John 15:22
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
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(22) If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.—In this and the following verses (John 15:22-25) our Lord shows the sinfulness of the world’s hatred, because it was in the face of His revelation to them by both word (John 15:22) and work (John 15:24). Apart from this revelation, their sin would have belonged to the times of ignorance, which God overlooked (Acts 17:30-31). It would have been the negative evil of men who know not. It was now the positive evil of men who, knowing the truth, wilfully reject it.

But now they have no cloke for their sin.—Better, as in the margin, they have no excuse for their sin. The Greek phrase occurs only here in the New Testament. The word “cloke” as used with sin is familiar to us from the exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer. The idea is rather to cover up, to hide as with a garment, so that they may not be seen; whereas here the idea is of excuse for manifest sin.

John 15:22-23. If I had not come and spoken unto them — Thus plainly; they had not had sin — Their guilt would not have been so great. “If I had not appeared in person among them, according to their own prophecies, and proved my mission by arguments which put it beyond all reasonable possibility of doubt, they would not have been so much to blame for rejecting the gospel.” But now they have no cloak for their sin — But now that all the things foretold by Moses and the prophets are fulfilled in me; that my gospel is every way worthy of God; and that my mission from God is sufficiently proved by my miracles; they have no plea whatever to excuse their unbelief. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also — As if he had said, This clearness of evidence, wherewith my mission is attended, makes the crime of rejecting me equal to, if not the same with, the crime of rejecting God. Their hatred to me implies also hatred to my Father. “How much,” says Dr. Doddridge, “is it to be wished, that those who make light of Christ, while they pretend a great veneration for the Father, would seriously attend to this weighty admonition, lest haply they be found even to fight against God! Acts 5:39.”

15:18-25 How little do many persons think, that in opposing the doctrine of Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, they prove themselves ignorant of the one living and true God, whom they profess to worship! The name into which Christ's disciples were baptized, is that which they will live and die by. It is a comfort to the greatest sufferers, if they suffer for Christ's name's sake. The world's ignorance is the true cause of its hatred to the disciples of Jesus. The clearer and fuller the discoveries of the grace and truth of Christ, the greater is our sin if we do not love him and believe in him.And spoken unto them - Declared unto them the will of God, and made known his requirements. Jesus had not less certainly shown by his own arguments that he was the Messiah than by his miracles. By both these kinds of proof their guilt was to be measured. See John 15:26. No small part of the gospel of John consists of arguments used by the Saviour to convince the Jews that he came from God. He here says if he had not used these arguments, and proved to them his divine mission, they had not had sin.

Had not had sin - This is evidently to be understood of the particular sin of persecuting and rejecting him. Of this he was speaking; and though, if he had not come, they would have been guilty of many other sins, yet of this, their great crowning sin, they would not have been guilty. We may understand this, then, as teaching:

1. That they would not have been guilty of this kind of sin. They would not have been chargeable with rejecting the signal grace of God if Jesus had not come and made an offer of mercy to them.

2. They would not have been guilty of the same degree of sin. The rejection of the Messiah was the crowning act of rebellion which brought down the vengeance of God, and led on their special national calamities. By way of eminence, therefore, this might be called the sin - the special sin of their age and nation. Compare Matthew 23:34-39; Matthew 27:25. And this shows us, what is so often taught in the Scriptures, that our guilt will be in proportion to the light that we possess and the mercies that we reject, Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 12:47-48. If it was such a crime to reject the Saviour then, it is a crime now; and if the rejection of the Son of God brought such calamities on the Jewish nation, the same rejection will involve the sinner now in woe, and vengeance, and despair.

No cloak - No covering, no excuse. The proof has been so clear that they cannot plead ignorance; it has been so often presented that they cannot allege that they had no opportunity of knowing it. It is still so with all sinners.

22-25. (See on [1861]Joh 9:39-41).

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin—comparatively none; all other sins being light compared with the rejection of the Son of God.

now they have no cloak for their sin—rather, "pretext."

They had not had this particular sin, of not knowing him that sent me; or they had not had such degrees of sin as they now have; or they had had more to say in excuse, or for a cover for their sin. Ignorance of the will of God will not excuse sinners wholly, but it will excuse them in part. And this last seemeth to be the sense of the words by the latter part of the verse, because it is opposed to a having no cloak nor excuse for their sin. If Christ had not come in his incarnation, in his preaching the gospel, &c, they could not have been guilty of that hatred and malice which they showed against him, which was their greatest guilt; and they would have had this to say, Lord, we knew not what Christ was, as Matthew 25:44: but now, saith our Saviour, they have no cloak, no colour, no pretence; I am come, I have revealed my Father’s mind and will to them, yet they will not receive me; no, though I have done those works before them which no man ever did, nor could do but by a Divine power.

