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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-5

Ver 1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon"s son, to betray him;3. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;4. He rises from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5. After that he pours water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples" feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

THEOPHYL. Our Lord being about to depart out of this life, shows His great care for His disciples: Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.

BEDE. The Jews had many feasts, but the principal one was the passover; and therefore it is particularly said, Before the feast of the passover.

AUG. Pascha is not a Greek word, as some think, but Hebrew: though there is remarkable agreement of the two languages in it. The Greek word to suffer being pascha has been thought to mean passion, as being derived from the above word. But in Hebrew, pascha is a passing over; the feast deriving its name from the passing, of the people of God over the Red Sea into Egypt. All was now to take place in reality, of which that passover was the type.

Christ was led as a lamb to the slaughter; whose blood sprinkled upon our doorposts, i.e. whose sign of the cross marked on our foreheads, delivers us from the dominion of this world, as from Egyptian bondage. And we perform a most wholesome journey or passover, when we pass over from the devil to Christ, from this unstable world to His sure kingdom. In this way the Evangelist seems to interpret the word: When Jesus knew that His hour was come when He should pass over out of this world to the Father. This is the pascha, this the passing over.

CHRYS. He did not know then for the first time: He had known long before. By His departure He means His death, Being so near leaving His disciples, He shows the more love for them: Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end; i.e. He left nothing undone which one who greatly loved should do. He reserved this for the last, that their love might be increased by it, and to prepare them by such consolation for the trials that were coming.

His own He calls them, in the sense of intimacy. The word was used in another sense in the beginning of the Gospel: His own received Him not. It follows, which were in the world: for those were dead who were His own, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were not in the world. These then, His own which were in the world, He loved all along, and at the last manifested His love in completeness: He loved them to the end.

AUG. He loved them to the end, i.e. that they themselves too might pass out of this world, by love, to Him their head. For what is to the end, but to Christ? For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes (Romans 10:4). But these words may be understood after a human sort, to mean that Christ loved His own up to His death.

But God forbid that He should end His love by death, who is not ended by death: except indeed we understand it thus: He loved His own to death: i.e. His love for them led Him to death. And supper having been made, i.e. having been got ready, and laid on the table before them; not having been consumed and finished: for it was during supper that He rose, and washed His disciples" feet; as after this He sat at table again, and gave the sop to the traitor.

What follows: The devil having now put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon"s son, to betray Him, refers to a secret suggestion, not made to the ear, but to the mind; the suggestions of the devil being part of our own thoughts. Judas then had already conceived, through diabolical instigation, the intention of betraying his Master.

CHRYS. The Evangelist inserts this as if in astonishment: our Lord being about to wash the feet of the very person who had resolved to betray Him. It shows the great wickedness too of the traitor, that even the partaking of the same table, which is a check to the worst of men, did not stop him.

AUG. The Evangelist being about to relate so great an instance of our Lord"s humility, reminds us first of His lofty nature: knowing that the Father had given all things into His hand, not excepting the traitor.

GREG. He knew that He had even His persecutors in His hand that He might convert them from malice to love of Him.

ORIGEN The Father has given all things into His hands; i.e. into His power; for His hands hold all things; or to Him, for His work; My Father works hitherto, and I work (John 5:17).

CHRYS. Had given all things into His hand. What is given Him is the salvation of the believers. Think not of this giving up in a human way. It signifies His honor for, and agreement with, the Father. For as the Father has given up all things to Him, so has He given up all things to the Father. When He shall hare delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).

AUG. Knowing too, that He was come from God, and went to God; not that He left God when He came, or will leave us when He returns.

THEOPHYL. The Father having given up all things into His hands, i.e. having given up to Him the salvation of the faithful, He deemed it right to show them all things that pertained to their salvation; and gave them a lesson of humility, by washing His disciples" feet. Though knowing that He was from God, and went to God, He thought it in no way took from His glory, to wash His disciples" feet; thus proving that He did not usurp His greatness. For usurpers do not condescend, for fear of losing what they have irregularly got.

AUG. Since the Father had given all things into His hands, He washed not His disciples" hands indeed, but their feet; and since He knew that He came from God, and went to God, He performed the work not of God and Lord, but of a man and servant.

CHRYS. It was a thing worthy of Him, Who came from God, and went to God, to trample upon all pride; He rises from supper, and laid aside His garment, and took a towel, and, girded Himself.; After that He pours water into a basin, and began to wash His disciples" feet, anal to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. See what humility He shows, not only in washing their feet, but in other things. For it was not before, but after they had sat down, that He rose; and He not only washed them, but laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel, and filled a basin; He did not order others to do all this, but did it Himself, teaching us that we should be willing and ready to do such things.

ORIGEN. Mystically, dinner is the first meal, taken early in the spiritual day, and adapted to those who have just entered upon this day. Supper is the last meal, and is set before those who are farther advanced. According to another sense, dinner is the understanding of the Old Testament, the supper the understanding the mysteries hid in the New.

Yet even they who sup with Jesus, who partake of the final meal, need a certain washing, not indeed of the top parts of their body, i.e. the soul, but its lower parts and extremities, which cleave necessarily to earth. It is, And began to wash; for He did not finish His washing till afterwards. The feet of the Apostles were defiled now: All of you shall be offended because of Me this night (Matthew 26:31). But afterwards He cleansed them, so that they needed no more cleansing.

