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Summer 2010, Vol. 7

The Pneumatological Promise of Christ and its Fulfillment in Johannine Perspective: An Exegetical-Theological Analysis of John 7:37-39 in Literary Context

Adrian P. Rosen (M.A. 2010)

Master of Arts in Theological Studies Paper, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

In April of 2004, the Bible and Theology Department of AGTS voted to present the Stanley M. Horton Award annually at graduation for excellence in the writing of the paper for the Theological Studies Seminar. The professor of record for the course makes recommendations to the Department for their decision on potential recipients, and the award is announced during graduation exercises.

On April 15, 2010,the faculty ratified Adrian P. Rosen as the recipient of this award. His paper follows.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • Problem Statement
    • Purpose of the Study
    • Methodological Approach
    • Extent of the Study
  • The Occasion of Jesus’ Pneumatological Promise
    • The Feast of Tabernacles
    • The “Last Day” of the Feast
  • The Content Of Jesus’ Pneumatological Promise
    • The Invitation for the Thirsty To Come and Drink
    • The Promised Blessing for the Believer
      • The Contextual Significance of “the One Who Believes”
      • The Meaning of Living Water Flowing from within the Believer
  • The Fulfillment of Jesus’ Pneumatological Promise
    • The Spirit Believers Were “About To Receive”
    • The “Glorification” of Christ in John’s Gospel
    • Impartation of the Life-Giving Spirit and John 14:16-20
    • Spirit Impartation in John 20:22
  • Conclusion
  • Select Bibliography

List of Abbreviations

BDAG   Bauer, W., F. W. Danker, W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed.
CSB   Holman Christian Standard Bible
ESV   English Standard Version
KJV   King James Version
LXX   Septuagint
NASU    New American Standard Bible Update
NET    New English Translation
NIV   New International Version
NKJV   New King James Version
NRS   New Revised Standard Version
NT   New Testament
OT    Old Testament
RSV   Revised Standard Version
YLT    Young’s Literal Translation


Problem Statement

Clark Pinnock, in his foreword to Roger Stronstad’s book, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, states, “Some of our best people, like Dale Bruner and James Dunn, have tried to impose their reading of Paul upon Luke’s writings and have distorted it.”1 This statement is essentially true, as scholars like Stronstad have ably demonstrated. What Pentecostals seldom acknowledge, however, is their own tendency in the opposite direction. Put simply, many Pentecostals have a propensity toward eisegetically imposing their understanding of Luke upon non-Lucan pneumatological texts—specifically passages from Pauline and Johannine literature. In other words, the tendency is to read Pauline and Johannine texts as referring to the Pentecostal experience (that is, Luke’s baptism in or filling with the Spirit), in spite of exegetical and/or theological aspects of the text which militate against such an understanding. An apparent example of this is found in John 7:37-39, which Pentecostals often read as a clear prediction of the Pentecostal outpouring recorded in Acts 2.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the present study is to clarify Johannine pneumatology, especially as it relates to Jesus’ promissory statement in John 7:37-39. The writer will seek, first of all, to determine the contextual meaning of Jesus’ pneumatological promise recorded in 7:37-38. Second, the correct understanding of its fulfillment (v. 39) will be evaluated. With regard to the latter, both the necessary prerequisite for (that is, the “glorification” of Christ), and the time of fulfillment of the promise will be analyzed.

Methodological Approach

This study will proceed on mainly exegetical grounds with primary focus upon John 7:37-39. Also, a number of other passages within John’s Gospel will receive exegetical and theological consideration. These, however, will be discussed only as they relate to and shed light upon various aspects of John 7:37-39. In essence, the methodology employed here will attempt to determine the meaning of this important promise within its original literary context. In other words, the present writer will attempt to trace John’s own explanation of the text as developed within his Gospel.

Furthermore, the present writer’s own presuppositions must be acknowledged at this point. First, the Apostle John himself (not a community of later disciples, etc.) is regarded as the author of the Gospel of John. Thus, when “John” is mentioned, the son of Zebedee is meant. Second, a high view of Scripture is unapologetically assumed.

Extent of the Study

This paper will seek to offer a thorough, although perhaps not exhaustive, explanation of the contextual meaning of Jesus’ promise and its fulfillment. In order to do this, the paper will not only discuss the exegetical details of John 7:37-39, but will also analyze several other passages in John, which contain details pertinent to understanding this passage. With regard to these passages, a comprehensive exegetical analysis will not be attempted. Rather, only pertinent exegetical and theological details, which shed light upon some aspect of 7:37-39, will be highlighted. As stated above, the main purpose or goal here is to determine the true significance of the passage under investigation. Thus, this paper will limit itself to an attempt to ascertain the meaning of Jesus’ invitation to those who thirst, and how and when this promise began to be fulfilled in the lives of believers.


The Feast of Tabernacles

John 7:37a establishes the occasion of Jesus’ pneumatological promise as the “last day” of the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Heb.,) (cf. vv. 2, 8, 10-11, 14). This feast was celebrated in autumn (September/October), beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:34; Num. 29:12). The Law prescribed seven days of festivities, during which the people did no laborious work, dwelt in booths, and offered sacrifices “on a diminishing scale”2 (see Num. 29:12-34). Then, on the eighth day, the people were to observe “a solemn assembly,” doing no “ordinary work,” and offering prescribed sacrifices (vv. 35-38, ESV; cf. Lev. 23:36).

In addition to the biblically prescribed aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles delineated above, an important water-drawing ceremony was also observed during the time of Christ. This rite most likely originated in Maccabean times and was standard procedure by Hillel’s time.3 First, the priests and people marched in procession from the pool of Siloam to the temple. The priests would then pour out both water and wine at the altar’s base.4 The ceremony “was one of festive celebration,”5 and may have been observed in remembrance of Yahweh’s provision of water for the Israelites in the wilderness.6 Perhaps it also “symbolized the desire for abundance of rain to bring the next harvest.”7 In other words, part of the ceremony’s purpose was probably to beseech Yahweh for rain during the rainy season, which was immediately subsequent to the feast.8 Also of special interest with reference to the present context, the water-drawing rite included Scripture reading of passages such as Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (ESV).9

The “Last Day” of the Feast

Some suggest John’s reference to “the last day, the great [day] of the feast”10 () designates the seventh day of Tabernacles, while others regard the eighth day as the referent here. Hendriksen, who prefers to remain neutral in this matter, enumerates three arguments commonly used in favor of the seventh day.11 First, the OT consistently speaks of the feast as lasting seven days; the eighth day is reckoned separately (cf. Lev. 23:39; Num. 29:2; Neh. 8:18). Therefore, proponents of this view argue, the “last day” of the feast must refer to the seventh day. Second, the seventh day was “great” for two reasons: (1) the priests and people made seven processions around the altar, as opposed to just one per day on the previous six days; (2) during these processions, the priests repeatedly chanted the words of Psalm 118:25 (NASU): “O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!” Third, the seventh day was not only the last day in the “series of diminishing sacrifices, and the last day of drawing water from Siloam, but it was also the last day of dwelling in booths.”12 The feast proper, thus, ended on the seventh day, not the eighth.

On the other hand, convincing arguments may also be delineated in favor of the eighth day as the more likely referent. First, by John’s day, the feast was commonly regarded as eight days in length.13 In support of this, 2 Maccabees states, “They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths” (RSV). Furthermore, the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, refers to the feast as an eight-day festival.14 Second, the eighth day marked both the end of Tabernacles and the end of the annual cycle of Jewish religious festivals as a whole.15 Thus the eighth day truly was “great.” While the present writer (somewhat tentatively) favors the eighth day, the exegetical analysis offered below would not change substantially if one accepted the alternate view.

Also of interest, while the water-pouring rite was performed on the first seven days, it apparently was not repeated on the eighth day.16 If the libation was not offered on that day, Christ’s invitation would have been uttered against this contrastive backdrop.17

On this last day of the feast, Jesus “was standing” (18) and “cried out” (), offering an invitation to anyone who was spiritually thirsty. The correct understanding of this promissory statement and its fulfillment is of great theological importance. The remainder of this paper will seek to determine the correct understanding of exegetical and theological questions pertinent to the interpretation of John 7:37-39.


