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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
John 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-26

The Last Supper - John 13:1 to John 17:26 gives us the story of the Last Supper between Jesus and His twelve apostles in which the Lord gives a lengthy discourse to prepare His disciples for His departure. During this discourse Jesus will explain how His Passion will be a fulfillment of two Old Testament prophecies. Otherwise, the theme of the contents of His teachings is about His departure and glorification in order to prepare His disciples for the things that are about to take place.

Although this event is recorded in all four Gospels, John gives us the longest account. Matthew and Mark record the partaking of communion and Jesus' comments of His betrayal, His crucifixion and Peter's denial. Luke tells the same, but adds the dispute among His disciples of who will be the greatest. However, the account in John's Gospel is unique in that it gives us a lengthy discourse of Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure during this meal, while omitting the details of the bread and the wine. He first washes the disciples' feet, and then tells them of the coming of the Holy Spirit, in whom they were to abide and that He would work through them to do the same works that He had been doing. Jesus testifies to them of His deity using figurative language ( John 16:25) such as the Way, the Truth, the Life and as the True Vine. Jesus also discusses His betrayal, His departure and glorification. He tells them that He has spoken these things in order that they continue in His joy and not stumble ( John 13:17; John 14:25; John 15:11; John 15:17; John 15:21; John 16:1; John 16:4; John 16:6; John 16:25; John 16:33; John 17:13). This event ends with Jesus' prayer to the Father. In these chapters the author records two Old Testament Scriptures that are fulfilled during Jesus' Passion.

Jesus understood that these were the last moments that He was to have with His disciples. He knew that they were going to have to focus their attention from being led by Him to being led by the Holy Spirit. Thus, in John 13-16 we see Jesus attempting to introduce them for the first time to the person of the Holy Spirit, someone that they had seen at work in the life of their Lord, but someone whom they had not experienced for themselves.

In the business world we call this event a "handover," when one manager over a business or a ministry hands the leadership over to another. In order to accomplish this task, Jesus uses simple, figurative language that they would understand in order to explain the character of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of abiding and walking in the Spirit. Jesus explains to them what it is like to fellowship with the Holy Spirit by comparing it to their experiences of walking with Him. Jesus' goal in this final discourse is to bring His disciples to a place of doing the works that He Himself has been doing. In order to do this, they must learn to receive the Holy Spirit, to abide in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit. Thus, His teachings to them follow an order, or procedure, in order to do the works of God.

Jesus first washes their feet as a foreshadowing of His future office as our Great High Priest ( John 13:1-17). Jesus Christ is about to ascend to the right hand of the Heavenly Father and enter into this office where He will continually intercede for the saints in order to maintain their right standing before God. He will pay for our sins on Calvary so that we might be justified before God the Father. Then He will be our High Priest in order to keep us right before God through our daily cleansing. John then records the betrayal of one disciple ( John 13:18-30) and the failure of another ( John 13:31-38) as an example of everyone's need for daily cleansing. While Judas Iscariot did not repent and soon killed himself, Peter did repent and God used this experience to make him stronger. These two events served as an excellent example within the context of this passage in which to teach on the need of Jesus as our High Priest. Jesus then explains to them the coming of the Holy Spirit ( John 14:1-27), who would take the place of Jesus Christ as their "other Comforter" and as the One who is to guide them after His departure. Thus, Jesus refers to Him also as the "Spirit of Truth," because of His immediately role as a Teacher and Guide ( John 16:12-13). This is why Jesus explains the need for the Holy Spirit when reminding them of His departure ( John 14:28-31). After the Holy Spirit comes and fills the disciples, as we see in the book of Acts , they must learn how to stay filled. Thus, Jesus teaches them in John 15:1-17 how to abide in Him in order to bear fruit. Such a lifestyle of walking in love and testifying of Him will lead to persecutions ( John 15:18 to John 16:4). He then tells them the work of the Spirit as they preach the Gospel ( John 16:5-15). Jesus then tells them of their authority in prayer within the conversation of His departure ( John 16:16-33). When the disciples finally acknowledged their understanding of this teaching, Jesus ends His discourse with them and commends them unto the God by praying to the Father ( John 17:1-26). This commendation is the "handover." This handover will be completed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes and fills the believers. Thus, Jesus explains to His disciples the present-day office and ministry of the Trinity to the Church in John 13-17.

