John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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(12) Yet the light ever shineth, and the better things lie hidden.

As many as received him.—The words are less wide and yet more wide than “His own.” The nation as such rejected Him; individuals in it accepted Him; but not individuals of that nation only. All who according to their light and means accept Him, receive from Him an authority and in Him a moral power, which constitutes them members of the true none to which He came, and the true children of God. They receive in acceptance the right which others lost in rejection. (Comp. Romans 9-11) The word rendered “received” is not quite the same as the word so rendered in John 1:11. The latter is the welcome which may be expected as due from His own home. This is the reception given without a claim.

To them that believe on his name repeats the width of the condition, and at the same time explains what receiving Him means. It seems natural to understand the “name” of the only name which meets us in this context, that is, of the Logos or Word, the representation of the will, character, nature of God. (See on John 1:18.) To “believe on” is one of St. John’s characteristic words of fuller meaning. To believe is to accept as true; “devils believe and tremble” (James 2:19). To believe in is to trust in, confide in. To believe on, has the idea of motion to and rest upon: it is here the going forth of the soul upon, and its rest upon, the firm basis of the eternal love of the eternal Spirit revealed in the Word. (Comp. Pearson On the Creed, Art. 1, p. 16.)

John 1:12-13. But as many as received him — As the true Messiah, and according to the various offices and characters which he sustains: learning of him, as a teacher, the infinitely important lessons of his grace; relying on him with penitent and believing hearts, as a mediator, that is, on his sacrifice and intercession, for acceptance with God; applying to him, in faith and prayer, as a Redeemer and Saviour, for the redemption and salvation which he has to bestow; as many as are subject to him as their King and Governor, and prepare to meet him as their Judge: to them — Whether Jews or Gentiles; gave he power — Or privilege, as εξουσιαν implies; to become the sons of God — To stand related to him, not merely as subjects to their king, or servants to their master, but as children to their father; being taken under his peculiar protection, direction, and care; being favoured with liberty of access to him, and intercourse with him, and constituted his heirs, and joint heirs with Christ of the heavenly inheritance: even to them that believe on his name — With their hearts unto righteousness, or with a faith working by love. Nor are they constituted his children merely by adoption, but they are made such also and especially by regeneration, being born, not of blood — Not by descent from Abraham; nor by the will of the flesh — By natural generation, or by the power of corrupt nature; nor by the will of man — Circumcising or baptizing them; but of God — By his Spirit creating them anew.

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.To as many as received him - The great mass; the people; the scribes and Pharisees rejected him. A few in his lifetime received him, and many more after his death. "To receive him," here, means to "believe" on him. This is expressed at the end of the verse.

Gave he power - This is more appropriately rendered in the margin by the word "right" or "privilege." Compare Acts 1:7; Acts 5:4; Romans 9:21; 1 Corinthians 7:37; 1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Corinthians 9:4-5.

Sons of God - Children of God by adoption. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Christians are called sons of God:

1. Because they are "adopted" by Him, 1 John 3:1.

2. Because they are "like Him;" they resemble Him and have His spirit.

3. They are united to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, are regarded by Him as his brethren Matthew 25:40, and are therefore regarded as the children of the Most High.

On his name - This is another way of saying believeth in "him." The "name" of a person is often put for the person himself, John 2:23; John 3:18; 1 John 5:13. From this verse we learn:

1. That to be a child of God is a privilege - far more so than to be the child of any human being, though in the highest degree rich, or learned, or honored. Christians are therefore more honored than any other persons.

2. God gave them this privilege. It is not by their own works or deserts; it is because God chose to impart this blessing to them, Ephesians 2:8; John 15:16.

3. This favor is given only to those who believe on him. All others are the children of the wicked one, and no one who has not "confidence in God" can be regarded as his child. No parent would acknowledge one for his child, or approve of him, who had no confidence in him, who doubted or denied all he said, and who despised his character. Yet the sinner constantly does this toward God, and he cannot, therefore, be called his Son.

