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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 12



Other Authors
Verse 1

Jesus therefore (Ιησους ουνIēsous oun). Here ουνoun is not causal, but simply copulative and transitional, “and so” (Bernard), as often in John (John 1:22, etc.).

Six days before the passover (προ εχ ημερων του πασχαpro hex hēmerōn tou pascha). This idiom, transposition of προpro is like the Latin use of ante, but it occurs in the old Doric, in the inscriptions and the papyri. See Amos 1:1 for it also (cf. Moulton, Proleg., pp. 100ff.; Robertson, Grammar, pp. 621f.). If the crucifixion was on Friday, as seems certain from both John and the Synoptics, then six days before would be the Jewish Sabbath preceding or more probably the Friday afternoon before, since Jesus would most likely arrive before the Sabbath. Probably we are to put together in one scene for the atmosphere John 11:55-57; John 12:1, John 12:9-11.

Came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised from the dead
(ητλεν εις ητανιαν οπου ην Λαζαροσ ον ηγειρεν εκ νεκρων Ιησουςētlhen eis Bēthanian class="translit"> hopou ēn Lazaros class="translit"> hon ēgeiren ek nekrōn Iēsous). Each phrase explains the preceding. There is no reason for thinking this a gloss as Bernard does. It was a place of danger now after that great miracle and the consequent rage of the Sanhedrin (John 12:9-11). The crowd of eager spectators to see both Lazarus and Jesus would only intensify this rage.

Verse 2

So they made him a supper there (εποιησαν ουν αυτωι δειπνον εκειepoiēsan oun autōi deipnon ekei). Here again ουνoun is not inferential, but merely transitional. This supper is given by Mark (Mark 14:3-9) and Matthew (Matthew 26:6-13) just two days (Mark 14:1) before the passover, that is on our Tuesday evening (beginning of Jewish Wednesday), while John mentions (John 12:2-9) it immediately after the arrival of Jesus in Bethany (John 12:1). One must decide which date to follow. Mark and Matthew and Luke follow it with the visit of Judas to the Sanhedrin with an offer to betray Jesus as if exasperated by the rebuke by Jesus at the feast. Bernard considers that John “is here more probably accurate.” It all turns on John‘s purpose in putting it here. This is the last mention of Jesus in Bethany and he may have mentioned it proleptically for that reason as seems to me quite reasonable. Westcott notes that in chapter 12John closes his record of the public ministry of the Lord relative to the disciples at this feast (John 12:1-11), to the multitude in the triumphal entry (John 12:12-19), to the world outside in the visit of the Greeks (verses 20-36a), and with two summary judgments (John 12:36-50). There is no further reason to refer to the feast in the house of another Simon when a sinful woman anointed Jesus (Luke 7:36-50). It is no credit to Luke or to John with Mark and Matthew to have them all making a jumble like that. There were two anointings by two absolutely different women for wholly different purposes. See the discussion on Luke for further details.

And Martha served (και η Μαρτα διηκονειkai hē Martha diēkonei). Imperfect active of διακονεωdiakoneō picturing Martha true to the account of her in Luke 10:40 (πολλην διακονιανpollēn diakonian διακονεινdiakonein as here). But this fact does not show that Martha was the wife of this Simon at all. They were friends and neighbours and Martha was following her bent. It is Mark (Mark 14:3) and Matthew (Matthew 26:6) who mention the name of the host. It is not Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36), but Simon the leper (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:6) in whose house they meet. The name is common enough. The Simon in Luke was sharply critical of Jesus; this one is full of gratitude for what Jesus has done for him.

That sat at meat
(των ανακειμενωνtōn anakeimenōn). “That lay back,” reclined as they did, articular participle (ablative case after εκek) of the common verb ανακειμαιanakeimai Perhaps Simon gave the feast partly in honour of Lazarus as well as of Jesus since all were now talking of both (John 12:9). It was a gracious occasion. The guests were Jesus, the twelve apostles, and Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Verse 3

A pound (λιτρανlitran). Latin libra, late Koiné (Polybius, Plutarch) word with weight of 12 ounces, in N.T. only here and John 19:39. Mark (Mark 14:3) and Matthew (Matthew 26:7) have alabaster cruse.

Of ointment of spikenard (μυρου ναρδου πιστικηςmurou nardou pistikēs). “Of oil of nard.” See note on John 11:2 for μυρουmurou (also Matthew 26:7). Nard is the head or spike of an East Indian plant, very fragrant. Occurs also in Mark 14:3. ΠιστικηςPistikēs here and in Mark 14:3 probably means genuine (πιστικοςpistikos from πιστοςpistos reliable). Only two instances in the N.T.

Very precious
(πολυτιμουpolutimou). Old compound adjective (πολυςpolus much, τιμηtimē), in N.T. only here, Matthew 13:46; 1 Peter 1:7. Mark has πολυτελουςpolutelous (very costly). Matthew (Matthew 26:7) has here βαρυτιμουbarutimou of weighty value (only N.T. instance).

(ηλειπσενēleipsen). First aorist active indicative of αλειπωaleiphō old word (Mark 16:1).

The feet
(τους ποδαςtous podas). Mark (Mark 14:3) and Matthew (Matthew 26:7) have “his head.” Why not both, though neither Gospel mentions both? The Latin MS. fuldensis and the Syriac Sinatic do give both head and feet here.

(εχεμαχενexemaxen). First aorist active indicative of εκμασσωekmassō old verb to wipe off already in John 11:2; Luke 7:38, Luke 7:44.

With her hair
(ταις τριχιν αυτηςtais thrixin autēs). Instrumental plural. It is this item that is relied on largely by those who identify Mary of Bethany with the sinful woman in Luke 7:37 and with Mary Magdalene. It is no doubt true that it was usually considered immodest for a woman to wear her hair loose. But it is not impossible that Mary of Bethany in her carefully planned love-offering for Jesus on this occasion was only glad to throw such a punctilio to the winds. Such an act on this occasion does not brand her a woman of loose character.

Was filled with the odour of the ointment
(επληρωτη εκ της οσμης του μυρουeplērōthē ek tēs osmēs tou murou). Effective first aorist passive of πληροωplēroō and a natural result.