AUG. He laid aside His garments, when, being in the form of God, He emptied Himself; He girded Himself with a towel, took upon Him the form of a servant;

He poured water into a basin, out of which He washed His disciples" feet. He shed His blood on the earth, with which He washed away the filth of their Sins; He wiped them with the towel wherewith He was girded; with the flesh wherewith He was clothed, He established the steps of the Evangelists; He laid aside His garments, to gird Himself with the towel; that He might take upon Him the form of a servant, He emptied Himself, not laying aside indeed what He had, but assuming what He had not. Before He was crucified, He was stripped of His garments, and when dead was wound up in linen clothes: the whole bole of His passion is our cleansing.


Verses 6-11

Ver6. Then comes he to Simon Peter: and Peter said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet?7. Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter. 8. Peter said to him, you shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me. 9. Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10. Jesus said to him, He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all. 11. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, you are not all clean.

ORIGEN. As a physician, who has many sick under his care, begins with those who want his attention most, so Christ, in washing His disciples" feet, begins with the most unclean, and so comes at last to Peter, who needed the washing less than any: Then comes He to Simon Peter. Peter resisted being washed, perhaps because his feet were nearly clean: and Peter said to Him, Lord, do you wash my feet?

AUG. What is the meaning of you and my feet? It is better to think than speak of this; lest one should fail in explaining adequately what might have been rightly conceived.

CHRYS. Though Peter was the first of the Apostles, yet it is possible that the traitor petulantly placed himself above him; and that this may be the reason why our Lord first began to wash, and then comes to Peter.

THEOPHYL. It is plain that our Lord did not wash Peter first, but none other of the disciples would have attempted to be washed before him.

CHRYS Some one will ask why none of them prevented Him, except Peter, this being a sign not of want of love, but of reverence. The reason seems to be, that He washed the traitor first, and came next to Peter, and that the other disciples were checked by the reply to Peter. Any of the rest would have said what Peter did, had his turn come first.

ORIGEN. Or thus: All the rest put out their feet, certain that so great a one would not want to wash them without reason: but Peter, looking only to the thing itself, and seeing nothing beyond it, refused out of reverence to let his feet be washed. He often appears in Scripture as hasty in putting forth his own ideas of what is right and expedient.

AUG. Or thus: We must not suppose that Peter was afraid and refused, when the others had willingly and gladly submitted to the washing. Our Lord did not go through the others first, and to the first of the Apostles afterwards; (for who is ignorant that the most blessed Peter was the first of all the Apostles?) but began with him: and Peter being the first to whom He came, was afraid; as indeed any of the others would have been. Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter.

CHRYS. i.e. How useful a lesson of humility it teaches you, and how, directly this virtue leads to God.

ORIGEN. Or our Lord insinuates that this is a mystery. By washing and wiping, He made beautiful the feet of those who were to preach glad tidings

(Isaiah 52:7), and to walk on that way of which He tells them, I am the way. Jesus laid aside His garments that He might make their clean feet still cleaner, or that He might receive the uncleanness of their feet to His own body, by the towel with which alone He was girded: for He has borne our griefs. Observe too, He chose for washing His disciples" feet the very time that the devil had put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him, and the dispensation for mankind was about to take place. Before this the time was not come for washing their feet. And who would have washed their feet in the interval between this and the Passion? During the Passion, there was no other Jesus to do it. And after it the Holy Ghost came upon them, by which time they should already have had their feet washed. This mystery, our Lord says to Peter, is too great for you to understand now, but you shall know it hereafter when you are enlightened.

AUG. He did not refuse, because our Lord"s act was above his understanding, but he could not bear to see Him bending at his feet: Peter says to Him, you shall not wash my feet; i.e. I will never suffer it: not for ever is the same as never.

ORIGEN. This is an instance, that a man may say a thing with a good intention, and yet ignorantly to His hurt. Peter, ignorant of our Lord"s deep meaning, at first, as if in doubt, says mildly, Lord, do you wash my feet? and then, you shall never wash my feet; which was in reality to cut himself off from having a part with Jesus. Whence he not only blames our Lord for washing the disciples" feet, but also his fellow-disciples for giving their feet to be washed. As Peter then did not see his own good our Lord did not allow His wish to be fulfilled: Jesus answered and said to him, If I wash you not, you have no part with Me.

AUG. If I wash you not, He says, though it was only his feet that He was going to wash, just as we say, you tread on me; though it is only our foot that is trodden on.

ORIGEN. Let those who refuse to allegorize these and like passages, say how it is probable that he who out of reverence for Jesus said, you shall never wash my feet, would have had no part with the Son of God; as if not having his feet washed was a deadly wickedness. Wherefore it is our feet, i.e. the affections of our mind, that are to be given up to Jesus to be washed, that our feet may be beautiful; especially if we emulate higher gifts, and wish to be numbered with those w ho preach glad tidings.

CHRYS. He does not say on what account He performs this act of washing, but only threatens him. For Peter was not persuaded by the first answer: you shall know hereafter he did not say, Teach me then that I may submit. But when he was threatened with separation from Christ, then he submitted.

ORIGEN. This saying we may use against those who make hasty and indiscreet resolutions. By strewing them, that if they adhere to these, they will have no part with Jesus, we disengage them from such resolves; even though they may have bound themselves by oath.

AUG. But he, agitated by fear and love, dreaded more the being denied Christ, than the seeing Him at His feet: Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

ORIGEN. Jesus was unwilling to wash hands, and despised what was said of Him in this respect: Your disciples wash not their hands when they eat bread

(Matthew 15:2). And He did not wish the head to be submerged, in which was apparent the image and glory of the Father; it was enough for Him that the feet were given Him to wash: Jesus answered and said, He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all.

AUG. Clean all except the feet. The whole of a man is washed in baptism, not excepting his feet; but living in the world afterwards, we tread upon the earth. Those human affections then, without which we cannot live in this world, are, as it were, our feet, which connect us with human things, so that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). But if we confess our sins, He who washed the disciples" feet, forgives us our sins even down to our feet, wherewith we hold our converse with earth.

