Our short text can be divided into three parts:
- 31-32 – the glorification of God and Jesus
- 33 – Jesus’ departure
- 34-35 – the commandment to love.
The Glorification of God and Jesus. The immediate reference to Judas’ departure, like the coming of the Greeks (12:20-23), signals to Jesus that a new stage of the glorification has been reached. The betrayal has begun, and so “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” This verse and the following verse are particularly difficult to translate. The cross is itself the revelation of divine glory and the way for Jesus to share the divine life with his followers. It is also the way for God to glorify the Son in himself (v. 32), which he will do at once as Jesus returns to his presence (17:5). Just as Jesus’ keynote address focused on the relation between the Father and the Son (5:19-27), so also his farewell discourse begins from that same fundamental point. This relationship is central to this Gospel.
Let us explore in more depth what is meant by “glorification.” Glorification can refer to either the giving of praise or the manifestation of that which is worthy of praise. Perhaps it is as simple as Jesus referring to the manifestation of God now taking place rather than the praise it will bring forth in the future. More likely it refers to a mutual glorification imbedded within the mystery of the Trinity in which all personae actively glorify and passively are glorified within the same flow of Love. (See “Some Additional Notes” below for Brian Stoffregen’s insight into this difficult and dense verses.).
What is clear is that in the Fourth Gospel the glorifying of the Son of Man involves suffering and death as well as sovereign power—Jesus enters his glory via the cross. That is why Judas’ departure to betray Jesus elicited the statement ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified’. However, the death of Jesus was not just his passage to glory. In death itself Jesus was glorified. In giving his life for sinful humans the glory of his gracious character was most clearly seen. And it did not stop there, for Jesus said that when the Son of Man was glorified, God also would be glorified in him. In Jesus’ self-sacrificing love for human beings the glory of God was revealed, for the Father loves the world, and this led him to give his one and only Son so that those who believe might have eternal life (3:16). In the giving of his Son, the glory of God’s own self-giving love was revealed.
[This section is from Brian Stoffregen’s commentary]
THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD AND JESUS
31 …”Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 (If God is glorified in him,) God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.
These verses are difficult to translate and understand. The verb “to glorify” (doxazo) occurs five times in these two verses. The first three times are aorist passives. The next two times are future actives. The aorist usually implies a one-time event in the past – although the “now” in v. 31 would suggest an act in the present time. Some translations use a perfect verb = “has been glorified” and others use the present tense = “is glorified.”
The pronoun “him” also occurs five times. Four times it is the object of the preposition “in” (en) which has a wide range of meanings. I will look at other instances of glorification (doxazo) in John to try and help us understand these two verses
The glorification of Jesus in John – During his earthly ministry (or at least part of it), Jesus was not glorified: “He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (7:39).
Although the verb is passive in our text, it is clear from other verses that it is the “Father” or the “Spirit of truth” who glorify Jesus. Note the changing verb tenses.
- “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me….” (8:54 – present tense)
- “He [the Spirit of truth] will glorify me, …” (16:14 – future tense)
- “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.” (17:1 – aorist tense)
- “So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” (17:5 – aorist tense)
The aorist tenses in the last two verses suggests that there is a specific point in time when God glorifies the Son. For John, that point seems to be Christ’s death/resurrection/ascension as these next verses suggests.
- “His disciples did not understand these things [the ‘Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem] at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him” (12:16).
- In 12:23: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This “hour” is preceded by Greeks wishing to see Jesus – thus fulfilling the words of 12:19: “The world has gone after him.” Immediately following this verse, Jesus talks about the necessity of a seed falling into the earth and dying, so that it will bear much fruit (12:24).
- However, 11:4 suggests that the death and raising of Lazarus occurs “so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Although after this miracle the Jewish leaders “planned to put him [Jesus] to death” (11:53).
The glorification of the Father in John – Jesus asks: “Father glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again (12:28). This is spoken in the context of “Jesus’ hour” when he is “lifted up from the earth” and “will draw all people to myself,” which he said “to indicate the kind of death he was to die” (12:32-33). I note here, as well as 12:24 mentioned above, that it is not just the death that is related to Jesus’ or the Father’s glorification but also the “bearing of much fruit” or the “drawing of all people to himself.” Can we claim that the glorification is complete when the “fruit” of Jesus’ death seems to be diminishing?
