John 1:6
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
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(6) There was a man, or, There appeared a man. The word is the same as that which is used in John 1:3, “were made,” “was made,” and, as contrasted with the verb “was” in John 1:1-2; John 1:4, signifies the coming into being, as contrasted with original existence. In the same way “man” is emphatically opposed to “the Word,” who is the subject of the previous verses. “The Word was God:” the man was “sent from God.”

On the mission of John, see Notes on Matthew 3. The name was not uncommon, but it is striking that it is given here without the usual distinctive “Baptist.” The writer stood to him in the relation of disciple to teacher. To him he was the John. A greater teacher had not then appeared, but when He did appear, former teacher and disciple alike bear witness to Him. Great as was the forerunner, the least in the kingdom of heaven became greater than he was, and to after ages the disciple became the John, and his earlier master is given the title “Baptist,” which distinguishes the man and commemorates the work.

John 1:6-9. There was a man sent from God — The introducer of a new dispensation, the morning star, preceding the rise of the Sun of righteousness; whose name was JOHN — That is, grace; a name fitly given to the Messiah’s forerunner, who was sent to proclaim the immediate accomplishment of God’s gracious intentions toward men, the expectation of which had been raised in them by all his preceding dispensations. The same came for a witness Εις μαρτυριαν, for, or, in order to give, a testimony of an infinitely important kind; to bear witness of the light Ινα μαρτυρηση περι του φωτος, that he might testify concerning the light: namely, the light mentioned above, Christ, the light of the world; that all men through him — Through his testimony; might believe — In Christ, the light. He — John, though an extraordinary messenger of God, was himself not that light, but was merely sent to bear witness of that light — And thereby to draw men’s attention to it, and induce them to believe in it; namely, in the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world — Both as he is their Maker, who has put into their minds the light of reason and conscience, and as he visits and strives with them by his Spirit, and is the author of that revelation, which was not intended to be confined to the single nation of the Jews, but to be communicated to all mankind.

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.A man sent from God - See Matthew 3. The evangelist proceeds now to show that John the Baptist was not the Messiah and to state the true nature of his office. Many had supposed that he was the Christ, but this opinion he corrects; yet he admits that he was "sent from God" - that he was divinely commissioned. Though he denied that he was "the Messiah," yet he did not deny that he was sent from or by heaven on an important errand to human beings. Some have supposed that the sole design of this gospel was to show that John the Baptist was not the Messiah. Though there is no foundation for this opinion, yet there is no doubt that one object was to show this. The main design was to show that "Jesus was the Christ," John 20:31. To do this, it was proper, in the beginning, to prove that "John" was not the Messiah; and this might have been at that time an important object. John made many disciples, Matthew 3:5. Many persons supposed that he might be the Messiah, Luke 3:15; John 1:19. "Many of these disciples of John remained" at Ephesus, "the very place where John is supposed to have written this gospel, long after the ascension of Jesus," Acts 19:1-3. It is not improbable that there might have been many others who adhered to John, and perhaps many who supposed that he was the Messiah. On these accounts it was important for the evangelist to show that John "was not the Christ," and to show, also, that he, who was extensively admitted to be a prophet, was an important "witness" to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ. The evangelist in the first four verses stated that "the Word" was divine; he now proceeds to state the proof that he was a "man," and was the Messiah. The first evidence adduced is the testimony of John the Baptist. 6-9. The Evangelist here approaches his grand thesis, so paving his way for the full statement of it in Joh 1:14, that we may be able to bear the bright light of it, and take in its length and breadth and depth and height. There was a man sent from God; not the Christ, not an angel, but a man; yet one, than whom (as our Saviour saith) there had not risen a greater amongst those that were born of women. He did not come of his own head, but was sent; for it was he of whom it was written, Malachi 3:1, Behold, I will send my messenger before thy face, & c., Luke 7:27, he was not sent of men, but from God, foretold by the angel, as to his existence, name, work, and success, Luke 1:13-17.

Whose name was John; his name was John, named by the angel, Luke 1:13, before he was born; by his father and mother, Luke 1:60,63, when he was born. John signifieth grace; and doubtless the Baptist obtained that name, because he was to be the first and a famous preacher of the grace of the gospel which came to the world through Jesus Christ.

