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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
John 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 12

John 12:1. τεθνηκώς] is wanting in B. L. X. א. Verss. Bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. But those testimonies are here the less decisive, since the word before ὃν ἐγ. ἐκ. νεκρ. . appeared entirely superfluous, and hence was easily dropped. For its addition there was no reason.

John 12:2. ἀνακ. σὺν αὐτῷ] Elz.: συνανακ. αὐτῷ, against decisive testimonies.

John 12:4. Instead of ἰούδ. σίμ. ἰσκαρ., Tisch. has merely ἰούδας ἰσκαρ., and that before εἷς, according to B. L. א. Cursives, Verss., where, however, the position before εἷς is not so strongly supported. σίμωνος was, after John 6:71, John 13:2; John 13:26, readily added.

John 12:6. εἶχεν καί] B. D. L. Q. א. Cursives, Copt. Vulg. Or.: ἔχων. A correction of the style.

John 12:7. εἰς τ. ἡμέρ. τ. ἐνταφ. μ. τετήρ.] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἵνα εἰς τ. ἡμέρ. τ. ἐνταφ. μου τηρήση, after decisive testimonies. Not being understood, the words were altered according to the thought in the parallel passages, especially Mark 14:8.

John 12:8 is entirely wanting in D., and, had the counter testimony been stronger, would have been liable to the suspicion of having been interpolated from Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, if it stood before ἄφες, κ. τ. λ., and occupied the characteristic position of words as in the Synoptics ( πάντοτε first).

John 12:13. ἐκραζον] Lachm. and Tisch., ἐκραύγαζον, after preponderating evidence. The Rcc. is from Matt. and Mark.

John 12:15. θύγατερ] θυγάτηρ (Lachm., Tisch.) is so decisively supported, that the vocative—which of itself might easily find its way into the text—must be traced to the LXX., Zechariah 9:9.

John 12:17. ὅτι] The witnesses are much divided between ὅτι and ὅτε (Tisch.); but the latter (A. B. Q. א.) is the more strongly attested. Nevertheless ὅτι, which Lachm. also has, is to be preferred; it was changed into ὅτε, because mechanically referred to the preceding ἂν μετʼ αὐτοῦ.

John 12:22. καὶ πάλιν] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἔρχεται, and then before λέγουσιν: καί, according to A. B. L. Cursives, Codd. d. It. Aeth. Rightly. The more closely defining κ. πάλιν was added to the repeated ἔρχεται (so א); and as this had at a later time displaced the verb, the καί before λέγουσιν also disappeared, as a disturbing element. Had the verb been written as a gloss, ἔρχονται would have been found.

John 12:25. Instead of ἀπολέσει, read with Tisch. ἀπολλύει, according to B. L. א., etc. The future was introduced through the parallelism.

John 12:26. ἐάν τις] Elz.: καὶ ἐάν τις, against such weighty testimony, that καί was already rightly deleted by Griesb.

John 12:30. The position of φωνὴ αὕτη (Lachm., Tisch.) is decisively accredited.

John 12:31. The first τούτου is wanting in witnesses of too weak authority to cause its rejection (Griesb.).

John 12:35. ἐν ὑμῖν] Elz.: μεθʼ ὑμῶν, against preponderating testimonies. An interpretation.

John 12:35-36. Instead of ἕως, Lachm. and Tisch. have both times ὡς, after decisive testimony. The first ἕως arose through the final letter of the preceding περιπατεῖτε, and the more readily, as a reminiscence of John 9:4 suggested itself. The second ἕως then followed of itself, but has, besides, some other testimonies (including א.) than the first.

John 12:40. ἐπιστραφ.] Lachm. and Tisch.: στραφ., according to B. D. א. 33. The compound form is from the LXX., Isaiah 6:10 (hence also many witnesses have ἐπιστρέψωσιν). On the other hand, ἰάσομαι (so Lachm. and Tisch.) instead of ἰάσωμαι is so decisively supported by almost all the Uncials, that it is not to be traced to the LXX., but the conjunctive is to be regarded as an attempt to conform to what precedes.

John 12:41. ὅτε] Lachm. and Tisch., after decisive testimony: ὅτι, which, not being understood, was altered.

John 12:47. καὶ μὴ πιστεύσῃ] Lachm. and Tisch.: κ. μ. φυλάξῃ, according to preponderating testimonies, and rightly; for πιστ. has manifestly arisen from the preceding (John 12:44; John 12:46). The omission of the μή in D. and Codd. of the It. is to be explained from the apparent paradox.


Verse 1-2

John 12:1-2. οὖν] is the simply resumptive particle by which the narrative returns to Jesus, whom it had quitted at John 11:55. To assume a sequence from John 11:57, so that He is supposed to go to Bethany, either on account of His safety, or of its nearness to Jerusalem (Luthardt: “so consciously and freely He went to meet death”), and in order to put to shame the thought mentioned in John 11:55-57 (Hengstenberg), as though δέ or ἀλλά were expressed,—is not supported by any indication in the text.

πρὸ ἕξ. ἡμ. τοῦ π.] six days before the Passover. Comp. Amos 1:1. Frequently thus in Plutarch, Appian, Josephus. See Kypke, I. p. 393 f. Analogously in definitions of space, as in John 11:18. It is no Latinism. As regards the reckoning of the six days, it is to be observed that, since the 14th Nisan, on the evening of which the paschal meal was kept, was wont to be counted as already belonging entirely to the feast (see on Matthew 26:17), and hence also had been already called ἡμέρα τοῦ πάσχα (see Introd. § 2), the 13th Nisan is most naturally assumed to be the first day before the Passover; consequently the sixth day will be the 8th Nisan, i.e. (since the 14th Nisan, on which Jesus, according to John, died, was a Friday) the Saturday before Easter. So also Ebrard, Godet, and Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 511, who, however, in the Johann. Schr. I. p. 329, without any sufficient grounds, finds the previous evening probable, so that John at once names the full day of the sojourn, with which Godet also substantially agrees. But according to the Synoptics—because they make the 14th Nisan a Thursday—it would have been the Friday before Easter.(101) Against the above assumption of the Saturday as the day of arrival, the law of the Sabbath day’s journey (see on Matthew 24:20) is no objection (against Grotius, Tholuck, Wieseler, and several others), since it is not clear from what place Jesus started on that day; He may, indeed, have arrived from a place that lay very near at hand. Others, reckoning the 14th Nisan as the first day before Easter, regard the 9th Nisan as the day of arrival.(102) Others, again, including in their calculation even the 15th Nisan, arrive at the result of the 10th Nisan (Monday); so Hilgenfeld, Baur, Scholten, where we have the twofold interest directed against the historical truth of the Gospel, to obtain the day of the month for the selection of the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:3), and find the day of the week which opened the Christian Easter week, and from this chronology to demonstrate the secondary relation of our evangelist to the Synoptics. Yet Baeumlein also reckons in this way.

ἦλθεν εἰς βηθανίαν] according to the Harmonists (including Hengstenberg and Godet), making a circuit by Jericho, which is as inappropriate to the Johannean as to the synoptical account (see on Matthew 21:1). The return by Jericho is not reconcilable with the notice in John 11:54, where He, in fact, by the healing of the blind men, and by the visit to Zacchaeus, awakened so much attention.

ὅπου ἦν λάζαρος, κ. τ. λ.] added, on account of the great importance of the matter, without any further special purpose, yet with emphatic circumstantiality.

ἐποίησαν] the family of Bethany, namely, John 11:1-2, which is clear from the following κ. ΄. διηκ.(103) On this and the other variations from the narrative of Matthew 26:6 ff., Mark 14:3 ff., which, however, do not set aside the identity of the occurrence (different from Luke 7:3 ff.), see on Matthew 26:6 ff. The peculiarity of John’s account is founded on the fact of the writer’s being an eye-witness; but is referred by Baur, p. 256 ff., to an eclectic and arbitrary treatment, dependent on an ideal point of view; comp. also Hilgenfeld.

