Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 12:32

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I - will draw all men unto me - After I shall have died and risen again, by the preaching of my word and the influence of my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles. It was one of the peculiar characteristics of the Messiah, that unto him should the gathering of the people be, Genesis 49:10. And probably our Lord refers to the prophecy, Isaiah 11:10, which peculiarly belonged to the Gentiles: "There shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an Ensign of the people, to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious." There is an allusion here to the ensigns or colors of commanders of regiments, elevated on high places, on long poles, that the people might see where the pavilion of their general was, and so flock to his standard.

Instead of παντας, the Codex Bezae, another, several versions, and many of the fathers, read παντα, all men, or all things: so the Anglo-Saxon, I will draw all things to myself. But παντα may be here the accusative singular, and signify all men.

The ancients fabled that Jupiter had a chain of gold, which he could at any time let down from heaven, and by it draw the earth and all its inhabitants to himself. See a fine passage to this effect in Homer, Iliad viii. ver. 18-27.

Ειδ 'αγε, πειρησασθε θεοι, ἱνα ειδετε παντες,π

Σειρην χρυσειην εξ ουρανοθεν κρεμασαντες·π

Παντες δ 'εξαπτεσθε θεοι, πασαι τε θεαιναι. κ. τ. λ.

"Now prove me: let ye down the golden chain

From heaven, and pull at its inferior links,

Both goddesses and gods: but me your king,

Supreme in wisdom, ye shall never draw

To earth from heaven, strive with me as ye may.

But I, if willing to exert my power,

The earth itself, itself the sea, and you,

Will lift with ease together, and will wind

The chain around the spiry summit sharp

Of the Olympian, that all things upheaved

Shall hang in the mid heaven. So much am I,

Alone, superior both to gods and men.


By this chain the poets pointed out the union between heaven and earth; or, in other words, the government of the universe by the extensive chain of causes and effects. It was termed golden, to point out, not only the beneficence of the Divine Providence, but also that infinite philanthropy of God by which he influences and by which he attracts all mankind to himself. It was possibly in allusion to this that our Lord spoke the above words. Should it be objected that it is inconsistent with the gravity of the subject, and the dignity of our Lord, to allude to the fable of a heathen poet, I answer:

  1. The moral is excellent, and, applied to this purpose, expresses beautifully our Lord's gracious design in dying for the world, viz. That men might be united to himself, and drawn up into heaven.
  • It is no more inconsistent with the gravity of the subject, and his dignity, for our blessed Lord to allude to Homer, than it was for St. Paul to quote Aratus and Cleanthes, Acts 17:28, and Epimenides, Titus 1:12; for he spoke by the same Spirit.
  • So justice was sometimes represented under the emblem of a golden chain, and in some cases such a chain was constructed, one end attached to the emperor's apartment, and the other hanging within reach; that if any person were oppressed he might come and lay hold on the chain, and by shaking it give the king notice that he was oppressed, and thus claim protection from the fountain of justice and power. In the Jehangeer Nameh, a curious account of this kind is given, which is as follows. The first order which Jehangeer issued on his accession to the throne (which was A.H. 1014, answering to a.d. 1605) was for the construction of the Golden Chain of Justice. It was made of pure gold, and measured thirty yards in length, consisting of sixty links, and weighing, in the whole, four Hindostany maunds (about four hundred pounds avoirdupois.) One end of the chain was suspended from the royal bastion of the fortress of Agra, and the other fastened in the ground near the side of the river. The intention of this was, that if the officers of the courts of law were partial in their decisions, or dilatory in the administration of justice, the injured parties might come themselves to this chain, and, making a noise by shaking the links of it, give notice that they were waiting to represent their grievances to his majesty. Hist. of Hindostan, p. 96, Calcutta, 1788. Such a communication, prayer and faith establish between the most just and most merciful God, and the wretched and oppressed children of men. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come! Psalm 65:2.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Be lifted up - See John 3:14; John 8:28.

    Will draw - John 6:44. The same word is used in both places.

    All men - I will incline all kinds of men; or will make the way open by the cross, so that all men may come. I will provide a way which shall present a strong motive or inducement - the strongest that can be presented to all men to come to me.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The sin of our souls was the troubled of Christ's soul, when he undertook to redeem and save us, and to make his soul an offering for our sin. Christ was willing to suffer, yet prayed to be saved from suffering. Prayer against trouble may well agree with patience under it, and submission to the will of God in it. Our Lord Jesus undertook to satisfy God's injured honour, and he did it by humbling himself. The voice of the Father from heaven, which had declared him to be his beloved Son, at his baptism, and when he was transfigured, was heard proclaiming that He had both glorified his name, and would glorify it. Christ, reconciling the world to God by the merit of his death, broke the power of death, and cast out Satan as a destroyer. Christ, bringing the world to God by the doctrine of his cross, broke the power of sin, and cast out Satan as a deceiver. The soul that was at a distance from Christ, is brought to love him and trust him. Jesus was now going to heaven, and he would draw men's hearts to him thither. There is power in the death of Christ to draw souls to him. We have heard from the gospel that which exalts free grace, and we have heard also that which enjoins duty; we must from the heart embrace both, and not separate them.
    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 621-6

    This chapter is based on John 12:20-42.

    “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.” DA 621.1

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 249

    The gospel workers in Corinth realized the terrible dangers threatening the souls of those for whom they were laboring; and it was with a sense of the responsibility resting on them that they presented the truth as it is in Jesus. Clear, plain, and decided was their message—a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. And not only in their words, but in the daily life, was the gospel revealed. Angels co-operated with them, and the grace and power of God was shown in the conversion of many. “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” AA 249.1

    The hatred with which the Jews had always regarded the apostles was now intensified. The conversion and baptism of Crispus had the effect of exasperating instead of convincing these stubborn opposers. They could not bring arguments to disprove Paul's preaching, and for lack of such evidence they resorted to deception and malignant attack. They blasphemed the gospel and the name of Jesus. In their blind anger no words were too bitter, no device too low, for them to use. They could not deny that Christ had worked miracles; but they declared that He had performed them through the power of Satan; and they boldly affirmed that the wonderful works wrought by Paul were accomplished through the same agency. AA 249.2

    Though Paul had a measure of success in Corinth, yet the wickedness that he saw and heard in that corrupt city almost disheartened him. The depravity that he witnessed among the Gentiles, and the contempt and insult that he received from the Jews, caused him great anguish of spirit. He doubted the wisdom of trying to build up a church from the material that he found there. AA 250.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 33

    Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family, to maintain the principles of the heavenly family. This would have brought peace and happiness. But the law that none “liveth to himself” (Romans 14:7), Satan was determined to oppose. He desired to live for self. He sought to make himself a center of influence. It was this that had incited rebellion in heaven, and it was man's acceptance of this principle that brought sin on earth. When Adam sinned, man broke away from the heaven-ordained center. A demon became the central power in the world. Where God's throne should have been, Satan placed his throne. The world laid its homage, as a willing offering, at the feet of the enemy. CT 33.1

    The transgression of God's law brought woe and death in its train. Through disobedience man's powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened that it was impossible for him to resist the power of evil; and the tempter saw being fulfilled his purpose to thwart the divine plan of man's creation and fill the earth with misery and desolation. Men had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives. CT 33.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 114

    This chapter is based on Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13.

    “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” The words of Mark are still more significant. He says, “Immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts.” “And in those days He did eat nothing.” DA 114.1

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