Category Archives: Verse of the day

August 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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13 The basic premise of Jesus’ argument is that the disciples acknowledged him to be their Teacher and Lord. The order is significant. The disciples came to know Jesus first as Teacher (equivalent to Rabbi, the title normally used by Jewish students when addressing their master) and later as Lord. They had been with him in public ministry for almost two years before he asked, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:15–16). While it is true that the day will come when every tongue will confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Php 2:11), during his earthly ministry Jesus did not demand the obedience appropriate to lordship from those who had not come to know him first as Teacher. The disciples, however, were correct in acknowledging him as Teacher and Lord because, as Jesus said, “That is what I am.” He was not simply one who had taught them; more important, he was their Lord.[1]


The Suitable Response to Christ’s Love

So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, 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. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (13:12–17)

Having washed the disciples’ feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, Jesus taught them the lesson He wanted them to learn. The theological truths pictured in verses 7–11 (Jesus’ humiliation at His first coming and the once-for-all cleansing of justification versus the daily cleansing of sanctification), though of great importance, are not the main truths the Lord sought to communicate. The primary principle Jesus wanted the disciples to learn was the importance of humble, loving service. That becomes clear because He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” This was a crucial lesson for the disciples, constantly bickering over who was the greatest, to learn. If the Lord of Glory was willing to humble Himself and take on the role of the lowest of slaves, how could the disciples do any less? Jesus had once asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46); here He was in effect saying, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not follow My example?”

Some argue from this passage that foot washing is an ordinance for the church, along with baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion). But Jesus said, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you,” not, “what I did to you.” Further, “Wise theologians and expositors have always been reluctant to raise to the level of universal rite something that appears only once in Scripture” (Carson, John, 468). (The only other reference to foot washing, 1 Tim. 5:10, is not in the context of a church rite, but of good deeds performed by individuals.)

To elevate the outward act of foot washing to the status of an ordinance is to minimize the important lesson Jesus was teaching. The Lord gave an example of humility, not of foot washing; His concern was for the inner attitude, not the outward rite. The latter is meaningless apart from the former.

To refuse to follow Jesus’ example of humble service is to pridefully elevate oneself above Him, since a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him (cf. similar sayings in 15:20; Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40; 22:27). No servant dares to regard any task as beneath him if his master has performed it.

The Lord’s concluding thought, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them,” reflects the biblical truth that blessing flows from obedience. The opening words of the Psalms emphasize that truth:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Ps. 1:1–3)

Psalm 119:1 declares, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (cf. Ps. 128:1). In Proverbs 16:20 Solomon declared, “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” “My mother and My brothers,” Jesus declared, “are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). Later in Luke’s gospel, He affirmed, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28).

This passage reveals one essential way that believers can obey God and receive His blessing: by following the example of His Son. “The one who says he abides in Him,” John wrote in his first epistle, “ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). Serving others in the humility of love is imitating Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 2:5)[2]


Love Exhorted (13:12–17)

SUPPORTING IDEA: Perhaps there exists no act more menial than washing another’s feet, but nothing is beneath a disciple. Did the Savior intend to initiate an ordinance here? Some believe the command to wash the feet of others must be taken literally. But Jesus called us to acts of humble service for other Christians and, as Harry Ironside used to say, “When washing each other’s feet, we should be careful of the temperature of the water.”

13:12–14. The washing not only demonstrated humility and servanthood to the disciples but also laid an experiential foundation for the teaching of verse 10. When the foot-washing ended, Jesus taught an important lesson about the relationship of believers—you also should wash one another’s feet.

As Mother Teresa has shown us, perhaps more than anyone else in the twentieth century, if our teacher and Lord does not hesitate to wash our feet, how can we fail to wash one another’s feet? Certainly there can be no harm in the literal practice of foot-washing, but the symbolism of first-century behavior seems more appropriately replicated in the way we serve people in a variety of ways.

Incidentally, the only other reference to foot-washing appears in 1 Timothy 5:10, so we have scant evidence that the New Testament church actually practiced this as a regular ordinance.

Jesus emphasized the words Teacher and Lord in contrast with the way they had behaved toward him. The Lord reminded them that he washed their feet as their leader. Morris says, “Jesus proceeds to endorse this way of speaking. He commends the disciples, for these expressions point to his true position. But precisely because of this there are implications. His repetition of ‘the Lord and the teacher’ (a reversed order may be significant) emphasizes his dignity. This exalted Person has washed their feet. They ought, therefore, to wash one another’s feet” (Morris, p. 620).

