- Christogenea Internet Radio
On the Gospel of John, Part 34: Intrinsic Character
In our last presentation of this commentary on the gospel of John, Part 33, titled Light and Truth, we made the assertion that since Yahshua Christ was the Light come into the world, as He Himself had attested at John 12:46, then He must be that Light which was first described as having been created by Yahweh in Genesis chapter 1, verse 3. He is also recorded as having declared that “I am the light of the world” in John chapters 8 and 9. He is first-born of all Creation, He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, and that first Light in Genesis is a type which represents what emanates from God as opposed to what lies in darkness, a type which forebode Yahshua Christ, the manifestation of God in the physical world.
I did something unusual this week. Before I started to write this presentation, I did a search on the Internet asking “What is the light of Genesis 1:3?” While I only checked the first few results, I was highly disappointed with the quality of three of the answers, even if I did not expect the same conclusion which I had made here. The top result was from a website called Quora.com, written by someone claiming to be a nineteen-year-old physics student. This came up first on the Google search results, which is probably as far as many people asking that question may go, so this is certainly not the way to do any serious research, but it is probably the way many people do what they think is research. He claimed that the light of that passage was all matter, and that in Genesis 1:4 God had created the rules that govern that matter. The first objection to his theory is this: Heaven, Earth and waters already existed, so matter existed before the declaration in Genesis 1:3 which said “Let there be light: and there was light.” So Genesis 1:2 immediately discredits this young man’s interpretation of Genesis 1:3.
This is exemplary of why nineteen-year-olds should not be answering theological questions, or maybe even questions about physics. In truth, the rules that govern matter are coded directly into the structures of matter itself. It is not an accident that two hydrogen atoms naturally combine with one oxygen atom to create a molecule of water. A third hydrogen atom can only join the combination if it has lost its electron, thereby having a positive charge, and if it combines with the other three atoms it creates a hydronium ion, which is acidic. Otherwise it cannot combine at all, and water remains water. This is the intrinsic character of these basic elements of creation, so the rules of matter were not created separately from the matter itself. Every element had its rules of behavior already built into its nature as it was created.
Another answer found at the top of the Google results was from creationdefense.org, however they are not very good at defending Creation. They said:
This is a great question and you are not alone in finding this matter "troublesome." It is beyond our comprehension to understand how light could exist without the sun. So the answer to your question of what determined day and night before the sun is simple – we don't know.
I would think that they claim “we don’t know” because they must be Jews, not crediting the New Testament. In my opinion, it is quite arrogant to imagine that if something is beyond my own comprehension, that I may say “it is beyond our comprehension” and “we don’t know”. Just because I do not know something does not mean that somebody else cannot know it. The truth is, that the Light of Genesis 1:3 is indeed described in Scripture, in the gospel of John and in the Revelation of Yahshua Christ. The Light of Genesis is Christ Himself. They evidently do not know that because they have failed to believe what the Scriptures are professing.
An article at the Christian Courier website did even worse, by fabricating a story. It said in part that “This initial ‘light’ was temporary, for the sun was assigned the function of the ‘greater light’ on the fourth day.” So in essence, they are speculating that Yahweh God Himself needed some temporary physical light in order to “see” so that He could execute the next steps in His Creation. That answer is pitiful.
But I did find an answer, in an article found on a rather Judaized Christian website called the Creation Club and written by one Dr. Jack Burton, that is very close to our assertions here. The author of that article understands that Christ is God, and that this Genesis 1:3 light is associated with Christ, although he explains it a little differently, as having emanated from Christ. However it is so close to the truth, and it cites all of the same passages which we have cited for support, that if all Christians understood Genesis 1:3 in that same manner, we would be pleased. So even denominational churches and pastors can understand some aspects of Scripture quite well.
Of course, the Creation Club misses a lot of other truths about Scripture, and especially in relation to racial origins and other important matters, so that I could never endorse the balance of materials found there. Their first fault is insisting that their contributors must believe in a Genesis creation week of six literal twenty-four hour days. The fact that the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day discredits that assertion. But without understanding the issue of race and Scripture, and the relationship between origin and destiny, the author cannot properly understand why John wrote that “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” while at the same time he recorded Christ as having said “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Only a racial understanding of Scripture enables one to reconcile those two passages.
