If we sing “Come Holy Spirit” we have already missed the point, it is the Holy Spirit in us Who sings “Welcome Yeshua, Glory to YHVH!” To promote the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and the Son is to blaspheme the entire Godhead.
This chapter continues the discourse of the previous two chapters and follows Yeshua’s words “rise let us go from here.” Based on these words numerous modern scholars claim that a documentary or a redactive method was applied to compile John’s Gospel. However, later scribal manipulation is not the only explanation for why Yeshua says “rise let us go from here” and then continues His discourse through to Chapter 18 of John’s Gospel where Yeshua and His disciples are said to have gone forth over the brook of the Kidron to Gan Shemanim (Gethsemane) [John 18:1].
The most likely explanation for the two allusions to “going” is that Yeshua following His calling of the disciples to rise and go, rose with His disciples, left the place where they had shared the meal, and then had begun to walk slowly through the narrow winding streets and alleyways of the city of Jerusalem, a rabbit warren today and certainly even more so in the first century. Therefore, as they walked through the city Yeshua continued to speak. Thus, as they neared the edge of the city Yeshua’s speech concludes, and we read in John 18:1 “When Yeshua had spoken these words He went with His disciples over the brook of the Kidron…” This quite literally means that the words spoken between chapters 14 and 18 were said on the west side of the Kidron. This does not mean that all of Yeshua’s words spanning chapters 14 to 18 were said in the home where the meal was eaten. Yeshua’s going over the Kidron is not the same as Yeshua’s leaving the home where He shared the meal with His disciples.
Therefore, Yeshua called His disciples to rise and go with Him (John 14:31), walked and talked with them as they made their way to the edge of Jerusalem and then down to where they would cross the brook of the Kidron valley, at which point Yeshua ended this section of speech and both He and the disciples “went over the brook of the Kidron to Gan Shemanim (Gethsemane)…”
What follows picks up again on the themes of Yeshua’s submission to the Father, His unity with the Father and the Spirit, the intrinsic connection between Himself and His disciples, His disciples’ relationship to each other, the disciple’s relationship to the world and a further illumination of the role and work of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
1“I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]) of the immutable truth (alethinos[G], haamitiyt[H]), and My Father (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) is the Husbandman, Tiller of the soil, Vinedresser (georegos[G], Hakoreim[H]).
In the same way that the “Servant” Messiah of Yishayahu (Isaiah 49, 52, 53 etc.) is intrinsically linked to the “Servant” Israel (Isaiah 41, 44, 48 etc.) the Vine Messiah is intrinsically linked to the vine of Israel.
Throughout the Tanakh (OT) Israel is called both the vine and the vineyard of God (Isaiah 5:1-7, 27:2-6; Jeremiah 2:21, 12:10; Ezekiel 17:5-6; Hosea 10:1; Joel 1:7; Psalm 80:8-16). Yeshua also describes the land and people of Israel as a vineyard (Matthew 21:33-43; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). However, it is as the living manifestation of truth that the Vine Yeshua nourishes the people of God. Therefore, just as the Servant King Messiah of Isaiah comes out of and stands out as a sign to the servant people of Israel, so too the Vine Messiah comes out of and stands as a sign to the vine of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical).
A clear and precise understanding of both the ancient vine-dressing method and the distinct language describing the process is essential to understanding this text.
First, Yeshua once again makes an inference to His present deity by saying “Anochiy” (ego eimi) I AM, thus the Vine (as a figure) is intrinsically linked to the Father God while also being distinct in its representation of Yeshua.
The Father’s role in this mashal (parable, metaphor, allegory) is that of Vinedresser, an art known in old English as vine husbandry (an appropriate title given God’s relationship to Israel). We note that the Father as Vinedresser, tills the soil and acts as a Husband to the Vine (Both Messiah & Israel). He addresses the needs of the Vine and its branches which grow from the Vine. In this allegory Yeshua is conveying the spiritual reality that those who come to God through Him grow out of Him rather than toward Him. This affirms what He has taught concerning mitzvot (outworked commands) being the fruit of His Salvation and not the means of it.
Does a branch attach itself to the Vine? Of course not! The branch is feed by and grows from the Vine. It is the same with the disciple of Yeshua redeemed by grace through faith. The disciple grows from God through Messiah. We are as incapable of attaching ourselves to the Messiah (Vine) as a branch is of attaching itself to a vine, only the Vinedresser (God) can make the graft, and once grafted we feed from the source of the Vine and bear fruit, not of ourselves but of God (the Vinedresser) through Yeshua (the Vine).
We note that Yeshua as represented by the vine is not a counterfeit vine but the true Vine or Vine of truth, of God. There are different types of vines, some look appealing but bear bitter fruit. In the case of the true Vine the fruit is sweet and robust, good for the body and soul. On the other hand the fruit of the bitter vine is like a lie, it appears to be of value but when received into the body it sickens the belly and destroys the soul. Many false Messiah’s had come and would come to Israel. Therefore, Yeshua makes it clear that He alone is the true source of life and sustenance for His people.
The mashal (parable/metaphor/allegory) of the Vine and the Vinedresser concerns the ancient first century practice of tending to the grape vine. Modern methods of vine dressing notwithstanding, there are still vinedressers throughout the world who use these same ancient methods today (in particular certain Zinfandel growers in California).
The rabbis of the Kabbalah say that the Shekinah (manifest feminine glory of God) is called Gefen (a vine) [Zohar in Exod. fol. 70. 2. & Kabbalah denudata, par. 1. p. 241.] In addition they understand Genesis 49:11 to be using “vine” to refer to the King Messiah [Zohar in Gen fol. 127. 3.].
