The Glory of Messiah, 13:1-20:31

The Farewell Discourse, 13:1-17:26

i] Perfect love - Jesus washes the disciples' feet


John begins his record of Jesus' farewell discourse. In the passage before us John records Jesus' act of humility in washing the disciples' feet, and follows up with Jesus' explanation of its meaning.


Discipleship entails humble service.


i] Context: See 1:1-13/14. Having covered the Argument Proper Part I, The Ministry / Mission of Messiah (sign-discourse expositions of the gospel which proclaim that faith in Jesus is the way to eternal life), John now moves to conclude his work with the Argument Proper Part II: First, The Farewell Discourse, 13:1-17:26 - faith issues in love; Second, The Glory of Messiah, 18:1-20:31 - faith rests on the faithfulness of Jesus.

The Farewell Discourse, 13:1-17:26, presents as follows:

Chapter 13: The narrative of Jesus washing the disciples feet is followed by the issue of his betrayal, v18-30, and an exposition on the new commandment, v31-38.

Chapter 14: In this chapter John makes the following points: Jesus is going to the Father, v1-11; his mission will now be accomplished through his disciples, v12-14; empowered by the Spirit, v15-17; encouraged by the mutual indwelling of the disciples with the Godhead, v18-24; and thus the disciples will be instructed and sustained during the difficult days to come, v25-31. Jesus concludes with "rise, let us be on our way", a comment that has prompted endless debate, given that a discourse on loving one another, cf. 13:35f, the leading of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit) and "a little while", follows in chapters 15 and 16.

Chapter 15: This chapter begins with the parable / illustration / metaphor of the Vine. The parable serves to illustrate the main idea developed in chapter 14, namely, the promise of a permanent abiding / indwelling of the Spirit, cf. 14:2, 10, 11, 17, 20, 23. An exposition of the parable follows in 15:9-17. The focus of this passage is mutual love within the brotherhood, and the brotherhood with Jesus. Then in 15:18-16:4 the focus moves outward to the environment within which the brotherhood must survive. The love of the brotherhood will inevitably correspond with the hatred of the world. As the world hated Jesus so it will hate those who are his.

Chapter 16: Stibbe notes that as with 14:1-31, the structure of 16:5(4b)-33 hinges on questions / reactions by the disciples, each question / reaction serving as a structural marker introducing the next step in the argument of the passage. Stibbe proposes three sections:

Jesus' departure and its impact on the disciples, v4b-15;

Jesus' departure and return and its impact on the disciples, v16-24;

Jesus' revelation and its impact on the disciples, v25-33.

It is clear that there is no real break between chapter 15 and chapter 16, with 16:1-4 introducing the same theme covered in 15:18-27, namely, that the disciples must face a hostile world, a hostility which Jesus himself faced.

Chapter 17: Finally we come to Jesus' prayer, 17:1-26: The use of a prayer in a farewell discourse is common in antiquity cf., Deuteronomy. Although a prayer, this section in John's gospel has long been recognized as a teaching discourse as well as a record of Jesus' intercession for himself, his disciples and the church. Because of its character, it is often used as a source text for some of the liturgical elements in the Lord's Supper, eg., one with Christ; standing firm with Christ; love of the brotherhood; evidencing God's glory to the world.... Most commentators still follow Westcott's structure, namely, v1-5, 6-19, 20-26 - Jesus' prayer for himself, his disciples and the church. Of course, numerous other structures have been proposed, eg., Brown, v1-8, 9-19, 20-26. Carson suggests the following structure:

Jesus prays for his glorification, v1-5;

Jesus prays for his disciples, v6-19;

Jesus prays for those who will believe, v20-23;

Jesus prays that all believers may be perfected so as to see Jesus, v24-26.


ii] Structure: Perfect Love - Jesus washes the disciples' feet:

Setting, v1-3;

Mission accomplished.

Jesus washes the disciples' feet, v4-11;

The act of washing, v4-5;

Interaction between Peter and Jesus, v6-10;

Not every one of you, v11;

Jesus explains its meaning, v12-17.


iii] Interpretation:

Ridderbos argues that in the washing of the disciples' feet we are presented with "a symbol for Jesus' act of total purification in his surrender of his own on the cross." Pfitzner also views the foot-washing as a parable of the passion; "it points to the final act of humility on the part of him who is the Suffering Servant and the humble Lamb of God. Without this sacrifice the disciples will have no share of him nor of the benefits of his death," As Brown puts it "Jesus performed this servile task to prophesy symbolically that he was about to be humiliated in death."

