The Coming of the Gentiles and the Final Hour (Jn 12:23)

John 12:20-23

῏Ησαν δὲ Ἕλληνές τινες ἐκ τῶν ἀναβαινόντων ἵνα προσκυνήσωσιν ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ· οὗτοι οὖν προσῆλθον Φιλίππῳ τῷ ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἠρώτων αὐτὸν λέγοντες· κύριε, θέλομεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἰδεῖν. ἔρχεται ὁ Φίλιππος καὶ λέγει τῷ Ἀνδρέᾳ, ἔρχεται Ἀνδρέας καὶ Φίλιππος καὶ λέγουσιν τῷ Ἰησοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀποκρίνεται αὐτοῖς λέγων· ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

 
I have always been fascinated with the above account in John’s Gospel. Greek God-fearers who were coming to Jerusalem were seeking to see Jesus (θέλομεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἰδεῖν). The request of the Greek worshippers prompts Jesus to declare ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Prior to this, the references to hour as the refer to Jesus in John’s Gospel speak of a future hour, i.e. Jesus’ death. (2:24; 4:21; 5:25, 28; 7:30; 8:20). After this the references change. For example: ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ἡ ὥρα…” (13:1); “ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ ἐλήλυθεν…” (16:32); “πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα…” (17:1).

Why the sudden change? It is the coming of the Gentiles that ushers in the hour of Jesus death. As Carson notes, :the approach of the Greeks is for Jesus a kind of trigger, a signal that the climactic hour has dawned (PNTC, 437). From this point forward in John’s Gospel, the focus shifts to Jesus’ final few days, and he begins to prepare his disciples for life without him by their side. Some pretty amazing things going on here.

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