For 10¢ a day you can enjoy ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 13



Here commences the closing part of the gospel. It exhibits the manifestation of Christ’s glory in suffering and death. The first division embraces John 13-17, in which the faith of the believing is confirmed and unbelief [Judas] cast out.

Verse 1

John 13:1 . Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα , “before the feast of the Passover,” and therefore it was not the Paschal supper which is now described. According to John, though not in agreement with the Synoptists, Jesus suffered as the Paschal Lamb on the day of the Passover, which in all Jewish households was terminated by the Paschal supper. How long before the Feast the supper here mentioned occurred is not explicitly stated, but the narrative shows it was the eve of the Passover. The note of time has an ethical rather than an historical intention. It is meant to mark that this was the last night of Jesus’ life. Therefore it is followed up by a full description of the entire situation and motives. The main action is expressed in ἐγείρεται of the fourth verse; but to set his reader in the right point of view for perceiving the significance of this action the Evangelist points out three particulars regarding the mind and feeling of Jesus, and two external circumstances. (1) εἰδὼςαὐτούς , “Jesus, knowing that the hour had come that He should pass [for the construction ὥρα ἵνα see John 12:23 ; μεταβῇ emphasises the change in condition implied] out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world [ τοὺς ἰδίους , a more restricted and more sympathetic class than the οἱ ἴδιοι of John 1:11 . His especial and peculiar friends. The designation τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ is added in contrast to ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου which described His future condition, and it suggests the difficulties they are left to cope with and the duties they must do. They are to represent Him in the world: and this appeals to Him], He loved them” εἰς τέλος , which is translated “in the highest degree” by Chrys., Euthymius [ σφόδρα ], Cyr.-Alex. [ τελειοτάτην ἀγάπησιν ], Godet, Weiss; but Godet is wrong in saying that εἰς τέλος never means “unto the end,” see Matthew 10:22 . Melanchthon renders “perduravit donec pateretur”. He loved them through all the sufferings and to all the issues to which His love brought Him. The statement is the suitable introduction to all that now looms in view. His love remained steadfast, and was now the ruling motive. The statement is further illustrated by the disappointing state of the disciples. [Wetstein quotes from Eurip., Troad. , 1051, οὐδεὶς ἐράστης ὅστις οὐκ ἀεὶ φιλεῖ ; and from the Anthol. , τούτους ἐξ ἀρχῆς μέχρι τέλους ἀγαπῶ , and cf. Shakespeare’s Sonnets , cxvi., “Love … bears it out even to the edge of doom”.] (2) καὶ δείπνου γενομένου , “supper having arrived,” “supper having been served,” cf. γενομένου σαββάτου , the Sabbath having come, πρωῒας γενομένης , Matthew 27:1 , morning having dawned. In John 10:22 the phrase ἐγένετο τὰ ἐγκαίνια means “the Dedication had arrived”. So here the meaning is “supper having come,” and not “supper being ended,” or “while supper was proceeding”. If we read γινομένου the meaning is substantially the same, “supper arriving,” “at supper time”. This also is essential to the understanding of the incident. Feet-washing, pleasant and customary before a meal, would have been disagreeable and out of place in the course of it. [The custom is abundantly illustrated by Wetstein, Doughty and others. See especially Becker’s Charicles .] The feet, either bare, or sandalled, or with shoes, were liable to be heated by the fine dust of the roads, and it was expected that the host would furnish means of washing them, see Luke 7:44 . When our Lord and His disciples supped together, this office would be discharged by the youngest, or by the disciples in turn; but this evening the disciples had been disputing which of them was the greatest, Luke 22:24 , and consequently no one could stoop to do this menial office for the rest. (3) τοῦ διαβόλουπαραδῷ [or παραδοῖ ], “the devil having now put into the heart,” etc. For the expression βεβληκότος εἰς τὴν καρδίαν see especially Pindar, Olymp. , xiii. 16, πολλὰ δʼ ἐν καρδίαις ἀνδρῶν ἔβαλον Ὧραι κ . τ . λ . Similar expressions are frequent in Homer. It is perhaps rather stronger than “suggest,” “the devil having already put in the heart”; the idea had been entertained, if we cannot say that the purpose was already formed. His presence was another disturbing element in the feast. But had Jesus unmasked him before such fiery spirits as John and Peter, Judas would never have left that room alive. Peter’s sword would have made surer work than with Malchus. Judas therefore is included in the feet-washing. “Jesus at the feet of the traitor, what a picture, what lessons for us” (Astié).

