John 13:1
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK

(a)The washing of the disciples’ feet (verses

(b)The spiritual interpretation of this act (John 13:12-28).

(c)The Betrayal. Hatred passes from the presence of love (John 13:21-30). ]

(1) Now before the feast of the passover.—Comp. John 12:1; John 12:12; John 12:36, and Excursus F: The Day of the Crucifixion of our Lord.

When Jesus knew that his hour was come . . .—He knew during the course of His earthly work that His hour was not yet come, and again and again declared this. (Comp. Note on John 2:4; John 7:6; John 11:9.) Now He knows with equal certainty that the hour is at hand that He should depart unto the Father. Having loved his own which were in the world . . .—By “his own” are here meant those who by believing on Him had received power to become the sons of God; those who by walking according as they had light were becoming sons of light. They are the true members, of the family of God. (Comp. Note on John 1:11-12.) The words as here used refer specially to those who had been called by Him, and had left all and followed Him. He is the head of this family, and He knows that these His “little children” (John 13:33) will be left as orphans (John 14:18). He would depart “out of the world;” they would be left “in the world,” as sheep among wolves, and as sheep without their shepherd. St. John places these facts in touching contrast. His thoughts are for them and not for Himself. For Him there would be the return to the glory of His Father’s throne, but His mind dwells on the bereavement and sorrow of those He leaves behind, and this moves Him to a special manifestation of His love.

He loved them unto the end—It has been usual to explain these words of the continuance of our Lord’s love—“Having loved His own, He continued to love them until the last moment.” This is, of course, true, but is a truth so certain and necessary from every conception of our Lord’s character as St. John has portrayed it, that we may doubt whether he would in this formal way state it. And though the phrase rendered “unto the end” sometimes means “finally”—as, e.g., in the New Testament, Luke 18:5, and 1Thessalonians 2:16 (see Notes)—the sense, “unto the end” is very rare, and the general meaning is, “in the fullest degree,” “up to the limit.” It thus answers exactly to our “extremely.”

What seems not to have been noted is that the whole sentence may be a common Hebrew idiom in Greek dress. It belongs to the simple syntax of a primitive people to express intensity by repetition. The Vale of Sodom was “pits, pits of bitumen “(Genesis 14:10). Esau asked Jacob to feed him with “that red, red, thing” (Genesis 25:30). The intensity of the verbal idea was expressed in like manner by a simple form of the verb which brought the thought before the mind, and then by the special form which denoted the action. This is sometimes preserved in the English, as, e.g., in Genesis 20:17—“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed” (I will bless thee abundantly, and will multiply thy seed exceedingly). Sometimes it is not. We have, e.g., in Amos 9:8, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord,” where the Hebrew is literally, “Destroying I will not destroy . . . (Vulgate, conter ens non conter am). In these passages the English exactly follows the Greek—i.e., the Greek in the passage of Genesis repeats the words as the Hebrew does, and in that of Amos, expresses the intensity by an adverbial phrase (εìs τέλος). Now that phrase is exactly the same as the one used by St. John here, and which is rendered “unto the end.” St. John was a Jew writing in Greek. May we not naturally expect a Hebrew thought in Greek form? He thinks of the intensity of our Lord’s love, and speaks of it in the simple expressiveness of the old Hebrew phrase, “Loving, he loved them with fulness of love.” (Comp. John 12:13.) This is not given as an amended rendering, because authority has been sought for it without success; but it is offered, as an explanation, to the reader’s judgment. The student will find in Schleusner s Lexicon Veteris Testamenti other instances which support this view.



John 13:1

The latter half of St. John’s Gospel, which begins with these words, is the Holy of Holies of the New Testament. Nowhere else do the blended lights of our Lord’s superhuman dignity and human tenderness shine with such lambent brightness. Nowhere else is His speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us. On no other page, even of the Bible, have so many eyes, glistening with tears, looked and had the tears dried. The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are His highest self-revelation in speech, even as the Cross to which they led up is His most perfect self-revelation in act.

To this most sacred part of the New Testament my text is the introduction. It unveils to us gleams of Christ’s heart, and does what the Evangelists very seldom venture to do, viz. gives us some sort of analysis of the influences which then determined the flow and the shape of our Lord’s love.

Many good commentators prefer to read the last words of my text, ‘He loved them unto the uttermost’ rather than ‘unto the end’-so taking them to express the depth and degree rather than the permanence and perpetuity of our Lord’s love. And that seems to me to be by far the worthier and the nobler meaning, as well as the one which is borne out by the usual signification of the expression in other Greek authors. It is much to know that the emotions of these last moments did not interrupt Christ’s love. It is even more to know that in some sense they perfected it, giving even a greater vitality to its tenderness, and a more precious sweetness to its manifestations. So understood, the words explain for us why it was that in the sanctity of the upper chamber there ensued the marvellous act of the foot-washing, the marvellous discourses which follow, and the climax of all, that High-priestly prayer. They give utterance to a love which Christ’s consciousness at that solemn hour tended to shapen and to deepen.

So, under the Evangelist’s guidance, we may venture to gaze at least a little way into these depths, and with all reverence to try and see something at all events of the fringe and surface of the love ‘which passeth knowledge.’ ‘Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, loved them then unto the uttermost.’

My object will be best accomplished by simply following the guidance of the words before us, and asking you to look first at that love as a love which was not interrupted, but perfected by the prospect of separation.