ORIGEN. It was impossible that the lowest parts and extremities of a soul should escape defilement, even in one perfect as far as man can be; and many, even after baptism, are covered up to their head with the dust of wickedness; but the real disciples of Christ only need washing for their feet.

AUG. From what is here said, we understand that Peter was already baptized, indeed that He baptized by His disciples, shows that His disciples must have been baptized, either with John"s baptism, or, which is more probable, Christ"s. He baptized by means of baptized servants; for He did not refuse the ministry of baptizing, Who had the humility to wash feet.

AUG. And you are clean, but not all: what this means the Evangelist immediately! explains: For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, you are not all clean.

ORIGEN. you are clean, refers to the eleven; but not all, to Judas. He was unclean, first, because he cared not for the poor, but was a thief; secondly, because the devil had put it into his heart to betray Christ washes their feet after they are clean, strewing that grace goes beyond necessity, according to the text, He that is holy, let him be holy still.

AUG. Or, the disciples when washed had only to have their feet washed; because while man lives in this world, he contracts himself with earth, by means of his human affections, which are as it were his feet.

CHRYS. Or thus: When He calls them clean, you must not suppose that they were delivered from sin before the victim was offered. He means cleanness in respect of knowledge; for they were now delivered from Jewish error.


Verses 12-20

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them, Know you what I have done to you?13. You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am. 14. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another"s feet. 15. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16. Verily, verily, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord: neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. 18. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. 19. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am he. 20. Verily, verily, I say to you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives him that sent me.

AUG. Our Lord, mindful of His promise to Peter that he should know the meaning of His act, you shall know here after, now begins to teach him: So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was sat down again, He said to them, Know you what I have done to you?

ORIGEN. Know you, is either interrogative, to show the greatness of the act, or imperative, to rouse their minds.

ALCUIN. Mystically, when at our redemption we were changed by the shedding of His blood, He took again His garments, rising from the grave the third day, and clothed in the same body now immortal, ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father, from whence He shall come to judge the world.

CHRYS. He speaks now not to Peter alone, but to all: you call Me Master and Lord. He accepts their judgment; and to prevent the words being set down merely to favor on their parts, adds, And you say well, for so I am.

AUG. It is enjoined in the Proverbs, Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth. For it is dangerous for one to praise himself, who has to beware of pride. But He who is above all things, howsoever He praise Himself, extols not Himself too highly. Nor can God be called arrogant: for that we should know Him is no gain to Him, but to us. Nor can anyone know Him, unless He who knows, show Himself. So that if to avoid arrogance He did not praise Himself, He would be denying us wisdom. But why should the Truth fear arrogance? To His calling Himself Master, no one could object, even were He man only, since professors in different arts call themselves so without presumption. But what free man can bear the title of lord in a man? Yet when God speaks, height cannot exalt itself; truth cannot lie; it is for us to submit to that height, to obey that truth. Wherefore you say well in that you call Me Master and Lord, for so I am; but if I were not what you say, you would say ill.

ORIGEN. They do not say well, Lord, to whom it shall be said, Depart from Me, you that work iniquity. But; the Apostles say well, Master and Lord, for wickedness had not dominion over them, but the Word of God. If then I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another"s feet.

CHRYS. He shows us the greater, that we may do the less. For He was the Lord, but we, if we do it, do it to our fellow-servants:For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

BEDE. Our Lord first did a thing, then taught it: as it is said, Jesus began both to do and to teach (Acts 1:1).

AUG. This is, blessed Peter, what you were ignorant of; this you were told that you should know afterwards.

ORIGEN. But it is not necessary for one who wishes to do all the commandments of Jesus, literally to perform the act of washing feet. This is merely a matter of custom; and the custom is now generally dropped.

AUG. This act is done literally by many, when they receive one another in hospitality. For it is unquestionably better that it should be done with the hands, and that the Christian disdain not to do what Christ did. For when the body is bent at the feet of a brother, the feeling of humility is made to rise in the heart, or, if it be there already, is confirmed. But besides this moral meaning, is not a brother able to change a brother from the pollution of sin? Let us confess our faults one to another, forgive one another"s faults, pray for one another"s faults. In this way we shall wash one another"s feet.

ORIGEN. Or thus: This spiritual washing of the feet is done primarily by Jesus Himself, secondarily by His disciples, in that He said to them, you ought to wash one another"s feet. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as their Master, of His servants as their Lord. But the object of the master is to make His disciples as Himself; and our Savior beyond all other masters and lords, wished His disciples to be as their Master and Lord, not having the spirit of bondage, but the spirit of adoption, whereby they, cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:19). So then before they become masters and lords, they need the washing of the feet, being as vet insufficient disciples, and savoring of the spirit of bondage. But when they have attained to the state of master and lord, they then are able to imitate their Master, and to wash the disciples" feet by their doctrine.

CHRYS He continues to urge them to wash one another"s feet; Verily, verily, I Say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord, neither He that is sent greater than He that sent Him; as if to say, If I do it, much more ought you.

THEOPHYL. This was a necessary admonition to the Apostles, some of whom were about to rise higher, others to lower degrees of eminence. That none might exult over another, He changes the hearts of all.

BEDE. To know what is good, and not to do it, tends not to happiness, but to condemnation; as James said, To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17). Wherefore He adds, If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.

CHRYS. For all know, but all do not do. He then rebukes the traitor, not openly, but covertly: I speak not of you all.

