|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 20, 21. -
(1) He deflates his own position, negatively. Verse 20. - And he confessed, and denied not. Perhaps the double form of statement, or rather the introduction of the clause, "he denied not," before the repetition of the confession with its contents, was adopted to indicate that John might have been tempted to "deny" that he was not the Christ. If he had hesitated at all, he would have denied the real Christ, the Son of God, who had been revealed to him by special means. I for my part - very emphatic - am not the Christ. This implies, not only that the supposition over which they are brooding is unfounded, not only that he is not the Christ, but that he knows more, and that he knows another to be the Christ. If this reading of the text is correct, the Baptist, by his negative reply, gave to the priests more than they asked.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he confessed, and denied not,.... He freely, and without any reserve, declared, and in the plainest and strongest terms professed to the messengers before all the people, that he was not the Messiah; nor did he retract his confession, or draw in his words again, or drop any thing that looked doubtful or suspicious,
but confessed, I am not the Christ: he stood to it, and insisted on it, that he was not that illustrious person; nor had they any reason to entertain such an opinion of him; nor would he have them do so; they might assure themselves he was not Christ.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. confessed, &c.—that is, While many were ready to hail him as the Christ, he neither gave the slightest ground for such views, nor the least entertainment to them.
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