I. It would take us much too far away, however interesting the contemplation might be, to dwell with any particularity upon our Lord’s consciousness as it is here set forth in that ‘He knew that His hour was come, that He should depart out of the world unto the Father.’

But I can scarcely avoid noticing, though only in a few sentences, the salient points of that Christ-consciousness as it is set forth here.

‘He knew that His hour was come.’ All His life was passed under the consciousness of a divine necessity laid upon Him, to which He lovingly and cheerfully yielded Himself. On His lips there are no words more significant, and few more frequent, than that divine ‘I must!’ ‘It behoves the Son of Man’ to do this, that, and the other-yielding to the necessity imposed by the Father’s will, and sealed by His own loving resolve to be the Saviour of the world. And in like manner, all through His life He declares Himself conscious of the hours which mark the several crises and stages of His mission. They come to Him and He discerns them. No external power can coerce Him to any act till the hour come. No external power can hinder Him from the act when it comes. When the hour strikes He hears the phantom sound of the bell; and, hearing, He obeys. And thus, at the last and supreme moment, to Him it dawned unquestionable and irrevocable. How did He meet it? Whilst on the one hand there was the shrinking of which we have such pathetic testimony in the broken prayer that He Himself amended-’Father! save Me from this hour . . . . Yet for this cause came I unto this hour,’-there is a strange, triumphant joy, blending with the shrinking, that the decisive hour is at last come.

Mark, too, the form which the consciousness took-not that now the hour had come for suffering or death or bearing the sins of the world-all which aspects of it were nevertheless present to Him, as we know; but that now He was soon to leave all the world beneath Him and to return to the Father.

The terror, the agony, the shame, the mysterious burden of a world’s sins were now to be laid upon Him-all these elements are submerged, as it were, and become less conspicuous than the one thought of leaving behind all the limitations, and the humiliations, and the compelled association with evil which, like a burning brand laid upon a tender skin, was an hourly and momentary agony to Him, and soaring above them all, unto His own calm home, His habitation from eternity with the Father, as He had been before the world was. How strange this blending of shrinking and of eagerness, of sorrow and of joy, of human trembling consciousness of impending death, and of triumphant consciousness of the approach of the hour when the Son of Man, even in His bitterest agony and deepest humiliation, should, paradoxically, be glorified, and should ‘leave the world to go unto the Father’!

We cannot enter with any particularity or depth into this marvellous and unique consciousness, but it is set forth here-and that is the point to which especially I desire to turn your attention-as the basis and the reason for a special tenderness softening His voice, and taking possession of His heart, as He thought of the impending separation.

And is that not beautiful? And does it not help us to realise how truly ‘bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,’ and bearing a heart thrilling with all innocent human emotions that divine Saviour was? We, too, have known what it is to feel, because of approaching separation from dear ones, the need for a tenderer tenderness. At such moments the masks of use and wont drop away, and we are eager to find some word, to put our whole souls into some look, our whole strength into one clinging embrace that may express all our love, and may be a joy to two hearts for ever after to remember. The Master knew that longing, and felt the pain of separation; and He, too, yielded to the human impulse which makes the thought of parting the key to unlock the hidden chambers of the most jealously guarded heart, and let the shyest of its emotions come out for once into the daylight. So, ‘knowing that His hour was come, He loved them unto the uttermost.’

But there is not only in this a wonderful expression of the true humanity of the Christ, but along with that a suggestion of something more sacred and deeper still. For surely amidst all the parting scenes that the world’s literature has enshrined, amidst all the examples of self-oblivion at the last moment, when a martyr has been the comforter of his weeping friends, there are none that without degradation to this can be set by the side of this supreme and unique instance of self-oblivion. Did not Christ, for the sake of that handful of poor people, first and directly, and for the rest of us afterwards, of course, secondarily and indirectly, so suppress all the natural emotions of these last moments as that their absolute absence is unique and singular, and points onwards to something more, viz. that this Man who was susceptible of all human affections, and loved us with a love which is not merely high above our grasp, absolute, perfect, changeless and divine, but with a love like our own human affection, had also more than a man’s heart to give us, and gave us more, when, that He might comfort and sustain, He crushed down Himself and went to the Cross with words of tenderness and consolation and encouragement for others upon His lips? Knowing all that was lying before Him, He was neither absorbed nor confounded, but carried a heart at leisure to love even then ‘unto the uttermost.’

And if the prospect only sharpened and perfected, nor interrupted for one instant the flow of His love, the reality has no power to do aught else. In the glory, when He reached it, He poured out the same loving heart; and to-day He looks down upon us with the same Face that bent over the table in the upper room, and the same tenderness flows to us. When John saw his Master next, after His Ascension, amidst the glories of the vision in his rocky Patmos, though His face was as the sun shineth in his strength, it was the old face. Though His hand bore the stars in a cluster, it was the hand that had been pierced with the nails. Though the breast was girded with the golden girdle of sovereignty and of priesthood, it was the breast on which John’s happy head had lain; and though the ‘Voice was as the sound of many waters,’ it soothed itself to a murmur, gentle as that with which the tideless sea about him rippled upon the silvery sand when He said, ‘Fear not . . . I am the First and the Last.’ Knowing that He goes to the Father, He loves to the uttermost, and being with the Father, He still so loves.

II. And now I must, with somewhat less of detail, dwell upon the other points which this text brings out for us. It suggests to us next that we have in the love of Jesus Christ a love which is faithful to the obligations of its own past.