Yet, it is very likely that over the years commentators have read far too much into the symbolism of the foot-washing, particularly as a symbol of the atonement. When we allow Jesus to explain his actions, he does so in the terms of an example of humble service toward others in the brotherhood, v13-16., At face value, the foot-washing presents as an example of love-in-action where Jesus reminds us that "now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet", v14. Jesus' lesson from the foot-washing is an ethical one. As Jesus is willing to humbly serve his disciples, so we should be willing to humbly serve each other. As authoritative servants of the glorious Christ, a disciples should not think they are greater than others in the fellowship, and thus have the right to avoid humble service. A disciple must always remember that glory is found in the service of others. As Jesus puts it simply in v34, "love one another."


In Part I of his argument, John relates the ministry / mission of messiah, of light shining in darkness, pointing the way out of darkness into light through faith in Christ. Now, in Part II we learn how darkness does not overcome the light. John has shown us that the way of salvation is the way of faith, and now he shows us that faith bears the fruit of love. John is not telling us that FAITH + WORKS = SALVATION, rather he tells us that FAITH = SALVATION = WORKS (the work of love). It is interesting how easily we slip into a semi-pelagian groove; "to be happy in Jesus we must trust and obey." In Jesus a believer is clean, holy and acceptable to God through faith. Yet, we who are clean must learn from the lesson of the foot-washing. Let those who are partnered with Jesus love one another. "if you know these things, pertaining to what you have seen, namely the good that lies in washing another's feet, then happy are you in the doing of it", v17.


Beasley-Murray notes that there is a massing of Johannine theology in this passage. Note the following: Jesus knowledge of the hour; his love of his own; the Father's placing all things into his hands; the fact that he had come from the Father and was returning to the Father; the devils opposition to Christ; Jesus' divine self-consciousness; the divine expectation of loving relationships.


iv] Synoptics:

The synoptic gospels frame Jesus' final meal with his disciples as a passover meal where he institutes the Lord's Supper, whereas John seems to imply that Jesus' crucifixion took place on passover eve, with the final meal focused, not on the institution of the Lord's Supper, but the washing of the disciples' feet. The Passover meal was eaten as the sun was setting on the fourteenth of Nisan, becoming the fifteenth of Nisan after sunset, cf. Lev.23:5. Although there is an issue over dates, all gospels tell us that Jesus' final meal with his disciples was on a Thursday evening. What we may have here is an interesting example of the interaction between historical events and their interpretation. John may be ignoring the date to make the point that Jesus is the Passover lamb sacrificed for the wellbeing of God's people. Yet, this issue around dates may stem from a failure to properly understand John's statement that it was paraskeuh tou pasca, "the day of Preparation of the Passover", when Jesus was crucified. This descriptor may simply mean "the Friday of Passover week", Carson. If this is the case then John assumes we know that the disciples' final meal with Jesus was the passover meal of that year; See 19:14.

France, in his commentary on Matthew, argues that Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples on the day before the official date (ie., the evening of Nisan 14, rather than 15), so aligning the synoptic gospels with John. The reference to "the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread", Matt.26:17, can commonly refer to the day of preparation when the lamb is slaughtered and the meal prepared for that evening, the first day of Passover (the new day begins at sunset). There is much to support the Johannine tradition over that of the Synoptic gospels. It is hard to imagine that the Jewish authorities would be conducting a trial, carrying arms, and arguing their case before a Roman Governor on the first day of one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar. Their anxiety to have it all settled on that Friday implies that the Sabbath and the first day of Passover fell on the same day that year and thus, Friday evening was when the Passover meal was officially held.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 13:1

The glory of humble service, v1-17: i] Setting, v1-3. John tells us that Jesus has gathered with his disciples for an evening meal. It is the evening before the Passover festival, the Thursday evening before Jesus' crucifixion in Jerusalem. Jesus knows that his time is up, with Judas having already decided to betray him, and that he will soon return to the Father by way of the cross. Note the flow of theological propositions in v1 - Jesus' knowledge of the hour, his destination to the Father's side, and his love of his own.

