John 1:7
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
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(7) For a Witness.—Stress is laid upon the work of John as “witness.” This was generally the object of his coming. It was specially to “bear witness of the Light.” The purpose of testimony is conviction “that all men through him might believe,” i.e., through John, through his witness. Compare with this purpose of the Baptist’s work the purpose of the Apostle’s writing, as he himself expresses it in the closing words of John 20; and also the condition and work of the Apostleship, as laid down by St. Peter at the first meeting after the Resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). The word “witness,” with its cognate forms, is one of the key-notes of the Johannine writings recurring alike in the Gospel the Epistles, and the Apocalypse. This is partly concealed from the general reader by the various renderings “record,” “testimony,” “witness,” for the one Greek root; but he may see by consulting any English concordance under these words, how frequently the thought was in the Apostle’s mind. See especially Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9, Notes.

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.For a witness - To give testimony. He came to prepare the minds of the people to receive him Matthew 3; Luke 3; to lead them by repentance to God; and to point out the Messiah to Israel when he came, John 1:31.

Of the Light - That is, of the Messiah. Compare Isaiah 60:1.

That all men ... - It was the object of John's testimony that all people might believe. He designed to prepare them for it; to announce that the Messiah was about to come, to direct the minds of men to him, and thus to prepare them to believe on him when he came. Thus, he baptized them, saying "That they should believe on him who should come after him" Acts 19:4, and thus he produced a very general expectation that the Messiah was about to come. The testimony of John was especially valuable on the following accounts:

1. It was made when he had no personal acquaintance with Jesus of Nazareth, and of course there could have been no collusion or agreement to deceive them, John 1:31.

2. It was sufficiently long before he came to excite general attention, and to fix the mind on it.

3. It was that of a man acknowledged by all to be a prophet of God - "for all men held John to be a prophet," Matthew 21:26.

4. It was "for the express purpose" of declaring beforehand that he was about to appear.

5. It was "disinterested."

He was himself extremely popular. Many were disposed to receive him as the Messiah. It was evidently in his "power" to form a large party, and to be regarded extensively as the Christ. This was the highest honor to which a Jew could aspire; and it shows the value of John's testimony, that he was willing to lay all his honors at the feet of Jesus, and to acknowledge that he was unworthy to perform for him the office of the humblest servant, Matthew 3:11.

Through him - Through John, or by means of his testimony.

Was not that Light - Was not "the Messiah." This is an explicit declaration designed to satisfy the disciples of John. The evidence that he was not the Messiah he states in the following verses.

From the conduct of John here we may learn,

1. The duty of laying all our honors at the feet of Jesus.

2. As John came that all might believe, so it is no less true of the ministry of Jesus himself. He came for a similar purpose, and we may all, therefore, trust in him for salvation.


7. through him—John. The same came for a witness: John was called a messenger to denote his authority; a witness, to denote his work, which is the work of every true minister of the gospel. John was the first witness, and witnessed a thing wholly unknown (before him) to the generality of the world; for though the shepherds, and Simeon, and Anna, had given some testimony to Christ, when he was born, and brought into the temple to be offered to the Lord, yet that was thirty years since, and generally forgot; neither could they bear a testimony to him as an actual minister of the gospel. The apostles were to be witnesses to Christ, Acts 1:8; witnesses of his resurrection, Acts 1:22 4:33 5:32 10:41 13:31. All the prophets bare witness to him, that whosoever believeth in his name should be saved, Acts 10:43. So did John also; and John further pointed to him passing by, and witnessed that it was he of whom the prophets spake. So that the apostles, and so following ministers, were and are greater witnesses than John the Baptist. The prophets witnessed that he should come, John Baptist witnessed that he should come; the apostles witnessed that he was not only come, but had died, and was again risen from the dead.

To bear witness of the Light; for John’s office was to give a testimony to Christ the true Light, mentioned before; so called, because he maketh manifest, Ephesians 5:13. He revealeth his Father, Matthew 11:27. He is the brightness of his Father’s glory, Hebrews 1:3, who is light, 1Jo 1:5, and the world is by him enlightened. It was prophesied of his times, Isaiah 11:9, that the earth should be full of the knowledge of the Lord. That all men through him might believe; the end of John’s testimony was, that multitudes of all sorts might believe by him, or by it, as an instrumental cause of their faith. If we read it by him, it is most proper to understand the pronoun of John the Baptist; for we are not said to believe by Christ, but in him, in his name, & c.

