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On the Gospel of John, Part 33: Light and Truth
In our last presentation from chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, we made the assertion that Self-sacrifice is the Ideal Sacrifice. Speaking of the sin which is made manifest by the Law, Paul had informed his readers in chapter 5 of his first epistle to the Corinthians to “7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”, and then in chapter 10 of his epistle to the Hebrews Paul had written “11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” So there is no other sacrifice that Christians can make except where Christ Himself had admonished, as it is recorded in three gospels, that “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Therefore self-sacrifice is not only the ideal sacrifice, but it is the only sacrifice which is expected of Christians, and everything else, the rituals and the sacraments and the pretensions of piety, is superfluous and vain.
This is also evident where, the second time that this same admonition is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 10, we see an exchange between Christ and a wealthy young man, which occurred after Christ, being in Judaea, had once again been challenged by the Pharisees, and then we read: “17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
With this we see that Christians must continue to keep the commandments of God, but above and beyond that, if they desire to store up treasure in heaven, then they should dedicate themselves to the service of their communities, rather than spend their lives amassing wealth to themselves. Later here in John, Christ tells His disciples, in John chapter 13: “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
This was a new commandment in the way that it was expressed and in the historical context in which it was made, but it was not really a new commandment. In the priestly law, in Leviticus chapter 19, we read “13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. 14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind [physically as well as allegorically], but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD. 15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. [This expresses the concept of equal judgment under the law.] 16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”
Contrary to any wrong impression one may have from the exchange between Christ and that young man, Christianity is not Communism. Rather than compulsion, it is left to the Christian to decide what he may or may not choose to sacrifice, and it is left for God alone to judge the Christian. This we see in the encounter with Zacchaeus in Jericho, as Christ is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time, and we read in Luke chapter 19: “1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Here we see that Zacchaeus himself decided how much of his wealth he should give for the benefit of his people, and choosing to give away half of his goods, and to atone for whatever he may have unjustly deprived others, for that he was justified by Christ even though it is evident that he was still left with great wealth. Zacchaeus, not Marx, had decided how much he was willing to sacrifice. We have also often explained in our commentaries that wealth is a trial from God, just as poverty is often a trial, and that Yahweh gives wealth to men that they may advance His kingdom. This is evident in Deuteronomy chapter 8: “11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
So we see that Yahweh our God leads us through our trials, and when we are edified, when we have abundance, we have a responsibility to edify our brethren in return, to devote at least a portion of our bounty for their well-being. So when Zacchaeus made a confession and repented, promising to give away half of his wealth, Christ made the exclamation that “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”, speaking not only of Zacchaeus, but of the result of Zacchaeus’ repentance, that many of his kindred would also benefit from his repentance, and all in the name of Christ. Men who turn to Christ and devote themselves to their people as He had done dedicate themselves to the preservation of their own kindred communities, and eventually the Kingdom of Heaven becomes manifest on earth. However Christ had “come to seek and to save that which was lost”, and in another place in the Gospel, in Matthew chapter 15, we read where He informed us that “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and with that we see precisely whom He had come to save.
So Christianity is not Communism economically, and neither is it Communistic socially, as the Marxists have perverted the Word of God in many ways in order to push their not-so-secret Jewish agenda among Christians. First, reading Leviticus 19:18 once more, it defines the term neighbour for us: “18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…” Therefore one’s neighbour must also be one of the “children of thy people”, one of the same kindred race. As we have explained in past commentaries, most fully perhaps in a portion of our commentary on Acts chapter 7, the Hebrew word for neighbor is: “Strong’s Hebrew #7453, reya', a word said to be derived from that found at #7462, ra'ah [a similar-sounding word], and which is ‘an associate (more or less close)’ and Strong lists the King James Version translations of the word as ‘brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbor ... (an-) other’… The root word of [reya'] 7453, [ra'ah] 7462, is defined by Strong as ‘a primitive root; to tend a flock, i.e. pasture it; intransitive to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension to associate with (as a friend)...’ and so it is apparent that if one is a member of the flock… neighbor… can only be a fellow sheep! So we see that if one is of your flock, he is a neighbor. But if one is not of your flock, he cannot ever be a neighbor. A wolf who moves into the sheepfold can never be a sheep, and therefore he can never be a neighbor!” The context of that passage in Leviticus, that a neighbor is one of the “children of thy people”, and the fact that the children of Israel were already commanded to be a separate and peculiar people, proves the validity of this understanding of the definition beyond dispute. We read in Exodus chapter 19: “ 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine”, but this never applied to the people who are known today as Jews. Rather, it applied to those of the “twelve tribes scattered abroad” who had ultimately turned to Christ.
