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John 12:20-36

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Seekers

12:20 Now some Greeks 1  were among those who had gone up to worship at the feast. 12:21 So these approached Philip, 2  who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested, 3  “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew, and they both 4  went and told Jesus. 12:23 Jesus replied, 5  “The time 6  has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 7  12:24 I tell you the solemn truth, 8  unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. 9  But if it dies, it produces 10  much grain. 11  12:25 The one who loves his life 12  destroys 13  it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards 14  it for eternal life. 12:26 If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow 15  me, and where I am, my servant will be too. 16  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

12:27 “Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me 17  from this hour’? 18  No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour. 19  12:28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, 20  “I have glorified it, 21  and I will glorify it 22  again.” 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard the voice 23  said that it had thundered. Others said that an angel had spoken to him. 24  12:30 Jesus said, 25  “This voice has not come for my benefit 26  but for yours. 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world 27  will be driven out. 28  12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people 29  to myself.” 12:33 (Now he said this to indicate clearly what kind of death he was going to die.) 30 

12:34 Then the crowd responded, 31  “We have heard from the law that the Christ 32  will remain forever. 33  How 34  can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 12:35 Jesus replied, 35  “The light is with you for a little while longer. 36  Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. 37  The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become sons of light.” 38  When Jesus had said these things, he went away and hid himself from them.

1 sn These Greeks (῞Ελληνές τινες, {ellhne" tine") who had come up to worship at the feast were probably “God-fearers” rather than proselytes in the strict sense. Had they been true proselytes, they would probably not have been referred to as Greeks any longer. Many came to worship at the major Jewish festivals without being proselytes to Judaism, for example, the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27, who could not have been a proselyte if he were physically a eunuch.

2 sn These Greeks approached Philip, although it is not clear why they did so. Perhaps they identified with his Greek name (although a number of Jews from border areas had Hellenistic names at this period). By see it is clear they meant “speak with,” since anyone could “see” Jesus moving through the crowd. The author does not mention what they wanted to speak with Jesus about.

3 tn Grk “and were asking him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated here.

4 tn Grk “Andrew and Philip”; because a repetition of the proper names would be redundant in contemporary English style, the phrase “they both” has been substituted in the translation.

5 tn Grk “Jesus answered them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated here.

6 tn Grk “the hour.”

7 sn Jesus’ reply, the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, is a bit puzzling. As far as the author’s account is concerned, Jesus totally ignores these Greeks and makes no further reference to them whatsoever. It appears that his words are addressed to Andrew and Philip, but in fact they must have had a wider audience, including possibly the Greeks who had wished to see him in the first place. The words the time has come recall all the previous references to “the hour” throughout the Fourth Gospel (see the note on time in 2:4). There is no doubt, in light of the following verse, that Jesus refers to his death here. On his pathway to glorification lies the cross, and it is just ahead.

8 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

9 tn Or “it remains only a single kernel.”

10 tn Or “bears.”

11 tn Grk “much fruit.”

12 tn Or “soul.”

13 tn Or “loses.” Although the traditional English translation of ἀπολλύει (apolluei) in John 12:25 is “loses,” the contrast with φυλάξει (fulaxei, “keeps” or “guards”) in the second half of the verse favors the meaning “destroy” here.

14 tn Or “keeps.”

15 tn As a third person imperative in Greek, ἀκολουθείτω (akolouqeitw) is usually translated “let him follow me.” This could be understood by the modern English reader as merely permissive, however (“he may follow me if he wishes”). In this context there is no permissive sense, but rather a command, so the translation “he must follow me” is preferred.

16 tn Grk “where I am, there my servant will be too.”

17 tn Or “save me.”

18 tn Or “this occasion.”

sn Father, deliver me from this hour. It is now clear that Jesus’ hour has come – the hour of his return to the Father through crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension (see 12:23). This will be reiterated in 13:1 and 17:1. Jesus states (employing words similar to those of Ps 6:4) that his soul is troubled. What shall his response to his imminent death be? A prayer to the Father to deliver him from that hour? No, because it is on account of this very hour that Jesus has come. His sacrificial death has always remained the primary purpose of his mission into the world. Now, faced with the completion of that mission, shall he ask the Father to spare him from it? The expected answer is no.

19 tn Or “this occasion.”

20 tn Or “from the sky” (see note on 1:32).

21 tn “It” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

22 tn “It” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

23 tn “The voice” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

24 tn Grk “Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” The direct discourse in the second half of v. 29 was converted to indirect discourse in the translation to maintain the parallelism with the first half of the verse, which is better in keeping with English style.

25 tn Grk “Jesus answered and said.”

26 tn Or “for my sake.”

27 sn The ruler of this world is a reference to Satan.

28 tn Or “will be thrown out.” This translation regards the future passive ἐκβληθήσεται (ekblhqhsetai) as referring to an event future to the time of speaking.

sn The phrase driven out must refer to Satan’s loss of authority over this world. This must be in principle rather than in immediate fact, since 1 John 5:19 states that the whole world (still) lies in the power of the evil one (a reference to Satan). In an absolute sense the reference is proleptic. The coming of Jesus’ hour (his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and exaltation to the Father) marks the end of Satan’s domain and brings about his defeat, even though that defeat has not been ultimately worked out in history yet and awaits the consummation of the age.

29 tn Grk “all.” The word “people” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for stylistic reasons and for clarity (cf. KJV “all men”).

30 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

31 tn Grk “Then the crowd answered him.”

32 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

33 tn Probably an allusion to Ps 89:35-37. It is difficult to pinpoint the passage in the Mosaic law to which the crowd refers. The ones most often suggested are Ps 89:36-37, Ps 110:4, Isa 9:7, Ezek 37:25, and Dan 7:14. None of these passages are in the Pentateuch per se, but “law” could in common usage refer to the entire OT (compare Jesus’ use in John 10:34). Of the passages mentioned, Ps 89:36-37 is the most likely candidate. This verse speaks of David’s “seed” remaining forever. Later in the same psalm, v. 51 speaks of the “anointed” (Messiah), and the psalm was interpreted messianically in both the NT (Acts 13:22, Rev 1:5, 3:14) and in the rabbinic literature (Genesis Rabbah 97).

34 tn Grk “And how”; the conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has been left untranslated here for improved English style.

35 tn Grk “Then Jesus said to them.”

36 tn Grk “Yet a little while the light is with you.”

37 sn The warning Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you operates on at least two different levels: (1) To the Jewish people in Jerusalem to whom Jesus spoke, the warning was a reminder that there was only a little time left for them to accept him as their Messiah. (2) To those later individuals to whom the Fourth Gospel was written, and to every person since, the words of Jesus are also a warning: There is a finite, limited time in which each individual has opportunity to respond to the Light of the world (i.e., Jesus); after that comes darkness. One’s response to the Light decisively determines one’s judgment for eternity.

38 tn The idiom “sons of light” means essentially “people characterized by light,” that is, “people of God.”

sn The expression sons of light refers to men and women to whom the truth of God has been revealed and who are therefore living according to that truth, thus, “people of God.”



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