John 1:20
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Confessed, and denied not; but confessed.—Comp. for the style, Note on John 1:3.

I am not.—The better reading places the pronoun in the most emphatic position: “It is not I who am the Messiah.” He understands their question, then, “Who art thou?” as expressing the general expectation, “Is it thou who art the Messiah?”

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.I am not the Christ - This confession proves that John was not an impostor. He had a wide reputation. The nation was expecting that the Messiah was about to come, and multitudes were ready to believe that John was he, Luke 3:15. If John had been an impostor he would have taken advantage of this excited state of public feeling, proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, and formed a large party in his favor. The fact that he did not do it is full proof that he did not intend to impose on people, but came only as the forerunner of Christ; and his example shows that all Christians, and especially all Christian ministers, however much they may be honored and blessed, should be willing to lay all their honors at the feet of Jesus; to keep themselves back and to hold up before the world only the Son of God. To do this is one eminent mark of the true spirit of a minister of the gospel. 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. And he confessed; he being asked openly and plainly, professed,

and denied not; and did not dissemble nor halt in his speech. These negatives are in Scripture often added to affirmatives, to exclude all exceptions, Job 5:17 Psalm 40:10-12. But confessed: he did not tell them once so, but again and again, because many were musing about it, Luke 3:15.

I am not the Christ; I am not that great Messiah which God hath promised you, and in the expectation of whom you live, Luke 2:26,38 Lu 19:11 John 4:25. The diligence we shall constantly observe in the servants of God in holy writ, to avoid the arrogating of that honour to themselves which is due only to God and Christ; and this, together with John’s steadiness and plainness, doth very well become all professors, but the ministers of the gospel especially. 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.

And he {g} confessed, and {h} denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

(g) He did acknowledge him, and spoke of him plainly and openly.

(h) This repeating of the one and the selfsame thing, though in different words, is often used by the Hebrews, and it has great force, for they used to speak one thing twice in order to set it out more certainly and plainly.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. confessed, and denied not] Antithetic parallelism, as in John 1:3.

but confessed] Rather, and he confessed, to introduce what he confessed.

I am not the Christ] ‘I’ is emphatic, implying that some one else not far distant is the Christ. Throughout the section (20–34) John contrasts himself with the Christ by an emphasis on ‘I.’

the Christ] It is to be regretted that our translators have so often omitted the definite article before ‘Christ,’ although it is inserted in the Greek. In the Gospel narratives the article should always be preserved in English as here. Comp. Matthew 16:16; Matthew 26:63; Mark 8:29; and contrast Matthew 24:5; Luke 23:35; Luke 23:39, &c. To us ‘Christ’ is a proper name, but to the Evangelists it is a title, ‘the Christ,’ the Messiah so long expected. See Lightfoot, On Revision, p. 100.John 1:20. Ὡμολόγησε, he confessed) the truth. Comp. John 1:8; ch. John 5:33.—οὐκ ἠρνήσατο, he denied not) Whilst he denied himself, he did not deny Christ [Psalm 118:15-16 (Perhaps Beng. means Ps. 119 = 118 in the Septuag.)]—ἐγώ, I) By thus limiting his speech [to the denial that he was the Christ] he gives a handle to the thought arising, that the Christ is not far off.—ὁ χριστός, the Christ) they had suspected that John was the Christ.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. He confessed and denied not

John's characteristic combination of a positive and negative clause. See on John 1:3. Both verbs are used absolutely.

I am not the Christ

According to the proper reading, ἐγὼ, I, stands first in the Baptist's statement, the ὅτι having the force merely of quotation marks. It is emphatic: "I am not the Christ, though the Christ is here." Some were questioning whether John was the Christ (Luke 3:15; Acts 13:25). Note the frequent occurrence of the emphatic I: John 1:23, John 1:26, John 1:27, John 1:30, John 1:31, John 1:33, John 1:34. On the Christ, see on Matthew 1:1.

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