John 13
Vincent's Word Studies
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
Before the Feast of the Passover

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

Knowing (εἰδὼς)

Or, since he knew.

His hour

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

That (ἵνα)

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

Depart (μεταβῇ)

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

His own (τοὺς ἰδίους)

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

He loved (ἠγάπησεν)

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

Unto the end (εἰς τέλος)

Interpretations differ. The rendering of the A.V. and Rev. is of doubtful authority. The passages cited in support of this, Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13, may all be rendered to the uttermost. Morever, other formulas are used where the meaning to the end is unquestionable. In Revelation 2:26, the only other instance in John's writings where τέλος is used in an adverbial phrase the expression is ἄχρι τέλους, unto the end. Similarly Hebrews 6:11. In Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 3:14, μέχρι τὲλους, unto the end. The phrase may mean at last, and so is rendered by many here, as Meyer, Lange, Thayer (Lex.). "At last He loved them;" that is, showed them the last proof of His love. This is the most probable rendering in Luke 18:5, on which see note. It may also mean to the uttermost, completely. So Westcott and Godet. But I am inclined, with Meyer, to shrink from the "inappropriate gradation" which is thus implied, as though Jesus' love now reached a higher degree than before (ἀγαπήσας). Hence I prefer the rendering at last, or finally He loved them, taking ἠγάπησεν, loved, in the sense of the manifestation of His love. This sense frequently attaches to the verb. See, for instance, 1 John 4:10 ("love viewed in its historic manifestation" Westcott), and compare John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 5:2, Ephesians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Revelation 3:9.

And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
Supper being ended (δείπνου γενομένου)

The most approved reading is γινομένου, the present participle, denoting while a supper was in progress. Hence Rev., rightly, during supper. The A.V. is wrong, even if the reading of the Received Text be retained; for in John 13:12 Jesus reclined again, and in John 13:26, the supper is still in progress. It should be, supper having begun, or having been served. It is important to note the absence of the definite article: a supper, as distinguished from the feast, which also is designated by a different word.

Having now put (ἤδη βεβληκότος)

Rev., better, already. Put, is literally, thrown or cast.

Into the heart of Judas

Meyer, strangely, refers the heart, not to Judas, but to the Devil himself; rendering, the Devil having already formed the design that Judas should deliver Him up. Godet does not speak too strongly when he says that "this meaning is insufferable."

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
Had given (δέδωκεν)

The best texts read ἔδωκεν, gave, the aorist marking Jesus' commission as given once for all.

Was come (ἐξῆλθε)

This rendering would require the perfect tense. The aorist points to His coming as a historic fact, not as related to its result. See on John 12:47. Rev., rightly, came forth.

Went (ὑπάγει)

Present tense: goeth; withdrawing from the scenes of earth. Note the original order: that it was from God He came forth, and unto God He is going.

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
From the supper (ἐκ τοῦ δείπνου)

Out of the group gathered at the table.

Laid aside (τίθησι)

Present tense: layeth aside.

Garments (ἱμάτια)

See on Matthew 5:40. Upper garments.

Towel (λέντιον)

A Latin word, linteum. A linen cloth. Only here and John 13:5.

Girded (διέζωσεν)

Only in this chapter and John 21:7. The compound verb means to bind or gird all round.

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
A bason (νιπτῆρα)

Only here in the New Testament. From νίπτω, to wash.

Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Dost thou wash (σύ μου νίπτεις)? The two pronouns Thou, my, stand together at the beginning of the sentence in emphatic contrast. Dost thou of me wash the feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Knowest - shalt know (οἷδας - γνώσῃ)

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

Hereafter (μετὰ ταῦτα)

Literally, after these things.

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Never (οὐ μὴ - εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα)

A very strong expression. Literally, thou shalt by no means wash my feet as long as the world stands.

Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
He that is washed - wash his feet (ὁ λελουμένος - νίψασθαι).

The A.V. obliterates the distinction between λούω, to bathe, to apply water to the whole body, and νίπτω, to wash a part of the body. Thus, when Dorcas died (Acts 9:37) they bathed her body (λούσαντες). The proverb in 2 Peter 2:22, is about the sow that has been bathed all over (λουσαμένη). On the other hand, he who fasts must wash (νὶψαι) his face (Matthew 6:17). Both verbs are always used of living beings in the New Testament. The word for washing things, as nets, garments, etc., is πλύνω. See Luke 5:2. All three verbs occur in Leviticus 15:11 (Sept.).

For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
Who should betray (τὸν παραδιδόντα)

Literally, him that is betraying. So in Matthew 26:2, the present tense is used, is being betrayed


See on Matthew 4:12, and compare προδότης, betrayer, Luke 6:16; Acts 7:52; 2 Timothy 3:4.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Was set down (ἀναπεσὼν)

Literally, having reclined. The guests reclined on couches, lying on the left side and leaning on the left hand. The table was in the hollow square or oblong formed on three sides by the couches, the fourth side being open, and the table extending beyond the ends of the couches.

