Hour One

A Day with Jesus

 

John 1: 19
 
NRSV This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? [181]
 
Greek Καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν μαρτυρία τοῦ Ἰωάννου ὅτε ἀπέστειλαν [πρὸς αὐτὸν]
Lit. Trans and this is the testimony of John when sent (to him)
 
Greek οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐξ Ἱεροσολύμων ἱερεῖς καὶ Λευίτας
Lit. Trans the Jews from Jerusalem priests and Levites
 
Greek ἵνα ἐρωτήσωσιν αὐτόν σὺ τίς εἶ[182]
Lit. Trans so that they could ask him who you are[183]

 

This is the testimony given by John tells us more than what question was posed to John on this occasion when priests and Levites came to him from Jerusalem. This is the first phrase of the Gospel’s commentary after the Prologue. It is almost as though the authors are giving what follows a title: This is the Testimony Given by John or This is the Gospel Truth Given by John or This is the Gospel According to John.[184]

This phrase is also a description of this occasion when priests and Levites came from Jerusalem to ask John a question. We are not told what John says in response to the question posed by the priests and Levites, but we are told what he will say will be a testimony. We have learned from the commentary in the Prologue that a testimony is the truth, a statement, a proclamation or a command made by God and declared by one God chooses.

Three groups of authorities are mentioned in this first sentence of the commentary: priests, Levites and “the Jews.” Priests are the descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. They include the High Priest, a descendant of Aaron, and the Chief Priests, descendants of the sons of Aaron.[185] All priests, like Moses, Aaron and Aaron’s sons must be of the tribe of Levi, i.e., Levites. [186]

The Children of Israel worship God in a holy place. Jacob marks a holy place with a stone pillar and calls it The House of God. Moses builds a portable Tabernacle, called The Tent of Witness in the Greek Torah and The Tent of Meeting in the Hebrew Torah. David finds Jacob’s place, a threshing floor, and prepares for Solomon to build The First Temple in Jerusalem. The forces of Babylon destroy it in 586 B.C.E. Nehemiah rebuilds it when the former slaves of Babylon return. Herod the Great builds The Second Temple. Roman forces destroy it in 70 C.E. Only a foundation wall remains.

The children of Israel are served in this holy place by priests, whose function is defined 19 times in the Greek Torah.[187] The priests are responsible for maintaining the covenant between God and the children of Israel by offering sacrifices of cattle, oxen, sheep, doves, grain, wine, incense, and perfumed olive oil. All of these animals, crops and products are provided by the Children of Israel and used by the priests in the Tabernacle/Temple as specified in Leviticus.[188]

More than two men in the crowd must be wearing priestly vestments to be identified as priests sent away from the Temple to question John the Baptist. Torah Laws in Exodus 29:21 and Leviticus 21:12 prohibit priests wearing their holy vestments from going outside of the sanctuary, because doing so profanes the sanctuary. They must have important questions to violate these laws.

Along with the priests are Levites, members of the tribe of Levi, who have the duty of performing the lowlier services connected with temple ritual.[189] These are the people who make sure that all of the resources required for the priests to do their work are always be available. They are not only in charge of supplies like sacrificial animals, scented olive oil and incense, but they are the janitors, the gatekeepers, the singers and musicians who do what the sacred ritual requires whenever it is required. Though their work is less obvious and may be considered by the priests to be less important than the work done by the priests, the Levites are needed in the Temple. Of course there is an entire tribe of Levites who take turns providing these services, so we can assume that it is somewhat easier for these Levites to go out of the Temple in order to go out of Jerusalem and travel all the way to the Jordan River just to question John the Baptist.

Why do the Levites accompany the priests for this inquisition? The answer is, because they are sent. So who sends these priests and Levites? The answer has to do with the third authority identified in this verse. “The Jews” send the priests and Levites to question John. So, who are “the Jews?”

“The Jews” are people whose authority is obviously higher than that of the priests and the Levites. The High Priest has such higher authority. The High Priest serves in the capacity first given by Moses, according to God’s direction, to Aaron.[190] The High Priest, however, is not “the Jews.” Like the priests, there must be more than one person for this higher authority to be called by the plural name, “the Jews.” One verse in the Gospel, John 11:47, mentions a possible source of this higher authority: a council in Jerusalem that can be called into session by the Chief Priests. Led by the High Priest, this council is called The Sanhedrin (συνέδριον synedrion).[191]

The term “the Jews” (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι – oi Ioudaioi) is not used in the Greek Torah, but it is found in the Septuagint. It appears there 8 times in what is called the book of Esdras.[192] Esdras B includes the books of Ezra and Nehemiah (NRSV) and provides a detailed account of the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem by the former slaves of Babylon: the Judeans/the Jews (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι – oi Ioudaioi)/the Judeans (τοῖς Ιουδαίοις – tois Ioudaiois)/the Judeans (τῶν Ιουδαίων – tōn Ioudaiōn) as they had been called in Babylon. They were released from captivity by King Cyrus and his successor, King Darius of Babylon,[193] who issues a written decree. Here is a part of that decree:

In the first year of Cyrus the King, Cyrus the King gave a decision concerning the house of God which is in Jerusalem: Let be built a house and a place where they sacrifice sacrifices; and he made a foundation in height sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits (about 90 feet) and three courses of strong stone and one course of wood. And the cost will be given from the house of the King. And the silver and gold vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar brought out from the house which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon let them be given also. Let them go to the temple which is in Jerusalem to (the) place where they were put in the house of God. Now you, Governors Satharouzana beyond the river (Jordan) and their/your fellow slaves Apharsachaioi who are in the (the region) beyond the river, though far from being from there, will give (assistance). Permit the work of the house of God. (Let) the leaders and the elders of the Judeans (Ιουδαίων Ioudaiōn) build that house of God on its place. And a decision was established by me, lest anything you do with the elders of the Judeans to build that house of God and from the possessions of the king of the tribute beyond the river let be the cost carefully given to these men (so that there is) no hindrance. And whatever deficiency both offspring of cattle and rams and male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, (or) olive oil, according to the priests who are in Jerusalem let it be given to them day by day whatever they request, so that they may be offering sweet smells /aromas to the God of heaven and praying for the life of the king and his sons (Esdras B 6:3-10 LXX = Ezra 6: 3-10 NRSV).[194]

These priests and leaders of the returning exiled and enslaved people of Jerusalem are called Judeans (ΙουδαίωνIoudaiōn) because they come from Judea, but that is not why they are called “the Jews” in the Gospel. This derogator name is used in Esdras A (not in the NRSV) and B (Ezra and Nehemiah in the NRSV) by foreign authorities identifying their slaves, the religious and political leaders from Jerusalem formerly exiled in Babylon. These slaves are permitted to leave Babylon and return to Judea to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem and especially to rebuild the walls of the Temple, previously torn down by Babylonian military forces in return for praying for King Cyrus.

The Jews” returned to Jerusalem under the political authority and protection and with access to the wealth of Cyrus, the King of Babylon to finance the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. In return for this magnanimous manumission, the priests, Levites and princes of Judea were expected to make animal sacrifices to God and to pray to God for the life of King Darius and his sons. That may seem to have been a fair arrangement, but it violated God’s law.

But if you enter into the land that the Lord your God has given you (as) a portion and you take possession (of) it and dwell on it and you say, ‘I will appoint myself a ruler, just as the rest (of the) nations around me,’ by appointing you shall appoint upon yourself a ruler which the Lord your God may select him from your brothers you shall appoint a ruler, you shall not be able to appoint upon yourself a man (who is) a stranger/ a foreigner, for he is not your brother” (Deuteronomy 17:14-20 LXX).[195]

In the context of the narrative of the Gospel According to John the importance of the fact that King Herod the Great, appointed by the Emperor in Rome, has begun the task of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem 46 years before Jesus[196] cannot be understated. Herod the Great provides the plans, the laborers, including some specially trained priests, the building materials and the wealth to build the most magnificent temple in the world at that time.[197] Though it is destroyed in 70 C.E., it is still. 21 centuries later, called the Herodian Temple, the Temple of Herod. In return for his magnanimous gift of a new temple for the people of Israel and especially for the priests, Levites and princes/leaders of Jerusalem, ie: “the Jews,” Herod chooses and appoints men to be High Priests.[198]

The Jews” (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι – oi Ioudaioi), along with the other words variously translated “Judeans,” is a pejorative term previously used by foreign authorities to identify their slaves and former slaves from Judea. The authors of the Gospel According to John choose to use this term to identify the priests, Levites and other leaders, members of the Council of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. These are the leaders who choose not to believe that Jesus Christ, known to them as Jesus of Nazareth, is the Son of God. The authors of the Gospel recognize “the Jews” as persons in powerful leadership positions in Jerusalem who are not serving the one true God, but are instead serving a foreign ruler whose money and power has bribed the allegiance of “the Jews” away from God. Allegiance is given to this foreign leader, Caesar, a false god of another nation: Rome.

While reading the Gospel According to John, it is important to remember “the Jews” does not mean the Children of Israel as an ethnic, religious or political group. This title is used as an ethnic slur to identify one specific group of up to 70 persons in the Council of the Sanhedrin. This Council is led by the High Priest, who is appointed by Governor Herod the Great and later by his son, Governor Herod Antipas, and both Governors are appointed by the Emperor in Rome.

So, the priests and Levites are sent by “the Jews” to ask John the Baptist a simple question, Who are you? This may seem to be a strange question. In most cultures some sort of formal introduction is made when high officials arrive to meet any person of prominence. There is no Biblical record of such introductions here. We do not know the names of these prominent religious leaders; all we know is that they serve as priests and Levites in the Temple. They are not asking John his name. They must know it, since they come all the way from Jerusalem to question him.

They ask him, Who are you (σὺ τίς εἶ – sy tis ei)? I might expect that an authority would ask a double question to challenge or confront the person to whom he is speaking, something like, Who are you, and what are you doing here? It seems unlikely that these officials do not know who John the Baptist is, so why do they ask him, Who are you? The only verse in the Torah where this question is asked is in Genesis. There Jacob pretends, with some help from his mother, Rebekah, to be his brother, Esau. Jacob is deceiving his father, Isaac, in order to steal Esau’s birthright, i.e. to secure Isaac’s blessing to inherit all that Isaac owns when Isaac dies.

He said, ‘Father!He said, ‘Look, (it is) I.’ ‘Who are you (σὺ τίς εἶ – sy tis ei), my child?’ And Jacob said to his father, ‘I (am) Esau your first born. I have done just as you spoke to me. After rising sit and eat of my game, so that your soul may bless me’” (Genesis 27:18-19 LXX). [199]

The key to understanding this verse is found in Genesis 27: 1a.

And it happened now after Isaak had grown old and his eyes were becoming too blind to see …” (Genesis 27:1a LXX).[200]

Isaac is blind. He detects the voice he is hearing as that of Jacob, but that voice tells him that Esau is speaking, and when old man Isaac uses his senses of touch and smell, he concludes wrongly, that his first born son, Esau, is speaking.

For the priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask a question to which they should already know the answer, suggests that they are blind. They cannot see John for who he truly is. [201] This is the first of many circumstances involving “the Jews” in this Gospel, when the passage is written in a way that reflects the irony of the encounter with them. Their question reveals more about the questioners than it does about the one being questioned. The priests and Levites from Jerusalem come bearing the authority of their offices in the Temple and leave having revealed that they are blind, unable to see who John the Baptist is and unable to understand what he is doing.

 

John 1: 20
 
NRSV He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”[202]
 
Greek Καὶ ὡμολόγησεν καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσατο καὶ ὡμολόγησεν
Lit. Trans and he confessed and (he did) not deny and confessed
 
Greek ὅτι ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ χριστός[203]
Lit. Trans __ I not am the Christ.[204]

 

The authors of the Gospel inform us that what John says is a testimony, a true declaration. In this verse we are told twice that what John is about to do is confess, and that double assertion is reinforced by emphasizing that what he is about to confess, he does not deny. The word confessed (ὡμολόγησεν – hōmologēsen) does not appear in the Septuagint, but it appears 2 times in this form in this one sentence in the Gospel. It is a Johannine sign. What does it mean?

If we interpret the question posed by the priests and Levites as a judicial inquiry, this word surely implies that John believes he is being accused of a crime, and he confesses to committing it! The question is a simple one, Who are you? In a judicial setting, a witness or the accused is asked to identify himself or herself by name and place of residence before the examination begins. What John says in response to what he may expect to be the first of many questions is not really an answer to that initial question, which is not asking for his name or where he resides. John seems to anticipate what the priests and Levites really want to know. Rather than, Who are you, John apparently expects two questions: Are you the Christ? and a follow-up question, Do you deny that you are the Christ? John is prepared to answer both of these questions, I confess and do not deny, but confess, that I am not the Christ.

Confessed is a cognate[205] of the root word for bear witness /to make a statement in a legal sense (ὁμολογέω – homologéō).[206] Another cognate of this same root word is used in Jn. 9:22, where should confess (ὁμολογήσῃ – homologēsē) is used. …if anyone should confess him to be Christ … [207] There in Jn. 9:22 “the Jews” plan that such persons will be put out of the synagogue (ἀποσυνάγωγος – aposunagōgos)[208] if anyone should confess Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ. One scholar has shed considerable light on this aspect of temple discipline.

“It (discipline) was imposed for many reasons, e.g., pronouncing the divine name…, dishonoring or opposing teachers of the Torah … bearing witness against Jews before non-Jewish courts…, esp. spurning the Torah and the Halacha.[209] Any Jew was permitted (and sometimes required) to pronounce sentence of exclusion, even a girl…. The proper authority, however, was the court… One had not to eat or drink with the suspended person and one had to keep 4 cubits (about six feet) away…. The person under suspension had to observe special rites like a mourner; he had not to shave…nor wear sandals…use a special entrance to the temple…. But this shows he was not barred from the temple; he might also teach and be taught….

The sharper second degree…meant unlimited exclusion from the congregation with avoidance of all contact, including economic and educational… It was imposed by a court, not individuals, and was merely an ultimate sanction when a second (first level of discipline) proved unsuccessful, i.e., after 60 days… But this excommunication, too, could be lifted, as a domestic discipline excommunication was designed to amend, convert, or win back the person concerned, not to ban him permanently from the synagogue as in the case of apostates …and heretics….

Neither of these two degrees of exclusion corresponds to being put out of the synagogue (ἀποσυνάγωγος – aposunagōgos), for this means complete excommunication from the synagogue: …exclusion from the national and religious fellowship of the Jews. …Hence we are to think in terms, not of the discipline of excommunication, but of the cursing of heretics (birkath ha-minim) … (quoting Rabbi Tarphon c. 100), ‘Heretics are worse than Gentiles and idolaters. The latter deny God without knowing Him, the former know Him but deny Him all the same.’ …One should not sell to them nor buy from them; one should have no dealings with them; one should not teach their sons a trade; one should not be healed by them whether in respect of property (slaves and cattle) or of person. …It is even forbidden to help heretics and apostates in danger; one should not pull them out of the pit but thrust them into it… They were excluded from the saving benefits of Israel and condemned to eternal perdition.” Wolfgang Schrage, TDNT, Op. Cit., vol. VII. [210]

With this definition of confessed (ὡμολόγησεν – hōmologēsen) in Jn. 9:22 we learn that “the Jews” have established or are seriously considering establishing a severe penalty that will be imposed upon anyone who confesses Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ/the Messiah – NRSV. It is not implied in John 1:20 that this penalty has been created or imposed upon anyone yet, but it is clear that John expects to be placed in a judicial setting where his witness will be considered a punishable offense by “the Jews.” In the context of John 1:20 it appears that John the Baptist is, indeed, making a witness. He is confessing that he is not the Christ. We readers already know that John the Baptist is not the Messiah/the Christ. We also know that John knows or will know who the Messiah/ the Christ is. Perhaps “the Jews” are required to ask this question exactly as it is posed to them. Otherwise they can follow up by asking, Do you know who the Messiah is?

 

John 1: 21
 
NRSV And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the prophet?”He answered, “No.”
[211]
 
Greek καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτόν τί οὖν σὺ Ἠλίας εἶ καὶ λέγει οὐκ εἰμί
Lit. Trans and they asked him who then you Elijah are and he said not I am
 
Greek προφήτης εἶ σύ καὶ ἀπεκρίθη οὔ[212]
Lit. Trans the prophet are you and he answered no [213]

 

John does not answer the follow-up question we expect, and there is reason for us to question why he answers the next two questions the way he does. He tells the priests and Levites that he is not Elijah, and he denies that he is the prophet. So who is Elijah,[214] and who is the prophet?

Elijah (Ηλιου – Ēliou) is a proper noun, a name that appears 82 times in the Septuagint in 3 Kingdoms LXX (= 1 Kings NRSV) and 4 Kingdoms LXX (= 2 Kings NRSV).[215] John’s inquisitors don’t ask, Are you Elijah (Ηλιου – Ēliou). They ask, Are you Elijah (Ἠλίας – Ēlias). The name they use is found only here in John 1:21 and 4 times in 3 non-canonical books of the Apocrypha.[216] This is neither John’s name nor the name of Elijah the Tishbite (Ηλιου ὁ Θεσβίτης – Ēliou ho Thesbitēs). This full name of the prophet is used 4 times in the Septuagint and defined as Elijah the Tishbite, the prophet from Tishbe of Gilead. [217] Note the differences in the Greek transliterations.

The defining text tells us that Elijah the Tishbite, the prophet from Tishbe of Gilead is both the man named Elijah and the prophet about whom the priests and Levites question John. Why they ask two questions is not clear. An affirmative answer to either question, especially if they correctly pronounce the full name of the prophet, is sufficient. John answers both questions in the negative.

Since the Septuagint is canonized circa 200+ BCE, it is unlikely that the priests and Levites who question John are unaware of the subtle difference between the form of the name of Elijah the prophet that they use in their question and the correct and frequently used name. These religious authorities speak to John in Hebrew or in the vernacular Aramaic of the region, though speaking to John in Greek is not impossible to imagine. Still there is no way to explain their error other than they are more familiar with the non-canonized Scriptures from the Apocrypha than they are with either the Hebrew or Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.

The authors of the Gospel report in Greek that the inquisitors use the apocryphal name. Why do the authors of the Gospel do that? One answer may be that they are slipping a challenge into the text of their Gospel to see if their intended readers, rabbinical students, can discern the difference between these various forms of the name of the prophet. Virtually every way to refer to Elijah, the prophet, is found in canonical Scripture. Only this one different way of identifying this particular prophet is found in non-canonical Scripture.

The Midrash method requires that both the writers and the readers of any Midrash commentary use and seek out the meaning of language only from a canonized source. If the writers of the Gospel are slipping the only non-canonized name for Elijah into their commentary, one can imagine the question that these authors, these crafty rabbis, might ask the bright students who discover this challenge. What difference does it make which form of the great prophet’s name is used? The brighter students most likely know the answer.

The authors of the Gospel are implying that the priests and Levites are making an error in posing the question. As a consequence, the only truthful answers that John can give to their two questions are, I am not Elijah (Ἠλίας – Ēlias), and No, I am not Elijah (Ἠλίας –Ēlias) the prophet.”[218] This pronunciation and spelling of Elijah’s name is not canonically correct, and it isn’t John’s name.

However, other Biblical evidence supports the contention that John the Baptist does fulfill the role of Elijah (Ηλιου – Ēliou) in the tradition about the coming of the Messiah.[219] For example, in 3 Kingdoms 17:8-24 LXX (= 1 Kings 17: 8-24 NRSV), Elijah requires a poor widow woman to provide food and drink for him before she provides for herself and her children.[220] Her son becomes ill and dies. The mother complains to Elijah, who takes the boy to his upper room and pleads with God for the child’s life. Then he returns the boy to his mother and says, See, your son is alive! The woman says, “Look, I know that you are a man of God and the word of the Lord in your mouth is true.”[221] Both John the Baptist and Elijah the prophet speak the true word of God.

In fact the word of God as spoken by Elijah, Malachi and Haggai supports the contention that John the Baptist fulfills Elijah’s role regarding the coming of the Messiah.[222] Let me illustrate how these three prophets and John the Baptist use virtually the same metaphorical language to convey God’s will. We start with selected parts of the oracle of Malachi, the Messenger.

The oracle of the word of the Lord upon Israel by (the) hand of His messenger: [223] Place (it) now upon your hearts. …Behold I send my messenger and he will observe (the) way before my face[224] and immediately (he) will come into his own temple.[225] (The) Lord whom you seek and the messenger (the one) of the covenant whom you desire, behold he comes says (the) Lord Almighty. And I will approach you with justice and I will become a swift witness againstthe ones not fearing the Lord and (not) reverencing His namethey (those fearing the Lord… and reverencing His name) will be for me (will be mine), says (the) Lord Almighty, upon (the) day which I will make (them) into a possession and I will choose them. And (the) sun of righteousness will rise for you (the ones fearing my name) and (there will be) healing in its/his wings and you will come and you will leap as little calves from the bond spreading forth (Mal. 3:20)… And behold I am sending to you Elijah the Tishbite before the great and famous day comes, who will restore (the) heart of a father to his son and restore the heart of a person to his neighbor lest I should come and strike the land entirely” (Malachi 1:1; 3:1, 16-17, 20, 22-23 LXX ).[226]

In this passage from Malachi the word place does not indicate a location, like Thisbe. It instructs readers to put/place this word of God upon your hearts. This word place (θέσθε – thesthe), is used by the prophet Haggai and means nearly the same thing, put your hearts on your ways. Then Haggai’s prophesy elaborates further in words that share very nearly the same meaning as Malachi’s. The terms is placed (ἐφέστηκεν –ephestēken) and this holy place (τόπῳ – topō) and that place (ἐκεῖ – ekei) and place under (ὑποτάξατε – hypotaxate) are all found in the context of Haggai’s prophesy. Here it is:

“… The Lord Almighty says this: Place/Put /Set (θέσθε – thesthe) your hearts on your ways” (Hag. 1:7). …“And work because I am with you, says the Lord Almighty, and my spirit is placed into (ἐφέστηκεν – ephestēken) (abides in – NRSV) your midst. Take courage!”(Hag. 2:4-5).…the latter glory of this house shall be greater beyond the former,’ says the Lord Almighty, and in this place (τόπῳ – topō) I shall give peace,’ says the Lord Almighty, and peace of spirit for a possession to all the ones who build so as to raise up this temple”(Hag. 2:9). “And (Haggai) said, ‘If one defiled by a breath/life/spirit/heart/soul (ψυχῇ – psychē) should touch any of these, will (they) be defiled?’ And the priests answered, ‘He will be defiled.’ And Haggai said, ‘So (is) this people and so (is) this nation before my face, says the Lord,’ and so (is) all the work of their hands. And whoever should come near to that place (ἐκεῖ – ekei) shall be defiled for the sake of their early gains; they shall suffer because of their toils, and you hated those who rebuke at the gates. And now Place/Put/Set (θέσθε – thesthe) in your hearts from this day onwards before laying a stone on a stone in the temple of the Lord.” (Hag. 2:14-15). …“Place under/Arrange under/Subject (ὑποτάξατε – hypotaxate) now your hearts from this day and from now on from the 24th day of the 9th month and from the day when the temple of the Lord had its foundation laid in your hearts.” (Hag. 2:18).[227]

The vocabulary used by Malachi, Haggai and John the Baptist is well matched. In Malachi and Haggai, two short books of prophesy, we find concern for placing hearts. Malachi urges those whom he is addressing to place the word of the Lord upon your hearts, which bears a close similarity to make your way straight as John the Baptist and the prophet Isaiah preach it. Haggai emphasizes that those whom he is addressing should place your hearts on your ways. This seems to be concerned with the ways (ὁδοὺς – hodous) of their lives. Likewise Malachi speaks for God, I send my messenger [228] and he will observe the way before my face. Haggai also addresses the need to restore hearts between a father and his son and between neighbors. Malachi’s prophesy expresses God’s disappointment with His priests, who seem to have forgotten the principle of a son honors a father and a servant his lord, so if I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am Lord, where is my reverence? Later we will see how John the Baptist identifies Jesus Christ as The Son of God and sees the Spirit of God descending upon Him. Haggai proclaims that the Holy Spirit is placed by God into (abides in – NRSV) those who are building or raising up the Temple. In the Gospel we will see how Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and abides in those who follow Him. Jesus gives a sign, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.[229] Haggai’s term that most clearly infers a sacred place (τόπῳ – topō) is the temple, where God will provide the gift and spirit of peace. In the Gospel place (τόπῳ – topō) describes any place where Jesus is.[230]

Another oracle includes a sign involving the prophet Elisha, servant of the prophet Elijah.

Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here that we may seek after the Lord from him?” One of the servants of the King of Israel said, Here (is) Elisha the son of Shaphat who poured water on the hands of Elijah.’ And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the Lord is with him…’” [231] (4 Kingdoms 3:11 LXX = 2 Kings 3:11 (NRSV).

Elisha is described by a servant of the King of Israel as a servant who has been known to pour water on the hands of Elijah. Could it be that John the Baptist considers himself to be, not the prophet Elijah the Tishbite, but the messenger fulfilling the prophecies of Malachi, acting in a manner similar to Elijah’s faithful servant, Elisha? John pours water on those who come to him for baptism, but John is not the servant of the prophet; Elisha is. John, like Elisha, is a servant and a messenger of God.

Could the sun of righteousness be a poetic way to describe John as a witness about the light, or is it a veiled reference to the righteous prophet Elijah, the man whose name means sun? Both men could be described by these signs.

These and other connections raise questions and inspire the reader to consider more than one possibility. A case can be made that John does not consider himself to be Elijah the Tishbite, the great prophet.[232] I think a stronger case can be made that John considers himself to be functioning like Elijah, but not exclusively like Elijah. He may consider himself to be functioning like Malachi and perhaps like Elisha and Haggai and Isaiah. In my opinion the best way to resolve this ironic lack of clarity regarding the role of John the Baptist in the Gospel According to John is to consider that John sees himself as the one whom God sends to fulfill the various prophesies of all of these great and powerful figures from the past, preparing the way for the One John will call The Son of God. John clearly knows and uses the language of these great prophets. Use of that familiar, yet enigmatic, language may be part of what draws crowds of people to the place where John preaches and baptizes.

Regardless of why the priests and Levites pose poorly worded questions to John; or whether these authorities believe what John tells them or not; regardless of whether the authors of the Gospel are intentionally slipping into the Gospel a form of Elijah’s name that comes only from a non-canonical Scripture in the hope of challenging their intended readers, John the Baptist is clearly highly honored and respected by the authors of the Gospel According to John. They dedicate their life’s work, the Gospel, to him by stating outright, This is the testimony of John. This does not mean that we readers must conclude that John is the author of the Gospel. It does mean that the model John establishes by giving his testimony about the Son of God, and the purpose that drives him to do this, “so that all might believe through him,” defines the purpose of the Gospel.

Now Jesus performed/did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not recorded/written down in this book/scroll, but these (things) are recorded/written down in order that/so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that (by) believing, you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). [233]

 

John 1: 22
 
NRSV Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us.
What do you say about yourself?”
[234]
 
Greek εἶπαν οὖν αὐτῷ τίς εἶ ἵνα ἀπόκρισιν δῶμεν τοῖς
Lit. Trans They said then to him who are you so that an answer we can give to
 
Greek πέμψασιν ἡμᾶς τί λέγεις περὶ σεαυτοῦ[235]
Lit. Trans those who sent us what do you say about yourself [236]

 

John confesses and does not deny, but confesses that he is not the Christ. He has answered two specific questions clearly already. He is not Elijah. He is not the prophet. Apparently these answers are not clear enough or sufficient for these official emissaries to report to “The Jews” who sent them. By asking the same question again, they sound like rookie news reporters or police investigators looking desperately for an answer that they can quote when they report to their superiors. They plead for John’s understanding and cooperation by explaining why they need more than a no from him. Still, there is a tone in their question that brings to mind an angry parent, hands on hips, scowling down upon a child and saying, So, what have you got to say about yourself?

This final question implies that John must be doing something wrong or at least must be doing something that is unauthorized. A more sophisticated form of this question is, So what rationale do you have to explain what you are doing here? This question, however, focuses more upon what John is doing than on who he is. John could reply simply, My name is John, but he clearly understands that these emissaries from “the Jews” are not asking for his name or for an explanation of what he is doing. They want to know what role he is playing in fulfillment of prophesies about the coming of the Messiah/the Christ. John does not answer that unspoken question directly.

What may be amusing to us readers at this point is that we know more about John than those asking these questions know, and we can imagine better ways of getting answers than they use! We know that God sends this man named John to testify about the light coming into the world. We are witnesses to a truth that the inquisitors do not comprehend. These priests and Levites and “the Jews” who send them must suspect that there is something special about John, something that they should know, but they cannot define or confirm what it is. They are dealing with a mystery that they hope John can solve for them. He can, but so far they cannot really see who he is, really hear what he says or really comprehend what he does. They are laughably clueless.

While this verse contains no Mosaic signs or oracles, no Septuagint signs or oracles, and no Johannine signs or parables, it does teach us a new lesson. We, as readers, are privileged to know more about what is actually happening in what follows than many if not most of the characters in the text know. We are witnesses, watching, listening and learning as the Gospel story unfolds.