12. But as many—individuals, of the "disobedient and gainsaying people."

gave he power—The word signifies both authority and ability, and both are certainly meant here.

to become—Mark these words: Jesus is the Son of God; He is never said to have become such.

the sons—or more simply, "sons of God," in name and in nature.

believe on his name—a phrase never used in Scripture of any mere creature, to express the credit given to human testimony, even of prophets or apostles, inasmuch it carries with it the idea of trust proper only towards God. In this sense of supreme faith, as due to Him who "gives those that believe in Himself power to become sons of God," it is manifestly used here.

But as many as received him; though the generality of those amongst whom Christ came received him not in the manner before expressed, yet some did own him, believed in him and submitted to him; and to as many as thus received him, not into their houses only, but into their hearts,

to them gave he power to become the sons of God; he gave a power, or a right, or privilege, not that they might if they would be, but to be actually, to become, or be, the sons of God by adoption; for believers are already the sons of God, Galatians 3:26, though it doth not yet appear what they shall be in the adoption, mentioned Romans 8:23, which the apostle calls the redemption of our body, viz. in the resurrection; hence the children of God are called the children of the resurrection, Luke 20:36.

To them that believe on his name; this is the privilege of all that believe in the name of Christ; by which term he opens the former term of receiving: to receive Christ, and to believe in his name, are the same thing. To believe in his name, is either to believe in him, Acts 3:16 or in the revelation of himself in the promises of the gospel. The proposition of God’s word is the object of faith of assent: but the person of the Mediator is the object of that faith which receiveth Christ; and those alone have a right to be the sons of God, and to the privileges peculiar to sons, who believe in Christ as revealed in the promises of the word of God, and there exhibited to men.

But as many as received him,.... This is explained, in the latter part of the text, by believing in his name; for faith is a receiving him as the word, and Son of God, as the Messiah, Saviour, and Redeemer; a receiving grace out of his fulness, and every blessing from him, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified; for though the generality rejected him, there were some few that received him:

to them gave he power to become the sons of God; as such were very early called, in distinction from the children of men, or of the world; see Genesis 6:2. To be the sons of God is a very special favour, a great blessing, and high honour: saints indeed are not in so high a sense the sons of God as Christ is; nor in so low a sense as angels and men in common are; nor in such sense as civil magistrates; nor merely by profession of religion; much less by natural descent; but by adopting grace: and in this, Christ, the word, has a concern, as all the three divine persons have. The Father predestinated men to the adoption of children, secures this blessing for them in the covenant of his grace, and puts them among the children, and assigns them a goodly heritage: the Spirit, and who is therefore called the spirit of adoption, discovers and applies this blessing to them, and witnesses to their spirits that they are the children of God: and Christ, the word, or Son of God, not only espoused their persons, and in time assumed their nature, and by the redemption of them opened a way for their reception of the adoption of children; but actually bestows upon them the "power", as it is here called, of becoming the sons of God: by which is meant, not a power of free will to make themselves the sons of God, if they will make use of it; but it signifies the honour and dignity conferred on such persons: so Nonnus calls it, "the heavenly honour"; as indeed, what can be a greater? It is more honourable than to be a son or daughter of the greatest potentate on earth: and it is expressive of its being a privilege; for so it is an undeserved and distinguishing one, and is attended with many other privileges; for such are of God's household and family, and are provided for by him; have liberty of access unto him; are Christ's free men, and are heirs to an incorruptible inheritance. This is a privilege that excels all others, even justification and remission of sins; and is an everlasting one: and it also intends the open right which believers have unto this privilege, and their claim of it: hence it follows,

even to them that believe in his name; that is, in himself, in Christ, the word: the phrase is explanative of the former part of the verse, and is a descriptive and manifestative character of the sons of God; for though the elect of God, by virtue of electing grace, and the covenant of grace, are the children of God before faith; and were so considered in the gift of them to Christ, and when he came into the world to gather them together, and save them; and so, antecedent to the Spirit of God, being sent down into their hearts, to make this known to them; yet no man can know his adoption, nor enjoy the comfort of it, or claim his interest in it, until he believes.

{6} But as many as received him, to them gave he {s} power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

(6) The Son being shut out by the majority of his people, and acknowledged but by a few, regenerates those few by his own strength and power, and receives them into that honour which is common to all the children of God, that is, to be the sons of God.

(s) He condescended to give them this power to take them to be his children.

