John 13:20
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
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(20) He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me.—The thoughts presented to their minds in the preceding verses are—(1) their mission as His servants; (2) the betrayal by one of their own number; (3) the announcement of this beforehand that in the event it may be a confirmation of their faith. They are to go forth, then, and to be content if their path is as that which their Master has trodden. They are not to be disheartened by treachery even in their midst, for this He had foreseen. The words spoken when they were called to be Apostles still hold true. Their honour and encouragement is in the fact that they are Apostles from Him, as He is an Apostle from the Father. This truth is one of those solemn utterances on which He would have them dwell, and is therefore introduced by “Verily, verily.” (Comp. Note on John 1:51.) For the words, which are exactly the same as those of the first commission, comp. Note on Matthew 10:40.

13:18-30 Our Lord had often spoken of his own sufferings and death, without such trouble of spirit as he now discovered when he spake of Judas. The sins of Christians are the grief of Christ. We are not to confine our attention to Judas. The prophecy of his treachery may apply to all who partake of God's mercies, and meet them with ingratitude. See the infidel, who only looks at the Scriptures with a desire to do away their authority and destroy their influence; the hypocrite, who professes to believe the Scriptures, but will not govern himself by them; and the apostate, who turns aside from Christ for a thing of naught. Thus mankind, supported by God's providence, after eating bread with Him, lift up the heel against Him! Judas went out as one weary of Jesus and his apostles. Those whose deeds are evil, love darkness rather than light.He that receiveth ... - This sentiment is found in the instructions which Jesus gave to his disciples in Matthew 10:40. Why he repeats it at this time cannot now be known. It is certain that it is not closely connected with the subject of his conversation. Perhaps, however, it was to show how intimately united he, his Father, his apostles, and all who received them were. They who received them received him, and they who received him received God. So he who betrayed him, betrayed, for the same reason, God. Hence Judas, who was about to betray him, was also about to betray the cause of religion in the world, and to betray God and his cause. Everything pertaining to religion is connected together. A man cannot do dishonor to one of the institutions of religion without injuring all; he cannot dishonor its ministers or the Saviour without dishonoring God. And this shows that one prominent ground of the Saviour's solicitude was that his Father might be honored, and one source of his deep grief at the treason of Judas was that it would bring injury upon the whole cause of religion in the world. 20. He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me, &c.—(See on [1846]Mt 10:40). The connection here seems to be that despite the dishonor done to Him by Judas, and similar treatment awaiting themselves, they were to be cheered by the assurance that their office, even as His own, was divine. See Poole on "Matthew 10:24", the words of which place are but here repeated; either to commend to them brotherly love, and offices of love, which he had before recommended to them under the notion of washing one another’s feet; or else to comfort his disciples, who might think that this treacherous villany of Judas would make them odious to the whole world: No, saith our Saviour, you are my messengers, persons sent by me; I will provide for you, there shall be those who will receive you. And I declare to all the world to encourage them, that I shall take their receiving of you as kindly as if they received me, and it shall turn to the same account, and that is all one as if they had received my Father himself, for he sent me. Some think that by these words Christ aggravates the sin of Judas, as being committed against the Father as well as against Christ; and a most treacherous failure as to the duty of an apostle, or one dignified so much as to be sent out by Christ.

Verily, verily, I say unto you,.... You may assure yourselves of the truth of what I am going to say, and which I say for your comfort and encouragement:

he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me; I have sent you in my name to preach the Gospel; you are my ambassadors, and you will be honourably received by many; and which I shall regard and take notice of, and esteem, as though they had received me; even as my Father has sent me into this world, as a Saviour and Redeemer, a prophet, priest, and King; and as many as have received me, are looked upon by my Father, as having received him: in short, such as cordially receive and embrace the ministers of the Gospel, receive Christ, in whose name they come, and whom they preach; and such who receive Christ, as preached and held forth in the everlasting Gospel, receive the Father of Christ; and partake of his love, grace, and kindness, shown forth in the mission and gift of Christ to them: Christ, as Mediator, represented his Father that sent him; and the ministers of Christ represent him; so that what is done to them, either in a way of reception or rejection, he takes as done to himself: it is a common saying among the Jews (c), "that the messenger of a man is as himself".