“The sceptre shall not depart from Yehudah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloach (the sent One) comes,
And to Him shall be the obedience of the tribes.
11 He binds his foal to the gefen (vine),
And his donkey’s colt to the sorekah (choice species of vine, “true Vine”);
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 “His eyes are made white from wine,
And his teeth are made white from milk.” -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 49:10-12 (Author’s Translation)
The Mishnah (Oral Law) notes that there was a golden vine that stood over the gate of the temple, propped up with a specially designed structure; and whoever offered a leaf, or a grape, or a cluster, (a piece of gold offered to the temple, in the shape of a leaf, grape or cluster of grapes) would bring it as a freewill offering and attach it to the golden vine. [Mishnah. Middot, c. 3. sect. 8. Talmud Bavliy Chullin, fol. 90. 2. & Tamid, fol. 29. 1, 2. ] Josephus the Roman Jewish historian also notes the existence of such a golden vine in Herod’s temple [Antiquities of the Jews. l. 15. c. 11. sect. 3.] Suffice to say the imagery was well known to first century Jews.
2 Every individual (pas[G], kol[H]) tender, flexible branch (klema[G], sariyg[H]) in Me (biy[H]) that does not bear, carry (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), He lifts up, elevates, raises from the ground (airo[G]); and every individual (pas[G], kol[H]) that bears, carries (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), He prunes, cleans, purifies (kathairo[G]) that one, so that it may bear, carry (phero[G]) more fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]).
We note two very important things in the opening clause of verse 2. First, every single, flexible branch refers to the new seasonal growth on the vine and not to established vine stock or dead branches. Second, the new growth (green branches) being referred to are all “in” Yeshua. Therefore, even before we read on we already understand that the Messiah is speaking of those who are in Him and therefore already eternally secure. It is essential at this point to understand that when vines branches are green, flexible and growing in season they are NOT cut! The cutting of branches only occurs when the vine is dormant. Therefore, what is being alluded to here are the growing branches in season and not the dormant plant.
Next we see that the flexible green branches being spoken of are not yet bearing fruit. Therefore, the Vinedresser “lifts them up” or “carries them” or “raises them from the ground” (airo[G]). No ancient Vinedresser worth his salt would cut off a new branch that had been hidden under old growth and was struggling for lack of sunlight. Rather, he lifts up the branch, which has been struggling on the ground beneath the canopy of the leaves and ties it to an established branch nearer the top of the vine wear it can receive the sunlight it requires to be strengthened and produce fruit. This image denotes the strengthening of a fruitless branch by tying it to a mature branch (a lesson of discipling).
The author of the Greek text is careful to provide us with two very different Greek words to describe what happens to the vine branches. The new growth branch is airo, “lifted from the ground” while the strong fruiting stock is pruned, cleaned (kathairo) to provoke new growth, better quality fruit and more of it. The “pruning” or “cleaning” described here is not a cutting off but the removal of dead leaves and the cleaning away of moulds and compromising abrasions. As I have said, it is important to understand that the pruning is done when the vine is dormant during the winter months at the end of the season so as not to do harm to the branches, while the “lifting up” and “cleaning” (pruning) is done during the season in order to promote fruiting.
The Vinedresser does not “cut off” (a misleading English translation) the non-fruiting branches, rather He encourages them to fruit by “lifting” or “carrying” them up into the light. It is therefore, utter nonsense to say as some do, that this analogy points to the possibility that believers can lose their salvation. No one, having received Yeshua and who remains “in” Him, can ever be “cut off” from Him.
Regarding fruiting in general, newly planted fruit trees and vines take time to establish themselves in the earth. Most fruit vines will abort or fail to fruit for up to three years from planting (Leviticus 19:23). In the fourth year they will generally present their first successful harvest of fruit. Therefore, the gardener/vinedresser does not place unreasonable expectations on the plant, knowing that it requires time to establish itself. This is another important lesson for those discipling new believers.
Yeshua is speaking here of both physical and spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit inevitably overflows into physical action (Galatians 5:22-23 fruit of the Ruach HaKodesh; Matthew 13:1-23 fruit of faith in Yeshua; Romans 6:21-22 fruit of righteousness).
3 Now already you are pruned, clean (kathairo[G]) through the word, essence, substance (ho logos[G], hadavar[H]) which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, and I in you. Just as the tender, flexible branch (klema[G]) cannot bear, carry (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]) of itself unless it abides, remains (meno[G]) in the vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]), so neither can you unless you remain (meno[G]) in Me.
Yeshua explains to His disciples that through Himself, the Davar (Word), and by
His word God has already pruned and cleansed them. Therefore, He admonishes them to rest and abide in Him as the source of the fruit that they will inevitably bear in His Name.
It is possible that by saying “Now already you are pruned, clean through the word, essence, substance which I have spoken to you.” Yeshua is making a connection to the Torah as it applies to fruiting trees and vines in the promised land:
“And when you come into the land, and have planted numerous varieties of trees for food, then you should consider their fruit as being uncircumcised (unclean): for three years it is to be considered uncircumcised (unclean) to you: it shall not be eaten of.” -Leviticus 19:23
Therefore, the comparison is to the three years of Yeshua’s ministry which the disciples have participated in. Figuratively they were a freshly planted vine in Him at the beginning of His ministry and had been considered uncircumcised (unclean) fruit up to the point that His cleansing word had made their fruit circumcised (clean) for harvesting. That is, at the end of the three years according to the Torah allusion. Of course in counter distinction to this Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) had not stayed the course unto completion and therefore his fruit remained uncircumcised (unclean).