Having loved, He loves. Because He had been a certain thing, therefore He is and He shall be that same. That is an argument that implies divinity. About nothing human can we say that because it has been therefore it shall be. Alas! about much that is human we have to say the converse, that because it has been, therefore it will cease to be. And though, blessed be God! they are few and they are poor who have had no experience in their lives of human hearts whose love in the past has been such that it manifestly is for ever, yet we cannot with the same absolute confidence say about one another, even about the dearest, ‘Having loved, he loves.’ But we can say so about Christ. There is no exhaustion in that great stream that pours out from His heart; no diminution in its flow.

They tell us that the central light of our system, that great sun itself, pouring out its rays exhausts its warmth, and were it not continually replenished, must gradually, and even though continually replenished, will ultimately cease to blaze, and be a dead, cold mass of ashes. But this central Light, this heart of Christ, which is the Sun of the World, will endure like the sun, and after the sun is cold, His love will last for ever. He pours it out and has none the less to give. There is no bankruptcy in His expenditure, no exhaustion in His effort, no diminution in His stores. ‘Thy mercy endureth for ever’; ‘Thou hast loved, therefore Thou wilt love’ is an inference for time and for eternity, on which we may build and rest secure.

III. Then, still further, we have here this love suggested as being a love which has special tenderness towards its own. ‘Having loved His own, He loved them to the uttermost.’

These poor men who, with all their errors, did cleave to Him; who, in some dim way, understood somewhat of His greatness and His sweetness-and do you and I do more?-who, with all their sins, yet were true to Him in the main; who had surrendered very much to follow Him, and had identified themselves with Him, were they to have no special place in His heart because in that heart the whole world lay? Is there any reason why we should be afraid of saying that the universal love of Jesus Christ, which gathers into His bosom all mankind, does fall with special tenderness and sweetness upon those who have made Him theirs and have surrendered themselves to be His? Surely it must be that He has special nearness to those who love Him; surely it is reasonable that He should have special delight in those who try to resemble Him; surely it is only what one might expect of Him that He should in a special manner honour the drafts, so to speak, of those who have confidence in Him, and are building their whole lives upon Him. Surely, because the sun shines down upon dunghills and all impurities, that is no reason why it should not lie with special brightness on the polished mirror that reflects its lustre. Surely, because Jesus Christ loves-Blessed be His name!-the publicans and the harlots and the outcasts and the sinners, that is no reason why He should not bend with special tenderness over those who, loving Him, try to serve Him, and have set their whole hopes upon Him. The rainbow strides across the sky, but there is a rainbow in every little dewdrop that hangs glistening on the blades of grass. There is nothing limited, nothing sectional, nothing narrow in the proclamation of a special tenderness of Christ towards His own, when you accompany with that truth this other, that all men are besought by Him to come into that circle of ‘His own,’ and that only they themselves shut any out therefrom. Blessed be His name! the whole world dwells in His love, but there is an inner chamber in which He discovers all His heart to those who find in that heart their Heaven and their all. ‘He came to His own,’ in the wider sense of the word, and ‘His own received Him not’; but also, ‘having loved His own He loved them unto the end.’ There are textures and lives which can only absorb some of the rays of light in the spectrum; some that are only capable of taking, so to speak, the violet rays of judgment and of wrath, and some who open their hearts for the ruddy brightness at the other end of the line. Do you see to it, brethren, that you are of that inner circle who receive the whole Christ into their hearts, and to whom He can unfold the fullness of His love.

IV. And, lastly, my text suggests that love of Christ as being made specially tender by the necessities and the dangers of His friends. ‘He loved His own which were in the world,’ and so loving them, ‘loved them to the uttermost.’

We have, running through these precious discourses which follow my text, many allusions to the separation which was to ensue, and to His leaving His followers in circumstances of peculiar peril, defenceless and solitary. ‘I come unto Thee, and am no more in the world,’ says He in the final High-priestly prayer, ‘but these are in the world. Holy Father, keep them through Thine own name.’ The same contrast between the certain security of the Shepherd and the troubled perils of the scattered flock seems to be in the words of my text, and suggests a sweet and blessed reason for the special tenderness with which He looked upon them. As a dying father on his deathbed may yearn over orphans that he is leaving defenceless, so Christ is here represented as conscious of an accession even to the tender longings of His heart, when He thought of the loneliness and the dangers to which His followers were to be exposed.

Ah! It seems a harsh contrast between the Emperor, sitting throned there between the purple curtains, and the poor athletes wrestling in the arena below. It seems strange to think that a loving Master has gone up into the mountain, and has left His disciples to toil in rowing on the stormy sea of life; but the contrast is only apparent. For you and I, if we love and trust Him, are with Him ‘in the heavenly places’ even whilst we toil here, and He is with us, working with us, even whilst He ‘sitteth at the right hand of God.’

We may be sure of this, brethren, that that love ever increases its manifestations according to our deepening necessities. The darker the night the more lustrous the stars. The deeper, the narrower, the savager, the Alpine gorge, usually the fuller and the swifter the stream that runs through it. And the more that enemies and fears gather round about us, the sweeter will be the accents of our Comforter’s voice, and the fuller will be the gifts of tenderness and grace with which He draws near to us. Our sorrows, dangers, necessities, are doors through which His love can come nigh.

