The Farewell Discourse, 13:1-17:26
iii] The new commandmentSynopsis
John continues his record of the farewell discourse covering chapters 13:1-17:26. In addressing a number of questions raised by the disciples, 13:31-14:31, Jesus broaches the subject of love.
Believers are to love one another with a love framed by the love Jesus showers on his disciples.
i] Context: See 13:1-17. Kostenberger titles the teaching unit 13:31-14:31, "Jesus Departure and Sending of the Spirit." Judas has left the fellowship of disciples and so Jesus instructs those remaining on life following his departure:
A life of love, 13:31-38;
A way of faith, 14:1-14;
Through the power of the Spirit, 14:15-21;
With the Spirit's instruction, 14:22-31.
ii] Structure: The New Commandment:
Faith Issues in Love.
Jesus washes the disciples' feet, v1-17:
The act of washing, v4-11;
Jesus explains his example of love, v12-17;
Jesus exposes Judas' denial of love, v21-30;
The commandment to love, v31-38:
Now is Christ glorified, v31-33;
The new commandment, v34-35;
"A new commandment I give you,
that you love one another:
just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples ...."
Peter questions Jesus' departure, v36-38.
In the passage before us, Jesus speaks of a life of love. First, he makes the point that he is about to leave his disciples and that they will not be able to follow him. Peter questions Jesus on this statement in v36-38. Peter wants to know Jesus' destination, but Jesus simply makes the point "you cannot follow now". Peter knows well the opposition of the authorities and declares his willingness to die for Jesus, but to this bluster Jesus predicts Peter's denial. Faced with the vacuum of his departure, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment - his disciples are to love each other as he has loved them, v34-35.
In what sense is Jesus' command to love a new command? Kostenberger, so also Carson, etc., argues that the command to love is new in that it is compassion exercised in the form of Christ's compassion for his disciples - "self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love." But then it may be new in the sense of being restated anew - "I give you it anew", so Turner. Possibly "it's newness would appear to consist of its being the law of the new order, brought about by the redemption of God in and through Christ", Beasley-Murray. The law is then new in that Christ's death exegetes its meaning to a depth never reached in the Old Testament; it sets a "new standard ('as I have loved you')", Carson.
Yet, it seems more likely that the command to love is new in that it comes with a blessing rather than a curse; it is a command which serves to guide the life of faith rather than a command which serves to expose sin, as was the prime function of the Torah. Christ's obedience, his faithfulness under the Law, is ours when we identify with him through faith. This standing before God in Christ (of holiness, righteousness), which is by grace through faith, issues in love, a love shaped by Christ's love for us, ie., as a fruit of faith we learn to love and so experience its blessing. Old Testament law carried with it a curse (ie., it served to expose sin in the sinner, making sin more sinful, and thus force a reliance on faith, the faith exhibited by Abraham), whereas Christ's law of love carries with it a blessing in that in his love we learn to love. By grace through faith we are sanctified, apart from works of the law.
iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 13:31
Let there be love, v31-38: i] The significance of Judas' departure - the time has come for the glorification of the Son of Man, ie., Jesus' crucifixion, v31-33. Judas has now left the upper room and so Jesus can speak intimately with his disciples. He uses the messianic title "Son of Man" to describe himself - Daniel's "Son of Man", the one who comes in glory to reign. This Son of Man, says Jesus, is "now... glorified", ie., the betrayal has begun and Jesus' death is imminent. In John's gospel, the supreme manifestation of divine glory is found in the selfless act of Christ on the cross. Jesus includes "God" in this glory - a trinitarian idea. Both the Father and the Son share in the cross. In v32 Jesus restates the point he is making. The revelation of God's majesty, his glorious character, is manifested in the lifting up of Christ on the cross. Both the Father and the Son share in the cross and both the Father and the Son are displayed, in all their splendor, in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Then, in v33, Jesus tells his disciples something that will hurt them. He therefore uses a gentle and intimate term to address them - "My (little) children." He tells them he is going to leave them and they will not be able to follow him. He goes the way of the cross to the Father. Only Jesus can proceed to the Father by way of the cross, resurrection and ascension; only he can reign with the Ancient of Days in glory, but because he goes, his disciples will one day share his eternal glory
oun "-" - therefore. Probably just transitional here.
