj., highly valued. Mounce adds, "of great price, costly, precious, expensive." nard: Grk. nardos, aromatic oil derived from the roots of the herb nardostachys jatamansi (HBD), "spikenard" in the KJV. Solomon praised the fragrance of nard in his soliloquy on romantic love (SS 1:12; 4:13–14). Nard was imported from India (BAG). Once purchased the precious ointment was stored and used only for special occasions (NIBD).
anointed: Grk. aleiphō, aor., to apply a substance in a smearing or rubbing action; anoint. the feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. The Synoptic Narratives say the anointing included his head (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3). Miriam's servant example foreshadowed Yeshua's servant anointing of his disciples' feet with water. of Yeshua: See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. wiped: Grk. ekmassō, aor., cause to become dry by wiping with focus on the motion involved. In this instance the wiping served to promote absorption of the ointment into the skin. his feet: pl. of Grk. pous. with her hair: pl. of Grk. thrix, a hair, the hair of the head, lit. "hairs." Martha's hair had to be quite long to be used as a towel. Paul comments that long hair is a woman's glory and given to her for a covering (1Cor 11:15). and: Grk. kai, conj.
the house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home. The term implies a fixed residence. No description of the house is given, but in this context certain assumptions may be made. The fact that Simon hosted a meal for Yeshua and his twelve disciples, and some close friends like Lazarus and his sisters, suggests a dwelling of substance. was filled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX plēroō is used chiefly to translate the Heb. malê (SH-4390, 'mah-lay'), "to fill or to be full," with both literal and figurative uses. with: Grk. ek, prep. the odor: Grk. osmē, fragrance, odor. of the ointment: Grk. muron. Filling the large house with the aromatic fragrance may imply that Miriam used all the ointment she had.
4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples being about to betray him, said,
But: Grk. de, conj. Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH.” The proper name Judas was very common in the time of Yeshua because it was not only the Greek form of one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. Iscariot: Grk. Iskariōth is probably not a surname but a rendering into Greek of Hebrew ish-K'riot, "a man of K’riot," a town some twenty miles south of Jerusalem (Stern 38). In 6:71 the name of the father of Judas is given as "Simon." one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one.
of his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. The number of followers intended here was probably just the twelve. When Judas became a disciple of Yeshua is nowhere stated, but may have occurred during Yeshua's Judean ministry. The first occurrence of his name is his inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67).
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple’s will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
being about: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to betray: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. inf., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," in this case a reference to subjecting Yeshua to arrest and a judicial process with the connotation of disloyalty and treachery. In the minds of the apostles Judas would always be remembered for this one defining moment that brought shame to himself and his family. him: Grk. autos, i.e., Yeshua. said: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.
5 Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?
Why: Grk. ti, interr. pron. was this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pron. signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. ointment: Grk. muron. See verse 3 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that makes a strong denial or negation of an alleged fact or proposition (DM 264). The use of ou in a question is intended to solicit a "yes" answer. sold: Grk. pipraskō, aor. pass., to sell, as in a commercial transaction. for three hundred: Grk. triakosioi, the numerical value of three hundred. denarii: pl. of Grk. dēnarion, a Roman silver coin, about 4.55 grains. A denarius was a menial laborer's average daily wage. The amount suggested would be equivalent of a year's wages.
There is no implication that the presumed market value is what Miriam paid for the ointment, assuming she bought it. (Her parents or her brother may have bought it.) In any event, the value of Miriam's gift indicates a level of generosity that sets her apart from other supporters of Yeshua (cf. Luke 8:1-3). and: Grk. kai, conj. given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41).
to the poor: pl. of Grk. ptōchos, in a needy condition that is the opposite of having much, usually of someone in a relatively indigent state. In Scripture the poor often have no means of earning wages. In the LXX ptōchos occurs 100 times and renders four different Hebrew words with a range of meaning: (1) the very poor and homeless, even reduced to seeking alms (Heb. ebyon, Ex 23:11; Ps 35:10), (2) those economically and legally oppressed (Heb. ani, Lev 19:10; 2Sam 22:8), (3) physically weak or thin from want (Heb. dal, Lev 19:15; Amos 2:7; 4:1), and (4) poor in a social and economic sense, esp. in contrast to the rich (Heb. rush, 2Sam 12:3; Prov 13:8; 14:20) (DNTT 2:821f).
In the Synoptic Narratives other disciples chimed in saying such an extravagance was a waste (Mark 14:4). The question of Judas is clearly manipulative and accusatory and intended to obtain agreement: "Yes, you're right, she should have sold her ointment and given the money to the poor. She is really selfish." Judas might have argued that Yeshua's own standard is to sell what you have and give it to the poor (Matt 19:21; Luke 12:33). However, Yeshua's call to serve the poor by selling one's property was not a universal expectation. It's not an uncommon attitude of human beings to say what they think people with resources should do with them. Such a point of view springs from envy that fails to recognize that God granted private property rights. What these critics revealed was that if they had valuable property they wouldn't have devoted it to Yeshua.
6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the money–bag he was pilfering what was being put into it.
Now: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. this: Grk. touto, neut. demonstrative pron. See the previous verse. not: Grk. ou, adv. See the previous verse. because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. he cared for: Grk. melei, impf. (from melō, 'be an object of care or thought), be of interest to, be of concern to. the poor: pl. of Grk. ptōchos. See the previous verse. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. because: Grk. hoti, conj. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above.
a thief: Grk. kleptēs, thief, one who steals, one who violates the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19). In the LXX the noun kleptēs translates the Heb. gannab (SH–1590), which like the Greek word includes the sense of stealth (DNTT 3:377). The word first appears in Exodus 22:2 in the context of instruction on property rights. Even when theft was motivated by need or poverty, stealing was still regarded as dishonoring to God (Prov 30:9) and deserving of punishment. The Torah set the penalty for stealing as payment to the owner of four times what was taken (Ex 22:1). Thievery was a pervasive problem in the ancient world (Matt 6:19; 24:43; Luke 12:33), so that Paul felt the necessity of giving this instruction, "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need" (Eph 4:28 NASB; cf. 1Pet 4:15).
and: Grk. kai, conj. having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. the money–bag: Grk. glōssokomon, a box for storing reeds of musical instruments, then of containers for other objects such as money; money–bag, purse. he was pilfering: Grk. bastazō, impf., may mean (1) take up something from a position; lift; (2) sustain a burden; bear, carry; (3) remove from a position; remove, pilfer, steal. The third usage applies here. what: Grk. ho, definite article used here as a substantive. was being put into it: Grk. ballō, pres. pass. part., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The second usage applies here.
In modern law the thievery of Judas is called embezzlement, because he functioned as a treasurer and had a fiduciary responsibility. The term "fiduciary" refers to a person holding the character of a trustee and to act primarily for another’s benefit. Typically a fiduciary manages the money or property of another. As an adjective it means having the characteristics of a trust. Judas committed two wrongs. First, he failed in his duty of care of funds others had donated to support Yeshua's ministry. Judas had a duty to inform Yeshua and the Twelve of their true financial position, to prevent the depletion of assets, and to refrain from using his position for personal gain. Second, he violated the relationship of trust conveyed to him. He had a duty to ensure that contributions were not diverted from their designated purpose.
John does not reveal when the criminality of Judas became known, but likely Yeshua knew all along. John also does not explain what Judas being a thief had to do with his statement in verse 5. We may infer that Judas sought to create a diversion and make himself appear more righteous than he actually was. What the narrative does is to hold up Miriam and Judas as polar opposites, the supreme giver and the supreme taker.
7 Therefore Yeshua said, "Leave her! God intended that she should keep it for this day of my burial preparation.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. Leave: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., to release or let go with several applications: (1) to release from one's presence; send away, divorce; (2) release from an obligation; cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; leave; (4) leave standing or lying; or (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The last meaning has application here. her: Grk. autē, fem. pers. pron. Many versions render the command as "let her alone." Yeshua gave a strong emphatic command, his voice no doubt conveying a degree of irritation at the insensitivity and stupidity of his male disciples.
God intended that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. The Greek text lacks a subject for the conjunction, so I have supplied the words "God intended" to convey John's point that this was a sovereign appointment. AMP and NIV insert "It was intended," but this wording seems too vague. Intention is the action of a mind and either the mind was that of God or Miriam. Yeshua did not mean "leave her so that…" because the action was already completed.
she should keep: Grk. tēreō, aor. subj., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable or potential and thus is the mood of mild contingency or probability. Since the anointing was already a completed act this verb must be retrospective. it: Grk. auto, neut. pers. pron. for: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival, but here with focus on intention; for, with a view to. this: Grk. ho, definite article, "the," but probably intended as a demonstrative pronoun in this context. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above.
of my burial preparation: Grk. entaphiasmos, preparation of a corpse for burial or the burial itself. Anointing the body with aromatic spices before burial was common practice among the Israelites to offset the odor of decomposition. Most versions translate the noun simply as "burial." The syntax seems to be an incomplete thought so many versions treat the statement as relating to Yeshua's actual burial a week later: "let her keep it for my burial" or words to that effect (ASV, CJB, DRA, ESV, HCSB, KJV, MW, NAB, NASB, NEB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TLV). However, as Stern notes, she did not have any left over; she poured it all out (Mark 14:3). Moreover, being a woman she would have had no part in anointing his naked body before being placed in the tomb.
It was customary for women to take care of women and men to take care of men in the matter of preparing a corpse for burial. When the time came for Yeshua's actual burial Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea by providing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, which were enclosed in the wrapping of Yeshua's body (John 19:39–40). Three women (Miriam of Magdala, Miriam mother of Jacob the Less, and Salome, Mark 16:1) did go to the tomb after the Sabbath with the intention of anointing the wrapped corpse of Yeshua with more spices but Miriam of Bethany was not among them (Luke 24:1). Thus, Miriam's action on this occasion serves as an acted out parable of Yeshua's death and burial, and the anointing mimics the normal preparation.
Only a small number of versions translate the noun entaphiasmos as "preparation for burial" (AMP, CEB, DARBY, LEB, NLT, TLB). A few versions translate the noun with a verb "prepare" or "prepared" (ERV, EXB, GW, NCV, NOG). EXB has a good explanation: "It was right for her to save this perfume for today, the day for me to be prepared for burial." The Amplified Version adds an alternative, but inaccurate interpretation: "She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming." Jews did not embalm their corpses before burial. MSG presents an interesting interpretation with "she's anticipating and honoring the day of my burial." In other words, maybe she understood, as the Twelve did not, that Yeshua was going to die soon. She had previously sat at his feet (Luke 10:39), now she has anointed his feet at her last opportunity to show her devotion.
An issue not addressed by the narrative is that for Miriam to anoint Yeshua's body on this occasion, or at least those exposed parts, could be viewed as scandalous. Women did not touch men to whom they were not married. And, yet, this is not the issue Judas and the other disciples complain about. There was nothing prurient in the manner of how a close friend anointed Yeshua and within that close–knit fellowship it was not an issue.
8 For the poor you have always among yourselves; but me you have not always."
The Synoptic narratives preface this comment with "Why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to me." (Mark 14:6 NASB). For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for." the poor: pl. of Grk. ptōchos, adj. See verse 5 above. you have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 6 above. always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times. among: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among. yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pron., himself.
Yeshua's comment is drawn from the Torah, "For there will never cease to be poor people in the land" (Deut 15:11 TLV). Providing for the poor and needy was enjoined in the Torah (Ex 22:25; Lev 19:9–10; Deut 14:29; 15:7–10) and various prophets criticized Israelites for failing in this duty (Isa 3:14; Jer 5:28; Ezek 16:49; Amos 4:1; Zech 7:10–11). Almsgiving for the poor was highly valued in Jewish culture of Yeshua's time (and still is). Among Pharisees, particularly, almsgiving was considered the most important trait of righteous living. Barclay says there was a rabbinic saying: "Greater is he who gives alms than he who offers all sacrifices" (1:136). In fact, some Apocryphal Jewish writers asserted that almsgiving gained atonement and forgiveness for past sins.
"It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin." (Tobit 12:8–9 RSV)
"For almsgiving to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you." (Sirach 3:14 RSV)
Almsgiving was the best good work a person could do. This is the epitome of loving your neighbor and in so doing loving your God. Even loaning money without interest or helping a poor man to some lucrative occupation was considered a form of almsgiving. The Mishnah (Avot 5:13) identified four kinds of charity–givers:
1. He who neither gives nor suffers others to give. He is a cruel man.
2. He who gives but does not care that others should give. The poor are not fully served.
3. He who motivates others to give, but does not give himself. He does not make the best use of his own resources.
4. He who gives and motivates others to give. He is pious.
Yeshua was not being callous, but reminding his disciples of a simple truth. "The poor are out there. If you really want to do something for them, then do it and do it out of your resources. Don't presume to dictate to someone else what they ought to do." Many Christians encourage charity to the unbelieving poor because of seeing Yeshua "in them," misinterpreting the comment of Yeshua of serving "the least of these my brethren" in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matt 25:40). However, Yeshua is only in his disciples and "my brethren" are followers of Yeshua, because they are the ones who do his will (Matt 12:50). Thus, the apostles strongly emphasized doing charitable acts for the needy with priority given to those in the household of faith (Gal 2:10; 6:10; Jas 2:14–17; 1John 3:16f; cf. Deut 15:7f).
The most important charitable work to give the unbelieving poor is the Good News of Yeshua (Matt 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:18; 7:22; Jas 2:5). Charity should not focus on making the poor comfortable in this life to the neglect of their eternal destiny. Charity toward the poor of the world should not be done because one "sees" Yeshua in them, but because the Good News was intended for the poor (Luke 4:18; 6:20; 7:22) and the nature of righteousness inherently involves care for the needs of others (Matt 6:1–4; 19:21; Luke 12:33; 14:13; 19:8f). Interestingly, the only recorded "compassionate ministry" conducted by the disciples during the apostolic era was for the benefit of the Jewish disciples in the land of Israel (Acts 2:45; 6:1–3; 24:7; Rom 15:25–27, 31; 1Cor 16:1–3, 15; 2Cor 8:1–4; 9:1–5, 12). This begs the question of what Christians in these modern times should be doing to help needy Messianic Jews in Israel.
but: Grk. de, conj. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. you have: Grk. echō, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. always: Grk. pantote, adv. Yeshua offers a sobering reminder of prophecy he had announced previously (Mark 8:31), that he had not much longer to live on the earth. Yeshua identified with the poor and were it not for those who supported him would easily qualify as poor. Miriam will always be remembered for her charity and sacrifice and Judas will always be remembered for his larceny and betrayal.
Saturday, Nisan 9, A.D. 30
9 Therefore a large crowd of the Judeans learned that he was there: and they came, not only because of Yeshua, but also that they might see Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. a large: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high number. crowd: Grk. ochlos refers to an assembled company of people. In other contexts ochlos designates those that came to hear Yeshua from a particular locality. In many passages the term is equivalent to the Heb. am ha–aretz ("people of the land") whom the ruling classes and religious elite despised as ignorant masses accursed for not knowing and keeping Torah (John 7:49) (DNTT 2:800f). of: Grk. ek, prep. the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, translated in most versions as "Jews," is used in the book of John as a shorthand term to identify a particular group within the biological descendants of Jacob and adherents to the Judean religion.
In this verse Ioudaios refers to residents of Judea from Bethany and the immediate area. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. learned: Grk. ginōskō, aor., to know, but has a variety of meanings, but here in the sense of being in receipt of information; know, learn, find out. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). that: Grk. hoti, conj. he was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv. See verse 2 above. It's not hard to imagine that wherever Yeshua went word would rapidly spread of his presence and people would come seeking him.
and: Grk. kai, conj. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. only: Grk monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. because of: Grk. dia, prep. The root meaning of dia is two, but in composition it normally means through or between (DM 101). With the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is "because of" signifying a causal function. Yeshua: the Anointed One. but: Grk. alla, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hina, conj. they might see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. Lazarus: See verse 1 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pron. he raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 1 above.
The people could have come on Friday shortly after Yeshua's arrival, but as their gathering would have interfered with the supper, John probably means that came during the day on the Sabbath. Yeshua would not go anywhere on the Sabbath and we might assume that only those within a Sabbath day's journey would come to the house. The official Sabbath limit was set by Pharisee Sages as two thousand cubits (a thousand yards) from the boundary of any city or town (Sotah 5:3; Erubin 15a; 42b; 44b). Moses had stipulated in the wilderness that people were to remain in their "place" (Heb. maqom, 'a standing place') on the Sabbath (Ex 16:29). This rule was Moses' own interpretation of Sabbath rest, and it is not repeated elsewhere in the Tanakh. All other injunctions concerning the Sabbath focus on the rest from work, not the location.
The rule of Moses does not use the word for tent or house, so "place" in the wilderness setting meant the encampment of the Israelites. Compliance with the rule of Moses became complicated in the Land once the tribes were separated from one another in their assigned territories. Thus, the Pharisees determined that "place" was equivalent to "town" or "city." The starting point was the last hut at the extremity of the town (Erubin 21a, fn 10; 55a). Moses did not provide a distance limit, but the Pharisees used two passages in the Tanakh to arrive at the arbitrary number: Numbers 35:5 and Joshua 3:4. Luke notes that Mount Olivet, probably meaning the eastern slope, was a Sabbath day's journey from Jerusalem (Acts 1:12).