A major change was about to take place in the Trinity. Jesus, who had been the Word of God from eternity, and has presently been our Apostle sent to earth, was not going to move into the office of our Great High Priest. The Holy Spirit was about to leave Heaven and indwell every believer. The Father would continue in His role as the eternal God who knows and predestines the redemption of mankind.

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Song of Solomon - Jesus Foreshadows His office as High Priest — John 13:1-38

2. The Holy Spirit - The Comforter — John 14:1 to John 16:33

3. The Father- Jesus Commends Disciples unto the Father — John 17:1-26


Verses 1-38

The Son: Jesus Foreshadows His Upcoming Office as Our Great High Priest - The message of John 13:1-17 is often understood to be about humility and servanthood because Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. However, a symbolic message is also taught by Jesus during this time of footwashing beside humility. Jesus Christ is about to ascend to the right hand of the Heavenly Father and enter into the office of our Great High Priest where He will continually intercede for the saints in order to maintain their right standing before God. He will pay for our sins on Calvary so that we might be justified before God the Father. Then He will be our High Priest in order to keep us right before God through our daily cleansing. This is two-fold office and ministry of Jesus Christ in our redemption. When Jesus says, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit" ( John 13:10), He is referring to our initial justification through faith in Christ and our need for daily cleansing of sins. When Jesus tells Peter, "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter," ( John 13:7) He means that Peter will soon understand His ministry as our Great High Priest for our daily cleansing. Peter will refer to this daily cleansing in 1 Peter 1:2 as the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." The writer of Hebrews also uses a similar phrase, "the blood of sprinkling," in order to explain Jesus' present-day office as our Great High Priest.

Hebrews 12:24, "And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."

1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

John will follow this story of footwashing with accounts of sin in the lives of two of His disciples. Judas Iscariot yielded to Satan and went out to betray his Master ( John 13:18-30), and in the following passage Jesus foretells of Peter's three-fold denial of his Master ( John 13:31-38). These two stories are placed side by side within the context of our need for daily cleansing because it gives us an illustration of one disciple who did not seek his cleansing and died, while the other found cleansing and went on to become a great servant of the Lord.

A secondary theme taught in this passage is that discipleship is accomplished through servanthood and He illustrates servanthood by washing the feet of His disciples ( John 13:1-17). He then explains to them that a servant is not greater than his master. This lesson teaches them that humility is the first step towards doing the works of Jesus. However, this is a minor theme the passage of Scripture and is addressed in Luke 22:24-27.

This section in John 13:1-38 that foreshadows Jesus' coming office as our Great High Priest is followed by the discourse on the coming of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter to take the place of Jesus when He departs to Heaven.

Outline- Note the proposed outline:

1. Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet — John 13:1-17

2. Examples of Sin with and without cleansing — John 13:18-38

a. Judas Iscariot's Betrayal (Third Scripture Fulfilled) — John 13:18-30

b. Peter's Fall — John 13:31-38

John 13:1-17 — Jesus Teaches on His Impending High Priesthood: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet - John 13:1-17 gives us the unique account of Jesus washing the disciples' feet, which was to serve as a testimony of His impending office as their Great High Priest. However, the message of humility and servanthood can also be seen in this passage of Scripture. We can see in this passage of Scripture how Jesus demonstrates servanthood to His disciples by washing their feet. He taught on this subject of servanthood in Luke's account of the Last Supper because His disciples were striving about who should be exalted in this new kingdom ( Luke 22:24-27). The reason that Jesus began His lengthy discourse on servanthood in Luke's Gospel was to show them that they must become a servant in order to serve in their roles as leaders in the New Testament Church, which will begin on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These twelve apostles must understand that they are servants of one another and not just of Jesus their Master. In serving they will be used mightily by God in His kingdom. However, the primary emphasis of John 13:1-17 is on the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, for the Gospel of John teaches us primarily about the deity of Jesus Christ.

Luke 22:24, "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest."

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew 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, he loved them unto the end.

John 13:1 — "Now before the feast of the passover" - Comments- The Last Supper took place on Friday evening, while the Passover meal was officially eaten on the Sabbath, which was Saturday. Thus, John 13:1 tells us that Jesus gathered with His disciples to eat His last meal "before the feast of the Passover."

