Gary W. Derickson1
Professor of Biblical Studies and Greek
Corban University School of Ministry
As we read through the four Gospels, we get to “listen in” on Jesus’ interactions with His disciples, the multitudes, and His opponents. Without a doubt, Jesus’ favorite teaching device is the parable. He uses it to teach His followers truths while hiding those truths from unbelieving listeners (Matt 13:11-15). In addition, He uses ambiguity. He loves to challenge men’s thinking, not only with His disciples but also with the multitudes coming to hear Him teach. He stretches the meanings of words and speaks in such a way that the listener is left puzzling over what He means. In this vein we find that Jesus loves to use words with double meanings, and He intends to mean both things at the same time.
Jesus’ influence on John is evident in that he, too, employs terms in ambiguous ways which force his readers to think long and hard about what he actually intends. Sometimes it becomes evident that he, indeed, intends his chosen term to mean two things at once. We can certainly see this in his Gospel. However, we should also be cautious and not get carried away, finding double meanings where none were intended.
II. DOUBLE MEANING DEFINED
E. W. Bullinger defined the figure of speech amphibologia as “a word or phrase susceptible of two interpretations.” An author or speaker employs it in order to communicate two meanings that are both true and intended. This is in contrast to equivocation which also involves the use of a word with two meanings, but only one of its meanings is true.2
Amphibologia may be accomplished by employing a word that has two or more meanings contained within its range of meaning and use, or through a word that has a single literal meaning but that naturally carries a second figurative sense as well. Andreas Köstenberger adds that the employment of this literary device “often involves misunderstanding and taking a word’s figurative meaning literally.” Further, it “encompasses the notions of misunderstanding, irony, and symbolic or allusive ambiguity.”3
III. PURPOSE OF JESUS AND JOHN’S USE OF DOUBLE MEANING
Both Jesus and John give words and phrases double meanings in order to accomplish rhetorical purposes. Jesus is forcing His listeners to think about what He has said and to attempt to figure things out. He often uses plays on words to accomplish this. He taps into His listeners’ imaginations and redirects their thinking as they puzzle over His words. This often does lead to misunderstandings that move them to ask the right questions. For example, in John 6 the multitude is headed to Jerusalem for the Passover, and so they have Moses and the wilderness wanderings at the forefront of their thinking. They have just been miraculously fed, and they are thinking of manna as well. Jesus tells the multitude to “labor” for food that “endures to everlasting life” (6:27). Their question about what “work” to do enables Him to declare that eternal life can only be gained by believing in Him (6:29). He takes the wilderness imagery and identifies Himself with the manna. Though most of the figurative terms He uses do not fit into the category of double meaning, some may. However, His use of figurative language throughout the discussion with the multitude ends in their misunderstanding and rejection of Him by most other than His disciples. They were more focused on their stomachs than on understanding spiritual truths.
Like Jesus, John also utilizes figurative language and double meaning to develop themes and express deep spiritual truths. He likely learned it from listening to Jesus. His utilization of it creates a depth of meaning that can only be discovered by meditating on each conversation and event recounted until its import can be discerned. Often its significance and meaning goes beyond the immediate context as it serves as one step in the development of a theme that traces its way through the Gospel or one of its sections.
IV. EXEGESIS OF DOUBLE MEANING
How do we discover and properly interpret those words and phrases that are intended by Jesus and John to have double meanings?
First, our discovery must grow out of solid exegesis that includes recognizing rhetorical and literary devices. It must fit within the flow of thought and clearly contribute to the development of the scene or Gospel as a whole. In John’s case, this requires an awareness and appreciation of his literary skill as well as recognition of his theological focus. As his message is discerned and themes identified, the interpreter will begin to notice those instances in which Jesus or John clearly wishes to be understood as intending two meanings. The following steps will aid the interpreter in this task.
Second, determine the possible meanings of the word or phrase. Begin with foundational tools such as the Greek-English lexicon BDAG.4 This will provide the range of meanings of a term and a few examples of its use. Make use of more extensive tools such as TDNT for a more developed understanding within the Greco-Roman context as well as its use in the LXX, and thus Jewish, cultural background.5 Is there a similar Old Testament wordplay with which Jesus or John would be familiar? Cultural background sources may help, but not often.