Verses 1-20

John 13:1-20 . Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and explains His action .

Verse 3

John 13:3 . (4) εἰδὼςχεῖρας , this consciousness on the part of Jesus is mentioned to bring out the condescension of the action to be related. (5) So too is the accompanying consciousness, ὅτι ἀπὸ Θεοῦὑπάγει . It was not in forgetfulness of His true dignity but because conscious that He was supreme and God’s ambassador that He did what He did. [“All things,” says Melanchthon, “condere testamentum promissum in Scripturis”: “omnia, adeoque peccatum et mortem”.]

Verse 4

John 13:4 . This person, and in this mood and in these circumstances, on the brink of His own passion, is free to attend to the wants of unworthy men, and ἐγείρεταιδιεζωσμένος . “He rises,” having reclined at the table in expectation that one or other of the disciples would do the feet-washing. καὶ τίθησι τὰ ἱμάτια , “and lays aside His garments,” i.e. , His Tallith, appearing in His χιτών , similar to our “in His shirt sleeves”. τίθημι is similarly used in τίθημι τὴν ψυχήν , John 10:11 , etc. [See also Kypke on Luke 19:21 .] καὶ λαβὼν λέντιον διέζωσεν ἑαυτόν , “and having taken a linteum ,” a towel or long linen cloth, “He girt Himself,” tying the towel round Him. Cf. ἐγκομβώσασθε , 1 Peter 5:5 . The middle διεζώσατο is used in John 21:7 ; the expression here more emphatically indicates that He was the sole Agent. The condescension is understood in the light of what Suetonius tells of Caligula (Cal. 26), that he was fond of making some of the senators wait at his table “succinctos linteo,” that is, in the guise of waiters.

Verse 5

John 13:5 εἶτανιπτῆρα . Each step in the whole astounding scene is imprinted on the mind of John. “Next He pours water into the basin,” the basin which the landlord had furnished as part of the necessary arrangements, [ νιπτῆρα is only found here; but ποδανιπτήρ is not so rare; see Plut., Phocion , 20, where ποδονιπτῆρες filled with wine were provided for the guests.] καὶ ἤρξατο νίπτειν … “nihil ministerii omittit” (Grotius). [Plutarch says of Favonius that he did for Pompey ὅσα δεσπότας δοῦλοι μεχρὶ νίψεως ποδῶν .] He “began” to wash the feet of the disciples; “began,” perhaps because, as Meyer suggests, the washing was interrupted, but this is not certain.

Verse 6

John 13:6 . ἔρχεται οὖν , apparently in the order in which they happened to be sitting, and having first washed some of the other disciples, He comes to Simon Peter, who draws up his feet out of reach and exclaims, Κύριε , σύ μου νίπτεις τοὺς πόδας ; The σύ μου are brought together for the sake of the contrast.

Verse 7

John 13:7 . This was a right impulse and honourable to Peter; and therefore Jesus treats it tenderly. ὃ ἐγὼ ποιῶμετὰ ταῦτα , “what I am doing thou dost not at present comprehend, but thou shalt learn as soon as I am finished”. The pronouns are emphatic, that Peter may understand that Jesus may have much to do which the disciple cannot comprehend. The first requisite in a disciple or follower is absolute trust in the wisdom of his Master. μετὰ ταῦτα refers to the immediate future; see John 13:12 , where the explanation of the action is given. [ οὐκ εἰς μακρὰν ἐρεῖ , Euthymius.]

Verse 8

John 13:8 . Peter, however, cannot accept the disciple’s attitude, but persists, Οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , “never shalt Thou wash my feet”. The εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα was prompted by the μετὰ ταῦτα . No future explanation can make this possible. Peter’s humility is true enough to allow him to see the incongruity of Jesus washing his feet: not deep enough to make him conscious of the incongruity of his thus opposing and dictating to his Master. To this characteristic utterance Jesus, waiting with the basin, replies, ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σεἐμοῦ . Superficially these words might mean that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he could not sit at table with Him. But evidently Peter found in them a deeper significance, and understood them as meaning: Unless I wash you, you are outcast from my fellowship and cease to share in my kingdom and destiny. Here the symbolic significance of the eating together and of the washing begins dimly to appear. That Peter saw that this deeper meaning was intended appears from the eagerness of his answer.

