John 12:42-43

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 26, 1996



It's still the last Sunday before Jesus is to die, the day known as Palm Sunday.

We saw Jesus enter triumphantly into Jerusalem among large crowds, being hailed as king.

One of the reasons for the crowds was all the miracles He had performed.

But though He had done many miracles, still many of the people did not believe in Him.

Others started to believe, but weren't quite ready yet to make a commitment...

:42-43 Reasons for not following Jesus

:42 chief rulers ... many believed

chief rulers - archon - a ruler, commander, chief, leader

Who were these "chief rulers"?

It's possible that these were members of the Sanhedrin, the governing body over Israel.

Early on in Jesus' ministry, a man named Nicodemus came to believe in him:

Joh 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night ... (AV)

When the Pharisees sent temple police officers to arrest Jesus back in chapter 7, the officers came back empty handed, saying that they had been blown away by the things Jesus had been saying.

Joh 7:47-48 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? 49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. 50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge [any] man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? (AV)

And now we're told that actually "many" of these rulers were believing on Jesus as the Messiah.

It's my opinion that these "rulers" were kind of at the beginning stages of faith, but not to the point of really being saved yet (we'll see in a minute)

:42 but because of the Pharisees ...

The Pharisees were kind of the majority party in the Sanhedrin, and carried a lot of weight in public opinion.

Because of them, these rulers did not "confess" Jesus.

:42 ... lest they should be put out of the synagogue

The Jews had two forms of "excommunication".

The first stage was called "Niddui", where you had to stay 6 feet away from everybody for a length of 30 days, as long as you repented. If you didn't repent, it was stretched out for 60 days, and then to 90 days. If still no repentence, then you moved on to the next phase, which was more serious.

The heavy-duty excommunication was called "Cherem", where you had curses placed on you, and were cut off from ever seeing anybody of your synagogue, even from anybody in the nation.

You were no longer employable, nor could anybody trade goods with you, except just enough to keep you alive.

It's this second kind of excommunication that the Pharisees were threatening.

It's this kind of excommunication that the man healed of blindness experienced. (John 9:22,34)


put out of the synagogue - the Greek word means literally "apart from the synagogue"

the word "synagogue" itself simply means "a gathering together", and came to mean the groups of Jews that would gather together in a particular city to worship God.

Even though it carries the idea of Jewish excommunication, it could more broadly carry the idea of being put out of your group.


When you were in high school, and everybody in your group was wearing plaid bell-bottom pants and high heel platform shoes, and that was a guys' group!

In order not to be "put out of the synagogue", or "excluded from the group", you dressed the same way too.

:42 they did not confess him,

confess - homologeo - to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with; to profess, to declare openly, speak out freely

Warning: this "confess" has nothing to do with visiting a priest sitting in a little box in a church.

Can't a person just avoid a lot of hastles and keep their relationship with God quiet?

After all, isn't "religion" a "personal" kind of thing?

What's the big deal here?


Your salvation is tied to what you say openly about Jesus.

Paul wrote a letter to the this to the little church that had sprung up in the great city of Rome.

Paul wrote to the Romans in A.D.57, three years after a new emperor in Rome took over, a man named "Nero".

This was at the beginnings of emperor worship in the Roman Empire.

Christians were put on trial for not worshipping the Emperor and not saying "Caesar is lord".

All the suspected Christian had to do was sprinkle a few sacrificial grains of incense into the eternal flame burning in front of the statue of the emperor. Since the punishments were so horrible and the means of escape so easy, many Christians gave in. Many did not and were burned alive, killed by lions in the arena, or crucified.

Paul wrote:

Ro 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (AV) (ashamed - NASB > disappointed)


Ro 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," ... (NIVUS)

Wesley: "If thou confess with thy mouth"-Even in time of persecution, when such a confession may send thee to the lions.

Paul says that two things need to take place for a person to be saved:

1. You must believe in your heart.

It's not just a thing of your mind, what you agree in your brain.

It's also a matter of your will, your soul, your feelings.

It's a committment of your affections, of your love, of your adoration.

You must believe:

-That you are a sinner and need Jesus.

-That Jesus died to pay for your sins.

-That Jesus rose from the dead, proving that He had paid for your sins.

-That Jesus is your Lord.

