Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 13:4

*got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Eucharist (the Lord's Supp;   Feet;   Foot;   Jesus, the Christ;   Towel;   Thompson Chain Reference - Christ;   Condescension, Divine;   Divine;   God;   Servant, Christ as;   Work, Religious;   Work-Workers, Religious;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Garments;   Girdles;   Hyke or Upper Garment;   Servants;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Humility;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Peter;   Slave;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Follow, Follower;   Hospitality;   Humility;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Dress;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - John, the Gospel According to;   Laver;   Linen;   Synagogue;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Foot;   Footwashing;   John, the Gospel of;   Servant of the Lord, the;   Slave/servant;   The Last Supper;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Dress;   Foot;   Humility;   Trinity;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Atonement (2);   Bason;   Complacency;   Courtesy;   Death of Christ;   Dress (2);   Feet;   Gentleness (2);   Hospitality ;   Humility;   Imagination;   Logos;   Lord's Supper. (I.);   Love (2);   Man (2);   Meals;   Paradox;   Purity (2);   Redemption (2);   Sacrifice (2);   Service;   Shoe Sandal;   Supper ;   Towel;   Upper Room (2);   Water (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Laver;   Shoes;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Feet;   Judas;   Passover;   Washing;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Synagogue;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Dress;   Foot;   Lord's Supper (Eucharist);   Peter, Simon;   Washing of Feet;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for November 17;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He riseth from supper - Not from eating, as Bishop Pearce has well observed, but from his place at table; probably the dishes were not as yet laid down, though the guests were seated. According to the custom of the Jews and other Asiatics, this washing must have taken place before the supper. See on John 13:2; (note).

Laid aside his garments - That is, his gown or upper coat, with the girdle wherewith it was girded close to his tunic or under coat; and, instead of this girdle, he tied a towel about him:

  1. that he might appear in the character of a servant; and
2. that he might have it in readiness to dry their feet after he had washed them.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 13:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He riseth from supper - Evidently while they were eating. See John 13:2.

Laid aside his garments - His outer garment. See the notes at Matthew 5:40. This was his mantle or robe, which is said to have been without seam. It was customary to lay this aside when they worked or ran, or in the heat of summer.

Took a towel and girded himself - This was the manner of a servant or slave. See the notes at Luke 17:8.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-13.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He riseth from supper,.... In the midst of the entertainment, and which no doubt was considerable, his mind being intent on something else; and it being his meat and drink to do his Father's will, he rises and leaves his disciples sitting to finish their meal; and whilst they were murmuring at the waste of the ointment poured on his head, and were filled with indignation at it, as they all of them were, see Matthew 26:8; he rises up to wash their feet; amazing patience and humility!

And laid aside his garments; not all his garments, only his upper ones, that he might better dispatch the business he was going about; and which was an emblem of his laying aside, as it were for a while, his glory and dignity as the Son of God, and of his appearing in the form of a servant.

And took a towel; or "linen cloth", λεντιον, the same with לונטית in the Jerusalem TalmudF18Sabbat, fol. 3. 1. & 12. 1. :

and girded himself; with the towel, or linen cloth, which served both for a girdle, and after he had washed his disciples' feet, to wipe them with. This was a servile habit; so servants used to stand at the feet of their masters, girt about with a linen clothF19Suetonius in Caligula, c. 26. ; and shows, that the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

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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 13:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

He c riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

(c) In that he is said to rise, it argues that there was a space of time between the ceremony of the passover and this washing of feet, at which time it seems that the Lord's supper was instituted.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 13:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-13.html. 1599-1645.

People's New Testament

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments. Shortly after they had sat down to the table, he arose, laid aside his outer robe, girded a towel upon him, and began the lowly office of washing the feet of twelve men, without a word of explanation. Something more than ordinary must have caused so remarkable an act. The fact that the cause has been lost sight of, has caused many to misunderstand the significance, and to think the Savior was instituting a church ceremonial, rather than giving a deep, practical, spiritual lesson for all ages. I will endeavor to explain the circumstances: (1) The disciples still expected the immediate manifestation of the kingdom. When they sat down to this Supper they felt it was a kind of state occasion, and a strife arose among them for precedence. Each wanted the "chief seat at the feast." An account of this unseemly controversy over the old question, "Who should be greatest?" is found in Luke 22:24-30. (2) Their sandals had been laid off according to custom. They sat down to the table with dry and dusty feet, but no one brought water to wash their feet, an eastern duty of hospitality made necessary by their hot, dusty climate. No apostle volunteered to attend to the office, the duty of a servant. (3) Then, while they were filled with their ambitious, envious feelings, and had engaged in strife right at the Lord's table, after waiting long enough to have it shown that no one would condescend to the menial, but needful duty, the Lord, full of conscious divinity, arose, girded on the towel, and began the office. A rebuke to their ambitious strife, far more powerful than words could have spoken: such a rebuke that never again do we see a hint of the old question, "Who should be greatest?" It was Christ's answer to their unseemly conduct, and a lesson to those Christians "who love the pre-eminence" for all time. It said, "Let him that would be greatest become the servant of all."