Third, place the word or phrase within its context. Would the use of a double meaning advance Jesus’ or John’s teaching point? Does the flow of Jesus’ conversation or of John’s message indicate that a double meaning could be intended? Or does the context of what is said before and after indicate otherwise? In other words, does nothing that follows develop or depend on more than one meaning, even if two or more are possible?
Fourth, identify how each intended meaning is developed within the context of its use. What is said or done that “fleshes out” one or the other meaning of the term? Can I demonstrate how its introduction enables John or Jesus to develop more than one idea? What subsequent elements in the narrative flow from one or the other meaning, whether literal or figurative?
Fifth, identify the truth(s) being taught through the two meanings intended by Jesus or John. To miss this step is to completely miss the point or points of the passage or passages in which the term occurs or which develops it in some way.
V. TWO WORDS IN JOHN’S GOSPEL WHERE DOUBLE MEANING IS CLEARLY INTENDED
In John’s Gospel there are at least two words that are intended to convey two meanings at the same time. The first occurs in the Gospel’s prologue, while the other is used by Jesus in His conversation with Nicodemus.
A. Understand or Overcome (katalambanō) in John 1:5
The clearest example of double meaning as used by John is found in the prologue of his Gospel and introduces two themes that he develops afterward. In John 1:5 we are told that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not katelaben it.” This Greek verb, katalambanō, is intended by John to mean both “to understand” and “to overcome.”6 This double sense introduces two subthemes under the larger theme of light and darkness, which are developed through the narrative of John’s Gospel.
The theme of darkness not understanding the light is developed through the reactions and statements of those people who reject Jesus. It is introduced in the first confrontation Jesus has with the Jews (John 2:18-22). They ask for a sign, and Jesus uses the term “temple” to refer to His body, while they misunderstand Him to mean the temple proper in Jerusalem.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus, the Light, out of the darkness, “by night,” representing the Sanhedrin, and misunderstands what Jesus means by, “You must be born anōthen.” He understands Jesus to mean “again,” but soon learns He means both “again” and “from above.”
In John 6, the unbelieving crowd (6:64) misunderstands Jesus’ origin (6:41-42), as well as the figurative sense He intends when He speaks of their eating His flesh and drinking His blood (6:53).7 When Jesus warns the Jews that He is departing somewhere they cannot follow, they misunderstand where He is going, thinking He is referring to the Gentiles (8:19-27). John tells us plainly that they do not understand Jesus.8 In John 10:6, we are reminded again that those Jews not believing in Jesus also could not understand Him. This leads to their confusion in the following verses that culminates in a debate among themselves in vv 19-21.
Jesus’ trial serves as the climax of the theme of darkness’s failure to understand Jesus (John 18:33-38). Though Pilate seems to understand that Jesus sees Himself as a king, he fails to recognize Jesus as the Messianic King of Israel. He only sees an innocent man and thus accedes to the wishes of the crowd and kills Him.
Parallel to the theme of understanding is the theme of overcoming. This is introduced in John 5 with the reaction of the Jews to Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath. They not only persecute Jesus but seek to kill Him (5:16-18; also 7:1). In the latter part of chap. 7, the Jews attempt and fail to arrest Jesus in order to kill Him. The incident with the woman caught in adultery (8:1-11) is another failed attempt to trap and destroy Jesus. Though they think they have devised an inescapable trap, Jesus turns it on them and “defeats” them. At the end of chap. 8, the Jews seek to stone Jesus after losing their argument with Him about His relationship to Abraham. However, once again they fail to overpower Him either rhetorically or physically.
In the latter part of chap. 10, the Jews want to stone Jesus because of what He says about His relationship to God the Father. In chap. 11, the Jews respond to Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead with a plan to kill Him (11:53). This plot initially succeeds with the aid of Judas and the subsequent trials. Even so, darkness’s failure to overcome the light is hinted at in Jesus’ declaration of the defeat of Satan (John 12:31). The attempt of darkness to overpower the light is climaxed in Jesus’ trials and crucifixion. Its failure is then climaxed in Jesus’ resurrection. Darkness cannot overcome Jesus who is the Light of the world.