Verse 4

Judas Iscariot (Ιουδας ο ΙσκαριωτηςIoudas ho Iskariōtēs). See ο Ισκαριωτηςho Iskariōtēs in John 14:22. See John 6:71; John 13:1 for like description of Judas save that in John 6:71 the father‘s name is given in the genitive, ΣιμωνοςSimōnos and ΙσκαριωτουIskariōtou (agreeing with the father), but in John 13:1 ΙσκαριωτηςIskariōtēs agrees with ΙουδαςIoudas not with ΣιμωνοςSimōnos Clearly then both father and son were called “Iscariot” or man of Kerioth in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:25). Judas is the only one of the twelve not a Galilean.

One of his disciples (εις των ματητων αυτουheis tōn mathētōn autou). Likewise in John 6:71, only there εκek is used after ειςheis as some MSS. have here. This is the shameful fact that clung to the name of Judas.

Which should betray him
(ο μελλων αυτον παραδιδοναιho mellōn auton paradidonai). John does not say in John 6:71 (εμελλεν παραδιδοναι αυτονemellen paradidonai auton) or here that Judas “was predestined to betray Jesus” as Bernard suggests. He had his own responsibility for his guilt as Jesus said (Matthew 26:24). ΜελλωMellō here simply points to the act as future, not as necessary. Note the contrast between Mary and Judas. “Mary in her devotion unconsciously provides for the honour of the dead. Judas in his selfishness unconsciously brings about the death itself” (Westcott).

Verse 5

Sold (επρατηeprathē). First aorist passive indicative of πιπρασκωpipraskō old verb to sell (Matthew 13:46).

For three hundred pence (τριακοσιων δηναριωνtriakosiōn dēnariōn). Genitive of price. Same item in Mark 14:5, while in Matthew 26:9 it is simply “for much” (πολλουpollou). But all three have “given to the poor” (εδοτη πτωχοιςedothē ptōchois). First aorist passive indicative of διδωμιdidōmi with dative case πτωχοιςptōchois (note absence of the article, poor people), real beggars, mendicants (Matthew 19:21; Luke 14:13). But only John singles out Judas as the one who made the protest against this waste of money while Mark says that “some” had indignation and Matthew has it that “the disciples” had indignation. Clearly Judas was the spokesman for the group who chimed in and agreed with his protest. The amount here spent by Mary (ten guineas) would equal a day labourer‘s wages for a year (Dods).

Verse 6

Not because he cared for the poor (ουχ οτι περι των πτωχων εμελεν αυτωιouch hoti peri tōn ptōchōn emelen autōi). Literally, “not because it was a care to him concerning the poor” (impersonal imperfect of μελειmelei it was a care). John often makes explanatory comments of this kind as in John 2:21.; John 7:22, John 7:39.

But because he was a thief (αλλε οτι κλεπτης ηνalle hoti kleptēs ēn). Clearly the disciples did not know then that Judas was a petty thief. That knowledge came later after he took the bribe of thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus (Matthew 26:15), for the disciples did not suspect Judas of treachery (John 13:28.), let alone small speculations. There is no reason for thinking that John is unfair to Judas. “Temptation commonly comes through that for which we are naturally fitted” (Westcott). In this case Judas himself was “the poor beggar” who wanted this money.

And having the bag took away what was put therein
(και το γλωσσοκομον εχων τα βαλλομενα εβασταζενkai to glōssokomon echōn ta ballomena ebastazen). This is the correct text. This compound for the earlier γλωσσοκομειονglōssokomeion (from γλωσσαglōssa tongue, and κομεωkomeō to tend) was originally a receptacle for the tongues or mouth-pieces of wind instruments. The shorter form is already in the Doric inscriptions and is common in the papyri for “money-box” as here. It occurs also in Josephus, Plutarch, etc. In N.T. only here and John 13:29 in same sense about Judas. αλλομεναBallomena is present passive participle (repeatedly put in) of βαλλωballō to cast or fling. The imperfect active (custom) of βασταζωbastazō old verb to pick up (John 10:31), to carry (John 19:17), but here and John 20:15 with the sense to bear away as in Polybius, Josephus, Diogenes Laertes, and often so in the papyri.

Verse 7

Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying (Απες αυτην ινα εις την ημεραν του ενταπιασμου μου τηρησηι αυτοAphes autēn class="normal greek">ινα τηρησηι — hina eis tēn hēmeran tou entaphiasmou mou tērēsēi auto). This reading (ιναhina tērēsēi purpose clause with τηρεωhina and first aorist active subjunctive of τετηρεκενtēreō) rather than that of the Textus Receptus (just ιναtetēreken perfect active indicative) is correct. It is supported by Aleph B D L W Theta. The απεςhina can be rendered as above after ενταπιασμοςaphes according to Koiné idiom or more probably: “Let her alone: it was that,” etc. (supplying “it was”). Either makes good sense. The word ενταπιαζωentaphiasmos is a later and rare substantive from the late verb entaphiazō to prepare for burial (Matthew 26:12; John 19:40), and means preparation for burial. In N.T. only here and Mark 14:8. “Preparation for my burial” is the idea here and in Mark. The idea of Jesus is that Mary had saved this money to use in preparing his body for burial. She is giving him the flowers before the funeral. We can hardly take it that Mary did not use all of the ointment for Mark (Mark 14:3) says that she broke it and yet he adds (Mark 14:8) what John has here. It is a paradox, but Jesus is fond of paradoxes. Mary has kept this precious gift by giving it now beforehand as a preparation for my burial. We really keep what we give to Christ. This is Mary‘s glory that she had some glimmering comprehension of Christ‘s death which none of the disciples possessed.

Verse 8

Ye have always (παντοτε εχετεpantote echete). Jesus does not discredit gifts to the poor at all. But there is relativity in one‘s duties.

