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Bible Commentaries
John 13

Godet's Commentary on Selected BooksGodet on Selected Books

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Chapter 13.


Whatever view may be taken of the details of the plan of this Gospel, there can be no doubt that there is a new and marked turn in the narrative at the beginning of this chapter the events of the last evening and the last day of Jesus' life being now considered. At the opening of this new division of the work we find a designation of time, πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα , and the record of what occurred at a supper in which the Lord and His disciples participated. The position of these words would, in itself, seem to indicate that the author's design was to mark by means of them the date of the occasion which he is about to describe. The same thing seems to be clearly indicated by the prominence given to the words in the verse to which they belong, and the relation of this verse to those which immediately follow. That Joh 13:1 is a complete sentence, of which ἠγάπησεν is the principal verb, is beyond question; that Joh 13:2-5 form another sentence, which is closely connected ( καί ) with John 13:1, is equally clear. The nature of the first sentence (a declaration as to the feeling of the heart: loved), as related to that of the second (the setting forth of an act manifesting this feeling), proves this connection. Such a general proposition respecting love, independently of any relation to the act of love, would be uncalled for and unnatural in this place. We may say, therefore, with much confidence, that the progress of the discourse here shows the connection of the words “before the feast of the Passover” to be with the verb loved, and, through that verb, with the leading verbs of John 13:2-5. The thought of the verses, when taken together, is accordingly this: Before the feast of the Passover Jesus showed that He loved His disciples, by performing the act described.

That this is the true view of the connection of πρὸ κ . τ . λ . , as related to the first verse considered by itself, is rendered altogether probable by the following considerations: 1. That the emphasis given to these words by their position in the sentence is most easily accounted for if they qualify the leading verb; indeed, it can hardly be satisfactorily explained otherwise. 2. That there are serious, or even insuperable objections in the way of connecting them with either of the participial words. These words are εἰδώς and ἀγαπήσας . The connection with the latter is not to be admitted, because the placing of the words before εἰδώς would lead the reader to unite them with that participle, if with either of the two; and that with the former must be rejected, because no satisfactory reason can be given for calling attention, in this subordinate clause, to the circumstance that Jesus knew the fact mentioned before the feast, while every reason which the nature of the case allows makes such a designation of time as related to the leading verb appropriate.

The act which is described, therefore, and thus the supper at which the act was performed, took place at the time marked by the expression πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα . That this supper is the one in connection with which the Lord's Supper was instituted is indicated by the fact that it was evidently on the same evening (the evening before Jesus' death), and by the fact that the words respecting the betrayal by Judas and the denials by Peter, which in the Synoptics are placed in close connection with the time of instituting the Lord's Supper, are connected with this occasion. The Lord's Supper is, accordingly, declared here to have taken place before the feast of the Passover.

The phrase which marks the date is somewhat doubtful in its meaning. Meyer, Weiss and others, who hold that the Supper was on the 13th, admit that this verse does not determine the question. Our passage, says Meyer, does not state how long before the feast. It is noticeable, indeed, that there is no indication that the event occurred one day before the Passover, as in the case of ch. Joh 12:1 six days. When we consider, however, 1, that John's dates are usually given with reference to a distance of one time from another, unless the identity of time is distinctly stated; 2, that this is the case in John 12:1, where the first of the designations of time connected with the closing days of Jesus' life is found; 3, that the supper, if occurring on the evening of the 14th, was so closely connected with and conceived of as the Passover supper, that a dividing of the time so as to make prominent the part which preceded the actual eating of the lamb, etc., would seem improbable; 4, that if the feast, as Godet thinks, included the whole of the 14th, the words before the feast must, strictly interpreted, carry us back to the evening of the 13th, we may admit that the probability of the case lies, at least in some degree, on the side of giving to πρό the sense of a day before. If, therefore, the later passages of this Gospel which bear upon this question are found to point more probably towards the 13th than the 14th as the evening of the Supper, this verse may be regarded as strengthening, rather than otherwise, the evidence which they give.

The expression εἰς τέλος , which is taken by Meyer as meaning at the end or at last, by Godet as meaning completely, in the highest degree, to the uttermost, and by Weiss as possibly having either of these significations, but probably the latter, is understood by R. V. text, as by de W., Alf., Winer and others, in the sense of to the end. The possibility of this last sense is admitted by Godet, and is proved by Mat 10:22 and the parallels. The objection urged against it by Godet in this place that it was unnecessary to say that Jesus did not cease to love His own until the moment when He died for them seems not to be well founded. We should know, indeed, that Jesus loved His disciples, because of His actions, even if the evangelists had nowhere stated the fact. But this does not make such a statement on their part idle or unnatural. In the present case, the writer of the Fourth Gospel had reached a point where he was to leave behind him the story of the public ministry of Jesus, and turn to the description of His last hours and His parting interview with His disciples. What could be more natural, and more expressive of the feeling which John had in the remembrance of that final meeting, than to say that, having loved His own who were in the world all through His life with them, He now showed that His love for them continued to the end, by an act which love alone could have dictated. The tendency of the most recent writers seems to be towards a rejection of this view (so Westcott, Moulton, Keil, Grimm). The meaning at the end, however, is, so far as the New Testament is concerned, doubtful, to say the least. Luke 18:5, if the rendering of A. V. and R. V. is correct in that passage, as Godet himself allows in his Com. on Luke that it may be, is not an instance in proof of this meaning, but rather of to the end; and 1 Thessalonians 2:16, to which Meyer makes reference, is to be interpreted as signifying to the uttermost. This last signification is objected to by Meyer in the present verse, and with some reason, it would seem, notwithstanding that Weiss denies it, on the ground that it involves “an inappropriate gradation, as though Jesus had now exercised His love to the utmost.” It is doubtful whether we can properly say that this was the utmost exhibition of love which He ever made before His death. Moreover, the contrast of ἀγαπήσας and ἠγάπησεν , together with the time element in the sentence, seems to point towards a continuance of the love, which had covered the whole of the past life, even to the end. The interpretation of R. V. text, therefore, appears to be the simplest and best. R. V. marg. reads to the uttermost.

The act of washing the disciples' feet appears, from the explanatory suggestions of John 13:12 ff., to have been intended, so far as its lesson of instruction was concerned, to teach humility. We learn from Luke 22:24 ff. that at the supper there was a contention among the apostles as to which of them was to be accounted the greatest. This fact might seem to give a very natural occasion for an action on Jesus' part of the character here described by John. If the supper alluded to in the two Gospels was the same and the evidence for this is satisfactory we can hardly separate the two things. But if they are not to be separated, the contention spoken of by Luke must have preceded the act of Jesus, not only because it would so easily have suggested the act, but especially because, after the performance of such an act by Jesus, it is almost impossible to suppose that the apostles could have engaged in such a contention.

This action of Jesus thus had a twofold significance: it taught the lesson of humility and the serving character of Christian love, and it revealed, in a very striking way, the love which Jesus had for these chosen friends. In accordance with his constant thought of the inward life and of what Jesus was for the soul, John centres his words upon the latter point alone. He makes the testimony of love, wonderful as it was in this last day of Jesus' life, a testimony to what Jesus was as the Christ, the Son of God, and the source of eternal life to the believer.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. “ Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, when he should leave this world to go to the Father, after having loved his own who were in the world, he perfectly testified to them all his love.

The words before the feast of the Passover are connected with the preceding determination of time: six days before the Passover ( Joh 12:1 ), but with a difference of expression which cannot be accidental. There it was said: “Before the Passover,” a word which designates, as ordinarily, the Paschal supper on the evening which ended the 14th of Nisan (Exodus 12:0; Leviticus 23:5; Num 28:16 ). Here John says: “Before the feast of the Passover;” this wider term undoubtedly includes the entire day of the 14th of Nisan on which the leaven was removed from all the Israelite dwellings, and which was already counted for this reason among the days appertaining to the feast.

This appears from Numbers 33:3 (comp. also Jos 5:11 ), where the day of the 15th Nisan is designated as the morrow after the Passover (LXX.: τῇ ἐπαύριον τοῦ πάσχα ). To prove that the 14th could not be included in the feast, Keil cites Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; but it must not be forgotten that in these last passages the complement of the word the feast is not of the Passover, but of unleavened bread ( τῶν ἀζύμων ); the eating of the unleavened bread began indeed only with the Paschal supper, on the evening of the 14th-15th, to continue seven days until the 21st. This was the week of unleavened bread.

If, then, we include the day of the 14th in the expression the feast of the Passover in John 13:1, the expression before the feast of the Passover places us, at the latest, on the evening of the 13th. But if, on the contrary, we identify, as some interpreters do ( Hengstenberg, Lange, Hofmann, Luthardt, Keil, etc.), the beginning of the feast with the very moment of the Paschal supper, then this expression places us on the evening of the 14th, a few moments before the opening of this sacred supper. We shall see later the importance of this difference of explanation. This chronological determination refers naturally to the principal verb: ἠγάπησεν , he loved. As this verb expresses a feeling existing habitually in the heart of Jesus, and not an historical act, some interpreters have denied this reference. Some have made this determination of time: before the feast, refer to the verb ἐγείρεται , rises, John 13:4 ( Bleek, de Wette); but what, in this case, can we do with the verb ἠγάπησεν , he loved?

There is not the least indication of a parenthesis. Others endeavor to make this determination of time refer to the participle εἰδώς , knowing, ( Luthardt, 1st ed., Riggenbach), or to ἠγαπήσας , having loved, ( Wieseler, Tholuck). But, placed as it is, at the beginning of this whole section, this chronological indication can refer only to the principal action, the indication of which governs it altogether: ἠγάπησε , he loved. And this relation, which is the most simple, is also that which offers the best sense. How could John say that Jesus had been conscious of His approaching departure ( εἰδώς ) or had loved ( ἠγαπήσας ) His own before the feast? The verb ἀγαπᾶν , to love, must designate here, as appears from the aorist, not the feeling only, but also its external manifestations (especially those the story of which is to follow). John means that it was on the evening before the first day of the feast, when He was going to leave His followers, that Jesus manifested all His love for them and in some sort surpassed Himself in the testimonies which He gave them of this feeling.

