The Message of John

a devotional commentary by d.s.moses nickerson

Preface: This is not offered as a traditional translation. The goal is to accurately trace the flow of thought and argument in John’s gospel. This is a legitimate aspect to language that is almost always neglected to emphasize syntactical and lexical parallelism between languages. It is almost impossible to render all three aspects in a translation with any accuracy. In order to attempt to bridge this verbal gap, there are added phrases and repetitions of thoughts, specifically tracing my interpretation of the flow of thought. One of the major differences between Greek and English argumentation is its degree of contextual dependence. Greek is a very high context oriented language whereas English is an exceedingly low context culture. Where English demands explicit theses and connections, Greek prefers implications and suggestions. To the best of my ability I am attempting to establish a greater explicitness of the connections and theses of John in order to better communicate with my own culture. However, such an attempt is obviously very potentially flawed. I will proceed as carefully and dependently as possible, but errors and disagreements are inevitable. I hope that this is helpful in displaying the tone and structure of the book, but please do not expect any sort of word for word accuracy. I am attempting to “give the sense” of John, but as such I do not feel comfortable referring to this as a translation, but rather a “devotional commentary” containing my thoughts and their impacts on my rendering of the text. This is a specifically targeted commentary from a very young theologian. God bless!

Chapter 1: Christ, the crafter and communication of God

Since the beginning there has been a Message, and that Message was not only with God from the start, but this Message was God. He was in the beginning with God, and He crafted everything. Unless He made it, nothing was created. He crafted life in Himself, and this life was the Light of mankind. This Light still shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot master it.

A man named John was born, commissioned by God. He came in order to testify, to bear witness concerning the Light in such a way that all men could believe through his message. He was not the Light; rather he came to tell us about the Light.

The True Light, who now illuminates all men, was still coming into the world. He existed in the world, even though he had crafted the whole thing. Nevertheless, the world did not recognize him as Crafter. He came to his own unique people, and his own people rejected Him. But those who did receive Him—who cast their trust on Him as Crafter of the universe—to these he gave authority to be born as God’s children, children not born naturally through the blood of labor[1], not by the will of anything flesh, nor by the will of any man[2]. Rather, God fathered them. And the Message was born as flesh, and for a time He dwelt among us like a Bedouin. We beheld his transcendence, transcendence as can only come from the Uniquely Born Child of the Father, completely saturated with grace and truth.

john the baptizer’s ministry

John told us about him, shouting out, “This is the man that I told you about, the one who would arrive after me even though he existed before I was born! He is a higher authority than I because He is everyone’s benefactor: from his abundance we have each been lavished with grace upon grace. God gave us the law through Moses; God birthed grace and truth through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God[3]. But the uniquely born God, who is in beautiful intimacy with the Father, has revealed much about Him.”

And this is what John was preaching when the Jerusalemites sent priests and Levites to question him. The Levites asked him, “Who are you?”

John knew what they were driving at and didn’t miss a beat[4], saying, “I am not the Anointed.”

So they pressed further and asked, “Who are you then? Are you Elias?”[5]

“I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet then?”


So they asked again, “Who are you? For we must answer those who sent us to you! If you are not the Christ, Elias, or the prophet, what can you tell us about yourself?”

John answered them with the words of Isaiah, “I am a cry, resounding out from the wilderness: ‘Prepare to receive your Lord.’”

Now these inquisitors were Pharisees. They thought they knew the prophecies very well, so they asked him, “Then what right do you have to be cleansing people? You just said that you were not Christ, Elias, or the Prophet!”

John said, “I am just cleansing them with water. You don’t even realize it, but the one I told you about, the one who is ‘coming after me,’ is here. In fact he is standing right with you in this crowd. I am not anyone of importance, for I am unworthy to even stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals.” This all transpired in Bethany, across the Jordan where John was cleansing people in the river.

The next day John saw Jesus walking toward him and said; “Look, that man is the Lamb of God. He will carry off the sin of the world by force. This is the man that I told you about, the one who would arrive after me even though he existed before I was born! He is a higher authority than I. Though I have never met him, I came in order to point him out to Israel, symbolically cleansing with water what he would cleanse for real.”

And John said, “I have watched the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven and rest upon Him. And even though I did not know who He was beforehand, the One who sent me to cleanse with water said: ‘When you see the Spirit descend and persist upon someone, He is the one who will cleanse with the Holy Spirit.’ That is exactly what I saw happen to this man. He is the Son of God.”

the first protégés

The next day John was standing with two of his followers. And after seeing Jesus face to face, he was walking and said again, “Look, the Lamb of God!” His two protégés heard him saying this, so they started following Jesus instead. But when Jesus turned and saw them following him, he asked them, “What are you seeking?”

So the two said to Him, “Hrabbi, (which means ‘teacher’ in Aramaic) where are you staying?”

Jesus said, “Come and see for yourself.”

Then after they went and saw where he was staying they remained with Him that day until about 4:00 that afternoon. Simon the Stone’s[6] brother, Andreas, was one of the two protégés of John who followed Jesus[7].

Andrew found his own brother Simon first and said to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (messiah means “anointed one” in the common tongue) Then he led him to Jesus.

After he saw him Jesus said, “You are Simon the son of John, but you will be called[8] Kephas, which means ‘stone.’”

The next day he desired to leave town and go to Galilee. On his way out of Jerusalem he came across Philip. Then Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” But[9] Philip was from Bethsaida, from the city where Andreas and the Stone were from. Philip in turn found Nathanael and said to him, “You know the one that Moses wrote about in the law and the prophets; we have found him. He is Jesus the son of Ioseph from Nazaret.

Then Nathanael said to him, “Is anything good even capable of coming out of Nazaret?”

And Philip said, “I don’t want to argue about it; come and see for yourself!”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and said, “Look, here is a true descendent of Israel, but without the any of his deception.”

Then Nathanael said to him; “How do you know me? Have we met before?”

Jesus answered saying, “Before Philip even spoke to you, I saw you reclining against the fig tree.”

