John 12:40 MEANING

John 12:40
(40) He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. . . .--These words are quoted three times in the New Testament. Our Lord, as we have seen, quotes them as explaining His own teaching (Matthew 13:14); St. John quotes them here to explain the rejection of that teaching; St. Paul quotes them in Acts 28:26, to explain the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews at Rome. Yet we are to remember that the prophet and those who quote him are all witnesses that within Israel there were eyes which were not blinded and hearts which were not hardened. Isaiah, and John, and Paul, were all Jews; and our Lord Himself was, in His human nature, of the seed of Abraham. Isaiah's prophecy is accompanied by the promise of a holy seed (John 12:13); St. John quotes these words, and adds that "even of the rulers many believed" (John 12:42); St. Paul quotes them when "some believed the things which were spoken and some believed not" (John 12:24); our Lord quotes them, and immediately says, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." There is, indeed, a judicial blinding and a judicial hardening--let no man therefore presume; but these come only to eyes that will not to see, and to hearts that will not to hear--let no man therefore despair. The quotation in this place does not follow exactly either the Hebrew or the Greek of the passage in Isaiah. In the Hebrew text, as in the Authorised version, the prophet is commanded to "make the heart of this people fat." . . . The Greek text says simply, "The heart of this people was hardened." . . . St. John represents the action which God commanded to be done as done by Himself, and speaks of it in the past tense.

And I should heal them.--The pronoun here refers to Christ. St. John in his interpretation of the prophecy has made God ("He") the author of the judicial blindness and hardness, and represents Christ as the physician. This clause is, however, not to be taken separately, but is governed by "that not" which precedes, The effect of their not turning was that Christ could not heal them.

On the whole verse comp. Note on Matthew 13:14, and Acts 28:26.

Verse 40. - There are several illustrations in this verse that the diction of the evangelist differs from that which he uses when recording the words of Christ. Thus ὅμως μέντοι is peculiar to John himself, and thus is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον; but μέντοι occurs five times in the style of John himself (see John 4:27; John 7:13; John 12:42; John 20:5; John 21:4), not once by our Lord. Ὁμολογεῖν again is used four times by the evangelist, and seven times in the Epistles and Apocalypse, but never put by him into the lips of Jesus. Nevertheless many of the rulers believed on him. These words are used, not to mitigate the charge, but to show that, though individuals did believe, even among the rulers, they had not courage to avow their faith. The instances of Nicodemus and Joseph and others lie upon the surface. Godet thinks rather of Gamaliel and the like, "the Eras-muses of those days." Theirs was, indeed, an hypocrisy of unbelief, and it is not 'altogether banished from the modern world, and notwithstanding Christ's rejection by the nation as a nation, individuals saw his glory and believed. It is still true of municipalities, nations, even Churches, that they reject Christ, while individuals among them are molded by and obedient to the faith. But by reason of the Pharisees - our Lord's most deadly enemies, from John 1. to John 12. - they were making no confession - or, acknowledgment - of his claims, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; become the excommunicate, fall under the terrible ban (see John 9:22). The fear of class exclusion, the dread of running counter to the current opinion of the Church or the world, has led to much of the misery of both.

12:37-43 Observe the method of conversion implied here. Sinners are brought to see the reality of Divine things, and to have some knowledge of them. To be converted, and truly turned from sin to Christ, as their Happiness and Portion. God will heal them, will justify and sanctify them; will pardon their sins, which are as bleeding wounds, and mortify their corruptions, which are as lurking diseases. See the power of the world in smothering convictions, from regard to the applause or censure of men. Love of the praise of men, as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite when religion is in fashion, and credit is to be got by it; and love of the praise of men, as a base principle in that which is evil, will make a man an apostate, when religion is in disgrace, and credit is to be lost for it.He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart,.... It is of no great moment, whether the he, who is said to blind and harden, be God or Christ, or whether the words be rendered, "it hath blinded", &c. that is, malice or wickedness; or whether they be read impersonally, "their eyes are blinded", &c. since God or Christ blind and harden not by any positive act, but by leaving and giving men up to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and denying them the grace which could only cure them, and which they are not obliged to give; and which was the case of these Jews, so as never to be converted, or be turned even by external repentance and reformation, that they might be healed in a national way, and be preserved from national ruin, as it follows,

that they should not see with their eyes,.... See Gill on Matthew 13:14, See Gill on Matthew 13:15. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "they have blinded their eyes", &c.

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