ote "when" - when, while [he went out]. Temporal conjunction introducing a temporal clause; "after Judas had gone", CEV.
nun adv. "now" - [jesus says] now. Temporal adverb expressing a point of simultaneous time.
edoxasqh (doxazw) aor. pas. "is [the Son of Man] glorified" - was glorified [the son of man]. This unusual aorist passive (the aorist expressing completeness, "the complete accomplishment of this glorification", Morris), is often translated as an English perfect passive, cf. Barclay, NJB, Goodspeed. Yet, Christ's glorification, for John, is the cross, and so the aorist is probably proleptic, ie. future referring; "now will the Son of Man be glorified / honored by God in his death." Caird argues that this passive verb, "has been glorified", reflecting the use of the Hebrew niphal, should be taken as transitive, in the sense of Jesus "manifesting glory", ie., serving as "a revelation of God's splendid activity", Carson. Brown agrees in part, but wants also to retain the meaning "God is honored by Jesus." "Through his death the Son of Man reveals his true glory, and at the same time, his death becomes the means by which God's glory is revealed", TH. For "Son of Man" see 1:51.
en + dat. "in [him]" - [and god was glorified] in/by [him]. "An instrumental / agency sense seems best, "through, by him", although a local sense is certainly possible, "in union with him."
ei oJ qeoV edoxosqh en autw/ "if God is glorified in him" - if, as is the case, god is glorified in him, then .... This clause, serving as the protasis of a conditional clause 1st class, is not found in some of the better manuscripts and may be an addition. None-the-less, it carries John's argument forward. "It is easier to explain why it may have been lost than why it would have been added", Brown.
kai ....... kai "-" - and = both [god will glorify him in him] and. A correlative construction; "both ...... and ....."
doxasei (doxazw) fut. act. "will glorify" - The move to a future active is confusing, but is not a problem if the three aorist passives used in v31 and 32a are taken as future referencing. These aorists refer to the revelation of Christ's splendid character, along with that of the Father's, realized in Christ's act of obedience on the cross. Commentators tend to take the change in tense to refer to some other future manifestation of glory, eg., Christ's enthronement in the heavenlies beside the Ancient of Days. Yet, although Christ's glorification is part of the big picture, the Father's glorification of the Son referred to here is probably still that which is realized on the cross, given that the lifting up of Jesus is a unified act of the Godhead.
auton "the Son" - him. It is helpful to identify "him" as "the Son of Man."
en autw/ "in himself" - in him = himself. The variant autw, when accentuated, forms the reflective pronoun "himself", ie., "in God the Father himself", expressing a local relational sense where Christ is restored to "the glory he had before the world was made", 17:5. This is the accepted translation. None-the-less, there are other possible translations: The "in" could be instrumental, "God will glorify the Son by his own hand", although in the New Testament a spacial sense is more likely. If the more common reading is accepted, it is possible that "in him" means "in Christ"; "God will glorify him in his (Christ's) own person", Morris.
euquV adv. "at once" - [and he will glorify him] immediately. Temporal adverb. Referring to the imminent death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus occurring in a single unit of time; "here and now", Barclay.
teknia (on) "my children" - child. Vocative. "My little children." Only used here once in the gospel, but seven times in First John. Some argue the term belongs to the evangelist, but it is not unusual for a teacher to address his disciples as children. The description of a disciple as a child is found in the synoptic gospels. It is an expression of endearment; "Oh my children", Phillips.
eti mikron "only a little longer" - yet just / only a little / a little while [i am with you]. Jesus has used the term earlier in his ministry so it doesn't focus on the shortness of time as such, but is more prophetic, apocalyptic; "the end is near."
