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John 13:23-26

Context
13:23 One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved, 1  was at the table 2  to the right of Jesus in a place of honor. 3  13:24 So Simon Peter 4  gestured to this disciple 5  to ask Jesus 6  who it was he was referring to. 7  13:25 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved 8  leaned back against Jesus’ chest and asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 13:26 Jesus replied, 9  “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread 10  after I have dipped it in the dish.” 11  Then he dipped the piece of bread in the dish 12  and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son.

1 sn Here for the first time the one Jesus loved, the ‘beloved disciple,’ is introduced. This individual also is mentioned in 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20. Some have suggested that this disciple is to be identified with Lazarus, since the Fourth Gospel specifically states that Jesus loved him (11:3, 5, 36). From the terminology alone this is a possibility; the author is certainly capable of using language in this way to indicate connections. But there is nothing else to indicate that Lazarus was present at the last supper; Mark 14:17 seems to indicate it was only the twelve who were with Jesus at this time, and there is no indication in the Fourth Gospel to the contrary. Nor does it appear that Lazarus ever stood so close to Jesus as the later references in chaps. 19, 20 and 21 seem to indicate. When this is coupled with the omission of all references to John son of Zebedee from the Fourth Gospel, it seems far more likely that the references to the beloved disciple should be understood as references to him.

2 tn Grk “was reclining.” This reflects the normal 1st century practice of eating a meal in a semi-reclining position.

3 tn Grk “was reclining in the bosom (or “lap”) of Jesus” (according to both L&N 17.25 and BDAG 65 s.v. ἀνάκειμαι 2 an idiom for taking the place of honor at a meal, but note the similar expression in John 1:18). Whether this position or the position to the left of Jesus should be regarded as the position of second highest honor (next to the host, in this case Jesus, who was in the position of highest honor) is debated. F. Prat, “Les places d’honneur chez les Juifs contemporains du Christ” (RSR 15 [1925]: 512-22), who argued that the table arrangement was that of the Roman triclinium (a U-shaped table with Jesus and two other disciples at the bottom of the U), considered the position to the left of Jesus to be the one of second highest honor. Thus the present translation renders this “a position of honor” without specifying which one (since both of the two disciples to the right and to the left of Jesus would be in positions of honor). Other translations differ as to how they handle the phrase ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ τοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ (en tw kolpw tou Ihsou; “leaning on Jesus’ bosom,” KJV; “lying close to the breast of Jesus,” RSV; “reclining on Jesus’ breast,” NASB; “reclining next to him,” NIV, NRSV) but the symbolic significance of the beloved disciple’s position seems clear. He is close to Jesus and in an honored position. The phrase as an idiom for a place of honor at a feast is attested in the Epistles of Pliny (the Younger) 4.22.4, an approximate contemporary of Paul.

sn Note that the same expression translated in a place of honor here (Grk “in the bosom of”) is used to indicate Jesus’ relationship with the Father in 1:18.

4 sn It is not clear where Simon Peter was seated. If he were on Jesus’ other side, it is difficult to see why he would not have asked the question himself. It would also have been difficult to beckon to the beloved disciple, on Jesus’ right, from such a position. So apparently Peter was seated somewhere else. It is entirely possible that Judas was seated to Jesus’ left. Matt 26:25 seems to indicate that Jesus could speak to him without being overheard by the rest of the group. Judas is evidently in a position where Jesus can hand him the morsel of food (13:26).

5 tn Grk “to this one”; the referent (the beloved disciple) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

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

7 sn That is, who would betray him (v. 21).

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

9 tn Grk “Jesus answered.”

10 sn The piece of bread was a broken-off piece of bread (not merely a crumb).

11 tn Grk “after I have dipped it.” The words “in the dish” are not in the Greek text, but the presence of a bowl or dish is implied.

12 tn The words “in the dish” are not in the Greek text, but the presence of a bowl or dish is implied.



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