John 13:10
(10) He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet.--Better, He who has bathed . . . St. Peter's words have implied that he was wholly unclean, and needed for feet, and head, and hands, for the whole man, a moral cleansing. Christ answers that this was not so. The man who has been bathed is clean, but his feet coming in contact with the dust of the road need to be washed. It was so morally. They had been cleansed; their whole moral life had been changed, but they were liable to the corruption of every-day life through which they walked, and needed to be cleansed from the pollution of it. That day had furnished an example; their pride and self-seeking was of the spirit of the world, and not of the spirit of Christ; His act was a cleansing from that, but it did not imply that they were not clean. The lesson is that all, from Apostles downwards, need the daily renewing of the grace of God; and that none should find in failure, or even in the evil which clings to his daily path, reason for questioning the reality of the moral change which has made him the child of God.

And ye are clean, but not all.--This is the moral application, accompanied by the mournful thought that it was not true of all. One there was among those who had been bathed who had allowed evil to enter into his heart and pollute it. For him cleansing had been neglected, and the daily corruption of the world had remained; evil thoughts had been harboured, until at length they had made corrupt the whole man. (Comp. Note on John 15:4.)

Verse 10. - Jesus saith to him. Christ's answer here undoubtedly shows that he is speaking of something far more important than the foot-washing. He goes back to the spiritual meaning which Peter attributed to his words. He that has been bathed (λελουμένος) is indeed washed from head to foot, hath no further need than to wash his feet, but is altogether clean. By personal communion with the Lord and belief in him, by the word which he had spoken to his disciples, they were (καθαροί) clean (John 15:3). They had been washed from the defilement of their old nature, they had undergone a thorough moral and spiritual change, by moral union with Christ. They were reconciled and cleansed; they therefore did not need a fundamental change to be wrought daily in head, hands, and life. Just as a man who had thoroughly bathed only requires the removal of the soil contracted in the daily walk; so a regenerated and forgiven man is clean, and, like Peter, should not need, being καθαρός, more than the foot-cleansing which Christ in Divine condescension had then granted. It was inevitable that some of the Fathers (Augustine, Theodore) and many modern expositors (Hengstenberg, Godet, and Wordsworth) should see here a reference to baptism, and speak of Peter's having overlooked the grace of his baptism. When it is remembered, however, that nothing but John's "baptism unto repentance" had been administered to the disciples, and that this cleansing is, in John 15:3, distinctly referred to the word of Christ, it is a very unnecessary trifling with the text to find in this λελουμένος baptism or any sacramental or symbolic act. Lampe and Cocceius, in rendering λελουμένος, substitute for baptism, the regeneration of the Spirit, and treat the washing of the feet as equivalent to the daily forgiveness of sins of infirmity. Archdeacon Farrar, 'Early Days of Christianity,' vol. 1. p. 126, suggests that this intensely interesting scene may account for Simon Peter's picturesque expression (1 Peter 5:5, ἐκομβώσασθε), wherein he enjoins on Christians to "tie on humility like a dress fastened with knots;" and also for the apostle's "insight into the true meaning of baptism, as being, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God." And ye are clean; and therefore these words and this principle apply to you. Dr. Westcott finds in this phrase a reference to the purity of the visible Church, notwithstanding, i.e., the presence of Judas in the group; but the exception itself which follows shows that the Lord did not regard Judas as λελουμένος or καθαρός. The suggestion of the passage is precisely contrary to that so often drawn. But not all. This reference to Judas may have been one more warning to the man who was plotting against his Master's life.

13:1-17 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.Jesus saith to him, he that is washed,.... Not he that is baptized; for every such person is not wholly clean, but he who is regenerated by the Spirit of God, or rather, who is washed in the blood of Christ: such an one "is clean every whit"; is all over clean; not that he has no sin in him, nor commits any; but as he is washed in the blood of Christ, and justified by his righteousness, he is wholly and entirely clean in the sight of God; for he is justified from all things he could not be justified from by the law of Moses; all his sins are pardoned, and he is perfectly righteous before God; and so is perfectly clean through the word or sentence of justification and absolution pronounced on him, which must be understood in a forensic or law sense. And such an one

needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; the feet of his life and conversation, which are continually gathering dirt, and need daily washing in the blood of Christ; and therefore recourse must be constantly had to that fountain to wash in, for sin and for uncleanness. The allusion is either to persons washed all over in a bath, who have no need to wash again, unless their feet, which may contract some soil in coming out of it; or to travellers, who have often need to wash their feet, though no other part, and such is the case of the children of God in this life; or rather to the priests, who having bathed themselves in the morning, needed not to wash again all the day, except their hands and feet, on certain occasions (x).

And ye are clean, but not all; which shows, that justifying and regenerating grace are common to all the true disciples of Christ; they are equally born again, alike justified, and are as clean one as an other in the sight of God; not only Peter, but all the apostles, were clean, excepting one; there was one of them, Judas, who was not clean; and therefore he says, but not all: whence it may be observed, that among the purest societies, there are some unclean persons; there was a Judas, an unclean person among the pure disciples of Christ; there are chaff and tares among his wheat, goats among his sheep, and foolish virgins along with the wise ones.

(x) Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 3.

John 13:9
Top of Page
Top of Page