The main verbs of the first Gk. sentence, egeiretai ..... tiqhsin ..... diezwsen, "got up", "put aside", "girded", do not appear till v4. These verbs are supported by a series of participial clauses, and an introductory temporal phrase. The participles are attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the action of getting up, putting aside and girding. "Before the passover feast, Jesus, having known ...... having loved ..... and the evening meal taking place (being served), the devil having already put .... [and Jesus] having known ....... got up from the meal and put aside his cloths and having taken a towel, girded himself." For the sake of meaning, English translations usually form at least 3 sentences, even two paragraphs, eg. Barclay. With each individual sentence the appropriate participle is usually treated as a finite verb, eg. NIV, "Jesus knew", v3.

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

pro + gen. "it was just before" - before. Temporal use of the preposition, serving to form an independent temporal phrase. "Just" is assumed. Probably the day before, so "it was the eve of the Passover", Rieu.

tou pasca (h) "the Passover [Feast]" - [the festival] of the passover. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "feast".

eidwV (eidon) perf. part. "[Jesus] knew" - [jesus] knowing. The participle is probably attendant on the three main verbs, as noted above, but possibly adverbial, causal, "because Jesus knew ...."

oJti "that" - that [the hour of him came]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus knew. "Jesus, aware that ......", Berkeley.

iJna + subj. "for [him to leave]" - that [he should depart]. This construction, used instead of an epexegetic infinitive, introduces an epexegetic clause explaining / clarifying the substantive wJra "hour" = "time"; "Jesus realized that the time had come for him to leave this world", Phillips.

ek + gen" [this world]" - out of / from [this world to the father]. Expressing separation; "away from." Sometimes with the sense of "this world of sin", but certainly with the sense of a dimension apart from God, a dimension Jesus leaves in order to be reunited with the Father in an eternal dimension.

agaphsaV (agapaw) aor. part. "having loved" - having loved. Attendant circumstance participle, which, for the sake of meaning, is often translated as a main finite verb where a new sentence is formed, cf., Barclay, etc.; See note above.

touV idiouV adj. "his own" - the one's own. This adjective, used as a substantive, is used as "a term of endearment to near relations", Moulton.

touV "who [were in the world]" - the ones [in the world]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "in the world", into an attributive modifier limiting "his own

eiV teloV "he now showed [them] the full extent of [his love] / [he loved them] to the end" - to end [he loved them]. Emphatic by position; "He had always loved those in the world", Cassirer. Possibly with the sense, "to the end of his life / death", Brown.


Foot-washing usually takes place before the meal, so rather than "during supper", it was probably "while the meal was being prepared." Note that no reason is provided for the actions of Judas and there is some confusion as to who decides to follow through on the betrayal.

deipnou (on) gen. "the evening meal" - [and] dinner, supper = the main meal of the day. For the genitive, see below; "at supper time", Berkeley.

ginomenou (ginomai) gen. pres. part. "was being served / was in progress" - becoming, taking place. Present tense for durative action. The genitive absolute participial clause, formed by the genitive participles "[supper] taking place [and the devil] having [already] put", probably serves to form a contemporaneous temporal clause, "while the evening meal was being prepared and the devil having already prompted Judas to betray him [Jesus]; "By supper time, the devil had already put the thought of betraying Jesus into the mind of Judas Iscariot", Phillips.

beblhkotoV (ballw) gen. perf. part. "had already prompted" - [the devil already] having cast [into the heart]. The verb is usually used of casting an object, but on rare occasions it is used of "putting something into the heart or mind", Morris.

IoudaV (a) gen. "Judas [Iscariot, son of Simon]" - of judas [(son) of simon of iscariot]. The genitive is probably an unreliable variant, the original case being nominative = "having cast into the heart that Judas (son) of Simon of Iscariot should betray him." Cast into whose heart/mind? Possibly Jesus, but why would the devil reveal such information to Jesus? Probably Judas is intended, although it is a rather awkward expression, ie., the devil has sowed into the mind [of Judas] that Judas should betray him (Jesus). It is also possible that the devil himself is intended, although the participle "having cast" is active and not middle, but it is a possibility, "the devil had already made up his mind that Judas ....", Morris.

iJna + subj. "to [betray Jesus]" - that [he deliver over him]. This construction, used instead of an infinitive, serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing the content of the devils "prompting".


