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Exegetical Commentary on John 13

OUTLINE:

    4 A The Book of Glory: Jesus accomplishes his return to the Father (13:1-20:31)

      1 B Introduction to the Book of Glory (13:1)

      2 B The Last Supper: Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure (13:2-17:26)

        1 C The Meal (13:2-30)

          1 D Jesus washes the feet of his disciples as an example of humble service (13:2-20)

          2 D Jesus predicts his betrayal by Judas Iscariot (13:21-30)

        2 C The Last Discourse (13:31-17:26)

          1 D Jesus speaks of his departure and the disciples’ future (13:31-14:31)

            1 E The arrival of the hour of Jesus’ glorification (his departure) (13:31-33)

            2 E The new commandment: love one another (13:34-35)

            3 E Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (13:36-38)

            4 E Jesus presents himself as the Way to the Father for those who believe in him (14:1-14)

            5 E Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples after his departure (14:15-31)

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bishop, E. F. F., “‘He that Eateth Bread with me hath Lifted up his Heel against me’:—Jn xiii,18 (Ps. xli,9),” Expository Times 70 (1958/59): 331-32.

Boyd, W. J. P., “The Ascension according to St. John. Chapters 14-17 not pre-passion but post-resurrection,” Theology 70 (1967): 207-11.

Boyle, J. L., “The Last Discourse (Jn 13,31-16,33) and Prayer (Jn 17): Some Observations on Their Unity and Development,” Biblica 56 (1975): 210-22.

Caird, G. B., “The Glory of God in the Fourth Gospel: An Exercise in Biblical Semantics,” New Testament Studies 15 (1968/69): 265-77.

Christie, W. M., “Did Christ Eat the Passover with his Disciples? or, The Synoptics versus John’s Gospel,” Expository Times 43 (1931/32): 515-19.

Dunn, J. D. G., “The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet in John 13:1-20,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 61 (1970): 247-52.

Grossouw, W. K., “A Note on John xiii 1-3,” Novum Testamentum 8 (1966): 124-31.

Haring, N. M., “Historical Notes on the Interpretation of John 13:10,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 13 (1951): 355-80.

Kelly, J., “What Did Christ Mean by the Sign of Love?” African Ecclesiastical Review 13 (1971): 113-21.

Knox, W. L., “John 13.1-30,” Harvard Theological Review 43 (1950): 161-63.

Lacomara, Aelved, “Deuteronomy and the Farewell Discourse (Jn 13:31-16:33),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 36 (1974): 65-84.

Reese, J. M., “Literary Structure of Jn 13:31-14:31; 16:5-6, 16-33,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34 (1972): 321-31.

Robinson, J. A. T., “The Significance of the Foot-washing,” Neotestamentica et Patristica. Eine Freundesgabe, Herrn Professor Dr. Oscar Cullmann zu seinem 60. Geburtstag überreicht, Novum Testamentum Supplement 6 (Leiden: Brill, 1962): 144-47.

Snyder, G. F., “John 13:16 and the Ante-Petrinism of the Johannine Tradition,” Biblical Research 16 (1971): 5-15.

Sparks, H. F. D., “St. John’s Knowledge of Matthew. The Evidence of Jo. 13, 16 and 15, 20,” Journal of Theological Studies 3 (1952): 58-61.

Stagg, F., “The Farewell Discourses: John 13-17,” Review and Expositor 62 (1965): 459-72.

Vellanickal, M., The Divine Sonship of Christians in the Johannine Writings, Analecta Biblica 72 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1977).

Weiss, H., “Foot Washing in the Johannine Community,” Novum Testamentum 21 (1979): 298-325.

Wilcox, M., “The Composition of John 13:21-30,” Neotestamentica et Semitica. Studies in Honour of Matthew Black, edd. E. E. Ellis and M. Wilcox (Edinburgh: Clark, 1969): 143-56.

