John 1:34
And I saw, and bore record that this is the Son of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(34) And I saw and bare record.—Better, and I have seen and have borne witness, as in John 1:32. The result of personal conviction was, that he forthwith testified to others, and continued to do so until the present. One of the sayings taught to his scholars was, “He was (existed) before me.” The revelation of the baptism and the voice heard from heaven (Matthew 3:17) has given to this its true meaning. Teacher has now learnt, and learner is now taught, that Jesus is this pre-existent Being, the Messiah, the Son of God.

1:29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the Lamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of its blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all the other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvation of sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every morning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a sacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as a preacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they were to look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his death. It agrees with God's glory to pardon all who depend on the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe the gospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but here is a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus taking away sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of God came to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ, John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is the Son of God. This is the end and object of John's testimony, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity that offered to lead people to Christ.The same said ... - This was the sign by which he was to know the Messiah. He was to see the Spirit descending like a dove and abiding on him. It does not follow, however, that he had no intimation before this that Jesus was the Christ, but it means that by this he should know it infallibly. From Matthew 3:13-14, it seems that John supposed, before the baptism of Jesus, that he claimed to be the Messiah, and, that he believed it; but the infallible, certain testimony in the case was the descent of the Holy Spirit on him at his baptism.

That this is the Son of God - This was distinctly declared by a voice from heaven at his baptism, Matthew 3:17. This John heard, and he testified that he had heard it.

31-34. knew him not—Living mostly apart, the one at Nazareth, the other in the Judean desert—to prevent all appearance of collusion, John only knew that at a definite time after his own call, his Master would show Himself. As He drew near for baptism one day, the last of all the crowd, the spirit of the Baptist heaving under a divine presentiment that the moment had at length arrived, and an air of unwonted serenity and dignity, not without traits, probably, of the family features, appearing in this Stranger, the Spirit said to him as to Samuel of his youthful type, "Arise, anoint Him, for this is He!" (1Sa 16:12). But the sign which he was told to expect was the visible descent of the Spirit upon Him as He emerged out of the baptismal water. Then, catching up the voice from heaven, "he saw and bare record that this is the Son of God." But when I saw that, I could not but believe, and also bear an open testimony to the world, that this man was not mere man, but the eternal Son of that God, who sent me to baptize with water; reserving still to himself the Divine power of blessing that holy sacrament, and conferring the Holy Ghost in regenerating habits, working like fire, in purging away the dross of souls, and like water, washing away the filth of sin, Matthew 3:11 John 3:5. And I saw,.... The Spirit descending from heaven as a dove, and lighting upon Jesus, and remaining some time on him; this he saw with his bodily eyes:

and bore record; at the same time, before all the people that were with him, when he baptized Jesus:

that this is the Son of God; the natural, essential, and eternal Son of God; who being sent in the fulness of time, had assumed an human nature, in which he became subject to all ordinances, and had the Spirit without measure bestowed on him; and which was an evidence who he was, and of what he came about.

And I saw, and bare record that this is {r} the Son of God.

(r) This word the points out to us some excellent thing, and makes a distinction between Christ and others, whom Moses and the prophets commonly call the sons of the most High.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 1:34. A still more distinct and emphatic conclusion of what John had to adduce from John 1:31 onwards, in explanation of the οὗτός ἐστιν mentioned in John 1:30.

κἀγώ] and I on my part, answering triumphantly to the double κἀγώ in John 1:31; John 1:33.

ἑώρακα] i.e. as the divine declaration in John 1:33 had promised (ἴδῃς). This having seen is to the speaker, as he makes the declaration, an accomplished fact. Hence the Perfect, like τεθέαμαι in John 1:32. Nor can the μεμαρτύρηκα be differently understood unless by some arbitrary rendering; it does not mean: “I shall have borne witness” (De Wette, Tholuck, Maier), as the aorist is used in the classics (see on John 6:36); or, “I have borne witness, and do so still” (Grotius, Lücke), or “testis sum factus” (Bengel, comp. Bernhardy, p. 378 ff.); but, I have borne witness, that is, since I saw that sight; so that, accordingly, John, immediately after the baptism of Jesus, uttered the testimony which he here refers to as an accomplished fact, and by referring to which he ratifies and confirms what he now has testified (John 1:30). Comp. also Winer, p. 256 [E. T. p. 341].

ὅτι οὗτος, κ.τ.λ.] the subject-matter of the μεμαρτ.

ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ] the Messiah, whose divine Sonship, however, had already been apprehended by the Baptist in the metaphysical sense (against Beyschlag, p. 67), agreeably to the testimony borne to His pre-existence in John 1:30; John 1:15 : ὅττι θεοῦ γόνος οὗτος, ἀειζώοιο τοκῆος, Nonnus. The heavenly voice in Matthew 3:17, in the synoptic account of the baptism, corresponds to this testimony. All the less on this account are the statements of the Baptist concerning Jesus to be regarded as unhistorical, and only as an echo of the position assigned to the former in the Prologue (Weizsäcker). The position of the Baptist in the Prologue is the result of the history itself. That the meaning attaching to υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ in the fourth Gospel generally is quite different from that which it has in the Synoptics (Baur), is a view which the passages Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:19, should have prevented from being entertained.

Note.

On John 1:32-34 we may observe in general: (1.) The λόγος and the πνεῦμα ἁγιον are not to be regarded as identical in John’s view (against Baur, bibl. Theol. d. N. T. II. 268; J. E. Chr. Schmidt, in d. Bibl. f. Krit. u. Exeg. I. 3, p. 361 ff.; Eichhorn, Einl. II. 158 ff.; Winzer, Progr., Lps. 1819), against which the ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο in John 1:14 is itself conclusive, in view of which the πνεῦμα in our passage appears as an hypostasis distinct from the λόγος, an hypostasis of which the σὰρξ ἐγένετο could not have been predicated. The λόγος was the substratum of the divine side in Christ, which having become incarnate, entered upon a human development, in which the divine-human subject needed the power and incitement of the πνεῦμα. (2.) He was of necessity under this influence of the Spirit from the very outset of the development of His divine-human consciousness (comp. Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52, and the visit when twelve years old to the temple), and long before the moment of His baptism, so that the πνεῦμα was the awakening and mediating principle of the consciousness which Jesus possessed of His oneness with God; see on John 10:36. Accordingly, we are not to suppose that the Holy Ghost was given to Him now for the first time, and was added consciously to His divine-human life as a new and third element; the text speaks not of a receiving, but of a manifestation of the Spirit, as seen by John, which in this form visibly came down and remained over Him, in order to point Him out to the Baptist as the Messiah who, according to O. T. prophecy (Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1), was to possess the fulness of the Spirit. The purpose of this divine σημεῖον was not, therefore (as Matthew and Mark indeed represent it), to impart the Spirit to Jesus (which is not implied even in John 3:34), but simply for the sake of the Baptist, to divinely indicate to him who was to make Him known in Israel, that individuality who, as the incarnate Logos, must long before then have possessed the powers of the Spirit in all their fulness (comp. John 3:34). The πνεῦμα in the symbolic form of a dove hovered over Jesus, remained over Him for a while, and then again vanished (comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 150). This the Baptist saw; and he now knows, through a previously received revelation made to him for the purpose who it is that he has to make known as the Messiah who baptizes with the Spirit. To find in this passage a special stimulus imparted through the Spirit to Jesus Himself, and perceived by the Baptist, tending to the development or opening up of His divine—human consciousness and life (Lücke, Neander, Tholuck, Osiander, Ebrard, De Wette, Riggenbach, and others; comp. Lange, and Beyschlag, p. 103), or the equipment of the Logos for a coming forth out of a state of immanence (Frommann), or the communication of official power (Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 374; comp. Wörner, Verhältn. d. Geistes, p. 44), as the principle of which the Spirit was now given in order to render the σάρξ fit to become the instrument of His self-manifestation (Luthardt, after Kahnis, vom heiligen Geiste, p. 44; comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 191, II. 1, 166; Godet; and Weisse, Lehrbegr. p. 268, who connects with John 1:51),—as in a similar way B. Crusius already explained the communication of the Spirit as if the πνεῦμα (in distinction from the λόγος) were now received by Jesus, as that which was to be further communicated to mankind;—these and all such theories find no justification from our Gospel at least, which simply records a manifestation made to the Baptist, not a communication to Jesus; and to it must be accorded decisive weight when brought face to face with those other diverging accounts. Thus, at the same time, this whole manifestation must not be regarded as an empty, objectless play of the imagination (Lücke): it was an objective and real σημεῖον divinely presented to the Baptist’s spiritual vision, the design of which (ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραήλ, John 1:31, that is, through the Baptist’s testimony) was sufficiently important as the γνώρισμα of the Messiah (Justin. c. Tryph. 88), and the result of which (John 1:34) corresponded to its design; whereas, upon the supposition that we have here a record of the receiving of the Spirit, there is imported into the exposition something quite foreign to the text. If this supposition be surrendered, then the opinion loses all support that the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism is a mythical inference of Ebionitism (Strauss), as well as the assertion that here too our Gospel stands upon the boundary line of Gnosticism (Baur); while the boldness of view which goes still further, and (in the face of the βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ) takes the πνεῦμα to be, not the Holy Spirit, but the Logos (in spite of John 1:14), which as a heavenly Aeon was for the first time united at the baptism with Jesus the earthly man (so Hilgenfeld, following the Valentinian Gnosis), does not even retain its claim to be considered a later historical analogy. There remains, however, in any case, the great fact of which the Baptist witnesses—“the true birth-hour of Christendom” (Ewald): for, on the one hand, the divinely sent forerunner of the Messiah now received the divinely revealed certainty as to whom his work as Elias pointed; and, on the other hand, by the divinely assured testimony which he now bore to Jesus before the people, the Messianic consciousness of Jesus Himself received not only the consecration of a heavenly ratification, but the warrant of the Father’s will, that now the hour was come for the holy ἀρχή of His ministry in word and work. It was not that now for the first time the Messiah’s resolve was formed; rather was it the entrance (comp. Acts 13:23) upon His great work, the commencement of its realization, which was the great event in the world’s history that marked this hour, when the fulness of time was come for the accomplishment of the counsel of God.John 1:34. κἀγὼ ἑώρακαὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. “And I have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The Synoptists tell us that a voice was heard at the baptism declaring “this is my beloved Son”; and in the Temptation Satan uses the title. Nathanael at the very beginning of the ministry, and the demoniacs very little later, use the same designation. This was in a rigidly monotheistic community and in a community in which the same title had been applied to the king, to designate a certain alliance and close relation between the human representative and the Divine Sovereign. Whether the Baptist in his peculiar circumstances had begun to suspect that a fuller meaning attached to the title, we do not know. Unquestionably the Baptist must have found his ideas of the Messianic office expanding under the influence of intercourse with Jesus, and must more than ever have seen that this was a unique title setting Jesus apart from all other men. The basis of the application of the title to the Messiah is to be found in 2 Samuel 7:14, “I will be to him a Father and he will be to me a Son”. In the second and eighty-ninth Psalms the term is seen passing into a Messianic sense, and that it should appear in the N.T. as a title of the Messiah is inevitable.34. And I saw, and bare record] Better, And I have seen and have borne witness. ‘I have seen’ is in joyous contrast to ‘I knew Him not,’ John 1:31; John 1:33. ‘Have borne witness’ is the same verb as in John 1:7-8; John 1:32 : hence ‘witness’ is preferable to ‘record’ both here and in John 1:32.

the Son of God] The Messiah. This declaration of the Baptist agrees with and confirms the account of the voice from heaven (Matthew 3:17).

These verses, 32–34, prove that S. John does not, as Philo does, identify the Logos with the Spirit.John 1:34. Ἑώρακα) I saw the Spirit descending.—καὶ) and thence [in consequence].—μεμαρτύρηκα) I became a witness [I bare record].—ὁ Ὑιὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, the Son of God) And so the Messiah. The reference is to that which is stated: Matthew 3:7. [Namely, how Jesus in His baptism, teas proclaimed the Son of GOD, and in His temptation asserted Himself to be the Son of GOD: thus this very truth, that He is the Son of GOD, is explained more at length in the first verses. Also these verses have a fitting place here, as intended to designate that Person, of whom John the Baptist bare record, by the mission divinely entrusted to him. The events which precede the entrance (the coming forward) of John the Baptist, namely, the nativity and baptism of Christ, etc., these the Evangelist has most dexterously interwoven with the rest.—Harm., p. 154.]Verse 34. - I for my part have seen and have borne testimony that this is the Son of God. The Old Testament standpoint which John occupied enabled him from the first to identify the Messiah with the "Son of God;" but surely this is the record of the first occasion when the Baptist recognized the token that One who sustained such relation with the Father stood before him. There is much in this Gospel and the synoptic narrative to show that the disciples (Matthew 16:16, 17) identified the Christ with the Son of God. The tempter and the demoniacs are familiar with the idea (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7). The high priest at the trial and the Roman centurion (Matthew 26:63; Matthew 27:40; Mark 14:61), Nathanael (John 1:49), Martha (John 11:27), hail him as Son of God. Though the Lord for the most part preferred to speak of himself as "Son of man," yet in this Gospel (John 5:19-23; John 6:40; John 10:36) he frequently claims this lofty designation. Nor is it confined to this Gospel, for in Matthew 11:25-27, we have practically the same confession. Now, the declaration of this verse is in intimate connection with what precedes. Neither the Baptist nor the evangelist implies that, by Christ's baptism, and by that which John saw of the descent and abiding of the Spirit upon the Lord, he was there and then constituted "the Son of God." From this misapprehension of the Gospel arose the Gnostic-Ebionite view of the heavenly Soter descending on Christ, to depart from him at the Crucifixion. The main significance of the entire paragraph is the special revelation given to John, his consequent illumination and momentous testimony, one that sank into the soul of his most susceptible disciples, and thus made this declaration the "true birth hour of Christendom" (Ewald, Meyer). The narrative does not imply that Christ's own consciousness of Divine sonship then commenced. He knew who he was when he spoke, at twelve years of age, of "the business of my Father;" but it would be equally inadequate exegesis to suppose that no communication was then made to the sacred humanity which had been fashioned by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, and by which he became from the first "the Son of God." The Lord's humanity did become alive to the solemn and awful responsibilities of this public recognition. He knew that the hour was come for his Messianic activity, and the distinct admission of this was the basis of each of the diabolic temptations from which he immediately suffered. There was a unique glory in this sonship which differed from all other usage of the same phrase. Many an Oriental mystic and Egyptian pharaoh and even Roman emperor had thus described themselves; but the Baptist did not speak of himself in this or any other sense as "Son of God." There was flashed into his mind the light of a Divine relationship between Jesus and the Father which convinced him of the preexisting life of him who was chronologically coming after him. It was probably this momentous utterance which led to the deputation of the Sanhedrin, and induced them to ask for the explanation of a mystery transcending all that John had said from the day of his showing unto Israel" (see my 'John the Baptist,' lect. 6. § 1). Many commentators here encounter the unquestionable difficulty of John the Baptist's message from the prison. I prefer to discuss it at the close of ch. 3. (see my 'John the Baptist,' lect. 7: "The Ministry of the Prison"). Here it is sufficient to observe that the vivid intuition and revelation which John obtained touching the deep things of God in Christ, and the vast and far-reaching testimonies which he bore to the Son of God, to the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, the pre-existent glory of him that came after him, and to "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," were, nevertheless, in the evangelist's mind historically coincident with the fact that John never did unite himself to the circle of Christ's immediate followers. The "John" of the Fourth Gospel remained in an independent position - friendly, rejoicing in the Bridegroom's voice, but not one of his followers. The preparatory work with which he began his ministry he continued and pursued to the tragic end. I saw (ἑώρακα)

Rev., more strictly, according to the perfect tense, I have seen. See on John 1:32, and note the different verb for seeing, on which see on John 1:18.

Bare record (μεμαρτύρηκα)

Rev., have born witness. Also the perfect tense.

The Son of God

This is the proper reading, but one very important manuscript reads ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς, the chosen. By the phrase John means the Messiah. It has the same sense as in the Synoptic Gospels. Compare Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:19. For the sense in which it was understood by the Jews of Christ's day, see John 5:18, John 5:19; John 10:29, John 10:30-36. The phrase occurs in the Old Testament only in Daniel 3:25. Compare Psalm 2:12. On υἱὸς, son, as distinguished from τέκνον, child, see on John 1:12.

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