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John Chapters 13-17, Part 1 (of 10 Parts)

by Karl Kemp  
12/11/2012 / Bible Studies

"Scripture Quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1953, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (

The original version and internet version of this paper were published in June, 2005. I was able to use footnotes, bold, italics, underlining, etc. in the original paper and in the internet edition. In November, 2012 I am splitting this paper into ten parts and putting it in the proper format to put on several Christian article sites. I am making a few improvements to this paper at this time, including updating cross-references to my other writings.

All quotations from the Bible were taken from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted. Sometimes I will use double brackets [[ ]] or (( )) to make them more obvious.

Contents (and the page numbers of the original and internet versions of this paper for your information):

John Chapters 13-17 and the Lord's Supper...... 1

John Chapter 13...... 3

John Chapter 14...... 13

John Chapter 15...... 27

John Chapter 16...... 39

John Chapter 17...... 47

Other Passages of Scripture/Topics that Are Discussed in this Paper:

Some of Jesus' Resurrection Appearances (Matt. 28:1-20 [with Matt. 26:32]; Mark 16:1-8 [with Mark 14:28]; and John 20:11-21:23)...... 21-22

John 20:11-18...... 43-44

Acts 2:1-42...... 42

1 John 2:12-14...... 58-62

1 John 5:18, 19...... 51-54


The setting for these five chapters is the Lord's Supper. ((I had a footnote: The words of Jesus contained in John chapters 15-17 may have been spoken after He and the apostles left the room where they ate the Last Supper, as they were on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane (see John 14:31), but these words were part of that same discourse. In John 18:1 Jesus and His apostles crossed the Kidron valley to go to the Garden of Gethsemane.)) Most of the verses of these chapters quote things that Jesus said to His apostles on that occasion. ((I had a footnote: Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:17; and Luke 22:14 indicate that the twelve apostles were the only ones present with Jesus at the Last Supper. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, left that gathering early (John 13:10, 11, 21-31).)) (If you have a red-letter edition of the New Testament, you will notice that about half the verses of chapter 13 are printed in red and that almost all the verses of chapters 14-17 are printed in red.) That last meal together took place the evening before Jesus was crucified. I assume that the traditional view is correct, that that meal took place on a Thursday evening and that Jesus was crucified the next day (on Friday).

There is widespread agreement that the apostle John (and many/most of his readers) knew the content of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke when he wrote his Gospel. Those Gospels were written long before he wrote his Gospel (about AD 90). Back in the days when I was just beginning to study the Bible (as a born-again believer) I came across the viewpoint that one of the goals of the apostle John as he wrote his Gospel (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) was to correct some wrong impressions left by the earlier Gospels. That viewpoint had the ring of truth to me back then and further studies have further convinced me of its truthfulness.

One of the most important (apparent) examples of John's correcting wrong impressions deals with the Lord's Supper. The accounts of the Lord's Supper contained in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; and Luke 22:7-38 communicate the idea that Jesus and the apostles were participating in the Passover meal along with the rest of the Jews at Jerusalem that included eating a lamb that had been sacrificed in the temple that afternoon. The apostle John shows that that supper took place on the evening before the Jews ate the Passover meal. The lambs for that meal were slain the afternoon after the Lord's Supper (see John 13:1; especially 18:28; and 19:14, 31, 42). It is interesting and probably significant that none of the accounts of the Lord's Supper mentions their partaking of a sacrificed lamb at that meal. Apparently there was no such lamb at that meal; however, the true Passover Lamb was present at that meal.

