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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 12:42

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Confession;   Cowardice;   Indecision;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Opinion, Public;   Persecution;   Synagogue;   Thompson Chain Reference - Believers;   Courage-Fear;   Discipleship;   Faith-Unbelief;   Fear;   Fear of Man;   Secret Discipleship;   The Topic Concordance - Praise;   Unbelief;   Understanding;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Confessing Christ;   Synagogues;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bethany;   Excommunication;   Synagogue;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Confession;   Synagogue;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Knowledge of God;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Excommunication;   Judgment, Last;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Synagogue;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Excommunication;   Nicodemus;   Pharisees;   Scribes;   Synagogue;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Chief;   Crimes and Punishments;   Disciples;   Excommunication;   John, the Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Communion;   Excommunication;   John, Gospel of;   Martha;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Betrayal;   Confession (of Christ);   Curse;   Death of Christ;   Denial;   Excommunication;   Excommunication (2);   Ruler (2);   Sergius Paulus;   Simple, Simplicity ;   Synagogue;   Synagogue (2);   Unbelief (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Synagogue;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Bethany;   Martha;   Passover;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Synagogue;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom or Church of Christ, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Excommunication;   Ruler;   Synagogue;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for July 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 42. Among the chief rulers - many believed on him — We only know the names of two of them, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea.

But-they did not confess him — Or it: they were as yet weak in the faith, and could not bear the reproach of the cross of Christ. Besides, the principal rulers had determined to excommunicate every person who acknowledged Christ for the Messiah; see John 9:22.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 12:42". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-12.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

137. Final message to the Jews (John 12:27-50)

Jesus trembled as he thought of the suffering that awaited him, but he was determined to finish the work he had come to do. He prayed that through his death he would glorify his Father, and his Father responded in a voice from heaven that the prayer would be answered (John 12:27-29). As the startled onlookers were wondering what they had heard, Jesus told them that the time for Satan’s defeat was approaching. Through Jesus’ crucifixion, people of all nations would be delivered from Satan’s power and brought into the liberty of the kingdom of God (John 12:30-33).

The people were puzzled at Jesus’ statement. He spoke of himself as ‘the Son of man’, but if he used this expression to mean ‘the Messiah’, how could the Messiah die on the cross? They thought the Messiah would live for ever. Jesus had no more time to reason with them, but urged them to believe in him immediately and so walk in the light while he was still on earth. Otherwise the darkness would come upon them and they would be lost eternally (John 12:34-36).

Most of the Jewish people were stubborn in their unbelief, as Isaiah had prophesied. Any who believed in him were afraid to say so openly, for fear of being put out of the synagogue (John 12:37-43). In his final words to the crowd, Jesus explained that to believe in him was to believe in God; to reject him was to reject God (John 12:44-46). Jesus came to save people, not to condemn them, and the words he spoke were the words of God. But in the day of judgment those same words would be a witness for the condemnation of those who rejected them (John 12:47-50).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/john-12.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God.

These two verses are among the most important in Scripture in regard to their bearing upon the question of whether or not one is justified by FAITH ONLY, making it impossible logically to believe that faith alone can justify.

Believed on him ... is alleged to have been faith of a DIFFERENT KIND from that required for salvation. Hovey called it "a rational conviction ... but not a saving trust in Christ."[23] Gaebelein wrote, "But they had no true faith in God."[24] Barnes has, "They were convinced in their understanding that he was the Messiah."[25] Johnson says, "These rulers, not believing with the heart, did not make open confession."[26] Morgan concluded that "The most illuminating sentence concerning this verse came from the pen of Bishop Westcott, who said, `This complete intellectual faith is really the climax of unbelief.'"[27] Yet we have Westcott's own testimony thus:

It is remarkable that St. John uses of this belief the phrase which marks the completeness of belief. The belief only lacked confession, but this defect was fatal. Compare John 2:23, where belief complete in itself is practically imperfect.[28]

