John 12:6
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
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(6) This verse which follows from the reference to Judas is of course, like it, peculiar to St. John.

But because he was a thief, and had the bag.—Comp. Notes on John 13:29 and Luke 8:1-3. We have to think of Judas as treasurer of the common fund which supplied the wants of the little band, and from which gifts to the poor were made. The word rendered “bag” here, the only passage where it occurs in the New Testament, and “chest,” in 2Chronicles 24:8-11, means literally the “key-chest,” in which musicians carried their flute-keys. Hence it was applied to a chest in the wider sense, and especially, as here, to a small and portable chest.

And bare what was put therein.—This is but to say over again, if we take the ordinary sense of the words, what is already implied in the fact that he kept the bag. The form of the word expresses continuance of the act, and may refer to the recurring opportunities of fraud as distinct from the mere fact of carrying the chest with a known sum in it. But we may certainly render the word “bare away,” for St. John himself uses it in this sense in John 20:15; and this clause would then mean “and purloined what was put therein.”

12:1-11 Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ's gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God's Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.Had the bag - The word translated "bag" is compounded of two words, meaning "tongue," and "to keep or preserve." It was used to denote the bag in which musicians used to keep the tongues or reeds of their pipes when traveling. Hence, it came to mean any bag or purse in which travelers put their money or their most precious articles. The disciples appear to have had such a bag or purse in common, in which they put whatever money they had, and which was designed especially for the poor, Luke 8:3; John 13:29; Acts 2:44. The keeping of this, it seems, was intrusted to Judas; and it is remarkable that the only one among them who appears to have been naturally avaricious should have received this appointment. It shows us that every man is tried according to his native propensity. This is the object of trial - to bring out man's native character; and every man will find opportunity to do evil according to his native disposition, if he is inclined, to it.

And bare ... - The word translated "bare" means literally "to carry as a burden." Then it means "to carry away," as in John 20:15; "If thou hast borne him hence." Hence, it means to carry away as a thief does, and this is evidently its meaning here. It has this sense often in classic writers. Judas was a thief and stole what was put into the bag. The money he desired to be entrusted to him, that he might secretly enrich himself. It is clear, however, that the disciples did not at this time know that this was his character, or they would have remonstrated against him. They learned it afterward. We may learn here:

1. that it is not a new thing for members of the church to be covetous. Judas was so before them.

2. that such members will be those who complain of the great waste in spreading the gospel.

3. that this deadly, mean, and grovelling passion will work all evil in a church. It brought down the curse of God on the children of Israel in the case of Achan Joshua 7, and it betrayed our Lord to death. It has often since brought blighting on the church; and many a time it has betrayed the cause of Christ, and drowned men in destruction and perdition, 1 Timothy 6:9.

6. had the bag—the purse.

bare what was put therein—not, bare it off by theft, though that he did; but simply, had charge of its contents, was treasurer to Jesus and the Twelve. How worthy of notice is this arrangement, by which an avaricious and dishonest person was not only taken into the number of the Twelve, but entrusted with the custody of their little property! The purposes which this served are obvious enough; but it is further noticeable, that the remotest hint was never given to the eleven of His true character, nor did the disciples most favored with the intimacy of Jesus ever suspect him, till a few minutes before he voluntarily separated himself from their company—for ever!

See Poole on "John 12:3"

This he said, not that he cared for the poor,.... He had no affection for them, and was unconcerned about them, and took no care of them to feed and clothe them; he was no ways solicitous for their support, refreshment, and more comfortable living:

but because he was a thief; to his master, and purloined the money he was intrusted with by him, and put it to his own use:

and had the bag, and bare what put therein; the word rendered a "bag", is adopted by the Rabbinical Jews, into their language; and is sometimes read "Gloskema", and at other times "Dloskema", and is used by them for different things; sometimes (g) for a bier, or coffin, in which the dead was buried, which sense can have no place here; sometimes for a chest, or coffer (h); and so the Septuagint use the Greek word, in 2 Chronicles 24:8, for the chest into which the people put their collection; and it may be so interpreted here, and so Nonnus renders it; it may signify the chest or coffer, which Judas had the care of, the keys of which were in his hands, and whatever were to be put into it, he bore, or carried thither: and it is also used by the Jewish writers, for a purse (i); it is asked,

"what is "Dloskema?" says Rabbah bar Samuel, , "the purse of old men";''

or such as ancient men use; and this is the signification of it here: it may be the same with the "Loculi" of the Romans, and so the Vulgate Latin renders it here; which were different from a chest, or coffer, being moveable, and to be carried about, and which were carried by servants, as well as the purse (k). Judas had the purse, into which was put whatsoever was ministered to Christ, for the common supply of him and his disciples, and for the relief of the poor.

