John 3:27
Parallel Verses
New International Version
To this John replied, "A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

New Living Translation
John replied, "No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.

English Standard Version
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

New American Standard Bible
John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

King James Bible
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
John responded, "No one can receive a single thing unless it's given to him from heaven.

International Standard Version
John replied, "No one can receive anything unless it has been given to them from heaven.

NET Bible
John replied, "No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Yohannan answered and said to them: “A man cannot receive anything of his own will unless it is given to him from Heaven.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
John answered, "People can't receive anything unless it has been given to them from heaven.

Jubilee Bible 2000
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing except it is given him from the heaven.

King James 2000 Bible
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

American King James Version
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

American Standard Version
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven.

Douay-Rheims Bible
John answered, and said: A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from heaven.

Darby Bible Translation
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it be given him out of heaven.

English Revised Version
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven.

Webster's Bible Translation
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

Weymouth New Testament
"A man cannot obtain anything," replied John, "unless it has been granted to him from Heaven.

World English Bible
John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.

Young's Literal Translation
John answered and said, 'A man is not able to receive anything, if it may not have been given him from the heaven;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:22-36 John was fully satisfied with the place and work assigned him; but Jesus came on a more important work. He also knew that Jesus would increase in honour and influence, for of his government and peace there would be no end, while he himself would be less followed. John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God, while he was a sinful, mortal man, who could only speak about the more plain subjects of religion. The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness. Everlasting life could only be had by faith in Him, and might be thus obtained; whereas all those, who believe not in the Son of God, cannot partake of salvation, but the wrath of God for ever rests upon them.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 27-32. -

(2) The earthly and heavenly commission. Verse 27. - John answered and said, A man can receive nothing - neither office, function, faculty, nor life work, in the kingdom of God - except it has been given him from heaven. The raying is broad, general, comprehensive, sustaining. It is not the glorification of success, but an explanation of the ground of high service. All good service, all high faculty, all holy mission, all sacred duty, are assigned to us by Heaven. "No man taketh this honour unto himself, unless he be called of God." Commentators have ranged themselves into three groups as to the primary application of the words.

(1) Those who have limited the mental reference to John himself. "My function is, as I am about to explain, a subordinate one," "I have received that and nothing else from heaven." "I cannot make myself into the Bridegroom of the Church, or the Light of the world, or the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost." "I have received that only which is given and assigned to me by God." (So Bengel, Calvin, Hengstenberg, and at one time Godet.)

(2) Those who regard it as being a distinct reference to Christ, and as a vindication of Jesus from the complaint of John's own disciples. The high activity and present position of Jesus is declared by John to have been conferred on Christ "from heaven." He would not, could not, have taken it upon himself apart from the Divine order. (So Godet, Meyer, Watkins, Thorns.)

(3) Those who refer it to both "John and Jesus;" i.e. accept it as the general principle, applicable with equal force to them both. Intense man that he was. John felt justified in referring the entire function and mission of both the Christ and his forerunner to the will, predestination, and bestowment of Heaven. (So Wettstein, Lunge, Luthardt, Lucke, Westcott, Geikie, Moulton.) This is surely the most obvious and rational interpretation. Perhaps "heaven" is not exactly identical with "God," but may point to the whole of the providential circumstances, to the Divine resources, to the inheritance of effects from more remote antecedents in the Divine will; but it is difficult to press this distinction in all cases.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

John answered and said,.... The Syriac and Arabic versions add, "to them"; the answer being made to the disciples of John, who came to him with their complaint:

a man can receive nothing; the Syriac and Persic versions add, "of his own will": some understand this of Christ, as man, who did not take upon him the character of the Messiah, nor the office of a Mediator, nor the honour of it of himself; and who received the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, without measure, and had his success in his work from above: and indeed, it is true of both Christ, and John; for as Christ, so John received his office, and honour, as the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, and all his gifts qualifying for it, and his success in it, not of himself, but of God: and since therefore the superior office, and honour, and usefulness of the one above the other, were according to the sovereign will of God, there was no room for complaint, murmuring, and envy; but there ought to be contentment and pleasure in the wise disposition of things by God. Yea, this is true of every man, who has nothing of his own; and whatever he has in nature, providence and grace, is a gift to him; and all he enjoys is in a way of receiving: nor can he receive it,

except it be given him from heaven; from God who dwells there; See Gill on Matthew 21:25; who is the author and donor of every gift, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; particularly he cannot perceive, and discern spiritual things, nor receive Gospel truths; as it appeared to John his disciples could not, unless spiritual light is given from above; and such a favour is bestowed, as to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: and therefore, for every office, whether of a superior, or inferior kind, and for every degree of honour, and for whatsoever blessing and gift, whether for soul or body, for time, or for eternity, men ought to be thankful, and not glory in them, as though they had not received them; nor is there any reason to murmur against God, or envy one another, as these disciples did.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

27-30. A man, &c.—"I do my heaven-prescribed work, and that is enough for me. Would you have me mount into my Master's place? Said I not unto you, I am not the Christ? The Bride is not mine, why should the people stay with me?? Mine it is to point the burdened to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, to tell them there is Balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. And shall I grudge to see them, in obedience to the call, flying as a cloud, and as doves to their windows? Whose is the Bride but the Bridegroom's? Enough for me to be the Bridegroom's friend, sent by Him to negotiate the match, privileged to bring together the Saviour and those He is come to seek and to save, and rejoicing with joy unspeakable if I may but 'stand and hear the Bridegroom's voice,' witnessing the blessed espousals. Say ye, then, they go from me to Him? Ye bring me glad tidings of great joy. He must increase, but I must decrease; this, my joy, therefore is fulfilled."

A man can receive, &c.—assume nothing, that is, lawfully and with any success; that is, Every man has his work and sphere appointed him from above, Even Christ Himself came under this law (Heb 5:4).

John 3:27 Additional Commentaries
Context
John's Testimony Concerning Jesus
26And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him." 27John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28"You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'…
Cross References
John 6:65
He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them."

John 10:41
and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true."

1 Corinthians 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Hebrews 5:4
And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Treasury of Scripture

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

A man.

Numbers 16:9-11 Seems it but a small thing to you, that the God of Israel has separated …

Numbers 17:5 And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, …

1 Chronicles 28:4,5 However, the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of …

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came …

Jeremiah 17:16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow you: …

Amos 7:15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to …

Matthew 25:15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; …

Mark 13:34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his …

Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to …

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given …

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of …

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit …

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, …

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that …

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to …

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed …

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, …

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints …

Ephesians 3:7,8 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace …

1 Timothy 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the …

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down …

1 Peter 4:10,11 As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one …

receive. or, take unto himself.

Hebrews 5:4,5 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he that is called of …

from.

Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John, from where was it? from heaven, or of men? And …

Mark 11:30,31 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me…

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