So, dear friends, we have had experience of sweet and transient human love; we have had experience of changeful and ineffectual love; turn away from them all to this immortal, deep heart of Christ’s, welling over with a love which no change can affect, which no separation can diminish, which no sin can provoke, which becomes greater and tenderer as our necessities increase, and ask Him to fill your hearts with that, that you may ‘know the length and breadth and depth and height of that love which passeth knowledge,’ and so ‘be filled with all the fullness of God.’

John 13:1. Now before the feast of the passover — That is, before they began the passover-supper; when Jesus knew — Greek, ειδως Ιησους, Jesus having known; that his hour was come — The hour which he had long expected; sometimes called his enemies’ hour, the hour of their triumph; sometimes his hour, the hour of his suffering, and of his triumph also; that he should depart out of this world — In which he had sojourned for a while; unto the Father — With whom he had glory, and who had loved him, before the world was, John 17:5; John 17:24. Having loved his own — Not τα ιδια, his own things, as John 1:11; but τους ιδιους, his own persons; that is, as the expression here means, his apostles; which were in the world — Which were to remain for some time in the world, in a state of trial and suffering, after he was taken from them; he loved them unto the end — Of his life; and therefore would omit nothing which might be for their advantage. The sense is, that although he knew his own sufferings were at hand, the prospect of them did not make him forget his disciples. They rather quickened his friendship; for he indulged the tenderest feelings of love on this occasion, and after the manner of a departing friend, expressed his kindness in the most affectionate manner.

13:1-17 Our Lord Jesus has a people in the world that are his own; he has purchased them, and paid dear for them, and he has set them apart for himself; they devote themselves to him as a peculiar people. Those whom Christ loves, he loves to the end. Nothing can separate a true believer from the love of Christ. We know not when our hour will come, therefore what we have to do in constant preparation for it, ought never to be undone. What way of access the devil has to men's hearts we cannot tell. But some sins are so exceedingly sinful, and there is so little temptation to them from the world and the flesh, that it is plain they are directly from Satan. Jesus washed his disciples' feet, that he might teach us to think nothing below us, wherein we may promote God's glory, and the good of our brethren. We must address ourselves to duty, and must lay aside every thing that would hinder us in what we have to do. Christ washed his disciples' feet, that he might signify to them the value of spiritual washing, and the cleansing of the soul from the pollutions of sin. Our Lord Jesus does many things of which even his own disciples do not for the present know the meaning, but they shall know afterward. We see in the end what was the kindness from events which seemed most cross. And it is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us, or too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, he justifies and sanctifies. Peter more than submits; he begs to be washed by Christ. How earnest he is for the purifying grace of the Lord Jesus, and the full effect of it, even upon his hands and head! Those who truly desire to be sanctified, desire to be sanctified throughout, to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, made pure. The true believer is thus washed when he receives Christ for his salvation. See then what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is, to wash their feet; to cleanse themselves from daily guilt, and to watch against everything defiling. This should make us the more cautious. From yesterday's pardon, we should be strengthened against this day's temptation. And when hypocrites are discovered, it should be no surprise or cause of stumbling to us. Observe the lesson Christ here taught. Duties are mutual; we must both accept help from our brethren, and afford help to our brethren. When we see our Master serving, we cannot but see how ill it becomes us to domineer. And the same love which led Christ to ransom and reconcile his disciples when enemies, still influences him.The feast of the passover - See the notes at Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:17.

His hour was come - The hour appointed in the purpose of God for him to die, John 12:27.

Having loved his own - Having given to them decisive and constant proofs of his love. This was done by his calling them to follow him; by patiently teaching them; by bearing with their errors and weaknesses; and by making them the heralds of his truth and the heirs of eternal life.

He loved them unto the end - That is, he continued the proofs of his love until he was taken away from them by death. Instances of that love John proceeds immediately to record in his washing their feet and in the institution of the Lord's Supper. We may remark that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change; he always loves the same traits of character; nor does he withdraw his love from the soul. If his people walk in darkness and wander from him, the fault is theirs, not his. His is the character of a friend that never leaves or forsakes us; a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Psalm 37:28; "the Lord ...forsaketh not his saints." Isaiah 49:14-17; Proverbs 18:24.


Joh 13:1-20. At the Last Supper Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet—The Discourse Arising Thereupon.

1. when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father—On these beautiful euphemisms, see on [1842]Lu 9:31; [1843]Lu 9:51.

having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end—The meaning is, that on the very edge of His last sufferings, when it might have been supposed that He would be absorbed in His own awful prospects, He was so far from forgetting "His own," who were to be left struggling "in the world" after He had "departed out of it to the Father" (Joh 17:11), that in His care for them He seemed scarce to think of Himself save in connection with them: "Herein is love," not only "enduring to the end," but most affectingly manifested when, judging by a human standard, least to be expected.John 13:1-17 Jesus washes his disciples feet; and exhorteth

them to follow his example of humility and charity.

John 13:18-30 He foretells the treachery of Judas, and points

him out to John by a token.

John 13:31-35 He speaketh of his glorification as near at hand,

and commandeth his disciples to love one another.

John 13:36-38 He forewarns Peter that he shall thrice deny him.

