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John 13

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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CHAP. 13 20.] Third division of the Gospel . JESUS AND HIS OWN.

Verse 1

1. πρὸ τ . ἑορ . τ . π . ] How long , is not said: but probably, a very short time; not more than one day at the most: see ch. Joh 18:28 and note. The words belong to the whole narrative following, not to εἰδώς or ἀγαπήσας .

εἰδώς ] The view with which our Lord washed His disciples’ feet, is shewn by the repeated εἰδώς and by ἀγαπήσας … αὐτούς . The connexion is: “Jesus loved His own even to the end (of His life in the flesh), and gave them in the washing of their feet a proof of His love; and to this act He was induced by the knowledge that He must soon leave this world; and although this knowledge was united ( Joh 13:3 ) with the highest consciousness of His divine mission and speedy glorification, yet this latter did not prevent Him from giving this proof of His self-humiliating love” (De Wette).

τοὺς ἰδ . τ . ἐν τ . κ . ] See ch. John 17:11 .

Verses 1-11

1 11.] His condescension in washing their feet . On the chronological difficulties, see notes on Matthew 26:17 , and ch. John 18:28 .

There can be no reasonable doubt that this meal was the same as that at which the Lord’s Supper was instituted, as related in the three Evangelists. The narrative proceeds without any break until ch. John 17:26 , after which our Lord and the disciples go to Gethsemane.

Verses 1-30


Verse 2

2. δείπ . γεν . ] Not as E. V. ‘ supper being ended ,’ for ( Joh 13:12 ) He reclined again , and in John 13:26 , the supper is still going on: but, supper having begun, or having been served see Ἰησ . γενομένου ἐν Βηθ . Matthew 26:6 , ‘When Jesus had arrived at B.;’ and πρωΐας γενομένης , ‘when it had become morning,’ ch. John 21:4 . Cf. also γενομένου σαββάτου , Mark 6:2 .

τοῦ δ . ἤδη βεβ . ] The construction of the text, according to the true reading, is involved and difficult. But its meaning will be immediately perceived, if we render βεβληκότος εἰς τὴν καρδίαν , suggested, proposed, viz. to the mind of Judas. The devil having by this time suggested (to Judas) that Judas Iscariot the son of Simon (i.e. that he ) should betray Him. The interpretation of βεβλ . εἰς τ . κ ., “ having conceived in his (the devil’s) mind ” (Meyer), is wholly unworthy of a scholar, and simply absurd. Judas had before this covenanted with the Sanhedrim to betray Him, Mat 26:14 and [174] , which must here be meant by the devil having put it into his heart: the thorough self-abandonment to Satan which led to the actual deed, being designated John 13:27 .

[174] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Luke ( Luk 22:3 ) expresses the steps of his treasonable purpose otherwise, meaning the same. The fact is here stated, to enhance the love which Jesus shewed in the following action.

Verse 3

3. ] See above. He did what follows with a full sense of the glory and dignity of His own Person. “Præfatio gloriæ est instar protestationis, ne quid indignum fecisse existimetur Dominus pedes suorum lavans.” Bengel.

The perfect, δέδωκεν , and present, ὑπάγει , are used indefinitely: of things fixed in the counsel of God: or perhaps, rather, as consistent with the historical presents , ἐγείρεται , τίθησιν , to give life and presence to the whole scene.

Verse 4

4. ] τὰ ἱμ ., “eas, quæ lotionem impedirent.” Bengel. He put Himself into the ordinary dress of a servant. Or, which is far more probable, on the deepest grounds, did He not humble Himself so far as literally to divest Himself, and gird Himself merely, as the basest of slaves?

