The Meaning of John 12:38 Explained

John 12:38

KJV: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

YLT: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said, 'Lord, who gave credence to our report? and the arm of the Lord -- to whom was it revealed?'

Darby: that the word of the prophet Esaias which he said might be fulfilled, Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

ASV: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

What does John 12:38 Mean?

Context Summary

John 12:30-41 - Belief May Become Impossible
The question of the Greeks led our Lord's thoughts to His death. He saw, too, the baptism of suffering through which His followers must pass. From all this that troubled Him, He fled to the Father, asking only that all should converge to His glory. That request was immediately answered in the affirmative. Thus He was led to give this amazing interpretation of the events which were taking place, as viewed from the standpoint of heaven. The age, not He, was being judged. It was standing before Him for its verdict, not He before it. Caiaphas, Pilate, and the rulers of the age were passing before His judgment seat and being judged as worthless. The prince of the age, Satan, not Christ, was being cast out, though the sentence might take long before fully realized. Little as they recognized it, the day of the Cross was the crisis of the history of earth and hell, of men and demons. Then was settled the question of supremacy between darkness and light, between hate and love, between death and life. Lifted up recalls John 3:14. The Cross is the divine magnet, and our attitude with regard to it shows what we are. Learn from John 12:35-36 the order of transfiguration into the sonship of light: believe in the light, walk in the light, and you will become sons of light. [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 12:38

That might be fulfilled [ινα πληρωτηι]
It is usually assumed that ινα — hina here with the first aorist passive subjunctive of πληροω — plēroō has its full telic force. That is probable as God‘s design, but it is by no means certain since ινα — hina is used in the N.T. with the idea of result, just as ut in Latin is either purpose or result, as in John 6:7; John 9:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; Galatians 5:17; Romans 11:11 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 998). Paul in Romans 10:16 quotes Isaiah 53:1 as John does here but without ινα — hina See note on Romans 10:16 for discussion of the quotation. The next verse adds strength to the idea of design. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 12:38

Matthew 1:22 “All this has happened” [τουτο δε ολον γεγονεν]
The Hebrew word for young woman is translated by virgin See note on Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14-17; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17-21; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4.; John 12:38.; John 13:18; John 19:24, John 19:28, John 19:36. [source]
Acts 6:7 To the faith [τῇ πίστει]
Opinions differ greatly as to whether this is to be taken as meaningfaith in Jesus Christ, orfaith considered as Christian doctrine - the Gospel; the faith in the ecclesiastical sense. This passage and Galatians 1:23are the strong passages in favor of the latter view; but the general usage of the New Testament, added to the fact that in both these passages the former meaning gives a good, intelligible, and perfectly consistent sense, go to confirm the former interpretation. 1. In the great majority of New Testament passages faith is clearly used in the sense of faith in Jesus Christ: “the-DIVIDER-
conviction and confidence regarding Jesus Christ as the only and perfect mediator of the divine grace and of eternal life, through his work of atonement” (Meyer). -DIVIDER-
2. This interpretation is according to the analogy of such expressions as obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), where the meaning is, clearly, obedience to Christ: obedience of the truth (1 Peter 1:22). Accordinglyfaith, though it becomes in man the subjective moral power of the new life, regenerated through the power of the Spirit, is regarded objectively as a power - the-DIVIDER-
authority which commands submission. -DIVIDER-
3. This interpretation is according to the analogy of the expression hearing of faith (Galatians 3:2), which is to be rendered, not as equivalent to the reception of the Gospel, but as the report or message of faith; i.e., which treats of faith, ἀκοὴ , hearing being always used in the New Testament in a passive sense, and often renderedfame, rumor, report (see Matthew 4:24; Matthew 14:1; Mark 1:28; John 12:38; Romans 10:16). Compare, also, obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26), where faith is to be taken as the object, and not as the source, of the obedience; and hence is not to be explained as the obedience which springs from faith, but as the obedience rendered to faith as the authoritative impulse of the new life in Christ. -DIVIDER-
The great majority of the best modern commentators hold that faith is to be taken as the subjective principle of-DIVIDER-
Christian life (though often regarded objectively as a spiritual power), and not as Christian doctrine. -DIVIDER-

Galatians 3:2 The hearing of faith [ἀκοῆς πίστεως]
See on Galatians 1:23. For hearing, render message. So, often in N.T. See Matthew 4:24; Matthew 14:6; John 12:38. lxx, 1 Samuel 2:24; 2 Samuel 13:30; Habakkuk href="/desk/?q=hab+3:2&sr=1">Habakkuk 3:2. [source]
1 Thessalonians 2:13 When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us [παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ ' ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ]
Rend. when ye received the word of the message (which came ) from us, even the word of God. The words the word of the message from us form one conception, governed by παραλαβόντες havingreceived or when ye received; therefore from us is not to be taken as depending on having received, as Rev. when ye received from us the word, etc. Of God (supply the word ) is added in order to correct any possible false impression made by from us. Ἁκοή in N.T. means the sense of hearing, as Matthew 13:14; 1 Corinthians 12:17; 2 Peter 2:8: or the organ of hearing = ear, as Mark 7:35; Luke 7:1: or a thing heard, a report, rumor, as John 12:38; Romans 10:16. The phrase λόγος ἀκοῆς or τῆς ἀκοῆς theword of hearing, or word of the message, signifies the word which is heard. Comp. Hebrews 4:2. See on the fame, Luke 4:37. [source]
1 John 2:28 When He shall appear [ὅταν φανερωθῇ]
The best texts read ἐὰν iffor when. So Rev., which gives also the proper passive force of φανερωθῇ , if He shall be manifested. Not expressing a doubt of the fact, but uncertainty as to the circumstances. On φανερόω tomake manifest, see on John 21:1. John never uses ἀποκαλύπτω toreveal, of the revelation of Christ. Indeed, neither the verb nor the kindred noun, ἀποκάλυψις , occurs in his writings except in John 12:38, which is a citation from Isaiah, and in Revelation 1:1. [source]

What do the individual words in John 12:38 mean?

so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled that said Lord who has believed the report of us And arm of [the] Lord to whom has been revealed
ἵνα λόγος Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου πληρωθῇ ὃν εἶπεν Κύριε τίς ἐπίστευσεν τῇ ἀκοῇ ἡμῶν καὶ βραχίων Κυρίου τίνι ἀπεκαλύφθη

ἵνα  so  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἵνα  
Sense: that, in order that, so that.
λόγος  word 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: λόγος  
Sense: of speech.
Ἠσαΐου  of  Isaiah 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: Ἠσαί̈ας  
Sense: a famous Hebrew prophet who prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
προφήτου  prophet 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: προφήτης  
Sense: in Greek writings, an interpreter of oracles or of other hidden things.
πληρωθῇ  might  be  fulfilled 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: πληρόω  
Sense: to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full.
ὃν  that 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
εἶπεν  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
Κύριε  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
ἐπίστευσεν  has  believed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: πιστεύω  
Sense: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.
ἀκοῇ  report 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀκοή  
Sense: the sense of hearing.
ἡμῶν  of  us 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 1st Person Plural
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
βραχίων  arm 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: βραχίων  
Sense: the arm.
Κυρίου  of  [the]  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
τίνι  to  whom 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: τίς  
Sense: who, which, what.
ἀπεκαλύφθη  has  been  revealed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀποκαλύπτω  
Sense: to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up.