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Foot Washing

(Lat. pedilavium; called mandatum by RCs, from mandatum novum [Lat. “a new commandment”], Jn 13:34). In Bible times it was a required courtesy to give a guest water to wash his dusty feet (Gn 18:4; Lk 7:44); to wash the feet of others was servants' work (1 Sm 25:41). Foot washing was invested with spiritual meaning by Christ when He washed the feet of His disciples (Jn 13:4–20). This act of Jesus led to development of a ceremony in the ancient ch. (1 Ti 5:10; MPL 33, 220). It is mentioned as a liturgical rite by the 694 Syn. of Toledo. By the 11th c. the custom had come to Rome.

The ceremony is preserved in RC and E Orthodox chs., performed on Maundy Thursday by bp. on 12 or 13 poor or in monasteries by abbot on monks accompanied by singing of antiphons from Jn 13. See also Church Year, 8.

Luther held that the physical washing is unimportant and that the original act is repeated in our acts of humility, kindness, love, and service toward fellowmen (WA 52, 216–226). Anabaps. (esp. Mennonites) and early Angl. Ch. practiced it. Called “kleine Taufe” by Brethren.*

Foot washing is practiced by some Baps. (e.g., Regular Baps.), some Holiness chs. (e.g., the Ch. of the Living God), Gen. Eldership of the Chs. of God in N. Am., and others. By some (e.g., Amana Ch. Soc.) it was observed in connection with the Lord's Supper. EL

See also Adventist Bodies, 4.


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod


Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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