13:15–17. Throughout the New Testament we learn the importance of example, never more so than when Jesus refers to himself. But here we are not focused on some great spiritual reality or doctrinal truth; the passage deals with how we treat other people. As Francis Schaeffer often observed, love is the ultimate mark of the Christian. Since Jesus loved his disciples and loves us in the same way, we need to do for others what he has done for us.

In verse 16 we find John’s only use of the word apostolos, the common New Testament word for “apostle,” here translated as messenger. Interesting that no church office or spiritual gift comes to view here. The context remains one of foot-washing as an example of how Christians treat one another. If we would be Christ’s messengers in any capacity, we must behave toward others the way he behaved toward his disciples.

We receive God’s joy by acting on the principles of conduct that Jesus taught. First we ought to pray, “Lord, wash me”; then we need to pray, “Lord, help me wash others.” And let us not forget that the word blessed can also be translated “happy.” We can be happy as Christians by acting on the principles of these verses, conducting our lives in such a way that we forgive, serve, and love the brothers and sisters in Christ. When we avoid criticism, complaining, and conflict, harmony and unity gain strength in the body.

Hughes calls this kind of behavior, “ ‘people of the towel’: When Jesus said, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?’ he might have added, ‘and do you know who you are, as heirs to the towel?’ The power, the impetus, and the grace to wash one another’s feet is proportionate to how we see ourselves. Our Lord saw Himself as King of kings, and He washed their feet. Recovery of a consciousness that we serve Christ the King will also compel us to service” (Hughes, p. 38).[3]


12–15. So when he had washed their feet, had taken his garments, and had resumed his place, he said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? you call me Teacher and Lord, and you say (this) correctly, for (that is what) I am. If, therefore, I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash each other’s feet, for I have given you an example, in order that just as I did to you so also you should do.

Peter’s objection having been answered, Jesus finished washing his feet, and then the feet of the others until the entire task was done. Then the Lord redressed and resumed his place at the table.

In order to understand what follows it must be borne in mind that the feet-washing was a. an essential element in Christ’s humiliation; b. a symbol of that humiliation (the water that washed away physical filth was a true symbol of Christ’s suffering during his entire life on earth and especially on the cross, whereby he not only atones for the guilt of his people but also merits for them the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit); and c. a lesson in humility; in other words, an example.

Ideas a. and b. are very closely related. With respect to them Jesus has already told Peter that he would understand hereafter, not now. Nevertheless, Jesus had prepared his mind—and the minds of the others—by saying to him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

But even though the disciples were able, at this moment, to catch but a glimpse of the deep meaning that was wrapped up in the feet-washing, the moral has instantaneous significance for them. How they needed the lesson (item c. above) which Jesus meant to teach them by means of this act! Bear in mind Luke 22:24!

So Jesus said to his disciples: “Do you know what I have done to you?” Do you grasp the positive, practical teaching which I have just now imparted to you?—Note that the Lord does not scold these men. He does not say, “Shame on you! You should have washed each other’s feet instead of waiting for me to do it.” This rebuke is certainly implied in the exhortation, but the words of Jesus go much farther. He is never satisfied with being merely negative. It is as if he were saying, “The past was bad enough; we shall say nothing further about that; for the future, copy my example.” The implied rebuke, concealed in words of loving, positive exhortation, often does more good than the expressed reprimand. In this positive atmosphere Jesus continues:

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say (this) correctly, for (that is what) I am,”

Indeed, the disciples were right in addressing Jesus as Teacher (ὁ διδάσκαλε, probably to be regarded as a translation of the Aramaic Rabbi; as 1:38 seems to indicate), for his teaching “with authority and not as the scribes” was the greatest that was ever heard on earth. Also they were right in addressing him as Lord (ὁ κύριος); and the deeper the meaning they poured into this concept, the more right they were. He was, indeed, the owner of all things (see on 13:1, 3); moreover, he was equal in essence and authority with God, the Father. See Vol. I, p. 103, footnote , for the gradual displacement of Rabbi by Lord. And see on 12:21.

When Jesus adds, “You say (this) correctly, for (that is what) I am,” he is making a statement that is entirely in line with his great declaration in 10:30: “I and the Father, we are one.” Those who claim that Jesus never represented himself as the rightful object of worship are clearly wrong. See also on 1:7, 8.