δὲ λάζαρος εἶς ἦν, κ. τ. λ.] appears, indeed, a matter of course (hence Baeumlein and others believe Simon the leper to be indicated as the entertainer); but the complete restoration of him who had been raised from the dead is so weighty a consideration with John, that he further specially brings him forward as the present table companion of his Restorer. This also in answer to Marcker, Passim, p. 17.


Verse 3-4

John 12:3-4. To explain the great quantity of the ointment (12 ounces) as the outcome of the superabundance of her love (Olshausen), is arbitrary. Mary did not anoint with the whole pound, but with a portion of it (comp. on John 12:7). On πιστικός,(104) genuine, unadulterated, see on Mark 14:3.

πολυτίμου] belongs to ΄ύρου, as πολυτελ., Mark 14:3.

τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ] repeated, on account of the correlation with ταῖς θριξὶν αὐτῆς, in order to make prominent the greatness of the love; with her hairs, His feet.

ἐκ τῆς ὀσμῆς] ἐκ causal. Comp. Matthew 23:25; Revelation 8:5; Plat. Phaedr. p. 235 C Dem. 581. 26, et al.

εἷς ἐκ τ. ΄αθ. .] the rest did not agree with him; but it was Judas, etc.

μέλλων, κ. τ. λ.] This utterance stood in truth already in psychological connection with this destiny; see on John 6:71.


Verse 5-6

John 12:5-6. τριακοσίων] Mark 14:5 sets forth the climax in the tradition by ἐπάνω τριακ. The mention of the price itself (about 120 Rhenish guldens, or about £10) is certainly original, not the indefinite πολλοῦ of Matthew 26:9.

πτωχοῖς] without the article: to poor people.

κ. τ. γλωσσ. εἶχε κ. τ. β. ἐβάστ.] gives historical definiteness to the general κλέπτης ἦν. He had the chest, the cash-box (see as regards γλωσσόκ. 2 Chronicles 24:8; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 98 f.), in his keeping, and bore away that which was thrown into it, i.e. he purloined it. This closer definition of the sense of βαστάζειν, auferre (John 20:15; Matthew 7:17; Polyb. i. 48. 2, et al.), is yielded by the context. See Krebs, Obss. p. 153. So Origen, Codd. of the It. Nonnus, Theophylact, Cornelius a Lapide, Kypke, Krebs, and several others, including Maier, Grimm; comp. Lange.(105) The article does not signify that he had taken away all the deposits (objection of Lücke and several others), but refers to the individual cases which we are to suppose, in which deposits were removed by him. The explanation portabat (Vulgate, Luther, Beza, and many others, including Lücke, De Wette, B. Crusius, Luthardt, Ebrard, Wichelhaus, Baeumlein, Godet, Hengstenberg, Ewald; Tholuck doubtful) yields a meaning which is quite tautological, and a matter of course. The βαλλόμενα were gifts of friends and adherents of Jesus for the purchase of the necessities of life and for charitable uses. Comp. Luke 8:3; John 13:29. That the disciples had acquired earnings by the labour of their hands, and had deposited such earnings in the bag, nay, that even Jesus Himself had done so (Mark 6:3),—of this there exists no trace during the period of His ministry.

The question, why Jesus had not taken away the custody of the chest from the dishonest disciple (which indeed, according to Schenkel, he probably did not hold), is not answered by saying that He would remove every pretext for treason from him (Ammonius, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and several others), or that He did not desire violently to interfere with the development of his sins (Hengstenberg); for neither would harmonize with the educative love of the Lord. Just as little, again, is it explained by suggesting that Judas carried on his thefts unobserved, until perhaps shortly before the death of Jesus (Lücke), which would be incompatible with the higher knowledge of the Lord, John 2:25; comp. John 6:64; John 6:71. The question stands rather in the closest connection with another—how Jesus could adopt Judas at all as a disciple; and here we must go back solely to a divine destination, Acts 1:16; Acts 2:23. Comp. the note after John 6:70-71. That the custody of the chest had been entrusted to Judas only by agreement of the disciples among one another (Godet), is an assumption which quite arbitrarily evades the point, while it would by no means have excluded the competency of Jesus to interfere.


Verse 7-8

John 12:7-8. According to the Recepta, Jesus says: “She has fulfilled a higher purpose with the spikenard ointment ( αὐτό); in order to embalm me with it to-day (as though I were already dead), has she (not given it out for the poor, but) reserved it.” Comp. on Matthew 26:12. According to the correct reading, however (see the critical notes): “Let her alone, that she may preserve it (this ointment, of which she has just used a portion for the anointing of my feet, not give it away for the poor, but) for the day of my embalmment” (for behoof of that). Nonnus aptly remarks: ὄφρα φυλάξῃ σώματος ἡμετέρου κειμήλιον, εἰσόκεν ἔλθῃ ἡμετέρων κτερέων ἐπιτύμβιος ὥρη. Comp. also Baeumlein. According to this view, the ἡμέρα τοῦ ἐνταφ. is the actual, impending day of embalmment, in opposition to which, according to the Recepta, the present day of the anointing of the feet would be represented proleptically as that of the anointing of the corpse. The thought of the Recepta is that of the Synoptics; the Johannean carries with it the supposition of originality, and, comparing the thoughtful significance of the two, the Johannean is more in harmony with the circumstance that Mary anointed the feet merely, and by no means resembles a faulty correction (Hengstenberg, Godet). The circumstance that, afterwards, the corpse of Jesus was not actually anointed (Mark 16:1), can, in view of an utterance so rich and deep in feeling, afford no ground for deserting the simple meaning of the words.

τηρεῖν is to be explained, agreeably to the context (comp. John 2:10), as an antithesis to ἐπράθη, John 12:5, but not by the quite arbitrary assumption that the ointment had remained over from the burial of Lazarus (Kuinoel and several others); but to understand τηρήσῃ of the past; that she may have preserved it (B. Crusius, Ebrard) is grammatically wrong.(106) According to Ewald, τηρεῖν is to be understood, as elsewhere, of festal usages (John 9:16): “Let her so observe this on the day of my burial,” so that Jesus would have that day already regarded as equivalent to the day of His burial, when such a loving custom was suitable. But as regards τηρεῖν, see what precedes; instead of the indefinite αὐτό, it, however, τοῦτο was at least to have been expected.

John 12:8. Reason of the statement introduced with ἵνα, κ. τ. λ.

΄εθʼ ἑαυτῶν] in your own neighbourhood, so that you have sufficiently immediate opportunity to give alms to such. For the rest, see on Matthew 26:11.


Verses 9-11

John 12:9-11. οὖν] since Jesus thus tarries in the neighbourhood. The lively intercourse among the pilgrims to the feast tended the more to spread the information.

ἐκ τῶν ἰουδαίων] here again (comp. John 11:19), not generally of the inhabitants of Jerusalem (so usually), but, according to the standing usage in John, of the Jewish opposition. They came, not for Jesus’ sake alone, to observe Him further, but in order also to see Lazarus, and to be convinced of His actual and continued restoration to life. Since, however, many of the ἰουδαῖοι went forth (from Jerusalem) for the sake of Lazarus, and became believers in Jesus, the chief priests (i.e. not indeed the Sanhedrim as such in general, bat rather that part of it which composed its hierarchical head) took counsel to put Lazarus also to death. We have here, accordingly, the antithesis, that the sight of Lazarus subdues many of the hitherto adverse party to faith (comp. already John 11:45); and on the other hand, that the extreme Right of the hierarchy resolves the more energetically to counterwork this.

ἦλθον] Still on Saturday evening and Sunday. The procession of people took place then on Sunday (John 12:12).

ἐβουλ. δέ] Simple continuation of the narrative; hence, neither is δέ to be understood as namely, nor ἐβουλ. as the pluperfect (Tholuck).

οἱ ἀρχιερ.] It was indeed for the interest of the hierarchy (not exactly for that of the Sadducees, Acts 5:17, as Lampe thought, since the chief priests are here adduced as such generally, not according to their possible sectarian tendency) to remove out of the way the living self-witness also on whom the miracle had been wrought, not merely the worker of the miracle Himself. The tyrannical power, in this way, proceeds consistently, in order, as it imagines, to put away even the recollection of the affair. “Praeceps est malitia et semper ultra rapit,” Grotius.

