Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

John 13



This section has two parts in strong dramatic contrast: 1. the washing of the disciples’ feet (2–20); 2. the self-excommunication of the traitor (21–30). As John 13:1 forms an introduction to this part of the Gospel (13–17), Song of Solomon vv2, 3, to this section (2–20).

Verse 1

1. πρὸ δὲ τ. ἑορτῆς τ. π. Can this mean, Now on the Feast before the Passover (comp. John 12:1)? Nowhere else does S. John use the periphrasis ‘the Feast of the Passover,’ which occurs in N.T. only Luke 2:41. The words give a date, not to εἰδώς, nor ἀγαπήσας, nor ἠγάπησεν, but to the narrative which follows. Some evening before the Passover Jesus was at supper with His disciples; and probably Thursday, the beginning of Nisan 14. But the difficult question of the Day of the Crucifixion is discussed in Appendix A.

εἰδώς. Knowing, i.e. ‘because He knew’ rather than ‘although He knew.’ It was precisely because He knew that He would soon return to glory that He gave this last token of self-humiliating love. For ἡ ὤρα see on John 2:4, John 7:6, John 11:9. Till His hour came His enemies could do no more than plot (John 7:30, John 8:20). The ἵνα points to the Divine purpose (John 12:23, John 16:2; John 16:32; John 11:50). Winer, p. 426. With μεταβῇ ἐκ τ. κ. τ., pass over out of this world, comp. μεταβέβηκεν ἐκ τ. θανάτου (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). For ἀγαπᾶν see on John 11:5, John 21:15.

τοὺς ἰδίους. Those whom God had given Him (John 17:11, John 6:37; John 6:39; Acts 4:23; Acts 24:23), still amid the troubles of the world.

εἰς τέλος. Vulg. in finem. ‘To the end of His life’ is probably not the meaning: this would rather be μέχρι τέλους (Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14), or ἄχρι τέλους (Hebrews 6:11; Revelation 2:26), or ἕως τέλους (1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:13). A.V. renders εἰς τέλος ‘unto the end,’ here, Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; ‘continual,’ Luke 18:5; ‘to the uttermost,’ 1 Thessalonians 2:16. In all these passages εἰς τέλος may mean either ‘at last, finally,’ or ‘to the uttermost, utterly.’ To the uttermost seems preferable here. Comp. LXX. of Amos 9:8; Psalms 16:11; Psalms 49:10; Psalms 74:3. The expression points to an even higher power of love exhibited in the Passion than that which the Christ had all along displayed.

Verse 2

2. δείπνου γινομένου. Neither this nor δ. γενομένου (Mark 6:2) can mean ‘supper being ended;’ and the supper is not ended (John 13:26). The former means ‘when supper was beginning’ or ‘was at hand;’ the latter, ‘supper having begun.’ If the Lord’s act represents the customary washing of the guests’ feet by servants before the meal, ‘when supper was at hand’ would be the better rendering of δ. γινομένου: but ἐκ τοῦ δείπνου in John 13:4 seems to be against this.

τ. διαβόλου κ.τ.λ. The devil having now put it into the heart, that Judas, Simon’s son, Iscariot, should betray Him. Whose heart? Only two answers are possible grammatically; [1] the heart of Judas, [2] the devil’s own heart. The latter is incredible, if only for the reason that S. John himself has shewn that the devil had long been at work with Judas. The meaning is that of the received reading, but more awkwardly expressed. The traitor’s name is given in full for greater solemnity, and comes last for emphasis. Note the position of Iscariot, confirming the view (see on John 6:71) that the word is a local epithet rather than a proper name.

Verse 3

3. εἰδώς. ‘Because He knew,’ as in John 13:1. For πάντα ἔδωκεν see on John 3:35 and comp. Ephesians 1:22; Philippians 2:9-11. Note the order; and that it was from God He came forth, and unto God He is going. “He came forth from God without leaving Him; and He goeth to God without deserting us” (S. Bernard).

Verse 4

4. τὰ ἱμάτια. His upper garments which would impede His movements. The plural includes the girdle, fastenings, &c. (John 19:23). The minuteness in John 13:4-5 shews the eyewitness. Luke 22:27.

Verse 5

5. τ. νιπτῆρα. The bason, which stood there for such purposes, the large copper bason commonly found in oriental houses.

