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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

John 13

Verses 1-99


Hitherto the exoteric or public teaching of Jesus has been expounded: in Part I. as addressed to would-be disciples, and in Part II. to Jews, for the most part incredulous. In Part III. we have only the esoteric and private teaching reserved by Jesus for His chosen friends and future ambassadors.

Part III. begins with a carefully constructed editorial introduction (13:1). It is noteworthy that, while vv. 1-3 are full of Johannine phrases, a greater use is made of subordinate and dependent clauses than is customary with Jn., who prefers parataxis in narration.

The Feet-Washing at the Last Supper (vv. 1-11)

13:1. πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα. δέ is resumptive, the Passover being that mentioned 12:1. What is now to be narrated took place on the eve of the Passover, i.e. on the evening of Nisan 13.

εἰδώς. Attention is specially called in this narrative (vv. 3, 11, 18) to the perfect insight and foresight which Jesus exhibited as to the time and circumstances of the Passion; cf. 18:4, 19:28. He knew that “His hour had come” (cf. 12:23); see on 2:4 for this feature of the Fourth Gospel, that it represents the predestined end as foreseen from the beginning.

For ἦλθεν (אABLWΘ) the rec. has ἐλήλυθεν. D has παρῆν. For ἵνα in the sense of “when,” see on 12:23.

ἵνα μεταβῇ κτλ. Harris has suggested that this is Passover language; and in one of Bede’s Homilies we find “Pascha transitus interpretatur.”1 But μεταβαίνειν is never used elsewhere in the Greek Bible with this suggestion. Its use here of a departure from this life to the unseen world is, indeed, also without Biblical parallels; but cf. 5:24, 1 John 3:14.

ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. See for this phrase the note on 8:23. For κόσμος generally, see on 1:9.

πρὸς τὸν πατέρα. Christ’s departure or ascension is spoken of again as a “going to the Father,” 14:12, 28, 16:10, 28.

τοὺς ἰδίους. “His own intimate friends and disciples,” not, as at 1:11, “His own people, the Jews.” Cf. Mark 4:34.

τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. They were “in the world,” as He said 17:11, although in another sense they are distinguished from “the world,” out of which they had been given to Him (17:6, 9). These men He had loved.

εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς. To translate these words “He loved them unto the end,” although linguistically defensible, reduces the sentence to a platitude. This verse introduces an incident to which Jn. gives a good deal of space, and which he regards as of high consequence. “Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, …” The reader expects that this solemn prelude is to be followed by a statement that Jesus did or said something of special significance. The statement is εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς, and it seems to mean, “He exhibited His love for them to the uttermost,” i.e. in a remarkable manner.

First, as to ἠγάπησεν. If “He continued to love them” were the meaning, we should expect the impf. rather than the aor. tense. The aor. indicates a definite act, rather than a continuing emotion; so ἠγάπησεν in 3:16 is used of the love of God as exhibited in the gift of His Son. Abbott (Diat. 1744) quotes a similar Pauline use in Romans 8:37, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 5:2, and also Ignatius, Magn. 6. Thus ἠγάπησεν may mean here “He showed His love,” sc. by His action, unprecedented for a master, in washing the feet of His disciples. And so the words καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς of v. 34 bear a definite reference to ἠγάπησεν in v. 1 and to the feet-washing which followed.

Secondly, εἰς τέλος is often used as equivalent to “wholly” or “utterly,” as at Joshua 3:16, 1 Chronicles 28:9, 1 Chronicles 28:2 Macc. 8:29, 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Abbott (Diat. 2322c) cites Hermas, Vis. III. x. 5, where ἱλαρὰ εἰς τέλος means “joyful exceedingly,” or “joyful to the uttermost.” It can equally well mean “to the end,” e.g. Matthew 10:22, where it is said that “he that endures εἰς τέλος shall be saved”; but this rendering does not suit the context here.

Accordingly, we translate v. 1, “Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, exhibited His love for them to the uttermost,” i.e. gave that remarkable manifestation of His love for His disciples which is told in the narrative of the feet-washing that follows.

2. For γινομένου (א*BLW) the rec. text, with אcADΓΔΘ, has γενομένου, which wrongly suggests that the supper was ended.

δείπνου γινομένου, “while a supper was going on,” “during supper,” there being no def. art. and no suggestion that this was the supper of the Passover feast, as the Synoptists state.

τοῦ διαβόλου ἤδη βεβληκότος κτλ., “the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas, etc.” So the Synoptists (Mark 14:10, Matthew 26:14, Luke 22:3) represent the matter, Judas having made his bargain with the chief priests on a previous day of the same week; Lk. alone (as Jn. does here) ascribing his treachery to the instigation of the devil, εἰσῆλθεν Σατανᾶς εἰς Ἰούδαν. This is repeated by Jn. at v. 27, when Judas decided on the final and fatal step. Cf. Acts 5:3.

The rec. text, with ADΓΔΘ, has a smoother order of words, εἰς τὴν καρδίαν Ἰούδα Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτου, ἵνα αὐτὸν παραδῷ, which does not differ in meaning from the better supported εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἵνα παραδοῖ αὐτὸν Ἰούδας Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτης (so אBL).

For παραδίδωμι, see on 6:64. For Ἰσκαριώτης, see on 6:71. It is applied here to Judas, as there to his father Simon.

3. After εἰδώς, AΘ add ὁ Ἰησοῦς for the sake of clearness; om. אBDLW. For ἔδωκεν (אBLW) the rec. has δέδωκεν with ADΓΔΘ.

εἰδώς, as in v. 1; but here it signifies that Jesus set Himself to the humble office of washing His disciples’ feet, with full consciousness of the majesty of His Person, and even because of it. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that therefore He could evade the Passion which was impending, if He wished. Cf. 3:35 ὁ πατὴρ�Daniel 1:2 the LXX has παρέδωκεν … εἰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ, where Theodotion has ἔδωκεν ἐν χειρὶ αὐτοῦ. ἐν and εἰς are not always to be distinguished.

Jn. says of Jesus that He knew ὅτι�Joh_13 is intended to describe the same supper as that of Mar_14, Mat_26, Luk_22. We cannot harmonise the various narratives precisely, but they have much in common. We place the incidents in order as follows:

1. The supper begins.

2. The disciples dispute about precedence (Luke 22:24f.; not in Mk., Mt., Jn.).

3. Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, by His example rebuking their self-seeking, and bidding them remember that their Master was content to act as their slave (John 13:4-10; cf. John 13:15, John 13:16 and Luke 22:26, Luke 22:27).

4. Jesus announces that a traitor is in their midst (John 13:10, John 13:11, John 13:18, John 13:21, Mark 14:18, Matthew 26:21, Luke 22:21).

5. The disciples begin to ask which of them was thus designated (John 13:22f., Mark 14:19, Matthew 26:22, Luke 22:23).

6. Jesus tells John the beloved disciple that the traitor is the one to whom He will give the sop from the dish (John 13:25, John 13:26; cf. Mark 14:20, Matthew 26:23; not in Lk.).

7. Jesus gives the sop to Judas (John 13:26), and thus or otherwise conveys to Judas that He knows of his intentions (Matthew 26:25). This is not in Mk. or Lk., neither of whom at this point names Judas as the traitor.

8. Judas goes out at once (John 13:30; not in Mk., Mt., Lk.).

9. The Eucharist is instituted (Mark 14:22f., Matthew 26:26f., Luke 22:19f.; not in Jn., but cf. John 6:51-58).

10. Jesus predicts His impending Passion in the words, “I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25, Matthew 26:29, Luke 22:18; not given thus by Jn., but cf. John 13:31-35 and 15:1-13).

