John 13:7
Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) What I do thou knowest not now.—Here both pronouns are emphatic, and convey a rebuke to Peter. His words had almost implied that the Lord’s .act was wholly out of place, as of one who knew not what he was doing. The opposite was really the case. “What I do thou knowest not now.”

But thou shalt know hereafteri.e., in the teaching which is to follow (John 13:13-17). The word rendered “hereafter” is different from that rendered “afterwards” in John 13:36. The precise meaning is “after these things.” The sense, then, is “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt come to know presently.” (Comp. John 13:17.)

John 13:7-11. Jesus said, What I do thou knowest not now — Thou dost not now know what I intend by this action, but thou shalt know hereafter, a declaration which we may apply on many occasions, for many of his works (whether of creation, providence, or grace) are now great mysteries to us, and known to us, either not at all, or very imperfectly. It is sufficient that we can love and obey now, and that we shall know hereafter what now appears mysterious to us, and what we cannot comprehend. Peter saith, Thou shalt never wash my feet — Words rashly and sinfully spoken. Jesus answered — And by his answer caused him to change his mind, and retract what he had uttered; for when the mistake of his understanding was rectified, the corrupt resolution of his will was soon altered. Jesus answered, If I wash thee not — If thou dost not submit to my will; thou hast no part with me — Thou art not my disciple. In a more general sense the clause may mean, If I do not wash thee from the guilt of thy past sins in my blood, and purify thee from the power and pollution of sin, and all the depravity of thy mind and heart by my Spirit, thou canst have no communion with me, nor any share in the blessings of my kingdom. Peter saith, Lord, not my feet only, &c. — Being now convinced that he had spoken rashly, and that the washing intended was an act of Christ’s authority and grace, he readily consents to it, having before refused it, because it seemed only to be an act of Christ’s humiliation. As if he had said, Lord, if this washing be necessary, in order to my having a part with thee, and be an emblem, or token thereof, I most gladly acquiesce in it, and am not only heartily willing, but desirous, that thou shouldest wash my whole person, not my feet only, or the defilement I may contract while I am endeavouring to walk in the way of duty, but all my executive and intellectual powers; yea, that I may be sanctified throughout, body, soul, and spirit, and that my whole man may be dedicated to, and employed in, thy service. Jesus — Willing to lay hold on an expression which gave him an opportunity of pursuing a useful thought; saith to him further, He that is washed — Greek, λελουμενος, he that hath been bathed, whose whole body hath been washed in water; needeth not — After that, to wash any part thereof, except his feet — Which, in coming out of the bath, may have been defiled. As the αποδυτηριον, says Clarius, or room in which they dressed themselves after bathing, was different from that in which they bathed, their feet might be so soiled in walking from one to the other, as to make it necessary immediately to wash them again. Or, as Dr. Campbell thinks, there may be “an allusion in the words to the custom of the times; according to which, those who had been invited to a feast, bathed themselves before they went; but, as they walked commonly in sandals, and wore no stockings, it was usual to get their feet washed by the servants of the family, before they laid themselves on the couches. Their feet, which would be soiled by walking, required cleaning, though the rest of their body did not.” The spiritual meaning of our Lord’s words evidently is, that persons truly converted, that is, justified and regenerated, do not, after this, unless they fall from grace, stand in need of experiencing an entire change of their state and nature; but only to cleanse themselves by renewed acts of repentance and faith, from the smaller pollutions which they may inadvertently contract, through infirmity and carelessness, and which, in some degree, are inseparable from the weakness of human nature. For that our Lord spake of a spiritual washing, is evident from his adding, and ye are clean, but not all — Ye are accepted as sincere and upright, as penitent and believing, and therefore as pardoned and renewed sinners, but you are not all such. For he knew who should betray him — He was perfectly acquainted with the secret dispositions of their hearts, and with the hypocrisy and wickedness of the traitor, that his heart was polluted with reigning sin, yea, and was so far enslaved to the power of Satan, as to have consented to the perpetration of one of the vilest acts of wickedness ever committed.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.Thou knowest not now - Though he saw the action of Jesus, yet he did not fully understand the design of it. It was a symbolical action, inculcating a lesson of humility, and intended to teach it to them in such a manner that it would be impossible for them ever to forget it. Had he simply commanded them to be humble, it would have been far less forcible and impressive than when they saw him actually performing the office of a servant.