AUG. As if to say, There is one among you who will not be blessed, nor does these things. I know whom I have chosen. Whom, but those who shall be happy by doing His commandments? Judas therefore was not chosen. But if so, why does He say in another place, Have not I chosen you twelve? Because Judas was chosen for that for which he was necessary, but not for that happiness of which He says, Happy are you, if you do them.

ORIGEN. Or thus: I speak not of you all, does not refer to, Happy are you if you do them. For of Judas, or any other person, it may be said, Happy is he if he do them. The words refer to the sentence above, The servant is not greater than his lord, neither He that is sent greater than He that sent Him. For Judas, being a servant of sin, was not a servant of the Divine Word; nor an Apostle, when the devil had entered into him. Our Lord knew those who were His, and did not know who were not His, and therefore says, not, I know all present, but, I know whom I have chosen, i.e. I know My Elect.

CHRYS. Then, that He might not sadden them all, He c adds, But that the Scripture must be fulfilled, He that eats bread with Me, has lifted up his heel against Me: strewing that He knew who the traitor was, an intimation that would surely have checked him, if anything would. He does not say, shall betray Me, but, shall lift up his heel against Me, alluding to his deceit and secret plotting.

AUG. Shall lift up his heel against Me, i.e. shall tread upon Me. The traitor Judas is meant.

CHRYS. He that eats bread with Me; i.e. who was fed by Me, who partook of My table. So that if injured ever by our servants or inferiors, we need not be offended. Judas had received infinite benefits, and yet thus requited his Benefactor.

AUG. They then who were chosen ate the Lord; he ate the bread of the Lord, to injure the Lord; they ate life, he damnation; for he that eats unworthily, eats damnation to himself (1 Corinthians 11:27). Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come, you may believe that I am He, i.e. of whom that Scripture foretold.

ORIGEN. That you may believe, is not said, as if the Apostles did not believe already, but is equivalent to saying, Do as you believe, and persevere in your belief, seeking for no occasion of falling away. For besides the evidences the disciples had already seen, they had now that of the fulfillment of prophecy.

CHRYS. As the disciples were about to go forth and to suffer many things, He consoles them by promising His own assistance and that of others; His own, when He says, Happy are you if you do them; that of others, in what follows, Verily, verily, I say to you, He that receives whomsoever I send, receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me.

ORIGEN. For he that receives him whom Jesus sends, receives Jesus who is represented by him; and he that receives Jesus, receives the Father. Therefore he that receives whom Jesus sends, receives the Father that sent. The words may have this meaning too: He that receives whom I send, had attained unto receiving Me: he who receives Me not by means of any Apostle, but by My own entrance into his soul, receives the Father; so that not only I abide in him, but the Father also.

AUG. The Arians, when they hear this passage, appeal immediately to the gradations in their system, that as far as the Apostle is from the Lord, so far is the Son from the Father. But our Lord has left us no room for doubt on this head; for He said, I and My Father are one.

But how shall we understand those words of our Lord, He that receives Me, receives Him that sent Me? If we take them to mean that the Father and the Son are of one nature it will seem to follow, when He says, He that receives whomsoever 1 send, receives Me, that the Son and an Apostle are of one nature.

May not the meaning be, He that receives whosoever I send, receives Me, i.e. Me as man: But He that receives Me, i. e as God, receives Him that sent Me. But it is not this unity of nature, which is here put forth, but the authority of the Sender, as represented by Him who is sent. In Peter hear Christ, the Master of the disciple, in the Son the Father, the Begotten of the Only Begotten.


Verses 21-30

Ver 21. When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of youshall betray me. 22. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spoke. 23. Now there was leaning on Jesus" bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spoke. 25. He then lying on Jesus" breast said to him, Lord, who is it ?26. Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus to him, That you do, do quickly. 28. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spoke this to him. 29. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said to him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

CHRYS. Our Lord after His twofold promise of assistance to the Apostles in their future labors, remembers that the traitor is cut off from both, and is troubled at the thought: When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of you shall betray Me.

AUG. This did not come into His mind then for the first time; but He was now about to make the traitor known, and single him out from the rest, and therefore was troubled in spirit. The traitor too was now just about to go forth to execute his purpose. He was troubled at the thought of His Passion being so near at hand, at the dangers to which His faithful followers would be brought at the hand of the traitor, which were even now impending over Him. Our Lord deigned to be troubled also, to show that false brethren cannot be cut off; even in the most urgent necessity, without the troubling of the Church. He was troubled not in flesh, but in spirit; for on occasion of scandals of this kind, the spirit is troubled, not perversely, but in love, lest in separating the tares, some of the wheat too be plucked up with them. But whether He was troubled by pity for perishing Judas, or, by the near approach of His own death, He was troubled not through weakness of mind, but power: He was not troubled because anything compelled Him, but He troubled Himself, as was said above. And in that He was troubled, He consoles the weak members of His body, i.e. His Church, that they may not think themselves reprobate, should they be troubled at the approach of death.

ORIGEN. His being troubled in spirit, was the human part, suffering under the excess of the spiritual. For if every Saint lives, acts, and suffers in the spirit, how much more is this true of Jesus, the Rewarder of Saints.

AUG. Away then with the reasonings of the Stoics, who deny that perturbation of mind can come upon a wise man; who, as they take vanity for truth, so make their healthy state of mind insensibility. It is good that the mind of the Christian may be perturbed, not by misery, but by pity. One of you, He said, i.e. one in respect of number, not of merit, in appearance not in virtue.

CHRYS. As He did not mention Him by name, all began to fear: Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spoke; not conscious of any evil in themselves, and entrusting to Christ"s words, more than to their own thoughts.

AUG. They had a devoted love for their Master but yet so that human weakness made them doubt of one another.