Verse 5

5. ] τὸν νιπ ., the vessel usually at hand for such purposes. The context seems to shew that He had washed the feet of one or more before the incident of the next verse: were it not so, ἤρξατο might merely express his doing something unusual and unlooked for.

is perhaps by attraction for ὅ , which would be the ordinary case after διεζωσμένος , cf. Revelation 1:13 ; Revelation 15:6 ; or it may be dative by construction, as in Hom. Il. κ . 77, πὰρ δὲ ζωστὴρ κεῖτο παναίολος , ᾧ ῥ ʼ ὁ γεραιὸς Ζώννυθ ʼ, and other examples in Meyer.

Verse 6

6. ] And (the οὖν taking up the narrative again at the ἤρξατο , q. d., ‘in pursuance of this intention’) He comes to Simon Peter; not first , as some have maintained, both with and without reference to the primacy of Peter: for that would be hardly consistent (see on the preceding verse) with the context, which seems to require that the washing should have begun and been going on, before He came to Peter.

νίπτεις ] art Thou washing (intending to wash) my feet? He thinks the act unworthy of the Lord; even as many think that great act of Love to have been, which was typified by it.

Notice that μου is enclitic, not emphatic , in which case it would be ἐμοῦ . The having his feet washed is a matter of course: it is the Person who is about to do it that offends him.

Verse 7

7. ] Hitherto our Lord had been silent. He emphasizes the ἐγώ and σύ , but so as to set forth Himself as the Master, Peter as the disciple, not wholly cognizant of His will and purpose, and therefore more properly found in subjection to it.

ὃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ , i.e. (1) this washing itself , as a lesson of humility and love, John 13:14 .) (2) Its symbolical meaning , John 13:9-10 . (3) The great Act of Love , the laying aside my glory, and becoming in the form of a servant, that the washing of the Holy Spirit may cleanse men.

μετὰ ταῦτα ] (1) was known very soon, but (2) and (3) not till after the Spirit was given.

Verse 8

8. ] The rash and self-opinionated Apostle opposes to μετὰ ταῦτα his οὐ μὴ εἰς τ . αἰῶνα . In interpreting our Lord’s answer, we must remember, that He replies more to the spirit of Peter’s objection, than to his words. The same well-meaning but false humility would prevent him (and does prevent many) from stooping to receive at the hands of the Lord that spiritual washing which is absolutely necessary in order to have any part in Him, Romans 8:9 , ‘ If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in Me; ’ but the affirmative proposition is not equally true; witness the example of Judas, who was washed, but yet had no part in Jesus. In the spiritual sense of washing, this is not so. Whoever is washed by Jesus, has part in Him. We are here in the realm of another and deeper logic: the act being no longer symbolic, but veritable.

Verse 9

9. ] The warm-hearted Peter, on learning that exclusion would be the consequence of not being washed, can hardly have enough of a cleansing so precious. There surely is implied in this answer an incipient apprehension of the meaning of our Lord’s words. The ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σε has awakened in him, as the Lord’s presence did, Luke 5:8 , a feeling of his own want of cleansing, his entire pollution. This sense (Stier, Bengel, Baumgarten-Crusius) is denied by Lücke and Olsh.

Verse 10

10. ] Reference appears to be made to the fact that one who has bathed , after he has reached his home, needs not entire washing, but only to have his feet washed from the dust of the way. This bathing, the bath of the new birth, but only yet in its foreshadowing, in the purifying effect of faith working by love, the Apostles, with one exception, had; and this foot-washing represented to them, besides its lesson of humility and brotherly love, their daily need of cleansing from daily pollution, even after spiritual regeneration , at the hands of their Divine Master. See 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; James 1:21 ; Act 15:8-9 ; 2 Peter 2:22 .

On καθ . ἐστε , see note, ch. John 15:3 .

Verse 11

11. ] τὸν παραδιδόντα , as ὁ ἐρχόμενος , him that should betray Him, the indefinite characteristic present.

Verse 12

12. γινώσκ . τί π . . ] These words are uttered, not so much in expectation of an answer, as to direct their attention to the following.

Verses 12-20

12 20. ] This act, a pattern of self-denying love for His servants .

