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John Chapter Thirteen


I. Content of the Chapter


The Example and Teachings of the Son of God the Savior Who Washed His Disciples’ Feet

A.  The service of love ---- He washed the disciples’ feet personally (v.1-11).

B.  The teachings of love ---- He taught His disciples that they should wash one another’s feet (v.12-17).

C.  The treatment of love ---- reminded Judas (v.18-30) ---- though his feet were washed, he still had no portion in the divine fellowship.

D.  The commandment of love ---- He gave the new commandment of loving one another to the disciples (v.31-35).

E.  Man did not know his love of himself ---- Peter boasted himself (v.36-38) ---- his feet were washed and he had partaken in the fellowship, but he failed.


II. Verse by Verse commentary


John. 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

YLT: “And before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour hath come, that he may remove out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own who in the world -- to the end he loved them.”

Meaning of Words: “depart from”: go, pass, remove; “love”: the divine love (agapao);

Literal Meaning:before the Feast of the Passover”, the Feast of the Passover was near. According to the Jewish measure of day, the Passover started from the dust of that day (see Ex12:6).

His own who were in the world”, it referred to those who were given to Him by God the Father and believed and received Him (see 17:2; 1:12-13).

He loved them to the end.” ---- There are two meanings of the phrase of “to the end”: (1) to the end in regard to time, namely, continually. (2) To the end concerning the degree, namely, to the utmost. So it could also be translated into “to the utmost”. The love of the Lord Jesus embraces the above-mentioned two meanings.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Although we believers dwell in the world (see 17:11), we are not of the world (see 17:16), but of the Lord.

     2) The Lord has bought us with a great price, therefore we are no longer our own (1Cor 6:19-20) but of the Lord.

     3) For both if we should live, to the Lord we live. And if we should die, to the Lord we die: both if we should live then, and if we should die, we are the Lord's (Rom 14:8).

     4) The Lord Jesus loves us so much that He even delivered Himself up for us (see Eph 5:25).

     5) The Lords love to us is the love to the utmost. Once He has lived us, He will love us for ever .

     6) The Lords love is strong as death (see Song 8:6), so nothing and nobody can separate us from the love of Christ (see Rom 8:35).

     7) When we are zealous and strong, it is easy to find that the Lord loves us. But when we are weak and fallen, we may doubt that whether the Lord loves us or not, or even dare not come to draw near the Lord. However, the Lord said He loved us to the end. We, regardless of our own conditions, can approach therefore with boldness to draw near Him and enjoy Him through His utmost love.


John. 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him,

YLT: “And supper being come, the devil already having put into the heart of Judas of Simon, Iscariot, that he may deliver him up,”

Meaning of Words: “betray”: deliver, entrust; “put”: throw; “heart”: thoughts, feeling;

Literal Meaning:And supper being” ---- when they ate the feast of the Passover (see Matt 26:19-20; Mark 14:16-18; Luke 22:13-14).

  “The devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him.” ---- Before this time, Judas was decided to betray the Lord Jesus (see Luke 22:3-6).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) The devil always works in men, scheming to destroy mens relation with the Lord Jesus: (1) if possible, it plots to prevent men from becoming Christians. (2) Even though one has become a Christian, the devil still tries to make him feel indifferent to the Lord or even forsake the Lord (betray Jesus).

     2) Before fully occupying a man, the devil firstly gives him a thought, and then the thought changes his will. Finally, he has turned to be a slave of the devil.

     3) The devil usually shoots an evil thought into mans heart. However, if he refuses it and does not follow its allure, the devil can not cast man into sin (see James 4:7).


John. 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

YLT: “Jesus knowing that all things the Father hath given to him -- into hands, and that from God he came forth, and unto God he goeth,”

Literal Meaning:Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands”, “all things” refer to all the creature. Here they specifically refer to “the disciples”, namely, those who are of Him (see v.1). Jesus “knew” that the Father had given His disciples into His hands. This was the first reason that the Lord washed the disciples’ feet (see v.4-5).

  “And knew that He had come from God and was going to God.” ---- This was the second “knew”, as well as the second reason why the Lord washed the disciples’ feet. The Lord “came from the Father”, and declared God to His disciples (see1:18), thus helping the disciples to establish a normal relationship of fellowship with God. The Lord now “was going to God” and left His disciples on the earth. Then how to keep a normal fellowship of God with the disciples became an important matter before the Lord’s departure from the world. Therefore, the Lord’s action of washing feet was exemplified as follows, through which the Lord revealed the mystery of “keeping the fellowship with God” to His disciples.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Thanks God! He has given us to the Lord Jesus. No one can seize out of the hand of the Lord (see 10:28-29).

     2) The Book of John, from chapter one to thirteen, described that the Lord Jesus came from God and how He made men know and obtain God in the flesh. From chapter fourteen to twenty-one, it recorded that He was going to God and He brought men back to the presence of God through His death and resurrection.