Now comes the application. It is an argument from the greater to the lesser: “If, therefore, I, your Lord and Teacher—the terms are reversed now, for it is especially as Lord that Jesus can claim the right to obedience—have washed your feet (and the very form of the conditional sentence indicates that this act is here rightly assumed to have actually occurred), you also constantly (present tense) ought to wash each other’s feet.” Surely, if the Lord of glory is willing to be “girded around” with a towel, having taken the form of a servant, actually washing and drying the feet of those who are so very far below him, it ought to be easy for mere disciples to render loving service to one another in the spirit of genuine humility! Note the emphatic position of the pronouns in the original. We have tried to preserve something of the flavor of the original by using italics.

Is Jesus instituting a new ordinance here, that of feet-washing? No, he is not commanding the disciples to do what (ὁ) he has done; but he has given them an example in order that they, of their own accord, may do as (καθώς) he has done. Hence, significantly he adds: “For I have given you an example (ὑπόδειγμα here only in John, but found also in Heb. 4:11; 8:5; 9:26; James 5:10; and 2 Peter 2:6), in order that just as I did to you so also you should constantly do.” Jesus has shown (cf. the verb δείκνυμι) his humility under (ὑπό) their very eyes (hence, ὑπόδειγμα).

But although no sacrament has been instituted to be literally copied this does not remove the fact that under certain conditions those who may wish to show their hospitality in this manner are doing the proper thing (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10). It should, however, be stressed that what Jesus had in mind was not an outward rite but an inner attitude, that of humility and eagerness to serve.

16. Most solemnly do I assure you, the servant is not greater than his lord, neither is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

For the words of solemn introduction see on 1:51. In all probability Jesus added these words in order to prevent anyone from saying: “It is below my dignity to wash the feet of another believer.” If it was not below the dignity of the Lord, it surely should not be considered below the dignity of the “servant.” This remains true even then when the servant is sent or divinely commissioned to function in a high office or to carry out an important task in the Church. If humility is the proper attitude for the Lord and Sender, how unremittingly should not the servant and commissioned individual exercise himself in this grace and grow in it. See also 15:20; Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40; 22:27.

17. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

See what has been said about this verse above, in footnote . The words of Jesus are very clear. Faith without works is dead. See also Matt. 7:17, 24–27; 11:30; 1 Cor. 4:20; and James 1:22–27; 2:14–26. It must not escape us that we have here not a commandment but a very loving and tender declaration. It has been called a promise, but it is even more than that. It is the statement of a fact: the practice of humility imparts blessedness. When Jesus says, “If you know these things,” etc., he means, according to the context, “If you know that a. he who is Lord and Teacher is willing to minister to the needs of those who are his subjects and pupils, even though in doing so he has to stoop very low; and if you know that b. all the more, those who were thus benefited should be willing to serve one another in humility of spirit; if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

The term blessed (μακάριοι) does not necessarily refer to those who are considered happy by others; nor even primarily to those who consider themselves happy, but to those who are indeed the objects of God’s favor, whether or not they are considered such by other men or even by themselves. The blessed ones may be poor and may even be mourning (cf. Matt. 5:1–12, The Beatitudes). The blessedness here spoken of is a matter not (at least, not primarily) of feeling, but of inner spiritual condition or state. The Christian who practises humility possesses this felicity whether he is at all times conscious of it or not. Before God, in his eyes, he is blessed. The Aramaic word which Jesus probably employed both here in 13:17 (see also 20:29) and in The Beatitudes (also in several other New Testament passages) resembles the Hebrew word found in many passages of the Psalms (1:1; 2:12; 31:1; 32:2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:4; etc.). It means superlatively blessed, most blessed. It is true, of course, that the smile of God which is upon such a person who is constantly doing these things (note present continuative tense), so that humility is of the very essence of his character, will sooner or later be reflected in his heart, so that he will possess the peace of God which passes all understanding.[4]


[1] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 548–549). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 68–69). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, pp. 251–252). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, pp. 234–237). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

August 21, 2017: Verse of the day

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Power

“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (28:20b)

As crucial as are the first four elements for effective fulfillment of the church’s mission, they would be useless without the last, namely, the power that the Lord Jesus Christ offers through His continuing presence with those who belong to Him. Neither the attitudes of availability, worship, and submission, nor faithful obedience to God’s Word would be possible apart from Christ’s own power working in and through us.