Verse 13

13. ] ὁ διδάσκ . and ὁ κ . are titular nominatives, as in reff. (Winer, § 29. 1, edn. 6.)

Verses 13-17


Verse 14

14. ] [The command here given must be understood in the full light of intelligent appreciation of the circumstances and the meaning of the act.] “Pedilavium, quod Dominus discipulis adhibuit, pertinebat et ad beneficium conferendæ puritatis totalis, et ad παιδείαν decendæ dilectionis humilis, John 13:34 , coll. John 13:1 . Inde pedilavium discipulorum inter se eo pertinet, ut alter alterum quoquo modo adjuvet ad consequendam puritatem animæ; et ut alter alteri pedes lavet, vel proprie, 1 Timothy 5:10 , idque serio, si scil. accidat, ut opus sit: est enim præceptum affirmativum, obligans semper, sed non ad semper: quale etiam illud, 1Jn 3:16 vel synecdochice, per omne genus officiorum, quæ alter alteri etiam servilia et sordida, modo opportuna, præstare potest. Dominus igitur per ipsum pedilavium purificavit discipulos: quare etiam Petrum amanter coëgit: sed discipulis pedilavium mutuum non hoc nomine præcepit; neque adeo tanta est pedilavii literatenus imitandi necessitas, quantam nonnulli statuerunt: quum Johannes v. gr. Thomæ pedes nusquam laverit; et tamen major pedilavii Dominici et fraterni similitudo, quam plerique agnoscunt. Hodie pontifices et principes pedilavium ad literam imitantur; magis autem admirandus foret, v. gr. pontifex, unius regis, quam duodecim pauperum pedes, seria humilitate lavans.” Bengel. The custom of literally and ceremonially washing the feet in obedience to this command, is not found before the fourth century.

Verse 15

15. ] καθώς , not ὅ , ἐγὼ ἐπ . Our Lord’s action was symbolical, and is best imitated in His followers by endeavouring, “if a man be overtaken in a fault, to restore ( καταρτίζειν ) such an one in the spirit of meekness:” Galatians 6:1 .

Verses 16-17

16, 17. ] The proverbial expression οὐκ ἔστιν δ .… is used here in a different sense from ch. John 15:20 . Here it is, ‘if the Master thus humble Himself, much more should His servants and messengers:’ see Matthew 10:24 ; Luke 6:40 ; and on John 13:17 , Luke 12:47-48 . The mere recognition of such a duty of humility, is a very much more easy matter than the putting it in practice .

Verse 18

18. ] I say it not (viz. the ἐὰν ποιῆτε αὐτά ) of you all: for there is one who can never be μακάριος . Our Lord repeats His ἀλλ ʼ οὐχὶ πάντες of John 13:10 , and the sad recollection leads to His trouble in spirit, John 13:21 .

ἐγὼ οἶδα ] The ἐγώ is emphatic; and the reason of its emphasis is given in John 13:19 .

Connexion: ‘It might be supposed that this treachery has come upon Me unawares; but it is not so: I (for my part) know whom I have selected (viz. the whole twelve , see ch. John 6:70 ; not only the true ones (Stier), as in ch John 15:16 , said when Judas was not present): but this has been done by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, declared in the Scriptures.’

On the citation, see LXX. The words here are given freely, the LXX having ἐμεγάλυνεν ἐπ ʼ ἐμὲ πτερνισμόν .

This is another instance of the direct and unhesitating application of the words of the Psalms by our Lord to Himself.

τὴν πτ . ] “Congruit hic sermo imprimis ad lotionem pedum , et ad morem veterum discumbentium ad panem edendum.” Bengel.

Verse 19

19. ] ‘ Now, from this time , I announce it to you, that when it shall have happened, you may believe that I am(the Christ).’ See ch. John 16:1 , and above on ἐγὼ οἶδα , ver, 18.