kaqwV adv. "just as [I told]" - [you will seek me and] as, just as [i said]. Comparative.
toiV IoudaioiV dat. adj. "the Jews" - to the Jews [where i go away you are not able to come]. Dative of indirect object. Jesus' enemies; "my enemies", or "the religious authorities."
kai "so [I tell you]" - and [i say to you]. Adjunctive; "I also tell you."
oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus says.
oJpou "where" - Local, expressing indefinite place.
uJpagw "[I] am going" - [i] go away. This verb is used of Jesus departure, in the sense of his departure from the world to be reunited to the Father, ie., his death, resurrection and ascension.
elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "[you cannot] come" - [you are not able] to come. Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the negated verb "you are not able." We may rightly add "yet"; "you cannot come yet." Jesus' enemies will seek and not find and consequently die in their sin. The disciples will come after Jesus has prepared a place for them, cf., 14:2-3.
ii] The new commandment, v34-35: Jesus now gives his disciples a new commandment, cf., 1Jn.2:8. It is a "commandment" in the sense of being an important / emphatic word from the Master. It is "new" in that Christ's love for broken humanity is the ground of love, the means of love. Because of Christ's love for us (his death, resurrection and indwelling presence within) we are freed and impelled to love - "I have loved you in order that you may also love one another." Christ's indwelling presence within the individual believer and within the Christian community, impels us toward brotherly love - self-giving, sacrificial love. As Jesus was, so his disciples are, and this in the power of his indwelling love. Such is the distinguishing mark of a disciple.
kainhn adj. "new" - a fresh, new. "A new commandment" serves as the accusative direct object of the verb "to give"; "I give a new commandment to you."
entolhn (h) "commandment" - ordinance, injunction, command. The word is used 6 times in this discourse and 18 times in John's letters. The word "Maundy", for Maundy Thursday, comes from the Latin for commandment, "mandatum", as of "a new commandment I give you."
uJmin dat. pro. "[I give] you" - [i give] to you. Dative of indirect object.
iJna + subj. "-" - that. Introducing a clause which may either be epexegetic, explaining the substance of the command, "I give you a new commandment - to love each other", Barclay, or a dependent statement, imperatival, giving an actual command, "you are to love one another", Cassirer.
agapate (agapaw) pres. subj. "love" - you show compassion. The present tents expressing continued action (durative); "keep on loving." The word serves to define the relationship that should exist between believers. "Compassion" probably comes closest to its meaning, although in practical terms, "forgiveness" and "mercy" may best describe the substance of "love." In a church situation it may distill down to "acceptance", particularly the acceptance of a "sinner" in our midst.
allhlouV pro. "one another" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to love." A reciprocal reference to members of the Christian fellowship.
kaqwV adv. "as [I have loved you]" - as, just as [i loved you]. Comparative, here with kai, "also", establishing a counterpoint construction; "just as ....., so also ......" Being in accord with. Jesus is surely referring to his self-giving in death, which act best exegetes the meaning of love.
iJna + subj. "[so you must love one another]" - that [also you love one another]. The NIV takes this second hina clause as imperatival and therefore coordinate with the first hina clause. Yet, in such a construction one would expect the second subjunctive to be used without iJna. What we may have here is a purpose clause; "I have loved you in order that you also may love one another." A purpose clause would carry the implication that Jesus' sacrifice of love empowers our love. Morris suggests that this clause establishes "the ground" of love, while the first hina clause establishes "the measure" of love.