11. Jesus warns Peter that he will deny Him (John 13:36-38, Mark 14:29f., Matthew 26:33f., Luke 22:31f.).

On examination of this table, it will be noticed, first that Jn. and Mk. (whom Mt. follows) never disagree as to the order of the various incidents; the important differences being that Jn. describes the Feet-washing, which Mk. does not mention, and that he omits the Institution of the Eucharist. Jn. also tells that it was to the beloved disciple that Jesus conveyed the hint which might have enabled the company to have identified the traitor (see on 13:26); and he alone mentions expressly that Judas left the room.

The order, however, in which Lk. mentions the several incidents is different. His order Isaiah 1:10, Isaiah 1:9, Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah 1:5, Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah 1:11, omitting 3, 6, 7, 8; the most remarkable feature in his narrative being that he puts the announcement that a traitor was present after the Institution of the Eucharist, thus implying that Judas received the Bread and the Cup along with the rest. The position, also, which he gives to the mysterious saying numbered 10 above, differs from that assigned to it by Mk. and Mt. Lk., in short, follows a different tradition from that of Mk. and Mt. in his narrative of the Eucharist. The longer recension of the words of Institution as given by him (see Introd., p. clxxii) seems to have been derived from Paul; but that cannot be said of the Western version, which may be the original. From whatever source Lk. has derived his narrative of the Last Supper, it has marks of confusion. We are justified, then, in preferring to his order of incidents here that which is given in the two Gospels Mk. and Jn., which probably rest respectively on the reminiscences of Peter and of John the son of Zebedee, both of whom were present at the Supper.

At what point in the narrative of Jn. are we to suppose that the Institution of the Eucharist took place? The foregoing comparison with Mk. suggests that we should put it after Judas had left (v. 30), and before the prediction of the Passion as near (vv. 31, 32). That Jn. knew of the Institution of the Eucharist is certain;1 and we have found reason for holding that the words of Institution are reproduced in 6:51b, where see note. We hold that there has been a dislocation of the text after 13:30, and that the original order was c. 15, c. 16, c. 13:31-38, c. 14, c. 17.2 It may be that a paragraph has been lost after 13:30, and it is tempting to conjecture that this paragraph told of the first Eucharist.3 But, if this were not so (and there is no external evidence for it), we must fall back on the conclusion that Jn. has designedly omitted to tell of the Institution of the Eucharist (although he betrays his knowledge of it in c. 6), while his reasons for this omission cannot now be discovered. See on v. 31.

13:4. ἐγείρεται ἐκ τοῦ δείπνου, “He rises from the supper,” that is, from the couch on which He had been reclining. This shows that the Feet-washing which follows was not before supper, and so is not to be regarded as the cleansing of the feet which was preparatory to a meal. Where sandals are worn, the feet get dusty and tired, and it was a courtesy of hospitality to arrange that water was available for washing them (Luke 7:44; cf. Genesis 18:4, Genesis 19:2, Genesis 24:32, Genesis 43:24, Judges 19:21, 1 Samuel 25:41, 1 Timothy 5:10). But in this case, the supper had not only begun, but was probably ending. In the talk that followed, the disciples began to dispute about their precedence (Luke 22:24), perhaps in reference to the order in which they were placed at the meal; and Jesus, rising from His place, proceeds to give them an object-lesson. “Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am in the midst of you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). So, stripping off His outer robe or tallith (ἱμάτιον) and appearing in His tunic only, He girded Himself with a towel, as a slave would do, that He might pour water upon their feet. Wetstein recalls the story of Caligula, who was wont to insult members of the Senate by making them wait at table succinctos linteo (Suetonius, Cal. 26). This story indicates how great an act of condescension the Feet-washing by Christ must have seemed to His disciples to be.

After ἱμάτια D adds αὐτοῦ.

With διέζωσεν, cf. 21:7: Luke 12:37, Luke 17:8 illustrate the “girding” himself for his work which was appropriate to a slave. The towel (linteum) was fastened to the shoulder, so as to leave both hands free.

5.. The word νιπτήρ does not occur again in Greek literature,1 Biblical or secular, except in quotations of this passage. It must mean some washing utensil, but “bason” may easily convey a wrong impression. Orientals do not wash, as we do, in a bason which visibly retains the water that has been used; that they would regard as an unclean practice. The Eastern habit is to pour water from a ewer over hands or feet (cf. 2 Kings 3:11, where Elisha performs this duty for his master Elijah), the water being caught below in a bason with a strainer, and then passing through the strainer out of sight. The assistance of a servant is necessary, as both the ewer and the bason have to be held. At the Last Supper, the disciples were reclining on the usual divans or couches, their feet being stretched out behind (see Luke 7:38, where the sinful woman was “standing behind” at the feet of Jesus, when she let her tears fall upon them). Jesus first poured (βάλλει, cf. Matthew 9:17) water into the νιπτήρ, which was ready in the room for such a purpose (τὸν νιπτῆρα, “the ewer”), and then He poured the water over the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel with which He had girded Himself. He did all that was the duty of a slave for his master who was having his feet washed.1

καὶ ἤρξατο κτλ. The verb ἄρχεσθαι does not occur again in Jn. (but cf. [8:9]). He began to wash the disciples’ feet,2 but it is not said in what order, nor is this now possible to determine. Some have thought that the order was that in which they sat at table, and that Judas came first (see on v. 23 below). Or it may have been Peter, for οὖν in the phrase ἔρχεται οὖν πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον (v. 6) is not causative (see on 1:22). οὖν is a favourite conjunction with Jn., and vv. 5, 6 may be rendered in accordance with his usage, “He began to wash the disciples’ feet … and so He comes to Simon Peter.” We do not know.

After μαθητῶν, D, for clearness, adds αὐτοῦ. οἱ μαθηταί here are the Twelve, the inner circle (cf. v. 1), not the general body of the disciples (see on 2:2).

ἐκμάσσειν is always used in Lk. and Jn. for “wiping” the feet after washing (Luke 7:38, Luke 7:44, John 11:2, John 12:3).

ᾧ ᾖν διεζωσμένος. ᾧ is, by attraction, for ὅ.

6. After Σίμωνα Πέτρον, the rec. adds καί, with אAWΓΔΘ; but the conjunction is omitted by BDL, and this suits the abrupt style of the narrative. After λέγει αὐτῷ, in like manner, ἐκεῖνος is added by rec. text, with אcADLWΓΔΘ, to make the sense clear; om. א*B.

κύριε. Peter does not say “Rabbi,” as in the early days; see on 1:38, and cf. vv. 9, 36.

σύ μου νίπτεις τοὺς πόδας; “Dost Thou wash my feet?” both pronouns being emphatic, and special stress lying on μου, as following another pronoun directly. Peter, we may suppose, drew his feet up, as he spoke, in his impulsive humility. There is a pseudo-reverence which is near akin to irreverence.3

7. ὅ ἐγὼ (emphatic) ποιῶ σὺ (emphatic) οὐκ οἶδας κτλ., “What I do thou knowest not at this moment (ἄρτι; see on 9:19), but thou shalt know presently.” μετὰ ταῦτα (see Introd., p. cviii) is equivalent to “afterwards,” and is quite vague as to the length of time that is to elapse.

