King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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John 12

Christ anointed by Mary. (1-11) He enters Jerusalem. (12-19) Greeks apply to see Jesus. (20-26) A voice from heaven bears testimony to Christ. (27-33) His discourse with the people. (34-36) Unbelief of the Jews. (37-43) Christ’s address to them. (44-50)

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Christ anointed by Mary

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,

5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.

10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

He enters Jerusalem

12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.

18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

Greeks apply to see Jesus

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

A voice from heaven bears testimony to Christ

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

His discourse with the people

34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

Unbelief of the Jews

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Christ’s address to them

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. On the tenth day of the month the Jews were accustomed to collect the lambs, and other things in preparation for the ensuing great feast. On this day, likewise, they generally had a small feast, or treat for their friends, at which time Jesus coming to Bethania, joined his friends in their entertainment. This was most likely in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha served at the table herself, thinking herself happy in waiting on Jesus, whom she considered as her Lord and God. Lazarus was one of them that were at table, to shew himself alive, by speaking and eating with them, and thus confounding the inexcusable incredulity of the Jews. And Mary too shewed her loving attachment to Jesus, by anointing his feet with her precious ointment. Theophyl. S. Aug. and S. Chrys.

Ver. 6. Judas did not then begin to be wicked: he followed Christ, not in heart, but in body only. This our Master tolerated, to give us a lesson to tolerate the bad, rather than divide the body. S. Aug. in Joan. tract. 50.

Ver. 8. Me you have not always with you. He speaks of his corporal presence; for by his majesty, by his providence, by his ineffable and invincible grace, he ever fulfils what he said, (Matt. xxviii.) Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. S. Aug. tract. 50 in Joan.

Ver. 10. To kill Lazarus. A foolish thought, says Aug. as if Christ who had raised him to life from a natural death, could not also restore him to life, when murdered by them. Wi. — O foolish thought, and blinded rage! As if you could, by putting Lazarus to death, take away power from the Lord; as if Christ, who had already raised one that had died, could not as easily have raised one that was slain. But, lo! he has done both. Lazarus dead, he hath restored to life, and himself slain, he hath raised to life. S. Aug. tract 50. in Joan.

Ver. 19. Do you see that we prevail nothing?[1] Thus said the Pharisees, being vexed that so many followed Christ, even after they had ordered, that whosoever owned him, should be turned out of their synagogues; and after they had employed men to apprehend him, but to no purpose. Wi.

Ver. 20. Gentiles . . . came up to adore. These either were proselytes who had been Gentiles, and now had embraced the Jewish law: or they were such among the Gentiles, who owned and served the one true God, as Cornelius did, (Acts, c. x.) but did not submit themselves to circumcision, and all the other Jewish rites and ceremonies. These could only enter into that part of the temple, called the court of the Gentiles. Wi.

Ver. 24. Unless the grain of wheat. The comparison is this, that as the seed must be changed, and corrupted in the ground, before it fructify, so the world would not be converted but by Christ’s death. Wi. — By this grain of corn our Saviour means himself, who was to die by the infidelity of the Jews, and be multiplied by the faith of the Gentiles. S. Aug. tract. 51. in Joan.

Ver. 26. We must minister to Jesus by seeking not our own things, but the things of Christ; that is; we must follow him, we must walk in his footsteps, we must perform the corporal works of mercy, and every other good work, for his sake, till we come to put in practice the most perfect act of charity, the laying down of our lives for our brethren. Then will he crown us with this greatest of rewards, the happiness of reigning with him. And where I am, there shall my minister be. S. Aug. tract. 51. in Joan.

Ver. 27. Now is my soul troubled. Christ permitted this fear and horror to come upon his human nature, as he did afterwards in the garden of Gethsemani. Father, save me from this hour; yet he presently adds, but for this cause I came unto this hour; that is, I came into this world for this end, that I might die on a cross for all mankind. In like manner, when he had said in the garden, let this cup pass from me, he presently joined these words: but not my will, but thine be done. Wi. — Lest the disciples, upon hearing our Saviour exhorting them willingly and courageously to suffer death, should think within themselves, that he could well exhort them to these things, being himself beyond the reach of human misery, he assures them in this place, that he himself is in agony, and yet does not refuse to die for them. S. Chrys. hom. lxvi. in Joan.