     3) The Lord Jesus knew how surpassing His authority was, how divine His origin was and how glorious the place He would go was. However, He still humbled Himself. Today, how great is the number of men who plainly know they are nothing, but are still puffed up.

     4) If we can truly know our status before God and know where we are from and where we will go, our attitudes towards our life and service will be completely transformed and we will also bear more in mind the interest of God and others.


John. 13:4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

YLT: “doth rise from the supper, and doth lay down his garments, and having taken a towel, he girded himself;”

Meaning of Words: “lay aside”: kneel down, lay down, sink down;

The Background: in the ancient times, the Jews put on sandals without uppers when they went out of home, and took off the sandals when they entered into their houses. One of the works of the lowest bondmen was to loose the sandal straps, take off and carry the sandals, and then pour water into a basin to wash their feet.

When eating the feast of the Passover (v.1-2), the Lord’s disciples had ever disputed that which of them should be held to be greatest (see Luke 22:24). The reason of their strife was probably that they wanted to obtain a conclusion ---- who was the least one? And the least one would be the bondman of all, who should help all of them take off their sandals and wash their feet.

Literal Meaning:rose from supper”, it indicated that the mind of the Lord Jesus was totally distinct from His disciples ---- it was neither the greater one that had the feast nor the least one that served, but the leader and the greater one served others (see Luke 22:25-27). He “rose from supper” ---- He was prepared to do something on the status of serving men.

  “Took a towel”, “towel”: a "linen" cloth.

Spiritual Meaning:rose from supper”, “rose” symbolized departing from the honorable status.

“And laid aside His garments”, “garments” symbolized one’s walks. Laid aside His garments meant removing His glorious outward appearance, namely, humbling and emptying Himself.

“Took a towel”, there were two symbolic significances: (1) it showed that He bound on humility (see 1Pet 5:5). (2) It typified that He had took a bondman's form (see Phil 2:7).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) The prerequisite condition of serving the Lord in the church is to get down from the throne of ones own. He who seeks only the status and fame of himself can not be a good servant of the Lord.

     2) The proud looks down upon others. No one is willing to receive help from a man who is supercilious.

     3) Humility presents another form of love. The proud man loves himself. Only the humble man is able to love others. If we love ourselves more, we will be unable to love others. Therefore, love is being humbled ---- being willing to deny, refuse and empty oneself.

     4) The true great man is a man who is able to lay down his own glory. The more honorable a man is, the less his self will be. The more one has, the less he thinks of himself.

     5) He, who does not serve other for fearing of losing his own dignity, is proved to have no real dignity. On the contrary, he who disregards his own dignity and takes delight in serving others has received much more dignity.

     6) Self is always a terrible obstacle to the spiritual things. Here, the Lord was purposed to make His disciples know their shortcomings and learn to be humble and love brothers more than themselves.

     7) Took a towel and girded Himself, we should grid ourselves, namely, lose the liberty. The more we are willing to be restrained for the sake of others, the more we are able to serve others.


John. 13:5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

YLT: “afterward he putteth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and to wipe with the towel with which he was being girded.”

Spiritual Meaning:poured water into a basin”, “water” typifies: (1) the Holy Spirit (see Titus 3:5); (2) Life (see 19:34); (3) God’s words (see 15:3; Eph 5:26).

  “Into a basin”, it typified Christ poured out His life through His crucifixion (see Is 53:12).

    “Wash the disciples' feet”, “feet” are the parts which touch the earth when walking. Christians may unavoidably be defiled when walking in the earth. The Lord washed the disciples’ feet symbolized that He washed our spirit through the regeneration of the spirit, the provision of life and the water of God’s words, thus removing the earthly uncleanness from us.

  “Wipe them with the towel with which He was girded”, it typified the Lord’s meticulous service.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Today, the Lord also often washes our feet. Every time we draw near Him, we will deeply find that all the earthly defilement has immediately been washed away by the Lords life. Instantly, we feel relaxed and refreshed, just as comfortable as having washed the feet.

     2) In the Old Testament, there was a laver between the altar and the tent of meeting. Every time when believers came to God, their hands and feet should be firstly washed (see Ex 30:18-21).

     3) The hand of creating the universe is also the hand that washes our uncleanness. On the contrary, the hand that delights in washing mens feet is the most honorable hand in the universe. Beloved believers please do not regard washing feet for others as a low thing.

     4) No water, no washing. If we want to wash others feet, we should pour the water into the basin ---- Let the word of the Christ dwell in us richly (see Col 3:16), and have more abundant life (see 10:10) and be fully filled with the Spirit (see Eph 5:18).

     5) Only providing the spirit and life to others can remove the earthly defilement of others. The Focus of washing feet is not getting rid of the negative aspect, but bringing about the positive provision.

     6) If one has not wiped the feet with the towel after washing them, the task has not completed yet. We should do any works of the Lord from start to finish.


John. 13:6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"

YLT: “He cometh, therefore, unto Simon Peter, and that one saith to him, `Sir, thou -- dost thou wash my feet?'”