ἤρξατο νίπτειν. Ἤρξατο is not a mere amplification as in the other Gospels (Matthew 11:7; Matthew 26:22; Matthew 26:37; Matthew 26:74; Mark 4:1; Mark 6:2; Mark 6:7; Mark 6:34; Mark 6:55; Luke 7:15; Luke 7:24; Luke 7:38; Luke 7:49; &c. &c.), and in the Acts (Acts 1:1; Acts 2:4; Acts 18:26, &c.). The word occurs nowhere else in S. John, and here is no mere periphrasis. He began to wash, but was interrupted by the incident with S. Peter. With whom He began is not mentioned: from very early times some have conjectured Judas. Contrast the mad insolence of Caligula—quosdam summis honoribus functos ad pedes stare succinctos linteo passus est. Suet. Calig. XXVI. One is unwilling to surrender the view that this symbolical act was intended among other purposes to be a tacit rebuke to the disciples for the ‘strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest’ (Luke 22:24); and certainly ‘I am among you as he that serveth’ (John 13:27) seems to point directly to this act. This view seems all the more probable when we remember that a similar dispute was rebuked in a similar way, viz. by symbolical action (Luke 9:46-48). The dispute may have arisen about their places at the table, or as to who should wash the others’ feet. That S. Luke places the strife after the supper is not fatal to this view; he gives no note of time, and the strife is singularly out of place there, immediately after their Master’s self-humiliation and in the midst of the last farewells. We may therefore believe, in spite of S. Luke’s arrangement, that the strife preceded the supper. In any case the independence of S. John’s narrative is conspicuous.

Verse 6

6. ἔρχεται οὖν. He cometh therefore, i.e. in consequence of having begun to wash the feet of each in turn. The natural impression is that S. Peter’s turn at any rate did not come first. But if it did, this is not much in favour of the primacy of S. Peter, which can be proved from other passages, still less of his supremacy, which cannot be proved at all. The order of his words marks the contrast between him and his Master, Σύ μου ν. τ. π.; Tu mihi lavas pedes? Strong emphasis on σύ: comp. σὺ ἔρχῃ πρός με (Matthew 3:14).

Verse 7

7. ὃ ἐγὼ π. σὺ οὐκ οἰδας. Ἐγώ and σύ are in emphatic opposition. S. Peter’s question implied that he knew, while Christ did not know, what He was doing: Jesus tells him that the very reverse is the case. For ἄρτι see on John 2:10.

γνώσῃ δ. μ. τ. But thou shalt come to know, or shalt perceive, presently. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα (John 3:22, John 5:1; John 5:14, John 6:1, John 7:1, John 19:38) need not refer to the remote future: had this been intended we should probably have had νῦν and ὕστερον (John 13:36) instead of ἄρτι and μετὰ ταῦτα. The promised γινώσκειν seems to begin John 13:12, when Jesus explains His symbolical action, and begins with this very word, Γινώσκετε τί πεποίηκα ὑμῖν; But not till Pentecost did the Apostles fully recognise the meaning of Christ’s words and acts. see on John 7:26 and John 8:55 for the converse change from γινώσκω to οἶδα.

Verse 8

8. οὐ μὴ νίψῃς. Strong negative; Thou shalt certainly never wash my feet. see on John 8:51, and comp. οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο (Matthew 16:22). In both utterances S. Peter resents the idea of his Master being humiliated.

οὐκ ἔχεις μέρος. Comp. ὁ ἔχων μέρος (Revelation 20:6). The phrase occurs nowhere else in N.T. See on ὄψις, John 11:44. Comp. οὐκ ἔστι σοι μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος (Acts 8:21; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:27, &c.), and τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ μετὰ τ. ὑποκριτῶν θήσει (Matthew 24:51). The expression is of Hebrew origin. To reject Christ’s self-humiliating love, because it humiliates Him (a well-meaning but false principle), is to cut oneself off from Him. It requires much more humility to accent a benefit which is a serious loss to the giver than one which costs him nothing. In this also the surrender of self is necessary.

Verse 9

9. μὴ τ. πόδας μ. μόνον. The impetuosity which is so marked a characteristic of S. Peter in the first three Gospels (comp. especially Luke 5:8 and Matthew 16:22) comes out very strongly in his three utterances here. It is incredible that this should be invention; and if not, the independent authority of S. John’s narrative is manifest.