By expressing Jesus' knowledge of his divine authority and his enthronement, John "emphasizes the humility of the Lord and Master, who stoops to serve his servants", Barrett.

eidwV (oida) perf. part. "Jesus knew" - having known. Attendant circumstance participle, as in the note above. Again, this verse is usually treated as a single sentence in English with the participle translated as a finite verb, "Jesus knew", "Jesus" added for meaning.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus knew. The verse contains two such statements.

edwken (didwmi) aor. "had put" - [the father] gave. "The Father had given him complete power", TEV.

panta adj. "all things" - Accusative direct object of the verb to give. "All authority" = "Entrusted everything to him", NEB.

autw/ "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.

eiV taV ceiraV "under his power" - into his hands = into his charge. The preposition eiV expresses the direction of the action and arrival at.

oJti "[and] that" - [and] that [from god he came forth]. Introducing a second dependent statement expressing what Jesus knew.

uJpagei (uJpagw) pres. "was returning [to God]" - [and to god] is going. The verb "he had come [from God]" is aorist, but the verb "is going [to God]" takes a present tense. The durative sense of Jesus' going may be in mind, a going which includes the cross, although Novakovic suggests that the present tense is simply carried over from the corresponding direct discourse.


ii] Jesus washes the disciples' feet, v4-11: a) The act of washing, v4-5: Jesus now prepares to wash the disciples' feet, performing an act which was so demeaning that even a Jewish slave was not expected to undertake the task; a Gentile slave would do it. A cloth wrapped around the loins was the typical dress of a slave when at work, further emphasizing Jesus' act of self-humiliation, an act he uses as a selfless act for others, and as such, an example to follow, v14. As noted above, it is likely that the meal is still in preparation when Jesus performs this act. Of course, it is possible that John intends the foot-washing to stand in the place of Jesus symbolic use of the Passover bread and wine, as recorded in the Synoptic gospels. It is certainly common to view the foot-washing as something more than an example of brotherly love. For many commentators it serves as a symbol of Jesus' passion, and as such it aligns to Jesus' symbolic use of the bread and wine at the Lord's Supper. Yet, John does not view this meal as the Passover meal; the Passover meal is eaten the next day, Friday evening, such that Jesus crucifixion symbolically serves as the offering of the pascal lamb for the life of his people. However we look at this narrative, John has radically reinterpreted the Last Supper.

egeiretai (egairw) pres. pas. "he got up" - he rises. Historic / narrative present tense. Jesus "gets up" because he was reclining / laying down for the meal, as was the custom of the day.

ek + gen. "from [the meal]" - Expressing separation, "away from."

tiqhsin (tiqhmi) pres. "took off" - put down = laid aside = took off [the garments]. It is unlikely that John has chosen this word to reflect Jesus' "laying down" his life, 10:11, 15, 17f.

labwn (lambanw) aor. part. "wrapped [a towel around his waist]" - having taken [a towel he girded himself]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he girded / wrapped"; he "took a towel and girded himself", AV, but possibly temporal, "and on taking a towel, he wrapped it around himself."


eita adv. "after that" - next, then. Temporal adverb.

ballei (ballw) pres. "he poured" - he put, threw [water into the basin]. A slave would hold the foot over a bowl, pour water from a jug on it and then wipe it.

niptein (niptw) pres. inf. "[began] to wash" - [and began] to wash [the feet of the disciples]. This infinitive, as with "to wipe", is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began".

tw/ lentiw/ (on) dat. "the towel" - [and to wipe] in the towel. The dative is instrumental, expressing means; "by means of a towel" = "with a towel."

h\n diezwsmenoV (diazwnumi) perf. part. mid. "was wrapped around him" - [which] was having been wrapped around]. This participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction. There seems no reason for avoiding a simple finite verb on this occasion. Note that the dative pronoun w|/, "which", has attracted to the dative "towel"; it should be nominative.


b) John now records Jesus' interaction with Peter over the foot-washing, v6-10. It is often felt that this interaction brings out the significance of the foot-washing, a washing which, through the cleansing blood of Jesus, a cleansing from sin, enables a person to abide in him, ie., this cleansing represents the atonement, it represents Christ's self-sacrifice for the many, so, Lindars, Sanders, Bruce ("once a man has received the cleansing benefits of Christ's passion, he cannot receive them over again. The salvation effected by his death is complete, and no supplementation is either necessary or possible"), Carson, Kostenberger, Ridderbos ("a symbol for Jesus' act of total purification in his surrender for his own on the cross"), Brown, Morris, .... Added to this there are those who argue that the washing symbolizes the regenerative sacrament of baptism, so Haenchen, Barrett ("baptized into his death"), .... Yet, is the foot-washing a symbol of Christ's passion (inc. the Lord's Supper), or baptism, even penance ? As already indicated, the foot-washing more likely serves as a symbol of loving service.