This is also evident in the first epistle of Peter. Marxism insists that all people of all races are equal, but Peter said of those early White Europeans who were turning to Christ “9 But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light, 10 who at one time were ‘not a people’ but now are the people of Yahweh, those who ‘have not been shown mercy’ but are now shown mercy.” The fact that Peter had cited Hosea chapter 1 in relation to his description of “an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” also proves that he was addressing the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” for whom Christ had come, the twelve tribes scattered abroad, as Hosea’s words can only be applied to them. The words “elect race… holy nation… peculiar people” distinguish a particular race above all others, just as Yahweh had said in Exodus chapter 19. So Peter explained that it is they who were being “called into the wonder of His light”, and for now, as we commence with John chapter 13, we may further discuss the substance of that light into which they have been called, if indeed they are of His flock:
35 Therefore Yahshua said to them “Yet a little the Light is with you. Walk while [A, B, D and W have ‘as’; the text follows P66, א and the MT] you have the Light, that the darkness may not overtake you, as he walking in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, in order that you may be sons of Light.”
We read in the closing verses of the 97th Psalm: “10 Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” This light which was sown for the righteous is indeed the light of Christ, as He came into the world. As we had also explained earlier in this commentary, the wonderful things which Christ had done are meant to be evident only to those who are humble and who fear God, so it says in Isaiah chapter 35: “4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” This is also the “light sown for the righteous” and upright in heart.
In the opening verses of the book of Genesis we read: “1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Notice that the existence of darkness is only implicit, that God did not necessarily have to create it. But the physical light which comes into the world emanates from the sun, the reflections of the sun from the moon, and to a lesser degree, from the light from the stars.
These sources of physical light were not created until later, as we read a little further on in Genesis: “14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament [or expanse] of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
With this it cannot be imagined that the light created in those first verses of Genesis is a literal light, something which we cannot discern without sun, moon and stars, with the exception of other natural phenomena, such as lightning or fire. Without sun, moon and stars there is no physical light or darkness, no night and no day. Therefore on the first day of the Genesis creation, Yahweh is speaking allegorically of concepts and representations, and not of natural phenomena.
In Part 2 of this commentary, which was subtitled The Light of the World, speaking in relation to the opening verses of John's gospel we said in part: So we believe that this aspect of the creation account in Genesis is actually describing the order of an important concept, that before anything else existed on earth or in the heavens, light and darkness are distinguished as what emanates from God, and what is not of God. So we read “4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.”
Now I would further risk the assertion that the light created in those earliest chapters of Genesis means to also describe God Himself in the physical and spiritual aspects by which He had chosen to present Himself to man. Yahweh our God is invisible, as Paul of Tarsus reminds us on five occasions in his epistles, yet the existence of light as opposed to darkness informs us of His being. Christ Himself is one of those emanations from God. First, that Light is His Word, truth as opposed to lies and law as opposed to chaos and rebellion. Then, that Light is Christ, as He is the Light of God come into the world and also the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. Christ is also that Word made flesh, and therefore He is the physical manifestation of that same God which said “Let there be light”, and He in His physical form is that Light.