John 13:1 — "when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father" - Comments- John 13:1 does not say that Jesus knew the hour in which He was about to be crucified and put to death, although His death is stated in other passages of Scripture ( Philippians 2:8, Colossians 1:21-22, 1 Peter 3:18); rather, this verse says that Jesus was about to depart this world and go unto the Father. This verse reflects that emphasis of this passage of Scripture in that Jesus is about to wash the feet of the disciples as a testimony that He was about to become our Great High Priest. Jesus was about to move from the office of an apostle to that of a high priest ( Hebrews 3:1). His two-fold office of redemption is reflected in the statement made by Peter the apostle, "unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," with the act of obedience describing man's call to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and follow Him, while the sprinkling of the blood refers to our need for daily cleansing as we acknowledge our sins and turn back to Him.

2 Corinthians 13:4, "For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you."

Philippians 2:8, "And being found in fashion as a Prayer of Manasseh , he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Colossians 1:21-22, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"

1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"

Hebrews 3:1, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"

1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

John 13:1-2Comments- The Time of the Passover Meal - These two verses make it clear that Jesus held a "Passover" meal with His disciples before the traditional time of the evening Passover meal. They ate their supper on Friday evening while the next day was when all of the Jews would partake of the Passover meal. This fact is further confirmed by the fact that the disciples thought that Jesus sent Judas Iscariot out to perhaps buy food for the Passover feast.

John 13:29, "For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor."

John 13:7Comments- Since what Jesus was doing now could not be known and understood by Peter and the other apostles at this time, then Jesus' purpose in footwashing was not to teach them about humility and servanthood, which would have been a clear lesson to learn at this time. Had Jesus been emphasizing servanthood, He would have wanted them to clearly understand. This lesson must have a symbolic meaning about a future event. I believe that this lesson represents the disciples' need for daily cleansing, something Peter was about to learn after denying his Master on the night of His trials. Jesus' future office as our Great High Priest would fulfill this need of Peter to find forgiveness.

John 13:8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

John 13:6-8Comments- Peter had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw Jesus in His glory. Thus, he did not feel it appropriate for the Son of God, whose deity was now revealed to the disciples, to wash his soiled feet. This is why Peter rejects Jesus' first attempt to wash his feet.

John 13:10Comments- Jesus is saying to His disciples that they have been cleansed of their sins and justified before God, and we know it is because they believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. However, they stand in need of cleansing from sins committed on a daily basis. We are not clean because we no longer sin, but we are clean before God because we confess our sins. This is the way we stay pure as saints.

John 13:13Comments- The Greek word translated "Master" is διδά σκαλος, which means "Teacher." The disciples immediately knew Jesus Christ as their Teacher long before they understood Him as the Lord, the Son of God. The revelation of Jesus Christ as God took place during the course of His ministry and teachings to them.

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another"s feet.

John 13:14Comments- The statement, "ye also ought to wash one another's feet," is meant figuratively to say that the disciples are to forgive one another. Jesus could have washed the feet of His disciples years ago, long before they understood His deity. Song of Solomon , the fact that Jesus Christ, who has now revealed Himself as the Son of God, has humbled himself to wash the disciple's feet serves as a testimony that He is willing to forgive us of our sins. No one who would humble himself to wash someone's feet would have the pride to hold unforgiveness. Thus, Jesus is giving His disciples a lesson to teach the disciples to forgive one another daily.

John 13:15Comments- Since the context of this passage is the foreshadowing of Jesus' future office as our Great High Priest in order to provide for us our daily cleansing, then Jesus must be telling His disciples in John 13:15 to forgive one another as He is going to do.

John 13:16 — "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him" - Comments- This phrase in John 13:16 is an example of poetic Hebrew parallelism, found throughout the Gospel of John , especially in the first chapter.

John 13:17Comments- God takes every new Christian through a process of sanctification, or maturing, in Christ. Young Christians feel joyful because they are usually doing everything they know to do in the Bible, such as praying, Bible reading and church attendance. However, as we grow as Christians, if we become negligent to do what we know to do, then we are not as happy any more. Perhaps this is one reason young Christians have more joy than older Christians. Simply because most older Christians are failing to do what they know to do is right, and they fall under condemnation over this.