5 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the Vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]), you are the tender, flexible branches (klema[G]); the one who abides, remains (meno[G]) in Me and I in him, he bears (phero[G]) much fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), for separated (choris[G]) from Me you don’t have the power (dunamai[G]) to do anything. 6 If anyone does not abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, that one is thrown away, dropped, discarded (ballo[G]) outside (exo[G]) as a tender branch (klema[G]) that is indeed dried up (xeraino[G]); and they gather them, and into the fire (pur[G], eiysh[H]) they cast, throw away, drop, discard (ballo[G]) them and they are burned.
The branch is entirely reliant on the vine and its root system to supply all the nutrients it needs to grow strong and bear fruit. Therefore, if the branch is not connected to the vine it cannot bear fruit. We note that the branch that is thrown into the fire is not one that has been cut off by the Vinedresser but one that has become detached and is gathered up from the ground where it has dried out and become good for nothing other than the fire. This is consistent with the fact that one has to wilfully refuse God’s offer of redemption and sustenance through Yeshua in order to be burned in the spiritual fires of eternal torment. God doesn’t send people to eternal punishment, rather they choose to go there.
Once again Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) is alluded to as the branch that did not remain in the Vine and is therefore, fallen off the Vine and will be collected and thrown into the fire.
7 If you abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, and My spoken words (rhema[G]) abide, remain (meno[G]) in you, ask whatever you desire (thelo[G]), and it will be done for you. 8 My Father (Ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) is glorified (doxazo[G]) by this, that you bear, carry (phero[G]) much fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), and become, are seen to be (ginomai[G]) My Talmidim[H] (disciples, devoted students).
This is the qualification for John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My Name” means “If you abide, remain in Me, and My spoken words abide, remain in you, ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.” The result is the same as is described in John 14:13, “that the Father may be glorified, extoled, celebrated, praised in the Son…”
How is the Father glorified in the Son through the disciples? It is by their fruit, seen by the fallen world. The same is true of all who believe.
9 Just as the Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Av[H]) has entirely loved (agapao[G], aheivaniy[H]) Me, I have also entirely loved (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]) you; abide, remain (meno[G]) in My all-encompassing love (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]). 10 If you keep, guard (tishmeru[H]) My mitzvot[H] (commandments), you will abide, remain (meno[G]) in My all-encompassing love (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]); just as I have kept (shamartiy[H]) My Father’s (Ho Pater[G], Ha Aviy[H]) mitzvot[H] (commandments) and abide, remain (meno[G]) in His all-encompassing love (agape[G], ahavato[H]).
The mitzvot of Yeshua are the continuation and illumination of the Torah as expressed through Yeshua’s words and ministry, and the mitzvot of the Father which Yeshua has guarded and practiced are both the Torah and the direct instruction of the Father concerning Yeshua’s redemptive purpose. Therefore, for the disciples the miztvot of Yeshua transform their understanding of punitive law into an understanding of the law of freedom in Messiah (Yaakov[James] 1:25).
Yeshua’s instruction is simple, “Hear, listen, receive and comprehend Israel, YHVH our God YHVH is echad (One). Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind; and love your neighbour as you love yourself… Love one another as I have loved you…” There is perfect continuity in Yeshua’s words. The Torah has pointed to Yeshua (its Author) and He has in turn revealed Instruction where Law was once seen. He has revealed the Father, Shepherd of Shepherds, with His crook and staff, come to lead and guide, discipline and nurture His sheep.
All this is born of the fact that the Holy God has entirely loved the Son and the Son has entirely loved us, and now we are tasked to choose to remain in Him and entirely love one another.
We are reminded that love produces obedience and that obedience is our response to love and not the means by which we earn it.
11 These utterances (laleo[G]) I have spoken (dibartiy[H]) to you so that My joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) may be in you, and that your joy (chara[G], simchatechem[H]) may be made full (pleroo[G]). 12 “This is My mitzvatiy[H] (commandment), that you entirely love (agapao[G], tehehavun[H]) one another, just as I have entirely loved (agapao[G], ahavtiychem[H]) you.
Yeshua makes a clear distinction between the Torah[H], mitzvot[H], rhema[G], and the intimate spoken utterances (laleo[G]) that He has spoken directly to His disciples. This discourse spanning five chapters of John’s Gospel is an intimate relational pep talk intended for His trusted few close friends. While it is accessible to all who believe it is first and foremost spoken for the edification of the twelve (-1).
The purpose of Yeshua’s utterances to the disciples is so that His transcendent joy might be in them and that they, having understood why He has told them these things in advance would live to see the fullness of that same joy manifest within time and space.
To His mitzvot (plural) Yeshua confirms His mitzvah “Mitzvatiy” (singular): “Entirely love one another just as I have entirely loved you.”
13 Greater (mega[G], rabah[H]) love (agape[G], ahavah[H]) has no one than this, that a certain one (tis[G]) lay down, gift (hanotein[H]) his life breath, soul (psuche[G], nafsho[H]) in behalf (huper[G]) for his beloved friends (philos[G], yediydayn[H]). 14 You are My beloved friends (philos[G], yediyday[H]) if you do what I command (entellomai[G], mitzaveh[H]) you.