If I had not come and spoken unto them,.... The ignorance of the Jews is represented as inexcusable, since Christ was come, and had preached unto them; if he had not come and told them that he was the Messiah, they might have pleaded an excuse for their ignorance of him, and his mission, and of the Father that sent him: but inasmuch as he was come in the flesh, and came to them his own; and came also a light into the world, carrying along with him evidence, conviction, and demonstration, of his being the Messiah; speaking such words as never man did; preaching with such authority as the Scribes and Pharisees did not; declaring in plain terms he was the Christ of God, and that if they did not believe him to be so, they would die in their sins; they could have no pretext to make for their ignorance and disbelief: if all this had not been done,

they had not had sin; or been guilty of the sin of unbelief, in the rejection of the Messiah; not that they would have been without sin in any sense, or without any kind of sin, but without this particular sin; at least they would have excused and wiped themselves clean, and would have looked like innocent and sinless persons, under all their ignorance and unbelief:

but now they have no cloak for their sin; they could not say, had he come to us, and told us that he was the Messiah, and given evidence of his being sent by the Father, we would have believed him, and received him as the Messiah; for he did do this, and so cut off all excuses and pretences from them.

{d} If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.

(d) As one would say, If I had not come, these men would not have been wrong in saying before God's judgment seat that they are religious, and void of sin: but since I came to them, and they completely rejected me, they can have no cloak for their wickedness.

John 15:22-24. Sinfulness, not of this non-acquaintance with God (Ebrard, Ewald, Godet), but, as John 15:23-25 show, of this hatred of the name of Jesus, in respect of which they are inexcusable, since He has come and spoken to them (John 15:22-23), and done before their eyes His Messianic works (miracles), John 15:24.

ἁμαρτ. οὐκ εἶχον] For their hatred of my name would then be excusable, because, without my appearance and discourses, the true knowledge of Him who sent me—and the non-acquaintance with whom is in truth the ground of their hatred (John 15:21)—would have remained inaccessible to them. My appearance and discourses ought to have opened their eyes, and brought them to the knowledge of Him who sent me; but since this has not taken place, their hatred against me, which flows from their non-acquaintance with Him who sent me, is inexcusable; it is the hatred of hardened blindness before God’s revelation of Himself in my advent and discourses.

The moment of the protasis lies in ἧλθον and ἐλαλ. αὐτοῖς together (not merely in the latter); ἦλθον is the Messianic ἔρχεσθαι, correlative to the preceding τ. πέμψαντά με. The ἁμαρτία, however, referable to the μισεῖν,[168] must not be referred merely to unbelief, which does not correspond to the context in John 15:19; John 15:21; John 15:23-25 (in answer to Bengel, Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg, and several others). The words ἁμαρτ. οὐκ ἔχειν, John 9:41, were spoken of unbelief.

The non-occurrence of ἄν with ΕἾΧΟΝ is as in John 8:39.

ΝῦΝ ΔΈ] But thus, since I have appeared and have spoken to them.

πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσι, κ.τ.λ.] In that supposed case they would have no sin, so far, namely, as their hatred would be only an excusable peccatum ignorantiae; but as the matter stands, they have no pretext in respect of their sin (to which they are subject through their hatred); they can allege nothing by way of escape. πρόφασιν ἔχειν, to have evasions, exculpations, only here in N. T., very frequently in the classics; Dem. 526. 15; Plat. Pol. v. p. 469 C; Xen. Cyr. iii. 1. 27. Antithesis: ἀφελεῖν πρόφασιν, Dem. 26. 2, 635. 24. Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: ἈΠΟΣΤΕΡΕῖ ΤΟῪς ἸΟΥΔΑΊΟΥς ἉΠΆΣΗς ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗς ἘΘΕΛΟΚΑΚΟῦΝΤΑς.

John 15:23. And how exceedingly great is this sin! Comp. v. 23.

John 15:24, parallel to John 15:22, as there from the discourses, which the unbelieving have heard, so here similarly from that which they have seen, revealing their guilt.

οὐδεὶς ἄλλος] that is, according to their nature and appearance, divine works, John 5:36, John 9:3-4, John 10:37, John 14:10, et al.

νῦν δὲ καὶ ἑωράκασι κ.τ.λ.] But thus (νῦν δέ, as in John 15:22), they have actually seen (as John 6:36), and yet hated both me and my Father. Not merely μεμισ., but also already ἙΩΡΆΚ., is connected with ΚΑῚ ἘΜῈ, Κ.Τ.Λ.; in the works they have seen Christ (John 10:25) and the Father (John 14:10); for both have revealed themselves in them, which, indeed, the unbelieving have seen only as an external sensuous occurrence, not with the inward understanding, giving significance to the outward σημεῖα; not with the eye of spiritual knowledge and inward being, John 6:26.

