The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

Epilogue: 12:37-50

a final call to faith


John now concludes the first part of his gospel with an epilogue which covers two subjects. In the first part of the epilogue John examines the unbelief of the Jews, v37-43. He looks at the subject theologically, explaining that Israel's rejection of their messiah is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10. John then looks at the subject from a moral perspective, explaining that Israel's rejection of their messiah is down to the fear of being ostracized from Israel's religious life, and their desire for the affirmation of others. In the second part of the epilogue John examines the issue of faith and unbelief, v44-50. Jesus summarizes the gospel by restating that he is the light of the world and that those who come to the light, who believe in him, move from darkness to light divine. On the other hand, those who reject the light, who do not receive Jesus' words, who do not believe in him, are condemned by the very words they reject. Yet, the word abides and it brings with it life eternal. So, we are reminded again that there is nothing free in this life except the grace of God.


God's message to humanity is that there is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus, there is just eternal life.


i] Context: See 2:1-12.


ii] Structure: A Final Call to Faith:

Israel's rejection of the messiah, v37-43:

In fulfillment of prophecy, v37-41;

Down to moral weakness, v42-43.

The gospel, v44-50:

Faith in Jesus amounts also to faith in God, v44-45;

Jesus is the light of the world, v46;

Jesus is sent to save the world, not judge the world, v47-48;

Jesus comes at the Father's behest for one purpose only,

to give broken humanity eternal life, v49-50.


iii] Interpretation:

In this epilogue, John presents a summary of Jesus' public ministry; he covers Israel's response to Jesus, and provides a short summary of Jesus' gospel message. As Ridderbos notes, "by itself this double pericope fits very well in the structure of the story - after Jesus' final words to the crowd and before Jesus takes the initiative to bid farewell to his disciples (13:1). But in another sense these verses sharply interrupt the ongoing story." This interruption has prompted claims of later interpolation, but it works perfectly well as a conclusion to the Argument Proper - Part I. We can sense John's frustration in the passage. The failure of John's own people to accept their messiah is a burden that drives his gospel. In addressing Hellenistic Jews of the dispersion, John provides the theological and moral ground for Israel's failure, and again points the way forward.

In examining Israel's rejection of their messiah, John first notes that it occurs in fulfillment of prophecy. First, by quoting the first lines of the Servant Song of Isaiah 53, John reminds his readers of the prophecy concerning God's Suffering Servant, the one rejected by his own people, the one "pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities", ie., Jesus' rejection by Israel is prophesied in the scriptures. John then asks why is Jesus, the Suffering Servant, rejected? He gives two reason, first a theological reason, and then a moral one. The theological reason is found in Isaiah 6:10, a passage used by Jesus himself in explaining his rejection by Israel, cf., Mk.4:12. When used in Mark the text refers to the purpose of kingdom parables - riddles designed to hide the truth. When God's people fail to give heed to a clear word from the Lord then the Lord speaks to them in riddles as an act of judgment upon a people with dull ears - he blinds their eyes and hardens their hearts. As Paul argues in his first letter to the Corinthians regarding their misuse of tongues, they were aligning themselves with those days of judgment upon the Lord's people when God no longer spoke with a clear voice, cf., ICor.14:20-22. So, as far as John is concerned, as predicted, "the Jews" have rejected Jesus, the Son of Man, the messiah, and as a consequence they stand condemned, no longer the recipients of a saving word from the Lord; their eyes are now blinded, their hearts now hardened, and they are simply no longer able to recognize Jesus as their promised messiah.

The second reason is a moral one. Some of "the Jews" (the religious authorities) have believed in Jesus, as have a good number from "the crowd" that followed him, but in general, unbelief is the order of the day. John notes that the problem for the religious authorities is their desire to maintain their station in society. The wowsers of the day (exponents of political correctness), the Pharisees, are armed and ready to troll anyone who strays from accepted societal shibboleths; they will pounce on even the slightest acceptance of Jesus' teachings. "Fear" and "the love of human praise" is far more important to them than "praise from God."