The same came for a witness,.... The end of his being sent, and the design of his coming were,

to bear witness of the light: by which is meant, not the light of nature, or reason; nor the light of the Gospel: but Christ himself, the author of light, natural, spiritual, and eternal. This was one of the names of the Messiah with the Jews; of whom they say (u), , "light is his name"; as it is said in Daniel 2:22 and the light dwelleth with him; on which they have (w) elsewhere this gloss, this is the King Messiah; and so they interpret Psalm 43:3 of him (x). Philo the Jew often speaks of the Logos, or word, as light, and calls him the intelligible light; the universal light, the most perfect light; represents him as full of divine light; and says, he is called the sun (y). Now John came to bear a testimony to him, as he did; of which an account is given in this chapter, very largely, and elsewhere; as that he testified of his existence before his incarnation; of his being with the Father, and in his bosom: of his deity and divine sonship; of his being the Messiah; of the fulness of grace that was in him; of his incarnation and satisfaction; of his descent from heaven; and of his relation to his church, as in John 1:15 the end of which witness was,

that all men through him might believe; that is, that the Jews, to whom he preached, might, through his testimony, believe that Jesus was the light, and true Messiah; for these words are to be taken in a limited sense, and not to be extended, to every individual of mankind; since millions were dead before John began his testimony, and multitudes then in being, and since, whom it never reached: nor can it design more than the Jews, to whom alone he bore witness of Christ; and the faith which he taught, and required by his testimony, was an assent unto him as the Messiah; though the preaching of the Gospel is a means of true spiritual faith in Christ; and doubtless it was so to many, as preached by John: it points out the object of faith, and encourages souls to believe in Christ; and hence, Gospel ministers are instruments by whom ethers believe; and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; and then is it, considerable end of the Gospel ministry answered,

(u) Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.((w) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 1. 3. (x) Jarchi in ib. (y) De Maudi Opificio, p. 6. De Allegor. l. 2. p. 80. & de Somniis, p. 576, 578.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men {n} through him might believe.

(n) Through John.

John 1:7. Εἰς μαρτυρίαν] to bear witness; for John testified what had been prophetically made known to him by divine revelation respecting the Light which had come in human form. Comp. John 1:33.

ἵνα πάντες, κ.τ.λ.] Purpose of the μαρτυρήσῃ, final end of the ἦλθεν.

πιστεύσ.] i.e. in the light; comp. John 1:8-9; John 12:36.

διʼ αὐτοῦ] by means of John, so far as he by his witness-bearing was the medium of producing faith: “and thus John is a servant and guide to the Light, which is Christ” (Luther); not by means of the light (Grotius, Lampe, Semler), for here it is not faith in God (1 Peter 1:21) that is spoken of.

John 1:7. οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίανδι αὐτοῦ. “The same (or, this man) came for witness,” etc. “John’s mission is first set forth under its generic aspect: he came for witness; and then its specific object (ἵνα μαρτ. περὶ τ. φ.) and its final object (ἵνα παντ. πιστ.) are defined co-ordinately,” Westcott. John was not to do a great work of his own but to point to another. All his experience, zeal, and influence were to be spent in testifying to the true Light. This he was to do “that all might believe through him”. The whole of this Gospel is a citing of witnesses, but John’s comes first and is of most importance. At first sight it might seem that his mission had failed. All did not believe. No; but all who did believe, speaking generally, believed through him. The first disciples won by Jesus were of John’s training; and through them belief has become general.

7. for a witness] Better, for witness, i.e. to bear witness, not to be a witness: what follows shews the meaning. The word ‘witness’ and ‘to bear witness’ are very frequent in S. John’s writings, and this frequency should be marked by retaining the same translation throughout: testimony to the truth is one of his favourite thoughts.

through him] i.e. through the Baptist, the Herald of the Truth. Comp. John 5:33; Acts 10:37; Acts 13:24.

John 1:7. Εἰς μαρτυρίαν, for a witness) The evangelist again touches on this, John 1:15, and again, John 1:19. But with the fullest and most tender feeling he interweaves with this testimony of the Forerunner his own testimony as an apostle, by means of most noble digressions, in which he states the nature and grounds of the Baptist’s office, and partly premises, partly subjoins an explanation of his [the Baptist’s] brief sentences, and declares the full complement of his testimony [gives a clear filling up of it]: [thus forming a kind of succinct prelude to our Lord’s own speeches, which He was about to set forth in this very Gospel.—Harm., p. 153.] What Matthew, Mark, and Luke term a Gospel, this John for the most part terms a testimony or witness: the former term expresses the relation to the promise, that went before: the latter expresses the altogether certain knowledge of him, who announces it: the former is used in reference to Christ as He was manifested; the latter, with reference to the Glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD, when raised from the dead: accordingly, in the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles, both are often employed. Testimony applies to a thing, known for certain by witnesses, a thing not falling under the eyes at least of the hearers, and yet all important to them: accordingly to it answers faith. There follows immediately the declaration, that he might bear witness of the Light: and the words, that he might bear witness, are handled forthwith: the words, of the Light, are handled at John 1:9.—ἳνα μαρτυρήσῃ, that he might bear witness) The sum of his testimony was: He, who comes after me, etc., John 1:15.—περί τοῦ Θωτός, concerning the Light) John comprises under the appellation of the Light, the things which he wrote, John 1:1-5.—ἳνα, in order that) They need Testimony, who were in darkness.—πάντες, all men) to whom He had come.[14]—ΔἸ ΑὐΤΟῦ, through him) through John, not εἰς αὐτόν, not in John, but in Christ, John 1:12.[15] The power of John’s testimony extended itself so as even to come under the knowledge of the Gentiles, Acts 10:37 [Peter addressing the Gentiles, Cornelius and others, “That word ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, etc., after the baptism, which John preached.”] Διά, through, in a higher sense, is said of Christ, 1 Peter 1:21 [Who by Him do believe in God.]