ORIGEN. They remembered too, that, as men, before they were matured, their minds were liable to change, so as to form wishes the very opposite to what they might have had before.

CHRYS. While all were trembling, and not excepting even Peter, their head, John, as the beloved disciple, lay upon Jesus" breast. Now there was leaning on Jesus" bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

AUG. This is John, whose Gospel this is, as he afterwards declares. It is the custom of the sacred writers, when they come to any thing relating to themselves, to speak of themselves, as if they were speaking of another. For if the thing itself is related correctly, what does truth lose by the omission of boasting on the writer"s part?

CHRYS. If you want to know the cause of this familiarity, it is love: Whom Jesus loved. Others were loved, but he was loved more than any.

ORIGEN. I think this has a peculiar meaning, viz. that John was admitted to a knowledge of the more secret mysteries of the Word.

CHRYS. Whom Jesus loved. This John says to show his own innocence, and also why it was that Peter beckoned to him, inasmuch as he was not Peter"s superior: Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spoke. Peter had been just reproved, and therefore, checking the customary vehemence of his love, he did not speak himself now, but made John speak for him. He always appears in Scripture as zealous, and an intimate friend of John"s.

AUG. Observe too his mode of speaking, which was not by word, but by beckoning; Beckoned and spoke, i.e. spoke by beckoning. If even thoughts speak, as when it is said, They spoke among themselves, much more may beckonings, which are a kind of outward expression of our thoughts.

ORIGEN. Or, at first he beckoned, and then not content with beckoning, spoke: Who is it of whom he speaks? He then lying on Jesus" breast, said to Him, Lord, who is it?

AUG. On Jesus" breast; the same as in Jesus" bosom. Or, he lay first in Jesus" bosom, and then ascended higher, and lay upon His breast; as if, had he remained lying in His bosom, and not ascended to lie on His breast, our Lord would not have told him what Peter wanted to know. By his lying at last on Jesus" breast, is expressed that greater and more abundant grace, which made him Jesus" special disciple.

BEDE. That he lay in the bosom, and upon the breast, was not only an evidence of present love, but also a sign of the future, viz. of those new and mysterious doctrines which be was afterwards commissioned to reveal to the world.

AUG. For by bosom what else is signified but secret? Here is the hollow of the breast, the secret" chamber of wisdom.

CHRYS. But not even then did our Lord expose the traitor by name; Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. Such a mode of declaring him, should itself have turned him from his purpose. Even if a partaking of the same table did not shame him, a partaking of the same bread might have. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

AUG. Not as some careless readers think, that then Judas received singly Christ"s body. For our Lord had already distributed the sacraments of His body and blood to all of them, while Judas was as there, as Luke relates; and after this He dipped the sop, as John relates, and gave it to the traitor; the dipping of the bread perhaps signifying the deep dye of his sin; for some dipping cannot be wasted out again; i.e. when things are dipped, in order to receive a permanent dye.

If however this dipping meant anything good, he was as ungrateful for it, and deserved the damnation which followed him; And after the sop, Satan entered into him.

ORIGEN. Observe, that at first Satan did not enter into Judas, but only put it into his heart to betray his Master. But after the bread, he entered into him. Wherefore let us beware, that Satan thrust not any of his flaming darts into our heart; for if he do, he then watches till he gets an entrance there himself.

CHRYS. So long as he was one of the twelve, the devil did not dare to force an entrance into him; but when he was pointed out, and expelled, then he easily leaped into him.

AUG. Or entered into him, that he might have more full possession of him: for he was in him, when he agreed with the Jews to betray, our Lord for a sum of money, according to Luke: Then entered Satan into Judas Iscariot, and he went away, and communed with the chief priests (Luke 22:3-4). In this state he came to the supper. But after the sop the devil entered, not to tempt him, as though he were independent, but to possess him as his own.

ORIGEN. It was proper that by the ceremony of the bread, that good should be taken from him, which he thought he had: whereof being deprived, he was laid open to admit Satan"s entrance.

AUG. But some will say, was his being given up to the devil the effect of his receiving the sop from Christ? To whom we answer, that they may learn here the danger of receiving amiss what is in itself good. If he is reproved who does not discern, i.e. who does not distinguish, the Lord"s body from other food, how is he condemned who, feigning himself a friend, comes an enemy to the Lord"s table. Then said Jesus to him, That which you do, do quickly.

ORIGEN. This may have been said either to Judas, or to Satan, either to provoke the enemy to the combat, or the traitor to do his part in bringing on that dispensation, which was to save the world; which He wished not to be delayed any longer, but to be as soon as possible matured.

AUG. He did not however enjoin the act, but foretold it, not from g desire for the destruction of the perfidious, but to hasten on the salvation of the faithful.

CHRYS. That which you do, do quickly, is not a command, or a recommendation, but a reproof, meant to show too that He was not going to offer any hindrance to His betrayal.

Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spoke this to him. It is not easy to see, when the disciples had asked, Who is he, and He had replied, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, how it was that they did not understand Him; unless it was that He spoke too low to be heard; and that John lay upon His breast, when he asked the question, for that very reason, i.e. that the traitor might not be made known.

For had Christ made him known, perhaps Peter would have killed him. So it was then, that none at the table knew what our Lord meant. But why not John? Because he could not conceive how a disciple could fall into such wickedness: he was far from such wickedness himself, and therefore did not suspect it of others. What they thought He meant we are told in what follows: For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said to him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast, or, that he should give something to the poor.

AUG. Our Lord then had bags, in which; He kept the oblations of the faithful, to supply the wants of His own followers, or the poor. Here is the first institution of ecclesiastical property. Our Lord shows that His commandment not to think of the morrow, does not mean that the Saints should never save money; but that they should not neglect the service of God for it, or let the fear of want tempt them to injustice.

