John 1:19
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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 Judæa, 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)

John 1:19-23. And this is the record of John — This is the testimony which he bare publicly to Jesus; when the Jews — Namely, the senate, or great council of the nation; sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem — Persons of the first consideration for learning and office; to ask him, Who art thou — What character dost thou assume to thyself? It is probable, that the reason why the sanhedrim sent these persons, was their having been informed that the Baptist’s extraordinary sanctity, zeal, and powerful preaching, together with the solemnity of his baptizing, had made such an impression on the people, that they were beginning to think he might be the Messiah. These rulers therefore judged it proper to send persons thus to examine him, because it belonged to them to take cognizance of all matters relating to religion, and especially to judge who were true prophets. And as they were evidently jealous of his increasing popularity, they probably hoped to find in his answers to their questions some pretence for taking measures to silence him, especially as they understood his ministry neither agreed with the Mosaic dispensation which they had been long under, nor with the notions they had formed of the Messiah’s kingdom. And he confessed, and denied not, &c. — John, according to the natural plainness of his temper, presently replied to their inquiry; I am not the Christ — As if he had said, I know that the people begin to look on me as their long- expected deliverer, but I tell you plainly, they are mistaken: nor do I in the least pretend to arrogate to myself the honours which are due to none but him. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias — Art thou the Prophet Elijah, who, as the Scriptures tell us, is to arise from the dead, and to appear before the coming of the Messiah? And he saith, I am not — There was here an apparent contradiction to the words of our Lord concerning John, (Matthew 11:14,) This is Elias which was to come. But Jesus, in these words, evidently refers to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5; his purpose being to inform his disciples that John was Elijah in the sense of that prophet, and that his prediction was accomplished in the Baptist, inasmuch as he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. But when the question was here proposed to John, the laws of truth required that he should answer it as he did, namely, according to the sense wherein the words were used by the proposers, who expected that the very Prophet Elijah would come in person before the Messiah should appear: a notion which they entertained very early, as is evident from the Septuagint translation of the passage just referred to in Malachi, ιδου εγω αποστελλω υμιν Ηλιαν τον θεσβιτην, literally, Behold, I send you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord come. Therefore the Baptist, on being asked if he was Elias, could not answer otherwise than in the negative, without rendering himself liable to the charge of equivocating. For though the name of Elias did truly belong to the forerunner of the Messiah, Malachi having called him so, John was not the person whom the people expected, and the priests meant, when they asked him, Art thou Elias? He was not that individual prophet returned from heaven to sojourn again upon the earth. It is justly observed by Grotius here, that the persons who made this inquiry show that they were ignorant of the parentage of John the Baptist, or that they were in doubt concerning it; Art thou that prophet — Whom Moses has assured us God will raise up, and of whom we are daily in expectation? (John 6:14 :) or their meaning may have been, Art thou Jeremiah, or any other of the old prophets raised from the dead? for it appears from Matthew 16:14, that they thought the Messiah would be preceded by some such extraordinary personage. And he answered, No — He was a prophet, but not one of the old prophets raised from the dead, nor had he his revelations by dreams and visions, as the Old Testament prophets had theirs; his commission and work were of another nature, and belonged to another dispensation. Then said they, Who art thou? that we may give an answer, &c. — We are sent by the supreme council, who have a right to judge persons pretending a commission from God, as thou seemest to do by baptizing and gathering disciples. It becomes thee, therefore, to give an account of thyself to us, that we may lay it before them who have sent us. And he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness — John, instead of giving a description of his own character and office, refers those who questioned him to the words of the Prophet Isaiah, in which they would find it; and what he here says of himself, is to be understood no otherwise than we understand what Matthew says of him, (Matthew 3:3,) where see the note. He says, in effect, I am that forerunner of Christ of whom Isaiah speaks, Isaiah 40:3. Archbishop Fenelon beautifully illustrates the humility of this reply: as if this illustrious prophet had said, “Far from being the Messiah, or Elias, or one of the old prophets, I am nothing but a voice; a sound, that as soon as it has expressed the thought, of which it is the sign, dies into air, and is known no more.” Dr. Campbell renders the clause, I am he whose voice proclaimeth in the wilderness, &c.; observing that, in such declarations, the general purport is alone regarded by the speaker, and that the words, therefore, ought not to be interpreted too grammatically; interpretations to be formed from the manifest scope, and not from the syntactic structure of sentences, being not unfrequent in Scripture. Thus, Revelation 1:12, Επεστραψα βλεπειν την φωνην, literally, I turned to see the voice.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.This is the record - The word "record" here means "testimony," in whatever way given. The word "record" now commonly refers to "written" evidence. This is not its meaning here. John's testimony was given without writing.

