Sunday, March 10, 2024

To Glorify and ... Enjoy?

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary notes regarding John 12:20-33, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for the fifth Sunday of Lent. Jesus'/John's emphasis on how Jesus "glorifies" God via his death brings to mind the Westminster Shorter Catechism, where the chief end of humanity is articulated as to glorify God and enjoy God forever. I love that statement, but this passage from John's gospel pairs “glorify” with a soul that is deeply troubled. As such, it is hard text about the sharper edge of being faithful. 

20 ησαν δὲ Ελληνές τινες ἐκ τῶν ἀναβαινόντων ἵνα προσκυνήσωσιν ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ:
Yet there were some Greeks out of those who came up in order that they might worship in the festival. 
ησαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἀναβαινόντων: PAPart gpm, ἀναβαίνω, 1) ascend  1a) to go up  1b) to rise, mount, be borne up, spring up
προσκυνήσωσιν: AASubj 3p, προσκυνέω, 1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, … 3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make  obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
1. “The Festival”: This chapter is filled with references to the Festival crowds. It begins “six days before the Passover,” with Jesus eating at the home of Lazarus and Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume. Then, v.9 says, “When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead,” which is when the chief priests set out to put both Jesus and Lazarus to death. Then, v.12 says, “The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” to begin Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna” waving palm branches and causing the religious leaders to say, “Look, the whole world has gone after him.” 
2. “Greeks, who came to worship in the festival.” Are these the so-called ‘god-fearers’ that we meet in Acts? (Cf. Acts: 10: 2, 22, 35; 13:16, 26 [φοβούμενοι] and 13:43, 50; 16:14; 17:4, 17; 18:7 [σεβομένων]. Some scholars feel these categories are Lukan constructs. Others point to significant Gentile presence among things like names that are listed as contributors to building a synagogue, etc. to say that diasporic Jewish synagogues attracted many non-Jewish followers. John does not give us much to go on with these visitors. And, frankly, they get left behind pretty quickly.

21 οὗτοι οὖν προσῆλθον Φιλίππῳ τῷ ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἠρώτων αὐτὸν λέγοντες, Κύριε, θέλομεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἰδεῖν.
Then these came to Philip who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and implored him saying, “Lord, we wish to see Jesus.” 
προσῆλθον: AAI 3p, προσέρχομαι, 1) to come to, approach  2) draw near to  3) to assent to
ἠρώτων: IAI 3p, ρωτάω, 1) to question  2) to ask  2a) to request, entreat, beg, beseech
λέγοντες: PAPart npm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
θέλομεν: PAI 1p, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose  1b) to desire, to wish 
ἰδεῖν: AAInf, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know   
1. The use of “Lord” (Κύριε) as the Greeks’ address to Philip calls into question our modern assumption that “Lord” is an exclusively religious term. The Spanish use of “Señor” is a similar case in point. It can refer as shorthand to Jesus or God; or, it can simply be a term of respect.
2. Why Philip from Bethsaida? Bethsaida, re-named “Julia” after Caesar’s wife by Herod, seemed to be a key city in Galilee under Roman rule. Perhaps it was a cosmopolitan city whose folks were naturally easier for Greeks to seek out and communicate with than others. I don’t know.
3. The way John sets up this chapter, the use of a mediator to speak with Jesus may be due to the sheer popularity of Jesus and the difficulty of a direct approach.   

22 ἔρχεται ὁ Φίλιππος καὶ λέγει τῷ Ἀνδρέᾳ: ἔρχεται Ἀνδρέας καὶ Φίλιππος καὶ λέγουσιν τῷ Ἰησοῦ.
Philip comes over and speaks to Andrew; Andrew comes over and Philip and speak to Jesus. 
ἔρχεται: PMI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
λέγει: PAI 3s, , λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἔρχεται: PMI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
λέγουσιν: PAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
1. The Greeks come to Philip, Philip comes to Andrew, Andrew with Philip come to Jesus. At least it is good to know that the Presbyterian habit of running every idea through a circuit of committee meetings has some biblical warrant.
2. Andrew, along with his brother Simon Peter, were also from Bethsaida (see Jn. 1:44).
3. I translate the first ἔρχεται as “comes over” to reflect the middle voice, as opposed to a simple active voice. I’m not sure what John signifies by that.
4. The reason I don’t just say, “Andrew and Philip come over …” is because the verb “speak” is singular and Andrew is the closest noun.  