However, the Pharisees developed exceptions that allowed the 2,000 cubits to be considerably lengthened (discussed at length in the Tractate Erubin). They allowed that if one placed food preparations at another location, then that place figuratively became his abode and he may travel to it up to 2,000 cubits and then another 2,000 cubits which made the whole journey 4,000 cubits, a little over a mile (Edersheim-Temple 137). Since the Pharisees could manipulate their own tradition the Judeans who came to the house of Lazarus may not have felt bound by the Pharisaic rule (cf. John 7:49). The large crowd would have come from the village of Bethany and surrounding areas.
The crowd may have even included pilgrims who were going to Jerusalem and had camped in the area for the Sabbath. These people likely heard the tale of the miracle resurrection. John points out that on this occasion the people not only wanted to see Yeshua but verify for themselves what they had heard about Lazarus. The local people all knew that he had died. No doubt expectation would be high as to what Yeshua could and would do for them.
10 But the chief priests resolved that also they might kill Lazarus;
John's observation in this verse and the next likely was meant in the sense of "meanwhile over in Jerusalem." But: Grk. de, conj. the: the plural definite article might hint at a smaller number of those identified. chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. The "chief priest" would be Caiaphas, the high priest, but the plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Acts 4:1; 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts (see Jeremias 160–166 for a detailed discussion). Under the anointed high priest was a deputy high priest who had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (see Acts 4:1; 5:24).
The deputy high priest also served as the chief of police in the Temple area and as such had power to arrest. He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. Next there was the director of the weekly division of ordinary priests, and then the director of the daily shift. Then there were also seven temple overseers and three or more temple treasurers. As a group the chief priests wielded considerable power in the city. In this situation the conspirators may have only been Caiaphas, the high priest, and Annas, the former high priest, but the current deputy high priest could also have been involved in the plot.
resolved: Grk. bouleuō, aor. mid., take counsel with oneself, with either the focus on (1) a deliberative process; deliberate, consider; or (2) the decision following the deliberative process; decision, resolve. that: Grk. hina, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. they might kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. subj., put an end by force to existence of someone; kill. Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. The word for intentional murder or assassination in Hebrew is ratzach (SH–7523; BDB 953; Ex 20:13) and in Greek phoneuō. For accidental killing, manslaughter, ruthless violence, killing in war or court–ordered execution the Hebrew word is harag (SH–2026; BDB 246; Gen 4:8) and the Greek word is apokteinō. Lazarus: friend of Yeshua.
The resurrection of Lazarus was a sure sign of Yeshua's power and the response of the crowds held the potential for shaking the political foundations of Jewish society. The plot to kill Lazarus, a man who committed no wrong and posed no threat to the ruling authorities, reveals the depth of depravity, perhaps even Satanic–induced insanity. Stern observes that the chief priests sought not only to kill Yeshua but to obliterate all signs of his work.
11 because on account of him many of the Judeans were leaving and were trusting in Yeshua.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. on account of: Grk. dia, prep. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., the antecedent of which is Lazarus. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 9 above. of the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 9 above, which defines who came to learn about Lazarus. Two versions treat the term here as referring to Judean leaders (CEV, TLB), but nothing in the context supports such an interpretation. leaving: Grk. hupagō, impf., to proceed from a position, sometimes (1) with the focus on the departure point; go away, leave; or (2) with the focus on an objective or destination; go, be on one's way. The first usage applies here. In the LXX hupagō appears one time, "And Moses stretched out his hand upon the sea. And the LORD drew away [hupagō] the sea by a violent south wind the entire night. And he made the sea dry and cut asunder water" (Ex 14:21 ABP). In that verse hupagō translates Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, proceed, depart, go away.
HELPS defines the verb with a transitive meaning, lit. "going under," i.e., to lead away under someone's authority. The verb thus indicates a change of relation which is only defined by the context. Mounce also says that the verb means to lead or bring under, or to lead or bring from under. Many versions follow this definition and interpret the verb to mean that people were changing their loyalties to the Judean authorities (CEB, CEV, CJB, ERV, HCSB, MRINT, MSG, NAB, NCV, NEB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, REV, TEV, WE) or abandoning their Jewish religion, and "going over" to Yeshua instead (GW, NLV, NOG, VOICE). The CJB expresses the former view with "large numbers of the Judeans were leaving their leaders." The worst translation of this verse is in the NLV: "Because of Lazarus, many of the Jews were leaving their own religion. They were putting their trust in Jesus." Yeshua never left the Jewish religion and those who followed Yeshua remained faithful to Torah (Acts 21:20).
However, the Greek text simply does not support this "change of loyalty" interpretation. The standard lexicons (BAG, Danker and Thayer) say that the transitive use of the verb occurs only in classical Greek writings and that in apostolic writings hupagō is always used in the intransitive sense of leave, withdraw or depart. So, the Judeans came, saw the proof of resurrection and left. That is all John is claiming with the verb hupagō. But, they left with a change of heart. and: Grk. kai, conj. were trusting: Grk. pisteuō, impf., in general Greek usage means to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone; believe, trust, entrust. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, (SH-4100; BDB 52), to confirm or support, but is also used to mean 'to be true, reliable or faithful' and be applied to men (e.g., Moses, Num 12:7), but especially to God who keeps his covenantal promises to those who love him (Deut 7:9).
The Heb. verb 'aman is also used to mean stand firm, trust or believe. The verb speaks of a behavioral action, not merely a mental process. The action begins with the conviction of God's existence, generosity and faithfulness to His promises (Heb 11:6). If one is truly convinced, then one trusts; if one believes and trusts, then one is faithful and produces works of faithfulness (cf. Matt 7:21; Acts 21:20; Jas 2:18-19; 1Jn 3:23-24). in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition stresses movement toward an object and here depicts the transfer of trust from their hearts to the one worthy of trust. Yeshua: When the Judeans left the area the evidence of their eyes had convinced them to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah. Many versions do give the correct sense that John is simply describing the fact that Judean friends and neighbors were departing the home of Lazarus and trusting in Yeshua (ASV, BBE, DARBY, DRA, ESV, HNV, KJV, LEB, LITV, MEV, Moffatt, MW, NASB, NIRV, NKJV, OJB, RSV, TLV, WBT, WEB, YLT).
Sunday, Nisan 10, A.D. 30
After verse 12 there are no further time references in the chapter, so John presents the narrative of verses 12-50 below as occurring in the same day.
The Arrival of King Messiah, 12:12–19
Parallel: Matthew 21:1–10; Mark 11:1–10; Luke 19:28–41
12 The next day the great crowd having come to the feast, having heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem,
Kasdan titles the parallel section in his commentary on Matthew as "The Aliyah of King Messiah" (229). The Hebrew word "aliyah" lit. means "going up." This label can be misleading since modern non–Messianic Jews use "aliyah" to mean to return or immigrate to Israel. The term "aliyah" is also used in synagogue services to denote someone "going up" to the bimah (platform) to read from the Torah. Within Christianity this trip of Yeshua into Jerusalem is referred to as the Triumphal Entry. We might ask, "how did Yeshua triumph on this day?"
The next day: Grk. epaurion, lit. 'on the morrow,' the next or following day. the great: Grk. polus. See verse 9 above. crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 9 above. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 1 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the feast: Grk. heortē, a religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and all but eight occur in the book of John. In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival–gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290).
having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; or (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about. The third meaning has application here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). that: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua was coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., lit. "is coming." The present tense heightens the drama of the moment. The movements of Yeshua were difficult to conceal. Thousands of pilgrims came annually to the Passover celebration, and Roman roads made the trip easier.
Two major Roman highways connected the Diaspora in the north with the land of Israel, the Via Maris that ran along the Mediterranean coast to Egypt and the King's Highway that ran south from Damascus on the east side of the Jordan. Minor roads branched off to the major cities of the land. (See the maps of the highway network in the Land here and here.) Many pilgrims who lived in the Tetrarchy of Philip, Decapolis and Perea where Yeshua had conducted significant ministry would enter the Land by crossing over the Jordan opposite Jericho and from there take the road that ran by Bethany.
to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). What a precious name is Jerusalem! The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. At the time of the Exodus the city was inhabited by the Jebusites (Josh 15:8), but then captured by the tribe of Judah (Jdg 1:8). The city was also known as the City of David (2Sam 5:7).
By the end of David's reign the city had expanded to cover seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twenty–five to thirty thousand (252). For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. David spoke of Jerusalem "as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord" (Ps 122:3–4 ESV). Another psalmist expressed his affection thus, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Ps 137:5–6).
13 took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and were shouting, Hosanna: Blessed is the one coming in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.
took: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 3 above. the branches: pl. of Grk. baion, palm branch. of the palm trees: Grk. phoinix, the palm–tree, the date–palm, a palm–branch or palm–leaf (BAG). These trees apparently grew in great plenty in the area. Cutting branches was done for Sukkot (Feast of Booths), but in that instance they were waved in adoration of God and celebration. In this instance the people laid the palm branches on the road in front of Yeshua (Matt 21:2; Mark 11:8), a way of treating him as royalty. The Jewish sages had a saying, ""if a man takes palm tree branches in his hands, we know that he is victorious" (Vayikra Rabba, XXX, 170:3; quoted in Gill).
and: Grk. kai, conj. went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. to: Grk. eis, prep. meet: Grk. hupantēsis, a drawing up close for encounter, come to meet. The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in reference to people meeting Yeshua (Matt 8:34; 25:1). him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., referring to Yeshua. and: Grk. kai, conj. were shouting: Grk. kraugazō, impf., (from kraugē, shout, outcry) to utter a loud sound, cry (out), shout. Hosanna: Grk. hōsanna transliterates Heb. hoshia'na ("save, please" or "save now"). The word, (and sometimes the whole phrase "Hosanna to the Son of David," Matt 21:9), is usually rendered as if it were only an acclamation of praise, when it is really a prayer for the Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression (Stern 63).
The opening declaration of the crowd alludes to and summarizes the beginning of the Great Hallel:
""Hoshia-na! Please, ADONAI, save now! We beseech You, ADONAI, prosper us!" (Ps 118:25 TLV)
The Matthew account has the people saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matt 21:9 NASB). The implication is that the crowds recognized and honored Yeshua as the Messiah by their loud appeal. However, Psalm 118 was also appropriate for the occasion because it tracks the progress of pilgrims as they journey to the Temple and sung at the Passover Seder as the final psalm in the closing Hallel. The shout of Hoshia'na is followed by the next verse:
"Baruch haba b’Shem ADONAI— Blessed is He who comes in the Name of ADONAI. We bless you from the House of ADONAI." (Ps 118:26 TLV)
Blessed is: Grk. eulogeō, perf. pass. part., to invoke divine favor or to express high praise, to bless, to offer a blessing; in this case the latter meaning. The corresponding Heb. verb is barakh, which lit. means to kneel or to bless (BDB 138). In the Tanakh barakh is an endowment of favor or beneficial power (cf. Gen 1:28), ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser, either from God to man, from man to man or parent to child. However, the verb often occurs in the context of a man blessing God (e.g., Ps 103:1). the one coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 1 above. Luke's account has the people saying, "Blessed is the King who comes" (Luke 19:38 NASB). in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," and here marking close association.
the name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. In this context "name" conveys authority to act as an agent. of the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). For more information on the use of kurios see the note on John 1:23.
In Mark's account the people add another blessing, "Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David" (Mark 11:10 NASB). even: Grk. kai, conj. the King: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek. In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The noun refers to both the covenant name of the chosen people and a corporate reference to the biological descendants of Jacob through the twelve tribes (Gen 32:28).
The name "Israel" appears in Genesis 32:28 where the heavenly being with whom Jacob struggled said, "From now on, you will no longer be called Ya'akov, but Isra'el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed" (CJB). The announcement, occurring before Jacob's reconciliation with his brother Esau, was prophetic because not until chapter 35 do we read that the name change was made permanent. Then God spoke to Jacob,
"Your name is Ya'akov, but you will be called Ya'akov no longer; your name will be Isra'el." Thus he named him Isra'el." God further said to him, "I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you. Moreover, the land which I gave to Avraham and Yitz'chak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you." (Gen 35:9–12 CJB)
The name of Israel was then given to the land God bequeathed to the descendants of Jacob (Gen 49:7) and used of the whole people regarded as one person (Num 24:5). The reader should note that the people said "Israel" and not "Palestine." Contrary to the erroneous labeling on Christian Bible maps and usage by Christian commentators there was no Palestine in Bible times. There is no Palestine now and to use the term in any biblical context can only be described as antisemitic. (See my web article The Land is Not Palestine.) Regardless of what names governments have placed on the land, to God the land was and is "Israel" (cf. Matt 2:20–21; 10:23; Luke 4:27; 7:9). There is also no hint of the concept of the "New Israel," a title that the Church later claimed for itself when it adopted the false doctrine of Supersessionism. (See my web article Scripture vs. Supersessionism.)
The title "King of Israel" occurs 130 times in the Tanakh, but only four times in the Besekh, twice in respect (here and John 1:49 on the lips of Nathanael) and twice in mockery (Matt 27:42; Mark 15:32). The apostolic writings repeatedly interpret the Messianic role in terms of kingship and emphasize that Yeshua is the present King of Israel, King of the Jews (Matt 2:2; 27:11, 37) and King of the nations (Gen 49:10; Rev 15:3) reigning from heaven (Acts 2:32–33; 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1). He will also be the future king reigning from Jerusalem in the age to come (Zech 14:1–8; Luke 21:27–28; Rom 11:26; Rev 14:1; 20:6–9). Too many disciples want to reduce Yeshua's role in the present age to Savior and ignore the fact that Yeshua is a King to whom they owe absolute obedience.
14 Now Yeshua, having found a donkey, sat upon it; as it is written,
Now: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua having found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., to come upon by seeking; find, locate, discover, acquire, obtain. The verb does not mean that Yeshua went on a personal search. The verb could well mean "found by the agency of others" (Morris 586). a donkey: Grk. onarion, donkey. The noun is the diminutive form of the word, but whether it indicates small size or youth cannot be determined with accuracy (Danker). John does not explain the details of obtaining the donkey as recorded in the Synoptic narratives. The provision of the donkey was obviously prearranged and Yeshua sent two disciples to bring the donkey to him (Matt 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; Luke 19:29-35). Desiring to obtain a donkey Yeshua may have asked Simon, his host, for assistance in identifying someone who would be willing to provide the animal.
Simon, knowing the one to ask, went to Bethphage to negotiate for Yeshua. Since the apostles were not from the local area, they wouldn't have personal knowledge of a donkey owner who would be willing to lend the animal. Lazarus couldn't be sent because he was too well-known and would draw attention. Yeshua needed someone less conspicuous, as well as trustworthy, to make the arrangements. Then Yeshua sent two disciples to claim the promised animal. Perhaps Yeshua sent Andrew and Philip. Andrew found the boy with the lunch at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:9). Andrew was a businessman (Mark 1:16) and was likely experienced in negotiations. Philip knew the price of things (John 6:5-7). Andrew and Philip appeared to have been close friends (cf. John 1:44; 12:22).
sat: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. upon: Grk. epi, prep. used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'on, upon, over.' it: Grk. autos, pers. pron. as: Grk. kathōs, adv., emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula in the apostolic narratives and letters for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, normally followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for Yeshua and the apostles it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g., Ex 17:14; 20:1; 24:4; 34:27-28; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; Jer 36:4; Matt 4:4; Mark 12:26; 2Pet 1:20-21). John then quotes from Zechariah 9:9.
15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, your King comes, sitting on a colt of a donkey.
Fear: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. imp., be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. The opening verbal phrase is a curious choice since the Hebrew and LXX text of Zechariah 9:9 says, "Rejoice greatly." The verbal phrase phobeō mē is found in a parallel prophecy of Isaiah 40:9, so John may have conflated the Isaiah passage with the Zechariah passage. It could well have suited John's purposes (John 20:31), since the Isaiah passage ends with "Say to the cities of Judah, behold your God."
daughter: Grk. thugatēr, female offspring of parents; daughter. of Zion: Grk. Siōn, a transliteration of Heb. Tsiōn, one of the seven mountains on which Jerusalem was built. Most modern commentators generally relegate the suggestion to legend, but Jerusalem is reputed in Jewish circles to have been built on seven hills (cf. Ps 125:1-2). Rev. James Neil, formerly incumbent of Christ Church in Jerusalem (1871-1874), from his own observations enumerated on a map the seven hills on which the city was built as Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Palestine Explored [James Nisbet & Co, 1882], 289).
Tsiōn was originally the fortress of the Jebusites (Josh 15:63), but was captured by David (2Sam 5:5–7). He later built his residence and headquarters there (1Chr 11:5). Tsiōn would become symbolic of the city of Jerusalem (2Kgs 19:31) and then of the nation of Israel (Ps 149:2; Isa 46:13). Not only was Tsiōn the home of David, but more importantly the dwelling place of the God of Israel (Isa 8:18; 12:6; Joel 3:16). The significance of the location should not be missed. Tsiōn is not the Church.
behold: Grk. idou, demonstrative interjection (the aor. mid. imp. of eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek particle, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).
your King: Grk. basileus. See verse 13 above. The reference to "your king" means the "king of Israel." comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 1 above. sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. on: Grk. epi, prep. a colt: Grk. pōlos can mean the young of any animal; but here, as in the LXX and papyri, it means the colt of a donkey (cf. Matt 21:2; Mark 11:2). Because of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, the donkey was considered to be the beast of the Messiah. of a donkey: Grk. onos, fem. noun, donkey.
