John 19:35
And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
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(35) And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true.—Comp. John 1:7. It may be better to render the word here, as elsewhere, by “witness,” in order that we may get the full force of its frequent recurrence. The writer speaks of himself in the third person (comp. Introduction, p. 375), laying stress upon the specially important fact that it was an eye-witness—“he that saw it”—who testified to the fact, and one who therefore knew it to be true. The word rendered “true” in this clause is the emphatic word for “ideally true,” which is familiar to the readers of this Gospel. (Comp. Note on John 1:9.) It answers to the idea of what evidence should be, because it is the evidence of one who himself saw what he witnesses.

And he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.—The witness was ideally true, and therefore the things witnessed were actually true. He cannot doubt this, and he testifies it in order that others may find in these truths ground for, and the confirmation of, their faith.

19:31-37 A trial was made whether Jesus was dead. He died in less time than persons crucified commonly did. It showed that he had laid down his life of himself. The spear broke up the very fountains of life; no human body could survive such a wound. But its being so solemnly attested, shows there was something peculiar in it. The blood and water that flowed out, signified those two great benefits which all believers partake of through Christ, justification and sanctification; blood for atonement, water for purification. They both flow from the pierced side of our Redeemer. To Christ crucified we owe merit for our justification, and Spirit and grace for our sanctification. Let this silence the fears of weak Christians, and encourage their hopes; there came both water and blood out of Jesus' pierced side, both to justify and sanctify them. The Scripture was fulfilled, in Pilate's not allowing his legs to be broken, Ps 34:20. There was a type of this in the paschal lamb, Ex 12:46. May we ever look to Him, whom, by our sins, we have ignorantly and heedlessly pierced, nay, sometimes against convictions and mercies; and who shed from his wounded side both water and blood, that we might be justified and sanctified in his name.He that saw it - John himself. He is accustomed to speak of himself in the third person.

His record is true - His testimony is true. Such was the known character of this writer, such his sacred regard for truth, that he could appeal to that with full assurance that all would put confidence in him. He often appeals thus to the fact that his testimony was known to be true. It would be well if all Christians had such a character that their word would be assuredly believed.

35. And he that saw it bare record—hath borne witness.

and his witness is true, and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe—This solemn way of referring to his own testimony in this matter has no reference to what he says in his Epistle about Christ's "coming by water and blood" (see on [1913]1Jo 5:6), but is intended to call attention both to the fulfilment of Scripture in these particulars, and to the undeniable evidence he was thus furnishing of the reality of Christ's death, and consequently of His resurrection; perhaps also to meet the growing tendency, in the Asiatic churches, to deny the reality of our Lord's body, or that "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1Jo 4:1-3).

Nor was this a fable, for John saw it, and bare record, and knew it to be true; and published it, that men might believe that it was him in whom all the legal types and figures had their completion.

And he that saw it, bare record,.... Meaning himself, John the evangelist, the writer of this Gospel, who, in his great modesty, frequently conceals himself, under one circumlocution or another; he was an eyewitness of this fact, not only of the piercing of his side with a spear, but of the blood and water flowing out of it; which he saw with his eyes, and bore record of to others, and by this writing; and was ready to attest it in any form it should be desired:

and his record is true; though it is not mentioned by any of the other evangelists, none of them but himself being present at that time:

and he knoweth that he saith true; meaning either God or Christ, who knew all things; and so it is a sort of appeal to God or Christ, for the truth of what he affirmed, as some think; or rather himself, who was fully assured that he was under no deception, and was far from telling an untruth; having seen the thing done with his eyes, and being led into the mystery of it by the Divine Spirit; see 1 John 5:6 wherefore he could, and did declare it with the strongest asseverations:

that ye might believe; the truth of the fact, and in Christ, both for the expiation of the guilt of sin, and cleansing from the filth of it; both for sanctifying and justifying grace, which the water and the blood were an emblem of.

And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
John 19:35. After μαρτυρία a comma only should be placed, and nothing should be put within a parenthesis, neither καὶ ἀληθινὴλέγει (van Hengel), nor κ. ἀληθινὴοἶδεν (Schulz), since the discourse progresses simply and without interruption by καί.