Nathaniel replied to him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, the king of Israel!”
Jesus spoke again and said to him, “I only told you that I saw you sitting under the fig tree! And you trust just from that? Truly, if you stick around you will see much greater wonders. In fact, I promise that if you stay, you will see heaven opened and the messengers of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.[10]

Chapter 2: Jesus’ glory is shown

Three days later Jesus’ mother attended a wedding in Kana of Galilee. Jesus and his protégés were invited as well. After a while the wine ran out, so Jesus’ mom told him, “We’re out of wine.”

Jesus said to her, “What would you have me do? It’s not time for me to act yet, woman.”

His mom replied to the servants instead, saying to them, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

Six empty stone urns—for the Jews’ ritual hand washings—lay nearby. They were rather large urns, each holding between twenty or thirty gallons worth of water. Seeing these, Jesus said to the servants, “Fill those up with water.” Remembering Mary’s admonition, they filled them to the brim. “Now, dip a cupful out and take it to the head server.” So they did. But as the head server tasted the water, it was recreated into wine.

The head server had no clue where the wine had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. Clueless, the head server teased the bridegroom, “Everybody always serves the good wine first, before anybody gets drunk and doesn’t care anymore. Not you though, you served the worse wine first! What were you thinking? This stuff is amazing, but you waited ‘till everyone was too wasted to appreciate it!”

Jesus did this first portent in Kana of Galilee. His transcendence definitely showed, and so his followers trusted in Him. After this, he went down into Kapharnaum. His mother, his siblings, and his protégés stayed with him there for many days.

the lamb as a lion

As the Jewish Passover drew near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found merchants in the temple hawking cattle, sheep, and doves. A bunch of money-changers had set up shop there as well. Making a whip from some nearby rope, Jesus drove all of the merchants and their livestock out of the temple together. He scattered the moneychangers’ tills and flipped over their tables. Then He said to the dove hawkers, “Get out. Take your birds and leave. Never again make my Father’s home, a market’s home!” After seeing this, his protégés remembered the Psalms, “Passion for His Father’s house will consume Him.”

The Judeans protested, “What sign can you show us that gives you the right to do that!”

Jesus said, “Rip down this temple, and I will raise it up on the third day.”

“This temple took forty-six years to build, and you think that you can erect one in three days?”

No one realized at the time, but He was referring to a different temple, His own body. After he was raised from among the dead, His protégés remembered what he said, and trusted the Scripture and the Message Jesus had prophesied.

While he remained in Jerusalem for the Passover festival, many trusted in His identity. They saw the marvelous signs that he did, and so they believed. But Jesus did not confide anything about himself to them because he knows the depravity of all people. He did not need anyone to tell Him about man, for He knew what was in mankind; (after all He had created them and taken their form).

Chapter 3: when one birth is not enough

Nikodemos, a leader of the Judeans, went to him during the night. He said to Jesus, “Hrabbi, we all know that you are a teacher from God. No one could possibly perform portents like you did unless God were with him.”

Jesus said, “Trust me on this, unless someone is born anew[11] He will not be able to see the Royal Reign[12] of God.”

“How is it possible for an old man to be born? Surely it isn’t possible to reenter into the womb and be born a second time!”

Then Jesus said, “No, no, not “anew” as in “the same thing again,” rather unless someone is born naturally, and then by the Spirit, He will not be able to enjoy the Royal Reign of God. Anyone who has been fathered physically is a physical being; however, anyone who has been fathered by the Spirit is also a spiritual being. Don’t worry yourself about how you are going to ensure that you are “born anew,” (after all the process of being born is never up to the child or even his parents[13]). The wind blows[14] where she wishes and you hear her voice! But you don’t understand the whole process, where she is coming from nor where she is going. In the same way, you are obviously hearing the Spirit’s voice, but you do not understand all that is going on behind the scenes.”

Nikodemos said, “How on earth could anyone be fathered like that?”

Jesus replied, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t understand this? We speak the truth about what we know, and we relate honestly what we’ve seen. But you don’t believe what we say! I’ve been teaching about earthly things and you didn’t trust me, so why should I expect you to trust me about heavenly things now? No one has ascended to Heaven except for the one who came down from Heaven, the Son of Man. Just as Moüsés lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to heal sinners physically, similarly, the Son of Man will be lifted up to heal sinners spiritually. By this means, everyone who trusts in Him will have life without end. For In this way, God loved the world, by giving his Unique Son so that everyone who trusts in Him should not perish but have life without end.

For God did not send His Son into the world in order to declare its guilt. He sent His Son so that He could save the world. Whoever is not trusting has already been found guilty because he did not trust on the name of God, the Uniquely Born Son. They are guilty because the light shone upon the world and yet they loved darkness rather than light! Light was available but they recoiled from it because they were darkness-lovers. It is obvious that they love darkness because they put their evil into action; isn’t it plain that everyone who is practicing evil things hates the light as a result? He stays away from it in order that he won’t be convicted for His evil actions. But whoever does what He was designed to do[15], he runs to the light so that it becomes obvious that his good deeds were done because of God[16].”

john’s message is completed

After this, Jesus and his protégés went out into Judea. He stayed there with them and was baptizing them[17]. John was also baptizing at Ainon, near Saleim because water was abundant there. So they came and were baptizing together. For John had not yet been cast into prison.

Because Jesus and John were baptizing close to one another, a quarrel broke out between John’s followers and a Judean. Perhaps John’s disciples thought that Jesus was a pretender, so they objected, “Hrabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one that you were substantiating with your own reputation, look! Now he is stabbing you in the back by baptizing like you! Everyone is deserting us and flocking to him.”

John replied, “He could not obtain such a following unless Heaven gave it to Him. You yourselves should remember (since you were just referring to the same time) when I plainly said ‘I am not the Christ.’ When the Pharisees pressed me I said instead, ‘I am the messenger sent before Him.’ Think with me along these lines: at a wedding the man who has the bride is the bride-groom! The best-man just stands there and hears the bride-groom’s joy in his covenant. Then the best-man rejoices because of what he has heard. This kind of vicarious joy overflows out of me. His following must increase; my ministry must fade away. This is the way it is supposed to be. There’s definitely no need to bicker about it.”