John 13:18-38 — Two Examples of Sin and the need for Cleansing - John 13:18-38 offers two examples of sin the lives of Jesus' disciples. Within the context of Jesus teaching the disciples about His upcoming office as the Great High Priest, this passage offers an example of Judas Iscariot who failed to find forgiveness ( John 13:18-30) and Peter who received forgiveness from Jesus Christ ( John 13:31-38).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Third Scripture Fulfilled: Betrayal Prophesied — John 13:18-30

2. Peter's Denial Foretold — John 13:31-38

John 13:18-30 — Third Scripture Fulfilled: Betrayal Prophesied ( Matthew 26:20-25, Mark 14:17-21, Luke 22:21-23) - In John 13:18-30 John the apostle records the third Old Testament prophecy fulfilled during Jesus' Passion. Jesus has just foreshadowed His coming office as our Great High Priest by washing the feet of the disciples. John 13:18-30 now gives us an example of how a disciple falls into sin and stands in need of daily cleansing. In addition, this passage in which Jesus will predict His betrayal by Judas Iscariot also serves as one of the seven Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled about Christ's Passion ( John 13:18).

John 13:18 — "but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me" - Comments - John 13:18 comes from Psalm 41:9.

Psalm 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

John 13:21Comments- Only a friend can betray someone, since an enemy is expected to fight.

John 13:23Comments (1) - The phrase "leaning on Jesus' bosom" is used to describe the position of John at the supper table beside Jesus Christ. This term is used when the Jews of this period in history gathered around a table. There were no chairs used. Therefore, people reclined on the floor leaning on their left side, with their feet pointed away from the table. When a cushion or a floor mat was used to recline in this fashion, it gave the person in front a position of literally leaning close to the bosom of the person behind him.

The person of highest rank was given the chief place at the table. Those of more important positions were placed next to the chief guest. To recline next to someone was associated with being intimately acquainted with that person.

This phrase is used in John 1:18 to reveal that Jesus holds the closest relationship with God the Father of any man. It means that Jesus knows the Father more intimately that anyone and is thus, qualified to make Him known.

John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Song of Solomon , which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

John 1:18 reveals that Jesus still holds that perfect relationship with the Father that He has from eternity. Jesus" position with His Father has not been lowered in any way.

This phrase is used in other passages in Scripture. It is used of Sarai giving Hagar to Abraham.

Genesis 16:5, "And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee."

It is used of Lazarus, after he died, being given intimate fellowship with Abraham.

Luke 16:22-23, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham"s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

John the apostle"s tender relationship with Jesus gave him the position of lying in the bosom of Jesus at mealtime.

John 13:23, "Now there was leaning on Jesus" bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved."

John 13:23Comments (2) - John 13:23 gives to us the first indirect reference to the author of John's Gospel. One clear evidence to Johannine authorship is the fact that John made a deliberate attempt not to mention his name a single time within his Gospel. Since he had to refer to himself at times in this Gospel, he used distinctive terms to refer to himself, such as "the beloved disciple" or "the other disciple" in the place of his name. Note:

John 13:23, "Now there was leaning on Jesus" bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved."

John 18:15-16, "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter."

John 19:26, "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!"

John 20:2, "Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them,"

John 21:7, "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher"s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea."

John 21:20, "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?"

John 13:30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

John 13:31-38 — Peter's Denial Foretold ( Matthew 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34) - John 13:31-38 tells us the story of Jesus predicting Peter's denial. Jesus has just foreshadowed His coming office as our Great High Priest by washing the feet of the disciples. John 13:18-30 and John 13:31-38 now give us an example of how two disciples fell into sin and stood in need of daily cleansing. However, one of the disciples (Peter) obtained forgiveness, while the other (Judas Iscariot) found destruction.

John 13:34 Comments- The old commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself:

Luke 10:27, "And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."

The new commandment is to love one another as Jesus has loved us. How?

Ezekiel 36:24-27, "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

1 John 2:7, "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning."

1 John 3:11, "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."

1 John 4:21, "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."

Under the old commandment, we were to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. In the new commandment, Jesus is our example of how to love unconditionally. We are now empowered with the Holy Spirit to walk as He walked, and to love as He loved.