John 1:12. The mass of the Jews rejected Him, but still not all of them. Hence, in this fuller description of the relation of the manifested Logos to the world, the refreshing light is now (it is otherwise in John 1:5) joyfully recognised and placed over against the shadow.

ἔλαβον] He came, they received Him, did not reject Him. Comp. John 5:43; Soph. Phil. 667, ἰδών τε καὶ λαβὼν φίλον.

The nominative ὅσοι is emphatic, and continues independent of the construction that follows. See on Matthew 7:24; Matthew 10:14; Matthew 13:12; Matthew 23:16; Acts 7:40.

ἐξονσίαν] neither dignity, nor advantage (Erasmus, Beza, Flacius, Rosenmüller, Semler, Kuinoel, Schott), nor even possibility (De Wette, Tholuck), nor capability (Hengstenberg, Brückner), fully comes up to the force of the word,[86] but He gave them full power (comp. John 5:27, John 17:2). The rejection of the Logos when He came in person, excluded from the attainment of that sacred condition of fitness—received through Him—for entering into the relationship of children of God, they only who received Him in faith obtained through Him this warrant, this title (ἐπιτροπὴ νόμου, Plato, Defin. p. 415 B). It is, however, an arrangement in the gracious decree of God; neither a claim of right on man’s part, nor any internal ability (Lücke, who compares 1 John 5:20; also Lange),—a meaning which is not in the word itself, nor even in the connection, since the commencement of that filial relationship, which is the consummation of that highest theocratic ἐξουσία, is conceived as a being born, John 1:13, and therefore as passive (against B. Crusius).

τέκνα θεοῦ] Christ alone is the Son of God, manifested as such from His birth, the μονογενής. Believers, from their knowledge of God in Christ (John 17:3), become children of God, by being born of God (comp. John 3:3; 1 John 3:9), i.e. through the moral transformation and renewal of their entire spiritual nature by the Holy Ghost; so that now the divine element of life rules in them, excludes all that is ungodly, and permanently determines the development of this moral fellowship of nature with God, onwards to its future glorious consummation (1 John 3:2; John 17:24). See also 1 John 3:9 and 1 Peter 1:23. It is thus that John represents the idea of filial relationship to God, for which he always uses τέκνα from the point of view of a spiritual genesis;[87] while Paul apprehends it from the legal side (as adoption, Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5), regarding the spiritual renewal connected therewith (regeneration), the καινότης ζωῆς (Romans 6:4), as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), a moral resurrection (Romans 6), and the like; while the Synoptics (comp. also Romans 8:23) make the υἱοθεσία appear as first commencing with the kingdom of the Messiah (see on Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35), as conditioned, however, by the moral character. There is no difference as to the thing itself, only in the manner of apprehending its various sides and stages.

τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, κ.τ.λ.] quippe qui credunt, is conceived as assigning the reason; for it is as believers that they have fulfilled the subjective condition of arriving at sonship, not only negatively, since they are no longer under the wrath of God and the condemnation of the law (John 3:36; John 3:16-17, John 5:45), but also positively, inasmuch as they now possess a capacity and susceptibility for the operation of the Spirit (John 7:38-39). John does not say πιστεύσασιν, but πιστεύουσιν, for the faith, the entrance of which brought about the ἔλαβον, is thenceforth their enduring habitus.

εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ] not essentially different from εἰς αὐτόν, but characterizing it more fully; for the entire subject-matter of faith lies in the name of the person on whom we believe; the uttered name contains the whole confession of faith. Comp. John 2:23, John 3:18, 1 John 3:23; 1 John 5:13. The name itself, moreover, is no other than that of the historically manifested Logos

Jesus Christ, as is self-evident to the consciousness of the reader. Comp. John 1:17; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 2:22.

[86] Comp. Godet: “il les a mis en position.”

