The "Hour" of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.


The "hour" of Jesus is a noticeably prominent theme in the Gospel according to John. The word "hour" (Greek ωρα, hōra) sometimes refers simply and literally to a short period of chronological time (a 60-minute period during the day). More often and more importantly, however, "Jesus' hour" refers more broadly and metaphorically to the climactic event of Jesus' death and resurrection, which the Fourth Gospel also refers to as his "glorification" (12:23; 17:1). Early in the Gospel, the narrator and Jesus himself emphasize several times that his hour had not yet come (2:4; 7:30; 8:20). Twice he similarly stresses, "My time has not yet come" (using the Greek word καιρος, kairos). But when does Jesus' "time" or "hour" actually come?

At the beginning of the Last Supper (13:1), the narrator says, "his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father" (13:1). Similarly, in the prayer Jesus addresses to the Father at the end of the Last Supper Discourses, he begins, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you” (17:1).

Curiously, however, Jesus had earlier already said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (12:23). Moreover, in reference to certain other events related to his salvific mission, he had twice also already said "the hour is coming, and is now here" (4:23; 5:25).

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