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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
John 13

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

John 13:1

Edersheim points out that during the NT time two days were appointed for Passover observation due to the vast numbers in Jerusalem for the feast. Each passover at this time he said 260,000 lambs were killed.

Several times John noted that Jesus’ time had not yet come (John 2:4; John 7:6, John 7:8, John 7:30; John 8:20). Then in His intercessory prayer, just before the Cross, He began, “Father, the time has come” (John 17:1; cf. John 12:23, John 12:27; John 13:1).

The hour of his death ("exodus") and glorification had been the topic of discussion at the transfiguration Luke 9:31.

Departure ... Theme of his discourse, chapter 13-19.

unto the end ... completely, eis telos, ASV footnote "utterly."

Verse 2

John 13:2

supper ... Not the L.S. but the passover supper.

being ended ... some translations "being in progress", "during" "was taking place" "being served"

The betrayal plan was from the Devil (John 13:27 "entered" Him) but Judas was free to accept or reject the plan and had now already made arrangements with the Sanhedrin Matthew 26:14-15.

Verse 4

John 13:4

Supper = the passover meal. Note that Jesus washing the disciples’ feet was done in the context while observing the passover and not in the context of His institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus laid aside his outer garment and girded Himself as a slave would in doing this menial task.

In John 13:10 Jesus said they were washed, (they had apparently bathed themselves in purification to observe the passover) it was only their feet that would have become dusty in walking to this upper room, and Jesus make them pure.

Note what Jesus was facing and what was on His mind, yet he is still thinking of others! When we get a small hurt (a boo-boo) we think of self and think everyone else should think of our problems too! Some people are full of self, remember Haman (Esther). Sin is not just doing wrong, but doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Ezekiel 16:9

A. Background - the custom - the need - the service

1. At Simon’s house - Luke 7:44-46

2. Abigail and David’s servant - 1 Samuel 25:41

3. Abraham - Genesis 18:4

4. OT Genesis 18:4; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 43:24; Exodus 30:19-20; Exodus 40:31; Judges 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:41; 2 Samuel 11:8

B. The disciple’s desire for greatness (the context of the occasion)

1. Matthew 18:1-4 "who greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

2. Mark 9:33-37 - the disputer over greatness

3. Matthew 20:20-28 - the request of the mother of James and John

4. Again contention - Mark 10:41

5. This dispute here again in the context of the passover - Luke 22:24-27

6. Jesus taught an object lesson. Do "as" I have done, now do "what" I have done.

Verse 6

John 13:6

Do you wash ... In Peter’s mind, Jesus is not a servant to do this! But Peter did not himself get the towel and take Jesus’ place! Becasue this very evening they were arguing among themselves who is the greatest.

Verse 8

John 13:8

my = emphatic in the Greek.

If I wash ... seems to be reference to the need to be washed by the blood of Jesus to be made clean. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 7:14

Verse 9

John 13:9

Simon Peter was often impetuous and changeable - Matthew 14:28, Matthew 14:30; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 16:22; John 13:37; John 18:17; John 18:25

Verse 10

John 13:10

Washed -- Probably a reference to ceremonial bath of John 11:55. Did Jesus the the apostles "purify" themselves to observe the Passover as was the custom? Those getting ready to take the passover needed to be washed clean.

Spiritual lessons that are supplied by some commentaries parallels this to baptism which cleanse one of sins, and the subsequent sins are the dust on the feet that does’t need baptism again but only repentance and prayer.

but not all ... This implies Judas was present, and not a part of those presently "clean"; Judas’ problem had been going on for a while now.

Verse 11

John 13:11

not all ... clean ... Jesus washed the feet of His betrayer! Can you give your heart, not just to your freiends, but even to your enemies?

Verse 12

John 13:12

Some Notes about Foot Washing

1. This is not the initiation of a religious ordinance.

a) An example of humble service, not an ordinance -

John 13:15 "as" I have done, not do "what" I have done.

b) Not a practice of the early church - Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7

c) Only later mentioned in the context of a home, and not church worship - 1 Timothy 5:10

d) Vain as worship institution by tradition of men - Matthew 15:1-9

2. A spiritual lesson - there is the need for spiritual cleansing, - John 13:10-11

3. There is the need for humble service - John 13:12-15; James 4:6; Philippians 2:5; Romans 12:16

4. Proper view of true greatness and service - seen in John 13:16-17

5. Jesus washed Judas’ feet also. Do good to those who do us evil.

Peter remembered the lesson - 1 Peter 5:5-6

Verse 14

John 13:14

Humble service is lesson that disciples should learn from their teachers.

