John 1:19
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Now this was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.

New Living Translation
This was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, "Who are you?"

English Standard Version
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

Berean Study Bible
And this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?"

Berean Literal Bible
And this is the testimony of John when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem, that they might ask him, "Who are you?"

New American Standard Bible
This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

King James Bible
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
This is John's testimony when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?"

International Standard Version
This was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and descendants of Levi to him from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

NET Bible
Now this was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

New Heart English Bible
And this is John's testimony, when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And this is the testimony of Yohannan when the Judaeans sent Levites and priests to him from Jerusalem in order to ask him: “Who are you?”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This was John's answer when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

New American Standard 1977
And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

King James 2000 Bible
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?

American King James Version
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?

American Standard Version
And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent unto him from Jerusalem priests and Levites to ask him, Who art thou?

Douay-Rheims Bible
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?

Darby Bible Translation
And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites that they might ask him, Thou, who art thou?

English Revised Version
And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent unto him from Jerusalem priests and Levites to ask him, Who art thou?

Webster's Bible Translation
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, Who art thou?

Weymouth New Testament
This also is John's testimony, when the Jews sent to him a deputation of Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him who he was.

World English Bible
This is John's testimony, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

Young's Literal Translation
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent out of Jerusalem priests and Levites, that they might question him, 'Who art thou?'
Study Bible
The Mission of John the Baptist
18No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. 19And this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He did not refuse to confess, but openly declared, “I am not the Christ.”…
Cross References
John 1:7
He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe.

John 2:18
On account of this, the Jews demanded, "What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do these things?"

John 2:20
"This temple took forty-six years to build," the Jews replied, "and You are going to raise it up in three days?"

John 5:10
so the Jews said to the man who was healed, "This is the Sabbath! It is unlawful for you to carry your mat."

John 5:15
And the man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

John 5:16
Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews began to persecute Him.

John 5:18
Because of this, the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 6:41
At this, the Jews began to grumble about Jesus because He had said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven."

John 6:52
At this, the Jews began to argue among themselves, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

John 7:1
After this, Jesus traveled throughout Galilee. He did not want to travel in Judea, because the Jews there were trying to kill Him.
Treasury of Scripture

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?

when.

John 5:33-36 You sent to John, and he bore witness to the truth…

Deuteronomy 17:9-11 And you shall come to the priests the Levites, and to the judge that …

Deuteronomy 24:8 Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that you observe diligently, …

Matthew 21:23-32 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders …

Luke 3:15-18 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their …

Who.

John 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said to him, How long do …

Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I …

Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, …

(19) The narrative is connected with the prologue by the record of John, which is common to both (John 1:15), and opens therefore with "And."

The Jews.--This term, originally applied to the members of the tribe of Judah, was extended after the Captivity to the whole nation of which that tribe was the chief part. Used by St. John more than seventy times, it is to be understood generally of the representatives of the nation, and of the inhabitants of Juda, and of these as opposed to the teaching and work of Christ. He was himself a Jew, but the true idea of Judaism had led him to the Messiah, and the old name is to him but as the husk that had been burst in the growth of life. It remains for them to whom the name was all, and who, trying to cramp life within rigid forms, had crushed out its power.

Priests and Levites.--The word "Levite" occurs only twice elsewhere in the New Testament--in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:32), and in the description of Joses (Acts 4:36). It is clear from such passages as 2Chronicles 17:7-9; 2Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 8:7, that part of the function of the Levites was to give instruction in the Law, and it is probable that the "scribes" were often identical with them. We have, then, here two divisions of the Sanhedrin, as we have two in the frequent phrase of the other Evangelists, "scribes," and "elders," the scribes (Levites) being common to both, and the three divisions being priests, Levites (scribes), and elders (notables). (Comp. John 1:24, and Note on Matthew 5:20.)

