John 12:20
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
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(20) And there were certain Greeks.—Comp. Note on John 7:35, where we have the same word in the original, and Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29; and Acts 11:20. They were not Hellenists, i.e., Greek Jews, but Hellenes, i.e., Gentiles.

Among them that came up to worship at the feast.—The words imply that they were in the habit of going up to Jerusalem at the feasts, i.e., that though Greeks by birth, they had been admitted to the privileges of Judaism. They belonged to the class known as “Proselytes of the Gate.” (Comp. Notes on Matthew 23:15 and Acts 8:27.)

John 12:20-22. And there were certain Greeks — A prelude of the Gentile Church. The phrase, τινες Ελληνες, here used, signifies properly, as translators have rendered it, certain Greeks. But all the Gentiles being thus named by the Jews, it was intended to denote their religion, rather than their country: they had been brought up heathen: they were not, however, now idolatrous Gentiles, but proselytes to the Jewish religion, and worshippers of the true God, persons who had come to Jerusalem, it seems, on purpose to worship him; but that they had been circumcised is not certain. It is likely, however, that they had heard of the Messiah, and cherished expectations of his coming: but, being foreigners, they had never seen Jesus. The same came, therefore, to Philip, which was of Bethsaida — This circumstance is mentioned to show how these men came to apply themselves to Philip. Probably they were Syro-Phœnicians, dwelling about Tyre and Sidon, and who, having commerce with Galilee, might be acquainted with Philip. And desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus — Our Lord’s fame, and the general opinion which now prevailed, concurred to persuade these proselytes that he might be the Messiah; for which reason they desired an interview with him. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, &c. — From Philip’s not venturing to introduce the men himself, it seems that there was some difficulty in the case. Perhaps they were only proselytes of the gate, who, according to custom, could not be admitted into the company of Jews, Acts 10:28.

12:20-26 In attendance upon holy ordinances, particularly the gospel passover, the great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus; to see him as ours, to keep up communion with him, and derive grace from him. The calling of the Gentiles magnified the Redeemer. A corn of wheat yields no increase unless it is cast into the ground. Thus Christ might have possessed his heavenly glory alone, without becoming man. Or, after he had taken man's nature, he might have entered heaven alone, by his own perfect righteousness, without suffering or death; but then no sinner of the human race could have been saved. The salvation of souls hitherto, and henceforward to the end of time, is owing to the dying of this Corn of wheat. Let us search whether Christ be in us the hope of glory; let us beg him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of this life, that we may serve the Lord Jesus with a willing mind, and follow his holy example.Certain Greeks - In the original, "some Hellenists" - -the name commonly given to the Greeks. The same name was commonly used by the Jews to denote all the pagan nations, because most of those whom they knew spoke the Greek language, John 7:34; Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9-10; Romans 3:9. "Jews and Greeks." The Syriac translates this place, "Some of the Gentiles." There are three opinions in regard to these persons:

1. that they were Jews who spoke the Greek language, and dwelt in some of the Greek cities. It is known that Jews were scattered in Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, Egypt, etc., in all which places they had synagogues. See the notes at John 7:35,

2. that they were proselytes from the Greeks.

3. that they were still Gentiles and idolaters, who came to bring offerings to Yahweh to be deposited in the temple. Lightfoot has shown that the surrounding pagans were accustomed not only to send presents, sacrifices, and offerings to the temple, but that they also frequently attended the great feasts of the Jews. Hence, the outer court of the temple was called the court of the Gentiles. Which of these opinions is the correct one cannot be determined.

Joh 12:20-36. Some Greeks Desire to See Jesus—The Discourse and Scene Thereupon.

20-22. Greeks—Not Grecian Jews, but Greek proselytes to the Jewish faith, who were wont to attend the annual festivals, particularly this primary one, the Passover.

The same came therefore to Philip … of Bethsaida—possibly as being from the same quarter.

saying, Sir, we would see Jesus—certainly in a far better sense than Zaccheus (Lu 19:3). Perhaps He was then in that part of the temple court to which Gentile proselytes had no access. "These men from the west represent, at the end of Christ's life, what the wise men from the east represented at its beginning; but those come to the cross of the King, even as these to His manger" [Stier].

It is not easy to be determined what these Greeks were; whether Jews, who, being scattered in the Grecian country upon the conquests which the Grecians had made upon the Jews under Alexander the Great, and those who succeeded him, still remained in those countries, but kept so much of the religion of their country, as to come up to the passover; or Gentiles, which are ordinarily called Greeks in contradistinction to the Jews, Acts 14:1 16:1 18:17 Romans 1:16 1 Corinthians 1:23,24 Ga 3:28. But it is most probable that they were Gentiles; for though some say that the Jews would never have suffered the Gentiles to have come into the temple to worship, yet the contrary is plain from the instance of the eunuch, Acts 8:27; who was a heathen, and came to Jerusalem to worship. And, Acts 17:4, we read of a great multitude of devout Greeks; in the Greek the word is sebomenwn, worshipping Greeks. And it is plain that from the beginning there was a liberty for strangers, not of Israel, but such as came out of a far country, for the Lord’s name’s sake; and Solomon prayeth at the dedication of the temple, that the Lord would hear them, 1 Kings 8:41-43: and there was belonging to the temple a court of the Gentiles for that purpose; it is called the court without the temple, Revelation 11:2. What worship they there performed is a greater question: some think they only prayed; others think they offered sacrifices in that court, from /Apc /APC 2Ma 3:35; but certain it is, that there were divers of the Gentiles devoutly disposed, that, hearing of the Jewish temple, and the solemn worship performed there at their solemn feasts, came, some as spectators at those great conventions, others with a true design to worship the God of the Jews.