To this first determination of a chronological nature, a second of a moral nature is attached: “ Jesus, knowing that...” It was while having the perfectly distinct consciousness of His impending departure that Jesus acted and spoke as John is about to relate to us. This thought presided over these last manifestations of His love. Hengstenberg and others connect this participle with the principal verb through the idea of a contrast: “ Although He knew indeed..., nevertheless He loved and humbled Himself thus,” as if the prospect of His future exaltation could have been for Jesus a hindrance in the way of acting as He does! John had no need to deny a supposition so absurd. He means, on the contrary, that because He saw the hour of separation approaching, He redoubled His tenderness towards those whom He had until then so faithfully loved. Who does not know how the foreseeing of an imminent separation renders affection more demonstrative! Thus most, His own: those whom He had gained by His love. There is a deliberate antithesis between the terms: the Father, with whom all is rest, and the world, where all is conflict and peril. Then, a third determination, serving to connect the act of ἠγάπησε , he loved, with an entire past of the same character which this last evening was going to complete. The expression: His hour was come, forms a contrast with that which we have so often met: “ His hour was not yet come.

The phrase εἰς τέλος , for the end, does not have in classical Greek the sense until the end; at least, Passow does not cite a single example of it; to express this idea of duration, the classical writers said rather διὰ τέλους . In the New Testament we can scarcely fail to find the meaning until the end in the εἰς τέλος of Mat 10:22 and the parallels (though the idea of duration is found rather in the verb shall persevere). But the phrases ordinarily employed in this sense are either ἕως τέλους , or μέχρι or ἄχρι τέλους ; 1Co 1:8 ; 2 Corinthians 1:13 ( ἕως ); Hebrews 6:14 ( μέχρι ); and Revelation 2:26 ( ἄχρι ). But what prevents us from accepting this meaning here which is adopted by our versions, is that it would be useless. Was it then necessary to affirm that Jesus did not cease to love his own up to the moment when He died for them? The true meaning of εἰς τέλος in the New Testament, as in the classics, is for the end, that is to say, sometimes: at the end, at the last moment; sometimes, to the utmost, to make an end of it. The first of these two meanings is certainly that which must be adopted in Luke 18:5: “lest she come at the end even to wearying me”; the second is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:6: “the wrath is come upon them to the utmost,” that is to say, to make an end of it with them, in manifesting itself completely. Comp. the εἰς τέλος in the LXX., Joshua 10:20 (even to an entire destruction); 2 Chronicles 12:12; 2 Chronicles 30:1, and a multitude of other examples in the Psalms of Solomon and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ( Hilgenfeld, Einl., p. 243). In our passage, this meaning seems to me the only possible one. But the question is of love, and not of wrath. This phrase signifies therefore: the manifestation of His love even to its complete outpouring, in a way to exhaust it, in some sort. As an analogy to the sense of ἠγάπησε , he loved, including the feeling and its manifestations, Odyss. ψ , 214, may be cited, where Penelope says to Ulysses: “Pardon me that I did not immediately on first seeing you love you as much as ( ὧδ᾿ ἠγάπησα ) I now do when I press you in my arms.”

This first verse must be regarded as forming the preamble, not of this chapter only, but of this whole part of the Gospel, chaps. 13-17. We shall see, indeed, that it is in the discourses of chaps. 14-16, and in the prayer of chap. 17, much more than in chap. 13, that the thoughts of Jesus which are summed up by John in the knowing that of Joh 13:1 come to light; comp. John 14:12: “ I go to my ather,” John 15:18: “ If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before you,” John 16:28: “ I leave the world and go to my Father,” John 16:33: “ You shall have tribulation in the world,” John 17:11: “ I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to thee. ” Comp. also John 13:34; John 15:9; John 15:11; John 15:14; John 17:23-24; John 17:26, etc. But and this it is which it seems to me has not been sufficiently marked with the second verse, there begins a second more particular preamble, relating only to the scene described in the following narrative (chap. 13). This second preamble, like the first, contains three determinations; one of time; a supper having taken place; the second, relating to the present condition of things: “the devil having already put into the heart...”; the third, of a moral nature: “Jesus, knowing that...” We easily discover the correspondence of these three determinations with the facts and conversations of the following narrative. They serve to place in a clear light the thought of Jesus during the scenes which are immediately to follow, those of the washing of the disciples' feet and of the dismissal of Judas.

Verses 1-3

Vv. 1-3: Preamble. We have already discovered at the beginning of several narratives short introductions describing the situation, at once external and moral, in which the fact about to be related is accomplished; thus John 2:23-25; John 3:22-24; John 4:1-2; John 4:43-45. Each of these preambles is, with relation to the narrative which is to follow, what the Prologue Joh 1:1-18 is for the whole Gospel, a general glance fitted to give the reader acquaintance with the subject in advance. Such is the design of the preamble in John 13:1-3. And as the substance of the general Prologue is borrowed from the teaching of Jesus in the sequel of our Gospel, so in the same way, as we easily discover, this particular preamble is entirely derived from the facts and discourses which will follow.

Verses 1-11


With reference to the individual words and phrases of Joh 13:1-11 the following suggestions may be offered:

1. The hour, which has been spoken of in the earlier part of the Gospel as not yet come, is here, as in John 12:23, referred to as already present. In connection with this fact, it may be noticed that, in the discourses of this last evening, Jesus seems often to speak as if the final moment were already past, and He was at the hour which immediately followed His death. 2. The fact of the absence of the article before δείπνου does not prove that the supper in question was not the Passover supper, but it is to be admitted that this fact is more easily accounted for if it was a supper on another evening. The word “necessarily,” which Godet uses, seems hardly to be justified.

3. Godet holds that εἰδώς of Joh 13:3 is not to be understood, with Meyer, Weiss and others, as meaning although He knew, but because He knew. It seems to the writer of this note that the view of Meyer, etc., is more probably correct. The greatness of the love manifested in this condescending act is shown in the fact that it was done when, on the one side, Jesus was conscious that Judas, who was one of the company, was resolved to betray Him, and, on the other, when He was assured that all things had been given to Him by the Father. Notwithstanding the presence of the traitor may we not also say: the contention among the apostles, which showed their earthly-mindedness and notwithstanding His knowledge that His work and His time of humiliation were ended and His glorification was at hand, He did this service of love. It was in this way that He taught most impressively and effectively the lesson of humility.

4. Westcott presses the distinction between ἐξῆλθεν ἀπὸ θεοῦ which is found here, and ἐξῆλθον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ in Joh 8:42 the former marking separation, and the latter source. In his note on Joh 8:42 he calls attention to the same point, and also to the use of the verb with παρά as emphasizing the idea of the personal fellowship of the Father and the Son ( Joh 16:27 ). The use of the three prepositions is, certainly, worthy of special notice, and the distinction in their meaning, as connected with the many indications of the union between the Son and the Father, points strongly towards, if indeed it does not prove, the correctness of Westcott's view of ἐξῆλθον ἐκ , as setting forth the true divinity of the Son. In the present verse the idea is rather of the mission of the Son than of His nature or origin He came from God, and is now going to Him, and, in connection with His accomplished work, the Father gives all things into His hands.

5. The position of Peter at the table and the question whether Jesus came to him first cannot be determined from John 13:6. Joh 13:24 would seem to show that he did not sit next to John, and also that he did not sit next to Jesus on the other side, but that he was at some other part of the table, where the indication by signs would be easier and more natural. If any inference can be drawn from the word ἔρχεται , it will be rather against than in favor of the idea that Jesus began with Peter.

6. The explanation which is given in the following verses shows that the words of Jesus addressed to Peter have a bearing upon the Christian life, and do not refer to a mere agreement in feeling at the moment. The act of Jesus, while teaching humility, also taught the need of cleansing the life from the remaining tendencies to evil; and the refusal to accept the act (as would be understood in the light of the higher knowledge, which would come with the spiritual revelation) was, in reality, the putting oneself outside of the true idea of that life. The words of Joh 13:10 suggest the thought of the passage in this view of it.

7. The turn of the thought in Joh 13:10 from the individual to the company is easily explained in connection with the deep impression of the approaching act of Judas, which all the Gospels show to have been resting on the mind of Jesus at this time. This turn of thought would scarcely have entered the mind of a later writer it belongs to the life of the remembered scene. The explanatory words of Joh 13:11 also point to an apostolic author, for, as Westcott remarks, these words are natural if the recollection of the writer “carries him back to the time when” they “arrested the attention before they were fully intelligible;” but “no one who had always been familiar with the whole history would have added them.”

Verses 1-38


THE third part of the Gospel describes the last moments which Jesus passed with His disciples; while making us acquainted with the supreme manifestations of His love towards them, it initiates us into the full development of faith in their hearts. John thus contrasts with the gloomy picture of Israelitish unbelief the luminous picture of the formation of faith in the future founders of the Church. Christ accomplishes this work in the hearts of His followers: 1. By two acts, the washing of their feet and the removal of Judas, through which He purifies the apostolic circle from the last remains of carnal Messianism; 2. By a series of discourses, in which He prepares His disciples for the approaching separation, gives them the necessary instructions with a view to their future ministry and elevates their faith in His person to the highest point which it can reach at this moment; 3. By a prayer of thanksgiving, by which he affixes the seal to His work now finished. Under the sway of these last manifestations, the faith of the disciples reaches its relative perfection, as fruits reach their maturity in the warm rays of the autumn sun. This faith is subjected to a double test, that of humiliation, through the deep humility of Jesus in the act of washing the feet, and that of self-sacrifice, through the prospect of a violent conflict to be met from the side of the world and a victory to be gained only through the spiritual force of Christ. With such prospects, what becomes of the earthly hopes which they still entertained in their hearts? But the faith of the apostles comes forth from this test triumphant and purified. It has laid hold of the divine person of Christ: “We believe that thou camest forth from God” ( Joh 16:30 ). This is enough; Jesus answers: “ At last you believe ” ( Joh 16:31 ). And He blesses His Father with an outpouring of thanks (chap. 17) for having given Him these eleven who believe in Him and who will bring the world to faith.

