“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:42-43.
Christ was rejected by Israel, and the nation was rejected by God because they did not believe that the, “…arm of the Lord” John 12:38, was revealed in Jesus. However the individual Jew is not doomed to hell if they accept Christ as Savior.
“But although He [Jesus] had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? [Isaiah 53:1]’ therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. [Isaiah 6:10]’” John 12:37-40.
While it says that “He [God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart…” the meaning is that because they had rejected and humiliated their Messiah when presented to them, they were blinded from relenting and accepting Him at that point.
This made the crucifixion inevitable.
If this is the case, what does Paul mean when he says that partial hardening has happened to Israel?
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:25.
We are not to be ignorant of this mystery, yet many, including church fathers and many theologians, over two thousand years have been, and are ignorant of this in spite of the fact that Paul teaches it right here.
A partial hardening has indeed happened; it does not mean that all Jews are going to hell. Nor does it mean that the church is the new Israel as some believe, reckoning that God had utterly rejected them.
“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Romans 11:1.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29.
The principle is the same as it has been throughout the centuries, the willfully ignorant and those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness blind themselves and become hardened.
It was true before Christ when the law was taught and many idolatrous Gentiles came to God through the teaching of the Israelites.
It is true now after the preaching of the gospel was embraced by Gentile nations and Israel rejected it; seeking instead to force their way into heaven by good works of their law.
“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 9:30-10:4.
“…hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:25b.
“… the fullness of the Gentiles” is better understood as, a full number, or a complete number. The meaning is this, we are in what is called the church age, also known as, the age of grace, during this period, Christ is calling out a people of His own, the bride of Christ.
When the last soul accepts Christ as their savior (a person and time known only to God), the bride will be complete and the church will be taken out of the world in what is commonly known as the rapture.
While there are a very great number of Israelite Christians in the church, they are now a part of the bride of Christ; they are no longer Jews in a technical sense.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29.
“…where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11.
As for the unbelieving Jew, whether willfully ignorant or whether they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, or have a willing heart but have never heard the truth in a way they understood, they will all enter the tribulation.
At the end of the tribulation, when all hope is gone, only a few are left and annihilation is upon them, they will look up and see the One whom they pierced and weep bitterly and turn to Christ as Savior, see Zechariah 12:9-14.
This is why Jesus said the following to the Jews.
“See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:38-39.
So then, God has permitted all nations to wander from Him, both Jew and Gentile.
“For as you [Gentiles] were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” Romans 11:30-32.
God has committed all, Jew and Gentile; all of mankind, to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all of mankind. It is no surprise that Paul exhibits such wonder when he writes:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33.
And to expand a bit more on the mercy shown the Jew and the Gentile:
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: ‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.’ And again he says: ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!’ And again: ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!’ And again Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.’ Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:8-13.
Having said all of this, it still remains that many believed on Christ even among the leadership; “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him…” John 12:42a, among these were, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of Myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.” John 19:38-39.
These men were not at the kangaroo court hastily put together by the Pharisees to convict Jesus. However the words “for fear of the Jews…” appears here, as well as in a similar statement in our study.
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue…” John 12:42.
Now being put out of the synagogue is a serious matter since one could lose their livelihood and be shunned by their associates.
The more serious reason though is in verse 43.
“…for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:43.
Sadly that is the case of many of us, the fear of man, the fear of what our friends will think the fear of loss of prestige among our colleagues or co-workers, fear, fear, fear.
“The fear [of what they will think, or do] of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25.
After having been arrested for preaching Christ, then threatened by a gathering of the religious leaders which included Annas the high priest and Caiaphas among others, Peter and John were set free for lack of evidence. This is a portion of their prayer when they rejoined their companions.
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. ‘And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.’” Acts 4:29-31.
For the full story read all of Acts chapters 3-4.
Speaking to those who were concerned about his imprisonment, the Apostle Paul gave these words of comfort to them.
“For I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:19-21.
As you can see even the greatest of Christians have battled fear, but notice, in both passages, the Holy Spirit is called to give strength, the Spirit of God is always the key to strength. Fear is a very powerful emotion, but it does not have to be our master.
Do we crave the praise of men more than the praise of God? As Paul stated above, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him [Antichrist] you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” John 5:43-44.
They Love the Praise of Men, John 12:42-43 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 2-21-13, updated on 12-31-17.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.