It is astoundingly clear that many of the rulers had a COMPLETENESS OF FAITH, Westcott leaving no doubt whatever that the Greek New Testament teaches this. Therefore, the deduction must stand stark and mandatory that something beyond faith (even if one has a COMPLETE faith) is required for salvation. The device of supposing that one kind of faith comes from the heart and another kind from the mind, or intellect, is ridiculous, because the Scriptural HEART is the MIND. Furthermore, the Bible has absolutely nothing about KINDS of faith, distinctions of so-called varieties of faith deriving from human speculation and not from God's word. It must be rejected out of hand, therefore, that the faith of the rulers (in this verse) was anywise different from the faith of any man coming to Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. There was only ONE THING wrong with their faith. It was FAITH ALONE! Of course, this stands squarely opposed to the Lutheran heresy of justification by faith only; and this undeniable fact would appear to be the only reason why so many writers have labored to make the faith in this verse to have been some diverse kind or variety of faith. The thing lacking was not faith (they had it all) but obedience (they would not confess). Millions of men today are in the same category with these rulers. They believe but will not confess and be baptized. John's entire Gospel is in full harmony with what is taught here. See John 1:12; 2:23; 8:31; etc.

Lest they should be put out of the synagogue ... The social pressures in the community were sufficient to restrain some from acting in harmony with their faith in Christ. The same is true today.

They loved the glory, etc ... Regardless of the faith that may exist in the heart, it is the love of God which must sustain and activate it if it is to issue in any benefit to the believer. Love is greater than faith, even a complete faith; and the reason for this was announced by our Lord himself who said, "If ye love me ye will keep my commandments," a statement nowhere made concerning faith (John 14:15). How strange it is that men claim exactly the same thing for faith that Christ claimed for love, making faith the fulfilling of all the commandments.[29] Any theory of justification by faith which omits love and obedience is a false theory.

[23] Alvah Hovey, op. cit., p. 262.

[24] Arno Gaebelein, op. cit., p. 240.

[25] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 214.

[26] B. W. Johnson, The New Testament Commentary (Cincinnati, Ohio: The Christian Publishing Company, 1886), p. 198.

[27] G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel according to John (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company), p. 224.

[28] B. F. Westcott, op. cit., p. 186.

[29] Leslie Duncan, Protestantism (New York: George Braziller, 1962), p. 43.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The chief rulers - Members of the Sanhedrin - Nicodemus, Joseph, and others like them.

Because of the Pharisees - The Pharisees were a majority of the council.

Did not confess him - Did not openly avow their belief that he was the Messiah. Two of them, however, did afterward evince their attachment to him. These were Joseph and Nicodemus, John 19:38-39. That Joseph was one of them appears from Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-51.

Put out of the synagogue - Excommunicated. See the notes at John 9:22.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-12.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Nevertheless, many even of the rulers believed on Him. The murmuring and fierceness of the Jews, in rejecting Christ, having risen to such a height of insolence, it might have been thought that all the people, without exception, conspired against him. But the Evangelist says that, amidst the general madness of the nation, there were many who were of a sound mind. A striking instance, truly, of the grace of God; for, when ungodliness has once prevailed, it is a sort of universal plague, which infects with its contagion every part of the body. It is therefore a remarkable gift, and special grace of God, when, amidst a people so corrupt, there are some who remain untainted. And yet we now perceive in the world the same grace of God; for though ungodliness and contempt of God abound everywhere, and though a vast multitude of men make furious attempts to exterminate utterly the doctrine of the Gospel, yet it always finds some places of retreat; and thus faith has — what may be called — its harbors or places of refuge, that it may not be entirely banished from the world.

The word even is emphatic; for in the order of the rulers, there existed so deep and inveterate a hatred of the Gospel, that it could scarcely be believed that a single believer could be found amongst them. So much the greater admiration was due to the power of the Spirit of God, which entered where no opening was made; though it was not a vice, peculiar to a single age, that rulers were rebellious and disobedient to Christ; for honor, and wealth, and high rank, are usually accompanied by pride. The consequence is, that they who, swelled with arrogance, scarcely acknowledge themselves to be men, are not easily subdued by voluntary humility. Whoever, then, holds a high station in the world, will, if he is wise, look with suspicion on his rank, that it may not stand in his way. When the Evangelist says that there were many, this must not be understood as if they were the majority or the half; for, as compared with others who were vastly numerous, they were few, but yet they were many, when viewed in themselves.