There was a man sent from God,.... John the Baptist: he was not the Logos, or word; nor was he an angel, but a man; yet an extraordinary one, in his conception of a barren woman, and in being born when both parents were stricken in years; and whilst he was in the womb, he leaped for joy at the salutation of Mary; and as soon as born was filled with the Holy Ghost; and when he was grown up, and appeared in public, it was in an uncommon manner: his dress and his diet were both out of the common way; and his temper and spirit were that of Elias the prophet; and as for his work and office, it was very peculiar; he was the forerunner of Christ, and the first administrator of the new ordinance of baptism, and the greatest of all the prophets: this person had his mission from God, both to preach and baptize:

whose name was John; the name given him by the angel before his conception, and by his mother Elisabeth, after her neighbours and cousins had given him another; and which was confirmed by his father Zacharias, when deaf and dumb: it signifies grace, or gracious; and a gracious man he was; he was very acceptable to his parents; a man that had the grace of God in him, and great gifts of grace bestowed on him; he was a preacher of the doctrines of grace; and his ministry was very grateful to many.

{4} There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

(4) There is another more full manifestation of the Son of God, by the consideration of which men are in good time stirred up, even to John's voice, who is as it were the herald of Christ.

John 1:6. In the painful antithesis of John 1:5 which pervades the entire Gospel, was included not merely the pre-human relation of the Logos to mankind, but His relation thereto after His incarnation likewise (see on φαίνει). This latter is now more minutely unfolded as far as John 1:11, and indeed in such a way that John, to strengthen the antithesis, adduces first the testimony of the Baptist (John 1:6-8) to the Light, on the ground of which he then designates the Logos as the true Light (John 1:9); and finally, thus prefaced, makes the antithesis (John 1:10-11) follow with all the more tragic effect. The mention of John’s testimony here in the Prologue is not therefore a mere confirmation of the reality of the appearance of the Logos (Brückner), which the statements of John 1:9-10 did not require; still less is it a pressing forwards of the thought to the beginning of the Gospel history (De Wette), nor even the representation of the idea of the first intervention in the antithesis between light and darkness (Baur), nor “an illustrious exception” (Ewald) to the preceding ἡ σκοτία, κ.τ.λ.; but introducing a new paragraph, and therefore beginning without a particle, it forms a historical preparation, answering to what was actually the fact, for that non-recognition and rejection (John 1:10-11) which, in spite of that testimony of the Baptist, the light shining in the darkness had experienced. John 1:15 stands to John 1:7 in the relation of a particular definite statement to the general testimony of which it is a part.

ἐγένετο] not there was (ἦν, John 3:1), but denoting the appearing, the historical manifestation. See on Mark 1:4; Luke 1:5; Php 2:7. Hence not with Chrys.: ἐγένετο ἀπεσταλμένος ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀπεστάλη; which Hengstenberg repeats.

Observe in what follows the noble simplicity of the narrative: we need not look out for any antithetical reference (ἐγένετο


ἀπεστ. π. θεοῦ) to John 1:1 (B. Crusius, Luthardt, and older expositors). With ἀπεσταλμ. π. θεοῦ, comp. John 3:28; Malachi 3:1-3. Description of the true prophet; comp. also Luke 3:2-3.

John 1:6-13. The historic manifestation of the Logos and its results.

6–13. The Word revealed to Men and rejected by them

6. There was a man] Rather, There arose a man, in contrast to the ‘was’ in John 1:1. The word was from all eternity; John arose, came into existence, in time. Comp. John 10:19. Note once more the noble simplicity of language.

sent from God] i.e. a Prophet. Comp. ‘I will send my messenger,’ Malachi 3:1; ‘I will send you Elijah the Prophet,’ John 4:5. From the Greek for ‘send’ (apostello) comes our word ‘Apostle.’

whose name was John] In the Fourth Gospel John is mentioned 20 times, and is never once distinguished as ‘the Baptist.’ The other three Evangelists carefully distinguish the Baptist from the son of Zebedee: to the writer of the Fourth Gospel there is only one John. This in itself is strong incidental evidence that he himself is the other John. See on John 11:16.

