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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to John 13:1-38

13  Now because he knew before the festival of the Passover that his hour had come+ for him to leave this world and go to the Father,+ Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end.+  The evening meal was going on,* and the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Is·carʹi·ot,+ the son of Simon, to betray him.+  So Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he came from God and was going to God,+  got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist.+  After that he put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel that was wrapped around him.+  Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him: “Lord, are you washing my feet?”  Jesus answered him: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand after these things.”  Peter said to him: “You will certainly never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him: “Unless I wash you,+ you have no share with me.”  Simon Peter said to him: “Lord, wash not only my feet but also my hands and my head.” 10  Jesus said to him: “Whoever has bathed does not need to have more than his feet washed, but is completely clean.+ And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11  For he knew the man who was betraying him.+ This is why he said: “Not all of you are clean.” 12  When, now, he had washed their feet and had put his outer garments on, he again reclined at the table and said to them: “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13  You address me as ‘Teacher’+ and ‘Lord,’ and you are correct, for I am such.+ 14  Therefore, if I, the Lord and Teacher, washed your feet,+ you also should wash the feet of one another.+ 15  For I set the pattern for you, that just as I did to you, you should also do.+ 16  Most truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.+ 17  If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.+ 18  I am not talking about all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this was so that the scripture might be fulfilled:+ ‘The one who was eating my bread has lifted his heel against me.’+ 19  From this moment on, I am telling you before it occurs, so that when it does occur you may believe that I am he.+ 20  Most truly I say to you, whoever receives anyone I send receives me also,+ and whoever receives me receives also the One who sent me.”+ 21  After saying these things, Jesus became troubled in spirit, and he bore witness, saying: “Most truly I say to you, one of you will betray me.”+ 22  The disciples began to look at one another, being at a loss as to which one he was talking about.+ 23  One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,+ was reclining close to Jesus. 24  Therefore, Simon Peter nodded to this one and said to him: “Tell us whom he is talking about.” 25  So the latter leaned back on the chest of Jesus and said to him: “Lord, who is it?”+ 26  Jesus answered: “It is the one to whom I will give the piece of bread that I dip.”+ So after dipping the bread, he took it and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Is·carʹi·ot. 27  After Judas took the piece of bread, then Satan entered into him.+ So Jesus said to him: “What you are doing, do it more quickly.” 28  However, none of those reclining at the table knew why he said this to him. 29  Some, in fact, were thinking that since Judas was holding the money box,+ Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30  So after he received the piece of bread, he went out immediately. And it was night.+ 31  When, therefore, he had gone out, Jesus said: “Now the Son of man is glorified,+ and God is glorified in connection with him.* 32  God himself will glorify him,+ and he will glorify him immediately. 33  Little children, I am with you a little longer. You will look for me; and just as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’+ I now say it also to you. 34  I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you,+ you also love one another.+ 35  By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”+ 36  Simon Peter said to him: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered: “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.”+ 37  Peter said to him: “Lord, why is it I cannot follow you now? I will surrender my life in your behalf.”+ 38  Jesus answered: “Will you surrender your life in my behalf? Most truly I say to you, a rooster will by no means crow until you have disowned me three times.”+

Footnotes

Or possibly, “was being prepared.”
Or “by means of him.”

Study Notes

the Passover: Jesus started his preaching activity after his baptism in the fall of 29 C.E., so this reference to a Passover early in his ministry must have been to the one celebrated in the spring of 30 C.E. (See study note on Lu 3:1 and App. A7.) A comparison of the four Gospel accounts indicates that four Passovers were celebrated during Jesus’ earthly ministry, leading to the conclusion that his ministry was three and a half years long. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (often called the synoptic Gospels) do not mention any Passover except the final one, at which Jesus died. John’s account specifically mentions three Passovers (Joh 2:13; 6:4; 11:55), and a fourth one is most likely referred to by the expression “a festival of the Jews” at Joh 5:1. This example highlights the value of comparing the Gospel accounts to gain a more complete picture of Jesus’ life.—See study notes on Joh 5:1; 6:4; 11:55.

the festival of the Passover: That is, Passover of 33 C.E.—See study note on Joh 2:13.

having loved: Love becomes a prominent theme throughout the remaining chapters of John’s Gospel. In the first 12 chapters of John’s account, the Greek verb a·ga·paʹo (to love) and the noun a·gaʹpe (love) are used a combined total of eight times. But in John chapters 13 to 21, these terms appear a total of 36 times. In fact, Jesus’ deep love for his Father and for his disciples is nowhere made more apparent than in the closing chapters of John’s Gospel. For instance, all four Gospel accounts reveal Jesus’ love for Jehovah, but only John records that Jesus explicitly stated: “I love the Father.” (Joh 14:31) And it is during Jesus’ parting counsel to his disciples that he not only states that Jehovah loves him but also explains why.—Joh 15:9, 10.