23 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀποκρίνεται αὐτοῖς λέγων, Ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
Yet Jesus responding to them says, “The hour has come in order that the son of man may be glorified. 
ἀποκρίνεται: PMI 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
λέγων: PAPart, nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἐλήλυθεν: PerfAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
δοξασθῇ: APSubj 3s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate  3) to honor, do honor to, hold in honor 
1. While we often associate "son of man" with Mark or the synoptics in general, John uses “son of man” 12 times - 1:51, 3:13, 3:14, 5:27, 6:27, 6:53, 6:62, 8:28, 12:23, 12:34 (2x), 13:31. Often, but not exclusively, it is associated with suffering and the cross.
2. Jesus’ response begins here and concludes in v.28. He never directly addresses the request of the Greeks to see him. A friend of mine swears that the last time he was in Jerusalem he saw two really old Greek guys standing there looking impatiently at their watches. I don't think they were the same guys, but you wouldn't know from John's rendition of this story. In the end, I feel compelled to consider (1) Jesus’ words in themselves, and (2) Jesus’ words contextualized within a request of some Greeks at the Passover asking to see Jesus. 
3. “The hour” is a very important term in John's gospel, both as something that is not yet here and something that is here. Below are the uses in John, omitting the obvious references to the time of day. 
2:4 - to Mary: “My hour has not yet come”
4:21-23 - to Woman at well: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.”
5:25 - “‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (more in ff.)
7:30 - “Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.”
8:20 - “He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.” 
13:1 - “Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.”
16:2, 4 - “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” … “But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.” 
16:20 - “When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come.”
16:25 - “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father.”
 16:32 - “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.” 
 17:1 - “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”

4. The verb “glorify” also plays a key role in John. Remembering the prologue that states, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth,” here is how the narrator and Jesus use the verb δοξάζω. Notice that in 15:8 and 21:19 disciples of Jesus are also part of this act of glorifying God.
7:39 - “Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
8:54 - “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”,”
11:4 Re: Lazarus -  “But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’
12:16 Re: Entry into Jer - “His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.”
           4x in our text, Jn. 12:20-33
13:31-32 Re: Judas leaving - “When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”
14:13 - “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
15:8 Re: “abiding” in Jesus as the vine - “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
16:14 - “[God] will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
17:1 - “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you”  
17:4-5 - “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”  
17:10 -  “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.” 
21:19 Re: Peter - “(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)”

24 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν μὴ ὁ κόκκος τοῦ σίτου πεσὼν εἰς τὴν γῆν ἀποθάνῃ, αὐτὸς μόνος μένει: ἐὰν δὲ ἀποθάνῃ, πολὺν καρπὸν φέρει.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat that has fallen into the earth would die, it remains alone; but if it would die, it bears much fruit. 
λέγω: PAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
πεσὼν: AAPart nsm, πίπτω, 1) to descend from a higher place to a lower  1a) to fall (either from or upon)  1a1) to be thrust down
ἀποθάνῃ: AASubj 3s, ἀποθνήσκω to die out, expire, become dead. θνήσκω with ἀπό prefixed, rendering the verb more vivid and intense, and representing the action of the simple verb.
μένει: PAI 3s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide  1a) in reference to place 
ἀποθάνῃ: AASubj 3s, ἀποθνήσκω to die out, expire, become dead.
φέρει: PAI 3s, φέρω, 1) to carry   1a) to carry some burden 
1. In a less literal translation, I would make this, “If a grain of wheat that has fallen into the ground does not die, it remains alone. But, if it does die, it bears much fruit.” ἐὰν and μὴ are literally “if” and “not” taken separately. Together they are a subjunctive way of setting up a negative possibility. Hence, “Unless” (NRSV) or “except” (KJV).
2. The dying “grain of wheat.” Think of the ways that discipleship is often described in the gospels: “Those who lose their life will save it.” “Whoever wants to become great must become servant of all.” We often refer to those comments as forms of a “paradox.” Jesus grounds that paradox (literally!) in the way life happens in nature itself. 
3. This may be the best way of understanding what the verb “glorify” means. Jesus dies, not to appease God’s anger over human sinfulness, but because a death like his can be the means for bearing much fruit. I know that Archbishop Oscar Romero found great consolation in this verse when his own life was threatened and, in fact, his words have reverberated ever more strongly since his assassination that if he should die his spirit would rise up among the poor of El Salvador. Tertullian captured it well in the phrase, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

