Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 13:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me - Thou canst not be my disciple unless I wash thee. It is certain Christ did not mean to exclude him from the apostolic office, if he should persist, through the deepest reverence for his Master, to refuse to let him wash his feet: this act of his was emblematical of something spiritual; of something that concerned the salvation of Peter; and without which washing he could neither be an apostle or be finally saved; therefore our Lord said, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. There is a mystical washing by the blood of Christ, 1 John 1:7; and by his Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5, Titus 3:6. It was the common custom of our Lord to pass from sensible and temporal things to those which were spiritual and eternal; and to take occasion from every thing that presented itself, to instruct his disciples, and to raise their souls to God. If the discourse was of bread, water, leaven, father, mother, riches, etc., he immediately changed the literal sense, and under the figure of these things, spoke of matters altogether spiritual and Divine. I have met with many good persons who have attempted to imitate our blessed Lord in this, but I never knew one to succeed in it. The reason is, it requires not only very deep piety, but sound sense, together with an accurate knowledge of the nature and properties of the subjects which, in this way, the person wishes to illustrate; and very few can be found who have such deep, philosophical knowledge as such cases require. The large folio which a good-intentioned man printed on the metaphors is, alas! a standing proof how little mere piety can do in matters of this kind, where the sciences, and especially practical philosophy, are totally wanting. Jesus Christ was a consummate philosopher: every subject appears grand and noble in his hands. See an ample proof in the preceding chapter, John 12:24; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Thou shalt never wash my feet - This was a decided and firm expression of his reverence for his Master, and yet it was improper. Jesus had just declared that it had a meaning, and that he ought to submit to it. We should yield to all the plain and positive requirements of God, even if we cannot now see how obedience would promote his glory.

If I wash thee not - This had immediate reference to the act of washing his feet; and it denotes that if Peter had not so much confidence in him as to believe that an act which he performed was proper, though he could not see its propriety - if he was not willing to submit his will to that of Christ and implicitly obey him, he had no evidence of piety. As Christ, however, was accustomed to pass from temporal and sensible objects to those which were spiritual, and to draw instruction from whatever was before him, some have supposed that he here took occasion to state to Peter that if his soul was not made pure by him he could not be his follower. Washing is often thus put as an emblem of moral purification, 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-6. This is the meaning, also, of baptism. If this was the sense in which Jesus used these words, it denotes that unless Christ should purify Peter, he could have no evidence that he was his disciple. “Unless by my doctrine and spirit I shall purify you, and remove your pride Matthew 26:33, your lack of constant watchfulness Matthew 26:40, your anger Matthew 26:51, your timidity and fear Matthew 26:70, Matthew 26:74, you can have no part in me” (Grotius).

Hast no part with me - Nothing in common with me. No evidence of possessing my spirit, of being interested in my work, and no participation in my glory.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord Jesus has a people in the world that are his own; he has purchased them, and paid dear for them, and he has set them apart for himself; they devote themselves to him as a peculiar people. Those whom Christ loves, he loves to the end. Nothing can separate a true believer from the love of Christ. We know not when our hour will come, therefore what we have to do in constant preparation for it, ought never to be undone. What way of access the devil has to men's hearts we cannot tell. But some sins are so exceedingly sinful, and there is so little temptation to them from the world and the flesh, that it is plain they are directly from Satan. Jesus washed his disciples' feet, that he might teach us to think nothing below us, wherein we may promote God's glory, and the good of our brethren. We must address ourselves to duty, and must lay aside every thing that would hinder us in what we have to do. Christ washed his disciples' feet, that he might signify to them the value of spiritual washing, and the cleansing of the soul from the pollutions of sin. Our Lord Jesus does many things of which even his own disciples do not for the present know the meaning, but they shall know afterward. We see in the end what was the kindness from events which seemed most cross. And it is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us, or too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, he justifies and sanctifies. Peter more than submits; he begs to be washed by Christ. How earnest he is for the purifying grace of the Lord Jesus, and the full effect of it, even upon his hands and head! Those who truly desire to be sanctified, desire to be sanctified throughout, to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, made pure. The true believer is thus washed when he receives Christ for his salvation. See then what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is, to wash their feet; to cleanse themselves from daily guilt, and to watch against everything defiling. This should make us the more cautious. From yesterday's pardon, we should be strengthened against this day's temptation. And when hypocrites are discovered, it should be no surprise or cause of stumbling to us. Observe the lesson Christ here taught. Duties are mutual; we must both accept help from our brethren, and afford help to our brethren. When we see our Master serving, we cannot but see how ill it becomes us to domineer. And the same love which led Christ to ransom and reconcile his disciples when enemies, still influences him.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1138-9