CHRYS. None of the disciples contributed this money, but it is hinted that it was certain women, who, it is said, ministered to Him of their means. But how was it that He Who forbade scrip, and staff, and money, carried bags for the relief of the poor? It was to show you, that even the very poor, those who are crucified to this world, ought to attend to this duty. He did many things in order to instruct us in our duty.

ORIGEN. Our Lord then said to Judas, That which you do, do quickly, and the traitor this once obeyed his Master. For having received the sop, he started immediately on his work: He then having received the sop, went immediately out. And indeed he did go out, not only from the house in which he was, but from Jesus altogether. It would seem that Satan, after he had entered into Judas, could not bear to be in the same place with Jesus: for there is no agreement between Jesus and Satan. Nor is it idle inquiring why after he had received the sop, it is not added, that he ate it. Why did not Judas eat the bread, after he received it? Perhaps because, as soon as he had received it, the devil, who had put it into his heart to betray Christ, fearful that the bread, if eaten, might drive out what he had put in, entered into him, so that he went out immediately, before he ate it. And it may be serviceable to remark, that as he who eats our Lord"s bread and drinks His cup unworthily, eats and drinks to his own damnation; so the bread which Jesus gave him was eaten by the rest to their salvation, but by Judas to his damnation, inasmuch as after it the devil entered into him.

CHRYS. It follows: And it was night, to show the impetuosity of Judas, in persisting in spite of the unseasonableness of the hour.

ORIGEN. The time of night corresponded with the night which overspread the soul of Judas.

GREG. By the time of the day is signified the end of the action. Judas went out in the night to accomplish his perfidy, for which he was never to be pardoned.


Verse 31-32

Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

ORIGEN. After the glory of His miracles, and His transfiguration, the next glorifying of the Son of man began, when Judas went out with Satan, who had entered into him; Therefore when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. For it is not the eternal only-begotten Word, but the glory of the Man born of the seed of David, which is here meant.

Christ at His death, in which He glorified God, having spoiled principalities and powers, made a show of them, openly triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15). And again, Made peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things to Himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:20). Thus the Son of man was glorified, and God glorified in Him; for Christ cannot be glorified, except the Father be glorified with Him. But whoever is glorified, is glorified by someone.

By whom then is the Son of man glorified? He tells you; If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify if Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him.

CHRYS. i.e. by Himself, not by any other. And shall straightway glorify Him, i.e. not at any distant time, but immediately, while He is yet on the very cross shall His glory appear. For the sun was darkened, rocks were rent, and many bodies of those that slept arose. In this way He restores the drooping spirits of His disciples, and persuades them, instead of sorrowing, to rejoice.

AUG. Or thus: The unclean went out: the clean remained with their cleanser. Thus will it be when the tares are separated from the wheat; The righteous shall shine forth as the sale in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43). Our Lord, foreseeing this, said, when Judas went out, as if the tares were now separated, and He left alone with the wheat, the holy Apostles.

Now is the Son of man glorified; as if to say, Behold what will take place at My glorifying, at which none of the wicked shall be present, none of the righteous shall perish. He does not say, Now is the glorifying of the Son of man signified; but, Now is the Son of man glorified; as it is not that rock signified Christ, or but, That Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Scripture often speaks of the things signifying, as if they were the things signified. But the glorifying of the Son of man, is the glorifying of God in Him; as He adds, And God is glorified in Him, which He proceeds to explain; If God is glorified in Him - for He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him - God shall also glorify Him in Himself, so that the human nature which was assumed by the eternal Word, shall also be endowed with eternity.

And shall straightway glorify Him. He predicts His own resurrection, which was to follow immediately, not at the end of the world, like ours. Thus it is; Now is the Son of man glorified; the now referring not to His approaching Passion, hut the resurrection which was immediately to follow it: as if that which was so very soon to be, had already taken place.

HILARY. That God is glorified in Him, refers to the glory of the body, which glory is the glory of God, in that the body borrows its glory from its association with the Divine nature because God is glorified in Him, therefore He will; glorify Him in Himself, in that He who reigns in the glory arising from the glory of God, He forthwith passes over into God"s glory, leaving the dispensation of His manhood wholly to abide in God.

Nor is He silent as to the time And shall straightway glorify Him. This referring to the glory of His resurrection which was immediately to follow His passion, which He mentions as present, because Judas had now gone out to betray Him; whereas that God would glorify Him in Himself, He reserves for the future. The glory of God was strewn in Him by the miracle of the resurrection; but He will abide in the glory of God when He has left the dispensation of subjection.

The sense of these first words, Now is the Son of man glorified, is not doubtful: it is the glory of the flesh which is meant, not that of the Word But what means the next, And God is glorified in Him? The Son of man is not another Person from the Son of God for, the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). How is God glorified in this Son of man, who is the Son of God?

The next clause helps us; If God is glorified in Him, God also will glorify Him in Himself. A man is not glorified in himself, nor, on the other hand, does God who is glorified in man, because He receives glory, cease to be God. So the words, God is glorified in Him, either mean that Christ is glorified in the flesh, or that God is glorified in Christ. If God means Christ, it is Christ who is glorified in the flesh; if the Father, then it is the Sacrament of unity, the Father glorified in the Son. Again, God glorifies in Himself God glorified in the Son of man.

This overthrows the impious doctrine that Christ is not very God, in verity of nature. For how can that which God glorifies in Himself be out of Himself? He whom the Father glorifies must be confessed to be in His glory, and He who is glorified in the glory of the Father, must be understood to be in the same case with the Father.