But me ye have not always (εμε δε ου παντοτε εχετεeme de ou pantote echete). This is what Mary perceived with her delicate woman‘s intuition and what the apostles failed to understand though repeatedly and plainly told by Jesus. John does not mention the precious promise of praise for Mary preserved in Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13, but he does show her keen sympathetic insight and Christ‘s genuine appreciation of her noble deed. It is curiously mal-a -propos surely to put alongside this incident the other incident told long before by Luke (Luke 7:35.) of the sinful woman. Let Mary alone in her glorious act of love.

Verse 9

The common people (ο οχλος πολυςho ochlos polus). This is the right reading with the article οho literally, “the people much or in large numbers.” One is reminded of the French idiom. Gildersleeve (Syntax, p. 284) gives a few rare examples of the idiom ο ανηρ αγατοςho anēr agathos Westcott suggests that οχλος πολυςochlos polus came to be regarded as a compound noun. This is the usual order in the N.T. rather than πολυς οχλοςpolus ochlos (Robertson, Grammar, p. 774). Mark 12:37 has ο πολυς οχλοςho polus ochlos Moulton (Proleg., p. 84) terms ο οχλος πολυςho ochlos polus here and in John 12:12 “a curious misplacement of the article.” John‘s use of οχλοςochlos is usually the common crowd as “riff-raff.”

That he was (οτι εστινhoti estin). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse after the secondary tense (εγνωegnō second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō). These “Jews” are not all hostile to Jesus as in John 5:10; John 6:41, etc., but included some who were friendly (John 12:11).

But that they might see Lazarus also
(αλλ ινα καιτον Λαζαρον ιδωσινall' hina kai ton Lazaron idōsin). Purpose clause with ιναhina and second aorist active subjunctive of οραωhoraō Motive enough to gather a great crowd, to see one raised from the dead (cf. John 12:1 for the same phrase, “whom he had raised from the dead”). Some of the very witnesses of the raising of Lazarus will bear witness later (John 12:17). It was a tense situation.

Verse 10

The chief priests took counsel (εβουλευσαντο οι αρχιερειςebouleusanto hoi archiereis). First aorist middle indicative of βουλευωbouleuō old verb, seen already in John 11:53 which see. The whole Sanhedrin (John 7:32) had decided to put Jesus to death and had asked for information concerning him (John 11:57) that might lead to his arrest, but the Sadducees were specially active now to accomplish the death of Lazarus also (ιναhina with first aorist active subjunctive of αποκτεινωapokteinō as in John 11:53). Perhaps they argued that, if they should kill both Jesus and Lazarus, then Lazarus would remain dead. The raising of Lazarus has brought matters to a crisis. Incidentally, it may be observed that here we may see the reason why the Synoptics do not tell the story of the raising of Lazarus, if he was still living (cf. the case of Malchus‘s name in John 18:10).

Verse 11

Because that (οτιhoti). Causal use of οτιhoti

By reason of him (δι αυτονdi' auton). “Because of him,” regular idiom, accusative case with διαdia

Went away
(υπηγονhupēgon). Cf. John 6:67 for this verb. Inchoative imperfect active of υπαγωhupagō “began to withdraw” as happened at the time of the raising of Lazarus (John 11:45.) and the secession was still going on.

And believed on Jesus
(και επιστευον εις τον Ιησουνkai episteuon eis ton Iēsoun). Imperfect active of πιστευωpisteuō (note aorist in John 11:45). There was danger of a mass movement of the people to Jesus.

Verse 12

On the morrow (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion). Locative case. Supply ημεραιhēmerāi (day) after the adverb επαυριονepaurion (“on the tomorrow day”). That is on our Sunday, Palm Sunday.

A great multitude (ο οχλος πολυςho ochlos polus). Same idiom rendered “the common people” in John 12:9 and should be so translated here.

That had come
(ο ελτωνho elthōn). Second aorist active participle, masculine singular of ερχομαιerchomai agreeing with οχλοςochlos “that came.”

When they heard
(ακουσαντεςakousantes). First aorist active masculine plural participle of ακουωakouō construction according to sense (plural, though οχλοςochlos singular).

Was coming
(ερχεταιerchetai). Present middle indicative of ερχομαιerchomai retained in indirect discourse after a secondary tense. It is a vivid picture. What they heard was: “Jesus is coming into Jerusalem.” He is defying the Sanhedrin with all their public advertisement for him.

Verse 13

Took (ελαβονelabon). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō

The branches of the palm trees (τα βαια των ποινικωνta baia tōn phoinikōn). ΠοινιχPhoinix is an old word for palm tree (Revelation 7:9 for the branches) and in Acts 27:12 the name of a city. αιονBaion is apparently a word of Egyptian origin, palm branches, here only in N.T., but in the papyri and 1Macc 13:51. Here we have “the palm branches of the palm trees.” The use in 1Macc 13:51 (cf. 2Macc 10:7) is in the account of Simon‘s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Bernard notes that to carry palms was a mark of triumphant homage to a victor or a king (Revelation 7:9). Palm trees grew on the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:8) on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem. The crowds (one in front and one behind, Mark 11:9; Matthew 21:9; John 2:18) cut the branches as they came (Matthew 21:8).

To meet him
(εις υπαντησιν αυτωιeis hupantēsin autōi). Literally, for a meeting (υπαντησιςhupantēsis late word from the verb υπανταωhupantaō Matthew 8:28; John 11:20, John 11:30; John 12:18, in the papyri, but only here in the N.T.) “with him” (αυτωιautōi associative instrumental case after υπαντησινhupantēsin as after the verb in John 12:18). It was a scene of growing excitement.

And cried out
(και εκραυγαζονkai ekraugazon). Imperfect active of κραυγαζωkraugazō old and rare verb (from κραυγηkraugē) as in Matthew 12:19; John 19:15.

(ωσανναHōsannah). Transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “Save now.” The lxx renders it by Σωσον δηSōson dē (Save now).