As a digression, just like the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in our example, other races can only dwell among us at all if a part of their inherent characteristics are suppressed. But when left to their own devices, they revert to their original beastly nature. So we took African and South American aboriginals out of their respective jungles and tried to civilize them, and now wherever they have a majority population in our lands, they recreate Africa or Mexico or China or wherever it is that they had come from. Regardless of what we share with them of our own civility or technology, they will ultimately follow their own intrinsic character, as their destiny is hopelessly tied to their origin.
Going back to our discussion of this article on the Light of Genesis, the author’s conclusion is this: “Jesus is the Creator—the same One who not only was ‘with’ God, but who was (and is) God Himself at Creation. He embodies the Glory of God for He is the Great I AM (John 8:58), the same as He who spoke with Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). When God spoke the words “Let there be light” in Genesis 1:3, it was the voice of Jesus that was heard by the new Creation. When the light shone forth at His command it was the light of the Preincarnate Lamb who had been ‘slain before the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8) that poured out.”
Where I differ is that while Yahshua Christ certainly is God, He is the physical incarnation of God, and therefore the light did not come from Him, but rather, He is the Light itself, Yahweh God representing Himself as an element of His Own Creation, conceived as soon as the Creation itself was conceived. Yahshua Christ did not send light into the world, He is the Light come into the world. Yahweh God does not need the physical body of a man to make a “voice”, something which the gospel accounts themselves frequently attest. So before the predetermined time of the birth of Christ, He appeared to men as Light, usually the light described as fire or burning, although on at least one occasion He was also the rock in the desert, as it was Paul described in 1 Corinthians chapter 10.
In Genesis 1:4, the Light is called Day and the darkness Night, and in the gospels and epistles of the apostles good works are described as being done in the day, in the light, and evil works at night, or in darkness. So Christ also told the people, in John chapter 12, “35… Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” Those who walk without Christ are wandering, lost in darkness, and they do not even have the understanding necessary to realize that they are in darkness because they are without the Light of Christ.
The end justifies our interpretation of the beginning. Later, in the final chapters of the Revelation, we read in the description of the City of God, first in chapter 21: “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.” Then again in chapter 22: “5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” So in the Revelation, the essence of the Light which was created in Genesis 1:3 becomes clear, that it does indeed refer to the Lamb, to Yahshua Christ as being the physical representation of Yahweh God in His Creation, which is both the Word made Flesh and the Light come into the World. Since His Light was created before the sun, moon and stars, it transcends them, as it is greater than their light because it emanates directly from God, rather than from some object which God created.
As we had also elucidated in our last presentation, the ancient kings asserted for themselves to be the light, the light of the world, describing themselves by such epithets as the sun on earth. This is why the king of ancient Babylon is called Lucifer, or light-bearer, in Isaiah chapter 14, where we read “12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” Because no man other than Christ can possibly be the bearer of the true Light, by these words Yahweh was actually mocking a king who thought for himself to be something more than a man. At the root of many pagan notions is both remnants of truth and elements of humanism, and Christ throughout His gospels refutes humanism, in one way or another having claimed all the glory of the pagan idols and false gods for Himself.
Yahshua Christ is the True Light, the Light created by God from the beginning, who preceded the sun and moon and stars and other physical aspects of His Creation, and is therefore also the only One within the Creation who may transcend those elements of Creation under His Own power. The Light is part of His intrinsic character, even as the apostle John had said in chapter 1 of his first epistle, “5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Now, as we commence with John chapter 13, writing of the imminent death and resurrection of Christ, John also uses other transcendental terms in his descriptions:
XIII 1 Now before the feast of Passover, Yahshua knowing that His hour had come [ἦλθεν in most mss., P66, D and the MT each have a different synonym] when He would cross over from this order to the Father, having loved those of His own who were in the order, to the end He loved them.