Idou (lo) is an interjection frequently used in the New Testament to call attention to something of special importance. Egō eimi (I am) is an emphatic form that might be rendered, “I Myself am,” calling special attention to the fact of Christ’s own presence. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Now pay special attention to what I am about to say, because it is the most important of all. I Myself, your divine, resurrected, living, eternal Lord, am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

A helpful way to keep one’s spiritual life and work in the right perspective and to continually rely on the Lord’s power rather than one’s own is to pray in ways such as these: “Lord, You care more about this matter I am facing than I do, so do what You know is best. Lord, You love this person more than I do and only You can reach into his heart and save him, so help me to witness only as You lead and empower. Lord, You are more concerned about the truth and integrity of Your holy Word than I am, so please energize my heart and mind to be true to the text I am teaching.”

Always literally means “all the days.” For the individual believer that means all the days of his life. But in its fullest meaning for the church at large it means even to the end of the age, that is, until the Lord returns bodily to judge the world and to rule His earthly kingdom. (See Matt. 13:37–50, where Christ uses the phrase “end of the age” three times to designate His second coming.)

Jesus will not visibly return to earth and display Himself before the whole world in His majestic glory and power until the end of the age. But until that time, throughout this present age, He will always be with those who belong to Him, leading them and empowering them to fulfill His Great Commission.

Some years ago, a missionary went to a primitive, pagan society. She became especially burdened for a young wife and eventually was used to win the woman to Christ. Almost as soon as she was saved the woman told the missionary with great sorrow, “I wish you could have come sooner, so my little boy could have been saved.”ll When the missionary asked why it was too late, the mother replied, “Because just a few weeks before you came to us, I offered him as a sacrifice to the gods of our tribe.”[1]


20 Those who are discipled must be not only baptized but also taught. The content of this instruction (see comments at 3:1 for kērygma [“preaching,” GK 3060] and didachē [“teaching,” GK 1439]) is everything Jesus commanded the first disciples. Five things stand out.

  1. The focus is on Jesus’ commands, not OT law. Jesus’ words, like the words of Scripture, are more enduring than heaven and earth (24:35); and the peculiar expression “everything I have commanded you” is, as Trilling (Das wahre Israel, 37) has pointed out, reminiscent of the authority of Yahweh (Ex 29:35; Dt 1:3, 41; 7:11; 12:11, 14). This confirms our exegesis of 5:17–20. The revelation of Jesus Messiah at this late stage in salvation history brings the fulfillment of everything to which the OT Scriptures pointed and constitutes their valid continuity; but this means that the focus is necessarily on Jesus.
  2. Remarkably, Jesus does not foresee a time when any part of his teaching will be rightly judged needless, outmoded, superseded, or untrue. Everything he has commanded must be passed on “to the very end of the age.”
  3. What the disciples teach is not mere dogma steeped in abstract theorizing but content to be obeyed.
  4. It then follows that by carefully passing on everything Jesus taught, the first disciples—themselves eyewitnesses—call into being new generations of “ear-witnesses” (O’Brien, “Great Commission,” 264–65). These in turn pass on the truth they received. So a means is provided for successive generations to remain in contact with Jesus’ teachings (cf. 2 Ti 2:2).
  5. Christianity must spread by an internal necessity or it has already decayed, for one of Jesus’ commands is to teach all he commands. Failure to disciple, baptize, and teach the peoples of the world is already itself one of the failures of our own discipleship.

But the gospel ends, not with command, but with the promise of Jesus’ comforting presence, which, if not made explicitly conditional on the disciples’ obedience to the Great Commission, is at least closely tied to it. “Surely” captures the force of idou here (see comments at 1:20). He who is introduced to us in the prologue as Immanuel, “God with us” (1:23; cf. 18:20), is still God with us, “to the very end of the age.” The English adverb “always” renders an expression found in the NT only here—namely, pasas tēs hēmeras, strictly “the whole of every day” (Moule, Idiom Book, 34). Not just the horizon is in view, but each day as we live it. This continues to the end of the age (for this expression, see comments at 13:39–40, 49; 24:3; cf. Heb 9:26)—the end of history as we know it, when the kingdom will be consummated. Perhaps there is a small hint of judgment. The church dare not drift, because it, too, rushes to the consummation. The period between the commission and the consummation is of indefinite length; but whatever its duration, it is the time of the church’s mission and of preliminary enjoyment of her Lord’s presence.