Verse 20

20. ] See Matthew 10:40 . The connexion is very difficult, and variously set down.

It has been generally supposed (Euthym [175] , &c.) that the words were to comfort the Apostles for the disgrace of their order by Judas, or in prospect of their future labours. But then would not ἄν τινα π . have been expressed by ὑμᾶς ? Another view is to refer back to John 13:16-17 , and suppose the connexion to have been broken by the allusion to Judas. But is this likely, in a discourse of our Lord? I rather believe that the saying sets forth the dignity of that office from which Judas was about to fall: q. d. ‘not only was he in close intercourse with Me ( Joh 13:18 ), but invested with an ambassadorship for Me, and in Me, for the Father; and yet he will lift up his heel against Me.’ And the consideration of this dignity in all its privileges, as contrasted with the sad announcement just to be made, leads on to the ἐταράχθη τῷ πν . of the next verse.

[175] Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116

Verse 21

21. ] See above. One of those mysterious troublings of spirit, which passed over our Lord, ch. Joh 11:33 and John 12:27 .

ἐμαρτ . implies the delivery of some solemn and important announcement. This was the first time He had ever spoken so plainly. All four Evangelists agree in the substance of the announcement.

Verses 21-30

21 30. ] Contrast of the manifestations of love and hate . See notes on Matthew 26:21-25 .Mark 14:18-21; Mark 14:18-21 .Luke 22:21-23; Luke 22:21-23 .

Verse 22

22. ] In Matt. and Mark they express their questioning in words . St. Luke’s συνζητεῖν πρὸς ἑαυτούς would appear to imply the same. We seem called on here to decide a much-controverted question, where in John’s narrative the institution of the Lord’s supper is to be inserted? I believe certainly before this announcement, as in Luke: and if before it, perhaps before the washing of the disciples’ feet: for I see no break which would admit it between our Joh 13:1 and John 13:21 .

Verse 23

23. ] Since the captivity, the Jews lay at table in the Persian manner, on divans or couches, each on his left side, with his face towards the table, his left elbow resting on a pillow and supporting his head. Thus the second guest to the right hand lay with his head near the breast of the first, and so on (Lücke ii. 565).

ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησ . ] The disciple meant is John himself, see ch. John 21:20 ; also designated thus, ch. John 19:26 ; John 21:7 (see Prolegomena to John, § i. 6).

Verses 24-26

24 26. ] See note on Matthew 26:23 . Peter characteristically imagines that John, as the beloved disciple, would know: but he, not knowing, asks of the Lord.

It is an argument for the reading in the text, that (Schulz) John never uses the optative .

Verse 25

25. ] ἀναπεσών , leaning back on the bosom of Jesus.

οὕτως , as in ref. I understand it, that John, who was before lying close to the bosom ( ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ ) of Jesus, now leaned his head absolutely upon His breast, to ask the question. This escaped the notice of the rest at the table: see on Matt. as above.

Verse 26

26. ] This = Matthew 26:23 , Mark 14:20 .

Meyer remarks, that the ἐγώ is expressed as a contrast to the ἐκεῖνος .

τὸ ψωμ ., probably a piece of the unleavened bread, dipped in the broth made of bitter herbs.

Verse 27

27. ] “ Post offulam, non cum offula.” Bengel. Observe the ψωμίον stands for the act in which it played a principal part. This giving the sop was one of the closest testimonies of friendly affection.

τότε carries a graphic power and pathos with it: at that moment.

εἰσῆλθ . εἰς ἐκ . ὁ σ . ] See Joh 13:2 and note. Satan entered fully into him, took full possession of him, so that his will was not only bent upon doing the deed of treachery, but fixed and determined to do it then and there . The words must be understood literally, not as Theod. Mops [176] , as merely betokening τὴν κύρωσιν τῶν καταθυμίων τῷ διαβόλῳ λογισμῶν .