The Jewish Sages debated the possibilities by which the Messiah would come to Israel. The following quote illustrates their attempts at reconciling the seemingly contradictory statements about the Messiah's arrival:
"R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven [Dan 7:13] whilst elsewhere it is written, behold, thy king cometh unto thee … lowly, and riding upon an ass! [Zech 9:9] — if they are meritorious, he will come with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass." (Sanhedrin 98a)
16 His disciples understood not these things at first: but when Yeshua was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written about him, and they had done these things to him.
His disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 4 above. understood: Grk. ginōskō, aor. See verse 9 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., negative particle. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this; used here in reference to Zechariah's prophecy. at first: Grk. prōtos, adj., first, earlier, used here adverbially to mean "at the first" or "formerly." In other words, prior to the resurrection of Yeshua. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 6 above. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. Yeshua was glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass. (from doxa, "glory"), may mean either (1) to praise or honor or (2) in reference to the next life to clothe in splendor (BAG). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4).
then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. they remembered: Grk. mimnēskomai, aor. pass., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past; recollect, remember. In the LXX mimnēskomai generally renders Heb. zakar with the same meaning (DNTT 3:232). that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part. See verse 14 above. about: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," and with the dative case of the pronoun following conveys the object of the action described. him: Grk. autos, 3p–sing. pers. pron., i.e., Yeshua. and: Grk. kai, conj. they had done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 2 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos. to him: Grk. autos, 3p–sing. pron., i.e., Yeshua.
John engages in a retrospective analysis. "His disciples" includes himself, of course, but he tells the story as a neutral narrator. What they did not understand was the many messianic prophecies in the Tanakh that pointed to a suffering savior. The glorification of Yeshua may include his resurrection, his witness to the disciples during the forty days following and finally his ascension to heaven. The disciples remembered because Yeshua reminded them (Luke 24:44–46).
17 Therefore the crowd being with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, bore witness.
This verse alludes to the narrative of John 11:17, 38–44. Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 9 above. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. him: Grk. autos, 3p–sing. pron., i.e., Yeshua. when: Grk. hote, adv. he called: Grk. phōneō, aor., may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The third meaning has application here with a nuance of the second meaning. Lazarus: See verse 1 above. out of: Grk. ek. prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. BAG adds that the word can also mean memorial or monument. It stresses the remembrance of the dead, which is why we still use grave markers. Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel.
In Bible times corpses were typically placed in natural caves (Gen 23:19; 49:30–31), other above–ground tombs cut into soft rock (Jdg 8:32; Matt 27:60; Acts 2:29), or in the ground (Gen 35:8, 19; 2Kgs 23:6; Jer 26:23; Matt 27:5–10). The burial place would be outside but near the town where the person lived. The rock tombs sometimes contained chambers or a single room with shelves on three sides of the chamber, the entrance being closed by a large flat stone rolled or pushed into position. As generations of the same family used the tomb, skeletons and grave goods might be heaped up along the sides or put into a side chamber to make room for new burials.
The practice of family burial, though not universal if only because not all could afford it, was common enough to give rise to the Hebrew expressions "to sleep [or lie down] with one's fathers" (Deut 31:16; 2Sam 7:12; 1Kgs 1:21; 2:10) and "to be gathered to his people" (Gen 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:33; Num 20:24; Deut 32:50) as synonyms for "to die." In Hebrew culture burial of the dead was as urgent a duty as visitation of the sick. After all, God visited the sick (Gen 18:1) and buried the dead (Deut 34:6), leaving an example for His people to follow (Sotah 14a). The tomb of Lazarus was located outside the village of Bethany and in John 11:38 the tomb was described as a cave (Grk. spēlaion), which no doubt had a horizontal shaft that made it suitable as a place of burial.
and: Grk. kai, conj. raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. See verse 1 above. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron.; i.e., Lazarus. from: Grk. ek, prep. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 1 above. The noun is used fig. of all those who had died and were buried in the area. bore witness: Grk. martureō, impf., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. The imperfect tense points to the activity that had been going on since Lazarus came out of the tomb. John's assertion emphasizes that the evidence of the resurrection of Lazarus rested in part on the testimony of trustworthy eyewitnesses, not to mention the very real presence of Lazarus restored to his family.
18 On account of this also the crowd met him, because they heard of his having performed this sign.
On account of: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through." this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. The antecedent of the pronoun is the "bearing witness" in the previous verse. also: Grk. kai, conj. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 9 above. The mention of "the crowd" here is to a different group of people, likely pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. They may well have camped in the vicinity of Bethany, since the Talmud specifically mentions Bethany and Bethphage as celebrated for their hospitality towards the festival pilgrims (TJ Pes. 53, cited in Edersheim-Temple 168). met: hupantaō, aor., to draw up close for an encounter; meet. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron.; i.e. Yeshua. because: Grk. hoti, conj. they heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 12 above.
This group had not seen the resurrection of Lazarus, but had heard the report of those who did. of his: Grk. autos. having performed: Grk. poieō, perf. inf. See verse 2 above. this: Grk. houtos. sign: Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6). John's testimony uses sēmeion of seven specific creation-type miracles Yeshua performed that proclaimed his Messianic office and divine power. The resurrection of Lazarus could easily be classed in the top ten miracles of all history.
19 Therefore the Pharisees said to themselves, "You consider that you gain nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people for religious devotion. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The book of John uses the term 20 times and only in the plural, generally to substitute for the term "elders" found in the Synoptic Narratives, a faction of the Sanhedrin. Membership in the Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, elders and scribes (Matt 16:21; 26:57; 27:41). Yeshua described the scribes and Pharisees as having "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matt 23:2), probably an allusion to the fact that members of the Sanhedrin sat on chairs. For more information on the Pharisee party see my comment on John 1:24.
said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. The root meaning is 'near' or 'facing,' but with the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is 'to, toward' (DM 110). themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pron.; himself. In other words, the speaking of the Pharisees was only to one another in their group. The charge that follows has the ring of a spokesman reprimanding a dissenter against the conspiracy to kill Yeshua. You consider: Grk. theōreō, pres., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The second meaning has primary application here. that: Grk. hoti, conj.
you gain: Grk. ōpheleō, pres., may mean (1) to engage in activity that brings about something good above and beyond that which existed earlier either in the sense of (a) help, assist; (b) cause to benefit, be of advantage to, be of benefit to, or (c) be of value; or (2) be successful in an activity. nothing: Grk. ou oudeis, lit. "not nothing," a very strong negation. Behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. of eidon, to see, but functions as an attention–getter without regard to number of persons addressed, behold! the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the earth as the place of habitation; (3) the world as mankind, sometimes in reference to a segment of population; and (4) representative of people and values opposed to God.
In the LXX kosmos occurs five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19), but the meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings. A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22), but the term is also used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6).
has gone: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. after: Grk. opisō, adv., in a state, condition or situation that is subsequent, and may refer to (1) a spatial condition, behind; or (2) an earlier position, back. The first usage applies here. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron.; i.e., Yeshua. In one respect, the statement could amount to self-pity and jealousy, but more likely concern as they expressed in the council meeting three months previously (11:48). Many Jews throughout the Land have received Yeshua's ministry of blessing, healing and teaching and consequently embraced him as their expected deliverer. Upon this statement John turns to some special visitors to Jerusalem.
20 Now some Hellenistic Jews were among the ones going up in order that they might worship in the festival:
For the rest of this chapter John records incidents and sayings of Yeshua not found in the other apostolic narratives. The context implies that these incidents occurred on the same day as the journey to Jerusalem and before Yeshua's arrival at the temple (Mark 11:11).
Now: Grk. de, conj. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, any one, someone. Hellenistic Jews: Grk. Hellēnés, nominative pl. of Hellēn (Hel'-lane), may mean (1) a man of Greek language and culture or (2) in the broader sense, all persons who came under the influence of Greek (i.e., pagan) culture (BAG). All the lexicons specifically exclude Jews from this definition, which is strange. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to educate and assimilate people in the Greek way of life. All who adopted the Greek language and culture were counted as Hellēn (DNTT 2:124). Danker concurs saying, "in the New Testament Hellēn is not an ethnic term restricted to Greece as a specific country or people" (123).
Almost all Bible versions translate Hellēnés here as "Greeks," although a few have "Gentiles" (DRA, and the Aramaic versions of Bauscher, Etheridge and Lamsa). Strangely, the KJV translates the term as "Greeks," but as "Gentiles" in John 7:35. Christian commentators interpret the term to mean "Gentiles." The translation of "Greeks" is unfortunate because the average person reading the text would assume John means persons from Greece. Words mean things. If Bible translators meant "Greek-speaking people" or "Gentiles" they should have been more forthright in their translation work. Considering the lexicon definition a better translation of Hellenés in this context would be "Hellenists."
Morris suggests these men were "God-fearers," such as Cornelius. However, Cornelius could not have participated in Passover without being circumcised. BAG and Thayer assert that the usage of Hellenés in this specific verse denotes Jewish proselytes, even though they define its usage in John 7:35 as pagan Greeks. BAG cites as evidence the account of Josephus concerning the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism in Antioch (Wars VII, 3:3). However, Josephus does not use the Greek word for proselyte (prosēlutos) in that section (cf. the Greek text, Wars 7.45). Thayer cites no corroborative evidence for his claim.
John does not use prosēlutos as used of some of those in Jerusalem present for Pentecost (Acts 2:10) or phobeomai ho theos as used of Cornelius (Acts 10:2, 22). Also, a company celebrating Passover could not be composed exclusively of proselytes (Pes. 91b). In my view Hellenés should be translated as "Hellenistic Jews." The CJB is alone among Bible versions (including Messianic Jewish versions) with "Greek-speaking Jews." DHE has a marginal note that the term may mean "Hellenistic Jews" (384). There are several reasons for this translation, which are listed in my commentary on John 7:35 where the term appears in the Besekh for the first time. In this verse and the next John presents two compelling reasons for interpreting Hellēnés as Jews and not Gentiles.
were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. among: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." the ones going up: Grk. anabainō, pl. pres. part. with the definite article, to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. This verb reflects the Hebraic manner of describing topography and movement in a hilly country. The description asserts the presence of the Hellenistic Jews in the large crowd of pilgrims going to Jerusalem on this day. in order that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 7 above. they might worship: Grk. proskuneō, aor. subj., (derived from pros, 'toward' and kuneō, 'to kiss'), may mean either (1) to recognize another's prestige by offering special honor, ordinarily through a gesture of prostration; do obeisance to, pay homage to, bow down; or (2) to demonstrate honor and adoration to transcendent beings or deity, ordinarily in a religious sense; worship.
In the LXX proskuneō principally translates Heb. shachah (SH-7812), to bend down, which is used both of bowing down before men and of worship toward deity (BDB 1005). It occurs without Heb. equivalent in the apocryphal books and occasionally in canonical writings (DNTT 2:876). The first usage of proskuneō for shachah is in Genesis 18:2 and the second in Genesis 22:5, which illustrate two key activities associated with this verb, that of honoring a superior and/or sacrifice or service of some nature. In the former case Abraham bowed low to the three heavenly visitors, one of whom was ADONAI, and then provided sacrificial service in his hospitality to them (cf. Gen 19:1-3). In the latter case Abraham "bowed" to God's directive to offer his son Isaac and prepare a burnt offering on Mt. Moriah.
In the Besekh proskuneō continues the Hebrew meaning. The first usage of proskuneō in the Besekh is on the lips of the Magi who told King Herod that they had come to worship the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2). Then, Matthew records that when the Magi found the child they bowed down and presented their gifts (Matt 2:11). The Magi had obeyed God to come to Jerusalem and they had sacrificed of their time and personal fortunes to bless the child and his family. Other persons in the apostolic narratives also direct worship to Yeshua (Matt 14:33; 28:9, 17; John 9:38). Worship in Scripture is often an act within the context of a gathering of God's people or the congregation. Worship is to be directed to the God of Israel alone (Matt 4:10; Acts 10:25f; Rev 19:10; 22:8f).
in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 13 above. While normally used in connection to a location, the preposition en is used here to denote participation in an event. the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 12 above. The festival mentioned here is Passover. The stated purpose to "worship in Passover" confirms that these Hellenés were Jews. They were not tourists or philosophical students from Athens who came to sneer at Judaism. The primary purpose for these visitors coming to Jerusalem was to worship in obedience to the command of the Torah:
"Three times a year all your men are to appear in the presence of ADONAI your God in the place which he will choose - at the festival of matzah, at the festival of Shavu'ot and at the festival of Sukkot. They are not to show up before ADONAI empty-handed, 17 but every man is to give what he can, in accordance with the blessing ADONAI your God has given you." (Deut 26:16-17 CJB)
To satisfy the requirement of "giving" to God, each male had to present a free-will offering taken from sheep, lambs, goats or oxen, males or females, and consumed during the first two days of the festival (Pes. 6:3; Hag. 1:2). Specific rules for festival offerings are found in the Tractate Hagigah. No Gentile could lay hands on a sacrificial animal for slaughtering (Menachot 10:8; 93a), as required for the animal offerings. To the Judean Jews controlling the Temple these visiting Jews were not necessarily identifiable as Hellenistic. As long as they were circumcised they would not be barred from participating in the festivities.
21 So these came to Philip, this one from Bethsaida of Galilee, and requested him, saying, Sir, we desire to see Yeshua.
So: Grk. oun, conj. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, masc. dem. pron. See verse 16 above. The pronoun alludes to the Hellenistic Jews mentioned in the previous verse. came: Grk. proserchomai, aor., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. to Philip: Grk. Philippos, "fond of horses," composed etymologically from philia, "fondness, affection," and hippos, "horse." This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. It might seem strange for Philip to have a name of Greek origin since there is no indication that he was anything other than a traditional Jew (John 1:45), but such a practice was not uncommon in Israel.
There are four men named Philip in the Besekh: (1) Philip a son of Herod the Great and Mariamne; first husband of Herodias (Matt 14:3; Luke 3:19). He was a half–brother of Herod Antipas. (2) Philip the Tetrarch over Gaulanitis, a son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra of Jerusalem (Luke 3:1). (3) Philip the evangelist and one of the first deacons (Acts 6:5), and (4) the apostle of Yeshua mentioned here. This Philip is mentioned 15 times in the Besekh, 11 of which are in this book.
Philip was the fourth to follow Yeshua and may have been a follower of Yochanan the Immerser previously. Immediately after his call from Yeshua, he informed Nathanael, his close friend, of the Messiah. He was not discouraged by Nathanael's cool response to the invitation, but insisted that Nathanael meet Yeshua in person (John 1:45–46). Philip was a practical man who later determined the cost of feeding the multitude (John 6:5–7). The narrative here amplifies Philip's "come and see" viewpoint in introducing Hellenistic Jews to Yeshua. At the last supper Philip asked Yeshua to see the Father (John 14:8–9). Philip is included in the list of those who awaited Pentecost (Acts 1:13), but the Besekh says no more of him. According to Polycrates, an early church writer Philip was "one of the great lights of Asia" (Barker 284).
this one: Grk. ho, definite article functioning as a dem. pron., this one, that one, etc. from: Grk. apo, prep. generally used to denote separation, but here indicates a place of origin; from. The preposition implies that the location was the birthplace, as well as a domicile. Bethsaida: Grk. Bēthsaida, a transliteration of Heb. Beit–Tsaidah, a location name meaning "house of fish." The city was located on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The apostolic narratives place the city near Chorazin (Matt 11:21). Josephus locates Bethsaida east of the Jordan and in lower Gaulanitis, the Tetrarchy of Philip (Wars II, 9:1; III, 3:5). See a map of Bethsaida here. The association of Philip the apostle with Bethsaida is first mentioned in John 1:44, where it indicates that Peter and Andrew were also "of" Bethsaida, but not "from" it. It's very possible that Philip was noteworthy figure in Bethsaida.
Since the birthplace of Philip was Bethsaida, he may have been named after the Tetrarch. According to Josephus the Tetrarch's character was exceptional and his rule of 37 years was just and fair (Ant. XVIII, 4:6). He improved the town of Paneas and renamed it Caesarea, later called Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13) to avoid confusion with Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea. He also rebuilt the town of Bethsaida and named it Julias in honor of the daughter of Emperor Augustus' (Ant. XVIII, 2:1).
of Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. In the time of Yeshua Galilee was a Roman province bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judaea on the south. However, John probably meant the Galil known by Jews, which included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake ("Galilee," JE; Morris 163). In this time, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. Yeshua devoted most of his earthly ministry to Galilee, and so was also known as the Galilean (Matt 26:69).