For the distinction between εἰδέναι and γινώσκειν, see on 1:26; cf. v. 12.

The Feet-washing is explained vv. 12 f. as being a lesson in humility. The disciples had been disputing about precedence (see on v. 4 above), and Jesus reminds them, as He had done before, of the dignity of service and ministry. See on 12:26, where the high place which διακονία occupies in the teaching of Christ is discussed. Here He illustrates, by His action (cf. Luke 22:27), this essential feature of His mission, and He bids His disciples to follow His example (v. 16). As to the possibility of a deeper symbolism, see on v. 10 below.

8. οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας, “Thou shalt assuredly never (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα; see on 4:14) wash my feet,” μου being emphatic because of its position in the sentence (acc. to BCL; but the rec. text, with אAΓΘ, puts it after πόδας).

The answer of Jesus, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” is very severe. “To have part with another,” or to be his partner, is to share in his work, and ultimately in his reward. Thus the unfaithful slave is condemned to have his part (τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ) with the hypocrites (Matthew 24:51; cf. Psalms 50:18). The Levites had no part in the inheritance of Israel, their work being different from that of the other tribes (Deuteronomy 10:9, Deuteronomy 12:12); Simon Magus had no part in the apostolic endowments of the Spirit, being animated by ideals wholly different from those of the apostles (Acts 8:21); a Christian has no part with an unbelieving heathen (2 Corinthians 6:15). So to decline the call of ministry, to which every disciple is called, is to have no part with Christ, to be no partner of His, for His work was pre-eminently a work of ministry (see on 12:26). Peter’s refusal to allow his Master to minister to him was really to reject that principle of the dignity of ministry and service which was behind the work of Jesus.

It was not said affirmatively that he whom Jesus washed was thereby recognised as His partner; for the feet of Judas were washed by Him, and He knew Judas for a traitor.

9. For Σίμων Πέτρος, B has Πέτρος Σίμων, by inadvertence: D omits Σίμων.

Peter does not yet understand what is meant by the strange act of his Master. He now thinks that the “washing” of which Jesus has spoken is for bodily cleansing, or (perhaps) is a symbol of spiritual cleansing; and he cries with his accustomed impulsiveness, “Lord (א* om. κύριε), not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,” thus missing the point of the action of Jesus. It was not a symbol of cleansing, but an illustration of the dignity of service, even menial service; and therefore the washing was of the feet, rather than of the hands or the head.

10. B om. ὁ before Ἰης., ins. אACDWΘ. For the rec. order οὐ χρείαν ἔχει, אABC*W have οὐκ ἔχει χρείαν.

א omits the words εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας, possibly, as Abbott (Diat. 2659e) suggests, by homoioteleuton. א sometimes writes ει as ι, and Abbott thinks the archetype may have been




However that may be, BC*L retain εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας, Act_3 having ἤ τοὺς πόδας, while E2 has τοὺς πόδας only; D expands and gives οὐ χρείαν ἔχει τὴν κεφαλὴν νίψασθαι εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας μονον.

If the words εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας are omitted (א, with Origen and some O.L. authorities), the answer of Jesus is clear, “He that has been bathed needs not to wash,” thus indicating that His words and actions have had nothing to do with cleansing, as Peter supposed; the pedilauium was an illustration only of the dignity of ministry. But the variants show that τοὺς πόδας was probably in the original text, and that the omission of the words is due either to homoioteleuton or to the difficulty of reconciling εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας with the words�

ὁ λελουμένος κτλ. λούειν is frequently used of bathing the whole body (e.g. Leviticus 14:9, Leviticus 16:4, Leviticus 17:16, Numbers 19:7, Deuteronomy 23:11, Acts 9:37). Guests were accustomed to bathe before they went to a feast (Wetstein gives many illustrations of this); when they arrived at the house where they were to have dinner or supper, it was only necessary that their feet should be washed (see on v. 4). There was no need for the head or the hands to be washed. And so Jesus reminds Peter, who has been wrong in thinking that the washing of his feet by his Master was for the purpose of bodily cleansing. The man who has bathed before the meal is καθαρὸς ὅλος, and Jesus adds, of the disciples who were present, ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε.

καθαρός is often used of external cleanliness, as at Matthew 23:26, Matthew 27:59, and cf. Hebrews 10:22 λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ, where καθαρός refers to the purity of the water to be used in baptism; but in the only other place where it occurs in Jn. (15:3) the word is used of spiritual purity. To this other meaning of καθαρός Jesus reverts here; then to the words “ye are clean” He adds, “but not all,” Judas being the exception. As far as bodily cleanliness was concerned, no doubt Judas was on a par with the rest; but not in a spiritual sense.

ἀλλʼ οὐχὶ πάντες. This, according to Jn., is the first hint given by Jesus that one of the Twelve would be a traitor; although Jn. has stated (6:64) that He had known this ἐξ�

Yet (1) if the cleansing be the spiritual purification which is the issue of Christ’s atonement, then we have an idea introduced which is foreign to the context and which does not appear again in c. 13. It is worth adding that the conception of Christ washing away sin in His blood is not explicit anywhere in the N.T. (In Revelation 1:5 the true reading is λύσαντι, not λούσαντι, and Revelation 7:14 refers to man’s part in redemption, “they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.”)

(2) More plausible is the interpretation which finds in the pedilauium the symbol of baptism. This goes back to Tertullian (de bapt. xii.), but Tertullian is inclined to find a fore-shadowing of baptism in any N.T. phrase which alludes to water. The washing of Christian disciples in the water of baptism is, however, a familiar image in the N.T.; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5, and Hebrews 10:22 λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ.

Holtzmann suggested1 that Jn. in this passage is giving an account of the institution of Baptism as a Christian rite, and that he gives it here instead of narrating, as the Synoptists do, the institution of the Eucharist, because he wishes to call attention to the high dignity of baptism. “In doing so, he at the same time very plainly offers the suggestion that washing the feet should be allowed to take the place of complete immersion.” The last sentence is not only an anachronism, for baptism by affusion rather than by immersion is, so far as we know, a concession much later than the latest date that can be assigned to the Fourth Gospel;1 but no baptismal rite has ever been known which substituted the pouring water on the feet for pouring it on the head or the body. The pedilauium, indeed, is prescribed in some early Gallican “Ordines Baptismi” and also in the baptismal offices of the Celtic Church. But it was no part of the actual baptism; it was a supplementary ceremony, intended to illustrate for the new Christian what manner of life his should be—humble and ministerial, as was his Master’s.

If there be any allusion to baptism here, it must lurk in the word λελουμένος, “bathed,” and this is specially contrasted with the “washing” (νίπτειν) of the feet. The esoteric meaning of v. 10 would then be that, as baptism cannot be repeated, the baptized person needs but to have regard to the removal of the occasional defilements of sin with which he is troubled. Even this seems over subtle.

The simplest explanation is that provided in vv. 13-16; the sudden turn of the argument in v. 11 being due to the ambiguity of the word καθαρός, which suggests the introduction of the saving clause “but not all.”

11. The saying “but not all” was not understood by the disciples, who did not suspect Judas. After the Passion, it would have needed no explanation; but Jn., in explaining what it meant, is reproducing the situation as it presented itself to an eye-witness.

ᾔδει γὰρ τὸν παραδιδόντα αὐτόν, “for He knew the man that was delivering Him up,” the pres. part. indicating that the movement of treachery had already begun (see on v. 2). Jn. is always careful to bring out the insight of Jesus in regard to men’s characters and motives (see on 2:25). This explanatory comment is characteristic of his manner of writing (see on 2:21).