[87] Hilgenfeld, indeed, will have it that those spoken of are already regarded as originally τέκνα θεοῦ (comp. John 3:6, John 8:44, John 11:52), and attempts to escape the dilemma into which γενέσθαι brings him, by help of the interpretation: “the power by which the man who is born of God realizes this, and actually becomes what he is in himself according to his nature!” Thus we should have here the Gnostic semen arcanum electorum et spiritualium. See Hilgenfeld, Evangelien, p. 233. The reproach of tautology which he also brings against the ordinary explanation (in his Zeitschr. 1863, p. 110) is quite futile. The great conception of the τέκνα θεοῦ, which appears here for the first time, was in John’s eye important enough to be accompanied by a more detailed elucidation. Generally, against the anthropological dualism discovered in John by Hilgenfeld (also by Scholten), see Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 128 ff.; also Weizsäcker in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1862, p. 680 f.; and even Baur, neutest. Theol. p. 359 ff.

John 1:12. But not all rejected Him. ὅσοι δὲ ἕλαβονὄνομα αὐτοῦ. ὅσοι, as many as, as if they were a countable number (Holtzmann), or, rather, suggesting the individuality of exceptional action on the part of those who received Him.—ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς, to them (resuming ὅσοι by a common construction) He gave ἐξουσίαν, not equivalent to δύναμις, the inward capacity, nor just equivalent to saying that He made them sons of God, but He gave them title, warrant, or authorisation, carrying with it all needed powers. Cf. John 5:27, John 10:18, John 19:10, Luke 9:1, Mark 6:7, where ἐξουσία includes and implies δύναμις.—τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, to become children of God. Weiss (Bibl. Theol., § 150) says.: “To those who accept Him by faith Christ has given not sonship itself, but the power to become sons of God; the last and highest realisation of this ideal, a realisation for the present fathomless, lies only in the future consummation”. Rather, with Stevens, “to believe and to be begotten of God are two inseparable aspects of the same event or process” (Johan. Theol., p. 251). John uses τέκνα rather than the Pauline υἱοὺς τ. θ., because Paul’s view of sonship was governed by the Roman legal process of adopting a son who was not one’s own child: while John’s view is mystical and physical, the begetting of a child by the communication of the very life of God (1 John, passim). This distinction underlies the characteristic use of υἱός by the one writer and τέκνον by the other (cf. Westcott, Epistles of St. John, p. 123). By the reception of Christ as the Incarnate Logos we are enabled to recognise God as our Father and to come into the closest possible relation to Him. Those who thus receive Him are further identified as τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, “those who believe (believers, present participle) in His name”.—πιστεύειν εἴς τινα is the favourite construction with John, and emphasises the object on which the faith rests. Here that object is τὸ ὅνομα αὐτοῦ, the sum of all characteristic qualities which attach to the bearer of the name: “quippe qui credant esse eum id ipsum, quod nomen declarat” (Holtzmann). It is impossible to identify this “name” with the Logos, because Jesus never proclaimed Himself under this name. Other definite names, such as Son of God or Messiah, can here only be proleptic, and it is probably better to leave it indefinite, and understand it in a general sense of those who believed in the self-manifestation of Christ, and were characterised by that belief.

12. received] Not the same Greek word as before: this denotes the spontaneous acceptance of the Messiah by individuals, whether Jews or Gentiles. He was not specially offered to any individuals as He was to the Jewish nation.

power] i.e. right, liberty, authority. We are born with a capacity for becoming sons of God; that we have as men. He gives us a right to become such; that we receive as Christians. Comp. John 5:27, John 10:18.

to become] Christ is from all eternity the Son of God; men are empowered to become sons of God. Comp. Matthew 5:45.

the sons of God] Omit ‘the:’ children of God. Both S. John and S. Paul insist on the fundamental fact that the relation of believers to God is a filial one. S. John gives us this fact on the human side; man ‘must be born again’ (John 3:3). S. Paul gives us the Divine side; God by ‘adoption’ makes us sons (Romans 8:16-17; Romans 8:21; Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5).

even to them that believe] Explains who are the sons of God. The test of a child of God is no longer descent from Abraham, but belief in God’s Son.

on his name] The construction ‘to believe on’ is characteristic of S. John: it occurs about 35 times in the Gospel and 3 times in the First Epistle; elsewhere in N.T. about 10 times. It expresses the very strongest belief; motion to and repose on the object of belief. ‘His Name’ is a frequent phrase in Jewish literature, both O. and N.T. It is not a mere periphrasis. Names were so often significant, given sometimes by God Himself, that a man’s name told not merely who he was, but what he was: it was an index of character. So ‘the Name of the Lord’ is not a mere periphrasis for ‘the Lord;’ it suggests His attributes and His relations to us as Lord. Perhaps the name of Logos is specially meant here; and the meaning would then be to give one’s entire adhesion to Him as the Incarnate Son, the expression of the Will and Nature of God. Comp. John 3:18, John 20:31.