DETAILED EXEGETICAL NOTES:

    4 A The Book of Glory: Jesus accomplishes his return to the Father (13:1-20:31)

Introduction. The previous major section of the Fourth Gospel, which we have labelled The Book of Signs (1:19-12:50) following R. Brown and others, was primarily concerned with the seven sign-miracles which the author of the Fourth Gospel has selected as representative of Jesus’ ministry and demonstrative of who he is. Included were the public discourses and debates with his opponents which followed from the sign-miracles. Although there were a few private conversations (Nicodemus in ch. 3, the Samaritan woman in ch. 4), most of the words and works of Jesus were aimed at a wider audience in both Galilee and Judea. Central to the Book of Signs was the idea (found especially in 3:16-21) that the coming of Jesus into the world provokes judgment: a person’s destiny is determinate upon one’s response to Jesus. His coming provokes a crisis in the truest sense of the word. And over and over in chapters 1-12 we saw this happening in the way people responded: some “came to the Light” and believed, while others “shrank back into the darkness” and refused to believe in him, thus confirming their judgment.

However, the second book of the Fourth Gospel, The Book of Glory, is addressed only to those who believed. This book chronicles the coming of Jesus’ “hour,” the hour of his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and exaltation to the Father. Why then should we include as part of the Book of Glory chapters 13-17, the so-called “Upper Room Discourse,” containing the accounts of the Last Supper and Jesus’ Farewell Discourse? In the previous Book of Signs, the discourses of Jesus generally followed the sign-miracles and interpreted them. But in the Book of Glory, the Last Supper and the Last Discourse which precede the hour of Jesus’ glorification serve to interpret for the disciples (and for us) that hour with its events from God’s perspective.

      1 B Introduction to the Book of Glory (13:1)

13:1 ProV deV th'" eJorth'" tou' pavsca According to the Evangelist, the events of this discourse including the meal itself take place before the Passover (in spite of J. Jeremias, who tried very hard to prove otherwise).107 Thus the meal, for John, was not the Passover meal proper. The evening of this meal (from 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening) and the next day (Friday) on which Jesus will die, are the Passover eve.

eijdwV" oJ =Ihsou'" Jesus was not taken by surprise by the coming of the “hour.” The circumstantial participle eijdwv" may be understood either temporally or causally, but in either case the fact remains that Jesus knew. The time for his departure from this world to the Father had arrived. This led him to act on behalf of his disciples.

eij" tevlo" hjgavphsen aujtouv" For the Evangelist, this has a double meaning: the obvious “utterly, completely,” but also “to the very end of life itself,” that is, up to the point of death. Note the phrase tetevlestai (“it is ended”) spoken by Jesus from the cross in 19:30. This statement in 13:1 foreshadows Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. He loved his own enough to die for them. This is what it meant to love them “to the uttermost” (eij" tevlo") (compare 15:13).

      2 B The Last Supper: Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure (13:2-17:26)

        1 C The Meal (13:2-30)

          1 D Jesus washes the feet of his disciples as an example of humble service (13:2-20)

13:2 tou' diabovlou h[dh beblhkovto" eij" thVn kardivan i{na paradoi' aujtoVn At this point the devil (tou' diabovlou) had already “cast into the heart” (beblhkovto" eij" thVn kardivan) of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, that he should betray Jesus. Barrett thinks this is a reference to the idea entering the devil’s own heart, but this does not seem likely.108 More probably Judas’ heart is meant, since the use of the Greek article (rather than a possessive pronoun) is a typical idiom when a part of one’s own body is indicated. Judas’ name is withheld until the end of the sentence for dramatic effect (emphasis). This action must be read in light of 13:27, and appears to refer to a preliminary idea or plan.

13:3 eijdwv"The subject of verses 2-4 is never expressed, but in context it can only be Jesus. His knowledge of the situation and of his mission and destiny are clearly indicated. For Jesus, not one of these events happened by accident, nor did any take him by surprise.

13:4 ejgeivretai ejk tou' deivpnou Note that ejgeivretai is a historical present, adding vividness to the scene which is about to take place. The plural taV iJmavtia is probably a reference to more than one garment (cf. 19:23-24). If so, this would indicate that Jesus stripped to a loincloth, like a slave. He would have wrapped the towel (levntion) around his waist (dievzwsen eJautovn) for use in wiping the disciples’ feet. Levntion is a Latin loanword (linteum) which is also found in the rabbinic literature.109 It would have been a long piece of linen cloth, long enough for Jesus to have wrapped it about his waist and still used the free end to wipe the disciples’ feet.

13:6 e[rcetai ou proV" Sivmwna Pevtron It appears there was complete silence until Jesus came to Peter. It is probable that Peter was the last, since in v. 10 Jesus, after finishing Peter’s feet, pronounces them all clean. Peter’s being last also heightens the dramatic effect of the exchange between him and Jesus, since he has been watching all that has gone on up to this point (probably with increasing agitation).