The Invitation for the Thirsty to Come and Drink

Syntactically, the first part of Jesus’ statement (John 7:37b) forms a third class condition, which “often presents the condition as uncertain of fulfillment, but still likely.”19 In the protasis (“if” clause), Jesus states, (“If anyone is thirsty”). Köstenberger suggests Scripture often uses the idea of “thirst” metaphorically to refer to “spiritual desire.”20 To put this in another way, thirst may figuratively “represent spiritual dissatisfaction or the passionate quest for God.”21 Furthermore, it may be said, “God desires that emotional and spiritual emptiness will drive people to discover his grace.”22

Within John’s Gospel, the verb “thirsts” () occurs six times, of which three occurrences are found in chapter 4.23 In 4:13, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that one who drinks of the natural water of the well will become thirsty again. Conversely, He says the one who drinks the water He will supply will never become thirsty again (v. 14).24 In verse 15, clearly misunderstanding Jesus’ true intent and not wanting to return to the well, the woman asks for this water. On another occasion (6:35), Jesus again uses emphatic negation when He promises (“the one who believes in Me will never thirst at any time”). John 19:28, which simply refers to Jesus’ thirst while on the cross, does not directly impact the text presently under consideration. Thus, John’s utilization of is in continuity with standard canonical usage of the “thirst” metaphor in reference to spiritual emptiness and desire.

The apodosis (“then” clause) consists of the words (“let him come to Me and drink”). The idea of “coming” to Jesus (in a salvific sense) has already surfaced in the preceding two chapters of the Johannine narrative.25 In John 6:35, Jesus uses parallelism that juxtaposes the participial phrases (“the one who comes to Me”) and (“the one who believes in Me”).26 Thus, Jesus seems to equate “coming” to Him with “believing” in Him.

The verb for “drink” () occurs six times during Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well.27 Of special interest, Jesus speaks of the permanent quenching of thirst for the one who drinks the water which He will give (John 4:14; cf. 6:35).28 In John 6, Jesus speaks metaphorically of drinking His blood (vv. 53-54, 56). Bernard suggests, “The imagery of ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink,’ goes back to Isa. 55:1.”29

The Promised Blessing for the Believer

The Contextual Significance of “the One Who Believes”

Scholars disagree regarding the grammatical function of the participial phrase , (“the one who believes in Me”). Many within recent scholarship favor the view that takes as the subject of the imperative ,30 which immediately precedes it. This view requires one to change the traditionally accepted punctuation of the text. Bruce states, “There are good reasons for revising the traditional punctuation of Jesus’ invitation.”31 In this case, one could translate the text as follows:

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me;

And let the one who believes in Me drink.

If this view is accepted, then the remainder of verse 38 (“As the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow out of his belly”) becomes a Johannine editorial comment and the pronoun (“his”) refers to Christ rather than the believer.32 This view is often referred to as the “Christological interpretation” of the passage.33 While many able scholars support this view,34 it remains unlikely.

It is best to regard the participle as a pendent nominative, in which case it serves as the antecedent of the pronoun (“his”). The pronoun then refers back to the believer (), and not to Christ. In this case, all of John 7:38 is spoken by Jesus.35 Numerous factors support this view.37 First of all, early textual witnesses support the traditional punctuation of the text. Both papyrus 66 or Bodmer II (ca. A.D. 200) and papyrus 75 (A.D. 175-225) favor this punctuation.38 Second, according to Carson, “virtually all the Greek Fathers” adopt this view as well.39 Third, as will be explained below, the parallel passage in John 4:13-14 supports reading “his” in 7:38 as a reference to the believer.40

Fourth, this view’s understanding of the participle at the head of a new clause is grammatically more likely. As Raymond Brown admits:

One grammatical argument for it [i.e. the traditional punctuation of the text] is that it makes the participle [] (“he who believes”) the head of a new construction (a pattern found forty-one times in John), rather than tacking it on to the previous conditional sentence (a practice seemingly not found in John).41

Fifth, the anacoluthon (that is, “resumption of a suspended case by a pronoun in another case”42) present in this reading of the text is stylistically very likely within Johannine literature. The introductory participle o` pisteu,wn, which is in the nominative case, “is followed by a pronoun in another case, in the genitive.”43 Blass-Debrunner-Funk observe, “Anacoluthon ... following an introductory participle (nearly always in the nom.) is common.”44 They further state, “A substantive placed at the head of a clause without regard for the construction (casus pendens) is a common Semitic construction. ... It is more common [in John] than in the Synoptics.”45 Córtes gives the following example: “But I, because I am telling the truth, you do not believe in Me” (John 8:45).46 He further notes the frequency of anacolutha in Johannine literature.47 In fact, according to Blass, Debrunner, and Funk, twenty-eight examples of this type of construction exist in John, with twenty-two of them found in the words of Christ.48

Sixth, the chiastic structure proposed by the alternative view is problematic. On the one hand, as Carson observes, chiasm is a literary form that is characteristic of Johannine style.49 On the other hand, the proposed chiasm is “rather rough” in the Greek text.50 What is truly problematic, however, is that this parallelism conceptually links “anyone [who] is thirsty” with “the one who believes in Me.” While not impossible in Carson’s estimation, such juxtaposition truly constitutes “a peculiar ... pairing.”51 Within the Johannine narrative, “thirst” aptly describes an individual’s state before coming to belief in Christ. Conversely, 6:35 states, “the one who believes in Me shall never be thirsty at any time.” Such statements would seem to argue strongly against viewing the one who is thirsty and the believer as the same individual.52 What is more, as noted above, “coming” to Jesus and “believing” in Him are seen as synonymous (or, at the very least, contemporaneous) occurrences in John 6:35. In light of the foregoing, it is difficult to comprehend Jesus here (7:38) inviting the believer to “come” and “drink” in order to satisfy his thirst.53

Seventh, the explanatory comment that introduces John 7:39 (, “but He said this ...”) militates against understanding verse 38 as anything other than the words of Jesus Himself. Fee refers to the phrase as a “thoroughly Johannine stylistic feature.”54 Interestingly, John offers such an explanatory comment seven other times in his Gospel.55 In every instance, the phrase refers to a quotation that immediately precedes it. Therefore, the explanation given in verse 39 “is a comment which includes the content of verse 38.”56 Thus, as part of Christ’s statement, the third person pronoun / (“his”) naturally refers to the believer, rather than to Christ himself.57 In light of the foregoing discussion, then, it appears the “rivers of living water” come from within the believer, rather than from within Christ.58

Also of theological significance, the present tense participle most likely has progressive aspectual force. If this is the case, the participle means something like “the one who continually believes in Me.” Wallace explains, “The aspectual force of the present seems to be in contrast with 59 (that is, the aorist participial form of ). In support of such a conclusion, Wallace notes the aorist is comparatively rare and the dominant present form most often occurs “in soteriological contexts.”60 He concludes, “Since the aorist participle was a live option to describe a ‘believer,’ it is unlikely that when the present was used, it was aspectually flat.”61 Consequently, it is probable that the authors of the NT documents understood saving faith to be equivalent to continual belief in Christ.

The Meaning of Living Water Flowing from within the Believer

Concerning the text(s) indicated by the clause , (“as the Scripture has said”), scholars have offered numerous suggestions. The difficulty arises from the fact that John 7:38 does not actually quote any known text. In fact, the wording differs significantly from that found in all possible referents from the OT, which scholars have suggested. Some believe that John here midrashically interprets some OT text,62 or “midrashically blends various texts.”63 Köstenberger is probably correct in his choice to follow Calvin’s suggestion. Calvin suggests Jesus did not allude to any particular text “but to common prophetic teaching.”64 Passages like Isaiah 12:3 (which was read during the feast), 44:3, and Ezekiel 36:25-27 are likely candidates.

Jesus summarizes such OT passages as teaching that “rivers of living water will flow out of his [that is, the believer’s] belly” (). The plural noun . (from , which means, “river, stream65) signifies “large amounts of flowing water.”66 With reference to these “rivers,” Jesus utilizes a predicative future verb (, “will flow”), which harmonizes perfectly with John’s explanatory comment regarding the fulfillment of the promise subsequent to Jesus’ glorification.

