John 1:33
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
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1:29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the Lamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of its blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all the other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvation of sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every morning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a sacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as a preacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they were to look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his death. It agrees with God's glory to pardon all who depend on the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe the gospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but here is a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus taking away sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of God came to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ, John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is the Son of God. This is the end and object of John's testimony, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity that offered to lead people to Christ.The same said ... - This was the sign by which he was to know the Messiah. He was to see the Spirit descending like a dove and abiding on him. It does not follow, however, that he had no intimation before this that Jesus was the Christ, but it means that by this he should know it infallibly. From Matthew 3:13-14, it seems that John supposed, before the baptism of Jesus, that he claimed to be the Messiah, and, that he believed it; but the infallible, certain testimony in the case was the descent of the Holy Spirit on him at his baptism.

That this is the Son of God - This was distinctly declared by a voice from heaven at his baptism, Matthew 3:17. This John heard, and he testified that he had heard it.

31-34. knew him not—Living mostly apart, the one at Nazareth, the other in the Judean desert—to prevent all appearance of collusion, John only knew that at a definite time after his own call, his Master would show Himself. As He drew near for baptism one day, the last of all the crowd, the spirit of the Baptist heaving under a divine presentiment that the moment had at length arrived, and an air of unwonted serenity and dignity, not without traits, probably, of the family features, appearing in this Stranger, the Spirit said to him as to Samuel of his youthful type, "Arise, anoint Him, for this is He!" (1Sa 16:12). But the sign which he was told to expect was the visible descent of the Spirit upon Him as He emerged out of the baptismal water. Then, catching up the voice from heaven, "he saw and bare record that this is the Son of God." And I knew him not; I was a stranger to him; I knew him in a sense, when I leaped in my mother’s womb, upon his mother’s coming to see my mother, Luke 1:41; but that (as impressions made upon infants use to do) wore off. I had some impression upon me at that time when he came towards me to be baptized, which made me say to him, {as Matthew 3:14}

I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? But yet I was not certain, though I knew he was in the crowd of people, that he was the person designed, and whose work it should be to baptize with the Holy Ghost, until the same God that had given me that sign fulfilled it to me.

And I knew him not,.... That is, before he came to be baptized by him; when it was secretly suggested to him who he was, and the following signal was given him, to confirm him in it:

but he that sent me to baptize with water; or "in water"; that is, God; for John's mission was from God, as in John 1:6, and his baptism from heaven; he had a divine warrant and commission for what he did:

the same said unto me; either by an articulate voice, or by a divine impulse on his mind, or by the revelation of the Spirit:

upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost; that is, the Messiah; See Gill on Matthew 3:11, Matthew 3:16.

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
John 1:33. John’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah (whom he had not before known as such) rested upon a revelation previously made to him with this intent; and this he now states, solemnly repeating, however, the declaration of his own ignorance (κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν).

ἐκεῖνος] in emphatic contrast with his own reflection.

εἶπεν] i.e. by express revelation. We cannot tell the precise time or manner of this prior revelation. By it John was referred to some outwardly visible σημεῖον (ἴδῃς) of the Spirit, in a general way, without any definition of its form. He was to see it descending, and this descent took place in the form of a dove, and after that divine intimation there was no room for doubt. Comp. on Matthew 3:17, note.

ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς] that is, when thou baptizest Him with water. This is not expressly stated in the divine declaration, but John could not fail so to understand it, because, being sent to baptize, he would naturally expect the appearance of the promised sign while fulfilling his mission; comp. John 1:31. He therefore describes the giver of the revelation as ὁ πέμψας με, κ.τ.λ., and the evangelist puts the statement in the conditional form: ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν, κ.τ.λ., i.e., according to the connection of the narrative: “When, in the fulfilment of this your mission, you shall see the Spirit descending upon one of those whom thou baptizest, this is He,” etc.

ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγίῳ] by communicating it to those who believe upon Him. See on Matthew 3:11. The designation of this communication as a baptism very naturally arose from its close relation to the work of the Baptist’s mission (comp. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16), because the gift of the Spirit, according to the prophetic figure (Joel 3:1; Isaiah 44:3), had been promised under the form of an outpouring (comp. Acts 2:33). The contrast itself distinctly sets before us the difference between the two baptisms: the one was a preparation for the Messianic salvation by μετάνοια; the other, an introduction thereto by the divine principle of life and salvation, the communication of which presupposes the forgiveness of sins (see on Mark 1:4).

John 1:33. κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδεινἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν. Because of the importance of the identification of the Messiah the Baptist reiterates that his proclamation of Jesus was not a private idea for which he alone was responsible. On the contrary, He who had sent him to baptise had given him this sign by which to recognise the Christ.—ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃςπνεύματι ἁγίῳ. Lk. (Luke 3:16) adds καὶ πυρί, which occasions the well-known utterance in Ecce Homo: “Baptism means cleansing, and fire means warmth. How can warmth cleanse? The answer is that moral warmth does cleanse. No heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic. And such an enthusiastic virtue Christ was to introduce.” In affirming that the Christ baptises with the Holy Spirit, and that this is what distinguishes the Christ, the Baptist steps on to grouud where his affirmations can be tested by experience. This is the fundamental article of the Christian creed. Has Christ power to make men holy? History gives the answer. The essence of the Holy Spirit is communication: Jesus being the Christ, the anointed with the Spirit, must communicate it.

33. And I knew him not] Or, as before, I also knew Him not. The Baptist again protests, that but for a special revelation he was as ignorant as others that Jesus was the Messiah.

he that sent me] The special mission of a Prophet. Comp. John 1:6.

the same said unto me] Better, he said unto me: see on John 10:1. When this revelation was made we are not told.

and remaining on him] Better, and abiding on Him. It is the same word as is used in John 1:32, and one of which S. John is very fond; but our translators have obscured this fact by capriciously varying the translation, sometimes in the same verse (John 1:39, John 4:40; 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:24). Thus, though most often rendered ‘abide,’ it is also rendered ‘remain’ (John 9:41, John 15:11; John 15:16), ‘dwell’ (John 1:39, John 6:56, John 14:10; John 14:17), ‘continue’ (John 2:12, John 8:31), ‘tarry’ (John 4:40, John 21:22-23), ‘endure’ (John 6:27), ‘be present’ (John 14:25). In 1 John 2:24 it is translated in three different ways. See on John 15:9.

which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost] See on John 14:26. This phrase, introduced without explanation or comment, assumes that the readers of this Gospel are well aware of this office of the Messiah, i.e. are well-instructed Christians. The word baptizeth is appropriate, (1) to mark the analogy and contrast between the office of the Baptist and that of the Messiah; (2) because the gift of the Spirit is constantly represented as an out-pouring. ‘With,’ as in John 1:26; John 1:31, is literally ‘in.’

John 1:33. Οὐκ ᾔδειν) I knew Him not, before that I saw the Spirit descending.—ὁ πέμψας με, He that sent me) God.

John 1:33The same (ἐκεῖνος)

Rev., He. See on John 1:18. Emphasizing the personal communication of Christ to the Baptist.

With the Holy Ghost (ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ)

Better, as Rev., Holy Spirit. The preposition ἐν, in (Rev., in margin), often has the instrumental force, with. Here, however, it would seem to signify the element of the new life, as ἐν ὕδατι, in water, signifies the element of the symbolic baptism, and might better be rendered in. The absence of the article from Holy Spirit falls in with this, as indicating the spiritual influence of the divine Agent rather than His personality.

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