13:7 gnwvsh/ deV metaV tau'ta Jesus made it plain to Peter that what he was doing Peter would not understand at the time, but that at some later time (metaV tau'ta is an indefinite reference) Peter would come to understand the significance of what Jesus had done (compare 12:16). This is an allusion to the post-resurrection insight that would come to all the disciples when Jesus had been raised from the dead.

13:8 ejaVn mhV nivyw se, oujk e[cei" mevro" met= ejmou' Peter’s protest brought Jesus’ response that unless Peter allowed him to wash his feet, he had no share (mevro", “heritage,” “inheritance”) in Jesus. As we might expect, wash in the context has a deeper significance than the literal washing of the disciples’ feet might indicate. Verse 10 seems to imply that cleansing from sin is ultimately in view.

13:10 ajll= e[stin kaqaroV" o{lo" Thayer’s lexicon (a translation of Grimm’s revision of Wilke’s work) offers the following explanation of v. 10:

…the idea which Christ expresses figuratively is as follows: ‘he whose inmost nature has been renovated does not need radical renewal, but only to be cleansed from every several fault into which he may fall through intercourse with the unrenewed world’.110

The inference is that the “bath” Jesus referred to is the initial cleansing from sin, which necessitates only “lesser, partial” cleansings from sins after conversion. This makes a fine illustration from a homiletical standpoint, but is it the meaning of the passage? To me this seems highly doubtful. Jesus stated that the disciples were “already clean” except for Judas (verses 10b, 11). What they needed was to have their feet washed by Jesus. In the broader context of the Gospel the significance of the foot-washing seems to point not just to an example of humble service (as most understand it) but something more—Jesus self-sacrificial death on the cross (see the discussion of this below at 13:20 under “Significance of the Footwashing in the Narrative”). If this is correct, then the foot-washing which they needed to undergo represented their acceptance of this act of self-sacrifice on the part of their master. This makes Peter’s initial abhorrance of the act of humiliation by his master all the more significant in context; it also explains Jesus’ seemingly harsh reply to Peter (above, verse 8; compare Matt 16:21-23 where Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan”).

13:11 oujciV pavnte" kaqaroiv ejste The “exception clause” at the end of v. 10 refers to Judas Iscariot who was about to betray Jesus, as the Evangelist explains in verse 11.

13:15 uJpovdeigma gaVr e[dwka uJmi'n Jesus tells his disciples after he has finished washing their feet that what he has done is to set an example for them. In the previous verse he told them they were to “wash one anothers feet”. What is the point of the example? If it is simply an act of humble service, as most interpret the significance, then Jesus is really telling his disciples to serve one another in humility rather than seeking preeminence over one another. If, however, the example is one of self-sacrifice up to the point of death, then Jesus is telling them to lay down their lives for one another (see note on eij" tevlo" in 13:1 and compare 15:13).

13:18 ejgwV oida tivna" ejxelexavmhn Jesus again speaks of his betrayer Judas as he did at the end of verse 10. Jesus knew whom he had chosen, and the choosing was the important thing. Once again the divine initiative is in view here. The words of Psalm 41:9 are seen to be fulfilled in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.

13:19 levgw uJmi'n proV tou' genevsqai Jesus has told the disciples of his betrayal beforehand, in order that when it happens their faith may be strengthened. (That they already believe seems clear from numerous previous statements in the Gospel, like 2:11.) What they will believe when they look back upon the prediction of betrayal is given by the concluding o{ti- clause—o{ti ejgwv eijmi. The expression here is almost certainly to be taken as an absolute statement without predicate, as in 8:28. Upon later (post-resurrection) reflection concerning Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal, the disciples will come to see that he was in complete control of the situation as only God himself could be.

13:20 oJ lambavnwn a[n tina pevmyw ejmeV lambavnei The section concludes with Jesus’ statement identifying his followers whom he sends with himself, and himself with the Father who sent him.

Significance of the Footwashing in the Narrative:

Many who approach this passage are satisfied with the symbolism of humility suggested in 13:12-20, and see no further meaning in the incident (e.g., Chrysostom, Theodore-Mopsuestia, Bernard, Michl).

