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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 12:21

these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Andrew;   Bethsaida;   Curiosity;   Desire;   Greece;   Jesus Continued;   Philip;   Thompson Chain Reference - Andrew;   Bethsaida;   Bringing Men to Jesus;   Divine;   Galilee;   Philip;   Seekers;   Seeking Christ;   Seeking God;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Excellency and Glory of Christ, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bethany;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Andrew;   Jesus christ;   Philip;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Ascension of Jesus Christ;   Paul the Apostle;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Judgment, Last;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bethsaida;   Philip;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Andrew;   Bethsaida;   Philip the Apostle;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethsaida;   Eternal Life;   Hour;   Philip;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bethsaida;   John, Gospel of;   Judas Iscariot;   Martha;   Philip;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Activity;   Attraction;   Bethsaida ;   Betrayal;   Capernaum;   Desire;   Father, Fatherhood;   Hopefulness ;   Light;   Logos;   Lord (2);   Ministry;   Mission;   Nathanael ;   Sir ;   Soul;   Surname;   Temple (2);   Temptation;   Transfiguration (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethsaida ;   Greek,;   New Testament;   Philip ;   Zechariah, Prophecy of;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Bethany;   Martha;   Passover;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Bethsaida;   Philip;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Bethsa'ida;   Phil'ip;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bethsaida;   Philip;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bethsaida;   Philip (2);   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bethsaida;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for January 18;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 28;   Every Day Light - Devotion for October 21;  
Unselected Authors

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse John 12:21. The same came therefore to Philip — Some suppose that these Gentiles were of Phoenicia or Syria, or perhaps inhabitants of Decapolis, near to the lake of Gennesareth and Bethsaida; and therefore they addressed themselves to Philip, who was of the latter city, and probably known to them. The later Syriac calls them Arameans or Syrians. The Vulgate, and several copies of the Itala, call them Gentiles.

Sir, we would see Jesus. — We have heard much concerning him, and we wish to see the person of whom we have heard such strange things. The final salvation of the soul often originates, under God, in a principle of simple curiosity. Many have only wished to se or hear a man who speaks much of Jesus, his miracles, and his mercies; and in hearing have felt the powers of the world to come, and have become genuine converts to the truths of the Gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 12:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-12.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


BETRAYAL, TRIAL AND CRUCIFIXION

136. The seed must die (John 12:20-26)

Among the crowds that went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival were some Greeks. They had joined themselves to the synagogue communities where they lived, and now they wanted to see Jesus (John 12:20-22).

When the Lord heard of the Greeks’ request, his response was to announce that the climax of his mission had arrived and he was now about to lay down his life. He apparently saw these Greeks as the firstfruits of a great Gentile harvest that would result from his death. Grains of wheat must die and be buried before they can grow up and produce a harvest. Likewise Jesus had to die so that multitudes from all nations might find eternal life. The principle of ‘death before life’ applies also to those who follow Jesus. For his sake they must sacrifice their lives of self-pleasing before they can be fruitful for him. People will despise them as they despised Jesus, but God will honour them (John 12:23-26).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/john-12.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Bethsaida of Galilee - See the notes at John 1:44.

Would see Jesus - It is probable that the word “see,” here, implies also a desire to converse with him, or to hear his doctrine about the nature of his kingdom. They had seen or heard of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and, either by curiosity or a desire to be instructed, they came and interceded with his disciples that they might be permitted to see him. In this there was nothing wrong. Christ made the curiosity of Zacchaeus the means of his conversion, Luke 19:1-9. If we wish to find the Saviour, we must seek for him and take the proper means.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-12.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21. These men therefore went to Philip. It is an indication of reverence, that they do not address Christ, but are desirous to obtain access through Philip; for reverence always begets modesty. The inference which the Papists draw from this, that we ought to call on departed saints, (19) that they may be our advocates with Christ and with the Father, is so ridiculous that it does not need refutation. The Greeks address Philip, while he is present; and, pray, where is the resemblance to those who address their prayers to departed saints, from whom they are separated? (20) But such are the fruits of human presumption, when it has once permitted itself to go beyond the limits of the word of God. Invocation of the saints has been rashly fabricated by the Papists out of their own brain; and now, in order to shelter themselves under a false pretense borrowed from the word of God, they corrupt the Scripture, and tear it to pieces, and do not scruple to expose it to shameful taunts.

(19) “ Les saincts trespassez.”

(20) “ Qui addressant leurs oraisons aux saincts trespassez, desquels ils sont separez.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-12.html. 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 12

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead. They made him a supper; and Martha served [typical of Martha]: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very expensive, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the aroma of the ointment ( John 12:1-3 ).

Typical of Mary, worshipping; Martha, working...it takes all types. God has built into our characters these very qualities. Martha, busy serving; Mary, busy worshipping.