John 1:12. Ὅσοι, as many as) even [including also] such as previously had not been ἴδιοι, His own.—ἔλαβον) This verb differs from καταλαμβάνειν, John 1:5, and from παραλαμβάνειν, John 1:11. Καταλαμβανω is applied to that which is close by: παραλαμβάνω, that which is offered: λαμβάνω, of my own accord. Παραλαμβάνειν was the part of the Jews, whom the Truth was appertaining to [spectabat]; λαμβάνειν is the part also of the Gentiles, whom grace appertaineth to [spectat]. In John 1:12-13 mere external differences are taken away most effectually. Galatians 3:26, etc., “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”—ἔδωκεν, He gave) This is the Glory of Christ, the Only-begotten Son. It belongs to the Divine authority to make Sons OF GOD: as it belongs to the Light, to make sons of light, ch. John 12:36, “Believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of light.”—ἐξουσίαν, power) The power[17] does not precede the γένεσιν τέκνων or filiation, as if they were two distinct things: but the filiation itself is this power, or, in other words, dignity. A great fact! John 8:36.[18]—τέκνα Θεοῦτοῖς πιστεύουσιν,) sons OF GOD—to them that believe) Two weighty truths are set before us, of which the former is elucidated in John 1:13; the second in John 1:14, where the manifestation of the Word in the flesh is not so much recorded as it was accomplished, but rather as it was believed: which view the series of things down from John 1:6 proves.—γἐνεσθαι, to become) whereas Jesus is the Son of God.—ὄνομα, the name) The name of the Only-begotten. For to this is to be referred John 1:14. The connection is inferred from the kindred term τέκνα, children [sons].

[17] Potestas, legitimate power, authority; not mere δύναμις, potentia, might.—E. and T.

[18] If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Comp. Galatians 4:6.—E. and T.