Most English translations are misleading here. They make this phrase sound like a universal idiom or general life coach. It is not. The Greek text in particular is very precise, saying “a certain one” and not “one”. Furthermore, the certain individual in question lays down his life for his friends (plural), often mistakenly rendered in the singular by English translations presuming an idiomatic application rather than a phrase pertaining to a specific individual. Therefore, we correctly read “Greater love has no one than this, that a certain one lay down, gift his life, breath, soul for his friends.” Yeshua is not teaching a general principal but is speaking specifically about His coming sacrificial death. His friends are defined as those who obey Him. This is why He goes on to say:
15 No longer do I call you bond servants (doulos[G], avadiym[H]), for the bond servant (doulos[G], haeved[H]) does not see, perceive (eido[G]yodeia[H]) what his lord (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) is doing; but I have called each of (pas[G]) you a beloved friend (philos[G], yediyday[H]), for all things that I have heard, received, applied (akouo[G]shama’tiy[H]) from My Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Aviy[H]) I have made known (gnorizo[G], hoda’tiy[H]) to you.
While the disciples may have heeded Yeshua’s call to service three years prior, they had now been cleansed by His word and had become dearly loved friends. Following His death, resurrection and ascension the disciples will become Yeshua’s brothers and sons of God (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 3:27-4:8). Thus the progression from servants to friends to brothers. From within time and space the adoption as children of God and therefore brothers and sisters to Messiah could not happen until after His death and resurrection. This is why at this point Yeshua calls them friends rather than brothers and sisters.
We note that Yeshua had made known to the disciples all that He had received from the Father up to that point. As we would expect of our perfect Redeemer, Yeshua was a transparent Leader of impeccable integrity. The Greek says “known” (gnorizo) rather than “seen” (eido) because the knowledge has been revealed, received and become all-encompassing as a result of the disciples having seen (eido) the living Messiah.
16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and set you in place (tithemi[G]) so that you would go and bear fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), and that your fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]) would abide, remain (meno[G]), so that whatever you ask of the Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Av[H]) in My name (bishmiy[H]) He may give (yitein[H]) to you.
“You did not choose Me” does not mean the disciples had no choice in the matter but that they did not initiate the choosing. In other words, He chose them and they had to choose to accept Him. Having being chosen they chose to be predestined. This does not teach predestination over freewill but predestination and freewill.
“I chose you” means both “I physically searched you out and chose you, asking you to follow me in person” and “I chose you before the creation of the world”. To deny either is to be devoid of the revelation of the Ruach HaKodesh.
Yeshua chose them for a purpose, “so that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would abide, remain so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
Yeshua’s choosing of His disciples was contrary to the rabbinical custom where disciples would seek out a rabbi and not the other way around.
“If you wish to make yourself a Rav (great rabbi/ great one), choose yourself a lord and become his pupil (companion)” -R. Yoshuah ben Perachiah, (said to be the master of Yeshua of Natzeret), Pirke Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers), c. 1. sect. 6. [Ganz Tzemach David, fol. 24. 2.]
"He has chosen me, and I have chosen Him:'' -Song of Songs 2:16 Praphrase Zohar in Exod. fol. 9. 1.
17 This I command (entellomai[G], mitzaveh[H]) you, that you entirely love (agapao[G], tehehavun[H]) one another. 18 “If this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) pursues you with hatred (miseo[G]), you know, have learned (ginosko[G]deu[H]) that it has pursued Me with hatred (miseo[G]) before you.
The disciples had witnessed the way the world had treated Yeshua and were to see yet greater proof of the world’s hatred toward Him. Therefore, Yeshua warned them to expect trouble. A true follower of Yeshua will be pursued by the hatred of those bound to the fallen world. There is a certain comfort in understanding this. Rather than presuming a life devoid of hatred and harm we are admonished to expect it and understand why it’s happening.
19 If you were of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) would have filial love for (phileo[G]) you as its own; but because you are not of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), but I chose you out of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), because of this, the present world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) pursues you with hatred (miseo[G]).
We see that the disciples and indeed all who follow Yeshua are no longer of the fallen world. The evidence is in the fact that the fallen world sees no filial (family) connection to them. Therefore, because Yeshua has chosen His followers and lifted them out of filial connection to the sin affected world, the sin affected world detests them as being aliens living among the inhabitants of the fallen creation. Thus, following Yeshua’s resurrection, the Father will recognize the followers of Yeshua as sons and daughters of God. Therefore, our filial (family) connection is no longer to the first Adam but through the last Adam (Yeshua).
The Talmud teaches something similar in its distinguishing of the wise men as set apart from anashiym l’olam “men of the world” (Talmud. Bavliy. Kiddushin, fol. 80. 2.).
20 Remember this word, essence, substance (logos[G], davar[H]) that I said to you, ‘A bond servant (doulos[G], haeved[H]) is not greater than his lord (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) [John 13:16].’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept, guarded, attended to (tereo[G]) My word, substance, essence (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) they will keep, guard, attend to (tereo[G]) yours also.
Part of what it means to recognize that a servant is never greater than his lord is to understand that to whatever degree the lord was persecuted the servant will also suffer persecution, and in turn, those not a part of the servant’s group who none the less honoured the teaching of the servant’s lord, will also honour the teaching of the servant. This means that the disciples can expect both persecution and honour. They will be the sweet fragrance of salvation to those being saved and the stench of death to those being lost (2 Corinthians 2:15).
21 But all these things they will do to you through (dia[G]) the Name (onoma[G]) of Me, because they do not see, perceive (eido[G]) the One who sent Me.
