John 3:28
You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) Ye yourselves bear me witness.—They remembered (John 3:26) that John had borne witness to Jesus. Did they not remember too what he had said? He had from the first known his own work, and the greater work. Some of his disciples had known it also, and had gone from him to Jesus. This which they see was the necessary result of the truth he had ever declared.

3:22-36 John was fully satisfied with the place and work assigned him; but Jesus came on a more important work. He also knew that Jesus would increase in honour and influence, for of his government and peace there would be no end, while he himself would be less followed. John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God, while he was a sinful, mortal man, who could only speak about the more plain subjects of religion. The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness. Everlasting life could only be had by faith in Him, and might be thus obtained; whereas all those, who believe not in the Son of God, cannot partake of salvation, but the wrath of God for ever rests upon them.Bear me witness - You remember that at first I told you I was not the Messiah. As he had been "witness" to Jesus - as he came for no other end but to point him out to the Jews, they ought not to suppose that he was his superior. It was but reasonable to expect that Christ himself would be more successful than his forerunner. "I came, not to form a separate party, a special sect, but to prepare the way that he might be more successful, and that the people might be ready for his coming, and that he might have the success which he has actually met with. You should rejoice, therefore, at that success, and not envy it, for 'his success' is the best proof of the greatness of my word, and of its 'success also.'" 27-30. A man, &c.—"I do my heaven-prescribed work, and that is enough for me. Would you have me mount into my Master's place? Said I not unto you, I am not the Christ? The Bride is not mine, why should the people stay with me?? Mine it is to point the burdened to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, to tell them there is Balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. And shall I grudge to see them, in obedience to the call, flying as a cloud, and as doves to their windows? Whose is the Bride but the Bridegroom's? Enough for me to be the Bridegroom's friend, sent by Him to negotiate the match, privileged to bring together the Saviour and those He is come to seek and to save, and rejoicing with joy unspeakable if I may but 'stand and hear the Bridegroom's voice,' witnessing the blessed espousals. Say ye, then, they go from me to Him? Ye bring me glad tidings of great joy. He must increase, but I must decrease; this, my joy, therefore is fulfilled."

A man can receive, &c.—assume nothing, that is, lawfully and with any success; that is, Every man has his work and sphere appointed him from above, Even Christ Himself came under this law (Heb 5:4).

I appeal to you that are my disciples, Did not I always plainly tell yea that I was not the Christ? It belongeth unto Christ alone, who is the Head of the church, to send out such as shall labour in it, and to restrain those that labour in it; would you have me silence or suspend him? I told you, that I was but one of his ministers,

sent before him to prepare his way, John 1:20,23. Ye yourselves bear me witness,.... In what they now said, and referred to, in describing Christ, as he to whom John bore witness; and he appeals to them for what he said in their presence, and before all the people in that testimony:

that I said I am not the Christ; see John 1:19; wherefore, if he, who is the Christ, is now come, and teaches, and baptizes, and has the greatest number of followers, it is not to be wondered at; and much less to be envied; but rather to be rejoiced at. For John, by repeating what he had before said, that he was not the Christ, suggests, that Jesus was; and therefore was superior to him in office, honour, and usefulness, who was only his harbinger and forerunner, as follows:

but I am sent before him; to prepare his way, to make straight his paths, to proclaim his coming, and kingdom, being at hand; and that the expectations of men may be raised, and they may be ready to receive him when come: and hereby the end of John's office, and ministry, had its accomplishment. The Ethiopic version adds, "to preach him".

Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 3:28. αὐτοὶ ὑμεῖςἐκείνου. John’s disciples should have been prepared for what they now see happening. He had emphatically declared that he was not the Christ, but only His forerunner (John 1:19-27; John 1:30).28. Ye yourselves] Though you are so indignant on my account.

bear me witness, that I said] They had appealed to his testimony (John 3:26); he turns it against them.

before him] ‘Before Him, of whom you complain, whom I proclaim to be the Christ.’ In John 1:26; John 1:30, John spoke less clearly.John 3:28. Ἔμπροσθεν ἐκείνου, before Him) Him, concerning whom John 3:26 treats. So John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John did not openly term Jesus the Christ: but however he spake so concerning Him, that He might easily be recognised.Verse 28. - Ye yourselves (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 for similar emphatic pronoun) bear me witness - you will do it readily, if I challenge you, for my testimonies were frequent and varied (in fact, the synoptists and the fourth evangelist are equally explicit here) - that I said, I am not the Messiah (John 1:20; Matthew 3:11, 12; Luke 3:15-17). This announcement, made with great publicity at Bethany, was the basis of the present remonstrance; and the words which follow strongly sustain John's reference to the Divine predestination in his own case and that of Jesus (ἀλλ ὅτι may point back to the discourse of John, or may simply indicate transition to the second statement). But that I am one sent (on a special mission) before him. He boldly implies, "This is more than I have already testified concerning 'the Christ;' and my place is not at his side, not following in his train. I am 'a voice;' my work is continuously to break up a way for him. I am here still, making the mountains low, and filling up the valleys for the approach of the great King." A man can receive nothing in the shape of lifework except that which is assigned to him out of heaven.
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