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord
(ευλογημενος ο ερχομενος εν ονοματι κυριουeulogēmenos ho erchomenos en onomati kuriou). Perfect passive participle of ευλογεωeulogeō Quotation from Psalm 118:25., written, some think, for the dedication of the second temple, or, as others think, for the feast of tabernacles after the return (Ezra 3:1.). It was sung in the processional recitation then as a welcome to the worshippers. Here the words are addressed to the Messiah as is made plain by the addition of the words, “even the king of Israel” (και ο βασιλευς του Ισραηλkai ho basileus tou Israēl) as Nathanael called him (John 1:49). Jesus is here hailed by the multitudes as the long-looked for Messiah of Jewish hope and he allows them so to greet him (Luke 19:38-40), a thing that he prevented a year before in Galilee (John 6:14.). It is probable that “in the name of the Lord” should be taken with “blessed” as in Deuteronomy 21:5; 2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Kings 22:16; 2 Kings 2:24. The Messiah was recognized by Martha as the Coming One (John 11:27) and is so described by the Baptist (Matthew 11:3). Mark (Mark 11:10) adds “the kingdom that cometh” while Luke (John 19:38) has “the king that cometh.” “It was this public acclamation of Jesus as King of Israel or King of the Jews which was the foundation of the charge made against him before Pilate (John 18:33)” (Bernard).

Verse 14

Found (ευρωνheurōn). Second aorist active participle of ευρισκωheuriskō Through the disciples, of course, as in Mark 11:2-6 (Matthew 21:2-3, Matthew 21:6; Luke 19:30.).

A young ass (οναριονonarion). Late diminutive of ονοςonos in Epictetus and the papyri (even the double diminitive, οναριδιονonaridion), only here in the N.T. See note on Matthew 21:5 where καιkai has been wrongly rendered “and” instead of “even.” Rightly understood Matthew has Jesus riding only the colt like the rest.

Verse 15

Daughter of Zion (τυγατηρ Σιωνthugatēr Siōn). Nominative form (instead of τυγατερthugater) but vocative case. The quotation is from Zechariah 9:9 shortened.

Thy King cometh (ο βασιλευς ερχεταιho basileus erchetai). Prophetic futuristic present. The ass was the animal ridden in peace as the horse was in war (Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14; 2 Samuel 17:23; 2 Samuel 19:26). Zechariah pictures one coming in peace. So the people here regarded Jesus as the Prince of Peace in the triumphal entry.

Sitting on an ass‘s colt
(κατημενος επι πωλον ονουkathēmenos epi pōlon onou). Matthew (Matthew 21:6.) does speak of both the ass and the colt having garments put on them, but he does not say that Jesus “sat upon” both animals at once, for επανω αυτωνepanō autōn (upon them) probably refers to the garments, not to the colts. When John wrote (end of the century), Jerusalem had fallen. Jesus will lament over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41.). So “Fear not” (μη ποβουmē phobou).

Verse 16

Understood not (ουκ εγνωσανouk egnōsan). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō Another comment by John concerning the failure of the disciples to know what was happening (cf. John 2:22; John 7:39).

At the first (το πρωτονto prōton). Adverbial accusative, as in John 10:40; John 19:39.

Was glorified
(εδοχαστηedoxasthē). First aorist passive indicative of δοχαζωdoxazō to glorify, used of his death already in John 7:39 and by Jesus himself of his death, resurrection, and ascension in John 12:23; John 13:31.

Then remembered they
(τοτε εμνηστησανtote emnēsthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of μιμνησκωmimnēskō It was easier to understand then and they had the Holy Spirit to help them (John 16:13-15).

Were written of him
(ην επ αυτωι γεγραμμεναēn ep' autōi gegrammena). Periphrastic past perfect passive of γραπωgraphō with neuter plural participle agreeing with ταυταtauta (these things) and singular verb, though the plural ησανēsan could have been used. Note the threefold repetition of ταυταtauta in this verse, “clumsy” Bernard calls it, but making for clarity. The use of επ αυτωιep' autōi for “of him” rather than περι αυτουperi autou is unusual, but occurs in Revelation 10:11; Revelation 22:16.

They had done
(εποιησανepoiēsan). First aorist active indicative of ποιεωpoieō simply, “they did.”

Verse 17

Bare witness (εμαρτυρειemarturei). Imperfect active of μαρτυρεωmartureō This crowning triumph of Jesus gave an added sense of importance to the crowds that were actually with Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead. For this description of this portion of the crowd see John 11:45.; John 12:1, John 12:9-11.

Verse 18

The multitude (ο οχλοςho ochlos). The multitude of John 12:13, not the crowd just mentioned that had been with Jesus at the raising of Lazarus. There were two crowds (one following Jesus, one meeting Jesus as here).

Went and met him (υπηντησεν αυτωιhupēntēsen autōi). First aorist active indicative of υπανταωhupantaō old compound verb (υπο ανταωhupo class="normal greek">αυτωι — antaō) to go to meet, with associative instrumental case τουτο αυτον πεποιηκεναι το σημειονautōi Cf. John 4:51.

That he had done this sign
(ηκουσανtouto auton pepoiēkenai to sēmeion). Perfect active infinitive in indirect discourse after ακουωēkousan (first aorist active indicative of οτιakouō to hear) (instead of a αυτονhoti clause) with the accusative of general reference σημειονauton (as to him) and another accusative (sēmeion sign) the object of the infinitive. Clearly there was much talk about the raising of Lazarus as the final proof that Jesus in truth is the Messiah of Jewish hope.

Verse 19

The Pharisees therefore laid among themselves (οι ουν Παρισαιοι ειπαν προς εαυτουςhoi oun Pharisaioi eipan pros heautous). Graphic picture of the predicament of the Pharisees standing off and watching the enthusiastic crowds sweep by. As people usually do, they blame each other for the defeat of their plots against Jesus and for his final victory, as it seemed.

Behold how ye prevail nothing (τεωρειτε οτι ουκ ωπελειτε ουδενtheōreite hoti ouk ōpheleite ouden). It was a pathetic confession of failure because the rest of the plotters had bungled the whole thing. “Ye help nothing at all” by your plots and plans.

Lo, the world is gone after him
(ιδε ο κοσμος οπισω αυτου απηλτενide ho kosmos opisō autou apēlthen). Exclamatory use of ιδεide and timeless aorist active indicative of απερχομαιaperchomai The “world” is a bunch of fools, they feel, but see for yourselves. And the Sanhedrin had advertised to “find” Jesus! They can find him now!