That this was the fourth passover after that he entered upon his public ministry is out of doubt, and the last he ever celebrated. We have taken notice of this evangelist’s mention of the other three: but how long what follows was before the passover, which is here expressed by

before the feast, is a great question: some will have it the day, others immediately before, as pro (the very same particle) is used. Luke 11:38, before dinner, and Luke 22:15, before I suffer. The resolution of it much depends upon another question as difficult, viz. What supper it is which is mentioned? John 13:2. Those who would be satisfied in these cases, may find a collection of what is said by most valuable interpreters in Mr. Pool’s Synopsis Criticorum, upon Matthew 26:1-75. It is our happiness, that though some such knots occur in holy writ, yet they are about things in which our salvation is not concerned; so as without danger to our souls we may be ignorant of what is the truth about them. When Christ knew that the hour (which he had once or twice before said was not come) was now come, that he must die, rise again, and in a short time ascend to his Father; he having loved his disciples, not with a mutable, but with an unchangeable love; he resolves upon the washing of their feet, as a demonstration of that love.

Now before the feast of the passover,.... This feast was instituted as a memorial of the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and was an eminent type of Christ; and this passover was what Christ had greatly desired, it being his last, and when he was to express his great love to his people, mentioned here, by dying for them. It was two days before this feast, so the Persic version reads this text, at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, that the things recorded in this chapter were transacted; see Matthew 26:2;

when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father. The death of Christ is here signified by a departing out of this world, a way of speaking frequently used by the Jews as expressive of death; See Gill on Philippians 1:23. Much such a phrase is made use of concerning Moses, of whom it is said (p), that the fourth song that was sung in the world, was sung by him

"when "his time was come", , "to depart out of the world";''

an easy and familiar form of speech to express death by, as if it was only a removing front one place to another. The place from whence Christ was about to remove is called "this world": this present world, into which he was come to save sinners, and in which he then was, and where he had already met with very ill usage, and barbarous treatment, and was to meet with more: where he was going is said to be "to the Father", in whose bosom he lay, by whom he was sent, from whom he came; to his God and Father, and the God and Father of all his people, to take his place in their nature at his right hand. A time or hour was fixed for this; for as there was a set time, called "the fulness of time", agreed upon for his coming into the world, so there was for his going out of it: and now this "his hour was come"; the time was now up, or at least very near at hand; and he "knew" it, being God omniscient, which gave him no uneasiness: nor did it in the least alienate his affections from his people: for

having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end. The objects of his love are described by his property in them, "his own"; by whom are meant, not all mankind, who are his by creation; nor the Jews, who were his nation and countrymen according to the flesh; nor the twelve apostles only, whom he had chosen; but all the elect of God, who are his own, by his choice of them, by the Father's gift of them to him, by the purchase he made of them with his blood, and by his effectual call of them by his grace: these are also described by their condition and situation, "which were in the world"; which is not said to distinguish them from the saints that were in heaven, or to express their former state of unregeneracy, but their present situation in this vain and evil world, which is no objection to Christ's love to them; for though whilst in this world they carry about with them a body of sin and death, are liable to many snares and temptations, and are involved in the troubles, and exposed to the hatred of the world, yet are, and always will be, the objects of the love and care of Christ. The acts of his love to them are expressed both in time past, and to come: "having loved" them; so he did from everlasting, with a love of complacency and delight, which he showed as early by espousing their persons to himself, by undertaking their cause, by taking the charge of their persons, and the care of both their grace and glory, and in time by assuming their nature; and having done all this, "he loved them to the end": and which he showed by dying for them; and continues to show by interceding for them in heaven, by supplying them with all grace, and by preserving them from a final and total falling away; and he will at last introduce them into his kingdom and glory, when they shall be for ever with him; and so that love to them continues not only to the end of his own life, nor barely to the end of theirs, but to the end of the world, and for ever; and so , signifies, and is rendered "continually", Luke 18:5, and in the Septuagint on Psalm 9:6 answers to which signifies "for ever"; and is so translated here by the Ethiopic version.

(p) Targum in Cant. i. 1, 7. Vid. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 96. fol. 84. 1. & Debarim Rabba, sect. 11. fol. 245. 2.

Now {1} before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his {a} own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

(1) Christ is as sure of the victory as he is of the combat which was at hand, and by using the sign of washing the feet, gives by this an example in part of singular modesty, and his great love toward his apostles in this notable act, being likely to depart very shortly from them: and he partly witnesses unto them that it is he alone who washes away the filth of his people, and sanctifies them little by little in their time and season.

(a) Those of his household, that is, his saints.

John 13:1. Πρὸ δὲ τ. ἑορτ. τ. πάσχα] πρό is emphasized by means of the intervening δέ. Jesus had arrived at Bethany six days before the Passover, on the following day (John 12:1; John 12:12) had entered Jerusalem, and had then, John 12:36, withdrawn Himself into concealment. But yet before the paschal feast began,[122] there followed the closing manifestation of love before His death, which John intends to relate. How long before the feast, our passage does not state; but it is clear from John 13:29; John 18:28; John 19:14; John 19:31, that it was not first on the 14th Nisan, as the harmonists have frequently maintained (see, however, on John 18:28), but[123] on the 13th Nisan, Thursday evening, at the Supper. On the 14th Nisan, in the evening, the festival commenced with the paschal meal, after Jesus had been crucified on the afternoon of the same day. Such is the view of John; see on John 18:28.

εἰδὼς, κ.τ.λ.] Not, “although He knew” (this is unpsychological, Hengstenberg), but because He knew. He gives expression to that which inwardly drew and impelled Him to display towards His own a further and a last token of love; He knew, indeed, that for Him the hour was come, to pass onward, etc. (ἵνα, comp. John 12:23). On ΜΕΤΑΒῇ, comp. John 5:24; 1 John 3:14.