ORIGEN. Or thus: The word glory is here used in a different sense from that which some Pagans attach to it, who defined glory to be the collected praises of the many. It is evident that glory in such a sense is a different thing from that mentioned in Exodus, where it is said, that the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exod ), and that the face of Moses was glorified. The glory here mentioned is something visible, a certain divine appearance in the temple, and on Moses" face; but in a higher and more spiritual sense we are glorified, when with the eye of the understanding we penetrate into the things of God.

For the mind when it ascends above material things, and spiritually sees God, is defied: and of this spiritual glory, the visible glory on the face of Moses is a figure: for his mind it was that was defied by converse with God. But there is no comparison between the excellent glory of Christ, and the knowledge of Moses, whereby the face of his soul was glorified: for the whole of the Father"s glory shines upon the Son, who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person (Hebrews 1:3). Yea, and from the light of this whole glory there go forth particular glories, throughout the whole rational creation; though none can take in the whole of the divine glory, except the Son.

But so far as the Son was known to the world, so far only was He glorified. And as yet He was not fully known. But afterward the Father spread the knowledge of Him over the whole world, and then was the Son of man glorified in those who knew Him. And of this glory He has made all who know Him partakers: as said the Apostle: We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), i.e. from His glory receive glory.

When He was approaching then that dispensation, by which He was to become known to the world, and to be glorified in the glory of those who glorified Him, He says, Now is the Son of man glorified (Matthew 11:27). And because no man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him, and the Son by the dispensation was about to reveal the Father; for this reason He said, And God is glorified in Him. Or compare this with the text below: He that has seen Me, has seen the Father. The Father who begat the Word is seen in the Word, who is God, and the image of the invisible God. But the words may be taken in a larger sense. For as through some the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles, so through the saints whose good deeds are seen and acknowledged by the world, the name of the Father in heaven is magnified.

But in whom was He so glorified as in Jesus, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth? Such being the Son, He is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. And if God is glorified in Him, the Father returns Him more than He gave. For the glory of the Son of man, when the Father glorifies Him, far exceeds the Father"s glory, when He is glorified in the Son: it being fit that the greater should return the greater glory. And as this, viz. the glorifying of the Son of man, was just about to be accomplished, our Lord adds, And will straightway glorify Him.


Verses 33-35

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

AUG. After He had said, And shall straightway glorify Him, that they might not think that God was going to glorify Him in such a way, as that He would no longer have any converse with them on earth, He says, Little children, yet a little while I am with you: as if He said, I shall indeed straightway be glorified by My resurrection, but I shall not straightway ascend to heaven. For we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that He was with them forty days after His resurrection. These forty days are what He means by, A little while I am with you.

ORIGEN. Little children, He says; for their souls were yet in infancy. But these little children, after His death, were made brethren; as before they were little children, they were servants.

AUG. It may be understood too thus: I am as yet in this frail flesh, even as you are, until I die and rise again. He was with them after His resurrection, by bodily presence, not by participation of human frailty. These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you (Luke 24:44). He says to His disciples after His resurrection; meaning, while I was in mortal flesh, as you are. He was in the same flesh then with them, but not subject to the same mortality. But there is another Divine Presence unknown to mortal senses, of which He said, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

This is not the presence meant by, A little while I am with you; for it is not a little while to the end of the world: or even if it is a little while, because that in the eye of God, a thousand years are as one day, yet what follows shows that it is not what our Lord is here alluding to; for He adds, Whither I go you cannot follow Me now. At the end of the world they were to follow Him, whither He went; as He said below; Father, I will that they be with Me, where I am

ORIGEN. But may there not be a deeper meaning in the words, yet a little while &c. After a little while He was not with them. In what sense not with them? Not because He was not with them according to the flesh, in that He was taken from them, was brought before Pilate, was crucified, descended into hell: but because they all forsook Him, fulfilling His prophecy: All you shall be offended because of Me this night. He was not with them, because He only dwells with those who are worthy of Him. But though they thus wandered from Jesus for a little while, it was only for a little while; they soon sought Him again. Peter wept bitterly after his denial of Jesus, and by his tears sought Him: and therefore it follows, you shall seek Me, and as I said to the Jews, whither I go, you cannot follow Me now. To seek Jesus, is to seek the Word, wisdom, righteousness, truth, all which is Christ. To His disciples therefore who wish to follow Him, not in a bodily sense, as the ignorant think, but in the way He ordains, Whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. Our Lord said, Whither I go you cannot follow Me now. For though they wished to follow the Word, and to confess Him, they were not yet strong enough to do so; The Spirit was not yet given to them, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

AUG. Or He means that they were not yet fit to follow Him to death for righteousness" sake. For how could they, when they were not ripe for martyrdom? Or how could they follow our Lord to immortality, they who v ere to die, and not to rise again till the end of the world? Or how could tines follow Him to the bosom of the Father, when none could partake of that felicity, but they whose love was perfected? When He told the Jews this, He did not add now. But the disciples, though they could not follow Him then, would be able to do so afterwards, and therefore He adds, So now I say to you.

ORIGEN. As if He said, I say it to you, but with the addition of now, The Jews, who He foresaw would die in their sins, would never be able to follow Him; but the disciples were unable only for a little time.

CHRYS. And therefore He said, little children; for He did not mean to speak to them, as He had to the Jews. you cannot follow Me now, He says, in order to rouse the love of His disciples. For the departure of loved friends kindles all our affection, and especially if they are going to a place where we cannot follow them. He purposely too speaks of His death, as a kind of translation, a happy removal to a place, where here mortal bodies do not enter

AUG. And now He teaches them how to fit themselves to follow. Him: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. But does not the old law say, you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)? Why then does He call it a new commandment? Is it because it strips us of the old man, and puts on us the new? That it renews the hearer, or rather the doer of it? Love does do this; but it is that love which our Lord distinguishes from the carnal affection: As I have loved you, that you also love one another. Not the love with which men love one another, but that of the children of the Most High God, w ho would be brethren of His only-begotten Son, and therefore love one another with that love with which He loved them, and would lead them to the fulfillment of their desires.