 

John 1: 23
 
NRSV He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
[237]
 
Greek ἔφη ἐγὼ φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ
Lit. Trans he said I (am) the voice of one crying out in the wilderness
 
Greek εὐθύνατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου
Lit. Trans make straight the way of the Lord
 
Greek καθὼς εἶπεν Ἠσαΐας προφήτης[238]
Lit. Trans Just as said Isaiah the prophet[239]

 

So John gives them a quote. This one comes from another prophet: Isaiah. John says, I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. The word voice (φωνὴ – phone) appears 208 times in the Septuagint, including 18 times in the Greek Torah. It is modified only once by the word translated, of one crying out /of one calling out/of one proclaiming the message of God (βοῶντος – boōntos ) as it is in this passage from the Gospel. John the Baptist quotes Isaiah 40:3 and the defining passage of Isaiah 40:6, which uses a different form of crying out (βοῶντος – boōntos).

The voice of one crying out/calling out/shouting (βοῶντος – boōntos) in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight the paths of our God. … The voice of one saying, Cry out (Βόησον – Boēson)!’ And I said, What shall I shout (βοήσω – boēsō)? [240]

One who cries out/calls out/shouts out in response to God’s command to do so is proclaiming the word of God, a message that God commands. What is the message that God gives to John to proclaim? Make straight the way (ὁδὸν – hodon) of the Lord. The words Prepare the way (ὁδὸν – hodon) and paths (τρίβους – tribous) are left out of John’s proclamation, but the meaning is the same.

The word way/road (ὁδὸν – hodon) is used 250 times in the Septuagint; 38 of those are found in the Torah; 8 of those 38 are not in the context of map directions or specific roads. Instead those 8 are in the context of God’s will;[241] 1 of those 8 is the defining verse in Deuteronomy. The context of this defining verse from the Torah makes this word a Mosaic oracle.

According to all the way (ὁδὸν – hodon) which the Lord your God commanded you, go in it in order that he may give you rest and it may go well with you and you may have long days on the land which you will inherit” (Dt. 5:33 LXX).

This passage is followed immediately by Deuteronomy 6:1-9, including the Shema oracle.

Moses says, “And these (are) the commands and the ordinances and the judgments that the Lord our God commanded to teach you to do so in the land into which you are entering there to take possession of it, so that you might fear the Lord your God to keep all his ordinances and his commands that I command you today, that you may live long, you and your sons and the sons of your sons all the days of your life. And these (are) the ordinances and the judgments that the Lord commanded the sons of Israel in the wilderness/desert (ἐρήμῳ erēmō) when they came out from the land of Egypt. Here O Israel, (Ἄκουε Ισραηλ Akoue Israēl) the Lord our God the Lord is One. And you will love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your complete strength. And these words that I am commanding you today shall be in your heart and in your soul. And you will impress them upon your sons and speak on them when sitting in (the) house and when walking on (the) road/way and when lying down and when rising up. And you will fasten them (as) to a sign upon your hand and it will be a permanent (thing) before your eyes. And you will write them upon the doorposts of your houses and the gates of your towns’”[242] (Deuteronomy 6: 1-9 LXX).

So John has essentially summarized Isaiah 40:3 (LXX). True to the Septuagint version, John’s quotation locates his crying out/calling out in the wilderness, rather than preparing the way in the wilderness. John is telling the priests and Levites from Jerusalem, “the Jews,” that he is speaking God’s word/command to make straight (εὐθύνατε – euthynate) God’s way in your heart as the Shema commands. This word make straight is a Septuagint sign. It is defined in the book of Joshua.

And now remove the other gods among you and make straight (εὐθύνατε euthynate) your heart to (the) Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23 LXX).[243]

 

John 1: 24
 
NRSV Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.[244]
 
Greek Καὶ ἀπεσταλμένοι ἦσαν ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων[245]
Lit. Trans and sent they had been from the Pharisees[246]

 

We readers are comfortable in knowing that “the Jews” including the priests, the Levites and the princes, i.e., the elders or aristocratic leaders of Jerusalem, all of whom are represented in the Council of the Sanhedrin, which is led by the High Priest. Now, however, we are told that these priests and Levites are sent from the Pharisees (Φαρισαίων – Pharisaiōn). Who are the Pharisees?

The Pharisees (Φαρισαῖοι – Pharisaioi)[247]/(Φαρισαίων – Pharisaiōn)[248]/(Φαρισαίους – Pharisaious)[249] are mentioned 1 time in the singular and 19 other times in the plural in the Gospel. The name Pharisees means separate ones.[250] There is a defining text in the Greek Torah from which this name may be derived. This Leviticus passage includes a play on words meaning separated and has to do with the portions of the animal that are separated from the carcass during sacrifices in the temple.

But the breast of the portion separated (ἀφορίσματος aphorismatos) [Heb.: elevated/raised] offering and the shoulder [Heb: thigh] of the raised (ἀφαιρέματος aphairematos)[Heb.: gift/contribution] offering you will eat in a holy place, you and your sons and your household along with you, for indeed as an ordinance and as an ordinance to your sons (it) was given (with respect to their portions) from (among) the sacrifices of peace [Heb: sacrifices of well-being] of the sons of Israel. They will bring forward the shoulder [Heb: thigh] of the raised (ἀφαιρέματος aphairematos) offering and the breast of the portion separated (ἀφορίσματος aphorismatos) as a separate (ἀφόρισμα aphorisma) offering to set aside (ἀφορίσαι aphorisai) before the Lord as/like the burnt offerings of the fat, and it will be to you and your sons [Heb.: with you] and (to) your daughters along with you a perpetual ordinance just as the Lord charged Moses.” (Lev. 10:14-15 LXX).[251]

This passage is attributed to be Moses. There is clearly a play on words in it.

The first pair of words: (ἀφορίσματος aphorismatos) and (ἀφαιρέματος aphairematos) sound similar,[252] but they are different words, and both are used within the context of the ritual sacrifice of animals. The first of these two words describes the portion, probably the priests’ portion that the priest separates from the carcass of the sacrificial animal as food for himself and his family. The second of these two words describes the portion that the priest separates from the carcass and then raises/waves before God during the ritual of sacrifice. The second pair of words, (ἀφόρισμα aphorisma) and (ἀφορίσαι aphorisai), also have to do with ritual sacrifice. They sound similar, but they are different words. The first is a noun meaning a separate offering. The second is a verb meaning to set aside.[253]

 

This close association with words that sound similar and share meanings associated with separated parts of sacrifices made to God lead me to wonder if the root of the word ἀφαιρέματος aphairematos may have been used to coin the word Φαρισαιος – Pharisaios, meaning the separated ones.[254] I don’t claim to be an etymologist, so I’ll leave this consideration to wiser heads.

There is another similar sounding Greek word that could be considered as a possible root for the name Pharisees (Φαρισαιος – Pharisaios). That word is a sect/faction/party (αἵρεσις – hairesis). Josephus, the Jewish historian, considered the Pharisees to be one of three sects in Israel, the others being the Sadducees and the Essenes, who functioned something like one of the philosophical schools, akin to the Stoics of ancient Greece.[255] Ironically or perhaps as a consequence of the way the Pharisees are presented in this Gospel, the same Greek word that could be describing the Pharisees as a sect later became the root of the English words heresy and heretic.[256] Again, I am not an etymologist, so I leave this question and consideration to wiser heads than mine to resolve.

The Pharisees are a powerful group of highly committed Israelites who have strong opinions about the importance of following the laws of the Torah, especially the holiness laws having to do with physical cleanliness and spiritual purity. They are men who separate themselves from those who do not maintain similar standards of cleanliness, purity and tithing.[257]

The Pharisees are not only powerful, but popular during the time of Jesus.[258] You may ask, given that they are presented as antagonists to Jesus in this Gospel and in the Synoptic Gospels, How can they be popular? Roland Deines cites a law from the Torah as he answers this question. Here is both a literal translation of the Septuagint version and the NRSV of this law:

And (also) any clay vessels into which (something) from these (animals) may fall inside, whatever may be inside will be unclean, and it (the vessel) will be broken.” (Leviticus 11:33 LXX)[259]

And if any (of the swarming creatures) falls into any earthen vessel, all that is in it shall be unclean, and you shall break the vessel (Leviticus 11:33 NRSV).

Professor Deines writes, “The Biblical rule is that any vessel made of clay must be destroyed when it becomes impure. …Either one could afford to buy enough new pottery to be obedient or have servants to do the household chores in states of impurity or one has to abstain from keeping these commandments in order to do those things necessary for daily life. This is where the Pharisees came in with their ideal for all Israel to be holy – not just the priests and the Temple. Since purity is a prerequisite for holiness, purity needed to be made practicable for as many within Israel as possible. Therefore, the Pharisees declared the outside (of the clay vessel) to be clean: one can touch the vessel and handle it from the outside even (when it is) in a state of impurity (unclean)…”[260]

So the Pharisees are popular because the way they interpret Scripture seems right to the common people. Since they are popular among the common people, Herod and his son, Herod Antipas, use them to secure what we might call intelligence about what the people are thinking. Thus, having access to the political power brokers in Jerusalem, i.e., the Roman Governor and later the Procurator/emissary from the Emperor/Caesar in Rome, the Pharisees are in a political position to serve as intermediaries between the Roman authorities and the people of Israel. That’s what gives them power. If the Pharisees send the priests and Levites to question John, we may assume that the Pharisees somehow know that Herod Antipas wants them to go or that Herod Antipas orders them to go to question John, regardless of whether Herod Antipas orders the Jewsto go as well.

From references in the Gospel to the Pharisees[261] we can see that some of the descriptions of their behavior is similar to that of “the Jews,” but these are two different groups.

In Jn. 3:1 we are told that a Pharisee named Nicodemus is a leader of “the Jews. He comes to Jesus by night to question Jesus privately and respectfully. Later in John 7:50-51 Nicodemus defends Jesus in the Council of the Sanhedrin, and in John 19:39-42 Nicodemus helps prepare the body of Jesus for burial and then places the body in a new tomb. Nicodemus hardly fits the profile in this Gospel of either “the Jews” or of a Pharisee. Though he is identified as a Pharisee, a leader of “the Jews, he behaves more like Joseph of Arimethea, a secret disciple of Jesus Christ.[262]

In John 7:32 the Chief Priests, part of “the Jews,” and the Pharisees send temple police/ guards to arrest Jesus. It is logical that the Chief Priests have the authority to send temple police/ guards to arrest Jesus if indeed these police/guards are employees of the temple. On the other hand if the temple police/guards are stationed there by Herod Antipas, then we may assume that the Chief Priests do not have the authority to send them to arrest Jesus. If the Pharisees have authority from Governor Herod Antipas to send his temple police/guards to arrest Jesus, then “the Jews” would certainly feel compelled to act in accordance with the Pharisees. The temple police/guards report to both “the Jews” and to the Pharisees, but the Pharisees clearly differentiate themselves, i.e., separate themselves, from other authorities when they say to the temple police/guards, Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees, i.e. Has any of “the Jews” or the Pharisees believed in Jesus? [263]

John 11:45-53 hints at the power structure in existence when the plot to kill Jesus (NRSV) is launched. John 11:45 indicates that many of “the Jews” finally believe in Jesus. John 11:46 tells us that some of “the Jews,” apparently those who are not among the many who do believe in Jesus, specifically those remaining who do not believe in Jesus, go to the Pharisees to report what Jesus does. These non- believing members of “the Jews” do not report to the High Priest or to the Chief Priests or to the Council of the Sanhedrin as a whole, though they are represented on the Council; they report to “the Pharisees.” Then the Chief Priests and “the Pharisees” call a meeting of the Council, during which the High Priest that year, Caiaphas, articulates the rationale for killing Jesus. The Pharisees alone do not call a meeting of the Council of the Sanhedrin, but apparently the Pharisees, who have the ear of Herod Antipas, can compel the Chief Priests to use their authority to call a meeting of the Council of the Sanhedrin. Similarly, in John 11:57 the Chief Priests and “the Pharisees” give orders that anyone who knows where Jesus is should let them, i.e., let the chief priests and “the Pharisees” know, so they can arrest Him. This is an ironic order, since in John 9:39-41 “the Pharisees” say to Jesus, Surely we are not blind; are we? Apparently neither the chief priests nor the Pharisees are able to see Jesus, even when He is teaching in the temple, where they certainly can be looking for Him just as easily as those they order to report seeing Him can.

The Pharisees” are a popular school, meaning a sect or group who share the same philosophical view of what is required for the nation of Israel to be a holy nation. They seek to influence the Israelites to achieve holiness by interpreting the holiness laws in a more popular way than those who seek to maintain a hard line, meaning a strict interpretation of Scripture, one that excludes many of the Children of Israel from being holy people. Because they are popular among the people, Herod the Great and his son and successor in Judea, Herod Antipas, uses “the Pharisees” to manipulate the crowds to conform to his will.

 

John 1: 25
 
NRSV They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah,g nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”[264]
 
Greek καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ τί οὖν βαπτίζεις
Lit. Trans and they asked him and said to him why then are you baptizing
 
Greek εἰ σὺ οὐκ εἶ χριστὸς οὐδὲ Ἠλίας οὐδὲ προφήτης [265]
Lit. Trans if you not are the Christ nor Elijah nor the prophet [266]

 

Repeating what John has already told them, that he is not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet, the priests and “the Pharisees” press John to explain, Why are you baptizing (βαπτίζεις – baptizeis)?[267] This is odd because there is no record in the Septuagint of Elijah the prophet or of any other prophet baptizing, nor is there a prophecy about the Messiah baptizing. The closest we have come to baptizing so far is when Elisha is described as a servant who pours water on the hands of Elijah.

In our exegesis of John 1:23 we read the Shema for the first time. Here it is again:

Hear O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One. And you will love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your complete strength. And these words that I am commanding you today shall be in your heart and in your soul” (Deuteronomy 6: 1-6 LXX).

We know that Isaiah’s prophesy of one crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord is directed to making the hearts of the children of Israel straight, meaning focused wholly upon the One God and not upon any foreign or false god. Listening to God and keeping God’s covenant, loving God with their whole heart soul and strength, obeying God’s law and God’s will, is the way that God makes for them to become a royal priesthood and a holy nation.[268]

So why is John the Baptist baptizing? What does baptizing mean?

Prior to John the Baptist, water is used when purifying/sanctifying those who are set apart from the community to serve a holy purpose, i.e., as priests. Moses brings Aaron and his sons forward, before the gathered community, and washes/cleanses them with water” before investing them with their priestly vestments and ordaining them with sacred scented anointing olive oil. [269]

Moses begins the ritual of consecration of the Levites by sprinkling the water of purification on them.[270] This water of purification (ὕδωρ ἁγνισμοῦ – hydōr hagnismou) is water mixed with the ashes of a whole burnt offering, a red heifer.[271] The Torah requires that the faithful children of Israel learn to be ritually clean and to discern the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean things.

Do not drink wine and strong drink, you and (also) your sons with you, whenever you enter into the Tent of Testimony/Heb.: Tent of Meeting/ the Tabernacle or when you advance toward the altar, and (so) you will not die. This is a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations to discern between holy things and unholy things and between unclean things and clean things (Leviticus 10:9-10 LXX).[272]

Physical, spiritual and moral cleanliness are considered essential for a life of purity, even when it comes to every day vessels. Stone, not clay, vessels contained the water of purification.

The appearance of stone vessels “in the land of Israel, and only there, from the time of Herod until Bar Kokhba,[273] and only during this time, …with the nearly parallel spread of Jewish ritual baths, synagogues and other changes within the material culture…help us (archeologists and Biblical scholars) understand these (archeological) finds as related to Jewish ritual purity.”[274]

When ritual purification in the Torah requires emersion of the entire body in water,[275] such bathing occurs in rivers and streams until about the middle of the second century B.C.E., when mikva’ot, ritual bathing pools, are used. Each pool is filled with at least 60 gallons of water taken directly from a river or a spring or from rain water that is led directly into them. It has to be to such a depth that the whole body can be covered with water.[276]

“As the Tosefta says, referring to this period, ‘Purity broke out in Israel.’ [277] In the second century B.C. continuous ritual purity, which had previously been prescribed only for the priests, was deemed important for all Jews. All the people of Israel were to keep to a state of purity all the time, especially within the city of Jerusalem. Not only the Temple Mount but all of Jerusalem was considered holy and to be honored with ritual purity…In Jerusalem small mikva’ot were also located in private residences. However, during the three great pilgrimage festivals (Pesach or Passover, Sukkot or Tabernacles, and Shavuot or Weeks), larger mikva’ot were needed to accommodate the crowds… (The) excavators of the large Pool of Siloam, where Jesus cured the blind man, have interpreted it as a public mikveh for festival crowds. The same was true of the Pool of Bethesda. These are in fact the two largest mikva’ot in Jerusalem.” [278]

So John the Baptist is preparing the way in the hearts of the children of Israel to receive The One who comes after me who exists before me. He is immersing the faithful in the Jordan River, where the water is continually flowing. He is baptizing them in living/moving water, rather than directing them to a private or public mikva’ot in Jerusalem for purification before entering the temple. John the Baptist is cleansing God’s people so that they will be purified physically, morally and spiritually and ready to meet God. This captures the attention of “The Pharisees.”

And so the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down.’ Solemnly inform the people and make them holy today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments. And let them be prepared for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down upon the mountain (Sinai) in the presence of all the people” (Exodus 19:10-11 LXX).[279]

The Pharisees” are blind in spite of their protestations to the contrary. It is consistent, due to their similar behavior, to apply this disability to the priests of the temple, i.e., the High Priest and the Chief Priests, and to “the Jews” as well. All three of these separate groups suffer spiritual blindness as a consequence of the powerful political influence of the Roman Governor, first Herod the Great and then Herod Antipas and the Procurator from Rome, Pontius Pilate. All three of these political figures are representatives, vassals if you will, of the Emperor in Rome whose identity in the Gospel According to John is that of a foreign or false god. All three of the aforementioned Judean groups are not only blind and deaf to the role of John the Baptist in fulfillment of the prophecies of more than one great prophet of their tradition, but blind and deaf even to the witness later in the Gospel of converted members of “the Pharisees[280] and of “the Jews” in spite of the power of the Roman authorities. This is not a surprise to readers who search for deep meaning in the Gospel. The light is coming into the world and the does not see/accept/ receive/ acknowledge it. Many are stumbling in the darkness; they are spiritually, if not physically, blind. Sadly, such blindness can still be found today in every culture in the world.

 

John 1: 26
 
NRSV John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know…”[281]
 
Greek ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰωάννης λέγων ἐγὼ βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι
Lit. Trans answered them John saying I baptize with water
 
Greek μέσος ὑμῶν ἕστηκεν ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε[282]
Lit. Trans midst (in) your stands (one) whom you (do) not know [283]

 

Once again John does not provide a direct answer to the question being posed to him. This time “the Pharisees” question him. Like the priests and the Levites, “the Pharisees” do not ask him a direct question. The question that “the Pharisees” ask assumes that only Elijah, the prophet, or the Messiah has authority to baptize. While we have seen that certainly Moses has authority to bathe Aaron, his brother, and Aaron’s sons, as the entire community watches (!), this is not called baptism. God certainly has authority to require each person in the community of Israel to purify, i.e., to bathe himself/herself and wash his own/her own clothing,[284] but this is called bathing and washing, not baptizing.

Elisha, as a servant of Elijah, appropriately pours water on Elijah’s hands. That is a servant serving his lord, not baptizing. However, the source from which John takes /receives his identity/ his reputation/ his title, i.e: The Baptist (ὁ βαπτιστής – ho Baptistes), arguably comes from Elisha’s story.

Naaman went down and dipped/dipped under water (ἐβαπτίσατο ebaptisato) in the Jordan seven times according to the word of Elisha and his flesh returned like the flesh of a small child and he was cleansed” (4 Kingdoms 5:14). [285]

Still, John apparently understands what “the Pharisees” are actually asking, namely, By what authority are you baptizing? Assuming that “the Pharisees” don’t really understand what baptizing means, the real question they are asking is about John’s authority to do whatever it is he is doing. Since what John is doing resembles a ritual of purification, “the Pharisees,” who are concerned about purity as well as about pleasing their Roman Governor, are determined to uncover what authority this man is presuming to purify the children of Israel by dipping them in the Jordan River.

While Naaman is afflicted by/made impure by leprosy, a disease which is cured when he follows Elisha’s directions and dips himself in the Jordan, John the Baptist does not appear to be curing sick or diseased people.[286]

John’s answer is not only to the question that “the Pharisees” apparently intend to ask, but to declare his primary mission: to testify about the Light. His testimony, I baptize[287] with water, is defined, not for “the Pharisees,” but for John’s followers. If “the Pharisees” do not know what baptizing with water means for John or anyone else, then hearing John say, I baptize with water… might not go very far toward satisfying their curiosity, but the rest of John’s reply, Among you stands one whom you do not know, probably captures their attention, whether they understand it or not.

I suspect that through the ages readers of the Gospel imagine “the Pharisees” looking carefully all around them as John is saying, There is someone in your midst that you do not know. Clearly they do not know John, and most likely they do not know most, if any, of the people following John or those waiting in the crowd to be baptized. For a Pharisee to actually ask any of these people what it means to them to be baptized is not consistent with the character of a Pharisee in this Gospel. Similarly I suspect that for any of “the Pharisees” to ask John to baptize one or more of their own group is unthinkable to them, so unless they are willing to simply stand quietly by and watch and listen, they have no way to gain any personal experience by which to answer each other’s questions or even to discuss what John might mean when he cries out to the crowd. Perhaps they suspect each other of being the one you do not know, guessing that one of their group is actually a spy.

In fact John is using a phrase from the Torah that the Pharisees, should recognize if they read/study/memorize the Torah as is expected of the initially intended readers of this Gospel: Jewish Christian rabbinical students. …you do not know (οὐκ οἴδατε ouk iodate) appears 2 times in the Torah, each time in the context of very important Scriptural texts:

(Moses says to the children of Israel,) “See now I am giving before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you hear the commands of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, and the curse, if you do not hear the commands of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, and you stray from the ways that I commanded you, having gone to serve other gods who you do not know (οὓς οὐκ οἴδατε – hous ouk iodate). [288]

Moses continues, “And it shall be when the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are passing into, there to take possession (of) it, and you shall give the blessing upon Mount Gerizim and the curse upon Mount Ebal. (Do you) not see now these (are) on the other side of the Jordan (πέραν τοῦ Ιορδάνου – peran tou Iordanou) past (the) way of the setting sun in (the) land of Canaan the (area that) lies on the west, having Gilgal near the high tree? For you are crossing over the Jordan, entering to take possession (of) the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a portion all the days and you shall take possession (of) it and dwell in it.” (Deuteronomy 11: 26-31 LXX) [289]

All (the) words that I am commanding you this day you shall be mindful to do. You shall not add to them nor take away from them. But if a prophet or one who dreams dreams arises in you and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder comes that they say to you saying Let us go and let us serve other gods who you do not know (οὓς οὐκ οἴδατε hous ouk iodate) you shall not listen to the messages of that prophet or one who dreams dreams, for the Lord God is testing you to know if you love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 LXX).[290]

John is not suggesting to “the Pharisees” that someone you don’t know is watching you in order to frighten them or to warn them. He is prompting them to remember these verses from Deuteronomy, so that if they remember, they might confess their idolatry, repent and accept baptism themselves. Instead they fail to heed the warning in the Torah that Moses gives to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. “The Pharisees” fail God’s test to discover whether they love the Lord their God from their whole heart and soul or not. Apparently they do not love the Lord their God from their whole heart and soul. Thus, they bring upon themselves, the children of Israel whom they serve, and upon the Promised Land in which they live the curse that Moses warns their ancestors will come if they serve other gods whom they do not know.

Since the phrase that John quotes is more commonly used in the Septuagint to describe those who follow after a false god or gods who you do not know, the inference being made in the Gospel by John the Baptist is that “the Pharisees” are already following a false god, i.e., the Emperor of Rome, Titus Caesar, and thus cannot see the One True God. He is the One who is standing with them in the Temple, walking beside them on their way, abiding within and among them in their houses and in their hearts, the One that they should be able to see and know and accept and believe, but, because they follow a false god, they cannot see or know or accept or believe.

 

John 1: 27
 
NRSV the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.[291]
 
Greek ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ [ἐγὼ] ἄξιος
Lit. Trans the after me one who comes of whom not am I worthy
 
Greek ἵνα λύσω αὐτοῦ τὸν ἱμάντα τοῦ ὑποδήματος.[292]
Lit. Trans that I might untie his the strap of sandal [293]

 

The literal translation of the Greek in this verse begins, the after me one who comes. We know from John 1:15 that John uses rather cryptic and poetic language to describe his relationship to the after me one who comes, emphasizing his temporal, not his spatial relationship with the One, who we readers know is Jesus Christ. John himself, however, does not name Jesus or Jesus Christ or the Christ or the Messiah when he speaks to “the Jews” or to “the Pharisees” in answer to their questions. Using the phrase the after me one (ὁ ὀπίσω μου – ho opisō mou), which appears first in John 1:15, John the Baptist reminds his disciples and the careful readers of the Gospel that he is speaking about the One, i.e. Jesus, who comes after him, i.e. John, because He, Jesus, exists before him, John. Unless someone among “the Pharisees” or someone reporting to them hears and understands first hand, or unless someone among “the Pharisees” or someone reporting to them hears and understands what John says in John 1:15 and then applies the meaning from that context to this proclamation by John, it seems doubtful that “the Pharisees” can understand what John is proclaiming. The testimony that John is giving in this verse, therefore, is to inform his own disciples, not to inform “the Pharisees.”[294]

Having alerted his disciples and the careful readers of the Gospel to the fact that he is about to reveal something important about the after me one who comes, John makes another cryptic statement. Loosely translated, John is saying, I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal. This seems to mean, I am not worthy to be His servant. If that is what this phrase means, then our observation that John is a servant of the after me one who comes, is either a mistake, or a sign for his disciples and for us readers of the Gospel to consider carefully, in order to find out what it means.

Concluding that John does not consider himself to be a servant of the after me one who comes is contradicted by a passage of Scripture from Isaiah that surely motivates John the Baptist to do what he does and to say what he says:

1Awake, awake O Zion, put on your strength O Zion and put on your glory O Jerusalem, the uncircumcised and the unclean shall continue no longer to pass through you. 2Shake off the dust and arise (and) sit O Jerusalem, strip off the chain from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3For this (reason) says the Lord, you were sold for nothing and you shall not be redeemed with silver. 4Thus says the Lord, My people went down into Egypt formerly (earlier) to dwell there, and they were led by force to Assyria. 5And now why are you here?’ Thus says the Lord, Because my people were taken for nothing, be astonished and cry aloud/howl (ὀλολύζετε – ololyzete).’ 6Thus says the Lord, On account of you my name is blasphemed through all among the Gentiles. On account of this my people will know in that day my name, that I, myself, am the one who speaks. 7I am present as an/a hour/season/time (ὥρα – hōra) upon the mountains, as the feet (πόδες – podes) of one who brings the report of peace, as one who brings good news (εὐαγγελιζόμενος – euangelizomenos), (news of) good things (ἀγαθά – agatha) for I will make your salvation, saying, O Zion, your God will reign. 8For the voice of those who guard you shall be lifted up and (with their) voice they shall rejoice together for eyes to eyes shall behold when the Lord shows mercy to Zion. 9Let break forth the desolate places/desert/ wilderness (ἔρημα – erēma) of Jerusalem together with joy because the Lord has shown mercy/pity <=”” b=””>, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation which is from God.11 Depart, depart (ἀπόστητε ἀπόστητε – apostēte apostēte) come out (ἐξέλθατε – exelthate) from there and do not touch an unclean thing. Come out from her midst, be separate (ἀφορίσθητε – aphoristhēte) you who carry the vessels of the Lord, because you will come out not with disorder/trouble/confusion (ταραχῆς – tarachēs) nor will you go in flight, for the Lord shall go before you, even the One who gathers you, the Lord God of Israel. 13Behold, my child/ servant (παῖς – pais) will understand and will be raised up and will be magnified exceedingly. 14Which manner/That way many will be astonished at you, so your appearance will be despised by men and your glory (δόξα – doxa) (will be despised) by men. Thus many nations shall be astonished at him and kings will shut their mouth because to whom it has not been declared concerning him, they shall see and they who have not heard, they shall understand” (Isaiah 52: 1-15 LXX). [295]

These prophetic words of Isaiah fit the mission and ministry of John the Baptist well. John is calling God’s people out of Jerusalem, requiring the uncircumcised, i.e., gentiles, and the unclean sinners to be purified by baptism. Isaiah gives voice to God’s wrath over the fact that God’s people have been made slaves of foreign powers and His name has been blasphemed, which should make His prophets howl, as indeed John does, lifting up his voice in the desert, both to exhort God’s people to seek purification and to look forward with joy to the coming of the Prince of Peace who brings the Good News of their salvation. The Levites and priests, those who carry the vessels of the Lord, will be led out of Jerusalem in an orderly fashion by the One who gathers them like a Shepherd gathers sheep. The double entendre term child/servant (παῖς pais) in this passage could refer either to John, God’s servant, or to Jesus, God’s child, who is to be raised up and magnified exceedingly. The astonishing appearance of John or the glory of Jesus or both will cause kings to shut their mouths and the people of their nations to see and to understand who God is.