The fact that these visitors came to Philip offers another reason that they were Hellenistic Jews. Out of all the disciples why approach Philip? Moreover, why approach him at all? Even Gentiles managed to introduce themselves to Yeshua without mediation of disciples, such as a Roman centurion (Matt 8:5) and the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:25-26). The visitors would not have approached Philip simply because he had a Greek name and spoke Greek as Stern suggests. Being pilgrims how would they know Philip had a Greek name and spoke Greek? Every one of the twelve disciples had a Greek or Graecized name, and while they normally spoke in Hebrew among themselves, they would likely have been conversant in Jewish Greek. The visitors must have had something else in common with Philip, such as location, given the mention of Bethsaida.
Lightfoot, while assuming these Hellenés were Gentiles, suggests that Philip was known to them because of his neighborhood, and if they did not come from Bethsaida they may have come from some near Hellenistic city of the Decapolis ("Ten Cities"), such as Hippos or Gadara (3:379). People from the Decapolis began following Yeshua early in his ministry (Matt 4:25), and then he ministered in the region where he healed a deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:31-37) and miraculously fed 4,000+ people (Mark 8:1-10). These visitors may have been part of that crowd. The straight forward explanation is these were Jewish pilgrims who approached Philip out of personal knowledge, which may mean they also were from Bethsaida.
and: Grk. kai, conj. requested: Grk. erōtaō, impf., can mean (1) to ask with the focus on querying for information; or (2) to ask in the sense of making a request, frequently with the effort to soften the tone for what might sound peremptory. The second meaning applies here. The imperfect tense indicates continuous action in past time, so the verb could be "they kept making a request." Morris says John doesn't record their question, but he does record their request, which is the point of the verb. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., referring to Philip. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. Sir: Grk. kurie, voc. of kurios, may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In personal address kurios may be translated as "sir" to express recognition of or submission to superior rank. To these men Philip had a superior status, so they addressed him with a greeting of respect as was customary in Jewish culture.
we desire: Grk. thelō, pres., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to see: Grk. horaō, aor. inf., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. Here the verb connotes a personal audience. They wanted more than just to set eyes on him. Stern suggests, based on Yeshua's answer (verses 23–26 below), that their purpose was to offer him new opportunities for ministry in their part of the world. However, in my view the response of Yeshua seems to have little in common with the assumed purpose of the Hellenists. Their purpose may have been more pragmatic. They simply wanted to meet the one of whom they had heard so much with a view to gaining some personal favor.
Yeshua: the one who is Lord. The expressed desire to see Yeshua provides a sixth reason to believe these visitors were Hellenistic Jews. It's extremely doubtful that Greeks from Athens would have even heard about Yeshua and Greeks in the Diaspora would be indifferent to Jewish festivals, let alone an itinerant Jewish teacher. Given Yeshua's prior ministry in Galilee and the Decapolis God–fearing Hellenistic Jews would have a strong religious interest in meeting Yeshua.
22 Philip went and told Andrew; and Andrew and Philip went, and they told Yeshua.
Philip went: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 1 above. The present tense is used to make the narrative more dramatic. and: Grk. kai, conj. told: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 4 above. Andrew: Grk. Andreas, derived from andros the genitive case of anēr "of a man." Andrew is the brother of Simon Peter and apparently the first disciple to join Yeshua (John 1:40). Andrew, being a Greek name, may have been only a nickname or a translation of his real Hebrew name, which is not known. There is a Hebrew name Anêr ("boy") found twice in the Tanakh, once of an Amorite chieftain who aided Abraham in the pursuit of the four invading kings (Gen 14:13, 24) and once of a Levitical city west of the Jordan in Manasseh allotted to the Kohathite Levites (1Chr 6:70). "Andrew" could also have been chosen by his father because he liked the name or wished to honor someone important to the family.
Both Andrew and Peter were fishermen who had lived in Bethsaida (John 1:44), but they also had a house at Capernaum (Mark 1:29). According to John's narrative Andrew brought his brother Simon to meet Yeshua (John 1:43–51). At the feeding of the 5,000 Andrew called Yeshua's attention to the boy with the small lunch (John 6:5–9). All lists of the disciples name Andrew among the first four (Matt 10:2–4). Church fathers placed Andrew's later field of labor as Scythia, the region north of the Black Sea. According to tradition, he was martyred at Patrae in Achaia by crucifixion on an X–shaped cross.
John offers no information as to why Philip should go to Andrew and not one of the three principal apostles (Peter, Jacob and John). It may have had to do with a personal affinity or friendship. and: Grk. kai, conj. Andrew and Philip went: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. and: Grk. kai, conj. they told: Grk. legō, pres. Yeshua: The two intermediaries go directly to Yeshua, as the object of the visitors' interest, perhaps representative of the Torah principle of two or three attesting a fact (Deut 19:15).
23 And Yeshua answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
And: Grk. kai, conj. Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, pres. mid., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. Some versions inexplicably omit translation of the pronoun (CEB, CEV, MSG, NEB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, WE), no doubt assuming that the verb is directed at Philip and Andrew.
Reinhartz (183), as Morris, believes Yeshua ignored the Hellenists and refused to meet them. Tenney allows that the pronoun could refer to the Hellenists and the content of verses 23–26 was addressed to them. The thrust of the verb, which means to answer a request, would give weight to this interpretation. In addition, Yeshua's response in these verses is as much rebuke as it is exhortation, which would hardly seem to apply to Philip and Andrew. There is a certain irony here. In 7:35 the Judean authorities wondered whether Yeshua was going to go to the Diaspora to teach Hellenistic Jews. He didn't need to go to them. They came to him.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. The combination of the verbs "answered and said" is a typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 2Sam 1:17). The verb apokrinomai emphasizes that a verbal response was made and the verb legō introduces the quotation. The hour: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The third meaning fits best here with respect to a foreordained time. has come: Grk. erchomai, perf. See verse 1 above. For the visitors Yeshua implies, "the time Israel has been waiting for has finally arrived and you have come just in time to see it."
that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 7 above. the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son,” "son of”), which is used: (1) to identify immediate paternity (Gen 5); (2) to mean a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32; Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3). of Man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, an adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, a man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564).
The title "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. "Son of Man" is a Messianic title that refers primarily to the eschatological supra–natural figure from heaven who establishes a kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:13–14, 27). However, Yeshua added the unexpected element of suffering in order to bring salvation from sin. For a full discussion on this important title see the note on John 1:51.
should be glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 16 above. Pertinent to understanding Yeshua's use of the verb here is that the corresponding Hebrew verb is linked with the actions of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that a manifestation of God makes on others. The verb may hint at what the Hellenistic Jews meant by their desire to "see" Yeshua. Perhaps they concluded from all of Yeshua's ministry in their territory that he was the expected Messianic King and they wanted to see him manifest that majesty. However, their expectation, like that of the disciples, was seriously flawed. Yeshua proceeds them to tell them what they will see if they stay in Jerusalem long enough, as well as provide a challenge to their worldview.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a seed of barley having fallen into the ground should die, he remains alone; but if death should occur, much fruit is produced.
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, in the Torah people responded with "amen" for each of the curses as they were pronounced (Deut 27:15 +11t) and on other occasions "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48). In the Synoptic narratives amēn occurs 57 times in declarative statements of Yeshua, of which 34 are unique.
According to standard versions amēn is used to introduce axiomatic statements in Kingdom instruction, parables and prophecies. Stern contends, though, that many of those occurrences follow Jewish practice and rather than introducing statements the "amen" actually affirms the sentence spoken immediately before. (Examine the context of Matt 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; 10:15, 42; 13:17; 18:18; 23:36; 24:34, 47; and 26:13). Christian interpreters may have assumed "amen" begins statements because of the arbitrary verse divisions imposed on the Greek text in the mid-16th century by Robert Stephanus (aka Robert Estienne). However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 24:2; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). However, Yeshua employs amēn in a different manner here.
truly: Grk. amēn is repeated. In the Besekh the double use of amēn occurs only in the Book of John (25 times). The double "amen" does occur in the Tanakh as a response to a priestly declaration (Num 5:22; Neh 8:6), as well as in the construction "amen and amen" as the appropriate affirmation of a blessing (Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52). However, Yeshua uses "amēn amēn" as a prefix to the statement that follows, which is without parallel in Jewish literature (Morris 169). There is no good reason not to accept the grammar as authentic and Yeshua was quite capable of being innovative. The double use of amēn reinforces the complete reliability and truthfulness of Yeshua's prophetic teaching. Moreover, the double "amen," spoken in the presence of God, asserts the character of the Messiah who is the Truth (John 14:6) and implies God's endorsement.
I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 4 above. to you: Grk. humin, 2p-pl. pers. pron. In other words, "I say to you Hellenistic Jews." He then employs a common rabbinic saying with a distinctive spiritual message. unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." The combined particles introduce a conditional statement. a seed: Grk. kokkos, a seed or a grain. of barley: Grk. sitos, grain of any kind, although in the Besekh wheat or barley may be inferred. Passover was the season of the barley harvest, so "barley" seemed appropriate. having fallen: Grk. piptō, aor. part., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position. The verb describes the result of casting seed. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 7 above. The preposition implies being inside rather than on top of.
the ground: Grk. gē can mean (1) soil or earth receiving seed, (2) the ground, (3) the bottom of the sea, (4) land as contrasted with the sea; (5) the earth in contrast to the heavens or heaven; or (6) the inhabited globe, people, humanity (BAG). The first meaning applies here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets has the same range of meaning as gē, but especially (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). should die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj., to die, generally used of physical death. Seed, of course, cannot die, because it has no life. However, the seed loses its outer coat in the process of germination and the plant develops, and in this respect germination is parabolic of death, as well as resurrection.
it: Grk. autos, 3p-sing. masc. pers. pron. Although the pronoun is used in reference to a seed, Yeshua implies a personal application. remains: Grk. menō, pres., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224). alone: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. but: Grk. alla, adversative conj. See verse 9 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. death should occur: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj., used here in the parabolic sense.
much: Grk. polus. See verse 9 above. fruit: Grk. karpos generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, fruit, crop, and occasionally the fruit of the womb (Luke 1:42). Karpos is the fruit of trees (Matt 3:10), the fruit of cereal grains (Matt 13:8) and the fruit of the vine (Matt 21:34). The noun is also used in imagery of moral or spiritual productivity. Figurative uses include the fruit of repentance (Matt 3:8), works that reveal character (Matt 7:20), obedience of God's commandments (John 15:4-10), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and the virtues of goodness, righteousness and truth (Rom 6:22; Eph 5:9; Php 1:11; 4:17; Heb 12:11). Other figurative uses include financial support for those in ministry (1Cor 9:7; 2Tim 2:6) and charity for the needy (Rom 15:28).
is produced: Grk. pherō, pres., to bear or move, used here of bringing about a yield; bear, produce. As a personal application the production of fruit could be an allusion to resurrection. Stern notes a similar saying found in the Talmud,
"The Samaritan Patriarch asked Rabbi Me'ir, 'I know that the dead will come back to life, … but when they do arise, will they be naked or clothed?’ He replied, 'You may deduce the answer from a kal v'chomer argument based on a wheat grain—if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouts forth in many robes, then how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their clothing!'" (Sanhedrin 90b)
The fruit production may also be explained by the saying in verse 32 below. Paul will later use the imagery of fruit to include gaining new disciples (Rom 1:13; Php 1:22). To Jews enamored with Hellenistic philosophy this parable would be a hard saying. Yeshua demonstrates just how hard the saying is with his explanation and application in the next verse.
25 "The one loving his soul loses it; and the one hating his soul in this world will keep it into eternal life.
Yeshua now offers a shocking parabolic contrast. The one loving: Grk. phileō, pres. part., to manifest some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The verb, which occurs only 25 times in the Besekh, conveys an emotional content. In the LXX phileō translates Heb. aheb some 30 times, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than phileō (DNTT 2:547). Aheb is like the English word "love" which is used to mean many kinds of love. his: Grk. autos, 3p–sing. masc. pers. pron. soul: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul.
In the LXX psuchē corresponds to Heb. nephesh (SH-5315). Nephesh is that which breathes air (Gen 1:20), is in the blood (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and along with the ability to move (Gen 1:21), comprise the three characteristics that make man or animal into a living creature. (By biblical definition plants are not living.) Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20). The phrase "loving his soul" is idiomatic of "loving himself," and the verb being a participle emphasizes that the self-love reflects the person's character.
loses: Grk. apollumi, pres., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX apollumi renders 38 different Hebrew words. Most frequently it translates abad (SH–7), to be lost, perish or to destroy (DNTT 1:463). The verb depicts a situation that threatens the very existence of an individual or group. In the Tanakh the word group is often used in the context of requirements for cutting off people from Israel for committing capital crimes. it: Grk. autēn, 3p–sing. fem. pers. pron. The person who loves himself first risks the judgment of God because he does not love God first and his neighbor second.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the one hating: Grk. miseō, pres. part., means to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō renders Heb. sane (SH–8130; "saw–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2–8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; Matt 24:9; Luke 1:71). However, miseō may simply mean to love less (e.g., Jacob loved Leah less than Rachel, Gen 29:30; cf. Deut 21:15–17). Yeshua applied the same idiomatic usage of "hating" to one's parents (Matt 10:37). The disciple of Yeshua is called to give greater value to others than himself to the point of self-sacrifice (Matt 20:27; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:27-36; John 13:35; Rom 13:8; 15:1-3; Php 2:4).
his soul: Grk. psuchē. Yeshua implies relegating self-love behind the requirements of loving God (Mark 12:30), loving one's neighbor (Matt 19:19), loving one's wife (Eph 5:25) and even loving one's enemy (Matt 5:44). Unfortunately, many Christian teachers have turned Yeshua's exhortation on its head by claiming that the command to love one's neighbor is predicated on a command to love oneself. The command taken from Leviticus 19:18 reads, "Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27 NIV). Take a moment and look at this command. Read it again. Who is the object of the imperative verb, "love"? Answer, "your neighbor." This is no command in this verse or anywhere in Scripture for a person to love himself.
Some point to the word "as" for proof of a divine expectation of self-love. The rules of grammar rebut this notion. The word "as" is a preposition, not a conjunction. With a preposition the command is set in contrast to another condition or activity. In other words, "as" presumes that the person already loves himself. Many counselors seem to believe there is a large segment of society with little or no self-love. Can this be true? Listen again to the Scriptures. "No one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it" (Eph 5:29, NIV). Every person pampers himself. We eat, we sleep, we bathe, we perfume, we fix our hair, we exercise, we clothe ourselves and much more. We do love ourselves.
Only consider how much time is spent each day pursuing activities for personal health and welfare, not to mention leisure and recreation, and one will begin to get a measure of personal self-love. The truth is that neighbors do not receive love from many believers simply because they are too preoccupied loving themselves, giving themselves priority in time and treasure. Loving others as God intended necessitates a sacrifice of self-love.
in: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. See verse 16 above. world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 19 above. By "this world" Yeshua may mean the world generally as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, and cares, or, considering his audience, he may intend more particularly the Jewish world. will keep: Grk. phulassō, fut., may mean (1) serve as sentinel; guard, watch; (2) ensure that something remains intact; keep safe, preserve, watch; (3) 'be on guard against' or 'be on the alert against;' avoid (4) 'keep something from being violated;' keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. it: Grk. autēn, 3p-sing. fem. pers. pron. The contrast of "loving" and "hating" (or "loving less") one's soul represents the balance that a person really needs. Paul expressed this balance by saying, "do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also the interests of others" (Php 2:4 NASB). into: Grk. eis, prep. the preposition depicts maintaining what one has gained in the present age into the age to come.
eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 150 times to render Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827). In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity, which may equate to a man's lifetime (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33), His laws (Ps 119:89), His promises (Isa 40:8) and His covenant (Gen 9:16; 17:7; Ex 31:16; 2Sam 23:5). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2–3).
life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. "Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Both the Pharisees and Essenes embraced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14). Reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hadēs in the depths of the earth. This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22–26). Eternal life, however, is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. For that reason Yeshua taught that the abundant life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies.
The radical statement of Yeshua would challenge the worldview of the Hellenistic Jews. There were four major streams of thought in Hellenistic philosophy to which they may have been exposed and influenced: Cynicism (focus on harmony with nature), Epicureanism (focus on pleasure), Skepticism (focus on perception), and Stoicism (focus on frugality). Two of these philosophies are specifically mentioned in the Besekh when Paul proclaimed the Messiah to Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (Acts 17:18–20). In spite of differences all the philosophies were focused on "the good," which basically meant determining what was best for the individual and seeking the kind of life that was most beneficial and satisfactory for oneself. Hellenistic philosophy was thoroughly self–focused and contrary to biblical values.
In Scripture the concept of "the good" is totally linked with trust in God and faithfulness to God. "The good," cannot be experienced apart from the holy Creator God. The good is always a gift of God and as such is outside the control of man to produce in his own strength. God is the one, the only one, who is innately or inherently good (Mark 10:18). So, by Yeshua's teaching, "the good life" cannot be achieved by focusing on one's self, but by doing what imitates the nature of God by the power of God. The prophet Micah defined "the good" this way, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Mic 6:8 NASB).