The Lord spoke to Kenneth Hagin and said, "Under the Old Covenant, I said if My people walked in My statutes and kept My commandments, I would take sickness away from their midst and the number of their days I would fulfill." Then the Lord told Hagin to tell a particular woman whose child was sick to say, "Then tell her that when she walks in My commandments of love, I'll take sickness away from the midst of her and the number of her days I'll fulfill. Say to her, ‘You tell Satan, "Satan, I'm walking in love. Take your hands off my child!"'" The Old Commandment can be paraphrased by this New Commandment that Jesus Christ gives us here in John 13:34 that we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us. When this lady heard these words from Hagin, she spoke these words to Satan and her child was instantly healed. 235]

235] Kenneth Hagin, Following God's Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1993, 1994), 159-60.

Paul the apostle also confirmed that the Old Commandment was also the Law of Love.

Romans 13:10, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Galatians 5:14, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

John 13:35Comments- The lost world can know a Christian by his love for the brethren ( 1 John 3:14).

1 John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

John 13:36-38Comments- "Peter's Death" - At the Last Supper, Peter told Jesus that he would lay down his life for the Lord, to which Jesus replied by telling Peter he would deny Him by the next morning ( John 13:36-38). On the shore of the Lake of Galilee Jesus appeared to some of the disciples after His resurrection and takes Peter through a restoration process of thrice telling Him that he loved the Lord. Jesus then reveals to Peter that he will in fact lay down his life, as Peter offered to do before the Passion. Peter's death would glorify God, as Jesus' death did. The early Church fathers tell us that Peter was crucified upside down during the reign of Nero, fearing to copy the death of Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus told Peter, "Thou shalt follow me afterwards." ( John 13:36-38)

The phrase "but thou shalt follow me afterwards" ( John 21:18-19) is a reference to Peter"s death, which would glorify God, as did Jesus' death. Church tradition tells us that Peter suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Roman emperor Nero, being crucified upside down. Thus, Jesus tells Peter here, "Thou shalt follow me afterwards."

John 21:18-19, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake Hebrews , signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me."

Peter's Ministry Beyond Palestine- As Peter traveled beyond Jerusalem and Judea, tradition tells us that James , the brother of the Lord, took over as bishop of the church in Jerusalem. We have no biblical, narrative records of Peter's travels beyond Palestine. From his epistles addressed to the regions of Asia Minor it is supposed that Peter traveled numerous times to these provinces. Therefore, we must rely upon the early Church fathers to put together a biography of Peter's life outside the land of Palestine. We have various testimonies from them that tell us how Peter served as bishop of the church of Antioch, assisted Paul in planting the church at Corinth, then preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion, and at last, came to Rome during the second year of the reign of Claudius to help Paul establish the church there. Many scholars believe that Peter did not reach Rome until after A.D 63, when Paul had already been released from his first Roman imprisonment. It was in this city that church tradition tells us he was crucified upside down by the Emperor Nero, perhaps A. D 63-64.

1. Clement of Rome (c. A.D 96) - Clement of Rome tells us that Peter suffered martyrdom.

"But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience." (1Clement 5)

2. Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) - Tertullian testifies to Peter's ministry in Rome and of his martyrdom there.

"Let us see what milk the Corinthians drank from Paul; to what rule of faith the Galatians were brought for correction; what the Philippians , the Thessalonians, the Ephesians read by it; what utterance also the Romans give, so very near (to the apostles), to whom Peter and Paul conjointly bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood." (Against Marcion 45)

"For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter." (The Prescription Against Heretics 32)

"Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! where Peter endures a passion like his Lord"s! where Paul wins his crown in a death like John's where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!" (The Prescription Against Heretics 36)

3. Pseudo-Tertullian: Poem Against the Marcionites (A.D 267) - The Poem Against the Marcionites refers to Peter's leadership over the Roman church and his martyrdom.