διὰ τοῦτο εἶπεν ὅτι κτλ., “wherefore He said, etc.” ὅτι (om. אAΓΔΘ, but ins. BCLW) is recitantis, introducing the words actually spoken.

οὐχὶ πάντες … Cf. v. 18 οὐ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν (and Matthew 7:21) for this Greek order of words.

The Spiritual Meaning of the Feet-Washing (vv. 12-20)

12. ὅτε … αὐτῶν, “When then He had washed their feet,” αὐτῶν indicating that He ministered to them all.

καὶ ἔλαβεν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, “and had taken His garments,” i.e. had resumed the tallith which He had taken off (v. 4).


εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γινώσκετε τί πεποίηκα ὑμῖν; γινώσκετε may be either imperative (as at Joshua 23:13, Daniel 3:15, John 15:18) or interrogative, as it has usually been understood. Abbott (Diat. 2243) prefers to take γινώσκετε as imperative here, the Lord bidding the disciples to recognise, and mark the meaning of, His ministry to them. The words go back to γνώσῃ μετὰ ταῦτα of v. 7, in any case. They introduce the interpretation of the strange action of Jesus in washing the disciples’ feet.

For γινώσκειν, see on 1:48.

13. ὑμεῖς φωνεῖτέ με κτλ., “You address me as Teacher and Lord.” φωνεῖν (see on 1:48) is the word regularly used by Jn. for calling a person by his name or title.

For the titles Rabbi (διδάσκαλε) and Mari (κύριε), by which the disciples were accustomed to address Jesus, see on 1:38 above. ὁ διδάοκαλος, ὅ κύριος, are called by the grammarians titular nominatives.

καὶ καλῶς λέγετε, εἰρὶ γάρ, “and you say well, for so I am.” Cf. with εἰμὶ γάρ the καί ἐσμεν of 1 John 3:1. Christ affirms His own dignity, even while stooping to what the disciples counted a menial office. He will not permit them to be in any doubt about this.

14. εἰ οὖν ἐγώ κτλ., “If then, I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, a fortiori, you ought to wash the feet of one another.” By this example were the dignity and the duty of mutual διακονία recommended (see on 12:26) to Christian disciples.

The precept was not taken by the Church to be the initiation of a sacramental rite; the pedilauium was never counted as a sacrament, although the custom grew up by the fourth century, in certain parts of the Western Church, of washing the feet of the poor on the Thursday before Easter. In England, the sovereign, or in his stead the Lord High Almoner, used to do this with ceremony until 1731; and in Rome the Pope still presides at the pedilauium. The pious widows described in 1 Timothy 5:10 “washed the saints’ feet,” but only as an incident of their hospitable ministrations.

ὀφείλετε. The verb occurs again in Jn. at 19:17, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:11.

15. ὑπόδειγμα is not found again in Jn., and is applied nowhere else in the N.T. to the example of Christ. It is used of the noble example of Eleazar’s death at 2 Macc. 6:28. Cf. Hebrews 4:11, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:23, James 5:10, 2 Peter 2:6.

The rec. ἔδωκα (BCDWΘ) is perhaps to be preferred to δέδωκα of אA fam. 13.

ἵνα καθὼς ἐγώ κτλ., “that as I have done to you, so you should do”: a practical illustration having been provided of the meaning of the precept, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). For the constr. καθὼς … καί, cf. vv. 33, 34.


οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ. Luke 6:40 has οὐκ ἐστὶν μαθητὴς ὑπὲρ τὸν διδάσκαλον; and Matthew 10:24 combines the Johannine and Lucan forms of the saying. It is, of course, beyond question that the servant is not greater than his master (cf. Luke 22:27); but it is stated here to reinforce the lesson of the true dignity of service, which Jesus has been teaching by His example. If He may stoop to minister, without losing dignity, a fortiori may His disciples do so. The saying is repeated 15:20, where a different lesson is drawn from it.

οὐδὲ�1 Kings 14:6, 2 Corinthians 8:23, Philippians 2:25. The Synoptists tell that Jesus gave the title�Luke 6:13), and they occasionally apply it to them. But Jn. always uses the older descriptions “the Twelve,” or “the Disciples.” It is possible that Jn. discovers a special allusion to the Twelve in the words “he that is sent is not greater than Him that sent him,” and that the word�

17. εἰ ταῦτα οἴδατε κτλ., “If ye know these things,” sc. if you thoroughly understand and appreciate what I have been saying to you (for the force of οἴδατε, see on 1:26). Judas had not reached to this point.

μακάριοί ἐστε κτλ., “blessed are ye, if ye do them.” The dignity of διακονία is an easy lesson to understand, but is hard to put into practice (cf. Luke 11:28). Yet it is he who does this, who humbles himself like a child, who is great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4). μακάριος is used only once again by Jn., at 20:29, where he quotes other words of Jesus, μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες. This latter saying is the Benediction of Faith; that in 13:17 is the Benediction of Ministry. Both are blessed, not only εὐλογητός that is, lauded by men, but μακάριος, as God is μακάριος (1 Timothy 1:11, 1 Timothy 6:15).

18. οὐ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν λέγω. So He had said before (v. 10). The treachery of Judas (who had no share in the benediction of v. 17) did not come upon Jesus unawares (see on 6:64).

τίνας (אBCL) is to be preferred to the rec. οὕς (ADWΘ) before ἐξελεξάμην: “I know the kind of men whom I chose,” sc. when selecting the Twelve out of a larger company of disciples. See 6:70, where the same word ἐξελεξάμην is used; and cf. 15:16, 19.

ἀλλʼ ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ κτλ., may be a note added by the evangelist after his manner,1 but possibly he intends to place the phrase and the quotation in the mouth of Jesus Himself (cf. 17:12). If this be so, the sentence is elliptical, and we must understand the meaning to be: “I know whom I chose, but none the less this treachery will come, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (cf. 9:3, 15:25 for a like ellipse). The treachery of Judas was foreordained in the eternal counsels of God; he was destined to deliver up Jesus to the Jews (see 6:71, 12:4).

The quotation is from the Hebrew (not the LXX) of Psalms 41:9: “he that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me.” To eat bread at the table of a superior was to offer a pledge of loyalty (2 Samuel 9:7, 14, 1 Kings 18:19, 2 Kings 25:29); and to betray one with whom bread had been eaten, one’s “messmate,” was a gross breach of the traditions of hospitality. “To lift up the heel” against any one is to offer him brutal violence. The Synoptists do not quote this Psalm in connexion with the treachery of Judas; but Jn. is especially prone to find fulfilment of prophecy in the incidents of the Passion.1

The LXX of this passage is: ὁ ἐσθίων ἄρτους μου ἐμεγάλυνεν ἐπʼ ἐμὲ πτερνισμόν. It is noteworthy that Jn. does not say ὁ ἐσθίων, but ὁ τρώγων, a less usual word which he employs four times (6:54, 56, 57, 58) for the “feeding” on Christ in the Eucharist (see note on 6:54). Here he almost goes out of his way to use it of the “eating” at the Last Supper.

For μου after τρώγων, אADWΓΔΘ give μετʼ ἐμοῦ, but μου is nearer the Hebrew and is better supported (BCL). The Coptic Q has the conflate rendering, “eats my bread with me.”

19.�Revelation 14:13, Matthew 23:29, Matthew 23:26:29, 64; the phrase does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.