Most English translations read “these things they will do because of My Name” meaning, because the people of the world hate Yeshua’s Name and teaching they will show the same hatred toward His disciples. This is qualified by the last clause which says “because they do not see the One Who sent Me.” However, the Greek literally says “these things they will do through the Name of Me, because they do not see the One Who sent Me.” Meaning, people claiming to act in Yeshua’s Name will persecute the true followers of Yeshua.
This is exactly what happen by the turn of the first century CE when the then predominantly Gentile Christian Church began to make it difficult for Jewish believers to maintain Jewish identity within the body of believers. Subsequently the same kind of persecution has been a mainstay of the political Christian Church throughout the centuries and is at present manifest in the mainstream evangelical, charismatic and orthodox Church (as well as the Roman Catholic, Eastern and Greek Orthodox Church) in the form of Continuationism (the latest version of Replacement Theology).
Communities like our own (Beth Melekh) are disliked equally by Orthodox Jews and Continuationist Christians.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have retained their sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness (hamartia[G]), but now they have no sacrifice upon the face of their sin (elta al apay chtiythuvn[A]).
This concerns those who were a part of the generation who witnessed Yeshua’s ministry in person and rejected Him. As a result they are without means of covering for sin because of their disbelief. Of course sin is always without excuse, which is why the Aramaic text reads “now they have no sacrifice upon the face of their sin” rather than “they are without excuse…”
23 He who pursues Me with hatred (miseo[G]), hates My Father (Aviy[H]) also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have retained their sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness (hamartia[G]); but now they have both seen and pursued Me with hatred (miseo[G]) and have hated My Father (Aviy[H]) also.
This is extremely significant for Jewish people. One of the central prayers of our Rosh Hashanah service acknowledges God as Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King). Yeshua is saying, “Those who hate Me hate YHVH!”
25 But to fulfil the word, essence, substance (logos[G], davar[H]) in the Tanakh (Torah)[H] (nomos[G], Law) that belongs to them (autos[H]), ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ [Psa. 35:19; 69:5(4)]
Numerous English versions needlessly infer separation between the Tanakh and Yeshua by translating this verse as “So is fulfilled the word written in their Scripture”. While this is technically correct it is none the less extremely misleading. Yeshua intends to convey the fact that the Scripture belongs to the Jewish people both believing and unbelieving because God has given them the Scriptures as a gift to be shared with the nations. This is why Rav shaul Hashaliach says “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29). Therefore, we better translate “But to fulfil the word, essence, substance in the Tanakh that belongs to them.” Note that “the Word (Davar) in the Tanakh belongs to them.” Yeshua is the Davar (Word, Essence, Substance).
The quote is from Psalms 35:19 and 69:5(4). Therefore, as is the case today, Torah (nomos[G]) is sometimes used to denote the wider body of inspired Hebrew Scripture. To “hate without cause” is the ultimate indictment in that every opportunity had been given for those disbelievers to believe and turn in love to God through Yeshua.
26 “As soon as the Helper, One Who stands alongside (parakletos[G]) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]), that is the Spirit, Breath, Wind (Ha Ruach[H]) of truth (Emet[H]) Who proceeds from the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]), He will testify, bear witness (martureo[H]) about Me, 27 and you will testify, bear witness (martureo[H]) also, because you have been with Me from the beginning, origin, head (arche[G], rosh[H]).
The Ruach HaKodesh will be sent by Yeshua from the Father. It is important to note that the Ruach HaKodesh has a specific role as the Spirit of the Father and the Son with us. He is the Helper Who comes alongside in support of us and dwells within us through Yeshua. He proceeds from the Father to testify to and bear witness of the Son.
The Ruach HaKodesh does not seek glory for Himself any more than the Son sought glory for Himself. Rather the Ruach HaKodesh seeks to bring glory to and testify about the Son. This challenges the theology of many modern Christian denominations who insist on making a mantra out of chanting or calling on the Name of the Holy Spirit. The only place in Scripture where God instructs us to invoke the Name of the Holy Spirit is in the tevilah (immersion) of believers, immersed into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Note the order and role of each distinct and unified person of the Godhead.
King David speaks to the Father of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 51:11 but does not call on the Holy Spirit. Isaiah speaks of the Holy Spirit but does not call on the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 57:15; 63:10-11). John the Immerser speaks of the Messiah immersing (baptising) with the Holy Spirit but does not call on the Holy spirit (Matthew 3:11). Yeshua warns against blaspheming the Holy Spirit (not the same as invoking the Spirit’s Name or praying to Him Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:10).The Holy Spirit is said to give the persecuted believer words to speak (Mark 13:11). Ananias is accused of lying to the manifestly present Holy Spirit of God (Acts 5:3). So we see that the Holy Spirit is present among believers both corporately and individually and that His role is to point us to the Father and the Son.
When asked how they should pray Yeshua responded to the disciples by saying “When you pray, pray this way, ‘Avinu shabashamayim (Our Father Who Dwells in the heavens…)” Yeshua also says “Whatever you ask in My Name” meaning that He expects we will invoke His Name in prayer. However, He never teaches us to pray in the Name of the Holy Spirit or to invoke the Spirit’s Name. Here Yeshua is very clear about the role of the Spirit. He explains that the role of the Spirit is to testify to and bring one’s focus upon the Son unto the Father. Previously Yeshua has said that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the things of Him (Yeshua). Tragically, those who invoke the Holy Spirit and promote His Name in repeated worship phrases are acting in direct contradiction to the role of the Holy Spirit Himself. Put simply, the Holy Spirit wants you to testify to the Name of Yeshua and give glory to the Father.