Verse 10

10. ὁ λελουμένος. He that is bathed (comp. Hebrews 10:22 and 2 Peter 2:22). Νίπτειν (see on John 9:7) means to wash part of the body, λούεσθαι to bathe the whole person. A man who has bathed does not need to bathe again when he reaches home, but only to wash the dust off his feet: then he is wholly clean. So also in the spiritual life, a man whose moral nature has once been thoroughly purified need not think that this has been all undone if in the walk through life he contracts some stains: these must be washed away, and then he is once more wholly clean. Peter, conscious of his own imperfections, in Luke 5:8, and possibly here, rushes to the conclusion that he is utterly unclean. But his meaning here perhaps rather is; ‘If having part in Thee depends on being washed by Thee, wash all Thou canst.’ S. Peter excellently illustrates Christ’s saying. His love for his Master proves that he had bathed; his boastfulness (John 13:37), his attack on Malchus (John 18:10), his d nials (25, 27), his dissimulation at Antioch (Galatians 2), all shew how often he had need to wash his feet.

τὸν παραδιδόντα. Him that was betraying or delivering over: the participle marks the work as already going on (John 18:2; John 18:5). In Luke 6:16 Judas is called προδότης, ‘a traitor;’ but elsewhere παραδιδόναι, not προδιδόναι, is the word used to express his crime.

οὐχὶ πάντες. The second indication of the presence of a traitor (comp. John 6:70). Apparently it did not attract much attention: each, conscious of his own faults, thought the remark only too true. The disclosure is made gradually but rapidly now (John 13:18; John 13:21; John 13:26).

Verse 12

12. ἀνέπεσεν. The word is frequent in the Gospels (nowhere else in N.T.) of reclining at meals. It always implies a change of position (John 13:25, John 6:10, John 21:20; Matthew 15:35; Mark 6:40; Luke 11:37). Γινώσκετε, Perceive ye? (see on John 13:7), directs their attention to the explanation to be given.

Verse 13

13. ὁ διδάσκαλος κ. ὁ κύριος. The ordinary titles of respect paid to a Rabbi (John 1:29, John 20:16, John 4:11; John 4:15; John 4:19): κύριος is the correlative of δοῦλος (John 13:16), διδάσκαλος of μαθητής. For the nominative in addresses comp. John 19:3; Matthew 11:26; Mark 5:41; Luke 8:54, &c. It is specially common with the imperative. Winer, p. 227.

Verses 13-17


Verse 14

14. εἰ οὖν ἐγὼ ἔν. ὑμῶν τ. π. The pronouns are emphatic and opposed. The aorist indicates the act now accomplished: comp. John 15:20, John 18:23. But in English the perfect is more usual in such cases: if I, therefore, the Lord and the Master, (have) washed (see on John 8:29). Here ὁ κύριος stands first as the title of deeper meaning: the disciples would use it with increased meaning as their knowledge increased.

καὶ ὑμεῖς ὀφ. The custom of the ‘feet-washing’ on Maundy Thursday in literal fulfilment of this typical commandment is not older than the fourth century. The Lord High Almoner washed the feet of the recipients of the royal ‘maundy’ as late as 1731. James II. was the last English sovereign who went through the ceremony. In 1 Timothy 5:10 ‘washing the saints’ feet’ is perhaps given rather as a type of devoted charity than as a definite act to be required.

Verse 15

15. καθὼς ἐγὼ ἐπ. ὑμῖν. Not, ‘what I have done to you,’ but ‘even as I have done:’ this is the spirit in which to act—self-sacrificing humility—whether or no it be exhibited precisely in this way. Mutual service, and especially mutual cleansing, is the obligation of Christ’s disciples. Comp. James 5:16.

Verse 16

16. οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος κ.τ.λ. This saying occurs four times in the Gospels, each time in a different connexion: [1] to shew that the disciples must expect no better treatment than their Master (Matthew 10:24); [2] to impress the Apostles with their responsibilities as teachers, for their disciples will be as they are (Luke 6:40); [3] here, to teach humility (comp. Luke 22:27); [4] with the same purpose as in Matthew 10:24, but on another occasion (John 15:20). We infer that it was one of Christ’s frequent sayings: it is introduced here with the double ἀμήν, as of special importance (John 1:51). Ἀπόστολος, one that it sent, an apostle.