Verse 20

Certain Greeks (ελληνες τινεςHellēnes tines). Real Greeks, not Greek-speaking Jews (Hellenists, Acts 6:1), but Greeks like those in Antioch (Acts 11:20, correct text προς τους ελληναςpros tous Hellēnas) to whom Barnabas was sent. These were probably proselytes of the gate or God-fearers like those worshipping Greeks in Thessalonica whom Paul won to Christ (Acts 17:4).

To worship at the feast (ινα προσκυνησωσιν εν τηι εορτηιhina proskunēsōsin en tēi heortēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of προσκυνεωproskuneō old and common verb to kiss the hand in reverence, to bow the knee in reverence and worship. We do not know whence they came, whether from Decapolis, Galilee, or further away. They found the pilgrims and the city ringing with talk about Jesus. They may even have witnessed the triumphal entry.

Verse 21

To Philip which was of Bethsaida of Galilee (Πιλιππωι τωι απο ητσαιδα της ΓαλιλαιαςPhilippōi tōi apo Bēthsaida tēs Galilaias). He had a Greek name and the Greeks may have seen Philip in Galilee where there were many Greeks, probably (Mark 6:45) the Western Bethsaida in Galilee, not Bethsaida Julias on the Eastern side (Luke 9:10).

Asked (ηρωτωνērōtōn). Imperfect active, probably inchoative, “began to ask,” in contrast with the aorist tense just before (προσηλτανprosēlthan came to).

(ΚυριεKurie). Most respectfully and courteously.

We would see Jesus
(τελομεν τον Ιησουν ιδεινthelomen ton Iēsoun idein). “We desire to see Jesus.” This is not abrupt like our “we wish” or “we want,” but perfectly polite. However, they could easily “see” Jesus, had already done so, no doubt. They wish an interview with Jesus.

Verse 22

Andrew (τωι Ανδρεαιtōi Andreāi). Another apostle with a Greek name and associated with Philip again (John 6:7.), the man who first brought his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:41). Andrew was clearly a man of wisdom for a crisis. Note the vivid dramatic presents here, cometh (ερχεταιerchetai), telleth (λεγειlegei). What was the crisis? These Greeks wish an interview with Jesus. True Jesus had said something about “other sheep” than Jews (John 10:16), but he had not explained. Philip and Andrew wrestle with the problem that will puzzle Peter on the housetop in Joppa (Acts 10:9-18), that middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile that was only broken down by the Cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22) and that many Christians and Jews still set up between each other. Andrew has no solution for Philip and they bring the problem, but not the Greeks, to Jesus.

Verse 23

The hour is come (εληλυτεν η ωραelēluthen hē hōra). The predestined hour, seen from the start (John 2:4), mentioned by John (John 7:30; John 8:20) as not yet come and later as known by Jesus as come (John 13:1), twice again used by Jesus as already come (in the prayer of Jesus, John 17:1; Mark 14:41, just before the betrayal in the Garden). The request from the Greeks for this interview stirs the heart of Jesus to its depths.

That the Son of man should be glorified (ινα δοχαστηι ο υιος του αντρωπουhina doxasthēi ho huios tou anthrōpou). Purpose clause with ιναhina (not in the sense of οτεhote when) and the first aorist passive subjunctive of δοχαζωdoxazō same sense as in John 12:16, John 13:31. The Cross must come before Greeks can really come to Jesus with understanding. But this request shows that interest in Jesus now extends beyond the Jewish circles.

Verse 24

Except (εαν μηean mē). Negative condition of third class (undetermined, supposable case) with second aorist active participle πεσωνpesōn (from πιπτωpiptō to fall) and the second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō to die.

A grain of wheat (ο κοκκος του σιτουho kokkos tou sitou). Rather, “the grain of wheat.”

By itself alone
(αυτος μονοςautos monos). Both predicate nominatives after μενειmenei It is not necessary to think (nor likely) that Jesus has in mind the Eleusinian mysteries which became a symbol of the mystery of spring. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:36 uses the same illustration of the resurrection that Jesus does here. Jesus shows here the paradox that life comes through death. Whether the Greeks heard him or not we do not know. If so, they heard something not in Greek philosophy, the Christian ideal of sacrifice, “and this was foreign to the philosophy of Greece” (Bernard). Jesus had already spoken of himself as the bread of life (6:35-65).

But if it die
(εαν δε αποτανηιean de apothanēi). Parallel condition of the third class. Grains of wheat have been found in Egyptian tombs three or four thousand years old, but they are now dead. They bore no fruit.

Verse 25

Loseth it (απολλυει αυτηνapolluei autēn). The second paradox. Present active indicative of απολλυωapolluō This great saying was spoken at various times as in Mark 8:35 (Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24) and Mark 10:39 (Luke 17:33). See those passages for discussion of πσυχηpsuchē (life or soul). For “he that hateth his life” (ο μισων την πσυχην αυτουho misōn tēn psuchēn autou) see the sharp contrasts in Luke 14:26-35 where μισεωmiseō is used of father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, as well as one‘s own life. Clearly μισεωmiseō means “hate” when the issue is between Christ and the dearest things of life as happens when the choice is between martyrdom and apostasy. In that case one keeps his soul for eternal life by losing his life (πσυχηpsuchē each time) here. That is the way to “guard” (πυλαχειphulaxei) life by being true to Christ. This is the second paradox to show Christ‘s philosophy of life.

Verse 26

If any man serve me (εαν εμοι τις διακονηιean emoi tis diakonēi). Condition of third class again (εανean with present active subjunctive of διακονεωdiakoneō keep on serving with dative εμοιemoi).

Let him follow me (εμοι ακολουτειτωemoi akoloutheitō). “Me (associative instrumental case) let him keep on following” (present active imperative of ακολουτεωakoloutheō).

Where … there
(οπου εκειhopouτιμησει ekei). In presence and spiritual companionship here and hereafter. Cf. John 14:3; John 17:24; Matthew 28:20.

Shall honour
(τιμαωtimēsei). Future active of timaō but it may be the kind of honour that Jesus will get (John 12:23).