The Greek word κόσμος never meant to refer to a planet, which is, unfortunately, how the meaning of the word world is often misunderstood today. Rather, according to Liddell & Scott, κόσμος is a noun meaning order, and “generally, of things, natural order…” and “of states, order, government”. The related verb, κοσμέω, is primarily to order or arrange, generally to arrange or prepare, more specifically of governance to order or rule, and of women or armies, to adorn, equip or dress [so we have the word cosmetic from κοσμέω]. There is a plethora of related words which had more specific uses.
In Sparta the word κόσμος was used to refer to the arrangement of society under their constitution, which was their social order, and in Crete it was used in the plural to refer to their local rulers, who were the principal maintainers of their society. In philosophy the term had a wide array of uses in various contexts, which are sometimes interpreted to refer to the entire world-order or universe, and sometimes only to a portion or an aspect of that world-order or universe. The word was even used in the plural to describe multiple orders, or worlds, which were perceived either as coexistent or as existing in succesion to one another. So we see that κόσμος did not refer merely to the planet. In Old English, the word world described the age of man, and not the planet, something which is attested in The American Heritage Dictionary Indo-European Roots Appendix: “world, from Old English weorold, world… from Germanic compound *wer-ald-, ‘life or age of man’”, wer meaning man and ald meaning age.
So in certain contexts the word κόσμος is best interpreted as society, where it describes the social order of men within the οἰκουμένη, another Greek word often translated as world which literally means dwelling place. The extent of the οἰκουμένη is defined in Scripture in Luke chapter 2 where it says that “there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” Of course, Caesar only had power to tax “all the world” within the Roman empire, a small portion of the planet, which was evidently “all the world” to both Caesar and to Luke. This is again apparent in Acts chapter 17 where the men of Corinth accused certain disciples of Paul and Silas as “these that have turned the world upside down”, referring to an even smaller portion of that same Roman world. So it is apparent that in Scripture the κόσμος is the social order of the οἰκουμένη, or dwelling-place of the men who comprise that particular social order, which at that time was found in the Roman empire and not the entire planet. In 1 Samuel chapter 2 we see that this world also transcends the planet, where long before Rome existed, we read in reference to the children of Israel: “for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.” So the world was a particular society upon the earth, and not the entire earth itself.
The world of the apostles was the world which the seed of Abraham had already inherited among the nations in accordance with the promises that Yahweh had made to Abraham, which is evident in Romans chapter 4, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and elsewhere in the letters of Paul. That is also the world of the Old Testament, as we explained in Part 9 of this commentary, titled The World of Salvation. There we cited chapter 18 of the Wisdom of Solomon where he described the world in a manner which equates it to the children of Israel alone: “24 For in the long garment was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and thy Majesty upon the diadem of his head.” There Solomon poetically described the “whole world” as being represented by the “long garment… and in the four rows of stones”, which is a reference to the breastplate of the high priest as it is described in Exodus chapter 28. On that breastplate, the four rows of stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and that is the whole world which Christ had also come to save.
But here we have the word κόσμος in a seemingly different context, where it seems to be describing the physical realm, as opposed to the spiritual, and therefore it was not sufficient for us to translate it as either world or society. So we left it merely as order, and may have more fully written natural order, one of the primary meanings of the term as it was defined by Liddell & Scott.
Yahshua Christ “would cross over from this natural order to the Father, having loved those of His own who were in the natural order”. Having loved not everyone, nor whosoever, nor all men, but only “those of His own”. He defines “those of His own” where He told His enemies that “ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep” and where He told His disciples “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He certainly could not have been described as having loved His enemies, as John informs us that He loved only “those of His own”. His enemies were destined to remain in darkness, yet in chapter 2 of his first epistle, writing to some of those “lost sheep” Peter had said: “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….” No other race has that calling, so no other race is called. The intrinsic character of those lost sheep enables them to come into that light, even when they had sometimes walked in darkness. So Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 5, “8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Prince. Walk as children of light.”