[168] Hence, too, on the question as to the salvation of the heathen, to whom Christ has not been preached, nothing is to be gathered from the present passage; and one may now, with Augustine, decide in favour of mitiores poenas for them, or, in confirmation of their condemnation, propose, with Melanchthon, to extend the words of Christ to the protevangelium in paradise, and bring in at the same time the natural moral law, Romans 2.

John 15:22. “If I had not come and spoken to them,” as the revealer of the Father, “they would not have sin,” they would still be ignorant of the Father, but would not have incurred the guilt which attaches to ignorance maintained in the presence of light. ἔχειν ἁμαρτίαν is Johannine, see John 15:24, John 19:11; 1 John 1:8. νῦν δὲ πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσι περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν. “But now,” as I have come, “they have no excuse for,” etc., πρόφασιν, cf. Psalm 140:4 : “Incline not my heart προφασίζεσθαι προφάσεις ἐν ἁμαρτίαις”.

22. If I had not come and spoken unto them] He had spoken as man had never spoken before (John 7:46), and His words sufficed to tell unprejudiced minds Who He was. Their hatred was a sin against light; if there had been no light, there would have been no sin. ‘To have sin’ is a phrase peculiar to S. John (John 15:24, John 9:41, John 19:11; 1 John 1:8).

no cloke] Better (with the margin), no excuse: not only have they sin, but they have sin without excuse. The same word is rendered ‘cloke,’ 1 Thessalonians 2:5. But the notion is not that of hiding, but of excusing what cannot be hid: ‘colour’ (Acts 27:30) is a better rendering than ‘cloke.’ Comp. Psalm 140:4.

for their sin] Literally, concerning their sin: comp. John 16:8.

John 15:22. Ἁμαρτίαν) this sin, viz. the sin of unbelief, conjoined with hatred of Me.—οὐκ, not) Now they have sin, whilst they have no excuse (πρόφασιν) for it. It would have been better for them, if they had not ‘seen’ at all (John 15:24).

Verse 22. - If I had not come, as the incarnate Word of God, if I had not fulfilled the promises and come forth from God into the world to reveal the Father, and spoken to them, made known to them the thought and Spirit of God, made it possible for them to know the essence of the only true God, they had had no sin; they would not have resisted the highest love, their alienation in this respect would not have been a violation of the most solemn and gracious demands of the Father. The greatest sin is the refusal of the most complete revelation, and by the side of this all other sin becomes comparatively trivial. Our Lord could not have spoken of the hatred of himself or his disciples (so Lucke and Meyer) as this sin, because it would have been obviously impossible to hate a non-existent revelation or revealer. It is the deeper fall which is consequent upon a deliberate rejection of the highest love. Formerly, they would have been in the condition of those whose sins of ignorance God overlooks (Acts 17:30), and to whose ἁμαρτήματα in the past God has exercised πάρεσις, in anticipation of the coming grace. But now (Luke in numerous places uses this expression to form a strong contrast) they have no excuse or pretext for their sin, or concerning their sin. They can plead no justification. The word πρόφασις is an λεγόμενον, and is not "cloak or covering," but "palliation or excuse" for manifest sin. So long as men have seen no deeper into the nature of God than they can go with the aid of mere phenomena or ratiocination on the details of creation, their fears and even their hatreds formulated into grim legend, or uncouth idols, or repellent hypothesis, are a natural outcome of a nature so corrupt; but they ought to have found in Christ a deeper revelation, a summons to service and adoring love. In rejecting the idea of God which I have set before them they have no excuse. St. Paul (Romans 1:20) declares that those who have defamed the great characteristic of God which may be learned from nature are without excuse. Certainly our Lord does not say this here. John 15:22Had sin (ἁμαρτίαν εἶχον)

See on John 9:41; see on 1 John 1:8.

Cloke (πρόφασιν)

From πρό, before, in front of, and φημί, to say or affirm. Hence something which is placed in front of the true cause of a thing, a pretext. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Acts 27:30. Pretext carries the same idea, Latin, proetextum, something woven in front, with a view to concealment or deception. Rev., excuse. Wyc, excusation. The A.V. follows Tyndale: nothing to cloke their sin withal. Latimer ("Sermons"): "By such cloaked charity, when thou dost offend before Christ but once, thou hast offended twice herein." The word appears in the low Latin cloca, a bell (compare the French cloche, and English clock), and the name was given to a horseman's cloak because of its resemblance to a bell. The word palliate is from the Latin pallium, a cloak.

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