loved them to the end: The Greek phrase used here likely refers to the end of Jesus’ life as a human. However, others understand the Greek expression in this context to mean “loved them completely (fully); loved them continually.”

he wrapped it around his waist: Or “he girded himself.” Usually, it was a slave’s job to wash and dry the feet of others. (Joh 13:12-17) By performing this menial task, Jesus taught his disciples a powerful lesson about the attitude Jehovah requires his servants to display. The apostle Peter, present that night, may have had this event in mind when he later admonished fellow believers: “All of you clothe [or, “gird”] yourselves with humility.”—1Pe 5:5; ftn.

he wrapped it around his waist: Or “he girded himself.” Usually, it was a slave’s job to wash and dry the feet of others. (Joh 13:12-17) By performing this menial task, Jesus taught his disciples a powerful lesson about the attitude Jehovah requires his servants to display. The apostle Peter, present that night, may have had this event in mind when he later admonished fellow believers: “All of you clothe [or, “gird”] yourselves with humility.”—1Pe 5:5; ftn.

wash the feet of the disciples: In ancient Israel, sandals were the most common footwear. They were little more than a sole strapped to the foot and ankle, so a traveler’s feet would inevitably get dirty from the dusty or muddy roads and fields. Therefore, it was customary for a person to remove his sandals upon entering a home, and a hospitable host would make sure that his guest’s feet were washed. The Bible contains a number of references to this practice. (Ge 18:4, 5; 24:32; 1Sa 25:41; Lu 7:37, 38, 44) When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he used this custom to give them an object lesson in humility and in serving one another.

that was wrapped around him: Or “with which he was girded.”—See study note on Joh 13:4.

Jesus knew . . . the one who would betray him: Jesus was referring to Judas Iscariot. Jesus spent the entire night in prayer to his Father before selecting the 12 apostles. (Lu 6:12-16) So at first, Judas was faithful to God. However, Jesus knew from Hebrew Scripture prophecies that he would be betrayed by a close associate. (Ps 41:9; 109:8; Joh 13:18, 19) When Judas started to go bad, Jesus, who could read hearts and thoughts, detected this change. (Mt 9:4) By use of his foreknowledge, God knew that a trusted companion of Jesus would turn traitor. But it is inconsistent with God’s qualities and past dealings to think that Judas had to be the one who would fail, as if his failure were predestined.

a slanderer: Or “a devil.” The Greek word di·aʹbo·los, most often used with reference to the Devil, means “slanderer.” It is rendered “slanderers” (2Ti 3:3) or “slanderous” (1Ti 3:11; Tit 2:3) in the few other occurrences where the term does not refer to the Devil. In Greek, when used about the Devil, it is almost always preceded by the definite article. (See study note on Mt 4:1 and Glossary, “Definite Article.”) Here the term is used to describe Judas Iscariot, who had developed a bad quality. It is possible that at this point Jesus detected that Judas was starting down a wrong course, one that later allowed Satan to use Judas as an ally in having Jesus killed.—Joh 13:2, 11.

he knew: Since Jesus could discern the thinking and attitudes of those around him, it is clear that Judas did not have a treasonous attitude when he was selected to be an apostle. (Mt 9:4; Mr 2:8; Joh 2:24, 25) However, when Judas later began to develop a bad attitude, Jesus detected it and was able to identify his betrayer. Despite knowing that Judas would betray him, Jesus still washed the feet of this traitor.—See study notes on Joh 6:64; 6:70.

should: Or “are under obligation to.” The Greek verb used here is often used in a financial sense, basically meaning “to be indebted to someone; to owe something to someone.” (Mt 18:28, 30, 34; Lu 16:5, 7) Here and in other contexts, it is used in the broader sense of being obligated to or under obligation to do something.—1Jo 3:16; 4:11; 3Jo 8.

apostles: Or “sent ones.” The Greek word a·poʹsto·los is derived from the verb a·po·stelʹlo, meaning “to send away (out).” (Mt 10:5; Lu 11:49; 14:32) Its basic meaning is clearly illustrated in Jesus’ statement at Joh 13:16, where it is rendered “one who is sent.”

apostles: Or “sent ones.” The Greek word a·poʹsto·los is derived from the verb a·po·stelʹlo, which is used toward the end of the verse and is rendered “send out.”—See study note on Mt 10:2.

one who is sent: Or “a messenger (an envoy); an apostle.” The Greek word a·poʹsto·los (derived from the verb a·po·stelʹlo, meaning “to send out”) is rendered “apostle(s)” in 78 of the 80 occurrences in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (At Php 2:25, this Greek word is rendered “envoy.”) The only occurrence of the Greek term in John’s Gospel is in this verse.—Mt 10:5; Lu 11:49; 14:32; see study notes on Mt 10:2; Mr 3:14 and Glossary, “Apostle.”