[176] Mops. Theodore, Bp. of Mopsuestia, 399 428

ὃ ποιεῖς ] These words are not to be evaded, as being permissive (Grot.) or dismissive ( οὐδὲ προστάττοντος οὐδὲ συμβουλεύοντος , ἀλλ ʼ ὀνειδίζοντος καὶ δεικνύοντος ὅτι αὐτὸς μὲν ἐβούλετο διορθώσασθαι , ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἀδιορθώτως εἶχεν , ἀφίησιν αὐτόν . Chrys. Hom, in Joan. lxx. 1. 2). They are like the saying of God to Balaam, Numbers 22:20 , and of our Lord to the Pharisees, Matthew 23:32 . The course of sinful action is presupposed , and the command to go on is but the echo of that mysterious appointment by which the sinner in the exercise of his own corrupted will becomes the instrument of the purposes of God. Thus it is not ὅ , or εἴ τι , ποιήσεις , but ὃ ποιεῖς : that which thou art doing, hast just now fully determined to put in present action, do more quickly ‘than thou seemest willing:’ or perhaps better ‘than thou wouldst otherwise have done,’ which seems the account to be ordinarily given of this use of the comparative: reproving his lingering, and his pretending ( Mat 26:25 ) to share in the general doubt.

Verse 28

28. ] Not even John: who knew he was the traitor, but had no idea the deed was so soon to be done (Lücke, De Wette). Stier supposes John to exclude himself in saying οὐδεὶς τ . ἀνακ ., and that he knew.

Verse 29

29. ] The first supposition agrees with John 13:1 , that it was πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα . Had it been the night of the passover, the next day being hallowed as a sabbath, nothing could have been bought . On the whole question see notes on Matthew 26:17 , and ch. John 18:28 . On the second supposition, see ch. John 12:5 . The gift to the poor might be, to help them to procure their paschal lamb .

Verse 30

30. ] The remark ἧν δὲ νύξ (which certainly concludes this period, see ὅτε οὖν , Joh 13:12 ) seems to be added to bring the whole narrative from ch. Joh 13:1 to ch. Joh 18:3 into precision, as happening on one and the same night. It is perhaps fanciful to see, as Orig [177] , Olsh., Stier, &c. have done, an allusion to the σκοτία in Judas’s soul, or to ὑμῶν … ἡ ὥρα καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ σκότου , Luke 22:53 ; though doubtless there the Lord alludes to its being also night: but I quite feel, with Meyer, that there is something awful in this termination it was night.

[177] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

Verse 31

31. νῦν ἐδοξ . ] It was not that the presence of Judas, as some have thought, hindered the great consummation imported by ἐδοξ ., but that the work on which he was gone out, was the ACTUAL COMMENCEMENT of that consummation: “ab hinc enim passiones Christi initium capiebant.” Lampe. It is true that his presence hindered the expression of these gracious words: “jam quasi obice rupto torrentes gratiæ a labiis Jesu effunduntur.” Id.

ἐδοξάσθη spoken proleptically as if accomplished, because the deed was actually in doing, which was to accomplish it. The glorifying spoken of here, and in δοξάσει , John 13:32 , is not the same. This is the glorifying of God by Christ on earth, in His course of obedience as the Son of Man, which was completed by His death ( ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου , Php 2:8 ). And His death was the transition-point between God being glorified in Him, and He being glorified in God manifested to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection, and received up to the Father, to sit at the right hand of God. This latter ( Joh 13:32 ) is spoken of by Him here as future, but immediate ( εὐθύς ) on His death, and leads on to the address in John 13:33 .

ἐν ἑαυτῷ is in God (the Father), not in Christ. ἑαυτ . reflects back on the subject of the sentence: and ἐν is not ‘ by means of ,’ but in, by the resurrection of Him into that glory, which He had indeed before, but now has as the Son of Man , with the risen Manhood; so παρὰ σεαντῷ , ch. John 17:5 . Grotius compares 1 Samuel 2:30 ( τοὺς δοξάζοντάς με δοξάσω LXX). ἀντιδωρεῖται αὐτῷ ὁ πατὴρ τὸ μεῖζον οὗ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πεποίηκεν . Origen. in Joan. tom. xxxii. 18, vol. iv. p. 451.