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 13:4". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-13.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Riseth from supper (εγειρεται εκ του δειπνουegeiretai ek tou deipnou). Vivid dramatic present middle indicative of εγειρωegeirō From the couch on which he was reclining.

Layeth aside (τιτησινtithēsin). Same dramatic present active of τιτημιtithēmi

His garments
(τα ιματιαta himatia). The outer robe ταλλιτtallith (ιματιονhimation) and with only the tunic (χιτωνchitōn) on “as one that serveth” (Luke 22:27). Jesus had already rebuked the apostles for their strife for precedence at the beginning of the meal (Luke 22:24-30).

A towel
(λεντιονlention). Latin word linteum, linen cloth, only in this passage in the N.T.

Girded himself
(διεζωσεν εαυτονdiezōsen heauton). First aorist active indicative of διαζωννυωdiazōnnuō (-υμιumi), old and rare compound (in Plutarch, lxx, inscriptions, and papyri), to gird all around. In N.T. only in John (John 13:4, John 13:5; John 21:7). Did Peter not recall this incident when in 1 Peter 5:5 he exhorts all to “gird yourselves with humility” (την ταπεινοπροσυνην εγκομβωσαστεtēn tapeinophrosunēn egkombōsasthe)?

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-13.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

From the supper ( ἐκ τοῦ δείπνου )

Out of the group gathered at the table.

Laid aside ( τίθησι )

Present tense: layeth aside.

Garments ( ἱμάτια )

See on Matthew 5:40. Upper garments.

Towel ( λέντιον )

A Latin word, linteum. A linen cloth. Only here and John 13:5.

Girded ( διέζωσεν )

Only in this chapter and John 21:7. The compound verb means to bind or gird all round.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-13.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

Layeth aside his garments — That part of them which would have hindered him.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 13:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-13.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

His garments; his outer garments.--Girded himself; after the manner of a servant.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-13.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Снял с Себя верхнюю одежду. Разумей, что Он снял с Себя лишь верхнюю одежду, а не тунику. Мы знаем, что восточные пользовались длинными одеяниями. Следующие затем слова:начал умывать ноги, выражают скорее Его намерение, чем внешний акт. Евангелист же добавляет, что Христос начал с Петра.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-13.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

Ver. 4. He riseth from supper] So the rite of the Paschal supper required; as Beza showeth in his annotations upon Matthew 26:20.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 13:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-13.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 13:4. He riseth from supper, As it is here asserted that Christ rose from supper, we must allow that, in some sense, supper was begun. Probably, the antepast had been taken, which is mentioned by the Jews as preceding the paschal lamb. They tell us that it was then usual for the master of the family to wash his hands, and, if we are rightly informed, the Jews continue this custom still. By laying aside his garments, is meant his upper garments; which the Jewish priests used to pull off, when employed in bringing the victims, frankincense, and other things requisite for sacrifice.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 13:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-13.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, The admirable humility and great self-denial of our Lord and Master: he arises from supper, whilst his disciples sat still, and he that came in the form of a servant, performs all the offices of the meanest servant to his disciples; he lays aside his upper garments, he girds himself with a towel, pours water into a basin, and begins to wash and wipe their feet, which lay out behind them, as they leaned at the table, all which was a most servile employment.

Learn hence, That the wonderful humility of Jesus Christ inclined him to do he meanest office of service unto his people, even to become a servant to them in the day of his humiliation; and though now glorified in heaven, he retains the same compassionate heart towards them, as when here on earth; hereby instructing us, that it is our duty, in whatever station Providence shall place us in the world, to stoop to the lowest offices of love and service towards our fellow brethren.

Lord! thou hast left the most amzing instance of self-denial for our encouragement and example.

Question. But how far doth this example bind us?

Answer. It does not oblige to the individual act, but to follow the reason of the example; that is, after Christ's example, we ought to be ready to perform the lowest and meanest offices of love and service to one another.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 13:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-13.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4.] τὰ ἱμ., “eas, quæ lotionem impedirent.” Bengel. He put Himself into the ordinary dress of a servant. Or, which is far more probable, on the deepest grounds, did He not humble Himself so far as literally to divest Himself, and gird Himself merely, as the basest of slaves?

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 13:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-13.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 13:4. ἐγείρεται, He riseth) Jesus always connected with the remembrance of His entering on His glory specimens of His humility.— τὰ ἱμάτια, His garments) Those which would be an encumbrance to Him in the act of washing.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 13:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-13.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He riseth from supper. What supper? Is the question. We are told, that the Jews had two suppers upon the paschal night, which was the 14th day of the month Nisan. The first was the passover supper, which was a religious rite in obedience to the law. The second, a common supper (as on other nights); to which our Saviour added a third, which was the Lord’s supper. To me it seemeth rather that their common supper was first, then the passover supper; and that Christ arose from this common supper to do this act. Augustine understood it of the common supper; so doth Beza, Heinsius, Tarnovius, and others; which seemeth to me most probable, though others understand it of the passover supper. Whatever supper the evangelist meaneth, Christ rose up from it before it was done. Calvin, Pareus, Beza, Petargus, Tossanus, and divers others amongst the protestant interpreters; Tolet, Maldonate, and Jansenius, amongst the papists; do agree a common supper this night, besides the paschal supper, and the Lord’s supper: from which it is most probable that Christ, as is here said, rose up, and laid aside his garment; that is, his outward loose garment, (for such they used), which servants were wont to gird up when they waited at table, Luke 17:8: Christ laid one aside, and girdling up the other, takes a towel.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 13:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-13.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

His garments; his mantle or outer garment.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-13.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Riseth from supper—Interrupts the meal to interpose the lesson.