For a disciple "the good" means living in a manner pleasing to God (Matt 5:16; Php 2:13; Col 1:10), just as Yeshua exhorted the rich young ruler that the good life could be found in keeping the commandments (Matt 19:17; cf. Rom 7:12; 1Tim 1:8). The commandments are summarized by the two greatest commandments, to love God with one's total being and to love one's neighbor as oneself (Luke 10:25-28). When Paul proclaimed the good news in Athens he called the Greek philosophers to repent and believe in the Jewish Messiah, who is the epitome of goodness (Acts 10:38).
26 "If anyone would serve me, he must follow me; and where I am, there also my servant will be: if anyone would serve me, the Father will honor him."
Yeshua offers a precious promise for the faithful disciple. If: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 24 above. anyone: Grk. tis. See verse 20 above. would serve: Grk. diakoneō, pres. subj. See verse 2 above. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first person. Yeshua could easily point to Martha and her sister Miriam as models for service, but in this instance he means something more. he must follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. imp., may mean (1) to be in motion in sequence behind someone; (2) to be in close association with someone, especially as a disciple. Mounce adds to imitate in behavior. The second meaning of the verb applies here. me: Grk. egō. The conditional statement of Yeshua treats the request of the Hellenistic Jews as an implicit desire to become his disciples, and then he informs them of the cost of discipleship.
and: Grk. kai, conj. where: Grk. hopou, adv. See verse 1 above. I: Grk. egō. am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. my: Grk. emos, an emphatic possessive pronoun for the first person (Thayer); my, mine. The pronoun occurs 46 times in the apostolic narratives (37 in the book of John), all either on the lips of Yeshua referring to what is connected directly to him (e.g., my words, my name, my love, my disciples, my body, etc.) or in parables of what belongs to the key figure which symbolizes him. servant: Grk. diakonos, one who renders service to another, such as in a domestic or government context, but especially of one in the service of God, the Messiah, the Messianic community and the good news.
Robertson suggests that diakonos may be derived from dia (through) and konis (dust), to raise a dust by one’s hurry, and so to minister (note on Matt 20:26). A rabbinic saying from approximately a hundred years before Yeshua illustrates the devotion of a diakonos: "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). The term would come to be a technical term denoting someone in a recognized office in the congregation and having the duty of caring for its practical affairs (Acts 6:1-6; Php 1:1; 1Tim 3:1). The qualifications of a diakonos are found in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3:8–13.
will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. The assertion "where I am my servant will be" could allude to being about the Master's business. Yet, since Yeshua's present focus ("where I am") is the cross, the saying is likely parallel to his saying in the Synoptic Narratives, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt 16:24 NASB; parallel Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). At its core cross-bearing (a word picture of true discipleship) means self-denial, not in the ascetic sense (like the Essenes with rejection of marriage, fastings, washings and frugal lifestyle), but replacing personal interests related to the self-defined "good," with God's interests. Paul describes cross-bearing in his letter to Galatia.
"I have been crucified with Messiah; yet I live; no longer "I," but Messiah lives in me; and now that which I live in the flesh I live in the faithfulness of the Son of God, the one having loved me and having given up himself for me." (Gal 2:20 BR)
"Now those of Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its interests and desires." (Gal 5:24 BR)
"But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord, Messiah Yeshua, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:14 BR)
Following Yeshua, being where he would be, meant following him all the way to the cross. Ironically, only John of the Twelve obeyed that call. In that awful place Yeshua would be not only a sin offering to provide freedom from sin (Rom 6:6), but also a dramatic illustration of the meaning of discipleship. There John witnessed absolute submission to the will of God. Perhaps the most crucial and difficult part of cross-bearing is forgiveness as Yeshua extended from the cross (Luke 23:34). When Yeshua commanded, "love your enemies" (Matt 5:44), he had the cross of forgiveness in mind. C.S. Lewis once said, "Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive" (Mere Christianity, Macmillan, 1952; p. 104).
if: Grk. ean. anyone: Grk. tis. would serve: Grk. diakoneō, pres. subj. See verse 2 above. me: Grk. egō. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the word abba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27).
While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
will honor: Grk. timaō, fut., to have special regard for, to show respect to. The corresponding Hebrew verb kabad means to honor or to glorify (BDB 457). him: Grk. autos, 3p-sing. masc. pers. pron. Yeshua came to serve (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45) and his expects his followers to adopt the same commitment. God promises to honor and reward those who honor and serve Him (1Sam 2:30; Ps 91:15; Matt 6:3; Col 3:24; Heb 10:35-36; Rev 22:12). Yeshua also promises the Father's forgiveness for those willing to forgive (Matt 6:14-15; Mark 11:25).
Prophecy of Death, 12:27–36
27 "Now my soul has been troubled; and what should I say? Father, save me from this hour. But because of this I came to this hour.
Now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' It's very possible that Yeshua's statement here is parallel to his declaration two days before Passover of his impending death (Matt 26:1-2). my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. soul: Grk. psuchē. See verse 25 above. The phrase is lit. "the soul of me," which sharply contrasts Yeshua with his disciples and the pilgrims. has been troubled: Grk. tarassō, perf. pass., caused to be in a disturbed state, agitate. The perfect tense indicates that the state of mind had been of some duration. Commentators wonder at Yeshua's point in this context and suggest a variety of potential depressing concerns:
1. The unbelief and rejection of the Judean leaders. (Gill misstates the case by saying the Jews rejected Yeshua.)
2. The competitive attitude among the disciples and their expectation of what he would do in Jerusalem.
3. His foreknowledge of the one betraying him, the denial of him by another, and the flight of all of them from him in the garden.
4. The anticipation of physical suffering and death by execution, even though it was his Father's will, and he had agreed to it for the salvation of his people.
5. The burden of the sin of the world he would bear, even though he was sinless.
All of these concerns could have been on his mind. Stern sees commonality with Yeshua's agonizing prayer in Gethsemane (cf. Matt 26:38–39; Mark 14:34–36; Luke 22:41–43), since John's narrative does not describe that experience. Considering Yeshua's words that follow Clarke sees the emotional disturbance related to the anticipation of violent death. Yeshua's arrival in Jerusalem on Sunday portends deliverance and victory to the masses, but on Friday that expectation will be dashed by his execution.
The Mounce lexicon interprets the usage of verb in this to mean "affected with grief." In Luke's narrative of the Messianic entrance on Nisan 10 Yeshua stops before entering Jerusalem and makes the heart-rending announcement:
"When He approached Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41–44 NASB)
Yeshua knows his death will save his people from their sins, but he also knows he can't prevent the prophesied tragedy brought about by the unbelief of the nation's leaders.
and: Grk. kai, conj. what: Grk. tis, indef. pron. should I say: Grk. legō, aor. subj. See verse 4 above. What follows appears to be a hypothetical prayer, "shall I say…." Father: Grk. patēr. See the previous verse. save: Grk. sōzō, aor. imp., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril, frequently of the Messianic judgment (Joel 2:32; Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5, 10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12). me: Grk. egō. from: Grk. ek, prep. introducing some aspect of separation or derivation, lit. "out of, from within."
this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. See verse 16 above. hour: Grk. hōra. See verse 23 above. "This hour" is the sovereign appointment of suffering at the hands of evil men and through death becoming an atoning sacrifice. Yeshua will later pray that the Father will deliver his disciples from Satan's schemes (John 17:11-12, 15). But: Grk. alla, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through." this: Grk. houtos. I came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. to this: Grk. houtos. hour: Grk. hōra. It seems as if Yeshua is engaging in self-talk rather than prayer or public-talk, applying the principle of verse 26 to himself. The dilemma is "shall I forsake the plan that Israel might be spared in the short term from Roman wrath, or shall I complete the mission to provide long-term deliverance from God's wrath." Yeshua came to serve and to give his life as a ransom and when that mission is accomplished he knows the Father will honor him.
28 "Father, glorify your name." Then came a voice out of heaven, "both have I glorified it, and will glorify it."
Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 26 above. glorify: Grk. doxazō, aor. imp. See verse 16 above. your name: Grk. onoma. See verse 13 above. Yeshua essentially petitions "may praises adorn your name," or "may your name be spoken in praises" for what I am about to do. Then: Grk. oun, conj. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. a voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language, 1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
out of: Grk. ek, prep. heaven: Grk. ouranos, the area above the earth that encompasses the sky, planets and associated phenomena. In the LXX ouranos translates Heb. hashamayim ("the heavens"), which is normally translated as singular (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to at least three different places (Ps 148:1–4). The first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; 1Kgs 21:24; Rev 19:17) and from which comes rain, snow, dew, lightning and thunder (Gen 8:2; Deut 11:11; 33:13; Job 38:29; Matt 6:26). The second heaven is interstellar space populated with planets and stars (Gen 1:14–19; Ps 19:1–6). The third heaven is the abode of God the Father and the home of angels (Job 16:19; Ps 2:4; 11:4; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2–4).
The voice from heaven is the third instance of its kind recorded in the apostolic narratives and the first such in John. The first time was at Yeshua's immersion (Matt 3:17) and the second time at his transfiguration (Matt 17:5). On each occasion it was a public acknowledgment of the sonship and authority of Yeshua and an endorsement of his work by the Father (Tenney). John asserts unmistakably that the voice was a genuine, audible sound. In Jewish literature the "voice from heaven" is a phenomenon known as bat–qol (literally, "daughter of a voice"). Bat-qol means a voice or message from God, as in this excerpt from the Tosefta (a 2nd–3rd century collection of rabbinic material similar to the Mishnah):
"After the death of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the last of the prophets, the Holy Spirit ceased from Israel; nevertheless they received communications from God through the medium of the bat–qol." (Tosefta Sotah 13:2, quoted in Stern)
both: Grk. kai, conj. have I glorified it: Grk. doxazō, aor. The Father offers no explanation, but the past tense verb may point to the two previous occasions of bat qol. Morris thinks the verb points to the cross, but the aorist tense would not relate to a future event when the verb is repeated in the future tense. However, the aorist tense could have a retrospective emphasis if we consider that Messiah's suffering was planned before creation (John 17:24; 1Pet 1:18-21; Rev 13:8) and announced to the woman in the Garden (Gen 3:15). and: Grk. kai, conj. will glorify it: Grk. doxazō, fut. The future aspect of glorifying the name of the Father may pertain to the anticipated atoning death (John 13:31-32), but most certainly relates to resurrection of the Son from the dead (John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16-17; 17:5).
29 Therefore the crowd, having stood still and having heard, said "thunder happened;" others said, "an angel has spoken to him."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 9 above. having stood still: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., be in an upright position, to stand, used of bodily posture. The verb seems to indicate the crowd stopped their journey in order to listen to Yeshua's message. and: Grk. kai, conj. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 12 above. The verb alludes to the bat qol of the previous verse. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 4 above. thunder: Grk. brontē, thunder or a crash of thunder and refers to the thunder common to storms on earth. happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. inf., to transfer from one state to another, and here means come to be, become, take place, happen, occur. others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other. said: Grk. legō, impf.
an angel: Grk. angelos means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or messenger (of a human) relies primarily on the context. About half of the occurrences in the Tanakh refer to humans, such as to denote a prophet (Eccl 5:6; Isa 42:19; Mal 2:7) and a priest (Hag 1:13; Mal 3:1). In the Besekh angelos occurs 175 times, and is used of men only 13 times (Matt 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52; Jas 2:25; Rev 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12; 3:1, 7, 14). People could opine that an angel spoke because the Tanakh contains incidents of angels speaking to humans (e.g., Gen 19:15; 31:11; Jdg 13:3; 1Kgs 19:5; Dan 4:13–14; Zech 1:9).
has spoken: Grk. laleō, perf., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. John's narrative describes another division occurring among people regarding Yeshua. Both groups definitely heard something extraordinary. It's unlikely there were any clouds or storms on this particular day, so saying there was thunder seems an effort to deny the presence of God. To describe the voice as angelic seems reasonable since the people likely had never heard the voice of the Father from heaven, as the disciples had on the Mount of Transfiguration.
30 Yeshua answered and said, "This voice has happened not for me, but for you.
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 23 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. The use of "answered and said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation. This: Grk. hautē, fem. demonstrative pron. voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 28 above. "This voice" refers to God's voice out of heaven. has happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. See the previous verse. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. for: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. The preposition in this sentence may convey relation with the meaning of "for," or purpose with the meaning of "for the sake of," the latter being more likely. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Some versions translate the phrase as "for my benefit." but: Grk. alla, conj. for: Grk. dia, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pers. pron.
Tenney suggests that Yeshua explained that the voice from heaven was intended to encourage the disciples and to inform the crowd, not to encourage him. If they did not understand it, the information would not benefit them greatly. Nevertheless, some did remember this occasion and found it helpful, as did John who recorded the event. Another commentator observed that Yeshua's explanation was an example of the Hebraic way of expressing comparison, rather than a strict contrast, i.e., 'more for your sake than mine.' It is clear that on this occasion the voice had considerable significance for Yeshua himself (fn 83, Morris 597). We must note that in reality those who heard the words out of heaven likely did not understand the import of the message.
31 Now judgment is of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out outside.
Now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 27 above. judgment: Grk. krisis is used primarily to mean scrutiny of conduct, either evaluation or procedure, mostly in a legal sense; judgment. The noun is also used of a local court responsible for administration of justice; of saving help; and of responsible or right decision. In the LXX krisis renders primarily Heb. mishpat (SH-4941), judgment (e.g., Gen 18:19, 25; Ex 15:25; 23:6; Lev 19:15, 35; Num 35:12; Deut 1:17; 4:5), which most often refers to the act of deciding a case, the decision itself, or the execution of the judgment. Krisis is also used to translate Heb. shephet (SH-8201), judgment, usually in reference to God's great acts of judgment (Ex 6:6); Heb. darash (SH-1875), to seek or inquire, for a decision of God (Ex 18:15); and Heb. rib (SH-7379), quarrel, to litigate, to carry on a lawsuit (Ex 23:2-3).
is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. of this: houtos, dem. pron. world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 19 above. By "this world" Yeshua may mean the Jewish world, or even more specifically the Sanhedrin as an entity opposed to the will of God. now: Grk. nun. "Right now the judgment of Yeshua's enemies will have their way. BUT…" the ruler: Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start; or (2) one who enjoys preeminence in early or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The second meaning applies here. of this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. world: Grk. kosmos. The ruler of this world is none other than Satan, the adversary of God and His people (Luke 4:5-6; John 14:30; 16:11; 2Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 6:12; 1Jn 4:4; 5:19; Rev 12:9).
will be cast out: Grk. ekballō, fut. pass., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, drive out, send out, bring out, cast out. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46). The significance of the adverb is obscured in most versions since its meaning is merged with the verb. The adverb likely has the meaning of the place of punishment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28; cf. John 15:6; Rev 22:15). Yeshua revealed to John that the devil would eventually receive his just punishment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). However, there may be a more immediate sense of Satan being removed outside the sphere of God's sovereignty and therefore had no power to prevent the success of God's plan of redemption (cf. Col 2:14-15).
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself."
And I: Grk. kagō, formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 24 above. I be lifted up: Grk. hupsoō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) cause to move from a position to one that is higher, lift upward; or (2) cause to be higher in status, elevate, exalt. In the LXX hupsoō occurs 150 times and stands for four different Hebrew words. In the great majority of instances hupsoō renders Heb. rum (SH-7311), to be high, exalted, to rise (DNTT 2:201). The Hebrew verb is used of something being physically raised, but primarily of someone being given a higher status or of someone exalting God through praise and worship.
Yeshua used the verb on two prior occasions, first when he spoke of being lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent (John 3:14), and second when he said to the Judean leaders "when you lift up the Son of Man" (John 8:28). Those statements prophesied the manner of his execution, that it would not be by stoning, strangling or burning, but by being impaled on a Roman cross. However, the lifting up, like the serpent in the wilderness, would have a redemptive and healing effect. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 27 above. the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 24 above. the term could mean "ground" if Yeshua's intention is to describe the crucifixion.
However, the complete sentence "I be lifted up from the earth" could allude to resurrection or even the ascension. Yeshua is being deliberately vague, since he does not say "if I be crucified." It's noteworthy that Peter uses the verb hupsoō to refer to Yeshua being exalted to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; 5:31). will draw: Grk. helkō, fut., cause to move toward, draw, as of a pulling motion, and fig. to attract. The verb makes the point that no one comes to God by his own initiative, but requires divine aid (cf. John 6:44). Even so, "drawing" does not equal "accepting," as Scripture says, "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14).
all: pl. of Grk. pas, masc. adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. Many versions insert "men" or "people" after "all." Some versions render the adjective as "everyone" (CEB, CJB, CEV, MSG, NLT, TEV) Without a qualifying noun the adjective presents a conundrum if treated literalistically. In all the writings of John there is a clear distinction between believers and unbelievers, between the saved and the lost (John 1:11; 3:18, 36; 5:29; 6:40, 53, 64; 8:44; 1John 3:10, 15; 5:12). Morris interprets the phrase "will draw all" to mean that all those who are to be drawn will be drawn. However, this "drawing" is not a selective predestination, as John 1:9 says, "There was the true Light, which coming into the world, enlightens every man" (NASB).