There is no doubting the fact that Jesus and His apostles were eating what could be called a Passover meal together, as Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported, but apparently that meal was a day earlier than the Passover meal celebrated by the rest of the Jews. ((I had a footnote here that goes on for three paragraphs: Jesus initiated the Lord's Supper for Christians for this entire age at that last supper. He was the true Passover Lamb. His sacrifice was foreshadowed by all the old-covenant sacrifices, including the sacrifices of Passover and the Day of Atonement. His sacrifice made those sacrifices effective to the extent they were effective. The old covenant was ratified with sacrificial blood (cf. Ex. 24:3-8); the new covenant was ratified on the basis of the shed blood (the atoning death) of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf., e.g., Matt. 26:26-29 [quoted below]; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Forgiveness of sins was provided through the sacrificial offerings of the old covenant, but those sacrifices were not able to take away the sin of Adam with the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, or to take away the willful, defiant sins of the Israelites with their penalties. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ availed to overthrow sin, spiritual death, and Satan, to provide complete forgiveness, and to impart spiritual life (starting with the new birth) and the righteousness and holiness of God, and to eventually take believers to eternal glory. The old-covenant sacrifices and the infinitely greater sacrifice of the Lamb of God are discussed in some detail in my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I'll quote Matt. 26:26-29, "While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take eat; this is My body.' (27) And when He had taken the cup and given thanks, He gave it to them saying, 'Drink from it, all of you'; (28) for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." The Greek noun ("aphesis") that was translated "forgiveness" here often means much more than forgiveness. The context here favors a translation that includes the idea of being released from our sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, not to mention the penalty of hell). This important noun is discussed in some detail in Extended Note G of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." On the Lord's Supper see on 1 Cor. 10:16-22; 11:17-34 in my papers on 1 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11 on this Christian article site.)) Jesus had a very important reason to eat that meal a day early. It would have been appropriate for Jesus and His apostles to eat the Passover meal with the rest of the Jews. It was much more appropriate, however, for Him (who was the ultimate Passover Lamb) to be sacrificed at the time the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, on Friday.


"Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father [Compare, for example, John 13:3; 16:28. Acts 1:1-3, 9-11; 2:33 show that Jesus was not taken to heaven, to (the right hand of) God the Father, until forty days after His resurrection.], having loved His own who were in the world [It was necessary for "His own" to remain in the world for a while.], He loved them to the end. [[In the margin the NASB has, "Or to the uttermost; or eternally." The NIV has, "he now showed them the full extent of his love." There is very widespread agreement that these words mean more than He loved His own "to the end." The BAGD Greek Lexicon (3rd edition, pages 289, 290) says that the prepositional phrase used here ("eis telos") "combines...the meanings to the end...and to the uttermost...."

A dominant theme - a glorious theme indeed - that permeates John chapters 13-17 is that the Lord Jesus Christ loves His disciples with a very special love, that God the Father loves them with that same love, and that this love also applies to those who are to become Christians in the years to come. He manifested His love for them in washing their feet, in the spectacular things He said to them in these chapters, in His dying for them on the following day (cf. John 15:13), in the things He shared with them during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, in His giving them the Holy Spirit in the glorious new-covenant fullness, etc. I'll quote a sentence from what A. T. Robertson ("Word Pictures in the New Testament," Vol. 5 [Broadman Press, 1932], page 236 says here), "The culmination of the crisis ('his hour') naturally drew out the fullness of Christ's love for them as is shown in these great chapters (13-17)."]] (2) During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him [Compare Matt. 26:6-16; Mark 14:1-11 (cf. John 12:1-8); Luke 22:1-7, 21, 47, 48; John 6:70, 71; and 13:21-31.], (3) Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands [cf., e.g., John 3:35; 16:14, 15], and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God [[Jesus knew that He had to go through a very difficult trial that would only end when His atoning work was finished (cf. John 19:30), but He also knew that He was committed to do the Father's will and that He would go back to the Father having fully accomplished His mission.]], (4) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. (5) Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [[Compare Gen. 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Jud. 19:21; Luke 7:44; and 1 Tim. 5:10. The first six references mention the ancient custom of providing water for people to wash their feet when arriving at someone's dwelling. The last reference speaks of Christian women who had "washed the saint's feet." In our country, with the type of shoes that we wear, the places that we walk, etc., people don't need to wash their feet when arriving at a dwelling, but it was quite different in the ancient world. I'll quote what Edwin A. Blum ("Bible Knowledge Commentary-Old Testament" (Victor Books, 1984), page 320) says here, "Foot washing was needed in Palestine. The streets were dusty and people wore sandals without socks or stockings. It was a mark of honor for a host to provide a servant to wash a guest's feet; it was a breach of hospitality not to provide for it (cf. 1 Sam. 25:41; Luke 7:40-50; 1 Tim. 5:10). Wives often washed their husbands' feet, and the children washed the parents' feet. Most people, of course, had to wash their own feet." It is clear that Jesus humbled Himself before the apostles to a shocking extent. As the account continues He explains His actions.]] (6) So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, 'Lord, do You wash my feet?' (7) Jesus answered and said to him, 'What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter [more literally, "after these things"].' [[Peter (and the other apostles) would have understood more after Jesus spoke to them about what He had just done in verses 12-17. Also, Jesus went on in verses 34, 35 to give them a new commandment, that they must love one another as He had loved them, and He spoke further of His and the Father's love for them and of their need to love one another with the love of God in chapters 14-17. They would have understood more yet as the events unfolded over the next few days: Jesus died for them; He was raised from the dead on the third day and appeared to them and spoke with them on numerous occasions until He was taken up after forty days.