(Galatians 6:14.) The Cross a Center in the World—The cross stands alone, a great center in the world. It does not find friends, but it makes them. It creates its own agencies. Christ proposes that men shall become laborers together with God. He makes human beings His instrumentalities for drawing all men unto Himself. A divine agency is sufficient only through its operation on human hearts with its transforming power, making men colaborers with God (The Review and Herald, September 29, 1891). 5BC 1138.1

39, 40. See EGW on Luke 7:29, 30. 5BC 1138.2

45. See EGW on Acts 1:11. 5BC 1138.3

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Ellen G. White
Evangelism, 274-6

Feet Washing More Than a Form—We do not come to the ordinances of the Lord's house merely as a form.... Ev 274.1

He has instituted this service, that it may speak constantly to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf.... This service cannot be repeated without one thought linking itself with another. Thus a chain of thought calls up remembrances of blessings, of kindnesses, and of favors received from friends and brethren, that have passed out of mind. The Holy Spirit, with its quickening, vivifying power, presents the ingratitude and lack of love that have sprung from the hateful root of bitterness. Link after link of memory's chain is strengthened. The Spirit of God is at work upon human minds. The defects of character, the neglect of duties, the ingratitude to God, are brought to the remembrance, and the thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ.—The Review and Herald, June 7, 1898. Ev 274.2

Heart Preparation—In the early days of the advent movement, when our numbers were few, the celebration of the ordinances was made a most profitable occasion. On the Friday before, every church member endeavored to clear away everything that would tend to separate him from his brethren and from God. Hearts were closely searched; prayers for a divine revelation of hidden sin were earnestly offered; confessions of overreaching in trade, of ill-advised words hastily spoken, of sins cherished, were made. The Lord came near, and we were greatly strengthened and encouraged.—Manuscript 102, 1904. Ev 274.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 642-51

This chapter is based on Luke 22:7-18, 24; John 13:1-17.

In the upper chamber of a dwelling at Jerusalem, Christ was sitting at table with His disciples. They had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Saviour desired to keep this feast alone with the twelve. He knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten He was to be sacrificed. He was about to drink the cup of wrath; He must soon receive the final baptism of suffering. But a few quiet hours yet remained to Him, and these were to be spent for the benefit of His beloved disciples. DA 642.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 720

In all that Christ said to His disciples, there was something with which, in heart, Judas disagreed. Under his influence the leaven of disaffection was fast doing its work. The disciples did not see the real agency in all this; but Jesus saw that Satan was communicating his attributes to Judas, and thus opening up a channel through which to influence the other disciples. This, a year before the betrayal, Christ declared. “Have not I chosen you twelve,” He said, “and one of you is a devil?” John 6:70. DA 720.1

Yet Judas made no open opposition, nor seemed to question the Saviour's lessons. He made no outward murmur until the time of the feast in Simon's house. When Mary anointed the Saviour's feet, Judas manifested his covetous disposition. At the reproof from Jesus his very spirit seemed turned to gall. Wounded pride and desire for revenge broke down the barriers, and the greed so long indulged held him in control. This will be the experience of everyone who persists in tampering with sin. The elements of depravity that are not resisted and overcome, respond to Satan's temptation, and the soul is led captive at his will. DA 720.2

But Judas was not yet wholly hardened. Even after he had twice pledged himself to betray the Saviour, there was opportunity for repentance. At the Passover supper Jesus proved His divinity by revealing the traitor's purpose. He tenderly included Judas in the ministry to the disciples. But the last appeal of love was unheeded. Then the case of Judas was decided, and the feet that Jesus had washed went forth to the betrayer's work. DA 720.3

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