Yahweh God had explained in the words of the prophets that He loved only the children of Israel, at the expense of all others. Christ, having come to do His will, came to fulfill the words of those same prophets. So we read in Isaiah chapter 43 where Yahweh maintains His love for the children of Israel even in spite of the other races and nations: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” While Yahweh created the entire Adamic race of men, He created the children of Israel for this particular purpose, and preserves them at the expense of the others. In Isaiah chapter 27 that purpose is described: “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”
Later, in the aftermath of the captivities of Israel and Judah and upon the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, we read in Jeremiah chapter 31: “1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Later in that same chapter, a new covenant with the same people, the house of Israel and the house of Judah, is promised by God, and is fulfilled in Christ. It is they alone whom He had come to gather to Himself.
Likewise, in the Revelation, addressing some of those same people to whom Peter had referred in part as a “chosen race”, we have the message to the church at Philadelphia: “9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Judaeans, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Of course, Philadelphia means “brotherly love”, and therefore the name is a significant part of this message. Those who say they are Judaeans and are not, but do lie, are the Edomites and others who were wrongfully converted to Judaism over the two centuries before the birth of Christ. It is them whom He told “Ye are of your father the devil” and it is them to whom He said “ye are not My sheep”, so their rejection of Him was part of their intrinsic character, as they are devils. Yahshua hated them, and loved only “those of His own”.
Now, in verse 2 of John chapter 13, John begins his description of the famous so-called Last Supper, which was the final Passover meal that Christ had shared with His disciples. So it is evident that John chapters 13 through 19 describe events which took place over a period of less than two days.
2 And dinner taking place [P66, A, D and the MT have “having taken place”; the text follows א, B, W and 070],
And dinner taking place: John only tells us that “before the feast of Passover, Yahshua knowing that His hour had come”, but John does not tell us that this dinner was a Passover dinner. Yet in Matthew chapter 26 we read “17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” Likewise in Mark chapter 14 we read “ 12 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? ” The account of these same events in Luke chapter 22 agrees, that Christ had a Passover with His disciples the evening before the Passover of the Jews.
In John chapter 19, an account of the very next day, we read “13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” So the day after the apostles had their Passover meal with Christ was the preparation day for the Passover of the Judaeans, and John seems to have disclaimed it where he wrote in that same chapter “42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” Likewise, referring to Passover feasts which were mentioned earlier in his gospel, he seemed to make similar distinctions where he wrote “13 And the Jews' passover was at hand” in chapter 2, and in chapter 11 “55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.”
The Passover was coincident with the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, as it is evident in the law in Deuteronomy chapter 16. As it is described in Matthew, Mark and Luke, it is apparent that the apostles had truly believed that they were celebrating the Passover with Christ at the appropriate time. There is not a word about having an early Passover, and the apostles themselves had no real understanding that an early Passover would have even been necessary if they were to have one at all. But John distinguished “the Jews’ Passover” as if to indicate that they may have indeed kept a different calendar than that which was kept by Christ and His apostles, which in this particular year had varied by only one day. Otherwise, there is no explanation for why the apostles expected the Passover a day earlier than that which was being celebrated in Jerusalem. The evening upon which they ate the Passover, was the very next day described as the preparation day of the Jews, so the Jews’ Passover would have begun the following evening. By then, Yahshua was being crucified. So Yahshua was crucified early enough in the day for it to be on Yahweh’s Passover, and, ostensibly, timely enough to satisfy the Jews, who did not want to defile their passover.
Continuing with verse 2, where we interrupted the narrative as dinner was taking place:
2… with [P66 and A have “and with”] the False Accuser already putting into the heart of Ioudas the son of Simon Iskarioth [D has “from Karuotos”, a word which refers to a nut, Simon of Nuts; the words “the son of” are inferred in the Genitive case proper nouns] that he would betray Him,
But earlier we saw that Judas himself was called a False Accuser, or devil, as Christ Himself had attested where John had recorded it in chapter 6 of his gospel: “70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” But here John says that the devil, or False Accuser, had put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ. That does not necessarily describe a supernatural event. Rather, John may only be meaning to describe what had happened when Judas went to the the chief priest, and the chief priest was also evidently an Edomite and a devil. Then again, since the chief priest accepted an opportunity offered by Judas, it was Judas who went to the chief priest because he was offering to betray Christ, so perhaps Judas initiated the act. We do not know if Judas had any prior contact with the priests.