Then said one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray him, Why didn't they sell this perfume for three hundred pence, and given the money to the poor? ( John 12:4-5 )

Actually, it was very expensive. A pence was a day's wage for a laboring man. So you've got almost a year's wages involved here that this perfume could have been sold for.

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and he held the purse, and he was stealing out of the money in the purse ( John 12:6 ).

Now, it's unfortunate that in the betrayal of this whole scene in "Jesus Christ, Superstar" they try to make Jesus a very lavish kind of a person, living in opulence, no care for the poor. And Judas turns out the hero; he's the social reformer and the man who's concerned for the poor and all. And they don't really do justice to the text, and that, you have to assume, is deliberate. Because it's right there. Judas didn't really care for the poor, as he would be made out that marvelous man with social concern. He was a thief. He was holding the purse and had been stealing the money out of the purse. That's the only reason he wanted the perfume sold and the money put in the purse. He was not that kind of a person that they tried to portray him.

Then said Jesus, Get off her case: against the day of my burying has she kept this. For the poor always you will have with you; but you will not always have me ( John 12:7-8 ).

So He made Judas leave her alone.

Many of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not only for Jesus' sake, but they wanted to see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests ( John 12:9-10 )

And notice how evil men they are.

they consulted how that they might put Lazarus to death also; because by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus ( John 12:10-11 ).

So they're going to try and destroy the evidence by killing Lazarus.

The next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches off the palm trees, and they went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord ( John 12:12-13 ).

And so, knowing that Jesus was going to be coming from Bethany, having to come down from the Mount of Olives, they went over to the path that comes from Bethany, down the Mount of Olives, into the Kidron valley to Jerusalem. And as Jesus was coming, they greeted Him, waving the palm branches. And so, we have Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the crucifixion. And they were crying the 118th Psalm, "Hosanna!" "Save now" is what the word means in Hebrew. "Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord!"

Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it was written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him ( John 12:14-16 ).

Now, John is very honest and very frank here. He said, "You know, we didn't think about it until after He was glorified, and then we thought, 'Oh, wow, remember how we waved the palm branches and He was riding on a donkey? Isn't that what Zachariah said? "Rejoice greatly, O daughters of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, but he is lowly, he is sitting on a donkey, the foal of an ass." Wow!'"

In other words, he is saying, "We weren't trying to deliberately set the stage. We didn't say, 'Now what does the Bible say is supposed to have next? Let's work it out this way.'" It wasn't a deliberate conspiracy to set the stage. It was something they just did, and afterwards they realized, "Wow! We were fulfilling prophecy." And the realization came, but not until after Jesus was glorified. So it wasn't a deliberately staged event as far as the disciples were concerned.

And the people therefore that were with him when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead, they bare record ( John 12:17 ).

They were telling everybody about it.

For this cause the people also met him, for that they had heard that he had done a great miracle ( John 12:18 ).

I mean, it had really been buzzed, this miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And so everybody was excited.

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Hey, do you realize how we're not prevailing? the whole world is going after him. There were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast ( John 12:19-20 ):

They could worship from the court of the Gentiles; they could not come in.

And the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and they desired of him, saying, Sir, we would like to see Jesus. And Philip came and told Andrew: and Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit ( John 12:21-24 ).

What a beautiful picture! You have a little grain of wheat. You set that little grain of wheat here on the pulpit, and you can come back a year from now, and it's still one little grain of wheat sitting there on the pulpit. Come back ten years from now, still one little grain of wheat sitting there on the pulpit. But if you put that little grain of wheat into the ground, it dies. But out of the death comes a new form, a new body, comes the stalk, comes the new kernel or corn of wheat, they call it. And many wheat seeds. And the potential of one wheat seed is tremendous. I read somewhere that if you would take a kernel of corn and plant it, and then take from that one kernel of corn all of the seeds that came off the kernels that grew from the one, plant them. I think it is in ten years that you would have enough corn seed to plant every acre of ground on the face of the earth with corn. Just each year planting everything that came from the one. You see, when God created the plants and all, He said, "Be fruitful, multiply. Fill the earth." And surely, the potential is there. And so, Jesus is using a neat little illustration here, referring to His death. "Look, unless it dies, it stays by itself. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." Talking of His death. Through His death, He was going to bring forth much fruit. You included, tonight. Part of the fruit.

And he that loves his life shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal ( John 12:25 ).

He had said earlier, "He who seeks to save his life will lose it; he who will lose his life for My sake, the same will find it or save it." Much the same, loving life. You're going to lose it anyhow. But if you are looking forward to that new life, life eternal.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. Now is my soul troubled; what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour ( John 12:26-27 ).

You remember He kept saying, "My hour is not yet come, My hour is not yet come"? Now He's approaching the hour. And as He's approaching the hour, He's beginning to go through this inner turmoil. "My soul is troubled; what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'?" He's already beginning to enter into some of the agony of the garden. These are the last days; He knows it. In the garden He prayed, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done." Now, even before then, He's going through that turmoil. "Father, save Me from this hour. Yet, it's for this hour that I came into the world. For this cause, that's why I'm here."

