In some circles people want to make a large fuss over the word
BEFORE (Greek "pro") in John 13: 1. They would like this whole
passage to be on ANOTHER day (even claiming John is speaking
about another day), rather than on the evening of the 14th day
of the first month in the Hebrew calendar, as all the other
Gospel writers had it placed, and I might add just about every
scholar in Protestantism and Roman Catholicism have placed it.
It would seem that only a few within the 7th day keeping
"Churches of God" try to place this passage at some other time
than at the beginning of the 14th day, or within the first number
of hours of the Passover day, which is the 14th day of the first
month in the Jewish calendar.
Such people then often put emphasis on this word "before" as
John stated "And BEFORE the feast of the Passover......"
The word translated "before" in the Greek is "pro" as used in the
New Testament (used 48 times), and certainly in 99% of the cases
is translated "before" and the context of all verses would state
it does mean what we in English mean by "before" - it means
"ahead of, in front of, on top of or above," - the word means
"first in order of" and so it does mean "before" something else,
or in front of something else.
I have no problem with this word and what it means. In John 13: 1
it means "before" and in this case, before, or in front of, the
Where the mistake comes is to then PRESUME that all that John
wrote after those first few words, are on another day, other than
the evening of the 14th of Nisan (first month in Jewish
The mistake comes by not realizing certain ways in which the
Gospel writers wrote. First, there are no punctuation marks in
the original Greek manuscripts. Second, there are no sentencing
or paragraphing in the original Greek manuscripts, all letter and
lines ran one after the other, none stop. Third, the NT writers
often stated things without telling you what thought was moving
from what thought. They, in other words, did not tell you what
was connected to what, or when a thought ended, and they were now
into anther thought.
And this third point, was what John was doing here. He was
stating a certain point, then without telling you, he moved to
another thought and time and event.
Let's get to it as they say. The literal English translation by
Green in his English/Greek Interlinear, reads this way:
"Before and the feast of the Passover, knowing Jesus that had
come of Him the hour that He should move from world this, to the
Father, loving the own - in the world, to end He loved them."
The KJV is pretty well right on in their rendition of the Greek
John is simply stating a NATURAL fact. BEFORE the Passover came
and was celebrated by Christ with His disciples (that is clearly
shown to have been on the BEGINNING of the 14th, the evening of
the 14th, by the other three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke),
Jesus KNEW that His time was NOW COMING, was very close at hand,
was nearly upon Him, when He would be leaving this world and
returning to the Father in heaven. Of course, if you know you
are, say at your birthday time, going to take a trip to a far
away country, and leave the country you are in, then BEFORE that
journey comes, and that birthday day is just about upon you, then
you KNOW it is close at hand, and you know what you may have
known three years earlier, that you are within a very short while
going to take that journey to that far away country.
All that John is saying is that just before the Passover day was
to come, Jesus KNEW that this particular Passover was going to be
His last one on earth. It was going to be a very special Passover
day, because Jesus knew the hour was very fast approaching that
on this Passover day He was going to die on the cross, and so
would begin the events that would have Him leaving this world and
returning to His Father in heaven.
John simply wrote that BEFORE the Passover day actually arrived,
shortly before, Jesus knew that the hour or time, had finally
arrived when He would be leaving this world and returning to
heaven. And then after telling us that this is what Jesus KNEW
shortly before the Passover day of the 14th came, he went on to
tell us that Jesus had loved HIS OWN, that would still be left in
the world, and He had so loved them right up to the very end of
His human life on earth. He had loved them from start to finish,
loved them up to His physical death, that He KNEW was about to
take place, BECAUSE, the Passover was right on top of them.
And He knew BEFOREHAND that THIS Passover was very special,
because on it He would die, and the events then would soon have
Him back in heaven.
That is all that John was saying in that paragraph....no more and
no less. THEN he starts into another section and event that took
place AFTER he related his thought in verse one. The thought in
verse one was to tell you that Jesus KNEW BEFOREHAND, before the
Passover day actually arrived, that the events for THIS coming
Passover would lead to Him going from this world back to His
Father in heaven.
What John THEN, after stating what Jesus KNEW before that day
came, went on to relate was ANOTHER event, which actually DID
take place on that VERY Passover day (in the first number of
hours of that day, the evening of that day, the beginning of that
day). John's one thought (and him relating it to us) at first, is
the thought of remembering that Jesus KNEW before the event of
the Passover day, that His hour or time had now come (was just
about upon Him) for Him to leave this world and return to heaven,
and that Jesus had loved His own to the very end (which end was
the time of Jesus' end of being a human being). Then John moves
into an event and relates it to us, that took place on the actual
Passover day, in the evening of the Passover day, which flows in
line then with all the other Gospel writers, and makes for no
contradiction with any of them.
John does not TELL YOU his move of thought or move from one
thought that Jesus was thinking BEFORE the Passover, to his move
of thought which was to relate to you the foot-washing that was
done by Jesus ON the Passover day, the evening, or beginning
of that day.
Such is how some of the writers of the NT wrote. Paul in his
writings often used this kind of thought movement....a back and
forth moving, and DID NOT tell his readers that he was going to
do it. Just as he in one breath was talking as if they were all
Jews that he was addressing, then in the next breath, as if they
were all Gentiles. Many writers of the NT do not tell you in a
nice neat little way, that they were moving around, in this
fashion, they just did it. The NT was inspired to be written in
such a way at times, that it could really confuse and get people
mixed up, throw them off stride, turn them around backwards and
inside-out. Especially is this so, IF you are not willing to go
to the easy, clear, plain, Scriptures FIRST, on a given subject,
and let them give you the foundation of the truth of the matter.
Then after that foundation is nailed down from the simple clear
verses, then you can tackle the ones that seem to contradict, or
have you scratching your head over.
Let me try to illustrate all this with a modern example. I shall
use fictitious names. The Super Bowl (that of course is the
actual name of a sports event in the USA) comes once a year, on a
set date. We have a coach, I shall name him, Joe Brown. He is the
spearhead of his team, we shall call "The Flying Eagles." They
make it to the Super Bowl, which comes once a year on a set date.
Joe Brown is going to retire at this Super Bowl, and move to a
far away country.
We put it all into the context of John 13: 1.
"Now, BEFORE the Super Bowl, when Brown knew that his hour or
time was come to retire and leave that part of the world, and go
far way to another country, he had loved his team players that
would stay on in that country right to the very end."
We now move right to the Super Bowl, the day had actually come.
We are within the day itself and the game itself was just over.
"And the Super Bowl having ended .....He (Brown) walks from the
field, takes a bucket of water and a towel and washes the head
and face of each of his players, and shakes their hand."
John in chapter 13 was relating two important things and events.
One was the event that Jesus KNEW BEFORE the Passover day came
that this coming Passover day was like no other. For it was the
time to mark the events leading to His going home to His Father
in heaven. THEN, John goes into relating the foot-washing event
that took place on the actual Passover day itself.
Two events, one in the MIND of Christ before the Passover day,
and the other an ACTION done by Christ ON the evening of the
All in complete HARMONY with the other three Gospel writers.
Written January 2003