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John 12:37-50

Context
The Outcome of Jesus’ Public Ministry Foretold

12:37 Although Jesus 1  had performed 2  so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, 12:38 so that the word 3  of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, 4 Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord 5  been revealed? 6  12:39 For this reason they could not believe, 7  because again Isaiah said,

12:40He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their heart, 8 

so that they would not see with their eyes

and understand with their heart, 9 

and turn to me, 10  and I would heal them. 11 

12:41 Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s 12  glory, and spoke about him.

12:42 Nevertheless, even among the rulers 13  many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees 14  they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, 15  so that they would not be put out of 16  the synagogue. 17  12:43 For they loved praise 18  from men more than praise 19  from God.

Jesus’ Final Public Words

12:44 But Jesus shouted out, 20  “The one who believes in me does not believe in me, but in the one who sent me, 21  12:45 and the one who sees me sees the one who sent me. 22  12:46 I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness. 12:47 If anyone 23  hears my words and does not obey them, 24  I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 25  12:48 The one who rejects me and does not accept 26  my words has a judge; 27  the word 28  I have spoken will judge him at the last day. 12:49 For I have not spoken from my own authority, 29  but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me 30  what I should say and what I should speak. 12:50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. 31  Thus the things I say, I say just as the Father has told me.” 32 

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

2 tn Or “done.”

3 tn Or “message.”

4 tn Grk “who said.”

5 tn “The arm of the Lord” is an idiom for “God’s great power” (as exemplified through Jesus’ miraculous signs). This response of unbelief is interpreted by the author as a fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah (Isa 53:1). The phrase ὁ βραχίων κυρίου (Jo braciwn kuriou) is a figurative reference to God’s activity and power which has been revealed in the sign-miracles which Jesus has performed (compare the previous verse).

6 sn A quotation from Isa 53:1.

7 sn The author explicitly states here that Jesus’ Jewish opponents could not believe, and quotes Isa 6:10 to show that God had in fact blinded their eyes and hardened their heart. This OT passage was used elsewhere in the NT to explain Jewish unbelief: Paul’s final words in Acts (28:26-27) are a quotation of this same passage, which he uses to explain why the Jewish people have not accepted the gospel he has preached. A similar passage (Isa 29:10) is quoted in a similar context in Rom 11:8.

8 tn Or “closed their mind.”

9 tn Or “their mind.”

10 tn One could also translate στραφῶσιν (strafwsin) as “repent” or “change their ways,” but both of these terms would be subject to misinterpretation by the modern English reader. The idea is one of turning back to God, however. The words “to me” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

11 sn A quotation from Isa 6:10.

12 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).

sn Because he saw Christs glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus.

13 sn The term rulers here denotes members of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews. Note the same word (“ruler”) is used to describe Nicodemus in 3:1.

14 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

15 tn The words “Jesus to be the Christ” are not in the Greek text, but are implied (see 9:22). As is often the case in Greek, the direct object is omitted for the verb ὡμολόγουν (Jwmologoun). Some translators supply an ambiguous “it,” or derive the implied direct object from the previous clause “believed in him” so that the rulers would not confess “their faith” or “their belief.” However, when one compares John 9:22, which has many verbal parallels to this verse, it seems clear that the content of the confession would have been “Jesus is the Christ (i.e., Messiah).”

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

16 tn Or “be expelled from.”

17 sn Compare John 9:22. See the note on synagogue in 6:59.

18 tn Grk “the glory.”

19 tn Grk “the glory.”

20 tn Grk “shouted out and said.”

21 sn The one who sent me refers to God.

22 sn Cf. John 1:18 and 14:9.

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

24 tn Or “guard them,” “keep them.”

25 sn Cf. John 3:17.

26 tn Or “does not receive.”

27 tn Grk “has one who judges him.”

28 tn Or “message.”

29 tn Grk “I have not spoken from myself.”

30 tn Grk “has given me commandment.”

31 tn Or “his commandment results in eternal life.”

32 tn Grk “The things I speak, just as the Father has spoken to me, thus I speak.”



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