Know ye (γινώσκετε)?

Perceive or understand ye?

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
Master (ὁ διδάσκαλος)

Literally, the Teacher. Teacher and Lord were used, according to the Jewish titles Rabbi and Mar, corresponding to which the followers were disciples or servants.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

Inserted in A.V. Better, the Lord and the Master as Rev. Both have the article.

Ought (ὀφείλετε)

The verb means to owe. It occurs several times in John's Epistles (1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:11; 3 John 1:8). In the Gospel only here and John 19:7. Compare Luke 17:10. In Matthew's version of the Lord's prayer occur the two kindred words ὀφείλνμα, debt, and ὀφειλέτης, debtor. Jesus here puts the obligation to ministry as a debt under which His disciples are laid by His ministry to them. The word ought is the past tense of owe. Δεῖ, ought or must (see John 3:7, John 3:14, John 3:30, etc.) expresses an obligation in the nature of things; ὀφείλειν, a special, personal obligation.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Example (ὑπόδειγμα)

On the three words used in the New Testament for example, ὑπόδειγμα, τύπος, and δεῖγμα, see on 2 Peter 2:6; see on 1 Peter 5:3; see on Jde 1:7.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Verily, verily

See on John 1:51; see on John 10:1.

The servant

No article. Better a servant, as Rev., a bond-servant.

He that is sent (ἀπόστολος)

Literally, an apostle. See on Matthew 10:2.

If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Happy (μακάριοι)

Better, as Rev., blessed. See on Matthew 5:3.

I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
I have chosen (ἐξελεξάμην)

Aorist tense, I chose. Not elected to salvation, but chose as an apostle.

That the scripture, etc. (ἵνα)

Elliptical. We must supply this choice was made in order that, etc.

Eateth (τρώγων)

With the exception of Matthew 24:38, the word occurs only in John. See on John 6:54. Originally it means to gnaw or crunch; to chew raw vegetables or fruits, and hence often used of animals feeding, as Homer ("Odyssey," vi., 90), of mules feeding. Of course it has lost its original sense in the New Testament, as it did to some extent in classical Greek, though, as applied to men, it more commonly referred to eating vegetables or fruit, as Aristophanes ("Peace," 1325) τρώγειν, to eat figs. The entire divorce in the New Testament from its primitive sense is shown in its application to the flesh of Christ (John 6:54). It is used by John only in connection with Christ.

Bread with me (μετ' ἐμοῦ τὸν ἄρτον)

Some editors read, μοῦ τὸν ἄρτον, my bread.

Heel (πτέρναν)

Only here in the New Testament. The metaphor is of one administering a kick. Thus Plutarch, describing the robber Sciron, who was accustomed "out of insolence and wantonness to stretch forth his feet to strangers, commanding them to wash them, and then, when they did it, with a kick to send them down the rock into the sea" ("Theseus"). Some have explained the metaphor by the tripping up of one's feet in wrestling; but, as Meyer justly says, "Jesus was not overreached." The quotation is from the Hebrew, not the Septuagint of Psalm 41:9 (Sept. 40). The Septuagint reads, "For the man of my peace in whom I hoped, who eateth my bread, magnified his cunning (πτερνισμόν, literally, tripping up) against me."

Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Now (ἀπ' ἄρτι)

Rev., correctly, from henceforth. Compare John 1:51; John 14:7; Matthew 23:39.

I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι)

Or, I am. See on John 8:24.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Was troubled in Spirit

See on John 11:33; see on John 12:27. The agitation was in the highest region of the spiritual life (πνεῦμα).

One of you shall betray me

So Matthew and Mark, with the addition of, who eateth with me. Luke, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
Looked (ἔβλεπον)

The imperfect tense, kept looking as they doubted.

Doubting (ἀπορούμενοι)

See on Mark 6:20.

He spake (λέγει)

The present tense, speaketh, introduced with lively effect.

Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
Was leaning on Jesus' bosom (ἦν ἀνακείμενος ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ)

The Rev. renders, "there was at the table reclining," etc. At the table is added because the verb is the general term equivalent to sitting at table. "In Jesus' bosom," defines John's position relatively to the other guests. As the guests reclined upon the left arm, the feet being stretched out behind, the head of each would be near the breast of his companion on the left. Supposing that Jesus, Peter, and John were together, Jesus would occupy the central place, the place of honor, and John, being in front of Him, could readily lean back and speak to Him. Peter would be behind him.


See on Luke 6:38. The Synoptists do not give this incident.

Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
Beckoneth (νεύει)

Literally, noddeth.

That he should ask who it should be (πυθέσθαι τίς ἄν εἴη)

The best texts read, καὶ λέγει αὐτῳ εἰπὲ τίς ἐστιν, and saith unto him, Tell us who it is.

He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
Lying (ἐπιπεσὼν)

This word is, literally, to fall upon, and is so rendered in almost every instance in the New Testament. In Mark 3:10, it is applied to the multitudes pressing upon Christ. It occurs, however, nowhere else in John, and therefore some of the best authorities read ἀναπεσὼν, leaning back, a verb which John uses several times in the Gospel, as in John 13:12. So Rev. Whichever of the two is read, it points out the distinction, which the A.V. misses by the translation lying, between ἦν ἀνακείμενος (John 13:23), which describes the reclining position of John throughout the meal, and the sudden change of posture pictured by ἀναπεσὼν, leaning back. The distinction is enforced by the different preposition in each case: reclining in (ἐν) Jesus' bosom, and leaning back (ἀνά). Again, the words bosom and breast represent different words in the Greek; κόλπος representing more generally the bend formed by the front part of the reclining person, the lap, and στῆθος the breast proper. The verb ἀναπίπτω, to lean back, always in the New Testament describes a change of position. It is used of a rower bending back for a fresh stroke. Plato, in the well-known passage of the "Phaedrus," in which the soul is described under the figure of two horses and a charioteer, says that when the charioteer beholds the vision of love he is afraid, and falls backward (ἀνέπεσεν), so that he brings the steeds upon their haunches.

As he was (οὕτως)

Inserted by the best texts, and not found in the A.V. Reclining as he was, he leaned back. The general attitude of reclining was maintained. Compare John 4:6 : "sat thus (οὕτως) on the well." According to the original institution, the Passover was to be eaten standing (Exodus 12:11). After the Captivity the custom was changed, and the guests reclined. The Rabbis insisted that at least a part of the Paschal meal should be eaten in that position, because it was the manner of slaves to eat standing, and the recumbent position showed that they had been delivered from bondage into freedom.

Breast (στῆθος)

From ἵστημι, to cause to stand. Hence, that which stands out. In later writings John was known as ὁ ἐπιστήθιος, the one on the breast, or the bosom friend.

Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
To whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it (ᾦ ἐγὼ βάψας τὸ ψωμίον ἐπιδώσω)

The best texts read ᾦ ἐγὼ βάψω τὸ ψωμίον καὶ δώσω αὐτῷ, for whom I shall dip the sop and give it him.

Sop (ψωμίον)

Only in this chapter. Diminutive from ψωμός, a morsel, which, in turn, is from ψάω, to rub, or to crumble. Homer, of the Cyclops:

"Then from his mouth came bits (ψωμοί) of human flesh

Mingled with wine."

"Odyssey," ix., 374.

And Xenophon: "And on one occasion having seen one of his companions at table tasting many dishes with one bit (ψωμῷ) of bread" ("Memorabilia," iii., 14, 15). The kindred verb ψωμίζω, rendered feed, occurs Romans 12:20; 1 Corinthians 13:3. See also Septuagint, Psalm 79:5; Psalm 80:16. According to its etymology, the verb means to feed with morsels; and it was used by the Greeks of a nurse chewing the food and administering it to an infant. So Aristophanes: "And one laid the child to rest, and another bathed it, and another fed (ἐψώμισεν) it" ("Lysistrate," 19, 20). This sense may possibly color the word as used in Romans 12:20 : "If thine enemy hunger, feed (ψώμιζε) him;" with tender care. In 1 Corinthians 13:3, the original sense appears to be emphasized: "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor (ψωμίσω)." This idea is that of doling away in morsels. Dean Stanley says: "Who that has witnessed the almsgiving in a Catholic monastery, or the court of a Spanish or Sicilian bishop's or archbishop's palace, where immense revenues are syringed away in farthings to herds of beggars, but must feel the force of the Apostle's half satirical ψωμίσω?"

Dipped the sop

Compare Matthew 26:23; Mark 14:20. The regular sop of the Paschal supper consisted of the following things wrapped together: flesh of the Paschal lamb, a piece of unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. The sauce into which it was dipped does not belong to the original institution, but had been introduced before the days of Christ. According to one authority it consisted of only vinegar and water (compare Ruth 2:14); others describe it as a mixture of vinegar, figs, dates, almonds, and spice. The flour which was used to thicken the sauce on ordinary occasions was forbidden at the Passover by the Rabbins, lest it might occasion a slight fermentation. According to some, the sauce was beaten up to the consistence of mortar, in order to commemorate the toils of the Israelites in laying bricks in Egypt.

To Judas Iscariot the son of Simon (Ἱούδᾳ Σίμωνος Ἱσκαριώτῃ).