The startling announcement that one of the Twelve would betray Him was not made explicitly by Jesus before, but it is now distinctly stated, so that when the Betrayal took place they might not be scandalised and perplexed (cf. 16:1).

ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅταν γένηται κτλ., “in order that ye may believe, when it comes to pass, that I am He.” ἐγώ εἰμι in this sentence is used absolutely, no predicate being expressed or suggested by the context. It is an instance (see Introd., P. cxx.; and cf. 8:58) of the employment of the phrase as the equivalent of אֲנִי־הוּא, I (am) He, which is the prophetic self-designation of Yahweh in the O.T. And the whole passage λέγω ὑμῖν πρὸ τοῦ γενέσθαι, ἴνα πιστεύσητε ὅταν γένηται ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, recalls prophetic words which speak of the foretelling of the future as the prerogative of Yahweh. “Before it came to pass I showed it to thee” (Isaiah 48:5) may be compared with Isaiah 41:26, where the implied answer to the question, “Who hath declared it from the beginning that we may know?” is evidently “None but God.” Cf. also Ezekiel 24:24, … ὅταν ἐλθῃ ταῦτα, καὶ ἐπιγνώσεσθε διότι ἐγὼ κύριος.

Jesus assumes to Himself this prerogative 3 times in Jn.: here, where He announces that He will be betrayed by one of His disciples; in 16:4, where, having forewarned His disciples of future persecution, he says ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἡ ὥρα αὐτῶν μνημονεύητε αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν, and again in 14:29, where, having spoken of the Coming of the Paraclete, He adds νῦν εἴρηκα ὑμῖν πρὶν γενέσθαι, ἵνα ὅταν γένηται πιστεύσητε. A similar phrase occurs in Matthew 24:25, where He has been speaking of the false Christs that would appear: ἰδού προείρηκα ὑμῖν See on 2:22.

πιστεύσητε (as at 14:29) is read by אADLWΓΔΘ; πιστεύητε (cf. 17:21), by BC. Cf. Abbott, Diat. 2526 f.

Origen (in loc.) takes ἐγώ εἰμι as meaning “I am He, of whom it was written, He that eateth my bread, etc.” (v. 18); but this would be a strange ellipse, although the meaning would be suitable to the context.


Jesus has reminded the apostles that their dignity is not greater than His (v. 16); but lest they should make any mistake, He now reminds them that their dignity is, none the less, very great. The man who receives those whom He has sent, receives Him; and he who receives Jesus receives God who sent Him. The latter part of this aphorism has been stated already in other words (12:44, where see note). It is a Synoptic saying, and its form here is very like Mark 9:37 and Matthew 10:40 ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν�Luke 9:48). Jn. substituted for δέχεσθαι the verb λαμβάνειν (cf. 1:12), and for�

Jesus Foretells His Betrayal, the Others Not Recognising that Judas is Designated by Being Handed a Sop: Judas Leaves the Room (vv. 21-31)

21. ACDW read ὁ Ἰησοῦς, but om. ὁ אBL. See on 1:29.

ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι. See note on 11:33, and cf. 12:27, ταράσσειν being used in both cases of the troubled spirit of Jesus (in 14:1, 27 it is said of the disciples). Jn., who lays such stress on the consciousness which Jesus had of His oneness with God (cf. 5:19), is no less emphatic about His true humanity (see on 1:14). The emotion with which He announced explicitly to His chosen companions that a traitor was among them is very human.

καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν, the verb being used here of an explicit and definite pronouncement of Jesus, as at 4:44, 18:37. For the idea of “witness” in Jn., see Introd., p. xc; and for the μαρτυρία of Jesus, cf. 3:11, 32, 7:7, 8:14, 18.


παραδώσει με, “shall deliver me up.” See on 6:64 for the exact meaning of παραδιδόναι. All the evangelists (cf. Mark 14:18, followed by Matthew 26:21, Luke 22:21) agree that this startling announcement was made for the first time at the Last Supper; even then, Jesus gave no clue as to who the traitor was (see on vv. 10, 26). Indeed, if He had done so, Judas could hardly have escaped with his life.

22. The rec., with א*ADLWΘ, ins. οὖν after ἔβλεπον, but om. אcBC.

The bewilderment (cf. Luke 24:4, Galatians 4:20, for�

This is the moment chosen by Leonardo da Vinci for his wonderful picture of the scene.

23. After ἦν the rec., with אAC2DWΘ, ins. δέ, but om. BC*L.

For the constr. ἦν�

ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς. Cf. 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20. We have argued in the Introduction (p. xxxv f.) that this disciple was John the son of Zebedee. The question has been raised, indeed, whether we may not suppose others, outside the circle of the Twelve, to have been present at the Last Supper, of whom “the beloved disciple” may have been one. But the language of Mark 14:17, “He cometh with the Twelve,” is explicit; so too Luke 22:14, “He sat down, and the apostles with Him.” There is no hint anywhere of the presence of any except the twelve chosen companions of the Lord (cf. v. 18), of whom therefore the beloved disciple must be one. Sanday’s suggestion1 that the beloved disciple may have been present as a young and favoured follower, a “supernumerary apostle,” lacks evidence. It is highly unlikely that Jesus would have bestowed special marks of His love and favour on one whom He did not include within the circle of the Twelve, and of whom, besides, the Synoptists know absolutely nothing.1

The posture at table of guests at a feast seems to have been that of reclining sideways on couches or divans, the left arm on a cushion which was on the table, the right hand being thus free for taking food; the feet were stretched out behind. The host or principal person was in the centre, and the place of honour was above him, that is, to his left; the next highest place being below him, or to his right.2 Thus the person on the right of the host would be so placed that his head would be close to the host’s breast, and that it would be easy therefore to say a word to him confidentially. The host would occupy a similar position in relation to the chief guest on his left, and would readily be able to address him privately.

It is plain that, at the Supper, the beloved disciple (i.e., as we take it, John the son of Zebedee) lay on the right of Jesus,�Matthew 26:25). That Judas was the treasurer of the little company (see on 12:6) may point to his enjoyment of some kind of precedence; and if this were so, he would naturally occupy the chief place at table, next to Jesus. See also on 6:71.

That John the son of Zebedee was given a place of honour at the supper is reminiscent of the request of Mark 10:37 that he and his brother should be given the two highest seats in the Messianic kingdom; and it is possible that it was their custom to occupy the places of honour at the common meals of the Lord and His disciples. This would suggest that James was on the left of Jesus, as John was on His right, at the Last Supper; but more probably on this occasion Judas was next his Master.

24. νεύει οὖν τούτῳ Σίμων Πέτρος. “Simon Peter,” taking the initiative as usual, beckons to him, sc. to John. The text in the latter part of the verse is not quite certain.

(1) BCL and the Latin vss., followed by most modern editors, after Πέτρος read καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Εἰπὲ τίς ἐστιν περὶ οὗ λέγει. But the verb νεύειν, “to make signs,” is not usually accompanied by an intimation that the person making signs also spoke.1 Again, εἰπέ is difficult to translate. The R.V. renders “tell us”; but why should Peter have expected John to answer out of his own knowledge? They were all puzzled, and John knew no more than the others. Abbott (Diat. 1359) takes εἰπέ as meaning “say,” sc. to Jesus, that is, “ask Him.” But why, then, do we not find ἐρώτησον? (a c f q add interroga).

