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The Church & Election

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JOHN 13:18-30


Jesus breaks the solemnity and the …. of the occasion by introducing a surprise element

1.        Divine Election

a.        An Exception

Jesus wants to highlight that there is an exception within the group: “I speak not of you all…” [13:18].

§         λέγω - “speak” [13:18], ‘to say, speak, discourse’;

§         πάντων - “all” [13:18], ‘each individual in a class’;

                                                                                                         i.          Introduction

Jesus has already hinted at this: “you are clean, but not all” [13:10].

§         ὑμεῖς – “you” [13:10], second person plural pronoun,

§         καθαροί - “clean” [13:10], ‘free from dirt’; ‘free from wrong’; ‘free from defilement’; 

§         Acceptance before God: “so shall Aaron and his sons wash their hands and feet when they go into the tabernacle of the congregations that they die not…” [Exo.30:19-21].

b.        Eternal Election

The concept of eternal election: “I know whom I have chosen…” [13:18].

§         ἐξελεξάμην - “chosen” [13:18], aorist middle, ‘to select’; ‘to prefer over another’; ‘to makes one’s choice’.

§         The priority of Jesus’ election: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” [15:16].

§         It is election with the concept of ‘out of’ a place or group: “I have chosen you out of the world…” [15:19];

                                                                                                         i.          (Fore) Knowledge

Election is based on foreknowledge: “I know whom I have chosen…” [13:18].

§         οἶδα - “know” [13:18], perfect active, ‘to have seen and hence know’;

§         ᾔδει - “knew” [13:11], pluperfect active, ‘to have seen and hence know’;

§         παραδιδόντα - “betray” [13:11], present active participle, ‘to hand over’; ‘to give or deliver up’; “he that spared not his Son but delivered him up for us all…” [Rom.8:32].

                                                                                                       ii.          Eternal Salvation

The election by which we become the children of God: “thine they were, and you gave them to me...” [17:6].

§         The Servant works for them only: “For their sakes I sanctify myself…” [17:19].

§         The order of salvation: “for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate…” [Rom.8:29-30].

c.        Temporal Election

The concept of temporal election; not all election is salvation: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil…” [6:70].

§         ἐξελεξάμην - “chosen” [6:70], aorist middle, ‘to select’; ‘to prefer over another’; ‘to makes one’s choice’.

§         δώδεκα - “twelve” [6:7], an obvious reference to the group of disciples: “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” [6:67].

§         διάβολός - “devil” [6:70], ‘slanderer, false accuser’; ‘Devil or Satan’.


God may, for a time, set individuals apart for particular tasks in his kingdom.

2.        The Church & God’s Building

a.        The Corinthian Model

Paul and the Corinthians: “you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building” [1Cor.3:9].

§         οἰκοδομή - “building” [3:9], oikoj plus demw, ‘to build’; ‘a building’; ‘the act of building’;

                                                                                                         i.          Foundation

Christ the foundation: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ” [1Cor.3:11].

§         θεμέλιον - “foundation” [3:11], ‘the basic stone’; ‘the foundation stone’;

§         Jesus to Peter: “on this rock I will build my church…” [Mat.16:18].

b.        The Timothy Model

Paul and Timothy: “behave yourself in the house of God…” [1Tim.3:15].

§         οἴκῳ - “house” [3:15], ‘dwelling place’;

                                                                                                         i.          The Foundation Seal

Paul and Timothy: “Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his” [2Tim.2:19].

§         θεμέλιος - “foundation” [2:19], ‘the basic stone’; ‘the foundation stone’;

§         ἕστηκεν - “stands” [2:19], perfect active, ‘cause to be in a place’; ‘continue to hold a place’;

§         σφραγῖδα - “seal” [2:19], ‘wax impressed by signet’; ‘mark or impression made by a seal or stamp’; indicates ‘ownership, protection, and authentication’.

§         The metaphor is based on the practice of inscribing a seal on the foundation of a building in order to indicate ownership and sometimes the function of the building.

§         ἔγνω - “knows” [2:19], aorist active, ‘learn to know’; ‘to learn through personal experience’;

§         Paul is confident that God’s ‘prior knowledge’ of his elect people will ensure their safety no matter the success of the opposition.

                                                                                                       ii.          The Vessels

The vessels in the house: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver…some to honour, and some to dishonour” [2Tim.2:20].

