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John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby darinhouston » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:35 am

John 18:19-20 (NET) says: "Jesus replied, "I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret."

How could Jesus say that, considering how often he told his Disciples not to reveal certain things, that he often spoke in parables, and gave private revelations to those closest to Him?
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Re: John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby steve » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:25 pm

I suspect that Jesus was using the word "nothing" as a hyperbole. While on trial, He was being asked about His teaching—probably meaning His public teachings. The questioning was intending to discover some subversive element in His public discourse. What He may have spoken of privately with His friends is not likely to have been their concern.

In terms of their question, I think He is saying, "All of my public teachings have been accessible to anyone wishing to take an interest in them. Those who heard can confirm what I have said and what I have not said."

This may have been a way of Jesus' undermining the false witnesses who were hired to misrepresent what He had said. "Ask the crowds, if you want to know the truth of what I actually said."
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Re: John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby darinhouston » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:18 am

steve wrote:I suspect that Jesus was using the word "nothing" as a hyperbole. While on trial, He was being asked about His teaching—probably meaning His public teachings. The questioning was intending to discover some subversive element in His public discourse. What He may have spoken of privately with His friends is not likely to have been their concern.

In terms of their question, I think He is saying, "All of my public teachings have been accessible to anyone wishing to take an interest in them. Those who heard can confirm what I have said and what I have not said."

This may have been a way of Jesus' undermining the false witnesses who were hired to misrepresent what He had said. "Ask the crowds, if you want to know the truth of what I actually said."


That was my initial response, but the more I thought about it, the less satisfying it was. Hyperbole makes some sense in the first statement, but the second is somewhat emphatic. Taken together, it's even more emphatic. He was responding not to someone asking what he was teaching, but to counter a charge of subversiveness. The response seems to have been intended to say not only that his teaching was out in the open but that he wasn't having secret conversations with a more subversive or hidden teaching. In fact, that is exactly what he was doing -- having different conversations with his disciples in secret and veiling some of his message in his public teaching. Hyperbole doesn't seem to answer this problem, as hyperbole is typically intended to emphasize a point not to mislead or avoid a point.

Is it possible that he was telling an untruth on purpose, but that it was justifiable and not a sin since it furthered the Kingdom?

If hyperbole doesn't answer it, is there another consideration?
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Re: John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby darinhouston » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:54 pm

I've been thinking more about this and wonder if maybe since Jesus was answering questions based on what was relevant to their inquiry. He definitely didn't have any politically subsersive teachings in private, and they weren't really interested in spiritual matters.

I've been studying the "trial" before Pilate and a similar thought comes to me as to why Jesus seems to have simply ignored certain questions while responding to others. Perhaps it was the opposite -- that he responded only to those relevant to His Spiritual Kingdom Ministry/Mission and ignored those related to political issues which simply weren't relevant to His Ministry/Mission.
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Re: John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby Singalphile » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:34 am

I think Steve is correct. He gave more explanation to his core disciples, but his private teaching was nevertheless the same as his public teaching, wasn't it?

And he must have been using hyperbole in the last sentence, unless he literally never spoke a word except in front of a crowd.
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Re: John 18:19-20 "I have said nothing in secret."

Postby willowtree » Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:32 pm

Singalphile wrote:I think Steve is correct. He gave more explanation to his core disciples, but his private teaching was nevertheless the same as his public teaching, wasn't it?

And he must have been using hyperbole in the last sentence, unless he literally never spoke a word except in front of a crowd.


This discussion reminds me what Dr. Kenneth Bailey says about exaggeration in the Middle Eastern culture. Here is a quote from his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.

The moment comes (v 8) when Zacchaeus, who has been reclining with Jesus and the other guests, stands to give his formal response. In traditional Middle Eastern style he exaggerates in order to demonstrate his sincerity and pledges to give away 50 percent his assets. Then he says he will pay back fourfold anyone he has cheated. If all the money he has ever collected unjustly from the community over the years amounts to 13 percent of his renaining assets, he cannot fulfill this pledge. No one expects him to do so. If he were a contemporary Westerner he would say:

'Rabbi Jesus, I have been robbing these people blind for years and now I deeply regret it. The money is spent and I cannot pay it back. But I will do what I can. I hereby pledge myself to start with a large gift to the poor of the community. Furthermore, I will review my accounts, choose those whom I have hurt the most and within my limited remaining assets, will pay back as much as I can. I hope the community will recognize my limitations in thesearch matters.'

Such a measured realistic promise would have been understood to mean "He is not going to give us anything." In good village fashion, however, Zacchaeus affirms his sincerity by exaggeration. If he does not exaggerate, the crowd will think he means the opposite.


In a footnote on the same page, Dr. Bailey states that Herod Antipas also exaggerated in the promise to the dancing girl at his birthday party. He did not expect to be taken seriously. Unfortunately he was, and the death of John the Baptizero was the result.

I had to do some serious thinking to get the concept of exaggeration as an expression of sincerity, but in a weird way it does make some sense.

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