Vol.XI No.V Pg.1
July 1974

Feet Washing

Robert F. Turner

When Jesus came to wash Peters feet (JOH.13:3-17) Peter at first objected to any washing; then impetuously asked that his feet, hands and head be washed. Jesus replied, "He that is washed (louo) needeth not save to wash (nipto) his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." (i.e., Judas; rt)

Three Greek words for "wash" have distinct significance. Louo is used for complete bathing; nipto for partial cleansing, as the hands, face, or feet; and pluno for inanimate objects, as garments. Jesus told Peter that those who have had a complete bath (then walked to the upper room) needed only to wash their feet. Then, Jesus clearly attached some spiritual significance to his statement by saying, "ye are clean, but not all".

I do not know how far Jesus meant to carry this figure, but it is true that Christians are washed (louo — REV1:5;cf. ACT.22:16; 1CO.6:11-completely cleansed in their initial coming to Christ), yet, they are defiled in their daily journey through life, and need continued cleansing.

Paul teaches the "desire" to do what is right is no guarantee we will not sin, nor does it remove responsibility for our actions. We may do what we "would not". Through fleshly weakness we may sin, even though we "delight in the law of God after the inner man," (ROM.7:15-25). He thanks God for Jesus Christ, in whom the "spiritually minded" find life and peace. (ROM.8:1-6)

John says, "if we walk" in the light, (present, active, conjunction: "if we keep on walking") and "if we confess" our sins, (again, pr., act, conj.; "keep on confessing") then the blood of Christ "cleanseth". ("The cleansing is present and continuous" Vincent.) We have an Advocate who IS (not was) our propitiation (1JO.2:2). Our High Priest offered Himself "once for all" for us, and "ever liveth to make intercession" (HEB.7:23-f, 9:14).

There is no comfort offered to him who chooses to walk in the realm of darkness; but to him who chooses and strives to walk in the realm of Gods light; his feet are washed, over and over, and he is every whit clean.