Moreover, Jesus clarifies these “rivers” will consist of “living water” (). Köstenberger correctly observes “living water” signified “highly coveted fresh springwater, as opposed to stagnant water.”67 In ancient times, as Keener notes, well water was often considered to be less healthy than springwater or rainwater.68

With regard to the metaphorical significance attached to the phrase here, Lenski claims, “The rivers of living water are not identical with the Spirit.”69 Yet this is precisely what John seems to state in John 7:39. Bernard correctly notes, “The Living Water symbolises [sic] the Spirit,” whom believers were about to receive.70 Paul uses similar metaphorical language in 1 Corinthians 12:13: (“and [we] all were made to drink one Spirit”).71

Lending support to such a conclusion, the OT speaks metaphorically of the Spirit as water on several occasions. For example, Isaiah 44:3 reads, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring” (NKJV).72

Furthermore, such metaphorical usage occurs elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel. While scholars continue to debate the correct understanding of John 3:5, Jesus most likely speaks metaphorically of the Spirit as “water.” If this is correct, the phrase evx u[datoj (“of water and [the] Spirit”) should be regarded as a hendiadys, in which case the , is epexegetical.73 Consequently, the best translation of the phrase is most probably “water even the Spirit,” and the “water” is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.74 Also, the close verbal and conceptual parallels between 4:10-14 and 7:37-39 suggest the “living water” that supplies eternal life in the former passage is synonymous with the in the latter.

The significance of the phrase (lit., “out of his belly”) warrants careful investigation. First, one must determine the contextual meaning of BDAG enumerates three meanings for the noun: (1) “the organ of nourishment,” that is, “the digestive tract in its fullest extent, belly, stomach”; (2) the “womb, uterus”; and (3) “seat of inward life, of feelings and desires, belly (but Eng. prefers the functional equivalent heart).”75 Clearly, the third meaning is in view here. In agreement with the English “functional equivalent” of the Semitic idea expressed, several translations render the phrase with the words “out of his heart” (cf. ESV, NKJV, and RSV). Perhaps preferable, however, are translations such as, “from his innermost being” (NASU), “from deep within him” (CSB), or simply “from within him” (NET, NIV).76 The Spirit, thus, is conceptualized as flowing from deep within the believer. Having determined the contextual meaning of , the signification of the entire phrase must be determined.

In this regard, many believe the verse teaches believers will become a source of “living water” for others.77 For example, Lenski posits: “In [John] 4:14 the figure of the “spring” pictures only the fact that the believer will never thirst again; here the “rivers” picture the fact that the believer will resemble Jesus himself in that he will help to quench the thirst of many others.”78

First of all, it must be observed the text simply states living water will flow from within the believer. It does not specifically state whether that water will flow out to others.79 Second, the contextual focus of John 7:37-39 militates against Lenski’s interpretation. In 7:37, Jesus invites the one who is thirsty to come to Him and drink—the obvious implication being that this individual’s thirst will be quenched. Verse 38 must be interpreted in this light, since it speaks of the result of one’s coming and drinking. Thus, Jesus is the source, not the believer; and the focus is on the believer’s own thirst being quenched, not on someone else’s thirst being quenched. Furthermore, verse 39 speaks of believers receiving the Spirit, not of their somehow supplying the Spirit.

Córtes, on the other hand, offers a far more satisfying interpretation of the passage.80 According to this view, Jesus is the source from whom “potential believers” are invited to receive living water or the Spirit.81 The one who comes and drinks (that is, the believer) will receive “supplies of water” within himself, “though they will of course be in him only because Jesus or his Spirit is in him.”82 As a consequence of the believer having this supply of living water within him, he will never thirst again.83 As Córtes observes, John 7:38 “says only that streams of water will keep on flowing from within him [i.e. the believer], and this can be interpreted as the believer having within him a spring or fountain always bubbling, gushing forth, welling up.”84 This, of course, dovetails nicely with Jesus’ similar statement in 4:13-14, where He tells the Samaritan woman:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never be thirsty forever; but the water which I shall give him will become in him [evn auvtw/|] a fountain of water welling up to eternal life.85

The emphasis in John 7:38, then, is on the indwelling, regenerative, life-giving work of the Spirit, by which the individual believer’s spiritual thirst is continuously quenched. If understood in this light, Michaels’ explanation of the passage is excellent. He states the verse emphasizes “the rich abundance of the Spirit’s life and power in the heart of the believer, like a self-replenishing stream.”86 Thus, the concept of the believer as a source of “living water” for others is not within the purview of John 7:37-39. Rather, the abundant, refreshing, and spiritually regenerative work of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the individual believer is in view.87 This is the contextual meaning of the “rivers of living water.”

Unfortunately, Pentecostals have often misread the passage as referring to Spirit baptism. For example, the Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths, no. 7, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” cites John 7:37-39 as proving “with the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit.” Similarly, Stanley Horton claims John 7:38 “clearly refers to what would happen beginning at Pentecost.”88 Yet, for the reasons delineated above, the promise articulated in verses 37-38 has reference to the life-giving aspects of the Spirit’s work under the New Covenant, which were inaugurated on the day of Jesus’ resurrection (cf. discussion on 20:22, below). Jesus does not here promise or predict the vocational, fortifying, and prophetic dimension of the Spirit’s New Covenant ministry, which was inaugurated by the Pentecostal outpouring described in Acts 2.


The Spirit Believers Were “About To Receive”

As mentioned above, John here utilizes a typical stylistic feature (, “but He said this concerning ...”) to introduce the explanation which follows. He states believers in Christ (89 ) “were about to receive” () the Spirit. This too is, stylistically speaking, a typically Johannine comment. As Fee observes, John frequently utilizes (“about to”) in reference to “things which have already happened from the author’s perspective.”90

The elliptical nature of the clause (lit., “For [the] Spirit was not yet”) has caused interpreters some difficulty. Clearly, John does not mean the Spirit was not yet in existence or that He was not active in and through, for example, the prophets.91 As Carson observes, John “has already spoken of the Spirit’s operation upon and in Jesus himself (1:32; 3:34).”92 What then does the clause indicate?

Hendriksen posits (“was”) is here equivalent to (“was present”).93 He interprets the verse as indicating the Spirit “was not yet present” in the sense in which He would be following the day of Pentecost.94 While perhaps possible, this explanation does not seem likely. In reference to the experience of the eleven before His own glorification, Jesus made an interesting pneumatological statement. In John 14:17, He told them they knew the Spirit, “for He is abiding with you, and will be in you” (). In light of the statement that the Spirit was abiding or dwelling with believers before Christ’s glorification, it seems unlikely John would have thought of the Spirit as “not yet present.” Furthermore, John could have used rather than here, if this were what he had wished to indicate.

More likely, the word “given” should be supplied so the clause reads, “for the , which is clearly causal and best translated “because,”97 specifies the reason why the Spirit had not yet been bestowed upon those believing in Christ: Because Jesus “was not yet glorified” ().

The concept of “glory”/“glorification” is an important theological theme within John’s Gospel. The verbal form occurs twenty-three times in John,98 and the cognate noun appears eighteen times.99 Even a casual perusal of the relevant texts will reveal the importance of “glory” in Johannine thought as it relates to Christological and Trinitarian matters. A full analysis of the glory motif within Johannine literature is beyond the scope of the present study, however, and will not be attempted here. Rather, a brief survey of more significant (for the present study) texts will suffice. The goal here is, of course, to determine the significance of John’s statement that Jesus “was not yet glorified.” Tracing the use of the verbal form () is more helpful in this regard.