On account of the Pharisees. It may be thought that he speaks incorrectly, when he separates faith from confession; for

with the heart we believe to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, (Romans 10:10)

and it is impossible that the faith, which has been kindled in the heart, shall not put forth its flame. I reply, he points out here how weak was the faith of those men who were so lukewarm, or rather cold. In short, John means that they embraced the doctrine of Christ, because they knew that it had come from God, but that they have not a lively faith, or a faith so vigorous as it ought to have been; for Christ does not grant to his followers a spirit of fear, but of firmness, that they may boldly and fearlessly confess what they have learned from him. Yet I do not think that they were altogether silent; but as their confession was not sufficiently open, the Evangelist, in my opinion, simply declares that they did not make profession of their faith; for the proper kind of profession was, openly to declare that they were the disciples of Christ. Let no man, therefore, flatter himself who, in any respect, conceals or dissembles his faith for fear of incurring the hatred of men; for however hateful the name of Christ may be, that cowardice which compels us to turn aside, in the smallest degree, from the confession of him, admits of no excuse.

It must also be observed, that rulers have less rigor and firmness, because ambition almost always reigns in them, which is the most slavish of all dispositions; and, to express it in a single word, earthly honors may be said to be golden fetters, which bind a man, so that he cannot perform his duty with freedom. On this account, persons who are placed in a low and mean condition ought to bear their lot with the greater patience, for they are, at least, delivered from many very bad snares. Yet the great and noble ought to struggle against their high rank, that it may not hinder them from submitting to Christ.

John says that they were afraid of the Pharisees; not that the other scribes and priests freely permitted any man to call himself a disciple of Christ, but because, under the semblance of zeal, cruelty burned in them with greater fierceness. Zeal, in defending religion, is, indeed, an excellent virtue; but if hypocrisy be added to it, no plague can be more dangerous. So much the more earnestly ought we to entreat the Lord to guide us by the unerring rule of his Spirit.

Lest they should be thrown out of the synagogue. This was what hindered them, the fear of disgrace; for they would have been thrown out of the synagogue. Hence we see how great is the perversity of men, which not only corrupts and debases the best of God’s ordinances, but turns them into destructive tyranny. Excommunication ought to have been the sinew of holy discipline, that punishment might be ready to be inflicted, if any person despised the Church. But matters had come to such a pitch, that any one who confessed that he belonged to Christ was banished from the society of believers. In like manner, at the present day, the Pope, in order to exercise the same kind of tyranny, falsely pretends to a right of excommunicating, and not only thunders with blind rage against all the godly, but endeavors to cast down Christ from his heavenly throne; and yet he does not hesitate impudently to hold out the right of sacred jurisdiction, with which Christ has adorned his Church.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 12:42". "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. "



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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/john-12.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The explanation of Israel’s unbelief 12:37-43

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

7. The unbelief of Israel 12:37-50

This section of the Gospel contains the writer’s explanation of the significance of the events so far in Jesus’ ministry. John first explained the conflict between belief and unbelief, and then He recorded Jesus’ final appeal for decision. This is the final climax of the decision theme before Jesus’ passion. The key word in this section is "believe," which appears six times.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Even though most of the Jews rejected Jesus, some believed on Him (cf. John 1:10-13). Even some of the rulers did, though the content of their faith doubtless varied. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea seem to have been such people (cf. John 7:50-52; John 19:38-39). Most of them did not admit that they believed in Him, however, because of fear of exclusion from synagogue worship (cf. John 9:22).

Public confession of faith in Jesus is the normal expression of belief in Him (Romans 10:9-10). However public confession is not a condition for salvation. Obviously mutes and other people can believe but for one reason or another may not be able to confess their faith publicly with their mouths.

