The word "washed" in the verse should be translated "bathed." "He that is bathed needeth but to wash his feet." The Orientals bathe first thing in the morning.
As a convert to Christianity from Hinduism, Bishop K.C. Pillai came to the Western world on a singular mission: to teach the Eastern culture of the Bible. Although Christianity is generally considered a western religion, the Bible itself was written and set in the Orient, and it must be viewed through the light of that eastern window. The Bible is filled with passages that perplex the Western mind, and yet they were readily understood by the Easterner. When the reader becomes knowledgeable of the oriental idioms, customs, and traditions of the Biblical setting, these Scriptures become clear. God called Bishop K.C. Pillai to reveal these Biblical truths he called Orientalisms. At the time of the Bishop’s early life, his native India had remained an isolated country for thousands of years. Therefore, the customs and manners of the people were still aligned with the Eastern, Biblical culture. For over twenty years, Bishop Pillai taught these Orientalisms, bringing great enlightenment to the Christian world. His crusade of imparting this light of the Eastern Culture carried him to numerous universities and seminaries, as well as every major denomination throughout the United States, England and Canada. Still today, his teachings remain the foremost authority on the rare gems of Biblical customs and culture. Bishop K.C. Pillai’s conversion to Christianity is a witness of God’s heart, as well as a lesson in one of the most significant Eastern customs found in the Bible. The Bishop was raised as a Hindu. When a Hindu child of the ruling class is born, a little salt is rubbed on the baby who is then wrapped in swaddling cloth. This custom invoked one of the oldest and strongest covenants in the Eastern world, the “salt covenant.” In this particular instance, the child was salted for a lifetime of dedication to the Hindu religion. The “salt covenant” is used in like manner throughout the Bible to seal the deepest commitment. As a result of the salt covenant it is difficult for Hindus to convert to Christianity. When they do, their family actually conducts a funeral service to symbolize that the individual is dead to their family, the community and Hinduism. Their family will carry a portrait of the “deceased” to the cemetery and bury it. Many times Bishop spoke of his “burial day” when he was disinherited by becoming a Christian; the only Hindu willing to break that covenant of salt in his community during that time. K.C. Pillai answered God’s call and served as Bishop of North Madras in the Indian Orthodox Church. Sent on a special mission to the United States, he spent the last twenty years of his life acquainting Christians with the Orientalisms of the Bible. The interest Bishop Pillai generated in the field has led to numerous further studies by other scholars in the field of manners and customs in the Bible, as well. His books and teachings continue to illuminate and inspire students of the Bible throughout the world. A solid understanding of Orientalisms is essential to “rightly dividing” the Word of truth, and Bishop K.C. Pillai’s works remain an indispensable reference.
"He that is washed needeth but to wash his feet"
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needed not save to wash his feet,
but is clean every wit: and ye are clean, but not all.
This teaching on the part of the Master is far more than that which just meets the eye of the casual reader. The Bible being an Eastern book, written by Eastern men of God, perhaps we from the East find it somewhat easier to apprehend at places. To us the teaching here is very clear. So much error in biblical interpretation comes from taking literal what is figurative or vice versa. Figures of speech in the Word are used for EMPHASIS. The word "washed" in the verse should be translated "bathed." "He that is bathed needeth but to wash his feet." The Orientals bathe first thing in the morning. We do not sit in a tub with the dirt from our bodies, taking a bath, but we stand and pour clean water over our heads and shoulders allowing it to run down our bodies and thus wash away the dirt. Immediately after our morning bath we have our prayers and then our breakfast. Only after this do we go out about our daily tasks. Naturally as we walk in the streets our feet get dusty for we wear sandals, so when we return home we take off our sandals and wash our feet before entering the house. We don't bathe all over again, we simply wash our feet. If we go out ten times and come in ten times, all ten times we wash our feet, but we bathe only once and that is in the morning. Here in this word we believe that Jesus Christ is setting for the great truth of remission of sins and forgiveness of sins. He that is saved does not need to be saved all over again, but he simply needs his sins forgiven. "He that is bathed" the one who is saved has received remission of sins. His sins have been washed away.
One day's activity is typical of one life time. As we bathe just once a day so in one lifetime we are saved and receive remission of sins, just once when we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But as often as we go out, break fellowship with our Father, we need forgiveness of sins. "He that is bathed needed but to wash his feet." He has walked in sin and gotten dirty, therefore, he needs to "wash" (forgiveness of sins) his feet and when he who has walked in sin confesses his sin, Jesus Christ is faithful and just to forgive him of all sin and cleanse him of all unrighteousness, thus the sinner "is clean every whit."
Bishop K.C. Pillai, D.D.