John 1:6. Ἐγένετο) not ἦν. The Evangelist does not say, was of John, but was made [fiebat: εἶναι is to be, γίνεσθαι, to begin to be]. The question is asked, how far the opening introduction to this book extends. The answer is. There is no introduction: the treatise itself [ipsa tractatio, the handling of the subject itself] begins with the beginning of the book. For in John 1:6 the Evangelist already describes the office of John, in bearing witness of the Light: and in the first five verses, he records what before had always been the nature and principle of the Light. Therefore up to this point a summary has been given of those things, which evidently preceded John; nor can these by any means be referred to the action of Jesus immediately succeeding John, as Artemonius, p. 412, refers it; and now there is unfolded by the Evangelist a more copious description of recent [new] events. Both [the things preceding John, and the things then from that point occurring] are most orderly in their arrangement.—ἄνθρωπος, a man) God deals with men through agents similar to themselves, namely, men; in order that they may the more readily take [‘capiant,’ take in, understand] and accept [His offers of love].—ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ Θεοῦ, sent from God) The definition of a prophet. Comp. Matthew 11:9-10 [A prophet? Yea—and more than a prophet. For this is He, of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger,” etc.] The Participle is here in immediate connection with the noun a man: and in mediate connection with the verb, was made [ἐγένετο began to be].—παρὰ Θεοῦ, from God, John 1:33.—Ἰωάννης, John) That is, an interpreter [exponent] of the grace of God. The greatness of John [is hereby implied], of whom mention is made immediately after the preceding statements [John 1:1-5]. Greater knowledge was brought into the world through John, than had been in all previous ages.

Verses 6-13. -

(4) The general manifestation of the revealing Logos. Verses 6-8. -

(a) The prophetic dispensation. Verse 6. - There was a man, sent from (παρά Θεοῦ) God, whose name was John. Observe the contrast between the ἐγένετο of John's appearance and the η΅ν of the Logos, between the "man" John sent from God and the (ΛΟΓΟΣ ΣΑΡΧ ΑΓΑΝΑΤΟ) "Word became flesh" of ver. 14. At this point the evangelist touches on the temporal mission and effulgence of the true Light in the Incarnation; yet this paragraph deals with far more general characteristics and wider ranges of thought than the earthly ministry of Christ on which he is about to enlarge. First of all, he deals with the testimony of John in its widest sense; afterwards he enlarges upon it in its striking detail. Consequently, we think that "the man," "John," is, when first introduced, referred to in his representative character rather than his historical position. The teaching of the prophets and synoptists shows that "John" was rather the exponent of the old covenant than the harbinger of the new. He was the embodiment of the idea of prophet, priest, and ascetic of the patriarchal, Mosaic, and latest Hebraic revelation. He was "more than a prophet." No one greater than he had ever been born of woman, and his functions in these several particulars are strongly impressed upon that disciple who here loses his own individuality in the strength of his Master's teaching. Through this very "man sent from God" the apostle had been prepared to see and personally receive the Logos incarnate. His personality gathered up for our author all that there was in the past of definite revelation, while Jesus filled up all the present and the future. First of all, he treats the mission of the Baptist as representative of all that wonderful past. John 1:6There was a man (ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος)

Better, Rev., "there came a man," ἐγένετο denoting the historical manifestation, the emergence of the Baptist into the economy of the revelation of the light. Compare John 3:1, there was a man (ἦν ἄνθρωπος), where the mere fact that there was such a man as Nicodemus is stated. See remarks on ἦν, John 1:1. A distinction is also intimated between the eternal being (ἦν) of the Word and the coming into being of his messenger.

Sent (ἀπεσταλμένος)

See on Matthew 10:2, Matthew 10:16; see on Mark 4:29; see on Luke 4:18. The verb carries the sense of sending an envoy with a special commission. Hence it is used of the mission of the Son of God, and of His apostles; the word apostle being directly derived from it. It is thus distinguished from πέμπω, to send, which denotes simply the relation of the sender to the sent. See on John 20:21, and see on 1 John 3:5. The statement is not merely equivalent to was sent. The finite verb and the participle are to be taken separately, as stating two distinct facts, the appearance and the mission of John. There came a man, and that man was sent from God.

From God (παρὰ Θεοῦ)

The preposition means from beside. It invests the messenger with more dignity and significance than if the writer had said, "sent by God." It is used of the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father (John 15:26).

Whose name was John (ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἱωάνης)

Literally, the name unto him John. The first mention of John the Baptist. The last occurs, Acts 19:3. On the name, see on Matthew 3:1; see on Luke 3:2. John never speaks of the Baptist as John the Baptist, like the other Evangelists, but simply as John. This is perfectly natural on the supposition that John himself is the author of the gospel, and is the other John of the narrative.

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