Verses 31-38

31 16:33. ] HIS LOVE IN KEEPING AND COMPLETING HIS OWN. And herein, Joh 13:31 to John 16:31 . ] He comforts them with the assurance that He is going to the Father .

Verse 33

33. ] τεκνία here only used by Christ affectingly expresses His not only brotherly, but fatherly love ( Isa 9:6 ) for His own, and at the same time their immature and weak state, now about to be left without Him.

καθὼς εἶπ . ] “Noluit discipulis citius hoc dicere: infidelibus dixit citius.” Bengel. But naturally the two clauses, ‘Ye shall seek Me and not find Me, and shall die in your sins,’ also spoken to the Jews (ch. John 7:33 ; Joh 8:21 ), are here omitted: and by this omission the connexion with Joh 13:34 is supplied; ‘Ye shall be left here: but, unlike the Jews, ye shall seek Me and shall find Me, and the way is that of Love, to Me, and to one another (so Stier, ver. 140 ff. edn. 2) forming ( Joh 13:35 ) an united Body, the Church, in which all shall recognize My presence among you as My disciples.’

Verse 34

34. ] The καινότης of this commandment consists in its simplicity and (so to speak) unicity . The same kind of love was prescribed in the O.T. (see Rom 13:8 ): ‘as thyself’ is the highest measure of love, and it is therefore not in degree that the new commandment differs (Cyr [178] , Euthym [179] , Theod. Mops [180] ) from the old, nor in extent , but in being the commandment of the new covenant, the first-fruit of the Spirit in the new dispensation ( Gal 5:22 ): see 1 John 2:7-8 (and note), where καινή is commented on by the Apostle himself.

[178] Cyril, Bp. of Alexandria, 412 444

[179] Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116

[180] Mops. Theodore, Bp. of Mopsuestia, 399 428

I cannot agree with Stier (ver. 148, edn. 2), that ἵνα in the second sentence is not [181] . with ἵνα in the first, but signifies (‘I have loved you’) “in order that &c.” The sentence is analogous to John 13:14 , and the new point in it is the καθὼς ἠγ . ὑμ ., which is therefore set first, and should be (as in E. V.) retained so.

[181] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Verse 35

35. ] πάντες , all the world, and the object is to be, not mere vain praise or display before the world, but that men may be attracted by the exhibition of the Spirit of Christ, and won over to Him. The world, notwithstanding this proof of His presence among them, shall hate them: see 1 John 3:10-15 . But among πάντες they themselves are also included brotherly love is the true sign to them of being children of God, 1 John 2:3-5 .

Verse 36

36. ] This announcement of Peter’s denial is probably the same with that in Luke 22:33 ff., where see notes: but distinct from that on the way to Gethsemane, Matthew 26:34 ; Mark 14:30 .

ἀκ . δὲ ὕστ ., alluding probably both to the future reception of His Apostle into His glory, and to the particular path by which he should come to that glory; as in ch. John 21:18-19 .

Verse 37

37. ] Peter understands our Lord’s death to be meant [as the time of his following]: see Luke 22:33 .

Verse 38

38. ] The διὰ τί is not answered but Peter’s boast solemnly questioned. See a somewhat similar question, ch. John 1:51 . There was at the same time a startling inversion of the subsequent facts, in this boast; to which our Lord, I think, alludes in His question, τ . ψ . σου ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ θήσεις ;

The οὐ μὴ ἀλέκ . φων . necessarily implies, as it was night , ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ταύτῃ [Matt., Mark], and binds the whole events of this chapter to ch. 18.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 13". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/john-13.html. 1863-1878.
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