eating my bread: Eating bread with someone was a symbol of friendship, indicating that the guest was at peace with his host. (Ge 31:54; compare with Ex 2:20 and 18:12, where the Hebrew expression “eat bread” is rendered “eat” and “eat a meal.”) A person who ate bread with his host and afterward did him harm was considered to be the vilest of traitors.—Ps 41:9.

has lifted his heel against me: Or “has turned against me.” Jesus here quotes the prophetic words of Ps 41:9, which literally reads “has made [his] heel great against me.” There David used figurative speech about a traitorous companion, perhaps referring to Ahithophel, “David’s adviser.” (2Sa 15:12) Jesus applies these words to Judas Iscariot. In this context, the expression thus indicates a treacherous action, one threatening harm to the person against whom the heel is “lifted.”

John: That is, John the Baptist. The writer of this Gospel, the apostle John, refers to John the Baptist 19 times but, unlike the other Gospel writers, never uses the designation “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer.” (See study notes on Mt 3:1; Mr 1:4.) The apostle John does distinguish between the three Marys. (Joh 11:1, 2; 19:25; 20:1) However, he did not need to make such a distinction when referring to John the Baptist, since the apostle never refers to himself by name and no one would misunderstand which John was meant. This is another confirmation that the apostle John wrote this Gospel.—See “Introduction to John” and study note on John Title.

the disciple whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the last of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10; Joh 21:2) As the context of Joh 21:20-24 shows, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was also “the disciple who . . . wrote these things,” that is, the writer of the Gospel of John.—See study notes on Joh Title; 1:6; 13:23.

to Abraham’s side: Lit., “to the bosom of Abraham.” The bosom position was one of special favor and close fellowship. (See study note on Joh 1:18.) This figure of speech is drawn from the practice of reclining on couches at meals in such a way that one would lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a special friend.—Joh 13:23-25.

by his side: Lit., “in his bosom.”—See study note on Lu 16:22.

at the Father’s side: Lit., “in the bosom of the Father.” This expression refers to a position of special favor and close fellowship. It is a figure of speech that is likely drawn from the way meals were eaten; guests would recline on couches in such a way that one could lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a close friend. (Joh 13:23-25) Jesus is thus described as the closest friend of Jehovah, the one person who could explain God more fully and thoroughly than anyone else could.—Mt 11:27.

the one whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the first of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10) One reason for this identification is that the apostle John is not referred to by name in this Gospel, except for the mention of “the sons of Zebedee” at Joh 21:2. Another indication is found at Joh 21:20-24, where the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is used with reference to the writer of this Gospel. Also, Jesus said of that apostle: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” This suggests that the one referred to would long survive Peter and the other apostles, a description that fits the apostle John.—See study notes on Joh Title and Joh 1:6; 21:20.

close to: Lit., “in the bosom of.” This expression refers to the way people were positioned at a dining table in Jesus’ day. Guests reclined on their left side with a cushion supporting their left elbow. A guest could lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a friend reclining next to him and engage in a confidential conversation. (Joh 13:25) Being “close to,” or “in the bosom of,” someone meant being in a special relationship of favor and close fellowship with that person. This custom was apparently the background for the expressions used in Lu and Joh.—See study notes on Lu 16:22, 23; Joh 1:18.

for the festival: Apparently referring to the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which began after the Passover.

Little children: In the Gospels, there is no earlier record of Jesus’ addressing his disciples with this affectionate expression. The Greek word here rendered “little children,” te·kniʹon, is the diminutive form of the word teʹknon (child). In the Christian Greek Scriptures, diminutives are often used to indicate affection and familiarity. (See Glossary, “Diminutive.”) This expression could therefore also be rendered “dear children” or “beloved children.” It occurs nine times in the Christian Greek Scriptures and is always used in a figurative sense, referring to disciples.—Ga 4:19; 1Jo 2:1, 12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21.

new commandment: The Mosaic Law required that a person love his neighbor as he loved himself. (Le 19:18) It called for neighbor love but not necessarily for self-sacrificing love that would go even to the point of giving one’s life for a fellow human. Jesus’ commandment was “new,” or unprecedented, in that he said: just as I have loved you. He gave his followers a perfect model to follow in how to love and live unselfishly for others, a love that would move a person to die for others. Both Jesus’ life and his death exemplified the love called for by this new commandment.—Joh 15:13.

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Peter’s life, which he says he is willing to give up for Jesus.—See Glossary, “Soul.”

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Peter’s life, which he says he is willing to give up for Jesus.—See Glossary, “Soul.”

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Peter’s life.—See study note on Joh 13:37 and Glossary, “Soul.”

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