(2) The other reading, νεύει οὖν τούτῳ Σίμων Πέτρος πυθέσθαι τίς ἂν εἴη, has in its favour that νεύειν is followed by an infinitive, as it is in the only other place where it occurs in the N.T. (Acts 24:10), and that it does not represent Peter as making signs and speaking as well. It is supported by ADWΓΔΘ and the Syriac vss. (including the Sinai Syriac).2 πυθέσθαι is a Johannine word, occurring at 4:52. The only objection to this reading is that the optative mood (εἴη) is very rare in the N.T., as it was going out of use at this period, and that it never occurs again in Jn.

In any case, according to the Fourth Gospel, John is prompted by Peter to ask Jesus whom He had in mind. Mk., followed by Mt., represents all the disciples as asking “Is it I?” Lk. says that they questioned each other. Perhaps all these things happened, but it may at least be claimed that Jn.’s narrative is peculiarly vivid.


ψωμίον, “a morsel,” is not found in the N.T. outside this passage, but is a common word, and is the usual word for “bread” in modern Greek (cf. Judges 19:5). The best reading (BCL cop.) is ἐγὼ βάψω τὸ ψωμίον καὶ δώσω αὐτῷ, the constr. βάψω καὶ δώσω being thoroughly Johannine; but the rec. text has ἐγὼ βάψας τὸ ψωμίον ἐπιδώσω, following אAD. For βάψας in the second clause of the verse, the rec. has ἐμβάψας (AΓΔΘ). After the second ψωμίον the rec. omits λαμβάνει καί (with א*ADWΓΔΘ), but the words are found in אcaBCL and must be retained, as adding a new and vivid detail. For Ἰσκαριώτου (the true reading here; see on 6:71), which is found in אBCΘ, the rec. has Ἰσκαριώτῃ (AWΓΔ).

In Mk. (followed by Mt.), the same reply in substance is given to the disciples’ eager inquiry as to which of them would be the traitor (ὁ ἐμβαπτόμενος μετʼ ἐμοῦ εἰς τὸ τρύβλιον, Mark 14:20); Lk. does not mention it. Jn. relates that Jesus gave to the beloved disciple a more precise clue, by saying that the traitor would be he to whom Jesus would Himself give the “sop,” having first dipped it. This is, no doubt, a correct detail. But it does not appear that John identified the traitor even when this clue was provided (v. 28).

It was a token of intimacy, to allow a guest to dip his bread in the common dish or τρύβλιον: thus Boaz says to Ruth βάψεις τὸν ψωμόν σου τῷ ὄξει (Ruth 2:14). And it is still a favour of Eastern hospitality for the host to dip a choice morsel in the central dish and hand it to a guest. This is what Jesus did for Judas, who was probably reclining at table next to Him (see on v. 23); but it was so usual a courtesy that it escaped the notice of the others, and did not seem even to John to have any special significance, despite what he had been told. If John understood, we must suppose him to have kept silent, and to have refrained from telling the others, which is highly improbable.

βάψας οὖν τὸ ψωμίον κτλ., “having dipped the sop, He takes and gives it to Judas.” According to Matthew 26:25, Judas asked, “Is it I?” to which the answer “Thou hast said” was given. This could have happened without attracting the attention of any one, as Judas was reclining next to Jesus. In any case, whether by word or act, Judas was made aware that Jesus knew what was in his heart. There was still time for him to abandon his purpose. But the quiet word and the courteous gesture of giving him the sop did but harden him. This was the last appeal to his better nature, and there was no response.

27. μετὰ τὸ ψωμίον, sc. after the whole incident of the giving of the sop, a classical use of μετά with a substantive following.

τότε, “then,” a graphic word, calling attention to the moment of final decision.

εἰσῆλθεν εἰς ἐκ. κτλ., “Satan entered into that one,” ἐκεῖνος being used as indicating the alien mind of Judas, and not merely for emphasis (see on 1:8). Lk. (22:3) has the same phrase εἰσῆλθεν ὁ Σατανᾶς εἰς Ἰούδαν, but he uses it of him at an earlier stage. See v. 2; and cf. 6:70. It was a natural way of explaining a course of treachery, so abhorrent to the evangelists, by whom the direct agency of Satan was firmly believed in. εἰσέρχομαι is the verb used by the Synoptists to describe the “entering in” of evil spirits (cf. Mark 5:12, Luke 8:30, Luke 11:26). The evangelist can no otherwise explain to himself the devilish treachery that followed.

ὁ Ἰησοῦς. BL om. ὁ. (See on 1:29; and cf. v. 26.)

ποίησον is imperative. “What thou doest, do more quickly” (see on 2:5).

τάχιον (or τάχειον) is the comparative, occurring again in the N. T. only at John 20:4, Hebrews 13:19, Hebrews 13:23; cf. Wisd. 13:9. Possibly Judas had not intended to consummate his treachery so soon, and was waiting until the Passover was past. But, whether this be so or not, the stern word “Do it more quickly” is human, indeed, in its context. “How am I straitened until it be finished!” is an earlier saying which Lk. (12:50) ascribes to Jesus. The looking forward to the inevitable Passion was torture; that there should be no longer delay was the natural wish of His heart. Attention has been called above (1:14) to the emphasis laid by Jn. on the true humanity of Jesus, as indicated by the human emotions of which Jn. tells.

28. τοῦτο δὲ οὐδείς κτλ. None of the disciples understood what was the reference of this injunction “Do it more quickly,” which had been said aloud so that all could hear it. This explicit statement must include the beloved disciple as well as the rest (see on v. 26.)1

For the constr. οὐδεὶς τῶν�

ἦν δὲ νύξ. This may be only a note of time, such as Jn. is apt to give (see on 1:29); but it is remarkably impressive here, and the dramatic horror of the moment is brought before the reader. Judas went out into the darkness. The symbolic meaning of this can hardly have been absent from the mind of the evangelist. Cf. Luke 22:53, Revelation 21:25, Revelation 22:5.

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

31a. ὅτε οὖν ἐξῆλθεν. The rec. omits οὖν, with A, but ins. אBCDLWΘ. Some commentators, e.g. Bengel, omitting it, connect the preceding words ἦν δὲ νύξ with ὅτε ἐξῆλθεν, and this repetition of ἐξῆλθεν would be quite in the style of Jn. But the MS. evidence is conclusive for οὖν, and this disposes of such an arrangement of the words. The sentence ends dramatically with the monosyllable νύξ.

Here there seems to have been a dislocation of the original text,1 and in this commentary we take the text in the order cc. 13:31a, 15, 16, 13:31b-38, 14, 17. This is also the time (see Introductory Note to v. 4) at which we must suppose the Eucharist to have been instituted. Whether Jn.’s account of this has been lost, or whether he did not describe the institution at all, is not certain; but in any case it is at this point in the narrative that we suppose it to have taken place.

13:31a, 15:1. ὅτε οὖν ἐξῆλθεν, λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ�

It has been suggested2 that cc. 14-17 are more easily understood if we suppose them to represent discourses of Jesus which belong to His post-resurrection life on earth, rather than discourses spoken on the eve of His Passion. That their teachings are specially apposite, when read in public worship between Easter and Pentecost, has been recognised by Christendom for many centuries, the Greek, Syrian, and Latin Churches (as well as the Anglican) making use of selections from these chapters as the Gospels for some of the Sundays after Easter. It is not impossible that Jn. has preserved in cc. 14-17 some of the Lord’s post-resurrection counsels with other words spoken after the Last Supper. Thus 16:7-11 present an interesting resemblance to words ascribed to Jesus after His Resurrection in an addition to Mark 16:14, preserved in the Freer MS. (see on 16:11 below). But it can hardly be doubted that cc. 14-17 belong to the eve of the Passion, or that 16:5 must precede 13:36.

