Foot washing

Foot washing or washing of feet is a religious rite observed as an ordinance by several Christian denominations. The name, and even the spelling, of this practice is not consistently established, being variously known as "foot washing", "washing the saints' feet", "pedilavium", and "mandatum".

The foot-washing was an example, a pattern. Many groups throughout church history have practiced literal foot washing as a church ordinance. However, present culture in many lands does not call for the need to wash dust from the feet of one's guests. The Bible does not record foot washing being practised by the early church, but it would be assumed that they would have performed this ordinance, as they performed the other ordinances instituted by Jesus, including The Lord's Supper.


The root of this practice appears to be found in the hospitality customs of ancient civilizations, especially where sandals were the chief footwear. A host would provide water for guests to wash their feet, serve the guests by washing their feet, or even provide a servant to wash the feet of the guests. This is mentioned in several places in the Old Testament of the Bible (e.g. Genesis ; :

"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

Washing the saints' feet is also mentioned in I Timothy )


*Historical and Informational
**"Appalachian Mountain Religion: a History", by Deborah Vansau McCauley (ISBN 0-252-06414-3)
**"Catholic Encyclopedia", Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Condé B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan, and John J. Wynne, editors
**"Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity", Tim Dowley, et al., editors
**"Encyclopedia of Religion in the South", Samuel S. Hill, editor
**"Foxfire 7", Paul F. Gillespie, editor
**"Manners and Customs of Bible Lands", by Fred H. Wight
**"Mennonite Encyclopedia (Vol. 2)", Cornelius J. Dyck, Dennis D. Martin, et al., editors
*Historical and Theological (con)
**"Footwashing by the Master and by the Saints", by Elam J. Daniels
**"Manual of Church Order (ch. 6)", by J. L. Dagg
*Historical and Theological (pro)
**"The Washing of the Saints' Feet", by J. Matthew Pinson (Randall House, 2006, ISBN 0-89265-522-4)
**"A Free Will Baptist Handbook: Heritage, Beliefs, and Ministries", by J. Matthew Pinson
**"Baptist Doctrine: the Doctrine of Foot Washing", by R. L. Vaughn
**"Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community", by John Christopher Thomas
**"Washing the Saints' Feet shown to be an Ordinance of Christ", by Joseph Sorsby

*see also entries such as "" in the

External links

* [ Anabaptists and Footwashing] - a series of articles on history and current practice among Mennonites, Grace Brethren and Church of the Brethren.
*1913CE|Washing of Feet and Hands
* [ Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online - Feetwashing]
* [ Footwashing as an act of building community] - a Brethren viewpoint
* [ How to conduct a foot-washing service] - a liturgical viewpoint
* [ Footwashing as a Means of Grace] (a United Methodist approach) by Gregory S. Neal
* [ Mennonite Confession of Faith - Article 13 - Foot Washing]
* [ Washing of the Feet : Hidden Significance of the Gnostic story in the Fourth Gospel]
* [ Primitive Baptist FAQ: Feet Washing]
* [ The Ordinance of Feet Washing] - a Churches of God General Conference (Winebrenner) viewpoint
* [ The Footwashing Ritual and the Sacrament of Holy Orders: A New Look at John 13] - a Catholic viewpoint of the import of footwashing as relates to the sacrament of Holy Orders.
* [ of Feet on Maundy Thursday] Armenian Apostolic Church
* [ The Doctrinal Debate - Feet-Washing: Literal Practice of the Church?]
* [ Gaining a Dose Of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time] article from "The Washington Post", April 2, 2006

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