Peter clearly does not understand the significance of the symbol which is why Jesus points out that he will understand it later. Peter continues to demonstrate his ignorance with his refusal to accept Jesus' act of humility, to which Jesus tells him that unless he submits to him "he has not part with" him ("you are no partner with me"???). Peter proceeds with another FIM (foot-in-mouth!) suggesting that Jesus should wash his hands and head as well. Jesus responds with a rather enigmatic observation. It is not overly clear what Jesus is driving at, but if we take his observation at face value, then he is trying to get Peter off the idea that the symbol of foot-washing has something to do with cleansing the body (and soul). A person who has has had a bath (and presumably Peter had bathed that day!) is clean all over, other than the need to wash their feet after walking the dusty roads of Palestine. Jesus is enacting a symbolic foot washing here, not of a cleansing of the body, nor even a cleansing of the feet, but rather a symbolic action illustrating humble service. When it comes to being cleansed body and soul, the disciples are already clean, "although not every one of you."

oun "-" - therefore [he comes to simon peter]. Here transitional rather than inferential and so left untranslated.

autw/ "[saying] to him" - [he says] to him. Dative of indirect object.

su "[are] you [going to wash]" - you [wash my feet]. The pronoun is emphatic by use, and also position, particularly with the placement next to mou, "my"; "are YOU, of all people, going to wash MY feet?" Note the emphatic use of pronouns in this passage, su, mou, egw , cf. Morris.


"You don't understand now what I'm doing, but you will understand later." Possibly later when Jesus explains the symbol in v14-16, and particularly v17, "now that you understand these things", but possibly after Jesus is glorified; see meta below.

ouk oidaV (oida) perf. "you do not realize" - [jesus answered and said to him] you do not know. "What I am doing you cannot grasp at present", Cassirer.

arti adv. "now" - Temporal adverb, missing in some texts. The disciples will realize the significance of the foot-washing later.

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

meta + acc. "later" - [you will understand] after [these things]. Temporal use of the preposition, "afterwards". The tauta,"these things", is rather imprecise. Morris suggests "all the events associated with the passion", so Beasley-Murray who also includes "Pentecost". Brown, Barrett, Schnackenburg, ..... suggest after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Fenton suggests "after the Spirit has come to interpret these things." In 12:16 "these things" refers to the actions associated with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and their fulfillment in prophecy, the meaning of which the disciples did not understand until after "Jesus was glorified." So, it seems likely that the "these things" are the actions involved in washing the disciples' feet, the meaning of which the disciples will partly understand when Jesus explains the symbol, v17, and will fully understand when Jesus is glorified (after his death, resurrection, ascension and enthronement).

gnwsh/ (ginwskw) fut. "you will understand" - you will know, understand. Presumably because of "the illumination of the Holy Spirit", Morris.


Jesus warns Peter that by refusing his act of humble service their partnership is in jeopardy.

ou mh + subj. "no, [said Peter, you shall] never [wash my feet]" - [peter says to him] no no [will you wash the feet of me]. Subjunctive of emphatic negation, as NIV; "you will never wash my feet", Barclay.

eiV ton aiwna "-" - into the age. Temporal construction, idiomatic for "forever"; "you will never ever wash my feet."

ean mh + subj. "unless" - [jesus answered him] if not = unless [i wash you]. Introducing a negated conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has only a possibility of becoming true, "unless, as the case may be, ..... then ......"

ouk eceiV (ecw) pres. "you have no" - you do not have. Brown suggests the Aramaic use of the present tense for a future here, "you will have", but such is unnecessary.

meroV (oV) "part" - a share, part. "No portion" = "no participation with me", Zerwick; "you can never be my partner", Barclay. A double meaning is often proposed here, ie., "unless you wash you can't sit at table with me", but more importantly, "unless you are washed of your sin you can have no part in Christ" = "no share in the benefits of Jesus' passion, and no place among his people", Barrett. Yet, a double meaning is unnecessary. Jesus is telling Peter that his refusal will end their partnership. In the act of foot-washing Jesus is teaching a lesson which his disciples must necessarily apply after his glorification - Peter needs to learn the lesson. "You will be no partner with me", Bernard - no longer partnered with Christ in the work of the gospel.

meta + gen. "with [me]" - Expressing association; "in company with me" = "with me."


autw/ dat. pro. "[Simon Peter said] to him" - [simon peter says] to him. Dative of indirect object.

monon adv. "[not] just [my feet" - [not the feet of me] only. Here as an adverb limiting the action of the verb "wash", assumed.

alla "but" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ......"

kai "-" - and [the hands] and [the head]. The first kai is adjective, "but also the hands and the head." The thought that he might be excluded from a relationship with Jesus prompts Peter's excessive response. The point of the dialogue is not Peter's "all of me", but Jesus' response in v10 which shows that the foot-washing has significance beyond itself.


