Six days before the Passover: Jesus must have arrived about the time when the Sabbath began on Nisan 8 (at sunset). Following the Sabbath (that is, at the beginning of Nisan 9), he enjoyed an evening meal in the home of Simon the leper, along with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.—Joh 12:2-11; see study note on Mt 26:6 and App. A7 and B12.
Bethany: See study note on Mt 21:17.
Lazarus: See study note on Lu 16:20.
pound: The Greek term liʹtra is usually equated with the Roman pound (Latin, libra). Thus, it was about 327 g (11.5 oz).—See App. B14.
perfumed oil, . . . very costly: John’s account specifies that Judas Iscariot said that the oil could be sold for “300 denarii.” (Joh 12:5) That sum represented about a year’s wages for an ordinary laborer. The source of such perfumed oil is generally thought to be an aromatic plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) found in the Himalayas. Nard was often adulterated, even counterfeited, but both Mark and John say that this oil was genuine nard.—Mr 14:3; see Glossary, “Nard.”
she poured it on the feet of Jesus: See study note on Mr 14:3.
who was about to betray him: The combination of the two Greek verbs used here (one rendered “was about to” and one rendered “betray”), both in the present tense, allows for the idea that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was, not impulsive, but premeditated. The statement made at Joh 6:64 supports this understanding.—See study note on Joh 6:64.
300 denarii: See study note on Mr 14:5.
this observance in view of . . . my burial: See study note on Mt 26:12.
there: That is, at Bethany.—Joh 12:1.
next day: That is, the morning of Nisan 9, 33 C.E. Nisan 9 started at sunset the evening before. On that evening, Jesus enjoyed a meal in the home of Simon the leper.—See study note on Joh 12:1 and App. B12.
the festival: As shown by the context, the festival referred to is the Passover. (Joh 11:55; 12:1; 13:1) In Jesus’ time, the Passover, celebrated on Nisan 14, and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, which lasted from Nisan 15 to 21 (Le 23:5, 6; Nu 28:16, 17; see App. B15), had become so closely connected that all eight days, from Nisan 14 to 21, were treated as one festival. (Lu 22:1) Josephus speaks of “a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread.”—See App. B12.
Save, we pray you: See study note on Mt 21:9.
daughter of Zion: See study note on Mt 21:5.
a donkey’s colt: That is, a young donkey. The accounts of Mark (11:2), Luke (19:35), and John mention only one animal, the colt, when describing this event. Matthew’s account (21:2-7) adds the detail that the parent donkey was also present.—See study notes on Mt 21:2, 5.
tomb: Or “memorial tomb.”—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”
Greeks: There were many Greek colonies in Palestine in the first century, but in this context, the term apparently refers to Greek proselytes, or converts, to the Jewish religion. Note that at Joh 12:32, Jesus prophetically said: “I . . . will draw all sorts of men to myself.”
his life: Or “his soul.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”
minister to: Or “serve.” The Greek noun di·aʹko·nos, rendered minister (or, “servant”) in this same verse, is related to the Greek verb di·a·ko·neʹo used here. The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others.—See study note on Mt 20:26.
I am: Or “my soul is.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a person’s entire being. So “my soul” can be rendered “my whole being” or simply “I.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”
a voice: The third of three instances in the Gospel accounts where Jehovah is reported as speaking directly to humans. The first instance occurred at Jesus’ baptism in 29 C.E. and is recorded at Mt 3:16, 17; Mr 1:11; and Lu 3:22. The second instance was in connection with Jesus’ transfiguration in 32 C.E. and is recorded at Mt 17:5; Mr 9:7; and Lu 9:35. The third instance, mentioned only in the Gospel of John, happened in 33 C.E., shortly before Jesus’ last Passover. Jehovah responded to Jesus’ request that his Father glorify His own name.
the ruler of this world: A similar expression occurs at Joh 14:30 and 16:11 and refers to Satan the Devil. In this context, the term “world” (Greek, koʹsmos) refers to human society that is alienated from God and whose behavior is out of harmony with his will. God did not produce this unrighteous world; it is “lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1Jo 5:19) Satan and his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” act as the invisible “world rulers [form of the Greek word ko·smo·kraʹtor] of this darkness.”—Eph 6:11, 12.
will be cast out: Jesus’ prophetic words point to a future time when Satan will be expelled from his position as ruler of this world.
I am lifted up from the earth: Apparently referring to Jesus’ execution on a stake, as indicated by the verse that follows.
all sorts of men: Or “people of all sorts.” Jesus declares that he will draw people of all backgrounds to himself, regardless of nationality, race, or economic status. (Ac 10:34, 35; Re 7:9, 10; see study note on Joh 6:44.) It is worth noting that on this occasion, “some Greeks” worshipping at the temple wanted to see Jesus. (See study note on Joh 12:20.) Many translations render the Greek word pas (“everyone; all [people]”) in a way that indicates that every human will ultimately be drawn to Jesus. This idea, however, would not agree with the rest of the inspired Scriptures. (Ps 145:20; Mt 7:13; Lu 2:34; 2Th 1:9) While the Greek word literally means “all; everyone” (Ro 5:12), Mt 5:11 and Ac 10:12 clearly show that it can mean “every sort” or “all sorts”; in these verses many translations use renderings such as “every sort of; all kinds of.”—Joh 1:7; 1Ti 2:4.
Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 53:1, the original Hebrew text uses the divine name only once, in the expression “the arm of Jehovah.” John, however, apparently quotes from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah’s prophecy, where the Greek text begins with the form of the word Kyʹri·os (Lord) used for direct address. (See Ro 10:16, where Isa 53:1 is also quoted.) The translators may have inserted the divine name in this first occurrence in order to clarify to the reader that the prophet addresses his questions to God. As previously noted, Kyʹri·os in later copies of the Septuagint is often used as a substitute for the Tetragrammaton in the original Hebrew text (as is the case in the second occurrence of Kyʹri·os in this quote). Therefore, the divine name has here been used in the main text. A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J12, 14, 16-18, 22, 23 in App. C4) use the divine name at its first occurrence at Joh 12:38.
arm of Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 53:1, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs once in the original Hebrew text. (See study note on the first occurrence of Jehovah in this verse and App. A5 and C.) The Hebrew and Greek terms for arm are often used figuratively in the Bible to represent the ability to exert strength or power. Through the signs and miracles that Jesus performed, Jehovah revealed His “arm,” His might and ability to exercise power.
Isaiah . . . saw his glory: When Isaiah saw a vision of the heavenly courts where Jehovah was sitting on his lofty throne, Jehovah asked Isaiah: “Who will go for us?” (Isa 6:1, 8-10) The use of the plural pronoun “us” indicates that at least one other person was with God in this vision. So it is reasonable to conclude that when John wrote that Isaiah “saw his glory,” this refers to Jesus’ prehuman glory alongside Jehovah. (Joh 1:14) This harmonizes with such scriptures as Ge 1:26, where God said: “Let us make man in our image.” (See also Pr 8:30, 31; Joh 1:1-3; Col 1:15, 16.) John adds that Isaiah spoke about him, that is, the Christ, because a large portion of Isaiah’s writings focuses on the foretold Messiah.
the rulers: Here the Greek word for “rulers” apparently refers to members of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin. The term is used at Joh 3:1 with reference to Nicodemus, a member of that court.—See study note on Joh 3:1.
expelled from the synagogue: See study note on Joh 9:22.
judge: Or “condemn.”—See study note on Joh 3:17.