Shalt know hereafter - Jesus at that time partially explained it John 13:14-15; but he was teaching them by this expressive act a lesson which they would continue to learn all their lives. Every day they would see more and more the necessity of humility and of kindness to each other, and would see that they were the servants of Christ and of the church, and ought not to aspire to honors and offices, but to be willing to perform the humblest service to benefit the world. And we may remark here that God often does things which we do not fully understand now, but which we may hereafter. He often afflicts us; he disappoints us; he frustrates our plans. Why it is we do not know now, but we yet shall learn that it was for our good, and designed to teach us some important lesson of humility and piety. So he will, in heaven, scatter all doubts, remove all difficulties, and show us the reason of the whole of his mysterious dealings in his leading us in the way to our future rest. We ought also, in view of this, to submit ourselves to him; to hush every murmur, and to believe that he does all things well. It is one evidence of piety when we are willing to receive affliction at the hand of God, the reason of which we cannot see, content with the belief that we may see it hereafter; or, even if we never do, still having so much confidence in God as to believe that what He does is right.

7. Jesus answered and said … What I do thou knowest not now—that is, Such condescension does need explanation; it is fitted to astonish.

but thou shall know hereafter—afterwards, meaning presently; though viewed as a general maxim, applicable to all dark sayings in God's Word, and dark doings in God's providence, these words are full of consolation.

Our Lord, seeing Peter’s general design good, though he mistook as to this particular act, tells him, that at present he did not understand his counsel and design in this action, but it should be more intelligible unto him afterwards; as indeed he made it by his discourse upon this his act of humiliation, John 13:13-16. Jesus answered and said unto him,.... Christ replies,

what I do, thou knowest not now: Peter knew that he was about to wash his feet, and the rest of his disciples, but he did not know the meaning and mystery of it, what Christ designed by it, and what instruction they were to receive from it,

but thou shalt know hereafter; as he did, when he had performed this service, and explained it to him. This may teach us, under dark providences, the meaning of which is not yet known by us, to wait the Lord's own time, to make things clear and plain to us, and in the mean time patiently submit to the divine will.

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 13:7. This was a right impulse and honourable to Peter; and therefore Jesus treats it tenderly. ὃ ἐγὼ ποιῶμετὰ ταῦτα, “what I am doing thou dost not at present comprehend, but thou shalt learn as soon as I am finished”. The pronouns are emphatic, that Peter may understand that Jesus may have much to do which the disciple cannot comprehend. The first requisite in a disciple or follower is absolute trust in the wisdom of his Master. μετὰ ταῦτα refers to the immediate future; see John 13:12, where the explanation of the action is given. [οὐκ εἰς μακρὰν ἐρεῖ, Euthymius.]7. What I do thou knowest not] Here both pronouns are emphatic and are opposed. Peter’s question implied that he knew, while Christ did not know, what He was doing: Christ tells him that the very reverse of this is the fact. On ‘now’ see note on John 16:31.