When the Jews sent - John's fame was great. See Matthew 3:5. It spread from the region of Galilee to Jerusalem, and the nation seemed to suppose, from the character of his preaching, that he was the Messiah, Luke 3:15. The great council of the nation, or the Sanhedrin, had, among other things, the charge of religion. They felt it to be their duty, therefore, to inquire into the character and claims of John, and to learn whether he was the Messiah. It is not improbable that they wished that he might be the long-expected Christ, and were prepared to regard him as such.

When the Jews sent priests and Levites - See the notes at Luke 10:31-32. These were probably members of the Sanhedrin.

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.

John’s former testimony was more private to the common people; this testimony was given to a public authority.

The Jews (most probably the rulers of the Jews, who made up their sanhedrim, or great court, answering a parliament with us, for the cognizance of false prophets belonged to them)

sent priests and Levites, which were Pharisees, John 1:24, of the strictest sect of the Jews as to rites and ceremonies; these came from Jerusalem, where the sanhedrim constantly sat, and the chief priests were, (if the message were not from the sanhedrim itself), to ask John Baptist who he was; that is, by what authority he preached and baptized? What kind of prophet he was? For they could not but know his name and family, he descending from a priest amongst them: and this appeareth to be their sense from what followeth. 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.

{11} And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

(11) John is neither the Messiah, nor like any of the other prophets, but is the herald of Christ, who is now present.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 1:19-20. The historical narrative, properly so called, now begins, and quite in the style of the primitive Gospels (comp. Mark 1; Acts 10:36-37; Acts 13:23-25), with the testimony of the Baptist.

καὶ] and, now first of all to narrate the testimony already mentioned in John 1:15; for this, and not another borne before the baptism, is meant; see note foll. John 1:28.

αὕτη] “The following is the testimony of John, which he bore when,” etc.[111] Instead of ὍΤΙ, the evangelist puts ὍΤΕ, because the idea of time was with him the predominant one. Comp. Pflugk, ad Hec. 107; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 393. Had he written ὅτι, his thought would have been: “Herein did his testimony consist, that the Jews sent to him, and he confessed,” etc.

ΟἹ ἸΟΥΔΑῖΟΙ] means, even in such passages as this, where it is no merely indifferent designation of the people (as in John 2:6; John 2:13, John 3:1, John 4:22, John 5:1, John 18:33 ff., and often), nothing else than the Jews; yet John, writing when he had long severed himself from Judaism, makes the body of the Jews, as the old religious community from which the Christian Church had already completely separated itself, thus constantly appear in a hostile sense in face of the Lord and His work, as the ancient theocratic people in corporate opposition to the new community of God (which had entered into their promised inheritance) and to its Head. How little may be deduced from this as ground of argument against the age and genuineness of the Gospel, see my Introd. § 3. For the rest, in individual passages, the context must always show who, considered more minutely as matter of history, the persons in question were by whom οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι are represented, as in this place, where it was plainly the Sanhedrim[112] who represented the people of the old religion. Comp. John 5:15, John 9:22, John 18:12; John 18:31, etc.

καὶ Λευΐτας] priests, consequently, with their subordinates, who had, however, a position as teachers, and aspired to priestly authority (see Ewald and Hengstenberg). The mention of these together is a trait illustrative of John’s precision of statement, differing from the manner of the Synoptics, but for that very reason, so far from raising doubts as to the genuineness, attesting rather the independence and originality of John (against Weisse), who no longer uses the phrase so often repeated in the Synoptics, “the scribes and elders,” because it had to him already become strange and out of date.