The verb first appears in John 7:39, where the aorist passive indicative is used.100 One should note that Jesus’ glorification is conceptualized as something done to or for Him, not by Him. This is clearly indicated by John’s use of the passive voice. More than likely, John utilizes a “divine passive” here (sometimes referred to as a “theological passive”), meaning God is the subject of the action in question101 (cf. 12:28; 13:31-32; and especially 17:1, 5 for evidence of such a conclusion here).102 In this case, the implied subject of the act of glorification (that is, God the Father) is most likely left unexpressed because the focus of the text is on the One to be glorified (that is, Jesus).103

Köstenberger correctly notes, according to John 7:39, the bestowal of the Spirit was contingent upon the upcoming glorification of Christ.104 But what does John mean by Christ being “glorified” and when did this occur? For reasons that will become clear shortly, scholars generally note a clear connection to the death and resurrection of Christ. Many would also include the ascension. Bernard states, “Here [John] introduces a conception not explicit outside the Fourth Gospel, of the Passion of Jesus as His ‘glorification.’”105 He states further, “Not until He had passed through death could His Spirit descend.”106 According to Brown, “Jesus was glorified in passion, death, and resurrection.”107 Köstenberger states the term “glorified” is “a Johannine euphemism for the cluster of events centering in the crucifixion.”108 Bruce posits, “This is the first of several references in this Gospel to the glorification of Jesus; from some of the later references it becomes clear that his glorification was his crucifixion.”109 He later clarifies his view by stating, “it [the glorification of Christ] is one continuous movement of which his crucifixion ..., resurrection and ascension are phases.”110 Thus, some interpreters regard the glorification as including the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Some clearly limit it to the death and resurrection.111 On the other hand, not all scholars clearly state their position regarding the connection of the resurrection and ascension to Christ’s glorification. Lucidity does exist regarding their understanding of the glorification through death motif, however. The validity of the preceding statements will now be tested by comparing the other uses of in John’s Gospel.

At John 12:16, the author states the disciples did not understand the significance of the Triumphal Entry “at first” (). However, “when Jesus was glorified” (), “then” () they came to understand. Again, as with 7:39, signifies an event (or cluster of closely related events) which is yet future (from the perspective of the narrative world), and which remains somewhat ambiguous to the first-time reader. It seems obvious, however, that the resurrection is included here. First, a very similar Johannine comment occurs in John 2:22, which states the disciples remembered another significant episode after the resurrection. The close conceptual parallelism between the two verses seems to suggest John thought of the resurrection of Christ and His glorification as closely related concepts. Second, it seems extremely unlikely that John means he and the other disciples understood the significance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. More likely, he means they understood once Jesus had risen.

Beginning with John 12:23-24, Jesus plainly associates His glorification with His own death.112 He states, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Notice Jesus speaks of “the hour” () for His glorification as having come (cf. 13:1). The perfect indicative verb (“has come”) indicates the process in which the time for Jesus’ glorification was drawing near has ended. In other words, the time for glorification is no longer approaching—it has arrived. In verse 27, He repeats the phrase , clearly in reference to the time of His death:113 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this reason I came to this hour.” Christ then immediately prays, “Father, glorify Your name.” Contextually, Christ apparently requests114 the glorification of the Father’s name by means of His own death.115 Thus, both Christ Himself and the Father’s name are glorified through the death of Jesus. In agreement with this, Gerhard Kittel states, “The entry into [“glory”], is the cross, the dying of the corn of wheat. ... The derives from His death.”116

In John 13:31-32, Jesus further states the temporal nearness of His glorification. In verses 31-32a He uses an aorist passive indicative form of three times: “Now the Son of Man is glorified [] and God is glorified [] in Him. If God is glorified [] in Him,...” Jesus utilizes the aorist here to “depict an event immediately to follow.”117 Likewise, Jesus’ use of (“now”) probably emphasizes the imminence of His glorification.118 In verse 32b He twice uses the future tense (“will glorify”) in reference to His coming glorification. Köstenberger observes (“immediately”) presumably takes the resurrection as its point of reference.119 In this case, “‘Immediately’ constitutes a material parallel to the ‘three days’ of John 2:19.”120 Thus, it appears the glorification of Christ is not only conceptualized here as including His death, but also His resurrection.

Finally, John 17:1 records Jesus’ request of the Father to “Glorify Your Son, in order that your Son may glorify You” (). Again the clear inference is glorification through death. In verse 5, Jesus requests that the Father “glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (NASU). Surely, this statement includes more than the crucifixion,121 but the cross is not excluded.122

Based on the foregoing survey of the pertinent Johannine data, one may conclude the glorification of Jesus included His death, resurrection, and perhaps His ascent to the Father in John 20:17. The Christological foundation necessary for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise (7:37-38) was thus in place on Resurrection Sunday. Therefore, the pneumatological fulfillment could occur as early as, for example, the evening of that same day.

Impartation of the Life-Giving Spirit and John 14:16-20

While John’s editorial comment concerning the necessity of Jesus’ glorification (7:39) leaves the exact time of the impartation of the life-giving Spirit somewhat vague, John 14:16-20 seems to pinpoint the time for fulfillment more precisely. Conversely, Robert P. Menzies recently argued that while the life-giving work of the Spirit is emphasized in John chapters 3-7 and 20:22, the Paraclete texts (14:16-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15) refer exclusively to the Spirit’s charismatic work of empowerment for witness to the world.123 Thus, in Menzies’ view, the life-giving Spirit was imparted in John 20:22, but all of the Spirit’s work mentioned in chapters 14-16 awaited the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2).

Menzies’ interpretation is problematic in light of John 14:17b, however. If 20:22 marks the fulfillment of the promised impartation of the life-giving Spirit, then the Spirit would be “in” the disciples at that time. The fact the Spirit would indwell believers in connection to His regenerative work is clearly implied in John 7:38 (cf. 4:14; see also Eze. 36:25-27, which states this explicitly). Thus, the close correlation between indwelling and regenerating necessitates these actions of the Spirit occur simultaneously. Therefore, if the disciples received the life-giving Spirit in 20:22, then the transition from the Spirit remaining “with” (,) them to His being “in” () them (14:17) occurred at that time as well. This would, of course, mean that at least some aspects of John 14:16-26 were fulfilled before Pentecost. Also, Menzies does not explain the apparent contextual link between the Spirit’s indwelling (14:17b) and the disciple’s reception of spiritual life (14:19b). According to Menzies’ view, such soteriological elements should not be present in this context. In conclusion, then, Menzies’ interpretation is inconsistent with John 14:17-19.

Contextual factors within John 14:17-20 seem to imply the disciples would receive the Spirit in His life-giving or regenerative work immediately subsequent to the resurrection of Jesus. Christ states the Spirit “will be in you” (), implying His indwelling of them individually.124 He then states, “I will not leave you as orphans; I [will] come to you” (v. 18, ). Commentators dispute whether the “coming” of Christ here properly refers to His coming to His disciples in the person of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost,125 or to His post-resurrection appearance (20:19-23), at which time He bestowed the Spirit.126 Contextually, the latter seems more likely.

In this regard, notice in John 14:19 Jesus utilizes the phrase e;ti mikro.n (lit., “yet a little”) in reference to the time remaining until the “world” would see Him no more. In John’s Gospel, occurs eleven times,127 always in words of Christ. Prior to 16:16, Jesus consistently uses the phrase “a little while” in reference to the time remaining until his death. Then, in 16:16-19, He also uses it in reference to the time between His death and resurrection (cf. Jesus’ explanation in 16:20-23). The significance of this lies in the way it apparently helps clarify the time of the disciples seeing Jesus in 14:19. Notice the conceptual parallelism between the two verses demonstrated in Table 1.

John 14:19

John 16:16


Yet a little while and the world no longer sees Me


A little while and you no longer see Me


But you [will] see Me


And again, a little while and you will see Me


Because I live, you also will live


Table 1. Parallelism between John 14:19 and John 16:16

If the parallelism suggested by placing 14:19 and 16:19 in juxtaposition is valid,128 then Jesus’ literal and physical coming to bestow the Spirit (14:17b-18) would occur when the disciples saw Jesus in his post-resurrection appearance to them (cf. 20:19ff.). Jesus’ use of “in that day” ()  in both contexts (14:20; 16:23, 26) offers further support for understanding the passages as parallel.129

Furthermore, this position seems to offer the most natural way of reading John 14:17-19.130 The text, thus, suggests Jesus will be crucified and leave the world shortly, but He will not leave the disciples as orphans. Rather, He will personally come to them after the resurrection, at which time they will literally see Him. He will then impart the life-giving Spirit, who will, for His part, indwell and regenerate the disciples at that time.

Also worthy of note, the causal clause, (“Because I live, you also will live”) clearly indicates the disciples’ reception of spiritual life is predicated upon the resurrection of Christ (John 14:19b). Contextually, they “live” (v. 19b) when they are indwelt by the Spirit (v. 17b). This offers further confirmation that the glorification of Jesus, which John 7:39 states as the prerequisite for their reception of the life-giving Spirit, consisted of both His death and resurrection.

