|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.
Verse 34. - The γὰρ shows that the former utterance is sustained. For he whom God sent uttereth the words of God. The full, many-sided, abundant expression of the thought of God. He has been sent for this purpose. Some take this clause to refer to all the ambassadors of God, and pre-eminently to the "man (John 1:6) sent from God, whose name was John." But, on the ether hand, observe that throughout the Gospel, ἀπόστελλω and πέμπω are used of the "Lord from heaven" (ver. 17). Christ certainly is ἀπεσταλμένος as well as ἐρχομένος, and this great statement, viz. that Christ speaks the words of God, is a justification of the fact that, in accepting the witness of Christ to invisible and eternal things, and in the admission that he has been sent from heaven charged with the words of God, every separate believer becomes a seal, a ratification, of the veracity of God. The clause that follows (seeing that "to him" is unquestionably a gloss of translators, and is not found in any manuscripts) may be translated in three different ways.
(1) For God giveth not the Spirit by measure; for if ὁ Θεός is omitted, still the same subject, "God," might be and is generally supplied, and the object, supposed to be either Christ or any of his servants to whom in these days of the baptism of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost is poured forth from an inexhaustible treasure. Augustine and Calvin urged that it was said concerning Christ; for we read in ver. 35 that "the Father hath given all things into his hand;" but exclusively to limit the object of δίδωσι to Christ is more than the passage will justify.
(2) For he (the Messiah, sc.) giveth not the Spirit by measure; i.e. He is exalted to pour forth from the heart of the Deity the Spirit of the Father and Son. This is preferred by Westcott, and by those who see in the entire passage the reflections of the author of the Gospel (cf. John 15:26).
(3) For the Spirit giveth not by measure; the object (sc.) being "the words of God," which he who is sent and is coming from heaven, and is above all, is now lavishing upon the world. This translation (Godet) is in harmony with the vision of John at the baptism, when the Holy Spirit after the manner of a dove descended and abode upon him. With an unmeasurable supply of spiritual energy was the humanity of him who came (qua his Divine nature and personality) from heaven enriched for his prophetic and Messianic functions as the beloved Son of God on earth. I see no difficulty in this last interpretation.
(a) The present tense is justified by the statement of the abiding of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, and the continuous operation of the gift in the "words of God," which were flowing from his lips.
(b) The αὐτῷ is easily supplied in thought.
(c) The connection is thus instituted with the thirty-fifth verse. Meyer and Lange prefer a wider significance being given to the words, seeing in them a broad reference to the affluence and measureless capacity of the gift of the Spirit. Luthardt: "This is true of all God's messengers, but especially of him of whom the Baptist speaks" (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-12). The Lord from heaven receives all the gifts of the Spirit.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For he whom God hath sent,.... Still meaning Christ, who was sent in human nature, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the fulness of time; to be the Saviour of the world, of that which was lost, of the chief of sinners; and to preach the glad tidings of the Gospel, which is more especially here designed; and for which he was abundantly qualified by the Spirit of God, with which he was anointed:
speaketh the words of God; the words which God gave unto him; the doctrines of grace; the word of truth; the word of faith; the word of righteousness; the word of reconciliation; the words of salvation and eternal life; the whole mind and will of God; and whatever he spoke were as true as the oracles of God, and were such.
For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him, as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and to the apostles of the New; and to the ordinary ministers of the word, who have gifts differing one from another; to one is given one gift of the Spirit; and to another, another gift, as the Spirit pleaseth; and to everyone is given grace, or gifts of grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephesians 4:7. To which agrees what the Jews say (a) of the Holy Spirit, and his gifts.
"Says R. Joden bar R. Simeon, even the waters which descend from above are not given, but, "in measure".--Says R. Acha, even the Holy Spirit, which dwells upon the prophets, does not dwell, but "in weight".''
But the Lord Jesus has every, gift of the Spirit, and the fulness of grace in him: he is anointed with the oil of gladness, with the Holy Ghost above his fellows; and has an immeasurable unction of the holy one; which, like the precious oil poured on Aaron, descends from him to the members of his body.
(a) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 157. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
34. for God giveth not the Spirit by measure—Here, again, the sharpest conceivable line of distinction is drawn between Christ and all human-inspired teachers: "They have the Spirit in a limited degree; but God giveth not [to Him] the Spirit by measure." It means the entire fulness of divine life and divine power. The present tense "giveth," very aptly points out the permanent communication of the Spirit by the Father to the Son, so that a constant flow and reflow of living power is to be understood (Compare Joh 1:15) [Olshausen].
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