Verse 17

17. μακάριοί ἐστε. Blessed are ye, as in the Beatitudes: comp. John 20:29; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13, &c. Knowledge must influence conduct. Εἰ introduces the general supposition, if ye know; ἐάν the particular condition, provided ye do them. Comp. Revelation 2:5; 1 Corinthians 7:36; Galatians 1:8-9; Acts 5:38. Winer, p. 370.

Verse 18

18. οὐ περὶ πάντων. There is one who knows, and does not do, and is the very reverse of blessed. I know the character of the Twelve whom I chose (John 6:70, John 15:16); the treachery of one is no surprise to Me. For the elliptical ἀλλ' ἵνα, ‘but this was done in order that,’ so frequent in S. John, see on John 1:8. Here we may supply ἐλεξάμην: but I chose them in order that. Winer, p. 398.

ἡ γραφὴ πλ. see on John 2:22 and John 12:38. The quotation is taken, but with freedom, from the Hebrew of Psalms 41:9 : for ἐπῆρεν ἐπ' ἐμὲ τ. πτέρναν αὐτοῦ both Hebrew and LXX. have ‘magnified his heel against me,’ ἐμεγάλυνεν ἐπ' ἐμὲ πτερνισμόν. The metaphor here is of one lifting up his foot before kicking, but the blow is not yet given. This was the attitude of Judas at this moment. Jesus omits ‘Mine own familiar friend whom I trusted.’ He had not trusted Judas, and had not been deceived as the Psalmist had been: ‘He knew what was in man’ (John 2:25). The variations from the LXX. are still more remarkable in the first clause. S. John quotes ὁ τρώγων μετ' ἐμοῦ τὸν ἄρτον, the LXX. having ὁ ἐσθίων ἄρτους μου. We notice [1] τρώγειν, the verb used of eating Christ’s Flesh and the Bread from Heaven (John 6:54; John 6:56-58), and nowhere else in N.T. excepting Matthew 24:38, instead of the much more common ἐσθίειν: [2] τὸν ἅρτον, the bread, instead of ἄρτους, bread or loaves: [3] μετ' ἐμοῦ for μου, if the reading μετ' ἐμοῦ be genuine, which is doubtful. To eat bread with a man is more than to eat his bread, which a servant might do. The variations can scarcely be accidental, and seem to point to the fact that the treachery of Judas in violating the bond of hospitality, so universally held sacred in the East, was aggravated by his having partaken of the Eucharist. That Judas did partake of the Eucharist seems to follow from Luke 22:19-21, but the point is one about which there is much controversy.

S. John omits the institution of the Eucharist for the same reason that he omits so much,—because it was so well known to every instructed Christian; and for such he writes.

Verse 19

19. ἀπ' ἄρτι. From henceforth (John 14:7; Revelation 14:13): see on John 2:10. Hitherto, for Judas’ sake, Jesus had been reserved about the presence of a traitor; to point him out might have deprived him of a chance of recovery. But every good influence has failed, even the Eucharist and the washing of his feet: and from this time onward, for the Eleven’s sake, He tells them. The success of such treachery might have shaken their faith had it taken them unawares: by foretelling it He turns it into an aid to faith. Comp. John 14:29. Fox ἐγώ εἰμι see on John 8:24; John 8:28; John 8:58.

Verse 20

20. ὁ λαμβάνων κ.τ.λ. The connexion of this saying, solemnly introduced with the double ‘verily,’ with what precedes is not easy to determine. The saying is one with which Christ had sent forth the Apostles in the first instance (Matthew 10:40). It is recalled at the moment when one of them is being denounced for treachery. It was natural that such an end to such a mission should send Christ’s thoughts back to the beginning of it. Moreover He would warn them all from supposing that such a catastrophe either cancelled the mission or proved it to be worthless from the first. Of every one of them, even of Judas himself, the saying still held good, ‘he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth Me.’ The unworthiness of the minister cannot annul the commission.

Verse 21

21. ἐταράχθη τῷ πν. It is the πνεῦμα, the seat of the religious emotions, not the ψυχή, that is affected by the thought of Judas’ sin (John 11:33). For the dative comp. Acts 18:25; Romans 14:1; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 1:21. Once more the reality of Christ’s human nature is brought before us (John 11:33; John 11:35; John 11:38, John 12:27); but quite incidentally and without special point. It is the artless story of one who tells what he saw because he saw it and remembers it. The lifelike details which follow are almost irresistible evidences of truthfulness.