Verse 9

John 13:9 . Κύριεκεφαλήν . A moment ago he told his Master He was doing too much: now he tells Him He is doing too little. Self-will gives place slowly. Yet this was the unmistakable expression of devotion. If washing is any requirement for fellowship with Thee, wash me wholly. [“Non pedes solum, quos soli ministri vident; sed manus et caput, quod convivae adspiciunt.” Wetstein.] He is still in error.

Verse 10

John 13:10 . Ὁ λελουμένοςὅλος . “He that has been in the bath has no need to wash save his feet, but is all clean.” His feet may be soiled by walking from the public bath to the supper chamber, and it is enough that they be washed. “Ad convivium vocati solebant prius in balneo lavari; in domo vero convivatoris nonnisi pedes, quibus in via pulvis aut sordes adhaeserant, a servis abluebantur, ne lecti, super quibus accumbebant, macularentur.” Wetstein. He supports the statement by many references. The added clause discloses that a spiritual sense underlies the symbol: ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε , ἀλλʼ οὐχὶ πάντες , “ye are clean, but not all”. All had been washed: the feet of Judas were as clean as those of Peter. But Judas was not clean.

Verse 11

John 13:11 . That Judas was meant is at once said in John 13:11 . Ἤιδειἐστε . Jesus thus shows that He distinguishes between the offence of the rest and the sin of Judas. All that they required was to have the soil of their present evil temper and jealousy removed: they were true in heart, they had been in the bath and had only contracted a slight stain. But Judas had not been in the bath: he had no genuine and habitual loyalty to Christ.

Verse 12

John 13:12 . Ὅτεὑμῖν : “when, then, He had washed their feet and taken His garments [ cf. τίθησι τὰ ἱμάτια of John 13:4 ] and reclined again He said to them: Know ye what I have done to you?” Do you perceive the meaning of this action? By washing their feet He had washed their heart. By stooping to this menial service He had made them all ashamed of declining it. By this simple action He had turned a company of wrangling, angry, jealous men into a company of humbled and united disciples.

Verse 13

John 13:13 . ὑμεῖς φωνεῖτέ με , “ye call me,” in addressing me ( φωνεῖν , not καλεῖν ), ὁ διδάσκαλος καὶκύριος “Teacher” and “Lord”; the nominativus tituli , see Winer, 226. Perhaps “Rabbi” would convey better the respect involved in διδάσκαλος . καὶ καλῶς λέγετε , εἰμὶ γάρ . Jesus, humble and self-suppressing as He was, clearly recognised His own dignity and on occasion asserted it. Here the point of the lesson lay in His consciousness of being their Lord.

Verse 14

John 13:14 . Hence the a fortiori argument: εἰ οὖν ἐγὼ ἔνιψαπόδας , “if I then, Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, ye also ought ( ὀφείλετε denoting moral obligation) to wash one another’s feet”. “It is not the act itself, but its moral essence, which after His example He enjoins upon them to exercise.” Meyer. This has sometimes been considered a command enjoining the literal washing of the feet of poor saints: and was practised in England until 1731 by the Lord High Almoner, and is still practised by the Pope on Maundy Thursday ( Dies Mandati ), the day before Good Friday. See also Church’s Anselm , p. 49. The ancient practice is discussed in Augustine’s Letters , 55, to Januarius, c. 33. It at once took its place as symbolic of all kindly care of fellow-Christians, see 1 Timothy 5:10 .

Verse 15

John 13:15 . ὑπόδειγμαποιῆτε . ὑπόδειγμα is condemned by Phrynichus, who recommends the Attic παράδειγμα . See Rutherford’s interesting note, New Phryn. , p. 62. The purpose, ἵνα , of His action was that they might act in the same humble, loving spirit, in all their conduct to one another.

Verse 16

John 13:16 . And as confirmatory of this example and in rebuke of their pride, He adds: οὐκ ἔστι δοῦλοςαὐτόν . In Matthew 10:24 a similar saying occurs; cf. also Luke 6:40 , and Luke 22:27 . The slave whose function it is to serve is not “greater,” μείζων , than his lord, who may expect to receive service, and therefore the slave may well stoop to the offices which the lord himself discharges and count on no exemptions the lord does not claim.