§         δὲ - “but” [2:20], particle ‘giving continuation or development of thought’;

§         σκεύη - “vessel” [2:20], ‘object, instrument, equipment’;

§         τιμὴν - “honour” [2:20], ‘valuable’; ‘worth, honour, or price’;

§         ἀτιμίαν - “dishonour” [2:20], ‘disgrace’; ‘common use or unclean use’;


3.        The Divine Purpose

The different forms of election are in order to enable the divine purpose.

a.        The Prophetic Word

The plan and purpose of God: “but that the scripture may be fulfilled…” [13:18].

§         γραφὴ - “scripture” [13:18], literally ‘the writing’; ‘the inscription’; ‘the passage’;

§         The scriptures are the revelation of God concerning his plan for salvation: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” [5:39].

§         πληρωθῇ - “fulfilled” [13:18], ‘to make complete’; ‘to fill up’;

b.        The Particular Passage

                                                                                                         i.          Eating Bread

The particular scripture: “He that eats bread with me…” [13:18].

§         A quotation from Psalm 41: “yea, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat bread with me, has lifted up his heel against me” [Psa.41:9].

§         The “Familiar friend” [Psa.41:9] means literally ‘man of peace’; ‘one with whom I lived on terms of intimate and endearing discourse’.

§         The sharing of bread was one of the most intimate moments in Israelite life, and meals were a time in which participants set aside all enmity and hostility.

§         In Eastern culture, where sharing bread and salt bound people together in covenant support, such betrayal signified the depth of depravity.

                                                                                                       ii.          Lifting the Heel

He “Lifted up his heel” [13:18] means literally ‘has made his heel great against me’.

§         Culturally, ‘to show the bottom of one’s foot to someone in the Near East is a mark of contempt’.

§         The precise point is that the betrayal was done by an intimate friend.

                                                                                                     iii.          Original Context

The original context was probably referring to his counselor Ahithophel, who turned traitor and joined Absalom’s rebellion [2 Sam. 15–17].

§         David flees from Absalom: “Arise, let us flee, for else we shall not else escape from Absalom…” [2Sam.15:13ff].

§         Ahithophel was “David’s counsellor” [2Sam.15:12] and Absalom “sent for him” [15:12] and “the conspiracy was strong for the people increased continually with Absalom” [15:12].

§         Ahithophel, as the royal counsellor, was considered to be God’s spokesman: “the counsel of Ahithophel was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom” [2Sam.16:23].

c.        Kingdom Tasks

In [6:70], the word “chosen”, ἐξελεξάμην, denotes a temporal election, by which God appoints us to any particular work:

                                                                                                         i.          Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was clearly chosen: “I have chosen you twelve…” [6:70].

§         Judas had the gift of God: “he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases” [Luk.9:1].

§         The disciples’ ministry: “preached…and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” [Mar.6:12-13].

§         The ministry: “the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through your name” [Luk.10:17].

§         Judas had a prime position amongst the twelve: “he had the bag, and bare what was put therein” [12:6].

                                                                                                       ii.          Saul

In the OT we have the example of Saul. He was elected to be a king: “When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, Behold the man whom I spoke to thee of…” [1Sam.9:17ff].

§         Saul was chosen for a particular work: “The Lord has anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance…” [1Sam.10:1].

§         Saul was endued by the gifts of God: “the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee…” [1Sam.10:6]; “and it was so…that God gave him another heart…” [1sam.10:9].

§         Yet Saul turned out to be a reprobate: “you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected thee from being king over Israel” [1Sam.15:26].


God did at the same time as “choosing” particular individuals equip them in order to perform these tasks.

§         To attack a person in an unperceived manner, under the pretence of friendship,

§         The illustration of the scaffolding; so necessary for the construction work but having no part in the completed building.


1.        The Betrayal  

The purpose of divine revelation: “Now I tell you before is come that…” [13:19].

§         λέγω - “tell” [13:19], present active,

a.        The Purpose

The purpose of revelation: “when it come to pass you may believe…” [13:19].

§         γενέσθαι - “come to pass” [13:19], aorist infinitive, ‘come to exist’;

§         πιστεύσητε - “believe” [13:19], aorist middle subjunctive,

                                                                                                         i.          Faith in Christ

Revelation and faith in Christ: “that I am” [13:19].

§         ἐγώ εἰμι - “I am” [13:19], first person pronoun and first person singular present active of ‘to be’.

§         The expression almost certainly has overtones of deity: “I am the bread of life…” [6:35]; “I am the light of the world…” [8:12]; “I am the door of the sheep…” [10:7]; “I am the good shepherd…” [10:11]; “I AM THAT I AM…” [Exo.3:14].

§         See also “these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…” [20:31].

