These Things

My buddy Roy emailed me and asked if I had any thoughts on John’s use of Isaiah in John 12:38-41. The main thrust of his question was whether we should see the glory spoken of in John 12:41 as Christ’s preexistent glory (as YHWH), which Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6 or the Messiah’s ascended glory in the Suffering Servant passage (Isa. 52:13-53:12). Here was my response:

James White did a Dividing Line podcast and spent a lot of the program talking about this very subject. Here’s a link to the audio. He also posted some reference material to follow along with as the program progressed. As for my thoughts; I see Isaiah 6 as being primary here. The quotation from Isa. 6:9-10 in John 12:40 is the direct antecedent to John’s reference to Isaiah seeing his (i.e., Jesus’) glory in 12:41, which of course hearkens back to Isa. 6:1. But I’m gonna go past that and say that even though Isaiah 53:1 isn’t primary, it’s still obviously present, and John is still drawing from it. Notice in John 12:41 that John says, “Isaiah said these things (Gk. tauta) because he saw his glory and spoke of him.” What are these things (plural)? The things quoted from Isa. 53:1 and 6:9-10. So why couldn’t Isaiah have seen both Christ’s preexistent heavenly glory when he was seated upon a throne high and lifted (Heb. ram v’nisa [Isa. 6:1]) up and his ascended glory when he is high and lifted up (Heb. yarum v’nisa) and exalted (Isa. 52:13)?



4 thoughts on “These Things

  1. What about the use of “because” in John 12:41? In other words, the Isaiah 6 quote had to have been said because of or, as a result of, seeing YHWH’s glory?

    The same would have to be said of the Isaiah 53 quotation as well. “Isaiah in the New Testament” by Moyise is the only work i’ve seen that addresses this point in any length.

  2. Mike: That’s why I see Isaiah 6 as the primary referent. I’ll have to get my hands on Moyise’s book. I have his Psalms in the New Testament; Deuteronomy in the New Testament; The Minor Prophets in the New Testament; and Evoking Scripture: Seeing the Old Testament in the New. It’s about time I add the Isaiah volume to the mix.

  3. Totally not trying to argue here, but why do you see the statement of Isaiah 6:10 as being said because he saw His glory in previous verses? Those who would deny Isaiah 6 as a primary reference would say that Isaiah made the statement in 6:10 simply because he was told to say it.

  4. Mike: Quite simply because that’s what John says, which also is why I’d disagree with someone who says that Isaiah said what he said because he was simply told to say it. John didn’t say that, so why would I believe it? I get why a Unitarian would want to believe it, since they have to grasp at any straw (and they are grasping at straws here) they can to argue against John equating Jesus with the LORD, but I have the luxury of not being a Unitarian.

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