Verse 17

John 13:17 . These are obvious first principles in Christian discipleship, but the mere knowledge of them is not enough: εἰ ταῦτα οἴδατε , μακάριοί ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε αὐτά . ταῦτα refers to what Jesus had just declared to be the significance of His action. εἰ οἴδατε , “if ye know,” as you do know; ἐὰν ποιῆτε , a supposition. “The knowing is objectively granted, the doing subjectively conditioned.” Meyer. On the double protasis see Burton, 268. μακάριοι is usually translated “blessed,” Matthew 5:3 , John 20:29 , and should be so here.

Verse 18

John 13:18 . This blessedness, He knew, could not attach to all of them: οὐ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὑμῶν λέγω , “I speak not of you all,” I do not expect all of you to fulfil the condition of blessedness, ἐγὼ οἶδα οὓς ἐξελεξάμην , “I for my part (in contrast to the disciples who were in ignorance) know the men whom I have chosen as Apostles,” and am therefore not taken by surprise by the treachery of one of them. For the choice of Judas see John 6:70 , where the same word ἐξελεξάμην is used. ἀλλʼ ἵνα … The simplest construction is: “but I chose Judas in order that,” etc. This may not, however, involve that Jesus consciously chose Judas for this purpose. That is not said, and can scarcely be conceived. The Scripture which waited for fulfilment is Psalms 40:9 , ὁ ἐσθίων ἄρτους μου ἐμεγάλυνεν ἐπʼ ἐμὲ πτερνισμόν . Eating bread together is in all countries a sign, and in some a covenant or pledge of friendship. Cf. Kypke on ὁμοτράπεζος and Trumbull’s Blood Covenant , p. 313, and Oriental Life , p. 361. Here the fact of Judas’ eating bread with Jesus is introduced as aggravating his crime. “To lift the heel” is to kick, whether originally used of a horse or not; and expresses violence and contempt.

Verse 19

John 13:19 . This grave announcement was made at this point and not previously, ἀπʼ ἄρτι , “from henceforth” (as if the knowledge resulting from the announcement rather than the announcement itself were dictating the expression) “I tell you before it happens, that when it has happened you may know that I am He,” i.e. , the Messiah in whom these predictions were destined to be fulfilled.

Verse 20

John 13:20 . But lest this announcement should weaken their confidence in one another and in their own call to the Apostolate (“probabile est voluisse Christum offendiculo mederi”. Calvin) He hastens to add: ἀμὴνπέμψαντά με [ ἄν τινα better than ἐάν τινα ]. He gives the assurance that those whom He sends as His apostles will be identified with Himself and with God.

Verse 21

John 13:21 . Ταῦτα εἰπὼνπαραδώσει με . Two elements in the company had prevented Jesus from freely uttering His last counsels to the Twelve. (1) They had manifested dissension which would prevent them from acting together when He was gone, and a temper which would prevent them from receiving His words. And (2) there was among them a, traitor. The first element of discord had been removed by the feet-washing. He now proceeds to eliminate the second. But to have at once named the traitor would have been fatal. Peter and the rest would have taken steps to defeat, if not to put an end to Judas. Therefore He merely says, εἶς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με . This it was which troubled His spirit, that one of the Twelve whom He had so cherished should turn traitor, using the familiarity and knowledge of intimacy to betray Him.

Verses 21-30

John 13:21-30 . Judas is eliminated from the company .

Verse 22

John 13:22 . The disciples had no idea who was meant. Ἔβλεπονλέγει , Judas could scarcely be “at a loss to know of whom He spoke”.

Verse 23

John 13:23 . ἦνἸησοῦς , the disciple whom Jesus loved lay next Him, ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ . Two arrangements of guests at a table were in vogue. They either lay at right angles to the table and parallel to one another, each resting on his left elbow and having his right hand free (see Rich’s Dict. , s. v. Trielinium, Lectus, Accubo ); or they lay obliquely, the second reaching with his head to “the sinus of the girdle ( κόλπος )” of the first, and with the feet of the first at his back; while the third occupied the same posture relatively to the second (see the engraving in Becker’s Charicles , 327, and Lightfoot, p. 1095, who says that this second arrangement prevailed in Palestine in the time of Christ). John was lying, then, next to Jesus, his position being inside that of Jesus. To him Peter νεύει , “beckons” ( cf. νεύσω μέν τοι ἐγὼ κεφαλῇ , Od., xvi. 283), taking the initiative as usual, but not himself asking, perhaps because he had made so many mistakes that evening already, perhaps because a private matter might better be transacted in a whisper from John.

