John 12:40 says, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.”
John the writes in 12:41, "This Isaiah said because he (Isaiah) saw His (the Lord's) glory and he spoke concerning him."
So what John is saying is Isaiah saw the glory of our Lord and prophesied that when some men saw it, they would not be drawn to it, rather they would be blinded by this glory.
John gives proof of this in 12:42 "Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;"
So there were many who believed. And among these many of these were rulers (people of high standing in their community). But even though they believed in Christ, they would not confess him because they feared being cut off from the synagogue.
John then concludes this section by saying, " for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."
- 1.The term translated "cut off from the synagogue" is the Greek term ἀποσυνάγωγοι. It comes from the root wood άγω which literally mean lead or bring. It is then given the prefix of συν which means with, in company with or together. Thus the meaning of συνάγωγ (synagogue) is assembly or Jewish place of worship. It also takes on the meaning of the "holy assembly" because God is present in the assembly of his people.
So the Greek term ἀποσυνάγωγοι is συνάγωγοι with the prefix ἀπο added. ἀπο means "from" or "away from". This gives the meaning of being "put out of the synagogue.
But remembering the original meaning of συνάγωγ, that it is the holy gathering of God's people. So to be cut off from this literally means to be cut off from the holy or sacred assembly or the holy presence of God among His people.
- The Greek term translated "approval" in verse 42 is δόξαν which is usually translated "glory". Literally it means "what is not concealed", "denotes the recognition which anyone finds of a person or what belongs to him". It then moves to the meaning of "appearance, form or aspect" or "that appearance of a person that attracts attention or COMMANDS recognition, splendor, brilliance, glory". It is not the person themselves that attracts attention but the appearance that attracts attention".
Basically what John is saying is, "They want an appearance that is acknowledges and recognized by man rather than the "glory" or "appearance" of Christ. Even though they believed in Christ, and believed Christ was true, they could not confess this because they would loose the recognition among men. They would be cut off from the holy among men.
The reason the above is important is we Christians today, when we see in Scripture the terms, "Jews", Jewish Rulers or synagogues, we can too easily attribute the content of these passages to "them" the Jews rather than open up the possibility that this content could just as easily apply to us.
In light of this, it is important that we not stop at "put out of the synagogue" because it is too easy to then assume this passage does not apply to us, today. Rather, we need to dig deeper into the base meaning of the terms as I outlined above. In this case what we discover is the rulers who believed in Jesus, would not openly confess to this because they feared being "cut off from the sacred gathering" or they feared being cut off from what men honored as sacred because they preferred the "appearance or glory" of the connection to the "assembly" to the connection to the glory of the truth that Christ represented.
Most Christians do not belong to a synagogue, but we do choose to follow those persons and groups whose appearance would give us an advantage in the appearance of being holy. And we often do this even when following these persons or group works in direct opposition to the work of Christ and service to Him.
When we do this we are just like the Jewish Rulers who preferred the "glory" of men rather than the "glory" of God.
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