                                                                                                       ii.          Voluntary Submission

It will bring the assurance that the events leading to Jesus’ death and his actual death were all part of His voluntary offering of himself: “I have power to lay it down…” [10:8].

§         The disciples might well have been seriously shocked and their faith shattered had the betrayal taken them completely unawares. They might have thought Jesus’ enemies too resourceful for him.

§         The prediction altered all of that. It ensured that, on reflection, they would continue to see his mastery of the situation.

§         Jesus does this so that Judas’s betrayal will not shake their faith in Jesus but rather confirm them in the knowledge that, even with regard to Judas, Jesus is not surprised by developments but knows what awaits him.

§         Calvin – by this statement he reminds his disciples that, when one of their number becomes a reprobate, this is so far from being a good reason for their being discouraged, that it ought to be a more full confirmation of their faith. For if we did not see before our eyes, in the Church, what has been foretold about her distresses and struggles, a doubt might justly arise in our minds, Where are the prophecies?


Jesus is not a helpless victim: “Now I tell you before it come…” [13:19].

§          The coming events – his betrayal – would seem to invalidate Jesus’ claims.

§          Jesus’ resurrection would confirm his claims.

§         The revelation was in order to bind the disciples together as a group until Jesus’ resurrection.

§         Jesus is not taken by surprise or outflanked by betrayal, nor should the disciples be.

2.        Union with Christ & The Divine Plan

If this is the case; what should the disciples do? What should other people do with them? How should they receive them? Jesus goes on to addresses the disciples on their profound union with him:

a.        Jesus & The Disciples

The focus first of all on his relationship with the disciples: “he that receives whomsoever I send…” [13:20].

§         λαμβάνων - “receives” [13:20], present active participle, ‘to take hold of’; ‘to embrace’; ‘to take possession of’;

§         πέμψω - “send” [13:20], singular aorist active, ‘to cause one to depart’; ‘to cause one to carry something to a destination’;

§         λαμβάνει - “receives me” [13:20], present active, ‘to take to oneself’;

                                                                                                         i.          The Union

Union with the Godhead: “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, so that they also may be one…” [19:21].

§         Jesus message to the people: “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me…” [12:44].

§         Jesus prayer: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” [17:23].

§         Paul and union with Christ: “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ stead…” [2Cor.5:19]; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me…” [Gal.2:20].

§         Eternal election: “has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” [Eph.1:4].

b.        Jesus & God

The focus on Jesus and the Father: “he that receives me receives…” [13:20].

§         λαμβάνων - “receives” [13:20], present active participle, ‘to take to oneself’;

§         πέμψαντά - “him that sent me” [13:20], aorist active participle, ‘to cause one to depart’; ‘to cause one to carry something to a destination’;

§         Jesus’ claim: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me…” [6:38]; “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” [7:16];

§         Jesus anticipates the commission of ch.20: “Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you” [20:21].

§         Christ and His Sender are one: “I and my Father are one” [10:30].


In the face of Jesus’ humiliation, and even in the face of His betrayal, the disciples are not to think – ‘Now it is all over, not only with him but with us, his followers, also.

§         It is the very facts of the humiliation that confirm his authority and the validity of their commission.

§         An ambassador of ‘Christ betrayed, condemned, and crucified’ is still s true ambassador; in fact he is the only true ambassador.

§         The message – disregards the issue of betrayal; don’t be sidetracked by it; it is the ‘message’ and the ‘messenger’, the ‘sent one’ and the ‘sender’.

§         The verse powerfully ties the disciples to Jesus; the mission of Jesus is assigned the highest theological significance, the most absolutely binding authority – the authority of God himself: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever…” [13:20].

§         We wonder at the wisdom and benignity of the Saviour in so blending warning and encouragement, where both were equally needed, to repress in his disciples a low earthly ambition, and, at the same time, to cherish high ennobling aims and anticipations of the office with which they had been invested, and the work they were destined to accomplish.

§         Westcott: ‘if the treachery of one shook the confidence of the others, the assurance of what their office truly was served to restore it’.

Now this admonition of Christ shows that it is unreasonable that the impiety of any whose conduct is wicked or unbecoming their office, should at all diminish the apostolic authority. The reason is, we ought to contemplate God, the Author of the ministry, in whom, certainly, we find nothing which we have a right to despise; and next, we ought to contemplate Christ, who, having been appointed by the Father to be the only Teacher, speaks by his apostles. Whoever, then, does not deign to receive the ministers of the Gospel, rejects Christ in them, and rejects God in Christ.

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