Verses 21-30


Verse 22

22. ἔβλεπον εἰς ἀλ. ‘Began to inquire among themselves’ (Luke 22:23). The other two state that all began to say to Him ‘Is it I?’ They neither doubt the statement, nor ask ‘Is it he?’ Each thinks it is as credible of himself as of any of the others. Judas asks, either to dissemble, or to see whether he really is known (Matthew 26:25). Ἀπορούμενοι expresses bewilderment rather than doubt.

Verse 23

23. ἦν ἀνακείμενοςἐν τ. κόλπῳ. It is important to distinguish between this reclining on Jesus’ lap and ἀναπέσων ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος in John 13:25. The Jews had adopted the Persian, Greek, and Roman custom of reclining at meals, and had long since exchanged the original practice of standing at the Passover first for sitting and then for reclining. They reclined on the left arm and ate with the right. This is the posture of the beloved disciple indicated here, which continued throughout the meal: in John 13:25 we have a momentary change of posture.

ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰ. This explains how S. John came to be nearest and to be told who was the traitor (Introduction, p. xxxiv.) Comp. John 19:26, John 21:7; John 21:20; not John 20:2. S. John was on the Lord’s right. Who was next to Him on the left? Possibly Judas, who most have been very close for Christ to answer him without the others hearing.

Verse 24

24. εἰπὲ τίς ἐστιν. S. Peter thinks that the beloved disciple is sure to know. The reading of T. R., πύθεσθαι τίς ἂν εἴη, is wanting in authority and contains an optative, which S. John never uses.

Verse 25

25. ἀναπεσὼνἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος. In John 13:23 we have the permanent posture, here a change, as in John 13:12 : he leaning back on to Jesusbreast. For ἐκεῖνος see on John 1:8; for οὕτως, as he was, comp. John 4:6. “This is among the most striking of those vivid descriptive traits which distinguish the narrative of the Fourth Gospel generally, and which are especially remarkable in these last scenes of Jesus’ life, where the beloved disciple was himself an eye-witness and an actor. It is therefore to be regretted that these fine touches of the picture should be blurred in our English Bibles.” Lightfoot, On Revision, p. 73.

Verse 26

26. ᾧ ἐγὼ βάψω τὸ ψ. κ. δώσω αὐτῷ. For whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him. The text is much confused, perhaps owing to copyists having tried to correct the awkwardness of and αὐτῷ (comp. John 6:51, John 14:4). ψώμιον (ψώειν, collat. form of ψάειν, ‘to rub’) is ‘a little piece broken off;’ it is still the common word in Greece for bread. To give such a morsel at a meal was an ordinary mark of goodwill, somewhat analagous to taking wine with a person in modern times. Christ, therefore, as a forlorn hope, gives the traitor one more mark of affection before dismissing him. It is the last such mark: ‘Friend, wherefore art thou come?’ (Matthew 26:50) should be ‘Comrade, (do that) for which thou art come,’ and is a sorrowful rebuke rather than an affectionate greeting. Whether the morsel was a piece of the unleavened bread dipped in the broth of bitter herbs depends upon whether this supper is regarded as the Paschal meal or not. The name of the traitor is once more given with solemn fulness as in John 13:2 and John 6:71, Judas the son of Simon Iscariot.

Verse 27

27. τότε εἰσηλθεν κ.τ.λ. At that moment Satan entered into him. At first Satan made suggestions to him (John 13:2; Luke 22:3) and Judas listened to them; now Satan takes full possession of him. Desire had conceived and brought forth sin, and the sin full grown had engendered death (James 1:15). Jesus knew that Satan had claimed his own, and therefore saith to him, That thou doest, do more quickly; carry it out at once, even sooner than was planned (1 Timothy 3:14), Winer, p. 304. Now that the case of Judas was hopeless, delay merely kept Jesus from His hour of victory (Matthew 23:32; Luke 12:50). He longs to be alone with the faithful Eleven. For τάχιον see on John 20:4.

Verse 28

28. οὐδεὶς ἔγνω. Even S. John, who now knew that Judas was the traitor, did not know that Christ’s words alluded to his treachery.

Verse 29

29. τινὲς γὰρ. The γάρ introduces a proof that they could not have understood. For γλωσσόκομον see on John 12:6. Εἱς τ. ἑορτήν agrees with John 13:1 in shewing that this meal precedes the Passover. For τ. πτωχοῖς comp. John 12:5; Nehemiah 8:10; Nehemiah 8:12; Galatians 2:10. Note the change of construction from ἀγόρασον to ἵνα δῷ: comp. John 8:53, John 15:5.