When you know that you are tasked with promoting someone else and are doing everything you can to celebrate and honour that person but those listening ignore that person and instead praise you, how do you respond? If we sing “Come Holy Spirit” we have already missed the point, it is the Holy Spirit in us Who sings “Welcome Yeshua, Glory to YHVH!” To promote the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and the Son is to blaspheme the entire Godhead.
If a helper has come into your home and dwells in your living room and has lived with you and helped you for many years, never leaving or forsaking you, would it not be rude to act as if He weren't already sitting beside you as a member of your family? Would it not be the height of rudeness to scream out loud "I invite You to enter" when He is right there having already long since entered? This is what we are doing when we pretend to invite the Holy Spirit to attend our worship gatherings. If you need to invite Him He is not in attendance. And yet many who do so claim that He dwells in them and see no contradiction.
We notice that in receiving the Holy Spirit we are reminded of Yeshua’s teaching and have the affirmation of His identity and Truth. As a result we do as the Spirit in us has done, testifying to others. In the context of this passage it is the disciples who are specifically tasked with the work of testimony as a result of the presence of God’s Spirit in order that those who hear might receive the truth of the Gospel from those who were present and witnessed the life and ministry of Yeshua on earth. They had been chosen to be with Him from the beginning of His ministry for this very purpose.
© Yaakov Brown 2020
Showing favour to one person does not detract from one’s love for another. Only when we allow the sin affected world to influence our thoughts are we driven to become jealous of the favour bestowed on others. As true followers of Yeshua we should rejoice when we see brothers and sisters honoured, regardless of whether honour is bestowed on us.
It’s not uncommon for English translations of the Biblical text to place headers at the beginning of sections of the Bible that have what the translators or compilers consider to be a consistent or common theme. The title used by the NASB to introduce verses 21 through 38 of chapter 13 of John’s Gospel is “JESUS PREDICTS HIS DEATH”.
One can see why this title might have been chosen, and from our position within time and space we can understand the chronological value of it, however, it misrepresents both Yeshua and Hebrew prophecy. Hebrew prophecy is that which is spoken into time and space from outside of time and space where it is already perfected. Therefore, the Hebrew prophet remembers the future. Yeshua, God with us, does not predict His death, rather He memorializes it. He has already seen it completed outside of time and space. Nor do the disciples benefit from this so called “prediction” at the time, because they do not understand what He is referring to.
With these things in mind, let’s allow God’s Spirit to open our hearts and minds afresh and impart a fuller understanding of the nature and purpose of what follows.
As we examine the following verses keep in mind the connection between the washing of the disciples’ feet and the priesthood, and the admonition to walk in the all existing Light, as well as the reference to betrayal by a close friend.
“It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, the one who receives whomever I send receives Me; and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” -John 13:20
21 When Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) had said this, He became troubled, agitated (tarasso[G]) in the (ho[G]) Spirit (pneuma[G], b’ruacho[H]), and testified and said, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, indeed, that one who comes out from (ex[G]) you will betray Me, give Me into the hands of another (paradidomi[G]).” 22 The disciples (talmidim[H]) began to discern, look (blepo[G]) between one another, at a loss, embarrassed, in doubt (aporeo[G]) to know which one He was speaking of.
We note that the Greek text says “He became troubled in the Spirit” rather than in “His spirit” as many English translations render it (the Hebrew text also mistranslates it as b’ruacho in His spirit). The reality is that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and “his spirit” is effectively synonymous with “the Spirit”. Therefore, it’s important to note that the humanity of Yeshua is convergent with the Spirit of God and that the troubling of the Spirit is shared by the Father and the Son. This is why the author chose to say ho Pneuma “the Spirit”.
The double “Amein” is once again establishing the certain outworking of God’s redemptive purpose even as it applies to allowing Satan to direct the betrayer Yehudah (Judas). We note that the betrayer “comes out from” meaning that he has determined to be separated from the disciples and their devotion to Yeshua.
As one would expect the disciples are horrified at the thought that one of their own number might betray Yeshua. Thus, they were looking around the room trying to discern or perceive which of them might do such a thing. What is clear is that in spite of the questioning of Yochanan (the disciple whom Yeshua loved) and the dipping of the matzah which follows, none of the disciples seem to have any idea who is betraying Yeshua. In part this is because the meal is formal, and probably a Seder meal of some kind and therefore, has numerous dipping rituals that are shared among everybody making it difficult to determine which of the disciples Yeshua is referring to.
23 There was reclining on Yeshua’s[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) breast one of His disciples (talmidim[H]), whom Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) loved. 24 So Shimon Kefa[H] (Simon: hears; Peter: Rock) gestured to him (the disciple), and said to him, “Find out from Him and tell us who He’s speaking of.”
“Reclining” Is an indication that this was a Pesach Seder meal. One of the four questions of the Pesach Seder, asked during the Magid (telling) and called Mah Nishtanah in Hebrew, asks “On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, why on this night do we eat only reclining?”
We know from rabbinic literature that the reclining was done toward the left:
"lying down on the back, is not called הסיבה, ‘lying down’; and lying on the right side, is not called lying down.'' -Mishnah Beracot, c. 6. sect. 6.
"they used to eat lying along, leaning on the left side, their feet to the ground, and every man on a single couch.'' -Gloss in Talmud Bavliy Beracot, fol. 46. 2. & Bartenora in Mishnah Beracot, c. 6. sect. 6.