Literal Meaning:Lord, are You washing my feet?” ---- That you washed my feet was so unsuitable, for I was not worthy and did not deserve it.


John. 13:7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."

YLT: “Jesus answered and said to him, `That which I do thou hast not known now, but thou shalt know after these things;'”

Literal Meaning:you do not understand now”, “understand” here referred to the subjective consciousness.

  “But you will know after this”, “after this”: after His resurrection; “know”: the outwardly objective knowledge.

Enlightenment in the Word:

      1) We may usually not know why a certain matter comes to us. When it is over, we have learned spiritual lessons from our experiences, thus being aware of the fact that all things work together for good to us (see Rom 8:28).

      2) Unfortunately, many believers doubted and refused, for they did not know the Lords will at that time so that they could not learn the necessary lessons but had suffered in vain, losing the grace of God.

      3) Wed better not jump to conclusion concerning many affairs in the church before truth about the matter has come to light (see 2Cor 4:2-5).

      4) The Lord works according to the will of God rather than the understanding of men. His works can never been restricted by men.


John. 13:8 Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."

YLT: “Peter saith to him, `Thou mayest not wash my feet -- to the age.' Jesus answered him, `If I may not wash thee, thou hast no part with me;'”

Literal Meaning:You shall never wash my feet!” ---- “You never”: “however, you can not”. Peter said this for he thought such matter was of high treason.

Spiritual Meaning:If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” ---- It indicated that if Peter did not receive the spiritual meaning of “washing feet”, he would never be able to have fellowship with the Lord (see 1John 1:6-10).

  “Have no part with Me”, it does not refer to partaking in the salvation, but the obstacle to spiritual fellowship, namely, being not able to keep in union with each other.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, and he cannot know because they are spiritually discerned (see 1Cor 2:14).

     2) Some of the unbelief thinks, according to their natural concept, that the Lords salvation is so unreasonable ---- how can a sinner obtain free grace ---- that they are unwilling to receive it.

     3) Admittedly, humility is a good virtue, but the natural humility can not only bring spiritual profits to believers, but also be harmful.

     4) If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. ---- Whether we let the Lord purifies us decides whether we can enjoy Him. If we have not been purified, the uncleanness will block off our fellowship with the Lord and prevent the fullness of the Lord from being conveyed to us.

     5) The more earthly uncleanness in us has been cleansed, the smoother our fellowship with the Lord will be, and the richer our enjoyment of life will be. Finally, when our spiritual discernment has been increased, we will be more consecrated to the world.

     6) We believers usually have difficulties in our feet ---- walk according to man (see 1Cor 3:3), therefore we should be washed by the Lord ---- walk according to the Lord (see 1John 2:6).


John. 13:9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

YLT: “Simon Peter saith to him, `Sir, not my feet only, but also the hands and the head.'”

Literal Meaning: Peter’s reaction run to another extremity. Just now he held closely that his feet should not be washed by the Lord (see v.8). But now, he asked the Lord to wash his whole body. Both the two reactions were wrong.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Believers should think soberly in spiritual things (see Rom 12:3).

     2) We should not add something to or take away from the words of God (see Rev 22:18-19). We shall neither add to words that God has not spoken, nor take away from the words that God has spoken.


John. 13:10 Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."

YLT: “Jesus saith to him, `He who hath been bathed hath no need save to wash his feet, but he is clean altogether; and ye are clean, but not all;'”

The Background:He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” ---- In the ancient times, if the Jewish went to attend a banquet, they would have a bath at home and wash the dust on their feet away when they had reached the host’s house, thus being completely clean.

Literal Meaning:but not all of you”, it referred to Judas who was determined to betray the Lord, so he was unclean and sinful (see v.11; Matt 27:4).

Spiritual Meaning: “he who is bathed”, “bath” typifies the washing of regeneration (see 3:5; Titus 3:5). The sins of believers had been washed by the precious blood when we had been reborn from the above. Therefore “he who is bathed” refers to the one whose sins have been forgiven by believing the Lord, namely, the one who has been saved and born again.

  Only to wash his feet”, since believers often walk on the earth, their feet may be unavoidably tainted with uncleanness when touching the earth, so they have to wash their feet frequently. “Washing feet” symbolizes that the living water of life has removed our failure, infirmity and iniquity.

  But is completely clean”, the word “completely” indicates that the whole man will be clean, including the spirit, the soul and body. “Clean” means that one’s sins have been forgiven, and all unrighteousness has been cleaned (see 1John 1:9).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) In the experiences of Christians life, they have only one bath of the spiritual rebirth at first, but there are many times of washing feet thereafter.

     2) The bath for one time had granted us the divine life. The frequent times of washing feet restore the freshness of our life and make us be filled with life.

     3) The washing of the blood makes us stand before God. The washing of water enables us to be fresh, comfortable and vigorous.

     4) The fragmental dealing with us (washing feet) must be based on the fundamental destruction of the cross (bath). Instead of any artificial ways, one should firstly have the basic knowledge of the cross and then come into the detailed dealing with the sin ---- only such way has the spiritual value.