John’s reply does not mean, I am not worthy to be a servant of the after me One who comes. What it does mean is that John the Baptist considers himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ! A servant is expected to remove the master’s sandals, but a disciple is expected to do everything for his rabbi that a servant does for his master, except to remove the rabbi’s sandals.[296] This obscure fact is something that the authors of the Gospel know because this is something they do or because they have disciples who follow them, learn from them and serve them. This rule is not found in Scripture, but in rabbinical practice.[297] The rabbinical students in the Johannine School should know what this means.

So how can John the Baptist, who has a ministry and disciples of his own, be a disciple of Jesus Christ? John is not a disciple in the same sense as those in the Gospel whom Jesus calls to follow Him or who choose to follow Him and learn from him, like disciples of rabbis are required to do during the period of time that provides the Gospel’s temporal setting. John could say, I am the one who comes before the ones who follow after the before me One who comes.The Pharisees” are unlikely to understand such a declaration from John. The intended readers of the Gospel should understand.

God sends John to testify about the light/the Word that becomes flesh, so that those who hear John’s testimony, even though they may not otherwise be able to see the light, can be spiritually prepared to see Him. John’s testimony/witness is the model for those whom Jesus calls and who choose to follow Jesus Christ. John the Baptist is the very first disciple of Jesus Christ, sent by God to be the first witness to testify about seeing the light in Jesus Christ. Far from being unworthy to untie the strap of His sandal, John the Baptist, like Moses,[298] more likely expects to remove his own sandals and to urge everyone in the crowd, includingthe Pharisees,to do the same when standing in the presence of the One he only knows as the before me One who comes.

 

John 1: 28
 
NRSV the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.[299]
 
Greek ταῦτα ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐγένετο πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου
Lit. Trans these(things) in Bethany took place on the other side of the Jordan
 
Greek ὅπου ἦν Ἰωάννης βαπτίζων [300]
Lit. Trans where was _ John baptizing. [301]

 

Does this verse provide only the geographical location for the interrogation of John the Baptist by the Priests, the Levites, i.e. “the Jews,” and “the Pharisees?” One might be tempted to draw that conclusion, but even if we succumb to this temptation, we readers should be asking some questions before we move on to the next verse, because what may seem to be obvious may not be the whole truth. We may be assuming facts not in evidence. Let’s begin by questioning ourselves. What are we assuming? What don’t we know?

We may safely assume that these high officials leave the temple in Jerusalem to come to the place where John is baptizing in order to interrogate him. If they are questioning John while he is baptizing, does that mean that these important, powerful officials, identified by their official vestments,[302] are standing on the west bank or wading into the Jordan? Might not these officials be calling out their questions to John, and might not John be calling out his replies to them between baptisms? We know that John cries out in a loud voice. Are the officials crying out their questions in loud voices for the crowd as well as for John to hear? Perhaps, but we don’t know.

Is Bethany a place or a town or a village somewhere on the eastern banks of the Jordan? We don’t know, so let’s try to visualize the scene where John is baptizing people in the Jordan, or more accurately, on the other side, the east side, of the Jordan. Does being on the other side of the Jordan mean that people coming from the more populated cities, villages, towns and countryside on the west side of the Jordan are standing on the west bank, listening to John’s loud voice, and then wading across the river to be baptized? If our imagination seeks the most practical way for the crowd to be baptized, we might assume that John preaches to the people who stand on the west bank. When his preaching causes any of them to make a new commitment to God, then they wade into the shallow water adjacent to the west bank of the Jordan to be baptized, and climb back out of the water, returning to the west bank to dry in the sun. In the cooler morning hours John the Baptist has the sun behind him while the newly baptized bask in its warmth. In the later, warmer, hours of the day, their backs are to the sun, which is reflected off of the water and onto John’s face. We imagine, visualize, this as a practical plan, but the text says that John baptizes on the other side of the Jordan, so we must admit, we don’t know what this means. So let’s ask ourselves, What does it mean that John is baptizing on the other side of the Jordan?

We believe “the Pharisees” have entered into a mutually beneficial relationship with Herod and then with his son, Herod Antipas and later with the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate. “The Pharisees” are popular with the people of Israel, most likely because they interpret holiness laws in a way that makes it more practical for the common people to achieve ritual holiness. Herod/Herod Antipas wants to know what the common people are thinking, so he uses “the Pharisees” to answer his questions. It is likely that this relationship is not known among the common people, because if such a relationship between the popular purity sect and the hated Roman authorities is revealed, the people of Israel, likely, will be enraged. However, this relationship is known to the authors of the Gospel According to John and to John the Baptist.

We also know that when John is interrogated by “the Pharisees,” he tests his interrogators by using language that comes from the Torah. The problem presented in the Gospel is that these “Pharisees” do not recognize the language of the Law in John’s replies to their questions. They don’t know that John’s statement, One stands among you whom you do not know, comes from two important passages in Deuteronomy where God, through Moses, warns the people of Israel, before they enter the Promised Land, not to go after those foreign/false gods who you do not know. In fact the context of those Scriptures[303] includes instructions from God for the Israelites to destroy every false image, worship center or vestige of the false religions they find when they enter the Promised Land. The inference in John’s statement is that “the Phariseesdo not know God, the One who is standing among them, because they are worshipping a false god: the Emperor of Rome, by working closely with the Roman authorities in Israel, or as the Romans called the region: in Judea or Palestine.

Let’s return to the central question. Why is John baptizing on the other side of the Jordan? John’s mission is to prepare the way in the hearts of the faithful people of God for the coming of the One prophesied by several Jewish prophets. The Gospel makes it clear to those who are reading carefully, that this One is the Word of God, the Light/the Life of the world. We know that this One is Jesus Christ. To prepare the people of Israel to meet God, like God told Moses to instruct their ancestors to do,[304] John is purifying/baptizing/immersing them in the living/moving water of the Jordan River. He is doing this from the other side of the Jordan, because he believes that the curse pronounced by Moses upon those who follow false gods has fallen upon those who live in the Promised Land, the eastern border of which is the Jordan River. He calls God’s people out of the Promised Land, out of the land now defiled by the worship of the false god, Caesar, out of the land where The High Priest, The Chief Priests, “The Jews,” and “The Pharisees,” are all serving this false god. John the Baptist is separating the faithful from the defiled according to whether they choose to accept or reject baptism.

Baptizing the children of God on the other side of the Jordan creates a spiritual separation between those who know the Law and follow the One God from those who do not know the Law and do not follow the One God. The decision to accept baptism becomes the spiritual identifier of those who love the Lord their God with all their hearts, all their souls and all their strength, and who cling closely to God. These are separated from those who defile themselves, God’s temple, God’s priesthood and the Promised Land that God has given them. These defiled ones know the Roman law and follow the Roman god; they give their allegiance, their obedience and their service to the son of the divine Caesar in Rome. Yes, “the Pharisees identify themselves as the separate ones, but some of them, along with some of “the Jews,” the priests and presumably some of the Levites are on the wrong side of the separation.

 

John 1: 29
 
NRSV The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”[305]
 
Greek Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει
Lit. Trans __ on (the) next day he saw __ Jesus coming to him and said
 
Greek ἴδε ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου [306]
Lit. Trans look the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world . [307]

 

John the Baptist is the model witness for all disciples of Jesus Christ. The specifics of that model are defined in this verse: John sees the Christ in Jesus and then testifies/gives witness about what he sees. A disciple is one who sees the Christ in Jesus and testifies about what he or she sees. In this verse John saw (βλέπει – blepei) Jesus coming to him. This is a Septuagint sign from 4 Kingdoms LXX (= 2 Kings NRSV).

The sons of the prophets who were in Jericho saw (εἶδον eidon) him from the opposite side. They said, The spirit of Elijah has rested upon Elisha. They came to meet him and did reverence to him on the earth. They said to him, Look, (we are) fifty men who are sons of strength with your servants. Let them going search for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord lifted him up and brought him to the Jordan or onto one of the mountains or onto one of the hills. Elisha said, Do not send (them). They urged him until anyone would be ashamed, and so he said, Send (them). They sent fifty men, and they searched for three days, but did not find him. They returned to him and he was living in Jericho. Elisha said, Did they not say to you, Don’t go? The men of the city said to Elisha, Look, the situation of the city (is) good, just as the master saw (βλέπει – blepei). However, the water (is) bad and the land is barren. Elisha said, Bring me a new small jar and put salt there. They brought (it) to him. Elisha went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it. He said, This is what the Lord says, I have cured this water. There will not be death there, nor (will it) be unproductive. The waters were purified until this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken” (4 Kingdoms 2:15-22 LXX). [308]

The fifty men saw that the spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha, but they could not see Elijah, though they searched for him for three days. Still, they could see that Elisha saw the goodness of the city of Jericho. When they told him that the water there was not good, Elisha, as God’s prophet, cured the water, and the water remained purified, and made the land productive. John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him in the same way that Elisha saw Jericho, with eyes capable of seeing both what is on the earth: reality, and what is in heaven: spiritual truth.

John is baptizing so many people that what he is doing is drawing the attention of the most powerful groups of people in Judea, represented in the Gospel by “the Jews” and “the Pharisees:”

(1) the High Priest, who is beheld with awe by the general population, since his authority is defined in the sacred Torah. He has authority over the Chief Priests and the Levites, who are charged in the Torah with the important task of maintaining the covenant between God and the children of Israel;

(2) “the Jews,” a coalition of leaders, including the princes of Jerusalem and selected learned rabbis, lawyers, scribes, and the Chief Priests, all called the Council of the Sanhedrin led by the High Priest;

(3) “the Pharisees,” the sect that interprets the Torah in a way that makes purity possible and popular;

(4) representatives of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome, who officially appoints his Procurator[309] Pontius Pilate, and the Governor/wannabe King, Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas, contrary to Torah Law, uses the authority of the Emperor to appoint priests to the role of High Priest and requires “the Pharisees” to serve as his intelligence agents.

The authority of Tiberius Caesar is communicated to the general population of Judea minting his image and title on the denarius, a silver coin used in Judea as payment for a day’s labor during the time period that is the temporal context for the Gospel. Under the image of the Emperor the words, Tiberius, Son of the Divine Augustus.[310] In other words, Emperor Tiberius Caesar was officially identified on this commonly used coin as the son of the Roman god, Augustus Caesar. Of course this is a clear violation of Torah Law. It virtually declares the Emperor to be the son of a false god!

Since John has been baptizing a significant number of people, it is remarkable that he recognizes Jesus, as One standing among them that “the Pharisees” do not know. That Jesus comes to John is remarkable, and that the writers of the Gospel According to John acknowledge this at the beginning of their Gospel seems extraordinary. The high Christology: the theological reflection upon Jesus as the Son of God, logically suggests that Jesus needs no special treatment from John or any other human being to begin His ministry. Still, as presented in this Gospel, John the Baptist believes that he has been sent by God to testify about the after me One who comes, i.e., the Light that is the Life of the world, the Word that has become flesh, Who is coming into the world. This One is clearly known by the authors of the Gospel as Jesus Christ and of course by us Gospel readers.

The extraordinary witness that John gives upon seeing Jesus coming to him is both theologically consistent with the high Christology of the Gospel and symbolically clear to the faithful children of Israel coming to hear John and to receive baptism from him. Look! [311] The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the writers of the Gospel tell us, is what John cries out to the crowd. What does John mean by this? The lamb of God that takes away sin suggests a sacrificial lamb, the lamb sacrificed during the festival of atonement.

The festival of Atonement[312] is well-known to those who hear John’s declaration. The annual rite of Atonement, mandated by God in the Torah, is designed to seek forgiveness from God for sins, so that God and God’s people may return to a state of at-one-ment, no longer separated by the sins of the people/nation of Israel as a whole, or of the High Priest, who performs the ritual, or of his family. The ritual involves the presentation of two kid goats, one lamb and one calf before the Lord at the door of the Tabernacle of Witness/ door of the sanctuary in the Herodian Temple. Within the holy precinct of the sanctuary in the center of the Temple, the High Priest places/lays/leans his hands upon the heads of each of the yearling sacrificial animals. He announces aloud to God in prayer his own sins and the sins of his family while placing/laying/leaning his hands upon the head of the calf. Then he places/ lays/leans his hands upon the lamb and confesses aloud before God in prayer the sins of the people/nation. He is spiritually placing the guilt for the nation’s sins on the lamb, transferring the innocence of the lamb to the people/nation for whom the sacrifice is being made. Then the High Priest sacrifices the calf on the altar, symbolizing the just consequence of sin: death. Then he sacrifices one of the two kid goats and the lamb on the altar in the same way and for the same reason. Later he sprinkles some of the blood from each of these sacrificed animals seven times on the horns of the altar, i.e., on the raised stone corners of the stone altar to which animals are tied just before they are sacrificed. The other kid goat, the scapegoat, identified in the Septuagint as the goat that has been set apart to be let go and identified in the NRSV as the Azazel is entrusted to a ready man to be taken out into the wilderness to be released. While all of this is happening, every Israelite is required to wear sack cloth, douse themselves with ashes and spend the day prostrate, lying face down on the ground with arms outstretched, praying, pleading for God’s forgiveness. They must do this until the High Priest, who has performed the sacrificial atonement rites and bathed, emerges from the temple dressed in his sacred vestments.[313]

The festival of Atonement is a distinctly Jewish ritual, but it is not exactly what John means when he announces the coming of The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What John announces is not concerned with the sins of the High Priest and his family or the sins of the people/ nation of Israel. In fact what John announces is not concerned with sins at all. He is announcing that the One who is coming is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin, that is all sin, all sinfulness, all behavior needing forgiveness from God for all of the people of all of the world, not only for the children of Israel or their priests exclusively. This, theologically, is a giant leap from the more limited rite of Atonement for the Hebrew nation and its priests.

The term Lamb of God is not found anywhere in the Septuagint.[314] It is a Johannine sign, the meaning of which is defined in this verse. Those of us who know the story of the Passion are likely to understand that when Jesus is crucified on the cross and dies, two things happen: (1) Jesus replaces the need for animal sacrifice when the faithful seek forgiveness for sin. (2) Jesus gives Himself as the only sacrifice needed to make atonement for the sin of all humanity in the whole world forever. His sacrifice/crucifixion also occurs on the Day of Preparation for The Passover, the day the Passover lambs are sacrificed in the Temple for the Hebrew people.

So, what is it about Jesus coming toward him that prompts John to say this about Jesus?

 

John 1: 30
 
NRSV This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’[315]
 
Greek οὗτός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὀπίσω μου
Lit. Trans this one is (the one) about whom I said after me
 
Greek ἔρχεται ἀνὴρ ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν [316]
Lit. Trans is coming a man who ahead (of) me is because before me he existed . [317]

 

This is a slightly modified version of the witness given by John in verse 1:15 of the Prologue. Now we have his witness in the context established by the sentence we have just finished studying, where John sees Jesus coming to him. John is not witnessing this to Jesus; he is witnessing this about Jesus. He is witnessing this to his own disciples, who may understand what he is saying. He is also witnessing this to those in the crowd who probably do not understand what he is saying.

This One refers to Jesus, but John does not call Jesus by name. The text implies that John simply points at The One coming to him and says, This One is The One! Knowing that John does not speak quietly, but cries out with a loud voice like a crow, and knowing that giving his witness about the light is what John is sent by God to do, we can imagine that he is screaming this declaration with the maximum volume his voice can make, crying out with all of the emotional power he can summon. With this proclamation John’s mission in life is being fulfilled. While it is doubtful that all of the people in the crowd can understand the importance of what John is saying, we shall soon see that at least a few of his own disciples do understand what John is proclaiming.

Previously John tells his disciples, The after me One comes before of me, because before me He existed. Now with Jesus approaching he says, The after me man is coming. It is possible that John has not previously known that the One would be a Man. Logically, John can assume that God will appear in some form other than that of a human being. Now John knows that the after me One is the after me Man and that this Man is no longer just John’s expectation, but a real live person, so he says, Look! He is coming! This un-named Man may be the person who appears in a well-known story from the first book of the Torah, Genesis.

Jacob remained alone and wrestled a person / human / man (ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos) until morning.[318] He saw that He could not prevail against him (Jacob) and He touched the part of his thigh and (the) broad part of Jacob’s thigh became numb when he wrestled with Him. And He[319] said to him, Send me away for the dawn has come. He said, I will not send you away if you do not bless me. He said to him, What is your name? He said, Jacob. He said to him, No longer will your name be called Jacob, but Israel will be your name, because you prevailed with God and with people / humans (ἀνθρώπων – anthrōpōn) (you are) mighty / strong / able. Jacob asked and said, Reveal to me your name. And He said, Why do you ask this, my name? And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of that place Form / Shape / Appearance of God (Εἶδος θεοῦ – Eidos Theou) for I saw God (εἶδον θεὸν – eidon Theon) face to face and was spared my life. The sun rose up on him (Jacob) when he passed by / surrendered to the Form of God…” (Genesis 32:25-32a).[320]

The male pronouns in this passage from the Greek Torah make it confusing, even when I capitalize the He that is not Jacob in this translation. There are theories as to who this He is.[321] By the end of this passage it becomes clear that Jacob recognizes that the He with whom he is wrestling is not his own conscience, not an angel, not a stranger, not Esau, not just a man, but The One with the power to offer Jacob a blessing. The blessing given to Jacob is similar to the blessing given to Abram and Sarai when God changes their names to Abraham and Sarah.[322] This One blesses Jacob with a new name, Israel.[323] Still struggling, Jacob asks for This One’s name, but He has already given Jacob a blessing, and He simply answers Jacob’s question with a question, Why do you ask this, my name? Answering a question with a question is characteristic of rabbis. After surrendering to this spiritual and physical Holy One, Jacob names the place where this encounter occurs, The Form of God.

Note the play on words: Form of God (Εἶδος θεοῦ – Eidos Theou) paired with I saw God (εἶδον θεὸν – eidon Theon). Also, consider the alternative translation for this oracle’s final sentence. The sun rose up on Jacob when he surrendered to The Form of God. Clearly the person of God Incarnate is in the Septuagint, though His identity is not; it is withheld from Jacob and the readers of the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. The identity of God is revealed by John the Baptist when he sees Jesus coming toward him during the wind of the day. [324]

 

John 1: 31
 
NRSV I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.[325]
 
Greek κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν ἀλλʼ ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραὴλ
Lit. Trans And I (did) not know him but in order that he could be revealed to Israel
 
Greek διὰ τοῦτο ἦλθον ἐγὼ ἐν ὕδατι βαπτίζων.[326]
Lit. Trans because (of) this came I with water baptizing. [327]

 

In the spirit of truth that characterizes a testimony John confesses, I did not know Him, i.e. John does not know The before me One who is coming. Sent by God to bear witness about the Light, to be a model disciple of the One, John sees The One and testifies to others what he has seen. John sees a man coming, but he knows that this is not just a man. This Man is the One, but like Jacob, John does not yet know the name of this Man. John knows that He is I am, but John does not call Him I am or refer to Him in any other way than He or Him.

In fact John does not attempt to describe or introduce Him as if it is his role to do so. Instead, John is describing his own role in the cosmic drama that is now unfolding before his own eyes and before the eyes of his disciples and the eyes of the crowd which has gathered with him at the Jordan River. John knows only that he is to baptize the people of Israel with water, and in the process of doing so he expects to reveal the One who is coming. Until this moment, John gives no indication that he knows when the One who is coming will come, or what His name is.

Confessing I myself did not know him, John appears to be including himself with “the Pharisees” who worship a false god, one who they do not know. Informed readers of the Gospel are not inclined to make this comparison in spite of the similarity in the language, because we know that John the Baptist worships the One God, not a false god. John now faces a significant challenge. He must reveal the One, the Man who takes away the sin of the world. Even though he does not know Him, John must reveal who He is by telling the truth.

The word revealed (φανερωθῇ – phanerōthē) is a Johannine sign. It does not appear in the Septuagint, but it does appear three times in the Gospel. It is defined in Jn. 3:21.

But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light in order that His deeds may be revealed that they are done in God” (John 3:21). [328]

John confesses that he knows only that the One will be revealed to himself and to those standing with him during the time and at the place where he is baptizing with water. God will provide the sign and John will see and interpret and proclaim its meaning.

 

John 1: 32
 
NRSV And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.[329]
 
Greek Καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν Ἰωάννης λέγων ὅτι τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον
Lit. Trans And testified John saying (that) I have seen the Spirit descending
 
Greek ὡς περιστερὰν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν.[330]
Lit. Trans like a dove from heaven and remaining upon him. [331]

 

John continues his testimony, revealing how it is that he recognizes Jesus as the after me One who is coming. He says, I have seen the Spirit (τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα – tetheamai to pneuma). How can John see the Spirit? This part of John’s witness presents a problem already addressed in A Day with Jesus. In the conclusion of the commentary on the Prologue the solution to the problem of two apparently contradictory verses, John 1:14 and John 1:18, is presented. The problem is: Has anyone ever seen God, or has no one ever seen God? The solution to this problem appears to be:

No one without the Word of God within can see God. Only the Son of God has made God known. Those who have seen Jesus Christ have seen God.

The problem in the John 1:32 is resolved in the same way. As Jesus approaches the place where John is baptizing with water, John sees Jesus, but John does not testify, I have seen Jesus Christ or I have seen the Christ, he testifies, I have seen the Spirit, so there must be more to the solution of this problem.

We 21st century Christians may assume that John understands the concept of the Trinity: God is One, known in 3 persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Expounding on the lesson from the Prologue, anyone who has seen Jesus has also seen God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.[332] However, this assumes that John already knows that Jesus of Nazareth is God the Son. Up to this verse, this Gospel provides no indication that this assumption is true.

Readers of the Gospel need not assume that the writers of the Gospel are the theologians who conceive and introduce the concept of the Trinity to the early Jewish/Christian communities of the late first and early second centuries, C.E. As we have consistently seen, the theological meaning woven into the Gospel‘s text is expounded from the Septuagint, which has been canonized for 200 years by the time the Gospel’s is written. The Father (Creator God) and the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God) and the Form/Shape/Appearance of God are certainly found in the Septuagint, revealed in oracles and signs, but the identity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is not revealed until God sends His prophet and servant, John the Baptist, the model disciple, and other disciples of Jesus, including all of us who believe in Him, and the Gospels, including this one, to reveal Him.

The Gospel tells us that John recognizes Jesus Christ by seeing the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and remaining on/in Him. John need not understand and believe in the concept of the Trinity to see this. Following our method, let us search for Mosaic or Septuagint signs or oracles or Johannine signs or parables to find out how he does see The Spirit. The first of four Mosaic oracles relating to this verse comes from Genesis.

But the land was unseen and unprepared and darkness (was) upon the deeps and (the) wind/ breath/ spirit (πνεῦμα – pneuma) of God rushed upon the water (ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος – epephereto epanō tou hydatos)” (Genesis 1:2 LXX).[333]

John has chosen a location on the other side of the Jordan to baptize the faithful Children of Israel because he sees that the Promised Land has incurred God’s curse as prophesied by Moses. As John sees it, Israel’s leaders have chosen to worship a false god. The land is in darkness. As Jesus approaches the water of the Jordan where John is baptizing, John sees the wind/ the breath/ the Spirit of God rushing upon the water.

We are told that John says, I have seen the wind/breath/Spirit (πνεῦμα – pneuma) of God. Any reader might ask How can John see wind or breath or Spirit? The word I have seen (τεθέαμαι – tetheamai) used in this verse actually means more than I have seen. It also means I have looked carefully, like a spectator/ I have beheld/ I have observed something or someone with continuity and attention.[334] Forms of this word, which is a Johannine sign, are also found in John 1:14 where the authors of the Gospel write we saw His glory. It is also found in John 1:38 where Jesus is described as seeing two of the disciples of John following Him and in John 4:35 where Jesus tells His disciples to look at/behold the fields, and in John 6:5 where Jesus saw that a large crowd was coming to him to make Him their king, and in John 11:45 where many of “the Jewssaw the things that Jesus did and believed in Him. John says, I have seen the Spirit. This word describes not only what the eyes of John behold on earth, but the spiritually true meaning of what John sees. He looks, perhaps searches, not only for the One he expects to see, but for a divine sign that identifies that One, and he sees Jesus and the wind rushing upon the water, and he understands this sign indicates, This is the One.

John describes that divine sign as the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven. The second Mosaic oracle used in this verse relates to this metaphor, wind rushing upon the water.

And God remembered Noe (Noah) and all of the beasts and all of the cattle and all of the winged things and all of the creeping things, as many as were with him in the ark, and God brought a wind (πνεῦμα – pneuma) upon the land and the water abated (ἐκόπασεν – ekopasen)” (Genesis 8:1 LXX).[335]

How does John see the Spirit? In the Noah story the water abates when God brings a wind upon the land. John is standing in the living, moving water of the Jordan River. When the Spirit/wind/breath of God comes upon the land where Jesus is walking, the water abates, i.e., it recedes from the land as the wind pushes it back and as Jesus approaches the river where John is standing.

In the story of Noah, the coming of the wind that causes the water to begin abating is a sign that the evil that God destroys with the flood is no longer upon the earth. Perhaps John interprets this sign to mean that with Jesus approaching, the curse upon the Promised Land is abating.

This third Mosaic oracle also comes from the Mosaic oracle/story of Noah and the Ark.

And he (Noah) sent off the raven (κόρακα – koraka) in order to see if the water had abated. After it went out it did not return until the water dried up from the land. He sent off the dove (περιστερὰν peristeran) after it to see if the water had abated from the face of the land, and the dove (did) not find rest for its feet. It returned to him in the ark, because water was on all the face of all the land, and stretching out his hand, he (Noah) took it (the dove) and brought it to himself into the ark. Having waited yet another seven days, again he sent forth the dove from the ark and the dove returned to him toward evening, and it had (a) dry leaf of an olive tree in its mouth, so Noah knew that the water had abated from the land” (Genesis 8:7-11 LXX).[336]

In all three of these passages from Genesis water serves as a symbol of chaos, where boundaries are not visible, even a division between earth and sky becomes impossible to see, especially in the darkness before the creation of light and during the type of storm that causes the cataclysmic flood in Noah’s time. It is God’s grace, God remembering Noah, and by extension remembering Noah’s family and the animals in the ark, that causes God to send the wind upon the land to abate the water. The powerful rushing wind/ breath/Spirit of God is what drives chaos back, brings order out of dark chaos, so that boundaries like the horizon become visible in the light.

As John the Baptist sees it, the Promised Land has been in darkness. He seeks to escape the darkness and to avoid the curse upon the Promised Land, and he calls upon the faithful of Israel to do likewise by coming to the other side of the Jordan to be baptized. When John sees the Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove, he is not literally seeing a dove flying through the air and then landing on the head or shoulder of Jesus. John is using a metaphor; the Spirit is descending from heaven like a dove carrying an olive branch, a sign of hope and peace, replacing the dark sign of chaos and evil.

In the Genesis 8:7-11(LXX) the dove is contrasted with the raven. The raven flies away from Noah and the Ark, but does not return until the water is dried up from land. This is not explained. The black raven[337] may have represented the negative way in which to assess the situation faced by Noah and those with him who survived the flood on the ark, since it leaves the ark in the dark or becomes part of the darkness and returns only when the water is dried up from the land. Perhaps the black raven, a sign of dark chaos and evil, along with the white dove, a sign of bright heavenly light and order, returns to the land with the humans who survive the flood.

The dove in Scripture is often presented as having come from heaven.[338] In the Noah oracle, the dove flies away from the ark and returns when it cannot find dry land. Noah takes it to himself and cares for it for seven more days. Then Noah releases the dove again, and it returns to Noah, this time with a dry olive branch in its beak. The reliability of this dove is consistent with the common use of doves, including pigeons, in the region of Palestine. Perhaps the sound of the heavenly dove’s wings hovering over the face of the deep is implied in Genesis 1:2.[339] If so, this sign may mean, with healing in His wings God creates everything to overcome the deadly confusion of chaos.

The fourth Mosaic oracle that relates to John 1:32 comes from Balaam, a prophet of Moab, the land on the other side of the Jordan. Balaam has been asked by his king to curse the Israelites who are poised to conquer Moab in the days of Joshua. Balaam promises to prophesy only what the Most High God tells him to proclaim.[340] After declaring 2 oracles The Spirit of God blesses Balaam and Balaam utters his third and fourth oracles. Part of his fourth oracle relates to John 1:32.[341]

And when Balaam lifted up his eyes (and) looked upon Israel encamped according to the tribes, then the Spirit of God (πνεῦμα θεοῦ – pneuma Theou) came upon him(Nu. 24:2 LXX). …“And then taking up his poetic discourse (παραβολὴν parabolēn) he said, Balaam, son of Beor asserts, the man who sees clearly/truly (ὁρῶν ἀληθινῶς horōn alēthinōs), (the) one who hears (the) oracles of God (ἀκούων λόγια θεοῦ – –akouōn logia Theou), who knows the knowledge (ἐπιστάμενος ἐπιστήμην – epistamenos epistēmēn) from the Most High and the one who sees the vision from God (ἰδὼν ὅρασιν θεοῦ idōn horasin Theou) as in a dream with his eyes being open, I perceive/ tell/teach/offer/show (Δείξω Deixō) him, but not just now. I pronounce (him) blessed (μακαρίζω – makarizō) but he is not near. A star out of Jacob will rise up and a man will be established out of Israel, and (he) will shatter/break in pieces the rulers of Moab and will plunder all the sons of Seth”(Numbers 24:15–17 LXX).[342]

This is a Mosaic oracle which identifies Jesus as the divine source of all oracles. It explains in different words what clearly describes the kind of language that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, John the Baptist and Jesus use and their disciples learn to understand. We will also learn to understand it.