"when there were but two couches, the principal person lay first, and the second to him above him; and when there were three, the principal person lay in the middle, the second to him above him, and the third below him; and if he would talk with him, he raised himself upright, and sitting upright he talked with him; that is, as the gloss explains it, if the principal person was desirous to talk with him that was second to him, he must raise himself up from his lying down, and sit upright; for all the white he is leaning, he cannot talk with him, because he that is second to him, is behind the head of the principal person, and the face of the principal person is turned to the other side; and it is better for the second to sit below him, that he may hear his words, whilst he is leaning.'' -Talmud Bavliy Beracot, fol. 46. 2.
The “disciple whom Yeshua loved” is obviously Yochanan (John) the author of the Gospel, who is writing in the third person and thus does not refer to himself by name (Ref. John 19:26-27; 21:20). This does not negate Yeshua’s love for all, nor His love for His immediate retinue. Rather, it shows that while God loves all equally, Yeshua, Who is also fully human has some friends who are closer than others and favours them in certain ways. Showing favour to one person does not detract from one’s love for another. Only when we allow the sin affected world to influence our thoughts are we driven to become jealous of the favour bestowed on others. As true followers of Yeshua we should rejoice when we see brothers and sisters honoured, regardless of whether honour is bestowed on us.
Notice that Kefa (Peter) must gesture to Yochanan (John) in order to get his attention, and uses further non-verbal signals to indicate what he would like Yochanan to ask Yeshua. This denotes a close friendship between Yochanan and Kefa, given that there is obviously a certain innate understanding between them concerning certain gestures and facial expressions. Nor is Kefa upset that Yochanan gets to sit closer to Yeshua, he simply wants to know what’s going on because he loves Yeshua and all the other disciples present with him.
25 Therefore, as he (the disciple whom Yeshua loved) was leaning back on Yeshua’s[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) breast, said to Him, “Lord (Kurios[G], Adonay[H]), who is it?” 26 Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) then answered, “It is he to whom I will give the dipped matzah (psomion[G]: small piece of bread).” So when He had dipped the matzah (psomion[G]: small piece of bread), He gave it to Yehudah[H] (Judah: praise) ben Shimon[H] (son of he hears) Ish Kariot[H] (a man of Keriot[H], A town in the south of Judah: Joshua 15:25).
The Greek psomion means “small bit of bread”. From the Gospel accounts of Matthew 26:17, 23; Mark 14:1, 12, 20; and Luke 22:1, 7 we learn that the “small bit of bread” was unleavened bread, that is matzah: which is used in preparation for Pesach and eaten over the seven days of unleavened bread. This is yet another reason why it is highly likely that the meal in question is some form of pre-Passover Seder observance. It cannot be simply an ordinary meal as many Christian theologians insist because as we have previously discussed, the Greek deipnon denotes a formal meal (13:2). While Chapter 13 begins prior to Pesach proper, there is no way to determine a precise chronology following this except to say that these events took place before or on the eve of Passover at some point. This does not negate the possibility of a Seder, rather it informs us of the possibility that Passover practice in the first century during the Temple period may well have included multiple Seders and other varied traditions as pretext to the Temple Chagigah (a Pesach sacrificial practice of the first century Temple period).
“He gave it to Yehudah” But not only to Yehudah. This practice of dipping and passing matzot included everyone at the table. The text does not say that Yeshua gave it only to Yehudah, nor does it say that He gave it first to Yehudah, just that He gave it to Yehudah after dipping it. The fact that all received this ritual food qualifies the confusion of the disciples as to what was happening even after the food was received by Yehudah and he left to betray Yeshua. It is obvious from the following verses that the disciples still had no idea that Yehudah would betray Yeshua.
27 After he had received the matzah (psomion[G]: small piece of bread) then entered (eiserchomai[G]) toward (eis[G]) him [Judas] the (ho[G]) Satan[H] (accuser, opposition). Therefore Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining to dine (anakeimai[G]) knew (ginosko[G]) for what purpose He (Yeshua) had said this to him (Judas).
We note that Satan did not enter into and possess Yehudah but that he “entered toward him”. God Who is just does not remove or allow the removal of a person’s freewill. Therefore, while Yehudah was influenced by and chose to be directed by Satan, he did so of his own freewill and not based on some kind of absolute possession of his will, mind, body, emotion, and being. If possession were the meaning, the text would both contradict the wealth of Scripture to the contrary and impugn the character of God.
“13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” -Yaakov (James) 1:13-15 NIV
As discussed previously, “no one of those reclining to dine knew” because the food was shared equally and from the same dipping bowl, in the same way hummus is shared on pita scooped from the same bowl. Yeshua offered dipped matzah to all present as part of the dining ritual. Therefore, every one of them was “one to whom” He gave dipped matzah.
29 For some were supposing, because Yehudah[H] (Judah: praise) had the money box (glossokomon[G]), that Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the festival (ha chag[H])”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.
There are a number of arguments put forward against the idea that this meal is a Passover Seder or ritual meal of some kind. Some say that Halakhah prohibits financial transactions on the Sabbath or festivals and therefore, the disciples would not have thought Yehudah to be going to buy at Yeshua’s command because Yeshua would not command this on the Holy day. However, this is wrong for two reasons: first, oral law denying purchase of necessities at certain times was not yet codified, second, the text does not say that Yeshua instructed Yehudah to buy but that the disciples “supposed” that Yeshua had done so.
