The quest of the Greeks
These Greeks may have been Greek proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism); if so they would have been able to join the Jews in the temple worship. But it is not certain that they were so committed. At least they were religious seekers since they had come to worship. Many Gentiles were attracted to Judaism’s ideas because of its higher moral emphasis compared with paganism. These men had probably come from the Decapolis and may even have known Philip who came from nearby Bethsaida. It may be assumed that their quest to see Jesus was prompted by a desire to learn from him rather than mere curiosity. Maybe John sees them as examples of the ‘world’ going after Jesus.
It is difficult to imagine how they would have understood the opening words of Jesus. They would hardly have been so well informed as John’s readers about the significance of the hour (23). The Greeks may have thought in terms of the triumphal entry. But from the context it can be seen that for Jesus his ‘hour’ was his approaching passion. This is clear from the glorification theme and from the grain of wheat illustration. The formula I tell you the truth (24) points out the importance of the announcement. The principle in nature that death is essential for further life was applied by Jesus to himself by inference. Wheat reproduces its own kind, and Jesus regarded his passion in the same light. His death would produce life for many. The contrast between loving and hating (25) brings out in sharp relief the choice and consequence involved in personal reaction to Jesus. Loving and hating are here relative terms, standing in opposition to each other.