(c) T Bab. Beracot, fol. 34. 2. Kiddushin, fol. 41. 9. & 42. 1. & 43. 1. Bava Metzia, fol. 96. 1.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
John 13:20. And for the furtherance and confirmation of this your fidelity in the faith, which, in spite of the treason arising from your midst, must not vacillate, I say to you, that ye may confidently go forward to meet your calling as my ambassadors (John 20:21). The high and blessed position of my ambassadors remains so unimpaired, that whoever accepts them accepts me, etc. The more, however, that Jesus could not but apprehend a disheartening impression from the treason on the rest of the disciples, the more earnestly (ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμ.) does He introduce this encouragement. Comp. Calvin: Christ would “offendiculo mederi;” and Grotius: “ostendit ministeria ipsis injuncta non caritura suis solatiis.” The antithesis of the treason to the dignity of the apostolic circle (Hilgenfeld) He certainly does not mean to assert, so self-evident was this antithesis. But neither do the words serve to confirm the πιστεύσ., ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι (Ebrard); to this the first half of the verse is not appropriate, in which, indeed, Godet, without any justification, would wish to give to the simple ἐάν τινα the limiting sense: He among you, who is really my ambassador. Further: to join John 13:20 with John 13:16-17 (Lampe, Storr, Klee, Maier, Hengstenberg, comp. Brückner) is an arbitrary construction, which Kuinoel aggravates by explaining the words as a gloss from Matthew 10:40, added to John 13:16, and which subsequently entered the text in the wrong place, as Lücke also has revived the suspicion of a gloss (from Luke 9:48). The absence of connection, employed by Strauss as an argument against the originality, is external, but not in the sequence of the thought itself; and besides, the emotion and agitation of Jesus are here to be taken into consideration. Only in view of the manifest identity of the saying with that of Matthew 10:40, we are not to explain it in an essentially different sense (Luthardt explains of the sending of those needing the ministry of love to the disciples). But to drag in here the dispute about rank, which Luke 22:24 ff. places after the supper (Baeumlein), is groundless, and of no use in the way of explanation.


The story of the feet-washing, John 13:1-20,—after 13 retschneider, Fritzsche, and Strauss had rejected it as a mythical invention, whilst Weisse had recognised only individual portions in it as genuine,—has been justly defended by Schweizer, p. 164 ff., in conformity with its stamp of truth and originality, which throughout indicates the eye-witness; in opposition to which, Baur can only recognise a free formation out of synoptical material (see on John 13:2-5) in the service of the idea, as also Hilgenfeld, comp. Scholten. The non-mention of the occurrence in the Synoptics is explained from the fact that with them the situation is quite different, and the main point is the institution of the Supper.

John 13:20. But lest this announcement should weaken their confidence in one another and in their own call to the Apostolate (“probabile est voluisse Christum offendiculo mederi”. Calvin) He hastens to add: ἀμὴνπέμψαντά με [ἄν τινα better than ἐάν τινα]. He gives the assurance that those whom He sends as His apostles will be identified with Himself and with God.

20. He that receiveth, &c.] The connexion of this saying, solemnly introduced with the double ‘verily,’ with what precedes is not easy to determine. The saying is one with which Christ had sent forth the Apostles in the first instance (Matthew 10:40). It is recalled at the moment when one of them is being denounced for treachery. It was natural that such an end to such a mission should send Christ’s thoughts back to the beginning of it. Moreover He would warn them all from supposing that such a catastrophe either cancelled the mission or proved it to be worthless from the first. Of every one of them, even of Judas himself, the saying still held good, ‘he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth Me.’ The unworthiness of the minister cannot annul the commission.

John 13:20. Ἀμὴν, ἀμήν, verily, verily) Jesus, after having imbued His disciples, in John 13:1 and following verses, with His own disposition, and His own purity, with a view to their sanctification, now also graces them with His own authority. He who has beautiful [ὡραίους] feet, John 13:5 [as were the disciples’ feet, when washed by Jesus]—Romans 10:15, “How beautiful (ὡραῖοι) are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace”—and who humbles himself—John 13:14, “Ye ought to wash one another’s feet;” Matthew 18:4-5, “Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me,”—the same [and he alone] can act as an ambassador of Christ, John 13:16, [for such is Christ’s own character] “The servant is not greater than his Lord.”

Verse 20. - The connection of the solemn utterance that follows is not easy to seize. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He who receiveth whomsoever I shall send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. In the earlier utterance of an analogous saying (Matthew 10:40), δεχέσθαι is used instead of λαμβάνειν. The ἐάν τίνα πέμψω suggests that those who may receive his commission need not, and will not, be confined to the twelve apostles, although including them. The words reveal a claim to issue such commissions, and to confer upon his apostolic and other representatives something of his own dignity and glory, viz. the glory of sacrifice far others, the dignity of service. He may have intended:

(1) To comfort those who are bewildered by the thought of the treachery within their enclosure, and to assure them that such conduct on the part of an apostle must not be allowed to lower their estimate of apostolic duty. Certain ecclesiastical interpreters find here that the unworthiness even of Judas did not destroy the Divine character of his testimony, and that the immoral character of the minister now does not annul the commission he has received. This dogma is essentially hostile to the teaching of the New Testament (Matthew 7:17-21).

(2) The royal power of the dying Christ; and

(3) the bold identification of his own claims with those of his Father. Few more wonderful sayings were uttered by Jesus, if we ponder the connection in which they stand; but let it be observed that we do not owe to the Fourth Gospel the matter of this saying. It must have been familiar to the readers of John from the solemn records of the Gospel of Matthew. John 13:20
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