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John 12: 37-44 (KJV):

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

John 12:47-50 (KJV):

47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

What is your understanding of these verses based on the context?

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  • I am not clear what you are looking for. I am not even sure I know what 'context driving the understanding' actually means.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23, 2019 at 5:42
  • Nigel, fair point. I'll change the wording of the question to make it more clear. Thanks.
    – alb
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:46
  • How is that? Any better?
    – alb
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:57
  • Hi Alb. I think your question is too broad. Don't forget that you can answer your own question if you have an insight you would like to share. But I'm not sure what you want to scrutinize in this passage.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 23, 2019 at 23:23
  • @ Ruminatior Yeah, you're probably right about the question being too broad but I wanted someone to have some latitude in their answer And yes you are definitely correct in that this is a difficult section of scripture. However, just because it's difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss it. I may offer my opinion while trying to not be absolutist or dogmatic.
    – alb
    Apr 24, 2019 at 11:35

2 Answers 2

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John 12:37-44 and John 12:47-50 discussed about the life of believers vs the unbelievers. I found the division by John 12:37-43 and John 12:44-50 should be more appropriated.

John 12:37-43 discussed why the Jews were not able to see Jesus is the Messiah. Verse 37 quoted Jesus had performed many signs in their presence. The most stunning sign that Jesus performed was surely the resurrection of Lazarus, many people from Jerusalem saw it themselves just a few days ago. John quoted the word of Isaiah 6:10

John 12:40

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”

Moment before in verse 12:35 Jesus claimed himself the light of the world. He told His disciples walked while they have the light. Whoever walks in the dark did not know where they were going. This echoed to the word of Isaiah, that those unbelievers can't see with their eyes for they were walking in darkness.

So what did the believer do?

Jesus further talked in John 44-46 & 49-50 (NIV)

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.

45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.

46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.

50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Jesus commanded the believers believed in Him also believed in the Father who sent Jesus, and all the words Jesus said as the Father told.

Jesus also spoke of the judgement. The first judgement was to the prince of the world (Satan), at time of His crucifixion (John 12:31). The final judgement was to the unbelievers, quoted in John 12:47-48 (NIV)

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.

It can be noted that;

  • In Jesus first coming, He did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
  • In Jesus second coming, the unbelievers were judged by their own deeds, that proved to reject Jesus and His word that His Father commanded Him to say to them.
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The verses in between the two passages quoted in the OP add some insight:

Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. - John 12:42-43

There were some of the Jewish leadership that did believe, indicating that Isaiah's prophesy (quoted in verses 38-40) did not mean absolutely every individual Jew but only the people as a whole. These rulers who believed were fearful of their contemporaries and refrained from open confession of Jesus. Jesus encourages folks in that situation in verses 44-50.

The encouragement is this: Even though you are in the midst of those who rightly desire to believe in God alone do not be afraid to believe in Jesus as well because to believe in Jesus is to believe in God.

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

This is hardly the only place in Scripture where the same thing is declared:

I and my Father are one. - John 10:30

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? - John 14:7-9

To believe in the Son is to believe in the Father because the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father:

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. - John 14:10-11

The works that Jesus did and the words that he spoke are proof that the Father is in him because it is the Father doing and saying these things that, outwardly, Jesus appears to do. This is the appeal presented in verses 44-50: We need not be afraid to confess Jesus as Lord amongst those who worship God alone for there is no ontological difference between the two.

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