After Mariam had anointed the head and feet of Yahshua with the ointment of spikenard, at a dinner at her home several days before this Passover meal, we read in Matthew chapter 26 something which John seems to allude to here, but which he did not record: “14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.”
So it is also possible that John was merely describing Judas’ intrinsic character, the reason for his natural predisposition to do evil, since he was indeed a devil. Being a devil, an underlying disdain for Christ and His sheep would have been an intrinsic characteristic. In verse 27 of this chapter John may be implying that same thing, where he says that “after the morsel then Satan entered into him”, where perhaps he meant that at that particular point, Judas’ satanic nature came to control his thoughts. As we read in the 37th Psalm, “12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.”
Just like that third hydrogen atom in the hydronium ion, Judas could not cling to the group without a charge. The ion is not stable, but it is more stable than the hydrogen atom is by itself once it loses its only electron. That process is caused when certain acids are mixed with water. Judas’ charge was mentioned by John in chapter 12, that “he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” So Judas was only engaged with the group because he thought it would be profitable. But in the end, it was by Yahweh’s permissive will that he was there, because Christ needed a betrayer, as it was prophesied in the Psalms, and that betrayer would not be one of His Own whom He loved. So at the appointed time, Christ relied on Judas’ intrinsic character to betray Him, and therefore it must have been part of Judas’ nature from the beginning.
This may seem to be conjecture, but every man has an inherent nature, and often, contrary to that nature, every man is conditioned by society to behave in a certain manner. But eventually, when confronted with an appropriate situation, it is a man’s intrinsic character which will eventually surface and take control of his actions and determine his fate. In this regard Peter had written of Lot as he dwelt amongst the Sodomites and in chapter 2 of his second epistle where he wrote that Yahweh had “ 7… delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)…” Lot’s good nature saved him from Sodom, but at the same time, for as long as he dwelt among them his spirit was vexed by the decadence of the Sodomites.
Continuing in John chapter 13 with verse 3:
3 [A, 070 and the MT insert “Yahshua”; the text follows P66, P75, א, B, D and W] knowing that the Father has given [P66, P75, A, D and the MT have “the Father gave”; the text follows א, B, W and 070] all things into His hands [literally “all things to Him into the hands”] and that He has come out from Yahweh and to Yahweh He goes,
Yahshua Christ did indeed have a full consciousness of everything which was about to happen to Him, as that was His plan from the beginning. What John refers to here was described by Christ, where it is recorded in John chapter 10 that He said “11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Then a little further on, He elaborated: “15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Continuing with John’s account of the Last Supper, and the conclusion of the statement which began in verse 2:
4 He rises from dinner and lays aside His garments and taking a cloth girds Himself.
In ancient times, men customarily worked in the nude, because clothing was costly, it was laborious to launder, and they did not want to soil or ruin their clothing by wearing it while they worked. For example, in a warning of tribulation in Mark chapter 13 Christ says “16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.” The man working in the field would be nude, having laid his garment aside while he worked. But leaving in an unexpected hurry because of some impending danger, he may forget to take his garment as he flees. In another example, Peter is working on a boat fishing, as it is recorded in John chapter 21, when he learns that the resurrected Christ was calling him from the shore, and we read: “7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.” But here at this Passover dinner recorded in John 13, rather than work entirely naked Christ had modestly girded Himself with a cloth, probably something similar to a bath towel, as in the next verse we see that it must have been as large as a bath-towel:
5 Then He puts water into the water-basin [νιπτήρ, P66 has ποδανιπτήρ, or foot-basin], and began to wash the feet of the students and to wipe them off with the cloth in which He was girt.
Today many denominational churches mimic this act as a ritual. But there is nothing explicitly spiritual about washing one another’s feet. In the ancient world, where men traveled about on dusty roads and dirty city streets in sandals, foot-washing was a necessary chore which was often conducted before dinner, where men typically reclined on couches to eat, rather than sit with their feet hidden beneath tables. So Christ displays His humility in His willingness to perform this necessary task for His disciples as they sat to eat. This is evident, as the meal continued after He had completed the task. It would be better for modern Christians to mimic Christ by doing necessary things for their brethren, rather than play-acting ancient chores as modern rituals.