Ver. 28. Father, glorify thy name, by my sufferings and death, as well as by many miracles that shall follow. A voice came from heaven, and so loud, that some there present compared it to thunder: and at the same time these words were heard: I have glorified it, thy name, and I will glorify it again, by a number of ensuing miracles at Christ’s death, at his resurrection and ascension, as well as by all those miracles, which the apostles and disciples wrought afterwards. Wi.

Ver. 30. As the soul of Christ was troubled, not on his own account, but for the sake of the people; so this voice came from heaven, not for his sake, but for that of the people. What it announced was already known to him; the advantage and instruction of the Jews was its end, object, and motive. S. Aug. 52. tract. in Joan.

Ver. 31. Now is the judgment of the world: Their condemnation, says S. Chrys. for not believing. — The prince of this world, that is, the devil, shall be cast out from that great tyranny, which he had over mankind, before Christ’s incarnation. Wi. — By these words Christ informs the Gentiles that wished to see him, that soon he would punish the incredulous Jews, and cast off their synagogue, for their malice and insatiable hatred against him; and that the prince of this world, that is, the worship of idols, should be destroyed, and all called to the true faith. Calmet.

Ver. 32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth: that is, on the cross. See the same expression, Jo. iii. 14. and viii. 28. — I will draw all things, all nations, to myself by faith. Wi.

Ver. 34. How sayest thou the Son of man must be lifted up? By these words of the people, Christ, in this discourse must have called himself the Son of man, though it is not here mentioned by the evangelist. The people also tell him, they had heard that their Messias was to abide for ever: which was true as to his spiritual kingdom of grace, not as to such a glorious temporal kingdom, as they imagined. Wi.

Ver. 35. Yet a little while,[2] that is, for a very few days, I, who am the light of the world, am with you. Wi. — How much do the Jews now do, and yet they know not what they do: but like men that are walking in the dark, they think they are in the right way, when alas! they are quite the contrary. S. Chrys. hom. lxvi. in Joan.

Ver. 39. They could not believe,[3] that is, they would not, says S. Aug. or it could not be, considering their wilful obstinate blindness. Wi. — But where then is the sin, if they could not believe? They could not believe, because they would not. For as it is the glory of the will of God, that it cannot be averse to its own glory, so it is the fault of the will of man, that it cannot believe. S. Aug. tract. 53. in Joan. They could not believe. Since the prophet has foretold it, and he cannot but say the truth, it is impossible that they should now believe. Not but they had it in their power to believe; and had they believed, the prophet would never have foretold the contrary. S. Chrys. hom. lxvii. in Joan.

Ver. 40. He hath blinded their eyes, &c. See Matt. xiii. 14. Wi. — God blinded the Jews, not by filling them with malice, but by refusing them his graces, of which they had made themselves unworthy, and which they before abused and despised. It was their perverse will, their pride, presumption, and obstinacy, that brought on them this judgment. S. Aug.

Ver. 43. For they loved the glory of men. This was one of the chief obstacles of their belief: yet many even of the chief of them believed in him; but durst not own it for fear of being disgraced, and turned out of their synagogues. Do not human considerations, and temporal advantages, hinder men from seeking out, and embracing the truth?

Ver. 45. He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. In what sense these words are true, see John xiv. v. 9. where they are repeated again, and with other expressions to the same sense. Wi.

Ver. 47. I do not judge him. To judge here, may signify to condemn. S. Aug. expounds it in this manner: I do not judge him at this my first coming. S. Chrys. says, it is not I only that judgeth him, but the works also that I do.


[1] V. 19. Quia nihil proficimus. In most G. copies, and also in S. Chrys. we read: you see that you prevail nothing; as if these words had been spoken by some of Christ’s friends, to make his adversaries desist. Theoreite oti ouk opheleite ouden.

[2] V. 35. Adhuc modicùm lumen in vobis est, eti mikron chronon, to phos meth umon esti. They mistake, who take modicum for an adjective, that agrees with lumen.

[3] V. 39. Non poterant credere. S. Aug. (tract. 53.) Quare autem non potuerunt, si a me quæratur, citò respondeo, quia nolebant.