ὑπῆγον] not: they fell away (Cornelius a Lapide, Lampe, Paulus), which, without closer definition, does not lie in the word, but rather: they took themselves off, they removed to a distance; so great an attractive power did the matter possess for them, and then followed the falling away. The separation in the position of the words: πολλοὶτῶν ἰουδαίων, brings both points emphatically out.


Verse 12-13

John 12:12-13. τῇ ἐπαύρ.] after the day designated in John 12:1, consequently Sunday (Palm Sunday), not: after the deliberation mentioned in John 12:10-11 (Ebrard and Olshausen, Leidensgesch. p. 36).

ὄχλ. πολ. κ. τ. λ.] Unprejudiced pilgrims to the feast, therefore not ἰουδαῖοι again.

ἀκούσαντες] perhaps from the ἰουδαῖοι in John 12:11 who had returned as believers.

τὰ βαΐα τ. φ.] as a symbol of joy. The article τῶν (not τά) contains the element of definiteness; the branches of the palm-trees standing on the spot. On βαΐον comp. 1 Maccabees 13:51; Symm. Cant. i. 8; Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 88. The expression: the palm branches of the palms, is similar to οἰκοδεσπότης τῆς οἰκίας, and the like, Lobeck, Paralip. p. 536 f. The thing itself has in other respects nothing to do with an analogy to the Lulab at the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:40). Comp. however, 1 Maccabees 13:51.

ὑπάντησιν αὐτῷ] see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 156 [E. T. p. 320].

ὡσαννά, κ. τ. λ.] See on Matthew 21:9.

βασιλεὺς τ. .] without the article (Lachmann has it; Tischendorf, καὶ ): the King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord.


Verse 14-15

John 12:14-15. εὑρὼν, δὲ κ. τ. λ.] The more detailed circumstances, how He had obtained the young ass ( ὀνάριον), are passed over by John; hence he is not in contradiction with the Synoptics (Matthew 21:2 ff. parall.).

καθώς ἐστι γεγρ.] Zechariah 9:9. See on Matthew 21:5. John cites very freely from memory; hence the omission of the other prophetic predicates (even of the πραΐς in Matt.), because he has in his eye simply the point of the riding in upon the young ass, as a Messianic σημεῖον excluding all doubt. All the more fitted to tranquillize, then ( μὴ φοβοῦ), in ever more peaceful array, without horse and chariot, is the coming of the King of Zion. Instead of μὴ φοβοῦ, John might also have said χαῖρε σφόδρα (LXX.); but there floated before him, in his citation from memory, simply the opposition to that terror by which otherwise a royal entrance may be accompanied. “The Church’s figure of the cross” (Hengstenberg) did not yet lie on this ass’s foal, otherwise John would not have passed over the עָנִי of the passage, nor have found the emphasis in μὴ φοβοῦ.


Verse 16

John 12:16. Observation by John. Comp. John 2:22, John 20:9. But this which here took place, namely, that Jesus mounted a young ass which He had obtained, His disciples at first (when it took place) did not understand, so far, namely, as the connection of the matter with the prediction of the prophet remained still hidden from them; when, however, Jesus was glorified, they remembered (under the illumination of the Spirit, John 7:39, John 14:26) that this, this riding on the young ass, did not accidentally occur, but that it was written of Him, and that they (the disciples) did this, nothing other than this which had been written of Him, to Him, on the occasion of that entrance,—in bringing, namely, the ass to Him, whereby they became the instruments of the fulfilment of prophecy. In this ἐποίησαν αὐτῷ there is the echo from John’s recollection of the way and manner of the εὑρὼν ὀνάριον as known from the Synoptics. To take ἐποίησαν generally: they (indef.) did, and to refer it to John 12:13 (De Wette, Ewald, and older commentators), is incorrect, since the first two ταῦτα can only point to John 12:14-15.

On ἐπʼ αὐτῷ see Bernhardy, p. 249. Winer, p. 367 [E. T. p. 491].


Verse 17-18

John 12:17-18. οὖν] Leading back again after the intermediate observation of John 12:16 to the story, and that in such a way that it is now stated how it was the raising of Lazarus which so greatly excited both the people who thronged with Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem (the ἰουδαῖοι who had become believers, John 12:9; John 12:11, and others, certainly including many inhabitants of Bethany itself), and the multitude which came to meet them from Jerusalem (John 12:12).

ἐμαρτ. κ. τ. λ. ὅτι]

[107] for they had, in truth, themselves seen the reanimated man; had also, perhaps, themselves witnessed in part the process of the miracle, or at least heard of it from eye-witnesses, and could accordingly testify to His resurrection.

ἐφώνησεννεκρῶν] The echo of their triumphant words.

διὰ τοῦτοὅτι] On this account (on account of this raising from the dead), namely, because; see on John 10:17.

ὑπήντησεν] not pluperfect in sense, but: they went to meet (as already stated above, John 12:12-13).

ὄχλος] The article points to John 12:12.

ἤκουσαν] namely, previously, in Jerusalem.

τοῦτο] with emphasis; hence also the separation in the order of the words.

NOTE.

While we necessarily recognise the main difference between the Synoptics and John, namely, that according to the former, the journey of Christ to Jerusalem is made from Jericho, where He had remained for the night at the house of Zacchaeus, and the stay in Bethany is excluded (see on Matthew 21:1, note), the Messianic entry is yet one and the same event in all four evangelists. Against the assumption of an entry on two occasions (Paulus, Schleiermacher, üb. d. Schriften des Luk. p. 243 ff., and L. J. p. 407 ff.), according to which He is said first to have made an entry from Jericho, and, one or two days later, again from Bethany, the very nature of the transaction is decisive, to which a repetition, and one moreover so early, was not appropriate, without degenerating into an organized procession. Only in the view of its occurring once, and of its being brought about accidentally, as it were, by the circumstances, does it retain a moral agreement with the mind of Jesus. With this view, too, all four accounts conform, and they all show not merely by their silence respecting a second procession, but also by the manner in which they represent the one, that they are entirely ignorant of any repetition. Such a repetition, especially one so uniform in character, would be as improbable in itself, as it must be opposed to the course of development of the history of Jesus, which here especially, when the last bloody crisis is prepared for by the entry of the Messianic King, must preserve its divine decorum, and finds its just measure in the simple fulfilment of the prophetic prediction.


Verse 19

John 12:19. Contrast to the triumph; the despairing self-confession of the Pharasaic adversaries, not as Chrysostom, in spite of the article in οἱ φαρισ., explained of the quiet friends of Jesus among the Pharisees.

πρὸς ἑαυτούς] to one another; but ἀλλήλ. is not employed, because the utterance is to appear as limited to the particular circle. Comp. on John 7:35.

θεωρεῖτε, κ. τ. λ.] You perceive that we profit nothing, namely, by our previous cautious, expectant, feeble procedure. “Approbant Caiaphae consilium,” Bengel.

κόσμος] designation, indicative of their despair, of the great multitude. Comp. עולם in the Rabbins. See Wetstein.

In ἀπῆλθεν (is gone from thence) is contained, by means of the pragmatic connection with ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ, the representation of the falling away from the legitimate hierarchical power. Comp. ὕπηγον, John 12:11.


Verse 20

John 12:20. The Hellenes are, as in John 7:35, not Greek Jews, Hellenists (Calvin, Semler, B. Crusius, Ewald), but Gentiles,—proselytes, however, as is shown by what follows (note especially the pres. part. ἀναβαιν.: who were wont to go up), and that of the gate, like the Aethiopian chamberlain, Acts 8:27, not pure Gentiles (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Salmasius, Selden, and several others, including Paulus, Klee, Schweizer).

Where did the scene take place? Probably in the court of the temple, with which locality, at least, the entry just related, and the connected transactions, onwards to John 12:36, best correspond. According to Baur, however (comp. also Scholten), the whole affair is to be referred simply to the idea of the author, who makes Jesus, under the ascendancy of Jewish unbelief, to be glorified by believing heathendom. This idea is that of the history itself. Bengel rightly observes: “Praeludium regni Dei a Judaeis ad gentes transituri.”