Since the existence of darkness in those opening verses of Genesis chapter 1 is only implicit, one cannot perceive darkness until Yahweh God had said “let there be light”, and darkness became manifest. Men cannot perceive darkness without the Word of God, without having accepted His light, even as they themselves sit in darkness. So in a different way, Paul of Tarsus had said in Romans chapter 7 “But I had not perceived sin, unless by the law…” Paul had also explained in Romans chapter 5 that until the law sin was in the world, but sin was not imputed where there was no law, and evidently all men walked in darkness, with only a few exceptions. So without the Word of God, men cannot perceive the Light, just as without light, men are ignorant as to the darkness. Those first verses of Genesis point us to Yahshua Christ, who said to His adversaries in John chapter 5: “46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
Now, with the Gospel and other writings of the New Testament, men can understand the full extent of the nature of the evil of those who refuse to believe God, while previously they were in darkness. In the opening verses of his gospel, John wrote: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Then again, a few verses later and speaking of John the Baptist: “7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” So the first thing which is made evident in the Creation account is the presence of God Himself, manifest in the creation of Light as opposed to darkness, and Yahshua Christ is the very personification of that Light.
Where Christ had said “Walk while you have the Light, that the darkness may not overtake you, as he walking in the darkness does not know where he goes”, Paul of Tarsus had made a similar analogy in Ephesians chapter 5, and it is indeed evident in history that all of the subjects of his epistles were descended from the ancient Israelites, who were all put off by Yahweh into the darkness of the ancient captivities. So Paul wrote in that chapter: “8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Prince [or Lord]. Walk as children of light. 9 (For the fruit of the light is in all goodness and justness and truth, 10 scrutinizing what is acceptable to the Prince.) 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead even reprove them. 12 For the things being done by them secretly it is disgraceful even to speak of. 13 Now all things being reproved by the light are made manifest. 14 For everything being made manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awaken, you who are sleeping, and rise up from among the dead, and Christ shall shine upon you.’”
Then Christ had said here, as it is recorded in the opening clause of verse 36: “36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, in order that you may be sons of Light.” Likewise, Paul had told the Thessalonians, in chapter 5 of his first epistle to them: “7 For those falling asleep, by night they fall asleep, and those getting drunk, by night they get drunk. 8 But we being of day should be sober, putting on a breastplate of faith and love, and a helmet: an expectation of deliverance. 9 Because Yahweh has not ordained us for wrath, but for the acquisition of preservation through our Prince Yahshua Christ, 10 who died on behalf of us, that whether we would be alert or we would sleep, together with Him we would live.” While all Israel is saved, either awake or asleep, Paul makes an analogy that those who sleep or who are drunken do so “at night”, because they submit themselves to the power of darkness. Those who are awake, or alert, do so because they follow Christ, and do as He had instructed, exercising the faith and love which He commanded for them to have, and for them that would be a sign of their assured salvation.
Again, Christ had said here “believe in the Light, in order that you may be sons of Light”, but that does not mean that His people can be literal sons of darkness. We had just seen where Paul had written to the Ephesians that they “were once darkness, but are now light in the Prince.” As we have seen often in this commentary on John, in Isaiah chapter 42 it is prophesied of the Messiah that His purpose for the so-called “lost sheep” was “7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” In many places, it is evident that the children of God are expected to be obedient to Him if they are to maintain their status as His children, which is the meaning of the word υἱοθεσία, the position or status of a son, which the King James Version had inaccurately translated as adoption.
To that end, Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 4: “3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law [the lost sheep of the house of Israel], that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Paul went on to encourage them to obedience, which is a necessary component of belief. If one is disobedient, one does not truly believe the Christ who had said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” So Paul told the Galatians that “because ye are sons”, because they were also once under the law and disobedient, being descended from the ancient Israelites, that “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts”. So the children of light are consigned to darkness when they have not their God, but once they comply with His Will, they can be the sons of light which they truly are, so long as they believe in the light.