What is more, while Jesus says “I [will] come to you” (John 14:18) in connection to the bestowal of the indwelling, life-giving work of the Spirit, this is in apparent contrast to His words in 15:26, and 16:7. In the latter verses, which emphasize the Spirit’s empowering of the disciples in their witness to the world, Jesus speaks of “sending” the Spirit. Conceptually, Jesus’ use of the verb (“send”) harmonizes most readily with the idea that He will not be physically present with the disciples, but He will send the Spirit to them from where He is. Thus, on the one hand, Jesus clearly links the impartation of the life-giving Spirit to His personal and physical presence with the disciples immediately subsequent to His resurrection (14:17-19; cf. John 20:22, as discussed below). On the other hand, He speaks of the impartation of the vocationally empowering work of the Spirit in terms that seem to imply He will not be physically present withthe disciples when the Spirit is received (cf. Acts 2 in this regard). The Paraclete sayings of John 14-16, then, seem to hint at two phrases in which the disciples would receive the Spirit: the first, related to the Spirit’s life-giving or regenerative work; and the second, His charismatic empowering for witness in the world.131 The former is temporally located by Christ—it was to occur when Jesus physically appeared to His disciples immediately following His resurrection. Conversely, the latter is not specified temporally, but the fact Jesus would not be physically present with His disciples when the Spirit was “sent” seems to be implicit within the text.132

Spirit Impartation in John 20:22

In the evening of Resurrection Sunday (John 20:19), Jesus appeared to His disciples, proving He had risen from the dead (v. 20). On this momentous occasion, Jesus “breathed on” () His disciples and said, “Receive [the] Holy Spirit” (). Scholars have suggested three main interpretations regarding the impartation of the Spirit in this text.

First of all, some posit the passage should be regarded as the “Johannine Pentecost.” According to this view, the author was unaware of Luke’s Pentecostal outpouring. Representative of this view, Barrett states, “It does not seem possible to harmonize this account of a special bestowing of the Spirit with that contained in Acts 2; after this event there could be no more ‘waiting’ (Luke 24.48f.; Acts 1.4f.); the church could not be more fully equipped for its mission.”133

There are several problems with this view. First, it is inconsistent with a high view of Scripture. This alone is sufficient grounds for its rejection. Second, the fact John and his audience certainly knew of Pentecost renders the view untenable.134 Furthermore, Barrett overstates his position with regard to the Church’s empowerment for its mission. As will be argued below, prophetic and missiological empowerment are not clearly implied in the present passage—as they are in Acts 2.

Second, many scholars suggest the action recorded in John 20:22 was simply a symbolic and proleptic act. According to this view, the incident anticipates the reality of Spirit reception that occurred on Pentecost as recorded by Luke (Acts 2). Many evangelical scholars espouse this view.135 In recent years, this interpretation has been defended, somewhat strangely, by the Pentecostal theologian, Anthony Palma.136 Conversely, Westcott stated quite forcefully, “To regard the words [“Receive (the) Holy Spirit”] and act [of breathing upon them] as a promise only and a symbol of the future gift is wholly arbitrary and unnatural.”137 Menzies claims, “This view has been largely rejected by contemporary scholars as a forced attempt to reconcile John’s narrative with Acts.”138

Third, some scholars regard the text as indicating Jesus imparted the Spirit to His disciples at that time, yet they also received the Spirit during Pentecost. Scholars who hold to this interpretation are not in agreement as to the exact nature of that which was received on this occasion. Some suggest the Spirit was given as the source of spiritual life.139 Others believe empowerment for ministry is in view. For example, F. F. Bruce claims, “It is not the bestowal of life that is in view now, but empowerment for ministry.”140 He further states, “The Spirit is bestowed to empower them to fulfil [sic] the commission they have just received.”141

In accordance with this third view, it is best to regard John 20:22 as indicating Jesus actually imparted the Spirit to the disciples on the day of His resurrection.142 The verb (from, , “breathe on”143) is a NT hapax legomenon. It occurs nine times in the LXX.144 Especially significant for the present study, Genesis 2:7 utilizes the verb in reference to God breathing the breath of life into Adam.145 Menzies rightly observes such “careful use of language” would certainly cause John’s audience to think back on the creation of Adam.146 The first readers would not have missed the implications of such an allusion:147 Similar to God’s breathing life into Adam at the beginning of creation, Jesus now breathes on the disciples in bestowal of the life-giving Spirit.148 Also noteworthy, since both and can mean “breath,” or “wind,” in addition to “spirit,”149 breathing on the disciples is an appropriate symbolic action in this connection.150 In light of these facts, it is best to regard the incident as the fulfillment of the promise of John 7:37-39; and 14:17b-19.

Those who prefer to read the passage in terms of empowerment for ministry object to this view based on the references to the disciples’ ministry in John 20:21 and 23. Such an argument fails to convince for three reasons, however. First, proponents of this view must downplay the clear allusion to the creation account of Genesis 2 and its life-giving implications here.151 Second, the idea Jesus here empowers (rather than regenerates) the disciples for their ministry falters on contextual grounds, for the disciples cannot even convince Thomas (vv. 24-25), much less the hostile world to which they are sent.152 Such inability hardly demonstrates effective empowerment for their missiological task. Third, one is left wondering how such a reading of the text is to be harmonized with the empowerment of the disciples recorded by Luke (Acts 1:8; 2:4). Were they empowered twice? Why would this be necessary? It will not do to argue Luke and John have their own perspectives that need not be harmonized. A high view of Scripture requires an answer to this question that regards both Lucan and Johannine narratives as historically factual and accurate accounts. Therefore, if the disciples were empowered for ministry here, the exegete is faced with an apparent contradiction.153

Instead of indicating empowerment, however, the present text indicates the disciples’ reception of the indwelling and regenerating presence of the Spirit under the New Covenant. This experience is not unrelated to their commission, however. Rather, their own reception of the regenerating presence of the Spirit serves as the necessary foundation for New Covenant ministry to others. It seems rather obvious that their ministry to others presupposes their own reception of the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. The incident recorded in John 20:22 does not serve the same purpose the gift of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost does. Rather, the impartation recorded here “was the necessary condition for the decent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.”154


In summary, John 7:37-39 does not describe Spirit baptism. Rather, it predicts the bestowal of the life-giving or regenerative work of the indwelling Spirit under the New Covenant. This could not occur prior to the “glorification” of Jesus, which included His death, resurrection, and (most likely) His initial ascent to the Father alluded to in John 20:17. Just before His own death, Jesus predicted the Spirit in His indwelling, regenerative work would be imparted to the disciples at the time of His post-resurrection appearance to them (14:17-20). In fulfillment of this, Jesus breathed on His disciples and thus imparted the Spirit on the evening of the same day in which He rose from the dead (20:19, 22).

Moreover, the vocationally empowering work of the Spirit was in no way bestowed at that time. Rather, the disciples received power for witness on the Day of Pentecost. The first disciples, therefore, received the life-giving work of the Spirit and His vocationally empowering work on two distinct occasions. Far from being a unique exception, however, such reception of Spirit empowerment subsequent to regeneration continued to occur in the early years of the church.155

In light of this, modern-day believers, who have experienced the reality of the life-giving work of the indwelling Spirit, ought to seek also the vocational empowerment of the Spirit. The need for such empowerment for ministry is great, for it is the Spirit himself who is able to make the church’s witness truly powerful and fruitful. May the church of the Lord Jesus Christ continue to be “empowered from on high” (Luke 24:49, CSB), for the harvest truly is great.

This article was originally submitted to Dr. Roger Cotton in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an AGTS Course, “Theological Studies Seminar.”

Select Bibloigraphy

Commentaries on the Gospel of John:

Aker, Ben. “John.” In Life in the Spirit: New Testament Commentary. Edited by French L. Arrington, and Roger Stronstad. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.

Barrett, C. K. The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text. 2nd. ed. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1978.

Beasley-Murray, George R. John. In Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 36, 2nd ed. Edited by Ralph P. Martin. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.

Bernard, J. H. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John. Two volumes. In The International Critical Commentary. Edited by A. H. McNeile. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1928.

Blum, Edwin A. “John.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. Edited by John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1983.

Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John. Vol. 29 in The Anchor Bible. Edited by William Foxwell Albright, and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966.