     5) When a believer has been saved, all his sins in the past have been forgiven. If he committed any sin later again, he would have to confess only that certain sin and repent instead of keeping his sins in the past in mind constantly or confessing a certain sin repeatedly.


John. 13:11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."

YLT: “for he knew him who is delivering him up; because of this he said, `Ye are not all clean.'”

Literal Meaning:He knew who would betray Him”, the Lord knew who would betray Him at the outset (see 6:64, 70-71).


John. 13:12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?

YLT: “When, therefore, he washed their feet, and took his garments, having reclined (at meat) again, he said to them, `Do ye know what I have done to you?”

Literal Meaning:when He had washed their feet”, “their feet” included the feet of Judas.


John. 13:13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

YLT: “ye call me, The Teacher and The Lord, and ye say well, for I am;”

Literal Meaning: “you call Me Teacher and Lord”, “teacher” referred to the one who instructed others. “Lord” referred to the one who had the authority to direct and command others.

Enlightenment in the Word: Christ is our “teacher”, we should observe, understand and receive His instructions. Christ is our “Lord”, we should obey and keep His commandments.


John. 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

YLT: “if then I did wash your feet -- the Lord and the Teacher -- ye also ought to wash one another's feet.”

Literal Meaning:If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet”, “then” indicated that we should also follow His steps in like manner.

    You also ought to wash one another's feet.” ---- “wash one another's feet”, it sometimes refers to the physical action according to the literal meaning.

Spiritual Meaning:You also ought to wash one another's feet.” ---- This commandment of the Lord may emphasize on the spiritual meaning symbolized by “washing feet” (see the commentary of verse10). In the church, if we find any brother or sister has been defiled by uncleanness, we should deal with it humbly in love (see Matt 18:15).

Controversial Clarification: we have the example, explanation, teaching and complementary illustration of the Lord Jesus concerning the matter of “washing one another's feet” among the saints, which should be in reason carried out well. However, according to the general history of the church in the past 2000 years, such matter was even misapprehended or misapplied by many religious sects and believers, turning into a truth which was most difficultly to practice. There were reasons as below:

   1) They regarded the “real matter” as “the vain ritual”, so they finally had the action of “washing feet”, but no meaning of it.

   2) The Lord Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, for He loved them “to the end” (see v.1). If the washing is destitute of such “exceeding love”, there will remain only the form, but lack the essence.

   3) The example of the Lord’s washing feet for His disciples is from the “most honorable” (see v.3) to the “humblest” (see v.4). He who is unwilling to get off from his own throne in his heart will not practice it well.

   4) There were problems in the “water” (see v.5a) which was used in the washing: (1) impure ---- the will of men was mixed within; (2) too hot ---- the blunt condemnation made others unbearable; (3) too cold ---- the unrealities made others feel difficult to understand.

   5) There were problems in the “actions” (see v.5b) in the washing: (1) the one did not kneel down and refused to accommodate himself to men. (2) The one muddled through his work and lacked carefulness.

   6) One did not wipe the feet with the towel, or the feet were not dry even man had wiped them (see v.5b) ---- it had not been accomplished to its effect.

   7) The purpose of washing feet is restoring one’s normal relationship with the Lord (see v.8). However, a lot of men disliked having their feet washed. Finally, washing feet even turned to be for the purpose of making one feel enjoyable and comfortable.

   8) The detailed part of washing is “feet” instead of “the whole body” (see v.10). However, the range may be unconsciously enlarged into rebuking one’s sins and disclosing one’s faults.

   9) Strictly speaking, the washing feet in this chapter does not take the sin as the main object, but life and power, aiming for restoring the freshness of life.

   10) “Wash one another's feet” is the manifestation of “loving one another” (see v.34-35). However, many people ignored the necessary intention of “loving and gaining others” but sought to deal with the certain matters only. Finally, they had not done it well, but hurt the one whose feet were washed.

   11) From the examples of the two disciples whose feet were washed by the Lord in this chapter, washing feet seemed to be of none profit for such two states: (1) the man’s heart was occupied by Satan ---- Judas (see v.11, 18); (2) the man’s natural life was strong ---- Peter (see v.38).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) You also ought to wash one another's feet. ---- Washing one another's feet is providing others with life in the church. The service of washing feet should be continually practiced in the church. In the association of Christians, there is nothing more precious than washing one anothers feet, and nothing more important than giving others life.

     2) You also ought to wash one another's feet. ---- Washing feet is a mutual fellowship. We should learn to provide others with life in the Lord, and also learn to obtain life from others.

     3) Generally speaking, men like to be served by others, but dislike serving others. However, the Lord here asked us to serve one another.

     4) If we want to walk in good condition before the Lord, we should have the experience that our feet have been washed by others and we have ever washed feet for others.

     5) The saints should often gather, sing, pray and commune, thus let the living water of life flow out and wash away the earthly uncleanness.