25 φιλῶν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολλύει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ μισῶν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ τούτῳ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον φυλάξει αὐτήν.
The one who loves one’s psyche loses it, and the one who hates his psyche in this world into ‘eternal now living’ keeps it.  
φιλῶν: PAPart nsm, φιλέω, 1) to love   1a) to approve of   1b) to like  
ἀπολλύει: PAI 3s, ἀπόλλυμι, 1) to destroy  1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin  1b) render useless  1c) to kill  … 2a) to lose
μισῶν: PAPart nsm, μισέω, 1) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest 
φυλάξει: PAI 3s, φυλάσσω, 1) to guard   1a) to watch, keep watch ….  1c3) to keep from being snatched away, preserve safe   and unimpaired  
1. Here is the paradox describing discipleship. While the words “hate one's psyche” sound inordinately harsh, the grain of wheat helps us to hear “hating” as “letting go” with “loving” as “clinging on.” 
2. EVERY VERB AND PARTICIPLE IN THIS VERSE IS IN THE PRESENT TENSE. There is a parallel pattern here, where loving leads to losing; while hating leads to keeping, but note: the resultant losing and keeping are not in the future tense. It’s not ‘love or hate’ now; ‘lose or keep’ later, at least not insofar as the verb tenses go.
3. The key, perhaps, is the term αἰώνιον, which is typically translated “eternal life.” αἰώνιον has as its root the word αἰών, means most basically “age”, like the transliterated English ‘eon.’ Kittle’s TDNT has pages and pages on αἰών, noting that it is incredibly ambiguous and its translation is quite dependent on context - particularly the question would be whether αἰών points to this-worldly age or next-worldly age. The adjective αἰώνιος can be translated ‘eternal,’ ‘lifelong,’ ‘enduring,’ ‘everlasting,’ ‘ancient,’ or ‘long past,’ or ‘of old.’ In the NT, it is used of God, divine possessions, or with an eschatological sense.
4. It is important to remember that this is a prepositional phrase: εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. The εἰς means ‘into’ and takes the accusative as its object. ζωὴν (‘life’ noun) and αἰώνιον (‘age-long’ adjective) together are the object of the preposition, both accusative singular feminine. (I know that the pronoun αὐτήν is also accusative singular feminine, but that corresponds with the singular feminine antecedent, ψυχὴν.)
5. Young’s Literal Translation translates αἰώνιον as “age-during,” which – I think – is very suggestive that the adjectival form of this word means something other than just ‘eternal.’ Of course, I don’t know if John intended ‘eternal’ or ‘life-during’ (whatever that means). I just think that we fall too easily into thinking that everything is mortgaged in this life for the next life.
6. The other translation issue here is the word ψυχὴν, which I am transliterating as psyche. It is often translated ‘soul,’ (KJV) or ‘life’ (NRSV). But, I worry that ‘soul’ sounds like a ‘religious’ part of our being or an eternal part of our being, such as in the Greek (and not biblical) doctrine of the immortality of the soul. And ‘life’ is problematic here because ζωὴν is typically translated as a ‘life’ word. One reader recently suggested “identity,” which I like a lot, I left it as ‘psyche’ so the original term is clearer.
7. And the severity of hating one's psyche is more than I can comprehend at this moment. A part of me wants to think of it as not doing everything possible to make myself #1; a part of me feels that the language is much more dire than that. I want to feel like it's related to deflating my self evaluation in order to discover God's value of me. 
Last week's pericope spoke of the difference in living toward the flesh or toward the spirit. I preached an alliterative way to speak of life oriented toward the flesh: Living in pursuit of Power, Prosperity, Prestige, and Privilege. At least that was helpful to me.