CHRYS. Or, as I have loved you: for My love has not been the payment of something owing to you, but had its beginning on My side. And you ought in like manner to do one another good, though you may not owe it.

AUG. But; do not think that that greater commandment, viz. that we: should love the Lord our God, is passed by. For, if we understand the two precepts aright, each is implied in the other. He who loves God cannot despise His commandment that he should love his neighbor; and he who loves his neighbor in a heavenly spiritual way, in the neighbor loves God. That is the love which our Lord distinguishes from all human love, when He adds, As I have loved you, what did He, in loving us, love, but God in us; not who was in us, but so that He might be? Wherefore let each of us so love the other, as that by this working of love, we make each other the habitations of God.

CHRYS. Passing over the miracles, which they were to perform, He makes love: the distinguishing mark of His followers; By this shall all men know that you are My disciples" if you have love one to another. This it is that evidences the saint or the disciple, as He calls him.

AUG. As if He said, Other gifts are shared with you by those who are not mine; birth, life, sense, reason, and such good things as belong alike to man and brutes; nay, and tongues, sacraments, prophecy, knowledge, faith, bestowing of goods upon the poor,; giving the body to be burned: but forasmuch as they have not charity, they are tinkling cymbals, they are nothing: nothing profits them.


Verses 36-38

Simon Peter said to him, Lord, where do you go? Jesus answered him, Where I go you can not follow me now; but you shall follow me afterwards. 37. Peter said to him, Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for your sake. 38. Jesus answered him, Will you lay down your life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say to you, The cock shall not crow, till you have denied me thrice.

CHRYS. Great is love, and stronger than fire; nothing can stop its course. Peter the most ardent of all, as soon as he hears our Lord say, Where I go you cannot follow Me now, asks, Lord, where do you go?

AUG. The disciple asks this, as if he were ready to follow. But our Lord saw his heart; Jesus answered him, Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; He checks his forwardness, but does not destroy his hope; nay, confirms it; But you shall follow Me afterwards. Why do you hasten, Peter? The Rock has not yet established you with His Spirit. Be not lifted up with presumptions, you cannot follow now; but be not cast down with despair, you shall follow Me afterwards.

CHRYS. Peter, on receiving this answer, does not check his desire, but hastily conceives favorable hopes from it, and having got rid of the fear of betraying our Lord, feels secure, and becomes himself the interrogator, while the rest are silent: Peter said to Him, Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for your sake.

What say you, Peter? He has said, you can not, and you say, you can: wherefore you shall know by experience, that your love is nothing, unless you are enabled from above: Jesus answered him, Will you lay down your life for my sake?

BEDE. Which sentence may be read in two ways: either as affirming, you shall lay down your life for My sake, but now through fear of the death of the body, you shall incur spiritual death: or as mocking; as if He said,

AUG. Will you do that for Me, which I have not done yet for you? Can you go before, who can not come after? Why presume you so? Hear what you are: Verily, verily, I say to you, The cock shall not crow, till you have denied Me thrice, you who promises Me your death, shall thrice deny your life. Peter knew his great desire, his strength he knew not: he boasted of his will, while he was yet weak; but the Physician saw his weakness.

Some who perversely favor Peter, excuse him, and say that he did not deny Christ, because when asked by the servant maid, he said he did not know Him, as the other Evangelist witness more expressly. As if to deny the man Christ, was not to deny Christ; yea, that in Christ, which He was made for our sakes, that that which He made us might not perish. By what is He the Head of the Church, but by His humanity? And how then is he in the body of Christ, who denies the man Christ? But why do I argue so long? Our Lord does not say, The cock shall not crow till you deny man, or the Son of man, but till you deny Me.

What is Me, but that which He was? So then whatever Peter denied, he denied Christ: it is impious to doubt it. Christ said so, and Christ said true: beyond a doubt, Peter denied Christ. Let us not, to defend Peter, accuse Christ. The frailty of Peter himself, acknowledged its sin, when he witnessed by his tears the evil he had done in denying Christ. Nor do we say this, because we have pleasure in blaming the first of the Apostles; but that we may take warning from him, not to be confident of our own strength.

BEDE. Nevertheless, should any one fall, let the example of Peter save him from despair, and teach him that he can without delay obtain pardon from God.

CHRYS. It is manifest that our Lord permitted Peter"s fall. He might have recalled him to begin with, but as he persisted in his vehemence, though He did not drive him to a denial, He let him go without assistance, that He might learn his own weakness, and not fall into such sin again, when the superintendence of the world had come to him, but that remembering what had happened to him, he might know himself.

AUG. That took place in the soul of Peter, which he offered in the body; though differently from what he meant. For before the death and resurrection of our Lord, he both died by his denial, and lived again by his tears.

AUG. This speech, The cock shall not crow, occurs in all the Evangelists, but not at the same time in all. Matthew and Mark: introduce it after they have left the house, in which they were eating; Luke and John before. We may suppose either that the two former are recurring to what had passed, or the two latter anticipating what is coming. Or the great difference not only of the words, but of the subjects which precede the speech, and which excite Peter to the presumption of offering to die, for or with our Lord, may lead us to conclude that he made this offer three times, and that our Lord three times replied, Before the cock crows, you shall deny Me thrice.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-13.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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