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John 12:37-39

Context
The Outcome of Jesus’ Public Ministry Foretold

12:37 Although Jesus 1  had performed 2  so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, 12:38 so that the word 3  of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, 4 Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord 5  been revealed? 6  12:39 For this reason they could not believe, 7  because again Isaiah said,

1 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Or “done.”

3 tn Or “message.”

4 tn Grk “who said.”

5 tn “The arm of the Lord” is an idiom for “God’s great power” (as exemplified through Jesus’ miraculous signs). This response of unbelief is interpreted by the author as a fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah (Isa 53:1). The phrase ὁ βραχίων κυρίου (Jo braciwn kuriou) is a figurative reference to God’s activity and power which has been revealed in the sign-miracles which Jesus has performed (compare the previous verse).

6 sn A quotation from Isa 53:1.

7 sn The author explicitly states here that Jesus’ Jewish opponents could not believe, and quotes Isa 6:10 to show that God had in fact blinded their eyes and hardened their heart. This OT passage was used elsewhere in the NT to explain Jewish unbelief: Paul’s final words in Acts (28:26-27) are a quotation of this same passage, which he uses to explain why the Jewish people have not accepted the gospel he has preached. A similar passage (Isa 29:10) is quoted in a similar context in Rom 11:8.



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