Father, glorify thy name ( John 12:28 ).

Oh, this is just as powerful as the prayer in the garden when He said, "If it is possible, let this cup...nevertheless, not My will, Thy will be done." How glorious it is when we submit our ways to God. "God, save Me from this hour; but yet, not so, Lord, You just glorify Your name."

There came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. And the people therefore that were standing around, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, No, an angel spoke to him. And Jesus said, This voice did not come for my sake, but for your sake ( John 12:28-30 ).

I don't need this kind of a spectacular demonstration to make Me believe. It wasn't for My sake that this voice came, it was for your sakes.

But now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of the world be cast out ( John 12:31 ).

You see, they'd just been saying, "Save now," and He says, "No, it's the judgment of the world; for the prince of the world himself is going to be cast out. He is to be despised and rejected of men."

And I, if I be lifted up ( John 12:32 )

The corn of wheat died, it will bring forth much fruit. If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

This he said, signifying what death he should die ( John 12:33 ).

When He said, "If I be lifted up" He was talking about, "I'm going to be lifted up on a cross. I'm going to die on the cross." And the lifting up was only signifying death on a cross. Unfortunately, many ministers and Christians take this term, "If I be lifted up" as meaning exalting Jesus. "If we just hold Jesus up before people, if we just exalt Jesus, if we just lift Him up before people, He's going to draw everyone unto Him. So, what we must be doing is exalting Jesus before the people and lifting up Jesus before the people, so that all the people will be drawn to Him." That's not what Jesus is saying! And there's even some chorus that is almost blasphemous if you think of it. And it's, "Let's lift Him higher, let's lift Him higher, that all the world might see." You know, He's only talking about death on the cross. The corn of wheat falling into the ground, that it might bring forth much fruit. And not exalting Jesus or lifting Him up before the world. Not referring to that at all, and that's an unfortunate understanding many people have taken, because they didn't read the next verse. They just take this statement of Jesus, "If I be lifted up, I'll draw all men unto Me." "Oh, well then, let's lift Jesus up." No, He's talking about the cross. If I say, "Well, let's lift Jesus up," I'm saying, "Well, let's put Jesus on the cross." So,

This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, Now we've heard out of the law that the Messiah abides forever: how come you are saying that you've got to be crucified? who, then, is the Son of man? ( John 12:33-34 )

You say, "I'm going to be crucified." Wait a minute! The scriptures say that the Messiah is going to abide forever. "For unto us a child is given, unto us a Son is born, the government shall be upon His shoulders. And the name shall be called 'Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;' and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, the Messiah abides forever." Upon the throne of David to order it and establish it in righteousness and judgment, from henceforth, even forever. For the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this. How come you say you're going to be crucified if the Messiah abides forever?'

And Jesus said unto them, For a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness does not know where he's going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. And these things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them ( John 12:35-36 ).

Now the Pharisees are out to get Him for sure. But yet, He is in control of the events. The crucifixion must take place on Passover in order that He might fulfill in His sacrifice all of the symbolisms of the Passover; the blood of the lamb slain in Egypt on the doorpost, bringing life for those condemned to die. So, it was necessary that the crucifixion take place on Passover, and thus, He hid Himself.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they did not believe on him ( John 12:37 ):

Now, there is a common misconception that if a person could just see a miracle, surely they would believe. Not so; they saw many miracles and they did not believe. In fact, it was a little worse than that. We are told in verse John 12:38 they could not believe.

That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? ( John 12:38 )

Then there in thirty-nine,

Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, that I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him ( John 12:39-41 ).

So, Isaiah prophesied that he would be despised and rejected. "A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." "Therefore they could not believe." Why could they not believe? That's an interesting statement: "Therefore they could not believe." Even though they saw the miracles, they could not believe.

Jesus warned in the other gospels concerning the unpardonable sin, that of the continual rejection of the Holy Spirit's conviction upon your heart. A person can reject Christ so many times that believing becomes an impossibility. There is a certain law of metaphysics. Our brains are an interesting instrument, and we can create brain patterns, so that a repeated action can create such a pattern in our brain that it's difficult and, at times, impossible to change the pattern that you've established there.

You watch a woman learn to knit and the needles just seem to go everywhere and it's slow, it's tedious. But as she continues to persist, you find that what's happening is you're patterning the brain, you're establishing grooves up here. Until finally, if you've worked with the needles long enough, you see the needles just flying. And she can be talking, watching television or something, and the needles will just be flying. Because the grooves have so planted in the brain that she doesn't really have to think about it. She can just turn on the mode up there..."knit one pearl, two"...and it just goes, and the pattern is set. And so with many things that a repeated action creates the pattern in the brain, and it becomes a very simple thing.