Verse 30

30. ἐκεῖνος. Here and in John 13:27 the pronoun marks Judas as an alien (comp. John 7:11, John 9:12; John 9:28). John 13:28-29 are parenthetical: the Evangelist now returns to the narrative, repeating with solemnity the incident which formed the last crisis in the career of Judas. Ἐξῆλθεν εὐθύς is no evidence that the meal was not a Paschal one. The rule that ‘none should go out at the door of his house until the morning’ (Exodus 12:22) had, like standing at the Passover, long since been abrogated. Judas goes out from the presence of the Christ like Cain from the presence of the Lord. Dum vult esse praedo, fit praeda.

ἧν δὲ νύξ. Comp. 1 Samuel 28:8. The tragic brevity of this has often been remarked, and will never cease to lay hold of the imagination. It can scarcely be meant merely to tell us that at the time when Judas went out night had begun. In the Gospel in which the Messiah so often appears as the Light of the World (John 1:4-9, John 3:19-21, John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:35-36; John 12:46), and in which darkness almost invariably means moral darkness (John 1:5, John 8:12, John 12:35; John 12:46), a use peculiar to S. John (1 John 1:5; 1 John 2:8-9; 1 John 2:11),—we shall hardly be wrong in understanding also that Judas went forth from the Light of the World into the night in which a man cannot but stumble ‘because there is no light in him’ (John 11:10): see on John 3:2, John 10:22, John 18:1. Thus also Christ Himself said some two hours later, ‘This is your hour, and the power of darkness’ (Luke 22:53). For other remarks of telling brevity and abruptness comp. χειμὼν ἦν (John 10:22); ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς (John 11:35); λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἐγώ εἰμι (John 18:5); ἦν δὲ ὁ Βαραββᾶς λῃστής (John 18:40).

These remarks shew the impropriety of joining this sentence to the next verse; ‘and it was night, therefore, when he had gone out;’ a combination which is clumsy in itself and quite spoils the effect.

John 13:31 to John 15:27. CHRIST’S LOVE IN KEEPING HIS OWN

Verse 31

31. ὅτε οὖν ἐξῆλθεν. Indicating that the presence of Judas had acted as a constraint, but also that he had gone of his own will: there was no casting out of the faithless disciple (John 9:34). Νῦν, with solemn exultation: the beginning of the end has come. For ὁ υἱὸς τ. ἀνθ. see on John 1:51 : for the aorist ἐδοξάσθη see Winer, p. 345. He was glorified in finishing the work which the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4); and thus God was glorified in Him.

Verses 31-35

31–35. Jesus, freed from the oppressive presence of the traitor, bursts out into a declaration that the glorification of the Son of Man has begun. Judas is already beginning that series of events which will end in sending Him away from them to the Father; therefore they must continue on earth the kingdom which He has begun—the reign of Love.

This section forms the first portion of those parting words of heavenly meaning which were spoken to the faithful Eleven in the last moments before His Passion. At first the discourse takes the form of dialogue, which lasts almost to the end of chap. 14. Then they rise from the table, and the words of Christ become more sustained, while the disciples remain silent with the exception of John 16:17-18; John 16:29-30. Then follows Christ’s prayer, after which they go forth to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1).

Verse 32

32. εἰ ὁ θ. ἐδοξ. ἐν αὐτῷ. These words are wanting in אBC1DLX the repetition might account for their being omitted, but they spoil the marked balance and rhythm of the clauses in John 13:31-32.

καὶ ὁ θ. δοξάσει. And God shall glorify Him, with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. Hence the future. The glory of completing the work of redemption is already present; that of returning to the Father will straightway follow. Ἐν αὐτῷ means ‘in God:’ as God is glorified in the Messianic work of the Son, so the Son shall be glorified in the eternal blessedness of the Father. Comp. John 17:4-5; Philippians 2:9.

Verse 33

33. τέκνια. Nowhere else in the Gospels does Christ use this expression of tender affection, which springs from the thought of His orphaned disciples. S. John appears never to have forgotten it. It occurs frequently in his First Epistle (1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:18, 1 John 4:4, 1 John 5:21), and perhaps nowhere else in the N.T. In Galatians 4:19 the reading is doubtful. Comp. παίδια, John 21:5. for ἔτι μικρὸν see on John 7:33-34, John 8:21.