Thus therefore there are three sections:

1. Chap. John 13:1-30: The purification of the apostles' faith by two decisive

2. Chap. Joh 13:31 to John 16:33: The strengthening and development of this faith by the last teachings of Jesus, which contain the final revelation of His person.

3. Chap. 17: The thanksgiving for this earthly ministry now ended.

Verses 2-3

Vv. 2, 3. “ And a supper having taken place, when the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him, 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came from God and went to God. ” And first, the temporal determination: a supper having taken place.

The Alexandrian reading γινομένου , taking place, seems to me inadmissible. This expression could scarcely refer to anything but the Paschal supper: “While this supper took place Jesus rises.” But for this it would be necessary that the article τοῦ , the, should be wanting, that is to say, that the substantive should have been sufficiently determined by what precedes, which is not the case since the first words of John 13:1: “ before the feast of the Passover ” are rather suited to set aside the idea of the Paschal feast than to give rise to it. The present or imperfect, taking place, appears to me to be an adaptation, by the copyists, of this participle to the present ἐγείρεται , he rises, of John 13:4. It was not understood that the descriptive present rises might perfectly accord with the past tense of the participle: “(a) supper having taken place, Jesus rises.” It does not appear to me possible that this supper can be the Israelite Paschal supper.

The word δείπνου , designating that solemn supper, must necessarily have been marked by the article. The second determination is expressed in the two Alexandrian and Byzantine texts in two quite different forms; the Byzantine: “ the devil having already put into the heart of Judas that he should betray him. ” The Alexandrian: “ the devil having already put into the heart that Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, should betray him. ” Into whose heart? That of the devil, Meyer and Reuss answer. They take the Greek phrase: to put into the heart, in the sense of: to conceive the design of. But this sense is not tolerable. And where in Scripture is the devil's heart spoken of? Then, one does not put a thought into one's own heart. And why not say ἑαυτοῦ ( of himself)?

Finally, since when does the devil dispose of men in such a way that it is enough for him to decide to make one of them a traitor, in order that this one should indeed become a traitor. It must therefore be explained: put into the heart of Judas (Baumlein, Luthardt, Weiss); but this term: into the heart, could not be thus used absolutely and without any complement fitted to define it. This reading is therefore inadmissible. It is probably due to a correction resting on the false idea that the fact expressed by the received reading would constitute an anticipation of that which is to be related afterwards in John 13:27; but wrongly; for at the moment when the supper took place, the treachery was really consummated in the heart of Judas; still more, according to the Synoptics, everything was already agreed upon between him and the Sanhedrim. The Byzantine reading simply says: the devil having already put into the heart of Judas...that he should betray him.

The design of this indication is not to set forth the long-suffering and benevolence of Jesus ( Chrysostom, Calvin, Luthardt), or the perfect clearness of mind with which He goes to meet His fate ( Meyer); nor again to indicate that time was pressing (Lucke). John wishes to give grounds for the different allusions which Jesus is about to make to the presence of the traitor throughout the whole course of the following scene (comp. John 13:10; John 13:18; John 13:21; Joh 13:26 ) and especially to explain the conduct and the severe word of Jesus in John 13:27. The Alexandrian reading παραδοῖ , instead of παραδῶ (T. R.), is explained in two ways by the grammarians: either as a contraction of the optative παραδοίη (see in Kuhner, Ausfuhrl, Gramm. a multitude of examples taken from Plato and other authors), or as a contraction of the subjunctive δόῃ , from δόω (for δίδωμι ); so Baumlein, after Buttmann. As the first determination: a feast having taken place, answers to the first of John 13:1 ( before the feast), so the reflection ( the devil having put...) answers to that of John 13:1: having loved his own. The blackest hatred forms the counterpart to the most tender love.

The picture of the external and moral situation is completed by a third indication which helps us to penetrate into the inner feeling of Jesus and unveils to us the true meaning of the act of humiliation which is about to follow: “ Jesus knowing that...” This knowing is by no means the resumption of that of John 13:1; for it has a quite different content. It is not the sorrowful feeling of the approaching separation: it is the consciousness of His greatness which inspires in Him the act of humiliation which He is going to accomplish. Here, more frequently even than in John 13:1, the commentators interpret in the sense of: “ Although knowing; although feeling Himself so great, He humbled Himself.” This is, according to our view, to misconceive, even more seriously than in John 13:1, the evangelist's thought, as well as that of Jesus Himself. It is not in spite of His divine greatness, it is because of this very greatness, that Jesus humbles Himself, as He is going to do. Feeling Himself the greatest, He understands that it belongs to Him to give the model of real greatness, by humbling Himself to the lowest part; for greatness in the Messianic kingdom which He comes to inaugurate on the earth, consists in voluntary humiliation. This kind of greatness, still unknown here on earth, His own must at this moment behold in Him, to the end that His Church may never recognize any other. It is therefore inasmuch as He is Lord, and not although He is Lord, that He is going to discharge the office of a slave. Moreover, it is Jesus Himself who expresses this idea ( Joh 13:13-14 ): “ You call me Master and Lord...If then,” and it is from these words that it is derived. Hence we understand the accumulation of clauses which recall to mind the features of the supreme greatness of Jesus: 1. His sovereign position: everything is put into His hands;

2. His divine origin: He comes from God; 3. His divine destiny: He returns to God (the repetition of the word God is to be remarked). It is in the consciousness of what He is, that He does what no other has ever done. The example becomes thus for His own decisive, irresistible: the servant cannot remain with proud bearing when the Master humbles Himself before him.

Verses 4-5

Vv. 4, 5. “[Jesus] rises from the supper and lays aside his garments; and, taking a towel, he girds himself. 5. Then he pours water into the basin; and he began to wash the feet of his disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

Joh 13:3 has initiated us in advance into the meaning of this act. If need were, this would suffice to explain the reason of it. So Ewald and Meyer do not seek to find any outward motive. Jesus, however, does not act, in general, by a mere impulse from within; He yields to a given occasion in which He discerns the signal from the Father. St. Luke relates to us, Luke 22:24-27, that there arose at the supper a dispute among the disciples on the question to whom the first place among them belonged. Whereupon Jesus said: “The first among you must take the place of the last.” Then, giving Himself as an example: “Who is greater, he that sits at meat or he that serves? But I am among you as he that serves.”

This answer of Jesus might be applied to His way of acting, in general, in the midst of His own; and it is thus, perhaps, that it was understood by Luke to whom this saying of the Lord had been handed down as separated from the story with which we are now occupied. But for ourselves, knowing the act which Jesus performed at this supper, it is impossible not to connect it with the saying and explain the latter by the former. The washing of the feet was undoubtedly occasioned by the dispute of which Luke speaks. Jesus wished to eradicate from the hearts of His disciples the last remnant of the old leaven of pride and Messianic ambition which still infected their faith and manifested itself in so offensive a manner in the discussion of which Luke has preserved the remembrance. But why give this form to the lesson which He desired to leave with His followers at this final meeting? Luke places the dispute at the very end of the supper, and, if necessary, it might be supposed that, being pained by the fact that no one of them at the beginning of the meal had offered to discharge this humble office, and that, in consequence, the washing of the feet had not taken place, Jesus had at first kept His feeling to Himself, but afterwards, an opportunity presenting itself, He expressed it precisely as He did in the case mentioned in Luke 7:44.

The washing thus was performed, as a mere example, at the end of the supper. The natural place, however, for such a ceremony is at the beginning of the meal, and it may be easily supposed that Luke placed as a supplementary detail in the account of the meal a fact which he knew belonged to it, but the exact moment of which he did not know. Indeed, he simply says: “ There was also a dispute. ” Jesus was already seated at table ( Joh 13:4 ); the apostles took their places (John 13:6; Joh 13:12 ). It was perhaps on this occasion that the dispute broke out, each claiming to have the right to be seated next to the Saviour. At this moment Jesus rises and, by charging Himself with the humble office which each one of them should have spontaneously hastened to perform, He gives them to understand who is really the greatest in His kingdom. The matter in hand here is not indeed to give His disciples a lesson of kindness, of condescension, of mutual serviceableness. Comp. John 13:13-15, and especially Joh 13:10 which, from this point of view, is no longer intelligible. Jesus wishes to teach them that the condition for entering and advancing in a kingdom like His own, is the reverse of what takes place on earth, to know how to humble oneself, to efface oneself; and that, the more each one shall outstrip the other in this divine art, the more he will become like Him, at first in spirit, and then in glory.

Each feature of the following picture betrays the recollection of an eye- witness; John describes this scene as if beholding it at this very moment. Jesus assumes the garb of a slave. His garments: here, the upper garment. Jesus keeps only the tunic, the garment of the slave. He girds Himself with a towel, because He must carry the basin with both hands. Νιπτῆρα , with the article: the basin, the one which was there for this purpose and which belonged to the furniture of the dining-hall. Nihil ministerii omittit, says Grotius.

Verses 6-11

Vv. 6-11. “ He comes therefore to Simon Peter, and he says to him, Lord, Dost thou wash my feet? 7. Jesus answered and said to him, What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. 8. Peter says to him, No, thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9. Simon Peter says to him, Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. 10. Jesus says to him, He that is bathed has need of nothing except to wash his feet, but he is altogether clean; and you are clean, but not all. 11. For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, You are not all clean.

It must be observed, indeed, that this conversation with St. Peter comes upon this scene as an unexpected episode. Οὖν , therefore ( Joh 13:6 ): when going from one to another according to the order in which they were seated. The natural conclusion to be drawn from this therefore is that Peter was not the first whose feet Jesus washed; he was not seated therefore beside Him (comp. Joh 13:24 ). The feeling of reverence which called forth this resistance on Peter's part expresses itself in the antithesis of the pronouns σύ , thou, and μού , me, and in the title Lord. Here, as in Matthew 16:22, it is respect which produces in this apostle the want of respect. The antithesis of ἐγώ and σύ ( I thou) in John 13:7, answers to that of σύ and μού ( thou me) in John 13:6. The expression μετὰ ταῦτα , hereafter, signifies according to Chrysostom, Grotius, Tholuck, Reuss: by the light which the experiences of thy future ministry will give. But the relation between γνώσῃ , thou shalt know, and γινώσκετε , know ye ( Joh 13:14 ), shows that Jesus is thinking rather of the explanation which He is about to give at the very moment, after having finished the act which was begun.