Now, that's why some of you old people have such a problem with Pac Man. You know, you're just too old to get any new grooves going. But you take this little kids--my little grandson, man is he a whiz at Pac Man! You know, he just sits there and he can . . . and I won't even put a quarter in the thing for myself, I give him the quarter and watch him do it. But I'm lousy at that game. But his, I mean, is just automatic response, that little guy's come down and the little Pac Man is going and he can just turn that little guy around and in, and his reflects are just tremendous. The brain has been patterned so well for that stuff. You watch these kids, and it becomes an automatic kind of a response that they have. I mean, they just get into the machine, almost, into the whole thing. And you can pattern your brain so that it gets established in a set.

Now, unfortunately, a person can do that in regards to believing in Jesus Christ. You see, the first you were faced with the claims of Jesus Christ, and you thought, "I wonder, could this be true? Could He really be the Son of God? Can I really have eternal life by believing? Well, I don't know." And it was a tough decision. I mean, it wasn't easy to say "no" to Jesus. It was a very hard decision for you to make. But ultimately, you said, "Well, no, I don't think so, not tonight anyhow."

Now, the next time you were faced with it, you see, by your saying "no" you started a groove. You planted that in your brain and it becomes a permanent part. So the next time you were faced, it was a little easier to say, "Well, I don't think so, not tonight." The groove got a little deeper. And every time you said "no," the groove became deeper and deeper and deeper, until you can be faced now with indisputable evidence, but you can't overcome that brain groove.

This is the condition the Pharisees were in. Here's a man raised from the dead. Evidence they can't deny. They might try to get rid of it by killing him, but they can't deny it. But yet, they could not believe; they had gone too far. They couldn't reverse it at this point.

It is extremely significant that nine-tenths of the decisions that are made for Jesus Christ are made when a person is a teenager. You see, before you get that groove set too deep. Nine-tenths of the decisions are made during the teen ages. As you get older, that old brain groove gets deeper and deeper until, actually, salvation, statistically, becomes an impossibility. But God is a God of grace, and so, we see many times these eighty or ninety-year-old people coming to Jesus. That's a miracle! Statistically, it's impossible, but God isn't bound by statistics. Mathematically, you can show the impossibility of a seventy-year-old person accepting Jesus Christ. But that happens, what can you say? God is a God of miracles. Salvation is a miracle. "But they could not believe."

Now, you remember when Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then finally, God took over and He hardened his heart. God will confirm you in your position. And so, God confirmed them in their positions. They wanted to blind their eyes, they didn't want to see; alright, then God blinded their eyes. They didn't want to believe; alright, then God made firm their decision, He hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts and be converted, and that they should be healed. So, "These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory and he spoke of Him."

Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess, lest they should have been put out of the synagogue ( John 12:42 ):

And here is a tragic verse of scripture,

For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God ( John 12:43 ).

That has been the nemesis of many a person. What a tragedy when it is said of a person, "Well, he loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." You know, "They might not understand me at the club if I spoke out for Jesus Christ." And they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. What a sad, sad commentary on many people's lives. "I'm more concerned with what people will think of me than I am what God will think of me. I'm more interested in man patting me on the back than I am God patting me on the back. I'm more interested that men should praise me than that God should praise me." They love the praise of men more than the praise of God. That is a very sad case to be in.

And Jesus cried and said, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but upon him who sent me. And he that sees me sees him that sent me ( John 12:44-45 ).

Philip said, "Lord, just show us the Father, we'll be satisfied." And Jesus said, "Philip, have I been so long a time with you, have you not seen me? He who has seen me, has seen the Father. How is it that you say, 'Show us the Father'?" We'll get that next week. "He that sees Me sees Him that sent Me," or sees the Father.

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me, should not abide in darkness ( John 12:46 ).

Now, Paul the apostle said, "You are not the children of darkness that the day of the Lord should take you as a thief by surprise, but you're children of the light, therefore walk as children of the light" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 ) making reference to the statement of Jesus here in John, chapter 12.

If any man hear my words, and believe not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world ( John 12:47 ).

How many times has He said this? "He that believeth not is condemned already. I didn't come to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved." Now, He's referring again. That was at the beginning of His ministry, to Nicodemus in John, the third chapter. "God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. And he that believeth is not condemned." ( John 3:16-18 ). "I didn't come to judge the world. If a person doesn't believe in Me, I don't judge him. I didn't come to judge, I came to save." Oh, His glorious mission. Not to bring condemnation, not to bring judgment, but to bring salvation to men.

Now, He is coming again, and when He comes again, it will be to judge. But His first coming, the mission was salvation.

He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one who judges him: and it is the word which I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day ( John 12:48 ).

When you are judged, you will be judged by the Word of God. Your not believing it, that's what is going to judge you. God has given the witness; you didn't believe it, so the Word of God will judge you. Jesus said, "I'm not going to judge you, the Word that I have spoken, that's what is going to judge you."