ὁ ἑωρακ.] placed first with great emphasis; the correlate κἀκεῖνος has subsequently the like emphasis. He who has seen it, not heard only from others, but himself has been an eye-witness, has testified it (herewith, John 19:34), namely, this outflow of blood and water. This was indeed the apparently so incredible thing, not also the omission of the leg-breaking. When in the third person, in which John here speaks of himself while passing over His name, commentators have found the diversity of the writer and the witness betrayed (Weisse, Schweizer, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Tobler, Weizsäcker), this was simply a misapprehension, running counter to κἀκεῖνος οἶδεν, κ.τ.λ., of the circumstantially solemn style which fully corresponds to the quite extraordinary importance which John attributes to the phenomenon. The ἐκεῖνος, that is to say, is the speaking subject himself presented objectively, identical therefore with the ἑωρακώς, which clearly appears from the context by the pres. λέγει, and the final clause ἵνα κ. ὑμ. πιστ., especially also by the correlation of καὶ ὑμεῖς with the subject. Comp. on John 9:37. Hence we are by no means to assume that the secretary of the apostle speaks of him by ἐκεῖνος as of a third person (Ewald, Jahrb. 10, p. 88), but the apostle himself presents himself objectively as the ille, like a third person; he may at the same time have employed another as amanuensis (which does not follow even from chap. 21) or not; comp. John 21:24.

ἀληθνή] placed with emphasis at the head of the clause (αὐτοῦ has then the next emphasis); not, however, equivalent to ἀληθής, as is usually assumed, contrary to the constant usage of John (and the moment of ἀλήθεια first follows afterwards), but: a true testimony is his witness, which corresponds in reality to the idea of a μαρτυρία—namely, for the very reason that he himself has seen what he testifies. Comp. on John 8:16.

ἵνα] Neither to be taken as dependent on ὁ ἑωρ. μεμαρτ. (Lücke), nor as independently: “and therefore should,” etc. (De Wette), but, as the position of the words requires, stating the purpose of λέγει: he knows that he says true, says that you also (his readers) may believe, as he himself has believed through means of that miraculous appearance, namely, on Jesus the Son of God. As frequently in John (comp. on John 2:11), πιστεύειν is also here not first the entrance into faith, but a higher and stronger degree of faith, which one experiences, the πιστεύειν in a new and exalted potency. Comp. John 21:2. Others, as Baeumlein, still have incorrectly referred πιστ. merely to what was last mentioned as object, whereby in truth the comparison with John himself, which lies in καὶ ὑμεῖς, would not be at all appropriate, because John has seen (not merely believed) what took place. The solemn absolute πιστεύειν, with its destination of purpose, makes the assumption of special designs in view, which have been ascribed to John in his testimony of the outflow of blood and water, appear unwarranted, namely, that he desired to prove the actual death of Jesus (Beza, Grotius, and many others), especially in opposition to docetic error, Hammond, Paulus, Olshausen, Ammonius, Maier, and several others. Doubts of a naturalistic and docetic kind might rather have derived support than have been precluded by the enigmatic outflow, which excited the derision of Celsus, in Or. 2:36. The Valentinians maintained: ἐξεκέντησαν δὲ τὸ φαινόμενον, ὃ ἦν σὰρξ τοῦ ψυχικοῦ, Exc. ex Theod. 62.

John 19:35. When he goes on to testify, ὁ ἑμρακὼς … it is not the phenomenon of the blood and water he so emphatically certifies, but the veritable death of Christ. To one who was about to relate a resurrection it was a necessary preliminary to establish the bona-fide death. That John here speaks of himself in the third person is quite in his manner. Here, as in chap. 20, he shows that he understood the value of an eye-witness’s testimony. It is that which constitutes his μαρτυρία as ἀληθινή, it is adequate. Besides being adequate, its contents are true, ἀληθῆ. “Testimony may be sufficient (e.g., of a competent eye-witness) but false; or it may be insufficient (e.g., of half-witted child) but true. St. John declares that his testimony is both sufficient and true.” Plummer. The reason of his utterance, or record of these facts, is ἵνα ὑμεῖς πιστεύσητε, “that ye might believe,” first, this record, and through it in Jesus and His revelation.

35. And he … is true] Rather, He that hath seen hath borne witness and his witness is true (comp. John 1:19; John 1:32; John 1:34, John 8:13-14, John 12:17). Besides the change from ‘record’ to witness, for the sake of marking by uniform translation S. John’s fondness for this verb and substantive, the correction from ‘saw’ to hath seen must be noted. The use of the perfect rather than the aorist is evidence that the writer himself is the person who saw. If he were appealing to the witness of another person he would almost certainly have written, as the A. V., ‘he that saw.’ The inference that the author is the person who saw becomes still more clear if we omit the centre of the verse, which is somewhat parenthetical: ‘He that hath seen hath borne witness, in order that ye all also may believe.’ The natural sense of this statement is that the narrator is appealing to his own experience. Thus the Apostolic authorship of the Gospel is again confirmed. (See Westcott, Introduction, p. xxvii.)

is true] Not simply truthful, but genuine, perfect: it fulfils the conditions of sufficient evidence. (See on John 1:9 and comp. John 8:16, John 7:28)

saith true] Better, saith things that are true. There is no tautology, as in the A. V. S. John first says that his evidence is adequate; he then adds that the contents of it are true. Testimony may be sufficient (e.g. of a competent eyewitness) but false: or it may be insufficient (e.g. of half-witted child) but true. S. John declares that his testimony is both sufficient and true; both alêthinos and alêthês.

that ye might] Better, that ye also may; ye as well as the witness who saw for himself.