26 ἐὰν ἐμοί τις διακονῇ, ἐμοὶ ἀκολουθείτω, καὶ ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγὼ ἐκεῖ καὶ ὁ διάκονος ὁ ἐμὸς ἔσται: ἐάν τις ἐμοὶ διακονῇ τιμήσει αὐτὸν ὁ πατήρ.
If one would serve me, one must follow me, and where I am, there the servant of mine will be also; if one would serve me, the father will honor that one.
διακονῇ: PASubj, διακονέω, 1)) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon
ἀκολουθείτω: PAImpv 3s, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him
εἰμὶ: PAI 1s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἔσται: FMI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
διακονῇ: PASubj, διακονέω, 1)) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon
τιμήσει: FAI 3s, τιμάω, 1) to estimate, fix the value 1a) for the value of something belonging to one's self  2) to honor, to have in honor, to revere, venerate

27 Νῦν ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται. καὶ τί εἴπω; Πάτερ, σῶσόν με ἐκ τῆς ὥρας ταύτης; ἀλλὰ διὰ τοῦτο ἦλθον εἰς τὴν ὥραν ταύτην.
Now my psyche is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, rescue me out of this hour?’ But for this reason I came into this hour. 
τετάρακται: PPI 3s, ταράσσω, 1) to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro)  1a) to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of  mind, disturb his equanimity 
εἴπω: λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
σῶσόν: AAOptative 2s, σῴζω, 1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction  1a) one (from injury or peril)  1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one  suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
ἦλθον: AAI 1s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
1. And now Jesus' psyche is troubled. What an interesting thing for Jesus to put out there. After noting that saving one's psyche will lose it, this particular statement recognizes how troubling it is to lose one's psyche. John notes in c.11 that Jesus was troubled 'in spirit' (pneumati) just before raising Lazarus. "Troubled" is the word used in c.5 to talk about the waters in the pool of Siloam being troubled occasionally; as well as in c.14 when Jesus says twice, "Do no let your hearts (cardia) be troubled." 
2. I think this verse and the next ought to have been divided differently. The phrase, “Father, glorify your name” is the obvious retort to “Father, save me from this hour.” So, I think this is another parallel structure that could be something like: What shall I say, “Father save me?” No, I came precisely to say this, “Father glorify your name.”
3. For “Save me” the verb is in the ‘optative’ mood. It’s fairly rare but signifies a wish or a hope. In the parallel prayer, “Father, glorify your name,” the verb is in the imperative mood. I think that indicates that Jesus’ prayer is not a hope, but a determination that God be glorified.
4. Jesus words here have a different tenor than the prayer in the garden in Mark’s gospel, where Jesus prays for God to “let this cup pass from me.” In Mark, Jesus gets to “Not my will, but yours” eventually. In John, he seems to be on that latter side of that journey already. 
5. If losing one's life is the means of saving one's life, and if Jesus chooses not to ask God to save him from that hour, but for God to glorify God's name, then my math tells me that God is glorified when our psyches, that we have hated/not loved, are saved.  

