Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Second Advisor

Jon Paulien

Third Advisor

Russell L. Staples



Presently there are seven major interpretations of the footwashing recorded in the Gospel of John 13. This study attempts to discover the true meaning and function of footwashing that is in harmony with Johannine theology, Christology, and Sola Scriptura.


This study was conducted in the following fashion. It traced the function and meaning of footwashing in both secular and sacred history throughout the Bible, as well as Jewish and Greco-Roman history. In particular it focuses on the setting of footwashing in the Gospel of John, and the practice and meaning of footwashing in Church history, with emphasis on the early centuries.


Footwashing is a very important concept in the Gospel of John, since that Gospel focuses uniguely on cleansing and purification from sin through faith in Jesus Christ. Water plays a significant role in Johannine thought and is intricately connected to the concept of blood and Spirit, both existentially and eschatologically.

Philologically, footwashing is tied to baptism as a means of cleansing the believer from post-baptismal sins, while chronologically it is tied to the Lord's Supper, a memorial of Christ's substitutionary death. Therefore footwashing has an important soteriological function in the believer's life as well as congregational life. It is a sign and symbol of cleansing that is central in Scripture, reaching back to the Old Testament, particularly the sanctuary service where blood and water were the two great cleansing agents.


Footwashing is a means of reconciliation with God and man. It is a constant reminder that man is in great need of continued cleansing from post-baptismal sins and stands in constant need of God's love and grace, which issue forth in forgiveness, justification, and sanctification. At the same time it is a reminder to treat our fellow believer the way Jesus treats us; to forgive and be reconciled so that a community of love, unity, and fellowship will be created and maintained that experiences and reflects the love of God. Thus, footwashing correctly understood and practiced will be the means to accomplish and/or greatly contribute to bring about that kind of community.

Subject Area

Foot washing (Rite)--Biblical teaching; Reconciliation--Religious aspects; Water--Biblical teaching

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


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