Christ, Lord over all

The one who comes from above[18] is preeminent over everything!

The one from the earth,

He is from the earth;

Thus he speaks about the earth.

The one who comes from Heaven is preeminent over everything!

He describes what He has seen and heard. However, no one believes what he says. If anyone did believe Him, his belief would be like a declaration saying, “God is truthful!” You see, anyone that God sends speaks God’s words, for God lavishes the Spirit upon him without bounds. The Father not only sent the Son, but He loves the Son and has given everything into His hand. Anyone who trusts what the Son says will attain ageless life. But anyone who rejects the Son’s testimony will never even see true life, for he will remain as he is, under the wrath of God. He will stay dead[19].”

Chapter 4: true worship with a whore by a well

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees knew that His cleansings exceeded the number of John’s cleansings (even though Jesus himself was not cleansing anyone in the river, but merely his disciples). So Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee. However, in order to get there, he had to pass through Samaria. As a result, about midway to Galilee, he arrived at the Samaritan city, Sychar, near the region that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

There was a well there that had been dug by Jacob himself. At about noon, Jesus was growing rather tired from the journey, so he sat down on the side of the well. The disciples left Jesus resting by the well and went into town to buy provisions. While they were gone a Samaritan woman appeared at the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me something to drink.”

The woman said, “Are you kidding? You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan! Your kind has nothing but disdain for my people and you ask me for a drink?”

“If you knew the gracious nature of God and who you were speaking to, you would be asking me for a drink. And if you had asked, I would have given you fresh, bubbling, living water.”

The woman said, “Uh, sir, you don’t have anything to draw water with and the well shaft is rather deep… wear on earth do you think you would get this ‘living water?’ What, do you think that you are greater than even our father Jacob? He dug this well and drank from it himself, he his sons, and his livestock!”

Jesus said, “Well, anyone who drinks from Jacob’s well here will be thirsty again soon enough. But if that same person partook of the water that I would give, he would never thirst again. In fact the water that I gave him would become a spring, bubbling over into never ending life!”

The woman was amazed, “My lord, give me some of this water so that I may no longer thirst and have to lug water back and forth from this well!”

“Leave. Call your husband and return here with him.”

But she said, “I don’t have a husband.”

“Well said. For you have slept with five different men, but the one that you would claim now is not your husband. Thus, what you said is exactly right.”

She replied, “Wow, Lord I see now that you are a prophet! Since you are, let me ask you a question. Our fathers expressed their dependence on God upon that mountain right over there[20], but you Jews keep insisting that we have to worship in Jerusalem! Who’s right?”

Then Jesus said to her, “Believe me woman, a time is coming when you all will not worship the Father in either place particularly. You Samaritans are worshipping, but you are worshipping something that you do not know personally. On the other hand the Judeans are worshipping what they do know personally, thus deliverance will come from the Judeans to whom it was revealed.

But now the time has come when genuine worshippers will express their dependence on the Father spiritually rather than at a physical location, and in reality rather than through any outward forms. The Father is seeking out people who will worship Him in this manner. God is spirit. Those who would depend upon him must depend spiritually and in reality.”

Then the woman said, “I know that a Messiah is coming, one who is called Christ. When he comes, He will tell us about all things.

Jesus said, “I am. I am the Messiah.”

After that, his protégés returned and they were marveling that he was speaking with a woman. Even though they were curious, no one asked him, “’What are you seeking’ or ‘Why are you speaking with her?’” Then the woman left her water pot and scurried back into the town. She told the men, “Come! See a man who described to me everything that I ever did! Could he not be the Christ?” So they left the town and went to Him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were pressing him, “Hrabbi, eat!”

He replied, “I have had food to eat which you would not understand.”

Then the disciples said to one another, “Has someone else brought him something to eat?”

So Jesus said, “My sustenance is to accomplish what my Sender sent me for, to finish his work. Wouldn’t you say that there are still about four months until the harvest? Look again. Look up and see a different kind of field that is white and ready to be harvested! Now any farmhand deserves to be paid, and the kind of harvester that I am talking about shares in the fruit of never ending life! In this way the sower is able to rejoice with the farmhand who later gathers the harvest. Both receive benefit. For the old Message is true, ‘The sower and the harvester are different men.’ I sent you to harvest what you have not labored for. Others have already toiled, and you have now shouldered the same labor in order to finish it[21].”

And many from that town of Samaritans trusted in Him because of the message of the woman who told them, “He described to me all the things that I ever did.[22]” So when the Samaritans went to him and asked him to stay with them, He remained there with them for two more days. During that time, many more trusted because of His message. Then they said to the woman: “We don’t believe because of your words anymore; we have heard for our selves and we know for sure that this is the One who will deliver the entire created order!” After the two days, he left that place and went the rest of the way to Galilee.

signs and wonders, a crutch for belief…a crutch that let’s the lame walk

Now Jesus himself said, “A prophet has no respect in his home-town.” Thus when he arrived in Galilee, the Galilaeans welcomed Him, not because they respected Him, but because they had seen the amazing things that he had done in Jerusalem. They had feasted there as well and witnessed His works.

Jesus made his way to Kana within Galilee, the same place where he had crafted wine out of water. While he stayed there a ruler from Kapharnaum, whose son was very sick, came to him. Once he had heard that Jesus had returned from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him if he would come and heal his son. He knew that his child was at the brink of death.

In response, Jesus stated to him simply, “If you don’t see portents and marvels then you won’t believe.”

“Lord, come with me before my child dies!”

Jesus replied, “Go. Your son will live.”

The man trusted this message that Jesus told Him, so He left for home. However, his servants had already left his home and headed toward him in Kana. These met him and said, “Your child is alive!” So he pressed them as to when his son had begun to recover. They answered that the fever had left him at one o’clock. The father knew that this was the same time that Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” Consequently he and his whole household trusted Jesus[23]. Jesus did this second[24] portent after arriving in Galilee from Judea.