Bruce, F. F. The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries: The Gospel According to John 1-10. Translated by T. H. L. Parker. Edited by David W. Torrance, and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

Gaebelein, Arno C. The Gospel of John: A Complete Analytical Exposition, 2nd rev. ed. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1965.

Godet, Frederick Louis. Commentary on the Gospel of John—John 1-5. Vol. 1. 1893. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969.

Hendriksen, William. Exposition of the Gospel According to John. Two volumes in one. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1953-54.

Köstenberger, Andreas J. John. In Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Robert Yarbrough, and Robert H. Stein. Grand Rapid: Baker Academic, 2004.

Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Two volumes. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943.

Lightfoot, R. H. St. John’s Gospel: A Commentary. Edited by C. F. Evans. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956.

Michaels, J. Ramsey. John: A Good News Commentary. In the Good News Commentaries. Edited by W. Ward Gasque. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984.

Ridderbos, Herman. The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

Tenney, Merrill C. John: The Gospel of Belief: An Analytic Study of the Text. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948.

Westcott, B. F. The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes. 1881. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.

Works on the Holy Spirit:

Ervin, Howard M. Conversion-Initiation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit: An Engaging Critique of James D. G. Dunn’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984.

Flattery, George M. The Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit. Four volumes. Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009.

Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1976.

Keener, Craig S. The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997.

Menzies, Robert P. “John’s Place in the Development of Early Christian Pneumatology.” In The Spirit and Spirituality: Essays in Honour of Russell P. Spittler. Edited by Wonsuk Ma, and Robert P. Menzies. Volume 24 in the Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series. Edited by John Christopher Thomas, Rickie D. Moore, and Steven J. Land. London: T & T Clark International, 2004.

Palma, Anthony D. The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective. Springfield MO: Logion Press, 2001.

Stronstad, Roger. The Charasmatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984.

Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Living, Vol. 2 in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Three volumes. Grand Rapids: Academic Books, 1990.

Journal and Dictionary Articles:

Córtes, Juan B. “Yet Another Look at JN 7, 37-38.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 29, no. 1 (1967): 75-86.

Fee, Gordon D. “Once More—John 737-39.” The Expository Times 89, no. 4 (1978): 116-18.

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, gen. editors. “Thirst.” In the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 1998.

Grammars and Lexicons:

Blass, F., and A. Debrunner. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Translated and edited by R. W. Funk. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Brooks, James A., and Carlton L. Winbery. Syntax of New Testament Greek. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1979.

Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. 1906. Reprint. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999.

Danker, Frederick William. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. (BDAG). Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker, based on Walter Bauer’s sixth German edition, and on previous English editions by W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. W. Danker. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Fanning, Buist M. Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek. In Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.

Kittel, Gerhard. “.” In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:233-53. Edited by Gerhard Kittel, and Gerhard Friedrich. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. 10 volumes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-1976.

Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1896. Reprint. Peabody: MA: Hendrickson, 1999.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.


Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. The Uses of the Old Testament in the New. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1985.Thavkeray, H. St. J., translator. Josephus  IV: Jewish Antiquities, Books I-IV. In The Loeb Classical Library. Edited by E. H. Warmington. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930

End Notes

1. Clark H. Pinnock, foreword to The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, by Roger Stronstad (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984), v.

2. William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to John, two volumes in one (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1953-54), 2:21.

3. Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003), 1:722.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., 1:723.

6. Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief: An Analytic Study of the Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 134.

7. Ibid.

8. Cf. Keener, Gospel of John, 1:723.

9. Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, in Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Robert Yarbrough, and Robert H. Stein (Grand Rapid: Baker Academic, 2004), 240.

10. Unless otherwise indicated, the translations of the Greek text in this paper are the present author’s rendition.

11. Hendriksen, 2:22.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid., 2:21; Köstenberger, 240.

14. Antiquities of the Jews, III, x, 4. See H. St. J. Thavkeray, trans., Josephus  IV: Jewish Antiquities, Books I-IV, in The Loeb Classical Library, ed. E. H. Warmington (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930), 435.

15. Hendriksen, 2:21; Köstenberger, 239n51.

16. See Hendriksen, 2:22. Tenney states there is “some uncertainty” whether or not the libation of water was offered on the eighth day (134).

17. Of course, if the promise was, in fact, articulated on the seventh day, it would have been spoken against the backdrop of the water-pouring rite itself. In this regard, either scenario is possible. However, as stated above, the eighth day is here regarded as the more likely option.

18. While the verb (from , “stand”) is pluperfect in form, it simply conveys a “past stative meaning, implying no antecedent action.” Buist Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, in Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 308 (italics his). This is so because is one of several verbs displaying “a purely present stative meaning in perfect forms,” which take the pluperfect in place of the aorist for situations involving past time (ibid.). See also Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 586. Consequently, the correct translation is simply “Jesus was standing.”

19. Wallace, 696 (italics his). See also James A. Brooks, and Carlton L. Winbery, Syntax of New Testament Greek (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1979), 121: “The subjunctive with ... is used in the protasis of a third class condition to express probable future condition.”

20. Köstenberger, 151. Pss. 42:2; 63:1; 143:6; Isa. 55:1; Matt. 5:6 are cited in support.

21. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, gen. eds. “Thirst,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 1998), 864. The same Scriptures cited by Köstenberger (see previous note) are listed.

22. Ibid.

23. John 4:13, 14, 15; 6:35; 7:37; 19:28.

24. Notice Jesus’ use of emphatic negation ( plus the future indicative ), and the phrase . A literal translation would be something like “will not at all thirst forever.”

25. For this usage of , see John 5:40; 6:35, 37, 44, 45, 65; 7:37.

26. Notice the parallelism in the Greek text:

27. Cf. John 4:7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14.

28. Notice especially the statement to. (“the water that I shall give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”).

29. J. H. Bernard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, in The International Critical Commentary, ed. A. H. McNeile (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1928), 1:283.

30. Bernard observes, “Some ancient Western authorities” support this (1:281, italics his).

31. F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (Grand Rapid: Eerdmans, 1983), 181.

32. Gordon D. Fee, “Once More—John 737-39,” The Expository Times, 89, no. 4 (1978): 116.

33. Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, vol. 29 in The Anchor Bible, ed. by William Foxwell Albright, and David Noel Freedman (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966), 320.

34. E.g. ibid., 320-21; Keener, Gospel of John, 1:728-30; Ben Aker, “John,” in Life in the Spirit: New Testament Commentary, ed. French L. Arrington, and Roger Stronstad (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 46-48.

35. Wallace, 51-52, 654; Köstenberger, 240; D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 323-25; C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1978), 326-27.

36. As a matter of interest, it should be noted that almost every English translation conforms to this view (e.g. CSB, ESV, KJV, NASU, NIV, NKJV, RSV, YLT). NET and NRS are exceptions. Translations must not determine one’s view, however.

37. In his excellent study of the topic, Córtes offers nine arguments in favor of this interpretation. See Juan B. Córtes, “Yet Another Look at JN 7,37-38,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 29, no. 1 (1967): 75-86.

38. Ibid., 77.

39. Carson, 324.

40. Córtes, 76-79.

41. Brown, 320-21 (italics added). See also Carson, 324; Córtes, 78. Brown attempts to avoid the implications of this argument by referring to Kilpatrick’s study, which “has shown that making the participle the anticipated subject of the Scripture citation ... has little support in Johannine style” (321). In response to Brown, Córtes  first admits, “It is true that in the NT, according to Kilpatrick, when the preposition [, as, just as] introduces a quotation of the Scripture, it invariably follows its main clause” (78). However, he further observes: (1) John 6:31; 12:14 constitute the only two instances where such a pattern occurs, and the wording in these instances differs from 7:38. Both of these other passages state, “as it is written” (), whereas the present passage reads, “as the Scripture said” (). (2) The exact Scripture citation is uncertain and the reference is probably not to “a particular text” (cf. 20:9); (3) “it is commonly accepted that the quotation alluded to refers only to the words that follow.... This is also Kilpatrick’s opinion.” For further argumentation against Brown on this point, see Carson, 325.

42. F. Blass, and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and ed. R. W. Funk (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 243.

43. Córtes, 79 (italics his).

44. Blass, Debrunner, and Funk, 243-44. John 7:38 is cited as an example. “This construction is Semitic, but a comparable usage is found in classical” (ibid., 244).