"Of whom the first whom Peter bade to take his place and sit Upon this chair in mightiest Rome where he Himself had sat, was Linus, great, elect, And by the mass approved. And after him Cletus himself the fold's flock undertook; As his successor Anacletus was By lot located: Clement follows him; Well known was he to apostolic men: Next Evaristus ruled without a crime The law. To Sixtus Sextus Alexander Commends the fold: who, after he had filled His lustral times up, to Telesphorus Hands it in order: excellent was Hebrews , And martyr faithful." (Five Books in Reply to Marcion 3359-373) (ANF 4)

4. Hippolytus (A.D 170 to 236) - Hippolytus tells us the tradition that was handed down to him, which describes Peter's widespread apostolic ministry as well as his death at the hands of Nero in Rome.

"Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner." (The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Pt 249: On the Twelve Apostles Where Each of Them Preached, and Where He Met His End)

5. Peter of Alexandria (d.c 311) - Peter, bishop of Alexandria, tells us that Peter and Paul were martyred in the city of Rome.

"Thus, Peter, the preferred of the apostles, having been apprehended and imprisoned often and disgraced, was later crucified in Rome. And the preferred Paul, often handed over and being endangered unto death, many times indeed having contended and boasted in much persecution and affliction, in the same city also he himself was beheaded with a sword." (Epistola Canonica, canon 9) (author's translation) (PG 18484D-485A)

6. Lactantius (A.D 240-320) - Lactantius tells us that Peter ministered in Rome, where he was crucified and Paul killed.

"And while Nero reigned, the Apostle Peter came to Rome, and, through the power of God committed unto him, wrought certain miracles, and, by turning many to the true religion, built up a faithful and stedfast temple unto the Lord… He [Nero] it was who first persecuted the servants of God; he crucified Peter, and slew Paul…" (Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died 2)

7. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) - Eusebius quotes Papias as having said that Mark became Peter's interpreter, who wrote down the things that Peter preached about the Lord Jesus Christ, thus authoring the Gospel by his name.

"‘This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord"s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.' These things are related by Papias concerning Mark. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: ‘So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.' And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. And he relates another story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. These things we have thought it necessary to observe in addition to what has been already stated." (Ecclesiastical History 33915-16)

Eusebius quotes Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, to say that Peter and Paul planted the church at Rome, an issue that is strongly debated, and that both were martyred in Rome at the same time.

"And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans , in the following words: ‘You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.' I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed." (Ecclesiastical History 2258)

Eusebius also quotes Tertullian to say that Peter was crucified under Nero.

"It Isaiah , therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day." (Ecclesiastical History 2255)

Eusebius tells us that Peter was the first bishop of Rome in a long succession of bishops.

"For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, but that from his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth had been corrupted." (Ecclesiastical History 5283)

Eusebius tells us that Peter left Antioch and ministered in Rome for twenty-five years.

"The Apostle Peter, after he has established the church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains as a bishop of that city, preaching the gospel for twenty-five years" (The Chronicle: Olympiad 205) (PG 19 cols 539-540) 236]

236] Peter Kirby, "Was Peter Crucified in Rome Under Nero?," ([email protected]) 16 Jun 1997 [on-line]; accessed 3April 2010; available from http://www.blondguys.net/1997/jun 97/0194.html; Internet.

8. Jerome (A.D 342to 420) - Jerome tells us the tradition that Peter went to Rome during the second year of Claudius and headed the church there for twenty-five years, (a length of time that appears chronologically impossible) at which time he was martyred at the hands of Nero in A.D 68, being nailed upside down.

"Simon Peter the son of John , from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion--the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia--pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. He wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him. Then too the Gospel according to Mark , who was his disciple and interpreter, is ascribed to him. On the other hand, the books, of which one is entitled his Acts , another his Gospel, a third his Preaching, a fourth his Revelation , a fifth his "Judgment" are rejected as apocryphal. Buried at Rome in the Vatican near the triumphal way he is venerated by the whole world." (Lives of Illustrious Men 1)

Jerome also tells us that Peter died around A.D 68 on the same day as Paul.

"He then, in the fourteenth year of Nero on the same day with Peter, was beheaded at Rome for Christ"s sake and was buried in the Ostian way, the twenty-seventh year after our Lord"s passion." (Lives of Illustrious Men 5)

9. John Chrysostom (A.D 347-407) - John Chrysostom believed that Peter and Paul were buried in Rome, thus implying that they died as martyrs in that city.

"Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul be caught up, from thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder ( φριξατε) at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord." (Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans , Homily 32: Romans 16:24)

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on John 13:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/john-13.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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