|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:6-14 John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men's minds, than that when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not. When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them. All the children of God are born again. This new birth is through the word of God as the means, 1Pe 1:23, and by the Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But now that the fulness of time was come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the things he was to reveal.
Verse 11. - It is not without interest that the ideas contained in these verses did not need a second century to evolve them; they were current in Paul's letters, a hundred years before the date assigned by some to this Gospel. Here the question arises - Has no more direct approach been made to our race than that which is common to every man? Undoubtedly the whole theocratic dispensation would be ignored if this were not the case - and consequently the evangelist continues the recital of the peculiarities and specialties of the approach of the Logos to the human understanding. He came unto his own possession (εἰς τὰ ἴδια). Here all expositors agree to see the special manifestation of the Logos to the house of Israel, which is called in numerous passages of the Old Testament, God's own possession (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 135:4; Isaiah 31:9). And his own (people) received him not (παρέλαβον; cf. κατέλαβεν of ver. 4, and ἔγνω of ver. 10). Here, again, the most astonishing, direct and prominent illustration of such a statement is seen in the historic ministry of the Lord Jesus, in the terrible record of his rejection by his own people, by his own disciples, by the theocratic chiefs, by the assembled Sanhedrin, by the very populace to whom Pilate appealed to save him from murderous fury. But the significance of the prologue is to my mind missed, if the earlier agelong rejection of the ministry, and light of the Logos, nay, the perpetual and awful treatment which he continually receives from "his own possession," be not perceived. There was a Divine and special sense in which the perpetual coming of the Logos to the world was emphasized by his gracious self-manifestations to the people of Israel. The great Name of Jehovah, the Angel of the presence, the manifestations to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Elijah, to Isaiah, and Ezekiel; the Shechinah glories, the whole ministry of grace to the house of Israel, was a perpetual coming to his own peculiar possession; but yet the sum total of their history is a continuous repudiation and lapse. They rejected the Lord, they fell in the wilderness, they were turned unto other gods, they went a-whoring after their own inventions. They knew not that God had healed them. The great things of his Law were accounted strange things to them (compare Stephen's apology for an elaborate exposition of this thought). The same kind of treatment has continually been given by the world, and even by those who have boasted of standing in the special lines of his grace. This suggestion cannot he fully expanded here. Chrysostom in loco calls much attention to the argument of the Epistle to Romans (Romans 2:12; Romans 9:30, 32; Romans 10:3, 12).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He came unto his own,.... Not all the world, who are his own by right of creation; for these, his own, are opposed to the world, and distinguished from them; and his coming to them designs some particular favour, which is not vouchsafed to all: nor yet are the elect of God intended; though they are Christ's own, in a very special sense; they are his by his own choice, by his Father's gift, by his own purchase, and through the conquest of his grace, and are the objects of his special love; and for their sake he came in the flesh, and to them he comes in a spiritual way, and to them will he appear a second time at the last day unto salvation: but they cannot be meant, because when he comes to them they receive him; whereas these did not, as the next clause affirms: but by his own are meant the whole body of the Jewish nation; so called, because they were chosen by the Lord above all people; had distinguishing favours bestowed upon them, as the adoption, the covenants, the promises, the giving of the law, and the service of God; and had the Shekinah, and the symbol of the divine presence in a remarkable manner among them; and the promise of the Messiah was in a particular manner made to them; and indeed, he was to be born of them, so that they were his kindred, his people, and his own nation: and this his coming to them is to be understood not of his incarnation; though when he came in the flesh, as he came of them, so he came to them, particularly being sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and was rejected by them as the Messiah; yet his incarnation is afterwards spoken of in John 1:14 as a new and distinct thing from this; and to understand it of some coming of his before his incarnation, best suits with the context, and the design of the evangelist. Now Christ, the word, came to the Jews before his incarnation, not only in types, personal and real, and in promises and prophecies, and in the word and ordinances, but in person; as to Moses in the bush, and gave orders to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt: he came and redeemed them himself with a mighty hand, and a outstretched arm; in his love and pity he led them through the Red Sea as on dry ground; and through the wilderness in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; and he appeared to them at Mount Sinai, who gave unto them the lively oracles of God:
and his own received him not; they did not believe in him, nor obey his voice; they rebelled against him, and tempted him often, particularly at Massah and Meribah; they provoked trim to anger, and vexed, and grieved his holy Spirit, as they afterwards slighted and despised his Gospel by the prophets. Of this nonreception of the word by the Jews, and their punishment for it, the Targumist on Hosea 9:17 thus speaks:
"my God will remove them far away, because, , "they receive not his word"; and they shall wander among the people.
And so they treated this same "Logos", or word of God, when he was made flesh, and dwelt among them. Somewhat remarkable is the following discourse of some Jews among themselves (e):
"when the word of God comes, who is his messenger, we shall honour him. Says R. Saul, did not the prophets come, and we slew them, and shed their blood? (compare this with Matthew 23:30.) how therefore now, , "shall we receive his word?" or wherefore shall we believe? Says R. Samuel, the Levite, to him, because he will heal them, and deliver them from their destructions; and because of these signs we shall believe him, and honour him.
But they did not,
(e) Ben Arama in Genesis 47.4. apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. Ver. l. 3. c. 5,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. his own—"His own" (property or possession), for the word is in the neuter gender. It means His own land, city, temple, Messianic rights and possessions.
and his own—"His own (people)"; for now the word is masculine. It means the Jews, as the "peculiar people." Both they and their land, with all that this included, were "His own," not so much as part of "the world which was made by Him," but as "THE HEIR" of the inheritance (Lu 20:14; see also on Mt 22:1).
received him not—nationally, as God's chosen witnesses.
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