And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And if any man hear my words, and believe not.—The better reading is, . . . and keep them not. (Comp., for the words “hear” and “keep,” Notes on Luke 11:28; Luke 18:21.) For the thought of the verse comp. in this Gospel, Notes on John 3:17 et seq.; 5:24, 45 et seq.; 8:15 ei seq.; and the apparently opposite assertion in John 9:39.John 8:15. It was not his present purpose to condemn men. He would come to condemn the guilty at a future time. At present he came to save them. Hence he did not now even pronounce decisively on the condition of those who rejected him, but still gave them an opportunity to be saved.
and said, He that believeth on me, &c.—This seems to be a supplementary record of some weighty proclamations, for which there had been found no natural place before, and introduced here as a sort of summary and winding up of His whole testimony.I judge him not; I alone judge him not, or rather, it is not my present business to pronounce sentence of condemnation against him; I am now doing the work of a Redeemer and Saviour, not of a Judge: he is condemned already, John 3:18, and he hath another that accuseth and condemneth him; as the Jews had Moses, John 5:45, so he hath my Father as his Judge, and will have my word as his accuser (as in the next verse): I shall one day condemn him; but that is not my present business, that was not my errand in coming into the world. I came to offer the world the means, and to show them the way to salvation; if they do perish, their blood will be upon their own heads: it is not my business to condemn them.
I judge him not; I do not accuse him to the Father, nor do I condemn him, nor shall I take vengeance on him for so doing; meaning, that he should do none of these things now, though hereafter he will be a swift witness against him, and will convict and condemn him, and pass sentence on him, and execute it:
for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. Christ, at his first coming, came not under the character of a judge, but a Saviour; wherefore suitable to his character, and the end of his coming, he would not accuse, condemn, or judge any man, even the greatest unbelievers in him, and despisers of him, but would leave them to another day, when righteous judgment shall take place.And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 12:47-48. Comp. John 3:17-18, John 5:45 ff., John 8:15 ff.
If any one shall have heard the words from me, does not denote hearing in the sense of believing (Lücke), but a hearing which is in itself indifferent (Matthew 7:26; Mark 4:15-16; Mark 13:20); and by the κ. μὴ φυλάξῃ which follows (see the critical notes), that very faith which follows hearing is denied. φυλάσσειν, namely, denotes not indeed the mere holding fast, guarding (John 12:25), but, as throughout, where doctrines, precepts, and the like are spoken of (see especially Luke 11:28; Luke 18:21; Romans 2:26), the keeping by actual fulfilment. But this takes place simply by faith, which Christ demands for His ῥήματα: with faith the φυλάσσειν comes into action (hence the Recepta κ. μὴ πιστεύσῃ is a correct gloss); the refusal of faith is the rejection of Christ (ἀθετεῖν, here only in John, but comp. Luke 10:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:8), and non-adoption of His words, John 12:48, is the opposite of that φυλάσσειν so far as its essence is just the ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως.
On ἀκούειν with a double genitive, as in Luke 6:47, Acts 22:1, comp. John 18:37; and see Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 145 [E. T. p. 167].
ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω αὐτόν] I, in my person, am not his judge, which is further meant generally, not exclusively, of the last judgment, but in a condemnatory sense, as opposed to σώζειν, as in John 3:17John 12:48. ἔχει] Placed first with great emphasis: he has his judge; he stands already under his trial. But this judge, says Christ, is not Himself, as an individual personally considered in and by Himself, but His spoken word; this and nothing else will be (and therewith all the terror of the last decision breaks in upon the mind) the determining rule of the last judgment. It is Christ, indeed, who holds the judgment (John 5:22; John 5:27), but as the bearer and executor of His word, which constitutes the divine power of the judgment. Comp. John 7:51, where the law judges and takes cognisance. How decisively does the present passage declare against the attempt of Scholten, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, and others, to explain away the last judgment out of John! Comp. John 12:28-29; 1 John 4:17.John 12:47. But “if any one should hear my words and not keep them I do not judge him, for I came not to judge,” etc. See John 3:17.47. hear my words] ‘Hear’ is a neutral word, implying neither belief nor unbelief. Matthew 7:24; Matthew 7:26; Mark 4:15-16. For ‘words’ read sayings (see on John 5:47) both here and in John 12:48.
and believe not] The true reading is and keep them not, i.e. fulfil them (comp. Luke 11:28; Luke 18:21). One important MS. omits the ‘not,’ perhaps to avoid a supposed inconsistency between John 12:47 and John 12:48.John 12:47. Ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω, I judge him not) This is limited in a threefold way: (1) I, alone [not I alone, but also, etc.]; and (2) in the present, I do not judge [now; but hereafter I shall]; and (3) causally, it is not I who judge him, but he who does not believe, himself rushes into judgment by the fact of not believing in My word.—ἵνα κρίνω, ἵνα σώσω, that I may judge, that I may save) Words in the same tense. Observe: the unbeliever is a portion of that world, for the sake of saving which Christ came. This is clearly evident from the connection of the words.Verse 47. - If any one shall have heard my sayings, and have (guarded) kept them not. Here our Lord passes from the effect of his earthly life, which is light, to that of the words (ῤημάτα) by which the whole future of mankind will be affected, and one is reminded of the close of the sermon on the mount, where the condition of that man is portrayed who hears the λόγους of Christ and doeth them net, whose destiny will be determined by the natural course of things (see Matthew 7:26, 27). Keep (guard) them not (see Matthew 19:20). The "hearing" is clearly not identical with spiritual acceptance, but is restricted to the awful charge of responsibility that comes upon every man who simply hears, knows what Christ's words are, and then "keeps" them not so as to fulfill their intention. Christ says, I judge him not. I am not now pronouncing a sentence upon him; I am his Savior; but this is his condemnation, that he believes not, etc. (John 3:17-19). Our Lord claimed, in the sermon on the mount, to be the Executor of a judgment, and in John 5:22-29 he declared that he would be as Son of man, the final Adjudicator of doom on the disobedient (cf. Matthew 25.), and in many places he made this thought even more solemn by speaking of himself on that occasion, not as the compassionate Savior, but the Administrator of an inviolable law, which cannot be swayed by immediate emotion, but will effectuate itself on eternal and unswerving principles. The Law accuses the old Law (John 5:45) - but I judge him not; for I came (η΅λθον) not to judge, but to save the world, referring to the Incarnation in its purport and supreme motive.
The best texts read φυλάξῃ, keep (them).
The aorist tense, pointing to the purpose of the coming, as I am come (John 12:46) to the result. Compare John 8:14; John 9:39; John 10:10; John 12:27, John 12:47; John 15:22. Both tenses are found in John 8:42; John 16:28.
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