Verse 21-22

John 12:21-22. The Messianic hope, which they as proselytes share, draws their hearts to Him whose Messiahship has just found so open and general a recognition. They wish to see Jesus, that is, to be introduced to Him, in order to make His nearer personal acquaintance, and this it is which they modestly express. For mere seeing, as in Luke 19:3, any intervention of a third party (as Brückner now also recognises) would not have been required.

Whether they came to Philip accidentally, or because the latter was known to them (perhaps they were from Galilee), remains undetermined. To presuppose in Philip, on account of his Greek name, a Greek education (Hengstenberg), is arbitrary.

κύριε] not without the tender of honour, which they naturally paid even to the disciple of a Master so admired, who truly appeared to be the very Messiah.

That Philip first communicates the proposal to Andrew, who was possibly in more confidential relations with Christ (Mark 13:3), and who was on terms of intimacy with him by the fact of the same birthplace (John 1:45), and that with him he carries out their wish, rests on the circumstance that he was himself too timid to be the means of bringing about an interview between the Holy One of God—whose immediate destination he knew to be for Israel—and Gentiles. His was a circumspect nature, prone to scruples (John 6:5 ff., John 14:8-9). “Cum sodali, audet,” Bengel. Note the stamp of originality which appears in such side-touches.

In the reading ἔρχεται ἀνδρ. κ. φ. καὶ λέγουσι τῷ . (see critical notes), observe (1) the lively manner of representation in the repetition of ἔρχεται; (2) the change of the singular to the plural of the verb, which also is found in the classical writers. Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 16, and Kühner in loc.


Verse 23

John 12:23. The proposal of the Gentiles which had been brought to Him, awakens in Jesus, with peculiar force and depth, the thought of His approaching death; for through His death was His salvation in truth to be conveyed to the Gentiles (John 10:16-17).

Accordingly, that wish of the Gentiles must appear to Him as already a beginning of that which was to be effected by His death. Hence His answer to those two disciples (not to the ἕλληνες, Ebrard), which is pervaded by a full presentiment of the crisis at hand, and at the close, John 12:27, resolves itself into a prayer of deep emotion, but, by means thereof, into complete surrender to the Father. This answer is consequently neither inappropriate (De Wette), nor does it contain an indirect refusal of the request of the Greeks (Ewald, Hengstenberg, Godet); nor is the granting of it to be thought of as having taken place before, and as having been passed over in silence by John (Tholuck, B. Crusius, and older commentators), which the text refutes by the words ἀπεκρίνατο αὐτοῖς, which continue the narrative without any further remarks; nor is the petition of the Gentiles to be regarded as indirectly complied with, namely, by the fact that the apostles brought it before Jesus, and that the latter then began to speak (Luthardt)—which amounts to the improbability that Jesus, by the following speech, desired to make a display before those Gentiles (whom Ewald also supposes to have been present); but the admission of the Gentiles which was to have taken place after this outpouring of emotion, did not, however, take place, because the voice from heaven, John 12:28, interrupted and changed the scene.(108) The theory that in John 5:23 ff. the synoptical accounts of the transfiguration, and of the conflict of soul in Gethsemane, are either fused into a historical mixture (Strauss), or formed into an ideal combination (Baur), proceeds from presuppositions, according to which it is possible to adduce even Galatians 2:9 as a witness against John 12:20 (see against this, Bleek, p. 250 ff.), as Baur has done.

ἐλήλυθεν] Placed first with emphasis.

ἵνα] Comp. John 13:1, John 16:2; John 16:32. The hour is conceived of absolutely (in the consciousness of Jesus the present hora fatalis κατʼ ἐξοχήν), and that which is to take place in it, as the divine appointment for its having arrived.

δοξασθῇ] through death, as the necessary passage to the heavenly glory. Comp. John 17:5, John 6:62; 1 Peter 1:11.


Verse 24

John 12:24. My death, however, is necessary to the successful and victorious development of my work, as the wheat-corn must fall into the earth and die, in order to bring forth much fruit. The solemn assurance ( ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν, κ. τ. λ.) is in keeping with the difficulty of getting the disciples to accept the idea of His death.

ἀποθάνῃ] For the vital principle in the corn, the germ, forces itself out; thus the corn is dead, and become a prey to dissolution, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:36

αὐτὸς μόνος] by itself alone, John 6:15. Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 314. The life of the corn which has not fallen into the earth remains limited and bound to itself, without the possibility of a communication and unfolding of life outwards issuing from it, such as only follows in the case of that corn which dies in the earth through the bursting forth of the living germ, and in this way of death produces much fruit. Thus, also, with Christ; it is through His death that there first comes upon all peoples and times the rich blessing which is destined for the world. Comp. John 12:32.


Verse 25

John 12:25. As it is my vocation, so also is it that of those who are mine, to surrender the temporal, in order to gain the eternal life. Comp. Matthew 10:39; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33.

The ψυχή is in each instance the soul, as αὐτήν also is to be taken in like manner in each instance. This is clear from its being distinguished from ζωή. He who loves his soul, will not let it go ( φιλοψυχῶν ἐν καιρῷ μαρτυρίου, Euth. Zigabenus), loses it (see critical notes)—i.e. he thereby brings about that it falls into the death of everlasting condemnation; and he who hates his soul in this world (gives it up with joy, as something which, moreover, is a hindrance to eternal salvation, and in so far must be hated) will preserve it for everlasting life, keep it to himself as a possession in the everlasting Messianic life. Note the correlatives: φιλῶν and μισῶν ἀπολέσει, and φυλάξει (comp. John 17:12), ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ τούτῳ (in the pre-Messianic world), and εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

On μισεῖν, whose meaning is not to be altered, but to be understood relatively, in opposition to φιλοψυχία, comp. Luke 14:26. “Amor, ut pereat; odium ne pereat; si male amaveris, tunc odisti; si bene oderis, tunc amasti,” Augustine.


Verse 26

John 12:26. Requirement and promise, in accordance with that which was expressed generally in John 12:25.

ἀκολ.] on the way of my life-surrender; comp. Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24.

ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγώ] comp. John 14:3, John 17:24. The pres. tense represents the fut. as present: where I am, there will also my servant be, namely, after I have raised him up (John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54) in the Parousia. Comp. John 14:3, John 17:24. That following after me will lead him into blessed fellowship with me in my kingdom. Comp. Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:11-12. For the counterpart, see John 7:34. According to Luthardt (comp. Euth. Zigabenus 1), the being on the same way is meant, consequently the contents of that requirement are simply turned into a promise. A feeble tautology, especially after John 12:25 ( εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον).

ἐάν τις ἐμ. διακ. κ. τ. λ.] Parallel with the preceding, further designating, particularly and specifically, the promised happiness, and that in the light of the divine recompense contained in it. This thought is expressed by the conjunction of διακονῇ and τιμήσει, which verbs have the emphasis (it is different previously, when ἐμοίἐμοὶ bore the emphasis); he who serves me, him will the Father honour, actually, through the δόξα in the everlasting life, comp. Romans 2:10; Romans 8:17. The διακονεῖν, however, is here to be understood with the previously enjoined quality of following Christ.


Verse 27-28

John 12:27-28. The realization of His sufferings and death, with which His discourse from John 12:23 was filled, shakes Him suddenly with apprehension and momentary wavering, springing from the human sensibility, which naturally seeks to resist the heaviest suffering, which He must yet undergo. To define this specially as the feeling of the divine anger (Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Hengstenberg, and many others), which He has certainly appeased by His death, rests on the supposition, which is nowhere justified, that, according to the object of the death (John 1:29, John 3:14, John 10:11-12; Matthew 20:28; Romans 8:3; Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21, et al.), its severity also is measured in the consciousness. Bengel well says: “concurrebat horror mortis et ardor obedientiae.” The Lord is thus moved to pray; but He is for the moment uncertain for what ( τί εἴπω), ἀπορούμετος ὑπὸ τῆς ἀγωνίας, Euth. Zigabenus. First, a momentary fear of the sufferings of death (comp. on Luke 12:50) obtains the upper hand, in virtue of that human weakness, in which even He, the Son of God, because He had become man, had His share (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 5:7-8), and He prays: Father, save me from this hour, spare me this death-suffering which is awaiting me, quite as in Matthew 26:39, so that He thus not merely “cries for support through it, and for a shortening of it” (Ebrard). But immediately this wish, resulting from natural dread of suffering and death,(109) yields to the victorious consciousness of His great destiny; He gives expression to the latter ( ἀλλὰ διὰ το ῦτο, κ. τ. λ.), and now prays: Father, glorify Thy name; i.e., through the suffering of death appointed to me, let the glory of Thy name (of Thy being in its self-presentation, comp. on Matthew 6:9) be manifested. The fulfilment of this prayer was brought about in this way, that by means of the death of Jesus (and of His consequent δόξα) the divine decree of salvation was fulfilled, then everywhere made known through the gospel, in virtue of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16 ff.), and obedience to the faith established to the honour of the Father, which is the last aim of the work of Christ, Philippians 2:11.