Verse 25

John 13:25 . That disciple, ἐκεῖνος , when thus appealed to, ἀναπεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ , “having leant back towards the breast of Jesus” so as to speak more directly to Him and to be heard only by Him. On the difference between ἀνακείμενος and ἀναπεσών see Origen in Evang. Jo. , ii. 191, Brooke.

Verse 26

John 13:26 . But even in answer to John’s question, τίς ἐστιν ; Jesus does not name Judas, but merely gives a sign by which John may recognise the traitor: Ἐκεῖνοςἐπιδώσω , “he it is for whom I shall dip the sop and give it him”. Some argue from the insertion of the article τὸ ψωμίον that this was the sop made up of a morsel of lamb, a small piece of unleavened bread, and dipped in the bitter sauce, which was given by the head of the house to each guest as a regular part of the Passover; and that therefore John as well as the Synoptists considered this to be the Paschal Supper. But not only is the article doubtful, see W.H [84] , but it is an ordinary Oriental custom for the host to offer such a tid-bit to any favoured guest; and we are rather entitled to see in the act the last appeal to Judas’ better feeling. The very mark Jesus chooses to single him out is one which on ordinary occasions was a mark of distinctive favour. At any rate he is thus all the more effectually screened from the others.

[84] Westcott and Hort.

Verse 27

John 13:27 . But instead of moving Judas to compunction μετὰ τὸ ψωμίον , τότε εἰσῆλθεν εἰς ἐκεῖνονΣατανᾶς . μετὰ “after,” not “with,” “non cum offula,” Bengel and Cyril, who also says, οὐ γὰρ ἔτι σύμβουλον ἔχει τὸν σατανᾶν , ἀλλʼ ὅλης ἤδη τῆς καρδίας δεσπότην . On ἐκεῖνον Bengel also has: “Jam remote notat Judam”. Morally he is already far removed from that company. But what was it that thus finally determined Judas? Perhaps the very revulsion of feeling caused by taking the sop from Jesus: perhaps the accompanying words, Ὃ ποιεῖς , ποίησον τάχιον , “what thou doest, do quickly”. τάχιον : “to Attic writers θάσσων ( θάττων ) was the only comparative, and τάχιστος the only superlative”. Rutherford, New Phryn. , p. 150. The idea in the comparative is “with augmented speed,” see Donaldson’s Greek Gram. , p. 390.

Verse 28

John 13:28 . Τοῦτοαὐτῷ . All heard the command given to Judas, but none of them knew its object, not even John; for although he was now aware that Judas was the traitor he did not connect the command “Do it quickly” with the actual work of betrayal.

Verse 29

John 13:29 . τινὲς γὰρ ἐδόκουν . Some supposed that Judas being treasurer of the company had been sent to buy what they needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor. That it was possible at so late an hour to make purchases appears from Matthew 25:9-11 (Holtzmann).

Verse 30

John 13:30 . Judas on his part, having accepted the sop, ἐξῆλθεν εὐθύς , the εὐθύς answering to τάχιον , John 13:27 ; he went out immediately, taking the purse with him no doubt. ἦν δὲ νύξ , “and it was night”. The sudden darkness succeeding sunset in the East suddenly fell on the room, impressing John’s sensitive spirit and adding to the perturbation of the company. The note of time may however only result from John’s desire to keep his narrative exact.

Verse 31

John 13:31 . Ὄτε οὖν ἐξῆλθεν . As soon as Judas had gone out, the spirit of Jesus rose, and with a note of triumph He explains the situation to the disciples. Two points He emphasises: His work is done, and He must leave them. The former He announces in the words Νῦν ἐδοξάσθηαὐτῷ . “This ‘now’ with which the Lord turns to the faithful eleven, expresses at once the feeling of deliverance from the traitor’s presence and His free acceptance of the issues of the traitor’s work.” Westcott. ἐδοξάσθη the aorist is used because the traitor is considered to have “as it were already completed his deed”. Winer, p. 346. The Son of Man is “glorified” by accomplishing the work of His life by being accepted as the manifestation of God, and by being acknowledged by the Father as having revealed Him; see John 17:1 ; John 17:4-5 , John 12:23 , John 11:4 . Cf. Milligan’s Ascension of our Lord , p. 79.

Verses 31-38

John 13:31 to John 14:31 comprise one continuous conversation, introduced by Jesus’ announcement (John 13:31-35 ) of His speedy departure.