Note that Balaam declares in his oracle from God that he is taking up his poetic discourse (παραβολὴν parabolēn). This Greek word is also translated into English as parable. We recognize this word as one that describes the way Jesus teaches His lessons. Like the utterances pronounced by the ancient Greek oracles, this type of divine message requires those who hear it to interpret it, to discern what it means, and that is what Balaam, under his oath to say only what the Most High God tells him to say, is explaining to his king.

He says that the person who truly sees and truly hears the oracles of God and knows the knowledge,[343] i.e., the one who sees and understands the visions that God gives as though in a dream with his or her eyes open, is the One that Balaam says I teach/I tell/I offer/I show/I perceive (Δείξω Deixō). The way this word is used in Balaam’s prophesy suggests that it might be translated I reveal.[344] Remember, however, that this is not Balaam’s message. Balaam is speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. The “I” in Balaam’s pronouncement is God. God reveals the oracle to the dreamer, the meaning to the seeker, and the telling to the teacher. God in Jesus Christ is the source of the oracle, its visual symbols, its poetic form and its meaning.

God is also the One who offers a prophecy. I pronounce him, the teacher, blessed, but he is not near. A star out of Jacob will rise up and a man will be established out of Israel. Except for the end of this sentence, which has to do with the unfortunate fortunes of the people of Moab, this oracular prophecy certainly reveals Jesus Christ as the Teacher of Parables.[345] Ironically, Balaam, a false prophet who has sought and received the blessing of the Holy Spirit from the Most High God and vowed to proclaim only what the Most High gives him identifies the Source of all oracles.

When John the Baptist testifies, I have seen the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and remaining upon Him, he is using a metaphor. He sees the Holy Spirit of God come upon Jesus and it remains upon/abides in Him.[346] John is saying, God is not only with this One; God is in this One. In other words God, the Spirit of God and this Man are One. Without labeling his witness in the way a contemporary Christian theologian would, his witness describes The Trinity.

So, did John the Baptist in making his witness about Jesus intentionally use Mosaic oracles to lay the foundation for the development of the concept of The Trinity? He probably did not, at least not intentionally. God and the Spirit of God are evident in the Septuagint, and though the person of the Christ is present there, the identity of the Christ is hidden. It is more likely that the Johannine community believes that God uses John, just as God uses Balaam, to reveal the identity of Jesus Christ and to reveal what is already in the Septuagint about God the Father, and God the Spirit.

 

John 1: 33
 
NRSV I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’[347]
 
Greek κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν ἀλλʼ πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι
Lit. Trans And I (did) not know him but the one who sent me to baptize with water
 
Greek ἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον
Lit. Trans that One to me said (the one) upon whom __ you see the Spirit descending
 
Greek καὶ μένον ἐπʼ αὐτόν οὗτός ἐστιν βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ [348]
Lit. Trans and remaining upon Him this One is the One who baptizes with(the) Spirit Holy. [349]

 

John confesses, And I did not know him. This is a link to another Mosaic oracle in Genesis.

And Jacob came out from the Well of the Oath and went to (Canaan). And he came to a place and slept there, for the sun set and he took from the stones of the place and placed (it) at his head and he laid down in that place. And he dreamed, and look, a ladder having been fixed upon the earth, whose top was reaching into heaven, and the messengers/ angels (ἄγγελοι angeloi) of God were ascending and descending upon it. The Lord had rested and said, I (am) (the) Lord, the God of Abram your father and the God of Isaac. Do not fear! The land on which you are sleeping, upon it, I will give it to you and (to) your offspring. And your offspring will be like the sand of the earth and it will enlarge to the sea and to the south and to the north and to the east, and all the tribes of the earth will be blessed in you and in your offspring. And look, I (am) with you, carefully guarding you in every way wherever you go, and I will bring you back into this land because I shall not leave you behind until I have done all things, as many as I told you. And Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, The Lord is in this place but I (did) not know (it) (οὐκ ᾔδειν – ouk ēdein). And he was afraid and said, How awesome (is) this place! This (is) not but than / nothing other than a / the House of God and this (is)the door of heaven. So Jacob rose in the morning and he took the stone, which was placed there at his head and he erected it (as) a pillar and he poured out olive oil on the top of it. And Jacob called the name of the place House of God and Oulamlous/ Luz was the name of the city formerly” (Genesis 28: 10-17 LXX). [350]

John confesses, I did not know Him. This is similar to the phrase that John has used to test “the Pharisees” about their knowledge of the law against following false Gods who you do not know. The Pharisees” do not confess their idolatry. John is not confessing to idolatry; he is confessing his ignorance using language from the first oracle given to Jacob, which I call Jacob’s Ladder Dream. The meaning of this dream may well be the Biblical source for the idea that there is a place on earth, a place that Jacob calls The House of God, where it is possible for a faithful man like himself to communicate with God. The communication system is a ladder upon which messengers/angels of God ascend/go up and descend/go down between heaven and earth. God is revealed to Jacob in this dream, and when he awakens from this dream he says The Lord is in this place, but I did not know it!

John, like Jacob, realizes that God is being revealed to him. He sees Jesus and realizes that The Lord is in this place, but I did not know Him! What appears to be a confession of his own ignorance is in fact a part of John’s witness. He acknowledges the awesome revelation that has just been given to him. While he did not know Him before this moment, John knows Him now, but not by name.

More is implied by this link to Jacob’s ladder dream. The symbolism of the ladder in Jacob’s dream is not lost upon Jacob. He realizes that the ladder identifies a sacred place on earth, the place where the feet of God’s ladder touch the earth. Jacob marks this place by raising up the stone upon which he lays his head before having this dream. He anoints this stone pillar as the holy place, The House of God, The Gateway to Heaven. Long before God gives instructions to Moses to build the Tabernacle and longer before Solomon builds the first Temple and longer still before Herod the Great begins to build the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the holy place in Canaan is identified by Jacob because he dreams that God’s House is there.

John the Baptist realizes, as he sees the Spirit rushing upon Jesus and abiding in Him, that there is a new place on earth. This new place is not identified by a ladder or a tent or a magnificent building, but by the feet of Jesus. His feet are touching the earth. Wherever He is, the true House of God is. God is walking with those who believe in Him, and they walk with God, like the children of Israel do when they follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. God walks upon the earth again as He does in the Garden of Eden. All of us who love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength talk with Him, learn from Him, follow His way as His disciples. He is with us.

We already know that God is the One who sends John to baptize with water, and we know what baptizing with water means to John. God gives a sign to John that allows him not only to recognize the after me One who comes, but to differentiate his water baptism from the Spirit baptism that The One offers. That sign is that John sees the Holy Spirit descending upon/abiding in The One.

Jesus comes to baptize with the Holy Spirit. This can mean that the curse Moses warns God’s people about can now be lifted from the Promised Land. It must also mean that the hearts of those who are worshipping a false god must be changed, turned back to God. The place and even the way in which the leaders of the land and those who follow them are worshipping must be spiritually cleansed and turned back to God or removed from the Promised Land. The faithful people of Israel must be re-introduced to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must abide again in their hearts as the Shema commands. The One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit must be a Teacher and the children of Israel must learn from Him as must all of His disciples, including all of us who believe and follow His way.

 

John 1: 34
 
NRSV I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’[347]
 
Greek κἀγὼ ἑώρακα καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν υἱὸς τοῦ εοῦ [348]
Lit. Trans And I have seen and testify that this one is the Son of God . [349]

 

Replacing his confession, I did not know Him, John testifies, I have seen and testify that this One is The Son of God. This verse is the model testimony for all disciples of Jesus Christ. The requirement to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is for the disciple first to see the Christ in Jesus, meaning to see God in Jesus, and then to testify, meaning to bear witness, to tell others about what the disciple sees that indicates that Jesus is the Son of God. This model of discipleship is used over and over again in this Gospel. This model alone is sufficient to call this verse one of the most important verses in the Gospel for disciples of Jesus Christ to study and to understand.

The first part of this model, when John says I have seen (ἑώρακα – heōraka), is a link to 17 Mosaic oracles in the Septuagint.[354] When read in the order in which they appear, these Mosaic oracles reveal that John is not the only or even the first person to see God or be seen by God. While they appear to contradict John 1:18 that no one has seen God, we know that some see the Form of God.

John the Baptist or the writers of the Gospel apparently choose to include I have seen in John’s testimony to prompt readers to find God’s hidden message in these Septuagint oracles. This series reveals the fact that the authors of the Gospel do not create the Midrash didactic; they simply follow the model revealed in this series of oracles that is already in the Septuagint. The word I have seen (ἑώρακα – heōraka) links Jn. 1:34 to the Septuagint in a dramatic fashion, showing how the Septuagint functions as the cypher to an extensive and hidden message from God.

1. “For I have seen all that Laban does to you. I am the God who appeared to you in the place of God, where you anointed for me the pillar and prayed a prayer to me there” (Genesis 31:12c – 13a LXX). [355]

God reminds Jacob that Jacob has anointed a pillar to mark the holy place that Jacob sees as none other than the House of God, and the gate of heaven. I have seen tells Jacob that God has seen what Jacob must do because of all that Laban does to you, i.e. Jacob must leave Laban for his own homeland, taking his wives, children, servants, flocks and herds with him. Jacob must go forth to walk in the way that God has seen for him, like his ancestor, Abraham. This verse, the first of 17, defines I have seen as a Mosaic sign.

2. “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have seen a dream and there is not one who interprets it. I have heard ones who say about you when you hear a dream (that you) interpret (it)” Genesis 41:15 LXX.[356]

God gives Joseph the gift of seeing, i.e. receiving, proclaiming and interpreting dreams. Pharaoh does not understand the meaning of his dream. Providing Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s ability to interpret it suggests that God is using Joseph’s gift to care for God’s people in the land of Egypt, ruled by Pharaoh.

3. “And Israel (formerly called Jacob) said to Joseph, ‘I will die from the present, since I have seen your face, for you are still alive’” Genesis 46:30 LXX.[357]

Israel’s oracle is that he will die from the present. This phrase appears only here. It means that Jacob/Israel is about to die. In fact he dies emotionally in the present when he believes that his beloved son Joseph is dead. When he says to Joseph, I have seen your face, for you are still alive, Israel tells his son that he sees the beloved son he believes to be dead, and now this beloved son is alive. This is a revelation to Jacob/Israel that his own death is not forever. For a disciple who sees the Christ in Jesus and sees by faith that Jesus Christ, though He is crucified, dead and buried, is yet alive, there is hope that death is not forever. [358]

4. “Now listen! The outcry of the sons of Israel has reached me and I have seen the affliction which the Egyptians are pressing upon them” Exodus 3:9 LXX.[359]

God is telling Moses that He is intensely aware of the suffering of His people. This is the beginning of the account of the Exodus, during which God provides signs and wonders, revealing that He offers salvation to His people. God sees the suffering of His people and acts to provide salvation from it for them.

5. “And Samson went down to Thamnatha and he saw a woman in Thamnatha among the daughters of the foreigners, and she was pleasing before him. And he went up and told his father and his mother and said, ‘I have seen a woman in Thamnatha from the daughters of foreigners. And now get her for me as a wife’” Judges 14:1-2 LXX.[360]

Note that Samson goes down to the foreign town where he sees a woman who pleases him. He goes up to tell his parents to get her for me as a wife. Going down is a Septuagint sign that indicates one is moving away from God in heaven above, away from a holy place. Going up is a sign that one is coming closer to God in a holy place. When Samson says, “I have seen a woman,” he means more than that he has noticed her. He watches her intently, studies her, focuses upon her, but he is moving away from God by choosing/demanding her, a foreign woman, for his wife.

6. “…And so the watchman arrived and reported to the king and said, I have seen men from the road of Horonian from (the) side of the mountain. And Jonadab said to the king, Look, the son of the king is coming according to the word of your slave. This is how it happened…” (2 Kingdoms 13:34b-35 = 2 Samuel 13: 34b-35 NRSV). [361]

The watchman/guard says, I have seen men from the road/way of Horonium, (sounds like Herodian), side of the mountain/ (temple mount?). Look, the son of the King is coming according to the word of your slave / servant. In the Gospel the signs are parallel: the servant is John, The after me One who comes is the Son of God. The watchman, John, watches carefully and understands men are coming to kill the Son of God.

7. “And one man saw and reported to Joab and said, Look! I have seen Absolom hanging in an oak. And Joab said to the man who made the report, And look! You saw (him)? Why (is it) that you did not strike him to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and one belt! But the man said to Joab, Even (if) I am I am weighing upon my hand (a) thousand shekels of silver, I would not put my hand upon the son of the king. For in our ears you, the King and Abessa and the Ethi ordered saying, ‘watch over for me the young man, Absolom’” (2 Kingdoms 18:10 LXX = 2 Sam. 18:10 NRSV).[362]

Absolom is the son of King David,[363] who has ordered his commanders to watch over Absolom, even though Absolom is leading an attack against David’s forces. While some of David’s commanders are willing to pay a reward for anyone who cuts down the hanging body of Absolom, the one reporting I have seen Absolom hanging in an oak knows better than to lay a hand on the son of the king. Compare this account with the story of the betrayal of Jesus in the Gospel: the bribe of silver pieces for laying a hand on the Son of God and the Son of God hanging on an oak tree/wooden cross. Note especially: even if I am – I am, i.e., even if I am GodI would not lay a hand upon the Son of God.

8. “The king said to him, How often (must) I make you swear that you speak to me the truth in the name of the Lord?’ And Michaiah said, Not so. I have seen all Israel scattered on the hills like a flock that does not (have) a shepherd.’ The lord said, (There is) no lord to these. Let each one return to his house in peace.’” 3 Kngdms. 22:16-17(LXX) = 1 Kings 22: 16-17 (NRSV). [364]

This phrase, I have seen all Israel scattered on the hills like a flock that does not have a shepherd, and the secondary phrase, there is no lord to these is contrary to the Gospel assertion by Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Lord of His disciples.[365]

9. “But inquire as to whether anyone will listen to you or whether any of (the) holy angels will take heed. For (an) angel destroys (the) foolish and jealousy kills the one who goes astray. And I have seen foolish ones take root, but immediately their way of life was devoured. (May) their children be far from safety, and may they be ridiculed at (the) doorway of the lesser folk and may there be no deliverer” Job 5:1-4 (LXX).[366]

God says to Job, I have seen / heard foolish people uttering the ultimate curse: that there may be no deliverer of the foolish ones or of their children. In the text that follows these verses in Job God provides the model of faithfulness that God wants all people to follow. The inference in these verses is emphatic: people need a Deliverer/a Savior.

10. “But I shall declare to you, Listen to me! What now I have seen I shall declare to you, what (the) wise shall speak and their fathers (have) not hidden. To them alone was the land given, and no stranger came upon them. All the life of (the) wicked (is spent) in anxiety and (the) years to give to (the) mighty (are) numbered. And his fear (is) in his ears. Whenever he should imagine (that) now he lives peaceably, his destruction shall come” (Job 15:17-21 LXX). [367]

Eliphaz, a so-called friend of Job, offers a perspective in Job 15 that is contrary to the one expressed by God in Job 5 above. Eliphaz says that sinners live a miserable life and will be punished in the end. Two points are relevant to the Gospel in this verse. (1) What I have seen I shall declare to you, what the wise shall speak and their fathers have not hidden. The author or editor of the book of Job is aware of wisdom that is hiddenby thefathers of the wise. (2) To the fathers of the wise alone was the land given, and no stranger came upon them. This is the concern that motivates John the Baptist: the Promised Land is given to the wise, who know and remember their covenant with God, Who protects His children from strangers.

11. “Now I have seen with my eyes. Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; announce, O daughter of Jerusalem, Behold your king comes to you, righteous and (able to) keep alive. He is humble and mounted upon a mule and foal of a young ass” (Zechariah 9:8b).[368]

This is a classic prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah. Both the Daughters of Zion and the Daughters of Jerusalem, are metaphors referring to the residents of Jerusalem, especially those dressed in fine vestments like wealthy women, i.e. “the Jews,” specifically the High Priest and Chief Priests. [369] The prophet cries out, Behold your King / Messiah comes to you, righteous and able to keep alive. Readers of the Gospel know that Jesus Christ is able to keep alive even after the Daughters of Jerusalem, The Jews,” seek successfully to have Him crucified by the Roman authority of a false god.

12. “On account of sin I distressed him and I struck him and I turned away my face from him, and he was distressed and went gloomily in his ways. I have seen His ways and I have healed Him and I comforted Him and I gave Him genuine comfort” (Isaiah 57:17-18 LXX).[370]

God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah of the Suffering Servant, who suffers as a consequence of the sin (not sins) of all human beings. From this suffering God heals the Suffering Servant and gives Him genuine comfort, i.e. eternal life.

13. “But whether you are convinced on the basis of lying words from which you will not be helped, and you murder and you commit adultery and you steal and you swear oaths on the basis of unrighteousness and you burn incense to Baal, and are going after foreign gods that you have not known/ you do not know, (so that) harm is (coming) to you. You have come and stood before me in the House where my name has been called upon, upon it. And you have said, we have removed ourselves – not to do all these abominations. Is my house a cave of thieves where my name has been called upon, upon it, there before you? Even I, behold, I have seen says the Lord (Jeremiah 7:8-11).[371]

The prophet Jeremiah expresses God’s anger against those who speak lying words in the Temple, while they are breaking God’s Commandments and using the Temple as a cave of thieves. This is an indictment of the priesthood in Jerusalem.

14. “This (is) your lot and portion (for) your disobeying me, says the Lord, since you have forgotten me and you have hoped in lies. And I will uncover your back parts before your face, and your disgrace will be seen, both your adultery and your neighing and the alienation of your fornication. Upon the hills and fields I have seen your abominations. Woe to you, O Jerusalem, because you were not cleansed after me. Until what still?(Jeremiah 13:25-27).[372]

Jeremiah expresses God’s rage using a vernacular slur, i.e., God threatens to uncover your back parts before your face. The point is that those who commit abominations/behavior offensive to God will be disgraced/ shamed. These priests stand before God not cleansed / defiled. The words, Until what still, comprise an outraged utterance meaning, Until what time will you wait to be cleansed? Why are you still waiting to purify yourselves?

15. “And with respect to the prophets of Jerusalem, I have seen horrible (things): adulterers and those who walk in lies and strengthening (the) hands of evildoers, (so that) each of them (does not) turn back from his evil way. All have become like Sodom to me, and those who dwell in it just as Gomorrah. Because of this thus says the Lord, Behold, I myself will feed them pain and I will give them bitter water to drink because from the prophets of Jerusalem defilement went out to the whole land” (Jeremiah 23:14-15).[373]

God is not only angry, but bitter because, God says, I have seen horrible things. Because of this, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I myself will feed them pain and I will give them bitter water to drink because from the prophets of Jerusalem defilement went out to the whole land.’ Bitter water recalls the bitterness of slavery and the bitter water that those who make the exodus from Egypt drink in the desert until Moses prays to God and is guided to throw a piece of wood into the water, making the water sweet.[374] Could this piece of wood relate to the wood of the cross, describing God’s action in response to the bitter suffering of God’s people? God’s indictment of the prophets of Jerusalem extends to the whole land, i.e., the Promised Land that God gives to the Israelites.

16. “And these (are) the words that the Lord has spoken concerning Israel and Judah. Thus said the Lord, A sound of fear you shall hear. There is fear and there is not peace. Ask and see if a male gave birth, and concerning fear, with which they will hold to (their) loins and for deliverance. And I have seen all humankind and his/their hands upon his/their waist(s), (his/their) face(s) turned to jaundice because (on) that great day is become/is born none such as this; it is (a) narrow time (for) Jacob and by reason of this he shall be delivered. On that day said the Lord I will crush the yoke from their neck and I will break their bonds and they shall not labor any longer for foreigners. They shall labor for the Lord their God, and I will raise up for them their king, David.’” (Jeremiah 37:4-9 = Jeremiah 30: 4-9 NRSV).[375]

Jeremiah declares what God has seen: poetically, a sound of fear you shall hear, not peace. Ask to see if a man has given birth, because all men are holding their hands on their girth and their faces are turning yellow as though they are yelling in labor. So in this narrow brief time for Jacob/Israel, God will provide a Deliverer. Their yoke and bonds shall be crushed and broken, and they shall labor for foreigners no more; they will labor for God, who will raise up for them their own King, David. Clearly this is a prophetic and poetic oracle declaring the coming of the Messiah.

17. “And (then) the King (Nebuchadnessar) said to them, ‘I have seen a dream and my spirit is stirred up. I want, therefore, to find out the (meaning of) the dream” (Daniel 2:3-47).

Then the Astrologers respond, promising to reveal the meaning of the king’s dream if the king will first tell them the dream. The king makes it clear that he will destroy all of the wise men in his kingdom, even the wise ones from among the Hebrew slaves, if none of them can reveal both the dream and its meaning to him. As Daniel is arrested for execution with the others, he asks what it is all about. Then he calls for prayers to God and fasting from his fellow Hebrews. God gives him, i.e. lets him see the same dream, and Daniel volunteers to do as King Nebuchadnezzar commands, i.e. to reveal the dream and its meaning.

And (so) the king responding said (to) Daniel, called Baltasar, Are you able to show and explain the dream vision that I saw and (give) the interpretation of this dream to me? And Daniel, crying out before the king said, The mystery that the king has seen and its interpretation is not (with) the wise and learned and with sorcerers and (with) charmers and (indeed not with) soothsayers. But there exists a God in heaven who reveals mysteries who has made known (to) King Nebuchadnezzar things that must take place at the end of days. Live O king into the age! The dream and the vision (of) your head upon your bed is this: You, O King, as you were lying upon your bed saw (concerning) whatever things must take place at the last of days, and the One who reveals mysteries showed to you (the) things that is/are necessary (for them) to take place, but not with respect to me, because of (any) wisdom that resides in me beyond all men. This mystery was made clear. It was shown to me but/rather for the purpose of making (it) known to the king, (that is) the things you took up in your mind for understanding (them).

Indeed you yourself, O King, saw a single image and look, that image was exceedingly great and a surpassing appearance (it) stood before you, and the (appearance) of the image (was) fearful/frightening. Now the head of it was of fine gold, the breast and the arms of silver, (and) the belly and the thighs (were of bronze) and the legs (were of) iron (and) the feet a portion (of them) partly of iron (and) a portion (of them) of earthen clay. You watched until a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands, and (it) smote the image upon (its) feet of iron and of clay and pulverized them. Then the iron and the earthen elements and the brass and the silver and the gold became pulverized pieces and became as if (they were) fine pieces of chaff on a threshing floor and the wind blew them so that nothing was left of them and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and smote the whole earth. This (is) the dream vision; and now we will (its) interpretation before the king.

You, yourself, O King, are king of kings and to you the Lord of heaven has given the authority and the kingdom and the might and the honor and (the glory). In all the inhabited earth of mankind and of wild beasts and of (the) winged creatures of heaven and of the fish of the sea, He has put (as if) under (your hand) to exercise dominion over everything. You yourself are the golden head. Now after you will arise a kingdom inferior to you and (then) another third kingdom (a) bronze kingdom which will exercise dominion over all the earth. And (then) (a) mighty fourth kingdom just as (you saw), the iron overpowering everything and (indeed) destroying every tree and all the earth will be shaken. And as you watched its feet, a portion (of them) partly of earthenware, but a portion (of them) partly of iron, another kingdom (in) two parts will be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed up together with the clay of the earthen vessel. And (as to) the toes of the feet a certain portion (was) iron, but a certain portion of potter’s clay, (so) a certain part of the kingdom will be strong and a certain portion will be broken. And as you saw the iron mixed up together with the clay of an earthen vessel, they will be commingled into the offspring of mankind and they will not be commingled in harmony nor will (they) be favorably inclined toward one another, just as not even the iron is able to be mixed (within) the (clay) of an earthen vessel. And (then) in the time (of) those kings the God of heaven will make stand another kingdom which will last into the ages and it will not be destroyed and this kingdom, with respect to another people, will not be permitted to pass, but it will smite and abolish these kingdoms and (then) this (kingdom) will stand firm into the ages. (And) whereas you saw a stone cut out of a mountain and (then) (it) crushed to powder the earthen elements, the iron and the brass and the silver and the gold, (so) the great God has showed to the king the things which will happen at the uttermost end of the days. And accurate (is) the dream vision and reliable the interpretation of this dream.

Then Nebuchadnezzar, the King, falling forward to the ground, worshiped Daniel and ordered offerings and libations to present to him. And (then) the king, crying out to Daniel said, Certainly your God is (a) God (of) gods and Lord (of) kings, One alone who discloses hidden mysteries because you were able to clearly make known this mystery” (Daniel 2: 3-47). [376]

This lengthy oracle concludes the linked oracles using I have seen (ἑώρακα – heōraka) found in the Septuagint. This one contains its own explanation. Together these 17 passages convey a single message: God communicates to human beings through dreams, visions, and poetic language/parables, i.e., through metaphors. The ability to interpret such dreams and visions and parables is also divinely given. Persons who receive such gifts are enabled by God to disclose hidden mysteries.

The authors of the Gospel According to John recognize how metaphors in the Greek Torah and other parts of the Septuagint are used to reveal/disclose the meaning of otherwise hidden mysteries. Following this method of both hiding and revealing significant spiritual truths, these Gospel authors use metaphors in exactly the same way. In John 1:34 a hidden mystery, the identity of the Form of God, is revealed/disclosed/identified/named. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is for the first time in all Biblical history the answer to the ancient hidden mystery, Who is the Form of God?

This extraordinary series of linked oracles also reveals that throughout the Biblical history of the children of Israel, God has acted to provide salvation for a people who, often by the example of their leaders including their prophets, kings and priests, violate God’s Commandments and defile their covenant with God, while God delivers them from dire circumstances, though not without expressing through the prophets disappointment, anger and even rage over their failure to maintain their covenant with God. The revelation by John the Baptist of the coming of the after me One who comes, the Son of God, is the ultimate response by God to this unequal give and take.

In none of the passages we are considering about John the Baptist has John actually called the after me One who comes by name. In this verse John does not call Him Jesus or Jesus Christ or the Christ. John calls Him, simply and dramatically, the Son of God. So how did John know that he should use this title: the Son of God for Jesus? I suspect that most readers assume God, who sends him, tells him. However, we do not know how God tells him yet. Does God tell him in a dream, in a vision, or in a passage of Scripture, perhaps one like the last oracle of David? Let us look and see.

And these (are) the last words of David (λόγοι Δαυιδ – logoi Dauid): Faithful David (Πιστὸς Δαυιδ – Pistos Dauid)/ Oracle David, son of Jesse and faithful/oracle man whom (the) Lord God of Jacob exalted for (being) (the) anointed (one) and (the) harmonious music of Israel.[377] (The) Spirit of (the) Lord (is) in me and His word (is) on my tongue. The God of Israel is speaking; the Guard (Heb: Rock) of Israel speaks to me. Speak (a) proverb/ parable (Παραβολὴν Parabolēn): Among humanity how might you strengthen (the) fear of God? And by God at (the) light of dawn (the) sun will rise and the morning will not pass from splendor like rain from on (the) grass from (on) (the) earth. For (is) not my house like this with (the) Strong One? For He established (an) eternal covenant with me, ready in every season, protected because my entire deliverance and every desire (is) that the wicked would not grow. As/like (a) thorn they are all rejected because they cannot be picked by hand. And (a) man will not grow weary among them, and full of iron and wood (is) (the) spear and burning in fire they will burn with shame” (2 Kingdoms 23:1-7 = 2 Samuel 23: 1-7 NRSV).[378]

David is the oracle, the divinely gifted one, who provides oracular messages from God. David is called The Anointed One. He is also called The Harmonious Music of Israel. Though this description of David is relatively brief, it sounds similar to the kind of title that is usually lavished upon a king like David, when being introduced to visiting dignitaries. If John the Baptist takes the title he uses to identify the Christ in Jesus from David’s oracle, he certainly must edit it or abbreviate it or find a way to interpret it as a shorter title. John’s title for the Christ is elegant: The Son of God.