Matthew’s gospel ends with the expectation of continued mission and teaching. The five preceding sections always conclude with a block of Jesus’ teaching (3:1–26:5); but the passion and resurrection of Jesus end with a commission to his disciples to carry on that same ministry (see Introduction, section 14) in the light of the cross, the empty tomb, and the triumphant vindication and exaltation of the risen Lord. In this sense, the gospel of Matthew is not a closed book until the consummation. The final chapter is being written in the mission and teaching of Jesus’ disciples.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 28:19–20). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 669–670). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

August 20, 2017: Verse of the day

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9 Once more we hear a song of praise (cf. 24:14–16; 25:1–5), wonderfully expressing that joy in God that comes when patient trust finds its reward in consummated salvation. Its ideas and language are thoroughly characteristic of Isaiah, and various parts of the verse are paralleled in many different parts of the book (e.g., 8:17; 12:1–6; 30:18; 33:22; 35:1–4, 10; 40:9; 49:25–26; 52:7–10; 60:16; 65:18).[1]


25:9 Lord for whom we have waited. To wait for God entails an ultimate trust in Him, not becoming impatient when His timetable for final salvation differs from ours (cf. 26:8; 33:2; 40:31).[2]


25:9 Behold. See 24:1. At last, the realization of the forward-looking faith that patiently waited for a renewed society and a renewed earth (cf. the expectation in 40:9–11). this is our God. An expression of wholehearted identification with him (cf. Ex. 29:45–46). we have waited. Salvation is worth the wait, and is even worth the reproach of Isa. 25:8. Salvation is his entirely, God’s alone, from first to last (cf. Ex. 14:13; 15:2; Ps. 68:19–20; 98:2–3).[3]


25:9 We have waited for him Compare 26:8.

his salvation Refers to the victory over death and the establishment of Yahweh’s earthly reign.[4]


25:9 our God. The prophet identifies himself with the people of God (26:13; 40:3; 61:6).[5]


[1] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 628). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 25:9). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1284). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 25:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 984). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

August 19, 2017: Verse of the day

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4a The girl’s stimulated condition makes her impatient for privacy. The “king” brought her to his chambers. Is this a regal union and 1:5–8 an imagined pastoral fantasy? Or is the boy a shepherd whom the girl pretends a king? The reader cannot know for certain. Whether in fact or in fantasy, the girl is whisked away to the private royal suite.

4b The strophe concludes with other voices expressing their admiration for the king. In English the second personal pronoun has no gender, but in Hebrew it is clear that the praise is directed to the king. Terminology akin to worship occurs here in the Song: “Let us rejoice! Let us exalt! Let us remember!” The king, whoever he may be, inspires veneration by his peers.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary


1:4 let us run. This is better understood as spoken by the Shulammite, rather than the daughters of Jerusalem, in the sense of “let us hurry.” The king has brought me. This is better understood as the desire of her heart—”Let the king bring me into his chambers”—rather than a statement of fact. We will extol your love. The daughters of Jerusalem affirmed the Shulammite’s praise in v. 2.

MacArthur Study Bible


1:4a The king is probably a term of endearment, indicating the woman’s high regard for her lover rather than referring to his actual position. (However, many who follow the Shepherd Hypothesis read this as referring to Solomon; see Introduction: Alternative Interpretations.)

1:4b This is the first speech of the “others,” who function like a chorus. They join the shepherdess in her praise for the shepherd (you is masculine) by picking up her words from v. 2. They probably refers back to the “virgins” of v. 3, who are presumably the same as the “daughters of Jerusalem” (v. 5).

1:4 Longing for intimacy prefigures the longing for intimacy with the love of Christ (1 John 4:7–21).

The ESV Study Bible


1:4 Draw me after you The word mashakh can mean “to seize” or “carry off” (Psa 28:3). The woman longs for her lover to come for her, wishing he would take her away.

the king This line can be seen as a fulfillment of the woman’s wish from the beginning of the verse. Though the designation “king” may indicate literal royalty, it may be a term of endearment for the lover.

Let us be joyful and let us rejoice in you The second half of Song 1:4 is a summarizing refrain or chorus. It emphasizes that the man’s love (dod) is better than wine (20), and that the young women are correct to love (ahev) him (1:3). While the identity of the singers is uncertain, they are likely the “daughters of Jerusalem” from 1:5.