ψυχή ΄ου] not as a designation of individual grief (Olshausen), but as the seat of the affections generally. He might also have said τὸ πνεῦμά μου (comp. John 11:33; John 11:38), but would then have meant the deeper basis of life, to which the impressions of the ψυχή, which is united with the σάρξ, are conveyed. Comp. on Luke 1:46-47.

πάτερ, σῶσόν ΄ε, κ. τ. λ.] The hour of suffering is regarded as present, as though He were already at that hour. To take the words interrogatively: shall I say: save me? etc. (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, Jansen, Grotius, Lampe, and many others, including Lachmann, Tholuck, Kling, Schweizer, Maier, Lange, Ewald, Godet) yields the result of an actual prayer interwoven into a reflective monologue, and is therefore less suitable to a frame of mind so deeply moved.

ἀλλά] objecting, like our but no! See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 36; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 13 f.

διὰ τοῦτο] Wherefore, is contained in the following prayer, πάτερ, δόξασον, κ. τ. λ. Consequently: therefore, in order that through my suffering of death Thy name may be glorified. The completion: in order that the world might be redeemed (Olshausen and older commentators), is not supplied by the context; to undergo this suffering (Grotius, De Wette, Luthardt, Lange, Ebrard, Godet; comp. Hengstenberg: “in order that my soul may be shaken”) is tautological; and Lampe: to be saved, is inappropriate. The τοῦτο is here preparative; let only διὰ τοῦτοταύτην be enclosed within dashes, and the sense is made clearly to appear: but no—therefore I came to this hour

Father, glorify, etc. Jesus might have said: ἀλλὰ, πάτερ, δόξασον σου τὸ ὄνομα, διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ ἦλθον . τ. . τ. But the language, deeply emotional, throbs more unconnectedly, and as it were by starts.

The repetition of πάτερ corresponds to the thrill of filial affection.

σου stands emphatically, in the first place, in antithesis to the reference which the previous prayer of Jesus contained to Himself. On the subject-matter, comp. Matthew 26:39.

οὖν] corresponding to this petition.

φωνὴ ἐκ τ. οὐρ.] The voice which came from heaven: I have glorified it (in Thy mission and Thy whole previous work), and shall again (through Thine impending departure by means of death to the δόξα) glorify it,(110) is not to be regarded as actual, natural thunder (according to the O. T. view conceived of as the voice of the Lord, as in Psalms 29, Job 37:4, and frequently), in which only the subjective disposition, the so-attuned inner ear of Jesus (and of the disciples), distinguished the words καὶ ἐδόξασα, κ. τ. λ.; while others, less susceptible to this divine symbolism of nature, believed only in a general way, that in the thunder an angel had spoken with Jesus; while others again, unsusceptible, understood the natural occurrence simply and solely as such, and took it for nothing further than what it objectively was. So substantially, not merely Paulus, Kuinoel, Lücke, Ammon, De Wette, Maier, Baeumlein, and several others, but also Hengstenberg.(111) Several have here had recourse to the later Jewish view of Bath-Kol (by which, however, only real literal voices, not natural phenomena, without speech, were understood; see Lübkert in the Stud. u. Krit. 1835, 3), as well as to the Gentile interpretations of thunder as the voice of the gods (see Wetstein). Against this entire view, it is decisive that John himself, the ear-witness, describes a φωνὴ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, which was an objective occurrence; that he further repeats its express words; that, further, to take the first half of these words referring to the past, as the product of a merely subjective perception, is without any support in the prayer of Jesus; that, further, Jesus Himself, John 12:30, gives His confirmation to the occurrence of an actual voice; that, finally, the ἄλλοι also, John 12:29, must have heard a speech. Hence we must abide by the interpretation that a voice actually issued from heaven, which John relates, and Jesus confirms as an objective occurrence. It is a voice which came miraculously from God (as was the case, according to the Synoptics, at the baptism and the transfiguration), yet as regards its intelligibility conditioned by the subjective disposition and receptivity of the hearers (so also Tholuck, Olshausen, Kling, Luthardt, Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 391 f., Lange, Ebrard, Godet following the old commentators), which sounded with a tone as of thunder, so that the definite words which resounded in this form of sound remained unintelligible to the unsusceptible, who simply heard that majestic kind of sound, but not its contents, and said: βροντὴν γεγονέναι; whereas, on the other hand, others, more susceptible, certainly understood this much, that the thunder-like voice was a speech, but not what it said, and thought an angel (comp. Acts 23:9) had spoken in this thunder-voice to Jesus. This opinion of theirs, however, does not justify us in regarding the divine word which was spoken as also actually communicated by angelic ministry (Hofmann), since, in fact, the utterance of the ἄλλοι is not adduced as at all the true account, and since, moreover, the heavenly voice, according to the text, appears simply and solely as the answer of the Father.


Verse 30-31

John 12:30-31. ἀπεκρίθη] not to the disciples (Tholuck), but, according to John 12:29, with reference to these two expressions of opinion from the people. He lets their opinions, as to what and whose the voice was, alone, but recognises in their hearts the more dangerous error, that they do not put the voice (this thunder or this angelic speech, according to their supposition) in any relation to themselves.

διʼ ἐμέ] to assure me that my prayer has been heard; “novi patris animum in me,” Erasmus.

διʼ ὑμᾶς] in relation to you to overcome unbelief, and to strengthen faith. Comp. John 11:42.

νῦν κρίσις, κ. τ. λ.] Not an interpretation of the voice (Hengstenberg), but also not without reference to διʼ ὑμᾶς (Engelhardt), which is too weighty an element. Rather: how the crisis of this time presses for the use of that διʼ ὑμᾶς!

νῦννῦν] with triumphant certainty of victory, treating the near future as present; now, now, is it gone so far! He speaks “quasi certamine defunctus,” Calvin.

κρίσις] Now is judgment, i.e. judicial (according to the context: condemnatory) decision passed upon this world, i.e. on the men of the αἰὼν οὗτος who reject faith. This judgment is an actual one; for in the victory of the Messianic work of salvation, which was to be brought about by the death of Jesus, and His exaltation to the heavenly glory connected therewith,(112) the κόσμος was to be set forth in the entire sinfulness and weakness of its hostility towards Christ, and thereby in fact judged.(113) Comp. John 16:9-10; John 16:33. This victory the ruler of this world in particular ( τ. κόσμ. τ. solemnly repeated), the devil, was to submit to;(114) his dominion must have an end, because the death of Jesus effected the reconciliation of humanity, by which reconciliation all were to be drawn away from the devil by becoming believers, and were to be placed under the spiritual power of the Christ exalted to glory, John 12:32, Romans 5:12 ff.; Philippians 2:9-11. He is called the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, as the ruler of the unbelieving, Christ- opposing humanity (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12), as in the writings of Rabbins, he, as ruler of the Gentiles, in opposition to God and His people, bears this as a standing name ( שר העולם). See Lightfoot and Schoettgen, also in Eisenmenger, Entdeckt. Judenthum, I. p. 647 ff. Here he is so called, because the very κρίσις of his dominium, the κόσμος, was declared.