This thought is supported by 15:8: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” The Father’s glorification does not only come from Jesus, but from disciples.
Jesus indicates that whatever he does – including responding to the requests of disciples – is done to glorify the Father: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13).
As noted above, Jesus’ prayer in ch. 17 begins with requests for glorification of himself by the Father and glorification of the Father by himself.
- “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you” (17:1)
- “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do” (17:4).
It was important to Jesus to “finish” or “complete” (teleioo) the work God had given him to do (see also 4:34; 5:36). The last word Jesus utters from the cross is a related word (teleo) – “It is finished (or completed)” (19:30).
Finally, God will be glorified by Peter’s death: “He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he [Peter] would glorify God” (21:19)
Our verses reconsidered – Will this word study of doxazo in John help us understand our verses? We look briefly at each line [Stoffregen’s translation] and its possible meanings.
line 1 – now the Son of Man was glorified —Who glorified the Son of Man? It is often important to try and convert passive verbs (“was glorified”) into active verbs (“glorified”). If this is a divine passive, we could rephrase the sentence: “Now God glorified the Son of Man.” However, as we see in the next line, God may not be the actor in this line.
Assuming that it is God who glorifies Jesus, why does God do this? I think that it comes as a result of fulfilling God’s plan by:
- Jesus lowering himself to wash the feet of the disciples (13:1-11)
- Awareness of the betrayal (13:18-25)
- The sending of Judas to do the deed (13:26-30)
At this moment when Jesus put the process in motion that would lead to his death, he is glorified – and he will be glorified when the death-resurrection-ascension event actually occurs. Note that our text begins with: “When he had gone out,…” referring to Judas leaving the group to betray Jesus.
line 2 – and God was glorified in him — Again we have a passive verb (“was glorified”). How would we express this with an active verb? Who glorified God? Is it Jesus who glorifies God? Is it the people who recognize God “in him,” i.e., in Jesus, and then glorify God?
The phrase “in him” refers to “the Son of Man”. What is it about the Son of Man that brings glorification to God? He completes the work that God gave him to do – namely, the acts that will lead to his death, so that he might bear much fruit. Note also that the Father is glorified when Jesus’ disciples bear much fruit (15:8).
line 3 – if God was glorified in him — This line, which essentially repeats the preceding one, is not found in some important ancient manuscripts. As Brown indicates, “It is easier to explain why it may have been lost than why it would have been added.” Namely, in copying, the copyist inadvertently skipped over the repeated line. The meaning here would be the same as the previous line.
line 4 – and God will glorify him in him — Here we have active verbs. It is clear that God is doing the glorifying. It seems likely that the first “him” refers to “the Son of Man.” God will glorify Jesus. (This is similar to line one, except that the verb was aorist – the glorification took place in the past.)
Who does the second “him” refer to? If God, then we might interpret the phrase: “God will glorify Jesus by the works that God will do for Jesus.” Perhaps more specifically, God’s act of raising Jesus from the dead so that Jesus will return to the presence of God (17:5).
line 5 – and immediately he will glorify him —God’s glorification of Jesus takes place “immediately.” The best explanation I can offer of this time sequence is that the same word (eythys) is used of Judas “immediately” going out in 13:30, presumably to betray Jesus. The moment of Jesus’ destruction/glorification began immediately when Judas walked out the door.
13:31 God is glorified in him: Brown (p. 606) list four possible ways to understand this clause: (a) through Jesus God is held in honor by men, (b) God is honored by Jesus, (c) God has won honor for Himself in Jesus, or (d) God has revealed his glory in Jesus. Brown analyzes the suitability of each understanding in light of the Johannine context. Given the stress that glory involves a visible manifestation of God’s majesty in acts of power. Both these qualities are verified in Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is an action of his own power (10:17-18). Since Jesus’ power is at the same time God’s power, the full meaning here is found in a combination of understandings (b) and (d). For a more detailed analysis of the use of “glory” in this passage see the section, “Some Additional Notes.”
13:32 [If God…]: This clause is missing is some ancient manuscripts – but is also present is some equally ancient manuscripts. Brown holds that it is easier to explain why it may have been lost than why it would have been added.
in Himself: In contrast to v.31 where God is glorified in Jesus, this verse means that Jesus is glorified in God. There are however many ancient commentators who held that this referred being glorified in himself.