13:31b. νῦν ἐδοξάσθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ�

The aorist ἐδοξάσθη challenges attention, for we should expect the future tense, “Now shall the Son of Man be glorified.” But it is a Hebrew usage to employ an aorist with prophetic anticipation of the future. Thus to Abraham it was said (Genesis 15:18), “Unto thy seed have I given this land,” where the LXX marks the meaning by the rendering δώσω. And this way of speaking is specially appropriate when the Speaker is Divine (which Jn. never allows his readers to forget when he is recording the words of Jesus), and is One to whom the inevitable future is involved in the present, and is foreseen. See also, for this use of the aorist, on 12:23, 15:8.

ὁ θεὸς ἐδοξάσθη ἐν αὐτῷ. This is a different thought from that expressed in the first clause of the verse. Not only was Christ “glorified” in His Passion (see on 7:39), but God was glorified thereby (cf. 12:28). Martyrdom is always a glorifying of God, in whose name the martyr lays down his life. See 21:19, and the note there.1 In other passages of the Gospel we have the idea of the Father being glorified in Christ (e.g. 14:13, 15:8, 17:4, and cf. 1 Peter 4:11) because of Christ’s ministry and works; but here the idea is confined to that “glorification” of God by Christ’s Passion, of which lower illustrations may be found in every martyrdom.

32. The reading εἰ ὁ θεὸς ἐδοξάσθη ἐν αὐτῷ at the beginning of the verse is supported by אcAC2ΓΘΔ, with many MSS., including the Vulgate, which has “Nunc clarificatus est filius hominis et Deus clarificatus est in eo. Si Deus clarificatus est in eo, et Deus clarificabit eum in semet ipso, etc.” This redundant style is characteristic of Jn., and the words may stand part of the text. But they do not appear in א*BC*DLW and the majority of the Old Latin vss. with Syr. sin. Yet they might easily have dropped out by homoioteleuton (ἐν αὐτῷ … ἐν αὐτῷ).

καὶ ὁ θεὸς δοξάσει αὐτὸν ἐν αὐτῷ (some texts have ἑαυτῷ), “and God shall glorify Him in Himself.” This goes beyond the “glorification” of Christ in His Passion (v. 31); it is the “glorification” which succeeded it, God the Father glorifying Him in Himself, by taking up the humanity of Christ into the Godhead, after the Passion. This great concepton appears again and is more fully expressed at 17:5. It is of this consummation that Peter said ὁ θεὸς Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ ἐδόξασεν τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν (Acts 3:13).

καὶ εὐθὺς δοξάσει αὐτόν, “and straightway He will glorify Him.” The time was near; the Passion would be short, for it is to this thought of His impending Death that the Speaker returns. For εὐθύς, see on 5:9.

Jesus Gives the New Commandment of Brotherly Love to Those Whom He Leaves Behind (vv. 33-35)

33. τεκνία. From the thought of what the Passion means for Him, Jesus turns to the thought of how it will affect His disciples when He is gone and they are like fatherless orphans (14:18). So He addresses them tenderly, as the Head of His little family (τεκνία, “children”). τεκνίον is a Johannine word (1 John 2:1, 1 John 2:12, 1 John 2:28, 1 John 2:3:7, 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:4:4, 1 John 2:5:21, only again in N.T. at Galatians 4:19; cf. τέκνα, Mark 10:24).

ἔτι μικρὸν μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμί. The rec., with אLWT, adds χρόνον after μικρόν, this being a reminiscence of 7:33 (where see note). The verse reproduces the words of 7:33, 34 and of 8:21, the warning, which in those passages was addressed to unbelieving Jews, being repeated for the disciples, but not now in rebuke; and being followed in v. 36 by the consolatory promise that, although the disciples could not go where He was going immediately, yet they should follow afterwards. See on 7:34.

ζητήσετέ με. This would not be like the remorseful search which was in store for the unbelieving Jews (see on 7:34, 8:21); but it would be a search in perplexity and tears, when their Master was taken fom them (cf. 14:1, 2).

καθὼς εἶπον τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις κτλ. It is not certain whether the reference is to 7:33, 34 or to 8:21. Jn. represents the warning to the Jews as having been given twice, and it may have been so.

ὄπου ἐγὼ ὑπάγω ὑμεῖς οὐ δύνασθε ἐλθεῖν. This is verbally identified with 8:21. See the note on 7:34 for the meaning.

καὶ ὑμῖν λέγω ἄρτι, “so I tell you at this moment.” ἄρτι is a favourite word with Jn. (see on 9:19).

34. ἐντολὴν καινήν. For ἐντολή as a commandment given by Jesus, cf. 15:10, 12, 14:15, 21, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:3:24. He claimed to “give commandments,” and so claimed to be equal with God. See on 14:15.

Mandatum nouum do vobis. So the Latin vulgate renders, and hence Thursday before Easter has been commonly called Maundy (Mandati) Thursday, from the words of the Antiphon appointed for that day in the Latin rite.

The disciples had been disputing that evening about precedence (see on v. 4), and the “New Commandment” bade them “love one another.” This ἐντολὴ καινή had been already mentioned (15:12, although it is not there called “new”). It is often mentioned in 1 Jn. (e.g. 2:7-10, 3:11, 23; cf. 2 John 1:5): “Love one another, as I have loved you.” The Old Commandment was, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18), and Jesus had explained the wide range of the term “neighbour” (Luke 10:29, Luke 10:36); this was never superseded, and Paul notes its importance (Romans 13:8, Colossians 3:14). But the New Commandment is narrower in range, and is inspired by a new motive. φιλαδελφία, “love of the brethren,” is not so wide in its reference as�Galatians 6:10). Here is the test of true discipleship: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). A later writer makes it clear that this is not the highest of Christian graces; to φιλαδελφία must be superadded�2 Peter 1:7), the love which is like the Love of God in the catholicity of its range (see on 3:16). But the idea that φιλαδελφία, the love of Christian disciple for Christian disciple, is a virtue at all was a new idea; and this grace is inspired by a new motive: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” The common love which Jesus has for His own binds them to each other.

The story preserved by Jerome (ad Galat. vi. 10), that John the son of Zebedee, in his old age, never ceased to repeat “Little children, love one another,” as his most important counsel, shows how deeply the precept had impressed itself upon the first generation of Christians.

καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς. The idea of the love of Jesus for His own hardly needs references, but cf. Romans 8:37, Revelation 1:5. Observe that their love for each other is to be like His love for them, sc. it is to be a love which is ready to pour itself out in sacrifice (cf. 1 John 3:16).

The words of this verse are repeated from 15:12. There may be a distant allusion to 13:1, where the love of Jesus for His disciples is specially mentioned; and to the incident of the Feet-washing, which was a remarkable illustration of it. As His love for the Twelve was exhibited by His ministrations to them, so ought the love of Christian for Christian to be exhibited by mutual service. Some expositors have found in the “New Commandment” a reference to the institution of the Eucharist, which is the sacrament of unity (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 10:17). But, whatever allusion it may carry to the duty of ministering to each other, or to the sacrament by which Christians are united in communion with each other as well as with Christ, there can be no doubt that the primary and essential obligation of the ἐντολὴ καινή is brotherly love, and was so understood by Jn.