ἐκβληθήσεται ἔξω] The necessarily approaching removal of the power of the devil through the death and the exaltation of Jesus is vividly represented as a casting out from his empire, namely from the κόσ΄ος οὔτος. Only this supplement is yielded by the context, not τῆς ἀρχῆς (Euth. Zigabenus, Beza), nor τοῦ δικαστηρίου (Theophylact), nor out of the kingdom of God (Ewald), and least of all τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:8, so Olshausen; hence the reading κάτω). The indefinite rendering: he is repulsed (De Wette; comp. Plat. Menex. p. 243 B Soph. Oed. R. 386), or to be removed from the presence of the judge (Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 449), is not sufficient, on account of the appended ἔξω.

Note further, that the victory here announced over this world and over the reign of the devil was indeed decided, and commenced with the death and the exaltation of Christ, but is in a state of continuous development onwards to its consummation at the last day (comp. Revelation 20:10); hence the passages of the N. T. on the continuing power and influence of the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; Romans 16:20; 1 Peter 5:8, and many others) do not stand in contradiction to the present passage. Comp. Colossians 2:15.


Verse 32-33

John 12:32-33. And I shall establish my own dominion in room of the devil’s rule.

κἀγώ] with victorious emphasis, in opposition to the devil.

ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τ. γῆς] so that I shall be no more upon the earth. Comp. on ὑψόω ἐκ, Psalms 9:14. Probably Jesus (differently in John 3:14) used the verb רום (comp. Syr.): אם הרמתי מן הארץ. This exaltation from earth into heaven to the Father (John 7:33; Acts 2:33; Acts 6:31) was to be brought about by the death of the cross; and this manner of His death, Jesus, in the opinion of John, indicated (John 18:32, John 21:19) by the word ὑψωθῶ (comp. John 3:14, John 8:28). According to John, it is then the designation of the return from earth to heaven, which Jesus gives by ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τ. γ., not merely a representation of His death, so far as the latter exalts him to the Father, but an announcement of the manner of the death (comp. John 18:32, John 21:19), through which He will end His earthly life, because He was to die exalted on the cross. But this interpretation of John’s does not justify us in straightway understanding ὑψ. ἐκ τ. γ. of the crucifixion (so the Fathers, and most older commentators, including Kling, Frommann, Hengstenberg), which is forbidden by ἐκ τῆς γῆς, nor in finding therein(115) a “sermo anceps” (Beza and several others, including Luthardt, Ebrard, Godet, comp. Engelhardt), since by the very force of ἐκ τ. γ. the double sense is excluded. It belongs to the freedom of mystic exposition linking itself to a single word (comp. John 9:7), as it was sufficiently suggested, especially here, by the recollection of the ὑψωθῆναι already employed in John 3:14, and is therewith just as justifiable in itself in the sense of its time as it is wanting in authority for the historical understanding. To this mystical interpretation is opposed, indeed, the expression ἐκ τῆς γῆς (comp. Isaiah 53:8); but John was sufficiently faithful in his account not to omit this ἐκ τ. γῆς for the sake of his interpretation of ὑψωθῶ, and simply adhered to this ὑψ., and disregarded the context.(116)

On ἐάν, comp. on John 14:3.

πάντας ἑλκ. πρὸς ἐμαυτ.] all, i.e. not merely adherents of all nations, or all elected ones and the like, but all men, so that thus none remain belonging to the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. But to the latter, to the devil, stands opposed, not the mere πρὸς ἐμέ, but to myself, to my own community. Comp. John 14:3; ἐμαυτόν never stands for the simple ἐμέ, not even in John 14:21 (against Tholuck). The ἑλκύειν takes place by means of the Holy Spirit, who, given by the exalted Lord (John 7:39, John 16:7), and representing Himself (John 14:18-19), wins men for Christ in virtue of faith, and, by means of internal moral compulsion, places them in the fellowship of love, of obedience, and of the true and everlasting ζωή with Him. Comp. John 6:44, where this is said of the Father. The fulfilment of this promise is world-historical, and continually in process of realization (Romans 10:18), until finally the great goal will be reached, when all will be drawn to the Son, and form one flock under one shepherd (John 10:16). In this sense πάντας is to be left without any arbitrary limitation (Luthardt’s limitation is baseless: all, namely, those whom He draws to Himself). For the manner in which Paul recognised the way and manner of the last consummation of the promise thus made, see Romans 11:25-26.


Verse 34

John 12:34. The people—rightly understanding ἐὰν ὑψ. ἐκ τ. γῆς, John 12:32, of an exaltation to take place by the way of death—gather thence, that in accordance therewith no everlasting duration of life ( μένει, see on John 21:22) is destined for Him on the earth, and do not find this reconcilable with that which they on their part ( ἡμεῖς) had heard out of the Scripture ( νόμος, as in John 10:34) of the Messiah ( ἠκούσ., namely, by reading, comp. Galatians 4:21). They reflect on the scriptural doctrine (comp. also the older book of Enoch) of the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah, which they apprehend as an earthly kingdom, and especially on passages like Psalms 110:4, Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 9:7, and particularly Daniel 7:13-14.

From the latter passage, not from John 12:23, where He does not speak to the people, they put in the mouth of Christ the words τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρ., as He had designated Himself so frequently by this Messianic appellation, in order at once to make manifest that He, although He so terms Himself, yet on account of the contradictory token of the ὑψωθῆναι ἐκ τ. γῆς which He ascribes to Himself, cannot be the Danielian Son of man, He who was so characterized in the Scripture; the Son of man, by which name He is wont to designate Himself, must in truth be quite another person.

οὗτος] this strange Son of man, who is in opposition to the Scripture, over whom that ὑψωθῆναι is said to be impending.(117) That the speakers, however, were unacquainted with the appellation υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρ. for Jesus (Brückner) is, after the first half of the verse, not to be assumed.


Verse 35-36

John 12:35-36. Jesus does not enter upon the question raised, but directs the questioners to that one point which concerns them, with the intensity and seriousness of one who is on the point of taking His departure. To follow this one direction must indeed of itself free them from all those doubts and questions.

ἐν ὑμῖν] among you.

περιπ. ὡς τὸ φῶς ἔχετε] On the reading ὡς, see the critical notes. Walk as you have the light, i.e. in conformity with the fact that you have among you the possessor and bearer of the divine truth (comp. on John 8:12); be not slothful, but spiritually active, and awake in the enjoyment of this relation, just as one does not rest and lie still when he has the bright light of day, but walks in order to attain the end in view before the darkness breaks in (see what follows). On ὡς as assigning the motive (in the measure that), comp. generally on John 13:34, and here especially on Galatians 6:10. Ellendt aptly says, Lex. Soph. II. p. 1008: “nec tamen causam per se spectatam, sed quam qnis, qualis sit, indicat.” The signification quamdiu (Baeumlein) is not borne by ὡς, not even in Soph. Aj. 1117 (see, Schneidewin in loc.), Phil. 635. 1330.

ἵνα μὴ σκοτία, κ. τ. λ.] in order that—which would smite you as a penal destiny in retribution of your μὴ περιπατεῖνdarkness (the element opposed to the divine truth of salvation, which still at present shines upon you) may not seize you, like a hostile power. Comp. John 1:21 : ἐσκοτίσθη ἀσύνετος αὐτῶν καρδία. On καταλάβῃ, comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:4; also in the classics very frequently of danger, misfortune, and the like, which befall any one. Arrian, Alex. i. 5. 17 : εἰ νὺξ καταλήψεται αὐτούς.

καὶ περιπ., κ. τ. λ.] and how dangerous would this condition be! This is brought home in a sentence from ordinary life; comp. John 11:9, John 9:4.

ποῦ ὑπάγει] whither he is departing, John 3:8. Thus the ἐσκοτισμένος goes away, without knowing the unhappy end, into everlasting destruction; comp. 1 John 2:11. For the opposite of this ποῦ ὑπάγει, see John 8:14; John 8:21, John 16:5, et al.

ὡς τ. φῶς ἔχετε] Repeated and placed first with great emphasis.

πιστεύετε εἰς τ. φῶς, ἵνα, κ. τ. λ.] More minute designation of that which was previously intended by the figurative περιπατεῖτε.

υἱοὶ τοῦ φῶτ.] Enlightened persons. See on Luke 16:8; Ephesians 5:8.