Given the adjective is plural it probably has the force of "all peoples," i.e., all people groups, which is certainly true. Tenney offers a similar point of view saying that "drawing all" refers to drawing men to himself indiscriminately, without regard to nationality, race, or status. Yeshua's statement could well have been prompted by the presence of the Hellenistic Jews and should be evaluated in that light. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 19 above. myself: emautou, reflexive first person pronoun, myself. The pronoun gives a subtle meaning of "me, as I am." The drawing is not to a religion, but to a person, and a Jewish person at that. One cannot have a true relationship with Yeshua and deny his identity.
33 Now this he said, explaining 'what kind of death was he intended to die?'
Now: Grk. de, conj. this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. he said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 4 above. explaining: Grk. sēmainō, pres. part., may mean (1) to make known, report or communicate something to someone; or (2) in relation to the future indicate beforehand, foretell (BAG). In the LXX sēmainō occurs 16 times, translating eight different verbs, and is used five times without Hebrew equivalent. In a few of those passages sēmainō is used of a character explaining something (Ex 18:20; Esth 2:22). The second meaning applies here since it is followed with an indirect question. what sort: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun, used (1) in reference to a class, sort or species, of what kind?; or (2) equivalent to the interrogative pronoun tís, which? what? All Bible versions treat the question posed here as a declarative statement.
of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life. was he intended: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, generally meaning be in the offing, be about to, be going to. However, the verb can also have the connotation of a design or certain outcome, as well as something intended or planned. to die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. inf., to die, generally used of physical death of humans. John poses the question no one dared ask out loud. If "lifted up" means to die, then what sort of death does that verb signify? The answer is that the Messiah was prophesied to die by crucifixion, not stoning (cf. Num 21:6–9; Ps 22:16; Zech 12:10).
Since Yeshua is the Messiah then he must die by this horrific method. John's use of "what kind of death" also carries a deeper meaning than just the means of death. Yeshua's death would have a redemptive effect. Yeshua is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). So Yeshua's death would make him a sin offering (1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 3:18). He retained this character in his body even after the resurrection, because he still bore the execution marks (John 20:25). When John sees Yeshua many years later in his visionary experience in Heaven, Yeshua is depicted as a slain lamb (Rev 5:6, 12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8).
Another factor to consider is that Yeshua would not have been able to draw anyone if he had remained dead. His redemptive death was just the first stage of being "lifted up." The next stage was resurrection and the final stage was ascension to the right hand of the Father where he assumed his intercessory ministry. Completing all three stages of being lifted up made it possible for the sending of the Holy Spirit, who would be the key agent in drawing people to Yeshua.
34 Then the crowd answered him, "We have heard out of the Torah that the Messiah remains into the age; and how say you, 'the Son of man must be lifted up?' who is this Son of Man?"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 9 above. The people here are not the religious elite or Judean authorities, but pilgrims coming to the festival of Passover. They could be some of those mentioned in verse 12 above, who laid down palm branches and greeted him with shouts of 'Hosanna.' answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 23 above. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. We: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers. pron. The use of the pronoun is an emphatic contrast with the "you," referring to Yeshua. They have heard what Yeshua taught, but it seems at variance with what their rabbis have taught. have heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 12 above. The verb alludes to oral learning that occurred in the synagogue. They do not say, "we have read." On four occasions Yeshua asked Judean leaders "have you not read?" regarding a passage of Scripture (Matt 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mark 12:10).
out of: Grk. ek, prep. the Torah: Grk. nomos, may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The usage of nomos in the Besekh has a much deeper meaning. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but torah does not mean simply "law" or "laws" as the English word conveys. Torah means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f). In the Tanakh torah refers primarily to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Moses, but also custom or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. In normal Jewish usage in the time of Yeshua Torah had a variety of specific applications. Torah could mean:
commandments, ordinances and statutes given through Moses to the nation
of Israel (e.g., Matt 12:5; Luke 2:22-27; John 1:17; 8:5; Jas 2:11); OR
Since no specific passage in the Pentateuch makes the affirmation declared in this verse, the people no doubt use nomos-Torah in the sense of "Scripture." that: Grk. hoti, conj. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334).
Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach occurs in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
remains: Grk. menō, pres. See verse 24 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 7 above. the age: Grk. aiōn, an extended period of time, which may be (1) a general reference to a long period of time in the past ('ages ago') or in the future of a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. The great majority of Bible versions translate eis aiōn here as "forever" or "for ever." In the LXX aiōn occurs over 450 times and renders Heb. olam, first in Genesis 3:22. Olam means "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827).
In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33), His laws (Ps 119:89), His promises (Isa 40:8) and His covenant (Gen 9:16; 17:7; Ex 31:16; 2Sam 23:5). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2-3). Only a few versions translate aiōn here as "age" (Marshall, YLT). Both Delitzsch and the OJB translate aiōn with the Hebrew l'olam.
The mention of what the Torah teaches no doubt alludes to God's promise to David that his throne and kingdom would remain indefinitely (ad olam, 2Sam 7:16 LXX eōs aiōn). The specific verbiage eis aiōn used in this verse occurs four times in Psalm 89, a hymn of praise that recounts God promise to David that his Seed would remain forever (Ps 89:26-29, 36-37). The same verbiage also occurs in Psalm 110:4, a Messianic promise of being a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek. The promise of Messianic longevity also occurs in Isaiah 9:7 and Daniel 7:14, but with different terminology. The prepositional phrase "into the age" most likely means the age to come (Heb. olam habah), the Messianic Age.
In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps coinciding with the great covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David (Eccl 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26). Yeshua and the apostles speak of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). The Jewish viewpoint of the Messianic Age was based on the assumption that there would be six thousand years of earth history followed by the Sabbath millennium (Sanh. 97a-b). The anticipation that six thousand years still awaited completion and the millennium of the Messiah still lay in the future is expressed in Zohar, the central text of Jewish mysticism compiled in the 13th century, which states: "Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into (the millennium of) the Shabbat" (Stern 842).
and: Grk. kai, conj. how: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 4 above. you: Grk. su, pron. of the second pers. the Son of man: See verse 23 above. must: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. be lifted up: Grk. hupsoō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 32 above. who: Grk. tis, interrog. pron. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. this: Grk. houtos, dem. pron. Son of Man: The question is not, "who is the Son of Man," which the crowd would have understood to be the one of whom Daniel wrote. Their question is "Who is this Son of Man you say is supposed to be lifted up?"
While John explained what Yeshua meant by "lifted up" it is not clear that the crowd attached this meaning to the verb. In one respect the question of some in the crowd reflects the later controversies surrounding the identity of the Messiah. Pharisee rabbinical leaders, having rejected Yeshua as Messiah, posited separate Messiahs, because they stumbled over the paradoxical nature of Messianic prophecies. On the one hand some prophecies speak of a victorious Messiah descended from King David who will destroy the enemies of Israel and reign as king. Other prophecies speak of a suffering Messiah who dies for Israel. So the rabbis called the former Mashiach ben David (Sanhedrin 97a) and the latter Mashiach ben Yosef (Sukkah 52a). Daniel's heavenly Son of Man was a third Messianic figure called Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds" (Sanh. 96b).
35 Therefore Yeshua said to them, "Yet a little time is the Light among you. Keep walking while you have the Light, that darkness not overtake you: and the one walking in the darkness knows not where he goes.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to them: Grk. autois, 2p-pl. pers. pron. Yet: Grk. eti, adv. used to either express (1) continuance of an action or circumstance or (2) express addition; yet, still. a little: Grk. mikros, adj., relatively limited in extent, used (1) of persons as a measure of physical height, age and social position relative to importance, influence or power; (2) of things whether in size, number, significance or time; and (3) as a substantive to mean a short time, a little while (BAG). The second usage is intended here. time: Grk. chronos, may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and most often renders yōm, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841).
The Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time. Chronos also translated several other Hebrew words for time: Heb. olam (SH-5769), long duration, antiquity, futurity (Ex 14:13; Isa 14:20; 34:10); acharith (SH-319), the after-part, end (Deut 32:29); eth (SH-6256), 'time, times' (Neh 10:34; 13:31; Eccl 3:1; Jer 30:7; 31:1; Dan 9:25); dor (SH-1755), 'generation' (Esth 9:28); and pa'am (SH-6471), 'times, now' (Prov 7:22). Here the time is measured by mikros, which in reality would be less than a week. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above.
the Light: Grk. phōs (Heb. or), that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. Yeshua refers to himself in the third person with a parabolic metaphor. Yeshua as "the Light" is a major theme in John's writing (John 1:4, 5, 7, 8, 9; 3:19-21; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46; and 1Jn 2:8-10; cf. Matt 4:16; Luke 2:32). Ancient Jewish writings connect the idea of Light with the Messiah in its discussions of various passages in the Tanakh, such as Genesis 1:3, Psalm 36:10, Isaiah 49:6 and 60:1 and Daniel 2:22. Santala comments that,
"The rabbinic Sages treated the references to the first light and the two great lights created on the fourth day as allusions to the Messiah. The Rabbis considered the Aramaic word Nehora, "light," to be one of the secret names of the Messiah. So, when Yeshua identified himself as the Light of the World, people understood that he was using a metaphor of Messianic identity." (36)
among: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. Keep walking: Grk. peripateō, pres. imp., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (SH-1980) to go, come or walk (DNTT 3:943). Both Greek and Hebrew verbs are used fig. of how one conducts oneself in life (Deut 30:16; 1Kgs 11:38; Ps 1:1; 15:2). Yeshua uses the verb here in the sense of a moral commitment. while: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here in a temporal sense; while, as long as. you have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 6 above. Yeshua does not mean "have" in the sense of possession, but of having access to. the Light: Grk. phōs, i.e., himself.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. darkness: Grk. skotia may mean (1) condition prevailing when it is night; darkness; or (2) an inward state or condition amounting to ignorance or being unenlightened in moral or spiritual matters; darkness. The second meaning applies here. not: Grk. mē, particle of qualified negation. overtake: Grk. katalambanō, aor. subj., to take over; grasp, whether in a hostile sense of 'seize' or in the sense of surprise, 'catch, come upon,' which is most likely the sense here. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. and: Grk. kai, conj. the one walking: Grk. peripateō, pres. part. in: Grk. en, prep. the darkness: Grk. skotia. knows: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present.
The verb "know" is used for experiential knowledge, whether (1) to know about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with someone; (3) to understand how to do something; and (4) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. where: Grk. pou, adv. of place; where, at which place. he goes: Grk. hupagō, pres. See verse 11 above. Yeshua alludes to the fact that the one walking in spiritual darkness does not realize that his destination is eternal darkness (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). John repeats this same thought in 1 John 2:11.
36 While you have the Light, trust in the Light, that you may become sons of light." Yeshua spoke these things, and having departed was hidden from them.
While: Grk. hōs, adv. See the previous verse. you have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 6 above. the Light: Grk. phōs. See the previous verse. Speaking in the third person of himself, Yeshua alludes to the fact that he doesn't have much longer to live. trust: Grk. pisteuō, pres. imp. See verse 11 above. The verbal command means to start trusting and keep on trusting so that it results in faithfulness. in: Grk. eis, lit. "into." See verse 7 above. The choice of eis, instead of en ("in") emphasizes the nature of entering a relationship, and not just positing belief in a creedal concept. the Light: Grk. phōs. The second mention of "Light" would refer not only to his person, but also his message. that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 7 above. you may become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 29 above. The verb emphasizes a transformative experience that changes a person from one state into another.
sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 23 above. The noun is obviously used here in a figurative and spiritual sense. Morris points out that the fig. use of "son of" means to be characterized by the quality in question. Huios is a masculine noun, but a number of versions opt for a gender neutral translation of "children" (CEV, DRA, ERV, EXB, HNV, ISV, KJ21, KJV, MSG, MW, NAB, NCV, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, WEB) or "people" (CEB, CJB, GW, NOG, WE). Just as many versions translate the noun literally as "sons" (ASV, AMP, BLB, DARBY, ESV, HCSB, JUB, LEB, LITV, Marshall, Moffatt, MRINT, NASB, NET, NIRV, NKJV, NLV, REB, REV, RSV, TLV, VOICE, YLT). NEB has "men." The choice of huios rather than teknon ("child, children") alludes to the inheritance and status rights of sons in Israelite culture, so in this context women who trust in Yeshua may be properly considered "sons."
of light: Grk. phōs. The expression "sons of Light" is unusual and found in only two other passages (Luke 16:8; 1Th 5:5). The expression also appears in Qumran scrolls to describe members of the Essene community and would be equivalent to "enlightened ones" (Morris 601, fn94). The expression is found especially the Community Rule (1QS, 4Q255, 5Q11; TDSS 112-135) to designate those whom to love in contrast to the sons of darkness who are to be hated. In the War Rule (1QM and 4Q491-497; TDSS 146-170), the sons of light are delivered in an apocalyptic war waged by the Messiah against the wicked. Some scholars imagine that there must have been a connection between Qumran and John, but neither Yeshua nor John quote from any Qumran writing.
Yeshua appears to engage in a play on words. "While you have me, trust in me and my message so that you will become members of the Kingdom of Light." If there is a connection to the Essenes it is that Yeshua's words serve to critique and rebuke Essene theology. Yeshua spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 29 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, neut. dem. pron. The plural pronoun refers to all that Yeshua said in verses 23 to 36a. and: Grk. kai, conj. having departed: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part. See verse 19 above. was hidden: Grk. kruptō, aor. pass., to keep from view, to conceal or hide. Some versions translate the verb as "hid himself," but the verb is passive, and there is no "himself" in the Greek text. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 21 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, 3p-pl. pers. pron., i.e., the Judean authorities.
John is not asserting anything miraculous here, and his statement is parallel to the Synoptic record. Sunday evening Yeshua returned to Bethany (Mark 11:11). Beginning Monday evening Yeshua spent his nights on the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37). So the fact that Yeshua did not stay in the city overnight meant he was hidden from the authorities.
37 But although so many of his signs had been done before them, they were still trusting not in him.
But: Grk. de, conj., used here for a strong contrast. The syntax seems to need a qualifying adverb ("although") to make the contrast more apparent. so many: Grk. tosoutos, dem. pron., a superlative meaning so much, so great, so many. of his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 18 above. John no doubt alludes to the seven signs that he records, but the term could be extended to all the miracles that Yeshua performed (cf. John 2:23; 6:2; 11:47). had been done: Grk. poieō, perf. pass. See verse 2 above. The perfect tense covers the last three years of Yeshua's ministry.
before: Grk. emprosthen, prep., expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. them: pl. of autos, pers. pron. The point is that the signs performed by Yeshua were everywhere public, with many witnesses, and therefore undeniable. they were trusting: Grk. pisteuō, impf. See verse 11 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. used for strong negation. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. referring to Yeshua. The fact that the authorities did not believe and trust in Yeshua in the face of public miracles demonstrates a perverse unwillingness to accept the truth. Their unbelief demonstrated their lack of personal knowledge of and relationship with God. Those who knew the Lord anticipated the Messiah and welcomed him when they met him, e.g., Simeon, Anna, Yochanan the Immerser, and many others.
38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said, "ADONAI, who has trusted our message? And to whom has the arm of ADONAI been revealed?"
that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 7 above. the word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning: saying, speech, word, message, report, tidings, discourse, story, command, advice, counsel, promise, thing, or matter, whether of men or God (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087).
of Isaiah: Grk. Ēsaias, a Graecized form of Heb. Yesha'yahu ("YHVH is salvation"). Isaiah was the son of Amoz of the tribe of Judah and perhaps related to the royal house. He lived during the reigns of the Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and probably the first years of Manasseh. He married a prophetess and had two sons (Isa 7:3; 8:3). Jewish tradition says that Isaiah was put to death by King Manasseh by being sawn in half (Yebamoth 49b; Ascension of Isaiah 1:9; 5:2; cf. Heb 11:37).
the prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group with different personalities, vocations and manner of ministry, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The literary works of the prophets in the Tanakh are authoritative Scripture (Matt 5:17-19; Luke 24:44-45; 2Tim 3:16-17).
Isaiah received his call to ministry in a dramatic fashion c. 740 BC (Isa 6:1), and prophesied for forty years during which he was an adviser (court prophet) to King Ahaz and King Hezekiah. He was contemporary with the prophets Micah and Hosea. He left a monumental literary work of 66 chapters, the longest of the prophetic books, containing almost half of the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh. Isaiah wrote mostly warnings in the first half of his book and mostly comfort and promise in the second half.
Various scholars have proposed that some unknown author wrote the second half of the book of Isaiah (40─66) and a few scholars have actually suggested a Third Isaiah (56─66). Against this viewpoint are these arguments: (1) for 25 centuries no one doubted that Isaiah was the author of all 66 chapters; (2) there is no evidence whatever that the two (or three) parts of the book ever existed separately; and (3) all the quotations in the Besekh from parts of Isaiah labeled as "Second" and "Third Isaiah" attribute those passages to Isaiah the prophet, such as Isaiah 53:1 quoted here.