(g) Targum Jon. & Jerus. in Gen. l. 26. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 24. 2. & Massech. Semacot, c. 3. sect. 2.((h) Misn. Meila, c. 6. sect. 1. T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 26. 2.((i) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 28. 1. & Bava Metzia, fol. 20. 2.((k) Vid. Pignorium de Servis, p. 327, 328.

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
John 12:6. Εἶπε δὲ τοῦτοἐβάσταζεν. “This he said, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief.” Before John could make this accusation, he must have had proof; how or when we do not know. But the next clauses, being in the imperfect, imply that his pilfering was habitual.—τὸ γλωσσόκομον, “the bag,” better “the purse,” or “box,” “loculos habens,” Vulgate. In the form γλωσσοκομεῖον (which Phrynichus declares to be the proper form, see Rutherford, p. 181) the word occurs in the Bacchae of Lysippus to denote a case for holding the tongue pieces of musical instruments (γλῶσσαι, κομέω). Hence it came to be used of any box, chest, or coffer. In Sept[79] it occurs in 2 Samuel 6:11 (Codd. A, 247, and Aquila) of the Art of the Lord; in 2 Chronicles 24:8 of the chest for collections in the Temple. This chest had a hole in the lid, and the people cast in (ἐνέβαλον, cf. τὰ βαλλόμενα here) their contributions. (Further see Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, p. 42, and Field’s Otium Norvic., 68.)—τὰ βαλλόμενα ἐβάσταζεν. The R.V[80] renders “took away what was put therein”. Certainly, to say that Judas had the money box and carried what was put therein is flat and tautological. And that ἐβάσταζεν can bear the sense of “take away” or “make away with” is beyond dispute. The passages cited by Kypke and Field (Soph., Philoct., 1105; Josephus, Antiq., ix. 2; Diog., Laert., iv. 59) prove that it was used of “taking away by stealth” or “purloining”; and cf. the use of φέρειν in Eur., Hec., 792. Liddell and Scott aptly compare the Scots use of “lift” in “cattle-lifting” and so forth. Mary found a prompt champion in Jesus: Ἄφες αὐτήν, “let her alone”. R.V[81] renders: “Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying”; and in margin: “Let her alone: it was that she might keep it”. This Westcott understands as meaning “suffer her to keep it—this was her purpose, and let it not be disturbed—for my preparation for burial”. But, however we understand it, there is a palpable absurdity in our Lord’s requesting that which had already been poured out to be kept for His burial. On the other hand, if the reading of [82] adopted in T.R. τετήρηκεν was the original reading, it might naturally be altered owing to the scribe’s inability to perceive how this day of anointing could be called the day of His ἐνταφιασμός, and how the ointment could be said to have been kept till that day (cf. Field, Otium Norvic., p. 69). τετήρηκεν is opposed to ἐπράθη (John 12:5); she had not sold, but kept it; and she kept it, perhaps unconsciously, against the day of His entombment or preparation for burial. ἐνταφιασμός is rather the preparation for burial than the actual interment. Vide especially Kypke on Mark 14:8. This anointing was His true embalming. Mary’s love was representative of the love of His intimate friends in whose loyal affection He was embalmed so that His memory could never die. The significance of the incident lies precisely in this, that Mary’s action is the evidence that Jesus may now die, having already found an enduring place for Himself in the regard of His friends. It is possible that Mary herself, enlightened by her love, had a presentiment that this was the last tribute she could ever pay her Lord.

[79] Septuagint.

[80] Revised Version.

[81] Revised Version.

[82] Codex Alexandrinus of the fifth century, a chief representative of the “Syrian” text, that is, the revised text formed by judicious eclectic use of all existing texts, and meant to be the authoritative New Testament.