Verse 27

My soul (η πσυχη μουhē psuchē mou). The soul (πσυχηpsuchē) here is synonymous with spirit (πνευμαpneuma) in John 13:21.

Is troubled (τεταρακταιtetaraktai). Perfect passive indicative of ταρασσωtarassō used also in John 11:33; John 13:21 of Jesus. While John proves the deity of Jesus in his Gospel, he assumes throughout his real humanity as here (cf. John 4:6). The language is an echo of that in Psalm 6:4; Psalm 42:7. John does not give the agony in Gethsemane which the Synoptics have (Mark 14:35.; Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42), but it is quite beside the mark to suggest, as Bernard does, that the account here is John‘s version of the Gethsemane experience. Why do some critics feel called upon to level down to a dead plane every variety of experience in Christ‘s life?

And what shall I say?
(και τι ειπωkai ti eipō). Deliberative subjunctive which expresses vividly “a genuine, if momentary indecision” (Bernard). The request of the Greeks called up graphically to Jesus the nearness of the Cross.

Father, save me from this hour
(πατερ σωσον με εκ της ωρας ταυτηςpater class="normal greek">εκ — sōson me ek tēs hōras tautēs). Jesus began his prayers with “Father” (John 11:41). Dods thinks that this should be a question also. Westcott draws a distinction between αποek (out of) and εκapo (from) to show that Jesus does not pray to draw back from the hour, but only to come safely out of it all and so interprets εκek in Hebrews 5:7, but that distinction will not stand, for in John 1:44 αποek and αποapo are used in the same sense and in the Synoptics (Mark 14:35.; Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42) we have αλλα δια τουτο ηλτον εις την ωραν ταυτηνapo If it holds here, we lose the point there. Here as in Gethsemane the soul of Jesus instinctively and naturally shrinks from the Cross, but he instantly surrenders to the will of God in both experiences.

But for this cause came I unto this hour
(alla dia touto ēlthon eis tēn hōran tautēn). It was only a moment of human weakness as in Gethsemane that quickly passed. Thus understood the language has its natural meaning.

Verse 28

Father, glorify thy name (πατερ δοχασον σου το ονομαpater class="normal greek">δοχαζω — doxason sou to onoma). First aorist (note of urgency) active imperative of πνευμαdoxazō and in the sense of his death already in John 12:16, John 12:23 and again in John 13:31; John 17:5. This is the prayer of the πσυχηpneuma (or σαρχpsuchē) as opposed to that of the ονομαsarx (flesh) in John 12:27. The “name” (πωνη εκ του ουρανουonoma) of God expresses the character of God (John 1:12; John 5:43; John 17:11). Cf. Matthew 6:9.

A voice out of heaven (και εδοχασα και παλιν δοχασωphōnē ek tou ouranou). This was the Father‘s answer to the prayer of Jesus for help. See note on the Father‘s voice at the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:11) and on the Father‘s voice at the transfiguration (Mark 9:7). The rabbis called the audible voice of God εδοχασαbath -δοχασωqol (the daughter of a voice).

I have both glorified it and will glorify it again
(kai edoxasa kai palin doxasō). This definite assurance from the Father will nerve the soul of Jesus for the coming ordeal. Cf. John 11:40 for edoxasa and John 13:31; John 17:5 for doxasō f0).

Verse 29

That it had thundered (βροντην γεγονεναιbrontēn gegonenai). Perfect active infinitive of γινομαιginomai in indirect discourse after ελεγενelegen and the accusative of general reference (βροντηνbrontēn thunder, as in Mark 3:17), “that thunder came to pass.” So the crowd “standing by” (εστωςhestōs second perfect active participle of ιστημιhistēmi), but Jesus understood his Father‘s voice.

An angel hath spoken to him (Αγγελος αυτωι λελαληκενAggelos autōi lelalēken). Perfect active indicative of λαλεωlaleō So, when Jesus spoke to Saul on the way to Damascus, those with Saul heard the voice, but did not understand (Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9).

Verse 30

Not for my sake, but for your sakes (ου δι εμε αλλα δι υμαςou di' eme class="translit"> alla di' humas). These words seem to contradict John 12:28, John 12:29. Bernard suggests an interpolation into the words of Jesus. But why not take it to be the figure of exaggerated contrast, “not merely for my sake, but also for yours”?

Verse 31

The judgment (κρισιςkrisis). No article, “A judgment.” The next few days will test this world.

The prince of this world (ο αρχων του κοσμου τουτουho archōn tou kosmou toutou). This phrase here, descriptive of Satan as in possession of the evil world, occurs again in John 14:30; John 16:11. In the temptations Satan claims power over the world and offers to share it with Jesus (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Jesus did not deny Satan‘s power then, but here proclaims final victory over him.

Shall be cast out
(εκβλητησεται εχωekblēthēsetai exō). Future passive of εκβαλλωekballō Note εχωexō clean out. The Book of Revelation also proclaims final victory over Satan.

Verse 32

And I, if I be lifted from the earth (καγω αν υπσωτω εκ της γηςkagō an hupsōthō ek tēs gēs). Note proleptic position of εγωegō (I). Condition of third class (undetermined with prospect) with ανan (= εανean here) with first aorist passive subjunctive of υπσοωhupsoō the verb used in John 3:14 of the brazen serpent and of the Cross of Christ as here and also in John 8:28. Westcott again presses εκek instead of αποapo to make it refer to the ascension rather than to the Cross, a wrong interpretation surely.

Will draw all men unto myself (παντας ελκυσω προς εμαυτονpantas helkusō pros emauton). Future active of ελκυωhelkuō late form of ελκωhelkō to draw, to attract. Jesus had already used this verb of the Father‘s drawing power (John 6:44). The magnetism of the Cross is now known of all men, however little they understand the mystery of the Cross. By “all men” (πανταςpantas) Jesus does not mean every individual man, for some, as Simeon said (Luke 2:34) are repelled by Christ, but this is the way that Greeks (John 12:22) can and will come to Christ, by the way of the Cross, the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

Verse 33

Signifying (σημαινωνsēmainōn). Present active participle of σεμαινωsemainō old verb to give a sign (σημειονsēmeion) as in Acts 25:27, and the whole phrase repeated in John 18:32 and nearly so in John 21:19. The indirect question here and in John 18:32 has the imperfect εμελλενemellen with present infinitive rather than the usual present μελλειmellei retained while in John 21:19 the future indicative δοχασειdoxasei occurs according to rule. The point in ποιωιpoiōi (qualitative relative in the instrumental case with τανατωιthanatōi) is the Cross (lifted up) as the kind of death before Christ.