Laid aside his garments—His outside raiment, in order to perform his task without impediment.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-13.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 13:4. He riseth from the supper, and layeth down his garments, and having taken a towel girded himself. How wonderful the act when compared with the circumstances (mentioned in the previous verse) by which it is introduced! In the fullest consciousness of the glory of that work of redeeming love which He had undertaken, He who was in the ‘form of God’ assumed the ‘form,’ and did the work, of ‘a servant,’ a slave,—nay, felt that to do this was glory. What He does, too, is rendered all the more striking by the fact that the remarkable scene described in Luke 22:24,—the strife among the disciples which should be the greatest,—may have just occurred. In contrast with that eager desire among His servants for superior station in the world, the Master ‘riseth,’ ‘layeth down’ His outer garments, and ‘girdeth’ Himself, becomes as ‘he that serveth (Luke 22:27).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-13.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 13:4. This person, and in this mood and in these circumstances, on the brink of His own passion, is free to attend to the wants of unworthy men, and . “He rises,” having reclined at the table in expectation that one or other of the disciples would do the feet-washing.— , “and lays aside His garments,” i.e., His Tallith, appearing in His , similar to our “in His shirt sleeves”. is similarly used in , John 10:11, etc. [See also Kypke on Luke 19:21.]— , “and having taken a linteum,” a towel or long linen cloth, “He girt Himself,” tying the towel round Him. Cf. , 1 Peter 5:5. The middle is used in John 21:7; the expression here more emphatically indicates that He was the sole Agent. The condescension is understood in the light of what Suetonius tells of Caligula (Cal. 26), that he was fond of making some of the senators wait at his table “succinctos linteo,” that is, in the guise of waiters.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 13:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-13.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

He riseth from supper; that is, after supper was done, or ended, as it is here said, (ver. 2. and 1 Corinthians xi. 25.) girded himself like a servant, to wash and wipe the feet of his apostles. (Witham) --- If we compare the text of the four evangelists, it will appear that the washing of the feet preceded the institution of the blessed Eucharist, of which St. John is silent. (Bible de Vence)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 13:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

riseth. App-178. from. Greek. ek. App-104.

supper = supper table (as we should say), i.e., after they had taken their places.

garments, i.e. the outer garment. Greek. himation, translated "robe "in John 19:2, John 19:6. This was removed for working, and for sleeping was often used as a coverlet. When removed, leaving only the chiton or tunic, the man was said to be naked.

towel. Greek. lention, a linen cloth (Latin. linteum).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 13:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

He riseth from supper, and laid [rather, 'layeth' titheesin (G5087)] aside his garments (which would have impeded the operation of washing), and took a towel, and girded himself - assuming a servant's dress.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) He riseth from supper, and laid aside’ his garments.—Comp. Notes on Luke 22 et seq. We there read of “a strife among them which of them should be accounted the greatest.” It is placed by St. Luke after the Supper; but our Lord’s words, “I am among you as he that serveth,” point almost certainly to a connection with this parabolic act. There had been, we may well think, some self-assertion in acts or omissions, which He by His act rebukes. They may have claimed, each above his brother, the place of honour at the table, or it may be that no one had offered the customary refreshment of water for the feet, before sitting down to meat (Luke 7:44). “We cannot say what was the immediate cause which suggested His act, but if we attempt to realise the whole scene, we must believe that there was in the disciples themselves some such cause. The garment laid aside would be the outer garment, which would impede His action, leaving the tunic, which was the ordinary dress of a servant.

And took a towel, and girded himself.—This was itself a mark of the servant’s position, and was meant to signify His assumption of the servant’s work. The successive minute details of this picture carry with them their own authenticity.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
laid aside
That is, his gown, or upper coat, [himatia] with the girdle by which it was girdled close to his tunic, or inner coat; and instead of his girdle, he tied a towel about him, that he might have it in readiness to dry their feet,and that he might appear as a servant. Indeed the whole action was a servile one; and never performed by a superior to an inferior.
Luke 12:37; 17:7; 22:27; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-8
Reciprocal: Genesis 24:32 - wash;  Genesis 43:24 - GeneralJudges 19:21 - they washed;  2 Kings 3:11 - poured water;  Matthew 20:28 - came;  Luke 7:38 - wash;  John 13:2 - supper

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 13:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-13.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.And layeth aside his garments. The meaning is, that he laid aside his upper garment, not his coat; for we know that the inhabitants of Eastern countries wore long garments

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 13:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-13.html. 1840-57.