"Mutual love is the proof of Christian discipleship and its evident token", Barrett.
en + dat. "by [this]" - in [this]. Here instrumental / means; "by means of this." The demonstrative pronoun "this" being forward referencing to the second clause, "if you love one another." To improve the expression, the two clauses are often reversed, cf. TEV, CEV, REB...
panteV adj. "all men" - all = everyone . The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to know"; "if you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples", CEV.
gnwsontai (ginwskw) fut. "will know" - will know. "Everyone will recognize you as my disciples", NJB.
oJti "that" - that [you are my disciples]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "everyone will know."
ean + subj. "if" - This construction usually introduces a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, ..... then [by this, everyone will know ....]" None-the-less, in John, following "by/in this", the clause may be epexegetic, explaining the content of "by this", ie., "by your love for one another", Goodspeed, cf., 1Jn.2:3. Elsewhere John uses iJna or oJti to introduce a similar epexegetic clause following "in/by this." "It is by your love for one another that all will recognize that you are my disciples", Barrett.
echte (ecw) pres. subj. "you love" - you may have. The subjunctive mood is driven by the grammar and is probably not deliberative. "Have" here is best understood in the sense of possessing mutual love.
en "-" - in [one another]. We are tempted to say "by your love to/for one another", although a local sense, emphasizing association is more likely, "by your love among/with one another."
iii] Peter questions Jesus' departure, v36-38. John seems happy to play with his readers on the issue of Jesus' departure. The Jews are confused on the issue, 7:35, as is Thomas, 14:5, so also Peter, and of course, so is the reader. It seems John would have us play with three ideas, all of which are true. Jesus is going to the Father and his disciples will follow him there later. Jesus is striving to complete his mission, after which time the disciples will follow in his footsteps as those who akolouqew, "follow" as disciples. Jesus is going the way of suffering and death and later, Peter will follow as a martyr.
autw/ dat. pro. "[Simon Peter asked] him" - [simon peter says] to him [where do you go]? Dative of indirect object.
autw/ dat. pro. "[Jesus replied]" - [jesus answered] him. Variant dative of direct object after the verb "to answer, reply to."
akolouqhsai (akolouqew) aor. inf. "[you cannot] follow" - [where i go you are not able] to follow. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able."
moi dat. pro. "-" - me [now]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to answer, reply to."
uJsteron adv. "[you will follow] later" - [but/and you will follow] afterward, later. Temporal adverb, expressing subsequent time.
Peter's reply is packed with Johannine irony. When the chips are down Peter does a runner, yet in the end he does die for Jesus, but in reality, Jesus dies for him.
autw/ dat. pro. "[Peter asked, Lord]" - [peter says] to him [lord]. Dative of indirect object. The title kurioV, may express messianic status, even deity, "Lord", or more simply it may express respect, "Sir, Master."
dia ti "why" - because why. Interrogative causal construction seeking an explanation.
akolouqhsai (akolouqew) aor. inf. "[can't] I follow" - [am i not able] to follow. Complementary infinitive.
soi dat. pro. "you" - you [now]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."
uJper + gen. "for [you]" - [i will lay down the life of me] for [you]. Probably expressing representation, "on behalf of you / for the sake of you." Advantage is possible, "for the benefit of you", as is substitution (used instead of anti), "in place of / instead of you."
Jesus' response to Peter's bold statement is ironical. With apostles like Peter there is hope for all of us!
qhseiV (tiqhmi) fut. "lay down [your life]" - [jesus answers, the soul = life of you] you will place = lay down [for me]. The verb "to stand, place" takes a range of meanings and here obviously with the sense of "lay down, surrender", "to die willingly / voluntarily (on behalf of Jesus)", Harris. "Really! You'll lay down your life for me?" Peterson.
soi dat. pro. "[very truly I tell] you" - [truly truly i say] to you. Dative of indirect object. See 5:24.
ou mh + subj. "-" - no no, not ever, never [a cock crows]. Subjunctive of emphatic negation. "The rooster will not crow."
eJwV ou| + subj. "before" - until. The temporal preposition eJwV, "until" + the genitive relative pronoun ou|, "which", is an idiomatic abbreviation for eJwV tou cronou w|/, "until the time at which", Zerwick etc.
arnhsh/ (arneomai) aor. subj. "you will disown [me]" - you deny me three times]. The subjunctive is used for an indefinite temporal clause. The sense of the clause is "The rooster will not crow until you say three times that you do not know me", TH. "The truth is that before the rooster crows tomorrow morning you will have denied me three times."