Jesus explains to Peter that the foot-washing has nothing to do with bathing, either physical or spiritual; Peter is clean already, but has yet to learn about humble service.

The text of Jesus' saying in this verse is unclear due to the existence of numerous variant readings. Barrett, so also Hoskyns, Lindars, ... thinks the exceptive clause ei mh touV podouV "except to wash his feet" is an addition. The saying would then read "anyone who has bathed needs no further washing; he is clean all over", REB, ie., there is no need for a person to be washed twice. The atonement will wash the disciples and so make them spiritually clean, so there is no need for a further washing. Yet, textual support for the exceptive clause is strong, and given how awkward it is, its redaction is understandable, so Sanders, ..... As it stands, the exception simply points to the need of a person who is physically clean to occasionally wash their feet to stay clean, given the dusty roads of Palestine. So, Peter is clean, except for his feet, and now after the washing he is clean all over. As for spiritually clean, the disciples have been clean for some time, although not all. But when it comes to the symbol of foot-washing, it does not represent cleansing, but humility. Peter and friends have yet to learn about humility.

oJ leloumenoV (louw) perf. part. "a person who has had a bath" - [jesus says to him] the one having bathed. The participle serves as a substantive. Note the contrasting words "bathed / taken a bath", and niptw "to wash, rinse"; a person who has taken a bath doesn't need to give themselves a rinse. Barrett suggests that the words are synonymous, not contrasting, ie., a person who has taken a bath doesn't need another one.

niyasqai (niptw) aor. inf. "to wash" - [does not have need] to wash. The infinitive is epexegetic, explaining / clarifying the "need", a need to wash.

ei mh "only [to wash his feet]" - except [the feet]. Forming an exceptive clause, expressing a contrast be designating an exception; "save to wash his feet", AV.

all (alla) "-" - but. More contrasting than adversative.

o{loV adj. "[his] whole [body is clean]" - [is clean] wholly. The adjective is used here as an adverb, "wholly"; "his body clean in every part", Barrett.

uJmaiV "you [are pure]" - you [are clean]. As already noted, this passage has quite a few emphatic personal pronouns.

all (alla) "though [not every one of you]" - but [not all]. Adversative, "but not all", or better "but one of you is not clean", TH, or even concessive, "although not all of you", as NIV.


c) Not every one of you, v11. Jesus comments that when it comes to the issue of cleanliness, there is one disciple who needs a good wash. John explains that Jesus is alluding to the disciple who was to betray him.

gar "for" - because. More reason than cause, explaining what is meant by "not every one of you."

h[/dei (oida) pluperf. "he knew" - he had known. The pluperfect steps away from the narrative to introduce an explanation, translated as an imperfect"; He knew well enough who ....", Cassirer.

ton paradidonta (paradidwmi) pres. part. "who was going to betray [him]" - the one giving up, delivering over, betraying [him]. The participle serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to know."

dia touto + acc. "and this is why" - because of, on account of this. This causal construction is usually treated as inferential, "therefore".

oJti "-" - [he said] that. Introducing a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what Jesus had just said (in the tense of the actual statement, "not all are clean").

ouci "not [every one was clean]" - not [all are clean]. The negation is strong. "His heart is not true and he can have no part in Jesus", Lindars.


iii] Jesus now draws an object lesson from the foot-washing - "the implications of his symbolic action", Morris, v12-17. Jesus tells his disciples that touta, "these things" (= the symbolic foot washing), serves as an example for them to follow such that they should do as Jesus has done. Their status as followers of Christ involves love in action - serving one another rather than lording it over one another; in simple terms they are to "love one another", v34. A servant is not greater than their master; in the Christian fellowship we are all servants. "A disciple's greatest glory is found in self-effacing service", Pfitzner; "discipleship is a discipleship in suffering and not in glory", Haenchen. Discipleship is not about exercising authority, but about accepting a weaker brother, forgiving rather than judging / criticizing.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so after he had washed their feet", AV, although more likely transitional and so left untranslated, as NIV.