6 Then He comes to Simon Petros, who says [א, A, W and the MT have “and he says”; the text follows P66, P75, B and D] to Him “Prince, will You wash my feet?” 7 Yahshua replied and said to him: “That which I do you do not know right now, but you should understand after these things.”
Evidently Yahshua had already washed the feet of at least some of the disciples, who did not object to His kindness. But Peter, as we have often explained, was the most stubborn of the apostles, and evidently could not stand the thought of his Master serving him. This is in spite of the fact that only a short time before this, as they were passing through Jericho, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 20, Christ had told them that “Ye know that the princes of the nations exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” So here Christ symbolically fulfills those very words, wishing to be Peter’s servant so that He could assume His rightful place as His master, as an example to His apostles that they should one day do that same thing. While the meaning here is symbolic, ultimately Christ would serve all of Israel in His crucifixion and resurrection.
8 Petros says to Him [D wants “to Him”]: “You may not wash my feet forever!” Yahshua replied to him: “If I do not wash you, you do not have a part with Me!”
Along with Peter’s stubborn nature he was also often impetuous, so he made many statements that he would later regret. Here he immediately retracted his exclamation as soon as Christ admonished him with the consequences of his actions. But this exchange is even more important than what is said on the surface. Later on, in Acts chapter 10, Peter receives a vision where he is told (in Acts 10:15:) “The things which Yahweh has cleansed, you do not deem profane!” In the Old Testament prophets, Yahweh had promised to cleanse the children of Israel, for example in Isaiah chapter 1 where Yahweh exhorts the children of Israel and says: “18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool....” Then again, in Jeremiah chapter 33: “7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” Only the children of Israel were cleansed by Christ, only the children Israel had a promise in the prophets to be cleansed by Christ, so it is only they who have a part with Christ.
Eventually, Peter realized that the children of Israel were being cleansed of their sins in the Word of God, in the gospel, as they departed from iniquity and turned to Christ, so he wrote in his first epistle, in chapter 3, speaking of the waters of the flood from which Noah and his family were saved: “21 Which also now a representation saves you: baptism. Not a putting away of the filth of the flesh but a demand of a good conscience for Yahweh, through the resurrection of Yahshua Christ, 22 who is walking in heaven at the right hand of Yahweh, messengers and authorities and powers being made subject to Him.”
For now, upon learning that he has no part with Christ unless he is cleansed by Christ, John writes:
9 Simon [D wants “Simon”] Petros says to Him “Prince, do not wash my [P66 and D have ‘the’] feet only, but also the hands and the head!”
Peter would be stubborn, but not to the point where he is cut off from his Lord. The cleansing of the feet of the apostles served two purposes. First, Christ set an example for His disciples, that those who would be greatest among them should be servants to their brethren. Then, it was symbolic of the cleansing of Israel which He was about to undergo on the cross, so that they may be reconciled to Him. But it is the Word of God, and not any act of foot-washing or baptism, which is the real agent of cleansing, as He tells them later this same evening, as it is recorded in John chapter 15: “3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Thus we read in verse 10:
10 Yahshua says to him: “He who is bathed does not have need [D inserts ‘to wash the head’] except [P75, A and the MT have ‘or’; א wants ‘except’] to wash [D wants ‘to wash’ here] the feet [P66 and D insert ‘only’], but is entirely clean [our text in this verse follows B, C and W]. And you are clean, but not all!” 11 For He knew the man betraying Him. For this reason He said that “You are not all clean”. [D wants the entire second sentence of verse 11.]
The fact is that Judas Iscariot certainly betrayed Christ, but he broke no law. I cannot find a Biblical law which Judas may have transgressed simply because he had alerted the high priest to the location of Yahshua, that they may seize Him. There is a statement by David, which is recorded in 1 Chronicles chapter 12, where he was being persecuted by Saul, and we read “16 And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold [or fortress] unto David. 17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.” Yahweh God may indeed rebuke the act, as it is unrighteous, but He provided no specific law against such an act. Of course the law concerning false witnesses is for trials, and does not apply here because it cannot be assumed that Judas would have known that Christ would not receive a proper trial.
