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John 13:1

Context
Washing the Disciples’ Feet

13:1 Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time 1  had come to depart 2  from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. 3 

John 13:34

Context

13:34 “I give you a new commandment – to love 4  one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 5 

1 tn Grk “his hour.”

2 tn Grk “that he should depart.” The ἵνα (Jina) clause in Koine Greek frequently encroached on the simple infinitive (for the sake of greater clarity).

3 tn Or “he now loved them completely,” or “he now loved them to the uttermost” (see John 19:30). All of John 13:1 is a single sentence in Greek, although in English this would be unacceptably awkward. At the end of the verse the idiom εἰς τέλος (eis telos) was translated literally as “to the end” and the modern equivalents given in the note above, because there is an important lexical link between this passage and John 19:30, τετέλεσται (tetelestai, “It is ended”).

sn The full extent of Jesus’ love for his disciples is not merely seen in his humble service to them in washing their feet (the most common interpretation of the passage). The full extent of his love for them is demonstrated in his sacrificial death for them on the cross. The footwashing episode which follows then becomes a prophetic act, or acting out beforehand, of his upcoming death on their behalf. The message for the disciples was that they were to love one another not just in humble, self-effacing service, but were to be willing to die for one another. At least one of them got this message eventually, though none understood it at the time (see 1 John 3:16).

4 tn The ἵνα (Jina) clause gives the content of the commandment. This is indicated by a dash in the translation.

5 sn The idea that love is a commandment is interesting. In the OT the ten commandments have a setting in the covenant between God and Israel at Sinai; they were the stipulations that Israel had to observe if the nation were to be God’s chosen people. In speaking of love as the new commandment for those whom Jesus had chosen as his own (John 13:1, 15:16) and as a mark by which they could be distinguished from others (13:35), John shows that he is thinking of this scene in covenant terminology. But note that the disciples are to love “Just as I have loved you” (13:34). The love Jesus has for his followers cannot be duplicated by them in one sense, because it effects their salvation, since he lays down his life for them: It is an act of love that gives life to people. But in another sense, they can follow his example (recall to the end, 13:1; also 1 John 3:16, 4:16 and the interpretation of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet). In this way Jesus’ disciples are to love one another: They are to follow his example of sacrificial service to one another, to death if necessary.



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