JOHN 12:38a “Jehovah, who has put faith . . . ?”

REASON(S): In this quote from Isaiah 53:1, the original Hebrew text uses the divine name only once, in the expression “the arm of Jehovah.” John, however, under divine inspiration 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 Romans 10:16, where Isaiah 53:1 is also quoted.) The translators may have inserted this first occurrence of Kyʹri·os in order to clarify to the reader that the prophet addresses his questions to God. Since 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), the divine name has been used here in the main text.—See John 12:38b.


  • When commenting on the same quotation from Isaiah 53:1 that is found at Romans 10:16, The Bible Commentary, edited by F. C. Cook, 1981 reprint, makes this comment on the first occurrence of “Lord” in that quotation: “The word ‘Lord,’ added here and in the Greek versions of Isai. liii. I [53:1], shows the prophet turning to Jehovah, as the sender of the message . . . The addition is in harmony with the original meaning of the passage, and with St. Paul’s comment upon it in v. 17.”

  • The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, by R.C.H. Lenski, says of the same quotation from Isaiah 53:1 that is found at Romans 10:16: “Paul adds ‘Lord’ to the quotation since the prophet’s question was addressed to Yahweh.”

  • In the book The Principles and Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism, G. D. Kilpatrick lists John 12:38 as having two occurrences of “Κύριος [Kyʹri·os] = Yahweh.”

  • The Complete Jewish Bible, by David H. Stern, 1998, uses capital and small capitals for the word “ADONAI” twice in this verse. In the introduction to this Bible, the translator explains: “The word ‘ADONAIis used . . . wherever I, as the translator, believe ‘kurios’ is the Greek representation of the tetragrammaton.”

  • The Companion Bible, with notes by E. W. Bullinger, 1999 printing, uses capital and small capitals for LORD twice in the main text of John 12:38 to show that both occurrences refer to Jehovah. In Appendix 98, “Divine Names and Titles in New Testament,” on p. 142, it lists John 12:38 twice under the heading “LORD . . . Used of Jehovah.”

  • The Messianic Jewish Shared Heritage Bible, 2012, uses ADONAI twice in this verse. The glossary on p. 1530 explains: “When written in small capitals, it [ADONAI] refers to God’s personal name YHWH as given in the Hebrew Bible. This personal name is God’s ‘covenant name,’ used when God is relating to the Jewish people in an intimate way.”

  • The Newberry Bible (commonly known as The Englishman’s Bible), by Thomas Newberry, 1890 printing. At John 12:38, “LORD” appears twice in capital and small capitals, and the marginal note says: “Heb. Jehovah.”

  • The Scofield Reference Bible, 1909, by C. I. Scofield, says in a marginal note on the first occurrence of “Lord” at John 12:38: “Jehovah. Isa. 53.1.”

  • The NLT Study Bible, Second Edition, 2008, puts “LORD” in capital and small capitals in both occurrences at John 12:38. The translation committee for this Bible makes this comment in the “Introduction to the New Living Translation”: “We have generally rendered the tetragrammaton (YHWH) consistently as ‘the LORD,’ utilizing a form . . . that is common among English translations.” Commenting on the New Testament, the committee says: “The Greek word kurios is consistently translated ‘Lord,’ except that it is translated ‘LORD’ wherever the New Testament text explicitly quotes from the Old Testament, and the text there has it in small capitals.” (Italics ours.)

  • The Scriptures, translated by the Institute for Scripture Research, 2010, uses the Hebrew letters for the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) twice at John 12:38.

  • The Idiomatic Translation of the New Testament, translated by William Graham MacDonald, 2009, uses “Yahveh” twice at John 12:38.

  • The Holy Bible, Containing the Authorized Version of the Old and New Testaments, With Many Thousand Emendations, 1846, twice uses “LORD” in large capitals in the main text of John 12:38.

SUPPORTING REFERENCES: J12-14, 16-18, 22, 23, 34-36, 39, 43, 46, 52, 65, 66