One other aspect of the words of Christ here is that by asserting for Himself to be the Light of the world, and further asserting that men must follow Him if they are to remain in the light, Christ is also in effect claiming a right to kingship. This is because the ancient kings claimed for themselves to be the Sun on earth, the light of the world. In Part 2 of this commentary on John, which is titled The Light of the World, we explained at length how ancient kings had claimed for themselves to be the “sun on earth”, from the Hittites and Egyptians to the kings of Babylon. In surviving Sumero-Akkadian hymns and prayers, the sun, the sun-god and the king were all referred to by the same word. In early Egypt the sun-god was associated with the pharaohs. Around the same time as the birth of Christ, the cult of Mithra was spreading from the East, from Persia, and Mithra was supposedly an angelic divinity of light, a protector of truth, and the god of oaths and covenants. Perhaps this was all a corruption branching from the same Magi who also recognized Christ. Inscriptions dating to the 2nd century AD link sol invictus, or the invincible sun, to the imperial cult of Rome, but the sun-god cult in Rome was also very old. So all of this may have given the Jews reason to despise Him even more, since they must have known what He had meant by these assertions.
Now for the conclusion of verse 36, which we had stopped short of finishing:
36… Yahshua said these things, and having departed hid from them.
As we left off from our last presentation of this commentary on John, four days before the Passover on which He would be crucified, Yahshua Christ was at the temple in Jerusalem following His triumphal march into the city. Then He gave a discourse elucidating His fate when there came a voice from heaven, which attracted the attention of the crowds and caused a dispute as to what it was. So Christ addressed the crowd and they further contended, saying “We have heard from the law that the Christ abides forever, and how do You say that it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” To that, His only answer was this discourse on the light which we began with here this evening, in verses 35 and 36. Now John did not record their direct responses, but evidently, once again, Yahshua slipped away from them before they could cause Him further trouble, and now John explains why they did not believe Him, by citing the prophet Isaiah:
37 Now having made so many signs [P66 has “made these signs”] before them, they did not believe [P66 has “they have not believed”] in Him, 38 in order that the word of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled, which says [P75 wants “which says”]: “Yahweh, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?”
This is a quotation from Isaiah chapter 53, which is certainly a notable Messianic prophecy. Here we shall read the first few verses: “1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Paul of Tarsus would cite this same passage later, in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans, in the verse preceding the one in which Paul cited this passage, Paul also cited Isaiah 52:7 where it says “ 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” So John understood these to be a prophecy of Christ, and Paul also connected the publication of the Gospel of Christ to this same prophecy, and the phenomenon which it describes. Yahweh knew that the people would be divided on account of His enemies, and had asked rhetorically “Who hath believed our report?”, understanding that many would be led astray, and others were never supposed to hear. Now John turns to cite another passage of the same prophet, from Isaiah chapter 6:
39 For this reason they have not been able to believe, [D inserts “for also”] because again Isaiah said: 40 “He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, [D has only ‘He has blinded their hearts’] that they should not see with the eyes and [P66 and D insert ‘do not’] perceive with their hearts and turn about, that I shall heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because [D and the MT have “when”; W has “since”; the text follows P66, P75, א, A and B] he had seen His honor [D has “seen the honor of his God”], and had spoken concerning Him.
Now let us read again that final clause from John 12:36: “Yahshua said these things, and having departed hid from them.” Evidently, He was able to hide Himself in plain sight, so that men could not see Him so that He may elude them. This He had also done on several prior occasions, when at times His adversaries wanted to seize Him or to stone Him. Yahshua Christ being the Light and the Truth of God, He may choose who sees Him, and who cannot see Him, therefore in the circumstances of this event we also have a parable. Until the time of His choosing He could choose which men could see Him, or which could not, and even now He chooses which men may come to the Light and the Truth, and which men remain blind to that Light and Truth. But if a man walks not in that light and truth, neither shall he even know that he remains in darkness. The darkness cannot be known unless one knows the light.
Returning to the passage of Isaiah which John cites here, where Yahweh was addressing the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Isaiah chapter 5, we read: “1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” So, addressing the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the sins which they would commit, Yahweh continues to profess His love and purpose for the house of Israel and the men of Judah. There are three parties here: 1) the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 2) the house of Israel, and 3) the men of Judah. Then in verse 13, in the midst of describing their sins and the resulting punishments, He says “13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.”