We’re supposed to believe that some of the greatest literature in the Bible, not to mention the world, with its many and detailed prophecies of the Messiah, was written by someone completely anonymous and unremembered in Judaism. Modern scholars go to incredible lengths to avoid believing in the truth of biblical material, just because they can’t accept that the Lord revealed the name of Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1) almost two hundred years before he was born or that Isaiah was given words of exhortation and comfort for a people he knew would go into exile (Isa 39:6). If they can't believe the prophecy about Cyrus, how can they believe the prophecies that named the Messiah (Isa 7:14; 9:6; 46:13; 51:5; 59:16)?
might be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 3 above. The verb has the sense of bringing to pass deeds that accomplish the words spoken in prophecy. In the LXX plēroō, rendering Heb. malê in prophetic passages, asserts that the word of God spoken to and by a prophet is accomplished. YHVH himself brings about that which has been prophesied in His name (e.g., 1Kgs 2:27; 8:15, 24). There could also be another nuance of meaning in the verb. A Hebrew equivalent of plēroō at this time was lekayem, usually used as the antonym of levatel (cancel, nullify), with the sense of preserve or sustain. As a rabbinical term it means to sustain by properly interpreting (Bivin 94). In reality one of the expectations of the Messiah was that he would explain Scripture (Luke 24:32; John 4:25; 7:17). In other words, Isaiah's message explained what was happening at this time.
which: Grk. hos, relative pron., who, which, what, that. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. John then quotes from Isaiah 53:1 and the Greek text preserves the LXX exactly. Given the customary method among Jews of citing the beginning of a passage to call to mind the whole, the inference is that all of Isaiah 53:1–12 applies to Yeshua (Stern). ADONAI: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 13 above. who: Grk. tis, interrogative pron. has trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 11 above. The verb contains the meaning of having confidence in the facts of revelation, i.e., "trusted." The verb in the Hebrew text is 'aman, which means to stand firm, trust or believe (BDB 52). our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers. pron. The use of the pronoun is from the LXX, because there is not a separate pronoun in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew verb "believed" is 1p-pl (Owens 4:165). God gave the message and Isaiah was the messenger, so the two make "our."
message: Grk. akoē, may mean (1) hearing as a sensory faculty or (2) that which is heard; fame, report, rumor, message, proclamation. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX of Isaiah 53:1 akoē renders Heb. shemua (SH-8052), a report delivered by a messenger. Isaiah's question alludes to the fact that even though many did not understand or accept his prophetic warnings (Isa 6:8-10), there was still a believing remnant. Paul quotes this question from Isaiah to establish his axiom that faith comes about by hearing (Rom 10:16).
And: Grk. kai, conj. to whom: Grk. tis, interr. pron. has the arm: Grk. brachiōn, the anatomical limb of the arm, but used here to attribute a human characteristic to God (called 'anthropomorphism'). In the LXX of Isaiah 53:1 brachiōn translates Heb. zeroa (SH-2220), arm, shoulder, strength. of ADONAI: Grk. kurios, here a substitution for Heb. YHVH. The "arm of ADONAI" is idiomatic of God's power and often described as "outstretched" (Ex 6:6; Deut 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 9:29; 11:2; 26:8), typically set in the context of Israel's deliverance from Egypt. The staff in the hand of Moses stretched out over the Red Sea was a visible symbol of the arm of ADONAI (Ex 14:16). The expression "arm of ADONAI" does not denote agency for another, but ADONAI himself, who happens to be Yeshua.
been revealed: Grk. apokaluptō, aor. pass., to cause to be fully known, to reveal, disclose or make known. In the LXX of Isaiah 53:1 apokaluptō translates Heb. galah (SH-1540), to uncover or remove. The verb often occurs to denote truth or facts divinely hidden for a time and then revealed to those whom God chose to receive the truth, such as the apostles (Gal 1:6; Eph 3:5). Some things remain hidden and await to be revealed at the appointed time (Rom 8:18; 1Cor 2:10; 3:13; 2Th 2:3, 6, 8; 1Pet 1:5; 5:1). The question asserts that the "arm of ADONAI," as represented in all His mighty works and revelation of His nature and covenantal truth, was revealed to the descendants of Jacob (Deut 29:28), not Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, or any other nation under heaven.
39 Because of this they were not able to trust, for again Isaiah said,
Because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. this: Grk. touto, neut. dem. pron., this. The pronoun alludes to the revelation mentioned in the previous verse. they were not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. able: Grk. dunamai, impf. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. The imperfect tense stresses continuous action in past time. to trust: Grk. pisteuō, pres. inf. See verse 11 above. The present tense depicts a continuum of behavior from a starting point. It's important to remember that the verb incorporates belief, trust and faithfulness. With the reference to the great prophet John alludes to Israelite culture during the 7th century B.C., but the spiritual condition he describes could easily apply to other eras of Israelite history from the period of the Judges to the beginning of the Babylonian exile.
John is not describing a sub-human species without the capacity to exercise a will. Human ability includes "willingness." The point is that these persons mentioned refused to exercise the ability they were given in the right manner (cf. Deut 30:11, 15-20). The ancient Israelites of whom John speaks did not maintain a trusting faithful relationship with their covenant-keeping God, just as Moses prophesied (Deut 28:58-68; 29:22-28; 31:29). for: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. The conjunction exhibits an inferential aspect, which invites the rendering of "for." again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. Isaiah: See the previous verse. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. John reinforces his argument by another passage from Isaiah.
40 "He blinded the eyes of them, and he hardened the heart of them in order that they should not see with the eyes, and should understand with the heart, and should turn, and I would heal them."
John appears to quote Isaiah 6:10, which says,
"Make the heart of this people fat, their ears heavy, and their eyes blind. Else they would see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed." (Isa 6:10 TLV)
LXX: "For the heart of this people was thickened [Grk. pachunō] and they heard heavily with their ears, and the eyes, closed eyelids, lest at any time they should behold with their eyes, and the ears should hear, and the heart should perceive, and they should turn, and I shall heal them." (Isa 6:10 ABP)
Yeshua also quotes from this verse (Matt 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10), as does Paul (Acts 28:27). John does not quote Isaiah 6:10 verbatim, but rather treats the result of the prophesied condition, as does the LXX translation, rather than its inception. He blinded: Grk. tuphloō, perf., 3p-sing., cause to be blind, whether literally or figuratively. The perfect tense points to an action accomplished in the past with continuing results to the present. the eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. The mention of "eyes" functions as a parallelism of the heart (Ps 19:8; 36:1; 73:7; Prov 21:4). of them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. From Isaiah's point of view the pronoun refers to the Israelites in the past who were punished for their rebellion against God.
and: Grk. kai, conj. he hardened: Grk. pōroō, aor., 3p-sing., to cause imperviousness to effort at stimulating reception of a message, to harden or petrify. Rienecker says that in the literal sense the verb means to cover with a thick skin. The verb is derived from pōros, porous stone, and means to harden, to form a callus (when broken bones heal), and thus to petrify, to become hard (DNTT 2:153). The verb was also applied to bony formations on the joints, called ossification (HELPS). The resulting fig. meaning is unperceptive as a rock, having a calloused attitude, completely lacking sensitivity or spiritual perception. The verb occurs only once in the LXX, for Heb. tsel (SH-6738), 'shadow,' in Job 17:7, and occurs five times in the Besekh (Mark 6:52; 8:17; Rom 11:7; 2Cor 3:14). Of interest is that in the Synoptic passages Yeshua uses the verb of his disciples. In the epistles Paul uses the verb historically of unbelieving and rebellious Israelites, and that is John's point here.
the heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used as metaphorically of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. of them: pl. of Grk. autos, the rebellious Israelites. Gruber (MW-Notes 164) and Stern make a connection with the hardening of Pharaoh, mentioned 17 times in Exodus, five times of Pharaoh hardening his own heart and the rest of God hardening Pharaoh's heart. However, John makes no such connection and indeed none of the passages where pōroō appears is concerned with the ancient Egyptian leader. Rather, John is concerned with the history of spiritual rebellion in Israel, as well as his contemporaries, and provides essentially the same analysis as Paul in Romans,
"What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained; but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened— 8 just as it is written, 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to see and ears not to hear, until this very day.'" (Rom 11:7-8 TLV)
in order that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 7 above. they should not: Grk. mē, particle of qualified negation. See verse 15 above. see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 21 above. The subjunctive mood depicts potentiality, not actuality. with the eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. The phrase "see with the eyes" may be idiomatic of mental or spiritual perception. The phrase could also be an allusion to a revelation in Isaiah 29:10, "For ADONAI has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep, and has shut your eyes—the prophets, and covered your heads—the seers" (TLV). Blinding the eyes could mean depriving the people of continued revelation through the prophets. They did not deserve more truth because they had been disobedient to the truth that had already been revealed. So, when the people inquired of the Lord He did not answer them, as in the case of King Saul (1Sam 28:6; cf. Deut 31:18; Isa 54:8; 64:7).
and: Grk. kai, conj. should understand: Grk. noeō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to grasp with the mind; understand; or (2) to give thought to; think about, ponder. The first meaning applies here. with the heart: Grk. kardia, used fig. of the mind. and: Grk. kai, conj. should turn: Grk. strephō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl., to redirect a position; turn. In the LXX strephō or (or epistrephō) is used to translate shuv, (SH-7725), turn back or return (DNTT 1:354). The verbs depicts movement (i.e., behavior, lifestyle) that has been away from God, but the direction is reversed to go back to God. The Hebrew concept of repentance is not just thinking differently, feeling sorry over being caught or apologizing.
Repentance is humbling oneself before God and taking active steps to turn away from evil and turn or return to doing God’s will. Repentance is a personal responsibility, yet it requires God’s grace to do it, as Jeremiah says, "ADONAI, turn us to you, and we will come back" (Lam 5:21 CJB). Repentance is always urgent on the lips of the prophets (Cf. Deut 30:10; Isa 45:22; 59:20; Jer 25:5; 35:15; Ezek 14:6; 18:30, 32; 33:11; Zech 1:3-6). After Malachi four centuries passed with no voice, vision or answer from God, but when the silence was broken, the prophetic confrontation from Yochanan the Immerser was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 3:2). When Yeshua began his public ministry in Galilee, his message was also "Repent" (Mark 1:14f).
and: Grk. kai, conj. I would heal: Grk. iaomai, fut. mid., 1p-sing., heal or cure, of curing bodily ailments (Matt 8:8; Luke 9:2) and exorcism (Acts 10:38), but also fig. of deliverance from ills of many kinds, including spiritual restoration (Matt 13:15; John 12:40) and emotional healing (Luke 4:18) (BAG). In the LXX iaomai stands frequently for Heb. rapha, to heal, cure (DNTT 2:167). Rapha has the same range of meaning, whether physical, spiritual or emotional, including healing national hurts in Isaiah 53:5 (BDB 950). Scripture claims that God is the source of all healing, "I, the LORD, am your healer" (Ex 15:26). them: pl. of Grk. autos, again of rebellious Israelites. God promised Israel repeatedly that if they would repent He would heal them (2Chr 7:14; Jer 3:22; Hos 6:1).
To the modern mind John's statement in this verse presents a theological conundrum. The action to "blind" the eyes and "harden" the heart sounds like taking away the possibility of choice. And, if that were true, how could God blame anyone for sinning (cf. Rom 9:18-20)? Generally not considered is the tendency in the Hebrew of the Tanakh to express a consequence as though it were a purpose (Bruce 100). Being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) means having a will and with it comes accountability for choices (Gen 4:6-7; Deut 30:19). People too often forget that God is a "will-ing being" (a term from Otto Rank, Jewish psychoanalyst) and is free to exercise His will in His own interests. Scripture affirms God's benevolent attitude:
"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" (Ezek 18:23 ESV)
"I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezek 33:11 NASB)
"Indeed the Scripture says, 'Every one trusting in Him will not be put to shame.' 12 For there is no difference between Judean and Hellenist, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him. 13 For 'Everyone who should call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Rom 10:11-13 BR)
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1Tim 2:1-4 ESV)
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2Pet 3:9 NASB)
However, salvation can only be on God's terms and is contingent on readiness (cf. Matt 10:11). The real question is why should God offer mercy at all? Mankind rebelled against God from the beginning and invented nonexistent gods in order to justify a degenerate lifestyle and has been resisting God's will ever since (Rom 1:21-32). That's always been the real issue. People don't want a holy God telling them how to live. In the minds of many people a God of love should arrange a pleasurable life without suffering and without adverse consequences to bad behavior. They want their "sin" cake and salvation, too. In reality God doesn't have to do anything to "harden" a person. Man's natural propensity is toward selfishness and self-will (Rom 3:9-18). God does not need to create a hardening condition, but simply permit a person to strengthen an attitude that already exists. As Solomon said, "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy" (Prov 29:1 NASB).
The apostolic record proclaims that God accomplished His purposes through those among His people who opposed His Messianic plan. Only consider Judas Iscariot mentioned in verse 4 above. Gruber observes that Yeshua made Judas the treasurer of the group even though he was a thief and would soon betray Yeshua. When Judas was ready to betray him, Yeshua said, "What you do, do quickly (John 13:27). God thus used the hard heart of Judas to bring salvation to the world (MW-Notes 402). Moreover, the intransigence of the Judean authorities served God's purposes as Paul explains,
"We do speak wisdom, however, among those who are mature—but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 Rather, we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery—a wisdom that has been hidden, which God destined for our glory before the ages. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it—for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1Cor 2:6-8 TLV)
A completely different interpretation might be gained from considering the subject of the verbs in this verse. John does not use the name of God at all. He does not say, "God blinded and God hardened." In reality, Isaiah the prophet is the subject of the verbs in the Hebrew text "make the heart fat and the eyes blind." So, John could be saying, Isaiah did what God told him to do, to deliver an unacceptable message with a foregone outcome. Since the verbs are used of a spiritual condition, there is yet another possible subject. Consider these passages:
"Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved." (Luke 8:12 NASB)
"Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit" (Acts 5:3 NASB)
"the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so they might not see the light of the Good News of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of God." (2Cor 4:4 TLV)
"But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness. He doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has made his eyes blind." (1Jn 2:11 TLV)
The prophet Isaiah did not blame God for the spiritual blindness of Israel, but rather confronts their unwillingness to see.
"Hear, you deaf, look you blind, so that you may see. … You have seen many things, but you do not pay attention. Though ears are open, no one hears" (Isa 42:18, 20 TLV).
For John the use of Isaiah 6:10 implies application to the Judean authorities and other Israelites who rejected Yeshua. Yeshua also rebuked the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness (Matt 23:16-17, 19, 24, 26) and causing other people to stumble in blindness (Matt 15:14). In contrast God (ADONAI) opens the eyes of the spiritually blind (Ps 146:8).
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw the glory of Him; and spoke about Him.
Isaiah said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron. The pronoun alludes to both chapters of Isaiah to which John alluded in verses 38-40 above. because: Grk. hoti, conj. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 9 above. the glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence of what catches the eye, (3) fame, honor or approval, or (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kavôd (SH-3519), which refers to the luminous and glorious manifestation of God’s person. Characteristically, kavôd is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
The OJB renders doxa in this verse with Heb. kavod, but the CJB has sh'khinah. Shekhinah does not occur in the Tanakh at all, but does occur frequently in the Targums and the Mishnah to mean "the glorious presence of God," particularly in reference to the glory cloud that led the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Ex 16:10), and filled the Tabernacle (Ex 40:34) and later the Temple (2Kgs 8:11). Shekinah is derived from the verb shakan, to abide or dwell (Ex 25:8) and shakan is the root of the noun mishkan or tabernacle (Ex 25:9). The term is also used frequently in early Jewish writings as a euphemism for the name of God. (See the article Shekinah, Jewish Virtual Library.)
of Him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. John alludes to the opening verses of Isaiah 6,
"In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord [Heb. Adonai] sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD [Heb. YHVH] of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." (Isa 6:1-3 NASB)
Isaiah identified the one he saw on the throne as Adonai (SH-136, from adôn, master, owner, lord), typically translated as "the Lord" and used as a proper name of the God of Israel. The seraphim (not angels, but specially created beings) addressed the One on the throne as YHVH ("the LORD"). The name Adonai first occurs on the lips of Abram who addressed the One who called him out of Ur of the Chaldees as Adonai YHVH (Gen 15:2). From John 8:58 we know that YHVH is Yeshua. and: Grk. kai, conj. spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 29 above. about: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning. Him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., the One on the throne, Yeshua.
John's point is that the one Isaiah saw on the throne in heaven and the one whom the seraphim addressed as "holy" was none other than Yeshua, and the hard sayings in verses 38-40 above must be considered in that context. Isaiah was called to be the voice of God to a rebellious people, not to utter dark sayings and deprive people of the truth. As a prophet of God he confronted a sinful culture. Isaiah wanted people to be healed and promised that God would provide healing (cf. Isa 19:22; 53:5; 57:18-19; Jer 3:22). The announcement to Isaiah was a reality check. He was to speak for God, but he needed to realize that the people would not respond as God wished. This instruction would keep Isaiah from judging the success of his ministry on how many souls "were saved." Modern witnesses sometimes need the same reality check.