But we should consider the following points:

(a) According to 13:6-10 what Jesus has done in the footwashing is essential if the disciples are to gain a heritage (mevro") with him (13:8), and the action seems in context to refer to the cleansing of their sin (13:10).

(b) Verse 7 states that they will only understand later (i.e., after the resurrection) but verses 12 and 17 imply that understanding is possible now (as we would expect if only an example of humility is involved).

Thus we suggest the following: in humiliating himself to wash the disciples feet, Jesus was acting out beforehand his humiliation in death, just as Mary in 12:1-8 acted out beforehand the anointing of his body for burial.

The footwashing is an act of humble service for others, symbolic of the humiliating service Jesus will render in laying down his life for others—which is why the footwashing is necessary if the disciples are to have a share in him (13:8). Naturally, though, the disciples would not have understood the full significance of this until after his death. This throws new light, too, on 13:14-15—the example Jesus has given is not just one of humble service, but of humble service to the point of death. This is expected of his followers as well: compare, for example, the parallel statements in 1 John 3:16, 4:11.

Mevro" (13:8) is used by the LXX to translate the Hebrew qlj, used to describe the heritage of national Israel. Each tribe had its “share” (mevro") in the promised land (except Levi)—Num 28:20; Deut 12:12; 14:27. Jesus’ death (which the washing symbolized) was a prerequisite for the disciples having a share (mevro") in the kingdom. Their inheritance in the kingdom was secured by his sacrificial death.

          2 D Jesus predicts his betrayal by Judas Iscariot (13:21-30)

13:21 ei|" ejx uJmw'n paradwvsei me Jesus has alluded to his betrayal twice before in chapter 13 (vss. 10, 18). These were more general references. Now he tells his disciples specifically that one of them is about to betray him. Jesus says that his spirit is troubled—the verb (taravssw) is the same one used in 12:27 used to describe his reaction to the coming of the “hour”. Jesus is in complete control of the situation (cf. 13:3), yet he is not emotionally oblivious to the events which have come upon him.

13:22 ajporouvmenoi The disciples, taken by surprise, began looking at one another, uncertain as to whom Jesus meant. Certainly we may expect they were surprised by Jesus’ explicit reference to his betrayal.

13:23 o}n hjgavpa oJ =Ihsou'" Here we are introduced for the first time to the Beloved Disciple. This individual also is mentioned in 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20. Some have suggested that this disciple is to be identified with Lazarus, since the Fourth Gospel specifically states that Jesus loved him (11:3, 5, 36). From the terminology alone this is a possibility; the Evangelist is certainly capable of using language in this way to indicate connections. But there is nothing else to indicate that Lazarus was present at the Last Supper; Mark 14:17 seems to indicate it was only the Twelve who were with Jesus at this time, and we have had no indication in the Fourth Gospel to the contrary. Nor does it appear that Lazarus ever stood so close to Jesus as the later references in chapters 19, 20 and 21 seem to indicate. When this is coupled with the omission of all references to John son of Zebedee from the Fourth Gospel, it seems far more likely that we should understand the references to the Beloved Disciple as references to him.

ejn tw'/ kovlpw/ tou' =Ihsou' People taking part in such a meal reclined on the left side. The left arm was used to support the body, leaving the right arm free for use in eating. The disciple on Jesus’ right would have his head immediately in front of Jesus and could be described as “lying in his bosom”. The position of highest honor would, however, have been to the left of the host according to Roman custom (see also 13:24 below).111

The only other use of this phrase in the Fourth Gospel is in 1:18. This suggests that we are to compare the intimacy shared by Jesus and the Beloved Disciple with that shared by Jesus and the Father. However, Barrett’s comment that “the specially favoured disciple is represented as standing in the same relation to Christ as Christ to the Father” is probably pressing this comparison a bit too far.112

13:24 Sivmwn Pevtro" It is not clear where Peter was seated. If he were on Jesus’ left, in the place of highest honor, it is difficult to see why he would not have asked the question himself. It would also have been difficult to beckon to the Beloved Disciple, on Jesus’ right, from such a position. So apparently Peter was seated somewhere else. It is entirely possible that Judas was seated to Jesus’ left in the position of highest honor. Matt 26:25 seems to indicate that Jesus could speak to him without being overheard by the rest of the group. Judas is evidently in a position where Jesus can hand him the morsel of food (13:26). It may well be that Jesus gave the position of highest honor to Judas as a last appeal to him—which would heighten the irony of Judas’ betrayal even further.