Their receiving the Spirit in the full new-covenant sense on the day of Pentecost (which Jesus spoke about in some detail in this last discourse, chapters 13-17) was needed for them to understand many things in an adequate way. Their receiving the Spirit also enabled them to begin to walk/live by the Spirit, including His enabling them to experience God's love in a much fuller sense and enabling them to walk in the love of God in a much fuller sense (cf. Gal. 5:22).]] (8) Peter said to Him, 'Never shall You wash my feet!' [Peter's response here and in verse 9 demonstrates his typical impulsiveness.] Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you [singular "you" in the Greek, referring to Peter], you have no part with Me.' [[Peter was speaking of not washing his feet in a literal sense. Jesus' answer dealt (at least for the most part; see under verse 10) with being cleansed from sin in a spiritual sense. (On being washed/cleansed from sin, compare, for example, Psalm 51:2, 7; Ezek. 36:25-27; Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11; and Heb. 10:22.) Jesus also required Peter to permit Him to literally wash his feet. His disciples are never permitted to say "No Lord!" If we call Him Lord, we must submit to His will in every area (cf., e.g., Luke 6:46).]] (9) Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.' [Peter's response here was undoubtedly oriented toward a literal washing of the body.] (10) Jesus said to him, 'He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet [[First I'll give a more literal translation of the Greek, "Jesus said to him, 'He who has bathed [I prefer 'He who has been cleansed (or, washed)' (see below).] does not have a need to wash except for the feet," which is the equivalent of the translation of the NRSV, "...does not need to wash, except for the feet" and that of the NAB, "...has no need to wash [except for the feet]." The NAB has the words "except for the feet" in brackets, which indicates that there is some doubt regarding whether these words were part of John's original manuscript. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote most of what Raymond E. Brown ("Gospel According to John," Vol. 2 [Doubleday, 1970], page 552) says regarding the evidence for omitting the words "to wash [except for the feet]." "M.-E. Boismard, "Revue Biblique" 60 (1953), 353-56, favors the shortest possible text, omitting all these words [including "to wash"], as did the Greek minuscule ms. 579, Tertullian, and some OL [Old Latin] witnesses. It is more common to question only the bracketed words ["except for the feet"], the omission of which is supported by Codex Sinaiticus, some Vulgate witnesses, and important Church Fathers. In fact, the Latin Fathers betray no knowledge of the bracketed phrase before Ambrose's time in the late 4th century when that reading came into the West from the East (see Haring, N. M. 'Historical Notes on the Interpretation of John 13:10,' "Catholic Biblical Quarterly" 13 (1951), 355-80). ....")) The NRSV has a footnote which says, "Other ancient authorities lack 'except for the feet.' " The Amplified Bible includes the disputed words in italics." (In the front of that Bible they inform us that they use italics to "point out certain familiar passages now recognized as not adequately supported by the original manuscripts.") The NEB omits the disputed words, "Jesus said, 'A man who has bathed needs no further washing....' " So does the Jerusalem Bible, "Jesus said, 'No one who has taken a bath needs washing....' " Many commentators believe that the ancient manuscripts that omit the words "except for the feet" represent the original (correct) text. ((I had a footnote: The United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament" (fourth revised edition, 1983) gives a B rating (that rating means they believe "the text is almost certain") to the longer reading that includes the words "except for the feet." I'll quote part of what George R. Beasley-Murray says regarding this issue ("John" [Word, Incorporated, 1987], page 229), "... The longer reading was accepted by most older scholars (e.g., Westcott, 2:150; Bernard, 2:462; Schlatter, 282-83), but also recently by Haenchen (457) and Bruce (282-83). The UBS [United Bible Societies] committee included it in view of its superior external attestation; they assumed that the phrase was omitted either by accident or through the difficulty of reconciling it with the immediately following clause (["but is completely clean"], see Metzger, 240). Nevertheless the overwhelming majority of modern scholars believe the short reading is correct (so Lagrange, 353-55; Bultmann, 469-70; Hoskyns, 438-39; Boismard, 353-56; Braun, 25 n. 1; Lohmeyer, 81-83; Wickenhauser, 250, 251; Barrett, 441-42; Lightfoot, 273; Brown, 566-68; Lindars, 451; Schnackenburg, 3:20-22; Becker, 2:424; Thyen, 348; Schulz, 173-74; Michl, 702-3; Dunn, 250-51). The omission seems to be demanded by the context. ...."