γένησθε] not be, but become. Faith is the condition and the beginning of it; comp. John 1:12.

ἐκρύβη ἀπʼ αὐτῶν] The situation in John 8:59 is different. He now, according to the account of John, withdraws from them into concealment, probably to Bethany, in order to spend these last days of life, before the arrival of His hour, in the quiet confidential circle, not as a prelude, “summi judicii occultationis Domini” (Lampe, Luthardt), which is not indicated, and is all the more without support, that the last discourse was not condemnatory, but only hortatory.


Verse 37

John 12:37. At the close of the public ministry of Jesus there now follows a general observation on its results in respect to faith in Him, as far as John 12:50.

τοσαῦτα] not so great (Lücke, De Wette, and several others), but so many,(118), John 6:9, John 14:9, John 21:11. Comp. the admissions of the Jews themselves, John 7:31, John 11:47. The multitude of the miracles, i.e. the so-often-repeated miraculous demonstration of His Messianic δόξα, must have convinced them (comp. John 20:30), had they not been blinded and hardened by a divine destiny. The reference, however, of τοσαῦτα is not: so many as have hitherto been related, for our Gospel contains the fewest miraculous narratives,—but it lies in the notoriety of the great multitude in general. Comp. John 14:9; 1 Corinthians 14:10; Hebrews 4:7.

ἔμπροσθ. αὐτ.] before their eyes.

οὐκ ἐπίστ. εἰς αὐτ.] summary statement.


Verse 38

John 12:38. ἱνα] in order that, according to divine determination, the prophecy might be fulfilled. This “in order that” contains the definite assumption that the prophet Isaiah predicted what, according to divine destiny, was to come to pass; thus, then, the historical fulfilment stood in necessary relation of final cause to the prediction. Comp. on Matthew 1:22.

ὃν εἶπε] similar pleonasms, which, however, as here, may denote an emphatic circumstantiality, are found also in the Greek writers, as in Xen. Cyr. viii. 2. 14, Anab. i. 9. 11. The passage is Isaiah 53:1, closely following the LXX. The lament of the prophet over the unbelief of his time towards his preaching (and that of his fellows, ἡμῶν), and towards the mighty working of God announced by him, has, according to the Messianic character of the whole grand oracle, its reference and fulfilment in the unbelief of the Jews towards Jesus; so that in the sense of this fulfilment, the speaking subject (addressing God, κύριε, comp. Matthew 27:46), which Isaiah introduces, is Jesus, not the evangelist and those of like mind with him (Luthardt).

τῇ ἀκοῇ ἡμ.] to that heard from us, i.e. to the message which they receive from us (comp. on Romans 10:16), not: which we receive (comp. Sirach 43:24), namely, actually in Christ (Luthardt), as Hengstenberg also understands it of that which we have received through revelation (comp. Euth. Zigabenus). Comp. on the genitive, Plat. Phaedr. p. 274 C Pausan. viii. 41. 6; Pind. Pyth. i. 162. The plural, however, ἡμῶν, comprises God and Christ in the fulfilment.

βραχίων κυρ.] Plastic expression for the power of God (comp. Luke 1:51; Acts 13:17; Wisdom of Solomon 5:16; Wisdom of Solomon 11:21; Baruch 2:11; Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 52:10), and that according to the Messianic signification; in the miraculous signs of Christ—in which the unbelieving do not recognise the brachium Dei. “In se exsertum est, sed caeci non viderunt illud,” Bengel. But to understand Christ Himself (Augustine, Photius, Euth. Zigabenus, Beda, Ruperti, Zeger, Jansen, Maldonatus, Calovius, and several others) is required neither by the original text nor here by the connection.


Verse 39-40

John 12:39-40. διὰ τοῦτοὅτι] as always in John (see on John 10:17): therefore, referring to what precedes, on account of this destiny contained in John 12:38namely, because, so that thus with ὅτι the reason is still more minutely set forth. Ebrard foists in an entirely foreign course of thought, because Israel has not willed to believe, therefore has she not been able to believe. Contrary to that Johannean use of διὰ τοῦτοὅτι, Theophylact, Beza, Jansen, Lampe, and several others, including Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, B. Crusius, Luthardt, take διὰ τοῦτο as preparative.

οὐκ ἠδύναντο] not: nolebant (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Wolf), but—and therewith the enigma of that tragic unbelief is solved—they could not, expressing the impossibility which had its foundation in the divine judgment of obduracy. “Hic subsistit evangelista, quis ultra nitatur?” Bengel. On the relation of this inability, referred back to the determination of God, to moral freedom and responsibility, see on Romans 9-11.

τετύφλωκεν] The passage is Isaiah 6:9-10, departing freely from the original and from the LXX. In the original the prophet is said, at the command of God, to undertake the blinding, etc., that is, the intellectual and moral hardening (“harden the heart,” etc.). Thus what God then will allow to be done is represented by John in his free manner of citation as done by God Himself, to which the recollection of the rendering of the passage given by the LXX. (“the heart has become hardened,” etc.) might easily lead. The subject is thus neither Christ (Grotius, Calovius, and several others, including Lange and Ebrard), nor the devil (Hilgenfeld, Scholten), but, as the reader would understand as a matter of course, and as also the entire context shows (for the necessity in the divine fate is the leading idea), God. Christ first appears as subject in ἰάσομαι.

πεπώρ.] has hardened. See Athenaeus, 12, p. 549 B Mark 6:52; Mark 8:17; Romans 11:7; 2 Corinthians 3:14.

καὶ στραφῶσι] and (not) turn, return to me.

ἰάσομαι] Future, dependent on ἵνα μή. See on Matthew 13:15. The moral corruption is viewed as sickness, which is healed by faith (John 12:37; John 12:39). Comp. Matthew 9:12; 1 Peter 2:24. The healing subject, however, cannot, as in Matthew 8:15, Acts 28:27, be God (so usually), simply because this is the subject of τετύφλωκεν, κ. τ. λ., but it must be Christ; in His mouth, according to the Johannean view of the prophecy from the standpoint of its fulfilment, Isaiah puts not merely the utterance in John 12:38, but also the words τετύφλωκενἰάσομαι αὐτούς, and thus makes Him say: God has blinded the people, etc., that they should not see, etc., and should not turn to Him (Christ), and He (Christ) should heal them. Nonnus aptly says: ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀλάωσεν ἐμῶν ἐπιμάρτυρας ἔργωνμὴ κραδίῃ νοέωσικαί μοι ὑποστρέψωσι, νοοβλαβέας δὲ σαώσω ἄνδρας ἀλιτραίνοντας ἐμῷ παιήονι μύθῳ. Thus the 1st person ἰάσομαι is not an instance of “negligence” (Tholuck, comp. his A. T. im N. T. p. 3 5 f. ed. 6), but of consistency.


Verse 41

John 12:41. ὅτι (see the critical notes): because he saw His glory, and (in consequence of this view) spoke of Him. This was the occasion that moved him, and it led to his speaking what is contained in John 12:40.

αὐτοῦ] refers to Christ, the subject of ἰάσομαι, John 12:40, and the chief person in the whole subject under contemplation (John 12:37). According to Isaiah 6:1 ff., the prophet, indeed, beheld God’s glory, God sitting upon His throne, attended by seraphim, etc.; but in the O. T. theophanies, it is just Christ who is present as the Logos,(119) and their glory is His. See on John 1:1. Of course the glory of Christ before the incarnation is intended, the μορφὴ θεοῦ (Philippians 2:6), in which He was.

καὶ ἐλαλ. περὶ αὐτοῦ] still dependent on ὅτι; ἐλάλησε has the emphasis as the correlate of εἶδε.


Verse 42-43

John 12:42-43. ὅμως μέντοι] yet, notwithstanding, Herod. i. 189; Plat. Crit. p. 54 D, Men. p. 92 E comp. the strengthened ὅμως γε μέντοι, Klotz, ad Devar. p. 343; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 172 f. It limits the judgment on the unbelief of the Jews, which had previously been expressed in general terms.

καὶ ἐκ τ. ἀρχ.] even of the Sanhedrists (in secret, John 7:48).

διὰ τοὺς φαρισ.] the most hostile and dreaded party opposed to Jesus in and outside the Sanhedrim.

