John 13.2

John 13.2

109

The other two references in this Gospel to Devil/Satan concern Judas.  The setting is the Last Supper.  John starts his account of Jesus’s actions with a series of participial clauses:

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus,

1) knowing that his hour had come for him to depart out of this world and go to the Father,

2) having loved his own, those in the world, he loved them to the end;

3) and with supper taking place,

4) with Devil having now put into the heart that Judas [son] of Simon Iscariot should betray him,

5) knowing that God gave all things into the (his) hands, and that he came forth from God and goes to God,

he rises from the supper and puts aside the (his) garments, and taking a towel he girded himself.  (John 13.1-4)

I have translated this passage very literally not only to show that the genitive-absolute clause (the Greek version of the Latin “ablative absolute”) about Devil–“with Devil now having put into the heart,” etc.–seems out of context.  It also raises the question, “Whose heart is being spoken of?”

The usual English translation has Devil putting the idea into Judas’s heart.  But the normal way of reading a Greek construction like this would be to take it as “reflexive,” referring to Devil’s own heart.  Notice the lines following:  Jesus knows that God put all in “the” hands, and he takes off “the” clothes, referring in both cases to himself.  That is, “the” means “his own” here.  If so, that is, if the phrase does have a reflexive meaning, the verse would be saying that Satan by now had decided–had put it into his own heart–that Judas should betray Jesus.