13:25-26 ejkei'nov" ejstin w|/ ejgwV bavyw toV ywmivon kaiV dwvsw aujtw'/ In response to Peter’s gesture, the Beloved Disciple asks Jesus who it is who will betray him, and Jesus replies that he will indicate by an action who the traitor is. It seems likely that these words were not spoken loudly to the entire group, but only to the Beloved Disciple. It also appears that Jesus preferred that the group as a whole not know at this time the identity of the betrayer. The others who had not overheard the question and the remark by Jesus would have interpreted the giving of the morsel as a sign of honor, if anything. This would be further heightened if Judas actually was seated in the most honored position (see above on verse 24).

13:27 oJ satana'" This is the only time in the Fourth Gospel that Satan is mentioned by name. Luke 22:3 uses the same terminology of Satan “entering into” Judas but indicates it happened before the Last Supper at the time Judas made his deal with the authorities. This is not necessarily irreconcilable with the Johannine account, however, because John 13:2 makes it clear that Judas had already come under satanic influence prior to the Supper itself. We are probably to understand the statement here to indicate that Judas at this point came under the influence of Satan even more completely and finally. It marks the end of a process which, as Luke indicates, had begun earlier.

13:28-29 tou'to deV oujdeiV" e[gnw tw'n ajnakeimevnwn proV" tev eipen aujtw'/ At this point the Evangelist explains to the reader that none of the disciples at the Supper understood at that time the true meaning of Jesus words to Judas at the end of verse 27. To illustrate this further the Evangelist includes verse 29, where two of the disciples’ speculations concerning the meaning of Jesus’ words to Judas are given. Some of them thought that since Judas was treasurer for the group and kept the common purse, Jesus was indicating that he should buy what was necessary for the feast, or give alms to the poor.

13:30 h deV nuvx “Therefore after he had taken the morsel, that one [Judas] departed immediately. And it was night.” These details are indicative of an eyewitness account. Notes about the time certain events occurred are common throughout the Fourth Gospel. But h deV nuvx is more than a simple note of time—it recalls all the light—darkness imagery of the Gospel, starting with the Prologue (1:5). Judas has become one of those who walks by night and stumbles, because the Light is not in him (11:10).

R. Brown summarizes the significance of the coming of night thus:

With Jesus’ permission to Judas and the solemn entrance of Satan into the drama, the hour of darkness (night) has come. In the closing days of his ministry Jesus had warned: “Night is coming” (ix 4); “If a man goes walking at night, he will stumble because he has no light in him” (xi 10). Judas is one of those who “have preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil” (iii 19). John’s “It was night” is the equivalent of the words of Jesus reported in Gethsemane by Luke xxii 53: “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” Yet even at this tragic moment in Jesus’ life as the darkness envelops him, there is the assurance of the Prologue: “The light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness did not overcome it” (i 5). If this optimistic note was true of the situation caused by the first sin in the world, it was also true in the night of Jesus’ passion. The long night that now descends upon the earth would have its dawn when “early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb” (xx 1).113

        2 C The Last Discourse (13:31-17:26)

A Note on Literary Genre: The Farewell Speech

The farewell speech is well-established as a literary genre in the OT and the apocryphal books of the intertestamental period. There are numerous examples, like the blessings of Jacob to his children in Gen 47:29-49:33, the farewell of Joshua to the nation of Israel in Josh 22-24, and David’s farewell speech in 1 Chr 28-29. In the OT apocrypha we have the farewell speech of Tobit from his deathbed in Tobit 14:3-11. The entire Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs are farewell speeches patterned after Jacob’s in Genesis. The book of Jubilees gives farewell speeches for Noah (ch. 10), Abraham (chs. 20-22), and Rebecca and Isaac (chs. 35-36). Josephus includes a farewell address for Moses.114

In the NT Paul makes a farewell speech to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:17-38, and the Pastoral Epistles in their entirety might be thought of as farewells, especially 2 Timothy. Correspondingly, 2 Peter is Peter’s farewell discourse.

T. F. Glasson pointed out that Deuteronomy is the farewell discourse of Moses, and that in these chapters of the Fourth Gospel there are many allusions to Deuteronomy.115 This is one way in which the Evangelist sees Moses as a helpful way of understanding the significance of Jesus.