So if Judas broke no law, why is he a devil? There is no testimony that he broke any law up to John chapter 6 where he was first called a devil. And if Judas was not guilty of transgression of the law in his betrayal, why is he unclean, whether or not he was washed? Earlier John identified Judas as a thief, but here he relates the reason for which he is unclean to his act of betrayal, which did not constitute a direct transgression of the law.
As a digression, it is strangely ironic, that in the Talmud it says “He who delivers up an Israelite [where they should have said ‘Jew’], either in his body or in his property, to the Gentile has no share in the world to come.” Technically, Judas did not even violate this Talmudic law, since he only delivered Christ to the authorities in the temple. But this is the law which the Jews still follow today, while they are all guilty of having delivered the true Israelite, Yahshua Christ, into the hands of the “Gentile” Romans. So they have condemned themselves by their own additions to the law.
In truth, Judas was a devil because he was evidently an Edomite. As we have before explained, the name Iscariot is from a Hebrew phrase meaning man of Kerioth, and Kerioth was a town in southern Judaea which was near the border of Edom. The rest of the disciples were from Galilee. The Edomites had moved into ancient Judah and much of Israel after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities of the Israelite population, and had taken the land for themselves. They occupied it until they were forcibly converted to Judaism in the time of the Hasmonaeans, from about 125 BC, until they themselves came to dominate Judaea from the time of Herod, from about 40 BC. We explained this in greater detail in our commentary on John chapter 6, in Part 19, which, in reference to Judas, was titled No Friend of the Devil.
We read in John chapter 6: “70 Yahshua replied to them: ‘Have I not chosen you twelve? Yet one from among you is a devil!’ 71 (Now He spoke about Ioudas the son of Simon Iskarioth, for he was going to betray Him, being one of the twelve.)” Ostensibly, Judas was not a devil because he betrayed Christ. Rather, Judas had betrayed Christ because he was a devil: an Edomite, and no Israelite, a bastard, and for that reason he was only acting in accordance with his own intrinsic character. Christ had chosen twelve apostles, and one of them was a devil so that Christ would be betrayed, and the prophecies concerning His betrayal would be fulfilled. All of the historical circumstances made possible the fulfillment of the prophecies as they were written, so the intrinsic character of all who took part in that fulfillment was determined by God long before the events actually occurred.
Judas, being an Edomite, could not possibly be cleaned, for the reasons stated in Jeremiah chapter 2: “20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. 21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.” Being an Edomite, Judas is a product of the sin of Esau described by Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews, where in chapter 12 Paul warned his readers that they should be found : “15 Watching closely that not any are lacking from the favor of Yahweh, ‘lest any root of bitterness springing up’ would trouble you and by it many would be defiled, 16 nor some fornicator or profane person, as Esau who for one meal sold his own birthright.” Esau sold his birthright because he had already despised it, having married Canaanite women, for which reason Paul had called him a fornicator. So all of his progeny were bastards, and for that he found no repentance, being unfit to carry the birthright. In Jeremiah’s time, the men of Jerusalem were doing that same thing, so Yahweh said “21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.” Judas, being a bastard, could not be clean under any circumstances. His intrinsic character was defiled, that led him to be a thief, and then it led him to betray Christ himself.
Now Christ explains why He washed the feet of His disciples, as an example for them to do that same thing, as we had said earlier:
12 Therefore when He washed their feet and [P66, א and A want “and”, where we would add “He”, a part supplied by the verb; the text follows B, C, D, W and the MT] took His garments and reclined [P66 and A have “garments, then reclining”; D and the MT “garments, reclining”; the text follows א, B, C and W] again, He said to them: “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Prince’, and you speak well, for I am. 14 Therefore if I, the Prince and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you are [D has ‘how much more are you’, making the clause a question] also obliged to wash the feet of one another.