In v44-50 John goes on to outline a summary of Jesus' gospel preaching covered in detail in the Argument Proper, Part I:

Faith in Jesus amounts to faith in God:

Seeing (= believing in) Jesus amounts to seeing the Father.

Jesus is the light of the world;

A person who believes in Jesus is no longer in darkness.

Jesus came to save not to judge;

Yet, those who do not hear and do Jesus' words (= believe) stand condemned.

Those who reject Jesus are judged already;

Jesus' words judge them.

Jesus does not speak on his own authority;

He speaks with the Father's authority.

Jesus reveals the words that lead to eternal life;

These words are the Father's words.

Text - 12:37

A final call for faith, v37-50. i] Israel's rejection of the messiah, v37-43. In revising the first part of his argument, chapters 2-12, John first sums up the response to Jesus. The disciples may have believed, but "the Jews" have not believed. The first point he makes is that this response was prophesied, and in the second point he explains that "the Jews" are now in a dire state, blinded, with a hardened heart ("a judicial hardening of the Jewish people", Kostenberger), because of their disbelief, a disbelief driven by their status-seeking.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

pepoihkotoV (poiew) gen. perf. part. "after [Jesus] performed" - [he] having done [so many, great signs (momentous signs)]. With the genitive pronoun autou, "he", the participle forms a genitive absolute construction which is usually treated as temporal, as NIV, although a concessive sense here seems to work better, "even though"; "Though he had done so many signs", ESV.

emprosqen + gen. "in [their] presence" - before [them]. Spacial, "in front of."

ouk episteuon (pisteuw) imperf. "they still would not believe" - they were not believing [into him]. The imperfect is probably being used to express ongoing / durative action, "they continued to reject him", possibly iterative (repeated) action, "they repeated their failure to believe", Harris.


We are again reminded that John is probably writing to Jews of the dispersion by the way he uses this text from Isaiah 53. It serves as a key text in the Servant Song of the Suffering Servant, 52:13-53:12. The text reminds the reader of the passage as a whole, aligning Jesus with the Suffering Servant and his rejection by Israel. This rejection is prophesied by Isaiah, a prophesy which is realized in the behavior of "the Jews" toward Jesus.

iJna + subj. "[this was] to [fulfill]" - that [may be fulfilled]. Often taken as a final clause expressing purpose, "they did not believe .... in order to fulfill", so Morris, Klink, Brown, Carson, Bruce, Barrett, ....., but better viewed as a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that the words of the prophet Isaiah were fulfilled." As Lindars and Sanders notes, John's use of a final clause is often Semitic in character, such that it does not clearly distinguish between purpose and result (indicating "both the intention and its sure accomplishment", Wallace). Isaiah did not predict that the messiah would be rejected in order for him to be rejected (ie., predestination to condemnation), nor as an antecedent purpose / hypothetical result (see Larsen NOT2/2, 1988, pp. 28-34, see Harris). Isaiah predicted that messiah would be rejected, and consequently his prediction was validated in the behavior of "the Jews" in Jesus' day. The text on the blinding of Israel, v40, is often taken to imply a determinative act of God in the rejection of messiah (so "in order that ..."), but this rejection is not a consequence of their blinding, of the hardening of the heart, as if an act of divine determinism, their blinding is a consequence of their rejection; it is a judicial hardening. "The Jews" rejected the messiah, as prophesied, because of their fear of social alienation and loss of status, v42, and so no longer do they have the capacity to access God's life-giving word, v40. Of course, at no point is the sovereign will of God in any way thwarted by the machinations of human stupidity, nor does the judicial hardening of Israel stop the individual seeker from discovering the grace of God in Jesus. "They put no faith in him; so that the saying of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled", Berkeley.

Hsaiou (aV ou) gen. "[the word] of Isaiah" - [the word] of isaiah [the prophet who said]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / verbal, subjective; "the word which Isaiah the prophet proclaimed." "The prophet" stands in apposition to "Isaiah".

th/ akoh/ (h) dat. "[our] message" - [lord, who believes] the report [of us]? Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe in." "What we reported", NEB.

tini dat. pro. "to whom" - [and the arm of lord] to whom [was revealed]? - Dative of indirect object after the verb "to reveal." "To whom did the Lord reveal his power", TEV.