Perhaps this title sums up all of the other ways in which the more elaborate title for David is written. The Spirit of the Lord is in me clearly makes it into John’s testimony with only a small editorial change: The Spirit of the Lord is upon/in Him. His word is on my tongue seems a bit redundant if John shares the same understanding of the after me One who comes as do the authors of the Gospel. They write, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Said another way, The Word of God is God. The reference to The Anointed One in David’s title is clearly used in the title given to Jesus Christ, since in Greek Christos means Anointed One. While John the Baptist does not use anointed or Christ in his testimony, the authors of the Gospel refer to Jesus Christ before the testimony of John begins.[379]

David’s last oracle uses the word proverb/parable (Παραβολὴν Parabolēn). Most Christians probably recognize this word as one that describes the way Jesus teaches, i.e. in parables. The difference, of course, is that David is being told to speak a proverb, while Jesus tells His parables without being told to tell them. Jesus is The Creator and Teller of Parables, not the one who is told to repeat parables entrusted for the telling of them by God. I can find no reason not to attribute all of the signs and oracles in the Septuagint and the Gospel to Jesus Christ, the eternal One who has always communicated with those with whom He is in a covenantal relationship.

The Guard/Watchman (φύλαξ – phylax) in David’s last oracle is God, the Guard who protects even those who are suffering, and shelters God’s people even from God’s own wrath in the realm of the dead.[380] Cognates of this word are Johannine signs.[381] This word is often used in the Psalms, where the Watchman/Guard of Israel is translated the Shepherd of Israel.

David’s parable consists of three parts. The first part is a seemingly innocuous statement, Among humanity how might you strengthen the fear of God? Given the frustration, anger and even rage expressed by God in so many of the I have seen passages, one wonders if this seemingly innocuous statement might be the start of a conversation between God and the Son of God, who appears immediately in David’s oracular vision as an answer to the initial question. And by God at the light of dawn the sun will rise and the morning will not pass from splendor sounds like Easter. Similarly, like rain from on the grass from on the earth sounds like grief prompting faith in God when one is standing before the cross.

The second part of the parable seems to have little to do with the first, at least at first reading. It exalts the covenant between the house of David and the Strong One’s House, a metaphor celebrating the protection that God gives to Israel under the rule of King David and his heirs. It has a deeper meaning, since Hebrew tradition holds that the Messiah comes from the house of David, so when the Messiah comes, a hope expressed during every celebration of the Passover, he will protect the children of Israel from their enemies. Christian theologians expound upon that expectation, hoping that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will protect all people of faith from their enemies.

The third part of David’s last oracle implies that God’s protection comes at least in part from David’s desire to keep the wicked from growing/increasing. The implication is that there are enough spears and enough fire to put all of the wicked to death in David’s kingdom. Again from a Christian perspective there is significance to the fact that the suffering of Jesus Christ on a wooden cross, nailed in place with iron spikes, ends just before a spear is thrust into His side. This oracle can mean that though those who seek to bring about the death of Jesus Christ see that He is a man who does not grow weary, even approaching death, they will suffer in fire and in shame for bringing this suffering upon Him. That is unless they accept the forgiveness He offers to them.

These material connections between David’s last oracle and the Gospel can hardly be set aside as coincidences. It seems certain that the title given by John to The after me One who comes: the Son of God, as well as the relevance to the Gospel of the other metaphors in David’s last oracle are derived from this hidden text at the end of David’s story in 2 Kingdoms 23:1-7 = 2 Samuel 23:1-7 and other hidden texts in the Septuagint. So far, in spite of all of the fruitful searching we have done, the literal words of the title, The Son of God, that John the Baptist announces when he sees Jesus, remain hidden. So we will continue to search, not knowing, but expecting, even trusting that the source of this title will appear.

 

John 1: 35
 
NRSV The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples[382]
 
Greek Τῇ ἐπαύριον πάλιν εἱστήκει ὁ Ἰωάννης καὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο [383]
Lit. Trans The next day again was standing __ John and of __ disciples his two. [384]

 

The next day marks a transition in the narrative of the Gospel where the context focuses upon the disciples of Jesus. A Johannine sign, the Greek word the next day (Τῇ ἐπαύριον – epaurion) is first used and its function in the Gospel is defined in John 1:29f [385] when John sees the Son of God in Jesus Christ and testifies about what he sees. The next day is used again in John 1:35f when disciples follow Him before He calls them, and in John 1:43f when Jesus calls disciples before they follow Him. Finally in John 12:12f the next day is used when disciples from beyond Israel come seeking Him. This four step progression of ways people become disciples is marked by the next day.

John was standing (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) with two of his disciples. Would stand/was standing/ stood/had stood (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) is a Mosaic sign. It is defined in its first appearance in the Torah.

Abraham made an early start in the morning to the place where he had stood (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) opposite the Lord
(Genesis 19:27 LXX).[386]

Would stand / was standing / stood / had stood appears 3 more times in the Greek Torah, where its form does not change, but the way it is translated does change, leading to the conclusing that the context affects how it is translated. [387]

In Gn. 19:27 LXX, Moses had stood (εἱστήκει – heistēkei ) before God.

In Ex. 20:21 LXX the people stood (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) at a distance at the base of Mt. Sinai while Moses entered the thick cloud
where God was.

In Ex. 24:9-10 LXX the God of Israel stood (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) in the place where Moses, Aaron, and Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s two oldest sons, saw Him.

In Ex. 33:8 LXX all the people would stand (εἱστήκει – heistēkei) at the doors to their own tents, watching whenever Moses went into the tent outside the encampment/the Tent of Witness.

In Jn. 1:35-36a John was standing (εἱστήκει-heistēkei) there with two of his disciples looking at Jesus as He was walking by

The form of this Greek word is the same as the one used consistently in the Greek Torah, but it is translated differently in each of these 5 contexts. It consistently describes events during which people see the place where God stands or where people stand before God, i.e. where people stand in God’s presence.

 

John 1: 36
 
NRSV and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”[388]
 
Greek καὶ ἐμβλέψας τῷ Ἰησοῦ περιπατοῦντι λέγει ἴδε ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ [389]
Lit. Trans and looking at _ Jesus (as he) was walking by he said look The Lamb of God” [390]

 

Two different words translated looking at and look appear in this short verse. The Greek word looking at (ἐμβλέψας – emblepsas) is different from the more common Greek word look (ἴδε – ide). Also, looking at appears 1 time in the Septuagint, in Job, so it is a Septuagint sign. However, look, a cognate of looking at, appears 3 times in 1 context the Septuagint, in Isaiah, and it functions better as a Septuagint sign for John 1:36 than the Job passage does. Let’s consider what this means.

In the passage from Job Satan has inflicted sores on Job from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Job’s wife suggests that Job should curse God and die. Job responds:

But looking at (her) (ἐμβλέψας – emblepsas), he said to her, ‘You speak like one of the foolish women. If we accept good things from (the)hand of the Lord, shall we not endure evil things?’ In all these things (that) happened to him in no way (did) Job sin by (his) speaking before God” (Job 2:10). [391]

In the passage from Isaiah God is speaking through Isaiah as the Suffering Servant.

Listen to me, you who pursue justice and seek the Lord look at (ἐμβλέψατε – emblepsate) the solid rock which you hewed, and the hole in the pit which you dug. Look at Abraham your father and (look at) Sarah who was in labor with you, because he was one and I called him and blessed him and multiplied him. Now I will comfort even you, Zion, and I have summoned all her desert places and I will make her desolate places like a garden of the Lord. They will find in her joy and rejoicing, thanksgiving and the sound of praise. Listen to me, listen my people, and (you) kings give ear to me, because instruction and judgment shall go forth from me for a light to nations. My righteousness draws near quickly and my salvation shall go forth as a light and in my strength nations will hope; islands will wait for me and will hope in my strength. Lift up your eyes to the sky and look at the earth below, for the sky shall become solid as smoke and the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who inhabit the earth will die just like these, but my salvation shall be to the age and my righteousness shall surely not cease” (Isaiah 51: 1-5).[392]

The contrast between these two verses from the Septuagint in terms of relevance to John 1:36 is startling. The most relevant meaning, derived from the use of looking at (ἐμβλέψας – emblepsas) in the Job passage, comes from the narrator, who says, In all these things that happened to him in no way did Job sin by his speaking (literally: by lips) before God. We could infer from this passage in Job that John the Baptist wants his disciples to know, or that the authors of the Gospel want their students/readers to know that in no way did John the Baptist sin by speaking before the Son of God. There is some small value in the narrator’s comment in Job. It addresses the classic assumption that when standing in God’s presence, no one should speak unless and until the Lord God or one of God’s angels speaks first.[393] However, since John is sent by God to bear witness about the light, this apologetic disclaimer seems hardly necessary. So why is it used in here in the Gospel?

We are compelled to consider further what relevance the words spoken by Job have to John 1:36. Why would John the Baptist or the authors of the Gospel use language like looking at (ἐμβλέψας – emblepsas) to lead John’s two disciples, or to lead us readers, to a passage that conveys a meaning having to do with what Job says to his wife about both good and evil coming from the Lord? How does such a message call attention to the fact that John and his disciples are standing in the presence of the Son of God? We may be able to construct a rationale that suggests a stark contrast between John’s experience of seeing the Son of God, which is a good thing, and John’s impression of the Promised Land being under the curse prophesied by Moses, which is a bad or an evil thing, but compared with the far more powerful relevance of the Septuagint oracle in the Isaiah passage, such a rationale derived from the Job passage is at best a weak sign for interpreting the meaning of John 1:36.

The Isaiah passage repeats a cognate of looking at (ἐμβλέψας – emblepsas) three times within the context of five consecutive verses, outside of which it appears nowhere else in the Septuagint. That cognate, look (ἐμβλέψατε – emblepsate), comes from the same root word to look at (ἐμβλέπω – emblepō). This suggests that the Isaiah passage is emphasizing this word in a manner comparable to the emphatic repetition of important words three times in the Gospel, where such repetition points to the presence of a sign. The word look is, therefore, a Septuagint sign that leads us to a Septuagint oracle which is rich in metaphors that relate directly to the Gospel. These are light, light for the nations, seeking God, comforting Zion, desert/desolate places, and garden of the Lord.

Isaiah 40-55 is called Second Isaiah by many if not most Biblical scholars. Some Christian scholars believe that the Suffering Servant is Israel, and that the suffering of the children of Israel in exile in Babylonia serves a positive purpose: to prepare the children of Israel to provide for the salvation of all people in the world.[394]

Contrary to this view, let us consider the possibility that the authors of the Gospel see or that John the Baptist sees a Septuagint oracle in these 15 chapters of Second Isaiah. This oracle is presented as a dialogue between Almighty God and the Suffering Servant, the One that John calls the Son of God. This is the same One the authors of the Gospel call the Word / the Life / the Light of the world / Jesus Christ. The authors of the Gospel and/or John the Baptist may believe that the Suffering Servant in Second Isaiah reveals Jesus Christ.

It is not difficult to imagine John the Baptist using the words in Isaiah 51:1-5 to address his own disciples. While the Gospel does not quote of all five of these verses, it is possible that the use of the cognate of look may indicate that John uses these five verses and perhaps many more of the words of the Suffering Servant when he addresses his own disciples. Consider the following loosely translated version of Isaiah 51: 1-5 as a script for a prophetic address by John the Baptist to his disciples.

“Listen to me, you who pursue justice and seek the Lord, look (ἐμβλέψατε – emblepsate)! Listen to me, listen my people, and you kings give ear to me, because instruction and judgment shall go forth from the One who is coming for a light to the nations. His righteousness draws near quickly and His salvation shall go forth as a light, and in His strength all nations will hope. His salvation shall be to the end of the age and His righteousness shall never end!

John could present this message either as a direct quote or as a translation of oracular language of Second Isaiah. John may speak to his disciples in Hebrew or in Greek or more likely in Aramaic, the vernacular language used in the vicinity of the Jordan River where John’s ministry is centered.

In John 1: 36 Look! (ἐμβλέψατε – emblepsate) is not all that John says to two of his disciples while he is looking at Jesus walking by during the wind the day. This verse tells us that he also says, Look! (ἴδε – ide), The Lamb of God!

The authors of the Gospel could choose to use the same word look (ἐμβλέψατε – emblepsate) already used in this verse or a cognate of it instead of the more common look (ἴδε – ide),[396] so instead of Look! The Lamb of God! John’s declaration is, Look at the Lamb of God! The fact that the authors of the Gospel do not use this same word twice suggests that they want to call their readers’ attention to the difference between these two Greek words. The Gospel’s authors or John the Baptist himself choose to use look (ἴδε – ide) to direct us readers to yet another metaphor in a different passage of Scripture, Genesis 22:7-14.

Isaac spoke to Abraam (Abraham) his father having said, Father! He said, What is it, child? Saying, Look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou), the fire and the wood. Where is the sheep (πρόβατον – probaton) for (the) whole offering? Abraham said, God will see to a sheep (πρόβατον – probaton) for (the) whole offering for himself, child. Having gone/Having walked (πορευθέντες – poreuthentes)[397] both together, they came to the place about which God told him, and Abraam built there an altar and placed the wood, and having bound the feet of Isaac, his son, he placed him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraam stretched out his hand to take the knife to slay his son, and the angel of the Lord called him from heaven and said to him, Abraam, Abraam! He said Look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou), (it is) I/(I am). And he said, Do not lay your hand upon the child and (do) not do anything to him for now I know that you fear God, and you have not spared your beloved son on account of me. And looking up (ἀναβλέψας – anablepsas), Abraam with his eyes (ὀφθαλμοῖς – ophthalmois) saw (εἶδεν eiden) and look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou) one ram being held in a bush of horns and Abraam went and took the ram and offered it as a whole offering instead of Isaac his son. And Abraam called the name of that place (the) Lord saw (εἶδεν eiden), so that they might say today, On the mountain (the) Lord was seen (ὤφθη – ōphthē)’” (Genesis 22: 7-14 LXX).[398]

This is the first use of the common prompter of attention look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou) in the Greek Torah. It is used in this context three times, and it is a Mosaic sign used within a Mosaic oracle. Using a cognate of this Mosaic sign in the Gospel, the authors call attention to the story of Abraham offering a sacrifice on the altar to please God: his own beloved son, Isaac. God provides an animal to sacrifice, look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou) a ram, instead of allowing Abraham to sacrifice his son.

Abraham says to his son, God will see to a sheep (πρόβατον – probaton) for a whole offering for Himself, child. That whole offering is described as a ram, a male sheep, held in a bush of horns. The NRSV translates Genesis 22: 13a as, And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. Is the metaphor stretched too far to suggest that this male sheep, whose head is caught in a bush of thorns, is a metaphor seen first by John the Baptist and later a metaphor that reminds the Gospel’s authors of the Lamb of God, the Shepherd who wears a crown of thorns and is the ultimate sacrifice provided by God?

As we know from studying John 1:30, Moses at the burning bush asks for God’s name, and God says, I am (the) One (who) exists (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν – egō eimi ho ōn), i.e. I am – I am or I am who I am.[399] In this Genesis passage about Abraham and Isaac, an angel of the Lord calls out, Abraham, Abraham! There is a translator’s note before the verse continues: This phrase, ὁ δὲ (ho de), signals a switch in subject from the previous sentence. So the angel of the Lord does not say, Look it is I (Ἰδοὺ ἐγώ – Idou egō); some One Else says, Look, I Am!. This differs from the NRSV translation, Abraham said, Here I am. I am is the One who says, Do not lay your hand upon the child and do not do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not spared your beloved son on account of Me. Indeed, I am offers the Son of God on account of all of us!

Consider all that happens after Isaac asks an appropriate question and his father gives him a metaphorical answer, while the two of them walk on together (πορευθέντες – poreuthentes).[400] God, Abraham, and Isaac are able to see a great deal on this brief excursion to a mountain top to offer a sacrifice. And looking up (ἀναβλέψας – anablepsas)[401] Abraam with his eyes (ὀφθαλμοῖς – ophthalmois) saw (εἶδεν – eiden) and look(Ἰδοὺ – Idou) a ramAnd Abraam called the name of that place (the) Lord saw (εἶδεν – eiden), so that they might say today, ‘On the mountain (the) Lord was seen (ὤφθη – ōphthē).’ So who saw who? Abraam, looking up, saw a ram in a thorn bush, so he named that place The Lord saw, meaning the Lord saw me/Abraam when I was about to sacrifice my son. Then Abraam saw God when God intervened, offering a ram in place of Isaac. At the center of all of this young Isaac saw it all.

This lesson in seeing continues in John 1:36, thanks to a Septuagint sign that leads us to another passage full of lessons on how to see. John looks at Jesus walking by (περιπατοῦντι – peripatounti). This is a cognate of the root word to walk about/to walk up and down (περιπατέω – peripateō). This reminds us of another cognate of this same root word: walking about (περιπατοῦντας – peripatountas) from a passage in the book of Daniel, making it a Septuagint sign.

King Nebuchadnezzar has ordered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be bound and thrown into a furnace for refusing to worship the king as a god. Though the furnace is lethally hot, they are not killed or burned, so the king says:

Look (Ἰδοὺ – Idou), I myself see (ἐγώ ὁρῶ – egō horō) four unbound men walking about (περιπατοῦντας – peripatountas) in the fire, and no harm has come to them, and the outward appearance/the seeing/ the act of sight (ὅρασις – horasis) of the fourth (man) (is) similar to a messenger/an angel/a holy being/(Aramaic: a son of the gods) (ἀγγέλου – angelou)” (Daniel 3:92 LXX = Daniel 3:25 NRSV). [402]

The source of the title that John the Baptist uses to identify Jesus Christ, The Son of God, appears to be this passage from the book of Daniel. What John the Baptist declares about Jesus is his variation of an Aramaic variation of a brief phrase: son of the gods, spoken in a foreign tongue, the awe-struck utterance of a new believer in the One God, the foreign king Nebuchadnezzar, whose forces have destroyed the first temple![403] This source is hidden in plain sight, but here it is.

John the Baptist’s witness is not only consistent with the metaphorical links to 17 oracles in the Septuagint, it also derives Christ’s elegant title from an obscure oracle. His I have seen declaration connects John’s witness to the on-going witness of the Septuagint. This title for Jesus is from God. For John the Baptist and the writers of the Gospel the Scripture of the Septuagint is the sacred word of God; it is holy writ. As an oracle: the person in both the Hebrew and the Greek/ Hellenistic cultures, John is a medium through whom The Divine One speaks. What John the Baptist says as an oracle: the message is drawn from other oracles and communicated in language that is intentionally vague and poetic, requiring us to read meaning into it to understand it fully.[404]

This practice of reading meaning into Scripture is called eisegesis. Eisegesis is contrary to exegesis, which requires that the reader draw meaning out of Scripture. To discern the meaning of a sign, oracle or parable, one must have the ability to discern meaning without relying only upon what is literally printed in the oracle, the sign or the parable. The meaning is there, but it is couched in metaphorical language.

Metaphorical language in the form of Mosaic and Septuagint signs and oracles and Johannine signs and parables is called poetic discourse because it is often presented in poetic language and uses plays on words. Understood by the ancient scholars of Scripture as a divinely given means of communicating, parabolic language, i.e., the spiritual language of metaphors as found in the Septuagint and in the Gospel According to John, conveys more meaning than most readers can see. Seeing this level of meaning requires either that one is given a gift to discern such meaning or that one is guided by those with such a gift to learn to see or learn to know such meaning.

So the person of the Christ is found in the Septuagint, but the identity of the Christ is not known until John announces it in Jn. 1:36. As he watches Jesus walking about, he exclaims, Look, here is the Lamb of God! Why does John cry out this witness? The word as he was walking by (περιπατοῦντι – peripatounti) reminds us of a Mosaic sign within a Mosaic oracle in the Greek Torah in Genesis 3:8. Once again we are drawn to a word in the Greek Torah that is a cognate of the word in the Gospel. This cognate appears to be directly relevant to the Gospel passage.

They (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking about (περιπατοῦντος – peripatountos) in the paradise in the evening, and both Adam and his wife hid from the face of the Lord God in the middle of the tree of the paradise” (Genesis 3:8 LXX).[405]

So, what catches the attention of Adam and Eve is the sound of the Lord walking about in the paradise in the evening. What is that sound? Our translator tells us that the Hebrew version of this phrase is wind of the day, translated as at the time of the evening breeze in the NRSV. John the Baptist uses or the Gospel’s authors use this cognate of walking about from the story of Adam and Eve to identify Jesus Christ as God. The meaning of the sound of the Lord God walking about in the paradise in the evening is the sound of the evening breeze.[406] When John the Baptist sees Jesus walking about, he identifies Jesus as the Son of God, because Jesus is walking about during the wind of the day.

The most significant thing that John says on this day is that Jesus is The Lamb of God. This title is a Johannine Sign. The word lamb (ἀμνὸς amnos) appears rarely in the Septuagint. Lamb is used to describe the Suffering Servant, who like Jesus so far in the Gospel, does not speak.

And He on account of having been afflicted opens not his mouth, like a sheep (which) has been led to slaughter and like a lamb (ἀμνὸς amnos) before the one who shears it (is) dumb, so He opens not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).[407]

Though in John 1:29 John says that Jesus is The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, a metaphor for atonement,[408] this time John simply calls Jesus The Lamb of God. This is a Mosaic oracle pointing to the Passover, which is first described in Exodus when God speaks to Moses.

Speak to the whole assembly of the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month let each one take a sheep according to the households of the fathers, each one a sheep per household. But if those in the household are only a few so that (they) are not sufficient for a (whole) sheep (then) he will gather along with himself his nearest neighbor according to the number of persons, each one a portion sufficient for him, let (it) be reasoned with respect to the sheep. An unblemished male sheep one year old will be for you. You will take it from the lambs (ἀρνῶν arnōn) and (from) the young (goat) kids (ἐρίφων eriphōn). And then it will be watched closely by you until the fourteenth of this month and (then) all the multitude of the congregations of the sons of Israel shall slay it towards evening” (Exodus 12:2-6 LXX).[409]

 

John 1: 37
 
NRSV The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. [410]
 
Greek καὶ ἤκουσαν οἱ δύο μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος καὶ ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ [411]
Lit. Trans and heard the two disciples him speaking and they followed _ Jesus. . [412]

 

The word heard (ἤκουσαν – ēkousan) appears 87 times in the Septuagint, mostly in the negative, as in did not hear, and none of those 87 verses serves as a Mosaic or Septuagint sign or oracle Jn. 1:37. Heard appears in the Gospel 6 times. Here in John 1:37 the authors of the Gospel tell us that two disciples of John heard what John said about The Lamb of God, and they followed Jesus. In each of the other five verses where this word appears in the Gospel[413] it is clear that people who should hear Jesus do not truly hear Him, or that they hear only what they want to hear. So John 1:37 defines this Johannine sign. If a disciple of Jesus testifies that he or she sees the Christ in Jesus, and declares that Jesus is the Son of God, then anyone who truly hears this witness follows Jesus as His disciple.

The word followed (ἠκολούθησαν – ēkolouthēsan) actually sounds like heard (ἤκουσαν – ēkousan). The linking of these two words appears to be intentional, i.e. each one implies the other. The model for following God is found both in the Greek Torah and in the Septuagint. Following after God and God’s laws[414] is a part of an oath made by Moses when 11 of the 12 spies he sends into the Promised Land bring back reports that frighten the people following Moses. Only one of them, Caleb, a leader of the tribe of Judah, calls the people to have faith in God and assists Joshua as a leader of the people. In return for this loyalty and devotion to God Moses makes an oath. Joshua keeps that oath 40 years later, giving the mountainous region of the Promised Land west of the Jordan River, Hebron, to Caleb and his descendants, who follow God. [415]

And the sons of Judah came to Joshua in Gilead and Calebsaid to him, Now my brothers (who) went up with me led away the heart of the people, but I continued to follow (the) Lord my God. And Moses made an oath on that day, saying, The land on which you step will be among/in (your) inheritance and (that of) your children into the age, because you continued to follow after (the) Lord your God. …And (so) Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb as (his) share. Because of this, Hebron became Calebs share until this day because of his following the command of (the) Lord God of Israel.” (Joshua 14:8-9, 13-14 LXX).[416]

The authors of the Gospel must overcome the resistance of other rabbis to the idea of people following God, since these other rabbis consider following God to be in conflict with the theology of God as a transcendent being.[417] Of course this is not a problem for the authors of the Gospel, who believe and are witnessing by writing the Gospel that Jesus is God and that those who truly hear this witness follow Him. So the writers of the Gospel redefine this unpopular phrase, following God, using it here in John 1:37 and in John 12:26[418] and defining its meaning in John 8:12:

Then Jesus spoke to them (the Pharisees) saying, I am the light of the world. The one who follows (ἀκολουθῶν – akolouthōn) me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).[419]

Jesus is The Light of the World and in Him is Life and the Life is the Light of all people. It is no accident that those who are released from bondage in Egypt are led by a pillar of fire by night and by a pillar of cloud by day.[420] They walk in the light by night and day. When Joshua and Caleb face the anger of the Israelites, that same cloud of light descends upon the Tabernacle and fills it with the glory/bright light of God, and Moses pleads with God to forgive the people.[421]

So hearing the word of God when Jesus speaks is part of seeing the Christ in Jesus. One becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ when one truly hears and truly sees Jesus Christ, because to hear and to see so closely, so intensely, so intentionally brings about an encounter with Jesus Christ, one that any person experiencing it will never forget. In the words of Jesus, this encounter brings the light of life into the life of the one who follows Him. Seeing and hearing the word of God when Jesus speaks is how we encounter the Christ in Jesus, this encounter changes us.

 

John 1: 38
 
NRSV When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
[422]
 
Greek στραφεὶς δὲ Ἰησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς κολουθοῦντας αὐτοῖς
Lit. Trans Turning around and _ Jesus and seeing them following (Him) to them
 
Greek λέγει τί ζητεῖτε οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ ῥαββί
Lit. Trans he said who/what seek you they and said to Him rabbi
 
Greek λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον διδάσκαλε ποῦ μένεις [423]
Lit. Trans which means (when) translated teacher where are you staying[424]
do you abide

 

The word turning (στραφεὶς – strapheis) is not used in this form in the Septuagint, but its cognates appear 37 times there.[425] One of those cognates, turn (στραφήσῃ straphēsē), is used when the prophet Samuel addresses Saul, whom he anoints King of Israel.

And (the) Spirit of (the) Lord will overcome you, and you will prophesy with them (a band of prophets) and turn (στραφήσῃ straphēsē) into (a) different man. And it will be when these signs will have come upon you, you must do all as much as if your hand would find (to do), because God (is) with you. And you will go down in front of Galgala and, look, I am going down to you to offer up (a) burnt sacrifice and a peace offering. Seven days you will wait until my coming to you, and I will show you what you will do. And it happened so as to be turning (ἐπιστραφῆναι – epistraphēnai) with his shoulder to depart from Samuel, God put /changed (μετέστρεψεν metestrepsen) in him another heart and all the signs came in that day” (1 Kingdoms 10:6–9 LXX = 1 Sam. 10:6-9 NRSV). [426]

This passage about the prophet Samuel and Saul, presents three different forms of the word to turn/to change (στρέφω – strephō). Samuel tells Saul that he will turn/ will be changed (στραφήσῃ straphēsē) into another/a different man and in turning (ἐπιστραφῆναι – epistraphēnai) to leave Samuel, God changed (μετέστρεψεν metestrepsen) Saul’s heart.

God can change more than one heart at a time. In its first use in the Septuagint, the cognate have turned (ἔστρεψας – estrepsas) is used in the well-known story of Elijah in his challenge to the priests of Baal, who pray and perform their rituals all day to get their false god, Baal, to provide the fire for their burnt offering. They fail; it’s Elijah’s turn to pray.

“‘Answer me, O Lord! Answer me with fire! May this people know that you are Lord God and you have turned (ἔστρεψας – estrepsas) the heart of this people back.’ Fire fell from the Lord from heaven. It consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the water that was in the trench, and the stones, and the fire licked up the liquid. All the people fell on their face and said, Truly the Lord is God! He (is) God!’” (3 Kgdms 18: 37-39 LXX = 1Kings 18:37 – 39 NRSV) [427]

When Jesus turns and sees the two disciples who hear John identify Jesus as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the Lamb of God, more is happening than is apparent to most readers. We first encounter the word have seen (ἐθεασάμεθα – etheasametha) in John 1:14 when the authors of the Gospel testify that they have seen (ἐθεασάμεθα – etheasametha) the glory of Jesus Christ. In John 1:32 John testifies that he has seen (τεθέαμαι – tetheamai) the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus and remaining upon/ abiding in Him. Here in John 1:38 we find a cognate of the same root word to perceive (θεάομαι – theaomai).[428] Seeing (θεασάμενος – theasamenos) tells us more than that Jesus is casually noticing these two persons in what we might consider to be the normal way of seeing. Seeing in this sense means that He is looking intently at them; He perceives them. He is encountering them and they are encountering Him,[429] and in that encounter with the Christ, they are changed.

A theological problem and it’s solution is articulated in John 1:18. The Gospel authors state, no one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known. In this verse, John 1:38, with the addition of the deep meanings of turning and seeing, we have an illustration and elaboration of that theological assertion. Seeing and being seen by Jesus Christ [430] brings about a turning in one’s heart, a change in the person, a transformation, a conversion in the one or ones who see Jesus Christ and in the one or ones who are seen by Jesus Christ. This is the nature of the encounter; it is a transformational encounter; it is a spiritual experience. In other words it is a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is turning and seeing two disciples following Him. These are former disciples of John the Baptist. Now they are following Jesus Christ, meaning that they are disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus addresses them in the customary manner of a rabbi, a teacher, when speaking to his disciples. He asks them a question poorly translated in the NRSV, What are you looking for (τί ζητεῖτε – ti zēteite)? This translation is an incorrect American English sentence, i.e., ending with a dangling preposition, and it does not fit well in each of the Gospel contexts where it is used. Our translation source, The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament translates this verse, What do you seek? The Greek word (τί – ti) can be translated what or who,[431] and Who do you seek? is the better translation.

