Bible Commentaries
John 13

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-38


A footnote of the Scofield Bible which suggests the title of this lesson is well worth quoting:

Chapters 12-17 are a progression according to the order of approach to God in the Tabernacle types. Chapter 12 in which Christ speaks of His death answers to the brazen altar of burnt offering, type of the cross. Passing from the altar toward the holy of holies, the laver is next reached answering to chapter 13. With his associate priests now purified, the High Priest enters the holy place in the communion of chapters 14-16. Entering alone the holy of holies, the High Priest intercedes (chap. 17). It is not for the salvation of His own for which he intercedes, but their keeping and blessing. His death has saved them, and this is assumed as accomplished (John 17:4 ).

The facts of chapter 12 include the supper at Bethany (John 12:1-11 ), the triumphal entry (John 12:12-19 ), and the visit of the Greeks concluding the chapter. The first two having been touched upon in the synoptics, let us consider the last which some regard as the second great temptation in Jesus’ life. The considerations justifying such a view are found in the effect which the request of the Greeks to see him made upon Jesus: “Now is my soul troubled,” “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,” “Father, save me from this hour.” Also in the heavenly testimony to His Sonship which was again afforded him. The thought is that the Greeks, whether heathens or proselytes to the Jewish religion, had come to invite Jesus to return with them to their own land. We have seen what the Greek race stood for, what their ideals were, and how likely they would have been to make a god of Jesus had He consented. It was a temptation not unlike that of Peter, when in Matthew 16:0 , he sought to dissuade Jesus from going to the Cross, or, like that of Satan in the wilderness, when showing Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” He said, “All these will I give Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” This view assumes deeper significance if we recall that the time these Greeks approached Jesus was when He had most come to realize that “He had come to His own and His own received Him not.” It was when he was rejected by His own nation that this sister nation, great in much that the world called greatness, came to Him thus and said, “Come with us and we will receive, honor, and deify Thee!” Ah! If He had, what would have become of this poor lost world (John 12:20-36 )?

We should not pass to the next chapter without observing in passing the additionally strong testimony John bears as his manner is, to the Deity of Jesus. See for example, the argument to be drawn from John 12:37-41 . Look up the quotation in Isaiah 6:0 and ask yourself whether John’s testimony must not be utterly dishonored unless Jesus is God incarnate. How corroborative of this are Jesus’ own words in John 12:44-45 . What is the leading event in chapter 13. What is the lesson taught in this transaction (John 13:12-16 )? And yet is there not more than a lesson in humility here? What of the mysterious teaching in verses 8-9? We have here a symbolic representation of Christ’s intercessory work for His people. They are already “clean” so far as their salvation is concerned because of faith in Him, and on the ground of His finished work on the Cross; but passing through the world brings daily defilement which requires daily cleansing, for which provision is made by His intercession as our High-priest. Compare 1 John 1:9 . Peter’s words in John 13:8 , illustrate the mistake of the sinner with reference to Christ’s atonement; while those in John 13:9 , illustrate the mistake of the saint with reference to His intercession.

What omission is found in this gospel with reference to the events of this last Passover night as compared with the synoptics? What additional details of the betrayal are given here (John 13:18-30 )?


1. What justifies the title to this lesson?

2. What are the three great facts of chapter 12?

3. What significance is attached by some to the visit of the Greeks, and why?

4. With what other temptation of Jesus is this classed?

5. How do verses 37-41 compared with Isaiah 6:1-4 prove the Deity of Jesus Christ?

6. What verses in chapter 12 teach the sacrificial character of Christ’s death?

7. What symbolic representation is afforded in chapter 13?

8. Explain the spiritual distinction between “bathed” (RV) and “wash his feet” in verse 10.

9. What two mistakes are illustrated in Peter’s words?

10. Can you quote from memory 1 John 1:9 ?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on John 13". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.