σὺ τίς εἶ] for John baptized (John 1:25), and this baptism had reference to Messiah’s kingdom (Ezekiel 36:25-26; Ezekiel 33:23; Zechariah 13:1). He had, generally, made a great sensation as a prophet, and had even given rise to the opinion that he was the Messiah (Luke 3:15; comp. Acts 13:25); hence the question of the supreme spiritual court was justified, Deuteronomy 18:21-22, Matthew 21:23. The question itself is not at all framed in a captious spirit. We must not, with Chrysostom and most others, regard it as prompted by any malicious motive, but must explain it by the authoritative position of the supreme court. Nevertheless it implies the assumption that John regarded himself as the Messiah; and hence his answer in John 1:20, hence also the emphatic precedence given to the σύ; comp. John 8:25. Luthardt too hastily concludes from the form of the question, that the main thing with them was the person, not the call and purpose of God. But they would have inferred the call and purpose of God from the person, as the question which they ask in John 1:25 shows.

ἐξ Ἱεροσ.] belongs to ἀπέστειλαν.

καὶ ὡμολογ.] still dependent on the ὅτε.

ὡμολ. καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσ.] emphatic prominence given to his straightforward confession; ὡς ἀληθὴς καὶ στεῤῥός, Euthymius Zigabenus; comp. Eur. El. 1057: Φημὶ καὶ οὐκ ἀπαρνοῦμαι; Soph. Ant. 443; Dem. de Chers. 108. 73: λέξω πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ οὐκ ἀποκρύψομαι. See Bremi in loc. Valcken. Schol. ad Acts 13:11.

καὶ ὡμολ.] The first κ. ὡμολ. was absolute (Add. ad Esther 1:15, and in the classics); this second has for subject the following sentence (ὅτι recitative). Moreover, “vehementer auditorem commovet ejusdem redintegratio verbi,” ad Herenn. iv. 28. There is, however, no side glance here at the disciples of John (comp. the Introd.). To the evangelist, who had himself been the pupil of the Baptist, the testimony of the latter was weighty enough in itself to lead him to give it emphatic prominence.

According to the right order of the words (see crit. notes), ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ὁ Χ., the emphasis lies upon ἐγώ; I on my part, which implies that he knew another who was the Messiah.

[111] Following Origen and Cyril, Paulus and B. Crusius suppose that ὅτε begins a new sentence, of which καὶ ὡμολόγησε, etc., is to be taken as the apodosis—contrary to the simplicity of John’s style.

[112] Comp. Ἀχαιοί in Homer, which often means the proceres of the Greeks.John 1:19-42. The witness of John and its result.19. the record] Better, the witness; see on John 1:7 and comp. John 3:11, John 5:31.

the Jews] This term in S. John’s Gospel commonly means the opponents of Christ, a meaning not found in the Synoptists, who seldom use the term. Matthew 28:15; Mark 7:3; Luke 6:3; Luke 23:51, are the only instances excepting the title ‘King of the Jews.’ In them it is the sects and parties (Pharisees, Scribes, Herodians, &c.) that are the typical representatives of hostility to Christ. But S. John, writing later, with a fuller realisation of the national apostasy, and a fuller experience of Jewish malignity in opposing the Gospel, lets the shadow of this knowledge fall back upon his narrative, and ‘the Jews’ are to him not his fellow countrymen, but the persecutors and murderers of the Messiah. ‘The name of a race has become the name of a sect.’ He uses the term about 70 times, almost always with this shade of meaning.

priests] The Baptist himself was of priestly family (Luke 1:5); hence priests were suitable emissaries. The combination ‘priests and Levites’ occurs nowhere else in N.T. Together they represent the hierarchy.

Levites] Levites were commissioned to teach (2 Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 8:7-9) as well as serve in the Temple; and it is as teachers, similar to the Scribes, that they are sent to the Baptist. The mention of Levites as part of the deputation is the mark of an eyewitness. Excepting in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:32), Levites are not mentioned by the Synoptists, nor elsewhere in N.T., excepting Acts 4:36. Had the Evangelist been constructing a story out of borrowed materials, we should probably have had Scribes or Elders instead of Levites. These indications of eyewitness are among the strong proofs of the authenticity of this Gospel.

Who art thou?] with a strong emphasis on the ‘thou.’