Another argument against the idea that this is a Seder meal is that If Yehudah was thought to be purchasing supplies for the Passover, it was already too late to do so. However, Passover was the convergent point for the beginning of the days of unleavened bread which continued seven days and there were chol hamoed (intermediary days of the festival) on which Yehudah could have purchased goods for the remainder of the festival, had he been sent to do so. Therefore, again, this does not negate the possibility that this was a Passover Seder meal.
On weighing the evidence for this being a Seder meal against the arguments against, and keeping in mind that the chronology of John’s Gospel is by no means systematic. It is my opinion that this was a Seder meal (either one of two or a single Seder prior to the day of the Chagigah offering). This fits best with the collected accounts of the Gospels and the time line of events leading up to Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
30 So after receiving the small piece of matzah Yehudah[H] (he) went out immediately; and it was night (v’laylah hayah[H]). 31 Therefore when he had gone out, Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) said, “Now is the Son of Man (Ben-ha’Adam[H]) glorified, magnified, clothed with splendour (doxazo[G]), and the God (v’haElohiym[H]) is glorified, magnified, clothed with splendour (doxazo[G]) in Him;
“And it was night” is the counterpoint to the all existing Light alluded to in the previous chapter. Yehudah had chosen to walk in darkness rather than to walk in the all existing light of Yeshua.
“Now is the Son of Man glorified” Yeshua used the Messianic title prophesied by Daniel to indicate that by allowing Yehudah to leave Yeshua had set in place the final stages of His journey to glory. Also, in a very real sense the transcendent resurrected Messiah Yeshua had already died and raised to glory, and thus “Now” (outside of time and space) both He and the Father were glorified. This qualifies the concept of the eternal present.
32 if the God is (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohiym[H]) glorified, magnified, clothed with splendour (doxazo[G]) in Him, God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohiym[H]) will also glorify, magnify, clothe with splendour (doxazo[G]) Him in Himself, and will glorify, magnify, clothe with splendour (doxazo[G]) Him immediately. 33 Little children (Teknion[G], mikron[G], Banay hay’kariym[H]), I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
“Banay hay’kariym” is a term of endearment, as if speaking to one’s own precious progeny. Yeshua speaks as a Father to His disciples, because He speaks of the Father and the Father is echad with Yeshua. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father”(John 14:9).
34 A new (kainos[G]) injunction, command, mitzvah[H] (entole[G]) I give to you, that you entirely love (agapao[G], t’eihavu[H]) one another, even as I have entirely loved (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]) you, that you also entirely love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples (talmidim[H]), if you have love (agapao[G], te’ehavun[H]) for one another.”
Some have said that this is not a new command. After all HaShem has said “Love your neighbour as yourself” Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:18. However, the context, source and application of Yeshua’s mitzvah (command) is unique and truly “new” in every sense of the word. Note that Yeshua is speaking to His disciples, who are now ritually washed as priests. While this command can be said to apply to all believers by extension, it does not in its original context apply to anyone other than the Jewish disciples of Yeshua present at the meal. This mitzvah, unlike the command to love one’s neighbour (which means that one should love all human beings), refers specifically to the love between disciples of Yeshua. Therefore, if it is to be applied by extension to the body of believers it must be applied as the love of one believer for another believer. Additionally it is qualified by the phrase “as I have entirely loved you”. No human being can love as Yeshua does unless that person is filled with the Spirit of Yeshua.
Therefore, in order for the disciples to obey Yeshua’s mitzvah they will need to be filled with the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Of course that is exactly what happens at the subsequent Shavuot (Pentecost). Only when the disciples of Yeshua are filled with His Spirit will “all human beings know” that they are His disciples, and the same is true of us.
Far too many believing communities neglect love for one another in favour of loving and helping those outside the community. The great irony is that Yeshua teaches that only by loving one another will the Gospel spread. In contradiction to Yeshua’s teaching we seek to love and do good for unbelievers at the expense of the love and good of our believing brothers and sisters and in doing so we fail to see the spread of the Gospel. Rather than allow our love for one another to overflow into the community we instead go into the wider unbelieving community while our believing communities dwindle, diminish and cease to exist. Therefore, in contradiction to Yeshua’s teaching we snuff out the Light of the Gospel in our communities, leaving them in darkness.
If we desire to be effective in loving the unsaved we must first be effective in loving one another and that is only possible by the power of the Living Messiah in us, the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit). For He has said “Entirely love one another, even as I have entirely loved you”!
36 Shimon Kefa[H] (Simon: hears; Peter: Rock) said to Him, “Lord “(Kurios[G], Adonay[H]), where are You going?” Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”
Yeshua is going to His death, resurrection, ascension, a place that Kefa (Peter) cannot follow Him to yet. But Kefa will follow Yeshua later. Church tradition says that Kefa was crucified upside down for his faith in Yeshua, refusing to be crucified upright because his Messiah Who was greater than he was crucified that way.
37 Kefa[H] (Peter: Rock) said to Him, “Lord “(Kurios[G], Adonay[H]), why can’t I follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”
Kefa often gets a bad rap. He is a man of excitable passion and true faith, at times presumptuous and rash but none the less devout and genuine. When Kefa said this he meant it with all his heart. We should be so bold.
38 Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
Yeshua, knowing the end from the beginning and in the emotion and turmoil of His humanity is perhaps hurt by Kefa’s rash proclamation. I hear Yeshua’s words in response said with a sad resolve and without malice, “Will you really lay down your life for Me? Oh Kefa, it is an immutable fact that you will deny me three times while I’m on trial, all before the cock crows at the dawn of the new day. I’ve already seen it happen.” (Author’s paraphrase)
© Yaakov Brown 2020
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,