The best texts read Ἱσκαριώτου. "Judas the son of Simon Iscariot." So John 6:71. The act was a mark of forbearance and goodwill toward the traitor, and a tacit appeal to his conscience against the contemplated treachery.

And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Then (τότε)

With a peculiar emphasis, marking the decisive point at which Judas was finally committed to his dark deed. The token of goodwill which Jesus had offered, if it did not soften his heart would harden it; and Judas appears to have so interpreted it as to confirm him in his purpose.


The only occurrence of the word in this Gospel.

Into him (εἰς ἐκεῖνον)

The pronoun of remote reference sets Judas apart from the company of the disciples.

Quickly (τάχιον)

Literally, more quickly. The comparative implies a command to hasten his work, which was already begun.

Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
The bag

See on John 12:6.

Buy (ἀγόρασον)

An incidental argument in favor of this gathering of the disciples having taken place on the evening of the Paschal feast. Had it been on the previous evening, no one would have thought of Judas going out at night to buy provisions for the feast, when there was the whole of the next day for it, nor would they have thought of his going out to seek the poor at that hour. The 15th Nisan, the time of the Passover celebration, was indeed invested with the sanctity of a Sabbath; but provision and preparation of the needful food was expressly allowed on that day. The Rabbinical rules even provided for the procuring of the Paschal lamb on the Passover eve when that happened to fall on the Sabbath.

Against the feast (εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν)

Rev., better, for the feast. The Passover feast. The meal of which they had been partaking was the preliminary meal, at the close of which the Passover was celebrated; just as, subsequently, the Eucharist was celebrated at the close of the Agape, or love-feast. Notice the different word, ἑορτή, feast, instead of δεῖπνον, supper, and the article with feast.

To the poor

Perhaps to help them procure their Paschal lamb.

He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
He (ἐκεῖνος)

See on John 13:27.

Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

Marking a crisis, at which Jesus is relieved of the presence of the traitor, and accepts the consequences of his treachery.

Is - glorified (ἐδοξάσθη)

Literally, was glorified. The aorist points to the withdrawal of Judas. Jesus was glorified through death, and His fate was sealed (humanly speaking) by Judas' going out. He speaks of the death and consequent glorification as already accomplished.

If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
If God be glorified in Him

The most ancient authorities omit.

In Himself (ἐν ἑαυτῷ)

His glory will be contained in and identified with the divine glory. Compare "the glory which I had with thee," παρὰ σοί (John 17:5). Ἑν in, indicates unity of being; παρά with, unity of position.

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
Little children (τεκνία)

Diminutive, occurring only here in the Gospel, but repeatedly in the First Epistle. Nowhere else in the New Testament.

Now (ἄρτι)

In John 13:31, now is νῦν, which marks the point of time absolutely. Ἄρτι marks the point of time as related to the past or to the future. Thus, "from the days of John the Baptist until now" (ἄρτι, Matthew 11:12). "Thinkest thou that I cannot now (ἄρτι) pray to my Father?" though succor has been delayed all along till now (Matthew 26:53). Here the word implies that the sorrowful announcement of Jesus' departure from His disciples had been withheld until the present. The time was now come.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
New (καινὴν)

See on Matthew 26:29.

Commandment (ἐντολὴν)

The word for a single commandment or injunction, but used also for the whole body of the moral precepts of Christianity. See 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 3:2. See also on James 2:8. This new commandment embodies the essential principle of the whole law. Compare also 1 John 3:23. Some interpreters instead of taking that ye love one another, etc., as the definition of the commandment, explain the commandment as referring to the ordinance of the Holy Communion, and render, "a new commandment (to observe this ordinance) I give unto you, in order that ye love one another." It is, however, more than improbable, and contrary to usage, that the Holy Supper should be spoken of as ἐντολὴ a commandment.

That (ἵνα)

With its usual telic force; indicating the scope and not merely the form or nature of the commandment.

As (καθὼς)

Rev., better, even as. Not a simple comparison (ὥσπερ), but a conformity; the love is to be of the same nature. There are, however, two ways of rendering the passage. 1. "I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another with the same devotion with which I loved you." 2. "I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another, even as up to this moment I loved you, in order that you may imitate my love one toward another." By the first rendering the character of the mutual love of Christians is described; by the second, its ground. The Rev. gives the latter in margin.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Shall - know (γνώσονται)

Perceive, or come to know.

My disciples (ἐμοὶ μαθηταί)

See on Matthew 12:49. Literally, disciples unto me. Compare John 15:8.

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
Now (ἄρτι)

Without waiting for a future time. See on John 13:33, and compare νῦν now, in John 13:36.

I will lay down my life

See on John 10:11.

Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Wilt thou lay down thy life?

For a similar repetition of Peter's own words, see on John 21:17.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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