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John 12:39-43

12:39 For this reason they could not believe, 1  because again Isaiah said,

12:40He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their heart, 2 

so that they would not see with their eyes

and understand with their heart, 3 

and turn to me, 4  and I would heal them. 5 

12:41 Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s 6  glory, and spoke about him.

12:42 Nevertheless, even among the rulers 7  many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees 8  they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, 9  so that they would not be put out of 10  the synagogue. 11  12:43 For they loved praise 12  from men more than praise 13  from God.

1 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.

2 tn Or “closed their mind.”

3 tn Or “their mind.”

4 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.

5 sn A quotation from Isa 6:10.

6 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.

7 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.

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

9 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.

10 tn Or “be expelled from.”

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

12 tn Grk “the glory.”

13 tn Grk “the glory.”

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