John 12:42
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:
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(42) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him.—This is strongly asserted in opposition to the spiritual blindness of the nation. There were, notwithstanding, many even in the Sanhedrin itself who believed on Him.

But because of the Pharisees they did not confess.—Comp. Note on John 9:22. It seems from the present passage that the Pharisees were the most determined foes of Christ, and that even the rulers were kept in awe by their threat of excommunication. This submission to the Pharisees’ yoke which kept them from Christ was itself blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts. They are at once, therefore, the exception to, and the illustration of, the principle of which St. John was speaking. They had the power to see the truth, but they had not the will to face boldly the results of their own convictions, and the unused power ceased to exist. (Comp. Romans 10:10.)

John 12:42-43. Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him — Though the greater part of those to whom Christ preached rejected him, his sermons were not wholly unsuccessful; for a number of the chief magistrates, and other principal people, believed on him; yet they did not openly profess their faith, fearing they should be excommunicated by the Pharisees, whose party was now very powerful, both in church and state; for they loved the praise of men more than, &c. — They durst not face the contempt of their fellow-mortals, even to secure the approbation of their Maker! Such was now the state of things at Jerusalem, and such the effect of Christ’s entrance into it, as above related.

12:37-43 Observe the method of conversion implied here. Sinners are brought to see the reality of Divine things, and to have some knowledge of them. To be converted, and truly turned from sin to Christ, as their Happiness and Portion. God will heal them, will justify and sanctify them; will pardon their sins, which are as bleeding wounds, and mortify their corruptions, which are as lurking diseases. See the power of the world in smothering convictions, from regard to the applause or censure of men. 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.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.

42, 43. among the chief rulers also—rather, "even of the rulers"; such as Nicodemus and Joseph.

because of the Pharisees—that is, the leaders of the sects; for they were of it themselves.

put out of the synagogue—See Joh 9:22, 34.

Though the Pharisees made up a great part of the sanhedrim, yet there were divers others also mixed with them, amongst which there were many of a better temper; and it may be arcontwn here may not signify members of that court, but principal men in the magistracy. We must not understand by

believed, that they believed with a saving faith; what follows will evidence the contrary; but they had some convictions upon them as to the truth of what he said, and his being the true Messias; but they durst not openly declare what themselves thought, nor publicly own and aver Christ to be what he indeed was, and they were inclinable to think he was, lest the Pharisees, who were Christ’s most implacable enemies, should have put the decree they had made (of which we read, John 9:22) in execution upon them.

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; See Gill on John 9:22.

{10} 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:

(10) The ones who believe are not only few in number, if they are compared with the unbelievers, but also the majority of those few (yea, and especially the ones of highest rank) fear men more than God.

John 12:42-43. Ὅμως μέντοι] yet, notwithstanding, Herod. i. 189; Plat. Crit. p. 54 D, Men. p. 92 E; comp. the strengthened ὅμως γε μέντοι, Klotz, ad Devar. p. 343; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 172 f. It limits the judgment on the unbelief of the Jews, which had previously been expressed in general terms.

καὶ ἐκ τ. ἀρχ.] even of the Sanhedrists (in secret, John 7:48).

διὰ τοὺς Φαρισ.] the most hostile and dreaded party opposed to Jesus in and outside the Sanhedrim.

ἀποσυνάγ.] comp. John 9:22.

τὴν δόξ. τ. ἀνθρ.] the honour coming from men. Comp. John 5:44.

τὴν δόξ. τοῦ θεοῦ] the honour which God imparts. Comp. Romans 3:23. They preferred the honour of men (potius, see on John 3:19) rather than to stand in honour with God. Theirs was thus not yet that faith strengthened for a free confession, as Jesus demands it (Matthew 10:32), with the setting aside of temporal interests; Augustine calls it ingressus fidei. Where subsequently the right advance followed, the unhesitating confession also was forthcoming, as in the cases of Nicodemus and of Joseph of Arimathaea. But that of Gamaliel is not applicable here (Godet); he did not get so far as faith.

On ἤπερ, as strengthening the negative force of the (comp. 2Ma 14:42), see Kühner, II. sec. 747, note4.

John 12:42. Although unbelief was so commonly the result of Christ’s manifestation, ὅμως μέντοι, cf. Herodot., i. 189, “nevertheless, however, even of the rulers many believed on Him, but on account of the Pharisees they did not confess Him (ὡμολόγουν, imperfect, their fear to confess Him was continued) lest they should be put out of the synagogue”. The inherent truth of the teaching of Jesus compelled response even in those least likely to be influenced. Westcott says: “This complete intellectual faith (so to speak) is really the climax of unbelief. The conviction found no expression in life.” This is true of the bulk of those referred to (see John 12:43), but cannot apply to all (see John 7:50, John 19:38-39). For ἀποσυνάγωγοι see John 9:22, John 16:2.—ἠγάπησανΘεοῦ. As in John 5:44 an excessive craving for the glory which men can bestow is noted as the cause of unbelief.

42. Nevertheless] In spite of the judicial blindness with which God had visited them many even of the Sanhedrin believed. We know of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

because of the Pharisees] The recognised champions of orthodoxy both in and outside the Sanhedrin. Comp. John 7:13, John 9:22.

did not confess] Imperfect tense; they were perpetually omitting to do so.

John 12:42. Καί, also) not merely from among the common people.—Φαρισαίους, the Pharisees) These were most bitter, and formidable to the chief rulers themselves. [It seems, they were aiming at the greatest degree of power, actuated by a perverse zeal; especially those who were in the discharge of any public office.—V. g.]—οὐχ ὡμολόγουν, they did not confess Him) although their mind, convinced through belief, was urging them to confess Him. Not to confess, and to deny Him, differ.

John 12:42Among the chief rulers (καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀρχόντων)

Rev., more neatly and accurately, even of the rulers.

Believed on Him (ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν)

See on John 1:12. It is to be noted that John here uses of this imperfect faith which refused to complete itself in confession, the formula for complete faith. Compare believed in His name (John 2:23), and see note there.

Confess Him (ὡμολόγουν)

The Him, or, Rev., it, is not in the text. The verb is used absolutely. They did not make confession. See on Matthew 7:23; see on Matthew 10:32; see on Matthew 14:7.

Lest they should be put out of the synagogue (ἵνα μὴ ἀποσυνάγωγοι γένωνται)

Better, that they should not be, etc. Compare Rev., John 12:35. On the phrase, be put out of the synagogue, see on John 9:22.

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