I rather strongly prefer the shorter reading, which omits the words "except for the feet." It seems that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual cleansing/washing from sin here with these first words of verse 10, as He was in verse 8. ((I had a footnote that goes on for three paragraphs: It was very common for Jesus to speak in a non-literal, figurative sense; in His speaking of His body as a temple in John chapter 2, for example; in His speaking of a spiritual birth in John chapter 3; and of His speaking of food and water in a spiritual sense in John chapter 4. He was often misunderstood by those who heard Him, and He is often misunderstood by those reading what He said in the Gospels. It is desperately important for us to discern non-literal, figurative, spiritual language for what it is.

A good illustration of key importance of the need to take Jesus' non-literal language in a non-literal sense is the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation: They base that doctrine, which is so clearly wrong from my point of view, in large part on a few statements that Jesus made at the Last Supper and in John chapter 6. It's clear to me that Jesus did not intend those things that He said to be understood in a literal sense, when He said of the bread, for example, "Take, eat; this is My body" in Matt. 26:26. For one thing, He was present with the apostles when He spoke these words. John chapter 6 is discussed verse-by-verse in my paper on John chapters 5-8.

It is also of key importance that we don't take the words of Scripture in a non-literal sense when they were intended in a literal sense. For example, many, including most Roman Catholics, deny that Revelation chapter 20 teaches that there will be literal millennial kingdom on the earth after Jesus returns to judge the world, by interpreting what is said there in a non-literal sense. It seems to me that there is no reasonable basis to deny a future millennial kingdom in Revelation chapter 20.)) THERE CAN BE NO DOUBTING THE FACT THAT JESUS' LAST WORDS IN VERSE 10 ("and you are clean, but not all of you") SPEAK OF BEING CLEANSED/WASHED FROM SIN (not of a literal bath/washing with water): Jesus said the eleven apostles were clean, but not Judas Iscariot (see verse 11). Judas was as clean as the other apostles were in a physical sense, but not in a spiritual sense.

The words "except for the feet" were apparently added by a scribe at an early date because of confusion caused by thinking that Jesus was speaking of a literal bath with water here in verse 10. (I had a footnote: Some think He was referring to water baptism. I don't agree.) That viewpoint led to an apparent contradiction before the words "except for the feet" were (apparently) added: Jesus was washing the apostles' feet (which undoubtedly needed to be washed), but He said, "He who has bathed (and the apostles had undoubtedly bathed with water) does not have a need to wash, but is completely clean." Why was He washing their feet if they were completely clean? The added words "except for the feet" eliminated this apparent contradiction: Those who have bathed will, on occasion, have a need to wash their feet, or to have them washed. There was, however, no apparent contradiction without the added words if, as I believe, Jesus was speaking of a spiritual cleansing from sin throughout verse 10. ((I had a footnote: M. Vokel ("Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament," Vol. 2 [Eerdmans, 1991], page 361), under "louo" (the Greek perfect participle of this verb was translated "He who has bathed" by the NASB in John 13:10) opts for the shorter reading of John 13:10 and the viewpoint that this verb is used in John 13:10 of cleansing in a metaphorical sense, of a "christological-soteriological" cleansing, which speaks of being saved and cleansed from sin by Christ.))

As I mentioned, I prefer a translation like "He who has been cleansed [or, washed]," instead of "He who has bathed." The KJV has, "He that is washed." ((I had a footnote: The apostle John used the Greek verb "nipto" twice for wash in verse 8 and once in verse 9 (also in verses 5, 6). The Greek verb (actually it's a perfect participle, passive formed from this verb) behind "He who has bathed" is different, "louo," but this verb can also be translated cleanse, or wash, and it is common for John to use two different verbs with the same meaning. I'll quote a few sentences from what D. A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John," page 465). "It is far from clear that the move from "louo" to "nipto" is critical to a proper interpretation, for not only is the older semantic distinction between the two verbs often ignored by hellenistic writers (as most scholars admit), but John is particularly given to using pairs of verbs synonymously, for purely stylistic reasons (e.g., "oida" and "ginosko" for 'to know'; "pempo" and "apostello" for 'to send'; "agapao" and "phileo" for 'to love'; cf. especially Morris, "Studies in the Fourth Gospel," pp. 293-319. ...."))]], but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.' [[Peter and the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, HAD ALREADY BECOME CLEAN - Jesus didn't say, "you will be clean"; He said, "you are clean." They had become clean "completely clean") through submitting to Christ and His Word (cf. John 15:3, "YOU ARE ALREADY CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU [my emphasis]"). The fact that Judas was excluded (John 13:10, 11, 18, 21-31) confirms that Jesus was speaking here of a SPIRITUAL CLEANNESS. It was true in a very real sense that the apostles were clean (completely clean) already, but it was also true that they were to be made clean in a more extensive sense and on a deeper level through receiving the fullness of new-covenant salvation (which included receiving the promised life-giving, sanctifying Spirit) that Jesus was to gain for them through His atoning death.]] (11) For He knew the one who was betraying Him [Judas Iscariot (John 6:64, 70, 71; 13:21-30)]; for this reason He said, 'Not all of you are clean.' (12) So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? (13) You call Me Teacher [cf. John 11:28] and Lord [[Greek "ho kurios," where "ho" is the definite article. The fact that His disciples called Him ho kurios here does not demonstrate that they understood His deity at that time. (There were a lot of things they didn't fully and adequately understand at that time, even things that Jesus had clearly told them, including the fact that He would be resurrected on the third day [cf., e.g., John 20:9].) This word "kurios" was often used in the New Testament in a much lower sense than the way we use the word Lord for God the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ. See the word "master" in verse 16, for example.]]; and you are right, for so I am. (14) If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. (15) For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. [[If Jesus could humble Himself to wash the disciples' feet, how much more can (and should) the disciples humble themselves to wash one another's feet. Instead of competing with one another in prideful ways, Christians are called to love one another, which includes humbling ourselves before one another - even as Christ loved the apostles and humbled Himself before them. The New Testament shows that the apostles were often competing with one another in the days before they were born again (cf., e.g., Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45; Luke 9:46-48; and 22:24-27). Luke 22:24-27 indicate that the apostles were even disputing at the Lord's Supper regarding "which of them was regarded to be greatest."

I don't believe that Jesus was very concerned that the apostles (or Christians in general) literally wash one another's feet, but I know that He was very concerned that we maintain a humble, loving attitude before one another. ((I had a footnote that goes on for two paragraphs: Literally washing one another's feet would have been appropriate in that ancient setting, but there can be no doubting that even then the primary thing Jesus was after was a humble, loving attitude towards one another in the body of Christ, and that attitude must begin with those in leadership. For one thing, those in leadership have the greatest ability to cause strife and chaos through wrong attitudes and motives (not to mention wrong teachings). Literally washing another person's feet with a wrong attitude or motive does more harm than good.

I'll quote a paragraph from what William E. Hull says here ("Broadman Bible Commentary," Vol. 9 [Broadman Press, 1970], page 329). "A problem is raised because the practice which Jesus utilized to provide an example of humility is nonexistent in our culture. For the first disciples nothing could have dramatized the role of a servant more forcefully than the washing of their feet (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10); whereas for contemporary western man this act would have no self-evident significance at all. This means that to carry out the intention of Jesus we must search for new servant forms which have the same equivalent impact in our society as footwashing did in ancient Palestine.")) Pride (with unbelief) is at the root of sin, and Christians must make it a top priority to humble themselves and maintain humility, and especially with respect to other believers in the body of Christ, where unity in love is so important. Jesus spoke much of the need for unity (unity that goes with love and humility), and of the grace to maintain that unity in the following chapters.

We desperately need unity in the body of Christ, but there is no true Christian unity if it isn't built on the foundation of a true love for God, the God of the Bible, and on His truth, righteousness, and holiness. We cannot unite (and we are not called to unite) with heresy or sin. We don't have to agree on every detail, but we must agree on the foundational doctrines of Christianity, and we must live for God in righteousness and holiness in accordance with His Word (by grace through faith).]]

We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 in Part 2, starting with John 13:16.

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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