ζητήσετέ με. Christ does not add, as He did to the Jews, ‘and shall not find Me,’ still less, ‘ye shall die in your sin.’ Rather, ‘ye shall seek Me: and though ye cannot come whither I go, yet ye shall find Me by continuing to be My disciples and loving one another.’ The expression οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι is rare in Christ’s discourses (John 4:22, John 18:20; John 18:36): in these cases the idea of nationality prevails over that of hostility to the Messiah.

Verse 34

34. ἐντολὴν καινήν. The commandment to love was not new, for ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Leviticus 19:18) was part of the Mosaic Law. But the motive is new; to love our neighbour because Christ has loved us. We have only to read the ‘most excellent way’ of love set forth in 1 Corinthians 13, and compare it with the measured benevolence of the Pentateuch, to see how new the commandment had become by having this motive added. Καινήν not νέαν: καινός looks back, ‘fresh’ as opposed to ‘worn out’ (John 19:41; 1 John 2:7-8, which doubtless refers to this passage; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:1-5); νέος looks forward, ‘young’ as opposed to ‘aged’ (Luke 5:39; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Both are used Mark 2:22, οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς, new wine into fresh wine-skins. Both are used of διαθήκη: νέα, Hebrews 12:24; καινή, Luke 22:20. Ἐντολὴν διδόναι is peculiar to S. John (John 12:49, John 14:31; 1 John 3:23; comp. John 11:57). Καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς belongs to the second half of the verse, being the reason for the fresh commandment;—even as I (have) loved you. Comp. ‘If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another’ (1 John 4:11). The aorist shews that Christ’s work is regarded as already completed; but the perfect is perhaps more in accordance with English idiom: see on John 8:29 and comp. John 15:9; John 15:12.

Verse 35

35. ἐν τούτῳ γν. π. This is the true ‘Note of the Church;’ not miracles, not formularies, not numbers, but love. “The working of such love puts a brand upon us; for see, say the heathen, how they love one another,” Tertullian, Apol. XXXIX. Comp. 1 John 3:10; 1 John 3:14. Ἐμοί is emphatic; disciples to Me.

Verse 36

36. ποῦ ὑπάγεις; The affectionate Apostle is absorbed by the words, ‘Whither I go, ye cannot come,’ and he lets all the rest pass. His Lord is going away, out of his reach; he must know the meaning of that. The Lord’s reply alludes probably not merely to the Apostle’s death, but also to the manner of it: comp. John 21:18-19. But his hour has not yet come; he has a great mission to fulfil first (Matthew 16:18). The beautiful story of the Domine, quo vadis? should be remembered in connexion with this verse. See Introduction to the Epistles of S. Peter, p. 56.

Verse 37

37. ἄρτι. Even now, at once (John 2:10). He sees that Christ’s going away means death, and with his usual impulsiveness (John 13:9) he declares that he is ready to follow even thither at once. He mistakes strong feeling for moral strength. For τ. ψυχήν μ. θήσω see on John 10:11.

Verse 38

38. λέγω σοι. In the parallel passage, Luke 22:34, we have λέγω σοι, Πέτρε. For the first and last time Jesus addresses the Apostle by the name which He had given him; as if to remind him that rock-like strength was not his own to boast of, but must be found in humble reliance on the Giver.

S. Luke agrees with S. John in placing the prediction of the triple denial in the supper-room: S. Matt. (Matthew 26:30-35) and S. Mark (Mark 14:26-30) place it on the way from the room to Gethsemane. It is possible but not probable that the prediction was repeated; though some would even make three predictions recorded by [1] S. Luke, [2] S. John, [3] S. Matt. and S. Mark. See Appendix B.

τρίς. All four accounts agree in this. S. Mark adds two details: [1] that the cock should crow twice, [2] that the prediction so far from checking S. Peter made him speak only the more vehemently, a particular which S. Peter’s Gospel more naturally contains than the other three. S. Matthew and S. Mark both add that all the disciples joined in S. Peter’s protestations. In these discourses S. Peter speaks no more.

It has been objected that fowls were not allowed in the Holy City. The statement wants authority, and of course the Romans would pay no attention to any such rule, even if it existed among the Jews.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 13". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.