The gentleness of Jesus emboldens Peter; he had only questioned ( Joh 13:6 ); now he positively refuses, and even for ever. If this refusal of Peter springs from modesty, it is nevertheless true that, as Weiss says, this modesty is not destitute of self-will and pride. Jesus answers him in the same categorical tone, and there is certainly an echo of Peter's for ever in the no part with me of Jesus. This relation it is which prevents us from holding, with Weiss and Reuss, that these words mean: “Thou dost not at this moment share in my feelings,” or “Thou art not in communion with me” (present, ἔχεις , thou hast). The ἔχεις may perfectly well be a present of anticipation and may refer to the blessedness to come. The phrase μέρος ἔχειν μετά , to have part with, indicates the participation of the inferior in the booty, the riches, the glory of his leader ( Jos 22:24 ; 2 Samuel 20:1; 1Ki 12:16 ). The refusal of Peter to accept the humiliating service which Jesus desires to render him, is equivalent to a rejection of the spirit of His work, to the resolution to persevere in the love of the carnal grandeur from which precisely Jesus desires by this act to purify His disciples. In rejecting the humiliation which his Master imposes upon Himself for his sake, Peter rejects in principle that which he was one day to impose upon himself for the sake of his brethren. The reply of Jesus is in harmony with this meaning; it reproduces with a natural force the warning which He addressed to all the disciples, on occasion of a quite similar dispute among them: “ Except you are converted and become as little children, not only will no one of you be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but you will not enter into it at all ” ( Mat 18:1-4 ).

Verse 9

Vv. 9 presents to us, in the case of Peter, one of those sudden changes of impression which we frequently observe in him, in the Synoptic narrative. Here is the same Peter who rushes upon the water and a moment afterward cries “I perish!” who strikes with the sword and who takes to flight, who enters into the house of the high-priest and yet denies his Master. The perfect accordance between these scattered features, and the image full of life which results from them, admirably prove in this case as in all the others, as Luthardt has so well set forth, the complete reality of the Gospel history. The whole meaning of the act of Jesus was in the fact of washing the feet.

The nature of the act changed absolutely as soon as it concerned the head, for in that case it was no longer an act of humiliation. Jesus follows Peter on this new ground and this is what introduces the different meaning given to the act in His answer. At the foundation, what Peter asked for, without being conscious of it, was, instead of the removal of a stain, a complete renovation and, as it were, a second baptism; he implicitly denied the work already done in him ( Joh 15:3 ). This is what gives the key to the answer of Jesus. This answer has of course a double meaning. Jesus rises immediately, as in the conversation with the Samaritan woman, from the material to the spiritual domain. As after having bathed in the morning a man regards himself as clean for the whole day and contents himself with washing his feet when he returns from without, that he may remove the accidental soiling which they have contracted in walking, so he who, by earnestly attaching himself to Christ, has broken with sin once for all, has no need at each particular defilement to begin anew this general consecration; he has only to cleanse himself from this stain by confession and recourse to Christ.

We must recall here what Jesus says to His disciples, John 15:3: “You are already clean through the word which I have declared to you.” In receiving His word, they had received in principle the perfect holiness of which it is the standard in the life in Him. There is nothing more except to change the law into act by ever placing oneself anew on the foundation which has been laid. Weiss thinks that all notion of pardon in the symbol of washing is foreign to this context. But the fundamental rupture with sin which Jesus compares to the complete bath implies a general pardon and reconciliation with God, and each act of destroying a particular sin, represented by the washing of the feet, implies the particular pardon of that sin. Reuss objects that the answer of Jesus, thus explained, would turn aside the symbol from its primitive sense. We have seen that the sense of the symbol was altogether different from that of the disposition towards kindness to one's neighbor; that Jesus desired to eradicate a bad propensity from the hearts of the disciples. This is what gives occasion to the new turn which the explanation of the symbol takes in consequence of the demand of Peter. I believe with Reuss, that, whatever Weiss may say, Jesus is here thinking of the baptism of water, the symbol of general purification, and means that it is no more necessary to renew this act (that which Peter asked) than that of faith itself whose symbol it is. The reading εἰ μή , if it is not, in a few Alexandrian documents, is a correction of the ἤ , in the T. R., which is slightly irregular; ἤ , than, for οὐδενὸς ἄλλου ἤ , nothing else than. The rejection of the words ἢ τοὺς πόδας , in the Sinaitic MS., completely changes the meaning: “He who is bathed has no need to wash himself; but he is all clean.” This reading is a correction occasioned by the difficulty of distinguishing between the total bath and the partial washing. The last words: “ but he is clean altogether,” are to be explained thus: “ But, far from having to bathe entirely a second time, as thou dost demand, his body is in general clean. It is enough to cleanse the local defilement which the feet have contracted.”

But is this state of reconciliation and consecration indeed the state of all? No; there is a disciple who has broken the bond connecting him with Jesus or in whose heart this bond has never existed. He it is who would really have need of the inward act of which Peter had just asked for the symbol. Here is the first revelation of the treachery of Judas, in the course of the supper. By expressing in this way the grief which the thought of this crime causes Him to feel, Jesus makes a last effort to bring Judas to repentance. And if He does not succeed, He will, at least, have shown to His disciples that He was not the dupe of his hypocrisy ( Joh 13:19 ).

Verses 12-17

Vv. 12-17. “ When therefore he had washed their feet and taken his garments again, having resumed his seat at table, he said to them, Know you what I have done to you? 13. You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14. If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15. For I have given you an example, that, as I have done to you, you also may do. 16. Verily, verily, I say unto you that the servant is not greater than his lord, nor he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17. If you know these things, happy are you, if you do them.

Jesus feared nothing for His Church so much as hierarchical pretensions. The disciples knew that their Master was establishing a kingdom. This single word was fitted to awaken in them ideas of dominion in the earthly sense; for this reason He shows them that, in this kingdom, the means of mounting higher is to descend, and the way to the first place is to put oneself without hesitation in the last. In John 13:13, ye call me properly means: You designate me thus when you address to me the word: thee, Master. Hence the two substantives in the nominative. The title of Master refers to teaching; that of Lord, to dominion over the entire life. It is the reproducing of the titles Rabbi and Mar which Jewish pupils gave to their masters. The most exalted title, that of Lord, is placed second, agreeably to the natural gradation.

The T. R. accords here with the Alexandrian authorities. It is from the words: For so I am, that John has properly derived the εἰδώς , knowing, of John 13:3. Since the fourth century, the Church has discovered in John 13:14-15, the institution of a rite; and it is well known what this ceremony has become where it is still practised in a literal sense. But neither the term ὐπόδειγμα , example, nor the plural, these things ( Joh 13:17 ), suits the idea of an institution; and, in John 13:15, Jesus would have been obliged to say ὅ , that which, instead of καθώς , as.

To humble oneself in order to serve, and to serve in order to save: such is the moral essence of this act, its permanent element. The form was accidental and, as we have seen, borrowed from the given situation, consequently a passing thing. The washing of the feet which is mentioned in 1Ti 5:10 is a duty of hospitality and is only in a moral relation with what is prescribed in John 13:14-15. The meaning of the sentence in John 13:16, which is also found in the Synoptics, but with a different application (Luke 6:40; Matthew 10:24-25; comp. Joh 15:20 ) is here, as in Matthew 10:0, that the subordinate should not consider unworthy of him that which his superior has consented to do. But the Lord knows that it is easier to approve and admire humility than to practise it; for this reason He adds the words of John 13:17. Εἰ , if, “if truly;” as is really the case; it is the general supposition; ἐάν , in case that; it is the more particular condition. The happiness of which Jesus speaks is not merely that of knowing the duty of voluntary humility ( Westcott), nor the inward delight which the disciple enjoys in performing it ( Weiss); it is an actual superiority of position before God henceforth and in the future economy. A man is so much greater in the view of Jesus and so much nearer to Him in proportion as he consents to humble himself the more, as He did, in order to serve his brethren ( Mat 18:4 ).

Verses 12-20


Vv. 12-20.

1. The explanation of the act performed by Jesus which is here given evidently points towards humility, and thus is easily connected with the dispute among the disciples, recorded by Luke, as to which of them was the greatest. But Joh 13:10 shows that this humility in the matter of service was to be manifested in the way of mutual help in purifying and perfecting the Christian life of all.

2. The example of Jesus, alluded to in John 13:15, must accordingly be taken in this fulness of meaning; the act was primarily one of humility, but secondarily one of cleansing, and the former had its purpose and end in the latter.

3. At Joh 13:18 there is again a turn to the case of Judas. The word ἐξελεξάμην refers apparently to the choice of Judas as one of the apostolic company. The ἵνα clause points to this choice as connected with the Divine plan, and thus indicates the explanation of it which was suggested in the notes on the sixth chapter. Jesus adds here, for the first time, what is repeated afterwards, that a part of His design in this last conversation with the disciples was to prepare them for the great surprises and trials which were about to come upon them in the immediate future, and to make these things become thereby a means, not of shaking or destroying their faith, but, on the other hand, of strengthening it.

4. The connection and meaning of this verse are most simply explained if it is made to follow directly upon the last clause which precedes it. They were to go forward in their mission, after His departure from them, in the power and with the message of faith in Him. This faith in Him was to unite every one who had it with God Himself. Their mission, therefore, was to be carried out, with the sustaining power of the assurance that the one who, in receiving them, received Him, would also receive God in and through Him. All this was to be involved in their belief ( ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ) that Jesus was in reality what He had proclaimed Himself to be.

Verses 18-19

Vv. 18, 19. “ I do not say this of you all; I know those whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. 19. From henceforth I tell you before it comes to pass, that when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am he.

The idea of the happiness of the disciples, who walk in the path of humility, calls forth in the heart of Jesus the feeling of a contrast; there is present a person who, indomitable in his pride, deprives himself of this happiness, and draws upon himself the opposite of the μακαριότης ( Joh 13:17 ). ᾿Εξελεξάμην , I have chosen, is referred by Reuss to the election to salvation; in this sense the term would not be applicable to Judas. This would be a new proof of the predestinationism of John. But nothing more, on the contrary, appears in all these narratives than human responsibility and culpability. Am I mistaken in surmising that the reading τίνας ( whom) relating to the character has, in the Alexandrian authorities, been substituted for the οὕς ( those whom) of the T. R. under the influence of this false interpretation?

