No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)No man taketh it from me.—It is better to leave the words in the greater width of the Greek, No one taketh it from Me, for it may be, indeed, that even the Father is included in the thought. The laying down of the life is absolutely self-determined, and therefore it is the reason of the Father’s love. Up to the very last moments of life He lays stress on the perfectly voluntary nature of His death. “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” (See Note on Luke 23:46.)
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.—The words apply also to the human nature of our Lord, and the “power” spoken of is the authority derived from the Father. It is of His own will that He lays down His life and takes it again; but this, as the whole of the life of the Son, is in moral subordination to the Father. (Comp. Notes on John 5:19; John 19:10.) Hence it is that He speaks of taking His life again, while the general language of the New Testament speaks of His being raised by the Father. The taking again was under the Father’s authority, and was therefore itself the Father’s gift. (Comp. Note on 1Peter 3:19.)
This commandment have I received of my Father.—Better, did I receive; pointing, probably, to the commission at the time of the Incarnation. He has asserted in fullest terms the entirely voluntary nature of His one sacrifice. He repeats in fullest terms the voluntary subordination of Son to Father, which is based upon equality of nature. Not only was the authority by which He would die and rise again derived from the Father, but both these acts were included in the decree which gave to Him the Messianic work. We should be on our guard against the mistake which is often made of understanding this commandment of the laying down the life only; it clearly extends also to the taking it again.John 19:11. Jesus had a right to lay down his life for the good of people. The patriot dies for his country on the field of battle; the merchant exposes his life for gain; and the Son of God had a right to put himself in the way of danger and of death, when a dying world needed such an atoning sacrifice. This shows the special love of Jesus. His death was voluntary. His coming was voluntary - the fruit of love. His death was the fruit of love. He was permitted to choose the time and mode of his death. He did. He chose the most painful, lingering, ignominious manner of death then known to man, and thus showed his love.
I have power - This word often means authority. It includes all necessary power in the case, and the commission or authority of his Father to do it.
Power to take it again - This shows that he was divine. A dead man has no power to raise himself from the grave. And as Jesus had this power after he was deceased, it proves that there was some other nature than that which had expired, to which the term "I" might be still applied. None but God can raise the dead; and as Jesus had this power over his own body it proves that he was divine.
This commandment—to "lay down His—life, that He might take it again."
have I received of my Father—So that Christ died at once by "command" of His Father, and by such a voluntary obedience to that command as has made Him (so to speak) infinitely dear to the Father. The necessity of Christ's death, in the light of these profound sayings, must be manifest to all but the superficial student.No man taketh it from me by force, without my willing it and consenting to it; the Jews and Pilate will take it from me, but not without my free and voluntary surrender of it: and this is that which we read, Acts 4:27,28, For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Plate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. By which he asserts his Divine power, and so comforteth his disciples against the disturbances they were like to have from the sight of his passion, at this time not many months off. And this, saith he, is the will of my Father, that which my Father hath given me commission to do, and for which he hath sent me into the world: and thus he declareth his death to be a fulfilling of his Father’s purpose, and an act of obedience to his Father’s will; and indeed, in his obedience in the thing lay much of the virtue of his death. Acts 8:33; and yet no man could, nor did take it away, without his Father's will, and determinate counsel and knowledge, by which he was delivered up into the hands of the above persons, and by which they did to him what they did, or otherwise they could have had no power over him; nor could any man, nor did any man, take away his life from him, without his own consent; he voluntarily surrendered himself, or he could never have been taken; he went freely to the cross, or he could never have been led there; he suffered himself to be nailed to the accursed tree, and when he hung on it, he could easily have disengaged himself, and come down; and when they had him there, they could not have taken away his life, had he not of himself given up the ghost, and breathed out his life and soul:
but I lay it down of myself; of my own will, or of my own accord, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions render it; which was done with the greatest patience and meekness, resolution, courage and magnanimity; and with a full will, and with the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity; and that as a ransom for his people, and that they might live through him:
I have power to lay it down; this was not his life as God, but as man; and was so his own, as it was not his Father's, and was entirely at his own dispose; for it was the life of that individual human nature, which was united to his divine person; and so in a sense his, as it was not either the Father's or the Spirit's; and was so his own, as ours are not, which are from God, and dependent on him, and entirely to be disposed of by him, and not by ourselves: but Christ, the Prince of life, had a power of laying down his life of his own accord, as a ransom price for his sheep:
and I have power to take it again; as he was the Son of God, and truly God, and as the surety of his people; having satisfied law and justice, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, and for the ends mentioned in note; see Gill on John 10:17,
this commandment have I received of my Father; which may respect both branches of his power, but is not the foundation of it, but the reason of is exercising it; because it was so agreeable to his Father's will, which is the same with his own, as he is the Son of God, and one with his Father, and equal to him; and what he delights in as Mediator, in which capacity he is considered as a servant; and in which he cheerfully became obedient, even unto death, to his Father's command, or in compliance with his will: the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions read, "because this commandment have I received of my Father": this is a reason why he so readily exerted his power, both in laying down his life, and taking it again, because it was his Father's command and will, and which he received from him, with the utmost pleasure; his and his Father's love, good will, gracious ends and views towards the elect, herein being the same.No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 10:18. οὐδεὶς … ἐμαυτοῦ. He did not succumb to the machinations of His foes. To the last He was free to choose another exit from life; Matthew 26:53. He gave His life freely, perceiving that this was the Father’s will: ἐξουσίαν … μου. Others have only power to choose the time or method of their death, and not always that: Jesus had power absolutely to lay down His life or to retain it. Others have no power at all to resume their life after they had laid it down. He has. This freedom, as Weiss remarks, does not clash with the instrumentality of the Jews in taking His life, nor with the power of God in raising Him again.—ταύτην τὴν ἐντολὴν. “This commandment” thus to dispose of His life and to resume it He has received from the Father. In this as in all else He is fulfilling the will and purpose of God.18. No man taketh it from me] Better, No one taketh it from Me; not even God. See on John 10:28. Two points are insisted on; (1) that the Death is entirely voluntary; (2) that both Death and Resurrection are in accordance with a commission received from the Father. Comp. ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit’ (Luke 23:46). The precise words used by the two Apostles of Christ’s death bring this out very clearly; ‘yielded up (literally ‘let go’) the ghost’ (Matthew 27:50); ‘gave up the ghost’ (John 19:30; see note there). The word used by S. Mark and S. Luke (‘breathed His last,’ or ‘expired’) is less strong. Here there is an emphasis on the pronoun; ‘but I lay it down of Myself.’
I have power] i.e. right, authority, liberty: same word as in John 1:12, John 5:27, John 17:2, John 19:10. This authority is the commandment of the Father: and hence this passage in no way contradicts the usual N.T. doctrine that Christ was raised to life again by the Father. Acts 2:24.
This commandment have I received] Better, This commandment received I, viz., at the Incarnation: the commandment to die and rise again. Comp. John 4:34, John 5:30, John 6:38.John 10:18. Οὐδείς, no man) Comp. John 10:29, “No man is able to pluck—out of My Father’s hand.”—αἴρει, taketh away) by His own power and will.—ἀπʼ ἐμαυτοῦ, from Myself) Jesus of His own accord gave Himself up to His enemies to be taken; and on the cross itself, not from any feebleness, but with a loud cry, He gave up the ghost.—καί, and) A most close connection subsists between the two things [laying down His life, and taking it up again] (Comp. the that, John 10:17, I lay [it] down, that I might take it again), over which He possesses a twofold power.—ἐξουσίαν ἔχω, I have power) So ἔχωσι, that they might have [life], is repeated, John 10:10. Add ch. John 19:10 [Pilate], “I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee.”—παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός μου, from My Father) He ascribes His highest power to the Father.Verse 18. - No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. Should the aorist be the true reading, then the whole of the Incarnation must have been regarded by the Lord as already accomplished, as a completed fact. The οὐδεὶς, "no one" neither God, nor man, nor evil spirit - taketh it, i.e. my life, away from me, from myself, in the exercise of my sovereign will, in the full consciousness of spontaneity. I am laying it down, not in consequence of my impotence before the powers of darkness, but "from myself." This proceeding is in perfect harmony with the will of God the Father; but it is Christ's free act notwithstanding, and of all things the most worthy of the Father's love (cf. here John 5:30, which appears at first to be in contradiction with the statement of this verse; but the closing words of the verse rectify the impression; see also John 7:28; John 8:28). Christ justifies his extraordinary claim to lay down and after his death (retaining then the full possession of his Personality), to reassume the life which for a while, in submission to the doom on human nature, he had resolved to sacrifice, he says, I have (ἐξουσίαν) right - or, power and authority combined - to lay it down, and right to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father. I have power to do both these things. No other has ever put forth such a claim, and the discharge of it "from himself," i.e. spontaneously, is stated to be in consequence of an ἐντολή, an appoint-merit, an ordinance, he had received from the Father. The Divine purpose was realized in his perfect freedom and his perfect and absolute fulfillment of the Father's will. The narrative of the agony in the garden, given by the synoptists, confirms the blending of his own freedom with the Divine order; but the language of this Gospel (John 18:6 (cf. Matthew 26:53), and Matthew 19:11), and the best researches into what is called "the physical cause of the death of Christ" (see Dr. Stroud's valuable work on that subject), all confirm the voluntary nature of our Lord's suffering and death. "To cover this incomparable privilege with a veil of humility, he thought good to call it a command. The Father's mandate was, Thou shalt die or not die, thou shalt rise again or not rise again, according to the free promptings of thy love" (Godet). It was, however, the Father's appointment that Christ should freely exercise this stupendous consequence of his perfect obedience. So that all the assurances that God raised him from the dead are confirmed by the mode in which he speaks of his Divine right.
Some texts read ἤρεν, took away. According to this reading the word would point back to the work of Jesus as conceived and accomplished in the eternal counsel of God, where His sacrifice of Himself was not exacted, but was His own spontaneous offering in harmony with the Father's will.
I lay it down of myself
Wyc., I put it from myself.
Rev., in margin, right. See on John 1:12.
See on James 2:8.
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