6. the bag] Better, the box, the cash-box in which the funds of the small company were kept. The word means literally ‘a case for mouthpieces’ of musical instruments, and hence any portable chest. It occurs in the LXX. of 2 Chronicles 24:8; 2 Chronicles 24:11, but nowhere in N.T. excepting here and John 13:29.

and bare] The Greek word may mean either ‘used to carry’ or ‘used to carry away,’ i.e. steal: comp. John 20:15. S. Augustine, commenting on ‘portabat,’ which he found in the Italic Version, and which survives in the Vulgate, says “portabat an exportabat? sed ministerio portabat, furto exportabat.” We have the same play in ‘lift,’ e.g. ‘shop-lifting;’ and in the old use of ‘convey:’ ‘To steal’ … “Convey the wise it call.” Merry Wives of Windsor 1. 3. “O good! Convey?—Conveyers are you all.” Richard II. iv. 1.

what was put therein] Literally, the things that were being cast into it from time to time; the gifts of friends and followers.

John 12:6. Οὐχ ὅτι, not because) It is hypocrisy when one thing is said, whilst another thing is cared for [is the real object of solicitude]. Avarice makes the poor its pretext, and that in serious earnest at times: for it hates even genuine munificence.—κλέπτης, a thief) It is a more saddening expression a disciple [yet] a thief, which results from comparing this verse with John 12:4 [“one of His disciples, Judas”], than if it were simply said a thief: and so a brother, a fornicator [1 Corinthians 5:11], and such like expressions.—γλωσσόκομον) So the Septuag. for the Hebr. ארון, 2 Chronicles 24:8; 2 Chronicles 24:10, etc., and in cod. Alex. 2 Samuel 6:11. It seems to me desirable, in this place in particular, to observe the nature of the apostolic style. The sacred writers were not solicitous as to whether fastidious ears were likely to judge each particular word to be Attic or a barbarism: a fact which may be established sufficiently even by this one argument, that of the terms which the Atticists examine [as dubious in point of good style], a considerable part occur in the New Testament. For instance, let Phrynichus be looked into as to the term γλωσσόκομον;[310] also Thomas Magister on ἵνα; Mœris on ἘΝΕΤΕΙΛΆΜΗΝ; with which word compare this passage, and Revelation 22:14 [ΟἹ ΠΟΙΟῦΝΤΕς Τ. ἘΝΤΟΛᾺς, ἽΝΑ ἜΣΤΑΙ], Matthew 28:20 [ὌΣΑ ἘΝΕΤΕΙΛΆΜΗΝ]; so that they seem to have enriched their collections [of forms not pure Attic] out of the New Testament itself. Moreover the Sacred writers most exactly observe the proper [strict] signification of words: for instance, John 1:1; John 1:17. notes:[311] inasmuch as accuracy in this latter respect, not in respect to the former [purity of Attic style], was conducive to making the Divine mind known.—εἶχε) was having: either he used to have it always, or he was having it then [in his turn] after the other disciples, at that the last time. Judas himself seems to have taken to himself this office; which, however, was left to him, even though he was a thief: ch. John 13:29, “Some thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he should give something to the poor.”—τὰ βαλλόμενα, which were contributed to it [what was put therein]) Jesus was poor and needy.—ἐβάσταζεν, he was carrying) for the ordinary necessities of the Saviour’s bodily sustenance.

[310] For which the ancients used γλωσσοκομεῖον and γλωσσοκόμιον, and in the sense of the receptacle of the mouth-piece of the tibia or flageolet, not in the recent sense, a coffer or purse.—E. and T.

[311] The distinction is accurately observed between ἦνἐγένετοἐδόθη, so that one could not be substituted for the other without injury to the sense.—E. and T.

John 12:6And had the bag, and bare what was put therein (καὶ τὸ γλωσσόκομον εἶχε, καὶ τὰ βαλλόμενα ἐβάσταζεν)

The best texts read ἔχων, having, and omit the second καὶ and. The rendering would then be, and having the bag bare, etc.

The bag (γλωσσόκομον)

Only here and John 13:29. Originally a box for keeping the mouth-pieces of wind instruments. From γλῶσσα, tongue, and κομέω, to tend. The word was also used for a coffin. Josephus applies it to the coffer in which the golden mice and emerods were preserved (1 Samuel 6:11). In the Septuagint, of the chest which Joash had provided for receiving contributions for the repairing of the Lord's house (2 Chronicles 24:8). Rev. gives box, in margin.

Bare (ἐβάσταζεν)

Carried away or purloined. This meaning is rather imparted by the context than residing in the verb itself, i.e., according to New Testament usage (see on John 10:21). Unquestionably it has this meaning in later Greek, frequently in Josephus. Render, therefore, as Rev., took away. The rendering of the A.V. is tautological.

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