Verses 12, 13. - But before the apostle advances to the central statement of the entire proem, he stops to show that, though the whole world, though man as an organized mass, though Israel as a favoured and selected theocracy, have refused to know and confess his supreme claims, yet there has always been an election of grace. All have not perished in their unbelief. Some have received him. The twelfth and thirteenth verses do, indeed, in their full meaning, refer unmistakably to the entire ministry of the living Christ to the end of time; but surely every word of it applies primarily (though not exclusively) to the whole previous pleadings of the Light and Life - to the ministry of the pre-existing and eternal Logos, and to the privileges and possibilities consequent thereupon. As many as received him. This phrase is subsequently explained as being identical with "believed in his Name." The simple verb ἔλαβον, is less definite than are its compounds with κάτα and παρά, used in the previous verses (5, 11). The acceptance is a positive idea, is broader, more manifold, less restricted as to manner of operation, than the negative rejection which took sharp and decisive form. The construction is irregular. We have a nominativus pendens followed by a clause in the dative; as much as if he had written, "There are, notwithstanding all the rejections, those who received him." To these, the evangelist says, however many or few they may be, who believe in his Name, he - the subject of the previous sentence - gave the authority and capability of becoming children of God. Believing in his Name is discriminated from believing him. The construction occurs thirty-five times in the Gospel, and three times in the First Epistle - and the Name here especially present to the writer is the Logos, the full revelation of the essence, character, and activity, of God. John, writing in the close of his life, surveys a glorious company of individuals who, by realizing as true the sum of all the perfections of the manifested Word, by believing in his Name, have also received as a gift the sense of such union to the Son of God that they become alive to the fact that they too are the offspring of God. This realization of the Divine fatherhood, which had been so obscure before, is itself the origination within them of filial feeling. Thus a new life is begotten and supervenes upon the old life. This new life is a new humanity within the bosom or womb of the old, and so it corresponds with the Pauline doctrine of new creation and of resurrection. Ἐξοσία is more than opportunity, and less than (δύναμις) power; it is rightful claim (which is itself the gift of God) to become what they were not before, seeing that a Divine generation has begotten them again. They are born from above. The Spirit of the Son has passed into them, and they cry, "Abba, Father." This Divine begetting is still further explained and differentiated from ordinary human life. The writer distinctly repudiates the idea that the condition he speaks of is a consequence of simple birth into this world. This is done in a very emphatic manner (οἵ here in the masculine, is the well known constructio ad sensum, and refers to τέκνα Θεοῦ). Who were begotten from God, not from (or, of) blood. (The plural word αἱμάτων has been variously rendered by expositors: Augustine regarding it as a reference to the blending of the blood of both sexes in ordinary generation; Meyer, as not different from the singular in meaning, giving numerous passages in the classics where this or an equivalent usage of the plural for the singular occurs. The suggestion of Moulton is more satisfactory - that it points to pride of race, common enough in Israel, but not peculiar to Jews.) John repudiates for this "generation" any connection with mere hereditary privilege. No twice-born Brahmin, no dignified race, no descendant of Abraham, can claim it as such, and the writer further discriminates it, as though he would leave no loophole for escape: Nor yet from the will of the flesh, nor even from the will of the man (ἀνδρὸς not ἀνθρώπου). Some, very erroneously, have supposed that "the flesh" here refers to "woman" in contradistinction to "man," and numerous efforts have been made to point out the threefold distinction. The simplest and most obvious interpretation is that "the will of the flesh" here means the human process of generation on its lower side, and "the will of the man" the higher purposes of the nobler side of human nature, which lead to the same end. Special dignity is conferred by being the son of a special father; but however honoured such might be, as in the case of an Abraham, a David, a Zacharias, such paternity has nothing to do with the sonship of which the evangelist is thinking. Doubtless this triumphant new beginning of humanity can only be found in the full revelation of the name of the incarnate Logos; but surely the primary application of the passage is to the fact that, notwithstanding the stiff-necked rejection of the Logos by the peculiar possession and people of his love, there were, from Abraham to Malachi and to John the Baptist, those who did recognize the Light and live in the love of God. The author of Psalm 16, 17, 23, 25, 103, 119, and a multitude beyond calculation, discerned and received him, walked in the light of the Lord, were kept in perfect peace, found in the Lord their most exceeding joy. "Like as a father pitieth his chihlren, so the Lord pitied them." He nourished and brought up children, and to the extent to which they appreciated his holy Name they therein received as a gift the capability and claim to call him their Father. This was not a question of human fatherhood or hereditary privilege at all, but of gracious exchanges of affection between these children of his love and the Eternal, who had fashioned them in his image and regenerated them by his Holy Spirit. To restrict any element of this passage to conscious faith in the Christ is to repudiate the activity of the Logos and Spirit before the Incarnation, and almost compels a Sabellian interpretation of the Godhead. Even now the grandeur of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity - a doctrine which treats these relations as eternal and universal - compels us to believe that whenever among the sons of men there is a soul which receives the Logos in this light, i.e. apart from the special revelation of the Logos in the flesh, to such a one he gives the capacity and claim of sonship. John certainly could not mean to imply that there had never been a regenerated soul until he and his fellow disciples accepted their Lord. Up to this point in his argument he has been disclosing the universal and the special operations of the Logos who in the beginning was with God and was God, the Source of all life, the Giver of all light, the veritable Light which shines upon every man, which does more even than that - which made a long continued series of approaches to his own specially instructed and prepared people. Prophecy all through the ages has had a wondrous function to bear witness to the reality of this Light, that all might believe in it, that all might become sons by faith; but, alas darkness, prejudice, depravity, corruption - "darkness" did not apprehend the nature, name, or mystery, of love. And so he proceeds to describe the greatest, the most surprising, supreme energy of the Eternal Logos - that which illustrates, confirms, brings into the most forcible relief, the nature of his personality, and the extent of the obligation under which he has placed the human race; and proves in the most irresistible way, not only the character and nature of God, but the actual condition of humanity. The great extent of the literature and the imposing controversies which have accumulated over the entirely unique sentence that here fellows render any treatment of it difficult. A volume rather than a page or two is required to exhibit the significance of a verse which is probably the most important collocation of words ever made. John 1:12As many as (ὅσοι)

Denoting individuals, as οἱ ἴδιοι (John 1:11) signified the nation at large.