Chapter 5: the Son of God rules over His creation, even the Sabbath

After this Jesus went up to Jerusalem for another Jewish feast. Now there is a reservoir by the Sheep gate which has five porches (It is call Bethzatha in Hebrew). Many invalids—the blind, the crippled, and the withered—huddled beneath these porches. A certain invalid there had been incapacitated for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw this man lying there among the crowd, he knew that he had been there for a very long time and said, “Would you like to be healed?”

The invalid replied, “Lord, I do not have anyone to throw me into the pool when ever the water is stirred up. So at those times I go, but someone else always gets down there before me.”

Jesus ignored his superstitions about the pool and said, “Get up, pick up your mat and walk around.” Immediately the man was healed, and he obeyed Jesus.

That day was a Sabbath, so the obliviously close-minded Judeans said to the healed man, “Today is the Sabbath! You aren’t allowed to carry around your bed like that!”

But he retorted, “The one who made me well told me to take up my bed and walk around! I shouldn’t be able to do this; take it up with him.”

Still totally missing God’s healing power, they asked him, “Who is this guy who told you to take up your bed and walk on the Sabbath!” All they could see were their own rules.

Looking around at the mob of people around him, the man replied that he did not even know who had healed him. You see, Jesus had slipped away through the crowd that was there. A little while later, Jesus found the man in the temple and said, “Look, you have been healed. Do not sin anymore. You have suffered enough physically, I would not want anything worse to happen to you spiritually.”

Then the man left and gave this message to the Judeans, “Jesus is the one who healed me.” After this the Judeans began to harass Jesus, because he was doing during the Sabbath.

Jesus answered them, “Until now my father has been working, as have I.” As a result, the Judeans were looking for a way to kill him. He not only loosened their Sabbath regulations, but he said that God was his own Father, making Himself equal in essence with God![25]

the Son’s role as perfect reflector and judge of God’s will

Then Jesus said, “Let me be honest with you, the son cannot do anything in and of Himself unless he has seen His Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son does as well.[26] For the Father loves the son and shows everything to Him, absolutely everything that He does. And He will show even greater works than these to Him so that you will stand amazed!

“Just as the Father raises those who are dead and gives them life, in the same way the Son is giving life to whomever He chooses. For the Father does not judge anyone, on the contrary he has entrusted all judgment to the Son. In this way all people all people will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor His Father who sent Him. Their will is one and the same.

“I’m telling you the truth, whoever hears my word and trusts the one who sent me possesses life with out end; he will not be judged. He has passed from a state of death into one of Life[27]. Listen carefully, and time has been approaching for a long while and has now arrived. Right now, those who are dead hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear Him will live! For just as the father has life in Himself, in the same way He gave the Son Life, which He holds within Himself[28]. And he gave the Son authority to render judgments, because He is the Son of Man as well. After all, He understands Mankind.[29]

“Don’t look so shocked! Another time is approaching when all those in the tombs will hear His voice. Those who acted purely will go out and receive a resurrection unto life. Those who practiced evil will be resurrected, but only so that they can be condemned.

“I am not able to do anything in and of myself. But as I hear, I render a decision[30]. And my judgment is just because I do not seek my own desires but rather the desires of the Father who sent me.”

words, even God’s words are never enough; they are only a means to an end

If I am telling you about myself, what I’m telling you may not be genuine. But there is another who has told you about me, and I know that his words about me were genuine. You have sent for John’s opinion, and he has told you the truth! But I do not actually need to have my credibility validated by a man, rather I said all of this in order that you should believe[31]. John was like a burning lamp flaring out light, but you wanted to rejoice for an hour in the light that he was emitting, rather than what it was revealing!

But I am providing you a better testimonial than John’s! For the works, which you have seen, are those that the Father provided for me. He provided them so that I should bring these things[32] to fruition! These works (which I am doing) speak volumes concerning me: the Father has sent me on a mission! And thus the Father who sent me, He himself has testified on my behalf.  You have never heard His voice, and you have never beheld His visage. In fact, you don’t even have his Message abiding within you. It’s apparent that the Message does not dwell in you because you do not even believe His Messenger[33], the one who is the embodiment of the Message![34]

You are searching your writings[35], because you suppose that you possess never-ending life because of them. You pin your hopes there, but ironically, these very words should point you to me, their fulfillment! They tell all about me after all.  But you do not want to come to me. If you did you would actually have Life. Instead you get hung up on the law.

I am not saying this because I have received an opinion from men. Rather, I know you, specifically that you do not have a love for the Father within you! I have come with my Father’s authority[36], and you did not receive me. When another similar one comes to you with nothing but his own authority, then you will receive him[37]. How can you believe if you seek opinions from one another and yet do not even seek the opinion of the one and only God?

Do not suppose that I should have to accuse you before my Father.  There’s no need. For even Moüsés, (yeah, the one that you place your confidence in) condemns you! For if you believed Moüsés you would trust me. You see, he wrote about me. But if you do not even trust his writings, and instead twist them to your own conceited purposes[38], how would you believe my words? You trust the medium more than the Message!!![39]

Chapter 6: teachings about signs and wonders

After this Jesus went to the farther shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias. But a huge crowd traipsed after Him. They had witnessed the signs that he had done upon those who were sick, so they followed him. Then Jesus went up onto a mountain, and He rested[40] there with His closest followers.

But the Passover feast of the Judeans was near. When Jesus looked around and saw that the huge crowd had caught up with Him, He asked Philip, “Where may we buy bread so that we can feed them?”

He said this in order to give Philip a chance to believe[41] even though He knew what He was about to do.

Philip answered, “Two hundred days wages would not be enough to feed them all, even if we just gave each of them a tiny bit of food!”

One of his protégés, Simon the Rock’s brother Andrew, “There is a youth here who has five barley loves and two tiny salted fish. A lot of good that will do for a horde like this one![42]

Then Jesus said, “Have the men sit down to eat.” There was plenty of grass to stretch out upon there, so all the five thousand or so men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, and after He gave thanks He distributed them to all those who were reclining there. He gave out the fish in the same way until they all had eaten as much as they wanted. While they ate Jesus said to His disciples, “Gather up the abundance of leftover fragments so that none of it is wasted.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets worth of leftovers from the five loaves and two little salted fish, which multiplied so that everyone could eat.