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These files are public domain.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:42". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Nevertheless among the chief rulers also,.... These were the members of the Jewish sanhedrim, as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others:

many believed on him; that he was the Messiah, though they did not believe in him in a spiritual and saving manner, as their Redeemer and Saviour, only in their minds, being convicted by his miracles, gave an assent unto him, as the promised Messiah. The two persons just mentioned may be thought truly to have believed in Christ; but the many here spoken of seem to have had only an historical faith in him, as appears by what follows:

but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him; as they ought to have done, and as they would have done, if their faith had been right; for where with the heart men believe in Christ to righteousness, there, with the mouth, confession is made to salvation; and between a non-confession of Christ, and a denying him, is no medium; and Christ interprets the one to be the same with the other; see Romans 10:9; and this they did not do, because of the Pharisees, who were the inveterate and implacable enemies of Christ, and were the prevailing party in the sanhedrim: wherefore these chief rulers, though many, were afraid of them,

lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they had made a decree in the sanhedrim, that whoever confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, should be cast out; and they had put it into execution upon the man born blind, whose eyes Christ opened, for speaking in favour of his benefactor; and this had struck terror in the minds, not only of the common people; but of the chief rulers themselves; for it was looked upon as a very dreadful thing to be put out of the synagogue;

Romans 10:9- :.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 12:42". "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

The Cowardice of the Rulers.


      42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:   43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

      Some honour was done to Christ by these rulers: for they believed on him, were convinced that he was sent of God, and received his doctrine as divine; but they did not do him honour enough, for they had not courage to own their faith in him. Many professed more kindness for Christ than really they had; these had more kindness for him than they were willing to profess. See here what a struggle was in these rulers between their convictions and their corruptions.

      I. See the power of the word in the convictions that many of them were under, who did not wilfully shut their eyes against the light. They believed on him as Nicodemus, received him as a teacher come from God. Note, The truth of the gospel has perhaps a better interest in the consciences of men than we are aware of. Many cannot but approve of that in their hearts which yet outwardly they are shy of. Perhaps these chief rulers were true believers, though very weak, and their faith like smoking flax. Note, It may be, there are more good people than we think there are. Elijah thought he was left alone, when God had seven thousand faithful worshippers in Israel. Some are really better than they seem to be. Their faults are known, but their repentance is not; a man's goodness may be concealed by a culpable yet pardonable weakness, which he himself truly repents of. The kingdom of God comes not in all with a like observation; nor have all who are good the same faculty of appearing to be so.

      II. See the power of the world in the smothering of these convictions. They believed in Christ, but because of the Pharisees, who had it in their power to do them a diskindness, they durst not confess him for fear of being excommunicated. Observe here, 1. Wherein they failed and were defective; They did not confess Christ. Note, There is cause to question the sincerity of that faith which is either afraid or ashamed to show itself; for those who believe with the heart ought to confess with the mouth,Romans 10:9. 2. What they feared: being put out of the synagogue, which they thought would be a disgrace and damage to them; as if it would do them any harm to be expelled from a synagogue that had made itself a synagogue of Satan, and from which God was departing. 3. What was at the bottom of this fear: They loved the praise of men, chose it as a more valuable good, and pursued it as a more desirable end, than the praise of God; which was an implicit idolatry, like that (Romans 1:25) of worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. They set these two in the scale one against the other, and, having weighed them, they proceeded accordingly. (1.) They set the praise of men in one scale, and considered how good it was to give praise to men, and to pay a deference to the opinion of the Pharisees, and receive praise from men, to be commended by the chief priests and applauded by the people as good sons of the church, the Jewish church; and they would not confess Christ, lest they should thereby derogate from the reputation of the Pharisees, and forfeit their own, and thus hinder their own preferment. And, besides, the followers of Christ were put into an ill name, and were looked upon with contempt, which those who had been used to honour could not bear. Yet perhaps if they had known one another's minds they would have had more courage; but each one thought that if he should declare himself in favour of Christ he should stand alone, and have nobody to back him; whereas, if any one had had resolution to break the ice, he would have had more seconds than he thought of. (2.) They put the praise of God in the other scale. They were sensible that by confessing Christ they should both give praise to God, and have praise from God, that he would be pleased with them, and say, Well done; but, (3.) They gave the preference to the praise of men, and this turned the scale; sense prevailed above faith, and represented it as more desirable to stand right in the opinion of the Pharisees than to be accepted of God. Note, Love of the praise of men is a very great prejudice to the power and practice of religion and godliness. Many come short of the glory of God by having a regard to the applause of men, and a value for that. Love of the praise of men, as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite when religion is in fashion and credit is to be got by it; and love of the praise of men, as a base principle in that which is evil, will make a man an apostate when religion is in disgrace, and credit is to be lost for it, as here. See Romans 2:29.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 12:42". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/john-12.html. 1706.