Thus, we can see the double sense of katalambanō worked out in detail through the length of the Gospel. Its double meaning is intended by John to introduce both themes and so should be interpreted accordingly. Along with his own use of this literary device, John recounts Jesus’ use of double meaning as well.
B. Again or From Above (anōthen) in John 3:3
When Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night and represents the Sanhedrin by saying, “We know that you are a teacher come from God,” Jesus replies to him that “unless one is born anōthen, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus uses a term that has two distinct meanings. Like katalambanō, this adverb has a range of meanings including: (1) “from a source that is above, from above”; (2) from a point in time, “from the beginning”; (3) with reference to the past, “for a long time”; and (4) “at a subsequent point in time involving repetition, again, anew.”9 It is the first and last senses which Jesus employed in His response to Nicodemus.
In the conversation that follows, Nicodemus recognizes one of the term’s meanings while Jesus develops two. Jesus’ use of the term is intended to be ambiguous and to create misunderstanding.10 Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus to be saying he had to be physically born a second time. Jesus clarifies the senses He intends in His explanation. The rebirth He speaks of is to be understood as spiritual as well as subsequent to one’s physical birth. It is connected to a work of the Holy Spirit, not one’s human mother. Some interpreters see Jesus combining the two senses in the single statement and translate it as “born again from above.”11 Jesus’ explanation to Nicodemus easily fits within this blended meaning as well.
Not everybody sees that Jesus intended a double meaning with anōthen. For example, Henry Alford rejects the idea that Jesus intended a double meaning. He points to the conversation with Nicodemus and argues from the perspective that the word in Aramaic would not carry the double sense. He translates the term as “born afresh” and sees Jesus’ response as more clarifying the one meaning rather than developing two meanings or twin aspects of the term.12 However, as discussed above, the context supports the double meaning.13
VI. WORDS GIVEN A DOUBLE MEANING
Some words do not naturally contain two distinct meanings. However, they may be used in both literal and figurative ways which enable the speaker or writer to imply two things at once. This was a favorite teaching device used by Jesus and a rhetorical device employed by John as well. The context indicates that both senses are intended by Jesus or John and so should be addressed in one’s study, whether for personal edification, or preparation of a lesson or sermon.
A. Follow (akaloutheō) in John 1:37
After John the Baptist points his followers to Jesus, two immediately leave John and “follow” Him. Ed Blum says, “They followed Him in the sense of literal walking and also as His disciples, that is, they turned their allegiance to Jesus that day.”14 In the unfolding of the narrative, Jesus next finds and commands Philip to “follow” Him. Jesus’ new followers then go to their relatives and testify about Jesus and bring them to meet Him.
In John 6:2, we find multitudes following Jesus. In John 8:12, Jesus uses the term to describe His disciples, whom He later calls His “sheep” (10:4, 27). He uses it with respect to those who serve Him (12:26) and uses it literally with the disciples in the Upper Room when talking about His departure (13:36).
John uses it with its literal sense in 18:15 and 20:6. However, in 21:19, Jesus uses it with its figurative sense one last time when He commands Peter to “follow” Him rather than worry about His treatment of the beloved disciple.
In most instances, the term is used with one or the other sense rather than a double meaning. Further, it should be observed that John does not appear to intend to develop a theme around the term as he does with katalambanō in John 1:5. Proper interpretation, then, would recognize the one instance where a double meaning is intended while avoiding misinterpreting the subsequent uses of the same term. This is an example in which context can help illuminate the intended meaning within a range of possible meanings.
