Keith Hunt - John 13 and the Last Supper? Restitution of All

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John 13 and the Last Supper?

When did all this take place?

                    COMPILED AND WRITTEN 
                         KEITH HUNT

I will be quoting mainly from Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi's book
called "God's Festivals - in Scripture and History - Part 1 - The
Spring Festivals."

     Quote (all capital letter words for emphasis, are mine

     ".......John 13: 1, which functions as a PROLOGUE or title
to the story of the Last Supper in the Upper Room. As translated
by the RSV, it reads: 'Now before the feast of the Passover, when
Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to
the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved
them to the end.'  NORVAL GELDENHUYS argues that this
translation, followed by the A.V. and N.I.V. among others, is
MISLEADING because it DETACHES the Last supper from the Passover.
He suggests that the expression 'before the feast' should be
CONNECTED with the verb 'knowing' (eidos). Thus the translation
would read: 'Knowing (already) before Passover that His hour had
come to depart out of this world unto His Father, Jesus, he who
loved his own in this world, loved them unto the end (or 'to the
     According to this translation (which is followed by
Weymouth, Knox, Moffat and others), John does NOT wish to DETACH
the events of the Last Supper from the Passover. Rather he gives
a REASON for their occurrence, namely, Jesus KNEW IN ADVANCE of
His impending death at Passover and, consequently, He showed His
love towards His disciples....among other things, He washed his
disciples' feet.
     John often attributes to Christ's FOREKNOWLEDGE the REASON
for His ACTIONS (see John 12: 7, 23;  13: 3, 11, 18;  !8: 4;  19:
28).  In this case it was the FOREKNOWLEDGE of the occurrence of
His DEATH.......


     The synoptic Gospels CONSISTENTLY and REPEATEDLY speak of
the Last Supper as ' the PASSOVER.'  The disciples ask Jesus,
'Where will you have us to go and prepare for you TO EAT the
Passover?' (Mark 14: 12; cf. Matt. 26: 17; Luke 22: 7-9). In
Luke 22: 15, Jesus Himself declares: 'I have earnestly desired to
EAT THIS PASSOVER with you before I suffer.' The phrase 'to eat
the passover,' which occurs AGAIN in Jesus' instructions to His
disciples (Mark 14: 15; Matt. 26: 18; Luke 22: 11), refers
EXCLUSIVELY to the PASSOVER meal, which was the essence of the
celebration of the festival. The EATING of the Passover meal was
a sign of unity with God and dependence on divine care. It served
to establish a bond of unity between God and His people......

     Several other POSITIVE indications in the synoptic
SUBSTANTIATE that the Last Supper was a PASSOVER MEAL. In his
commentary on THE GOSPEL OF MARK, William L. LANE offers a
concise summary of such indications:

      'The return to Jerusalem in the evening for the meal (Mark
14: 17; cf. Matt.26: 18; Luke 22: 10) is SIGNIFICANT, for the
PASCHAL meal had to be eaten within the city walls (M. Pesachim
V11. 9). An ORDINARY meal was taken in the late AFTERNOON,
but a meal which began in the EVENING and CONTINUED into the
NIGHT reflects PASSOVER practice (Ex.12: 8; Jubilees 49: 12). The
reference to RECLINING (Mark 14: 18) satisfies a REQUIREMENT of
the Passover feast in the FIRST century when custom demanded that
even the poorest man RECLINE for the festive meal (M. Pesachim X.
1). While a NORMAN meal BEGAN with the BREAKING OF BREAD, on THIS
occasion Jesus BROKE the bread DURING the meal and FOLLOWING the
serving of a dish (Mark 14: 18-20, 22). The Passover meal was the
one occasion when the serving of the dish PRECEDED the breaking
of the bread. The use of WINE was generally reserved for festive
occasions and was characteristic of the Passover (M. Pesachim X.
1).  FINALLY, the interpretation of the ELEMENTS of the meal
CONFORM to Passover CUSTOM where the haggadah (or interpretation)
is an INTEGRAL part of the meal. The CUMULATIVE EVIDENCE supports
the claim made in verses 12, 14, and 16 (of Mark 14) that the
disciples PREPARED a PASSOVER meal and that the EXTERNAL FORMS of
the Passover were observed at the meal itself.' 


     In the Gospel of John only FEW details of the Last Supper
are given, because, as GELDENHUYS explains, 'He assumes that his
readers are quite aware of the fact that this meal was the
PASCHAL repast which the Lord celebrated with His disciples on
the EVENING before His crucifixion, and that He then instituted
the Holy Communion. For this reason he MERELY refers to it by the
single word DEIPNON (supper) WITHOUT stating expressly what
precise meal it was. He knew that the FIRST THREE Gospels and
also the Epistles of Paul gave a FULL ACCOUNT of the celebration
of the paschal repast and the institution of the Holy Communion.
Consequently he does NOT REPEAT the same facts, but mentions a
few SUPPLEMENTARY OCCURRENCES that took place DURING that meal,
as they made a great impression on him and had NOT been described
in the OTHER Gospels.'