     6) If we want to wash others feet, we should be fresh of ourselves. If God has fresh works in us, we will often provide others in the fresh life.

     7) If we live before the Lord, we will touch the life. Every time when we meet others, we can provide them with life. The water of life will unconsciously flow over others, and their feet will be washed and the sweet fellowship will be restored among the saints.

     8) Brothers, if even a man be taken in some fault, ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest (you) also be tempted (Gal 6:1).


John. 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

YLT: “`For an example I gave to you, that, according as I did to you, ye also may do;”

Literal Meaning: “for I have given you an example”, “example” refers to not only the work, but also the worker,especially the heart and attitude of the worker.

  that you should do as I have done to you”, the Lord here did not establish a ceremony of “washing feet” for us to keep.


John. 13:16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

YLT: “verily, verily, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his lord, nor an apostle greater than he who sent him;”

Meaning of Words: servant”: bondman; “he who is sent”: a massager;

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) We are bondmen of the Lord, so it is reasonable for us to obey Him in everything.

     2) The Lords path is an example for the Lords servants to follow. He who serves the Lord should walk in the path of the cross, which is unavoidable.


John. 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

YLT: “if these things ye have known, happy are ye, if ye may do them;”

Literal Meaning: note such an order in this verse: (1) know; (2) do; (3) be blessed.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Knowing the spiritual things of believers is for walking, and then there will be blessedness. The one who knows the Lord's will, but has not prepared nor done his will, shall be beaten with many (see Luke 12:47-48).

     2) He who knows but is unable to do does not know in fact. Knowledge which can be practiced is true knowledge.

     3) The greatest blessedness of a man is that his actions follow his knowledge closely, which brings about blessedness to others as well as himself.


John. 13:18 "I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, "He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.'

YLT: “not concerning you all do I speak; I have known whom I chose for myself; but that the Writing may be fulfilled: He who is eating the bread with me, did lift up against me his heel.”

Meaning of Words: “eat”: gnaw or chew;

The Background:He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.” ---- According to the customs then, eating together carried the meaning that ---- you were my friend, and I would not do anything to hurt you.

Literal Meaning:I do not speak concerning all of you.” ---- “I speak” referred to the words of verse 17. “Not concerning all of you”, it did not refer to all of you, i.e. Judas was not included, for he could neither do it nor obtain such blessedness.

  “But that the Scripture may be fulfilled”, “the Scripture” referred to the Book of Psalm (41:9).

  He who eats bread with Me”, i.e. the intimate ones.

  “He has lifted up his heel against Me”, there were two explanations: (1) it likes an obstinate and unruly horse, who lifts up its heel against men. (2) A man who has hostility to others lifts up his heel to shake off the dust from his feet (see Luke 9:5).

Enlightenment in the Word: do our “feet” be used by the Lord to walk in the spiritual way, or be used by the devil to “heel against the Lord or brothers and sisters”?


John. 13:19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.

YLT: “`From this time I tell you, before its coming to pass, that, when it may come to pass, ye may believe that I am ;”

Meaning of Words: “now”: from now on; “come to pass”: accomplish;

Literal Meaning: “when it does come to pass”, “it” referred to the matter that Judas betrayed Him.

    I tell you before it comes, that you may…”, the Lord told the disciples beforehand, for He bore in mind the interest of the disciples rather than Himself.

    “You may believe that I am He”, “believe that I am He”: “believe that Jesus is God”.


John. 13:20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."

YLT: “verily, verily, I say to you, he who is receiving whomsoever I may send, doth receive me; and he who is receiving me, doth receive Him who sent me.'”

Literal Meaning: when the disciples truly believe and keep the Lord’s words, they can represent the Lord before men. Men who receive the one who has been sent by the Lord receive the Lord Himself. He who receives the Lord receives God.

Enlightenment in the Word: we believers have on one hand been sent by the Lord ---- how honorable the status is ---- so we can be received by others. On the other hand, we should learn to receive whomever the Lord sends, for receiving them is receiving the Lord.


John. 13:21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me."

YLT: “These things having said, Jesus was troubled in the spirit, and did testify, and said, `Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of you will deliver me up;'”

Meaning of Words: “troubled”: agitated;

Literal Meaning:was troubled in spirit”, it indicated that the Lord was agaitated for Judas.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) We should not grieve the Holy Spirit of God in our walking (see Eph 4:30).

     2) The Lord not only personally washed the feet for Judas, but also reminded him repeatedly in His words (see v.10, 18). That the Lord pointed it out openly was washing the feet of Judas. Today, in the church, hidden criticism is obvious, but open true words in love is rarely seen (see Eph 4:15).


John. 13:22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.

YLT: “the disciples were looking, therefore, one at another, doubting concerning whom he speaketh.”

Literal Meaning:perplexed about whom He spoke”, it on one hand indicated that the disciples were totally ignorant of the wickedness of men’s heart. On the other hand, it showed that Judas was apt to be hypocrite to veil others’ eyes.