ἈΓΑΠΉΣΑς, Κ.Τ.Λ.] is regarded by interpreters as co-ordinated with ΕἸΔῺς, Κ.Τ.Λ., according to the well-known usage, which rests on a logical basis, of the asyndetic connection of several participles (Voigtler, ad Luc. D. M. xii. p. 67 ff.; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 1. 7); so that the meaning would be: As He had (ever) loved His own, so also at the very last He gave them a true proof of love. But opposed to this is the absence of an ἀεί, which Nonnus supplies, or of ἈΠʼ ἈΡΧῆς, or ΠΆΛΑΙ or the like, along with ἈΓΑΠΉΣΑς, whereby a correlation with ΕἸς ΤΈΛΟς would have been established. In addition to this, the clause ΤΟῪς ἘΝ Τῷ ΚΌΣΜῼ, not in itself indispensable, but expressive of sorrow, is manifestly added in reference to the preceding ἘΚ Οῦ ΚΌΣΜΟΥ Τ., and thereby betrays the connection of ἈΓΑΠΉΣΑςΚΌΣΜῼ with the final clause ἵνα μεταβῇ, κ.τ.λ. Hence: “in order to pass to the Father, after He should have (not had) loved,” etc. This, “after He should have loved,” etc., is a testimony which His conscience yielded Him with that εἰδὼς, κ.τ.λ.

τυὸς ἰδίους] This relationship—the N. T. fulfilment of the old theocratic, John 1:11—had its fullest representation in the circle of apostles, so that the apostles were pre-eminently the ἼΔΙΟΙ of Jesus.

ΕἸς ΤΈΛΟς ἨΓΆΠ. ΑὐΤΟΎς] to be connected with ΠΡῸ ΔῈ Τῆς ἙΟΡΤ. Τ. Π.: at last (εἰς τέλος is emphatic) He loved them, i.e. showed them the last proof of love before His death.[124] How, the καὶ δείπνου, κ.τ.λ., which immediately follows, expresses, namely, by means of the washing of the feet, hence it cannot be understood of the whole work of love in suffering (Graf). εἰς τέλος denotes at the end, finally, at last. Luke 18:5 (see commentary in loc.); Hdt. iii. 40; Xen. Oec. xvii. 10; Soph. Phil. 407 (and Hermann’s note). So also 1 Thessalonians 2:16. It may also denote fully, in the highest degree (Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 817 Schweighäuser, Lex. Polyb. p. 616; Grimm on 2Ma 8:29); but this yields here an inappropriate gradation, as though Jesus had now exercised His love to the utmost (in answer to Godet). It was the like love with the preceding ἀγαπήσας, only the last proof before departure; for His hour was come.

On ἠγάπησεν, of actually manifested love, comp. John 13:34; 1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:19; Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:25.

[122] Rightly has Rückert observed, Abendm. p. 26, that by πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς the possibility of thinking of a point of time within the Passover, and thus even of the paschal meal, is precluded for the reader who has advanced so far. Incorrectly, Riggenbach, Zeugn. f. d. Ev. Joh. p. 72: there hangs over the present passage “a certain darkness.” Certainly, if we set out from a harmonistic point of view. With such, rather is it entirely irreconcilable.

[123] See also Isenberg, d. Todestag des Herrn, 1868, p. 7 ff.

[124] Ebrard’s inconsiderate objection (on Olshausen, p. 337) against my connection of εἰς τέλ. ἠγάπ. with πρὸ τ. ἑορτῆς, since εἰς τέλ. ἠγάπ. is the last performance of love, will probably be found by him to fall of itself to the ground.


From the present passage—since πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς gives the chronological measure for the following supper, and therewith for the whole history of the passion—already appears the irreconcilable variance in which John stands towards the Synoptics in respect of the day of Jesus’ death. See details on John 18:28. Even if πρὸ τῆς ἑορτ. were to be connected with εἰδώς, this statement of time would nevertheless only be historically explicable from the fact that Jesus, conformably to the certainty which entered His mind before the feast—“my hour is come”—did what follows not first at the feast, i.e. after the beginning of the feast on the evening of the 14th Nisan, but just before the feast (i.e. at least on the evening of the 13th Nisan), in the consciousness that now His time was fulfilled, satisfying His love for the last time. Luthardt incorrectly concludes that, if Jesus knew already before the feast, etc., He must have died at the feast. Of such an antithesis the text contains in truth not the slightest indication. Bather, if Jesus knew before the feast, etc., and acted in this consciousness, we are not at liberty to move forward the δεῖπνον, and that which is connected therewith, to the feast. The matter lies simply thus: If the supper were that of the 14th Nisan, then John could not say πρὸ τῆς ἐορτῆς, but only either πρὸ τοῦ δείπνου τοῦ πάσχα (which sense is imported by Hengstenberg); or, on the other hand, like the Synoptics, τῇ πρώτῃ τῶν ἀζύμων (Matthew 26:17), or τ. πρώτῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς. The 15th Nisan was already ἡ ἑπαύριον τοῦ πάσχα (LXX. Numbers 33:3 : מְמָּחֳרַת הַפֶּסח, comp. Joshua 5:11); but the 14th was פֶּסַח לַיהֹוָה, Numbers 28:16, et at., ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ πάσχα. Comp. Introd. § 2.