The election of which Jesus speaks refers to that of the Twelve, inclusive of Judas; comp. John 6:70. And to know signifies to discern, not, to approve, to love. The words: I know, serve to justify the preceding declaration: I do not say this of you all. If the for of 4 Mjj. is a gloss, it is a proper gloss. The in order that might be made to depend on the following verb has lifted: “In order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he who eats has lifted.” Jesus would thus insert the Scripture citation in His own discourse. But it is more natural to suppose an ellipsis, by explaining, with Meyer: “I have nevertheless chosen him in order that,” or, what seems more simple, by supplying “ This has happened, in order that,” comp. Joh 19:36 ; 1 John 2:19; Matthew 26:56. This last ellipsis more expressly carries back the responsibility of the choice of Judas to God, whom Jesus has obeyed, see on John 6:64. Psalms 41:0, from the tenth verse of which the quoted passage is borrowed, is only indirectly Messianic; its immediate subject is the afflicted righteous person; but this idea is perfectly realized only in the suffering Messiah.

Among the afflictions by which the righteous person is smitten, the Psalmist (David, according to the title; according to Hitzig, Jeremiah) puts in the first place the treachery of an intimate friend. In the mouth of David, this feature has reference to Ahithophel. “This last stroke,” Jesus means to say, “cannot fail to reach me also, in whom all the trials of the suffering righteous are united.” Such, in this context, is the sense of the formula: in order that it might be fulfilled. Weiss claims that John wishes to put these words of the Psalm into the mouth of the Messiah Himself. Not a word in John's text justifies this assertion. If we compare Joh 18:9 with Joh 17:12 it will suffice to make us see how contrary it is is to the evangelist's thought thus to press the idea of: in order that it might be fulfilled. Instead of the singular ἄρτον , bread, in conformity with the Hebrew, the LXX. have the plural ἄρτους , and, for all the rest of the passage, the translation of John is equally independent of that of the LXX. To lift up the heel, in order to strike, is the emblem of brutal hatred, and not, as some have thought, of cunning.

This expression is applied indeed to the present state of Judas, who has already prepared his treachery and is on the point of carrying it into execution. One may hesitate between the perfect ἐπῆρκεν and the aorist ἐπῆρεν . It is also difficult to decide between the two readings ἐμοῦ , of me and μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ , with me; the first may have been derived from the LXX.; the second, from the parallel passages, Mark 14:18; Luke 22:21 ( Weiss). Thus foreseen and foretold by Jesus, this treachery, which otherwise might have been a cause of stumbling to His disciples, will afterwards be transformed into a support for their faith. This is what Jesus desires to bring out in John 13:19, and not, as Weiss thinks, to set forth the proof of His Messiahship which will result from the fulfillment of the prophecy; comp. the words: before it comes to pass, which, in this case, would lose their force. The ἀπ᾿ ἄρτι is opposed, not to the similar declarations which are still to follow respecting Judas ( Weiss), but to the subsequent realization of the fact predicted.

Verse 20

Ver. 20. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you: He that receives him whom I shall send, receives me, and he that receives me, receives him that sent me.

The relation between this saying and those which precede is so far from clear that Kuinoel and Lucke proposed to consider this verse as a gloss derived from Matthew 10:40. Meyer and Hengstenberg think that, in the presence of the treachery of Judas, Jesus wished to encourage His apostles by reminding them of the greatness of their mission. Baumlein says: “A fragment from a larger whole, to which perhaps the institution of the Holy Supper belonged.” Luthardt and Keil place this saying in connection with the washing of the feet; the disciples must learn from Jesus to render the same service to those whom He shall send to them. But, as we have seen, the meaning of the act of washing was altogether different, and this saying is too far separated from that Acts Vv18, 19, are a simple digression occasioned by the contrast between the fate of Judas and the happiness of the faithful disciples ( Joh 13:17 ). Joh 13:20 is immediately connected with the idea of this happiness declared in John 13:16-17. The one sent by Jesus, humble and faithful, who serves like Him, bears with him his Master, and, in His Master, God Himself. Jesus had just said: “ The servant is not greater than the Master; ” He now seems to say: “And he is not less great than He.” To receive him is, consequently, to receive in him Jesus, and in Jesus God Himself; comp. Matthew 18:4-5, and the parallels. In Luke 22:29-30, Jesus, after having said: “Behold, I am among you as he that serves,” adds: “ I give you the kingdom as my Father has given it to me. ” To give the kingdom, in its true spiritual form is it not to bear God in oneself and communicate Him to the one who receives you? This saying, therefore, accords perfectly, as to its meaning, with our John 13:20.

Bretschneider and Strauss regarded this story of the washing of the feet as a legendary creation which emanated from the consciousness of the Church. But, as Baur observed with respect to the resurrection of Lazarus, if such a fictitious story had been the product of the Christian consciousness and had been circulated in the Church, it could not have failed to appear also in the Synoptics. Baur therefore regards this incident as consciously invented by the evangelist to serve the moral idea. But it is difficult to explain in this way the production of so simple and life-like a scene, and especially the composition of the inimitable conversation between Jesus and Peter. Even Schweizer has admirably brought out the stamp of historical truthfulness impressed upon this whole story. Keim thinks that Jesus would not on this evening have come so directly into collision with the feeling of the disciples. But it was a matter of inculcating upon them ineffaceably the spirit of His work and of their future mission; and this was the last moment for doing this. The omission of this incident in the Synoptics is made an objection.

Probably the institution of the Lord's Supper, that fact of capital importance for the Church, eclipsed this one in the oral tradition relative to this last meal. Hilgenfeld surmises that the evangelist meant to substitute this narrative, imagined by him, for that of the institution of the Lord's Supper which he designedly omitted ( Einl., p. 711), as too distinctly recalling the Jewish Paschal supper. But what result could be attained by this means in the second century, when the Lord's Supper was celebrated throughout the whole Church, unless that of rendering his Gospel liable to suspicion? The discourse directed against false greatness, which is added by Luke to the narrative of the supper, naturally implies a fact of this kind. There was nothing to prevent the author from placing the two stories in juxtaposition. The better known story would have confirmed the one which was less known. It is very evident that John desired to rescue from oblivion what the tradition had neglected, and that he omitted what was sufficiently well known and what had no particular connection with the principal aim of his work.

Verses 21-22

Vv. 21, 22. “ After having said this, Jesus was troubled in his spirit and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray me. 22. The disciples therefore looked upon one another, not being able to understand of whom he was speaking.

Jesus' emotion does not spring from any personal impression, like the fear of death, the grief of wounded affection or pity for the traitor; there would, in that case, be the word ψυχή , soul, as in John 12:27. The limiting word τῷ πνεύματι , in his spirit, shows that this emotion has its seat in a higher region than that of the natural sensibility, even though the noblest. It is, as in John 11:33; John 11:38, a shock of a religious nature, a kind of horror which His pure heart feels at the contact with the instrument of this Satanic crime and the approach of its invisible author. On this difference between ψυχή , the soul, and πνεῦμα , the spirit, see on John 12:27.

The words: having said this, connect this emotion closely with the preceding words, in which Jesus had twice alluded to the treachery of Judas; the term: he testified contrasts the positive declaration which is to follow with the vague indications of John 13:10; John 13:18. The amen, amen, marks the divine certainty of the declaration in face of the difficulty in receiving it, which must have existed for the apostles. But the apostles ( Joh 13:22 ) doubt rather respecting themselves and their own hearts, than respecting the Master's word. “ Is it I? ” they, each of them ask, with a humble docility. The Synoptics say the same thing. According to Matthew 26:25, Judas himself also addresses this question to Jesus. This fact has been thought incredible. But to be the only one to keep silence, when all ask such a question, would not this have been to betray oneself? As to the reply of Jesus: “ Thou hast said,” in Matthew 26:25, it is in reality only the summary of the following scene in the narrative of John; it is by the act related here, John 13:26, that Jesus made this reply to him.

Verses 21-30

II. The dismissal of Judas: John 13:21-30 .

Here also is a work of Jesus' love towards His own. As long as Judas was present, His heart was under restraint, and could not give vent to all the feelings of which He was full. Joh 13:31 expresses in a life-like way the feeling of deliverance which Jesus Himself experiences on seeing the traitor withdraw; and it is at this moment that that rich outpouring begins which fills chaps. 14-17. These final moments of intimate association were indispensable to the Lord's work.

Judas had represented, in the circle of the Twelve, the spirit of carnal Messianism, directly opposed to that which Jesus had just vindicated by the act of washing the feet; comp. John 6:64; John 6:70. If he was unwilling to renounce this spirit and humble himself, he must depart; it was the spirit of the false Messiah, of the Jewish Messiah, of the Antichrist that departed with him.


Vv. 21-30.

1. The words at the beginning of John 13:20, ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι , show how the mind of Jesus was, at this time, filled with the thought of the betrayal, and thus how natural it was for Him to allude to Judas in the earlier verses.

2. The external evidence seems, on the whole, to be favorable to the reading εἶπε τίς ἐστιν in John 13:24. If this text is adopted, it may imply a supposition on Peter's part that John had been already informed as to the one whom Jesus referred to, or it may be understood as meaning that he should inquire of Jesus, and then make it known. It would seem probable that, if they all asked the question indicated in Matthew 26:22, it must have been just before what is recorded in Joh 13:24 of John's account.

3. The entering of Satan into Judas, which is here mentioned, must mean something more than the words “having put it into the heart,” which are found in John 13:2. The receiving of the ψωμίον was, it may be believed, the deciding-point in the history of Judas' betrayal. After this act he was completely under the power of the evil spirit. By accepting this offering of friendship, and then going forth to carry out the designs of the enemies, he really at this moment betrayed the Son of man with a kiss.