Why does S. John attest thus earnestly the trustworthiness of his narrative at this particular point? Four reasons may be assigned. This incident proved (1) the reality of Christ’s humanity against Docetic views; and these verses therefore are conclusive evidence against the theory that the Fourth Gospel is the work of a Docetic Gnostic (see on John 4:22): (2) the reality of Christ’s Divinity, against Ebionite views; while His human form was no mere phantom, but flesh and blood, yet He was not therefore a mere man, but the Son of God: (3) the reality of Christ’s death, and therefore of His Resurrection, against Jewish insinuations of trickery (comp. Matthew 28:13-15): (4) the clear and unexpected fulfilment of two Messianic prophecies.

John 19:35. Ὁ ἑωρακὼς, he that saw it) viz. John, in his character as an apostle.[395]—ΜΕΜΑΡΤΎΡΗΚΕ, hath testified it) viz. John, in his character as an evangelist. He saw it, whilst it was being done: therefore, after that he had quickly taken and received the mother of Jesus into his own house, John had returned to the cross, thereby obtaining the benefit of this remarkable spectacle.—καὶ, and) and so, and therefore.—ἀληθινὴ, true) irrefragable among all men.—κἀκεῖνος, and he) He who saw it, knows that he is speaking the truth.—οἶδεν, knows) being sure, even in the Spirit too, not merely in sense.[396]—ΛΈΓΕΙ) he saith, by word of mouth, and in writing. Comp. ch. John 21:24, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things.”—ἵνα, that) This sets forth the end for which the strong affirmation is made: ἵνα, that, depends on μεμαρτύρηκε, hath testified.—ὑμεῖς) ye, to whom this book is read: ch. John 20:31, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ,” etc.—πιστεύσητε, ye might believe) not merely, that these things are true; but that Jesus is the Christ. The correlatives are, testified and true: knows and believe. He knows that he saith true, and declares that he saith truth, that ye also may believe.

[395] Whose peculiar office was to be witness of the death and resurrection of Jesus: Acts 1:21-22.—E. and T.

[396] By the teaching of the infallible Spirit, as well as by the evidence of sense.—E. and T.

Verse 35. - He that hath seen hath borne, and is now bearing, herein and hereby, witness, and his witness is veritable - the highest and surest kind of witness, that of direct observation, staggering, confounding the ordinary sense, but proving that the Son of God died in his human body - and he knoweth, by his own inward experience, that he saith true things, that ye also may believe. A vehement effort has been made to sever this testimony from the evangelist, and refer it to a third person ἐκεῖνος, and suppose that it took place during John's absence from the cross (so Weisse, Schweizer, Hilgenfeld, and others); but, as Meyer, Godet, etc., affirm there is no necessity whatever for such an interpretation. Ἑκεινος is used of the subject of the sentence when it is clear from the context that the speaker himself is that subject (see John 9:37). Concerning a third person, the writer could not have written, "He knoweth that he saith true things, that ye may believe," but rather, "We know that he saith true things, that we may believe." But John here speaks strongly of his own invincible conviction, and, as in John 21:24, it is here given to induce a stronger faith on the part of his readers - not of himself and his readers in the supernatural death, in the signs that accompanied it, adapted to convince the bystanders of its marvel, and to fill up the prophetic picture, Hilgenfeld, with strange perversity, urges that the clever forger of the narrative "falls out of his part" and forgets himself (see Luthardt on 'Authorship of the Fourth Gospel,' p. 180). The symbolical and allegorical explanations are numerous. E.g. Toplady's well-known hymn, "Rock of Ages," contains the words -

"Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power."
John 19:35He that saw it bare record (ὁ ἑωρακῶς μεμαρτύρηκεν)

Rev., rendering the perfect tense in both verbs, he that hath seen hath born witness. This can refer only to the writer of this Gospel. Compare 1 John 1:1.

True (ἀληθινὴ)

Genuine, according to the true ideal of what testimony should be. See on John 1:9.

And he (κακεῖνος)

This pronoun is urged by some as a reason for regarding the witness as some other than John, because it is the pronoun of remote reference. But John 9:37 shows clearly that a speaker can use this pronoun of himself; and it is, further, employed in this Gospel to indicate a person "as possessing the quality which is the point in question in an eminent or even exclusive degree" (Godet). See John 1:18; John 5:39.

True (ἀληθῆ)

Literally, true things. As distinguished from false. Thus, by the use of the two words for true, there are brought out, as Westcott remarks, "the two conditions which testimony ought to satisfy; the first, that he who gives it should be competent to speak with authority; and the second, that the account of his experience should be exact."

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