After they had seen Jesus do another sign, they said, “This really must be the prophet who is supposed to come to the world!” Jesus knew that the crowd was about to come, seize him, and try to make Him their king, so Jesus withdrew to the same mountain again to be alone.

But as evening descended, His disciples went down to the sea. They boarded a small boat and sailed for Kapharnaum on the far side of the sea. Darkness had already fallen and Jesus had not caught up with them. The sea awakened as a great wind began to blow. Then, after rowing hard for three or four miles[43] they saw Jesus strolling upon the sea toward the boat. They were terrified. But Jesus said to them, “I Am! Do not fear!” Then, when they went to take Him on board the boat, immediately they were on dry ground, in Kapharnaum where they were going.

the belly-followers

The next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea realized that there had only been one little skiff and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples. They had only seen the disciples leave in the boat. Other little boats arrived from Tiberias near the place where the Lord had given thanks, and they had eaten the bread. Then when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they boarded the new boats and went back to Kapharnaum to find Jesus. Once they found Him on the other side of the sea they asked Him, “Hrabbi, how[44] did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “Listen carefully while I expose your heart. You are examining what I say, but not because you saw amazing signs from God. Rather, you listen because you ate the loaves and were full! Any merchant could buy your loyalty! Don’t strive for food that does not last, but rather for food that abides, producing eternal life. This is the kind of food that the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him.”

Then they said, “What may we do in order to work the works of God?”

Jesus replied, “This is the work of God: you believing the Messenger that He sent.”

“Then what sign will you perform so that we may see and believe you? What will you do? Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, just like the writings say, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus answered, “Listen carefully, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, rather my Father does give you true bread from heaven. For the sustenance of God is coming down from Heaven, giving life to the world.”

“Lord, give us this bread always!”

I am the bread of life; anyone who would come to me will never pine, and whoever puts his trusts in me will never thirst again. But as I told you, even though you have seen me, still you do not believe! Everything that the father gives me will come to me, and once it arrives, I will never cast His gift away. You see, I have not come down from Heaven in order to do my own will, but the will of the one who sent me—He desires that I should not lose any of what He gives me from Himself. I will resurrect it during the final day. My Father desires that all who see the Son and trust in Him should have never ending life, and I will bring them to life in that final day. It is the Father’s decision whether to open your eyes and ‘give you this bread always;’ my role is to do His will.”

Then the Judeans began to grumble about Him and His words: “I am the bread that came down from Heaven.” They murmured amongst themselves, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? What is he smoking to say that he has come down from Heaven?”

Jesus answered, “Do not grumble amongst yourselves. No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me drags[45] him against His will, and I will bring him to life in the final day. Just as the prophets wrote, “And they will all be taught by God.” All who hear and learn from the Father will come to me. (Not that anyone has seen the Father excepts for the one who is from the Father). Truly, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and died. This is bread that comes down from Heaven in order that anyone who eats from it will not die! I am the bread that lives, which has come down from Heaven. If someone should eat some of this bread he will live forever, and the bread that I will give is this: my flesh in exchange for the world’s life.”

Then the Judeans became hostile toward one another, “How could he possibly give us his own flesh to eat?”

Then Jesus said, “I’m telling you the truth, unless you should eat and drink the Son of Man’s flesh and blood, you do not have life within you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life forever, and I will bring Him to life in the final day[46]. For consuming my flesh is real[47] eating, and my blood is real drinking[48]. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I abide in him. In a similar way, the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. Thus the one who eats[49] me will live because of me. This is the new provision that has come down from Heaven. It is not like the bread that the fathers ate; they died. Whoever eats this new kind of sustenance will live forever.

He said all this while he was teaching in the Jewish assembly hall in Kapharanaum.

Then, many of his followers who heard this said[50], “This is a very unpleasant message! Who is able to stomach[51] such words?”

But Jesus knew within himself that they were grumbling concerning His most recent teachings. So He said to them “Does this offend[52] you? What would you do if you actually saw me ascending to where I was formerly[53]? The spirit is the life-giver, literal flesh is not a benefit to anything. These words, which I have spoken, are spirit and life. But some among you do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning, which of His followers would not believe and which one would eventually betray Him.

“For this very reason, I said to you that no one is able to come to me unless the Father allows Him to come.”

After this, many of his followers returned to the things they had left and no longer walked with Him. Then Jesus said to the Twelve, “Aren’t you wanting to leave as well?”

Simon the Rock answered for them: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of life, and we have believed and know that you are the Unique[54] One from God.”

Jesus replied, “Did I not select you twelve for myself? Yet one of you is my enemy.” He said this about Judas, the son of Simon Iskariot. For he, one of these special Twelve, was remaining with Him in order to betray Him.

Chapter 7: what other people thought of Jesus

After this Jesus began traveling around in Galilee. He did not go into Judea because the Judeans there were seeking to murder Him. Now when the Judean’s Celebration of Booths was near. Then His brothers said, “Leave this place and go to Judea, in order that your followers may see the works that you do. For no one does something in secrecy and then seeks to be make himself known abroad. If you are going to do such signs, reveal yourself to the world!” For not even his brothers trusted in Him at this point.

Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always at hand. The world is not able to hate you, but it hates me because I tell the world about itself, that its deeds are wicked! You go up to the Celebration. I will not go up to this one because my time has not yet come to fruition.” So after saying this He remained in Galilee.

discerning the truth, claims about Jesus

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not openly but in secret. Thus the Judeans were seeking him in the Celebration and said, “Where is that man?” And many in the crowd were grumbling[55] about him. Some said, “He is a good man,” but others said, “No, he just deceives the people.”[56] But regardless, no one said such things about him brazenly because they feared the Judeans.

But when the feast was about half way over, Jesus went up into the Temple grounds and taught. Then the Judeans were amazed, saying, “How does he know all of this when no one has taught him?”