hereafter] Literally, after these things (John 3:22, John 5:1; John 5:14, John 6:1, John 7:1, John 19:38). ‘Hereafter’ conveys a wrong impression, as if it referred to the remote future. Had this been intended the words used for ‘now’ and ‘afterwards’ in John 13:36 would probably have been employed here. The reference probably is to the explanation of this symbolical action given in John 13:12-17. This seems clear from the opening words (John 13:12), ‘Know ye what I have done to you?’—all the more so, because it is the same word for ‘know’ as here for ‘thou shalt know’ (ginôskein); whereas the Greek for ‘thou knowest’ in this verse is a different and more general word (oidas): ‘what I am doing, thou knowest not just now, but thou shalt recognise presently.’ See notes on John 7:26 and John 8:55.John 13:7. , what) A most evident axiom.—οὐκἄρτιδὲ μετὰ ταῦτα) A similar sentiment occurs, John 13:36, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.”—μετὰ ταῦτα, hereafter) See John 13:12, “So after He had washed their feet, etc., He said, Know ye what I have done to you?” (so that in this view the words, γνώσῃ, γινώσκετε, thou shalt know, John 13:7, and know ye, John 13:12, have a most close connection): also John 13:17, “If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them;” or even Luke 12:37, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching: verily, I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” The fulfilment is not merely hereafter, but begins at once, even more speedily than the promise seems to indicate.Verses 7, 8. - Jesus answered and said to him, That which I am doing thou knowest not now - thou hast not absolute knowledge of, thou hast not seen through as yet; but after these things, afterwards when I shall have completed my present undertaking, thou (γνώσῃ) shalt come by clear proof and full discovery and intimate acquaintance to understand. This is sometimes referred to the subsequent illumination of the Holy Spirit, or even to the higher life of the future world (Luthardt), but the above interpretation is more consonant with the context. The μετὰ ταῦτα may (as Westcott suggests) point to the whole manifestation of love as it should complete itself on the cross, and become illumined by the Resurrection and by the gift of the Spirit, when the same mind should be put into Peter that was in Christ Jesus; consequently we may reasonably apply this great word to many of our earthly experiences. God's ways, Christ's government of his Church, and the mystery of our lot, are often so puzzling that we cannot be said to know them objectively or absolutely. We know (γινώσκομεν) but in part, and see (βλέπομεν) by means of a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12); but eventually in the fulness of the Divine manifestation we shall know (ἐπιγνωσόμεθα) completely, subjectively, in the depths of our personal consciousness. Peter saith to him, with mere emphasis than before, with an intensity of double negative and εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, Thou shalt not ever wash my feet - "not while eternity lasts." "A praiseworthy modesty," says Calvin, "were it not that with God obedience is better than worship." This vehement, Peter-like burst showed that even yet he had not learned his profound dependence upon his Lord. Exuberant utterance of a love which in its superlative enthusiasm was in danger of severing the relation between his Lord and himself, elicited from Christ a reply which went far Beneath this purely symbolic washing, and gave even to it a moral significance which it had not possessed before. Jesus answered, If I wash thee (not thy feet) not, thou hast no part with me - no μέρος, no portion, no share, no communion, no common inheritance with me in the honors and blessings of the kingdom. This may be understood in two ways: either, "If I do not by my grace cleanse you from your defilement, wash you in a deeper sense, in a more abundant and effectual manner than by giving you this practical lesson, there is utter misunderstanding of my relation to you - you have no part nor share with me." And this ver. 11 seems to favor. Hengstenberg strongly defends this view as a reference by Christ to his power on earth to forgive sins, and confer the pure and new nature (cf. Psalm 51:4, 9-11); and this doubtless lies in the solemn tone of the Lord. A refusal to accept the Divine cleansing is the only ground of exclusion from the benefits of the bloodshedding. Still another more obvious meaning arises, "If you refuse this manifestation of humble love from me, if you put your own pride between yourself and me, if you disdain this act of self-surrender, claiming to understand me and our mutual relations better than I, you have no part with me. This is a symbol of my love to you, and of what is to be your love to one another (ver. 15); if you refuse to accept it from me, you will then have no part with me in the manifestation of the spirit of self-sacrificing love which I have come to inaugurate." Peter must learn the beauty and glory of service for the sake of others; and if he were unable to understand and accept this act of love, he must separate himself from all share in the Master's work. This truth dawned upon him, but only in part, and it led to the extraordinary revulsion of feeling which followed. Knowest - shalt know (οἷδας - γνώσῃ)

The A.V. ignores the distinction between the two words. "Thou knowest not" (οὐκ οἶδας), of absolute and complete knowledge. Thou shalt learn or perceive (γνώσῃ), of knowledge gained by experience. See on John 2:24.

Hereafter (μετὰ ταῦτα)

Literally, after these things.

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