For I have not spoken of my own; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak ( John 12:49-50 ).

So, "My words that I have spoken, they have come from God, they are going to be the things that judge you. I know that they're true; I know that God has given to me life everlasting." And that's what is going to judge you; you'll be judged by God's Word.

Next week we'll go on into chapters 13 and 14. The fourteenth chapter, in my estimation, is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Years ago when I was in seminary, I had a professor who said that the fourteenth chapter of John was perhaps one of the most important chapters in the Bible. He said, "You all memorize it." So, I went home and memorized it. And it is an outstanding chapter, and you should commit it to memory. And it's one that's just so full, so rich. We'll be getting into that next week.

And now, may the hand of the Lord be upon your life, to watch over you, to guide you, and to strengthen you for the things that you'll be facing this week. May you just again be open to the things of the Spirit, that God might lead you in His way of righteousness and truth. May the blessings of the Lord be upon you through all of your activities, as you walk with Him in an ever-increasing faith, fellowship and love. In Jesus' name. "



Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/john-12.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The kernel of wheat teaching 12:20-26

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

6. Jesus’ announcement of His death 12:20-36

One example that Jesus was attracting people from other parts of the world follows. These individuals contrast with the Pharisees.

"This rather curious incident is rather peculiar to John. I say ’rather curious’ because it is unusual that we encounter Greeks in a narrative of events at Jerusalem, because the other Evangelists do not mention the incident, and because the Greeks simply say, ’Sir, we would like to see Jesus’ and then disappear from the narrative. Clearly John regards their coming as significant but he does not treat their presence as important. Jesus recognizes in their coming an indication that the climax of his mission has arrived. Immediately when he hears of them he says, ’The hour has come,’ and goes on to speak of his glorification and of death. In this Gospel we see Jesus as the world’s Savior, and evidently John means us to understand that this contact with the Greeks ushered in the climax. The fact that the Greeks had reached the point of wanting to meet Jesus showed that the time had come for him to die for the world. He no longer belongs to Judaism, which in any case has rejected him. But the world, whose Savior he is, awaits him and seeks for him." [Note: Morris, p. 524.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

It may have been Philip’s Gentile name or the fact that he was from Bethsaida in a Gentile area of Galilee, specifically Gaulanitis, that attracted these Gentiles to him. Philip, who was a Jew, appears to have had some hesitation about introducing them to Jesus at first (cf. Matthew 10:5-6; Luke 18:15-16). Andrew favored bringing them to Jesus for an interview (cf. John 1:40-42). The important revelation of this verse is that the disciples continued to bring people to Jesus, which continues to be the responsibility of Jesus’ disciples.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:21". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The same came therefore to Philip,.... Who might know him; they might have been some of his neighbours formerly, for that Philip's parents, though Jews, dwelt among Greeks, seems probable, from the name given to him, which is a Greek one; some have thought, that these Greeks were Syrophoenicians, who dwelt upon the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and were not far off from Galilee, and from Bethsaida, the native place of Philip, and is therefore mentioned as follows:

which was of Bethsaida of Galilee; :-. This place may be interpreted, "the house of hunting", or "of fishing"; for it is not easy to say which it has its name from, since צידא, "saida", signifies both hunting and fishing: and seeing it was in or near the tribe of Naphtali, where was plenty of deer, and a wilderness was near it, where might be wild beasts, it might be so called from hunting: and as it was situated near the lake of Gennesaret, it might have its name from the fishing trade used in it; for Peter and Andrew, who were of it, were both fishermen: but it is yet more difficult to determine, whether this is the same with, or different from the Bethsaida Josephus s speaks of, as rebuilt by Philip, and called by him Julius, after the name of Caesar's daughter, as I have observed in

:-,

:-; since this was in Galilee, of which Herod Antipas was tetrarch, and where Philip could have no power to rebuild places, and change their names; and besides, the city, which he repaired, and called Julian, according to Josephus t was in lower Gaulonitis, and therefore must be different, unless that, or any part of it, can be thought to be the same with Galilee: wherefore the learned Reland u thinks, that there were two Bethsaidas, and which seems very probable; and it is likely, that this is here purposely called Bethsaida of Galilee, to distinguish it from the other, which, by some persons, might still be called Bethsaida, though it had got a new name. Moreover, this Bethsaida is mentioned in other places along with Capernaum and Chorazin, Matthew 11:21, which were in Galilee. And Epiphanius says w, that Bethsaida and Capernaum were not far distant one from another: and according to Jerom x, Chorazin was but two miles from Capernaum; and who elsewhere says y, that Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, were situated on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. It is said to be fifty six miles from Jerusalem:

and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus; that is, they entreated him, that he would introduce them into the company of Jesus; they wanted to be admitted into his presence, to have some discourse and conversation with him; and what might make them the more desirous of it, was the miracle he had lately wrought in raising Lazarus from the dead; as also the uncommon manner of his entering into Jerusalem, which they saw; and which shows, that it was not a bare sight of his person they meant, but the enjoyment of his company, for a while; and this favour they ask of Philip, with great respect to him, and in a very polite way, and yet with great sincerity, and strong affection, and earnest importunity; and was a pledge and presage of the future conversion of the Gentiles, when the Jews would be rejected. And it may be observed, that sensible sinners are very desirous of having a spiritual sight of Christ, of the glories of his person, and the fulness of his grace, and to see their interest in him, and to have communion and fellowship with him: he is all in all to them; no object so delightful, and satisfying to them as he is; and they never see him, but they receive something from him, and are made more like unto him.

s Antiqu. l. 18. c. 2. sect. 1. Ed. Hudson. t De Bello. Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 1. u Palestina Illustrata, l. 3. p. 654, 655. w Contra Haeres. l. 2. Haeres. 51. x De locis Hebraicis, fol. 90. 6. y Comment. in Esaiam, c. 9. 1.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on John 12:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-12.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Certain Greeks Desire to See Jesus; The Recompence of Christ's Servants.


      20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:   21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.   22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.   23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.   24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.   25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.   26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

      Honour is here paid to Christ by certain Greeks that enquired or him with respect. We are not told what day of Christ's last week this was, probably not the same day he rode into Jerusalem (for that day was taken up in public work), but a day or two after.

      I. We are told who they were that paid this honour to our Lord Jesus: Certain Greeks among the people who came up to worship at the feast,John 12:20; John 12:20. Some think they were Jews of the dispersion, some of the twelve tribes that were scattered among the Gentiles, and were called Greeks, Hellenist Jews; but others think they were Gentiles, those whom they called proselytes of the gate, such as the eunuch and Cornelius. Pure natural religion met with the best assistance among the Jews, and therefore those among the Gentiles who were piously inclined joined with them in their solemn meetings, as far as was allowed them. There were devout worshippers of the true God even among those that were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel. It was in the latter ages of the Jewish church that there was this flocking of the Gentiles to the temple at Jerusalem,--a happy presage of the taking down of the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles. The forbidding of the priests to accept of any oblation or sacrifice from a Gentile (which was done by Eleazar the son of Ananias, the high priest), Josephus says, was one of those things that brought the Romans upon them, War 2. 409-410. Though these Greeks, if uncircumcised, were not admitted to eat the passover, yet they came to worship at the feast. We must thankfully use the privileges we have, though there may be others from which we are shut out.

      II. What was the honour they paid him: they desired to be acquainted with him, John 12:21; John 12:21. Having come to worship at the feast, they desired to make the best use they could of their time, and therefore applied to Philip, desiring that he would put them in a way to get some personal converse with the Lord Jesus. 1. Having a desire to see Christ, they were industrious in the use of proper means. They did not conclude it impossible, because he was so much crowded, to get to speak with him, nor rest in bare wishes, but resolved to try what could be done. Note, Those that would have the knowledge of Christ must seek it. 2. They made their application to Philip, one of his disciples. Some think that they had acquaintance with him formerly, and that they lived near Bethsaida in Galilee of the Gentiles; and then it teaches us that we should improve our acquaintance with good people, for our increase in the knowledge of Christ. It is good to know those who know the Lord. But if these Greeks had been near Galilee it is probable that they would have attended Christ there, where he mostly resided; therefore I think that they applied to him only because they saw him a close follower of Christ, and he was the first they could get to speak with. It was an instance of the veneration they had for Christ that they made an interest with one of his disciples for an opportunity to converse with him, a sign that they looked upon him as some great one, though he appeared mean. Those that would see Jesus by faith now that he is in heaven must apply to his ministers, whom he had appointed for this purpose, to guide poor souls in their enquiries after him. Paul must send for Ananias, and Cornelius for Peter. The bringing of these Greeks to the knowledge of Christ by the means of Philip signified the agency of the apostles, and the use made of their ministry in the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith and the discipling of the nations. 3. Their address to Philip was in short this: Sir, we would see Jesus. They gave him a title of respect, as one worthy of honour, because he was in relation to Christ. Their business is, they would see Jesus; not only see his face, that they might be able to say, when they came home, they had seen one that was so much talked of (it is probable they had seen him when he appeared publicly); but they would have some free conversation with him, and be taught by him, for which it was no easy thing to find him at leisure, his hands were so full of public work. Now that they were come to worship at the feast, they would see Jesus. Note, In our attendance upon holy ordinances, and particularly the gospel passover, the great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus; to have our acquaintance with him increased, our dependence on him encouraged, our conformity to him carried on; to see him as ours, to keep up communion with him, and derive communications of grace from him: we miss of our end in coming if we do not see Jesus. 4. Here is the report which Philip made of this to his Master, John 12:22; John 12:22. He tells Andrew, who was of Bethsaida likewise, and was a senior fellow in the college of the apostles, contemporary with Peter, and consults him what was to be done, whether he thought the motion would be acceptable or no, because Christ had sometimes said that he was not sent but to the house of Israel. They agree that it must be made; but then he would have Andrew go along with him, remembering the favourable acceptance Christ had promised them, in case two of them should agree touching any thing they should ask,Matthew 18:19. Note, Christ's ministers should be helpful to one another and concur in helping souls to Christ: Two are better than one. It should seem that Andrew and Philip brought this message to Christ when he was teaching in public, for we read (John 12:29; John 12:29) of the people that stood by; but he was seldom alone.