28 πάτερ, δόξασόν σου τὸ ὄνομα. ἦλθεν οὖν φωνὴ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, Καὶ ἐδόξασα καὶ πάλιν δοξάσω.
‘Father, glorify your name.’  Then a voice came out of the heaven, “Indeed I have glorified and will glorify again.”
δόξασόν: AAImpv 2s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
ἦλθεν: AAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
ἐδόξασα: AAI 1s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
δοξάσω: FAI 1s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
1.The ongoing paradox of John’s gospel is that this one who is glorified is, at the same time and in this very way, the one who is “lifted up” in death. But, if God had already “glorified” his name through Jesus, then it is not only death that glorifies God. Jesus has glorified God with his living as well. When Judas leaves to betray Jesus, Jesus responds that he has now been glorified, so this term, while often pointing to Jesus' death, seems much wider. 

29 ὁ οὖν ὄχλος ὁ ἑστὼς καὶ ἀκούσας ἔλεγεν βροντὴν γεγονέναι: ἄλλοι ἔλεγον, Ἄγγελος αὐτῷ λελάληκεν.
Then the crowd who are standing there also having heard were saying there has been thunder; others said, “Angels had been speaking to him.”
ἑστὼς: PAPart nsm, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
ἀκούσας: AAPart nsm, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear
ἔλεγεν: λέγω IAI 3s, 1) to say, to speak 
γεγονέναι: PerfAInf, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
ἔλεγον: λέγω IAI 3p, 1) to say, to speak 
λελάληκεν: PerfAI 3p, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak
1. The voice, clear to the narrator and ostensibly clear to Jesus, was not as clear to the crowd. (I'm glad to know that our church's sound system challenges are biblical!) I wonder what that confusion is all about. 
2. John does not have Jesus hearing “You are my son …” at his baptism or on the mount of transfiguration.

30 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν, Οὐ δι' ἐμὲ ἡ φωνὴ αὕτη γέγονεν ἀλλὰ δι' ὑμᾶς.
Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not been for me, but for you.
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
γέγονεν: PerfAI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being  2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen 
1. It is a little curious that the voice has spoken “for you,” but the crowd has not discerned it. The narrator – or the narrator’s resources – heard it clearly enough. Perhaps the “for you” is for the disciples who heard the voice clearly and “the crowd” are the others gathered there who did not.

31 νῦν κρίσις ἐστὶν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, νῦν ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐκβληθήσεται ἔξω:
Now is a judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
ἐστὶν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἐκβληθήσεται: FPI 3s, ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out  1a) with notion of violence  1a1) to drive out (cast out)  1a2) to cast out  1a2a) of the world, i.e. be deprived of the power and  influence he exercises in the world  1a2b) a thing: excrement from the belly into the sink  1a3) to expel a person from a society: to banish from a family  1a4) to compel one to depart; to bid one depart, in stern  though not violent language
1. There is an insistence on ‘now.’ Now is judgment; and now … the ruler of this world “will be” cast out. But, the second now has a curious future tense tied to it.
2. The “ruler of this world”: At the last supper, Jesus says to his disciples, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (14:30-31). And later, about the paraclete, Jesus says, “he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” (16:8-11)
3. Note the use of “now” in v.27 and here, as well as “the hour has come” in v.23.

32 κἀγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς, πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν.
And I if I would be lifted up out of the earth, I will draw all to me.  
ὑψωθῶ: APS 1s, ὑψόω, 1) to lift up on high, to exalt  2) metaph.  2a) to raise to the very summit of opulence and prosperity  2b) to exalt, to raise to dignity, honour and happiness
ἑλκύσω: FAI 1s, ἑλκύω 1. unsheath, a person forcibly and against his will, drag, drag off, 2. metaph. to draw by inward power, lead, impel:
1. The word κἀγὼ means “and I” and the verb ὑψωθῶ is in the first person voice, hence the “And I if I.”
2. The language of Jesus being “lifted up” ὑψόω is part of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (Jn 3:14) and in 8:28 Jesus says to ‘the Jews,’ “When you have lifted up the son of man, then you will realize that I am he …”