From Jerusalem is to be taken with "sent," not with "priests and Levites." Emphasis is laid upon the fact that the work of John had excited so much attention that the Sanhedrin sent from Jerusalem to make an official inquiry. The judgment of the case of a false prophet is specially named in the Mishna as belonging to the Council of the Seventy One. (Comp. Luke 13:33)

Verses 19-34. - 2. The testimony of the Baptist. Verse 19. - The historic narrative commences with the nineteenth verse of the chapter. The scene is laid after the ministry of John had reached its climax in the baptism of Jesus - an event presupposed and implied, but not described. John's ministry had produced the most amazing excitement among the people. They had flocked to his side and to his baptism, confessing their sins; they had heard his summons to repentance; they had trembled under his threats of judgment; they had received their appropriate message from the inspired seer. His prophetic indignation against their selfishness and greed, their formalism, and their boast of covenanted immunity from the consequences of moral fault, had roused conscience into preternatural activity. The wail of concern and the excitement of alarmed inquiry had as yet only secured from John the promise of another Teacher, of Another, mightier than he, whose fan was in his hand, who would test, divide, save, and punish. When the Christ came himself to this baptism, came confessing the sins of the whole world, came with awful holiness and yet infinite sympathy for the sorrows and perils of the people, to fulfil all righteousness, a new revelation was made to John. The voice from heaven, the symbol of the Holy Spirit which descended and abode upon him, brought John into a new world. He was as one dazed and bewildered by excess of light. The abundance of the revelations became a new test of his own mission, and a new explanation to him of what his purpose in the world had really been. The contrast between the ministry of John as detailed by the synoptists and the Fourth Gospel is explicable so soon as we observe that the latter takes up the career of John where the former had laid it down. Here, consequently, is a chapter in John's history concerning which the synoptists are silent. When the baptism of Jesus was accomplished, and the Spirit had led him away into the wilderness, John stood, much as Elisha might have done (in the very same region) when Elijah went heavenwards in a chariot of fire. But he proceeded to testify new and strange things about his kinsman. The effect of his ministry was, for the time, greatly augmented by the suspense and expectation of some rapidly approaching manifestation. In the midst of the excitement thus produced we learn from this verse: And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent (to him) from Jerusalem priests and Levites, that, etc. The copula "and" shows how the narrative roots itself in the prologue, and points back to the citation already made from John's words. In ver. 15 they were introduced apart from their historical connection as the summation of the highest and most fruitful mission of the Baptist. Now the precise antecedents which give to them special weight are set forth. "This" is the predicate of the sentence. The occasion referred to is when "the Jews" sent their deputation. The evangelist is accused of always using the term, "the Jews," in a sense that is hostile to them, and thus an argument has been framed against the authenticity of the Gospel. It is true that John uses this term far more frequently than the synoptists (Matthew five times, Mark seven times, Luke five times), for it is found more than seventy times in his Gospel; but it is not exclusively used in a depreciatory sense (see John 2:13; John 3:1; John 4:22; John 5:1; John 18:33). For the most part he uses the term (now denotative of the entire people, though formerly confined to the tribe of Judah) for the theocratic nation which had ceased, when he composed his Gospel, to have any political existence. More than this, in a vast number of texts he rises the term for the authoritative powers of the nation rather than of the people. According to the narrative of each of the Gospels, the theocratic people displayed, by its highest representatives and ruling powers, rancorous hatred and calculated antagonism to the Son of God. (See Introduction for proof that, notwithstanding this separation of the evangelist's mind from them, he must have been a Palestinian Jew himself.) The Jews, the ecclesiastical party, sent a deputation of priests and Levites from Jerusalem, which consisted, as we learn from the twenty-third verse, "of the Pharisees." They came to make a legitimate inquiry from the new prophet. There is no trace of malignity or antagonism in this act. They would learn from his own lips who he was, what character or functions he was sustaining. A similar deputation approached our Lord at a later period, when all their jealousy and hatred had been aroused. There was, however, no better way in which they could learn the facts of the case. The Sanhedrin, or great council of seventy-one members, the elders, high priests (including ex-high priests), and scribes, is variously described. There is no early trace anterior to the time of Antipater and Herod of this body as thus constituted, but it was doubtless formed upon the basis of the older institution of the seventy eiders (Numbers 11:16; Ezekiel 8:11),or of the γερουσία of the Books of Maccabees (1 Macc. 12:6; 2 Macc. 1:10). It is probable (Hengstenberg) that the Levites here mentioned by John represent those who in the other Gospels are described as "scribes," or students of the Law, belonging to the sacred tribe, though not to the family of Aaron. The absence of any reference to the Levites in Matthew and Mark (Luke 10:32; Acts 4:36), and the frequent occurrence of "scribes," make it probable that the profession of the Law was specially followed by the remnant of the tribe of Levi (but see Schurer, 'Jewish People in Time of Christ,' §§ 24, 25). The deputation came to receive and convey to those that sent them definite replies to certain questions. In Luke 3:15 there is said to have been a widespread impression that John the Baptist was supposed to be the Christ of their popular expectation. Such a portentous claim must be sifted by them without delay. They were sent that they should put the question to him; Who art thou? John's profession of a baptizer, and his implied teaching that "Pharisees and Sadducees," the covenanted, sacramental people, needed cleansing and admission by some sacred rite into a fellowship more holy than that of the theocratic nation itself, demanded, immediate examination; and they were justified by the letter of the Law in making the inquiry (Deuteronomy 18:21). And this is the record of John,.... The evangelist proceeds to give a large, and full account of the testimony John the Baptist bore to Christ, which he had hinted at before, and had signified was his work, and office, and the end of his being sent,