Verse 32

John 13:32 . Necessarily therefore when He is glorified ὁ Θεὸς ἐδοξάσθη ἐν αὐτῷ . καὶΘεὸς δοξάσει αὐτὸν ἐν ἑαυτῷ . God is more definitely named as the source of the glorification of the Son of Man; and as God was glorified “in” Jesus, so shall Jesus be glorified “in” God. It is not only παρὰ σεαυτῷ , as in John 17:5 , but ἐν ἑαυτῷ , which does not merely mean that He will be taken up into the eternal blessedness of God, but that His glory will be the Divine glory itself.

Verse 33

John 13:33 . This result was to be forthwith achieved: εὐθὺς δοξάσει αὐτόν , which at once is interpreted to the discipies in the explicit statement Τεκνία , ἔτι μικρὸν μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμι . Τεκνία is frequent in 1 John; here only in the Gospel. Lightfoot (p. 1098) says: “Discipulus cujusvis vocatur ejus filius”; but here there is a tenderness in the expression not so accounted for. ἔτι μικρὸν , “yet a little,” i.e. , it is only for a little longer; cf. John 7:33 . This announcement, formerly made to the Jews (John 7:33 , John 8:21 ; John 8:24 ), He now, ἄρτι , makes to the disciples; arousing their attention to what follows, as His last injunctions. In view of the temper they had that evening displayed and the necessity for united action and unanimous testimony He first lays upon them the commandment to love one another.

Verse 34

John 13:34 . ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν , ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους : “one another,” not “all men,” which is a different commandment. So, rightly, Grotius: “ Novum autem dicit quia non agit de dilectione communi omnium … sed de speciali Christianorum inter se qua tales sunt,” and Holtzmann: “Es ist die φιλαδελφία im Unterschied von der allgemeinen ἀγάπη ”. The necessity of love among those who were to carry on Christ’s work had that night become apparent. It was “new,” because the love of Christ’s friends for Christ’s sake was a new thing in the world. Therefore the kind rather than the degree of love is indicated in the clause καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ .

Verse 35

John 13:35 . And this Christian love is to be the sole sufficing evidence of the individual’s Christianity: ἐν τούτῳ (emphatic) γνώσονταιἀλλήλοις . Cf. Acts 4:32 , 1 John 3:10 ; also Tertull., Apol. , 39, “vide, inquiunt, ut invicem se diligant”; Clem. Alex., Strom. , ii. 9; Min. Felix, Octavius , 9.

Verse 36

John 13:36 . On this announcement of Jesus that He was shortly to leave them follow four characteristic utterances of the disciples. First as usual, λέγει αὐτῷ Σίμων Πέτρος , Κύριε ποῦ ὑπάγεις ; “Lord, where are you going?” referring to John 13:33 . The Vulgate renders “Domine, quo vadis?” the words which the legend ascribes to Peter when withdrawing from persecution in Rome he met Jesus entering the city. Jesus does not needlessly excite them by plainly telling them of His death, for He has much to say to them which He wishes them to listen to undisturbed. He assures Peter that though he cannot now accompany his Master, he will afterwards follow, and so rejoin Him; cf. John 21:19 .

Verse 37

John 13:37 . This does not satisfy Peter. He sees it is some dangerous enterprise Jesus is undertaking, and he feels his courage discredited by the refusal to be allowed to accompany Him. Κύριε διατίθήσω . “Putasne ulla itineris molestia me terreri?” Grotius. “In the zeal of love he mistakes the measure of his moral strength.” Meyer. Mt. and Mk. represent all the disciples as making the same declaration (Matthew 26:35 , Mark 14:31 ); which made it all the more necessary to expose its unconscious hollowness, painful as it must have been to Jesus to do so Τὴν ψυχήν σουτρίς . “Wilt thou lay down …? So far from that, you will deny me thrice before the morning.” οὐ μὴ ἀλέκτωρ φωνήσει . “Cock-crow” was used among the Jews as a designation of time (Lightfoot on Matthew 26:34 ); cf. Mark 13:35 , where the night is divided into ὀψέ , μεσονύκτιον , ἀλεκτοροφωνία , πρωΐ . At the equinox cock-crow would be between 2 and 4 A.M. See Greswell’s Dissert. , iii. 216. This was incomprehensible; how the night could bring circumstances so appalling as to tempt any of them, and compel the hardiest to deny Jesus, they could not conceive.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.