Verse 34

Out of the law (εκ του νομουek tou nomou). That is, “out of the Scriptures” (John 10:34; John 15:25).

The Christ abideth forever (ο Χριστος μενει εις τον αιωναho Christos menei eis ton aiōna). Timeless present active indicative of μενωmenō to abide, remain. Perhaps from Psalm 89:4; Psalm 110:4; Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:14.

How sayest thou?
(πως λεγεις συpōs legeis su). In opposition to the law (Scripture).

The Son of man
(τον υιον του αντρωπουton huion tou anthrōpou). Accusative case of general reference with the infinitive υπσωτηναιhupsōthēnai (first aorist passive of υπσοωhupsoō and taken in the sense of death by the cross as Jesus used it in John 12:32). Clearly the crowd understand Jesus to be “the Son of man” and take the phrase to be equivalent to “the Christ.” This is the obvious way to understand the two terms in their reply, and not, as Bernard suggests, that they saw no connexion between “the Christ” (the Messiah) and “the Son of man.” The use of “this” (ουτοςhoutos) in the question that follows is in contrast to John 12:32. The Messiah (the Son of man) abides forever and is not to be crucified as you say he “must” (δειdei) be.

Verse 35

Yet a little while is the light among you (ετι μικρον χρονον το πως εν υμιν εστινeti mikron chronon to phōs en humin estin). ΧρονονChronon is the accusative of extent of time. Jesus does not argue the point of theology with the crowd who would not understand. He turns to the metaphor used before when he claimed to be the light of the world (John 8:12) and urges that they take advantage of their privilege “while ye have the light” (ως το πως εχετεhōs to phōs echete).

That darkness overtake you not (ινα μη σκοτια υμας καταλαβηιhina mē skotia humas katalabēi). Purpose (negative) with ινα μηhina mē and second aorist active subjunctive of καταλαμβανωkatalambanō See this verb in John 1:5. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4 this verb occurs with ημεραhēmera (day) overtaking one like a thief.

Knoweth not whither he goeth
(ουκ οιδεν που υπαγειouk oiden pou hupagei). See John 11:10 for this idea and the same language in 1 John 2:11. The ancients did not have our electric street lights. The dark streets were a terror to travellers.

Verse 36

Believe in the light (πιστευετε εις το πωςpisteuete eis to phōs). That is, “believe in me as the Messiah” (John 8:12; John 9:5).

That ye may become sons of light (ινα υιοι πωτος γενηστεhina huioi phōtos genēsthe). Purpose clause with ιναhina and second aorist subject of γινομαιginomai to become. They were not “sons of light,” a Hebrew idiom (cf. John 17:12; Luke 16:8 with the contrast), an idiom used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8. It is equivalent to “enlightened men” (Bernard) and Jesus called his disciples the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Hid himself from them
(εκρυβη απ αυτωνekrubē ap' autōn). Second aorist passive indicative of κρυπτωkruptō late form (in lxx) for old εκρυπηekruphē “was hidden from them,” as in John 8:59. This part of John 12:36 begins a new paragraph.

Verse 37

Though he had done so many signs before them (τοσαυτα αυτου σημεια πεποιηκοτος εμπροστεν αυτωνtosauta autou sēmeia pepoiēkotos emprosthen autōn). Genitive absolute with perfect active participle in concessive sense of ποιεωpoieō

Yet they believed not on him (ουκ επιστευον εις αυτονouk episteuon eis auton). No “yet” in the Greek. Negative imperfect active of πιστευωpisteuō “they kept on not believing on him,” stubborn refusal in face of the light (John 12:35).

Verse 38

That might be fulfilled (ινα πληρωτηιhina plērōthēi). It is usually assumed that ιναhina here with the first aorist passive subjunctive of πληροωplēroō has its full telic force. That is probable as God‘s design, but it is by no means certain since ιναhina is used in the N.T. with the idea of result, just as ut in Latin is either purpose or result, as in John 6:7; John 9:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; Galatians 5:17; Romans 11:11 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 998). Paul in Romans 10:16 quotes Isaiah 53:1 as John does here but without ιναhina See note on Romans 10:16 for discussion of the quotation. The next verse adds strength to the idea of design.

Verse 39

For this cause they could not believe (δια τουτο ουκ εδυναντο πιστευεινdia touto ouk edunanto pisteuein). ΤουτοTouto (this) seems to have a double reference (to what precedes and to what follows) as in John 8:47. The negative imperfect (double augment, εδυναντοedunanto) of δυναμαιdunamai John is not absolving these Jews from moral responsibility, but only showing that the words of Isaiah “had to be fulfilled, for they were the expression of Divine foreknowledge” (Bernard).

Verse 40

He hath blinded (τετυπλωκενtetuphlōken). Perfect active indicative of τυπλοωtuphloō old causative verb to make blind (from τυπλοςtuphlos blind), in N.T. only here, 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11.

He hardened (επωρωσενepōrōsen). First aorist active indicative of πωροωpōroō a late causative verb (from πωροςpōros hard skin), seen already in Mark 6:52, etc. This quotation is from Isaiah 6:10 and differs from the lxx.

Lest they should see
(ινα μη ιδωσινhina mē idōsin). Negative purpose clause with ινα μηhina mē instead of μηποτεmēpote (never used by John) of the lxx. Matthew (Matthew 13:15) has μηποτεmēpote and quotes Jesus as using the passage as do Mark (Mark 4:12) and Luke (Luke 8:10). Paul quotes it again (Acts 28:26) to the Jews in Rome. In each instance the words of Isaiah are interpreted as forecasting the doom of the Jews for rejecting the Messiah. Matthew (Matthew 13:15) has συνωσινsunōsin where John has νοησωσινnoēsōsin (perceive), and both change from the subjunctive to the future (και ιασομαιkai iasomai), “And I should heal them.” John has here στραπωσινstraphōsin (second aorist passive subjunctive of στρεπωstrephō) while Matthew reads επιστρεπσωσινepistrepsōsin (first aorist active of επιστρεπωepistrephō).