      III. Christ's acceptance of this honour paid him, signified by what he said to the people hereupon, John 12:23; John 12:23, c., where he foretels both the honour which he himself should have in being followed (John 12:23; John 12:24) and the honour which those should have that followed him, John 12:25; John 12:26. This was intended for the direction and encouragement of these Greeks, and all others that desired acquaintance with him.

      1. He foresees that plentiful harvest, in the conversion of the Gentiles, of which this was as it were the first-fruits, John 12:23; John 12:23. Christ said to the two disciples who spoke a good word for these Greeks, but doubted whether they should speed or no, The hour is come when the Son of Man shall be glorified, by the accession of the Gentiles to the church, and in order to that he must be rejected of the Jews. Observe,

      (1.) The end designed hereby, and that is the glorifying of the Redeemer: "And is it so? Do the Gentiles begin to enquire after me? Does the morning-star appear to them? and that blessed say-spring, which knows its place and time too, does that begin to take hold of the ends of the earth? Then the hour is come for the glorifying of the Son of man." This was no surprise to Christ, but a paradox to those about him. Note, [1.] The calling, the effectual calling, of the Gentiles into the church of God greatly redounded to the glory of the Son of man. The multiplying of the redeemed was the magnifying of the Redeemer. [2.] there was a time, a set time, an hour, a certain hour, for the glorifying of the Son of man, which did come at last, when the days of his humiliation were numbered and finished, and he speaks of the approach of it with exultation and triumph: The hour is come.

      (2.) The strange way in which this end was to be attained, and that was by the death of Christ, intimated in that similitude (John 12:24; John 12:24): "Verily, verily, I say unto you, you to whom I have spoken of my death and sufferings, except a corn of wheat fall not only to, but into, the ground, and die, and be buried and lost, it abideth alone, and you never see any more of it; but if it die according to the course of nature (otherwise it would be a miracle) it bringeth forth much fruit, God giving to every seed its own body." Christ is the corn of wheat, the most valuable and useful grain. Now here is,

      [1.] The necessity of Christ's humiliation intimated. He would never have been the living quickening head and root of the church if he had not descended from heaven to this accursed earth and ascended from earth to the accursed tree, and so accomplished our redemption. He must pour out his soul unto death, else he cannot divide a portion with the great,Isaiah 53:12. He shall have a seed given him, but he must shed his blood to purchase them and purify, must win them and wear them. It was necessary likewise as a qualification for that glory which he was to have by the accession of multitudes to his church; for if he had not by his sufferings made satisfaction for sin, and so brought in an everlasting righteousness, he would not have been sufficiently provided for the entertainment of those that should come to him, and therefore must abide alone.

      [2.] The advantage of Christ's humiliation illustrated. He fell to the ground in his incarnation, seemed to be buried alive in this earth, so much was his glory veiled; but this was not all: he died. This immortal seed submitted to the laws of mortality, he lay in the grave like seed under the clods; but as the seed comes up again green, and fresh, and flourishing, and with a great increase, so one dying Christ gathered to himself thousands of living Christians, and he became their root. The salvation of souls hitherto, and henceforward to the end of time, is all owing to the dying of this corn of wheat. Hereby the Father and the Son are glorified, the church is replenished, the mystical body is kept up, and will at length be completed; and, when time shall be no more, the Captain of our salvation, bringing many sons to glory by the virtue of his death, and being so made perfect by sufferings, shall be celebrated for ever with the admiring praises of saints and angels, Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 2:13.

      2. He foretels and promises an abundant recompence to those who should cordially embrace him and his gospel and interest, and should make it appear that they do so by their faithfulness in suffering for him or in serving him.

      (1.) In suffering for him (John 12:25; John 12:25): He that loves his life better than Christ shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world, and prefers the favour of God and an interest in Christ before it, shall keep it unto life eternal. This doctrine Christ much insisted on, it being the great design of his religion to wean us from this world, by setting before us another world.