     Though John does not explicitly designate the Last supper as
a Passover meal for the reasons just mentioned, there are
indications that he ALSO regarded the meal shared by Christ with
His disciples as a PASCHAL MEAL. 
     The meal takes place WITHIN Jerusalem even though the city
was thronged with pilgrims (John 12: 12, 18, 20; 13: 2; 18: 1;
cf. Mark 14: 17). During His last stay in Jerusalem, Jesus
regularly left the holy city in the evening and went to Bethany
(Mark 11: 11, 19; Luke 19: 29; 21: 37), but at the time of the
Last supper, He REMAINED in the overcrowded city. Why? Because,
as mentioned earlier, it was a RULE that the Paschal lamb had to
be eaten within the gates of Jerusalem (For documentation and
discussion, see Joachim Jeremias, 'The Eucharistic Words of
Jesus' Oxford, England, 1995, pp 15-16).
     The supper is held in the EVENING and lasts into the NIGHT
(John 13: 30; cf. Mark 14: 17). The ORDINARY supper was NOT held
at night, but late in the AFTERNOON (see Josephus, Jewish Wars 2,
8, 5.). The Last supper began in the EVENING and lasted into the
NIGHT because, as Joachim Jeremias explains, 'the Passover had to
be eaten at NIGHT ever since its institution (Joachim Jeremias -
note 10, p.18).
     The meal was RELIGIOUS in character, and the participants
RECLINED at the table (John 13: 12, 23, 25, 28; cf. Mark 14: 18).
At an ORDINARY meal, diners sat down to eat, as indicated by
rabbinical courses (Ibid., p. 20). At the Last Supper, however,
Jesus and His disciples did NOT sit; they RECLINED, because 'at
Passover, as a symbol of LIBERTY, it was the RITUAL duty of the
people present to RECLINE at the table even - as is expressly
stated for 'the poor man in Israel'  '(Ibid. p. 26).
     Finally, AFTER the meal Jesus did NOT return to Bethany as
He had done the preceding night. He walked to the Garden of
Gethsemane (John 18: 1-2).  The reason is that custom dictated
that 'the night of Passover had to be spent in Jerusalem
(contemporary exegesis derived this command from Deut. 16: 7). In
order to make possible the observance of this command, the city
district had been enlarged to include Bethphag. Bethany, however,
lay OUTSIDE the ENLARGED city district ' (Ibid. p. 31).

     The ABOVE indications suggest that John, like the synoptic
writers, regarded the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His
disciples as a PASSOVER MEAL. "

End of quotes from Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi's book


     Dr. Bacchiocchi goes into the meaning of the foot-washing
that John relates in his Gospel, chapter 13.

     He has this comment (page 63), ".....the foot-washing took
place either DURING or AFTER the Lord's supper. TEXTUAL evidence
is DIVIDED on whether John 13: 2 should read 'supper being ended'
or 'while supper was in progress.' "

     What does he mean by "textual evidence"?  Well up until the
1800s, in the GREEK texts there was no dispute. The NT was formed
from all the Greek texts retained by the Greek church or people.
In those texts the words for John 13: 2 are in the "aorist"
tense, which is a completed action sometime in the past. The
scholars of the King James Version had no trouble in translating
from the Greek texts (called The Textus Receptus  - the received
text), and so rendered it as it was in those texts...."supper
being ENDED" (past tense).

     Her in part, from the "Preface to the New King James
Version" (Personal Study Edition, 1990, 1995 by Thomas Nelson
Inc.) is the overview:

     "The King James New Testament was based on the traditional
text of the Greek speaking churches.....and later called the
Textus Receptus or Received Text.......Since the 1880s most
contemporary translations of the New Testament have relied upon a
relatively few manuscripts DISCOVERED chiefly in the LATE
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such translations
depend primarily on TWO manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus and Codex
Sinaiticus.....However, some scholars have grounds for doubting
the faithfulness of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they often
DISAGREE with one another, and Sinaiticus exhibits excessive

     Well the whole story of all this takes a book to relate
(which I have in my library), but the short of it is that the
Sinaiticus manuscript was found in a Roman Catholic Monastery at
Mt. Sinai (hence the name) by a fellow named Tischendorf, who
discovered it in a basket full of parchments destined for the
FIRE!....That is how much the scholars at that Monastery thought
about it.....only fit to be burned!!
     The Vaticanus....well it had been around the Vatican Library
since 1481 at least (it was listed in a catalog of 1481). Nobody
seems to know how it got there or when. The scholars of the
Vatican had not bothered with it....I guess they thought it not
that important.

     The guys that put these two manuscripts on the map, so to
speak, were two fellows by the names of Wescott and Hort. It
takes a good part of a book to relate the theology of those two
guys (which I have in my library) put it bluntly, they were
way out in left field, from the planet Pluto...Plutonic we could

     Well, most of the modern translations are based upon these
two corrupt "and do not agree with each other" manuscripts, that
would have been better to have been put in the fire (as one of
them was found in the basket for things destined for the fire),
but sad to say they were not, and so much corruption as taken
place in the translating of the NT since the 1800s.

     The Textus Receptus and the so-called Majority Text (a
consensus of the majority of existing Greek manuscripts. Is very
similar to the Textus Receptus, but corrects those readings which
have little or no support in the Greek manuscript tradition), are
translated from the "aorist" tense in the Greek of John 13: 2. 
Hence the KJV scholars of 1611 and J. P. Green of the 20th
century (in his Greek/English Interlinear) translate it "supper
being ENDED."

     And that is what it should be. The foot-washing was AFTER
the main supper of the Passover, that was celebrated at the
BEGINNING or the EVENING of the 14th day of the first month in
the Jewish calendar year. 


Written January 2003

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