That the verb φιλεῖν is never used in Jn. of man`s love for man, but always�1 John 2:10, 1 John 2:3:10, 1 John 2:14, 33, 1 John 2:4:7, 1 John 2:20), does not justify us in distinguishing sharply between the meaning of the two verbs (see on 21:16).

For the constr. in this verse, ἵνα … καθὼς … ἵνα, see on 17:2.

35. ἐν τούτῳ γνώσονται κτλ. This use of ἐν τούτῳ, followed by γινώσκομεν, is thoroughly Johannine; cf. 1 John 2:3, 1 John 2:3:16, 1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:24, 1 John 2:4:13, 1 John 2:5:2. We have ἐν τούτῳ πιστεύομεν at 16:30. “In this” in such passages is equivalent to “by this.” The causal or instrumental use of ἐν is illustrated from the papyri by Moulton-Milligan, and is not necessarily a Semitism, although its frequent employment in the Apocalypse points that way.1

γνώσονται πάντες κτλ., “all men (cf. ὁ κόσμος, 14:31, 17:21) shall know that ye are my disciples” (cf. 1 John 3:14). μαθητής is the highest title of a Christian: the apostles can aspire to nothing higher than ἐμοὶ μαθηταί implies (see on 15:8).

The badge of discipleship was to be mutual love, and so it proved. Cf. Tertullian, Apol. 39, “Vide, inquiunt, ut inuicem se diligant.”

Peter Breaks in with a Wish to Follow Jesus Even to Death: He is Warned that He Will Soon Deny His Master (vv. 36-38)

36. The story of the warning to Peter, and the prediction that he would deny Jesus, are common to all four Gospels (cf. Mark 14:27f., Matthew 26:31f., Luke 22:31f.). Mk., followed by Mt., says the warning was given after they had left the house and were on the way to Gethsemane. Jn. agrees with Lk. in placing the incident in the upper room; but the narrative of Jn. connects it more closely with what went before, sc. the announcement of the approaching departure of Jesus, than does that of Lk.

λέγει αὐτῷ Σίμων Π. As usual, Peter is the first with his question, and he fastens on what Jesus had said about His “going away,” not only in its relation to Him, but in its relation to the disciples. What is to happen to them? They had already found difficulty in the saying ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (16:17, where see note).

κύριε, ποῦ ὑπάγεις; Domine, quo uadis? words which became very familiar from their use in the beautiful legend of the death of Peter, found in Acta Petri et Pauli, § 82. See on 14:5.

For ὑπάγειν, see on 7:33; and cf. 16:5.

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς. So BC*L; the rec. has�

ἀκολουθήσεις δὲ ὕστερον, “thou shalt follow afterwards.” There is no reference, as it seems, to Peter`s death by martyrdom (cf. 21:19, 2 Peter 1:14); the promise is not confined to martyrs (cf. 14:2, 3).

37. διὰ τί οὐ δύναμαι κτλ. “Why can I not follow thee this minute?” (ἄρτι, see on 9:19). Peter had not yet realised that the death of Jesus was near, and that it was this which was in His mind; but even if to follow Him was dangerous, he was confident that he would take all risks. Thomas had expressed similar feelings (11:16).

τὴν ψυχήν μου ὑπὲρ σοὺ θήσω. This willingness is the mark of the Good Shepherd (10:11); it is the mark also of a true disciple.


ἀμὴν�Mark 14:30 by the same solemn�

οὐ μὴ�Luke 22:34, where the word σήμερον is added. Mk. (followed by Mt.) has “this night.”

Mk.’s version of this warning is peculiar in that it runs “the cock shall not crow twice (δίς, etc.); and, accordingly, a second cock-crowing is narrated Mark 14:72. No other Gospel has this, but it is found also in a Fayyûm papyrus fragment.1 It seems to be an eccentric variant, rather than a relic of genuine tradition. At all events, Jn., who knew Mk.,1 and who betrays knowledge of Mk.’s version of this warning by prefacing it with�

φωνήσῃ. So אABW; the rec. has φωνήσει.

ἀρνήσῃ. So BDL but אACWΓΔΘ give�Mark 14:30.

It is not recorded that Peter gave any reply to this prediction, which, introduced as it was by the solemn “Verily, verily,” must have been a grievous blow to him. He does not appear again until 18:15.

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

1 See Expository Times, Nov. 1926, p. 88, and Feb. 1927, p. 233.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.

Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

1 Cf. Introd., p. clxvi f.

2 See Introd., p. xx f.

3 This idea was put forward first by Spitta (Zur Gesch. u. Litt. d. Urchristentums, i. 186 f.).

1 The Coptic Q has λακάνη, the later form of λεκάνη, a dish or pot.

1 See, for details, art. “Bason” in D.C.G.

2 For the pleonastic use of ἄρχεσθαι in the Synoptists, see Hunkin in J.T.S., July 1924, p. 390. Here, however, ἤρξατο is not pleonastic, the aorist marking the definite time when the feet-washing began.

3 A curious turn is given to this incident in the eccentric Latin paraphrase of the Gospels known as the Huntington Palimpsest, of which E. S. Buchanan has printed the text (New York, 1917). It represents Jesus as “washing the feet of Simon Iscariot, ” and Simon Peter protesting, “Thou wilt not wash his feet!”

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

1 Life of Jesus, Eng. Tr., p. 42.

1 See Abrahams, in J.T.S., July 1911, in reply to C. F. Rogers in the same journal for April 1911, on the Jewish method of baptism.

1 Cf. Introd., p. clv.

1 Cf. Introd., p. cliv.

1 Cf. Ignatius, Eph. vi. οὕτως δεῖ ἡμᾶς αὐτὸν δέχεσθαι, ὡς αὐτὸν τὸν πέμψαντα.

1 Criticism of Fourth Gospel, p. 98.

1 Cf. Jülicher (Introd., p. 413), who holds, however, that the “beloved disciple” is only an ideal figure.

2 See Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. in loc., and in Matthew 26:22.

1 See Field, in loc.

2 א combines both readings in a confused fashion, thus showing that both are earlier than the date of that manuscript.

3 The phrase is quoted verbatim, as descriptive of John, by Irenæus (III. i. 1) and Polycrates (Eus. H.E. v. 24). See Introd., p. l.

1 Newman’s astounding comment on “What thou doest, do quickly,” as justifying or illustrating the rapid recitation of the words in the Canon of the Mass, is one of the curiosities of literature (Loss and Gain, ch. xx.).

1 See Introd., p. xx.

2 See R. T. Byrn in the Irish Church Quarterly for April and Oct. 1909; and G. Henslow in the Interpreter, 1917. Cf., contra, Garvie, The Beloved Disciple, p. 157.

1 See Introd., p. xx f.

1 In the Collect for Innocents’ Day it is said that the infants were made to “glorify” God by their deaths.

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

T Borgianus (ε 5). Rome. v. Græco-Sahidic. Contains cc. 6:28-67 7:6-8:31.

Moulton-Milligan Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, illustrated from the papyri, by J. H. Moulton and G.Milligan (1914-). This is being completed by Dr. Milligan; it is indispensable.

1 See Charles, Revelation, 1. cxxx; cf. Abbott, Diat. 2332.

1 See Zahn, Canon, ii. 785; there is an English version of the fragment in James`s Apocryphal N. T., p. 25.

1 Cf. Introd., pp. xcvi ff.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 13". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.