[14] May it not express the grace of God, “who will, θέλει, have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:4.—E.

[15] Grot. wrongly understands διʼ αὐτοῦ through Him, the Light, which would confuse the whole, by rendering it necessary to understand εἰς θεόν after πιστεύσωσι.—E.

Verse 7. - This man came (historic, η΅λθε) for witness, that he might bear witness concerning the Light. The entire prophetic dispensation is thus characterized. That which the Baptist did, Malachi, Isaiah, Elijah, Hosea, Moses, had done in their day. He came, and by penetrating insight and burning word, by flashes of moral revelation and intense earnestness, "bare witness concerning the Light" which was ever shining into the darkness. His aim and theirs was to prevent the forces of darkness from suppressing or absorbing the light. He came to sting the apathy and disturb the self-complacency of the darkness. He came to interpret the fact of the Light which was shining but not apprehended; and so did all the prophetic ministry of which he was the latest and most illustrious exponent. He came to assert the meaning for man of all God's perfections; to call conscience from its death sleep; to draw distinctions of tremendous significance between moral and ceremonial obedience; to exalt obedience above sacrifice, and works meet for repentance above Abrahamic privilege; to warn by lurid threatenings of a fiery wrath and a terrible curse which would fall on the disobedient, though consecrated, people. In this he was but the last of a goodly fellowship of prophets who bore witness to the Light of life which had its being in the Eternal Logos of God. He came, as they all had come, with a view of producing results far greater than, as a matter of fact, they have actually achieved. He came to bear such testimony that all through him, i.e. by the force of his appeal or by the fierce glow thus cast upon the perils and follies of the hour, might believe - might realize the full significance of the Light which they had hitherto refused to accept. The greatness of this expectation corresponds with the hope which the ministry of Jesus failed also to realize (Matthew 11:9-14). The splendid ministry of this "burning and shining lamp" might, it would seem, have brought all Israel to acknowledge Christ as the Light of the world; but "the darkness apprehended it not." The entire prophetic dispensation, the testimony which the priestly services and sacrifices bore to the evil of sin and to the awfulness of righteousness, as well as the condemnation of the follies and pleasures of the world, involved in John the Baptist's ascetic profession, might have roused all Israel to believe in the Light. He gathered together all the forces of the Mosaic, prophetic, Levitical, Essenic ministries to bear on the people. Everything that Law could do was done to reveal the Light; but "all" did not believe, for "the darkness apprehended it not." John 1:7The same (οὗτος)

Compare John 1:2, and the pronoun ἐκεῖνος, he, in John 1:8.

For a witness (εἰς μαρτυρίαν)

Revised version of the New Testament, more correctly, for witness: a witness would be, μάρτυρα as Acts 1:8. The sense is for witness-bearing or to bear witness. On the word, see Acts 1:22; 1 Peter 5:1. It is one of John's characteristic words, occurring nearly fifty times in various forms in his Gospel, and thirty or forty times in the Epistles and Revelation. The emphatic development of the idea of witness is peculiar to this Gospel. "It evidently belongs to a time when men had begun to reason about the faith, and to analyze the grounds on which it rested" (Westcott). He develops the idea under the following forms: The witness of the Father (John 5:31, John 5:34, John 5:37); the witness of Christ himself (John 8:14; John 18:37); the witness of works (John 5:17, John 5:36; John 10:25; John 14:11; John 15:24); the witness of Scripture (John 5:39, John 5:40, John 5:46; John 1:46); the witness of the forerunner (John 1:7; John 5:33, John 5:35); the witness of the disciples (John 15:27; John 19:35; John 21:24; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 4:14); the witness of the Spirit (John 15:26; John 16:13, John 16:14; 1 John 5:6). Note the emphasis attached to the idea here, by the twofold form in which it is put: first, generally, for witness, and then by giving the subject of the testimony.


The Baptist took up the work of the prophets, as respects their preparation for the universal extension of the divine call (Isaiah 49:6). His message was to men, without regard to nation, sect, descent, or other considerations.

Through him

John the Baptist.

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