The Meaning of John 12:24 Explained

John 12:24

KJV: 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.

YLT: verily, verily, I say to you, if the grain of the wheat, having fallen to the earth, may not die, itself remaineth alone; and if it may die, it doth bear much fruit;

Darby: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit.

ASV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.

KJV Reverse Interlinear

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. 

What does John 12:24 Mean?

Study Notes

John 12-17 are a progression according to the order of approach to God in the tabernacle types: John 12, in which Christ speaks of His death, answers to the brazen altar of burnt-offering, type of the cross. Passing from the altar toward the holy of holies, the laver is next reached Exodus 30:17-21 , answering to John 13. With His associate priests, now purified, the High Priest approaches and enters the holy place, in the high communion of John 14-16. Entering alone the holy of holies John 17:1 , the High Priest intercedes. (Cf) Hebrews 7:24-28 . That intercession is not for the salvation, but the keeping and blessing of those for whom He prays. His death (assumed as accomplished), John 17:4 has saved them.

Verse Meaning

Jesus announced another important revelation with His characteristic introductory clause. He described His body as a kernel of wheat that someone sows in the ground. By dying He would produce a great harvest. His death was necessary for that harvest. The illustration also implies the humility of Jesus" death. Jesus" sacrificial death would result in eternal life for many other people.

Context Summary

John 12:20-29 - Sacrifice A Law Of Life
These were genuine Greeks. The East came to the manger-bed; the West to the Cross. These men came to Philip probably because of his Greek name. The inarticulate cry of the human heart, whether East or West, is for Christ.
The application of these representatives of Western civilization reminded our Lord of His glorious enthronement as the Savior and Lord of mankind; but He realized that the dreams of the prophets could be fulfilled, and the demand of the world met, only through His death and resurrection. There was no other way to the glory than Calvary and the grave. If His love for men was to bear much fruit, He must fall into the ground and die. Death is the only way to Saviorship. Death is the only cure of loneliness, and the necessary price of fruitfulness.
All through life we must be prepared to erect altars on which to sacrifice all that hinders our highest service to our fellows. The soul that dares to live in this way finds streams flowing from every smitten rock, and honey in the carcass of every slain lion. Day out of night, spring out of winter, flowers out of frost, joy out of sorrow, fruitfulness out of pruning, Olivet out of Gethsemane, life out of death. But through it all, our aim must be that the Father may be glorified. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 12

1  Jesus excuses Mary anointing his feet
9  The people flock to see Lazarus
10  The chief priests consult to kill him
12  Jesus rides into Jerusalem
20  Greeks desire to see Jesus
23  He foretells his death
37  The people are generally blinded;
42  yet many chief rulers believe, but do not confess him;
44  therefore Jesus calls earnestly for confession of faith

Greek Commentary for John 12:24

Except [εαν μη]
Negative condition of third class (undetermined, supposable case) with second aorist active participle πεσων — pesōn (from πιπτω — piptō to fall) and the second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκω — apothnēskō to die. A grain of wheat Rather, “the grain of wheat.” By itself alone Both predicate nominatives after μενει — menei It is not necessary to think (nor likely) that Jesus has in mind the Eleusinian mysteries which became a symbol of the mystery of spring. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:36 uses the same illustration of the resurrection that Jesus does here. Jesus shows here the paradox that life comes through death. Whether the Greeks heard him or not we do not know. If so, they heard something not in Greek philosophy, the Christian ideal of sacrifice, “and this was foreign to the philosophy of Greece” (Bernard). Jesus had already spoken of himself as the bread of life (6:35-65). But if it die Parallel condition of the third class. Grains of wheat have been found in Egyptian tombs three or four thousand years old, but they are now dead. They bore no fruit. [source]
Verily, verily []
See on John 1:51; see on John 10:1. [source]
A corn [ὁ κόκκος]
Properly, the corn or grain. The article should be inserted in the translation, because Jesus is citing the wheat-grain as a familiar type of that which contains in itself the germ of life. So wheat has the article: the corn of the wheat. The selection of the corn of wheat as an illustration acquires a peculiar interest from the fact of its being addressed to Greeks, familiar with the Eleusinian mysteries celebrated in their own country. These mysteries were based on the legend of Dionysus (Bacchus). According to the legend his original name was Zagreus. He was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) by his own daughter Persephone (Proserpina), and was destined to succeed to supreme dominion and to the wielding of the thunderbolt. The jealousy of Here (Juno), the wife of Zeus, incited the Titans against him, who killed him while he was contemplating his face in a mirror, cut up his body, and boiled it in a caldron, leaving only the heart. Zeus, in his wrath, hurled the Titans to Tartarus, and Apollo collected the remains of Zagreus and buried them. The heart was given to Semele, and Zagreus was born again from her under the form of Dionysus. The mysteries represented the original birth from the serpent, the murder and dismemberment of the child, and the revenge inflicted by Zeus; and the symbols exhibited - the dice, ball, top, mirror, and apple - signified the toys with which the Titans allured the child into their power. Then followed the restoration to life; Demeter (Ceres) the goddess of agriculture, the mother of food, putting the limbs together, and giving her maternal breasts to the child. All this was preparatory to the great Eleusinia, in which the risen Dionysus in the freshness of his second life was conducted from Athens to Eleusis in joyful procession. An ear of corn, plucked in solemn silence, was exhibited to the initiated as the object of mystical contemplation, as the symbol of the god, prematurely killed, but, like the ear enclosing the seed-corn, bearing within himself the germ of a second life. With this mingled the legend of Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, who was carried off by Pluto to the infernal world. The mother wandered over the earth seeking her daughter, and having found her, applied to Zeus, through whose intervention Persephone, while condemned to Hades for a part of the year, was allowed to remain upon earth during the other part. Thus the story became the symbol of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring, and the power of which withdraws into the earth at other seasons of the year. These features of the mysteries set forth, and with the same symbol as that employed by Christ here, the crude pagan conception of life rising out of death. [source]
Alone [αὐτὸς μόνος]
Literally, itself alone. Rev., by itself alone. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 12:24

John 7:39 Was glorified [ἐδοξάσθη]
We have here one of John's characteristic terms, even as the idea is central to his Gospel - to show forth Jesus as the manifested glory of God (John 1:14). The beginning of our Lord's miracles was a manifestation of His glory (John 2:11). His glory was the expression of the Father's will (John 8:54). By His work He glorified the Father upon earth (John 12:28; John 17:4), and in this was Himself glorified (John 17:10). The sickness and resurrection of Lazarus were for the glory of God (John 11:4). The consummation of His work was marked by the words, “Now was the Son of man glorified, and God was glorified in Him” (John 13:31). His glory He had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). It is consummated at His ascension (John 7:39; John 12:16). The passion is the way to glory (John 12:23, John 12:24; John 13:31). The fruitfulness of believers in Him is for the glory of God (John 15:8), and the office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14).sa40 [source]
Hebrews 12:11 It yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness [καρπὸν εἰρηνικὸν ἀποδίδωσιν δικαιοσύνης]
Perhaps with a suggestion of recompense for the long-suffering and waiting, since ἀποδιδόναι often signifies “to give back.” The phrase ἀποδιδόναι καρπὸν only here and Revelation 22:2. Καρπὸν fruitwith διδόναι togive, Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8: with ποιεῖν tomake or produce, often in Synoptic Gospels, as Matthew 3:8, Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:17; Luke 3:8; Luke 6:43, etc.: with φέρειν tobear, always and only in John, John 12:24; John 15:2, John 15:4, John 15:5, John 15:8, John 15:16: with βλαστάνειν tobring forth, James 5:18. Ἑιρηνικός peaceablein N.T. Only here and James 3:17, as an epithet of wisdom. Quite often in lxx of men, the heart, especially of words and sacrifices. The phrase καρπός εἰρηνικός peaceablefruit (omit the ), N.T.oolxx. The phrase fruit of righteousness, Philemon 1:11; James 3:18, and lxx, Proverbs 3:9; Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:2; Amos 6:13: comp. Psalm 1:3; Psalm 57:11. The genitive of righteousness is explicative or appositional; fruit which consists in righteousness or is righteousness. [source]

What do the individual words in John 12:24 mean?

Truly I say to you if not the grain - of wheat having fallen into the ground should die it alone abides however it should die much fruit it bears
ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ἐὰν μὴ κόκκος τοῦ σίτου πεσὼν εἰς τὴν γῆν ἀποθάνῃ αὐτὸς μόνος μένει δὲ ἀποθάνῃ πολὺν καρπὸν φέρει

ἀμὴν  Truly 
Parse: Hebrew Word
Root: ἀμήν  
Sense: firm.
λέγω  I  say 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
ὑμῖν  to  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
κόκκος  grain 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: κόκκος  
Sense: a grain.
τοῦ  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
σίτου  of  wheat 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: σιτίον 
Sense: wheat, grain.
πεσὼν  having  fallen 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: πίπτω 
Sense: to descend from a higher place to a lower.
εἰς  into 
Parse: Preposition
Root: εἰς  
Sense: into, unto, to, towards, for, among.
γῆν  ground 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: γῆ  
Sense: arable land.
ἀποθάνῃ  should  die 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀποθνῄσκω  
Sense: to die.
μόνος  alone 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: μόνος  
Sense: alone (without a companion), forsaken, destitute of help, alone, only, merely.
μένει  abides 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: μένω  
Sense: to remain, abide.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἀποθάνῃ  it  should  die 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀποθνῄσκω  
Sense: to die.
πολὺν  much 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: πολύς  
Sense: many, much, large.
καρπὸν  fruit 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: καρπός  
Sense: fruit.
φέρει  it  bears 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: φέρω  
Sense: to carry.