The common situation in almost all of these instances is that of a prominent person who gathers his followers (children, disciples, or the entire nation of Israel) just before his death or departure to give them final instructions which will help them after he is gone.

R. Brown (AB 29A, 598-601) has listed thirteen features of major OT and intertestamental farewell speeches which are shared in common with the Last Discourse in the Gospel of John.116 It seems conclusive that the Evangelist has given us in chapters 13-17 the farewell speech of Jesus to his disciples.

          1 D Jesus speaks of his departure and the disciples’ future (13:31-14:31)

            1 E The arrival of the hour of Jesus’ glorification (his departure) (13:31-33)

13:31 nu'n ejdoxavsqh oJ uiJoV" tou' ajnqrwvpou This is a repetition of the statement in 12:23, but there is no contradiction. The coming of the Greeks marked the beginning of Jesus’ glorification, since they foreshadowed all the men who would be drawn to Jesus once he had been lifted up to the Father (12:32). But on the other hand, the betrayal of Judas (13:27) actually inaugurated the process of Jesus’ return to the Father.

13:32 eujquV" doxavsei aujtovn Notice the imminent nature of this act of glorification to which Jesus refers: it is to take place immediately (eujquvV"). The departure of Judas indicates that the death, resurrection, and return of Jesus to the Father are at hand.

13:33 o{pou ejgwV uJpavgw uJmei'" ouj duvnasqe ejlqei'n Jesus makes plain the reference to his impending return to the Father (verse 32) by telling his disciples that he is going where they cannot follow. Just as this statement puzzled the Jews to whom Jesus had said it in 7:33 and 8:21, so now it puzzles the disciples. In their current state they are not able to follow him in death nor to his resurrection and ascension (this does not rule out, however, that they will later be able to do so).

            2 E The new commandment: love one another (13:34-35)

13:34-35 =EntolhVn kainhVn The idea that love is a commandment is interesting. In the Old Testament the Ten Commandments have a setting in the covenant between God and Israel at Sinai; they were the stipulations that Israel had to observe if the nation were to be God’s chosen people. In speaking of love as the new commandment for those whom Jesus had chosen as his own (13:1, 15:16) and as a mark by which they could be distinguished from others (13:35), John shows that he is thinking of this scene in covenant terminology.

But note that the disciples are to love “just as I have loved you” (13:34). The love Jesus has for his followers cannot be duplicated by them in one sense, because it effects their salvation, since he lays down his life for them: it is an act of love that gives life to men. But in another sense they can follow his example (recall eij" tevlo", 13:1; also 1 John 3:16; 4:16 and the interpretation of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet). Thus are Jesus’ disciples to love one another: they are to follow his example of sacrificial service to one another, to death if necessary.

13:35 ejn touvtw/ The love of Christians for one another should be the distinguishing mark by which the world recognizes them as followers of Jesus. This kind of sacrificial love is what F. A. Schaeffer has referred to as “the final apologetic.”117

            3 E Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (13:36-38)

13:36-38 kuvrie, pou' uJpavgei"… Note the contrast with the preceding statement by Jesus in verse 33 that where he is going the disciples will not at present be able to follow. Peter makes a hasty statement that he is willing to die—to”lay down his life” (verse 37). The words Peter uses, thVn yuchvn mou uJpeVr sou' qhvsw, are almost identical to those used by Jesus in 10:11 when he spoke as the Good Shepherd. This may well be another example of Johannine irony: Peter is not yet ready to follow this path on behalf of his Lord, although one day he will be (u{steron, compare 21:18). Instead, before this can happen, Peter will deny Jesus three times, as Jesus tells him. The fulfillment of this prediction is recorded in 18:27. Furthermore, ironically, it is not Peter who is about to die for Jesus, but Jesus who is about to die for Peter, as the reader of the Gospel well knows.


107 Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, 3rd rev. ed. (New York: Scribner’s, 1966).

108 Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, 365.

109 Cf. BAGD 471 s.v. levntion.

110 J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 312, s.v. kaqarov".

111 Pliny (the Younger), Epistle 4.22.4.

112 Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, 446.

113 Brown, The Gospel According to John, 579.

114 Antiquities 4.8.45-47.

115 T. F. Glasson, Moses in the Fourth Gospel (London: SCM, 1963) 74-78.

116 Brown, The Gospel According to John, 598-601.

117 Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1970), 138.

Related Topics: Christology, Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Love