o{te "when" - when [he had washed the feet of them and took the garments of them]. This temporal conjunction serves to introduce a temporal clause.

palin "returned to [his place]" - [and reclined] again. Modal adverb expressing repetition. "He returned to his place at the table", TEV.

ginwskete (ginwskw) pres. "do you understand" - [he said to them] do you know. The verb is presumably indicative, hence the question, but it may also be imperative, "realize what I have done for you." "He challenged them (the disciples) to think on the significance of what he had just done", Morris. "Do you realize (understand the significance of) what I have just done for you?", Phillips.

uJmin dat. pro. "for you" - [what i have done] to you. Dative of interest, advantage, "for you", as NIV.


The point is, if Jesus, a respected rabbi and master/leader can act as a servant, then obviously his disciples can do the same. Jesus doesn't usually address himself as teacher, but others do, although usually with the more Jewish term, "Rabbi".

oJ didaskaloV (oV) "teacher" - [you call me] the teacher. Both "teacher" and "Lord" take the nominative case although they should be accusative standing in apposition to the direct object "me". Given that both take an article, it is possible that they are standing in for a Semitic vocative. Note that both "teacher" and "Lord" are terms of respect

oJ kurioV (oV) "Lord" - [and] the lord, master. The word is probably being used of one who possesses authority and thus deserving of reverence / respect, but it should be noted that the title was generally applied in the LXX to God.

kalwV adv. "rightly [so]" - [and] well, correctly [you say well]. Modal adverb; "and you should, because that is who I am", CEV.

gar "for [that is what I am]" - for [i am]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples rightly call Jesus Teacher and Lord; "For so I am", Torrey.


The service of washing "one another's feet" involves doing "as I have done for you", v15, which service is shaped by the saying in v16 - A servant is not greater than their master; nor is an apostle / sent one / messenger greater than the one who sent them. Jesus in his own ministry discharged his office with humble service, a service powerfully illustrated in the foot-washing. Those sharing his authority cannot do otherwise. So, in the immediate context, washing "one another's feet" relates to not lording it over a brother, serving rather than pulling rank. In the wider context of the Farewell Discourse it is obviously related to love one toward another = the love of the brotherhood. This "love" is often expressed in practical terms, and rightly so, although Christian love more properly concerns acceptance / forgiveness. As God the Father through Jesus offers us the grace of his forgiveness, let us humble ourselves in offering forgiveness to others - be merciful as God is merciful, Col.3:13.

oun "now" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "so then, consequently, ......"

ei + ind. "-" - if [i, the lord and the teacher, washed the feet of you]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the cast, I ....... then you also ....." Note that "the Lord and the Teacher" standing in apposition egw, "I".

kai "[you] also" - and [you]. Here adjunctive, "you also", as NIV. Note the personal pronoun "you", as with "I", is emphatic by position and use.

niptein (niptw) pres. inf. "[should] wash" - [you are obligated] to wash. The infinitive is best classified complementary, completing the sense of the verb "are obligated / aught"; "you also aught to wash one another's feet", ESV - as in performing Christian service for those in need.

allhlwn gen. pro. "one another's [feet]" - [the feet] of one another. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, limiting "feet".


gar "-" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples should wash each other's feet; "for I have given you an example in the foot washing and throughout my life."

uJmin dat. pro. "[I have set] you" - [I have given] to you. Dative of indirect object.

uJpodeigma (a) "an example" - an example / pattern, illustration. Accusative direct object of the verb "to give." Here in the sense of an example, an example of self-sacrifice and love, ie., not literally "what I have done", since "it is the spirit and not the action which is to be imitated", Morris.

iJna + subj. "that [you should do]" - that [you also may do]. Possibly introducing a purpose clause, "in order that" / "in order to teach you ....", or hypothetical result, "so that you may do just as I did to you", Berkeley, although better taken as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what Jesus intends in the example; "I have set you an example: that you are to do as I have done for you", REB. Barrett suggests both purpose and content.

kaqwV "as [I have done]" - as, like [i did]. Comparative; "that you will do just what I have done for you", TEV.

uJmin dat. pro. "for you" - to you. Dative of interest, advantage, "for you".