B. Living Water (hudōr zōn) in John 4:10 and 7:38
When talking with the Samaritan woman, Jesus uses the expression “living water” to communicate a spiritual truth, thereby giving it a double meaning. Donald Guthrie correctly notes, “This expression had a double meaning, either running water, (i.e. spring water), or spiritual water, (i.e. connected with the Spirit). The Rabbis thought of the Torah as living water, which shows its metaphorical use.”15
Charles Talbert identifies six OT uses of the term (Gen 26: 19; Lev 14:5, 6, 50, 51, 52). In addition, Josephus (Antiquities 1.16.2§246; 1.16.3§254) shows this was an understood double sense. Talbert interprets Jesus’ use to be an allusion to the “water of the Holy Spirit that he will give after his glorification.”16
These are good observations and demonstrate Jesus’ natural use of figurative language in His conversations as well as when He was teaching or debating with the Jewish leaders. We also see in this His use of images from the life of His listener. He does so in a context that communicates deep spiritual truths in much the same way as the parables. This was not just true with strangers, but also with His disciples.
C. Bathed, Justified, or Sanctified (katharos) in John 13:10 and 15:3
In the Upper Room, Jesus uses the term katharos to refer to the disciples as “clean” before declaring that one of them is not clean. He uses two terms for bathing. The first, louō, refers to the bath they took before coming to the Upper Room. This bathing included their whole bodies. The second, niptō, describes what He had just done in washing their feet. Next, he uses katharos to describe them as “clean.” The literal terms which precede set the stage for the double sense of katharos, which has a moral/ceremonial meaning familiar to them all, referring naturally to ceremonial, thus spiritual, cleanness.17
Later in John 15:3, Jesus uses the same adjective to describe the Eleven, following Judas’ departure. This use tells them that they are prepared and designated by God to bear much fruit as they abide in Jesus after His departure. Whereas in the Upper Room the double meaning is built on the imagery of bathing, in the vine/branch analogy, it is built around viticulture and pruning.18
D. Spiritual or Physical Night (ēn de nux) in John 13:30
When Judas departs Jesus’ presence for the last time, he walks out into spiritual as well as physical darkness.19 John writes that “it was night” when Judas left. This would seem to be a statement of the obvious, until one realizes its role in the development of the theme of light and darkness. In this instance, a term that normally does not have a spiritual sense is given one and connects the reader back to Jesus’ earlier words in John 9:4 and 11:9-10.20 In both places, Jesus describes His pre-betrayal period as “day.” This is a time when He is present with the disciples and they are encouraged to take advantage of it.
“Night,” on the other hand, describes their condition during the time of His betrayal and crucifixion when they will not have Him with them to guide and protect them. John alerts us to the significance of Judas’ departure by connecting the literal night with the spiritual night Jesus had already described. Jesus’ words were about to be fulfilled.
VII. WORDS THAT COULD BUT DO NOT HAVE A DOUBLE MEANING
Sometimes words are used that allow a double sense, though it is not clear that Jesus or John intended it. These are worth exploring but should be taught with caution. One danger of recognizing double meaning as a rhetorical device is to overemphasize it and begin seeing it where it is not intended.
If an exegete goes down that road, he runs into the danger of allegorizing the text. He will find meanings of words that the original writer and Holy Spirit did not intend. This will change the meaning of the text itself.
How does the exegete determine if a double meaning exists? The easiest way is to look at the context. If the context does not support both meanings then we can conclude that the author did not want the word or phrase to have a double meaning.
Some examples of this possible misuse will now be examined.
A. Spirit or Wind (pneuma) in John 3:5-8
In the same conversation with Nicodemus where Jesus gives two meanings to anōthen, He uses the term pneuma to describe both “spirit” and “wind.” Martin Manser correctly recognizes that pneuma can mean either and that Jesus uses it with both meanings when talking with Nicodemus.21 However, though He uses it with two meanings, each use only involves a single meaning and never a double sense. Thus, this would not be an instance of double meaning nor of ambiguity.
B. Lifting Up (hupsoō) in John 3:14
Jesus tells Nicodemus that He must be lifted up in the same way Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. Gerd Lüdemann identifies Jesus’ use as intending a double meaning, referring to His exaltation as well as crucifixion. He notes three other instances in which the term is used and attributes the double sense to all three (John 8:28; 12:32, 34).22
Kent Hughes sees Jesus intending a double meaning while His disciples, who are listening in on the conversation, misunderstand Him to refer to His exaltation rather than crucifixion.23 Others see Jesus intending a double meaning that includes His exaltation.24
However, when Jesus uses it in 8:28, He could not intend the double sense. In this case it is the people’s “lifting” Him up in crucifixion, not God’s exalting Him. A double sense would not properly describe the intention of the people who crucified Him.
Similarly, in 12:32-34, John clarifies that Jesus was referring to His crucifixion and not exaltation. When we go back to the first instance, it is better to see Jesus referring only to His crucifixion and not alluding in any way to His exaltation. To read that into the passage is to read subsequent theology into the narrative. Since John does not develop a theme of exaltation, it is very unlikely that he or Jesus intended it here.
Kenneth Gangel, after recognizing that John likes to employ double meaning, also notes that it is common among scholars to see John developing the crucified Christ’s exaltation as a theological theme.25 However, he places the concept of “exaltation” in the sphere of application rather than interpretation and notes that it would be inappropriate to read that theology into this passage.26
In contrast, Andrew Lincoln argues for the double meaning of “lifted up” on the basis that Jesus may have spoken in Aramaic. In that language, the verb “to lift” (ףקדזא) does contain both senses. He further points to the LXX version of Isaiah 52:13 as providing a possible backdrop to Jesus’ statement.27
One key weakness of Lincoln’s argument is the intended audience of John’s Gospel. John’s repeated explanation of Jewish customs would indicate a Gentile Christian audience who would not recognize an Aramaic connotation in Jesus’ statements. Thus it is better to limit Jesus’ use of the term to a single meaning.
C. Anointing (epechriste) the Blind Man’s Eyes with Clay in John 9:6
A. W. Pink’s interpretation here is an example of mistaken double meaning which results in an allegorizing of the text. In this instance, Pink is interpreting an action of Jesus as having an intended double meaning. First of all, he interprets Jesus’ anointing the blind man’s eyes with clay as “dispensationally” symbolizing Jesus’ incarnation before Israel. But there is also a “doctrinal” meaning because Jesus is “pressing upon the sinner his lost condition and need of a Saviour.” For Pink, the clay emphasizes “our blindness.”28 This is an example of reading one’s theology back into a word or phrase and creating a double sense never intended by either Jesus or John.
D. Seeing (idontes) in John 20:20
Lewis Foster acknowledges what he calls the “surface meaning” of the text in John 20. The disciples “saw” Jesus. However, based on other examples of Johannine double meaning, he sees John indicating here that the disciples now understood the spiritual reality of Jesus’ resurrection after physically seeing Him.29 However, rather than infusing a figurative sense into the word, it is better exegesis to read it literally. John does not provide any hints that it should be understood figuratively, nor does it add anything to the message of the text.
VIII. THESE DOUBLE MEANINGS ARE NOT FOUND IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS
It is interesting that the Synoptic Gospels do not use these examples of double meaning. Those who do not hold to the high view of inspiration might conclude that John simply made these things up since the other Gospel writers did not mention them.
The simpler explanation is that these double meanings had particular significance for John’s purpose. John’s purpose in writing the Gospel of John was different from that of the authors of the Synoptics. He wanted to tell the reader how to receive eternal life. That is not the purpose of the other Gospels. The uses of words and phrases with double meanings were used by John for that purpose.
The use of double meaning is a powerful rhetorical and literary device. It enables John to delve into deep spiritual truths which must be discerned by his readers as they discover his themes and explore the depths of his theology. John had heard the Lord use this literary device. It allowed the Lord to communicate deep truths with mental images that were readily recognized by His listeners. Jesus was also able to baffle His opponents or others with whom He interacted.
One of God’s desires is that His children think and discover truths about Him and their relationship with Him. We see this in Jesus’ teaching style and in how He inspired John to write with great profundity. John was not just a young fisherman who followed Jesus. He was a deep thinker and subsequently became a deep writer. He was a literary artist who enjoyed painting a picture of Jesus that was as profound and marvelous as He. As we study John’s work, we can appreciate the depth of his artistry and must study it just as deeply to appreciate the full beauty of the masterpiece he has written. Discovering and understanding his use of double meaning is just one aspect of his artistry we can enjoy.
1 This paper was presented at the 2016 GES National Conference.
2 Ethelbert W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (New York, NY: E. & J. B. Young & Co., 1898), 804. Emphasis his.
3 Andreas J. Köstenberger, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters: The Word, the Christ, the Son of God, Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 132. His examples include anōthen (above, again), pneuma (spirit, wind), and “lifting up” (crucifixion, exaltation) in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, as well as akoloutheō (follow), menō (abide), kathairō (prune, cleanse), telos/teleō (completion, death) and tuphlos (blind) elsewhere. Figurative terms given literal meanings would include “night,” “light,” “darkness,” and “water.”
4 Walter Bauer, William Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., ed. Frederick Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000).
5 Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–).
6 The verb katalambanō has four possible meanings: (1) “to make something one’s own;” (2) “to gain control of someone/something through pursuit,” and so, “to overcome;” (3) “to come upon someone,” often by surprise; and (4) “to process information, understand” (BDAG, 520).
7 The crowd disagreeing with Jesus in 7:19-20 would not be an example of misunderstanding. They understood perfectly well what Jesus meant. They simply did not believe it was true.
8 However, the argument that follows about slavery and being children of Abraham does not result from misunderstanding what Jesus says, but from disagreeing with what He says. Further, the question asked by the Jews after Jesus accepts the worship of the man born blind is not a case of confusion but a denial of personal spiritual blindness on their parts (John 9:40). This is reflected in their use of a second class conditional clause to deny their blindness, “Are we blind also?” (Mē kai hēmeis tuphloi esmen?). Clearly they do not think they are blind.
9 BDAG, 92.
10 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 123-24.
11 Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 11; Jack W. Hayford and William D. Watkins, Living beyond the Ordinary: Discovering the Keys to an Abundant Life: A Study of John, Spirit-Filled Life Bible Discovery Guides (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993); Andreas J. Köstenberger, “John,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 434.; Robert Kysar, Preaching John (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002), 38.
12 Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Guardian Press, 1976), 713.
13 It should be noted that many believe that the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus took place on a roof of a house. Jesus’ use of the word “wind” and “spirit” in the conversation supports this. The wind would have been felt by the two men on the roof. As the wind comes from “above,” so is the new birth. The new birth is being born again from above.
14 Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 275.
15 Donald Guthrie, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. D. A. Carson et al., eds., (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1033.
16 Charles H. Talbert, Reading John: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles, Revised Edition, Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 119.
17 Köstenberger, John, 406.
18 That Judas is not in view anywhere in the vine analogy is made clear in John 17:12. This is not an allusion to the removed branches of 15:6. Judas was never a believer in Jesus and so never a branch in the vine.
19 Karelynne G. Ayayo, “Judas Iscariot,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary, eds. John D. Barry et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).
20 John 9:4: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11:9-10).
21 Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009). BDAG identifies eight different meanings that include “air in movement, blowing” and “spirit” with several nuances, 832-36.
22 Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990–), 410.
23 R. Kent Hughes, John: That You May Believe, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 241.
24 John P. Lange and Philip Schaff, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 387; Köstenberger, John, 128. Even so, Köstenberger recognizes the focus on faith and salvation as the connection with the incident in Numbers. He says correctly that “the primary analogy established in the present passage is not that of the raised bronze serpent and the lifted-up Son of Man; rather, Jesus likens the restoration of people’s physical lives as a result of looking at the bronze serpent to people’s reception of eternal life as a result of ‘looking’ in faith at the Son of Man.” However, this does not keep him from giving it an additional theological meaning that requires Jesus to give it a double meaning.
25 For example, see Roy B. Zuck, A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1994), 194–95). Zuck considers Jesus’ use of “lifted up” in John 12:30-32 to have the double sense of crucifixion and exaltation.
26 Gangel, John, 65.
27 Andrew T. Lincoln, The Gospel According to Saint John, Black’s New Testament Commentary (London: Continuum, 2005), 153.
28 A. W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, electronic ed. (Escondido, CA: The Ephesians Four Group, 2000).
29 Lewis Foster, John: Unlocking the Scriptures for You, Standard Bible Studies (Cincinnati, OH: Standard, 1987), 219.