Faithlife Study Bible


1:4 The king has brought me. This is the first of five occurrences of the word “king” (1:4, 12; 3:9, 11; 7:5). Here in v. 4 there are two possibilities: either the king is Solomon, who has tried unsuccessfully to win the girl’s affections, or he is her lover, whom she romantically fantasizes as her king. The latter interpretation is to be preferred (see Introduction: Characteristics and Themes). The paragraph ends, as it began, with the girl referring to her absent lover in the third person (vv. 2–4 note).

Reformation Study Bible

August 18, 2017: Verse of the day

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4 [5] Receiving punishment from God is likened to being wounded or sick, conditions that only the divine Judge-Physician can heal (cf. 5:12–14; 13:7–8). This healing Yahweh promises to bring out of his great love for Israel. The reestablishment that the nation too cavalierly had assumed in its arrogant rebellion (6:1; cf. 6:11–7:1; 11:3) is grounded in his infinite grace (cf. Oestreich, 57–155). Love within a renewed relationship, not anger in judgment, is God’s design for his people. There are two wordplays with the verb “return” (šûb): When they “return” to Yahweh (vv. 1–2), he will heal their “turning away” (mešûbâ; often translated “apostasy” or “waywardness”; cf. 11:7) and his wrath “turns” from them.[1]


14:4 / Hosea does not compose such a prayer for his people because he thinks they are capable of such repentance and renunciation of their apostasy. As he has stated before, Israel has no power in itself to return to its God (cf. the comment at 5:4). Rather, he envisions Israel uttering such a prayer because he believes God will heal and recreate them. And that is the central announcement of this passage, in verse 4. “I will heal their turning away; I will love them freely; for I will turn my wrath from them” reads the Hebrew of that verse. God here promises to remake Israel, to heal it (cf. 6:11), to love it freely, apart from any condition or repentance and turning on Israel’s part. What Israel cannot do for itself, God will do. That is the primary good news of the message of Hosea.[2]


5[4] Now Yahweh begins to speak. His speech, cast in poetry, is full of promise. He assures Israel that he will one day heal the breach of the covenant that has brought their punishment, that he will then love them freely and generously, and that they will need no longer fear his anger, for the time is coming when it will be gone. Israel is referred to by both “them” and “him,” the easy change of pronoun being well attested throughout Hosea. In this case the shift to “him” has the advantage of providing a bridge to the prevailing metaphor of vv 6–9 in which Israel is likened to a (singular) luxuriant tree.

The very apostasy (משובתם) which characterized Israel in the past (cf. 5:4; 7:2; 11:5) is what Yahweh promises to heal (רפא). The term משובה is used only in the books of Hosea (here and 11:7), Proverbs (once) and Jeremiah (nine times) in the OT, though its meaning is perfectly clear. The connection of רפא “hea” with a form of שוב “return” is paralleled by the use of these terms together in Isa 6:10. In the vocabulary of the covenant curses, רפא appears in Deut 28:27 and 35, where there are mentioned respectively the itch and the sore which cannot be healed as punishments for disloyalty. But now healing is promised for the repentant nation in the future, whereas no healing was possible in the past. The promise of generous love utilizes a primary covenant term אהב (“love”; cf. Deut 4:37), in its technical sense found in treaties expressing the notion “be loyal to, show faithfulness to,” etc., as well as in its more common connotation of emotional closeness. This is a love which will not be earned—what could Israel possibly present to Yahweh as an acceptable payment? Rather, as reflected by the sense of נדבה as “voluntary offering” or “offering made out of generosity” Yahweh’s love will again give blessing to his people. The “anger” (אף) of God, also a technical covenant term, is the precurser to his covenant punishments (Deut 29:19, 22, 23, 26, 27; 31:17; 32:22). To predict that his anger will turn (שוב) is to predict that the punishments will cease for good. The love and anger are not indication of emotional vicissitude, but covenantally expressed descriptions of the process of punishment and forgiveness. Yahweh’s anger will be appeased (cf. 11:9) only by his own grace (cf. 2:16, 17 [14, 15]). Israel remains as undeserving of this merciful forgiveness as she was of her initial election. She will, in the eschaton, receive the blessing of being made faithful (restoration blessing type 3; cf. Deut 30:6).[3]