4. Whether John includes himself when he says “No one knew,” John 13:28, is uncertain; but, as the purpose of Jesus appears to have been to speak only obscurely, it seems not improbable that he does. The form of expression in these verses would appear to indicate that a part of the company had no explanation at all to suggest with respect to the words spoken by Jesus to Judas, while a part thought of two possible explanations.

5. The bearing of Joh 13:29 on the question of the evening of the supper is not decisive. The sacred character of the Passover supper and of the evening on which it was celebrated renders it improbable that any one would leave, or be expected to leave the company before the feast, or that purchases would be made on that night. Moreover, we know that some preparations for this supper with the disciples were made two days before the Passover, and it would seem as if others of the kind indicated here would not have been left until the last moment. On the other hand, it is claimed that, if this was the evening of the 13th, there was a whole day before the Passover meal, and consequently there was no need for haste. Weiss urges, in answer to this, that the disciples may not have thought of Judas as about to go out immediately, but the story apparently indicates that their thought was connected with his hasty departure. The expression for the feast favors the view that the Paschal supper had not yet come, and yet not decisively, for the word may be used to designate that which followed the first evening. On the whole, this verse, like John 13:1, is reconcilable with either view, but the argument in both cases turns slightly towards the 13th as the date of this supper of Jesus and His disciples.

6. The Lord's Supper is probably to be placed after the departure of Judas. This accords with the order of the narrative as given in Matthew and Mark; it is most easily reconciled with the progress of John's narrative as compared with the others; and Luke, in this case as in some others, can easily be understood as not making the exact order of time a matter of special importance. Luke places the dispute as to who should be regarded as the greatest immediately after the institution of the Supper a thing which seems to be almost impossible. It would appear antecedently probable, also, that as Jesus knew that Judas would leave the company, He would wait until he had gone before He instituted the memorial feast and began the discourse of intimate friendship. If the institution of the Supper follows John 13:30, it may be best placed between this verse and John 13:31, or before John 13:33.

Verses 23-24

Vv. 23, 24. Now one of the disciples, he whom Jesus loved, was reclining on his bosom; 24 Simon Peter beckoned to him to ask who this one might be.

Among the ancients, persons reclined rather than sat at table, each guest having the left arm supported on a cushion, so as to support the head, and the right arm free, for eating; the feet were extended behind. Each guest thus had his head near the breast of the one whose place was at his left hand; this was John's place as related to Jesus, at this last meal.

The unanimous tradition of the primitive Church designates John as the disciple to whom Joh 13:23 applies. Our Gospel itself allows no doubt of this; as we have shown in the Introduction (Vol. I., p. 32f.). This appears from John 21:2, compared with John 13:7; Joh 13:20-23 of the same chapter. Among the seven disciples who are named in John 13:2, Peter, Thomas, and Nathanael are of course excluded, since the disciple whom Jesus loved is nowhere designated by his name in the Gospel, while these three are thus designated several times. The last two disciples, who are not named, do not seem to have belonged to the circle of the apostles; there remain, therefore, only the two sons of Zebedee. As James is excluded by the fact of his early death (comp. what is said of the disciple whom Jesus loved, John 13:22: “ If I will that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee? ”), John only remains.

The Synoptic narrative leads to the same result: The disciple whom Jesus loved being necessarily one of the three privileged apostles, and Peter and James being excluded for the reasons indicated, John alone remains. If he designates himself by this periphrase, it is certainly not through vanity as has been asserted it is precisely from humility that he avoids declaring his name, but with the feeling of the infinite condescension of Him who had deigned to treat him, during His earthly existence, as His friend. The reading of the T. R., agreeing with 14 MSS., among which are the Alexandrian and Cambridge MSS., and with the Peschito, is very simple: “Simon Peter beckons to him to ask who it is of whom he speaks.” But the Alexandrian authorities, the Vatican and Ephrem MSS., etc., and the Itala read: “Simon Peter beckons to him and says to him: Tell who it is of whom he speaks.” The Sinaitic MS. unites the two readings and puts them in juxtaposition, a fact which, in any case, proves the high antiquity of both. Against the first is alleged its great clearness and simplicity; this can be a reason for rejecting it only if the second presents a really admissible meaning. Otherwise the latter must be regarded as the result of an accidental error or of a faulty correction.

The attempt has been made to give it two meanings. Ewald: “He makes a sign and says: Tell (to Jesus) who is the one of whom he speaks.” But, in this case, either: of whom thou speakest, or: ask him, instead of tell would be necessary. The majority ( Weiss, Keil, Luthardt) think that Peter, supposing that John already knows from Jesus who is the traitor, simply says to John: “Tell me who it is of whom he (Jesus) speaks.” But the: he beckons, implies that Peter and John were not seated near one another, while the: he says to him, would imply proximity. To solve this contradiction, these last words must, in this case, be explained: “he says to him by a sign ” ( νεύων λέγει ). Is this use of λέγειν natural? But, above all, how could Peter have supposed so positively and mistakenly ( Joh 13:25 ) that John already knew this secret? For myself, I persist in believing that in this case, as in so many others, it is an error to bind oneself to the Alexandrian text. The reading of this text seems to me to result from a gloss, sometimes added to ( Sinait.), sometimes substituted for ( Vatican), the primitive text which has been preserved in the other documents. It follows from Joh 13:24 that Peter was not seated at Jesus' side; otherwise he might have himself put the question to Him.

Verses 25-27

Vv. 25-27a. He therefore leaning back on Jesus' breast, says to him, Lord, who is it? 26. Jesus answers him: He it is to whom I shall give a piece of bread when it is dipped.And having dipped the piece, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27a. And, after he had taken the piece, then Satan entered into him.

The received reading ἐπιπεσών (which is found in the Sinaitic, and Alexandrian MSS., etc.), leaning, strictly throwing himself, indicates a sudden movement, in harmony with the liveliness of the feeling which produces it. It is perfectly suitable, provided we do not add οὕτως , thus, as Tischendorf and Meyer do, which is wholly without meaning. The οὕτως can only be maintained with the reading ἀναπεσών : “seated at table as he was; ” it would be an allusion to John 13:23: on the breast of Jesus, so Baumlein .

But the reading ἀναπεσών may easily have arisen from Joh 21:20 and the adverb οὕτως may have been added to complete this participle, which could only be a repetition of John 13:23. In the course of the Paschal meal, the father of the family offered to the guests pieces of bread or meat which he dipped in a broth composed of fruits boiled in wine; these fruits represented the blessings of the Promised Land. And even outside of this special meal it is customary in the East, it seems, for the host to offer the guest whom he wishes to honor a piece of meat (see Westcott). Jesus, connecting Himself with this custom, answers John in this form which was naturally intelligible only to him. As a sign of communion, it was a last appeal to the conscience of Judas. If, in receiving it, his heart had broken, He could still have obtained pardon. This moment was therefore decisive; and it is this that John makes manifest by the τότε , then ( Joh 13:27 ), a word of tragic weight.

The Alexandrian reading adds, after the words: “ having dipped the morsel,” the following: he takes it and, which could only mean: “he takes it from the dish; ” a very idle meaning. “Until this time,” says Hengstenberg, “Judas had stifled in himself, in the interest of his passion, the conviction of the divinity of Jesus. Now the ray of divine omniscience which had, in the preceding warnings (John 13:10; Joh 13:18 ) only grazed the surface, penetrates him. Jesus says to him plainly by this sign and by the words which accompany it (Matthew 26:25, “ Thou hast said ”): Thou art the one who eats my bread and yet betrays me! But He also gives him to understand that he is still of the number of His own. He might therefore return backward. But he would not; and the violent effort which he was obliged to make in order to close his heart against the heavenly powers opened its doors to the diabolical powers. It is even from these last that he must seek the strength to accomplish this final act of resistance. As it is said of David: “ He strengthened himself in God, so Judas strengthened himself in Satan.” The dwelling of Satan in a soul has its degrees, as well as that of the Holy Spirit.

Luke ( Luk 22:3 ) has united the phases which John distinguishes (comp. Joh 13:2 ). The present moment is that in which the will of Judas was finally confiscated by the power to which he had gradually surrendered himself. Until then he had acted freely and as if by way of experiment; he had played with the enemy. From this moment it will be impossible for him to draw back; it will be the enemy who will play with him. It has been asserted that John ascribes this result to a magical action of the morsel of bread, and that there was here, according to him, a miracle by means of which Jesus “ demonized the soul of the disciple.” If John had wished to express such an idea he would have written, not μετὰ τὸ ψωμίον , after the morsel, but μετὰ τοῦ ψωμίου , with the morsel. It is also asked: Who then saw Satan enter into Judas? Perhaps, John himself, we will answer. The terrible conflict which was carried on within him at this moment could not remain unnoticed by the eyes of him who anxiously observed the traitor, and something infernal in the expression of his features bore testimony of the decisive victory which the devil had just gained in his heart. Weiss and Keil are willing to admit here only a pure “psychological assurance.” But such an assurance has as its basis either some perception or a revelation. Would these interpreters then adopt this second alternative? Keim has judged the conduct of Jesus at this moment with severity, in case John has exactly described it; it would even, up to a certain point, excuse Judas. But Jesus carefully spared the traitor, in making him known to no one but John only.

Verses 27-30

Vv. 27b-30. “ Jesus therefore said to him: What thou doest, do quickly. 28. But no one of those who were at table knew why he said this to him. 29. For some thought that, as Judas had the bag, Jesus meant to say to him, Buy the things which we have need of for the feast, or that he bade him give something to the poor. 30. He therefore, having taken the morsel, went out immediately. Now it was night.

