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John 12:20-26

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Seekers

12:20 Now some Greeks 1  were among those who had gone up to worship at the feast. 12:21 So these approached Philip, 2  who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested, 3  “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew, and they both 4  went and told Jesus. 12:23 Jesus replied, 5  “The time 6  has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 7  12:24 I tell you the solemn truth, 8  unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. 9  But if it dies, it produces 10  much grain. 11  12:25 The one who loves his life 12  destroys 13  it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards 14  it for eternal life. 12:26 If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow 15  me, and where I am, my servant will be too. 16  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

1 sn These Greeks (῞Ελληνές τινες, {ellhne" tine") who had come up to worship at the feast were probably “God-fearers” rather than proselytes in the strict sense. Had they been true proselytes, they would probably not have been referred to as Greeks any longer. Many came to worship at the major Jewish festivals without being proselytes to Judaism, for example, the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27, who could not have been a proselyte if he were physically a eunuch.

2 sn These Greeks approached Philip, although it is not clear why they did so. Perhaps they identified with his Greek name (although a number of Jews from border areas had Hellenistic names at this period). By see it is clear they meant “speak with,” since anyone could “see” Jesus moving through the crowd. The author does not mention what they wanted to speak with Jesus about.

3 tn Grk “and were asking him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated here.

4 tn Grk “Andrew and Philip”; because a repetition of the proper names would be redundant in contemporary English style, the phrase “they both” has been substituted in the translation.

5 tn Grk “Jesus answered them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated here.

6 tn Grk “the hour.”

7 sn Jesus’ reply, the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, is a bit puzzling. As far as the author’s account is concerned, Jesus totally ignores these Greeks and makes no further reference to them whatsoever. It appears that his words are addressed to Andrew and Philip, but in fact they must have had a wider audience, including possibly the Greeks who had wished to see him in the first place. The words the time has come recall all the previous references to “the hour” throughout the Fourth Gospel (see the note on time in 2:4). There is no doubt, in light of the following verse, that Jesus refers to his death here. On his pathway to glorification lies the cross, and it is just ahead.

8 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

9 tn Or “it remains only a single kernel.”

10 tn Or “bears.”

11 tn Grk “much fruit.”

12 tn Or “soul.”

13 tn Or “loses.” Although the traditional English translation of ἀπολλύει (apolluei) in John 12:25 is “loses,” the contrast with φυλάξει (fulaxei, “keeps” or “guards”) in the second half of the verse favors the meaning “destroy” here.

14 tn Or “keeps.”

15 tn As a third person imperative in Greek, ἀκολουθείτω (akolouqeitw) is usually translated “let him follow me.” This could be understood by the modern English reader as merely permissive, however (“he may follow me if he wishes”). In this context there is no permissive sense, but rather a command, so the translation “he must follow me” is preferred.

16 tn Grk “where I am, there my servant will be too.”



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