Given that "the Jews" had rejected their messiah, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah, "therefore" the inevitable judicial hardening of their hearts followed in due course. As John explains, again using the prophet Isaiah to support his argument, "the Jews" were unable to believe at this point of time because their hearts had been hardened. This hardening, a consequence of their rejection of Jesus, was driven by the fear of social isolation and the loss of social standing.

dia touto "for this reason" - because of this. This causal construction usually takes an inferential sense, "therefore they could not believe", ESV.

pisteuien (pisteuw) pres. inf. "[they could not] believe" - [they were not able] to believe. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "were not able."

oJti "because" - because [again isaiah said]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why "the Jews" were unable to believe.


Isaiah 6:10.

iJna + subj. "so" - [he has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart] that [they may not see]. Here introducing a final clause, expressing purpose, but again leaning toward result, see iJna v38; their hearts were hardened and as a result they were unable to understand. As already noted, this is a judicial hardening, ie., the withdrawal of a saving word from those who have rejected it.

toiV ofqalmoiV (oV) dat. "with [their] eyes" - with the eyes [and understand with the heart and might turn and i will cure them]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. Denied the clarity of God's saving word "the Jews" are unable to find God's healing salvation.


Harris suggests that Isaiah saw the pre-incarnate Christ in all his glory, but surely it is the glory of the incarnate Christ that he sees through his prophetic lens, risen and ascended on high; "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and exalted", Isa.6:1.

oJti "because [he saw]" - [these things isaiah spoke] because [he saw]. As it stands, this conjunction introduces a causal clause explaining why Isaiah uttered the words recorded in v40, namely, "because ....", although the variant oJte, "when he say his glory", JB, certainly makes more sense, which may be why it intruded into the received tradition. It is possible that oJti stands in place of wJV, "as", serving to express a characteristic quality; "Isaiah said this as one who had seen his glory; it was of him that he spoke", Knox.

autou gen. pro. "Jesus' [glory]" - [the glory] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; the glory which Jesus possesses by reason of his person. The NIV assumes that autou, "his [glory]", refers to Jesus.

peri + gen. "about [him]" - [and he spoke] about [him]. Expressing reference / respect, "about, concerning"; the glory pertaining to his person.


John does not view the hardening of Israel as an instantaneous point of no return. If John's intended readers are Hellenistic Jews then the point is that, although there is a hardening affecting Israel such that most Jews do not believe in Jesus, some, even the religious elite, do believe. So, it would be wise to put aside the fear of social isolation and the loss of community standing, and be counted among the few who still see.

oJmwV mentoi "yet at the same time" - nevertheless though. This construction is primarily adversative, "despite that", BDAG 630d; "despite the fact that Isaiah prophesied the hardening of Israel's heart, even many of the rulers, let alone the common people, believed in Jesus."

kai "even" - and. Probably ascensive, "even many of the rulers", as NIV.

ek + gen. "among [the leaders]" - [many believed into him] from [the rulers]. The preposition here serves in the place of a partitive genitive, "many of the religious authorities believed in him."

alla "but" - Adversative / contrastive.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of [the pharisees they were not confessing him]. Serving here to introduce a causal clause. "Because they feared what the Pharisees might do to them", TH, "they would not acknowledge him", NEB.

iJna mh + subj. "for fear" - that not = lest [they should become apostate = banished from the synagogue]. Here introducing a negated final clause expressing purpose, "in order that not" = "so that they would not be put out of the synagogue", ESV.