And there were certain Greeks,.... "Hellenes", so called, from Hellen, a king of that name, as Pliny says (r) These were not Graecizing Jews, or Jews that dwelt in Greece, and spoke the Greek language; for they were called not Hellenes, but Hellenists; but these were, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it, Gentiles; and were either mere Gentiles, and yet devout and religious men, who were allowed to offer sacrifice, and to worship, in the court of the Gentiles; or they were proselytes, either of righteousness, and so were circumcised, and had a right to eat of the passover, as well as to worship at it; or of the gate, and so being uncircumcised, might not eat of the passover, yet might worship at it; which latter seems to be the case, by what follows: for these were

among them, that came up to worship at the feast; of the passover, which was near at hand: these were among those, that went forth to meet Jesus, and that attended him to Jerusalem, who were come up out of the country to this feast; and these came along with them to worship at it, to offer their sacrifices, and join in prayer, though they might not eat of the passover.

(r) Nat. His. l. 4. c. 7.

And there were certain Greeks among them that {a} came up to worship at the feast:

(a) After the solemn custom: the Greeks were first so called by the name of the country of Greece, where they lived: but afterward, all that were not of the Jew's religion, but worshipped false gods and were also called heathens, were called by the name Greeks.

John 12:20. The Hellenes are, as in John 7:35, not Greek Jews, Hellenists (Calvin, Semler, B. Crusius, Ewald), but Gentiles,—proselytes, however, as is shown by what follows (note especially the pres. part. ἀναβαιν.: who were wont to go up), and that of the gate, like the Aethiopian chamberlain, Acts 8:27, not pure Gentiles (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Salmasius, Selden, and several others, including Paulus, Klee, Schweizer).

Where did the scene take place? Probably in the court of the temple, with which locality, at least, the entry just related, and the connected transactions, onwards to John 12:36, best correspond. According to Baur, however (comp. also Scholten), the whole affair is to be referred simply to the idea of the author, who makes Jesus, under the ascendancy of Jewish unbelief, to be glorified by believing heathendom. This idea is that of the history itself. Bengel rightly observes: “Praeludium regni Dei a Judaeis ad gentes transituri.”

John 12:20-36. The Greeks inquire for Jesus.

20–33. The Desire of the Gentiles and the Voice from Heaven

20. Greeks] The same word is translated ‘Gentiles’ John 7:35, where see note. Care must be taken to distinguish in the N.T. between Hellenes or ‘Greeks,’ i.e. born Gentiles, who may or may not have become either Jewish proselytes or Christian converts, and Hellenistae or ‘Grecians,’ as our Bible renders the word, i.e. Jews who spoke Greek and not Aramaic. Neither word occurs in the Synoptists. Hellenes are mentioned here, John 7:35, and frequently in the Acts and in S. Paul’s Epistles. Hellenistae are mentioned only in the Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29 : in Acts 11:20 the right reading is probably Hellenes.

that came up to worship] Better, that were wont to go up to worship. This shews that they were ‘proselytes of the gate,’ like the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27): see on Matthew 23:15. In this incident we have an indication of the salvation rejected by the Jews passing to the Gentiles: the scene of it was probably the Court of the Gentiles; it is peculiar to S. John.

John 12:20. Ἕλληνες, Greeks) A prelude herein is given of the kingdom of God being about to pass over from the Jews (John 12:37, “Though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him”) to the Gentiles. It is not clear that they were circumcised: certainly, at least, they were worshippers of the One God of Israel.—ἐκ τῶν ἀναβαινόντων) of those who were wont to go up [to worship],—ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, in the feast) That feast, of which ch. John 11:55 speaks [the Passover].

Verse 20. - Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast. Τινες implies a group, and a larger company of these ἀναβαινόντων, who were and are in the habit of going up (perhaps were still doing it even when John, before writing his Gospel, had first put the narrative into words). They went up with a view to worship in the feast, that is, there were burnt offerings and thank offerings which they were allowed to present. This shows that they were not heathen nor uncircumcised Hellenists, whichever view of that word be accepted. John 12:20Greeks (Ἕλληνες)

Gentiles, not Hellenists. See on Acts 6:1. Jesus comes into contact with the Gentile world at His birth (the Magi) and at the close of His ministry.

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