John 13:1-5. On the construction, note: (1) John 13:1-5 are not to be taken together as a single period (Griesbach, Matthaei, Schulz, Scholz, Bleek, Ebrard, and several others); as Paul also (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1866, p. 362 ff., 1867, p. 524 ff.) defines the connection: “He stands up before the Passover feast at the meal then taking place,” which latter would be a collateral definition of πρὸ τ. ἑορτ. τ. π. To take the whole thus together will not do, because εἰς τέλος ἠγάπ. αὐτοὺς being connected with πρὸ δὲ ἑορτ. τ. π. gives an orderly finish to the construction of John 13:1, and with καὶ δείπνου γιν. a new period begins; consequently (this also in answer to Knapp, Lücke, Ebrard, and several others) εἰδώς, John 13:3, cannot be the resumption of εἰδώς, John 13:1. Rightly have Lachmann and Tischendorf closed John 13:1 with a full stop. Comp. Hengstenberg and Godet, also Ewald. (2) It is not correct to join πρὸ τῆς ἑορτ. τ. πάσχα to εἰδώς (Kling, Luthardt, Riggenbach, Graf in the Stud. u. Krit. 1867, p. 741 ff.; before him also Baeumlein in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, p. 397), because the expression would be too vague and indefinite as a statement of the point of time in which the definite consciousness of His hour had entered the mind of Jesus; the definite day before the feast would be designated as such (perhaps by πρὸ μιᾶς ἡμέρας τοῦ πάσχα, comp. John 12:1; Plut. Sull. 37). But that πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς—comp. with John 12:1—must denote this very day before the feast, namely, the 14th Nisan (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 295, Lange, Baeumlein, and several others, including Paul and Hengstenberg), is an altogether arbitrary assumption. Just as incorrect is it (3) to refer it to ἀγαπήσας (Wieseler, Tholuck, see in opposition Ewald, Jahrb. IX. p. 203), so that the love entertained before the feast stands over against the love entertained until the end,—which assumption is extorted simply by an attempt at harmonizing, is opposed to the order of the words (ἀγαπήσαςκόσμῳ must in that case have stood before εἰδὼς, κ.τ.λ.), and—through the division which is then made to appear of the love of Jesus (the love before the feast, and the love from the feast onwards)—is in contradiction with John’s more reflective and spiritual manner; while it leaves, moreover, the participial clause εἰδὼςπατέρα without appropriate significance. The simple literal mode of connection is rather: Before the feast, Jesus gave, as He knew, etc., to His own the closing proof of love. Whilst, then, a meal is being observed, as the devil already, etc., He arises from the meal, although He knew that the Father, etc. There is thus nothing to place in a parenthesis.

John 13:1-20. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and explains His action.

1. Now before the feast of the passover] These words give a date not to any one word in the verse, whether ‘knew’ or ‘having loved’ or ‘loved,’ but to the narrative which follows. Their most natural meaning is that some evening before the Passover Jesus was at supper with His disciples. This was probably Thursday evening, the beginning of Nisan 14: but the difficult question of the Day of the Crucifixion is too long for a note and is discussed in Appendix A.

when Jesus knew] Or, Jesus knowing (John 13:3). The Greek may mean either ‘although He knew’ or ‘because He knew.’ The latter is better: it was precisely because He knew that He would soon return to glory that He gave this last token of self-humiliating love.

his hour was come] See on John 2:4, John 7:6, John 11:9. Till His hour had come His enemies could do nothing but plot (John 7:30, John 8:20).

that he should] Literally, in order that He should, of the Divine purpose. See on John 12:23.

depart out of] Or, pass over out of: it is the same verb and preposition as in John 5:24.; ‘hath passed over out of death into life.’

his own] Those whom God had given Him, John 1:11-12, John 17:11; Acts 4:23; Acts 24:23.

unto the end] The end of His life is the common interpretation, which may be right Comp. Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13, where the same Greek expression is translated as it is here; and 1 Thessalonians 2:16, where it is translated ‘to the uttermost.’ In Luke 18:5 ‘continual coming’ is literally ‘coming to the end.’ In all these passages the meaning may either be ‘at the last, finally,’ or, ‘to the uttermost, utterly.’ To the uttermost is perhaps to be preferred here. Comp. the LXX. of Amos 9:8; Psalm 12:1.

John 13:1. Πρό, before) immediately before, the day before [on the fourth day of the week, Wednesday.—V. g.] This Gospel is divided into three parts, of which the sum and substance is: I have come from the Father; I have been in the world; I go to the Father.[329]—ἀγαπήσας) having embraced in His love. [This little verse contains as it were a general introduction to those things which are narrated both subsequently in this chapter and in the following ones.—Harm., p. 489.]—τοὺς ἰδίους, His own) John 13:18, “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen.” This is in antithesis to those alien to Him, ch. John 12:37-41.—[330]ἠγάπησεν) He loved, whilst He conferred on them perfect purity and humility of soul, and so thereby the qualifications needed for discharging the duties of their embassy in the world after the departure of Jesus: John 13:10, “He that is washed—is clean every whit;” 14, “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet;” 20, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth Me.”

[329] εἰδώς, knowing) So also at ver. 3, “Jesus knowing that,” etc.—V. g.

[330] εἰς τἐλος, even to the end) even to His very ‘departure.’ Now that He has finished His words to the multitude, Jesus enters upon so much the closer terms of intimacy with His disciples.—V. g.