It's with this belief that God gives you the righteousness of Jesus Christ (2Cor.5:21)

2. You must confess with your mouth.

Confession, or speaking with your mouth is the thing that kind of seals the deal.

The best way to tell what's really going on in the heart is to listen to what's coming out of the mouth.

Jesus said:

Lu 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (AV)

If your mouth is never telling people about your relationship with Jesus Christ, perhaps it's because it's not really in your heart.

Jesus said that it was pretty dangerous to be denying Him in front of people:

Mt 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Jesus gives only two choices:

You're either confessing Jesus or denying Him.

There doesn't seem to be any middle ground.


Belief in Jesus starts the process.

Confession with your lips seals the deal.

:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Now we're given the real reason why these men didn't want to admit to believing in Jesus.

This is the "root" cause of their fear of being put out of the synagogue.

In other words, if you take care of this issue, then being put out of the synagogue is nothing to worry about.

praise - doxa - opinion, judgment, view; in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory

Other translations:

Joh 12:43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (NAS)

They were more concerned with the opinion of men rather than the opinion of God.

The Bible says:

Pr 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (AV)

Having a "fear" of a person starts with being afraid of what their opinion is of you.

The big issue?

Who are we going to look to for approval?

When we keep our eyes on people, and worry about what they're thinking, we will fall into a trap.

But if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we're safe.

We're going to look at two examples - one negative, one positive.

An example of having a fear of man:


Genesis 12:10-20

Q. Did the things that Abraham fear happen?

Ge 12:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. (AV)

When they found out that Sarah was his wife, and even after having been plagued because of Abraham, they still didn't kill him, but only sent him away.

The Point

What were the results of Abraham fearing man?

1. People got hurt.

The Egyptians were "plagued" in some manner.

Abraham was supposed to be a blessing to people:

Ge 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (AV)

But here came a curse on people who never did anything intentionally to hurt him.

2. Abram got nothing but trouble.

It kind of sounded for a while that Abraham made out pretty well, after all, he got more flocks and servants out of the deal, right?

Note: One of his "rewards" was "maidservants" (vs.16).

The single greatest source of trouble in Abraham's life had to do with a certain Egyptian lady:

Ge 16:1-2 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name [was] Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (AV)

Through Hagar came Ishmael, the son that caused nothing but trouble to Abraham and his descendants.

3. Abram lost his credibility

Ge 12:20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had. (AV)

Rather than coming to know God through the man who was the father of the faith, all they came to know was a liar.

An example of fearing God rather than man


Daniel 6:1-28

vs.16 - does it sound like Daniel had been covering up the fact that he was a servant of the Lord?

The Point?

What were the results of Daniel fearing God rather than man?

1. A Lion's Den

Da 6:16 ... they brought Daniel, and cast [him] into the den of lions. ...(AV)

In Abraham's case, the thing he feared didn't come to pass

But in Daniel's case, the scary thing DID come to pass.

It may be that there will be a negative consequence for putting the Lord more important in your heart than people.

It would be a lie for me to tell you there won't be any negative consequences.

2. God's protection

Even though Daniel was in a lion's den, he wasn't alone.

Ps 34:7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. (AV)

His buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego experienced this in the fiery furnace. (Dan.3)

They were thrown alive into a blazing furnace for refusing to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue.

Old Neb exclaimed:

Da 3:25 ...Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (AV)

God says:

Ps 91:14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (AV)

3. The message is proclaimed

Instead of the message being muffled or distorted through our fear of people, it comes through loud and clear.

Darius said:

Da 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he [is] the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion [shall be even] unto the end. (AV)

4. Godly promotion

Da 6:28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (AV)

There are times when we become afraid of what people say because we're afraid it's going to hurt our chances either as their friends, or our chances in business.

But what happens is that we end up having to live our entire life under fear of being "discovered" as a Christian.

Let God handle the promotion, you just follow Him:

(Psa 75:6-7 KJV) For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. {7} But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

(Psa 78:70-71 KJV) He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: {71} From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

Who are you looking to? Whose opinion counts most in your life?

Pr 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (AV)


Altar Call

For First-timers

Perhaps you've never made a public statement that you are a believer and follower of Jesus.


For Old-timers

Perhaps you've been allowing the fear of man, or the opinion of man to quench what you say about Jesus.