John. 13:23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

YLT: “And there was one of his disciples reclining (at meat) in the bosom of Jesus, whom Jesus was loving;”

The Background: in the ancient times, when the Jews had a feast, their gestures in the feast would be like this: every man lay on his side, with his right elbow supporting the whole body, with his head being near to the table, and with his legs stretching toward the back.

Literal Meaning:one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved”, the Bible exegetes generally believed this disciple whom Jesus loved was the Apostle John. It did not mean the Lord did not love other disciples, but the Lord’s love to John was special.

    Leaning on Jesus' bosom, it revealed that John was lying slantingly at the right hand of the Lord. When he removed his body backward, he seemed to be leaning on the Lords bosom.


John. 13:24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.

YLT: “Simon Peter, then, doth beckon to this one, to inquire who he may be concerning whom he speaketh,”

Literal Meaning:motioned to him”, “motion”: nod (used a signal). It meant “giving a sign” to him.


John. 13:25 Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?"

YLT: “and that one having leant back on the breast of Jesus, respondeth to him, `Sir, who is it?'”


John. 13:26 Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

YLT: “Jesus answereth, `That one it is to whom I, having dipped the morsel, shall give it;' and having dipped the morsel, he giveth to Judas of Simon, Iscariot.”

The Background:when I have dipped it”, in the great feast of the Jewish Passover, they gathered together and enjoyed the flesh of the lamb, bread, bitter herbs and etc. In the feast, there would be a kind of flavoring sauce made from fruits and vinegar. Everyone ate the bread with dipping the sauce (or with mutton clipped within).

Literal Meaning:to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it”, it was an honorable and friendly action of giving a piece of dipped bread to others. The Lord might make the final effort, expecting that Judas could understand His great love and wake up to and avoid danger at the last moment. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) The Lord had early known that Judas would deliberately betray Him. However, the Lord did not reprove or hate him. Instead, He was gracious to him till the end and washed his feet (v.12) and gave a piece of dipped bread to him. It showed that Christ always provided His enemies with full life (water and bread) even though He would be faced with the death.

     2) The Lord told it to John only, not to others, for John would not walk hastily in flesh or even mess it up. He to whom the Lord could speak something confidential is a quiet man who can bridle himself.


John. 13:27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."

YLT: “And after the morsel, then the Adversary entered into that one, Jesus, therefore, saith to him, `What thou dost -- do quickly;'”

Literal Meaning:after the piece of bread, Satan entered him.” ---- Judas received the bread given by the Lord Jesus, but remained unmoved, thus being entirely controlled by Satan thereafter.

  “What you do, do quickly.” ---- The Lord’s words indicated that He supervised everything. He was dead by His voluntary counsel rather than the scheme of His opponents.

Enlightenment in the Word: Satan firstly put the scheme of betraying the Lord into the heart of Judas (see v.2), but now Satan itself entered him. If a man does not resist tempts of Satan, he will be eventually controlled by Satan.


John. 13:28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him.

YLT: “and none of those reclining at meat knew for what intent he said this to him,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) The Lord Jesus still saved the face of Judas without telling other disciples when He reminded Judas. When we reprove others, we shall also imitate the Lords attitude.

     2) If any certain brother sin against you, you should put yourself in his place. Do not publicize everything that others have sinned against you (see Matt18:15).


John. 13:29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.

YLT: “for certain were thinking, since Judas had the bag, that Jesus saith to him, `Buy what we have need of for the feast;' or that he may give something to the poor;”

Literal Meaning: “buy those things we need for the feast”, it was the Feast of Passover at that time. After that, it came the feast of unleavened bread for seven days (see Lev 23:5-6).


John. 13:30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.

YLT: “having received, therefore, the morsel, that one immediately went forth, and it was night.”

Literal Meaning: “and it was night.” ---- This was a detailed description, which not only mentioned the time, but also disclosed the darkness of the heart of Judas ---- the darkness reigned over him and made him the son of darkness.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) It is extremely dangerous for us to depart the Lord. Whenever we leave the Lord, we will enter the spiritual dark night.

     2) He who follows the Lord will not walk in darkness (see 8:12). Though we are usually unaware of our future when we follow the Lord, we can still follow Him at ease, for He is the light of the world.


John. 13:31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.

YLT: “When, therefore, he went forth, Jesus saith, `Now was the Son of Man glorified, and God was glorified in him;”

Literal Meaning:when he had gone out”, the tone in the original indicated that he went out voluntarily.

  Now the Son of Man is glorified”, “glory” referred to the manifestation of God (see Ex 40:34). Here, it meant that the divine nature had been manifested through death and resurrection. When the Lord said it, He knew His suffering was impending ---- the prospect of death and resurrection was before Him.

  God is glorified in Him.” ---- It unveiled that the glory of the Father was connected with the glory of the Son. God Himself had been manifested through the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Judas went out of himself, and he cast himself out. God grants everyone the free will. Therefore, anyone should not complain that God does not love him, if he falls or perishes.

     2) Only the one who sees the glory in the future can run the way of the cross with boldness. For our momentary light affliction works for us in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory (see 2Cor 4:17).


John. 13:32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.

YLT: “if God was glorified in him, God also will glorify him in Himself; yea, immediately He will glorify him.”

Literal Meaning:God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself”, it indicated that God Himself was glorified in Jesus, so the Son of God Jesus partook in the glory of the Father in the heavens.


John. 13:33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, "Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you.

YLT: “`Little children, yet a little am I with you; ye will seek me, and, according as I said to the Jews -- Whither I go away, ye are not able to come, to you also I do say now.”

Literal Meaning: “little children”, such a salutation carries an intimate, kind, merciful and careful meaning.


John. 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

YLT: “`A new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another; according as I did love you, that ye also love one another;”

Meaning of Words: “love”: the divine love (agapao);

Literal Meaning: “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another”, there is also the commandment of loving one another in the Old Testament (see Lev 19:18). This commandment is new, because: (1) new boundary ---- “one another” refers to the believers in the New Testament. (2) New origin ---- “as I have loved you”, it refers to the Lord’s love. (3) New extent ---- “that you also love one another”, you shall love as the Lord’s love. (4) New effect ---- “by this all will know that you are My disciples” (v.35), such love is a sign of believers in the New Testament.

  There is another perspective in understanding this “commandment”: (1) the origin of the commandment ---- given by the Lord. (2) The number of the commandment ---- one. (3) The nature of the commandment ---- new. (4) The content of the commandment ---- love one another. (5) The standard of the commandment ---- as the love of the Lord. (6) The function of the commandment ---- “all will know that you are My disciples” (v.35).

  “As I have loved you”, the word “as” indicates the nature, measure, pattern and purpose of the love of Christ (see 15:12; 1John 4:11). 

Enlightenment in the Word:

      1) Love one another is a new commandment to us given by the Lord. We need neither approve or support, nor search or analyze the commandment. Except for absolute obedience, there is none other request. Therefore, if we can not love one another, that is refusing the Lords commandment and even rebelling the Lord.

      2) The Lord beseeches us to devote ourselves to God by the compassions of God (see Rom 12:1). The Lord encourages us to love Him by His own love (see 2Cor 5:14). The Lord calls us to follow Him and walk in the narrow path of the cross. He allows us to choose and count the cost (see Luke 14:27-33). Only concerning the matter of loving each other, He neither beseeches, nor encourages or let us choose freely. Instead, He tells us by a commandment. How important that believers love one another is in the Lords eyes.

      3) The Lord did not give the disciples such a commandment of loving one another until His departure, which disclosed that they had not learned it well. Therefore, the Lord showed them His example as well as taught them patiently before His departure.

      4) As I have loved you, that you also love one another. ---- The divine love of the Lord is the origin of our love.

      5) Love in this verse is the divine love (agapao), namely, the sacrificing love. The love among believers is not because man deserves, but the Lord loves us at first and then we can love. The Lord loves us so much that we shall also love each other.

      6) We shall love each other in the love of Christ rather than love of men. Mens love is only given to the one who deserves. A man loves only those who love him. However, the love of Christ is boundless, which even accepts the enemy (see Matt 5:44).


John. 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

YLT: “in this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye may have love one to another.'”

Literal Meaning:By this all will know that you are My disciples”, it indicates that such love, being distinct from the love of men, is the distinctive sign of Christians (see 1John3:23; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Loving for one another is not only a commandment for us given by the Lord (see v.34), but also a witness which is borne by the Lord and us. If we Christians really love one another, men around us will know that we are disciples of Christ and also desire to be Christians.

     2) We should not only confess that we are Christians of ourselves (see Rom 10:9-10), but also present the testimony of Christians through loving one another.

     3) The essence of Christ is love. When love is revealed, Christ is revealed thereafter. Therefore, Christ will be manifested as long as we have loved one another.

     4) Christians are characterized by loving other Christians from their heart rather than being adorned with a decoration of cross in the neck or the collar.

     5) Love is the best sign of Christians. if a Christian has no love, it will be suspicious whether he has been truly saved.


John. 13:36 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward."

YLT: “Simon Peter saith to him, `Sir, whither dost thou go away?' Jesus answered him, `Whither I go away, thou art not able now to follow me, but afterward thou shalt follow me.'”

Literal Meaning: “where I am going you cannot follow Me now”, “where I am going” refers to the way of entering the glory through His death instead of the Golgotha where the Lord would be crucified, for the disciples went there to see (see 19:25-27). Peter could not be dead with Christ according to his spiritual state at that time, and he even denied the Lord three times (see v.38; 18:17, 25-27).

  But you shall follow Me afterward”, it was said in early church that the Apostle Peter had become a martyr when he was old (see 21:18-19). He was not only crucified, and even inverted, namely, his feet upwards and head downwards.

Enlightenment in the Word: to be crucified with the Lord may not be the experience for every believer. One’s life should grow up to a certain degree, he may begin to learn to be dead with the Lord.