14:4 As so often happens with calls to repentance, there follow astounding promises to entice Israel to return. The Lord will heal their apostasy. As noted in 5:13–14, the prophets often depict sin as a sickness and renewal as healing. I will love them freely. It is not that the Lord had stopped loving Israel, but now he will love them without the prospect of imminent judgment.[4]


14:4 I will heal their disloyalty Yahweh responds to Israel’s confession. He promises to heal the people, reassuring them of His love and the temporary nature of His wrath.[5]


14:4 I will heal. The promise of healing began to be realized when Israel returned from its sixth-century exile in Babylon. It finds much greater fulfillment in Jesus Christ and His church, and is consummated at His Second Coming.

apostasy. Israel’s characteristic unfaithfulness (4:10–12; 5:4; 7:4; 11:7) will be healed by the great Healer, whose anger is now turned away.

love them freely. In this love song, we hear again the deep affection of God for His elect. This undeserved love is what the New Testament calls grace (Rom. 5:15; Eph. 2:5, 8).[6]


[1] Carroll R., M. D. (2008). Hosea. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 302). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Achtemeier, E. (2012). Minor Prophets I. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 110). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Stuart, D. (2002). Hosea–Jonah (Vol. 31, pp. 214–215). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1642). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ho 14:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1255). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

August 17, 2017: Verse of the day

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John repeated for emphasis the truth from verse 1 that those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been born of God … overcome the world, gaining the victory over it through their faith. The phrase our faith literally reads, “the faith of us.” It could refer to the subjective, personal faith of individual believers, or objectively to the Christian faith, “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3; cf. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:23; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 4:1; 6:10, 21; 2 Tim. 4:7). It is safe to see in this context of believing that John is referring not to the objective content of the gospel as theology, but to the subjective trust by which God makes saints overcomers.[1]


4 Verse 4 builds on vv. 2–3 by describing the benefits of obedience. All those who are born of God “conquer [nikaō, GK 3771] the world” (NIV, “overcome the world”). The conquest metaphor is consistent with John’s dualistic perspective, which sees a hostile relationship between the world and God’s children. But the precise meaning of nikaō here is open to debate, especially since it seems to contrast starkly with the real-life experiences of the Johannine Christians (see Introduction).

Some suggest that nikaō is used in an eschatological sense. Schnackenburg, 229–30, for example, sees here a reference to “the victory that Christ won once for all in salvation history,” the victory that is “repeated in the lives of the Christians.” By participating in the work of Christ, then, believers experience the future victory over evil in the midst of the pain of this world. Rensberger, 129, takes a somewhat similar view with the suggestion that John is touching on the notion that Satan is “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Jesus has conquered the ruler of this world, and all those who believe share the benefits of this victory. Other commentators believe that John is thinking of the moral sphere of human experience. Dodd, 126–27, for example, says that “the world” refers here to “the power of evil inclinations, false standards and bad dispositions.” “Victory” is achieved when believers choose to obey God and resist temptation (cf. Marshall, 228–29; Schnackenburg, 229).

While both of these views are reasonable, the most likely reference point for the believer’s “victory over the world” is John 16:33. First John 5:4 opens with a hoti clause that seems to introduce a traditional slogan or saying, and the phrase that follows is strongly reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the upper room. After assuring the disciples that they will be hated by the world, put out of the synagogues, and persecuted for his name (Jn 15:18–16:4), Jesus predicts that they will soon scatter and abandon him. Despite all this, they should not be discouraged, because “I have conquered the world” (NIV, “overcome the world”; 16:33).

Jesus’ “conquest” seems to consist of his resolution to obey God’s calling and suffer death. By analogy, 1 John 5:4 uses nikaō to describe the true believer’s willingness to serve God in spite of the world’s persecutions. Hence the conquest of the world may be reduced to “our faith”—the fact of holding fast to the orthodox confession in the face of pressure to abandon Christ. The verb nikaō is used with the same connotation in Revelation, where the believer’s “victory” is gained by overcoming the temptation to abandon the faith in the face of severe suffering and possibly death (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). If 1 John and Revelation were produced by the same person or by members of the same community, these references would also support the interpretation adopted here.[2]


5:4 Next we learn the secret of victory over the world. The world system is a monstrous scheme of temptation, always trying to drag us away from God and from what is eternal, and seeking to occupy us with what is temporary and sensual. People of the world are completely taken up with the things of time and sense. They have become the victims of passing things.

Only the man who is born of God really overcomes the world, because by faith he is able to rise above the perishing things of this world and to see things in their true, eternal perspective. Thus the one who really overcomes the world is not the great scientist or philosopher or psychologist, but the simple believer who realizes that the things which are seen are temporary and that the things which are not seen are eternal. A sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus dims the glory of this world.[3]


4 This leads on to victory. The neuter ‘whatever’ (niv, everyone) makes the statement quite general (cf. 1:1). Our faith (the noun occurs only here in 1 John; it is not found in the gospel or 2 or 3 John) stands last with emphasis. Has overcome means that the decisive victory is in the past, when Jesus died to overcome evil, and in the case of the individual believer when that believer came to trust in him.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (p. 179). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 490–491). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2322–2323). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Morris, L. L. (1994). 1 John. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1408). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

August 16, 2017: Verse of the day

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Elizabeth’s closing statement, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord,” supplements her earlier blessing of Mary. Mary was blessed not only because of her privilege in being the mother of the Messiah, but also because of her faith in believing that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. But Elizabeth’s use of the third person pronoun she broadens the blessing beyond Mary to encompass all who believe that God fulfills His promises.

Mary is not the mother of God, or the queen of heaven. She plays no role in the redemption of sinners, and does not intercede for them or hear their prayers. But she is a model of faith, humility, and submission to God’s will. She is an example to all believers of how to respond obediently, joyfully, and worshipfully to the Word of God. Therein lies her true greatness.[1]


45 “Blessed” describes the happy situation of those God favors. Elizabeth gave the blessing Zechariah’s muteness prevented him from giving. See vv. 68–79 for the blessing he later pronounced on the infant Jesus. Luke uses the blessing Elizabeth gave Mary to call attention to Mary’s faith.

The way in which v. 45 supplements v. 42 is noteworthy. In v. 42, Mary is called the “blessed” one because of her maternal relationship with her son Jesus. In v. 45, however, Mary is recognized to be truly “blessed” because of her faith in and obedience to God. The same contrast is developed later in the Lukan material. In 8:19–21, for example, Jesus redefines family relationship in terms of one’s faith in and obedience to God: “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (v. 21).[2]


45. And blessed is she who believed,

Because there will be a fulfilment of the words

Spoken to her by the Lord.

Although the rendering “And blessed is she who believed that there will be,” etc., is also possible, the first translation has the following in its favor:

  1. The positive assurance that God is going to fulfil his promises to Mary is a more solid ground, a more valid reason, for calling her “blessed” than her own subjective faith in the fulfilment of these promises.
  2. “Blessed is she who believed” is a richer expression than “Blessed is she who believed that,” etc. The first rendering more definitely than the second describes Mary as a woman of faith.
  3. “Blessed is she who believed” is in line with “Blessed are those who, though not seeing, are yet believing” (John 20:29). See also Gen. 15:6 (cf. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6, 9; James 2:23).
  4. As to conciseness of phraseology, the beatitude “Blessed is she who believed” is also more in line with the familiar beatitudes of Luke 6:20 f., cf. Matt. 5:1 f.
  5. Finally, the construction, “Blessed is she who believed,” describes more adequately than does its alternative what had been Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s message.

That reaction, it will be recalled, had been: first, alarm and astonishment (verse 29); then, an earnest request for an explanation (verse 34); and finally, the complete surrender that characterizes the person who lives by the rule, “Trust and obey” (verse 38). For the rest, see the note on verse 45 on p. 99.

As to … “there will be a fulfilment,” etc., note the following: the words of the Lord (via Gabriel) recorded in 1:31a, 35a (unique conception) had already been fulfilled, and the promises contained in 31b, 32, 33, 35b (still largely unfulfilled) were going to be realized, as the rest of the Gospels, etc., abundantly prove.

What deserves special attention is this outstanding fact, namely, that in Elizabeth’s entire exuberant exclamation (verses 41b–45) envy never raises its head. Elizabeth was, after all, much older than Mary (cf. 1:7, 18, 36 with 2:5). Yet this aged woman is deeply conscious of her own unworthiness and genuinely rejoices in the joy of her much younger relative!

How can this complete absence of the begrudging attitude be explained? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 13:4: “Love does not envy.” Is not this a good reason for calling this poem “Elizabeth’s Song of Love”?[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2009). Luke 1–5 (p. 72). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 64). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 97–98). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.