Truly, truly, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The servant is not greater than his lord.—These words have already occurred in the earlier Gospels in another connection. (Comp. Note on Matthew 10:24, and Luke 6:40.) They occur again in this Gospel in John 15:20.John 13:16-20. Verily, the servant is not greater than his lord — And therefore ought not to think much either of doing or suffering the same things. If ye know these things — Therefore, knowing your duty in this particular, ye are happy if you practise it. I speak not of you all — When I call you happy; nor do I expect that all of you will hearken to me; I know whom I have chosen — I know there is one among you whom no instruction will profit, and that I should have called such a one to the apostleship need not surprise any of you, for I was well acquainted with the dispositions of each of you when I made choice of you, and did not make choice of a traitor to be my apostle through ignorance of his character; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled — Particularly Psalm 41:9; He that eateth bread with me — And has been nourished by my care and favour; hath lifted up his heel against me — Like an ungrateful brute, that kicks at the kind master who feeds him. Such treatment David met with from those whom he trusted, and such I know that I am to expect. Now I tell you before it come — I give you this intimation before I am betrayed; that when it is come to pass — That when what I thus foretel is accomplished, you may be so far from doubting of the truth of my mission on that account, that, on the contrary, you may more firmly believe that I am he — That I told you I was, even the true Messiah. Verily, he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me — I put my own honour upon you, my ambassadors; and assure you that he who receives in faith, love, and obedience, the doctrine of you my apostles, or of any other messengers whom I send to preach the word of eternal life, receives mine, and he who receives mine, receives that of him who sent me. Whatsoever therefore I shall suffer, let not your zeal to carry on my cause be lessened, but steadfastly persevere in your adherence to it, with a firm persuasion that I will support you in it; for in this view I look upon your interest as my own. See on Matthew 10:40; Luke 10:16.Matthew 10:24-25.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them—a hint that even among real Christians the doing of such things would come lamentably short of the knowing.See Poole on "John 13:15"
The servant is not greater than his Lord; it is enough that he be as his Lord, which was a common phrase among the Jews; See Gill on Matthew 10:24, Matthew 10:25; and as it is there made use of, to inform the disciples they must expect persecution, and to encourage them to bear it with patience; here it is designed to engage to humility; for if a master condescends to perform such an action, much more may a servant:
neither he that is sent, is greater than he that sent him. This is also a way of speaking in use among the Jews;
"R. Meir says, (z) who is greatest, he that keeps, or he that is kept? from what is written in Psalm 91:11, he that is kept, is greater than he that keeps: says R. Judah, which is greatest, he that carries, or he that is carried? from what is written in Psalm 91:12, he that is carried, is greater than he that carries: says R. Simeon, from what is written, in Isaiah 6:8, , "he that sends, is greater than he that is sent".''
Which is the very phrase here used by Christ; and his meaning is this, that if it was not below him, who had chose and called, and sent them forth as his apostles, to wash their feet, they who were sent by him, should not disdain to wash one another's.Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 13:16-17. Truly you, the lesser (ἀπόστολος: one sent), may not dispense with the performance of that which I, the greater, have here performed. Comp. John 15:20; Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40.
ταῦτα] That which I have set forth to you in accordance with the above (John 13:13-16) by my ὑπόδειγμα, by means of the feet-washing, and have made an obligation.
εἰ expresses the general, and ἐάν the particular, additional condition. Comp. on the twofold protasis, Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 67 E, Apol. p. 20 C; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 512; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 493. The εἰ makes a definite supposition (οἴδατε δὲ αὐτὰ παρʼ ἐμοῦ μαθόντες, Euth. Zigabenus); ἐάν is in case you, etc. The knowing is objectively granted, the doing subjectively conditioned.
μακαρ.] said in reference to the happiness of the present and future Messianic ζωή. Comp. on John 19:29.John 13:16. And as confirmatory of this example and in rebuke of their pride, He adds: οὐκ ἔστι δοῦλος … αὐτόν. In Matthew 10:24 a similar saying occurs; cf. also Luke 6:40, and Luke 22:27. The slave whose function it is to serve is not “greater,” μείζων, than his lord, who may expect to receive service, and therefore the slave may well stoop to the offices which the lord himself discharges and count on no exemptions the lord does not claim.16. The servant is not greater than his lord] This saying occurs four times in the Gospels, each time in a different connexion: (1) to shew that the disciples must expect no better treatment than their Master (Matthew 10:24); (2) to impress the Apostles with their responsibilities as teachers, for their disciples will be as they are (Luke 6:40); (3) here; (4) with the same purpose as in Matthew 10:24, but on another occasion (John 15:20). We infer that it was one of Christ’s frequent sayings: it is introduced here with the double ‘verily’ as of special importance (John 1:51).
he that is sent] An Apostle (apostolos).John 13:16. Ἀμὴν, ἀμήν, verily, verily) The force of this affirmation belongs to John 13:17, “If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them.”—μείζων, greater) Nor ought he to refuse to do the same things, and submit to the same things.Verse 16. - The Verily, verily reveals the solemnity with which our Lord touched the frequently quoted aphorism (Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40; and again John 15:20). The servant - the slave - is not greater than his lord; you have already called me Lord, and so I am; neither is (one that is sent) an apostle greater than he that sent him on his great mission. Therefore if I, your Lord and Teacher, have set forth this principle of self-abnegating service, a fortiori should ye in love serve one another, the greatest should render even menial service to the humblest; he that would be first to him that is the last, and each to all. This is one of the essential marks, and ever will be, of the mind that was in Christ Jesus (comp. Matthew 10:23, 24, where an analogous phrase justifies the disciples in expecting and fleeing from persecution - a step in which they would simply be following their Lord's example; cf. a very different use of the proverb in Luke 6:40, where it is used to warn a blind man from assuming the office of a guide, and the resemblance of the character, etc., between the Teacher and disciple).
No article. Better a servant, as Rev., a bond-servant.
He that is sent (ἀπόστολος)
Literally, an apostle. See on Matthew 10:2.
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