When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, who art thou? The Jews that sent were the great sanhedrim that sat at Jerusalem, whose business it was to inquire into, examine, and try prophets, whether true or false (p); and John appearing as a prophet, and being so esteemed by the people, they deputed messengers to him to interrogate him, and know who he was. The persons sent were very likely of their own body, since priests and Levites were in that council. For it is said (q),

"they do not constitute, or appoint in the sanhedrim but priests, Levites, and Israelites, who have their genealogies---and it is commanded, that there should be in the great sanhedrim priests and Levites, as it is said, Deuteronomy 17:9 "and thou shalt come unto the priests, the Levites", &c. and if they are not to be found, though they are all Israelites, (not of the tribe of Levi,) it is right.

Such a sanhedrim is a lawful one; but priests and Levites, if such could be found, that had proper qualifications, were to be admitted in the first place. A message from so august an assembly, at so great a distance, (for Jordan was a day's journey distant from Jerusalem (r); according to Josephus (s), it was 210 furlongs, or 26 miles and a quarter,) and by the hands of persons of such character and figure, was doing John a great deal of honour, and serves to make his testimony of Christ the more public and remarkable; and it also shows what a noise John's ministry and baptism made among the Jews, that it even reached Jerusalem, and the great council of the nation; and likewise the question put to him, which by John's answer seems to intimate as if it was thought he was the Messiah, shows the opinion that was entertained of him, and even the sanhedrim might not be without thoughts this way: and the question they put by their messengers might not be, as some have thought, to ensnare John, nor out of disrespect to Jesus, who, as yet, was not made manifest; but might be in good earnest, having, from many circumstances, reason to think there might be something in the people's opinion of him; since, though the government was not wholly departed from Judah, yet they could not but observe it was going away apace, an Idumean having been upon the throne for some years, placed there by the Roman senate; and now the government was divided among his sons by the same order; Daniel's weeks they could not but see were just accomplishing; and besides, from the uncommon appearance John made, the austerity of his life; the doctrine of remission of sins he preached, and the new ordinance of baptism he administered, they might be ready to conclude he was the person,

(p) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 5. (q) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 1, 2.((r) Misna Maaser Sheni, c. 5. sect. 2. Juchasin, fol. 65. 2. Jarchi in Isaiah 24.16. (s) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 4. Joh 1:19-36. The Baptist's Testimony to Christ.

19. record—testimony.

the Jews—that is, the heads of the nation, the members of the Sanhedrim. In this peculiar sense our Evangelist seems always to use the term.1:19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was now expected and waited for. He came in the spirit and power of Elias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not that Prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of their brethren, like unto him. He was not such a prophet as they expected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such an account of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearken to him. He baptized the people with water as a profession of repentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings to be conferred on them by the Messiah, who was in the midst of them, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy to render the meanest service.
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