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John 1:38-39

Context
1:38 Jesus turned around and saw them following and said to them, “What do you want?” 1  So they said to him, “Rabbi” (which is translated Teacher), 2  “where are you staying?” 1:39 Jesus 3  answered, 4  “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 5 

1 tn Grk “What are you seeking?”

2 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

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

4 tn Grk “said to them.”

5 tn Grk “about the tenth hour.”

sn About four o’clock in the afternoon. What system of time reckoning is the author using? B. F. Westcott thought John, unlike the synoptic gospels, was using Roman time, which started at midnight (St. John, 282). This would make the time 10 a.m., which would fit here. But later in the Gospel’s Passover account (John 19:42, where the sixth hour is on the “eve of the Passover”) it seems clear the author had to be using Jewish reckoning, which began at 6 a.m. This would make the time here in 1:39 to be 4 p.m. This may be significant: If the hour was late, Andrew and the unnamed disciple probably spent the night in the same house where Jesus was staying, and the events of 1:41-42 took place on the next day. The evidence for Westcott’s view, that the Gospel is using Roman time, is very slim. The Roman reckoning which started at midnight was only used by authorities as legal time (for contracts, official documents, etc.). Otherwise, the Romans too reckoned time from 6 a.m. (e.g., Roman sundials are marked VI, not XII, for noon).



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