Verse 15

John 13:15

Foot Washing

1. Not the beginning of a religious ordinance

a. An example -- not an ordinance, John 13:15 "as"

b. Not a worship practice of the early church - Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7

c. Only mentioned later in context of a home - 1 Timothy 5:10

d. Vain as worship - Matthew 15:1-9

2. A spiritual lesson - need for spiritual cleansing - John 13:10-11

3. A lesson in humility - John 13:12-15; James 4:6; Philippians 2:5; Romans 12:16

4. Proper view of true greatness is service - John 13:16-17

5. Jesus washed Judas’ feet too. Do good to those who do us evil.

Peter remembered the lesson - 1 Peter 5:5-6

Verse 17

blessed ... Blessed, not for "understanding these things" [knowledge] but when we "do them."

Verse 18

A new paragraph and theme.

The quote if from Psalms 41:9 by David when he was betrayed by a friend (Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 16:20 ff and 2Samuel chapters 15 & 16).

lift up his heel ... A cultural idem about eating with a friend and being such a hypocrite in doing so because he leaves to do harm to his friend.

Verse 20

John 13:20

Receives -- as ambassadors, representatives. The Lord’s apostles were to be worthy representatives, but one was not!

Verse 21

John 13:21

Troubled in spirit . --

one of you -- betray -- foreknowledge / predestination -- God, knowing men and nations, knew what "character" is needed or that such will come along and do such and such, and then an individual (or nation) comes along who does such and in doing so receives His blessings or wrath. Foreknowledge, but it is individual determination that makes the choices.

Verse 22

John 13:22

perplexed -- doubting ... at a loss as to know what/who He meant.

Verse 24

John 13:24

gestured -- motioned -- An eye-witness moment for John. He could recall this vividly in his mind.

Verse 26

John 13:26

Judas ... Judas is disappointed in some way. Sin takes you further than you had planned. Judas refused to find a resistance to the impulse or thoughts to betray Jesus. Sin gets in and manipulates - and gets out in words and actions.

The "snare" tightens as one pulls his neck; the greater the resistance to a snare the greater the pain.

Verse 27

John 13:27

See Ephesians 3:17 note on "Indwelling"

Verse 28

John 13:28

no man ... knew ... Does John include himself in this, or was he the exception?

Verse 29

John 13:29

Judas had the bag -- Judas was the one in the group of the apostles who kept the money bag from whence dispense was made to the poor and needy. John 12:6; John 13:29; Acts 3:6; These funds probably came from those who supported Jesus’ ministry Luke 8:3; Luke 24:10; and some were wealthy women like Joanna the wife of Chuza who was Herod’s steward.

Verse 30

John 13:30

immediately ... Judas thus would have missed most of the meal and the institution of the memorial supper which followed the passover meal.

"Hengstenberg imagines the Lord’s Supper to have followed the previous words, and that the εὐθύς must be interpreted with some laxity..." Pulpit Commentary

And it was night in any other Gospel might simply be a time notice, but in John’s Gospel it probably also has symbolic significance. Judas was leaving the Light (John 8:12; John 12:35, John 12:46) and going out into the darkness of sin (John 3:19).

And it was night ... Judas went out into the darkness. The symbolic meaning of this can hardly have been absent from the mind of the evangelist. Cf. Luke 22:53, Revelation 21:25, Revelation 22:5.

The darkness had swallowed him completely. Jesus, the light of the world, is the antithesis of the night.

The departure of Judas from the room is not mentioned by the Synoptists, although it is assumed.

Verse 32

John 13:32

Glorify ... J 17:1

Verse 33

John 13:33

This sounds like the "testiment" of a dying father to his children.

Verse 34

John 13:34

New ... καινὴν, kainos = not a reference to time, but to quality, as respects form; fresh; new standard.

New ... The Mosaical Law taught: 1) love God, Deuteronomy 6:5 ; 2) love one another Deuteronomy 10:18-19; 3) love your neighbor Leviticus 19:18; but Jesus gave the "Love" required of his disciples two new aspects: 1) "as I have loved you" [a willingness to die for the ones you love] and 2) love your enemies; Matthew 5:44.

Verse 35

John 13:35

Pagans could later say, "See how these Christians love one another."

Verse 38

John 13:38

This chapter closes with the disciples discouraged, and this provides the context for chapter 14 and Jesus’ encouragement for them to not let their hearts be troubled.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on John 13". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/john-13.html. 2021.
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