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not mine, rather it is from the one who sent me. If someone desires to do what He desires, he will know about my teaching[57], whether it is from God or if I am just speaking on my own prerogative. The one who speaks on his own authority in that way only seeks his own honor. But anyone who seeks to advance the prestige of his Sender instead of himself, such a man is honest, and there is no falsehood in what he says. Didn’t Moses give you the law? (He spoke in the same way, on God’s authority not his own). Yet no one among you does the law. Why do you seek to murder me?”

The crowd protested, “You have a demon! Who on earth seeks to murder you?”

But Jesus said, “I did one miracle and you all are amazed. This is why Moses gave you circumcision—not that circumcision is from Moses but from the one who sent him, the Father—and on the Sabbath day you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath in order that the Law of Moses should not be loosened, why are you angry with me because I made a man well on the Sabbath? Do not condemn based on superficial appearance; rather, discern a correct[58] verdict.”

Then one of the Jerusalemites said, “Is this not the one that they want to murder? And here he speaks brazenly, but no one answers him? Perhaps the rulers really know that this man is the Anointed! But… we know where this man comes from, but when the Anointed comes no one is supposed to know where he is from.”

Then Jesus raised his voice and began teaching again: “You know me, and you know where I am from, but I have not come on my own behalf. My Sender, the Father Himself who you don’t even know, is true. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent me here.”

Then they sought to seize him, but no one laid a hand upon him because his time had not yet come[59].

But many of those in the crowd trusted Him and said, “The Anointed, whenever He may come, could he possibly do more signs than this man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about Him, so the Pharisees and the head priests sent servants to arrest Him.

he is unlike anything they had every known: confusion

Then Jesus said, “I will only be with you for a little while and then I will return to my Sender. You will search for me but you will not find me, because where I will be you will not be able to come.”

Then the Judeans said to one another, “Where is he about to go that we will not be able to find Him? Is he about to go to the Jews dispersed among the Greeks[60] and teach the Greeks? What is this word that he said, ‘You will seek me and not find me, and where I will be, you will not be able to come?’”

But on the last, most important day of the celebration, Jesus stood up and raised his voice, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink! Whoever trusts me, just as the Writing said, “Rivers of bubbling, living water will flow out from his heart[61].”

But He said this about the Spirit whom those who trusted Him were about to receive. The Spirit was not there yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Then some of the crowd who heard these messages said, “This really is the Prophet!” But others were saying, “This is the Anointed!” But some said, “The Anointed is not supposed to come out of Galilee is he? Don’t the Writings say that He will be one of David’s descendants from the village of Bethlehem where David was from? That is where the Anointed One is supposed to come from![62]” Then dissension began within the crowd because of all these different opinions. Certain ones wanted to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him.

foiled again

Then the servants of the head priests and Pharisees came, and they said to the servants, “Why didn’t you arrest Him?”

They answered, “No one has ever spoken like He does!”

Then the Pharisees replied, “You haven’t also been deceived by him have you? Has any head priest or Pharisee trusted Him? But this crowd which does not know the law is cursed of God.”

Nikodemos, who went to Him before even though he was also one of the rulers, said to them, “Doesn’t our law defer judgment about a man until it first hears from him and understands what he is doing?”

But they answered him, “You aren’t from Galilee as well are you?[63] Look for yourself in the Writings and see that a prophet is not supposed rise out of Galilee.”

Chapter 8: the light of the world

[64]8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, “I am the Light of the World. Anyone who follows me will not walk in darkness; rather, he will have the Light of life.”

Then the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about yourself. Your testimony must not be true.”[65]

But Jesus said, “Even if I did testify about myself my testimony would be true because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I came from nor where I am going! You judge physically, I do not judge anyone. But if I did judge, my judgment would be accurate because I am not alone.  The Father who sent me and I would judge the same thing.

[1] This is an interesting parallel to our supernatural birth by blood.

[2] This one probably is hinting at a married couple’s decision to procreate, contrasted with the child’s lack of decision. We don’t choose to be sired; God chooses to father.

[3] It seems to be assumed that the reader would know that God is invisible. The point here seems to be that Christ bridged this gap as the God-man, mediator between unknowable God and finite mankind. However, John is very specific. Even Christ does not see the invisible God. However, he is in the closest of fellowship with him. The Greek says “in the lap of the Father,” very similar to how John’s position is described at the Last Supper. It is a place of honor, love, and trust.

Secondarily, the verse may simply be referring to the fact that no human being aside from the God-man has ever seen the Father. He is our only source of such knowledge.

[4] This is a great example of an added phrase to attempt to show the flow of thought to the original readers, attempting to highlight what would have been odd but may seem mundane to our cloyed ears. Often times we would read over this, but this is amazing that John would immediately cut straight to the heart of what they wanted.

[5] Whereas Greek has its own conventions to express dialogue; English uses punctuation marks. The semantic equivalent of “And John replied: I am not.” Is simply ¶ “I am not.”

[6] I chose “stone” over “rock” mostly because it is different enough that I will be hard pressed to gloss over it without thinking that God gave Cephas a non-name. Furthermore it’s nicely alliterative in English. J

[7] The other was probably John, the author of this gospel.

[8] Greek emphasis on the truth of such a ‘call.” This force would render a more essentialist statement: “you will become Kephas, which means ‘stone.’”

[9] Adversative seems very unclear, worth further study. “And” or “then” seems to clear up the confusion but John does not seem as fond of “de” as a simple connector as he is in his first epistle.

[10] Possible allusion to Christ being the new mediator between the wonders of heaven and their impact on earth, paralleling the ladder that Jacob saw at Bethel. Furthermore it refers to Jesus finding Phillip on the way out of Jerusalem; if Christ took the traditional ridge road that traveled through Samaria and Sychar to Capernaum he would have been passing right by Bethel.