The disciples "are not to think so highly of themselves that they do not see in their master's humility a pattern they need to follow", Pfitzner, nor that suffering goes hand-in-hand with humility, cf., 15:20. The disciples "must not take too lightly the prospect that awaits them as disciples and emissaries of Jesus in the world", Ridderbos. Note a similar saying of Jesus in Matt.10:24. In fact, Schnackenburg thinks that an editor has inserted this Matthean saying of Jesus into the text. Given that it advances the logic of the argument it is not unreasonable to assume that it is an original part of the Johannine text. John does like to insert key sayings of Jesus into a dialogue.

amhn amhn "[I tell you] the truth" - truly truly [i say to you]. This construction is used to introduce an important statement, here the implication of the foot-washing. See 5:24.

meizwn (megaV) comp. adj. "greater" - [a slave is not] greater. Predicate comparative adjective. "No slave can be greater than his master", Cassirer.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "than [his] master" - of the master, lord [of him]. The genitive is ablative, of comparison, following meizwn, "greater", "greater than the master", as NIV. As above, the sense is probably not "Lord", as in divine Lord, but "master", as NIV.

apostoloV (oV) "a messenger" - [nor is] a sent one, messenger. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. This is the only use of this word in this gospel. Clearly it means "messenger" rather than its technical use, "apostle", used in the synoptic gospels to identify the twelve.

tou pemyantoV (pempw) gen. aor. part. "the one who sent [him]" - [greater] of the one having sent [him]. The genitive is ablative, of comparison, as above. The participle serves as a substantive. Obviously in the sense, "the superior who sends him", Beasley-Murray.


Jesus' moral interpretation of the foot-washing closes with an exhortation to action in the form of "a blessing", makorioV. The sentence is formed by two conditional clauses, the first is real, the second is possibly real. The first, "(if as is the case) = now that you understand the meaning of the symbolic washing, you are makarioi" + the second, "(if, as may be the case) = as long as you act on what you know." The interpretation of the passage hangs on the intended meaning of makarioi, "happy, blessed." If we follow Beasley-Murray the blessing is eschatological. This is reflected in translations like the NIV that treat the present tense verb to-be as futuristic, "will be blessed", rather than "are blessed". We then end up with a semi-pelagian view of eternal blessing / salvation resting upon knowing + doing / faith + works. A goodly number of commentators head in this direction although not as blatantly as Sanders: "the form of this sentence ...... is designed to bring out that to know these things (ie., that we are to imitate Christ's example) is necessary for salvation, but insufficient unless we actually put it into practice." If we accept Brown's definition of "blessed" as a realized "eschatological state that has been made possible through the heralding of the Kingdom", then we are talking about blessedness as a gift of grace through faith, irrespective of works; see Stevick, Jesus and His Own, p36. When Jesus addresses his disciples in the beatitudes, he states "blessed are you the poor in spirit." They are "blessed" because they are that way in Christ - it was now their task to be what they are. So similarly here, the disciples are in a state of blessedness in Christ, which blessedness they should exhibit in humble service. So, using "an exhortation to action in the form of a blessing", Schnackenburg, Jesus encourages them to be what they are, act on what they know. Interestingly, this clause is not found in some manuscripts; maybe a Pauline disciple classed it as a pre-pelagian gloss!!

ei + ind. "now that [you know]" - if [you know]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the proposed condition is assumed to be true, "if, as is the case, you know these things, then .......... you are blessed" = "now that you understand these things (namely the symbolic foot-washing and its meaning), .......... you are blessed"

tauta "these things" - The foot washing, and now also Jesus' explanation of its meaning. Note that there is a range of proposed suggestions for "these things."

makarioi adj. "[you will be] blessed" - happy, fortunate. "Happy are you", Brown, ie., as an adjective the word is functioning to express "a state of happiness or good fortune", Brown.

ean + subj. "if [you do]" - if [you do them you are blessed]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has only the possibility of coming true, the apodosis of which is shared with the first conditional clause; "if, as my be the case, you do them, [then you are blessed"]; "[Now that you understand these things], if you put them into practice, you are blessed." A sentence formed by two integrated 1st. and 3rd., class conditional clauses probably works well for a Semitic mind, but to an English mind it is less than helpful. Still, John is writing to Hellenistic Jews of dispersion, not those schooled in Shakespearean English.

auta pro. "them" - The "them", is unclear. Barrett suggests that "them" has no particular reference, although surely it is tauta, "these things", namely the symbolic foot-washing, now with the added explanation that Jesus has drawn from it ("what I did to you", v12).


John Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]