John provides two reasons as to why the Jewish authorities have failed to give Jesus due recognition. The first relates to the Pharisees and their coercive ability to marginalize the politically incorrect - the fear of shunning / of losing community inclusion. The second reason relates to the Pharisees desire for the recognition and praise of others for ones piety and learning, rather than the recognition and praise of God for ones faith.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the authorities failed to give Jesus due recognition.

twn anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "human" - [they loved the glory] of men. The genitive, is adjectival, attributive, as NIV, or verbal, subjective, "the praise offered by men", idiomatic, "the praise which come from men" (ablative, source / origin, "from men).

thn doxan (a) "praise" - the glory. Accusative direct object of the verb "to love." Again John uses this word to express "praise, approval, a good opinion, acknowledgement"; "they loved (valued) their good name (reputation) in the world of men rather than their good name with God", Rieu.

h[per "[more] than" - Comparative.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "from God" - [the glory] of god. The NIV takes the genitive as ablative, source / origin; see "human" above.


ii] A summary of Jesus' gospel preaching; In this passage John reinforces the fact that "Jesus sets his subjection to the command of the Father and his sole motive (to) the salvation of the world", Ridderbos.

a) Faith in Jesus amounts to faith in God, v44-45. Jesus is God's I AM, his faithful agent of salvation; to believe in Jesus is to believe in God the Father as well. On a number of occasions Jesus has made the point that his ministry is exercised, not on his own initiative, but on the initiative of God the Father. Both his words and deeds reflect God the Father because the Father commissioned them. For this reason, a person who responds to Jesus' teachings, his words and signs, do not just respond to Jesus, but to the Father who sent him. Note the similar idea in the synoptic gospels, Matt.10:40, Lk.9:48, 10:16.

de "then" - but/and [Jesus cried out and said]. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative. The use of ekraxen, "cried out", underlines the importance of the following words; "Jesus proclaimed that ......"

oJ pisteuwn (pisteuw) pres. part. "whoever believes" - the one believing [into me]. The participle, as with "the one having sent", serves as a substantive.

alla "but" - [does not believe into me] but [the one having sent me]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ...., but ......", although in English it is somewhat confusing, which is why the NIV adds "only"; "doe not believe in me only." The sense is "the person who believes in me, both believes in me and the one who sent me."


oJ qewrwn (qewrew) pres. part. "the one who looks at [me]" - the one seeing [me sees the one having sent me]. The participle, as for "the one having sent", serves as a substantive. The verb "to see" is used here in the sense of "perceive", and means much the same as "believe", cf., 6:40. In this world there is the blindness of unbelief, and there is also the sight of faith; to open ones eyes to Jesus is to open them to God the Father.


b) Jesus is the light of the world, v46. Jesus shines the light of the gospel (the offer of God's saving grace) into the world, a world of darkness - of unbelief, condemnation and death. Jesus does this iJna, "in order that", the person who believes in him may no longer have to meinh/, "remain", in the domain of death.

egw pro. "I [have come]" - The pronoun is emphatic by use and position; "As for me, I have come as light into the world with the purpose (and no other) that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness", Ridderbos.

fwV (wV wtoV) acc. "as a light" - a light [into the world]. The noun is anarthrous, "I have come as light", Barrett, not "the light." Presumably "as one who causes light to enlighten the world."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "with the purpose that ...."

oJ pisteuwn (pisteuw) pres. part. "[no] one who believes" - [all] the ones believing. If we take the adjective "all" as the substantive, "everyone", then the articular participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone"; "everyone who believes into (in) me."

en +dat. "in [darkness]" - [may not remain, abide] in [the darkness]. Local, expressing space. "Jesus came to deliver people from darkness, not imprison them within it", Morris. "Darkness" is a state of being without God; without rescue / salvation it remains a hopeless state.


c) , Jesus is sent to save the world, not judge the world, v47-48. So (kai), the person who believes is not condemned, gar, "for", Jesus came not to judge the world, but to save it. Yet, the one who rejects Jesus' words of life must face a judge, namely, the words themselves; the one who does not "receive" the words condemns themselves on the last day.

kai "-" - and. Here probably consecutive; "So therefore, as a result, if anyone hears my words and keeps them = believes them, then I do not judge them"

ean + subj. "if" - if, as the case may be, [anyone hears the words and does not keep them, then i do not judge him]. Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus does not judge those who do not believe in him.

egw "I" - i [i did not come]. Emphatic by position and use.

iJna + subj. "to [judge the world]" - that [i may judge the world]. The use of iJna + subj. for an adverbial infinitive expressing purpose, "in oder to ......"