The first five chapters of Isaiah were written during the life of Uzziah, King of Judah, and by the end of his rule the Assyrians were already beginning to take into captivity at least some of the children of Israel, but had not yet reached Judah. Later, in chapter 6 of Isaiah, we see a vision given upon the death of this king: “1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”
Where Isaiah saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up”, he must have had a premonition of Christ, perhaps similar to that of the “Ancient of days” later envisioned by the prophet Daniel. That is why John said here in verse 41 that “Isaiah said these things because he had seen His honor, and had spoken concerning Him.” The seraphim are interpreted to be brazen serpents, or perhaps mere works of brass. Where they cover their faces and their feet, perhaps that represents shame from being in the presence of God, as Isaiah also attested that he himself was not worthy to see this vision. But the Lord on His throne would forgive sin, and Isaiah’s sins were forgiven. Upon that, the prophet receives a message, which was ostensibly for the same people of Jerusalem which he had addressed earlier. That is elucidated in the last sentence of the chapter, which is very obscure, and I had long ago translated it for myself, but here I shall attempt it anew: “Yet a tenth will return to be kindled, like a terebinth, and like an oak. Because by its felling is a monument, in the holy seed is a monument.” So the remnant which returns to Jerusalem, perhaps a tenth of the original inhabitants, would grow like a tree, and then be kindled, or tried, and they too would fall, but in that fall in the holy seed there would be a monument. In any event, this is precisely what seems to have happened in Judaea with Yahshua Christ and the eventual destruction of the city.
Once again, Paul of Tarsus made a very similar analogy in Romans chapter 11, and also cited this same passage from Isaiah chapter 6, where he wrote: “7 What then, what Israel seeks after, this it did not attain to? But the chosen have succeeded, and the rest were hardened, 8 just as it is written, ‘Yahweh has given to them a spirit of slumber, eyes that see not, and ears that hear not, unto this very day.’ 9 And David says, ‘Their dining table will be for a snare, and for a hunting of beasts, and for a trap, and for a repayment to them;’ 10 ‘Their eyes will be darkened to not see, and their backs continually bow.’ 11 Now I say, did they stumble in order that they would fall? Certainly not! But in their fall is preservation to the Nations, for the provocation of them to jealousy. 12 But if their fall is the wealth of the Society, and their defeat the wealth of the Nations, how much more their fullness? ” Paul understood that the nations to whom he brought the Gospel were the nations promised to have come from the seed of Abraham, and the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel. However speaking of the fall of the people in Judaea, he had already distinguished them as two distinct groups, Israelites and Edomites, in Romans chapter 9, and avowed that he only had care for the Israelites, his “kinsman according to the flesh”, calling them “vessels of mercy” while describing the Edomites as “vessels of destruction”.
Those Israelites in Jerusalem who were blind had been blinded by God Himself so that His will, which He had expressed in the prophets long beforetime, could be brought to its fulfillment. But His enemies, the “vessels of destruction”, were indeed the vessels by which He blinded the people. His enemies are always in darkness, as those who rebelled against God in ancient times, from which, in part, the Canaanites and Edomites had descended, were described as angels chained in darkness, awaiting the judgment of the great day, by both Jude and Peter. Paul prayed only for his Israelite kinsmen, because he knew that it was not too late for them to come to the truth, even in 57 AD when he wrote his epistle to the Romans. If they had, then Christ would have healed them. If they did not, then their posterity is certainly mingled with that of His enemies, who shall all be destroyed.
The passage in Isaiah chapter 6 concerning the blindness of at least many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem before their Messiah was cited in this chapter of John and in Romans chapter 11, as we have seen here, and also in reference to Christ in Matthew chapter 13, Mark chapter 4, Luke chapter 8 and Acts chapter 28. Very few Old Testament passages are cited in the New Testament as frequently as this one. But there is also a precursor, in Deuteronomy chapter 29 where Yahweh is addressing the children of Israel in relation to everything that He had done for them in the Exodus, and He said “3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.” So we see that many times, when men do not perceive truth, when men do not see the light, it is the will of Yahweh so that He can do His Will. Therefore we cannot gloat when we think we see, and we cannot despise our brethren when they remain blind, regardless of our obligation to share with them what we believe to be truth, and when we ourselves find truth, it is certinaly a blessing from Yahweh our God for which we must praise Him.