42 Nevertheless however, even of the rulers many believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they were professing not, lest they should be banned from the assembly:
Nevertheless: Grk. homōs, adv., considering another aspect; at the same time, all the same, yet. BAG adds 'nevertheless.' however: Grk. mentoi, particle with a focus on reaction to a preceding narrative detail; yet, nevertheless. BAG adds 'though, to be sure, despite that.' Many versions translate the two opening words together as 'nevertheless.' John uses the opening words to introduce a contrast with the ones described in verses 38 and 40. even: Grk. kai, conj. of the rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority. Among Jews the term is used of synagogue officials (Matt 9:18; Luke 8:41; Acts 14:5), religious party leaders (Luke 14:1), and members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; 23:13, 35; 24:20; John 3:1; 7:26; Acts 3:17; 4:5, 8; 13:27; 23:5; 1Cor 2:8).
many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 9 above. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition emphasizes a relationship of trust, not a cognitive acceptance of a doctrinal concept. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., i.e., Yeshua. Apparently a significant number of Jewish leaders were willing to accept the idea that Yeshua fulfilled Messianic prophecies (cf. John 3:2). but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 6 above. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. the Pharisees: pl. Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 19 above. John does not mean the Pharisee party, because Yeshua had supporters in their ranks (cf. Luke 13:31). Rather, John means Pharisee elders on the Sanhedrin. The mention of Pharisees in contrast to "rulers" (also in John 7:48) likely gives "rulers" a broader meaning to include those who supervised synagogues.
they were professing: Grk. homologeō, impf., to express oneself opening and firmly about a matter; inform, declare, affirm, profess, confess. Many versions translate the verb as "confess," but since in the English vernacular "confess" usually means to admit a wrong, "profess" seemed a better choice for the act of acknowledging that Yeshua is the Messiah. not: Grk. ou, adv. of negation. In other words, these "believing rulers" were keeping their conviction to themselves and made no move to openly join Yeshua's band of disciples. lest: Grk. hina mē, lit. "that not." they should be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 29 above. The verb emphasizes the transition from an acceptable status to an unacceptable status.
banned from the assembly: Grk. aposunagōgos (derived from apo, 'from' and sunagōgē, 'place of assembly' or 'assembly'), excluded from the sacred assemblies of the Israelites (Thayer). The noun is formed from the preposition apo, "from," and sunagōgē, "a gathering-place or place of assembly." The word is unknown in Greek literature and the LXX or other Jewish writings. The word occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in John. In 9:22 the Judean authorities, perhaps a panel of Sadducees and Pharisees, made a decision to ban anyone who professed Yeshua as Messiah. During the last supper Yeshua will warn his apostles that the "world" that hated him (15:18) would hate them so much as to ban them from sacred assemblies (16:2). The scope and severity of the proposed discipline can not be conclusively determined from the narrative.
Almost all versions translate the word with "put out of the synagogue" (or words to that effect), based on lexicon definitions. Danker defines the word as "expelled from the synagogue." Mounce has a slightly broader definition with "expelled or excluded from the synagogue, excommunicated, cut off from the rights and privileges of a Jew, excluded from society." BAG has "expelled from the synagogue, excommunicated, put under the curse or ban." Stern likewise interprets the word as meaning "banned from the synagogue," literally, "de-synagogued." He points out that Judaism had three degrees of discipline, though none is common today (184). The lightest, n'zifah ("rebuke"), could be declared by one person and normally lasted seven days. The next, niddui ("casting out, rejection"), usually required three people to declare, lasted not less than thirty days, and persons so disciplined were required to stay four cubits (six feet) from others.
The most severe discipline, cherem (excommunication or removal from the community), was of indefinite duration; and a person under cherem was treated like one dead. Stern cites Mo‛ed Katan 16a–17a, Nedarim 7b, Pesachim 52a in the Talmud, but these tractates do not address cherem. In addition, these Talmud tractates do not identify the synagogue as the locus of the discipline. There were in fact variations in the location that could be effected by a banishment. In Mo'ed Katan the ban (niddui) could pertain to anywhere Jews gathered: the synagogue certainly, but also the Temple, houses of learning, market places, even whole towns.
Pharisees of the Sanhedrin did not personally supervise synagogues (Reinhartz 183), although the Pharisee party was very influential among Judean Jews. Each synagogue had its own governing body of at least seven elders (Moseley 8-11), so to ban someone from attending synagogue services would not be a simple matter. There were hundreds of synagogues in the land of Israel. In fact, the Talmud says there were a total of 394 synagogues, houses of study and schools in Jerusalem alone (Ket. 105a), although the specific number of each is not given. Moreover, each quarter of foreign Jews residing in Jerusalem had their own synagogue (cf. Acts 2:5, 9-11; 6:9) (Jeremias 62). So, enforcement of the ban would be problematic, and only likely within Judea.
43 for they loved the approval of men more than the approval of God.
for: Grk. gar, conj. they loved: Grk. agapaō, aor., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used with a variety of applications. the approval: Grk. doxa, lit. "glory." See verse 41 above. Many versions translate the noun with "praise," which suits the meaning as well. of men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 23 above. Some versions translate the noun with the gender-neutral "people" (CJB, NCV, NIRV, NOG) or "human" (CEB, MSG, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TEV). However, Pharisees were men and they would not have cared what women thought.
more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. than: Grk. ēper, disjunctive particle marking a comparison; than, rather than. the approval: Grk. doxa. of God: Grk. theos. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos primarily renders the general names of God: El, Eloah and Elohim, but also YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9).
John's description contrasts the "silent believing rulers" with Yeshua who was not motivated by pleasing others (cf. Matt 22:16; Mark 12:14; John 2:24; 5:41). In the Synoptic Narratives it is the scribes and Pharisees that Yeshua accused of desiring the praise and recognition of others (Matt 6:1, 5; 23:5-6). The Judean authorities had made clear the consequences of a public recognition of Yeshua's claim to be Israel's Messiah and King. Jewish leaders who openly identified with Yeshua risked not only loss of sharing in sacred assemblies, but also of their positions. It's not likely that John intends to include Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea in his negative assessment. Nicodemus spoke up on Yeshua's behalf (John 7:50-51) and Luke describes Joseph as a "good and righteous man" (Luke 23:50).
Yeshua's Final Public Proclamation, 12:44-50
There is no direct parallel in the Synoptic Narratives for the complete sermon as presented in the rest of this chapter. Stern suggests that the content of the sermon is intended to challenge "secret believers" to become public witnesses "who let their words and lives proclaim fearlessly that they are relying on God and his truth." In a similar vein Morris says that the occasion is not indicated, but the words form the conclusion to John's account of Yeshua's ministry as a whole (607). The content of individual verses in some measure repeats what Yeshua had declared on previous occasions, so they may represent John's culling of key points of previous sermons.
44 And Yeshua cried out and said, "The one trusting in me, trusts not in me, but in the One having sent me.
Parallel: Matthew 10:40; John 5:24.
And: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua cried out: Grk. krazō, aor., may mean (1) to utter a loud cry; scream, cry out, or (2) express something with a vigorous voice; call out, which fits this situation. In the LXX krazō renders five different Hebrew verbs with variations of meaning from a shout of war, the cry of childbirth, the wild call of a bird or cries of individuals to God in distress. Josephus uses the verb in the sense of prophetic proclamation and the Sages refer to "crying" as part of a formula introducing quotations cited by them in support of their views (DNTT 1:409). Here the verb appropriately depicts Yeshua raising his voice for an important proclamation and challenge to his hearers.
and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. The one trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition emphasizes establishing a relationship. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Yeshua uses the pronoun not in the sense of "me, the rabbi," but "me the Messianic deliverer." trusts: Grk. pisteuō, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. in: Grk. eis, prep. me: Grk. egō. but: Grk. alla, conj. in: Grk. eis, prep. the One: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20) and echoed the Shema, "Hear O Israel YHVH Eloheinu YHVH one" (Deut 6:4).
having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. The verb occurs 31 times in John and of those 25 depict God as the sending agent. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; 48:6; Jer 26:5, 12; 35:15; Ezek 2:3). me: Grk. egō. Yeshua displays an acute sense of his own "sent-ness." In contrast with the Synoptic Narratives the book of John records Yeshua making the statement "The One having sent me" several times" (John 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:38, 39; 7:16, 28; 8:26, 29; 9:4; 12:44; 16:5). Other times he names the Father as the sender (John 5:23, 37; 8:16; 12:49; 14:24).
Yeshua's point is that the one trusting in him is in reality establishing a relationship with the Father. This declaration carries the implication that it is only through Yeshua that such a relationship can be experienced. As Peter will later say, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 NASB). Paul will concur saying, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Messiah Yeshua" (1Tim 2:5 BR; 1Cor 8:6; Gal 3:19). Yeshua is also the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), which God promised to Israel (Jer 31:31). All the promises God made to Israel are "yes" in Yeshua (2Cor 1:20).
45 And the one beholding me beholds the One having sent me.
Parallel: John 2:11; 6:40.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the one beholding: Grk. theōreō, pres. part. See verse 19 above. The verb would have the sense of looking to for deliverance. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. beholds: Grk. theōreō, pres. the One having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See the previous verse. me: Grk. egō. Yeshua affirms that the fullness of God dwelled in him (Col 2:9). This verse functions as a parallelism to the previous verse, so that "trusting" and "beholding" are intended as synonymous terms. Again Yeshua adds to the number of times he referred to the Father as One who sends.
46 I have come as light into the world, that everyone trusting in me may not remain in the darkness.
Parallel: John 1:4-13; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35.
I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. The "I" is emphatic (Morris). Whatever the case with others may be Yeshua's own activities and purpose are clear. have come: Grk. erchomai, perf. See verse 1 above. The verb alludes to Yeshua's incarnation as well as his mission. as light: Grk. phōs. See verse 35 above. Having come Yeshua's purpose is to enlighten every man (John 1:9), and that light will remain. into: Grk. eis, prep. the world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 19 above. Yeshua means, of course, the Jewish world first, but also extends to all nations.
that: Grk. hina, conj. everyone: Grk. pas, all, each, every. trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. may not: Grk. mē, particle of negation. remain: Grk. menō, aor. subj. See verse 24 above. in: Grk. en, prep., with the sense of being inside. the darkness: Grk. skotia. See verse 35 above. The term is used of a spiritual condition consisting of sin, ignorance and unbelief. Yeshua came to deliver men from darkness, not to leave them in it.
47 And if anyone should hear my words, and does not keep them, I am not judging him; for I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world.
Parallel: John 3:17.
And: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 24 above. anyone: Grk. tis, masc. indef. pron. Because the pronoun is masculine a few versions translate it as "man" (ASV, DRA, KJV). should hear: Grk. akouō, aor. subj. See verse 12 above. my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek literature rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f).
Yeshua's conditional statement regarding those who heard his teaching (A.D. 27-30) also applies to any who would hear his words in the future through the witness of the apostles, so there is no time limit for application of this saying. and: Grk. kai, conj. does not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 15 above. The negative particle refers to a failure to exercise the will. keep them: Grk. phulassō, aor. subj. See verse 25 above. The verb refers to obeying all that Yeshua commanded (cf. Matt 28:20). Those who quibble about obeying Torah commandments should consider what would be necessary to actually keep all of Yeshua's commandments, some of which are much harder than what God gave to Israel through Moses.
I am not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 5 above. judging: Grk. krinō, pres., to subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior, to judge, whether in a personal, congregational or legal context. A continuum of judgment may be defined: observe, distinguish, evaluate, analyze, and decide, with the result being positive or negative. In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat, all of which have application in the legal sense (DNTT 2:363). The present tense of the verb emphasizes the focus of his earthly ministry. him: Grk. autos, masc. pers. pron. for: Grk. gar, conj. I came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. Yeshua again alludes to his incarnation and mission. not: Grk. ou, adv. that: Grk. hina, conj.
I might judge: Grk. krinō, aor. subj. the world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 19 above. In context the "world" is the Jewish world in the land of Israel, but the term also has a global meaning of all the inhabitants of the earth. but: Grk. alla, conj. that: Grk. hina, conj. I might save: Grk. sōzō, aor. subj. See verse 27 above. the world: Grk. kosmos. Yeshua came to be the savior of Israel (Matt 15:24), but the promise of salvation was extended to all people (Acts 4:12; 10:43; 28:28; Rom 1:16; Titus 2:11).
48 The one rejecting me and not receiving my words has One judging him; the word that I spoke, that will judge him in the last day.
Parallel: Luke 10:16; John 5:28-29.
The one rejecting: Grk. atheteō, pres. part., may mean (1) to set aside as unworthy of consideration, and in a legal sense to invalidate, nullify or set aside; or (2) in relation to a person to reject, not recognize or break faith (BAG). The second meaning applies here. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. mē, adv. receiving: Grk. lambanō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. The verb depicts both hearing and accepting the message of Yeshua. my: Grk. egō. words: pl. of Grk. rhēma. See the previous verse. has: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 6 above. One judging: Grk. krinō, pres. part. with the definite article. See the previous verse. The participle may appear to allude to the Father, but the rest of the saying describes the change of roles for Yeshua. him: Grk. autos, masc. pers. pron.
The opening clause of this verse and the next verse allude to a prophecy ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) spoke through Moses, except Yeshua presents his quotation in reverse order:
"I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deut 18:18-19)
the word: Grk. logos, message. See verse 38 above. In the LXX rhēma is often synonymous with logos (DNTT 3:1119f). The essential message was "the Kingdom of God is at hand, so repent." that: Grk. hos, rel. pron. I spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 29 above. that: Grk. ekeinos, dem. pron. will judge: Grk. krinō, fut. him: Grk. autos. in: Grk. en, prep. the last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; last, here in relation to time. What does the word last mean? It means that nothing comes after it or it wouldn’t be called last. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above.
The last day is always the last in a series of days, such as referring to the last day of a prescribed festival (Neh 8:18; John 7:37). Since the word "day" is singular Yeshua does not refer to the last days, but a specific day, the last day. In various passages the series of days that the last day concludes is the present age. In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps coinciding with the great covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel and David (Eccl 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26).
Yeshua and the apostles spoke of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). When Yeshua spoke of the last day, he meant the last day of the present age. God through Yeshua will perform two important actions on the last day: resurrection (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24) and judgment (here and John 5:28-29). Paul affirmed that all would stand before Yeshua for judgment based on deeds (2Cor 5:10) and this judgment is depicted in Yeshua's parable of the sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46).
49 For I spoke not from myself, but the Father having sent me Himself; He gave me instruction, what I should say, and what I should speak.
Parallel: John 3:34; 7:17; 8:28, 38; 10:18.
For: Grk. hoti, conj., here introducing an inference based on the preceding words. See verse 6 above. I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 29 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 27 above. myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive first person pronoun, myself. but: Grk. alla, conj. the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 26 above. This is the father of Israel and our Father in heaven. Yeshua was in complete unity with the Father. having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See verse 44 above. me: Grk. egō. Himself: Grk. autos. The pronoun is emphatic of the Father. Yeshua affirms again that he did not appear on the scene by accident. He was sent as a personal and authoritative representative for God.
He gave: Grk. didōmi, perf. See verse 5 above. me: Grk. egō. instruction: Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. The noun refers to instruction that is obligatory and not merely informative. In the LXX entolē is concentrated in the Torah and generally renders Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). A mitsvah may be a human command, but is mostly divine instruction intended for obedience. God's commandments for the people of God are given in the Pentateuch (or Torah) and referred to frequently in the Psalms, especially Psalm 119. Compliance with God's commandments carries with it the promise of blessing for obedience. On the other hand, violation of God's commandments produces guilt and need for atonement. Yeshua set the example for his disciples by obeying the Father's instruction.
what: Grk. tis, indef. pron. I should say: Grk. legō, aor. subj. See verse 4 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. what: Grk. tis. I should speak: Grk. laleō, aor. subj. This last clause alludes to the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:18:
"I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him." (NASB)
Yeshua presents his obedience as that of a son to a father. He affirms yet again that the content of his teaching, the good news and ethics of the Kingdom, came from the Father and that he was utterly faithful in carrying out the Father's wishes.
50 And I know that His instruction is eternal life; what therefore I speak, just as the Father has said to me, so I speak.
Parallel: John 6:40.
And: Grk. kai, conj. I know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 35 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. used here as complementary of the preceding verb. His: Grk. autos, pers. pron. instruction: Grk. entolē. See the previous verse. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. eternal: Grk. aiōnios. See verse 25 above. life: Grk. zōē. See verse 25 above. Yeshua alludes to an important saying in the Torah:
"See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love ADONAI your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and ADONAI your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess." (Deut 30:15-16 TLV)
what: Grk. hos, rel. pron. therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. I: Grk. egō. speak: Grk. laleō, pres. See verse 29 above. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. See verse 14 above. the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 26 above. has said: Grk. eirō, perf., inform through utterance; say, speak, tell. The verb is used here of authoritative utterance. to me: Grk. egō. so: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. I speak: Grk. laleō, pres.
The terse statement "instruction (or commandment) is eternal life," based on a Torah principle, is intended to describe a continuum from Yeshua's initial proclamation to the final result. Yeshua was sent in order to provide people with eternal life (John 3:16). He called people to repentance and sacrificial discipleship in order to achieve that result. After all, eternal life is not just living a long time or going to heaven, but enjoying a relationship with God that satisfies the soul with mercy, peace and love.
Afterword: John passes over the events of Monday and Tuesday as recorded in the Synoptic Narratives.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
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