This is true brotherly love, to be willing to make personal sacrifices for one another, and in that manner we follow Christ, as He had sacrificed Himself on our behalf. So here He also explains what He meant where He said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” He continues now in the same admonishment:
15 For [P66 wants ‘For’] I have given [P66, א and A have ‘I gave’; the text follows B, C, D and W ] to you an example in order that just as I have done for you, you also should do. 16 Truly, truly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master nor an ambassador [or apostle] greater [P66 wants ‘greater’ here] than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you would do them.
We can only imagine our fate if we know these things and we do not do them. This is the essence of Christian responsibility. This accords with the parable of the talents and the three servants which is found in Matthew chapter 25 and in Luke chapter 19, which Christ related only shortly before this time. The three servants were each given money according to their ability, and they knew what their master had expected of them as he departed from them. When he returned, two servants returned to their master double what they were given, and they were rewarded accordingly. The third did nothing with what he was given, so that even what he had was taken from him, while he himself was cast away. As it is recorded in Matthew, Christ concluded the parable by saying: “30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Immediately thereafter He related to them the parable of the sheep and the goats, which were separated as nations and on sight. Judas, being an Edomite, would certainly have been one of the goats.
So in that respect, Judas Iscariot would have no excuse, as he had also heard all these teachings which Christ had related, yet now Christ speaks in reference to him:
“18 I do not speak concerning all of you. I know the ones [P66, A, D, W and the MT have ‘I know whom’; the text follows א, B and C] I have chosen. But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He eating My bread [P66, א, A, D, W and the MT have ‘eating bread with Me’; the text follows B and C] has raised his heel against [P66 and B want the word for ‘against’, which would still be implied by the verb, ἐπαίρω] Me!’
Here Christ cites the 41st Psalm, which is Messianic in the sense that it professes the promise that God will save a righteous man from His enemies, and preserve his life against the curses of the wicked and the treacherous, and it say in part: “9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
Judas Iscariot was such a man, an enemy who pretended to be a friend while acting treacherously. But he was also one of those broken cisterns which were described in Jeremiah chapter 2, where the children of Israel had been committing that same sin which Esau had once committed, and Yahweh said “13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Being a broken cistern, Yahshua knew from the beginning that Judas would never follow nor even understand His Word, and would instead turn out to be His enemy, acting according to his own intrinsic character. For that specific reason he was chosen to be one of the twelve, and he certainly acted according to his nature.
As the poet Euripides had written in his Hippolytus, “...the bastard is always regarded as an enemy to the true-born” (lines 962-963). [This was an extemporaneous comment in the podcast which I had mistakenly attributed to Aeschylus, a near contemporary and fellow tragic poet of Euripides.]
Now Christ informs His disciples as to why He is telling them these things, because He is actually explaining to them exactly what is going to unfold over the next several hours:
19 Right now I say to you before that which is to happen, so that you may believe it when it happens, that I am!
If He tells them precisely what is going to happen, even if they do not understand it immediately, and it is clear that they did not, then once it does happen only hours later, they should be able to reflect back on what He had told them, and be further edified in the understanding that He is from God, the meaning of the statement which He is making where He said that “I am!”
The words invoke Isaiah chapter 43: “10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.” In verse 20, we may see that He wants them to understand these things, so that they would be His witnesses, once they realize that He is that Savior which was spoken of in Isaiah.
So He continues along that same line:
20 Truly, truly I say to you, he receiving the ones whom I should send receives Me, and he receiving Me receives [P66 inserts ‘also’] He who has sent Me!”
Later, after His resurrection, He gives them the commission to spread the gospel abroad, so they themselves become “the ones whom I should send”, with the exception of Judas, of whom he continues to speak. When we resume our commentary, we shall continue to see Judas act according to his own intrinsic character, and Christ testify of that character before hand. But we shall also see that the rest of the disciples also had their own inherent traits, one of which was an intrinsic altruism that prevented them from recognizing Judas as a devil.
Just like hydrogen and oxygen atoms, we as men generally act according to how we were created, and our behavior is an essential part of our being. But if we are bastards, ultimately we cannot help but act contrary to the Creation of God, and contrary to God Himself. But Yahweh our God is sovereign over that as well.