Now John recognizes that there certainly were Israelites among the Judaeans who believed Christ, but they would not admit it openly, ostensibly for fear of the Jews:
42 Yet likewise even many of the leaders believed in Him, but on account of the Pharisees they would not profess it lest they would be expelled from the assembly hall, 43 for they cherished the honor of men more than even [א and W have “more exceeding than”; the text follows P66, P75, A, B, D and the MT] the honor of Yahweh.
The 1st century Judaeans were compelled by Rome to suffer under oppressive Edomite rulers, which included the Herodians and also many of the high priests and other officers. So while many of the wealthy and ruling class were Israelites, they were nevertheless compelled to fall in line with their Edomite masters. Even Joseph of Arimathaea, who was evidently quite wealthy, was a disciple secretly, “for fear of the Jews”, as we read in John chapter 19. These men believing in Christ, but agreeing with His enemies in their actions, they would suffer the punishment which would come upon His enemies. For that reason, Paul prayed for his “kinsman according to the flesh” in Romans chapter 9, as he knew what was going to befall them if they did not repent, as he expressed in Romans chapter 16 where he wrote “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” That epistle was written in 57 AD, and thirteen years later the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, fulfilling Paul’s words as well as those in the prophecy of Daniel chapter 9 which also forebode the then-imminent destruction of Jerusalem.
Now in spite of these lessons, today Christian politicians once again do this same thing. They are pressured and vacillate to the will of the Jews, so that the entire society is once again controlled by Jews. They cherish the honor of men rather than the honor of Christ. And even worse, today Christians actually elect their Jewish rulers. But a Christian who pulls a ballot switch for a Jewish politician may as well be pulling the trigger on a pistol pointed at his own head. Christians also have a warning regarding this same thing today, to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” History certainly shall repeat itself, until men learn from its lessons to be obedient to God.
44 Then Yahshua cried out and said: “He believing in Me does not believe in Me but in He who had sent Me, 45 and he seeing Me sees [P66 inserts ‘also’] He who has sent Me!
The prophecies of God spoke of Christ and described things which Christ fulfilled throughout all the books of the Old Testament, from Moses to David and throughout the prophets. So anyone believing Christ certainly does believe that Old Testament God.
The last portion of this verse may be interpreted in several ways. First, Christ had just eluded His enemies by hiding Himself from them so they could not see Him depart. Then, Christ may be referring not merely to those who can see Him, but to those who can see and understand Him. But finally, He is God incarnate, so those who look upon Him are looking upon God Himself, as He later said to Philip, in John chapter 14: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” Christ being the physical representation of Yahweh, and God being invisible by nature, there is no other way to see God but to see Christ, for which reason Paul had called Him “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person”, in Hebrews chapter 1. The phrase “brightness of His glory” once again equates Him to that first Light created in the opening verses of Genesis chapter 1. So Christ continues in that same manner:
46 I am the Light having come into the Society, that each [P66 and B have ‘he’, wanting πᾶς] believing in Me should not abide in darkness!
In Exodus chapter 10 we see a type for this, where one of the signs made through Moses to the pharaoh was that Israel would have light in the darkness: “22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” In Revelation chapter 21 we see a vision of the City of God that also distinguishes this light from the works of darkness, where we read “22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” The Lamb being the light of the City of God, He is also the light created by God in those opening verses of Genesis.
47 And if one should hear and should not keep My words [P66 has ‘should hear My words and should not keep them’; D and 070 have ‘should hear and keep My words’, which must be an error; W ‘should hear but not keep My words’; the MT has ‘should hear and not believe My words’; the text follows P75, א, A and B], I do not judge him. For I have not come that I judge the Society, but that I shall save the Society!
Of course, as we demonstrated in Part 9 of this commentary, titled The World of Salvation, the world which Christ came to save was described by Solomon in his Wisdom as that same world which was represented in the stones that were set into the breastplate of the high priest, which is the world, or society, of the children of Israel. Christians, who are properly of the children of Israel, must know that they are already forgiven for their sins, as the apostle John had written in chapter 2 of his first epistle: “1 My children, I write these things to you in order that you do not sin. And if one should sin, we have an Advocate with the Father: the righteous Yahshua Christ. 2 And He is a propitiation on behalf of our sins; yet not for ours only but for the whole Society.” For that reason, Paul also wrote as if Christians were already in the Kingdom of God, in Colossians chapter 1, where among other things he urges that they walk: “12 being thankful to the Father, who qualifies us for that share of the inheritance of the saints in the light, 13 who has rescued us from the authority of darkness, and instead gave us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption: the dismissal of sins. 15 Who is the likeness of the invisible God, first born of all the creation.” As we have said, Yahweh is invisible, and Christ is the Light which He created in the beginning, so in that way, being Yahweh, He is also first-born of all the creation.
48 He rejecting Me and not receiving My words has one judging him: the Word which I have spoken, that shall judge him on the last day.
Paul had explained in 1 Timothy chapter 5 that “24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” So Christ is also the light which makes manifest the sins of men. Those who accept Him are already preserved. Those who reject Him will be judged by the Word of God. That Word, as it is expressed in the Old Testament, already condemns His enemies, it already condemns all of the corruptions of His creation, and they do not hear His voice because they are not His sheep. Their judgment shall be a matter of their origin, since that is how the Word of God as it has been revealed to men also judges them. A bastard shall not enter the assembly of Yahweh, and the angels that sinned “he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day”, so it is evident that they will never see the Light.
49 For I have not spoken from of Myself, but He who has sent Me, the Father Himself, gave to Me a command, what I shall say and what I shall speak.
Much of the message of Christ is already found in the Old Testament, in the writings of Moses, David and the prophets, and perhaps that reflects the substance of what Christ was referring to here, at least in part. In any event, a true scholar of the Scriptures should have recognized that His words were come from God. Now He concludes:
50 And I know that His command is eternal life. The things which I speak, just as the Father spoke to Me, thusly I speak!”
The Adamic man faced the prospect of death on account of his sin, and in Christ the entire race is restored to their original purpose, which is eternal life. So we read in Romans chapter 5: “12 For this reason, just as by one man sin entered into the Society, and by that sin death, and in that manner death has passed to all men, on account that all have sinned: 13 (for until the law sin was in the Society; but sin was not accounted, there not being law; 14 but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned resembling the transgression of Adam, who is an image of the future. 15 But should not, as was the transgression, in that manner also be the favor? Indeed if in the transgression of one many die, much greater is the favor of Yahweh, and the gift in favor, which is of the one man Yahshua Christ, in which many have great advantage. 16 And not then by one having sinned is the gift? Indeed the fact is that judgment of a single one is for condemnation [Christ was condemned for them, but He was able to take up His life again], but the favor is from many transgressions into a judgment of acquittal. 17 For if in the transgression of one, death has taken reign through that one, much more is the advantage of the favor, and the gift of justice they are receiving, in life they will reign through the one, Yahshua Christ.) 18 So then, as that one transgression is for all men for a sentence of condemnation, in this manner then through one decision of judgment for all men is for a judgment of life. 19 Therefore even as through the disobedience of one man the many were set down as sinners, in this manner then through the obedience of One the many will be established as righteous.” Some commentators foolishly argue that “all men” should be distinguished here from “the many”, however they are only contending and striving with the word in order to support their own pet heresies. The context is clear, that they are one and the same.
Likewise, throughout this commentary we have often cited the Wisdom of Solomon, in chapter 2, where it says “23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” As Paul says more succinctly, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, “22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In the end, all men shall be obedient to God, as it is written in Isaiah chapter 43, “23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Knowing this, we should realize the importance of the admonition found in Isaiah chapter 2, which reads: “ 5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Christ is that Light, and that Light is the Truth of God.
This concludes our commentary on John chapter 12.