19–37. The Testimony of the Baptist

19–28. His Testimony to the Deputation from Jerusalem

This section describes a crisis in the Baptist’s ministry. He had already attracted the attention of the Sanhedrin. It was a time of excitement and expectation respecting the Messiah. John evidently spoke with an authority greater than other teachers, and his success was greater than theirs. The miracle attending his birth, connected with the public ministry of Zacharias in the Temple, was probably well known. He had proclaimed that a new dispensation was at hand (Matthew 3:2), and this was believed to refer to the Messiah. But what was John’s own position? Was he the Messiah? This uncertainty led the authorities at Jerusalem to send and question John himself as to his mission. No formal deputation from the Sanhedrin seems to have been sent. The Sadducee members, acquiescing in the Roman dominion, would not feel much interest. But to the Pharisee members, who represented the religious and national hopes of their countrymen, the question was vital; and they seem to have sent an informal though influential deputation of ministers of religion (John 1:19) from their own party (John 1:24). S. John was probably among the Baptist’s disciples at this time, and heard his master proclaim himself not the Messiah, but His Herald. It was a crisis for him as well as for his master, and as such he records it.John 1:19. Οἰ ἰουδᾶιοι, the Jews) Matthew, Mark, and Luke rarely employ the appellation Jews; John most frequently: no doubt the cause is, they supposed, as their first readers, Jews: John, believers of the Gentiles.—ἐξ ιἑροσολύμων, from Jerusalem) that seat of religion.—ιἑρεῖς καὶ λευίτας, priests and Levites) With the testimony of John to the people is interwoven his testimony to the rulers. This embassy, sent forty days at least after the baptism of Jesus [to allow for the forty days’ temptation subsequent to the baptism], indicates, that the preaching of John began not at a long interval before the baptism of Jesus. Otherwise the embassy would have been sent earlier.—ἐρωτήσωσιν, that they should ask) in the public name, ch. John 5:33 [Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth].—σὺ τὶς εἶ; who art thou?) with that baptism of thine, John 1:25. [Why baptizeth thou then?]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). This (αὕτη)

The following. This use of the pronoun, calling the reader's attention to what follows, and preparing him for it, is frequent in John. Sometimes the pronoun carries the sense of quality: of this character. See John 3:19; John 15:12; 1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:9, 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:14.

Witness (μαρτυρία)

Testimony. See on John 1:7, and 1 Peter 5:1.

John

See on John 1:6. Note the article: the John previously mentioned.

The Jews (οἱ Ἱοὐδαῖοι)

This is a characteristic word in John. It occurs more than fifty times in his Gospel as his own expression, while there are six instances of the formula King of the Jews used by Gentiles. In the Synoptic Gospels, on the other hand, to twelve instances of King of the Jews, there are but four passages in which the word Jews occurs. In Paul's writings it is comparatively rare, mostly in contrast with Greek, and both in contrast with Christianity. In Revelation it is found twice (Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9), of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are "of the synagogue of Satan" and "do lie."

John, in the Gospel, distinguishes between the multitude (ὁ ὄχλος) and the Jews (Ἱουδαῖοι). By the former he means the aggregate of the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, the mass of the people, chiefly Galilaeans; by the latter, more particularly Judaeans, the leaders of Judaism in opposition to Jesus. The multitude are unsettled in conviction, inquisitive, despised by the Pharisees, inclined to listen to Jesus and to believe; moved by an impulse to make Him a king, escorting Him triumphantly into Jerusalem, and not appearing in the narrative of the trial and crucifixion. The Jews are tenacious of the expectation of a national Messiah. They represent the narrow, sectarian aspect of Judaism; they are the instigators and leaders of the opposition to Jesus, and to them His crucifixion is attributed. John uses the word where the other Evangelists speak of the opposers of Christ as Pharisees, Sadducees, elders, chief-priests, scribes, or lawyers. He recognizes the distinction between Pharisee and Sadducee, and though he does not mention the latter by name, he characterizes them by their position. Jesus is the key to the sense in which John employs the term Jews. He regards them in their relation to Him. The idea underlying the word is habitually that of separation from the character and privileges of a true Israelite through their rejection of Jesus.

Sent (ἀπέστειλαν)

As a deputation. See on John 1:6.

Priests and Levites

Representing the ecclesiastical element of the nation; the two classes employed in the temple service. See Joshua 3:3; 2 Chronicles 30:27; Ezekiel 44:15. The combination occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. These deputies probably came from the Sanhedrim.

To ask (ἵνα ἐρωτήσωσιν)

continued...

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