The words of Jesus to Judas are not a permission ( Grotius); they are a command. But, it is said, Jesus pushed Judas into the abyss by speaking to him thus. Jesus had no longer any ground to spare him, since from this decisive moment no return was possible for Judas. The evening was already far advanced ( Joh 13:30 ), and Jesus had need of the little time which remained to Him to finish His work with His own. Judas in his pride imagined that he held the person of his Master in his hands. Jesus makes him understand that he, as well as the new master whom he obeys, is only an instrument. The word τάχιον signifies: more quickly; the meaning is therefore: “ hasten thy begun work.” John says: no one of those who were at table ( Joh 13:28 ). Perhaps he tacitly excepts himself. Weiss thinks not. He believes also that John did not understand the import of the injunction of Jesus. From the words: for the feast, some infer that this evening could not be that on which the people celebrated the Paschal supper. For how could purchases be made on a Sabbatical day, such as that was? And if the Paschal supper, the essential act of the feast, was already finished, there were no more purchases to be made for the feast. But, on the other side, it may be said that if this evening had been that of the 13th-14th of Nisan, the entire day of the 14th would still remain for making purchases. And how could the disciples have supposed that Jesus sent Judas out for this purpose in the darkness of the night ( Luthardt, Keil)? This passage, therefore, does not seem to us fitted to solve the difficult question which is in hand. Nevertheless it appears to me that the for the feast is more naturally understood if it was yet on the evening which preceded the day of the 14th, the first of the feast of the Passover (see on Joh 13:1 ). We are amazed at the skill with which Judas had been able to disguise his character and his plans. Even at this last moment, his fellow-disciples were entirely blinded with regard to him. On His part, Jesus could not without danger unmask him more openly than He does here; with the impetuosity of a Peter, what might have occurred between him and the traitor? This whole scene, described in John 13:27-29, was an affair of a moment. For this reason the words: having taken the morsel, John 13:30, are directly connected by οὖν with John 13:27: and after having taken the morsel. It is between the participle having taken and the verb he went out, that Hengstenberg wishes to place the institution of the Lord's Supper. But the εὐθέως , immediately, too closely connects the second of these two acts with the first. The last words: it was night, make us think of Jesus' words in Luke 22:53: “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” They complete the picture of a situa tion which had left on the heart of John ineffaceable recollections. The Johannean narrative is studded throughout with similar incidents, which are explicable only by the vividness of personal recollection. Comp. John 1:40, John 6:59, John 8:20, John 10:23, etc. Augustine (see Westcott) adds to these words: Erat autem nox, this gloss: Et ipse qui exivit erat nox.

At what time in the meal is the institution of the Lord's Supper to be placed? We adopt the view, as we propose this question, that this meal is in fact the one in which, according to the Synoptics, Jesus instituted this ceremony. Bengel, Wichelhaus and others, it is true, have tried to distinguish two suppers: the first, that of John 13:0, took place at Bethany; Joh 14:31 indicates the moment when Jesus departed from that place to repair to Jerusalem; the second, that of the Synoptics, took place on the next day at evening, at the time of the Israelite Paschal supper. But the prediction of the denial of Peter, with the words: Even this night, in both passages, renders this supposition inadmissible. We hold, moreover, that, if the author of the fourth Gospel does not mention the institution of the Lord's Supper, it is not because he is ignorant of it or that he would deny it, but because this fact was sufficiently well known in the Church, and because there was nothing to lead him specially to recall it to mind in his narrative (see on Joh 13:20 ). If the case stands thus, where is the institution of the Lord's Supper to be inserted in our narrative?

According to Kern, after John 14:31, as the foundation of the discourse in John 15:1 ff.: “ I am the true vine,” etc. But, at this time, Jesus rises and gives the order to depart: is this a suitable situation for such a ceremony? According to Olshausen, Luthardt, after John 13:38 (prediction of Peter's denial) and before the words: Let not your heart be troubled. This opinion would be admissible, if the Synoptics did not agree in placing the prediction of the denial after the institution, and even (two of them) on the way to Gethsemane. Lucke, Lange, Maier and others: in the interval between Joh 13:33 and John 13:34, because of the connection between the idea of the new commandment and that of the new covenant in the institution of the Supper. But the direct connection between the question of Peter: Lord, whither goest thou? ( Joh 13:36 ) and the words of Jesus: Whither I go, ye cannot come ( Joh 13:33 ), make it difficult to insert so considerable a ceremony between these two verses. Neander, Ebrard: in the interval between Joh 13:32 and John 13:33. There is, indeed, between Joh 13:31-32 and John 13:33-34 a certain break of continuity.

The idea of the glory of Jesus ( Joh 13:31-32 ) may have preceded the institution of the Supper, and the latter have been followed no less naturally by the idea of the approaching departure of Jesus ( Joh 13:33-34 ). In itself, there is nothing to oppose this solution. Paulus, Kahnis and others decide for the interval between Joh 13:30 and John 13:31, immediately after the departure of Judas. The words: When therefore he was gone out, Jesus said (see at Joh 13:31 ) are not favorable to this opinion, and the words of Joh 13:31-32 have the character of an exclamation called forth by the departure of Judas. Meyer, Weiss, Keil (the last two, because of the first two Synoptics, who place the institution of the Supper immediately after the revelation concerning the traitor) content themselves with saying: after John 13:30, without attempting to make a more precise statement. But what, in this case, are we to do with the narrative of Luke who, on the contrary, places the revelation of the traitor immediately after the institution of the Supper. If he works on the foundation of Mark's narrative, how does he modify it in so perceptible and arbitrary a manner?

And if he has a source which is peculiar to himself, why should it not have its own value by the side of that of the two other Synoptics? His account of the institution of the Supper is fully confirmed by Paul. The opinion of these critics is, therefore, precarious. The idea of Hengstenberg (at the moment of Joh 13:30 and before the departure of Judas) is not compatible with the expression: he went out immediately. Stier has decided for the interval between Joh 13:22 and John 13:23; but the question of Peter in Joh 13:24 is so closely connected with that of the disciples in Joh 13:22 ! Baumlein suggests the interval between Joh 13:19 and John 13:21, where the quite isolated words of Joh 13:20 are placed. The idea of receiving Jesus in the person of His messengers, and of receiving in Him God Himself, is indeed in harmony with that of the dwelling of the Lord in His own; thus with that of the Supper. In my first edition, the authority of Luke's narrative and certain indications in that of John led me to place the washing of the feet quite at the end of the meal. The institution of the Lord's Supper must consequently have preceded it, and thus I went back, with Seiffert, even to the beginning of the meal, John 13:1-3, for the locating of the Supper, while seeking an allusion to this last pledge of the divine love in the expression: He ended by testifying to them all his love. I have abandoned this idea altogether: 1. Because there is an improbability in placing the washing of the feet at the end of the meal; 2. Because John 13:26 (the morsel given to Judas) proves that they were still in the midst of the meal, after that Acts 3:0. Because the indication, Luke 23:24, is very vague: “ There was also a dispute among the disciples. ” It is impossible to draw from this a conclusion with relation to the moment when the dispute occurred.

Beyschlag has brought out an important circumstance; it is that according to the Synoptics the institution of the Supper did not take place at one single time, but that it was divided into two very distinct acts; the one during, the other after the meal ( Luk 22:20 and 1Co 11:25 ). The first may, therefore, be placed before John 13:18, and the second after John 13:30. Westcott arrives at nearly the same result. He places the act relating to the bread between Joh 13:19-20 and that relating to the cup between John 13:32-33. If we study the Synoptic narratives, we find in all the three these three elements:

1. The farewell word ( I will no more drink of this fruit of the vine); 2. The institution of the Supper; 3. The revelation of the traitor. In the three accounts, the second is placed in the middle; but the first is placed as the third in Luke, at the beginning in the other two, from which it follows that the question of the participation of Judas in the Supper is not so simple as it appears to be at the first glance, and may be resolved at once affirmatively (with relation to the bread) and negatively (with relation to the cup). A second observation which goes to support the preceding is that, according to John, Jesus spoke of Judas not once, but three times, at different moments in the repast. The Synoptics have concentrated these three revelations in a single one, which they have placed, either before, or after, the institution of the Supper. It is very possible, therefore, that the two forms of the Synoptic story respecting this point are not exclusive of each other, and that we may be led to represent the matter to ourselves in this way: First, the word of farewell: This is my last meal (Luke); then, a word relating to the betrayal (Matthew and Mark); then, the institution of the Supper, so far as the bread was concerned (the three); a new word relating to Judas (Luke); finally, his going out and the institution of the cup.

With reference to the conduct of Judas, I will add some considerations to those which were presented at the end of chap. 6. This man had attached himself to Jesus, not for the satisfaction of his moral needs, as one drawn, taught and given by God (John 6:39; Joh 6:44-45 ), but by political ambition and gross cupidity. For he hoped for a brilliant career in following Him whom so many miracles proved to be the Christ. But when he perceived that the path followed by Jesus was the opposite of that which he had hoped, he was continually more and more irritated and embittered from day to day. He saw himself at once deceived on the side of Jesus and compromised by his character as a disciple before the rulers of the hierarchy. His treachery was therefore the result at once of his resentment against Jesus, by whom he believed himself to be deceived, and of his desire to restore himself to favor with the great men of the nation. As soon as he realized that this last purpose failed, despair took possession of him. Judas is the example of a faith and repentance which do not have as their origin moral needs.

It is important to notice finally the relation between the narrative of John and that of the Synoptics to the subject of this whole scene. What strikes us is that in the Synoptics the relation between Jesus and Judas in this meal is presented as a particular story, forming in itself a whole, while in John the setting forth of the matter is gradual, varied and in a manner blended with the narrative of the whole of the repast in a life-like way. How can we fail to understand the historical superiority of this second form? Does not Beyschlag rightly say: “By the dramatic clearness of John's narrative the obscurities of the Synoptic story are scattered”?

Verses 31-32

Vv. 31, 32. “ When therefore he was gone out, Jesus says, Now has the Son of man been glorified; and God has been glorified in him. 32. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and will straightway glorify him.

These two verses are as if a cry of relief which escapes from the heart of Jesus at the sight of the withdrawing traitor. Some documents reject οὖν , therefore, which would allow us, with many commentators, to connect the words ὅτε ἐξῆλθεν with the preceding clause: “It was night when he went out.” But this useless appendage would weaken the solemn gravity of the brief clause: “ Now it was night. ” And the verb λέγει , he says, would also come in too abruptly. ῝Οτε οὖν must therefore be read: “ When therefore he was gone out, Jesus says.

The νῦν , now, which begins the following words, puts them quite naturally in connection with the fact which has just taken place, the departure of Judas. Hengstenberg, Weiss and Keil do not believe in such a connection.