John. 13:37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."

YLT: “Peter saith to him, `Sir, wherefore am I not able to follow thee now? my life for thee I will lay down;'”

Meaning of Words: “life”: soul;

Literal Meaning:I will lay down my life for Your sake.” ---- Peter was truly willing to be dead with the Lord. But he still did not know his weakness so much that he said such irresponsible words.

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) Too much confidence tends to be the origin of believers failure. For pride deceives us into neglecting defense.

     2) Many times, the spirit of us indeed is ready, but the flesh is weak. Therefore we should watch and pray (see Mark 14:38).

3) He is willing yet unable. ---- If one has the will but lacks the ability, he can still do nothing. Believers should not trust in the boldness of flesh.


John. 13:38 Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

YLT: “Jesus answered him, `Thy life for me thou wilt lay down! verily, verily, I say to thee, a cock will not crow till thou mayest deny me thrice.'”

Literal Meaning:the rooster shall not crow”, before the third watch of this night (see Mark 13:35).

Enlightenment in the Word:

     1) The environment, the best tool of God, usually reveals the real self of us. The Lord sometimes gives us a dark environment (before the crowing of the rooster) and allows us to suffer from some frustrations and failures (you have denied Me three times), thus helping us to know ourselves.

     2) The experience of failure may also edify us ---- it makes us confide in Him completely, daring not to trust in ourselves (see 2Cor 1:9).

     3) The failure of Peter is our example. Let him that thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (see 1Cor10:12).

     4) Mans greatest wish and strongest will can still not bring him any power to confront the suffering of the cross. Therefore, men should not be too confident about themselves.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


I.  Three “Know”s Before the Lord Washed the Disciples’ Feet

A.   He knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father (v.1).

B.   He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands (v.3a).

C.   He knew that He had come from God and was going to God (v.3b)


II.The Example that the Lord Jesus Washed the Feet for Disciples

A.   The motivation of washing feet ---- the love that “loved them to the end” (v.1).

B.   The status of the one who washed the disciples’ feet ---- the Father had given all things into His hands (v.3a)” ---- the highest and honorable One.

C.   The time of washing feet ---- He “was going to God” (v.3b).

D.   The attitude of washing feet ---- laid aside His garments took a towel and girded Himself” (v.4) ---- humbled Himself.

E.   The tool of washing feet ---- “water (v.5a)” ---- the Spirit, the life and the words.

F.    The object of washing feet ---- “the disciples” (v.5b).

G.   The function of washing feet ---- one will have no part with the Lord if his feet have not been washed by the Lord (v.8) ---- maintained the fellowship of life.

H.   The significance of washing feet ---- He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean” (v.10) ---- removed the earthly uncleanness in the one who had been reborn again.


III.   The Spiritual Meanings of the Process that the Lord Washed the Disciples’ Feet

A.   “He rose from supper” (v.4a) ---- He did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on equality with God (Phil 2:6).

B.   “He laid aside His garments” (v.4b) ---- He emptied Himself (Phil 2:7a).

C.   “He took a towel and girded Himself.” (v.4c) ---- He took a bondman's form (Phil 2:7b).

D.   “He poured water into a basin.” (v.5) ---- He poured out His life unto death (Phil 2:8).

E.   “He had washed their feet, taken His garments” (v.12) ---- God highly exalted Him (Phil 2:9) and set Him down at his right hand.

F.    “You call Me Lord” (v.13) ---- Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ Lord (Phil 2:11).


IV.  The Commandment of Washing One Another’s Feet

A.   It is a commandment given by the Lord ---- you also ought to wash one another's feet. (v.14).

B.   It is according to the example of Him ---- you should do as I have done to you (v.15).

C.   Exalting oneself will prevent us from keeping the commandment of the Lord (v.16).

D.   Three steps of keeping the Lord’s commandment ---- “know, do and be blessed” (v.17).

E.   Washing one anther’s feet is exactly loving one another (v.34a).

F.    We should love in the love of the Lord (v.34b).

G.   All will know that we are the disciples of Christ (v.35).


V.   The Track of the Corruption of Judas:

A.   The devil had already put the scheme of betraying Jesus into his heart (v.2).

B.   His heart was not upright ---- though the Lord washed his feet, Judas was still unclean (v.10).

C.   He was totally indifferent to the Lord’s love, and even lifted up his heel against the Lord (v.18).

D.   He still did not turn back when the Lord suggested that someone would betray Him (v.42-43).

E.   He remained unmoved at all when the Lord Jesus specially gave him a piece of dipped bread (v.26).

F.    Satan entered him and the whole man was occupied by the devil (v.27).

G.   He left the Lord Jesus and fell into the darkness (v.30).


VI.  The Ignorance of Peter

A.   His ignorance was manifested in the natural humility (v.6).

B.   His ignorance was manifested in the natural mind (v.9).

C.   His ignorance was manifested in the natural affection (v.23-24).

D.   His ignorance was manifested in the natural will (v.37-38).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou