Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.III
ANTITHESIS BETWEEN FAITHFULNESS AND APOSTASY IN THE CIRCLE OF DISCIPLES ITSELF. THE LIFE FEAST OVER LAZARUS AN ANTICIPATORY CELEBRATION OF THE DEATH OF JESUS. THE ANOINTING (OF THE MESSIAH, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SIX DAYS’ WORK OF HIS PASSION, THE NEW SIX DAYS’ WORK FOR THE REDEMPTION AND GLORIFICATION OF THE WORLD)
(Matt. 26:6–16; Mark 14:3–11; Luke 22:3–6.)
1Then Jesus [therefore], six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which [who] had been dead,1 whom he [Jesus]2 raised from the dead. 2There they made him a supper [dinner];3 and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat [reclined] at the table with him. 3Then took Mary a pound of ointment of [pure] spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped [dried]4 his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of 4the ointment. Then saith [Judas Iscariot] one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son [omit Simon’s son],5 which should betray him [who was about to betray him], 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence [denâries],6 6and given to the poor? This [however] he said, not that [because] he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag [kept the purse], and bare 7[laid hold of, took away] what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone; against the day of my burying hath she kept this [Suffer her that she may keep this for (or, until) the day of my burial].7 8For the poor always ye have [ye have always] with you; but me ye have not always. 8
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 12:1. Jesus therefore came.—The οὖν is certainly not designed merely to resume the story of Jesus (Meyer); neither does it declare simply that Jesus went consciously and freely to meet death (Luthardt). It is preparatory to the fact that Jesus Himself showed Himself to the Sanhedrists in the most public manner. The edict commanding that information should be given of the hidden Jesus, was answered by Him with the palm-entry. (Starke, from harmonistic interest, supposes two anointings in Bethany, one at the house of Simon, two days before the Passover, the other at the house of Lazarus, six days before the Passover.)
Six days before the Passover.9—See Comm. on Matt., John 26 [Am., ed, p. 454 ff., and Robinson’s Harmony, pp. 207 and 212 ff.—P. S.] The 15th of Nisan was the dying day of Jesus, a Friday; six days before, therefore, was the Sabbath (the 9th of Nisan). We learn here that a day intervened between the departure of Jesus from Ephraim (and Jericho) and the palm-entry on Sunday; this day is passed over by the Synoptists, who place the palm-entry in immediate connection with the departure from Jericho. In accordance with the more exact statement of John, we must suppose that Jesus left Jericho on Friday, in company with the festive caravan, and arrived in the neighborhood of the Mount of Olives. Here they rested during the Sabbath. On the evening of that day, after the legal Sabbath time, the meal was prepared for Him at which the anointing occurred.10
Upon the difference which Meyer and others pretend to discover between John and the Synoptists see the Comm. on Matthew; see the same on the motives which induced the Synoptists to transpose chronologically the story of the anointing, and make it introductory to the history of the Passion.
Meyer reckons with Ewald from the 14th back to the 8th of Nisan; he also asserts, however, that it was a Sabbath, in accordance with the false assumption that Jesus died on the 14th of Nisan, and yet on a Friday. Grotius, Tholuck, Wieseler and others fix upon Friday, because the law regulating a Sabbath day’s journey forbids the arrival in Bethany on the Sabbath. Hence, according to Tholuck, the feast was on Friday evening. But certainly the caravan of pilgrims to the feast might be encamped on the Sabbath around the Mount of Olives, and thus extend itself into the vicinity of Bethany. Theophylact and Lücke are in favor of the 9th Nisan. Others reckon it to have been Sunday (De Wette) others Monday (Baur). The matter is confused by prejudice respecting the difference between John and the Synoptists, and by the different ways of reckoning,—from the 14th or 15th Nisan. (Upon the calculation of this date see Jacobi, Stud. u. Kritik. 1838, No. 4; Wieseler, Chronol., p. 377; Wichelhaus, Leidensgeschichte, p. 147.)
The trajectio verborum πρὸ ἓξ ἡμερῶν instead of ἓξ ἡμέραις πρό seems to have been made for the sake of emphasis: perchance, before the great six days’ work or Hexaëmeron of this passover.
Where Lazarus was.—Made prominent as a continual living sign of the glory of Jesus; also in particular as a motive for the anointing of Mary, for the palm-entry, and for the hatred of the Sanhedrin.
John 12:2. There they made Him a dinner (feast).—See the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark. The Jews were fond of giving entertainments at the close of the Sabbath. The following points in John’s statement are characteristic:
1. The representation of the feast as a festive celebration of the raising of Lazarus in the circle of the brother and sisters of Bethany.
2. The distinct delineation of the three,—Lazarus sits with the guests; he is therefore perfectly well; Martha serves at table, in accordance with her way, and as hostess; Mary glorifies the feast by the extraordinary anointing.
3. The manner of the anointing. “A vase of precious ointment,” says Matthew; “of pure, precious nard,” says Mark; “a pound of ointment of pure precious nard,” says John (comp. the precise mention of the one hundred pounds of spices, John 19:39, and other precise accounts; for instance, John 21:11). According to Matthew, she anoints the head of Jesus; likewise according to Mark,—breaking the flask, however; according to Matthew, she pours it on his head,—so, too, according to Mark; John gives prominence to the fact that she anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair. Manifestly this latter item does not exclude the former ones; to John, however, this strong expression of adoration and devotion is the main point.
The trait reported by John reminds us of the anointing of the feet of Jesus by the great sinner; from this similarity, as well as from the name of Simon in Luke, some have taken occasion, utterly without ground, to identify this history with that related by Luke John 7:37 ff. Furthermore John mentions that the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
4. John, who gives the most explicit account of the act of Mary, pursues the same course with regard to the censure encountered by that act. According to Matthew, the disciples were angry,—according to Mark, some had indignation,—according to John, one of the disciples, Judas, Simon’s son, the Iscariot, lifted up his voice. It is John alone, too, who distinctly characterizes Judas as a thief. We arrive at the conclusion that the murmuring originated with Judas, that it infected some of the disciples; but that the disciples generally were, by their silence, more or less concerned in this sin. John seems best to have understood Mary who, in her feeling, was in advance of the entire circle of disciples. On the other hand, John omits the promise for Mary, that her deed should be proclaimed in all the world; he mentions, however, the exceedingly significant saying: she hath kept the ointment for this day.
John 12:3. A pound.11—According to Olshausen, this unwonted measure of ointment employed by her was an expression of love; Meyer corrects him: she did not anoint with the pound, but from it. But John writes,—she took the pound and the house was filled with the odor; Mark writes that she broke the vase. Had not the anointing in its heroic measure given rise to the appearance of prodigality, Judas would hardly have ventured to speak, and would have still less met with assent among the disciples. “Who knows whether it was a Roman or a Greek pound? And the ancient Greek pound was but half as large as the Roman pound, while that, again, does not equal our pound.” Braune. Comp. Comm. on Matthew. p. 463, Am. Ed.
Anointed the feet.—“The anointing of the head at feasts was a customary thing, and might have been passed over by the Evangelist in order to mention the unusual demonstration of love for which the remainder of the ointment might be employed. To wash the feet with tepid water, and then to anoint them with costly oil, is mentioned in the Talmud tr. Menachoth as a duty of maid-servants.” Tholuck. Braune gives prominence to the fact, that the anointing of the feet was also particularly noticeable to John, since he reclined by the side of Jesus and the anointing of the feet took place close behind him
John 12:5. For three hundred denâries [i.e., between forty-five and fifty dollars gold. See TEXT. NOTE 6.—P. S.]. See Comm. on Matthew. The precise estimation is characteristic. Indicative of the wealth of the family. [Utterly inconsistent with Hengstenberg’s hypothesis of the identity of the historic Lazarus with the poor Lazarus of the parable.—P. S.]
John 12:6. He kept the purse, γλωσσόκομον, cash repository.12 Luther, significantly and expressively: the purse (Beutel). The common cash-box, made up by male and female disciples (Luke 8:3), to supply the common wants. Alms for the poor likewise (John 13:29) were of course taken from this coffer. This keeping of the cash must have been connected with a corresponding talent possessed by Judas; that talent, however, was, in its turn, connected with the temptation that made him a thief; and thus a connection exists between his chiliastic views of the kingdom of Christ and the despondency which led him to turn traitor (see Comm. on Matthew, John 10). He proved himself a thief by his management of the coffer. He laid hold of what was put therein. He put aside for himself a portion of what others offered. Βαστάζειν may mean: he bore, kept (portabat) what was donated (Vulgate, Luther, Lücke, etc., Luthardt), [De Wette, Alford, Ebrard, Hengstenberg, Ewald, Godet], and he bore away, stole (aufcrebat), he abstracted the deposits (Origen, Nonnus and others, Meyer). Stress has been laid upon the article, as opposed to the latter view. It is inconceivable that Judas should have purloined everything. Be it observed that βαστάζειν also means to lay hold of, to touch, to handle.13 We adopt this intermediate signification: he laid violent hands on the money and especially on the alms. His lusting after the three hundred denâries renders him not simply heartless towards Mary’s beautiful act, but it also makes him a hypocrite.
With reference to the apparent singularity of his being intrusted by Jesus with the purse, the following considerations are to be pondered:
1. The common purse itself, doubtless, did not acquire considerable importance before the final departure from Galilee; 2. the appointment of the cashier was probably a general determination of the disciples rather than a matter with which Christ particularly concerned Himself. Compare the institution of deacons, Acts. 6:3. 3. The disciples must learn by experience that their reliance upon the brilliant talent of Judas—in accordance with this trust, doubtless, he was introduced by their intercession into the circle of the apostles (see Comm. on Matthew)—was even in this point premature. 4. Jesus committed the bag to him, not indeed to deprive him of all excuse for his treason (Chrysostom and others), but He committed it to him having respect to his destiny, and because such a character might better be cured by confidence than by mistrust. 5. We are guilty of a wondrous over-estimation of the cashiership in relation to the apostolic dignity, if we think that a man intrusted with the former is beset with greater difficulties than one upon whom the latter is conferred. The Lord in a measure intrusted Judas with Himself and His life; it was a small thing for Him to commit the money-bag to his keeping. So the grand question would again be: wherefore He called him (hereupon comp. Leben Jesu, II. p. 693 and 700). Since Jesus could venture to have Judas for His apostle, He might well risk having him for His cashier. 6. The history, it is probable, was also intended to be expressive of the standard by which the purse was here estimated in relation to higher good things, and it should be a significant warning to the Church not to reckon upon the security of an accumulation of external church-property.
John 12:7. That she may keep this [τηρήση, spoken proleptically, and therefore, like all similar expressions of our Lord, somewhat enigmatically] for the day of my burial.—See the TEXTUAL NOTES. We do not understand the reading of Lachmann as Meyer does: Let her alone that she may (not give this oil, a portion of which she has just used to anoint My feet, to the poor, but) keep it for the day of My embalming. Meyer means, namely, on the actual day of burial. In this we can detect nought of the “odor of the ointment.” The sense is: Permit her to keep the ointment (which she might already have used at the burial of Lazarus and which would not keep well in thy bag) for the day of My burial (which is now ideally present with the outbreak of thy malignity). In this we, at the same time, read the declaration that she, though without being clearly conscious of His approaching death, did entertain a foreboding presentiment of it and offered this great sacrifice of love as her farewell to Him. Baumgarten-Crusius: Suffer her, that she may have kept; Luthardt: that she has reserved. These explanations too are grammatically proper in the sense: leave her this, do not grudge her this,—that she has kept it and is even now saving it from your bag for the anointing of My body unto death. We are of opinion that the τηρεῖν also contains an allusion to the infidelity of Judas; a reference which, as well as the numerous authorities, recommends this reading; and we deny the need for the explanation that the reading originated in the necessity for meeting the objection urging the later occurrence of the embalming (Lücke.)
John 12:8. For the poor, etc. See Com. on Matthew on the same passage.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See the Comm. on Matthew and Mark. The anointing of the Messiah, the Anointed One, previous to His public procession as the Messiah and entry into Jerusalem: (1) By whom anointed? The Christ by a grateful, presageful Christian woman. (2) Wherewith anointed? With flowing ointment, with precious balm, the offering of devoted love. (3) How anointed? On the head and feet. The hair which adorned the head of His disciple, appropriated to His service. (4) Whereunto anointed? To His high-priestly sacrificial death as the completion of His life-work (to the six days’ work of His Passion, as the preliminary condition of His Sabbath). With a foreboding presentiment, half consciously, half unconsciously, well known to the Spirit of God.
2. The six days before the Passover (until the death of Jesus) the six days of Christ’s great toil and labor. Comp. Isa. 63:1 ff. and the symbolism of the number six in John 2:6.
3. The post-celebration of the raising of Lazarus at the same time the pre-celebration of the death of Jesus. This connection makes the death of Jesus appear in a peculiar sense a sacrifice for His friends and His friend in Bethany.
4. The festive celebration of the Bethanian family in honor of the Lord a symbol of the feasts of the living communion in the Church, and of the heavenly feast.
5. The involuntary similarity in the anointing of the great disciple and that of the great sinner [Luke 7:36.—P. S.] The contrast and its equalization. The disciple as a sinner,—the sinner as a disciple,—at the feet of Jesus.—If the washing of a pilgrim’s feet denoted the termination of the little journey of a day, so the anointing of the feet of Jesus with oil might be indicative of the end of His glorious life-pilgrimage. Thus too did the great sinner anoint the feet of Jesus, wetting them with her tears—those feet which had drawn near to rescue her. But in our anointing there is a predominant reference forwards, to the death of Jesus, in accordance with His explanation.
6. The contrast between the heavenly offering and life-portrait of Mary and the hellish malice and death-portrait of Judas. Faith’s half-conscious presentiment of the death of Jesus and of its import, within the breast of Mary. The already half-conscious thought of the betrayal to death in the soul of Judas. The evangelic hearty acquiescence of Mary in the Passion of Christ. The anti-christian self-will of Judas in his obduracy. The deed of the innermost heart and the words of the outermost hypocrisy. Over against the first ripe Christian woman stands the first ripe anti-christ. Heaven and hell in their manifestations drawn up in close opposition.
7. The silence of Mary, the speech of Jesus.
8. Christ suffers no sort of hypocrisy to obtain dominion in His Church; neither hypocrisy of prayer nor of fasting, nor humanistic eleemosynary hypocrisy.
9. The doctrine of Judas is at bottom self-destroying. If every one should sell the precious ointment, in order to give it to the poor, it would be rendered worthless. Judas must therefore assume: the ointment is too good for Christ; it is for people of higher rank, or the moment is not one of sufficient importance. Pauperism.
10. Antithesis between the fixed affairs and exercises in the kingdom of God and the unique, irrecoverable moments; and the subordination of the former to the latter.
11. An evangelic flash of light, illuminating the subject of church-property, the temptations of administration and the dangers of an increase of property in the common treasury (see Acts 5:1).
12. The gradual hardening of Judas at the two feasts of the glory and grace of Christ. Great operations of grace are succeeded in false minds by a great reaction of wickedness.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
In what way Jesus, upon the edict of the Sanhedrin commanding that information should be given against Him, Himself appears by making the palm-entry into Jerusalem.—The six workdays or Passion-days of Christ until Easter.—The feast at Bethany or the trio (Lazarus and his sisters) in three different meetings with the Lord: 1. The visit of Jesus: Lazarus probably at his business, Martha serving, Mary learning at Jesus’ feet [Luke 10]. 2. The return of Jesus: Lazarus in the grave, Martha busy about the grave of Lazarus, Mary with her tears at the feet of Jesus [John 11]. 3. The departure of Jesus: Lazarus at the table, participating in the feast, Martha the festive hostess, Mary with the costly ointment at Jesus’ feet [John 12]. Or: 1. The school of the word; 2. the battle-ground of distress; 3. the feast of salvation.—The festival in Bethany compared with the festival of the Lord’s Supper. Agreement, difference.—The house was filled with the odor of the ointment.—The anointing in its signification: 1. The expression of the most heartfelt gratitude, 2. of the most solemn veneration and homage, 3. of the deepest humility, 4. of the most devoted love, 5. of the holiest sorrow, 6. of the boldest confidence.—How Mary by her spirit of sacrifice manifests her budding courage in the face of the cross and death.—The discipless, a ripe Christian heart, uncomprehended even in the circle of the disciples, and in advance of most of the disciples.—Mary and Judas.—The two in their participation in the death of Jesus.—Self-denial, in its heavenly brilliance, over against selfishness, in hellish darkness.—The connection of fanaticism and avarice in the soul of Judas (after the prelude of Balaam).—How the secrets of hell come to light face to face with the secrets of heaven.—The Lord’s defence of Mary in its eternal signification: 1. A defence of a festive spirit in opposition to hypocritical sadness, 2. of great love-offerings in opposition to a hypocritical reckoning, 3. of holy spending (prodigality) in opposition to a hypocritical pauperism.—The perception of the unique moments of life.—The censure of Judas, merely as a rude disturbance of the feast, immoral and reprehensible; on the other hand, the reproof of Christ gentle, mild, in accordance with the festive spirit and intelligible in its hidden sharpness to the disturber of the peace alone.—The separation between Christ and the poor made by Judas, was opposed to the spirit of Christ (see Matt. 25:35). For: 1. In the true veneration of Christ consists the most effectual caring for the poor; 2. true care for the poor ministers to Christ in the poor.—While, therefore, Christ accedes to the separation of Judas, He at the same time pronounces His judgment upon the false, externalized care of the poor. (Externalized poverty itself is forever at your heels; it is inexterminable; but Christ, meanwhile, is vanishing from you).—The contradiction in the censure of Judas. If Christ should not be anointed with the precious ointment, who then should? People of rank? Manifestly, the Lord has grown small and poor in his sight, and the polite world rich and great.—The offence of Judas: 1. The fair, festive joy augments his gloom, 2. the celebration of the honor of Jesus his envy, 3. the princely munificence his avarice, 4. the mild reproof his exasperation against Him, 5. the heavenly calmness with which Jesus saw through him the dark self-confusion in which he surrendered himself to the influences of Satan.—The false antithesis which Judas makes between Christ and the poor: 1. It asperses the Lord; 2. it asperses poverty.—A prelude to pauperism.—The judgment upon this pauperism: 1. It loses the Christ; 2. it retains the poor.—How the spirit of Christ is victorious over the disturbances of the feast.
STARKE: ZEISIUS: Though Christ gave place for a time to the rage of His enemies, He, nevertheless, returns in accordance with His divine vocation; duty, therefore, must not be abandoned by a teacher or by any Christian on account of danger.—HEDINGER: Love spares no expense.—CANSTEIN: All Christ’s friends, when they have been awakened by Him, sup with Him in the kingdom of grace (Rev. 3:20), and when He shall have aroused them from bodily death at the last day, they shall sit with Him at His table in the kingdom of glory, Luke 16:22; 22:30.—That which is spent on Christ is not wasted but well employed.—CRAMER: Even in extreme persecution God does not leave His own without comfort and refreshment.—A friend of Christ gladly lays out all that he has, even to the very choicest of his possessions, in testimony of his love to his Saviour.—Nothing more shameful than ingratitude.—ZEISIUS: Hypocrites always find something to censure in the works and conduct of honest Christians.—Ibid.: Judas is a true type of wicked church-patrons, directors, managers of ecclesiastical estates, who, under cover of all sorts of specious reasons, secure to themselves the funds, benefices and revenues and do not restore them).—Christ espouses the cause of His people and defends them faithfully.—PISCATOR: Men, impelled by the Holy Ghost, frequently perform an important action without comprehending its significance.
BRAUNE: What a feast was that where the noble Simon, gratefully rejoicing in his health, was host; Lazarus, the visible trophy of life’s triumph over death; friend Martha, personating business-like alacrity, is the waitress; but where Mary, as thoughtful love, brings precious oil, and Jesus, the Son of God, going to a death upon the cross, appears as guest, to refresh Himself on the way! Here is a table prepared for Him in the presence of His enemies, and His head is anointed with oil, Ps. 23:5.—To John, Bethany is as one house, and families friendly to Jesus (the house of Simon the leper, the house of Lazarus and his sisters) are as one family.—1 Tim. 6:10.—Like Mary, prevent death, that death may not prevent thee and cut off thine opportunity.—GOSSNER: Mary. With her what was outward proceeded from within, as it always should be.—The odor of her ointment, etc. How the glorious odor of the gospel fills all Christendom, and particularly the house of a heart that receives it.—Judas betrayed that he would rather have money in his purse than his Saviour in his heart.—Yes, to such lengths do abuses go that the thief, avarice, covetousness, the devil, steals into the apostolic college.—Ointments were preserved among the household treasures until burial.—It is true that we have Jesus always with us in the poor, but His presence with us is not always to be felt. Therefore when He discloses Himself so perceptibly, as if we saw Him, as if He were corporeally and visibly present, we must profit by this occasion and not forsake Him for the sake of outside works that can be performed at another time.
SCHLEIERMACHER: The human kindliness and pleasantness of the Redeemer.—As Christians, who have become what they are by the death of the Lord, death itself must remain a something continually present to us all. But gladsomeness of heart is just what turns even the continual thought of death into something that does not annoy us in the cheerful moments of social life.—MALLET: The odor of the ointment. Thus the house had suddenly become the very opposite of the grave (there a savor of mould,—here a savor of life).—The days of glory and the cross in Jerusalem stand in the closest connection with the occurrences in Bethany.
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 12:6. Judas was already a thief, and followed our Lord in body, not in heart: wherein we are taught the duty of tolerating wicked men in the Church (for a season.—E. R. C.)—It is not surprising that Judas who was accustomed to steal money from the bag, should betray our Lord for money.—In the person of Judas are represented the wicked in the Church.—From ALCUIN: John 12:1. As the time approached in which our Lord had resolved to suffer, He approached the place He had chosen for the scene of His suffering.
John 12:2. The Lord’s Supper is the faith of the Church working by love.—Martha serveth, whenever a believing soul devotes itself to the worship of the Lord.—Lazarus is one of them that sit at table when those who have been raised from the death of sin, rejoice together with the righteous, in the presence of truth, and are fed with the gifts of heavenly grace.——From BURKITT: John 12:1. Our Lord’s example teaches us that although we are bound by all lawful means to preserve ourselves from the violence of persecutors, yet when God’s time for our suffering is come we ought to set our faces cheerfully toward it.
John 12:3. When strong love prevails in the heart nothing is adjudged too dear for Christ.
John 12:4–6. How does a covetous heart think every thing too good for Christ.
John 12:5–7. Men may, through ignorance or prejudice, censure those actions which God commends.——From M. HENRY: John 12:1. As there is a time when we are allowed to shift for our own preservation, so there is a time when we are called to jeopard our lives for God.
John 12:2. Martha served: Our Lord had formerly reproved her for being troubled with much serving, she did not therefore leave off all serving as some who being reproved for one extreme run into another.—Better a waiter at Christ’s table than a guest at the table of a prince.—Lazarus—sat at the table with Him: Those whom Christ has raised up to a spiritual life, are made to sit together with Him, Eph. 2:6
John 12:3. The act of Mary manifested a love—1. generous, 2. condescending (self-humbling), 3. believing.—God’s Anointed (Messiah) should be our Anointed—with the ointment of our best affections (and service). Honors done to Christ are to God and men an offering of a sweet smelling savor.
John 12:4. It is possible for the worst of men to lurk under the disguise of the best profession.
John 12:4, 5. Coldness of love to Christ in professors of religion is a sad presage of final apostasy.
John 12:5. Here is—1. a foul iniquity gilded over with a specious pretence; 2. worldly wisdom passing censure on pious zeal; 3. charity to the poor made a color for opposing an act of piety to Christ.—Many excuse themselves for laying out in charity, under pretence of laying up for charity.—Proud men think all ill advised who do not advise with them.
John 12:6. Judas the purse-bearer: Strong inclinations to sin within, are often furnished with strong temptations to sin without.—He was a thief: The reigning love of money is heart-theft, as much as anger and revenge are heart-murder.—Judas who betrayed his trust, soon after betrayed his Master.
John 12:7. Against the day of My burying hath she kept this: Providence often so affords opportunity to Christians that the expressions of their pious zeal prove to be more seasonable and beautiful than any foresight of their own could make them.
John 12:8. The good which may be done at any time, ought to give way to that which cannot be done but just now.——From STIER: John 12:4, 5. The censure of Judas echoed by the other Apostles (see Matt. 26:8, 9; Mark 14:4; also the ye of John 12:8): 1. “Censure infects like a plague;” 2. Could we but know the wicked origin of many of the judgments which we thoughtlessly echo, the Judas-heart from which springs many of the current criticisms of books and things (and men)—how should we recoil from them!—An example of those views and judgments which have their foundation in the principle of utilitarianism falsely applied—1. to the wounding of pious hearts; 2. to the damage of that justifiable cultus which, (1) aims worthily to express the sentiments of reverence and love, (2) is in itself productive of highest blessing.—An example of—1. the “cold judgments passed upon the virtuous emotions of warm hearts;” 2. the more or less conscious or unconscious censures of the artless outgoings of honest feelings; 3. the narrow-minded criticism of others according to our own mind and temper; 4. that slavish spirit which metes out all good works by rigid rule.
John 12:7, 8 (see also Matt. 26:10–13; Mark 14:6–9). Christ’s affectionate and sympathetic justification of the wounded Mary;—1. He surpasses the blame of the disciples by His own instant praise and consolation; 2. Behold the moral æsthetics in the estimation of human acts which He teaches and requires—He commends the deed as deriving its value from the state of the soul thereby expressed; 3. He corrects the errors of human judgment as to what is great and noble in human works—the greatness of the result gives them not their value, but the intention; 4. Observe the deepest ground of His verdict—she hath done it UNTO ME (Matt. and Mark)—love for Him (for God) the first, and most essential regulating measure of all good and lovely works.—Be confident, misunderstood soul—He knows thee and thy purpose; even if His disciples blame, He will justify thee both now and hereafter.
John 12:7. The beautiful work (καλὸν ἔργον) of love elevated, interpreted and glorified into a prophetic act; Jesus establishes from its providential significance its moral propriety. (?)
John 12:8. No agragrian law can abolish the poverty which is ever being reproduced; we must, indeed, give with the wisdom of charity, but without hoping that giving will make poverty cease.—From BARNES: John 12:6. He was a thief and had the bag: Every man is tried according to his native propensity—the object of trial is to bring out a man’s native character.
John 12:4–6. Learn that—1. it is no new thing for members of the Church to be covetous; 2. such members will be those who complain of the great waste in spreading the gospel; 3. this passion will work all evil in a Church (even the betrayal of our Lord, John 12:4).—From WILLIAMS: John 12:3–5. Observe the nature of the action selected by our Lord as the one above all others that should receive an earthly memorial (Matt. 26:13); it was—1. wrought in a private room; 2. an expression of loving, reverential thanksgiving; 3. not to please men, but for the simple purpose of doing honor to Jesus.
John 12:5. But for the reproof of Judas the costliness of Mary’s offering had not been known and honored—the evil eye (and tongue) of the wicked serves to do honor to God’s servants.—From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 12:3. Can we wonder at the love of Mary? Lazarus was at the table!
John 12:2, 3. Christ at the table with the Leper who was cleansed (Matt. 26:6) and with the dead man whom He had raised to life—a figure of His Church when he who is cleansed and he who is raised from the death of sin, sit with Christ, and eat and drink in His kingdom which is filled with the odor of His Death.—(Altered from WILLIAMS).
John 12:5–7. The offering of Mary the most expensive she could procure: Our Lord’s commendation is—1. the abiding warrant for munificence on every similar occasion; 2. the perpetual rebuke of those who think that anything is good enough for the House of God, while they deny themselves in no luxury at home.
John 12:6. Christ suffered Judas to remain amongst the Apostles—teaching us not to look for a Church (or a ministry) where all shall be saints.
John 12:8. The poor always with the Church, in order that His people may always show them kindness for His sake.—From RYLE: John 12:2. The supper a type of the marriage supper of the Lamb.
John 12:5. A specimen of the way in which wicked men often try to depreciate a good action, by suggesting that something better might have been done.
John 12:6. Multitudes, like Judas, excuse themselves from one class of duties by pretended zeal for others—they compensate neglecting Christ’s cause by affecting concern for the poor.—It is the successors of Mary and not of Judas who really care for the poor.—He was a thief, and yet an Apostle—privileges alone convert nobody.—A man may go far in Christian profession without inward grace.
John 12:7. Christians do not always know the full meaning of what they do—God uses them as His instruments.
John 12:8. The existence of pauperism is no proof that States are ill governed or that Churches are not doing their duty.—Relieving the poor is not so important a work as doing honor to Christ. (During His absence from us is He not honored by our ministering to the poor (Matt. 25:40, 45)?—E. R. C.)
John 12:8. Me ye have not always: These words overthrow the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation.—From OWEN: John 12:4, 5 (in connection with Matt. 26:8; Mark 14:4). How pernicious, even upon good men, may be the example and influence of one, who with apparently charitable motive decries the benevolence that would surrender all for Christ.—The Evangelist does not seek to cover up the disgrace brought upon the family of Christ by having cherished so long in its number this bad man: it is thus (by their honesty) that the sacred writers manifest the truthfulness of their statements.
John 12:8. The inference is clear that it is a Christian duty to relieve the wants of the poor.]
John 12:1.—[In Cod. Sin. B. L. X. ὁ τεθνηκὠς is wanting, on which account Lachmann and Alford have bracketed the words, and Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort have omitted them. Probably this purposely significant term was employed as expressive of the fact that a man who had lately been dead did, by means of the miracle of Christ, appear as one of the guests at the feast. It is, however, superfluous, the fact being sufficiently indicated without it.—P. S.]
John 12:1.—[Tischendorf, Alford, etc., read Ἰησοῦς in accordance with Sin. A. B. D. e.g., etc. The text. rec. omits it.—P. S.]
John 12:2.—[δεῖπνον should perhaps be better translated dinner or feast, than supper, for it was the chief meal of the Jews, as also of the Greeks and Romans, taken after the work and heat of the day early in the evening and often prolonged into the night. ἄριστον is breakfast, lunch.—P. S.]
John 12:3.—[ἐκμάσσω or ἐκμάττω, to wipe off, to wipe dry, in poets and later prose writers, for the Attic ἀπομόργνυμι and ἐξομόργνυμι.—P. S.]
John 12:4.—Instead of Ἰούδας Σίμωνος ̓Ισκαριώτης in accordance with Codd. A. Q. and the Recepta, Tischendorf simply reads Ἰσκαρ. in accordance with Cod. B. and several minuscules. Σίμωνος appears doubtful, being now become superfluous. Omitted also from the Sin. [Tischendorf, ed. 8, Alford, Westcott and Hort read Ιοῦδας ὁ Ἰσκαριώτης, without Σίμωνος.—P. S.]
John 12:6.—[A δηνάριον (Lat. denarius=10 asses), a Roman coin, is equal to the Attic drachma, about 15 or 17 cents of our money. Three hundred denarii therefore are about £9 16s. sterling, or from 45 to 50 Am. dollars. The E. V. gives a very false idea of the value of this ointment. Dimes or shillings (in the New York sense) would come nearer.—P. S.]
John 12:7.—Instead of εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ τετήρηκεν [hath kept] αὐτό (comp. Mark 14:8), Lachmann and Tischendorf [Alford, Westcott and Hort] read in accordance with א. B. D. K. L. and others, Vulgate and other translations and Fathers: ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ τ ηρήσῃ [may keep]. The Sin. likewise.
John 12:8.—The eighth verse is wanting in Cod. D. “and might be suspected of having been introduced from Matt. 26:11; Mark 14:7, if it came before ἄφες, and the characteristic order of the words were the same as in the Synoptists (πάντοτε first).” Meyer. Here, however, the complete preponderance of Codd. is alone decisive in favor of the verse. [Tischendorf, ed. 8, Alford and Westcott and Hort retain it.—P. S.]
[πρὸ ἓξ ἡμερῶν τοῦ πάσχα, instead of ἓξ ἡμέραις πρὸ τοῦ πάσχα, is no Latinism (ante six dies, instead of six dies ante pascha), but very frequent in later Greek writers (Philo, Josephus, Plutarch, Appian, etc.), see Winer, p. 518 f., 7th ed. The same combination is formed with μετά, and in local specifications, comp. John 11:18, ὡς ἀπὸ σταδίων δεκαπέντε. Greswell (as quoted by Alford) defines the expression to be exclusive of the period named as the limit ad quem or a quo (according as πρό or μετά may be used), but inclusive of the day or month or year of the occurrence specified.—P. S.]
[Wordsworth: “This Supper at Bethany was probably on the Sabbath before-is death. It was on a Sabbath—the Sabbath before that great Sabbath, on which Christ rested in the grave and fulfilled the Sabbath, and prepared the grave as a place of rest for all who pass from this life in His faith and fear.” He also allegorizes on the meaning of Bethany, a house of passage, as prefiguring the passage to the spiritual banquet in Paradise.—P. S.]
[The Greek λίτρα, the Latin libra, a pound, was adopted into the Aramaic, and is found in the Rabbinical writings as equivalent to a mina (see Friedlieb, Archäol. der Leidensgesch., p. 33, quoted by Alford). The Roman libra was divided into 12 ounces, and was equivalent to nearly 12 ounces avoirdupois—P. S.]
[Lit., a tongue-box (from γλώσσα and κομἑω) or reed-case for keeping the tongues or mouth-pieces of pipes and flutes; then any kind of chest, or box, or pouch, or purse for money. Found only in late writers. Mark the striking contrast between the money-box of Judas and the alabaster box of Mary, his thirty pieces of silver and her three hundred denâries, his love of money and her liberality, his hypocritical profession of concern for the poor and her noble deed for the Lord, his wretched end and her blessed memory throughout the Christian world to the end of time.—P. S.]
[Meyer, while substantially agreeing with Lange, objects that βαστάζειν means to seize only in the literal sense of ψηλαφᾶν (Suidas).—P. S.]
Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.IV
ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE HOMAGE OF PIOUS JEWS AND FESTAL PILGRIMS, AND THE HIGH-PRIESTS WITH THEIR ADHERENTS, WHO DESIRE TO DESTROY THE LORD’S FRIENDS AS WELL AS HIMSELF. THE PRINCE OF PEACE AND THE PALM-BRANCHES
(Matt. 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–10; Luke 19:29–44.)
9Much people14 of the Jews therefore knew [learned] that he was there: and they came [thither] not for Jesus’ sake [on account of Jesus] only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead; 10But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death. 11Because that by reason of him [For on his account] many of the Jews went away, and believed on [were going away and believing in] Jesus.
12On the next day much people that were [had] come to the feast, when they heard 13[hearing] that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took [the] branches of [the] palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord [Blessed is he that cometh in the name 14of the Lord, even (χαί) the king of Israel].15 And [But] Jesus, when he had found 15[having found] a young ass, sat [set himself] thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. [Zech. 9:9.] 16These things16 understood not his disciples [his disciples did not understand] at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then [they] remembered they that these 17things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people [multitude] therefore that was with him when17 he called Lazarus out of his 18[the] grave [tomb], and raised him from the dead, bare record [bore witness]. For this cause [On this account] the people [multitude] also met him, for that [because] they heard that he had done this miracle [wrought this sign]. 19The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? [Ye see that ye accomplish, or, effect nothing:]18 behold, the world19 is gone [has run away] after him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See the Commentary on Matthew, John 21; on Mark 10; on Luke 19. It has been shown there that there are no actual differences (the existence of which is claimed by Meyer and others) between the narrative of John and the accounts of the Synoptists, irrespective of the fact that the latter have in effect blended the two halves of the journey, from Jericho to Bethany, and from Bethany to Jerusalem, into one journey, without mentioning the intervening rest. Consequently a double entry (Paulus, Schleiermacher) is still less conceivable: on these points comp. the construction of the facts in Matthew [p. 368, 371].
John 12:9. A great multitude of the Jews.—The Jews in the national sense (especially the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as the word is generally understood) were, at the same time, most of them Jews in the Pharisaic sense, and here also John understands the expression in this latter sense, not, however, necessarily of “the Jewish opposition” (Meyer [and Alford]). The raising of Lazarus had created a great sensation among these Jews in Jerusalem; it had inclined many of them to believe, so that the whole party of the Pharisees seemed about to go over to Christ, John 12:19.
They came thither.—All the people streamed forth to Bethany. Some already believed, and wished above all things to see Jesus again; others were desirous of seeing Lazarus, i.e., they were on the high road to faith. This pilgrimaging began as early as Saturday evening, see John 12:12.
John 12:10. But the high-priests took counsel.—The state of matters seemed so desperate to the high-priests (Caiaphas, Hannas and the innermost circle of chief-priestly intimates in the Sanhedrin) that they consulted together as to how they might make away with Lazarus also, the living memorial of the miraculous power of Jesus. The consequence of the counsel of blood: ‘It is expedient that one man should die,’ thus begins to make itself manifest. It ever demands more blood, as is proved by the history of the hierarchy. Upon similar, secret murderous plots see Acts 23:12; 25:3. Of course, as Lampe remarks, the Sadducean party, of which Caiaphas was a member, were specially interested in putting Lazarus aside, he being a living witness to the truth of the resurrection. Comp. Acts 4:1, 2.
John 12:11. Many of the Jews were going away; ὐπῆγον.—Lampe and others: They apostatized. Meyer combats this interpretation. The apostasy is indeed merely a consequence of their going away to Bethany; nevertheless it is intimated.
John 12:12. On the nest day.—On Sunday morning. See Comm. on Matthew. Here, too, the diversity between John and the Synoptists continues; John mentions that part of the palm-procession which issues from Jerusalem, while the Synoptists give prominence to the portion accompanying Jesus, i.e., the Galilean. Since the same story is here told us by the Synoptists and by John, it becomes very evident that it was John’s intention to supplement their accounts. However, the Synoptists themselves distinguish between a part of the procession that preceded Jesus, and a part that followed Him. By the former attendants these seem to be meant who set out from Jerusalem intending to bring Jesus into the city. John, on the other hand, likewise discriminates between two divisions (John 12:17 and 18),—citizens of Jerusalem and festal pilgrims who are already in Jerusalem.
A great multitude that had come to the feast, hearing, etc.—Believing pilgrims to the feast, already present in Jerusalem. Be it observed that, according to John, the Hosanna movement, the solemn proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, originates with these festal pilgrims. Jerusalem herself seems to receive the Lord as her King. According to Tholuck, these were Galilean pilgrims; this is contradicted by the fact that the Galilean festive train is just approaching from Peræa; but a considerable portion of the Galilean pilgrims may have already entered Jerusalem or its environs, and may thus turn back to join in escorting Jesus. The acclamation, according to Ps. 118:25, 26, “where the Messiah is greeted as coming ἐν ὀνόματι κυρί ου A reception such as is allotted to kings and conquerors, 1 Macc. 13:51; 2 Macc. 10:7.” Tholuck.
John 12:13. They took the branches of the palm-trees [τὰ βαΐα τῶν φοινίκων].20—A lively view of the well-known palm-trees, which then, as the reporter vividly reminds us, stood on the road leading from the city to Bethany. This notice is wanting in Luke; Matthew mentions only branches of the trees; Mark speaks of things strewed in the way; we are indebted to John alone for the precise information; and therewith for the terms: Palm-Sunday, Palm-entry, and the symbolism of the palm-branch. “As the pomegranate tree is the symbol of the secretly flowing fulness of blessing, so, on the other hand, the palm-tree represents the overflowing horn of plenty and is the symbol of all fulness of strength and outward prosperity: thy stature is like to the palm-tree, thy breast like clusters of dates, Sol. Song 7:7. Hence Tamar21 a favorite name for women, Gen. 38:6; 2 Sam. 13:1; 14:27. Hence the palm has from ancient times been regarded as the escutcheon and sign of Israel, Coins of the times of the Maccabees have on one side the palm, and on the other a vine branch as tokens of the land. Also on the medals of the Emperor Titus, struck at his command in countless numbers from the spoil of Jerusalem and distributed among the Roman army, the ‘Captive Judah’ is portrayed as a woman sitting under a palm-tree.” (Bibl. Naturgesch., publ. at Calw. p. 343.) By the biblical palm we are generally to understand the date palm. Elim, the camp of the seventy palm-trees, Ex. 15:27; Num. 23:9; the palm-branches at the feast of tabernacles, Lev. 23:40; Jericho, the city of palms, Deut. 34:3; Jud. 1:16; the righteous a flourishing palm-tree, Ps. 92:13; Sulamith, Sol. Song 7:8. According to these stages of the symbol it is expressive of refreshment, blessing, festival, new life or victory; 1 Macc. 13:51 a sign of victory.
Hosanna.22 Matthew: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” Mark: “Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Luke: “Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Here (as in the account of the resurrection) the variations more decidedly attest the reality of this scene of intense excitement than would a uniform account. It is the liturgy of ecstatic life. Some cry thus, others thus; each evangelist reports in accordance with his own hearing or that of witnesses. Be it observed that in John the Hosanna precedes the mention of the ass’s colt, while in the Synoptists it is subsequent to that. Naturally, because the Hosanna with which, as with the watch-word of the day, the festal pilgrims from Jerusalem approach, is not communicated until later to the festal train from Galilee and Peræa. In this the new disciples are in advance of the old ones; hence too more rapturous.
John 12:14–16. And Jesus having found a young ass, etc. See Comm. on Matthew: the quotation Zech. 9:9. Freely cited. That upon which alone the evangelist lays stress, is the contrast between the devout homage paid to Jesus, and His humble equipment, mounted upon a young ass (ὀνάριον),—found, as it were, by accident,—together with the prediction concerning this fact in the prophet. Hence he also gives prominence to the circumstance that the disciples did not then understand this fulfilment of prophecy. Hence the highly emphatic, thrice repeated ταῦτα, “these things,” John 12:16. That the fulfilment of the prophecy was directed by God and not by men, is expressed by the first and the third ταῦτα. Exactly so men did unto Him, and even the disciples did not so much as understand it. Even if Jesus was conscious of the fulfilment of that prophecy, the unsuspicious co-operation of men proves it to have been the dispensation of God. At a later stage of enlightenment the import of this moment was revealed to the disciples also. And here it cannot be merely the fulfilment of a type which is spoken of. It is the fulfilment of a prediction concerning the Messiah; in a typico-symbolical form, doubtless, i.e., the prophet has predicted the entrance of the Messiah in insignificant equipment; but to him the ride upon the ass’s colt was typically the symbol of the gentle and humble accoutrement of the Prince of Peace,—i.e., the investment of his prediction.
John 12:17. The multitude therefore … bore witness.—An antiphony is formed between the eye-witnesses of the raising of Lazarus (inhabitants of Jerusalem, of Bethany, and others) and the people who have come, as believers, from Jerusalem to meet Him. This antiphony is likewise indicated in Mark (where in our translation we read: and they that went before and they that followed). Luke, too, has indicated that the disciples who formed the escort of Jesus praised Him on account of His wondrous deeds. Here John supplements; he informs us that the raising of Lazarus was the leading motive for the ascriptions of praise to Jesus in the Palm-procession. This motive was passed over by the Synoptists for the same reason which induced them to pass over the raising of Lazarus itself.
John 12:19. The Pharisees therefore said.—According to Chrysostom, thus spoke the secret friends among the Pharisees. But it is manifestly the language of despairing rage. Comp. the similar expression of displeasure on the part of John’s disciples, John 3:26. They reproach each other for not having taken more energetic measures. In the great movement they, as they hyperbolically express themselves in their excitement and fear, believe they already see the apostasy of the whole nation from the hierarchical party. This moment of despair on the part of the Pharisees is the corresponding contrast to the triumphal procession of Christ. But that Christ better understood the import of this procession is proved not only by His weeping in the midst of the triumphal entry, according to Luke, but also in the subsequent portrayal of the mood of Jesus by John himself.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See Comm. on Matthew, Mark, Luke, on the Palm-entry.
2. As Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, issued from the wilderness resolved to avoid, during His official pilgrimage, the unpurified Messianic name among His people,—connected, as it was, with all false Messianic hopes,—in order, by His actual self-revelation in prophetic anonymousness, to purify the Messianic hope of His nation, and the Messianic conception,—so now He has come forth from the wilderness with the determination of surrendering Himself to the purified Messianic faith of His disciples in the nation, i.e., to the nation itself, in respect of its present festive enthusiasm. In both cases He acts, according to the command (ἐντολή) of the Father, in perfect obedience; according to the principle of truth, as personal Wisdom, in perfect freedom. But He foreknows the event; He knows that in the fluctuations of dynamical moods in His nation the curse shall at first outweigh the blessing, or the demoniacal spirit that came to Him as a tempter in the wilderness, according to Matt, 4, shall circumvent and overpower the heavenly enthusiasm with which He has inspired His people; that He consequently shall be betrayed, that He goes to meet His sacrificial death, but that then, when the propitiatory effect of His death has been manifested in His resurrection, the blessing shall preponderate over the curse, for His people as well as for the whole world. And thus the Palm-procession has a twofold import. In reference to the Lord, it is the free surrender to His people, in His real Messianic dignity, unto death, and, therewith, the free surrender to the disposition of the law itself—a veiled type of His sacrificial procession to Golgotha; hence, also, the symbolical pre-celebration of His Easter passage, in the resurrection, back to the Mount of Olives, and up to the Throne of glory, of His triumphant entry into the world and His kingly appearing to judgment. But in reference to the world itself, it is the surrender to a legal enthusiasm of His people, which cannot protect Him from death, but changes to treachery, and His surrender to the people of true believers, with which surrender His real glorification in the world begins. In the former relation we have to distinguish the extolled Christ who became the Crucified One, and the crucified Christ who became the Risen One; in the latter relation the symbolic Hosanna of those who were under the temporary influence of a spirit of enthusiasm, and the real Hosanna of the children of the Spirit.
3. In the celebration of the raising of Lazarus by the Palm-entry is concentrated the celebration of the whole official pilgrimage of Christ, particularly in His thaumaturgic activity. See Luke 19:37.
4. To the symbolism of sacred springs and mountains is annexed the symbolism of trees which are especially hallowed. The fig-tree, under which Nathanael sat, the symbol of peace, of calm life and of quiet contemplativeness (John 1:48), is here joined by the palm-tree, the symbol of blessing and victory, of peace, of kingly state and royal grandeur and glory; subsequently, however, John 15:1 ff., the symbol of the vine is set forth in detail: see Friedreich, Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur, Würzburg, 1859, p. 332: the Palm-tree.
5. “Thus Zechariah, in one of his visions (John 9:9), describes the Messiah, in wretchedness and lowliness approaching His people. That this—and not the bringing of peace—is the meaning of this symbol—has been convincingly shown by Hengstenberg (Christologie des A. T. on the passage, iii. 1. Second edition). Christ designs by facts to recall this prophecy; the young ass’s colt in the prophet forms a climax to ὄνος (Ewald, Hengstenberg), and as this (ὄνος) presents to our view what is already contained in עָנִי, not gentleness, but lowliness, so the colt is expressive of the same in a higher degree. Seeing that John omits not only the significative predicates נוֹשָׁע ,צַדִּיק, but also the πραΰς of the Septuagint and of Matthew, the simple riding upon this colt must have been significant enough,—namely, as a symbol of lowliness,—for great men and kings ride only upon horses.” Tholuck.
To this we have to remark: (1) the idea of lowliness as condescension is not necessarily connected with wretchedness; (2) in Zechariah the symbol of humility is evidently a symbol, at the same time, of gentleness and peace, John 12:9, 10. (3) If John, therefore, pretended to see in His mounting of this animal merely a sign of lowliness, then would Matthew’s interpretation of the prophet be more correct than his. (4) But this is the more out of the question since, according to John, the people that wish to glorify the Lord, put Him upon the young ass. In accordance with the she-ass of Balaam, we should see in the ass a symbol of the presageful in the irrational creation. In Friedreich’s Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur are various interpretations without result. Here we have to do with the ass merely as the beast of peace.
6. John too intimates, with εὑρών, that the choice of the ass’ colt proceeded from Jesus. But he lays special stress on the fact that the people, not thinking of that prophecy, did thus with Him; thus he emphasizes the providential direction of the event, which took care that the prophecy should be fulfilled, consciously to the Lord, but unconsciously to the disciples and the people.
7. The great contrast. The victorious kingdom of Christ seemed to have arisen, the whole nation was apparently going over to Him with Hosannas; the hostile party was in despair. Then the treachery of Judas brought the fearful turning. But what explanation is to be found for the treachery of Judas in the present posture of affairs? Judas saw that Jesus did not utilize the triumphal entry for the founding of a worldly kingdom, and he now gave up His cause for lost. Exactly the opposite to this contrast is formed by the triumph of enemies after the crucifixion of Christ. Hell is jubilant, Christ dies, His disciples fear. And now Nicodemus and Joseph desert the Sanhedrin and go over to Christ, as Judas, after the Palm-entry, forsook the company of the disciples and went over to the enemy. Appearances, therefore, are not decisive in the situations of the kingdom of God. Exalted moments of triumph are admonitory to extreme prudence; on the other hand, the greatest calamities are accompanied by the announcement of an approaching wondrous festival in honor of the victory of divine help and wisdom.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See Comm, on Matthew, Mark, Luke.—The great movement and meeting between Bethany and Jerusalem, or the Communion of the Gospel and the Communion of the Law: 1. Jerusalem comes to Bethany; 2. Bethany comes to Jerusalem.—Christ’s great victory over the Jews a sign of eternal promise.—To kill Lazarus also, or the consequence of violence in the domain of the spirit and faith.—The Palm-entry according to John. 1. Its cause (John 12:9–11); 2. its form (John 12:12–18); 3. its effect, John 12:19.—Antithesis of life and death in the story of Lazarus: 1. In contemplating the life-miracle of the Prince of Life susceptible hearts become alive; alive to such a degree that all Israel seems to quicken; 2. the mortal hatred of dead Pharisee hearts towards Christ seeks to kill Lazarus also, and with the breath of death breathes upon the people (even upon the flock of disciples, especially Judas).—The scattering of palm-branches, or triumphal homage to the Victor: 1. As Victor and King in the kingdom of the Spirit, in the believing heart, the believing people, the whole world receptive of salvation; 2. as Victor over, and Destroyer of, the kingdom of darkness in the heart, in the church, in the world (here and hereafter); 3. as Victor and Conqueror with the spoils of Victory (His are souls entirely; His the people of the peoples—their marrow).—The world in its destiny as the new heaven and the new earth.—As Sunday precedes the week-day, so the Palm-entry precedes the last great work of Christ: 1. As a refreshment for the work; 2. as the survey of the work; 3. as the warranty for the success of the work.—The Hosanna of the people of Jerusalem: 1. In the old time (Ps. 118:26); 2. on Palm Sunday; 3. at Pentecost; 4. in the time of the Reformation.—The riding-beast of Balaam and the riding-beast of Christ, a sign: 1. How dumb nature, (a)loudly contradicts all false prophets, and (b) is wiser than they. 2. How it is (a) serviceable to the King of truth, and (b) is rendered worthy and consecrate by Him.—The important, minute fulfilments of ancient prophecies in the life of the Lord.—The Spirit of Christ in the Old Testament specially glorified by the prophecy under our consideration: 1. The prophet knew in spirit the wonderful humility and meekness of Christ; 2. he saw in spirit a people, spiritual enough not to be offended in a Prince of Peace on the ass’s colt.—The grand antiphony on the Mount of Olives, or the greetings and counter-greetings in the kingdom of faith: 1. From heart to heart; 2. from congregation to congregation; 3. from church to church; 4. from world to world (from star to star, or between, heaven and earth).—The Pharisees’ hour of despair: 1. Why they despair (on account of the triumphs of Christ); 2. how they despair (they lose head after having lost heart, and dispute among themselves); 3. who comes to their aid in their despair (Satan and treacherous disciples); 4. whereunto that helps them (into ever deeper despair).—The kingdom of darkness, the shadowy foil of the kingdom of light.—Ye see that ye prevail nothing, etc., or how the hierarchy prophesies concerning its own downfall; 1. In vain all our plots; 2. all the world sides with Him.—Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.—He cometh; 1. He cometh; 2. He cometh.
STARKE, QUESNEL:—Only Satan’s spirit, yea, Satanic envy, would fain destroy the works of the Spirit of God.—Miracles arouse human hearts, but they do not convert; that belongs to the word of the Lord, Luke 16:29.—Ibid.: Jesus leaves to the kings of earth their magnificence which they need as a cloak for their weakness. Humility and lowliness are the best adornments of a King who is fighting only against pride, and who wills to triumph over sin and death.—CRAMER: In the school of Christianity there is much to be learned and remembered, even though it be not yet understood; for we do not believe because we understand, but that we may finally understand.—ZEISIUS: Believers increase in the knowledge of Christ and in understanding of the Holy Scriptures.—CANSTEIN: As a general thing, the fulfilment of prophecies first exhibits their true meaning.—HEDINGER: We should praise God’s work and the grace of Him who hath called us to His wonderful light.—ZEISIUS: Christ, His honor and doctrine, must be boldly confessed, even though His enemies be like to “burst” with envy and malice.—Honor to whom honor is due.—CRAMER: Envy does not injure Christ, but His enemies themselves.—The whole world runneth after Christ, is still the language of the wicked; O that it might soon come to pass in the greatest fulness!
LISCO: The manner of His entry showed Him to be not an earthly prince, but a King of Peace.
John 12:16. BRAUNE: Thus what seemed lost for the present has become a blessing for the future.—Palm branches are true peace branches. The palm is verily the noblest tree; it is ever reaching upwards, without lavishing its strength in side-branches, and it proves itself of the utmost utility in leaf, fruit and wood.—Yet there was a little band of believers hidden in unbelieving Jerusalem; some of the seven thousand of God, whom Elijah saw not, came forth.—GOSSNER: Wished to kill Lazarus. This is the religion of Caiaphas and Herod. It spares nothing. Everything that is feared must be thrust out of the way.—Instead of reporting Him to the magistrates, as they were commanded to do, John 11:57, they bring Him as their King.—Jesus always finds more faith and love among the people than among those who hold themselves above the people.—The state of our King consists in simplicity and lowliness. He comes with such condescension that even the meanest need not fear but may gather confidence.—All wrath is put away; He is all meekness and goodness.—Behold, the whole world, etc. O that this would come to pass today! Truly, it is written, Gen. 49:10.
HEUBNER:—Those that were healed or raised by Jesus were standing witnesses to His glory.—Jesus accepted applause; He knew it to be the road to shame. And He then endured shame as having the prospect of eternal glory.—SCHENKEL: How Christ as a King is continually coming to His people: 1. What Christ as the coming King brings us; 2. what we as His people should bring Him—BESSER: Ye see that ye prevail nothing; behold, the world runneth alter Him. Even in this angry speech somewhat of a prophecy lies hidden, and that which we are about to read is a prelude to the fulfilment of this prophecy.
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 12:9. Curiosity brought them, not love.
John 12:10. O blind rage! as if the Lord could raise the dead, and not raise the slain.
John 12:12, 13. See how great was the fruit of His preaching, and how large a flock of the lost sheep of the house of Israel heard the voice of their Shepherd.
John 12:13–15. Christ was not the king of Israel, to exact tribute and command armies, but to direct souls and bring them to the kingdom of Heaven.—For Christ to be king of Israel was a condescension, not an elevation—a sign of His pity, not an increase of His power.—From CHRYSOSTOM: John 12:13. This is what more than any thing made men believe in Christ, viz., the assurance, that He was not opposed to God, that He came from the Father.—From BEDE: John 12:13–15. Christ does not lose His divinity when He teaches us (by example) humility.—From BURKITT: John 12:9. It was the sin of many that they flocked after Christ rather out of curiosity than conscience.
John 12:10, 11. Such as have received special favor from Christ must expect to be made the butt of malicious enemies.—Nothing so enrages the enemies of Christ as the enlargement of His kingdom.
John 12:14, 15. That it might appear that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world He abandons all outward magnificence.
John 12:19. In the day of Christ’s greatest solemnity there will be some who will neither rejoice themselves nor endure that others should.—From M. HENRY: John 12:9. Much people came not for Jesus sake only: yet they came to see Jesus—there are some in whose affections Christ will have an interest in spite of all the attempts of His enemies to misrepresent Him.
John 12:10. The consultation of the Chief-priests a sign that they neither feared God nor regarded man.
John 12:12, 13. Those who have a true veneration for Christ will neither be ashamed nor afraid to own Him before men.—Those that met Him were they that were come to the feast; the more regard men have to God and religion in general, the better disposed they will be to entertain Christ.—Tidings of the approach of Christ and His kingdom should awaken us to consider the work of the day, that it may be done in the day.—The palm-branch was—1. a symbol of triumph; 2. carried as a part of the ceremonial of the feast of Tabernacles—its use on this occasion intimates that all the feasts, especially that of Tabernacles, pointed to Christ’s gospel. (It may have been so in the purpose of God. E. R. C.)
John 12:13. language employed was that of Psalm 118:25, 26; high thoughts of Christ are best expressed in Scripture words.—Thus must every one bid Christ welcome into his heart—we must praise Him, and be well pleased in Him.
John 12:14.—This was—1. More of state than He used to take—showing that, though His followers should be willing to take up with mean things, yet it is allowed them to use the inferior creatures; 2. Less of state than the great ones of earth usually affect—manifesting that His kingdom was not of this world.
John 12:16. See—1. the imperfection of the disciples in their infant state; 2. their improvement in their adult state.—The Scripture is often fulfilled by the agency of those who have no thought of Scripture in what they do.—There are many excellent things both in the Word and Providence of God which disciples do not at first understand.—It becomes Christians when they are grown to maturity in knowledge frequently to reflect upon the weakness of their beginning.—Such an admirable harmony there is between the Word and works of God that the remembrance of what is written will enable us to understand what is done, and the observation of what is done will help us to understand what is written.
John 12:17. They who wish well to Christ’s kingdom should proclaim what they know.
John 12:17–19. This miracle reserved for one of the last that it might confirm those that went before, just before His sufferings; Christ’s works were not only well done, but well limed.
John 12:19. They who oppose Christ will be made to see that they prevail nothing.—From SCOTT: John 12:10. There is nothing so wicked and infatuated that men who have engaged in persecution, will not attempt to escape defeat.—From BARNES: John 12:10. When men are determined not to believe the gospel, there is no end to the crimes to which they are driven.—From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 12:10. Notice the rapid growth of sin. John 12:12–15. Royal even in its lowliness is the mysterious pageant!—From RYLE: John 12:9–11. People will think for themselves when God’s truth comes into a land.
John 12:13. From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him,” there was an interval of only a few days! Nothing so soon caught up as a popular applause.
John 12:16. Men may be true Christians and yet very ignorant on some points.—In estimating others we must make great allowance for early training and association.]
John 12:9.—[Noyes translates ὄχλος πολύς, the great multitude, Conant: a great multitude. Alford retains the A. V.]
John 12:13.—Lachmann in accordance with D. K. X., Origen, etc.: ὁ βασ. Since even B. L., etc., read: καὶ ὁ βασ., the omission of the article seems unfounded. [The reading καὶ ὁ before βασιλεὺς is adopted by Tischendorf in ed. 8, Alf., Westc. and II. and supported by א *etcd B. L. Q., etc.—P. S.]
John 12:16.—[Lachmann in accordance with A. D., etc., inserts δέ; Tischendorf, Alf., W. and H. omit it by authority of א. B. L. Q., etc.—P. S.]
John 12:17.—For ὃτι B. [?] D. E.* K. L., Lachmann, Tischendorf [formerly]; for ὃτε A. E.** G. M., and many others. Since ἐμαρτύρει receives additional weight, the eye-witnesship greater emphasis by ὃτε, and the preponderance of Codd. is in favor of it, this reading seems preferable. [Tischendorf, ed. 8, for contextual reasons, prefers ὃτι; although he affirms that not only א. A. E.2 G. H. M. Q., etc., but also B., give ὃτε, which is adopted by Alford, Westcott and Hort. If we read ὃτι, the translation would be: The multitude that was with him bore witness that he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead.—P. S.]
John 12:19.—[Viz., with our cautious, undecided, hesitating policy. Bengel: Approbant Caiphæ consilium (11:50). The sentence is generally taken as an interrogation (also by Lange and Alford); but it seems to be more forcible as a direct assertion.—P. S.]
John 12:19.—[Or, the whole world. In D. L. Q. X., ὃλος is inserted; Tisch. omits it, in accordance with א. A. B. Γ. Δ. Λ. 2, etc.—P. S.]
[The article τῶν (not τά), which is omitted in the E. V., indicates, as Lange and Meyer explain, that the palm-trees were on the road, or perhaps that the custom was usual at such festivities (Alford).—P. S.]
[הָּמָר the palm-tree.—P. S.]
[Ὡσαννά, from the Hebrew, means σῶσον δήsave now, and is originally a formula of supplication, hut conventionally one of triumphant acclamation, and joyful greeting to a deliverer.—P. S.]
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:V a
ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE GENTILE GREEKS FROM ABROAD WHO DO HOMAGE TO CHRIST, AND THE MAJORITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE THAT FALL AWAY FROM CHRIST IN UNBELIEF AND OCCASION HIS RETURN INTO CONCEALMENT. SYMBOLISM OF THE JEWISH PASCHAL-FEAST, OF HELLENISM, OF THE GRAIN OF WHEAT. THE GLORIFICATION BY SUFFERING AND DEATH, OR THE SPIRITUAL SELF-SACRIFICE OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
(John 12:24–26. Laurentius-Pericope; John 12:31–36. Elevation of the Cross.)
20And [But] there were certain Greeks [Ἕλληνες, Gentile Greeks, not Ἑλληνισταί, Greek Jews] among them that [those who] came up [made pilgrimage up to Jerusalem] to21worship at the feast. The same [These] came therefore to Philip, which [who] was of [from] Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired [asked] him, saying, Sir, we would see22[wish, or, desire to see] Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again [omit23and again]23 Andrew [cometh] and Philip [, and they] tell Jesus. And [But] Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is [hath] come, that the Son of man should be glori-fied. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn [the grain] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone [isolated, by itself alone]: but if it die, it bringethforth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life [his own soul, τὴν φυχὴν αὑτοῦ]24 shall lose it; and he that hateth his life [his own soul] in this world shall [will] keep it unto life26[ζωήν] eternal. If any man [any one would] serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall [will] also my servant be: if [ἐάν without χαί]25 any man [any oneshall] serve me, him will my [the] Father honour. 27Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: [!]26 but [But] for this cause27 camel unto [I came to] this hour. 28Father, glorify thy name. [!] Then came there a voice from heaven, saying [omit saying], I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
29The people [multitude] therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake [hath spoken, λελάληχεν] to him.
30Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me [for my sake, δἰν ἐμέ], but for your sakes [δἰ ὑμᾶς]. 31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall [will] the prince of this world be cast out. 32And I, if I [shall]28 be lifted up from the33earth, will [shall] draw all men unto me [myself, πρὸς ἐμαυτόν]. This he said, signifying what death he should die [by what manner of death he was about to die, 34or, what kind of death he was to die]. The people [multitude, therefore, οῦ̓ν] answered him, We have heard out of the law that [the] Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou [how then dost thou say], The Son of man must be lifted up? who35is this Son of man? Then Jesus [Jesus therefore] said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you [within you].29 Walk while [as]30 ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you [that darkness may not overtake you, ἵνα μὴ σχοτία ὑμᾶς χαταλάβῃ]: for [and] he that walketh in [the] darkness knoweth not whither hegoeth. 36While ye have [the] light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light [become sons of light, ἵνα υἱοὶ φωτὸς γένησθε].
These things spake [spoke] Jesus, and departed, and did hide [and, having departed, he hid, or, withdrew] himself from them.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 12:20. Certain Greeks [Ἕλληνες].31—By these we are 1. not to understand (after Semler and Baumgarten-Crusius [Calvin, Ewald],) Jews who spoke Greek [Hellenists]; this view is contradicted by the name, comp. John 7:35, the whole scene and the deduction of Christ, John 12:23 and 32,—the reference to the universal extension of His ministry. 2. Not perfect or pure heathen (after Chrysostom, Euthymius, Schweizer), against which interpretation ἀναβαίνοντες32 militates,—but, as this very word proves, 3. proselytes of the gate [half Jews, or Judaizing pagans], like the treasurer, Acts 8:27. See Comm. on Acts [p. 155, Am. ed.]. “If they were from Galilee, which was partly inhabited by Gentiles, we might imagine them to have been previously acquainted with Philip; yet (Grecianized) Syrians inhabited the country from Lebanon to Lake Tiberias (Josephus, De bello Jud., III. 4, 5); Peræa had Greek cities (Joseph. Antiq., XVI. 11, 4), etc. Philip’s consultation with Andrew must be attributed to the unusualness of seeing the Master hold intercourse with Gentiles (Matt. 10:5)—for the uncircumcised proselytes of the gate were still so considered—(Acts 10).” Tholuck. On this we remark that it is not altogether probable that these Gentiles were from Galilee, or from any part of Canaan, because in that case they might easily have had an earlier opportunity of seeing Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus had already had dealings with the Gentile captain at Capernaum, and the Canaanitish woman; the disciples, however, might for reasons of policy, hesitate for a while before bringing the Lord, after He had just been proclaimed King of Israel, into contact with Gentiles, in the sight of all the Jews. For, doubtless, the scene occurred within the area of the temple, i.e., the porch. Perhaps Jesus was, by the mediation of His disciples, to be called back into the court of the Gentiles. This locality is supported by 1. the testimony of the Synoptists, that in the days subsequent to the Palm-entry Jesus abode continually in the temple; 2. the character of these Gentile visitors to the temple; 3. the concourse of people, John 12:29. (Contrary to all indications Michaelis and others have shifted the scene to Bethany; Baur places it “in the idea of the author!”) As to the day, the thirty-sixth verse seems to indicate that it was the last of the three days of Jesus’ stay in the temple, i.e., Tuesday (see DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL NOTES, No. 1).
[These God-fearing Greeks, who (in their groping after “the unknown God,” embraced the monotheism and the Messianic hopes of the Jews, without being circumcised) belonged to the church invisible, to the children of God scattered among the heathen, 10:16; 11:52, and were the forerunners of the Gentile converts. Stier: “These men from the West at the end of the life of Jesus, set forth the same as the Magi from the East at its beginning; but they come to the cross of the King, as those to His cradle.” We find such chosen outsiders under the Old Testament, as Melchisedek, Jethro, Job, Ruth, king Hiram, the queen of Sheba, Naaman the Syrian. Augustine, exclusive as was his system, yet adduces the case of Job as an example of genuine piety outside of the visible theocracy, and infers from it that among other nations also there were persons “qui secundum Deum vixerunt eique placuerunt, per-tinentes ad spiritualem, Jerusalem” (De civit. Dei xviii. 47).—P. S.]
John 12:21. These therefore came to Philip.—Philip might be accidentally in the court of the Gentiles, and hence, as the first of the disciples who was forthcoming, be charged with the communication of their request to the Lord. It is still remarkable, however, that both Philip and Andrew had Greek names and, according to tradition, their labors were likewise in part among the Greeks.
Sir, we wish to see Jesus.—[Κύριε, not in the higher sense, yet with reverence]. The expression of their desire is threefold: 1. The solicitation; 2. the respectful manner of addressing even the disciple of the celebrated Master; 3. the strong and yet modest expression of the wish. To see can here mean nothing less than: to speak with. (Goldhorn: They wished to propose to Him that He should go to the Hellenists. A misapprehension of the proselytes and also of the situation. Brückner: They wished merely to see Him. Too literal). As proselytes of the gate they shared Israel’s hope and the enthusiastic feelings of the people.
John 12:22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew.—Meyer: Philip was of a deliberate disposition.33 The other characteristics of Philip are in no wise indicative of a deliberate man. The case was of sufficient importance, as an official question, for two disciples, and Mark 3:18 we find these two in close contact; John 6:7, 8, however, they even act in concert, as in this place, and in measure, likewise, in “foreign affairs.”—Andrew cometh and, etc.—Andrew seems to take the lead.
John 12:23. And Jesus answered them.—The following discourse is framed so decidedly for the Greeks that we cannot assume their request to have been denied by Jesus (Ewald [Hengstenberg, Godet]),—such a proceeding would, moreover, be unprecedented; neither can we hold that the admission of the Gentiles had been resolved upon, but that the voice from heaven changed the scene (Meyer). De Wette thought the answer unsuitable. Tholuck, in accordance with the usual conception, supposes the meeting between Jesus and the Greeks to have preceded this discourse; Luthardt: the disciples had given Jesus occasion to speak in presence of the Greeks. The scene certainly seems to have changed; either the Greeks must have immediately followed the two disciples to Jesus, or else Jesus directly accompanied the disciples to the Greeks. He seems to have intentionally avoided addressing Himself particularly to the Greeks, preferring to discourse in their presence to the circle of disciples, with special reference to them and their desire. For at this moment and in this place it was of the utmost importance that He should withhold from His enemies every pretext for reproach.
John 12:23. The hour is come.—From the visit of the Gentiles Jesus deduces the preparation of His mission for the Gentiles, i.e., His resurrection. From the nearness of the period when the bounds which have encompassed Him shall be removed, and His ministry be rendered a universal one, He infers His imminent, death. Universalness and resurrection are for Him reciprocal ideas; universalness and preceding death are for Him inseparably connected, John 10:15, 16; John 17. And so this saying also again recalls the barrier which hinders Him from surrendering Himself to full communion with the Greeks. But the decisive hour which is to conduct Him across this barrier is at hand; it announces itself in this petition. The hour, however, is not His hour of death by itself, but that together with the hour of His departure out of this world. The two are comprehended in one, as in the idea of exaltation, John 12:32, 34, and John 3:14. Thus Christ saw in the Samaritans (John 4) and in the Gentile centurion (Matth. 8:11) a distant indication of the future approach of the believing Gentiles; here the future of the believing Gentile world, the future of its access to Him, is before Him in its nearest representatives as an incipient present (comp. John 13:31).
Be it observed that, here it is the glorification of the Song of Solomon of Man that is spoken of, not simply that of the Son of God, as John 11:4. The glorification of the Son of Man is the exaltation of Christ in His human nature above death (a transit from the first stage of human life to the second), above the limits of the servant to the boundless liberty of the lord; above a qualified working by individual words and signs to unqualified activity through the Spirit. It is a development of His inner wealth, according to John 12:24; a personal lifting up, according to John 12:32; a local, but at the same time a universal one, according to John 12:33. For the Greeks, whom we conceive to have been true Hellenes, a peculiar significance attached to the announcement that Christ as the Son of Man should be manifested in His glory. This glorification presupposes a suffering of death, in accordance with a law of nature (John 12:24) and in accordance with an ethical law obtaining in this world, John 12:25.
John 12:24. Except the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, etc. [ἐὰν μὴ ὁ κόκκος τοῦ σίτου πεσὼν εὶς τὴν γὴν ἀποθάνῃ, αὐτὸς μόνος μένει].—First oxymoron. A fundamental truth is again announced with verily, verily. We assume the subsequent words to have been intended to correct the Greek view of the world, just as those contained in John 18:36 are applicable to the ideas entertained by the Romans. Human nature does not attain in this world a true and essentially beautiful appearance by the aid of poetry and art; but it arrives at the true and the beautiful by passing through death into a new life (see 1 John 3:2). The grain of wheat here symbolizes the new life which must proceed from death in order to appear in its richness, its fruit. Hence the thought is no mere elucidation of the preceding sentence. It advances from the idea of the personal glory of Christ in the new life (the glorification of His human nature) to the idea of His glorification in the universal Church. Thus even nature protests against the Hellenic fear of death, against the Hellenic isolation of the personality in the outward individuality. In the way of death, not only does the single grain of wheat develop into many, but these many, as fruit for nourishment and new seed, appear as an infinite power, a universal life. It is evident that this symbolism of the grain of wheat is indirectly illustrative of simple death in the physical nature itself. This death, however, is in particular a symbolism of the ethical, sacrificial death. [Alford: “The symbolism here lies at the root of that in John 6, where Christ is the BREAD of life.”]
John 12:25. He that loveth his own life [Lange translates: Eigenleben; better: his own soul, ὁ φιλῶν τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτοῦ], etc.—Comp. Matth. 10:39; 16:25; Luke 9:24; 17:33. This is the watch-word of Christ, and it should be that of His people also, Matth. 10:38, 1 John 2:6. The egoism that clings to the outward life of appearance, and lives for that, loses its true life which is conditional on surrender to God; the spirit of sacrifice which does not cleave to its life of self, nay, which hates it in its old form in this old world, i.e., joyfully sacrifices it, the sooner the better, and even hates it, if it be about to become a hindrance—regains it unto a higher, eternal life. That ψυχή must here mean soul in our conception of the word, does not result (as Meyer maintains) from the distinction made between ψυχή and ζωή (αἰώνιος); for the latter is expressive not simply of an endless duration of natural life, but of divine life. The declaration Matth. 16:25 [“for whosoever will save his life, τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτοῦ, shall lose it,” etc.] is undoubtedly intended as the rationale of the foregoing ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτόν and hence it is proved that ψυχή means “self” as well as “life” (Tholuck).34 But the reason of this is that the false love of life is one with, and has its root in, false self-love. With the life of self the selfishness of the soul, the false self, must be sacrificed; thus with the life in God, in the true self, new life also is gained. But the point in question is the sacrifice of life, since the opposite is death. On the μισεῖν comp. Luke 14:26. Augustine; “Magna et mira sententia, quemadmodum sit hominis in animam suam amor ut pereat, odium ne pereat; si male amaveris, tunc odisti, si bene oderis, tunc amasti.”—Unto life eternal.—First promise.
John 12:26. Follow me.—Indicative of the way of suffering and death, so readily forgotten by the disciples, as they witness the fresh homage rendered him by the Greeks; a way which Hellenic worldly-mindedness in particular must henceforth tread.
And where I am, there, etc.—Not simply on the same road (Luthardt); that is expressed in the preceding sentence; nor only in the Parousia (Meyer), but first in the state of humiliation, of death, then in the state and land of δόξα, beyond death,—the idea of the raising of the servant being thus involved (see John 6:39, 44, 54; 17:24; 2 Tim. 2:11, 12). Second promise.
Him will the Father honour [τιμήσει].—Third promise. The Father Himself will esteem him as a personality connected with Himself and exalted above death.
John 12:27. Now is my soul troubled [Νῦν ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται].35—The agitation of soul experienced by Jesus has been already introduced by the whole train of thought from John 12:24. Primarily, indeed, Jesus fixed His eye upon the great goal of the death-road; now the road itself engages His attention. Another thing the Greeks must learn by His example, viz., neither to be fanatically enthusiastic about the conditions of death, nor to turn away their eyes from them in cowardly dread. He therefore gives free utterance to His emotion. This change of mood is, however, not unlooked for in the life of the Lord. In the perfect life of the spirit the most blissful moods pass, in the sublimest transition of feeling, into the saddest. Thus in the Palm-entry (Luke 19:41), thus here, thus after the high-priestly prayer, thus at the Supper, John 13:31. On the other hand, the saddest moods likewise pass into the most blissful. Thus at the departure from Galilee (Matt. 11:25), thus at the Supper (John 13:31), thus in Gethsemane (John 18:15 ff.), thus en the Cross (see Comm, on Matthew, John 11:25; comp. Luke 12:49, 50). The difference between the ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται and the ἐτάραξεν ἐαυτόν, John 11:33, does not lie in the antithesis of πνεῦμα and ψυχή (as Olshausen affirms; since the latter passage does not treat of a ταράσσεσθαι τῷ πνεύματι), but in the fact that there the psychico-corporeal agitation is an effect of His indignation in spirit, an act of His spirit (Origen: τὸ πάθος ῆ̓ν ἐρχόμενον τῇ ἐπικρατείᾳ τοῦ πνεύματος), while here it is an affection of suffering inflicted upon Him by the objective situation. It is the horror of death which the contemplation of death brings upon the inward life of feeling. The soul may and must be thus troubled,—prepared, as it were, for its death; but not so the καρδία (John 14:1, 27). So then, the subject under consideration is neither the trichotomy nor the dichotomy, body and soul (Tholuck), but the antithesis of passive and actual consciousness, or of the life of feeling and the will. The thought of death moves Him as the law of His death, as of the death of all His followers who must be baptized with His baptism into His death. And doubtless this, rightly understood, is a feeling of divine wrath, not as confronting Jesus within His conscience, but as perceived by Jesus in the law of death governing sinful humanity, to which law He has submitted Himself. A “momentary abhorrence of the pains of death, induced by human weakness” (Meyer), must be out of the question, inasmuch as abhorrence involves an active inclination of the will. We might with equal truth talk of an innocent abhorrence of suffering or the cross. (Beza, Calov, Calvin: Mortem, quam subibat, horroris plenam esse oportuit, quia satisfactione pro nobis perfungi non poterat, quin horribile dei judicium sensu suo apprehenderet.) Schleiermacher gives special prominence to the thought, that to Jesus the coming of the Hellenes was attended with the full presentiment of the fact that His people would reject Him, and that the salvation of the Gentiles was conditional upon the great judgment on the Jews. That was the great tragic grief of Paul also (Rom. 9; comp. 2 Cor. 12:7). We have seen how, also in Gethsemane, Christ’s sufferings were especially grievous to him as a being betrayed and delivered up (see Comm. on Matthew, John 20:17; Note 3).
And what shall I say? etc.—[On the punctuation compare the TEXTUAL NOTE.—P. S.]. It is difficult to suppose with Euthymius [ἀποροώμενος ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγωνίας] and others (Lücke, Meyer, etc., even Calvin [Alford]), that Jesus is uncertain what to pray for; that in this uncertainty He at first prays: Father, save me from this hour; but then, in the subsequent words, retracts “this momentary wish of a human abhorrence of death.” In opposition to this view: 1. the assumption of such an uncertainty on the part of Jesus is not justified by Rom. 8:26; 2. the presentation of such a retracted wish would be explained neither by the words, Heb. 5:7, nor by the prayer in Gethsemane; 3. the idea of a self-correction is inappropriately applied to Jesus. We prefer, therefore, the interrogative explanation with most Greek exegetes and Erasmus (Lampe, Tholuck [Ewald, Godet], etc.), the interrogative interpretation of πάτερ, etc. After Jesus has revealed His quaking heart to His auditors He can also show them how He works off the affection, that they in like situations may behave similarly. They too should accord to grief its sacred right. We cannot discover that such a reflection is incongruous with this mood replete with emotion, as Meyer maintains. Comp. John 11:42. They may thus see that He stands at the junction of two ways. What shall I say? He asks them. Hence the subsequent words are part of the question. Would you advise Me to give utterance to My feeling in these words: Father, save Me? etc.
From this hour.—Meyer: “The hour of suffering is made present to His mind as if He had actually entered into it.” But He has indeed actually entered it, for here as little as in Gethsemane is He speaking of the hour of external death in itself alone (comp. Comm. on Matthew). It is the convulsion itself in its deathlike might. In Gethsemane, when He was similarly and yet more powerfully affected, He could conceal Himself in some measure from His most intimate friends; it humiliates Him to be obliged to stand here before representatives of the Gentile world who are to greet in Him the King of Glory, in this sad figure. [?] But He is directly able to reconcile Himself to this juncture, and with the question there begins already His elevation above the nameless grief which has come upon Him from the historical world.
But for this cause I came into this hour.—[But: Christ controls and corrects the natural shrinking of His true humanity from the horrors of death by the consideration that He came to this world for the very purpose of enduring death for the redemption of the world. To do full justice to the deep commotion of our Lord on this occasion and in Gethsemane of which this was a foretaste, we must keep in view the vicarious nature of His passion by which He bore the sins of the whole world.—P. S.] For this cause [ διὰ τοῦτο], not that by My mortal sufferings Thy name may be glorified (Lücke, Meyer), but in order to be thus troubled, and in order to appear before you in this commotion. He knows: 1. that grief itself has its holy aim, and 2. that the humiliation in His grief, like every one of His humiliations (see the Baptism, the conflict in Gethsemane), is connected with a glorification, to the glorification of the Father. And because in His grief He has just sacrificed Himself to the Father, He can now pray as follows.36
John 12:28. Father, glorify Thy name [δόξασόν σου τὸ ὅνομα].—The σου emphatically comes first, yet not in antithesis to an “egotistical “reference of the preceding prayer [Meyer]. It expresses the idea: it is Thy cause and for Thine honor that there should be a compensation for this humiliation also. Whereby is the Father to glorify His name: 1. Greek exegetes [and Alford]: by His death (Comp. chap, 21:18); 2. Bengel: quovis impendio mei; 3. Tholuck: by the bearing of fruit, John 12:34; John 15:8. The most obvious explanation is: by the issue of this mood itself. By this the name of the Father, i.e., the one God of revelation, must be glorified in presence of the Greeks in particular. And this purpose was served by the heavenly voice, in and for itself, irrespective of its purport; a form of revelation exactly suited to the exigencies of the Gentile disciples.
Then came there a voice from heaven.—The evangelist, in writing οῦ̓ν here, expresses the assurance of his faith. The answer to Christ’s prayer could not fail. We must first distinguish the voice itself from its PURPORT, because the voice, in the abstract, was a glorification at once of the Father and the Son. INTERPRETATIONS OF THIS WONDER:
1. “Since Spencer many (Paulus, Kuinoel, Lücke, etc.) have apprehended this heavenly voice to be the Jewish Bath-Kol (בַּת קוֹל daughter of a voice), and this has been regarded as a voice issuing from a peal of thunder—according to modern rationalistic interpretation (as in his time Maimonides) the subjective interpretation of a peal of thunder on the part of Jesus and His disciples.” Tholuck. However “the Bath-Kol itself cannot be traced to a peal of thunder, and how much less the voice mentioned here, where the narrator expressly excluded the idea of thunder” (the same). Still it is remarkable that by the Bath-Kol a derivative voice is to be understood, one developed from another, the echo of a voice, a voice in the second power, i.e., the transformation of an apparently fortuitous sound into a spirit-voice by the interpretation of the Spirit conformably to the situation (comp. Tholuck on this passage; Lübkert Stud. u. Krit, 1835, III. Herzog’s Real-Encyklopædie: Bath-Kol).
2. A voice actually issuing from heaven, considered by John as an objective occurrence.
a. Acoustic. The voice sounds directly over Christ’s head; hence those who stand at some distance from Him perceive only a heavenly talking, those still further removed, but a sound as of thunder (ancient commentators). But in the case of purely objective sounds as loud as thunder, even those at a distance must have understood the words as well. Untenable, likewise, is the interpretation which affirms that the σαρκικοί soon forgot the more exact impression of what they had heard (Chrysostom).
b. Resembling thunder, so that the precise words sounding through these tones were unperceived by the insusceptible (Meyer). There is a lack of clearness in this reasoning in the case of a purely objective voice, for in such case perception would depend upon the acuteness of the hearing, not upon the degrees of spiritual susceptibility.
c. Of an angelic nature, mediated by angelic ministry (Hofmann). Apart from the arbitrary interpretation of an intensified doctrine of angels, this would afford not the slightest explanation of the voice.
d. A spirituo-corporeal [a spiritual and celestial, yet audible] voice, which was understood more or less according to the corresponding frame of mind (Tholuck; my Leben Jesu, II. p. 1207).37
Manifestly, the voice now heard by Jesus is entirely analogous to the voice at His baptism (see Comm, on Matthew, the baptism of Jesus, and at His transfiguration (see Comm. on Matthew, the Transfiguration). Its distinguishing point is the circumstance of its sounding here openly above the temple, in the hearing of all the people and of the Greek proselytes, and the trait of its striking even the insusceptible with the force of a sound like thunder, ringing upon the ears of the more susceptible with a beauty of tone which they can liken only to angelic voices, while Jesus, and with Him doubtless the most intimate of His disciples, perceive the perfectly distinct expression of the words which even contain an antithesis. Just this latter trait of a twofold gradation converts the event into a revelation concerning the nature of celestial voices. In the voice heard by Samuel, and not by Eli (see the note in Tholuck, p. 333), the subjective, ecstatic condition of the voice was clearly conspicuous, as in the case of the two angels seen by Mary Magdalene, and not by the disciples, this contrast became apparent in reference to miraculous visions. In the history of Paul there is a proportional, simple gradation between Paul himself, who sees the Christ within the shining light and hears the word of His voice, and the attendants who perceive only the brilliant light and the sound (see Apostol. Zeitalter, II. p. 115). But here a twofold gradation appears: the hearing of Christ and His intimate friends, the hearing of the people, the hearing of others. The ecstatic conditions of such a hearing are clearly manifest, Acts 9:7; comp. John 22:9. The condition upon which an apprehension of the voice by those not standing in the centre of revelation (as here Christ; Acts 9, Paul) depends, is spiritual connection, fellowship of feeling,—sympathy; this results especially from the rapport between Christ and the Baptist at the baptism in Jordan. But the objectivity of the voice which proceeds from the living God is proved by sensuous evidence which it creates and procures. Tholuck: “Voices from heaven, as in this place, are found also, Dan. 4:31; 1 Kings 19:11, 12; Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Acts 9:7; 10:13; Rev. 1:10; 4:5, where we read of φωναί together with βρονταί;—on this Züllich: articulate sounds contrasted with the inarticulate thunderings.”
PURPORT of the voice: I have glorified it, and will glorify it again [Καὶ ἐδόξασα καὶ πάλιν δοξάσω. Πάλιν is no mere repetition, but an intensification of the glorification]. Meyer makes the first sentence of the voice refer to the works of Jesus hitherto, the second to the impending glorification through death to δό ξα. Taking into consideration the antithesis, chap. 10, and the existing state of matters, we assume that the consummated glorification of the name of God refers to His revelation in Israel, closing of course in the labors of Christ, and the new glorification of His name to the impending revelation of God in the Gentile world, this of course being conditioned by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
John 12:29. The multitude therefore, etc. PERCEPTION of the voice. 1. The comprehension of it was probably not confined to Jesus, but was shared by His disciples, or by some chosen ones among them. 2. For the surrounding people the voice had a tone like thunder. Is this expressive simply of the third degree of susceptibility? Perchance it contains also an intimation of the judgment impending over the people of Israel. 3. To this hearing the hearing of others seems to form an antithesis. Those hear a voice of thunder; they, on the other hand, angelic speech. Is it not possible that by these others the Greek proselytes are meant? Such a thing is not positively expressed. Be it observed, however, that it is these very men whom Jesus seems to answer in the subsequent speech. At all events, their attitude towards the people is that of a more susceptible minority.
John 12:30. This voice came not [was not audibly uttered] for my sake, but for yours.—The disciples were really no longer in need of this attestation of Jesus. Neither was it needed by that portion of the people that believed on Him on account of the raising of Lazarus. From the words immediately following it seems to be spoken with special reference to the Greeks. Hence He continues:
John 12:31. Now is the judgment of this world, etc.—The Jewish world is assuredly included; the words, however, relate pre-eminently to the heathen world. Therefore Satan is spoken of as the prince of this world who is now being cast out. The words are explanatory of the heavenly voice: I will glorify it again. Judgment was also now proclaimed to the world. It proclaimed itself with His woful feeling of death; it was put in execution by His death, made manifest by His resurrection, published and appropriated to the world by His Holy Spirit (John 16:11). The judgment upon the world should, however, be the world’s salvation; a judgment in which it was judged but as an ungodly world, its prince (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; John 6:12) being cast out of it and Christ in his stead assuming the sovereignty over it. In the rabbins, Satan, as regent of the heathen world, bears the name; Prince of the world38 (according to Lightfoot, Schöttgen and Eisenmenger. Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, p. 44). The expulsion from heaven (Luke 10:18) is not again meant here. Satan had penetrated into the Paradise of the first man when he tempted the first of the human race; when he tempted Christ in the wilderness he had ventured into heaven itself (the heaven of spiritual life) as a tempter. With the victory of Christ over Satan in the wilderness, the latter fell from heaven like lightning; and upon this transaction rested the victories of Jesus’ disciples over demons in Israel (see Leben Jesu, II. 3, p. 1070; III. p. 428). Now Satan is likewise cast out of the world, the κόσμος οῦ̓τος i.e., the old pre-Messianic and non-Messianic world—with special reference to the Gentile world whose highest cosmical formation is the very Hellenism that is confronting Him. Satan’s empire over the world is shattered with the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is indeed still tarrying and working over the earth (Eph. 2:2); here he retains his “Εξω, the air and wind regions of the human world as far as it is not yet spiritual, whence he reacts upon the church of Christ. Subsequently he is cast upon the earth (Rev. 12:9), i.e., he possesses himself of traditional, ancient ordinances, now deadened—lifeless. But in time to come he is also cast out of the earth into the bottomless pit, Rev. 20. Thus this saying opens up a perspective of the final judgment, whilst Hilgenfeld has pretended to discover in it a negation of the last judgment (together with other favorite gnostic ideas).
John 12:32. And I, if I shall be lifted up [κἀγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς]. See chap 3:14; 8:28. As in those passages both events are understood by the lifting up; the lifting up upon the cross and the lifting up upon the heavenly throne; in this place, pre-eminently the latter.39 This double meaning of the word (Erasmus, Tholuck, etc.), is disallowed here by Meyer; he particularly denies that there is any reference to the crucifixion (the Fathers, most of the ancients, Kling, Frommann), maintaining that the ἐκ τῆς γῆς conflicts with such an interpretation, though indeed it is that of John himself. However, the crucifixion itself in its inward essence was an exaltation of Christ above the earth. With the dethroning of Satan, the dark usurper in the world, the enthroning of Jesus corresponds; hence: “And I.” With the breaking of the Satanic principle and the power of the spirits of darkness by the expiatory and redemptive death of Christ, the full power of the Christian spirit releases itself; then comes the Holy Ghost, John 7:39; 14:26 ff.
Will draw all men unto Myself [πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν].—All is referred: 1. by Chrysostom, Cyril, Calvin, Lampe, to the antithesis of Jews and Gentiles, after John 10:16; 2. by Lutheran theologians to all who hear the preaching of the Gospel and do not resist the drawing of Christ; 3. by individual Reformed theologians to the elect; 4. Meyer: without restriction.40 We suppose it to be indicative of the totality of the nations in antithesis to the firstlings of the Greeks who have here inquired after Him; similarly: I will draw them forms a contrast to the announcement sent by these individuals. It is the attraction of the cross,—its medium the preaching of the crucified One,—made effectual by His Spirit, which draws the nations to baptism and death with Him, and to new life. But the ἑλκύειν of the Son does not here assume the place of the ἐλκύειν on the part of the Father, John 6:44 (Tholuck); for the drawing of the Son is the gratia convertens in vocation which joins the drawing of the Father in the gratia præveniens or fore-ordination. All must experience the powerful drawing of calling grace; yet it is a drawing without moral compulsion because it is a drawing of free love calling unto freedom. The emphasis contained in πρὸς ἐμαυτόν (comp. John 14:3) signifies of course: to Myself. They will not stay with Philip or Andrew, or require the mediation of a Jewish or priestly church.41
John 12:33. Signifying what kind of death he was to die [ποίῳ θάνατῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνήσκειν].—Not simply a Johannean interpretation (Meyer) or a mere hint perchance (Tholuck). For the death of the cross was not only objectively the condition of the lifting up of Christ; it is also subjectively the strongest and the single decisive attraction to the exalted Christ (ποῖος θάνατοσς !).
John 12:34. That the Christ abideth forever [ὁ Xριστὸς μένει εἰς αἰῶνα].—A people is spoken of that recognizes the Christ in Jesus. They have heard out of the law [ἐκ τοῦ νόμου], i.e., by the reading, as well as by the explanation of the Holy Scriptures generally, that the Messiah should abide forever. This conception was occasioned in them by passages such as Ps. 110:4; Isa. 9:7, and the like. According to Meyer also Dan. 7:13. But with this last passage in their minds, Christ’s being lifted up from the earth could not have appeared strange to them, for there the Son of Man is brought to the Ancient of Days before whom His kingdom is given to Him. Neither was that passage popularly supposed to refer to the Messiah. According to Meyer it was likewise from the Danielic passage that they took the expression: the Son of Man, and put it into His mouth; such an explanation of their use of the term is entirely unnecessary since Jesus has just entitled Himself the Son of Man (see John 12:23)—(although even Tholuck can remark, in opposition to Luthardt, that this reference to Christ’s words is too remote).42 Neither is it alone the distinction of the earthly and the spiritual Messianic hope which here comes under consideration, even though an elucidation is found in the fact that Jonathan translates the אֲבִי־עֵד, Isa. 9:6, precisely as the people express themselves: “He that abideth forever, the Messiah;” the Septuagint, however, has it: πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος.” Tholuck. But the people, as also the disciples, lack as yet all discrimination between the first and the second coming of Christ. They imagine that if the Messiah had but come (with the breaking forth of the “Messianic travail-pangs,” perchance) the Kingdom of Glory would at once be ushered in with His residence at Jerusalem. At this they first stumbled,—that their Christ should be removed again from the earth, like Enoch and Elijah. But manifestly at this also, that He has again exchanged the name of Messiah for the designation of the Son of Man. And hence they ask: who is this Son of Man? Meyer considers their meaning to be: Who is this anti-Scriptural Son of Man who is not to abide in accordance with Daniel, but is to be lifted up from the earth? Thus too Tholuck. But in that case they would not ask: who is this Son of Man? but, how does that agree with the Son of Man? The first offence, namely at His being lifted up, concerns the spiritual and heavenly side of the Messianic picture set up by Christ; the second concerns that universality in the idea of the Song of Solomon of Man, which they doubtless feel. The Greeks, evidently, have again excited their Jewish jealousy, manifested on a former occasion, John 7:35. Especially prominent in the response of the people is this practical trait; their carnal Messianic hope prevents them from having the slightest suspicion of what is impending over the Messiah, and hence also over them in their relation to Him during the next days. To this the answer of Christ has reference.
John 12:35. Yet a little while is the light among you.—[τὸ φῶς refers to Christ Himself; see John 1:4, 5, 7, 8; 7:33; 8:12; 9:4, 5.—P. S.] Jesus does not enter upon a theological disquisition with the view of convincing them of their error in stumbling at His sayings, because the reason of their stumbling lies in their want of obedience to His word, in their lack of true surrender to the light. In the path of this surrender they should be freed from stumbling. Thus He practically lays hold of them in the centre, the conscience. They have not the slightest suspicion or presentiment of what awaits Him and them. Therefore: Walk as ye have the light (ὡς stronger than ε͂ως),43 in accordance with the fact that the light is about being taken from you, unless, by submissive faith, ye appropriate it permanently to yourselves as inward light.
That darkness may not overtake you, [ἴνα μὴ σκοτία ὑμᾶς καταλάβῃ].—Namely unprepared, and so to your destruction. The great night of temptation came upon them on the day of crucifixion, and to those who confronted it unsuspiciously, with their outward Messianic hope, it likewise became an inward night of apostasy and ruin.
He that walketh in the darkness.—He that acts then, walks then (comp. John 11:10). This περιπατεῖν is expressive of the fault by which outward darkness is converted into inward obscurity.—Knoweth not whither he goeth.—The figure drawn from outside life is strikingly demonstrative of the fate of the Jews. They knew not whither they went—into perdition, into dispersion to the ends of the world, into the curse of judgment until the end of time. Antithesis to Christ’s going to the sure goal of glory.
John 12:36. Believe in the light that, etc.—Faith here especially conditional upon obedience. The stumbling of these believers on the Messiah proved that they had not yet true faith in the sense of submissive obedience. The walk should be in conformance to the light, i.e., with trust in the light.—That ye may become [not be] sons of light [ἵνα υἱοὶ φωτὸς γένησθε. It is by believing in the light that men become sons of light]. Then should the inward light of illumination conduct them safely through the outer darkness, Luke 16:8. It is most fitting that these should be the last words of Christ to the believing portion of the people. Nothing but trust in that light which had risen upon them in Him, could lead them safely through the fearful night of trial.
And He departed and hid Himself from them [καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἐκρύβη ἀπʼ αὐτῶν].—This moment coincides, as regards the main point, with the departure from the temple described by the Synoptists (see Comm. on Matthew, p. 415, Am. Ed.) Meyer [and Alford]: “Probably to Bethany [Luke 21:37], in order to spend the last days of His life, before the coming of His hour, in the circle of the disciples.” These last days of His life amounted at the utmost to two. On Tuesday evening Christ left the temple; on Thursday, towards evening, He returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. John’s description of the close of the public ministry of Christ forms a most important supplement to the description of the same given by the Synoptists, Matth. 23:39; Mark 13:1; Luke 21:38. They depict pre-eminently the departure of Jesus from the hostile portion of the people (with the exception of Luke, whose account in this respect is less definite), while John delineates His departure from the more friendly portion. But if we regard the Palm-entry as the introduction to this history, then John has supplemented an account not only of the immediate occasion of the Palm-procession, but also of the grand acme of it,—the coming of the Greeks and the glorification of Jesus by the voice from heaven within the precincts of the temple itself. In accordance with this presentation of the subject, we should conjecture that the introduction of the Greeks took place on the great, festive Monday when Christ displayed His glory in the temple undisturbed (see Leben Jesu, III. 1, p. 1200). It were possible so to incorporate these words (descriptive of His stay in the temple) with the Johannean account, that we should find in the ἀπελθών John 12:36 an intimation of the farewell discourse of Jesus, Matth. 23 together with the preceding great contests on the Tuesday. But since the denunciatory discourse, at all events, which Matthew records as pronounced against the Pharisees by Jesus, was followed by His still longer stay in the temple over against the treasury, according to Mark and Luke,—since Matthew is induced by the order of affairs to alter the historical sequence, not so, however, John,—since, furthermore, the definite announcement, in the temple, of His speedy death, nay, the very presentiment of death which has already entered His soul, seem to presuppose His final, open rupture with the Hierarchs on the great day of contest, Tuesday,—we now assume this conference of Jesus with the Hellenes, the glorification consequent upon it, and His charge to the people, to be significant of the last grand sunbeam which His presence shed on Mount Zion; the very reference to the remnant of day-light still illumining the nation is apparently indicative of the decline of this, the last day of His public ministry. These proselytes of the gate remind one involuntarily of the tradition (protested against indeed) that Luke was one of the seventy disciples. Comp. Luke 24:13 ff.
2. The last facts recorded by John do not present the motive for Christ’s departure from the people and the temple as distinctly as do those related by the Synoptists; nevertheless, the cause is intimated by the final question of the people that recognize Him as the Messiah. They have not the faintest foreboding of the state of matters, and even their lofty enthusiasm of the day of Palms begins to be obscured again by Judaistic expectations. This exhibition of the mind of the multitude seems to the evangelist sufficiently expressive; but he too subjoins his explanation in his epilogue on the public ministry of Jesus and the motive for His retirement.
3. Remarkable is the glorious, threefold climax with which, according to John, the public ministry of Jesus closes: 1. The anointing of Jesus in Bethany before His official Messianic entry into Jerusalem; 2. the Palm-entry itself, originating particularly with festal pilgrims going forth to Bethany out of Jerusalem; contrasted with this, the despair of the Supreme Council; 3. the announcement of the Greeks, and the glorification of Jesus through the voice from heaven, upon Mount Zion itself, in the hearing of the whole nation,—together with the proclamation from His own mouth of His redemptive death, His glorification for all nations, and the universal Gospel.
4. Christ’s last words of farewell to the people on the temple-mount a gentle warning, according to John, and yet also an earnest explanation of Jewish stumblings. Therefore did Jesus return no answer to these stumblings themselves. Obedience from the heart unto truth alone can free from the prejudices of tradition.
5. At the moment of the consummated apostasy of the sacerdotal party from the Christ on Zion, the first Gentiles most significantly made their public appearance as His disciples. The hypothesis of Sepp assuming them to have been a deputation sent to Jesus by king Abgarus of Edessa, after the well-known account of apocryphal sound in Eusebius, cannot avail to enrich this event.
6. THE HELLENES. A literal fulfilment of the predictions of the prophets, especially of Is. 2; also a fulfilment of the type contained in the history of the wise men from the East. A foretoken of the ensuing conversion of the proselytes of the gate, then of the Gentile world itself.
7. The pure historical truth, the clear picture of the situation in the intercession of the disciples Philip and Andrew.
8. THE HOUR. To the Lord the presentiment of His death is connected with the presentiment of His glorification. Be it observed that John regards even the humiliation of Jesus unto death as a particular form of Christ’s exaltation, and that not simply in the ironical sense of the being lifted up upon the cross. It is the perfect exaltation of Jesus in His love, to the perfect glorification of the grace of God.
9. Stier very ingeniously remarks: “For this He now appeals—not to the testimony of the prophets, but to a secretly prophetic mystery of nature (as a proof also that His discourse is aimed at the Greeks as well as the Jews) which yet on the instant shines transfigured in His mouth.” Symbolism of the grain of wheat. See Note on John 12:24. The word concerning the grain of wheat has a threefold reference: (1) It declares a universal law of life: a death-like metamorphosis, as a condition whereon depends the renewal of life, is a type of the fundamental law in the kingdom of God, which law provides that we by a priestly surrender of our own wills to the will of God do obtain new kingly life in God. (2) The law of life of sinful humanity; in God’s kingdom of this earth real death is a condition of the transition from the old life to the new; a symbol of the propitiatory sacrificial death of Christ for the reconciliation and glorification of the world; likewise of the death of thank-offering in which believers die with Christ in order to walk with Him in new life. (3) In the most special sense, the law of life of the regeneration of Hellenism, whose peculiar essence consists in a fleeing from death and the cross in the embellishment of the present life (Leben Jesu, II. p. 1203; III. p. 665).44 The Greek’s aim is levelled at beauty of appearance. Even these Greeks, religious though they be, betray themselves with the expression: “We wish to see Jesus.” Essentially eternal youth, beauty and glory in the new world are attained by the Christian only through death.
Hence the butterfly alone does not suffice for a symbol of immortality; the symbol of the grain of wheat must be added to it. The butterfly symbolizes the capacity of man for a paradisaical, death-like metamorphosis which yet is not dead and is merely a symbol of an individual renewal; the grain of wheat symbolizes the renewal of life through death,—and that a renewal which is at once its infinite enrichment and extension, and its glorification in spirit. Jesus did not indeed see corruption, but He drew very near to it; and thus it is, at bottom, with the grain of wheat; it passes through the semblance of corruption, but, in respect of its innermost kernel, its life leaps out from corruption into the metamorphosis of the butterfly, just, as on the other hand, the butterfly must strip itself of a corruptible something—the dead pupa. Christ has glorified both forms of transit from the old to the new life. Moreover all the chief moments in the life of Christ are prefigured in the history of the grain of wheat: Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Whitsuntide.
10. The two oxymora, John 12:24, 25; the three promises, John 12:24–26. See the EXEGETICAL and CRITICAL NOTES.
11. John 12:27. The first presentiment of the death of Jesus in the temple a fulfilment of the foretoken of His baptism, the announcement of His baptism of suffering (Luke 12:50); again, a foretoken of the mortal conflict of His soul in Gethsemane, the sure prophecy of His death; crowned, therefore, as a great moment in the pathway of His humiliations, with a glorification,—like the baptism, like the announcement of His sufferings (Matt. 16:21 by the transfiguration John 17:1), like His conflict in Gethsemane, like His death. We have too mean an idea of the emotional life of Jesus if we refer these moods to a fear of death. See EXEGETICAL and CRITICAL NOTES on John 12:23 and the conclusion of that on the first clause of John 12:27. The present moment denotes nothing less than the mental self-sacrifice of Jesus in the temple.
12. The voice within the precincts of the temple. See EXEGETICAL and CRITICAL NOTES.
13. John 12:31. The DIFFERENT STAGES in the SUBJECTION OF SATAN, the prince of this world. See EXEGETICAL and CRITICAL NOTES. The death of Jesus a judgment, glorified by the Spirit. See John 16:1. The foundation and beginning of the separation between Satan and the world; 2. the foundation and beginning of the separation between believers and unbelievers; 3. the foundation and beginning of the union of all the godly. “The anabaptists cited this verse (31) among others as a proof that the powers that be are not of divine ordinance. See the refutation in Gerhard, Loci theol. 13, p. 260.” HEUBNER.
14. John 12:35. WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN? It was as little their desire to find the doctrine of the Son of Man in their Christology, as to discover in it the doctrine of the Son of God. They would have no true Son of Man, no Redeemer revealing divinity in the perfection of manhood and humanity, no suffering Messiah; they wanted an orientally superhuman and godlike Son of David, displaying the perfect and exact medium of a divinity broken through humanity, of a humanity broken through divinity;—the ideal of all benumbed orthodoxistic systems, a rigid, everlasting -symbol of the God-Man, which should be the central point of the rigid symbolism of the kingdom of God, beyond which symbolism they desired never to pass. (See Leben Jesu, III. p. 608.)
15. John 12:35, 36. The gentle and impressive farewell words of Jesus to the believing portion of the people in the evening of His public ministry. But once more should He re-appear as a prisoner among the people; like a setting sun, to shed upon them for the last time the radiance of His life. (Ibid. p. 668.)
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See the DOCTRINAL NOTES.—The Greek proselytes, or Judaism a leading of the Gentiles to Christianity: 1. In the historical sense; 2. in the spiritual sense.—The advance of the Gentiles at the recession of the Jews in the history of the kingdom of God: 1. Historical; 2. typical.—The last discourse of Jesus in the temple for the benefit of the Greeks, compared with the last discourse of Jesus in the temple for the benefit of the Jews (according to Matthew).—The two signs in the meeting of Jesus with the Greeks within the temple limits: 1. The sign seen by Jesus in the appearance of the Greeks: a sign of decision, a sign of death, a sign of life. And that in accordance with the Old Testament and the law of the spirit. 2. The sign given by the Father to the people about Jesus.—How the Lord was troubled also by grief at the impending rejection of His nation when He saw the coming of the Gentiles (see the conclusion of the note on the first clause of John 12:27).—The humiliation and glorification of Jesus in the temple an image—a reflection—of His whole life (especially of the baptism, the transfiguration, His soul-passion in Gethsemane, His death).—The great change in the great emotional life of the Lord: 1. How often it appears (see note on first clause of John 12:27); 2. what it denotes: the strength, extent, earnestness, buoyancy and holiness of His spirit.—Even the humiliation of Christ already an exaltation of Him, or the beginning of the full revelation of the glory of His inner life: 1. In His obedience; 2. in His confidence; 3. in His love.—Made specially prominent by John as a precursory exaltation.—The anticipatory solemnization of the Christian sacrificial feast upon the eve of the Jewish one.—Christ and the Greeks (Christianity and Hellenism): 1. The application of the Greeks: a. Courteous form (through Philip and Andrew); b. purport: we would see Jesus. 2. The word concerning the grain of wheat. Concerning the life of this world; concerning the following of Christ.—Messianic traits in our history: 1. The teaching Christ (John 12:24–26); 2. the high-priestly Christ (John 12:27, 28, first half); 3. the royal Christ (John 12:28–32); 4. the wholly undivided Christ (John 12:33–36).—The saying concerning the grain of wheat and the succeeding sayings: 1. A sermon on salvation, as a word concerning Christ; 2. a sermon on repentance, as a word for us; 8. a sermon of consolation, as a word concerning suffering and dying Christians.—The Christian life in three decisive traits: 1. In the three truths concerning the grain of wheat, life, service; 2. in the three demands of Christ; 3. in the three promises.—The soul-passion of Jesus in the temple a foretoken of His soul-passion in Gethsemane.—The self-sacrifice of Christ in the temple: 1. Its occasion: the announcement of the Gentiles; 2. its form: assumption of the feeling of death; by anticipation, therefore, of death itself; 3. its result: the voice, the future of Christ.—The three voices from heaven in attestation of the Lord: 1. By Jordan; 2. on the Mount of Transfiguration; 3. in the temple.—The prospect of death and of glory as one undivided prospect with Jesus. The import of this to the Christian.—The two stumbling-blocks to the believing Jews in the word and life of the Lord: 1. His removal to heaven unto divine glory; 2. His humanity and devotion to mankind.—The farewell words of Jesus to the better portion of the Jews like the solemn, tender, parting gleam of the sinking sun.
STARKE: It was not without the special providence of God that so great a multitude of strangers from the Gentiles were at Jerusalem in those days;—to the end, namely, that in this way the truth of the revealed glory of Christ might, through approved witnesses, not from the Jews alone, but also from the Gentiles, be published and corroborated throughout the world.—LAMPE: This desire (of the Greeks) typified the fulfilment of the prophecies in which it was predicted that the nations should cleave unto Him (Christ), Gen. 49:10; Hag. 2:7, 8.—O shame, that heathen who have not God’s word, outstrip Christians in inquiring after Christ, though these latter call themselves after His name!—(Philip and Andrew.) Preachers must agree in this, the leading of souls to Christ.
John 12:24. ZEISIUS: Christ’s death is the world’s life.—HEDINGER: He who would live in Christ must first die unto flesh and sin.
John 12:25. Ibid.: Much lost to gain a thousand-fold more.—ZEISIUS: How many servants Christ hath and yet so few true and constant followers!
John 12:27. Soul, if thou be not cheerful and joyous, but, on the contrary, sad and dejected, look upon thy Saviour,—He in His infirmities was as thou art; courage! as He conquered, thou too shalt conquer in Him.—Ibid.: No better remedy for all suffering, nay, for death itself, than fervent prayer after the example of Christ.—OSIANDER: Even the cross and tribulation add fresh glory to the name of God; therefore we also should take such upon us with thorough willingness.
John 12:29. LAMPE: O how diverse are the hearers of the Gospel!
John 12:30. (The voice of God.) CANSTEIN: We must take for granted that we too are concerned in everything that it says.
John 12:31. Heb. 2:14.
John 12:32. CRAMER: Christ is the true magnet that draweth us after itself.
John 12:35. HEDINGER: To-day, to-day is certain,—to-morrow is uncertain.—ZEISIUS: The greater the light was, the thicker the darkness of wrath fallen upon the despisers of grace.—Am I too a child of light?—GERLACH: Jesus warns His disciples likewise not to surrender themselves now to earthly hopes of a carnal glory; He indeed is going to His glorification, but the way lies through death and resurrection.—The goal of suffering and death,—that of Christ and hence His people’s also,—is glorification.—MY SOUL IS TROUBLED. To the end that He may the more decisively counteract the carnal hopes of His disciples, He openly announces the state of His feelings.—THE VOICE. As, at the conclusion of the Old Covenant, Moses spake and God answered him aloud (Ex. 19:19), so the New Covenant is here solemnly concluded before all the people, the Son offering Himself to the Father and the Father accepting His sacrifice.—THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD. It stands to reason that this is no denial of the devil’s power to tempt the people of Christ after His exaltation; as little do the words of Jesus: “It is finished,” declare that there are no more battles to be fought by Christ and His Church. But the power of the prince of this world has now become impotency in respect to the faithful; individual Christians, as well as the Church of the Lord as a body, are now in faith on Christ sure of their ultimate victory.—He had striven to subdue the carnal transport of joy by the mention of His mortal sufferings (John 12:24), and seeks with equal earnestness to show that His death itself, His deepest humiliation, would constitute the strongest centre of attraction for the hearts of men. Hence in this instance the double meaning attaching to the term “lifted up” is expressive of the following facts: His deepest humiliation should be His very exaltation,—the most horrid shame His highest honor; and so afterwards in the incidents attendant upon His death everything significantly came to pass after this fashion (purple, crown, John 19:2; kingly title, John 19:19–22), which very circumstances are mentioned by John with peculiar emphasis.—LISCO: Fruits of the death of Jesus.—The true and only way to serve Christ is to follow Him.—To the impenitent the Gospel is thunder; to him who thirsts for salvation it is an angel; to him on whom salvation has been bestowed, it is Jesus Himself and His heavenly Father.—By means of the Redeemer’s passion and death, judgment is passed upon the world.
BRAUNE: This scene constitutes most truly the close of Christ’s public ministry. Gentiles approach Jesus, divining that they behold in Him the Light of the Gentiles, whilst His nation rejects Him; here a divine voice attests Him in Jerusalem at the close of His ministry, as by Jordan at its beginning; and before the conflict, He is stirred with a sense of victory.—He speaks here, as at the commencement of the high-priestly prayer, John 17:1.—IT ABIDETH ALONE. It doth not increase; no slender verdant stalk, no rich car is given it, wherewith to rejoice in the brightness of the sun, and to make glad the eyes of the world.—Seed-time and harvest, suffering and glory are mated for Himself and His people.—The glimpse of the rich harvest ensuing from the seed of His death, draws His soul into that conflict, whose first traces are perceptible in His lamentation, Luke 12:50, and whose culmination is reached in Gethsemane. The Baptist cried. “Behold the Lamb of God!” This title was given to Christ, not simply under the cross, but from the beginning; and thus, side by side with the assurance of victory, the anguish of conflict threaded His life. Divine life did not stifle or abolish human feeling; and this must needs struggle against the sufferings which were pressing upon Him,—against death. (? But doubtless the struggle consisted 1. in His working off His emotion, and in His submission, 2. in His resurrection.) Jesus was the original man, not an unnatural man; not dis-humanized, but the ideal of pure human nature. His grief was the misery of all who despised Him, etc.—Follow Him. He requires the act of obedience.—FATHER, GLORIFY, etc. That was a sublime moment on earth, in perfect unison with that heaven, whence a voice resounded.—Are there not, then, organs of perception for the higher regimen of the world? Ephes. 5:8.——GOSSNER: Thus He gives death an entirely different form. It is, namely, nothing but a passage; the goal is glorification.—AND WHERE I AM. Where Christ stayeth, there do we stay also.—Thus it is betwixt the Saviour and the soul. He comes to us with truth, and we go to meet Him with our faith.
John 12:37. Gone is gone. One trembles when one sees His blind people upon the very verge of losing the light for over because it loves darkness so much.
HEUBNER, John 12:23: Everywhere the future opens wider to the God-fearing man than to the common eye.—THE HOUR. Jesus calls the whole period of His final suffering an hour; it was the great hour for the world, when, by His passion and death, the liberty and life of mankind wore obtained; He suffered the natal pangs of the whole world in order that He might bring a new world into being.—The missionary discourse of James is glorious: The attractive power of the cross of Christ, Nuremberg, 1820.—Josephus can not depict in colors dark enough the confusion, the anarchy, into which everything lapsed in the Jewish nation. This was the consequence of the rejection of Jesus.—Any enlightenment that fails to load to a new and holy life is no true enlightenment.
SCHLEIERMACHER: On the grain of wheat, reference to John 16:7, 14; 13:34.—We know that it is only His redeeming and sanctifying love, diffusing itself amongst us and taking root within ourselves, from which depends the fruit that He shall bear.—We should know and love no other honor than that which comes to us from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of us.—It is still true that we can enter into the kingdom of God only through tribulation.—His soul could not but be troubled by the reflection that the very greatest and most glorious event, the salvation of the human race, should not be brought about without the deepest ruin (of the Jewish nation, in particular),—that heavenly light should force a way for itself only by a hard conflict with the darkness. It is the same sorrow that filled Him when He gazed upon Jerusalem and said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” etc.; the same sorrow that He would fain have communicated to others when He said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not,” etc, And this sorrow—that the word of life could not come unto the Gentiles except after the Jews had rejected Himself, the Prince of life—was natural to His soul at the moment when Greeks desired to see Him.—We too should keep fast hold of the maxim, that for this cause we are come into every hour, namely, that the alone-wise counsel of God may be executed in us and through us, that all things may be fulfilled whereby the glorification of Him whom God has sent for our salvation may be accomplished.—“Glorify Thy name.” In this every wish of ours should centre. To us also the name of the Most High should be glorified in His ways.—In our speculations let us ever hold fast that which is far greater than speculation,—namely, that we walk in the light and believe on the light.
BESSER: The glorification of the Son of Man comprehends three things: 1. the perfection of His obedience in the sacrifice of His love; 2. exaltation to the glory proper to Him; 3. the exhibition of His name as that of the Saviour of mankind, the gathering of a holy church, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.——BENGEL: “A son of thunder (Mark 3:17) is well able to hear voices of thunder (Rev. 4:5; 10:3). The saying of the Lord: ‘now is judgment passed upon the world,’ was deeply graven on his soul.”—RICHIER: The mission to the Gentiles is a glorification of Christ.—The Father does but see how one is affected towards His Son whom He would have us resemble.—First one walks by the light, then one believes in it, and thus one becomes a child of light.
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 12:20, 21. Lo! the Jews (some of them) wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him.—Behold them of the circumcision (some of them, John 12:13), and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together in one faith of Christ.
John 12:23. Christ took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fulness of the Gentiles.
John 12:24. That grain of wheat was He; to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles (and in the subsequent faith of the Jews also. E. R. C.)
John 12:26. They serve Christ, who seek not their own things but the things of Christ, i.e., who follow Him—love Him for His own sake and think it a rich reward to be with Him.
John 12:27. Now is my soul troubled:Thou of Thy love wast of Thine own will troubled to console those who are troubled through the infirmity of nature, that the members of Thy body perish not in despair.
John 12:31. There is a judgment, not of condemnation, but of selection, which is the one here meant—the selection of His own redeemed.—Now shall the Prince of this world be cast out: The devil never ceases to tempt believers; but it is one thing to reign within, another to lay siege from without.
John 12:32–35. The Jews understood that our Lord spoke of His own death; it was not wisdom imparted, but conscience disturbed, which disclosed the meaning of His words.
John 12:36. When He hid Himself, He consulted our weakness—He did not derogate from His own power.——From CHRYSOSTOM: John 12:26. Where I am, there shall also my servant be; death shall be followed by resurrection.—What greater honor can an adopted son receive than to be where the Only Son is?
John 12:27–33. As He draws near to the cross His human nature appears—Christ had a body free from sin, but not from natural infirmities.
John 12:22. The Father draws (John 6:44) by the Son Who draws.—I will draw, He says, as if men were in the grasp of some tyrant from whom they could not extricate themselves.——From BEDE: John 12:24. He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase; He died alone, He rose again with many.——From THEOPHYLACT: John 12:25. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul, so He adds, in this world, i.e., for a particular time, not forever.
[From BURKITT: John 12:33, 34. Jesus arms His disciples against the scandal of the cross, by showing the great benefit that would result from His death—1. (to Himself—He was to be glorified, E. R. C.) 2. to all mankind.—As corn unsown never increases, but if sown brings forth a crop; so if Christ had not died He would have had no Church, whereas His death made Him fructify.—Observe how plainly our Lord dealt with His followers.
John 12:25. The surest way to attain eternal life is to lay down our temporal life when the glory of Christ requires it.
John 12:26. If any man profess himself to be My servant, let his conversation correspond with his profession.—All that will be Christ’s servants must be His followers, i.e., they must—1. obey His doctrine; 2. imitate His example.—Christ’s servants must not expect better usage than their Master received.—God will crown the fidelity of Christ’s servants with the highest honor.
John 12:27, 28. Their trouble is no sin; Christianity does not make men senseless.—The fear of death, especially when accompanied with apprehension of the wrath of God, is most perplexing and soul-amazing.
John 12:31, 32. The double effects of Christ’s death—1. the judgment of this world; 2. the drawing all men unto Him.—Learn that—1. Satan is the Prince of this world, not by right but by usurpation; 2. this usurper will not quit his possession unless he be cast out; 3. Christ by His death has cast him out.—There is a twofold lifting up of Christ—1. ignominious, when He was hung upon the cross; 2. glorious, in the preaching of the gospel: meritoriously by His death, instrumentally by the preaching of His gospel, He draws all men unto Himself.—All persons are naturally unwilling to come to Christ, they must be drawn.—All men are not effectually drawn to Christ, but by the preaching of the gospel they are called (so drawn) as to render those who do not come inexcusable.
John 12:35. Note—1. A privilege enjoyed, the light is with you, (1) a personal light, Christ, (2) a doctrinal light, the gospel; these brought with them the light (a) of knowledge answering our darkness of ignorance, (b) of holiness answering our darkness of sin, (c) of joy answering our darkness of misery; 2. The time of enjoying this privilege limited, yet a little while is the light with you; 3. A duty enjoined, walk whilst ye have the light, i.e., walk according to—(1) the precepts of the gospel, (2) its privileges, (3) its supplies of grace, (4) its hopes: 4. A danger threatened to neglecters, lest darkness come upon you, a darkness of (1) judicial blindness, (2) error, (3) horror and despair, (4) the blackness of darkness forever.——From M. HENRY: John 12:20–22. The Greeks having a desire to see Christ were industrious to use the proper means; they that would have the knowledge of Christ must seek it.—They made their application to one of the disciples; they that would see Christ by faith must (should) apply themselves to His ministers.—It is good to know those who know the Lord.
John 12:25. Behold—1. the fatal consequence of an inordinate love of life; 2. the blessed recompense of a holy contempt of life.—Our life in this world includes all the enjoyments of our present state; these we must hate, i.e.—1. despise them as vain, 2. dread the temptations that are in them, 3. cheerfully part with them when they come in competition with the service of Christ.
John 12:26. The Greeks desired to see Jesus; He lets them know that it was not enough to see Him, they must serve Him.—Christ fixes for His servants both their work and their wages: 1. their work, to attend—(1) His motions—let him follow Me, (2) His repose—where I am, let my servant be, (a) in the assemblies of the saints, (b) in heaven in thought and affection: 2. their wages, they shall be—(1) happy with Him; (2) honored by His Father.
John 12:27. Trouble of soul sometimes (often) follows great enlargement of spirit.—Note—1. The sin of our souls was the trouble of His soul; 2. The trouble of His soul was designed to ease the trouble of our souls.—Holy mourning is—1. consistent with spiritual joy: 2. the way to eternal joy.—What shall I say: He speaks like one at a loss; He was in all points tempted like as we are.—When our souls are troubled we must take heed of speaking unadvisedly, and debate with ourselves what we shall say.—It is the duty and interest of troubled souls to pray to God, and in prayer to eye Him as a Father.—Prayer against trouble may consist with patience and submission.—He calls His suffering this hour, intimating that the time of suffering was—1. a set time, 2. a short time.—For this cause came I unto this hour; it should reconcile us to our darkest hours that we were all along designed for them.
John 12:28. Father, glorify Thy name; here is—1. More than bare submission, a consecration of His sufferings to the glory of God; 2. A mediatorial word—a tender of His sufferings as satisfaction for the wrong done the Father’s glory by our sin.—What God has done for His own glory, is an encouragement to us to expect what He will yet farther do.
John 12:29. God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not, Job 33:14.
John 12:30. The supports granted to our Lord in His sufferings were for our sakes.
John 12:31, 32. Two things designed by the death of Christ—1. that Satan should be conquered; 2. that souls should be converted.—Christ’s death the judgment of this world, a judgment—1. of discovery and distinction; 2. of absolution to the chosen ones; 3. of condemnation against the powers of darkness.—Satan is here styled the Prince of this world, because he rules over the men of the world by the things of the world.—Christ reconciling the world to God by the merit of His death, broke the power of death and cast out Satan as a destroyer; Christ, reducing the world to God by the doctrine of His cross, broke the power of sin, and east out Satan as a deceiver.—The bruising of Christ’s heel was the breaking of the serpent’s head, Gen. 3:15.
John 12:32. Christ all in all in the conversion of a soul—1. it is Christ who draws; 2. it is to Christ we are drawn.—He does not drive, but draws.
John 12:34. Great knowledge in the letter of the Scripture may be abused to serve the cause of infidelity.—In the doctrine of Christ there are paradoxes which to men of corrupt minds are stones of stumbling.—Christ’s dying, was as consistent with His abiding forever, as the setting (eclipse) of the sun is with its perpetuity.
John 12:35. The Jews had the light; they had—1. Christ’s bodily presence; 2. His preaching; 3. His miracles.—It is good for us to consider what a little while we have the light.—Walk while ye have the light; as travellers who make the best of their way forward.—Our life is but a day and we have a day’s journey to go.—The best time of walking is while we have the light.—Lest darkness come; lost you lose your opportunities.—The sad condition of those who have sinned away their day of grace—they know not where they go nor whither they go.
John 12:36. They that believe in the light shall be children of light—1. sons of God, Who is light; 2. heirs of Heaven, which is light.—Jesus departed and hid Himself: He justly removes the means of grace from those that quarrel with them.——From SCOTT: John 12:20, 21. They who are nearest the means of grace often ripen fastest for vengeance, whilst sinners come from afar to inquire after Christ.
John 12:31. In the death of Christ faith beholds the world judged, Satan vanquished, his slaves liberated, and his work destroyed.
John 12:34–36. An obedient faith is better suited to our condition than disputatious speculations.
[From STIER: John 12:23–36. The Lord’s last public declaration concerning His death.
John 12:20, 21. We would see Jesus, a great missionary text; the Greeks (Ἕλληνες) were heathens (?)—unconsciously they speak in the name of the world of heathenism, the highest desire of which in all times has this for its goal—to find and know a Jesus.
John 12:24. The Greeks were to behold the Cross succeeding the triumphant entry—He presents beforehand the solution of the mystery, He explains in brief His (philosophic) system.—Not only prophecy in Israel, and the presentiments of the heathen world, but Nature also speaks of the mystery of a redeeming death.—The inmost kernel of the seed and harvest parables.—Wheat is specified, partly because it is the most precious grain, partly because it more effectually than any other perishes in pushing forward the almost invisible germ, (partly because the most productive).—The germ of St. Paul’s resurrection doctrine in 1 Cor. 15
John 12:25. That which holds good of Christ in its peculiar sense, is a type for us and is fulfilled in us to a similar victory and blessedness.
John 12:26. Where I am, there shall or should also My servant be: Both an added condition and a promise.—What shall be done to the man whom the Blessed and Only Potentate, the King of all kings, the Creator of the universe, the Father of Jesus Christ, delighteth to honor!
John 12:27, 28. A prelude to Gethsemane—the lamentation, the petition, the resignation.—All the typical appeals and supplications of the Psalms reach in the lips of our Lord their Messianic meaning.—The two opposites pressed hard upon Him, perfectly combined but separated in utterance—the cry (desire) for help and (spirit of) submission.—The entering into this hour is the being brought out of it, the suffering is the deliverance (?).
John 12:28. The glorification is not of the Father Himself but of His Name—of the revelation of Himself in the Song of Solomon of Man (see John 12:23).
John 12:28. The three accrediting voices from heaven—at the beginning, the middle, the end of the Messiah’s course—all in relation to the assumption on His part of His destiny of death.
John 12:29. “Before men will see (hear) and believe in God they will resort to all kinds of imaginations of thunder and angels.” HAMANN.
John 12:31. Our dogmatic theology has much to do before full justice will be done to all the relations of the mystery of the Cross—the revelation of love, the vindication of right, the reconciliation between the world and God, the mortification of sin in the flesh, the abolition of death, the breaking down of Satan’s power.—The ungodly world is in a certain sense judged in its prince, even while it is saved.—The casting out of Satan goes on from age to age down to the final victory.
John 12:33. What death (ποίῳ θανάτῳ) comprehensively expresses all that our Lord had said concerning the significance, the power, and the fruit of His death.
John 12:32, 33. “The attraction of the Cross.” (JAMES, of Birmingham).—I will draw them unto Me, through the Cross—first, to Me on the Cross; ultimately, away from earth into heavenly places.—Before the glorification of Christ, the Father draws to the Son; afterwards the Song of Solomon Himself draws immediately.—Does not the Lord actually draw all men?—drawing is no enforcement.—Children of light is not a mere Hebraism—a new race (γενεά) was to be born of the light.
[From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 12:24. The whole World is but one mighty Parable to which the Gospel supplies the clue.
John 12:27. The Humanity of our Lord—Soul as well as Body—becomes more and more apparent as His Cross draws nearer in sight.
John 12:35. Men walk in darkness because the god of this world hath blinded their minds, 2 Cor. 4:4; the light is around them, the darkness is to them and within them.——From BARNES: John 12:20. Let him follow Me, i.e., 1. imitate Me; 2. do what I do; 3. bear what I bear; 4. love what I love.——from RYLE: John 12:24. The death of Christ the life of the world.—Death is the way to spiritual life and glory.—“By abiding alone Christ meant that if He did not die, He would be alone in Heaven with the Father and the elect Angels, but without any of the sons of men.” (GILL.)
John 12:25. The object of Jesus in thus speaking—1. to prevent His disciples from looking for good things in this world; 2. to teach them that like Him they must sacrifice much in the hope of glory in the world to come.
John 12:26. However little we know of the life to come we do know that we shall be with Christ.—Honor from men, Christians may not have; honor from the Father shall make amends for all.—The clearest (and most blessed) conception we can form of Heaven is being with Christ and receiving honor from God.—Never did Jesus keep back the Cross, or bribe men to follow Him by promising temporal comfort or happiness.
John 12:27. The possibility of much inward conflict without sin.—The weight of the world’s imputed sin laid on our Lord’s soul.—“By Thine unknown sufferings, good Lord, deliver us.” (LITANY of the GREEK CHURCH).—“What shall I says? is the language of highest perplexity and anxiety; the Lord found deliverance in prayer.” ROLLOCK).
John 12:28. Glorify Thy Name—the highest, greatest thing we can ask God to do.
John 12:31. Satan is a vanquished enemy.
John 12:32. “The passion of Christ began to draw souls at once, as in the case of the penitent thief and the centurion.” (EUTHYMIUS).
John 12:34. A half knowledge of Scripture will account for a large portion of mistakes in religion.
John 12:35, 36. The duty of using present opportunities.—From OWEN: John 12:25. The import of the mask of discipleship well understood by the early Christians when a profession of Christ was attended with fearful persecution.—Self-sacrifice and a readiness to sacrifice all things for Christ now demanded.
John 12:26. A beautiful correspondence between the words follow me and the promise of attainment to the presence of our Lord in His glorified state.
John 12:32. All of every nation—both Jew and Gentile.—Unto Me—to the state of dominion and glory to which He was raised—From WHEDON: John 12:31. The Cross is the test and discriminator of the responsible character and final destiny of the race—the Cross becomes a throne of judgment.)
John 12:22.—Instead of καὶ πάλιν etc. [text, rec], Lachmann and Tischendorf read ἔρχεται Ἀνδρέας καί Φίλιππος, καὶ λέγουσιν in accordance with Cod. Sin., A. B. L., etc.
John 12:25.—[ψυχή soul (distinct from πνεῦμα spirit) should be distinguished here from ζωή life, and be translated as in ver 27 Lange renders: sein Eigenleben, his self-life. See the EXEG. NOTES.—P. S.]
John 12:26. [The text. rec. with A. Y. A., etc., inserts καί before the second ἐάν in א. B. D. L. X. Lat. Syr., etc., καί is omitted, which agrees with the E. V. In Luther’s Vers, the καί is translated, but Lange omits it.—P. S.]
John 12:27. [Lange (with Chrysostom, Grotius, Lampe, Thol., Ewald, Godet) takes the words πάτερ, σῶσόν με ἐκ τῆς ὥρας ταύτης interrogatively, as if we had here a reflective monologue, instead of an address to the Father. In this case a colon must be put after say, and an interrogation mark after hour. So also Lachmann in his Greek Testament. But I take the words (with the E. V., Meyer, Alford, etc.,) as a veritable prayer which corresponds to the prayer in Gethsemane. Matt. 26:39, and the Messianic prayers in the Psalms: “My soul is troubled, Lord, help me” (Ps. 6:3, 4; 25:17; 40:12, 13; 69:1).—P. S.]
John 12:27.—[Lange inserts after this cause the gloss: in order to be troubled. But the meaning of διὰ τοῦτο is disputed. See EXEG. AND CRIT.—P. S ]
John 12:32.—[The rendering of ἐάν by when (ὅταν) instead of if, is inaccurate. It does not necessarily imply doubt. Herrmann (Vig. p. 832) explains the phrase ἐὰν τοῦτο γένηται thus: Sumo hoc fieri, et potest omnino ficri, sed utrum vero futurum sit necne experientia, cognoscam. I cannot quite agree with the note of Alford: “The Lord Jesus, though knowing all this, yet in the weakness of His humanity, puts Himself into this seeming doubt, ‘if it is so to be;’ comp. Matt. 26:42” I would say rather that the stress is laid on ἑλκύσω as a certain fact, and ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ expresses, in a conditional form, the necessary antecedent condition. Just so ἐάν is used in John 14:3; ἐὰν πορευθῶ καὶ ἑτοιμάσω τόπον ὑμῖν, πάλιν ἔρχομαι, κ. τ. λ—P. S.]
John 12:35.—Instead of μεθ’ ὑμῶν (with you, text. rec. with A., Chrys., Cyr.,] should be read ἐν ὑμῖν within you, in accordance with א. B. D. K. I., etc.—P. S.]
Ver 35.—The reading ὡς instead of ἕως [text, rec] has the overwhelming authority of A. B. D. L., etc., in its favor, Lachmann, Teschendorf [Alford]. So likewise, John 12:30. The close of John 12:36 also recommends ὡς rather than ἕως since Jesus departs with this very word.
[Bengel: Præludium regni Dei a judæis ad gentes trasituri.]
[The present indicates habitual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. P. S.]
[So also Bengel: cum sodali, audet, when associated with a companion, Philip makes bold and does it.—P. S.]
[Alford: “The word soul (or, life) is not realty in a double sense: as the wheat-corn retains its identity, though it (lie, so the soul: so that the two senses are in their depth but one. Notice that the soul involves the life in both cases, and must not be taken in the present acceptation of that term.”] P. S.]
[Bengel: concurrebat horror mortis et ardor obedientiæ.]
[This interpretation of διὰ τοῦτο (to endure this suffering) is also defended by Grotius, De Wette, Luthardt, Ebrard, Godet, Hengstenberg, Wordsworth. Olshausen supplies: that the world may be saved, which is not sustained by the connection, but results necessarily from the atoning death of Christ. Alford, with Lampe and Stier, supplies: ἱ ν α σ ω θ ῶ ἐκ τῆς ὥρας τούτης, I came to this hour for the very purpose that I might be delivered from it, or that, by going into and exhausting this hour, I might pass to My glorification. But this interpretation is not very clear, and would in consistency require the interrogative punctuation of the preceding clause, which Alford opposes.—P. S.]
[So also the ancients, and, among modern commentators, Olshausen, Kling, Stier, Meyer, Luthardt, Godet, Alford. Lange mentions only incidentally (sub. 1) the rationalistic interpretation of actual thunder and no more (Paulus, Kuinöl,. Amnion, etc.). Hengstenberg (II., p. 320 ff.), otherwise so uncompromisingly anti-rationalistic, likewise assumes natural thunder which was identical with “the voice from heaven,” and through which God spoke to Christ. But then it could not have been mistaken by some for the voice of an angel. It was clearly a supernatural phenomenon, a spiritual manifestation from the spiritual world, clothed in a symbolic form, an articulate sound from heaven, miraculously uttered, heard by all, but variously interpreted according to the degree of spiritual susceptibility.—P. S.]
[שַׂר הָעוֹלָם. Paul calls Satan ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου 2 Cor. 4:4, ὁ ἀρχων τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, Eph. 2:2.—P. S.]
[The deepest humiliation of Christ is at the same time His highest exaltation; His crown of thorns is His crown of glory. The double meaning of ὑψωθῆναι is in keeping with John, comp. 2:19; 3:3; 4:10; 11:51. Alford: The Saviour crucified, is in fact the Saviour glorified; so that the exalting to God’s right hand is set forth by that uplifting on the cross.—P. S.]
[Some infer from πάντας the apocatastasis or final restoration of all men. But in all such passages all must be explained in accordance with other passages where faith is expressly laid down as the indispensable condition of salvation. Chrysostom finds in ἑλκύω an intimation of deliverance from the chains of Satan. It rather implies the strong and irresistible power of Christ’s love. This attraction of the cross is one of the richest themes for effective evangelical sermons. See the HOMILETICAL DEPARTMENT.—P. S.]
[I add the note of Alford on ἑλκύω: “by the diffusion of the Spirit in the church: manifested in the preaching of the Word mediately, and the pleading of the Spirit immediately. Before the glorification of Christ, the Father drew men to the Son (6:44), but now the Son Himself to Himself. Then it was, ‘no man can come except the Father draw him;’ now the Son draws all. And, to Himself, as thus uplifted, thus exalted;—the great object of faith; see John 11:52.”—P. S.]
[Alford refers to the still remoter passage in the discourse with Nicodemus, John 3:14, and “perhaps in the other parts of Christ’s teaching which have not been recorded,” The reference to John 12:23 ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπον, is sufficient.—P. S.]
[Alford: ὡς, as, not exactly “while” (E. V.): walk, according to your present state of privilege in possessing light: which indeed can only be done while it is with you.—P. S.]
 [Comp. the beautiful verses of Nic. Lenau (from Savonarola’s Christmas sermon):
“Die Künste der Hellenen kannten
Nicht den Erlöser und sein Licht.
D ‘rum scherzten sie so gern und nannten
Des Schmerzes tiefsten Abgrund nicht.
Dass sie am Schmerz, den sie zu trösten
Nicht wusste, mild vorüberführt,
Erkenn’ ich als der Zauber grössten,
Womit uns die Antike rührt.”—P. S.]
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:V b
ANTITHESIS BETWEEN SELF-HARDENING ISRAEL AND THE WORLD, THAT BOTH STANDS IN NEED OF SALVATION AND IS READY TO RECEIVE IT,—OR THE WITHDRAWAL OF CHRIST AND THE EVANGELIST’S REVIEW OF HIS OFFICIAL LABORS
37But though he had done so many miracles [had wrought so many, or, so great signs]45 before them, yet they believed not on [in] him: 38That the saying of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed’ [Isaiah 53:1]? 39Therefore [On this account, or, For this cause] they could not believe, because that 40[omit that] Esaias [Isaiah] said again, ‘He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened46 their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor [and] understand with their heart, and be converted [turn themselves],47 and I should heal48 them.’ 41These things said Esaias [Isaiah], when [because]49 he saw his glory, and spake [he spoke]50of him. 42Nevertheless among the chief rulers also [Yet even of the rulers] many believed on [in] him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him 43[omit him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue [excommunicated]. For they loved the praise [glory] of men more than [rather than at all]51 the praise [glory] of God.
44[But] Jesus cried [aloud] and said, He that believeth on [in] me, believeth not on [in] me, but on [in] him that sent me. 45And he that seeth [beholdeth] me seeth 46[beholdeth] him that sent me. I am come a [omit a, ins. as] light into the world, that whosoever [every one that] believeth on [in] me should not abide in [remain in the] darkness. 47And if any man hear my words, and believe [keep them]52 not I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him [his judge (with him)]: the word that I have spoken, the same shall [will] judge him 49in the last day. For [Because] I have not spoken of [from] myself; but the Father which [who] sent me, he gave me a [omit a] commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said [hath said unto me, εἴρηχέν μοι], so I speak.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The entire section is an epilogue of the Evangelist on the public ministry of Jesus and its result in the Israelitish nation; a result already announced by the lamentation, John 1:11. Even the concluding words from John 12:44 are to be regarded throughout as an epilogue (according to Coccejus and many others, Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Meyer).
We reject therefore as unfounded 1. the supposition of Chrysostom and all the ancients (among the moderns Kling), that Jesus once more addressed the people publicly in these words; 2. the modification of this hypothesis in Lampe and Bengel, who affirm that on His departure from the temple, in the very act of withdrawal from the Jews, He shouted out these words to them from afar; 3. the conjecture of Besser and Luthardt, who hold that He uttered these remarks respecting the Jews in the presence of the disciples; 4. finally, the fancy of De Wette, who supposes these reminiscences to have grown under the hand of the Evangelist into a regular discourse—one, however, not delivered by Jesus. The main support of assumptions of this kind has been found in the ἔκραξε καὶ εἴπεν, John 12:44. But the first word is employed by John in (tho sense of loud, public declarations (John 1:15; 7:28, 37), and docs not necessarily signify a shout from a distance, or a final, vehement outcry. And as for the aorists, it is not necessary to regard them, with Tholuck, as resumptive Pluperfects. On the contrary, the whole is a resume en gros of the life of Jesus, in which summary the account of the unbelief and obduracy of the great, mass of the Jewish people and its rulers is contrasted with the account of Christ’s holy testimony to Himself.
John 12:37. But though He had done such, etc.—Τοσαῦτα Lücke, De Wette: So great; Meyer, Tholuck: so many, so too the E. V. Its proper signification is: such signs as these He did; hence the nature of the signs itself determines whether so great or so many should be understood. The passages John 6:9; 14:9; 21:11 certainly seem, as Meyer remarks, to be in favor of the interpretation: so many; yet the generalness of the term is doubtless indicative of quality as well.
Yet they did not believe in Him.—In disobedience to the purpose of God in the signs, and to the divine attestation of Jesus.
John 12:38.—That the word [ὁ λόγος] of Isaiah, etc.—“It is in the very presence of unbelief and of hinderances cast in the way of the kingdom of God that both Jesus and the apostles most frequently appeal to the word of prophecy. For prophecy exhibits the divine ὡρισμένον (comp. Luke 22:22 with Matt. 26:24), while it demonstrates the fast that oven these seeming contradictions in history must be co-included in the divine counsel, John 13:9; 17:2.” Tholuck. The passage is Is. 53:1 according to the Septuagint. According to Meyer, Jesus is introduced in this passage as addressing God, κύριε. According to Luthardt, it is a lament of the Evangelist and of those like-minded with him, and ἀκοή means the message that we actually receive from Jesus. If, however, we adhere to the context, it is the lament of the prophet, in his own name and that of his colleagues, over his time. But the emphasis is upon the words: that it might be fulfilled.—Herewith, undoubtedly, the lament of the prophet becomes indirectly, and as a type, the lament of Christ (comp. Ps. 22:1). The prophets might lament over two things: 1. That men did not believingly receive their ἀκοή (the message heard by them—the prophets—or the message which penetrated the ears of the hearers); and 2. that men did not suffer their prophetic wonders whereby they made plain the arm of the Lord, i.e, interpreted the great deeds of God, to be the means of revealing to them these deeds in their significance. All this unbelief which opposed itself to them as an incipient hardening, is now fulfilled in the perfect obduracy manifested by the Jews towards Jesus: towards His preaching and His revelation of the arm of the Lord in His miracles (by the arm of the Lord, Augustine and others incorrectly apprehend Christ Himself); hence the lament of the prophets is also fulfilled in the words of Jesus and His people. The saying is most significantly chosen from the beginning of the prophecy about the suffering Messiah, Is. 53. The hardening began to be accomplished in the face of the sufferings of the prophets; its fulfilment is completed in the crucifixion of Christ on the part of the Jews and in the rejection of the Crucified and Risen One.
John 12:39. On this account they could not believe, because Isaiah said again.—According to Meyer διὰ τοῦτο—ὄτι, therefore, on this account, has reference to what has gone before, i.e. the saying of John 12:38 contains the ground for the saying John 12:40. On the other hand, according to Theophylact and many others, also Tholuck and Luthardt, διὰ τοῦτο is preparative;—it announces the cause, i.e. the inability to believe of John 12:39 explains why they did not believe according to John 12:38. This interpretation seems to be supported by the sequence of the dicta; first Is. 53:1, then Is. 6:10, and Tholuck remarks: “After the fact of their unbelief is declared, the reason of it is assigned in the fate of hardening decreed them by God.” But their divinely decreed destiny, as a judicial infliction, presupposes their guilt in voluntarily choosing unbelief, as it is also remarked by Tholuck: “The fact that the guilt of the parties involved is not excluded in such an actus judicialis Dei in the Scriptural sense, is most plainly set forth by the history of Pharaoh, in which it is said in six places: he hardened himself, and in six others: God hardened him.” Moreover it is not necessary to regard Is. 53 as the thought-sequence of Is. 6; with regard to facts the train of ideas may be inverted, and thus it is doubtless here. Fast upon the ουκ ἐπίστευσαν follows the οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν as a judgment. Undoubtedly, therefore, διὰ τοῦτο is to be explained in accordance with Meyer. As in the prophet the preaching of the prophet was the object by means of which the judgment of hardening should be brought upon Israel, so in the evangelical history it was the manifestation of Jesus by word and deed. That which might and should have been a savor of life to the Jews, became a savor of death to them; and herein was accomplished their judgment of hardening. As the most speaking type of this judgment the passage Is. 6:9, 10 is repeatedly cited: Matt. 13:14; Acts 28:26; Rom. 11:8 (comp. Luke 2:34).
The quotation from Is. 6:9, 10 varies from the letter of the original text, but in a way that is agreeable to its sense. There the prophet is commissioned to occasion obduracy by his preaching; here it is said, by way of historical report: He hath hardened them. I.e. the secondary or instrumental cause mentioned by Isaiah is omitted by the Evangelist, because in the latter, Christ, in accordance with John 12:41, is at once the secondary cause and the author of this hardness. According to Isaiah, God is the author or efficient cause, in His revealed form, His δόξα; according to John, Christ is the author, in His divine glory, as the Christ of the Old Testament. Hence there is no foundation in the text for the assertion of Meyer (and Tholuck) that not Christ, but God, is to be understood as the subject; the interpretation of Morus and others who consider the nation itself as the subject, likewise does violence to the text. According to Meyer, on the other hand, Christ is, in the sense of the Evangelist, the speaker in Isaiah, God the hardener, while ἰάσοηαι has reference to Christ. The assumption that the hardener cannot also be the healer, is a groundless one. According to Tholuck ἰάσομαι should also be referred to God, having, as a negligence in expression, remained in the first person; Grotius and others, and Luthardt are correct in considering the whole as referring to Christ. The “negligence” is, however, conscious breviloquence; to be supplemented is: and as it is further written, That I should heal them. This turn, however, has its foundation in the fact that the negation of καὶ ἰάσομαι, etc. is not to lapse into the historical past like the items of the hardening, and that there is present to the mind of the Evangelist a distinction between Christ as the retributive God of revelation and the historical Saviour.
John 12:41. These things said Isaiah because [ὄτι] he saw his glory.—Meyer: “According to Is. 6:1, it was indeed the glory of God that was seen by the prophet (God sitting upon His throne, attended by seraphim, etc.); in accordance with the idea of the Logos, however, the theophanies are appearances of the Logos.” Rather, the Logos who is about becoming incarnate, is Himself one with the δόξα of the Father, although this again in the abstract is distinguished from the δόξα of Christ (comp. Heb. 1:3); and hence too the δόξα of God is one with the Angel of the Presence (see Luke 2:9), although Christ again has also His divine-human δόξα. His essential estate is the μορφή θεοῦ. The seeing of Christ on the part of the prophet was not cognitive (Origen), but visionary (Tholuck). Vatablus and others have, in opposition to the context, referred αὐτοῦ to God.—And he (not dependent upon ὄτι, the prophet) spoke of Him.
[Alford: “Αὐτοῦ of Christ. The Evangelist is giving his judgment,—having had his understanding opened (Luke 24:45) to understand the Scriptures,—that the passage in Isaiah is spoken of Christ. And indeed, strictly considered, the glory which Isaiah saw could only be that of the Son, who is the ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης of the Father, whom no eye hath seen.”—Wordsworth: “The Evangelist here says that Esaias (Is. 6:1–9) saw the glory of the Son. St. Paul says (Acts 28:25) that he heard the words of the Holy Spirit. There is one glory, therefore, of the Holy Trinity: and the glory of the Father is the glory of the Son, and is the glory of the Holy Ghost. (Theoph.) The glory of the Ever-blessed Trinity appeared to Isaiah, when he heard the Angelic Holy, Holy, Holy (Is. 6:3); and the glory of the Trinity is here called the glory of Christ, because Christ is God. (Cyril).—There is a remarkable resemblance to this passage in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 4:8–11), compared with Rev. 5:12–14, where the glory ascribed to the Holy Trinity, and the worship paid to the Holy Trinity, is ascribed and paid to Christ; and is therefore a clear evidence of His Divinity.”—P. S.]
John 12:42. Yet even of the rulers many believed in him.—The Evangelist limits and explains the preceding sentence. In relating that many even of the rulers (Sanhedrists) believed on Christ, he cannot mean such people as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (Meyer). We must appreciate the fact that John distinguishes between the wider sense of the word “believe” (John 8:30) and its more limited sense (John 7:5; 20:27). Manifestly, it is belief in the wider sense of the term, inward historical recognition (“almost faith”), that is here meant. The Evangelist then proceeds to explain how it happened that the great commotion and awakening in the nation did not ripen into a great conversion.
But because of the Pharisees they did not confess (it or him), etc.—The counteraction of Pharisaism in its broadest sense is meant. They did not confess, did not come forward with the confession of their belief, for fear of excommunication. But excommunication seemed so frightful to them because they loved honor among men better than any (ἤπερ emphatically) honor with God. This means in the first place objectively the honor which men bestow by their recognition, in contrast to the honor given by God. This signification is, however, not exclusive of the subjective sense in which we interpret that honor of men to be of a human kind, but the honor of God of a divine sort, 2 Macc. 14:42; Rom. 3:23.
John 12:44. But Jesus cried aloud and said.—A perfect antithesis to the honor-seeking partyism of the Jews, which was the cause of their unbelief, is now presented to us by the Evangelist in Jesus’ testimony to Himself, as the expression of His mental disposition or mind. In the first place, the setting forth of the person of Christ was free from ambition; it was a setting forth of the glory of God. He sought singly and alone the glory of God. Belief in Him should be a belief in the living God to the same extent as if it were no belief in Christ, i.e. as if belief in His human, individual appearance were fully merged in the divine glory of revelation of which He was the Mediator. And thus, also, in correspondence with the above, His appearance should be to those who saw Him the image of the appearance of the Father who sent Him.
So, moreover, the sending of Him was free from selfish aims; being designed purely for the salvation of those to whom He was sent. Being, as Light that came into the world, in principle purely a shining of God, so He was, in respect of His aim, absolutely the deliverance of believers from darkness, John 12:46.
Further, therefore, the operation of Christ was likewise purely and exclusively of a redeeming species without admixture of a condemning agency. This shining unto salvation and deliverance from darkness is in so great and exclusive a degree the aim of His mission that He is able to say: He that shall have heard My word and not have kept it (which will be proved at the Day of Judgment) shall not be judged by Me. I.e. He came solely and alone (in His one appearance as the Saviour of the world) to save. But the word of God which the unbeliever has not kept, but which holds him fast in the evil consciousness of his unbelief; the consciousness within him of the divine mission that he has slighted—that shall judge him at the last day (the ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα, comp. John 6:39, 40).
And this is then, finally, purely and absolutely a judgment of God, devoid of any humanly turbid, individual admixture, because He has not spoken of Himself, but entirely in accordance with the ἐντολή of God by which He was conducted;—and that, as it regards the purport (the εἰπεῖν) of what He said, as well as the form, the human treatment and argument (the λαλεῖν). The ἔντολή, however, is not simply the commission laid upon Him at His sending; it is God’s law for Him—a law continually in operation, fitting itself to each moment; it is the voice of God within Him (“an individual court of appeal”). But as this life-law of the speech of Christ is principally a commandment of God, so it is, in regard to its end and aim, eternal life; i.e. it contains, imparts, is productive of, eternal life; it develops into eternal life in the obedience of faith. And Christ, being fully conscious that He stands, with every word, between the God who has commissioned Him and the eternal life of the soul, says nothing in false selfism, but gives utterance to all things as the Father has told them to Him. i.e. even in expression, His word is thoroughly in accordance with God. So Christ could testify of His works that they were pure from all self-seeking and selfism, as though He vanished out of each one; disappearing first as a principle, in presence of the causal all-agency of the personal God, and then theologically before the aim of bringing salvation to souls as the perfect Mediator. This is one side of the divine-human revelation—and this, as a clear mirror, is contrasted by John with the sombre picture of that ambitious, selfish, utterly falsified party righteousness which rejected the Lord. In contemplating this we may not overlook the other side, namely, that this pure revelation of God was accomplished by the very perfection and perfect distinctness of the human individuality of Christ.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The pause between the end of the prophetic and the beginning of the high-priestly ministry of Christ, is marked by the Evangelist with an epilogue, which excites the certain expectation that the close of the second half of the Gospel will also be furnished with its epilogue, as a conclusion to the entire Gospel and also as a companion piece to the prologue (see the Introduction and chap 21)
2. Had Jesus been simply a Prophet, His work would have been accomplished with the announcement of judgment made by Him within the temple after the rulers of the people had tempted Him and hardened themselves against Him within that building (see Comm. on Matt. p. 418, etc. Am. Ed.). But the bond of fellowship with His nation, the bond of high-priestly compassion, now drew Him forth again from His concealment to the hour of the Paschal sacrifice.
3. The grief of the disciple that Israel hardened himself in face of the full and perfect unfolding of the life of the prophetic Christ, John 12:37.
4. The pacification of the Evangelist in submissive contemplation of God’s word and providence, John 12:38–41. Analogous is the lament of the Prophet and his pacification in which the Evangelist merges himself.
5. The lament of the Prophet (Is. 53) abstractly considered. The unbelief of the Jews in the time of Isaiah impenitently opposed itself to the preaching of the prophets as well as to the arm of the Lord,—His wonders and signs of judgment. Hence the prophet saw in the sufferings of the prophethood the type of the suffering servant of God, the Messiah. And hence the greatest of the Evangelists, in passing to the sufferings of Christ, reverts to that lament of the greatest of the prophets. He knows that lamentation to have had its perfect fulfilment in the face of the sufferings of Christ and in those sufferings. Isaiah, in prophetic spirit, saw the beginnings of unbelief of the Messianic promise, the beginnings of impenitence and obduracy, the beginnings of the suffering prophethood and of judgment accelerated by the preaching,—and depicted the future in advance; John witnessed the fulfilment of all this in the life of Jesus.
6. Unbelief, as an unwillingness to believe, was punished even in Isaiah’s time with the inability to believe, the judgment of obduracy. It is the solicitous operation of the word of God which, with a holy and even healing purpose, drives the beginnings of judgment towards their completion. The Evangelist, like the Prophet, becomes tranquillized in adoring this judgment.
7. The Evangelist, with equal meaning, explains the unbelief of the Jews, which brought about the sufferings of Christ, by the introduction to Is. 53, and the judgment of impenitence upon the Jews by the vision Is. 6. Consequent upon the judgment of impenitence was the destruction of the city, the climax of which was reached by the burning of the temple; Isaiah himself had seen the temple totter at the revelation of the glory of Christ, the house being filled with smoke at the appearance of the seraphim. Hence these are doubtless symbolical angels of fiery judgment, as, in like manner, the cherubim are symbolical angels of divine providence under its historical veil, in great storms especially; an explanation certainly more obvious than the usual interpretation of שׇׂרׇף.
8. Christ, in the Old Testament, the manifestation of the δόξα of God, as also the Angel of the Presence (see Notes on John 1:14).
9. But the Evangelist is also necessitated to assign the human, ethical reason for that divine judgment in the unbelief of his nation. He therefore repeatedly gives prominence to the inclination to believe, found not only in the greater part of the people but also in many of its rulers. It is a fact of the highest significance that fear of the Pharisees, of the enmity of the Pharisaic party against Christ, was the ruin of everything and prepared for the nation its tragic fate. It is a statement of startling gravity that all the causes of the general apostasy were concentrated in the one sin of fear; and that the different phases of fear: the fear of man, the fear of spectres, the fear of shame and suffering, were concentrated in the one form: the fear of Pharisaic excommunication. Such fearful ruin can the dominion of a Pharisaic terrorism effect. This has been again demonstrated by the history of the Reformation. And the true courage of belief and conviction is as holy and replete with blessing as that fear, in spite of all its pretended holiness, is fatal and damnable. The emotion of fear was, however, grounded on the impulse of ambition, slavish devotion to the honor of Jewish patriotism, irreproachable orthodoxy, Pharisaic righteousness. Yet the ultimate reason of this wordly ambition in hypocritico-spiritual apparel, was the lack of a knowledge and sense of honor with God, the lack of true, inward spiritual life and of a prayerful spirit,—spiritual lethargy, spiritual death under the mask of the most fiery life.
10. In contrast to the gloomy picture of fatal and damnable ambition presented by Pharisaic Judaism, which denied the honor of God in Christ and finally blasphemed it and covered it with shame on the cross, appears the bright image of the mind and self-presentation of Christ. He sought nothing for Himself, with human selfism and selfishness, but made His life a pure sacrifice for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. So it is with His personality: it is the pure ideality of His essence as the manifestation of God, John 12:44. Thus with the sending of Him: it is the pure ideality of His appearance: the glorification of the manifestation of God, John 12:45. With His aim: it is the pure ideality of the transfiguration of the substantial world, of the enlightenment of the darkened world of sin, John 12:46. With His operation: it is the pure ideality of redemption, John 12:47. With the judicial operation of His word: it is the pure ideality of His coming to judgment, John 12:48. So it is with the motive, the aim and even the expression of His word, i. e. the pure ideality of His obedience, life and conduct even to the expression of His word itself, John 12:49, 50.
11. We may sum up this résumé of the self-presentation of Jesus in these words: Jesus was the pure, perfect, divine-human hypostasis; transparent as crystal in respect of the motive of His life, the manifestation of the Father, hence pure devotion, in His love, to that portion of the world that will receive salvation,—the pure outpouring of eternal life. He was, however, just this complete personality because His presentation by the Father was equally distinct with His own presentation of the Father; i.e. He was the complete divine-human individuality, the complete character. And He gave proof of His perfect personality as well as of His perfect individuality because He, in perfect subjectivity, continually transformed the general ἐντολή into the momentary ἐντολή of His consciousness, or kept the will of God in unison with His own will. (Comp. Leben Jesu, II. p. 1292.)
ΗOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Evangelist’s retrospect of the public ministry of Christ and its apparently frustrated result.—This retrospect in the light of prophecy.—Yet they believed not. The yet of unbelievers and the yet of believers, Ps. 73:1: 1. An antithesis in which the reality of human freedom is expressed; 2. the glory of divine judgment and divine grace; 3. decision for eternity; 4. a contrast, as betwixt heaven and hell.—The shocking obduracy of the Jewish nation in view of Christ’s full, divine revelation of life.—How unbelief is changed from guilt to judgment: 1. Unwillingness to believe, as a crime demanding judgment; 2. inability to believe, as the judgment upon the crime.—The fault contained in the unbelief of the Jews a warning to all times.—The form of their fault: 1. Fear the cause of their unbelief; a. as a fear of excommunication; b. of excommunication by the Pharisees. 2. Ambition the foundation of their fear a morbid delight in the fame of piety, righteousness, orthodoxy, etc. 3. The want of knowledge, of spiritual life and of a sense of God’s honor the foundation of their morbid ambition.—The frightful effects of a Pharisaic ordinance of excommunication 1. As displayed in our history; 2. in the history of the middle ages; 3. as resulting from the very nature of such an ordinance.—The curse of the fear of man, especially in matters of faith.—The ultimate and deepest cause of all evil the want of a sense of God’s glory, Rom. 1:21.—Unholy party spirit in its fatal effects: 1. Characteristics of such party spirit: mutual belying, deception, exciting, fettering. 2. The fatal effects; a. fear; b. denial; c. universal ruin.—The rarity and gloriousness of true frankness in the service of truth.—Christ the Glory of God in the Old Testament.—That the Jews despised the glory which God gives, was manifest in that they despised Christ, who, in His righteousness, revealed the glory of God.—Jesus cried aloud. The solemn protestation of Jesus against the charge of having arrogated to Himself a peculiar glory as a false prophet.—The gloriously effulgent picture of the life of Jesus, who rejoiced in sacrifice, contrasted with the selfishness of His contemporaries: 1. They sought their own profit, honor, life, etc.; He lived but for the cause of God. 2. They, therefore, were slavishly dependent one upon another; He stood free in God. 3. They, under the mask of zeal for the glory of God, sought to mar and obliterate the radiant image of His glory; Christ glorified the honor of God and His mercy to His enemies by His perfect joyfulness in meeting shame.—Christ the pure manifestation of God: 1. In His essence; 2. in His aim; 3. in His work; 4. in His word.—Christ the pure manifestation of God in the clear distinctness of His personal nature.—What distinguishes Christ’s testimony to Himself from all self-praise: 1. His remounting unreservedly to the source of His life, the Father; 2. His single aiming at His life’s goal, the salvation of the world.—How the unbeliever is unable to rid himself of the despised word of salvation, bearing it with him, as an inward judgment, to the Last Day, which day shall convert it into an outward judgment also.—The Last Day a revelation of inward judgment.—Christ’s clear law of life an admonition to us to make our darkened life-law clear.—Christ’s law of life as the law of His freedom.—The Evangelist’s retrospect of the prophetic work of Christ a proof that His high-priestly and kingly work was yet to follow.—The deep grief and the sublime pacification of Prophet and Apostle (Isaiah, John) in regarding the unbelief of their times.
STARKE, CANSTEIN: What happens, happens not because it has been foretold, but it was foretold because God foresaw that it would happen.—The truth of righteous and divine obduration.
John 12:42. HEDINGER: Blessed is the man to whom the world, with all her rags of honor, is crucified, and who holds her to be worth no more than a thief on the gallows, Gal. 4:16.—CRAMER: True, unfeigned belief must always be in harmony with a man’s confession.—QUESNEL: Stand we in whatsoever circumstances or situation we may, we are on no account to attach ourselves to them; we must place our dependence on nothing that men can deprive us of, if we desire to obtain and keep that which God alone can give.—CANSTEIN: Christ always appeals to the Father when defending Himself against His enemies. So may faithful servants of the word, finding themselves in contempt and adversity, trust in the ministry which they have received from God.
John 12:46. The sun is a fair light; Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, many thousand times fairer.
John 12:47. A loyal servant of the Word is sent only to bring salvation.
John 12:48. QUESNEL: It is never permitted to the servants of Christ to avenge themselves on the despisers of their preaching; it is God’s word; at the right time He will judge such conduct.
GERLACH: The guilt of the Jews assumed such magnitude in that they were not only inwardly estranged from Jesus and His revelation, but also, when, by the most glorious miracles, Jesus supported that highest proof (see chap 7:17), they yet turned away from Him.—The discourse from John 12:44 is not a single one; in order to show the inexcusableness of Jewish unbelief John subjoins a summary of the Lord’s discourses; many reminiscences of former speeches. With John 12:44 comp. John 7:16; 5:19; 8:42.—With John 12:44 John 8:19; 14:10; chap. 1.—With John 12:46 John 1:5; 8:12; 12:35.—With John 12:47 and 48 John 3:17; 5:45, etc.—With John 12:49 John 8:28, 38.—With John 12:50 John 6:39, 40; 10:11.—His revelation was nothing but light, life and love.
BRAUNE: Elisha did twelve miracles, Elijah fewer still, and if we reckon up all the miracles of the prophets we find that seventy-four were performed by them; those of Moses are estimated at seventy-six. But although John chronicles but seven, he remarks, John 21:25, that the world would not contain the books that would have to be written if all the deeds of Jesus should be detailed. (Interesting from a theological point of view; homiletically a quantitative numeration of all the miracles would be unadvisable. As to the Number Seven of John the case is of course quite different). And yet the believed not on Him. Awful yet!—In sins of conscience the beginning is to fear and flee.—Without confession, faith soon wanes and its light threatens to become extinct.
GOSSNER: We fear the excommunication of men, but not the excommunication of God, of Christ.—This fear of an unrighteous excommunication may plunge us into eternal perdition, into the denial excommunication of God.—It is possible for a soul to be saved without external communion with the Church, without sacraments administered by priests, if it be unrighteously shut out from them.—Let us therefore fear nothing but excommunication from Christ in our hearts, nothing but separation from the love of Christ.—Faith is the name of the way that leads from darkness into light.
John 12:48. The hearing of God’s word is never without result; a man cannot remain neutral with regard to it; it is either, or—friend or foe—grace or judgment.
John 12:50. He preaches with exceeding joyfulness who speaks nothing from himself; when it is His (God’s) word and not the preacher’s babble or work of art.
HEUBNER: The secret, inward conviction of the divine mission of Jesus makes him so much the more culpable who is ashamed of acknowledging such a conviction.—The confession of the gospel, the confession of Jesus, is of particular worth in times when it involves shame.—How many dangers and hinderances to free confession there are in high positions! The fear of men, and ambition are the mightiest impediments to outspoken belief.—Pharisees. Entire parties may exert an influence in the repression and hinderance of the gospel.—To reject Jesus is to reject God.—His judging at some future day shall not be partial, as on account of personal injuries inflicted by unbelievers. The unbeliever will be condemned by his own conscience. Unbelief bears its judge within itself.—Christ left no particle of His duty undone. So it was no fault of His if men would not believe.
SCHLEIERMACHER: There is but one honor—and that is the honor which is in God’s sight; there is but one fear which does not debase men—and that is the fear that says: How should I do this great wickedness and sin against God? But we do commit sin against God and His Spirit, if we seal up within our hearts what we in their inmost depths account as truth, and put a bar to its outgoing and further operation. For as common property and possession the Lord has endowed us with all spiritual gifts.—Some are of opinion that it was the general design of the Lord to turn aside the belief of mankind in great measure from His own person and direct it towards Him who sent Him; others think: All the faith that He demands must be directed to Him and His person alone. Let us avoid the one and the other extreme, whilst we combine the two, for such was the Redeemer’s intention.—In view of His Passion and Death saith the Redeemer: I know that His commandment is life everlasting.
BESSER: Perhaps the expression that so frequently and emphatically recurs in the discourses of the Lord, to the effect, namely, that God had sent Him, should also serve to designate Him as the Angel (Ambassador) of the Lord in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.—STIER: John knows no other true and full belief than that which makes confession.
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 12:38. It is evident that the arm of the Lord is the Son of God Himself.
John 12:37, 38. God predicted the unbelief of the Jews but did not cause it; He does not compel men to sin because He knows they will sin.
John 12:39, 40. If any ask why they could not, I answer, Because they would not—it is the fault of the human will that they could not. They well deserved this—God hardens and blinds a man by forsaking and not supporting him.
John 12:42, 43. As their faith grew, their love of human praise grew still more, and outstripped it.
John 12:44, 45. He signifies that He is more than He appears to be.—We believe an Apostle, but we do not believe in an Apostle.
John 12:46. He saith to His disciples, Ye are the light of the world, but He does not say, Ye are come a light into the world that whosoever believeth in you, etc.; All saints are lights but they are so by faith [reflection] because they are enlightened by Him.
John 12:47. I judge Him not, i.e. not now; now is the time of mercy, afterward will be the time of judgment.
John 12:49. He Himself is the Word which the Father speaketh.—From CHRYSOSTOM: John 12:37, 38. The prophets had predicted this very unbelief, and He came [amongst other intents] that it might be made manifest.—That is expressive not of the cause but of the event; they did not disbelieve because Isaiah said they would, Esaias said they would because they would.
John 12:39. Could not, a common form of speech among ourselves; we say, I cannot love such a man, meaning only a vehement will.
John 12:39, 40. He does not leave us except we wish Him; we begin to forsake first.—As it is not the fault of the sun that it hurts weak eyes, so neither is God to blame for punishing those who do not attend to His words.
John 12:43. The praise [glory] of God is publicly to confess Christ; the praise [glory] of men is to glory in earthly things.
John 12:47. I am not the cause of his judgment, but he is himself by despising My words.
John 12:48. That this (John 12:46, 47) might not serve to encourage sloth, He warns of a terrible judgment about to come.——From LITANY of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND: John 12:37–40. “From all hardness of heart, and contempt of Thy Word and commandment, good Lord, deliver us.”
[From BURKITT: John 12:38–41. The reference is to Is. 6:3; whence a clear argument for Christ’s divinity may be drawn.
John 12:37. Let not the ministers of Christ be discouraged at their want of success, when they consider the small success of our Lord’s own ministry.
John 12:38. Isaiah’s complaint of the small success of his preaching, a prophecy of the like success that Christ and His ministers should have under the gospel.—The gospel in all ages has met with more that rejected it than have savingly entertained it.
John 12:38, 40. When men close their eyes wilfully, it is just with God to close their eyes judicially.—The infidelity of a people is to be resolved into the perverseness of their own wills, and not to any judicial blindness wrought by God upon them antecedent to their own sin.—God’s act of hardening was consequential upon their sinning.
John 12:42. Even in times and places where infidelity most prevails, the ministry of the word shall not be altogether without fruit.—Fear of men has kept many from believing on Christ, and more from confessing Him.
John 12:43. They valued applause from men, more than God’s approving them; no greater snare to draw persons from duty than an inordinate love of their own reputation.—How often is the applause of men preferred before the commendation of God.
John 12:45. We do not see Christ aright unless we see Him to be truly God.—The Father is not to be seen but in the Son.
John 12:46. The dreadful judgment denounced by Christ against all unbelievers
John 12:46, 47. Learn—1. Christ and His doctrine inseparable; 2. rejecters of Christ and His doctrine shall not escape the judgment of Christ at the last day; 3. were there no other witness against rejecters, the word preached would be sufficient.—The word preached is now the rule of living, hereafter it shall be the rule of judging.
[From M. HENRY: John 12:37–41. The honor done to our Lord by the Old Testament prophets.—Two things said concerning untractable Israel —1. they did not believe; 2. they could not believe.—They could not believe because—1. they would not, a moral impotency like that of one accustomed to do evil, Jer. 13:23; 2. God had blinded their eyes, God is not the author of sin and yet, (1) a righteous hand of God sometimes to be acknowledged in the blindness of those who persist in sin as punishment for preceding resistance, (2) judicial blindness is threatened against those who wilfully persist in wickedness.
John 12:42, 43. Many professed more kindness for Christ than they had, these had more than they were willing to profess.—A struggle between their convictions and corruptions.—There are more good people than we think there are—some are better than they seem.—The power of the world in smothering convictions.—Observe concerning these believers—1. wherein they failed—in not confessing Christ; 2. what they feared—disgrace and damage; 3. the ground of their fear—they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.—Love of the praise of men—1. as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite where religion is in fashion; 2. as a principle in that which is evil, will make one an apostate where religion is in disgrace.
John 12:44. Jesus cried [aloud] and said: this intimates His boldness and earnestness in speaking.
John 12:44–46. The privileges and dignities of those that believe, they are brought into—1. an honorable acquaintance with God; 2. a comfortable enjoyment of themselves.
John 12:47, 48. The peril of those that believe not; observe—1. who they are whose unbelief is here condemned—those who hear and believe not; 2. the constructive malignity of their unbelief—a rejection of Christ; 3. the forbearance of Jesus toward them; 4. their certain judgment at the great day.
John 12:49, 50. The authority of Christ—1. His commission from the Father; 2. the design of that commission—life everlasting; 3. His own observance of the instructions thereof.—Our Lord learned obedience Himself before He taught it to us.—Those who disobey Christ despise everlasting life.
[From DODDRIDGE: John 12:42, 43. Strange infatuation! that the human mind should be capable of believing that there is a God, and yet of preferring the creature before Him.—From SCOTT: John 12:42, 43. That will not be accounted true faith which does not overcome [worldly] ambition, and induce its possessors to confess Christ before His enemies.—Chief Rulers are especially in danger of prevaricating.—From A. CLARKE
John 12:42, 43. Many persons are liberal in their condemnation of the Jews who are probably committing the same sort of transgression under circumstances which heighten their iniquity.—It is possible for a man to credit the four Evangelists [the entire Bible] and yet live and die an infidel so far as his own salvation is concerned.
[From STIER: John 12:39, 40. The predicted judicial hardening [of the Jews] in the fulfilment of which, unbelief itself becomes only a new sign [to us] in proof.—The guilt of unbelief rested solely with Israel
John 12:37–43. Of the unbelieving there are, according to St. John, two classes—1. the unsusceptible and hardened; 2. those who confess not in spite of their [imperfect] belief—He knows no other genuine, and perfect faith than that which confesses.
John 12:50. The commission is, in its ground and aim, according to its design and indwelling power, life everlasting for all who believe.
[From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 12:46. It is evidently implied that He found all the world in darkness.—From BARNES: John 12:37. The Jews did not believe as a nation.
John 12:42, 43. True faith is active—it overcomes the fear of man, it prompts to self-denying duties.
John 12:48. Hath one that judgeth him: He will carry his own condemnation with him, his own conscience will condemn him.—Learn that—1. a guilty conscience needs no accuser; 2. the words of Christ will be remembered by the rejecter; 3. this [rejection] will be the source of his condemnation; 4. the conscience of the sinner will concur with the sentence of Christ in the great day; 5. the word that Christ has spoken will be that by which the sinner will be judged in the last day.
John 12:50. His commandment is life everlasting, i.e. the cause or source of everlasting life.—The [one] reason of the earnestness and fidelity of Jesus—He saw that eternal life depended on faithful preaching.—Every minister should have a deep and abiding conviction that He delivers a message connected with the eternal welfare of his hearers; under the influence of this belief he should preach fearlessly.—The close of the public ministry of Christ; such a close as all His ministers should desire to make.
[From RYLE: John 12:37. Where there is the greatest quantity of the form of religion, there is often the greatest proportion of formality and unbelief.
John 12:38. It is a singular fact that the very chapter which the Jews have been most unwilling to believe should begin with the question—Who hath believed our report?—If the Jews had not been unbelieving, the Scriptures would have been untrue.—“Darkness does not blind men so much as light, unless God renews the mind by His Spirit.” [ROLLOCK.]—Remark how seeing, understanding, being converted, and being healed, are linked together.
John 12:42. Many of the Chief Rulers believed: their faith was only of the head and not of the heart—they were cowards.
John 12:43. The same miserable motive is still ruining myriads of souls.—“They were not willing to part with their great places in the magistracy.” [POOLE.]
John 12:48. There will be a resurrection of all faithful servants at the last day.
[From OWEN: John 12:40. He hath blinded—hardened; this He did mediately or by the instrumentality of the truth; the indirect agency of truth when resisted to render the soul insensible to divine love is equally certain and dreadful in its results as though the effect were produced by a direct agency upon the heart.
John 12:50. His commandment contains in itself the germ and principle of eternal life, and when received into the soul results in everlasting salvation.
[From WHEDON: John 12:40. Although God was the unwilling cause of their blindness, it was their wicked will that gave to the cause its effect.—Their perverse will transformed His mercy into judgment; his means of softening into results of hardening—thus does the same sun that melts the wax harden the clay.
John 12:42. A type fulfilled in nearly every age of advancement and beneficent resolution.
John 12:50. God’s divine, authoritative word implanted within our soul is eternal life in its very element and essence.]
John 12:37.—[Tοσαῦτα may be understood of magnitude: so great, such (comp. Matt. 8:10, Luke 7:9; Rev. 18:17; Gal. 3:1), or of multitude: so many (Matt. 15:33; John 6:9; 14:9; 11:11). Lücke and De Wette decide for the former, Meyer and Alford for the latter. Lange translates such.—P. S.]
John 12:40.—[Tischendorf gives ἐπώρωσεν, instead of the πεπώρωκεν of Lach., in accordance with A. B* K. L. X., etc., and also א.II., as amended from ἐπηρώτησεν].
John 12:40.—[Tischenderf and Alford give στραφῶσιν in accordance with א. B. D.; the text. rec. reads ἐρ ιστοραφῶσι according to A. D. 2 E. F., etc.]
John 12:40.—The Future ἰάσομαι is to be preferred to the Subjunctive ἰάσωμαι, in accordance with the decided preponderance of authorities, Lachmann, Tischendorf. א. A. B. D., etc.]
John 12:41.—Ὅτι [because] is to he adopted in the place of ὅτε [when, text roc, E. V.] in accordance with [א. A. B. L., etc., Lachmann, Tischenderf [Alford, Westcott and Hort].
John 12:41.—[See EXEGETICAL NOTES].
John 12:43.—[See EXEGETICAL NOTES].
John 12:47.—Καὶ μὴ φυλάξῃ instead of καὶ μὴ πιστεύσῃ, in accordance with Codd. [א.] A. B. K. [L.M.], etc., Lachmann Tischendorf [Alford, Westcott and Hort], Jesus goes away after uttering this saying. [א. T. Δ. Δ. and Verss. give ἓως, in this verse; in John 12:36, א. B. D. L. give ςω.—P.S.]