The word you seek (ζητεῖτε – zēteite) appears 5 times in the Septuagint.[432] In all but the last one of these passages, it is found in a context where seekers are denied what they seek. The fifth passage, however, is one with which we are already familiar, and it offers hope to seekers:

Behold I send my messenger, and he will observe (the) way before my face, and immediately (the) Lord whom you seek (ζητεῖτε – zēteite) will come into his own temple, and the messenger (the one) of the covenant whom you desire, behold He comes, says (the) Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:1 LXX).

This passage tells us what John the Baptist means to make straight the way of the Lord.[433] Now we have a new perspective on the meaning of the same passage. The prophecy in Malachi 3:1 tells us, immediately the Lord whom you seek will come into His own Temple. This infers that when seekers seek the Lord, the Lord will immediately come into His own Temple. Jesus Christ is in His own temple when anyone seeks Him, as we’ll see more clearly when we get to the context of John 2:21. By asking the two disciples of John Who do you seek? Jesus is providing a hint that Malachi’s prophesy is being fulfilled and giving the two new disciples an opportunity to make their first witness and enter into His own temple with Him and in Him by abiding with/in Him.

The word you seek is clearly a Septuagint sign. It is well used in the Gospel, where it appears a total of 10 times,[434] including two repetitions of exactly the same question, Who do you seek? In Jn. 18:4 Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him came forward and asked them, Who do you seek? In Jn. 18:7 Again He asked them, ‘Who do you seek? and they said, Jesus of Nazareth.[435] This three-fold repetition of the same question emphasizes its importance in the Gospel. Guided by Malachi’s prophesy, we now know the answer to this question. We may speak it to ourselves, confess it to God, testify about it to others, or we may simply realize it in our hearts and souls and then reveal it to God and to others by our subsequent prayers and actions. The disciple’s answer to Jesus’ question is and should always be, We seek the Lord.

We have no way of knowing whether these two disciples speak in unison or one of them replies on behalf of both to the question posed by Jesus, addressing Jesus as Rabbi. The Gospel’s narrator tells us that when this word is translated it means teacher. If the Gospel is originally written as a text book for Jewish Christian rabbinical students, is it not odd that the title Rabbi would have to be translated? In this context that explanation is intended to guide us readers to an under-standing, not only of how we see Jesus, but how we see ourselves. Jesus is our Rabbi, our Teacher; we are His disciples.

The words disciple (μαθητής – mathētēs) and its plural disciples (μαθητῶν – mathētōn) do not appear in the Septuagint, in spite of the fact that some scholars have considered whether Joshua could be a disciple of Moses, or Elisha could be a disciple of Elijah, or Baruch could be a disciple of Jeremiah. These are servants, not disciples. Where they succeed their masters, they are called by God, not ordained by their master, to the roles previously held by their masters. [436]

In singular form Disciple (μαθητής – mathētēs) appears 18 times in the Gospel; in plural form disciples (μαθητῶν – mathētōn) appears there 11 times.[437] The concept of disciple is originally Greek, not Hebrew. It means more than pupil, though intellectual learning from the lessons provided by a teacher (διδάσκαλος – didaskalos) is a part of its meaning. It also has to do with a fellowship defined by the teacher who establishes a tradition, i.e., keeping the ideas and lessons of the teacher alive even after the teacher’s death. The tradition established by a teacher is freely developed in the Greek culture by the teacher’s disciples. This may be the foundation of the Greek philosophical schools. [438]

In the Hebrew culture as we find it in the Septuagint, where the Greek words disciple and disciples do not appear, all of the Children of Israel are subject to learning, studying, listening, seeking the meaning of Scripture, but what they learn is not the lessons of a teacher, but the will of God. The source of this learning is the Hebrew or Greek Torah, including the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, where the will of God is revealed in the laws of God as revealed to Moses and the will of God in specific situations is revealed by the prophets and the holy writings. Neither Moses nor the prophets seek to gather disciples around themselves or to establish a tradition based upon their teaching. The focus is always upon God and God’s will. Those through whom God reveals God’s self and God’s will are simply human instruments used by God for such revelations. God is the Teacher. The Scriptures are the lessons. The Rabbi is an advanced learner, who has the ability to clarify the meaning of Scripture by expounding upon the meaning of a particular passage or by quoting Scripture to answer a question about Scripture posed by a Hebrew learner who seeks to learn to know more about that Scripture.[439]

We can learn about great Hebrew teachers like Hillel, Shammai, Gamaliel, Akiba and others. Some of the interpretations of Scripture and principles for studying the Torah of the great teachers are written down, though the authors of such written interpretations are not always credited for what they say, write or teach. Hillel is credited with saying, He who does not learn is worthy of death.[440]

“Israel is the people of God because it is the people of the Torah. Not to study the Torah is to despise God and disrupt His work of election, and this makes (such a person) worthy of death. …There is no learner without a teacher… He who has no teacher is no learner, no matter how diligently he studies. …Only entry into the fellowship gathered around a teacher and subjection to the authority of the teacher constitutes the learner. …The learner owes his teacher the same services as does the slave his master apart from certain particularly menial tasks like untying shoes. …Learning takes place by listening to what the rabbi says, and appropriating what is heard. The two great schools of Hillel…and Shammai…are well known. Their debates dominate many parts of the older tradition… On the whole the former prevailed, largely on the basis of the methodological rules enunciated by Hillel and adopted and further developed by his pupils. … Yet within the great schools the individual rabbi can also have his special school.”[441]

There is no way of knowing whether the Johannine school is a part of the school of Hillel or of any of the other great Hebrew teachers, but the possibility exists that such a school, founded by Hebrew and/or non-Hebrew disciples of Jesus exists. Given the necessity of secrecy regarding its objective, maintaining the tradition established by Jesus Christ, and its didactic/teaching method: using the language of the Greek Bible as a Midrash source to write the school’s textbook, The Gospel According to John, it seems likely the Johannine school is such a special school.

The first two disciples of Jesus call Him Teacher (ῥαββί – rabbi).[442] This acknowledges the fact that He is their teacher and they are His disciples. This title for Jesus is used only until the critical moments in the narrative, just before the passion story begins, that is after John 11:8 and before John 13:13. After those critical moments the disciples call Jesus Lord.[443] We shall, of course, consider these critical moments in detail later in A Day with Jesus.

The disciples answer the question posed by Jesus with a question of their own, as is appropriate for a disciple addressing his teacher. In the NRSV and in the Lexham Greek -English Interlinear New Testament the question is translated, Where are you staying?

The word translated staying (μένεις – meneis) is a cognate of the root word to remain/to stay/to abide (μένω – menō).[444] It is used in John 1:32 where John the Baptist is seeing Jesus Christ upon whom/in whom the Holy Spirit is descending and remaining upon/abiding in Him. The better translation is abiding in Him. That alternative translation is preferred here: Rabbi, where do you abide?

The Greek word abide (μένεις – meneis) appears twice in the Septuagint. In the first of these two passages the prophet Elisha calls one of the sons of the prophets and instructs him.

Take the bottle of olive oil (given to him by Elisha) and pour (it’s contents) on his (Jehu’s) head and say, This is what the Lord says, I have anointed you as king over Israel. (Then) you shall open the door and run. Do not wait around/ abide (μένεις – meneis)” (4 Kingdoms 9:3 = 2 Kings 9:3 NRSV).[445]

This son of the prophets travels to Ramoth Giliad and calls Jehu out of a conference with other military commanders. He does as Elisha tells him, but after saying what Elisha tells him to say, he elaborates extensively, before running from the place as instructed. In this verse the word wait around/abide (μένεις – meneis) has a negative connotation, Do not abide.

The second passage is a Psalm where remain/ abide (μένεις – meneis) is significantly more positive, conveying a sense of trustworthiness, dependability, inferring that remembrance of the Lord also remains/abides from generation to generation.

But You O Lord, remain/abide (μένεις – meneis) and Your remembrance (remains/abides) from generation to generation” (Psalm 101:13 LXX).[446]

Remain/stay/abide (μένεις – meneis) as found in this Psalm qualifies well as a Septuagint sign. Though the Psalm itself does not repeat the key word, the sense of the psalm does. This word appears only once in the Gospel in John 1:38 and nowhere else in the New Testament. As a consequence of its relevance to John 1:38, abide is a Septuagint sign.

This is not a casual reference to where Jesus might be staying as in staying the night or as in the American English vernacular, where Jesus might be hanging out. Both of such uses would be entirely inappropriate in a question posed by a disciple to his or their Rabbi. Instead, in this verse this word conveys a theologically deep question about where the Lord God abides.

Imagine being in a position to ask such a question. You know that you are addressing The Son of God. He wants to know who you are seeking. The answer to His question must be in the form of a question, and that question must be sincere and it must be respectful. The answering question these two disciples give Jesus is, Rabbi, where do you abide? We shall discover the answer to this important question over and over again in this Gospel. Where does Christ abide? The answer should be found in the hearts and minds of those who encounter Jesus Christ in the flesh and in the hearts and minds of those who encounter Jesus Christ by faith. We know that His temple is not in Jerusalem, at least not in the Herodian temple there. It couldn’t be, since the Herodian temple ceases to exist in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., yet He abides in His temple from generation to generation. Could His temple be in His body? That does appear to be where He is abiding when these two disciples encounter Him, but the answer must be more profound than Jesus Christ abides in His body, even if we qualify this answer/question with a pre-crucifixion or post-crucifixion modifier. The answer to this question, which Jesus Christ does not provide directly to these two disciples in this verse, is more elegant. Each of us as disciples of Jesus Christ comes to a realization couched in a personal witness: Christ abides in me.

What we are given in this verse is a gift to those who seek the Lord. These two disciples are not initially called by Jesus Christ. In fact, come to think of it, neither is their former rabbi/teacher, John the Baptist. He is sent by God.[447] Being sent by God makes John an apostle of The Son of God, an apostle who says, The One who comes after me is ahead of me because He exists before me, and we might now add, and He sends me as a witness to testify about the Light, so that all might believe (in Him) as a consequence of my witness. These two disciples are not sent by God or sent by John the Baptist. They choose to follow Jesus. They are not initially called by Jesus, as are most of the other disciples identified in the Gospel, whether called directly by Jesus Himself, or by one or more of His other disciples. These first two disciples come seeking the Lord, and with John the Baptist’s help, they encounter the Lord, the Son of God in Jesus Christ. They are changed by this encounter; their hearts are changed; they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. They ask, Where do you abide, a question to which, by the time they frame it in their minds, before even asking it, they know the answer.

 

John 1: 39
 
NRSV He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day.
It was about four o’clock in the afternoon
.[448]
 
Greek λέγει αὐτοῖς ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει
Lit. Trans he said to them come and you will see they came so and saw where he was staying
he was abiding
he was remaining
 
Greek καὶ παρʼ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη [423]
Lit. Trans and with him they stayed
they abided
they remained
__ day that hour (it) was about (the) tenth.[424]

 

The word come (ἔρχεσθε – erchesthe) is used 3 times in the Septuagint,[451] but not one of those 3 passages seems to function as a Septuagint sign for its use here in the Gospel. The word is used only this once in the Gospel and only in one other place in the entire New Testament.[452] I can imagine one of the teachers of the Johannine school saying to a student who has discovered this, Consider the possibility that sometimes a word means just what it appears to mean. Not all of the words in the Gospel are oracles and signs! [453] Nonetheless, we shall return to this word.

The same conclusion may well be appropriate for a second word that seems to be an oracle or a sign, you will see (ὄψεσθε – opsesthe) which appears 16 times in the canonized Scriptures of the Septuagint.[454] All but one of these verses do not function as a Septuagint sign. The one exception must be read in full context. We have read it before: Malachi 3: 17-21:

And they (the ones fearing the Lord and reverencing His Name) will be for me (will be mine), says (the) Lord Almighty, upon (the) day which I will make (them) into a possession, and I will choose them (in) what manner a person chooses his son, the one serving him. And you will turn (ἐπιστραφήσεσθε – epistraphēsesthe) and you will see (ὄψεσθε – opsesthe) up in the middle (of)/(in the midst of) (the) just and up in the middle (of)/ (in the midst of) (the) wicked and up in the middle (of)/(in the midst of) (the) one serving God and the one not serving, Because behold (the) day of the Lord comes burning as a furnace and (it) will consume them. And all foreigners and all (the ones who) do evil will become like straw and (on) the day one coming will burn them up, says the Lord Almighty. Not/nothing will be left of them, (not) a root nor a branch. And (the) sun of Righteousness will rise for you, the ones fearing my name, and (there will be) healing in its/his wings and you will come (ἐξελεύσεσθε exeleusesthe) and you will leap as little calves from the band spreading forth. And you will trample evil because it will be (as) ashes under your feet on the day which I will make says (the) Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:17-21 LXX).[455]

This passage from Malachi is rich with metaphors, and all of them relate to the Gospel. I suggest making a few changes in the translation, so we can see the relevance to the Gospel more easily. My source for them, i.e. the ones fearing the Lord and reverencing his name, is Malachi 3:16 LXX. Most of this passage is about them, which is later changed to you, except when them in one place relates to the wicked one(s) not serving God.

I suggest changing the word order and capitalization of the translation offered by the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, to clarify the message of this passage, so that I will choose them (in) what manner a person chooses his son, the one serving him is translated I will choose them (in) what manner His Son chooses a person serving Him.

The relevance of this passage to John 1:39 comes from the use of the future tense of the verbs describing what God and the ones fearing the Lord and reverencing His name, i.e., disciples will do on The Day that the Lord is making. Each time verbs in the future tense appear in this passage, a prophecy is being made regarding what these ones fearing the Lord and reverencing His name will do. John 1:39 is the beginning of the fulfillment of those prophecies, as Jesus speaks the word come (ἔρχεσθε – erchesthe) in the present tense. Here is a re-presentation of Malachi 3: 17-21 with the changes I have suggested and with the prophecies underlined:

And the ones fearing the Lord and reverencing His name will be mine, says the Lord Almighty, upon The Day which I will make them into a possession. And I will choose them in the manner in which His Son chooses a person serving Him. And you will turn and you will see in the midst of the One serving God and the midst of one not serving (God). Because, behold! The Day of the Lord comes as a burning furnace, and it will consume them. And all foreigners and all the ones who do evil will become like straw on The Day One Coming will burn them up, says The Lord Almighty. Nothing will be left of them, not a root, nor a branch. And The Sun of Righteousness will rise for you, the ones fearing My Name, and there will be healing in His wings, and you will come and you will leap as little calves from the band spreading forth. And you will trample evil, because it will be as ashes under your feet on The Day which I will make, says The Lord Almighty.

When Jesus, the Son of God, chooses to call to discipleship two persons seeking Him by issuing a simple command, Come, God chooses those same two persons, former disciples of John, as ones fearing the Lord and reverencing His name, that is as God’s own possession, God’s people, God’s own. When the Son of God chooses/calls a disciple, God chooses that disciple.

The three-fold repetition of the phrase up in the middle of is an indicator that a Septuagint sign is to be found within the full context of this passage. By substituting a single phrase, in the midst of for these repetitive phrases, we can clearly see two Septuagint signs in the passage. We have already found and defined the meaning of each of these two words, you will turn and you will see. You will turn is a Septuagint sign meaning, your heart will change, as a consequence of an encounter with God/ Jesus Christ. This is another way to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The phrase, you will see means you will perceive. As a disciple of Jesus, you will be able to perceive and to discern between those who truly serve God and those who do not truly serve God.

Changing the word order of (the) day of the Lord comes burning as a furnace and it will consume them to The Day of the Lord comes as a burning furnace and it will consume them helps us readers make a connection between this verse and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, which we identify as a Septuagint sign.[456] It implies a test, for disciples of Jesus Christ must face the threat of death and still maintain their covenant with God, and worship only God, not any false gods, even when the followers of false gods threaten to cast you into the furnace. Those who do not maintain this covenant with God will perish in the burning furnace.

The passage from Malachi links foreigners (ἀλλογενεῖς – allogeneis) with all the ones who do evil as candidates for being burned up in the burning furnace. The Septuagint uses this word and its cognates frequently.[457] The Septuagint passage that explains most clearly why foreigners are linked with evil doers is in the prophecies of Ezekiel. The prophet speaks the word of God:

You lead/introduce alien/foreign/strange sons (υἱοὺς ἀλλογενεῖς – huious allogeneis) (who are) uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh to be in my sanctuary. And they are profaning it [Heb: My house] when you offer bread [Heb: My bread], fat and blood, and you transgress my covenant in all your transgressions” (Ezekiel 44:7 LXX).[458]

Apparently it is not only those foreigners who force their way into the sacred precincts of the Temple, but those who are leading or introducing them to God’s house, specifically those Levites who are charged with maintaining the covenant between God and Israel as an exclusive relationship. Foreigners who do not fear the Lord and reverence His name and thus do not understand or appreciate what is happening in the Temple, are treading on forbidden territory, standing on holy ground and not taking off their sandals! Ezekiel announces that the product of the ritual sacrifices offered within the sanctuary, i.e., the bread, fat and blood – portions that are exclusively God’s, are offered to foreigners, these strangers profane/defile God’s holy house and covenant. Their presence in the Temple is an abomination to God punishable by death. Later in A Day with Jesus we will see how Jesus deals with foreigners.

There are three more signs in the Malachi passage relating to the burning furnace.

And all foreigners and all the ones who do evil will become like straw (καλάμη – kalamē) and on the day one coming will burn them up, says the Lord Almighty. Nothing will be left of them, not a root (ῥίζα rhiza) or a branch (κλῆμα klēma)” (Malachi 3:19)..[459]

One sign, straw (καλάμη – kalamē), is defined among the prophecies of Zechariah.

In that day I will set the captains of Judah as a firebrand of fire in firewood and as torches of fire in straw (καλάμη – kalamē), and they will devour from the right and from the left all the people from all around, and Jerusalem will settle yet itself down” (Zechariah 12:6).[460]

Straw is a sign of what will ignite a cleansing and devouring fire that will purify the nation of Israel and settle Jerusalem down, relieving Jerusalem from internal conflict due to the influence of foreign cultures of people who worship false gods, according to the prophet Zechariah.

A second metaphor, a Mosaic sign, root (ῥίζα rhiza), is defined in Deuteronomy.

Is there not anyone in/with you, man or woman or family or tribe, whose mind has turned from the Lord your God to go to serve the gods of those nations? Is there not anyone in/with you (who is) a root (ῥίζα rhiza) producing / bringing forth in/_ gall and bitterness?” (Deuteronomy 29:17). [461]

This passage, too, recognizes the influence of foreign cultures and their false gods as a defiling influence upon the Children of Israel. This influence is symbolized as the stubborn root of a weed, which brings forth gall (foul stench) and bitterness (disgusting taste).

The third sign in this passage is a branch (κλῆμα klēma). Notice the word play due to the similar sounding words, branch (κλῆμα klēma) and straw (καλάμη – kalamē). Branch is a Mosaic oracle defined in Numbers, and used otherwise only in Malachi 3:19.

And then they came to a gorge producing clusters of grapes, and (they) inspected it, and also cut off while there a branch (κλῆμα klēma) and a cluster of grapes (with) one attached to it” (Numbers 13:23 LXX).[462]

The branch with a cluster of grapes is a classic symbol of the Promised Land. It is produced by the spies Joshua sends to scout out the land of Canaan and its people. It is taken back as part of those spies’ report to Joshua and to those waiting for it on the other side of the Jordan. It is a symbol of the fruitfulness of the Promised Land. Burning this branch virtually means God is destroying the fruitfulness of the Promised Land in a righteous rage over the worship of false gods by the children of Israel, who are in a covenant to worship only the One True God.

Another Septuagint sign in this passage from Malachi is more visible simply by capitalizing the phrase sun of righteousness (ἥλιος δικαιοσύνης – hēlios dikaiosynēs), so it appears to be a title: Sun of Righteousness. I have done this as a consequence of our earlier study of the name Elijah the Tishbite.[463] This title could be making reference to Elijah, but I suspect that the authors of the Gospel believe this is a prophetic title given to the One who is not yet identified when Malachi is written, but who is identified when the Gospel is written. It is consistent with another title from the Gospel, The Light of the World, Jesus Christ. Notice in Malachi the ones fearing God’s name will find healing in its / His wings.[464]

The word come (ἔρχεσθε – erchesthe) is a cognate of to come (ἔρχομαι – erchomai), and it is a Johannine sign used by Jesus in the context of John 1:39 and His parable in Luke 14:17. It is both a command and an invitation by Jesus, calling seekers to be His disciples.

The word You will come out (ἐξελεύσεσθε – exeleusesthe) is a compound of the root word to come (ἔρχομαι – erchomai). The prefix out (ἐξ – ex) is added to the root word to come (ἔρχομαι – erchomai) to make to come out (ἐξέρχομαι exerchomai). The word You will come out (ἐξελεύσεσθε – exeleusesthe) is a cognate of another word with the same meaning, to come out (ἐξέρχομαι exerchomai). Found in Malachi 3:20, it is defined and used in both in the negative and in the affirmative sense:

And take a bundle of hyssop and, when you have immersed (it) from/in the blood that (is) beside the door, daub the lintel and (put) (some of) the blood that is beside the door upon both of the doorposts. And then you yourselves will not go out (οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθε – ouk exeleusesthe) (through) the door of his house until morning” (Ex. 12:22 LXX).[465]

Then from the entrance of the Tent of Testimony (you) will not go out (οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθε – ouk exeleusesthe) (for) seven days, until (the) time (of the) Day of Fulfillment is fulfilled for seven days will (be needed to) complete your ordination” (Leviticus 8:33 LXX).[466]

And from the entrance of the Tent of Testimony (you) will not go out (οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθε – ouk exeleusesthe), so that you will not die, for indeed the oil of anointing which (is) from the Lord (is) upon you; and (so) they did according to the instruction of Moses” (Leviticus 10:7 LXX).[467]

The Lord will reveal his holy arm before all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation which is from God. Depart, depart, come out (ἐξελεύσεσθε – exeleusesthe) from there and do not touch an unclean thing, you will come out from her (Jerusalem’s) midst; be separate (you) who carry the vessels of the Lord, because you will not come out (οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθε – ouk exeleusesthe) with disorder nor will you go in flight, for the Lord, even the One who gathers you, the Lord God of Israel, shall go before you” (Isaiah 52: 10-12).[468]

For you will go out (ἐξελεύσεσθε – exeleusesthe) with joy and with delight you will be taught, for the mountains and the hills will leap (ἐξαλοῦνται – exalountai) (and) they will welcome/accept you with delight, and all the trees of the field will clap (their) branches (κλάδοις – kladois)” (Isaiah 55:12 LXX).[469]

The Midrash rule is that a word must be used in any commentary in the exact same form as it is found in the Torah, so the above three passages from the Greek Torah cannot be classified as Mosaic oracles, even if they are in the positive, not the negative sense. A compound of this word is used as a Mosaic oracle in the Isaiah passages. The Midrash rule is that a Septuagint sign may be a cognate of the same root word, but we have not previously seen a Septuagint sign that is a compound of the same root word. So why are we including these five passages in this commentary?

Let us return to our consideration of John 1: 39 when Jesus says, Come to those seeking Him. He is using the positive sense of a word that is related to one that is consistently used in the negative in the Torah when God through Moses commands those who are being protected from death not to come out from their houses during the first Passover, not to come out from the Tent of Witness until the required seven days have passed to complete their ordination, and not to come out at all from the temple when the sacred anointing oil is upon them.

Jesus is commands/invites two disciples to come. They know that He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the sacrifice for Atonement, and the Lamb of God, the sacrifice for the Passover. He is commanding them to come with Him, to come into His Temple, to abide in Him as He abides in them. Jesus, the Lamb, is destined to die as a sacrifice, but these disciples, and all disciples who follow Him will not die forever when they follow Him/walk with Him/ walk in the Light with Him in the world.

The Isaiah passages use the same word as is found in the Greek Torah, come out (ἐξελεύσεσθε – exeleusesthe) but it is used in the positive, rather than in the negative sense. This word, however, still means come out. As those who carry the vessels of the Lord separate themselves and come out of Jerusalem, come out of the temple, Jesus calls them to come into discipleship, to come into Him/ to abide in Him. If they have the courage to respond to His call, then all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation which is from God, and the Lord, even the One who gathers you, the Lord God of Israel, shall go before you.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gathers and goes before His sheep/His disciples/His own. He calls to us, come and we follow Him. We will comewith joy in our hearts, and with delight we will be taught as His disciples.

In Isaiah 55:12 we find the phrase, the mountains and the hills will leap (ἐξαλοῦνται – exalountai). In Malachi 3:20 we find a similar phrase, you will leap/bound/skip (σκιρτήσετε – skirtēsete) as little calves from the band spreading forth. What is meant by this image? Both passages are using an anthropomorphic simile. Mountains and hills and little calves are used to describe a human emotion: joy. While the mountains and the hills might bring joy to those of us who love to be out in them, we can hardly imagine the mountains and the hills leaping. On the other hand calves can and do leap, expressing what we might call joy. One tends to read as little calves from the band in this verse to mean as little calves from the herd, but that is not what is meant. The word translated as band, (δεδεμένους – dedemenous) means bound, but not bound as in jumping and leaping. It means bound as in put in chains. The calf leaps when released from bondage. In both of these Septuagint passages, joy is the attendant emotion when the Lord leads God’s people out of bondage.[470]

The Lord God leads the nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, but that is not the only time and circumstance when liberty comes as a consequence of faithful people following God.

I, the Lord God, have called you in righteousness and I will hold fast (onto) your hand, and I will strengthen you, and I will give you a covenant of the nation for a light of the gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to lead out from (their) chains (δεσμῶν desmōn) those who are bound (δεδεμένους – dedemenous) and from (their) house of guarding those in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7 LXX).[471]

This prophecy extends God’s saving grace from the covenant with Israel to the gentiles in the form of a light to the gentiles, so that this light may open the eyes of the blind and lead out from the house of bondage those who are guarding those who abide there in darkness.

Finally, the message in Malachi 3:21 relates best to John 19:25b-27 and its Mosaic oracle. This message is relevant to John 1:39 because it hints at the role of those who choose, seek, or are called to become disciples of Jesus Christ. This part of Malachi’s message has to do with feet trampling out evil. We will study this when we consider John 19:25b-27.

From this one passage in Malachi, abundantly packed with Mosaic and Septuagint signs, we can understand more of what John 1:39 tells us about those who respond to the command/ invitation of Jesus to come and see. It leads us to the conclusion that when Jesus calls His first two disciples, The Day of the Lord begins. Given that we know about the importance of translating cognates of to remain/to stay/to abide (μένω – menō), the words He was staying (μένει – menei) and they stayed (ἔμειναν – emeinan) should be translated using abide rather than stay. Guided by the signs and oracles from Isaiah, I am convinced that we should translate this verse in the present tense:

He says to them, Come and see. They come and see where He abides, and they abide with Him that Day. It is about the tenth hour.

The fact that John 1:39 tells us that it is about the tenth hour does not mean that the authors of the Gospel are concerned about the chronological time of day on this or any other day when the hour of the day is mentioned in the Gospel. The tenth hour of the day is approximately 4 o’clock in the late afternoon, just before evening. This is hour one of the Day of the Lord.

And God named the light day and the darkness He named night. And there was evening and there was morning, day one” (Genesis 1:5 LXX).[472]

Time begins after God creates light. The ancient Hebrews believe that the passage of time begins in the evening. They start counting the hours of the day when a single strand of hair held at arm’s length between the thumb and forefinger of both hands can no longer be seen in the twilight following sunset. There are 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light in each day. There is darkness until morning, when the light of the new day begins.

We are approaching the end of Hour One of our commentary about the Day of the Lord. As His disciples, we will encounter Him and bear witness to The Light: Jesus Christ. Later in the Gospel we will study a passage where Jesus acknowledges the beginning of His Day during a verbal confrontation with “the Jews.”

Abraham your father rejoiced that he would see my day and he saw (it) and was glad.”[473]

He is making reference to a passage in the Greek Torah which is full of familiar Mosaic oracles and Septuagint signs:

When the sun was becoming/was born toward/near the west/sunset, there was/was born a flame/ light and look, a smoking oven/furnace and torches of fire that went through up in the middle of their divided parts. On that day (the) Lord established a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘I will give your offspring this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:17 LXX).[474]

This is an extraordinary passage. It provides the birth story of the Light/Jesus Christ that is otherwise absent from this Gospel. The phrase Look, a smoking furnace and torches of fire that went through up in the middle of their divided parts is an enigma without the oracles and signs we already know. Look, a smoking oven/furnace points us to the story in Daniel when in Nebuchadnezzar’s words a fourth figure, one with the appearance of an angel/ a son of the gods could be seen in the midst of the blazing furnace, protecting the three faithful men from the heat and the flames by causing a whirlwind up in the middle of the flames, dividing the fire from the men, who are standing in the calm center of the whirlwind. No wonder going up in the middle is repeated 3 times in the Malachi passage!