33 τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν.
Yet he was saying this signifying what kind of death he was about to die. 
ἔλεγεν: IAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
σημαίνων: PAPart nsm, σημαίνω, 1) to give a sign, to signify, indicate  2) to make known
ἤμελλεν: IAI 3s, μέλλω, 1) to be about  1a) to be on the point of doing or suffering something  1b) to intend, have in mind, think to
ἀποθνῄσκειν: PAInf, ἀποθνήσκω  to die out, expire, become dead. θνήσκω with ἀπό prefixed, rendering the verb more vivid and intense, and representing the action of the simple verb.
1. “What kind of death” seems to be pointing to the cross, since Jesus being “lifted up” had already been likened to Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (c.3).

2. The present active participle “signifying” is intriguing, since one distinctive feature of John’s gospel is his use of the word “sign” instead of “miracle.” Here, it is not a miraculous act, but words, that signify.


  1. I appreciate your use of the word psyche rather than soul or life. It seems to me that when Christ calls us to "lose our lives"--that call is for us to forget about ourselves (at least in the way of living in which we are living to "CYA"--that is, save our own hides all the time). That call to lose our lives is the call to trust in the providence of God and take a leap for the sake of the other, not ourselves. It sure seems that is Jesus' message in his words--and his actions all the way to the cross.

  2. Specifically, it's our psyche in the Kosmos - our selfhood in the order of things that is constructed for some to succeed and others to fail, to measure success by power and security, and to deny the responsibility for all others. The self that is comfortable in that world will lose its life. The self that 'hates' - rejects - opts out of that world and that relational understanding of self will be alive in a way that has neither an origin nor a termination point.

  3. Having a life purpose and knowing what you want are the beginning of wisdom! This is a great resource to share with friends and family as well as artisan makers. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  4. I should tell you very frequently how much I appreciate your blog

    1. It's very kind of you to take the time to do so even once.

  5. For what it's worth: I wonder whether the crowd actually does interpret the sound (better than voice?) from heaven (v 29). Thunder was often the sound associated with G-d (Exod 20:15: 'All of the people saw the thunder(!); Pss 18, 29; Gnostic text:The Thunder, Perfect Mind, etc). And angels were messengers of the Voice/Sound. In addition, Jesus does not correct their understanding but says it was for their sake, not his.

    And is it pushing too far to notice that the crowd is 'standing' a la Israel stands at Sinai (a 'Standing' still commemorated by some today). Standing is the posture of liturgy, of the angels, and so on

  6. Hi Mark, thank you so much for your blog. I had a question from a parishioner this week asking who 'the ruler of this world' is. While I can point them towards both more traditional and progressive takes, I'd love to be able to share yours if you are willing. -Dana

    1. A thought. ὁ ἄρχων seems similar to the English 'arch.' The arch is also what holds up a structure, and carries weight. The 'arch' of the τοῦ κόσμου τούτου - this world - is that which carries its weight and holds it up from falling. At that level, dynamics of 'Power, Prosperity, Prestige, and Privilege' - along with scapegoating and self-justification - seem pretty 'arch.'

  7. Root in v. 21 of 'see' is ὁράω ; according to Strong: properly, to stare at (compare G3700). Is it possible that the Greeks (Hellenes) were just curious about the noise, and Jesus' answer is a bit of a rebuke?

  8. the lectionary of what church? thanks for your feedback.

    1. As far as I know, the Revised Common Lectionary is used in quite a few churches. This is the reading in the Presbyterian Glory to God hymnal as well as the Vanderbilt Lectionary source that I use.

  9. Someone, another blogger, said that in verse 32, if we change "draw", the 2nd definition you cite, to "drag", the 1st definition, then all are saved even if they don't want it. Dragging, kicking, screaming and protesting, we WILL be dragged into salvation by Jesus. Ha!

    I, too, really enjoy your insights of the Gospel. When I am on lectionary (mostly but not always), I turn to page for new understanding of the Greek, which I do not know. Thank you!


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