[11] Two other legitimate translations would be “born from above” or “born from the beginning.” The first would emphasize the unique character of the redeemed life after we are born the second time, juxtaposed against our natural carnality. The second would be a statement of God’s sovereign, timeless choice before time. The given rendering seems to be the most consistent with the concepts in chapters 1, 19, and 23. Because these ambiguities exist, it seems that Nikodemos misunderstood Christ’s statement to mean “again;” however Christ further clarifies that the source of the birth is more important than the fact that there are two. With any of the options, the emphasis lies in the fact that anyone who would see God must be born in a completely different manner than that of natural birth (see John 1:14), Jewish birth in and of itself counts for squat.

[12] Attempting to emphasize the present dominion nature of “the Kingdom” rather than the locative concept that seems to plague my mind when I translate it as “kingdom,” as if God were going to establish a literal kingdom on earth rather than a new allegiance and new pattern of life, according with God’s will being done on earth even as it is in Heaven.

[13] See the prologues comment on those who believe being born “not of the will of the flesh…but sired by God.” It is his decision.

[14] This is a pun, the words for spirit and breath are the same in Greek. This vivid imagery correlates the related, unpredictable aspects of both facets of the vocabulary. John’s poetry is quite understated but beautiful.

[15] alhqevia seems to be an ultimate truth in this usage, particularly because it is opposite a generic concept of evil. One would expect a generic concept of good but instead there is truth. To do something truly, implies that it is done correctly, as God meant it to be. This is particularly apparent when you look at the surrounding context and progression of thought.

[16] BDAG 4c, en is many times used by Paul and John in such a way that the referent of the preposition is the cause, means, or main source of influence for an actor.

[17] This is a supplied ellipsis that I’m entirely sure of; however I am pretty sure particularly based on later statements that Jesus was not baptizing but rather His disciples once the crowds came. Therefore it would seem that the only people around for Jesus to baptize would be the disciples.

[18] Essence of origin determines the quality of existence.

[19] And thus God’s first command to mankind was true in reality. For in the day that they ate of the fruit, they did “surely die,” and they founded a race of impotent, dead men. These men naturally love darkness and are condemned for it. O how amazing God’s grace is.

[20] Sychar was situated between Mt. Ebal and Gerazim, where the law’s blessings and curses were read to the entire congregation of Israel after they entered the promised land. Her question seems to be one of precedence. Israel used to worship other places besides Jerusalem, so why is that the only place now? The essence of her argument is actually correct; however, it seems to be one of rebellion since she had no knowledge of the New Covenant. The Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch as inspired and would have discounted Jeremiah’s words upon which her argument would rest. Christ’s following comments seem to point this out—she is banking on promises that she does not even know about. She has the right answer, but her faith is not drawn from a Message from God. Apart from such faith it is impossible to please God.

[21] This passage definitely reminds me of several other analogies in the Epistles; I think the most representative one would be the end of Hebrews 11. Verses 39 and 40 express the same partnership between the Old Covenant believers and the New Covenant believers. Both depend on the other. They planted the original Messages from God; they persevered and demonstrated faith to us. We have the incredible honor of finishing the last leg of the race so that “they would not be made perfect without us.” The People of God will only be complete when the whole assembly is gathered together. Be they from the Cultivated Branches or from the Wild Branches, one day they will be one glorious tree, bearing god-glorifying fruit for all eternity!

[22] They believed because of a sign.

[23] Jesus met him where he was. I think the need for signs and portents is in one sense a sign of judgment; however, it seems to be a redemptive sign of coming judgment, particularly in this case. “A wicked and deceitful generation demands signs.” But it seems that Christ gave them, both so that they would be held accountable and so that some of them would actually believe as a result.

[24] This seems to mean “the second Galilean miracle,” but I’m not sure.

[25] This is not my commentary, rather I think it is the most appropriate translation. “Iso” means equal; however, given any particular instance of the word it would mean equivalent number, size, or quality.

Given His recent emphasis on like fathering like in John 3, it seems apparent that John is drawing the same type of inference, which would have been readily apparent to His audience. By calling God His unique Father, He inferred that He was uniquely His son: very God out of very God. This emphasis on a Father passing on His essential characteristics to His offspring permeates several discourses throughout John, the most notable being John 3, this declaration, and John 8.

A similar theme manifests itself in essential characteristics being derived from a specific origin. See the end of John 3 and a plethora of declarations describing how different people act as a result of their origin. Christ was “from above” and therefore He was preeminent over all things “from below” essentially. The playful dynamic of existential, creative love contrasted against essentialistic characteristics creates a beautifully, tense dimension to John’s gospel.

[26] This section seems to address the theoretical impossibility of having two omnipotent beings. The only rational way that such a conundrum can be solved is if both beings’ wills are in perfect accord with one another. All Biblical evidence points toward distinct beings, with isometric essences and therefore equivalent wills.

[27] We are all dead upon arrival on this planet. We are dead because we are born in sin. The dead are judged by Christ as to whether their deeds were good or evil, but because they are born of sin; their deeds are evil. However, in a real sense a believer never dies. His Spirit is raised into a new kind of Spiritual life as Christ describes in John 3. This Spiritual life never ends, he lives and Christ is never called upon to judge Him. He will not be condemned.

[28] See John’s prologue, “He crafted life within Himself, and this Life was the light of men.”

[29] See the end of John 2.

[30] I don’t think this is relating that Christ hears from the Father what He is supposed to judge, but rather that He judges according to a universal Truth, which in a sense binds His decision to what is just. “He calls ‘em as He see’s ‘em” so to speak.

[31] This is yet another instance of Christ meeting people in their unbelief and giving them an opportunity to believe. He does not condemn them for their unbelief even though He could, rather He meets them where they are and bids them cast all our eggs into one basket, total dependence on Him as their creator who is able to recreate them as living children of God.

[32] I’m pretty confident that this is addressed toward the Sabbath and the rest of the law. Christ’s argument seems to be founded upon the concept that God, the law drafter, has sent Him to fulfill the law. That the Jews should think He was breaking the law is absurd. After all He only does the will of His father, furthermore, the entire law exists to point to Him as its fulfillment. Basically, they’ve read a biography and are trying to tell its subject how He lived and should live His life.