ἡ ὥρα, His hour) concerning which He had spoken already at ch. John 12:27, “Father, save Me from this hour, hut,” etc.—Harm., p. 489.

ἐκπρός, from—to) from this evil world to His own everlasting joys.—V. g.

Verses 1-17. -

1. Love in humiliation. Verse 1. - Now before the Feast of the Passover; a phrase far more applicable to the 13-14th of Nisan than to the 14-15th, even though the Lord was desiring then to eat the Passover with a great desire before he suffered; therefore "before" the Passion, which would coincide with it. This supplies a chronological note, which is not exhausted by the mysterious and pathetic act which is described, but embraces the entire communion of soul with his disciples, and with the Father in their presence, detailed in John 13-17. Commentators have differed greatly as to the reference of this phrase - whether to the εἰδώς, as Kling and Luthardt, or to the ἀγαπήσας, as Wieseler and Tholuck; both these interpretations limit the meaning of the passage. Christ's knowledge that his hour was come was not kept from him till that moment, nor was his love to his own disciples limited or qualified by the advent of the Passover. It is far better, with Westcott, Coder, Meyer, and Lange, to take the phrase, πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἐορτῆς, with the principal verb, ἠγάπησεν. This becomes mere obvious if εἰς τέλος be taken, as it generally is taken, in Greek, to mean "unto the uttermost," "absolutely" "perfectly." Godet and Lucke add to the idea of ἀγαπάω here the manifestation, or proof, of the intensity and tenderness of the Divine love. Meyer doubts this signification of ἀγαπάω. The whole of the intervening sentence is in apposition with the subject of the sentence. The evangelist was eye-withes of the manner and look of his Lord, and ventured to say what was passing in his mind. He was justified by what followed, and threw back into the spirit of this strange and solemn action the account which the Lord afterwards gave of himself. Throughout the whole passage we detect; the extraordinary blending of Divine and human of which John was the witness. Jesus knowing (as he did know) that the hour was come - an hour for which he had been long waiting, and to which frequent reference has been made. The crisis has arrived, the breach with the authorities was final, the disciples themselves were trembling in doubt, the great law had been uttered, the glorification of the Son of man must now be accomplished by departure rather than by longer ministry, by death rather than by universal acclaim - that - ἵνα here notes the Divine purpose, or what is not infrequently introduced by ἵνα, "the contemplated result" (see Canon Evans on "the use of ἵνα in the New Testament," Expositor, vol. 3, 2nd series) - he, Jesus, the Son of man, should depart out of this world (this is one theme of the following discourse, one of its key-notes, John 14:12; John 16:28; John 17:11, and many other passages) unto the Father. If so, death was not an ending of life, but a departure to the Father - a coming into closer and more intimate relations and communion with the Father than was possible, even for him, in this sinful and evil world. Frequently the demonstrative pronoun is used to designate this transitory, perilous, sad state of being. Further, Jesus having loved his own, his very own, whom the Father had given him, who were and would continue in the world, and have tribulation there (see John 15:18-20; John 16:1-4, 33; John 17:11, 14, 18), and all the more so because of his departure and the cessation of his earthly manifestation and ministry. Here the sentence ends with the climacteric expression, He loved them utterly; i.e. he manifested, and that before the Paschal Lamb should be slain for them, his absolute, extreme, unutterable love. Archdeacon Watkins has made an interesting suggestion, that εἰς τέλος represents, in Greek, the Hebrew idiom of the repetition of the action of the verb; whereas the LXX. often presents this Hebraism in literal Greek, as Genesis 20:17, yet in Amos 9:8 a similar reduplication is Grecized by the phrase εἰς τέλος; and that what St. John, a Hebrew writing in Greek, meant by the use of it was simply," He loved them with a fullness of love." This usage is confirmed by 1 Thessalonians 2:16, by later Greek and by classical usage. It probably means in Luke 18:5 "at last," but not necessarily so even there. Margin of Revised Version gives "to the uttermost." John 13:1Before the Feast of the Passover

This clause is to be construed with ἠγάπησεν, loved, at the close of this verse. Notice that John, in mentioning the Passover, here drops the explanatory phrase of the Jews (John 11:55). It is not the Passover of the Jews which Jesus is about to celebrate, which had degenerated into an empty form, but the national ordinance, according to its true spirit, and with a development of its higher meaning.

Knowing (εἰδὼς)

Or, since he knew.

His hour

See on John 12:23, and compare John 2:4.

That (ἵνα)

In order that; marking the departure as a divine decree.

Depart (μεταβῇ)

The compounded preposition μετά, signifies passing over from one sphere into another.

His own (τοὺς ἰδίους)

See on Acts 1:7. Compare John 17:6 sqq.; Acts 4:23; Acts 24:23; 1 Timothy 5:8; John 1:11.

He loved (ἠγάπησεν)

Notice that John uses the word indicating the discriminating affection: the love of choice and selection. See on John 5:20.


John 13:1 Interlinear
John 13:1 Parallel Texts

John 13:1 NIV
John 13:1 NLT
John 13:1 ESV
John 13:1 NASB
John 13:1 KJV

John 13:1 Bible Apps
John 13:1 Parallel
John 13:1 Biblia Paralela
John 13:1 Chinese Bible
John 13:1 French Bible
John 13:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

John 12:50
Top of Page
Top of Page