This now, according to them, refers to the impending end of His earthly activity, the result of which Jesus contemplates with joy. This, as it seems to me, is to fail to recognize the connection of ideas which John himself wished to set forth by saying so expressly: “ When he was gone out, He says.

The past tense ἐδοξάσθη , is glorified, sums up all the past life of Jesus, up to the scene which has just occurred, and which, in certain respects, is the crowning point of it. Empty human glory, which He had always rejected, has just been expressly declared to be excluded from His work and that of His apostles. The washing of their feet has condemned it; it has just gone out with Judas, who was the stubborn representative of it among the disciples. The true glory, that which comes from God, that which consists in humility and charity, has been realized to the utmost in the person of Jesus; it has just triumphed over the false glory. Some interpreters have referred this term is glorified to the future glory of Jesus, either through His death ( Meyer), or through His exaltation to the right hand of God ( Luthardt, Gess). But, in John 13:32, Jesus sets in opposition to this verb in the past tense the future δοξάσει , will glorify, to designate His glorification which is to come. Comp. also John 17:10, where He declares Himself already now glorified ( δεδόξασμαι ) in the hearts of the apostles.

We understand from this why He designates Himself as the Son of man. It is indeed by the humiliation with which He has placed Himself on the level with His brethren and made Himself their servant, that He has obtained this glory.

A glory which consists even in humility does not, like human glory, make him who possesses it a usurper of the glory of God. For this reason He is able to speak of it without scruple as He does here. Its essence is to give all glory to God, as He immediately adds: “ And God is glorified in him. ” In this glory of Jesus that of God Himself has shone forth. The perfection of the paternal character of God has been manifested fully in the person and work of the Son of man, John 13:32. But God cannot abandon him who has made himself the instrument of His glory. “He honors him who serves Him” ( Joh 12:26 ).

The first words of John 13:32: If God is glorified in him, are rejected by the Alexandrian authorities. But even Tischendorf condemns this omission. Weiss also: “One cannot set aside the suspicion that the omission of these words in the most ancient Codd. is the result of the confounding of the two ἐν αὐτῷ .” Westcott and Hort retain them in spite of everything. The examples of such omissions in the Alexandrian text, however, are numerous, especially in the Sinaitic MS.

The clause: If God is glorified in him, fully explains the transition from the past tense is glorified to the future will glorify, John 13:32. The instrument of the glory of God on the earth, Jesus will be glorified by God in heaven. Could God do less than that which the Son of man has done for Him? This correlation is expressed by the word καί , also, which is placed for this reason at the beginning of the clause; comp. John 17:4-5.

Whether we read ἐν αὐτῷ with B. etc., or ἐν ἑαυτῷ with the T. R. and all the Mjj. except four, the meaning is still: in God. The two limiting phrases: in him (Jesus), and in him or in himself (God), answer to each other. When God has been glorified in a person, He draws him to His bosom and envelops him in His glory. It is thus that the future of Jesus is illuminated to His view in the brightness of His past. And this future is near. The departure of Judas has just revealed to Him the fact of its imminence by announcing that of His death. Soon, says Jesus, alluding to His exaltation through the resurrection and ascension. The second καί is explanatory: “ and that soon.” After having thus, under the influence of what has just occurred, given vent to His personal impressions, Jesus turns to His disciples and makes them the subject of His whole thought.

Verses 31-38

I. The separation; its necessity: 13:31-14:31.

After some words uttered by Jesus under the immediate impression of the departure of Judas ( Joh 13:31-35 ), Jesus replies to different questions relative to His approaching removal which He has just announced to them; that of Peter (ver. Joh 13:36 to Joh 14:4 ), that of Thomas ( Joh 13:5-7 ), that of Philip ( Joh 13:8-21 ), and that of Judas ( Joh 13:22-24 ); He closes with some reflections with which the present situation inspires Him ( Joh 13:25-31 ).

Verses 33-35

Vv. 33-35. “ My little children, yet a little while I am with you; you will seek me, and, as I said to the Jews: Whither I go, you cannot come, so now I say to you. 34. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

The term of tenderness, τεκνία , my little children, is found nowhere else in our Gospels; it is the soon of John 13:32, implying the near separation, which suggests it to Him. The disciples appear to Him as children whom He is about to leave as orphans on the earth. What a void in their life is that which will result from the disappearance of Jesus! He Himself feels, in all its vividness, what they will experience. “ You will seek me; you will wish to rejoin me.” And for Himself, how desirous He must be to carry them away immediately with Himself into the divine world which He is about to enter again! But what He had declared to the Jews six months before (John 7:34, Joh 8:21 ) is still for the moment applicable to the disciples: they are not ready to follow Him. Only there is this difference between them and the Jews, that for them this impossibility is merely temporary: comp. John 14:3: “ I will take you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” while Jesus said to the Jews: “You shall die in your sins.” For the Jews the obstacle of the natural condemnation, which faith alone could have removed, will continue for ever by reason of their unbelief. As to the disciples, while waiting till they shall rejoin Him, He leaves to them a duty which will be at the same time their consolation; the one which results from their new situation and which is indicated in John 13:34: the duty of loving one another. It is by loving each other that they will supply the outward absence of Him who has loved them so tenderly.

The expression ἐντολὴ καινή , new commandment, has embarrassed the interpreters, because the Old Testament already commanded that one should love one's neighbor as oneself ( Lev 19:18 ) and because it does not seem possible to love more than this. Or must we say, with Knapp, in his celebrated dissertation on this subject, and, as it seems, also with Reuss and Weiss, that Jesus, by His example and His word, teaches us to love our neighbor more than ourselves? This thought is more specious than just. Or must we give to the word καινή here an extraordinary meaning, such as illustrious (Wolf), ever new (Olshausen), renewed (Calvin), renewing the man (Augustine), unexpected (Semler), the last (Heumann)?

Nothing of all this is necessary. The entirely new character of Christian love results, in the first place, in an outward way from the circle in which it is exercised: one another; this love applies not to all the human family in general, like the law of affection written on the conscience, nor, more specially, to members of the Israelite nation, like the commandment in Leviticus; it embraces all those whom the common faith in Jesus and the love of which they are the object on His part unite. But the term new goes yet far deeper than this: it is a love new in its very nature: it starts from an altogether new centre of life and affection. The love of the Jew for the Jew arose from the fact that Jehovah was the God of both and had chosen them both in Abraham; every Israelite became for every other, through this common blessing, like a second self. Jesus brought into the world and testified to His own a love specifically different from any love which had appeared until then, that which attaches itself to the human personality in order to save it. From this new hearth there springs forth the flame of an affection essentially different from any that the world knew under this name before. In Christ: this is the explanation of the word new. It is a family affection, and the family is born at this hour; comp. 1 John 2:8.

It is impossible for me to regard the words: as I have loved you, as Meyer, Luthardt, Weiss and Keil do, as depending on this first clause: that you love one another. The repetition of these last words at the end of the verse thus becomes useless. Jesus begins by saying: that you love one another; then, taking up this command with a new emphasis, He adds to it, at this time, the characteristic definition: “I mean: that, as I have loved you, you should also love one another.” Comp. in Joh 17:21 the same construction exactly. Καθώς , as, indicates more than a simple comparison ( ὥσπερ ); it designates a conformity. The love which unites believers among themselves is of the same nature as that which Jesus testifies to the believer ( Joh 10:15 ); each one, so to speak, loves his brother with the love with which Jesus loves both him and this brother.

To the obligation resulting from the words: as I have loved you, Jesus adds the loftiest motive, that of His glory. For him who has felt himself beloved by Him, there can be no motive more pressing. ᾿Εμοί has perhaps more force as a dative than as a nominative plural: disciples belonging to me, the new Master. The history of the primitive Church realized this promise of Jesus: “They loved one another, even before knowing one another,” said Minutius Felix of the Christians; and the scoffing Lucian said: “Their Master has made them believe that they are all brethren.”

Here begins a series of questions which were all raised in the hearts of the disciples by the thought of the threatened separation. The first is quite naturally this: Is there no means of avoiding this separation, even though temporary? It is Peter, the boldest of all, who makes himself the organ of this desire, which is incompatible with the words of Jesus ( Joh 13:33 ).

Verses 36-38

Vv. 36-38. “ Simon Peter says to him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37. Peter says to him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now?I will lay down my life for thee. 38. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for me? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

What especially impressed St. Peter in the preceding words is the thought of John 13:33: “ Whither I go, you cannot come. ” Jesus is going to glory: Peter does not doubt this ( Joh 13:32 ); why then, after having walked with Him on the waters and having ascended with Him the Mount of Transfiguration, can he not follow Him to glory, to return with Him soon to the earth, when he will establish His kingdom? Peter had merely said: Whither goest thou? but evidently, as a child who, when asking his father: Whither art thou going? means: Cannot I go with thee? Jesus understood the purpose of his question, and He replies to it by saying: Thou canst not. The temporary separation is inevitable; does Jesus think of the task which Peter will have still to accomplish here on earth by his apostolic ministry ( Weiss)?

Or must this word can be understood in a purely moral sense: “Thou art not yet capable of making the sacrifice necessary for following me” ( Tholuck)? The words of Joh 14:2-3 cause us rather to think of reasons of another nature, at once objective and subjective. On the one hand, the redemption is not yet effected, and consequently the place of Peter is not yet prepared in heaven; on the other, Peter himself is not yet prepared for the place; the Holy Spirit has not yet made of him a new man. Peter, however, imagines that Jesus speaks thus only because He believes him incapable of facing death; and in the ardor of his zeal, exaggerating the measure of his moral strength, he declares himself ready to undergo martyrdom ( Joh 13:37 ). Jesus, who knows him better than he knows himself, then declares to him that, even in this respect, he is still incapable of accompanying Him ( Joh 13:38 ).

The cock- crowing of which Jesus speaks is that which properly bore this name; the second, that which precedes the break of day, about three o'clock in the morning ( Mar 13:35 ). In the prediction of the denial in Mark ( Mar 14:30 ) allusion is also made to the first, the one at midnight. The prediction of his denial seems to have produced on the apostle a very profound impression; he is, as it were, thunder-struck by it, and from this moment he does not speak any more until the end of these discourses.

Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 13". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/john-13.html.
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