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John 6:70-71

Context
6:70 Jesus replied, 1  “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is the devil?” 2  6:71 (Now he said this about Judas son of Simon Iscariot, 3  for Judas, 4  one of the twelve, was going to betray him.) 5 

1 tn Grk “Jesus answered them.”

2 tn Although most translations render this last phrase as “one of you is a devil,” such a translation presupposes that there is more than one devil. This finds roots in the KJV in which the Greek word for demon was often translated “devil.” In fact, the KJV never uses the word “demon.” (Sixty-two of the 63 NT instances of δαιμόνιον [daimonion] are translated “devil” [in Acts 17:18 the plural has been translated “gods”]. This can get confusing in places where the singular “devil” is used: Is Satan or one of the demons in view [cf. Matt 9:33 (demon); 13:39 (devil); 17:18 (demon); Mark 7:26 (demon); Luke 4:2 (devil); etc.]?) Now regarding John 6:70, both the construction in Greek and the technical use of διάβολος (diabolos) indicate that the one devil is in view. To object to the translation “the devil” because it thus equates Judas with Satan does not take into consideration that Jesus often spoke figuratively (e.g., “destroy this temple” [John 2:19]; “he [John the Baptist] is Elijah” [Matt 11:14]), even equating Peter with the devil on one occasion (Mark 8:33). According to ExSyn 249, “A curious phenomenon has occurred in the English Bible with reference to one particular monadic noun, διάβολος. The KJV translates both διάβολος and δαιμόνιον as ‘devil.’ Thus in the AV translators’ minds, ‘devil’ was not a monadic noun. Modern translations have correctly rendered δαιμόνιον as ‘demon’ and have, for the most part, recognized that διάβολος is monadic (cf., e.g., 1 Pet 5:8; Rev 20:2). But in John 6:70 modern translations have fallen into the error of the King James translators. The KJV has ‘one of you is a devil.’ So does the RSV, NRSV, ASV, NIV, NKJV, and the JB [Jerusalem Bible]. Yet there is only one devil…The legacy of the KJV still lives on, then, even in places where it ought not.”

3 sn At least six explanations for the name Iscariot have been proposed, but it is probably transliterated Hebrew with the meaning “man of Kerioth” (there are at least two villages that had that name). See D. A. Carson, John, 304.

4 tn Grk “this one”; the referent (Judas) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 sn This parenthetical statement by the author helps the reader understand Jesus’ statement one of you is the devil in the previous verse. This is the first mention of Judas in the Fourth Gospel, and he is immediately identified (as he is in the synoptic gospels, Matt 10:4, Mark 3:19, Luke 6:16) as the one who would betray Jesus.



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