ἀποσυνάγ.] comp. John 9:22.

τὴν δόξ. τ. ἀνθρ.] the honour coming from men. Comp. John 5:44.

τὴν δόξ. τοῦ θεοῦ] the honour which God imparts. Comp. Romans 3:23. They preferred the honour of men (potius, see on John 3:19) rather than to stand in honour with God. Theirs was thus not yet that faith strengthened for a free confession, as Jesus demands it (Matthew 10:32), with the setting aside of temporal interests; Augustine calls it ingressus fidei. Where subsequently the right advance followed, the unhesitating confession also was forthcoming, as in the cases of Nicodemus and of Joseph of Arimathaea. But that of Gamaliel is not applicable here (Godet); he did not get so far as faith.

On ἤπερ, as strengthening the negative force of the (comp. 2 Maccabees 14:42), see Kühner, II. sec. 747, note4.


Verse 44-45

John 12:44-45. The closing observations on Jewish unbelief, John 12:37-43, are ended. Over against this unbelief, together with that faith which stood in fear of men, John 12:42-43, John now gives further, John 12:44-50, an energetic summing up, a condensed summary of that which Jesus has hitherto clearly and openly preached concerning His personal dignity and the divinity of His teaching, in condemnation of such conduct (“Jesus, on the other hand, cried and said,” etc.), whereby the reprehensible nature of that unbelief and half—belief comes clearly into view. So substantially Bengel, Michaelis, Morus, Kuinoel, Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, Schweizer, B. Crusius, Reuss, Baur,(120) Lange, Brückner, Weizsäcker,(121) Ebrard, Baeumlein, Ewald, Godet. John 12:36 is decisive for the correctness of this interpretation, according to which Jesus has departed from the public scene of action without any announcement of His reappearance; and it is confirmed partly by the nature of the following discourse, which contains mere echoes of earlier utterances; partly by the fact that throughout the whole discourse there are no addressed persons present; partly by the aorists, ἐλάλησα, John 12:48-49, pointing to the concluded past. This is not in opposition to ἔκραξε καὶ εἶπεν (against Kling, De Wette, Hengstenberg; also Strauss in the interest of the non-originality of the Johannean discourses), since these words (comp. John 7:28; John 7:37, John 1:15) do not of themselves more closely define the point of time which is intended. Hence we are neither to assume, with De Wette, that with John the recollection of the discourses of Jesus shaped itself “under his hand” into a discourse, genuine indeed, but never delivered in such language (what unconsciousness and passivity he is thereby charged with! and see, in opposition, Brückner); nor are we to say, with Chrysostom and all the older commentators, also Kling and Hengstenberg, that Jesus here for once did publicly so speak ( ἐνδόντος τοῖς ἰουδαίοις τοῦ θυμοῦ, πάλιν ἀνεφάνη κ. διδάσκει, Euth. Zigabenus), in accordance with which several lay hold of the explanation, in contradiction with the text, that He spoke what follows in ipso discessu, John 12:36 (Lampe). But when Luthardt (following Besser, in the Zeitschr. f. Luth. Theol. 1852, p. 617 ff.) assumes that Christ spoke these words in the presence of the disciples, and with reference to the Jews, there stands in opposition to this not only the fact, generally, that John indicates nothing of the kind, but also that ἔκραξε is not appropriate to the circle of disciples, but to a scene of publicity. Crying aloud He exclaimed, whereby all His hearers were made sensible enough of the importance of the address, and the excuse of ignorance was cut off from them.

πιστ. εἰς ἐμὲ, κ. τ. λ.] A saying. which John has not in the previous discourses. Comp., however, as to the thing, John 5:36 ff., John 7:29, John 8:19; John 8:42, John 10:38.

οὐἀλλʼ] simply negativing. The object of faith is not the personality of Jesus in itself,—that human appearance which was set forth in Him, as if He had come in His own name (John 5:43),—but God, so far as the latter reveals Himself in Him as in His ambassador, by means of His words and deeds. Comp. John 7:16; Mark 9:37. Similarly: He who beholds me, etc., John 12:45. Comp. John 1:14, John 14:9. Yet in this connection the negation ( οὐ θεωρεῖ ἐμέ) is not expressed, although it might have been expressed; but what had to be affirmed was, that the beholding of Christ was at the same time the beholding of His Sender. In His working and administration, the believing eye beholds that of the Sender; in the δόξα of the Son, that of the Father, John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3.


Verse 46

John 12:46. Comp. John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:35-36.

ἐγώ] I, no other, I am the light, as possessor and communicator of the divine truth of salvation, come into the world, etc.

μὴ μείνῃ] as he is, in a state of unbelief, but that he may be enlightened. Comp. John 12:36; John 1:4 ff.


Verse 47-48

John 12:47-48. Comp. John 3:17-18, John 5:45 ff., John 8:15 ff.

If any one shall have heard the words from me, does not denote hearing in the sense of believing (Lücke), but a hearing which is in itself indifferent (Matthew 7:26; Mark 4:15-16; Mark 13:20); and by the κ. μὴ φυλάξῃ which follows (see the critical notes), that very faith which follows hearing is denied. φυλάσσειν, namely, denotes not indeed the mere holding fast, guarding (John 12:25), but, as throughout, where doctrines, precepts, and the like are spoken of (see especially Luke 11:28; Luke 18:21; Romans 2:26), the keeping by actual fulfilment. But this takes place simply by faith, which Christ demands for His ῥήματα: with faith the φυλάσσειν comes into action (hence the Recepta κ. μὴ πιστεύσῃ is a correct gloss); the refusal of faith is the rejection of Christ ( ἀθετεῖν, here only in John, but comp. Luke 10:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:8), and non-adoption of His words, John 12:48, is the opposite of that φυλάσσειν so far as its essence is just the ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως.

On ἀκούειν with a double genitive, as in Luke 6:47, Acts 22:1, comp. John 18:37; and see Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 145 [E. T. p. 167].

ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω αὐτόν] I, in my person, am not his judge, which is further meant generally, not exclusively, of the last judgment, but in a condemnatory sense, as opposed to σώζειν, as in John 3:17

John 12:48. ἔχει] Placed first with great emphasis: he has his judge; he stands already under his trial. But this judge, says Christ, is not Himself, as an individual personally considered in and by Himself, but His spoken word; this and nothing else will be (and therewith all the terror of the last decision breaks in upon the mind) the determining rule of the last judgment. It is Christ, indeed, who holds the judgment (John 5:22; John 5:27), but as the bearer and executor of His word, which constitutes the divine power of the judgment. Comp. John 7:51, where the law judges and takes cognisance. How decisively does the present passage declare against the attempt of Scholten, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, and others, to explain away the last judgment out of John! Comp. John 12:28-29; 1 John 4:17.


Verse 49-50

John 12:49-50. Comp. John 7:16, John 5:30.

ὅτι] gives the reason for the expression in John 12:47-48 : for how plainly divine is this my word!

ἐξ ἐμαυτοῦ] αὐτοκέλευστος, Nonnus.

αὐτός] ipse.

ἐντολ. ἔδ.] He has given (laid upon) me a charge, what I should say, and what I should speak. The former designates the doctrine according to its contents, the latter the publication of it through the delivery which makes it known. Comp. on John 8:43; Romans 3:19. For similar accumulations of the verbs of speaking in Greek writers, see Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 187; Lobeck, Paral. p. 61.

ἐντολὴ αὐτοῦ] namely the commission which has just previously been more minutely designated. This is, because it is in truth the outflow and channel of the divine redemptive will, eternal life (according to its temporal development and eternal consummation); it is this, however (comp. John 6:33, John 17:17; comp. John 11:25, John 14:6), not as the mere means, but as, in its fulfilment, the efficient power of life in virtue of the grace and truth which are received by believers out of the fulness of Jesus, John 1:14; John 1:16.

οὖν] Since that ἐντολή is of so great efficacy, how could I speak that which I speak otherwise than as the Father has said it to me (at my appointment)? Observe the correlation of ἐγώ and πατήρ, as well as the measured simple solemnity of the close of this address.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 12:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-12.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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