Received (ἔλαβον)

The simple verb of the compound παρέλαβον in John 1:11. The meaning of the two verbs is substantially the same (so Alford, De Wette, and apparently Meyer), though some recognize a difference, as Milligan and Moulton, who render παρέλαβον accepted, and ἔλαβον received, and say that "the former lays emphasis upon the will that consented (or refused) to receive, while the latter brings before us the possession gained: so that the full meaning is, As many as by accepting Him, received Him." For the use of the simple verb, see John 5:43; John 13:20; John 19:6.

Power (ἐξουσίαν)

Rev., the right. Six words are used for power in the:New Testament: βία, force, often oppressive, exhibiting itself in violence (Acts 5:26; Acts 27:41. Compare the kindred verb βιάζεται, Matthew 11:12; "the kingdom of heaven is taken by violence): δύναμις, natural ability (see on 2 Peter 2:11): ἐνέργεια, energy, power in exercise; only of superhuman power, good or evil. Used by Paul only, and chiefly in the Epistles of the Imprisonment (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 2:12. Compare the kindred verb ἐνεργέω, to put forth power, and see on Mark 6:14; see on James 5:16): ἰσχύς, strength (see on 2 Peter 2:11. Compare the kindred verb ἰσχύω, to be strong, and see on Luke 14:30; see on Luke 16:3): κράτος, might, only of God, relative and manifested power, dominion (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 6:10; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 Peter 4:11. Compare the kindred verb κρατέω, to have power, to be master of, and see on Mark 7:3; see on Acts 3:11): ἐξουσία, liberty of action (ἔξεστι, it is lawful), authority, delegated or arbitrary (John 5:27; John 10:18; John 17:2; John 19:10, John 19:11. See on Mark 2:10; see on Luke 20:20). Here, therefore, ἐξουσία is not merely possibility or ability, but legitimate right derived from a competent source - the Word.

To become (γενέσθαι)

As those who are born (John 1:13. Compare John 3:3, and Matthew 5:45).

Sons (τέκνα)

Rev., more correctly, children. Son is υἱός. Τέκνον, child (τίκτω, to bring forth), denotes a relation based on community of nature, while υἱός, Son, may indicate only adoption and heirship. See Galatians 4:7. Except in Revelation 21:7, which is a quotation, John never uses υἱός to describe the relation of Christians to God, since he regards their position not as a result of adoption, but of a new life. Paul, on the other hand, regards the relation from the legal standpoint, as adoption, imparting a new dignity and relation (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5, Galatians 4:6). See also James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 1:23, where the point of view is John's rather than Paul's. Τέκνον, indicating the relationship of man to God, occurs in John 1:12; John 11:52; 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:2, and always in the plural.

Believe on (πιστευούσιν εἰς)

The present participle, believing, indicates the present and continuous activity of faith. The word is used by John, sometimes with the dative case simply meaning to believe a person or thing; i.e., to believe that they are true or speak the truth. Thus, to believe the Scripture (John 2:22); believe me (John 4:21); believe Moses, his writings, my words (John 4:46). At other times with a preposition, εἰς, into, which is rendered believe in, or believe on. So here, John 6:29; John 8:30; 1 John 5:10. See the two contrasted in John 6:29, John 6:30; John 8:30, John 8:31; 1 John 5:10. To believe in, or on, is more than mere acceptance of a statement. It is so to accept a statement or a person as to rest upon them, to trust them practically; to draw upon and avail one's self of all that is offered to him in them. Hence to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is not merely to believe the facts of His historic life or of His saving energy as facts, but to accept Him as Savior, Teacher, Sympathizer, Judge; to rest the soul upon Him for present and future salvation, and to accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life.

Name (ὄνομα)

See on Matthew 28:19. Expressing the sum of the qualities which mark the nature or character of a person. To believe in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, is to accept as true the revelation contained in that title. Compare John 20:31.

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