Genesis 15:17 is a metaphorical description of the birth of the sun and of The Son of God. The divided parts are God The Light, separating The Light from the darkness, i.e. day from night. This is consistent with the creation story.

And God saw the light that (it was) good. And God made a separation in/a going up (in) the midst of the light and in/a going up (in) the midst of the darkness” (Genesis 1:4 LXX).

According to Gn. 15:17 the covenant with Abram/Abraham, including the boundaries of the Promised Land, was made at the time of the birth of the sun, the birth of The Light, long before Abram was born. God has an eternal plan! We’ve only begun to see it.

We have seen how The Day of the Lord, along with The Son of God Himself is born according to the signs and oracles from the Septuagint that are related to the verses in this Gospel. I believe that the authors of the Gospel intend for their readers to understand that there is much to see and to know about this Day. These authors choose to divide their witness about the Day of the Lord using a sign: hour (ὥρα – hōra) as a reminder to pause and reflect upon the meaning, not only of the surface text of the Gospel, but of the deep meaning made visible and comprehensible through signs and oracles, the language of metaphors, found within the Greek text of the Gospel and defined in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Not until we discover and understand the deep meaning behind these metaphors do the authors of the Gospel expect that we can proceed to read and study what follows, the content of the next hour.

John 1:39 is the first verse when the word hour (ὥρα – hōra) appears, so this is the final verse in what I am calling Hour One of a 24 hour Day with Jesus, the Day of the Lord. This does not mean that everything that happens in the Gospel occurs in one chronological day. It means that everything that occurs in the Gospel occurs in one cosmic, symbolic Day of the Lord, which is divided into 24 parts that the authors of this extraordinary Gospel call hours.

There are two more signs to note. (1) We will extend A Day with Jesus to include material that is not found within the scope of the 24 hour markers. This part of the Gospel is considered to be what happens after the Day with Jesus, after the Day of the Lord. (2) Jesus knows when His Day among His initial disciples ends. He calls it His hour, and the day in which that hour comes He calls the day of my burial.[475] We are ready to learn more about the disciples who walk and talk with Jesus during His Day. In learning what they learn, we too shall walk with Him.


End Notes: Hour One

181 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn 1:19)

182 The Greek New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:19)

183 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:19)

184 See the prologue, specifically my commentary on John 1: 7, 8, 15 and 17.

185 See Ex. 40: 12-15

186 See Ex. 28: 40-43; Lev. 21:1; For duties of the Priests see Nu. 4:5-16; of the Levites see Nu. 3:5-13; Dt. 18: 1-8; for Kohathites see Nu. 4:17-20; for Gershonites see Nu. 4:21-28; for Merarites see Nu. 4:29-33. Koath, Gershon and Merari were sons of Aaron. See Merlin D. Rehm, “Levites and Priests,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. vol. 4 (297-310).

187 See Ex. 19:22, 24; Lev. 1: 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12; 2:2; 3: 5, 8, 13; Nu. 3:3; 10:8; 18: 1-7; Dt. 17:9; 21:5; 24:8, 27:9.

188 See Thomas W. Butler, Let Her Keep It, Op. cit., (68-74) for a detailed explanation of the semeiotic function of animal sacrifice by priests as a means of repairing separation between God and God’s people. Hereafter ref. as Let Her Keep It.

189 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Op.cit.

190 Since Aaron and his sons are ordained by Moses (Lev. 8:1ff, Ex. 29), Moses is their higher authority. He functions as the first High Priest, though without that title, when he ordains Aaron as High Priest and Aaron’s sons as Chief Priests.

191 “The Mishnaic and Talmudic vision of a community founded on Biblical law, understood through the oral Torah, guided by learned scholars and judges, and made holy by fidelity to God and obedience to the sages, only became apparent and accepted after the temple was destroyed and the priesthood failed to retain leadership of the Jewish community. While the temple stood, the traditional priestly and aristocratic leaders met in council to rule, guide, supervise, and judge the Jewish community in its internal and external social relations.” For more on this see Anthony J. Saldarini, “SanhedronThe Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit., vol. V (975-980).

192 See Esdras A 1:19; 2:14, 17 (found only in the LXX); Esdras B 4:12; 13:34; 14:16; 15:17; 16:6 (= Ezra 4:12; Nehemiah 4:1, 2, 12; 5:1, 8 NRSV). οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι (oi Ioudaioi) is a plural form of a nominative adjective meaning “the Judeans”/ “the Jews.” See also Esdras B 12:16; 13:33 where τοῖς Ιουδαίοις (tois Ioudaiois), the plural form of a dative noun means “Judeans,” and Esdras B 6:7, 8 where τῶν Ιουδαίων (tōn Ioudaiōn), a plural genitive noun, means “the Judeans.” See also: Ezra 6:7, 8; Nehemiah 2:16; 6:1-14 NRSV. The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint Op. cit.

193 See Esdras B 1:1; 4:4-5; 6: 1-12 LXX (=Ezra 1:1; 4:4-5; 6:1-12 (NRSV).

194 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Esdras B. 6:3–10 LXX).

195 See Dt. 17: 14-20.

196 See Jn. 2:20.

197 “…the rabbinic saying ‘whoever has not beheld Herod’s building (i.e. the temple) has not seen anything beautiful in his life
(b. B. Bat. 4a) …this is described as his noblest achievement, one which would guarantee his immortality. (See Josephus Antiquities 15 par 380).”
L. I. Levine, “Herod the Great” The Anchor Bible, Op. cit. Vol. 3 (161-169).

198The high priesthood was (an) institution manipulated by Herod for his own purposes. Herod realized from the outset that control of this office was crucial for a successful reign, and it is for this reason that he immediately installed his long-time friend Hananel of Babylonia as High Priest (Ant. 15 par. 22, 40). He appointed a series of high priests, several of whom apparently came from Egypt – Jesus, son of Phiabi, and Simon, son of Boethus (Ant. 15 par 320-22)Simon was appointed high priest in 23 after Herod fell in love with his daughter, also named Mariamme, and he remained in office almost until Herod’s death. Simon’s son Joazar succeeded to the high priesthood in the year 4, following a brief ministry of one Matthias, son of Theophilus, a native of Jerusalem (Ant 17 par 78, 164-67). … For much of the Second Temple period political and religious leadership was epitomized in the figure of the high priest. He was the political spokesman and the central religious figure of his people. This symbiosis reached its peak under the later Hasmoneans when the high priest was also King.” Levine, Ibid.

199 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 27:18-19 LXX). See context: Gn. 27:1-40 NRSV.

200 Ibid. (Gn. 27:1 LXX = Gn. 27:1 NRSV). Hereafter, when the NRSV passage is numbered the same as the LXX passage, the chapter and verse numbers will be provided without LXX or NRSV to differentiate them.

201 See also Zech. 4:6-7, Job 35:2 (LXX only); Jonah 1:7-10 (esp. vs. 8) and an apocryphal passage: Judith 6: 2.

202 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (Jn. 1:20).

203 The Greek New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:20)

204The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:20)

205cognate: related through the same source; derived from a common original form.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Op. Cit.

206 Otto Michel, “ὁμολογέω,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Grand Rapids, Michigan, W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1985), (688). Hereafter this one volume ed. of 10 vol. set ref. as Little Kittle.

207 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 9:22).

208 “In Jn. 9:22 the Jews expel those who publicly confess Jesus as Messiah. To confess Jesus means honor with God; refusal to confess him is based on the desire for human honor (5:44; 12:43).” Wolfgang Schrage, Little Kittle, Op. cit. For more see Wolfgang Schrage, “ἀποσυνάγωγος,” TDNT Op. cit. vol. 7 (848–851). See also Jn. 9:22; 12:42; 16:2.

209Halacha – Hebrew: rule, ordinance or law (by which to go or guide oneself), not written down in the Jewish Scriptures, but based on the oral interpretation of them. The part of the Talmud devoted to such laws and ordinances.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, fourth ed. Op. cit.

210 Schrage, Wolfgang, “ἀποσυνάγωγος,” TDNT Op. cit., vol. VII. Material (in parentheses) added for clarity. birkath ha-minim will be explained in A Day with Jesus commentary on John 9: 22.

211 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (Jn 1:21).

212 The Greek New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1: 21)

213 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:21)

214The English pronunciation of “Elijah (ēli’-jah) = God – LORD; strength of the LORD; my God is Jehovah; the LORD God,” Smith, S., & Cornwall, J. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names, North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos (1998) (65) hereafter referenced as The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. “This pronunciation is a transliteration of the original Hebrew name: (אֵלִיָּה)ʾēlı̂yâ,” Jerome T. Walsh, “Elijah,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. vol. 2 (463).

215 See Ex. 1:11 (NRSV) “They built supply cities, Pithom and Ramses, for Pharaoh.” Ex. 1:11 (LXX) adds “… and Ōn (Ων) which is called City of the Sun (Ἡλίου πόλις Hēliou polis). The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Ex. 1:11). See also Gn. 41:45, 50; 46:20; Jer. 50:13; Ez. 30:17 (LXX) where Ōn is identified this way and Mal. 3:20 (LXX) = Mal 4:2(NRSV) where sun (ἥλιος – hēlios) is part of the phrase translated sun of righteousness.

216 Ἠλίας –Ēlias, is used in Esdras A 9:27; Macc. 2:58; Sir 48:1, 12, which are not part of the Septuagint. They are in the Apocrypha, which is not a canonized source in the 1st and 2nd centuries, C.E. See the Glossary for Apocrypha.

217 For Elijah The Tishbite (Ηλιου ὁ Θεσβίτης – Ēliou ho Thesbitēs) see 3 Kingdoms 17:1; 18:27, 29; 4 Kingdoms 1:8 LXX. For Elijah the Tishbite (Ηλιου τὸν Θεσβίτην – Ēliou ton Thesbitēn) see 3 Kingdoms 20:17; 4 Kingdoms 1:3, 8 LXX. For Elijah the Tishbite (Ηλιαν τὸν Θεσβίτην – Ēlian ton Thesbitēn) see Malachi 3:22 LXX.

See these identifiers in parallel (=) NRSV verses in 1 Kings 17:1 but not in 18:27, 29; in 1 Kings 21:17, 28; 2 Kings 1:3, 8 but not in Malachi 4:5. The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit.

If Place (θέσθε thesthe) is the root of the identifier (τὸν Θεσβίτην – ton Thesbitēn), then (Ηλιου τὸν Θεσβίτην – Ēliou ton Thesbitēn) could be Settler from the Place, perhaps a place called Gilead. For more on (ὁ Θεσβίτης – ho Thesbitēs) and (τὸν Θεσβίτην – ton Thesbitēn) see Gary Harion, “Thisbe,” Jerome T. Walsh, “Tishbe,” “Tishbite,” in The Anchor Bible, Op. cit. vol. 6, (528, 577-78, 578).

218 John’s answer may have been different if he’d been asked if he was Elijah (Ηλιου – Ēliou), the most common form of his name in the Septuagint, or if he had been asked if he was Elijah the Tishbite (Ηλιου ὁ Θεσβίτης – Ēliou ho Thesbitēs) or (Ηλιου τὸν Θεσβίτην –Ēliou ton Thesbitēn) or even Elijah (Ηλιαν –Ēlian) or Elijah the Tishbite (Ηλιαν τὸν Θεσβίτην – Ēlian ton Thesbitēn). The answer might have been different if any of these ways to identify Elijah the Prophet was used, other than Ἠλίας – Ēlias.

219 My contention here is contrary to that of Joachim Jeremias, “ Ἡλ(ε)ίας” TDNT vol. II (928-941 esp. 936-37).

220 NRSV indicates that the poor widow only had one son.

221 3 Kingdoms 17:24 LXX = 1 Kings 17:24 NRSV. See also Mal. 2:6.

222 “The oldest passage which refers to the return of Elijah (Mal. 4:5 and following) sees in him a messianic figure. He prepares the divine way for the heavenly King (3:1) by purifying the priesthood (3:2-4) and establishing peace (4:6).” Johachim Jeremias, “ Ἡλ(ε)ίας,” TDNT, Op. cit., (931).

223 Transl. n: The Heb. name Malachi means messenger. The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Mal. 1:1)

224the way before my face sounds like the way by which you may see my face. See Ex. 23: 20-26; Isaiah 40; Jn. 14, esp. vs. 6. For more on the way see Wilhelm Michaelis, “ὁδός” TDNT Op. cit. Vol. V (42-114, esp. 70, and his fns. 95, 96).

225 See Jn. 2: 18-22.

226 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Mal. 1:1; 3:1, 16-17, 20, 22-23 LXX).

227 Comp. Haggai 1:7 (context: Haggai 1:2-13); 2:4-5 (context: 2:3-5); 2:9; 2:14-15, 18 (LXX) = (NRSV contexts). More oracles and signs are to be found in Haggai.

228 Transl. n: “The Heb. name Malachi means messenger.” The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Mal. 1:1).

229 See Jn. 2:19 NRSV.

230 See Jn. 5:13; 6:10; 11:6; 30; 19:41 where in the place (ἐν τῷ τόπῳ – en tō topō ) is translated “there” in Jn. 5:13 and “at the place” in Jn. 11:30, though the Greek version of all five verses is literally in the place (ἐν τῷ τόπῳ – en tō topō ).

231 4 Kgdms. 3:11-12a (=2 Kings 3:11-21a).

232 J. Jeremias, TDNT, Op. cit. concludes, “The most probable view is that the Baptist, who announced the One who was to come without naming Him (Mt. 3:11; 11:13), desired to be himself only the anonymous voice in the wilderness (Jn. 1:23 = Is. 40:3) and no more.”

233 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 20:30-31).

234 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version Op. cit. (Jn. 1:22)

235 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit. (Jn. 1:22)

236 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit. (Jn. 1:22)

237 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version Op. cit. (Jn. 1:23)

238 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit. (Jn. 1:23)

239 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit. (Jn. 1:23)

240βοάω: ‘To proclaim the message of God’… So Isaiah 40:6: φωνὴ λέγοντος· βόησον. καὶ εἶπα· τί βοήσω (the voice of one saying ‘cry out,’ and I said, ‘what shall I shout?’) and Isaiah 40:3: φωνὴ βοῶντος (the voice of one calling out / crying out/shouting out). By adding the words ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ (in the wilderness/desert) Mk 1:3 (= Mt. 3:3; Lk. 3:4) makes this refer to the desert preacher, John. In Jn. 1:23 it is put on the lips of John as his own witness to himself: ἐγὼ φωνὴ βοῶντος … καθὼς εἶπεν Ἠσαΐας (I am the voice of one crying out/ calling out … just as Isaiah said).” Ethelbert Stauffer, “βοάω (→ κράζω),” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 1 (625). Transl. from The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Is.40:3, 6).

241 See Gn. 3:24; 24:40, 42, 56; 32:2; Dt. 5:33; 8:2 (2 times). “The metaphor is of greatest significance when the ref. is to God’s way (Is. 4:3; cf. Mal. 3:1) … Much more numerous (than references to a man’s actual conduct) and significantly of greater material significance, are the passages in which the use of ὁδός is made to serve the proclamation of God’s will … The way of the Lord is the walk which God requires of man. In many instances the sense approximates to that of the command of the Lord relating to human conduct; ὁδός is almost synonymous with command (ἐντολή – entolē),” Wilhelm Michaelis, “ὁδός,” TDNT, Op. cit., vol. V (49, 51f). See Dt. 30:11; Prov. 16:25.

242 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. Cit., (Dt. 6:1-9 LXX). Comp. Dt. 6:1-6 NRSV.

243 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit. (Context: Josh. 24:19-27), comp. Nu.22:23; see also “εὐθύνω” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Op. cit. Vol. 1 (702).

244 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version Op. cit. (Jn. 1:24)

245 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit. (Jn. 1:24)

246 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit. (Jn. 1:24)

247 See Jn. 4:1; 7:32(2), 47; 8:3, 13; 9:15; 11:47, 57; 12:19.

248 See Jn. 1:24; 3:1 (the only singular use); 7:48; 9:16, 40; 18:3.

249 See Jn. 7:45; 9:13; 11:46; 12:42

250The etymology of the term ‘Pharisees’ is disputed. The name seems to come from the Hebrew and Aramaic root prs which means ‘separate, interpret.’ The most common etymological understanding of Pharisees is ‘separate ones,’ though separate from whom or what is disputed. … No Jewish group refers to itself as Pharisees. … The name Pharisees is a name used by outsiders.” A.J. Saldarini, “Pharisees,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. Vol. 5 (301).

251 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Lev. 10:14–15). See also Ex. 29:27; 39:6; Nu. 6:20; 7:34 (LXX). As a word game, see αἱρέσεως (haireseōsfree choice in The Apocrypha, 1 Macc. 8:30. See Apocrypha in the Glossary.

252 Try sounding out the transliterations of these words. Listen to your own voice for the similarities.

253 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit.

254 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Op. cit. (1049). For an example of a Septuagint word had separated (χωριζόμενος – chōrizomenos) see Esdras B 6:21 LXX = Ezra 6:21 NRSV.

255In the LXX αἵρεσις is found occasionally in the general sense of ‘choice:’ ἐξ αἱρέσεως or κατὰ αἵρεσιν ‘of or by free choice, or voluntarily: Gn. 49:5; Lv. 22:18, 21; 1 Macc. 8:30.’ … The corresponding (Hebrew) term in Rabbinic Judaism is מִין, which can mean both αἵρεσις (sect) and αἱρετικός (member of a sect). Like αἵρεσις in Josephus, מִין denoted in the first instance the trends and parties within Judaism. But soon, when certain minim (Christians, esp. gentile Christians) separated themselves from the orthodox rabbinic tradition, it came to be used only of trends within Judaism opposed by the rabbis and therefore . The term thus stigmatized certain groups as ‘heretical.’ This sense is found in rabbinic writings belonging to the end of the 1st and the early part of the 2nd century a. d., e.g., in the birkat ha-minim which was probably incorporated in the Prayer of Eighteen Petitions towards the end of the 1st century (b. Ber., 28b). At the end of the 2nd century the term acquired a new meaning, being applied not so much to the members of a sect within Judaism as to the adherents of other faiths, and esp. Christians and Gnostics. …The usage in Acts corresponds exactly to that of Josephus and the earlier rabbis. cf. Acts 5:17; 15:5; 26:5… Christianity, too, is called a αἵρεσις by its opponents in Acts 24:5 cf. 24:14; 28:22 … In these passages the term has the neutral flavor of school.” Heinrich Schlier, “αἵρεσις and מִין in the LXX and Judaism” and “αἵρεσις in the NT,” TDNT, Op. cit. Vol. 1 (181–182).

256heresy: Gr. hairesis, a taking, selection, school, sect, in L. Gr. (Ec.), …hairein to take a religious belief opposed to the orthodox doctrines of a church… the rejections of a belief that is part of church dogma.”

heretic: Gr. hairetikos able to choose,” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Op. cit. (667).

257 For more detail on Pharisees see Rudolph Meyer and H.F. Weiss, “Φαρισαιος,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. IX (11-35, 35-48).

258The extremist Qumranites labeled the Pharisees seekers after smooth things (Heb.: dorse ha-halaqot) instead of seekers after the law (Heb.: dorshe ha-halakhot). The Pharisees made the keeping of the law easier so that more people could achieve holiness. I believe this is what made the Pharisees popular. What they sought to achieve with their rather lenient interpretation of the law was the sanctification and holiness of the whole nation.” Roland Deines, “The Pharisees – Good Guys with Bad Press,” Biblical Archeology Review, July/August 2013, vol. 39 no 4 (22, 57-8). Hereafter ref. as B.A.R.

259 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Lev. 11:33).

260 See Yonatan Adler “Interface of Archeology and Texts,” B.A.R. Op. cit. Nov./Dec. 2012 excerpts quoted here by Roland Deines, “The Pharisees – Good Guys with Bad Press,” B.A.R. Op. cit. (Italics and words in parentheses added).

261 See Jn. 1:24; 3:1; 4:1; 7:32(2), 45, 47, 48; 8:3, 13; 9:13, 15, 16, 40; 11:46, 47, 57; 12:19, 42; 18:3.

262 See Jn. 19:38. We will consider later what is required of a disciple of Jesus and what a secret disciple is.

263 See Jn. 7:45, 48

264 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version Op. cit. (Jn. 1:25) g or the Christ

265 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit. (Jn. 1:25)

266 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Op. cit. (Jn. 1:25)

267 you are baptizing (βαπτίζεις – baptizeis) is not found in the LXX, but is found in John. See The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit., (Jn. 1:28, 31, 33; 3:23; 10:40) or in the NRSV.

268 See Ex. 19:5-6 (LXX) Comp. Ex. 19:5-6 (NRSV) …a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

269 See you will wash (λούσεις – louseis) Ex. 29:4f = 40:12. See also they washed/they cleansed (ἔλουσεν – elousen) Lev. 8:6f., The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ex. 29:4f; Lev. 8:6f; 40:12 LXX).

270 See Nu. 8:5ff. (LXX or NRSV)

271 See Nu. 19 esp. vs. 9 (LXX or NRSV).

272 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Le 10:9–10). (bold italics = emphatic language).

273 The second Jewish Revolt (against Rome) ca. 132-135 C.E. The first such revolt was the Jewish War of 66-70 C.E. See “Bar Kokhba” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. (598-606)

274 Ronald Deines, “The Pharisees – Good Guys with Bad Press,” B.A.R. Op. cit. material in ( ) added for clarity.

275 See Lv. 14-17; Nu. 19 for frequent use of the phrases “…bathe his (entire) body in water and be unclean until the evening” and “…wash his clothes and bathe his body.” See also Friedrick Hauck “καθαρός (etc.)” TDNT, Op. cit. (413-417, esp. 416 cf. n. 19) and (423-431) “The washings are of particular importance. See Lv. 11:32; 15:7, 16ff.” See also Rudolf Meyer, “καθαρός” TDNT, Op. cit. (418-423).

276 See “Mikwaoth (Immersion Pools),” The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes by Herbert Danby, D.D., Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1933, 16th Impression 1987, n. 5 (732).

277 See Jacob Neusner, “A huge supplement to the Mishnah” and “The Tosefta,” Introduction to Rabbinic Literature, Doubleday, NY, 1994, hereafter ref. as Introduction to Rabbinic Literature for more on tractate Shabbat 13b (129).

278 Quotes include translit. of Heb. mikva’ot (purification pool) and mikveh (purification pools) by Urban C. Von Wahlde, “The Puzzling Pool of Bethesda Where Jesus Cured the Crippled Man,” B.A.R. Op. cit. September/October 2011, vol. 37, No. 5 (40-47). The author cites Shimon Gibson, “The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem and Jewish Purification Practices of the Second Temple Period,” Proche-Orient-Chretien 55 (2005) (270-293), The Mishnah, Op. cit. 6.8.

279 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Ex. 19:10-11 LXX).

280 Except for Nicodemus, neither “the Jews” as a group nor “the Pharisees” as a group are individually named. Since both terms are pejorative terms describing persons who assume that they are superior to others in large part because of their association with Roman authorities, I use quotation marks and italics whenever making reference to them. In this Gospel, membership in either group appears to be fluid. Some become disciples of Jesus Christ and thus cease to be “the Jews” or “the Pharisees” and others remain in these separate groups.

281 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:26)

282 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:26)

283The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:26)

284 See Ex. 19:10-11 LXX and NRSV. … the people implies that women are permitted to stand with the men at the foot of the mountain. However, even if the women (and children) do not purify themselves, over 600,000 men miraculously bath themselves or at least sprinkle the water of purification over themselves and then wash their clothing in the desert where there is a very limited supply of living water or water of purification. They do this within a time span of 2 days!

285 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (4 Kingdoms 5:14 LXX = 2 Kings 5:14 NRSV).

286 Remember that one of the signs given by God to Moses involved him slipping his hand into and out of his bosom/ cloak. In this way he could appear to have contracted or cured leprosy on his own hand. See Ex. 4:6-7.

287Baptize (βαπτίζω – baptizō) is not used in the Septuagint or in the Gospel anywhere other than in Jn. 1:26. To dip in or under (βάπτω – baptō) …occurs in the sense of to immerse. …The sense of to bathe or to wash is only occasionally found in Hellenism. … The idea of going under or perishing (βαπτίζω – baptizō) is nearer the general usage. … The NT uses to dip in (βάπτω – baptō) only in the literal sense in Lk. 16:24; Jn. 13:26. …On the other hand it uses to baptize (βαπτίζω – baptizō) only in the cultic sense, infrequently of Jewish washings…and otherwise in the technical sense. This usage shows that baptism is felt to be something new and strange. The use of βάπτισμα, βαπτιστής is similar. …The baptism of John is an initiatory rite for the gathering Messianic community. Linking up with prophetic passages like Is. 1:15f.; Ez. 36:25 (cf. Is. 4:4; Jer. 2:22; 4:14; Zech. 13:1; Ps. 51:7), it is to be regarded as a new development.” Albrecht Oepke, “βάπτω, βαπτίζω, (etc.),” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 1 (529 – 530, 537).

288 This phrase who you do not know (οὓς οὐκ οἴδατε hous ouk iodate) appears only twice in the Torah (LXX), in Dt. 11:28; 13:3 (LXX). It is a Mosaic oracle. Comp. Dt. 12:32 – 13:3 (NRSV). Context: Dt. 12:29 – 13: 5 (NRSV).

289 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Dt. 11:26-32 LXX). Proper names fr. NRSV for clarity.

290 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Dt. 13:1-4 LXX).

[291] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:27).

292 The Greek New Testament, Fourth Edition, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:27).

293 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:27).

294 The Gospel is intentionally written to contain more information for those who are informed than for those who may be skimming over the text. Here the Pharisees are unlikely to understand or even to remember what John says, while careful and informed readers, like Jewish Christian rabbinical students, John’s own disciples, and all of us, can and do understand and remember the deep meaning of what John says and does.

295 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Is. 52:1-15 LXX) Notice the play on words, the sound alike tripling of two pairs of words Depart, depart (ἀπόστητε ἀπόστητε – apostēte apostēte ) and come out, come out (ἐξέλθατε – exelthate) and a single word be separate (ἀφορίσθητε – aphoristhēte). Notice the pairing of disorder/trouble/confusion (ταραχῆς – tarachēs) with the double entendre: child/servant (παῖς – pais), thus revealing the glory (δόξα – doxa) of the Lord. Use the transliterations to sound out these doublings, pairings and the double entendre.

296The way in which (disciples) serve (Jesus) is in keeping with current practice. The pupil brings the rabbi’s sandals (T. Neg., 8, 2), supports him when needed (b. Jeb., 42b), prepares the way before him (b. Ket., 63a) (On the actual journey he goes behind the teacher, (T. Pes., 1, 27; → I, 212 f.), and drives his donkey (T. Chag., 2, 1). A rather later reference (b. Ket., 96a; R. Joshua b. Levi, c. 250 a.d.) obliges the pupil to do for his teacher all the things a slave would do for his master apart from taking off his sandals. (This gives concrete significance to the saying of the Baptist in Mk. 1:7; Jn. 1:27.” Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “διδάσκω, διδάσκαλος, etc.” TDNT, Op. cit. Vol.2 (135–165). (Underlined italics added for emphasis).

297 See Gn. 14: 21-23 (LXX or NRSV) where a thong of a sandal is considered to be the least valuable of all symbols of wealth. See also Is. 20:2 (LXX or NRSV) where God commands Isaiah to loose/remove the sack cloth from your loins and take your sandals off your feet. These passages do not appear to be Mosaic or Septuagint signs or oracles.

298 See Ex. 3:5 (LXX or NRSV).

299 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn 1:28)

300 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:28)

301 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1: 28)

302 See Ex. 28:43; Lev. 21:12. Other than by their vestments, how can these nameless men be identified?

303 See Dt. 11:26-31 LXX or NRSV.

304 See Ex. 19, especially verse 17 (LXX or NRSV).

305 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Op. cit. (Jn 1:29)

306 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), op. cit. (Jn. 1:29)

307 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:29)

308 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (2 Kngdms 2:15-22 LXX = 2 Kings 2:15-22).

309Procurator: an official of ancient Rome who managed the financial affairs or acted as governor of a lesser province,” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, fourth ed., Op. cit.

310Caesar Augustus adopted Tiberius as his heir shortly before he (Augustus) died, allowing Tiberius to become Emperor of Rome with all of the honors and titles of Augustus without political or military conflict. See Scott T. Carroll, “Tiberius” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit., vol. 6 (547-550). See also Donald L. Jones “Roman Imperial Cult” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. vol. 5 (806-809) “Beginning with Tiberius, emperor worship played a major role in the origin and spread of Christianity” “… (In) a famous speech to the (Roman) Senate, (Tiberius) said, ‘I am a mortal, and divine honors belong only to (Caesar) Augustus, the real savior of mankind.’”

311 not Here is as in the NRSV.