45. Ibid.

46. Córtes, 79.

47. Ibid. Córtes cites the following as examples: John 6:39; 8:45; 15:2; 17:2; Rev. 2:26; 3:12, 21.

48. Blass, Debrunner, and Funk, 244.

49. Carson, 324.

50. Ibid. As Hendriksen observes, the two subjects () of the suggested parallelism “are dissimilar in structure” (24). Barrett says the proposed parallelism “is at best imperfect, and there is therefore no compelling reason for thinking that it was intended” (327).

51. Carson, 324.

52. Numerous scholars have observed the difficulty of identifying the one who is thirsty as the one who believes. Cf., e.g., Carson, 324; Córtes, 82-83; Hendriksen, 2:24; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), 576; R. H. Lightfoot, St. John’s Gospel: A Commentary, ed. C. F. Evans (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), 183.

53. See also Tenney who states coming and drinking are “practically synonymous” with believing (135).

54. Fee, 116.

55. Five times John explains the significance of Jesus’ words (John 2:21; 6:6, 71; 12:33; 21:19); once he clarifies the meaning of Caiaphas’ words (11:51), and once the words of Judas (12:6). Cf. Fee, 116.

56. Ibid.

57. See also Carson, 324-25.

58. Inexplicably, while discussing John 7:37-39, Flattery states, “Rivers of living water will flow either from the innermost being of Christ or the believer or perhaps both.” George M. Flattery The Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit (Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009), 3:87 (italics added). Regarding Flattery’s suggestion that the verse may refer to “water” flowing from within both Christ and the believer, one should note two things: (1) in order to avoid reading (“his”) as a clear reference to the believer (to the exclusion of Christ) in John 7:38 one must take the participle (“the one who believes”) as a subjective nominative (to be read with , “let him drink”) rather than a pendent nominative. As argued above, this remains unlikely. (2) the truly insurmountable difficulty for such an interpretation, however, is the fact that, if true, the view would require the singular pronoun (“his”) to simultaneously refer to two different people.

59. Wallace, 621n22.

60. Ibid.

61. Ibid.

62. Cf. discussion in Keener, Gospel of John, 1:727-28.

63. Ibid., 1:728. This is Keener’s preference.

64. Köstenberger, 240. The wording is Köstenberger’s. Cf. John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries: The Gospel According to John 1-10, trans. T. H. L. Parker, ed. David W. Torrance, and Thomas F. Torrance (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 198-99. See also Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Uses of the Old Testament in the New (Chicago: Moody, 1985), 4. Kaiser states, “A few citations present the unique problem of an unknown OT source.” He cites Matt. 2:23; John 7:38; Eph. 5:14; and James 4:5 as examples of this phenomenon. He concludes these examples constitute “concise summaries” of that which is taught in various OT texts on the subjects addressed.

65. Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., rev. and ed. Frederick William Danker, based on Walter Bauer’s sixth German ed., and on previous English ed. by W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. W. Danker (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000, hereafter referred to as BDAG), s.v. “” 856 (italics in original).

66. Ibid.

67. Köstenberger, 150. He cites Gen. 26:19; Lev. 14:6; Jer. 2:13 in support of this. For further discussion, together with ample interaction with ancient source material, see Keener, Gospel of John, 1:604.

68. Ibid.

69. Lenski, 579 (italics added).

70. Bernard, 1:283-84. Cf. Horton who states, “As we go through the Gospel of John, however, it becomes obvious that water more often symbolizes the Spirit himself [sic], especially in His life-giving power (John 4:14; 7:38).” Stanley M. Horton, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit (Springfield MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1976), 114. See also Anthony D. Palma, The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springfield MO: Logion Press, 2001), 21, 70.

71. Cf. Bernard,1:284.

72. Other passages also speak of the Spirit’s being “poured out” (e.g. Isa. 32:15; Eze. 39:29; Joel 2:28-29). Such passages clearly speak metaphorically of the Spirit by utilizing water imagery.

73. Craig S. Keener, The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997), 150-51.

74. Cf. Horton, 114.

75. BDAG, s.v. “” 550 (italics in original). Córtes observes, “For the Hebrews the belly was the seat of man’s emotional nature, as the heart is this seat in Western symbolism. In the LXX the word ‘belly’ is often employed in the same sense as ‘heart’” (76).

76. Carson says, “As the Greek expression here refers to the centre [sic] of human personality, NIV’s paraphrasis is acceptable and reasonable” (324).

77. Hendriksen, 2:26.

78. Lenski, 579.

79. As Córtes notes, “Nor is it to be contended, as Boismard and Brown assert, that this living water within the believer will become a ‘source of life for all other men,’ that the believer ‘will be a source for others.’ This is not explicit in the text” (76, italics in original). He further states, “It is not denied that the interpretation of the believer becoming a source of water for others has some patristic support, but the phrase ‘within him’ when applied to the believer does not necessarily require such an interpretation” (77, italics in original).

80. Cf. also Carson, 324; Robert P. Menzies, “John’s Place in the Development of Early Christian Pneumatology,” 45, in The Spirit and Spirituality: Essays in Honour of Russell P. Spittler, ed. Wonsuk Ma and Robert P. Menzies, vol. 24 in the Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series, ed. John Christopher Thomas, Rickie D. Moore and Steven J. Land (London: T & T Clark International, 2004).

81. Córtes, 76.

82. Ibid. (italics in original).

83. Ibid., 79.

84. Ibid.

85. Cf. Ibid.

86. J. Ramsey Michaels, John: A Good News Commentary, in Good News Commentaries, ed. W. Ward Gasque (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984) 126.

87. So also Blum who says the streams of living water flowing from within signify the believer “will have a continual source of satisfaction, which will provide life continually (cf. 4:14).” Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, ed. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1983), 301.

88. Horton, 116.

89. The aorist participle is best regarded as constative. If one accepts the variant , then the present participle is, like that in verse 38, progressive.

90. Fee, 117 (italics his). He cites John 6:71; 11:51; 12:4, 33; 18:32 as examples.

91. Cf. Barrett, 329; Carson, 329.

92. Carson, 329.

93. Hendriksen, 2:26. Cf. also Bernard,1:284.

94. Hendriksen, 2:26.

95. Some early scribes adopted this approach, as have most translators in more recent years.

96. Carson, 329 (italics his).

97. English translations are virtually unanimous in rendering as “because” here. Cf. CSB, ESV, KJV, NASU, NET, NKJV, RSV, YLT. The NIV, which reads, “since,” conveys the same sense.

98. John 7:39; 8:54 (twice); 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28 (3 times); 13:31 (twice), 32 (3 times); 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1 (twice), 4, 5, 10; 21:19.

99. John 1:14 (twice); 2:11; 5:41, 44 (twice); 7:18 (twice); 8:50, 54; 9:24; 11:4, 40; 12:41, 43; 17:5, 22, 24.

100. The aorist passive indicative third person singular form of is found 6 times in the NT, always in John’s Gospel (7:39; 12:16; 13:31 [twice], 32; 15:8).

101. In agreement with this, Thayer states is used in John 7:39; 12:16, 23; 13:31 “of God exalting, or rather restoring, Christ his Son to a state of glory in heaven.” Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1896, repr., Peabody: MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 157.

102. See Wallace, 437-38 for further explanation of the divine passive.

103. Wallace states, “The divine passive is simply a specific type of one of the previous categories” (438), such as cases in which the implied subject of the action is obvious from the context, is left unexpressed because the emphasis is placed upon the one who receives the action of the verb, etc. See 435-38 for his full discussion.

104. Köstenberger, 241. Lenski states, “That glorification would give them the Spirit” (579).

105. Bernard, 1:284.

106. Ibid., 1:285.

107. Brown, 324.

108. Köstenberger, 241 (italics added).

109. Bruce, 182 (italics added). So also Barrett, 329: “Jesus is glorified in and through his death.”

110. Bruce, 261. See also Carson, who states His being glorified is equivalent to His death, resurrection, and ascension to His Father (329). Lenski clearly states Christ’s glorification includes His death, resurrection, and ascension (580). He also plainly states his belief that the promise of the Spirit’s coming in John 7:37-38 did not occur until the day of Pentecost (ibid.). Similarly, Gaebelein states, “Yet this gift was conditioned on the death of Christ and the resurrection and ascension of Christ; the words ‘for Jesus was not yet glorified’ include all these great events in the redemption [sic] work of Christ.” He then concludes, “The promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.” Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of John: A Complete Analytical Exposition, 2nd rev. ed. (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1965), 150.