Verse 41

Because he saw his glory (οτι ειδεν την δοχαν αυτουhoti eiden tēn doxan autou). Correct reading here οτιhoti (because), not οτεhote (when). Isaiah with spiritual vision saw the glory of the Messiah and spoke (ελαλησενelalēsen) of him, John says, whatever modern critics may think or say. So Jesus said that Abraham saw his day (John 8:56). Cf. Hebrews 11:13.

Verse 42

Nevertheless even (ομως μεντοι καιhomōs mentoi kai). For the old ομωςhomōs see 1 Corinthians 14:7; Galatians 3:15 (only other examples in N.T.), here only with μεντοιmentoi “but yet,” and καιkai “even.” In spite of what has just been said “many (πολλοιpolloi) even of the rulers” (recall the lonely shyness of Nicodemus in John 3:1.). These actually “believed on him” (επιστευσαν εις αυτονepisteusan eis auton) in their convictions, a remarkable statement as to the effect that Christ had in Jerusalem as the Sanhedrin plotted his death. Cf. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

But because of the Pharisees (αλλα δια τους Παρισαιουςalla dia tous Pharisaious). Like the whispered talk in John 7:13 “because of the fear of the Jews.” Once the Pharisees sneeringly asked the officers (John 7:48): “Hath any one of the rulers believed on him?” And now “many of the rulers have believed on him.”

They did not confess
(ουχ ωμολογουνouch hōmologoun). Negative imperfect in contrast to the punctiliar aorist επιστευσανepisteusan “They kept on not confessing.” How like the cowardly excuses made today by those under conviction who refuse to step out for Christ.

Lest they should be put out of the synagogue
(ινα μη αποσυναγωγοι γενωνταιhina mē aposunagōgoi genōntai). Cf. John 9:22 where this very word occurs in a purpose clause like this. Only once more in the N.T. (John 16:2), a Jewish word not in profane authors. This ostracism from the synagogue was dreaded by the Jews and made cowards of these “believing elders.”

More than
(μαλλον ηπερmallon ēper). They preferred the glory and praise of men more than the glory and praise of God. How apropos these words are to some suave cowards today.

Verse 44

Cried and said (εκραχεν και ειπενekraxen kai eipen). First aorist active indicative of κραζωkrazō to cry aloud, and second aorist active of defective verb ερωerō to say. This is probably a summary of what Jesus had already said as in John 12:36 John closes the public ministry of Jesus without the Synoptic account of the last day in the temple on our Tuesday (Mark 11:27-12:44; Matt 21:23-23:39; Luke 20:1-21:4).

Not on me, but on him (ου εις εμε αλλα εις τονou eis eme class="translit"> alla eis ton). “Not on me only, but also on,” another example of exaggerated contrast like that in John 12:30. The idea of Jesus here is a frequent one (believing on Jesus whom the Father has sent) as in John 3:17.; John 5:23, John 5:30, John 5:43; John 7:16; John 8:42; John 13:20; John 14:1; Matthew 10:40; Luke 9:48.

Verse 46

I am come a light (Εγω πως εληλυταEgō phōs elēlutha). As in John 3:19; John 9:5; John 8:12; John 12:35. Final clause (negative) also here (ινα μη μεινηιhina mē meinēi first aorist active subjunctive) as in John 12:35. Light dispels darkness.

Verse 47

If any one (εαν τιςean tis). Third-class condition with εανean and first aorist active subjunctive (ακουσηιakousēi) of ακουωakouō and same form (πυλαχηιphulaxēi) of πυλασσωphulassō with negative μηmē

But to save the world (αλλ ινα σωσω τον κοσμονall' hina sōsō ton kosmon). Purpose clause again (cf. ινα κρινωhina krinō just before) with ιναhina and first aorist active of sōzō Exaggerated contrast again, “not so much to judge, but also to save.” See John 3:17 for same contrast. And yet Jesus does judge the world inevitably (John 8:15.; John 9:39), but his primary purpose is to save the world (John 3:16). See close of the Sermon on the Mount for the same insistence on hearing and keeping (obeying) the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:24, Matthew 7:26) and also Luke 11:28.

Verse 48

Rejecteth (ατετωνathetōn). Present active participle of ατετεωatheteō late Koiné verb (from ατετοςathetos αa privative, and τιτημιtithēmi), to render null and void, only here in John, but see Mark 6:26; Mark 7:9.

One that judgeth him (τον κρινοντα αυτονton krinonta auton). Articular present active participle of κρινωkrinō See same idea in John 8:50; John 12:47.

The same
(εκεινοςekeinos). “That” very word of Christ which one rejects will confront him and accuse him to the Father “at the last day” (εν τηι εσχατηι ημεραιen tēi eschatēi hēmerai this phrase peculiar to John). There is no escaping it. And yet Jesus himself will bear witness for or against the one whose conduct has already revealed his attitude towards the message of God (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8.).

Verse 49

He hath given (δεδωκενdedōken). Perfect active indicative. Christ has permanent commission.

What I should say and what I should speak (τι ειπω και τι λαλησωti eipō kai ti lalēsō). Indirect question retaining the deliberative subjunctive (second aorist active ειπωeipō first aorist active λαλησωlalēsō). Meyer and Westcott take ειπωeipō to refer to the content and λαλησωlalēsō more to the varying manner of delivery. Possibly so.

Verse 50

Life eternal (ζωη αιωνιοςzōē aiōnios). See John 3:15; Matthew 25:46 for this great phrase. In John 6:68 Peter says to Jesus, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Jesus had just said (John 6:63) that his words were spirit and life. The secret lies in the source, “as the Father hath said to me” (ειρηκενeirēken).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 12:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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