      [1.] See here the fatal consequences of an inordinate love of life; many a man hugs himself to death, and loses his life by over-loving it. He that so loves his animal life as to indulge his appetite, and make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, shall thereby shorten his days, shall lose the life he is so fond of, and another infinitely better. He that is so much in love with the life of the body, and the ornaments and delights of it, as, for fear of exposing it or them, to deny Christ, he shall lose it, that is, lose a real happiness in the other world, while he thinks to secure an imaginary one in this. Skin for skin a man may give for his life, and make a good bargain, but he that gives his soul, his God, his heaven, for it, buys life too dear, and is guilty of the folly of him who sold a birth-right for a mess of pottage.

      [2.] See also the blessed recompence of a holy contempt of life. He that so hates the life of the body as to venture it for the preserving of the life of his soul shall find both, with unspeakable advantage, in eternal life. Note, First, It is required of the disciples of Christ that they hate their life in this world; a life in this world supposes a life in the other world, and this is hated when it is loved less than that. Our life in this world includes all the enjoyments of our present state, riches, honours, pleasures, and long life in the possession of them; these we must hate, that is, despise them as vain and insufficient to make us happy, dread the temptations that are in them, and cheerfully part with them whenever they come in competition with the service of Christ, Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13; Revelation 12:11. See here much of the power of godliness--that it conquers the strongest natural affections; and much of the mystery of godliness--that it is the greatest wisdom, and yet makes men hate their own lives. Secondly, Those who, in love to Christ, hate their own lives in this world, shall be abundantly recompensed in the resurrection of the just. He that hateth his life shall keep it; he puts it into the hands of one that will keep it to life eternal, and restore it with as great an improvement as the heavenly life can make of the earthly one.

      (2.) In serving him (John 12:26; John 12:26): If any man profess to serve me, let him follow me, as a servant follows his master; and where I am, ekei kai ho diakonos ho emos estai--there let my servant be; so some read it, as part of the duty, there let him be, to attend upon me; we read it as part of the promise, there shall he be in happiness with me. And, lest this should seem a small matter, he adds, If any man serve me, him will my Father honour; and that is enough, more than enough. The Greeks desired to see Jesus (John 12:21; John 12:21), but Christ lets them know that it was not enough to see him, they must serve him. He did not come into the world, to be a show for us to gaze at, but a king to be ruled by. And he says this for the encouragement of those who enquired after him to become his servants. In taking servants it is usual to fix both the work and the wages; Christ does both here.

      [1.] Here is the work which Christ expects from his servants; and it is very easy and reasonable, and such as becomes them.

      First, Let them attend their Master's movements: If any man serve me, let him follow me. Christians must follow Christ, follow his methods and prescriptions, do the things that he says, follow his example and pattern, walk as he also walked, follow his conduct by his providence and Spirit. We must go whither he leads us, and in the way he leads us; must follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes before us. "If any man serve me, if he put himself into that relation to me, let him apply himself to the business of my service, and be always ready at my call." Or, "If any man do indeed serve me, let him make an open and public profession of his relation to me, by following me, as the servant owns his Master by following him in the streets."

      Secondly, Let them attend their Master's repose: Where I am, there let my servant be, to wait upon me. Christ is where his church is, in the assemblies of his saints, where his ordinances are administered; and there let his servants be, to present themselves before him, and receive instructions from him. Or, "Where I am to be in heaven, whither I am now going, there let the thoughts and affections of my servants be, there let their conversation be, where Christ sitteth." Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:2.

      [2.] Here are the wages which Christ promises to his servants; and they are very rich and noble.

      First, They shall be happy with him: Where I am, there shall also my servant be. To be with him, when he was here in poverty and disgrace, would seem but poor preferment, and therefore, doubtless, he means being with him in paradise, sitting with him at his table above, on his throne there; it is the happiness of heaven to be with Christ there, John 17:24; John 17:24. Christ speaks of heaven's happiness as if he were already in it: Where I am; because he was sure of it, and near to it, and it was still upon his heart, and in his eye. And the same joy and glory which he thought recompence enough for all his services and sufferings are proposed to his servants as the recompence of theirs. Those that follow him in the way shall be with him in the end.

      Secondly, They shall be honoured by his Father; he will make them amends for all their pains and loss, by conferring an honour upon them, such as becomes a great God to give, but far beyond what such worthless worms of the earth could expect to receive. The rewarder is God himself, who takes the services done to the Lord Jesus as done to himself. The reward is honour, true lasting honour, the highest honour; it is the honour that comes from God. It is said (Proverbs 27:18), He that waits on his Master (humbly and diligently) shall be honoured. Those that wait on Christ God will put honour upon, such as will be taken notice of another day, though now under a veil. Those that serve Christ must humble themselves, and are commonly vilified by the world, in recompence of both which they shall be exalted in due time.

      Thus far Christ's discourse has reference to those Greeks who desired to see him, encouraging them to serve him. What became of those Greeks we are not told, but are willing to hope that those who thus asked the way to heaven with their faces thitherward, found it, and walked in it.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 12:21". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/john-12.html. 1706.