[33] Yet another essentialist argument, making a deduction about their essence based upon their display of certain characteristics. Backwards engineering this thought process; they do not believe, because they are not believers.

[34] Added for thematic clarity in English, see John’s prologue.

[35] This is pretty consistently used to unequivocally refer to the Hebrew testament, from Genesis through Malachi.

[36] To “go in someone’s name” meant that you became their hands and feet, accomplishing their will somewhere that they were not present. You spoke and acted on their behest.

[37] Prophecy concerning the antichrist I believe. Check the conditional usages to be sure.

[38] Remember this is all ensuing after they harassed him about supposedly “breaking” the “Sabbath” according to rules that they had added. There was no prohibition in the Pentateuch regarding carrying a bedroll when the Lord commands you too. Rather, the Pentateuch forbids that they would profane the Sabbath by continuing in the same labors that they had pursued the rest of the week; that’s it. Plus, they are talking to the author of the law and trying to tell him what it means.

[39] They perpetually got hung up on the medium. They were fascinated and content with John, but wouldn’t look where he was pointing. Light isn’t really good for much in and of itself. It is wonderful because it shows us other things. Furthermore, they put all their hopes in Moses’ words, and yet they stopped there trusting that that law could save them. They missed its entire purpose, revealing Christ.

[40] lit. “sat”

[41] Without contextualizing, “see what he would say” or simply “to test him.” However, both of those in my mind seem to imply a probability of failure rather than a contingency. BDAG suggests that this sort of testing implies a desire to demonstrate the genuine character of its object, sort of like showing off. J

[42] What a strange mixture of faith and unbelief. It reminds me of my heart many times: “Look guys, this will help, but it won’t do any good in the long run.” Enter God.

[43] thirty five stadia

[44] when… but they’re question is obvious.

[45] BDAG’s primary def.: 1. to move an object from one area to another in a pulling motion, draw, with implication that the object being moved is incapable of propelling itself or in the case of pers. is unwilling to do so voluntarily, in either case with implication of exertion on the part of the mover.

BDAG lists this particular use under a secondary metaphoric sense of “drawing or attracting toward a set of inner values.” However, that is a pansy domain cop out, particularly given the rather explicit context of “the bread of life” being in the Father’s hands alone, the primary definition seems to hold much greater weight in my mind. It is a beautiful metaphor, if somewhat rustic. “Drag” conveys much more of BDAGS def. 1 than “draw” so I have opted for it.

[46] or “the last day,” or even “final judgment”: the word “day” was used to refer to specifically a day of judgment within a context. For instance “his day” in Greek would probably mean the day when his trial would be held. Furthermore, this “final judgment” for the believer was accomplished in the cross. All justice was poured out upon us within Christ. Our judgment is done and we have been raised to life in Christ. Thus the “last day” that He speaks of seems to be His own crucifixion, at least within chapter 6’s scope.

[47] I found it amusing that this word can also mean “rust.” J

[48] This is awkward and I’ll work on it more, but the words emphasize more the process… i.e. “meal” as opposed to just “food.” “Real meal” sounded a little too cheesy, even for me.

[49] this is a funny word in Greek too; it’s kinda casual: chew, munch, nibble. It generally involves some measure of audible eating… perhaps “crunch?”

[50] Why is this word spelled eipan instead of on?

[51] Sorry, couldn’t resist our quite fitting vernacular… J lit. “who is able to understand this?” implying “who is able to understand and apply such an awful teaching?” It is interesting that even right at that time, the audience knew that Christ was not speaking literally.

[52] Biblical sense of “offense” is probable, to cause someone to sin generally by having a greater degree of faith or understanding then the “offended” party and causing them to act against their conscience. It could also just mean, “Are you shocked/grossed out by what I just said?”

[54] “Holy,” or pure, but it has lost so much meaning, particularly within its the uniqueness facet that I thought that in this context it was the more important dimension to emphasize. Christ uniquely has the words of life. Therer is no other for the disciples to turn to. Interestingly this also seems to imply that the “words of life” are not literal “words of life” because other people, say the prophets had spoken the same message that Jesus was. Thus, just as in John 5, we need more than just Scripture. We need the Message, God made flesh, which is the point of this entire passage.

[55] Strange, goggusmoß is a noun, but this seems almost periphrastic.

[56] Good example of oJti introducing direct discourse, note the change in tense.

[57] This seems amazingly essentialist. If someone’s essence is to want what God wants, then He will naturally recognize teaching that leads to that end. Like is drawn to like. Like essence resonates with like existence.

[58] Righteous “characterized by doing the right thing” see 1 John 3:7. “Righteous” is existentially defined based on actions.

[59] This is an interesting illustration of essentialism’s dominance over existentialism. Since existentialism merely deals with perception and action, it cannot dictate truth. They desired and took action to make their desires a reality; however because God had decreed that it was in fact not his time yet, their existential efforts to create reality were completely futile.

[60] See the Prologue to James.

[61] Actually koiliaß, stomach. This could also have something to do with the fact that the stomach is generally what provides nourishment and receives water; however, the new creature also provides water because he has the Spirit providing over and above what He needs to live. He no longer serves his stomach, He serves others with an outflow of regenerating cleansing.

[62] Remember, John is the last Gospel to be published. It can almost be assumed that almost any reader would be chuckling at this point because both Matthew and Luke make Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem explicitly clear as a fulfillment of this very prophecy. Great example of enthymemetic dramatic irony.

[63] Interesting accusation, at this point Christ’s followers seem to have been predominantly stero-typed as being Galilean.

[64] At this point there is an extended section about the woman caught in adultery that is not attested to in most of the early texts, including the earliest complete texts from the fourth and fifth century: Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus. It’s best supporter is the incomplete Codex Bazae Cantabrigiensis, dating from the fifth century but lacking the general epistles and revelation. Most scholars regard this section as apocryphal, possibly true but with no way of knowing who added it to the text of John.

[65] At this point if I were in the crowd I think I would be groaning: “Not this again, we’ve been over this.” J


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