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John 12:38-40

Context
12:38 so that the word 1  of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, 2 Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord 3  been revealed? 4  12:39 For this reason they could not believe, 5  because again Isaiah said,

12:40He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their heart, 6 

so that they would not see with their eyes

and understand with their heart, 7 

and turn to me, 8  and I would heal them. 9 

1 tn Or “message.”

2 tn Grk “who said.”

3 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).

4 sn A quotation from Isa 53:1.

5 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.

6 tn Or “closed their mind.”

7 tn Or “their mind.”

8 tn One could also translate στραφῶσιν (strafwsin) as “repent” or “change their ways,” but both of these terms would be subject to misinterpretation by the modern English reader. The idea is one of turning back to God, however. The words “to me” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

9 sn A quotation from Isa 6:10.



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