312 See Leviticus 16 LXX or NRSV. See this commentary on Jn. 1:36.

313 This is the only brief time the High Priest is permitted to be outside of the temple while dressed in his vestments.

314 Though lamb (ἀμνὸς – amnos) is found once (Isaiah 53:7 LXX or NRSV). See A Day with Jesus on John 1:36.

315 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn 1:30)

316 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:30)

317The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:30)

318 One reliable source emphasizes that ἄνθρωπος and ἀνθρώπων represent humankind in general, in contrast with ἀνὴρ which refers to a single man. See J. Jeremias “ἄνθρωπος, etc.” TDNT, vol. I (364-365). Another source defines both words, along with ἀνὴρ and ἀνδρός as “an adult male person of marriageable age – ‘man.’ Note: It is possible that ἄνθρωπος differs somewhat from ἀνήρ in connotation, since ἄνθρωπος would perhaps be somewhat more generic in implications.” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Op. cit.

319 Translator’s note: “This phrase, ὁ δὲ, signals a switch in subject from the previous sentence,” The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 32:25-32 LXX). In other words the subject is no longer Jacob, but the Person/Man with whom Jacob is struggling.

[320] Ibid.

321 See for example, Stanley D. Walters, “Jacob Narrative” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. vol. 3 (599-608). Walters suggests that the other He might have been Esau (605), or at least Jacob’s guilty conscience regarding the way he, Jacob, had stolen Esau’s birthright.

322 See Gn. 17:4-5; 15 LXX or NRSV.

323 “…Hebrew yisra’el, Israel, has the form of a personal name rather than a tribal or national name. It belongs to a well-known type of name and means may God contend or possibly May God rule(In the context of Gn. 32:28 it is) understood … to mean he strives, yisra, with God, ’el.” P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “Israel,” The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Op. cit., (466-470).

324 God’s name: “I am the (One) (who) exists (Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν – Egō eimi ho ōn).” The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ex. 3:14 LXX). Comp. Ex. 3:14: I am who I am and note e: I am what I am or I will be what I will be in the NRSV.

325 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:31)

326 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:31)

327The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:31)

328 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 3:21) Caps. and italics added. See also Jn. 9:3.

329 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn 1:32)

330 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:32)

331The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:32)

332 My favorite illustration of this concept is to reveal the make-up of a hard-boiled egg: shell, white and yoke = one egg; three parts to that one egg: shell = God as seen in God’s creation, white = God as seen in Jesus Christ, yoke = God as seen by faith through the Holy Spirit abiding in the hearts and lives of those who believe in the One and only God.

333 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 1:2 LXX).

[334] The word seen (τεθέαμαι – tetheamai) and cognates of it is often used when something unusual is seen. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, vol. 1 (278).

335 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 8:1 LXX)

336 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 8:7–11 LXX).

337For men of antiquity black means sinister, dreadful, terrible, sad, unlucky, hence μέλας θάνατος (black death). …Black had the same meaning in the Israelite and Judean world of culture. The Heb. words for black,” “dark,” are חוּם, only at Gn. 30:32 f., 35, 40, rendered φαιός (blackish or grey) in the LXX (Gn. 30:40. ποικίλος), also שָׁחֹר: Lv. 13:31, 37 of dark hair, also Cant. 5:11 of raven dark (ὡς κόραξ) hair, 1:5 of sun-burnt skin, Zech. 6:2,6 of (apocalyptic) black horses; in all these verses the LXX has μέλας, only in Lv. 13:31 is there another rendering under the influence of 13:32 (cf. also Prov. 23:29 … for μέλας).” W. Michaelis, “μέλας,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. IV (549-551).

338 “…In the creation story… when Ben Zoma (c. 90 A.D.) compares the hovering of the Spirit over the water with that of the dove over its brood, he is simply trying to define the manner… The connection between the Spirit of God and the dove is rather clearer when the בַּת קוֹל is like the cooing of doves. Noteworthy too is the interpretation of the dove’s cooing as (κύριε κύριε – kyrie kyrie) lord lord. …If the thought of the dove as a divine bird was alien to the OT world, we find hints of the notion of a bird of the soul. …one might ask if at least whether the ref. in Ps. 84:3 to the bird which has found a nest for its young does not stand in parallelism with the yearning of the soul (v.2) which is satisfied only in the temple. …The idea can be shown to have played a certain role in Judaism, as attested by the mural painting of the synagogue at Dura-Europos, where souls as winged creatures are hastening to their resurrected bodies. The dove is proved important both by the dove-cots of Palestine…and also by Jewish funerary inscriptions (the raven is the evil impulse, the dove the good impulse).” Heinrich Greeven, “περιστερά, etc.” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 6 (63-72).

339The training of pigeons, and hence the house-pigeon, played an important role in antiquity. The dove-cots (περιστερεῶνες) of Upper Egypt and East Jordan bear witness to this. …the trained white dove came from the East to Greece when a Persian fleet was wrecked on Cape Athos, 492 b.c. It is hard to explain the popularity of keeping pigeons … The only explanation is to be found in the special religious significance of the bird.” Ibid. (Perhaps the ancient form of Twitter? -TB)

340 See Nu. 24:38 LXX or NRSV.

341 Printed here: the blessing of Balaam and part of his fourth oracle. The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Nu. 22:38; 24:15-17 LXX). See Balaam’s 4 oracles: Nu. 23:7-10, 18-24; 24:1-9, 15-24 LXX or NRSV.

342 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Nu 24:15–17 LXX). Sons of Seth = the Moabite people.

343 Note the play on words here: who knows (ἐπιστάμενος – epistamenos) the knowledge (ἐπιστήμην – epistēmēn), two different words that sound similar and have similar meanings. This is a characteristic of oracles.

344 See Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, “δείκνυμι” A Greek – English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, U. of Chicago Press, 1957, (171). Hereafter ref. as A Greek – English Lexicon of the New Testament.

345 The reference to the star rising out of Jacob sounds like the one in Matthew 2:2, 9, and 10.

346 The Greek term staying/remaining/continuing/abiding (ἔμεινεν – emeinen) is best translated as abiding in my opinion, because Abiding carries with it the meaning that the Spirit is not only remaining upon Jesus, but it is living within Him.

347 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Op. cit., (Jn. 1:33).

348 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit., (Jn. 1:33)

349 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:33)

350 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 28: 10-17) context: Gn. 28:10-22. See Judges 1:24 NRSV where Luz is the Canaanite name for the Hebrew city named Bethel – House of God. In Spanish luz means light.

351 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:34).

352 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit., (Jn. 1:34).

353The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:34).

354 10 passages describe what God sees: Gn. 31:12c-13a; Ex. 3:9; Job 5:1-4; 15:17-21; Zech. 9:8b; Is 57:17-18; Jer. 7:8-11; 13: 25-27; 23:14-15; 30: 4-9. 7 passages describe what people see from God: Gn. 41:15; 46:30; Judg. 14:1-2; 2 Kngdms. 13:34b-35; 18:10; 3 Kngdms. 22:16-17; Dan. 2: 13-47 LXX. 10 + 7 implies these metaphors are complete and holy.

355 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 31:12-13 LXX).

356 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Gn. 41:15 LXX).

357 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Gn. 46:30 LXX).

358 See Gn. 37:34-34. See also Jn. 11:26.

359 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ex. 3:9 LXX).

360 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Judg. 14:1-2 LXX).

361 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (2 Kngdms.13:34-35 LXX = 2 Sam. 13: 34b-35 NRSV).

362 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (2 Kngdms.18:10 LXX = 2 Sam. 18:10 NRSV).

363 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (2 Kngdms.13:1 LXX = 2 Sam. 13:1 NRSV).

364 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (3 Kngdms.22:16-17 LXX = 1 Kings 22: 16-17 NRSV).

365 See Jn. 10:11, 13:13.

366 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Job 5:1-4).

367 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Job 15:17-21).

368 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Zech. 9:8).

369 For more see W. Harold Mare, “Zion,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit., vol. 6, (1096-97) and Elaine R. Follis, “Zion, Daughter of,” Ibid., (1103).

370 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Isa. 57:17-18).

371 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Jer. 7:8-11).

372 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Jer. 13:25-27).

373 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Jer. 23:14-15).

374 See Ex. 15:25 LXX: “And Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord pointed out/told/taught/offered/shared/revealed to Moses a piece of wood (ξύλον – xylon) and Moses threw it into the water and the water became sweet (ἐγλυκάνθη – eglykanthē). There God put in place/put/placed (ἔθετο – etheto) for Moses righteous ordinances and rulings and there God tested him/Heb: them/the Israelites” (Exodus 15:25 LXX). For more on this see J. Schneider, “ξύλον,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. V. (37-41).

375 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Jer. 37:4-7).

376 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Dan. 2:3-47 LXX). Some vss. summarized for brevity.

[377] Transl. n: The LXX’s translation is based on an etymological interpretation of the Hebrew text. The Hebrew (words for)oracle” and “faithful” are derived from the same root (word).

378 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (2Kgdms 23:1-7 LXX = 2 Sam. 23:1-7 NRSV)

379 See Jn. 1:17 NRSV.

380 In Gn. 4:9 Cain asks God, Am I my brother’s watchman/keeper? In 2 Kingdoms (=2 Samuel) 22:1-7 David sings an oracle including, My God will be my Watchman/Guard! In 2 Kingdoms 23: 1-7 including The God of Israel is speaking; The Guard of Israel speaks a proverb. In Job 10:14 If I sin you watch me and do not acquit me of my iniquity. In Esdras B 13:29 (= Nehemiah 3:29) The watchman/ keeper of the East Gate made repairs on the East Gate of the Temple. In Esther 2:14-15 reference is made to the watchman / guard of the women.

The verb φυλάσσω, Attic φυλάττω, comes from watchman (φύλαξ – phylax) and denotes the activity or office of a watchman whose job is to protect those who are asleep from harm during the night. It refers to deliberate and conscious watching, being on the alert, transferred sense: to guard.… φυλάσσω occurs 471 times in the LXX … it serves esp. to express the divinely required attitude of man to the divine covenant, Exodus 19:5 etc., and to the cultic statutes, laws, commandments, admonitions and warnings; in this sense it becomes a title or statute in the legal traditions from Exodus to Deuteronomy. It is also found in the historical books, sometimes with other formulations, e.g.: to keep to the way of the Lord, Jud. 2:22; 3 Βas‌. 2:4; 8:25 (plural) etc., to observe or follow the commandments of the Lord… The prophets sometimes have other phrases, e.g.: keeping knowledge, Mal. 2:7, keeping righteousness, truth, peace, Is. 26:2.

…The verb also describes God’s attitude to man. The ref. is to confident experience of the divine preservation which man remembers and to which he appeals when his own fate seems to be in contradiction with it, Job 10:12; 29, 2. God, who observes all the ways of the righteous, Job 13:27; 33:11, guards and protects him even in suffering and sin, 10:14, and can shelter him even from His own wrath in the realm of the dead, 14:13 … God cares for animals, Job 39:1, and men, Jer. 5:24. Thus Yahweh comes to be portrayed as the Guardian and Shepherd of Israel in Ἰερ. 38(31):10. …

In many hymnic (sic) statements the Psalms praise God as the Watcher and Guardian of the righteous, who can always turn to Him with a prayer for protection, (Psalm 11:8; 15:1; 16:8; 24:20; 33:21 etc., cf. also 1 Bas‌. 30:23; Proverb 2:8 etc. He who guards Israel does not sleep, Ps. 120:4. He keeps the city, 126:1. He watches over aliens, Ps. 145:9, the poor, Ps.114:9, the righteous, Ps. 96:10, His beloved, Ps. 144:20, and praying Individuals, Ps. 120:7. The Aaronic blessing accords this protection to Israel, Nu. 6:24, cf. Ex. 23:20. We also find sayings with a material object. God maintains His mercy, keeps His covenant, 3 Bas. 3:6; 8:23; 2 Esdras 11:5; 19:32; 2 Ch. 6:14 ff.; Dt. 7:9, and maintains ἀλήθεια truth, Ps. 145:6….” For more on this see Georg Bertram, “φυλάσσω, φυλακή” TDNT, Op. cit., vol. ix (236-244).

381 See Jn. 12:25, 47. In both verses Guard/Watchman (φύλαξ – phylax) is translated keep as in guard carefully.

382 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Op. cit., (Jn. 1:35).

383 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit. (Jn. 1:35).

384The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:35). See also Jn. 7:37; 18:5, 16; 20:11.

385 When scholars list the chapter and verse of a Scripture with the letter “f” after it, this means “and following verses.”

386 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Gn. 19:27).

387 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. is our primary translation source for all of these LXX passages. The NRSV does not translate the word stood in Exodus 24: 9-10. It does translate stood in all of the other verses listed here.

388 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:36).

389 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) Op. cit., (Jn. 1:36).

390 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:36).

391 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Job 2:10).

392 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Isaiah 51:1-5).

393 See Ex. 3:1-6 where, after seeing the bush burning but not being consumed, Moses thinks or speaks to himself before deciding to approach the burning bush. As he approaches it he learns that he is in the presence of God.

394 See Daniel J. Simundson, “Suffering,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Op. cit. vol. 6 (222).

395 See Appendix D for an index of translated Septuagint passages for comparison to passages from the NRSV.

396ἰδού;ἴδε;ἄγε: prompters of attention, which serve also to emphasize the following statement—‘look, listen, pay attention, come now, then.” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Op. cit. Vol. 1.

397 The NRSV has the better alternate translation, “So the two of them walked on together.”

398 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Gn. 22:7-14 LXX).

399 See Ex. 3:14 LXX and NRSV.

400 As translated in the NRSV. “…in many passages πορεύομαι (the root word for πορευθέντες poreuthentes) is used in the imperative as the divine command to discharge a divine task. … This divine imperative of sending is found esp. in important sendings in the history between God and His people, and it constitutes men (as) the bearers of divine commissions, e.g., Abraham in Gn. 22:2, Nathan in 2 S. 7:5, Elijah in 1 K. 19:15, Isaiah in Is. 6:8 f.; 38:5, Jeremiah in Ier. 3:12; 42(35):13, Ezekiel in Ez. 3:1, Hosea in Hos. 3:1. …As all human life is a journeying in the OT … so conduct (in a transferred sense) is a walking, … The metaphor is often completed by the use of “way” or “ways” (ἐν ὁδῷ) … The most important OT definition …is that which speaks of the ways of God on which man should go. To walk in the ways of Yahweh, i.e. to follow His commandments, is fundamental for the faith of Israel, cf. Dt. 8:6; 10:12; 11:22. In place of ἐν ὁδῷ… many other definitions of the manner of true or false walking are added to πορεύεσθαι.” Friedrich Hauck, Siegfried Schulz, “πορεύομαιetc,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 6 (571). Words (in parentheses) added for clarity. Three dots … means some words were deleted for brevity.

401 Gk. word looking up (ἀναβλέψας – anablepsas) is part of the same word group as to look at (ἐμβλέπω – emblepō).

402 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint (Da. 3:92 LXX = Da 3:25 NRSV) NRSV note h: Aram: a son of the gods.

403 See Dan. 3:92 LXX = Dan. 3:25 NRSV, “the fourth has the appearance of a god.” note h: Aram. “a son of the gods.”

404 This is contrary to exegesis. Preachers are cautioned not to read meaning into Scripture, which is called eisegesis. Signs, oracles and parables require the student of the Bible to read the meaning they discern there into the Scripture.

405 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, op. cit. (Gn. 3:8 LXX). [transl. n: The LXX translator interprets the Heb. in the wind of the day to mean at the time when the wind arises, i.e.: in the evening.] See NRSV at the time of the evening breeze.

406 See Gn. 3:8 LXX or NRSV.

407 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, op. cit. (Isaiah 53:7 LXX).

408 For animals sacrificed for Passover see Nu. 28:19 NRSV. Comp. animals sacrificed for Atonement – Nu. 29:8 NRSV. The types of animals are the same, but the numbers of them used for each festival of sacrifice differ.

409 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, op. cit. (Ex.12: 2-6 LXX). Note that the family watches the lamb closely for four days, long enough to bond with it, as if it was a pet, then toward evening on the fourth day, the father slays it!

410 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:37).

411 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit., (Jn. 1:37).

412 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:37).

413 See Jn. 4:1; 7:32; 9:40; 10:8; 12:18.

414 See The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, op. cit. … to follow (ἐπακολουθῆσαι – epakolouthēsai) the Lord my God (Josh. 14:8 LXX); …to follow after (ἐπακολουθῆσαι ὀπίσω – epakolouthēsai opisō) the Lord our God (Josh. 14:9 LXX), and following (ἐπακολουθῆσαι – epakolouthēsai) the command of the Lord God of Israel, (Josh. 14:14 LXX).

415 See Nu. 13-14; Josh. 14-15. These verses explain why those liberated from Israel wandered the desert for 40 years.

416 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, op. cit. (Josh. 14:8-9, 13-14).

417Our findings in relation to the Rabbis correspond to those in the OT field. The realism of this type of thinking cannot grasp concretely the thought of following God, which is strongly felt to be opposed to the idea of transcendence. If the image is suggested by exegesis, e.g., of Dt. 13:5, it is immediately explained and diverted along the rather different lines of imitation. “Is it then possible for a man to go behind the Shekinah? We read: ‘For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire’ (Dt. 4:24),” b.Sot., 14a. “Is it then possible for flesh and blood to go behind the Holy One, blessed be He? It is written of Him: ‘Thy way is in the sea …’ (Ps. 77:19) … And is it then possible for flesh and blood to mount up to heaven and to cling to the Shekinah? Of this it is written: ‘For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire’ (Dt. 4:24),” Lv. r. 25 on 19:23. The true answer to the question is that we should “follow the qualities of God,” b.Sot., 14a. This is expounded either in historical terms, e.g., that Israel should plant the land as God planted the Garden of Eden (Lv. r., 25), or in ethical terms, that the righteous should clothe the naked as God clothed Adam, visit the sick as God visited Abraham, comfort the sorrowful as God comforted Isaac, and bury the dead as God buried Moses, b.Sot., 14a. Thus the following of God is a mere imitatio for which other expressions (e.g., דמה “to resemble”) are normally used. The resultant problem for Rabbinic theology is the very different one whether man can really be like God already in this world, or whether this expression should be reserved for the world to come.” Gerhard Kittle, “ἀκολουθέῶ,” TDNT, Op. cit., vol. 1, (211–212).

418 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. See Jn. 1:37 followed (ἠκολούθησαν – ēkolouthēsan); Jn. 8:12 follows (ἀκολουθῶν akolouthōn); Jn. 12:26 he must follow (ἀκολουθείτω – akoloutheitō). We will consider Jn. 8:12; 12:26 in depth later in A Day with Jesus.

419 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 8:12).

420 See Ex. 13:21-22; 33:7-10; Nu. 9:15-23.

421 Read or re-read Nu. 14: 6-24.

422 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:38).

423 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:38).

424 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:38)

425 “1. στρέφω … 1. “to twist,” then “to turn,” “bend,” “steer,” … in Plato Resp., VII, 518c–519b, after the parable of the cave, education is called a turning (par. περιάγω) of the soul to the brightest being, the good. In a transf. sense the word relates to the moral walk and inner turnings, Soph. Trach., 1134. 2. In the LXX στρέφω occurs 37 times with a Hebrew original, 22 times for הפךְ, e.g., 1 S. 10:6 of the changing of Saul into another man, more often of the changing of cursing into blessing ψ (Psalms) 29:12; 113:8; 2 Εσδρas 23:2 (= Neh. 13:2 NRSV); Esther 9:22 etc. Lamentations 1:10 and Daniel 10:16 refer to inner conversion through suffering or fear. In 5 instances the original סבב: 3 Βασ‌. 18:37 (= 1 Kings 18:37 NRSV) forms a starting-point for the concept of conversion (cf. the vl. ἐπέστρεψας): God will “turn back” the hearts of His people to Himself.” Georg Bertram “στρέφω, etc.” TDNT, Op. cit. Vol. 7: (714–715).

426 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (1 Kgdms 10:6–9 = 1 Sam. 10:6-9 NRSV). (context: 9:15-10:27)

427 3 Kgdms 18:37-39 (LXX) = 1 Kings 18:37-39 (NRSV).

428 “θεάομαι, … (is) used from the time of Homer to denote astonished or attentive seeing, “to look, (at or upon),” “to behold.” …The term has a certain loftiness and even solemnity It is thus used for visionary seeing where the ref. is usually to a spiritual and even visionary apprehension of higher reality. … As the most spiritual sense, related to light, seeing gives access to true being. … The instrument for this seeing of the divine is for Plato the eye of the soul,” …which is better than ten thousand eyes, for with it alone is the truth perceived. At the end or climax of the loving ascent to the divine-beautiful itself (αὐτὸ τὸ θεῖον καλόν) there is only one thing which gives full meaning to life: θεᾶσθαι μόνον καὶ ξυνεῖναι (being seen alone and together), This is contemplated with that wherewith alone it allows itself to be contemplated: …the eye of the soul. This world of the prototype of being, in which the philosopher delights to tarry, is by no means easy to see because of its radiance.” Wilhelm Michaelis, “ὁράω, εἶδον, βλέπω, ὀπτάνομαι, θεάομαι, θεωρέω, etc.” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 5, (315-382). Translations in italics and parenthesis are my own.

429In Jn., too, one cannot say that there is no distinction between θεάομαι and other verbs of seeing. …The θεασάμενος of Jn. 6:5 (also in Jn. 1:38) corresponds to the εἶδεν of Mt. 14:14 par. Mk. 6:34; we owe its use to the solemnity of the introduction. Cf. τεθέαμαι in Jn. 1:32 with εἶδεν in Mk. 1:10 and par. The ἐθεασάμεθα of 1:14 is not just a simple equivalent of εἴδαμεν (cf. 11:40; 12:41). The use of lofty speech is meant to indicate the unique impression made by this seeing. Even if this is a seeing of faith, this alone does not rule out the element of eye-witness.” Ibid. Added ref. in italics and parentheses is my own.

430If according to Jn. 12:45; 14:9 God is to be seen only in His revelation in Christ, Jn. 1:18 is not in the first instance aimed polemically against other assertions that God has been seen in theophanies or visions or ecstatic journeys to heaven, but with the help of the words of seeing found also in 12:45; 14:9 it is maintaining that God has revealed Himself exclusively in His Son.” Ibid.

431τίς, τί: an interrogative ref. to someone or something – ‘who?’ ‘what?’” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Op. cit., vol. 1, (814).

432 In the Septuagint see Ex. 10:11; Nu. 16:10; 4 Kingdoms (2 Kings) 6:19; Ps. 4:3; Mal. 3:1.

433 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint includes a translator’s note explaining the use of observe instead of prepare or make straight the way (ὁδὸν – hodon ) of the Lord in Mal. 3:1: “The LXX reads ‘observe, look’ (from the Hebrew ‘panah’); the MT (Masoretic Text) reads ‘prepare, make clear’ (from the Hebrew ‘pinah’). Italics added for clarity.

434 In addition to Jn. 1:38, see Jn. 5:44; 6:26; 7:19; 8:37, 40; 16:19; 18:4, 7, 8.

435 I have used my own translation of the Greek words instead of the NRVS in these two passages.

436 See K.H. Rengstorf, “μανθάνω, καταμανθάνω, μαθητής, συμμαθητής, μαθήτρια, μαθητεύω,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 4, (390-461). See esp. “μανθάνω in the Old Testament and Judaism” (400). While μαθεῖν (mathein) and μαθητής (mathētēs) and μαθητῶν (mathētōn) are all cognates of the root word μανθάνω (manthanō), we have learned that the Midrash rule requires that exactly the same word from the Torah be used in any Midrash commentary, i.e.: in the Gospel, not a cognate of it, so μαθεῖν (mathein), as used in Exodus 2:4, does not qualify as a Mosaic sign or oracle. Since its origin is in the Torah and not in the Septuagint outside of the Torah, it does not qualify as a Septuagint sign or oracle. Still it is fascinating to contemplate what it would mean theologically and ecclesiastically if a Mosaic oracle or a Septuagint sign pointed to a young girl, Miriam, as the first disciple in the Bible. Rengstorf makes it clear, in spite of μαθήτρια (mathētria – female disciple, (Acts 9:46, cf. Mk. 15:40–41) only men were disciples. For an abbreviated and less technical version of this article, see K.H. Rengstorf “manthánō – to learn, katamanthánōto examine, consider, mathētḗspupil, disciple, symmathētḗs – fellow disciple, mathḗtriafemale disciple, mathēteúōto become a pupil, to make disciples,” Little Kittle, Op. cit. (552).

437 Plural: See Jn. 1:35; 3:25; 6:3, 8, 60, 66; 11:54; 12:4; 13:5, 23; 16:17; 18:2, 17, 19, 25; 20:30; 21: 2, 12. Singular: See Jn. 9:28; 18:15, 16; 19:27, 38; 20:3, 4, 8; 21:7, 23, 24.

438 Rengstorf, Op. cit. (432-438). I have translated the Hebrew terms for “learner” and “teacher” used by the author.

439 Ibid.

440 Ibid.

441 Ibid.

442 See Jn. 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8.

443 See κύριος (kyrios – “Lord”) Jn. 13:13, 14; 15:15; 20:28; 21:7, 12.

444 Swanson, J. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.) (1997), Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., hereafter ref. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek NT.

445 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (4 Kingdoms 9:3 LXX) = 2 Kings 9:3 NRSV).

446 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ps. 101:13 LXX).

447There was a man who was sent (ἀπεσταλμένος – apestalmenos) from God,” The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 1:6) See also Jn. 3:28; 9:7. This word comes from the root word to send (ἀποστέλλω – apostellō) which is also the root word for apostle (ἀπόστολος – apostolos) first used in a post-resurrection epistle. Paul a slave of Christ Jesus, called to (be) an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God.” (The Epistle of Paul to the Romans 1:1), transl. fr. The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. See also apostle in the Glossary.

448 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:39).

449 The Greek New Testament (4th ed.), Op. cit. (Jn. 1:39)

450 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Jn. 1:39)

451 See 2 Chron. 10:5; Ez. 20:3; 39:17. This last verse has the best potential, but it is addressed to animals, not people.

452 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit. (Luke 14:17 NRSV), part of a parable of Jesus: And he sent his slave at the hour of the banquet to say to those who have been invited, Come (ἔρχεσθε erchesthe) because it is ready. Is it too much of a stretch to say that the banquet is Jesus Christ and the slave is John the Baptist? Perhaps. Perhaps not!

453 We have not considered the possibility that some of the language in this Gospel could have been taken from other Gospels or NT letters. So far we have found the cipher to the Gospel’s oracles and signs to be the Septuagint alone.

454 See in the LXX: Gn. 43:3; Ex 16:7; Nu. 13:18; 15:39; Jdgs. 7:17; 21:21; 1 Kgdms. 6:9; 4 Kgdms. 10:3; Song Sol 7:1; Mic. 7:15; Mal. 3:17-21; Is. 33:1; 66:14; Jer. 14:13; Ez. 14:22. Of these only Mal. 3:17-21 appears to be the LXX source.

455 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Mal. 3:17-21 LXX).

456 See A Day with Jesus on Jn. 1:36. For context of this sign see: Dan. 3: 16-23, 91-98 LXX = Dan 3: 19-30 NRSV.

457 Mal. 3:19, see also Esdras A: 8:89; 9:7 (LXX only); Joel 4:17; Zech. 9:6; Is. 60:10; 61:5; Jer. 49:17; Ezek. 44:7.

458 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ezek. 44:7 LXX).

459 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Mal. 3:19).

460 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Zech. 12:6 LXX). See also Is. 1:28-31; 5:22-24.

461 For those with access to the Septuagint, see also Esdras A 8: 86. Context: 8: 83-87. See also Is. 5:24; 40:24; 53:2; Ezek. 16:3. See also Is. 11:10 LXX And there will be in that day the root of Jesse and the one who rises up to rule nations; in him nations will hope and his repose will be his honor. Comp. Is. 11:10 (NRSV). The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Dt. 29:17 LXX). Context: Dt. 29:8-30 LXX or NRSV.

462 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Nu. 13: 23 LXX). Context: Nu. 13: 23-26.

463 See A Day with Jesus on Jn. 1:21, esp. n. 31.

464 Healing in its/his wings in Mal. 3:20 LXX = Mal. 4:2 NRSV may be a Mosaic sign from Gn. 1:2. See p. 98, fn.158.

465 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Ex. 12:22 LXX).

466 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Lv. 8:33 LXX). Transl. n.:Heb: The Day of Fulfillment = ordination.

467 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Lv. 10:7 LXX).

468 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Is. 52:10-12 LXX).

469 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit. (Is. 55:12 LXX). See Johannes Schneider, “κλάδος,” TDNT, Op. cit. vol. 3, (720). Schneider quotes Kuhn in a footnote: “The picture of the root and branches perhaps rests originally on a purely Jewish image in which the organically developed tree represents the family unity of the Jewish world which as such is also the Israel of God’s saved community. The inserted branches are proselytes from the Gentile nations who enter into the divine community of salvation by circumcision and who then in subsequent generations are incorporated into the blood relationship of the community of Israel.”

470 See Ex. 13:21-22; 40:34-38; Nu. 9:15-23; 1 Kings 8:10-11 LXX or NRSV.

471 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Is. 42:6-7 LXX).

472 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Gn. 1:5 LXX).

473 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Op. cit., (Jn. 8:56)

474 The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, Op. cit., (Gn. 15:17 LXX). alt. transl. from Lexham translator.

475 See John 12: 7.