all (alla) "but" - Adversative / contrastive.

iJna + subj. "to [save the world]" - that [i may save the world]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, as above.


ton krinonta (krinw) pres. part. "there is a judge" - [the one setting aside me and not receiving the word of me has] the one judging [him]. This participle, as with "the one rejecting" and "the one [not] receiving", serves as a substantive. To "set aside" means to "reject, disregard."

ekeinoV pro. "-" - [the word which i spoke] that [will judge him]. This distant demonstrative pronoun is backward referencing to "the word." A person's response to Jesus' teachings now determine the final outcome for them in the last day. So, the message that proclaims life to the believer is also the message which proclaims judgment / death to the unbeliever. "The message I have delivered, that very message will be his judge", Harris.

en + dat. "at [the last day]" - on [the last day]. Temporal use of the preposition.


d) Jesus comes at the Father's behest for one purpose only, to give broken humanity eternal life, v49-50. In his role as Son of God / Son of Man / messiah, Jesus is subordinate to the Father; he is the Father's great I AM, the logoV, the Word of God. As such, Jesus only speaks what the Father has commanded, and what he has commanded is set out in Jesus' teaching, namely, the offer of eternal life as a divine gift of grace (ie., the gospel). Those who obey the Father's commandment, that is, those who accept the Son's message, receive eternal life.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause, probably serving as a concluding explanation as to why Jesus' words should be viewed as true; "This is true, because I have not spoken on my own authority", TEV.

egw pro. "I" - i [do not speak]. Emphatic by position and use.

ex (ek) + gen. "on [my own]" - from [myself]. Expressing source / origin. "On my own accord, on my own authority."

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ....., but ......"

oJ pemyaV (pempw) aor. part. "[the Father] who sent me" - the one having sent [me, the father he = himself, has given a command to me what i may say]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to give." "The Father himself" stands in apposition to "the one having sent."

entolhn (h) "commanded" - [has given] a command. Accusative direct object of the verb "to give" (the perfect tense indicates the permanence of what is given). The noun "commanded" may serve to align Jesus with the prophet like Moses, Deut.18:18-19; "I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I commanded him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require of him." Of course, as Schnackenburg notes "it must, however, be remembered that Jesus is incomparably greater than Moses who stands in a totally different relation from Moses to God, the Father who sent him."

moi dat. pro. "me" - to me. Dative of indirect object.

eipw (legw) aor. subj. "to say [all that I have spoken]" - [what] i may say [and what i may speak]. As with "I may speak", deliberative subjunctive. Harris suggests that the two subjunctive verbs are not synonymous, although probably just repeated for emphasis, as NIV; "What I say then, is what the Father has told me to say", TEV. Together the verbs express "the totality of Jesus' message", Morris.


oJti "[I know] that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus knows.

estin (eimi) "leads to [eternal life]" - the commandment of him] is [life eternal]. The construction of the subject and the predicate equated by the copula estin, "is", reflects Semitic style, and serves to simplify a complex idea for dramatic effect; note the use of this construction in 1 John, 3:23, 4:10, 5:9, 11, 14. It is more subtle than an epexegetic use of the verb to-be, "the command means life eternal" , ie., eternal life explains the command, so Brown, Cassirer, or as an equal sign, ie., "the command represents eternal life", so Kostenberger. Rather, the sense is more in line with the NIV. "The words which Jesus speaks at the Father's command are a source of eternal life to those who accept them", Schnackenburg, ie., the command results in eternal life. The commandment "seeks to create life out of death and cause light to shine in darkness", Ridderbos.

oun "so" - therefore [what things i speak]. Possibly just transitional and so left untranslated, as ESV, although inferential seems more likely, possibly just establishing a logical connection, as NIV, although more likely drawing a logical conclusion, "Thus it is true of all I say", Rieu, REB.

kaqwV .... ouJtwV "is just what" - as [the father has spoken] so [i speak]. The comparative kaqwV and the adverb of manner ouJtwV form a comparative construction where the characteristics of one element are compared with the other; "When I speak, I repeat what the Father has said to me", Barclay.


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