oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - Washing one another's feet as Jesus did : revelatory activities and the progressive sanctification of believers

Volume 15, Issue 03
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



While John 13:1â??11 soteriologically interprets the foot-washing as symbolising participation and purification in Jesus, the subsequent John 13:12â??20 ethically interprets the act as a humble self-sacrificing service emanating from love. Scholarly attempts at relating these two tiers of interpretations have sometimes tended to view them as conflicting. The first tier, taken to be christological, is said to be diametrically opposite to the second discipleship-oriented tier. This article draws on recent conceptualisations of Johannine symbolism to argue against this trend. Instead, it proposes that through the foot-washing, Jesus was instructing his disciples to participate in revelatory activities centred on his death. Humble participation in such revelatory activities maintains the cohesion of the fellowship while also triggering their purification in Jesus. This interpretation is supported by 1 John 1:7â??10, a passage thought to be a commentary on the foot-washing.

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