111. E.g. Menzies, 50n33.

112. Cf. Barret, 422-23. Godet inexplicably argues, “According to Hengstenberg and others, the [i.e. the glorification of Jesus, which is spoken of in John 7:39] designates the fact of the death of Jesus as the condition of the sending of the Spirit, because this gift implies the pardon of sins. The idea is a true one; but the term to be glorified is nowhere applied to the death of Jesus as such. In this sense, , to be lifted up (iii. 15; xii 32, 34) would be necessary.” Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John—John 1-5, vol. 1(1893, repr., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), 79 (italics his). One might ask on what basis Godet supposes himself qualified to decide what vocabulary “would be necessary” to connect the concept of glorification with Jesus’ death. Godet’s statement is especially problematic since Christ himself clearly supports the very idea he rejects.

113. Notice also the following passages (NKJV), in which the time of Jesus’ death is spoken of in similar terms. John 7:30: “Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour [] had not yet come.” John 8:20: “These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour [] had not yet come.” In both verses, “His hour” () refers to the time of Jesus’ death. John 13:1 states this even more plainly: “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour [] had come that He should depart from this world to the Father” (italics added).

114. The aorist imperative is one of entreaty or request (for which see Brooks, and Carlton, 128). Aspectually, the aorist is probably ingressive and calls upon the Father to glorify His name in a single or momentary act in a specific situation (cf. Wallace, 719-20). The significance of this must not be missed: Jesus is actually requesting that the Father glorify Himself by means of Jesus’ own crucifixion.

115. Cf. also the comments of Bernard (2:437) in this is regard.

116. Gerhard Kittel, “,” 249, in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:233-53, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964).

117. Keener, Gospel of John, 2:921. Wallace classifies the aorist usage here as proleptic (futuristic; see 564). Cf. also Carson who states the aorist indicatives utilized in John 13:31-32 may be proleptic, “viewing the decisive death/exaltation as virtually accomplished, since the decisive steps have already been taken and the redemptive purposes of God are secure” (487).

118. Keener suggests (“now”) and (“immediately”) are roughly equivalent in meaning here, “emphasizing the imminence of the events” (The Gospel of John 2:921).

119. Köstenberger, 422n2.

120. Ibid., 422.

121. That is, the resurrection and probably Jesus’ initial ascent to the Father (cf. John 20:17). It seems unnecessary to conclude that Jesus was not fully glorified until His final ascension recorded in Acts 1:2a, 9, 11.

122. Cf. Köstenberger, 489-90.

123. Menzies, 41-52, especially 45-48.

124. Cf. Köstenberger, 438n77.

125. So Köstenberger, 439.

126. E.g. Keener, Gospel of John,2:973.

127. John 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:19; 16:16 (twice), 17 (twice), 18, 19 (twice).

128. Cf. George Beasley-Murray, John, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 36, 2nd ed., ed. Ralph P. Martin (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 258. Beasley-Murray states John 14:18-20 “Clearly ... points to Easter, with its manifestations of the risen Lord in mind, as the expansion of this passage in 16:16-30 confirms beyond cavil.”

129. These are the only occurrences of the phrase in John chapters 14-16.

130. So also Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 505.

131. Cf. Howard M. Ervin, Conversion-Initiation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit: An Engaging Critique of James D. G. Dunn’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984), 133-35. Ervin also believes the Paraclete sayings imply two distinct phases in which the disciples would receive the Spirit. He argues the point differently, however. Ervin posits the verb (“give”) “in relation to the action of the Spirit is associated with regeneration in John”; and he then concludes John 14:16 must refer to the regenerative work of the Spirit (134). He claims “It may be said of the Paraclete sayings, ... that the Spirit in His regenerating activity is given, not sent” (134, italics added). He further states the verb to “send” (14:26; 15:26; 16:7), on the other hand, refers to the “functional” work of the Spirit’s empowering the disciples for witness (134-35). Simply put, Ervin misconstrues and overstates the significance of the verb .

Nevertheless, Ervin’s discussion is suggestive and may serve to point one in the right direction. He correctly observes that the elements of the Spirit’s work mentioned in the first Paraclete saying (John 14:16ff.) refer exclusively to the ontological, regenerative reception of the Spirit. In addition, he rightly states John 15:26-27; 16:7-11 clearly speak of Spirit-empowered witness, to the exclusion of regenerative aspects of the Spirit’s work. (Ervin’s explanation of John 14:26 is less helpful.) Furthermore, there does seem to be some significance to Jesus’ use of the verb (“send”), but only in that it implies Jesus would not be physically present when the disciples received the empowering work of the Spirit. See also J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Living, vol. 2 in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective (Grand Rapids: Academic Books, 1990), 173n61. Williams’ view is similar to that presented in the present work.

132. This, of course, harmonizes well with Luke’s account of the disciples receiving power for ministry on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).

133. Barrett, 570.

134. Cf. Menzies who states (somewhat weakly), “It is virtually certain that John and his audience would have known of Pentecost” (48, italics added).

135. E.g. Carson, 651-55.

136. Palma, 112-15.

137. B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1881; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950), 295.

138. Menzies, 48. Dunn and Turner are cited as examples.

139. Ibid., 48-50.

140. Bruce, 392. So also Ridderbos, 643.

141. Bruce, 392.

142. The aorist imperative (“receive”) is most probably ingressive. It most likely refers to a momentary or single act of reception.

143. Cf. BDAG, s.v. “,” 326.

144. Within canonical literature the verb occurs in the following: Gen. 2:7; 1 Kings 17:21; Job 4:21; Nah. 2:2; Eze. 21:36; 37:9. Occurrences in non-canonical sources include: Tob. 6:9; 11:11; Wisd. of Sol. 15:11.

145. The Greek reads, (“He breathed into his face [the] breath of life, and the man became a living soul”).

146. Menzies, 49.

147. Note also the allusion to Gen. 2:7 in Wisd. of Sol. 15:11; and the dead bones living again as a result of their being breathed on in Eze. 37:9. In light of such usage, the verb surely would have brought life-creating images to the minds of John’s intended audience.

148. Cf. Menzies, 49; Bernard, 677; Ervin, 16, 52, 54, 134-35; Horton, 128-29; Westcott, 294. See also Keener, who states the majority of scholars see an allusion to Gen. 2:7 here (Gospel of John, 2:1204-05).

149. Cf. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (1906; repr., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), s.v. “,” 924; and BDAG, s.v. “,” 832, respectively.

150. See Westcott, who also notes the appropriateness of breathing on the disciples while bestowing the Spirit (294). He notes the connection with John 3:8, as well.

151. Cf. Ridderbos who is compelled to admit the act of breathing upon the disciples “recalls” Gen. 2:7; Eze. 37:5f.; and Wisd. of Sol. 15:11 (which he incorrectly cites as 17:11), texts “that mention God’s life-giving breath” (643). However, he offers the following weak argument: “If the reference to these texts were direct, then the meaning would be that just as in the beginning God breathed a living spirit into humankind, so in this moment of the new creation Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into the disciples and so grants them eternal life” (ibid.).

152. See Menzies, 32.

153. These last two points also apply equally to the “both-and” approach which suggests both the life-giving and the vocationally empowering aspects of the Spirit were bestowed at that time. The life-giving or regenerative work of the Spirit clearly was imparted. Conversely, the evidence does not support the idea that the disciples were empowered for witness on this occasion.

154. Westcott, 295.

155. The accuracy of this statement rests upon Luke’s distinctive pneumatological focus and contribution in Luke-Acts. In particular, the Lucan narrative of Acts consistently portrays the gift of the Spirit in prophetic and vocational terms, rather than in soteriological terms (see, e.g., Stronstad). With regard to the church, the purpose of this dimension of the Spirit’s work is clearly stated as empowerment for mission (cf. Acts 1:8). As such, not only is the gift of the Spirit (in the Lucan sense) theologically distinct from regeneration, but it is also received subsequent to salvation on several occasions (e.g. Acts 8:12, 14-17; 19:1-6).

Updated: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM