John 3:32
And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.
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(32) And what he hath seen and heard.—This is the opposite of the third point, the speaking of the earth in the last verse. Divine in origin, divine in nature, He is divine in teaching. That teaching, too, is a witness of things seen and heard. (Comp. Notes on John 6:11-12.) It was a message from the Father’s home, brought by the Son Himself. His own message was but that of a servant who did not fully know its meaning.

No man receiveth his testimony.—These words are shown by those which immediately follow to go in their pathos beyond the strict limit of the facts present to his own mind. Yet he may well have said “no man.” Of the crowds that thronged to his own baptism, of those who were then thronging to the baptism of Jesus, how many were there who were receiving like testimony of the things seen and heard? (Comp. again John 3:11.) How great the first promise, how bitter the last disappointment, of the Baptist’s life! These words of intense feeling are not to be measured by the cold standard of a formal exactness. And still it may be that the sadness of his tone arises from the fact that of those to whom he speaks, and at the time when he speaks, there was literally no one receiving this testimony, but all were seeking to make the earthly teacher a rival of the divine. The tense is present; those in the next verse are past.

John 3:32-34. And what he hath seen and heard — This is spoken in allusion to what was said in the preceding verse, of his being from above, where he enjoyed the most intimate communications of the divine counsels; that he testifieth — Clearly, fully, and faithfully; and no man receiveth his testimony — That is, very few receive it, particularly concerning the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God, and the qualifications requisite in his subjects. There is a strong resemblance between this and what our Lord himself said to Nicodemus, John 3:11-13. He that hath received his testimony — That hath understood and believed it; hath set to his seal that God is true — Hath made a most just and substantial acknowledgment of the veracity of God, who by his prophets in ancient times foretold what the nature of his kingdom under the Messiah would be, and who speaks to men now by his only-begotten Son, in such a manner as he never did by any other prophet. As sealing was employed for vouching the authenticity of writings, to seal came, by a natural and easy transition, to signify, to vouch, to attest. Our acceptance of God’s message by his Son, through an unshaken faith, vouches on our part the faithfulness of God, and the truth of his promises. For he whom God hath sent — His only-begotten Son; speaketh the words of God — Declareth doctrines which ought to be regarded as divine oracles, showing themselves to be such by their own native light of truth, and proved to be such by a great variety of the most extraordinary miracles. For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him — Or, under such limitations, and with such interruptions, as he hath given, or still gives, that blessed gift to all his other messengers; but it dwells in him by a constant presence, and operates through him by a perpetual and unprecedented energy.

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.And what he hath seen ... - See John 3:11.

No man receiveth his testimony - The words "no man" are here to be understood in the sense of "few." Though his doctrine is pure, plain, sublime, yet "few," comparatively, received it in faith. Though multitudes came to him, drawn by various motives John 6:26, yet "few" became his "real" disciples, Matthew 26:56; Matthew 7:22.

His testimony - His doctrine. The truth to which he bears "witness" as having "seen" and "known" it, John 3:11. Often many persons "appear" for a time to become the followers of Christ, who in the end are seen to have known nothing of religion, Matthew 13:6; Luke 8:13.

32. what he hath seen and heard—(See on [1774]Joh 3:11 and [1775]Joh 1:18).

and no man receiveth, &c.—John's disciples had said, "All come to Him" (Joh 3:26). The Baptist here virtually says, Would it were so, but alas! they are next to "none" [Bengel]. They were far readier to receive himself, and obliged him to say, I am not the Christ, and he seems pained at this.

Another great difference which the Baptist teacheth his disciples to put between his testimony and Christ’s, is, that he, and so all other ministers of the gospel, testify by revelation; Christ testifieth not by revelation, but from his own personal knowledge, what himself hath seen and heard from his Father. See John 3:11, where our Saviour had spoken to Nicodemus much the same. So John 1:18 John 8:26 15:15. By these two terms is signified the most certain and infallible knowledge of those things which he testified, which made them worthy of all acceptation: but yet very few received his testimony, so as to believe in it: see John 1:11 3:11.

And what he hath seen and heard,.... Of the Father, of his mind and will, of his purposes and promises, of his love, grace, and mercy, in the council and covenant of peace, lying in his bosom, and being privy to all his secrets. The phrases express the clear and perfect knowledge Christ has of all truths and doctrines; he having all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him.

That he testifieth; fully, freely, and faithfully; withholds nothing, but declares the whole counsel of God; and is deservedly called the faithful witness, Revelation 1:5.

And no man receiveth his testimony; though it was the testimony of God, which is greater than that of man; yet few, and which were next to none at all, gave any heed or credit to it; few or none among the Jews, or among the disciples of John, or even among those that followed Christ. John, and his disciples, widely differed; they thought that all men came to Christ, and believed in him; and John thought few or none, in comparison of the numbers he could have wished, did: and indeed, no one person can receive the testimony of Christ, and believe in him, unless it be given him from above, by the grace of God: for the natural man receives not divine and spiritual things; see John 3:11.

And what he hath {z} seen and heard, that he testifieth; and {a} no man receiveth his testimony.

(z) What he knows fully and perfectly.

(a) That is, very few.

John 3:32. The result is ὁ ἑώρακεμαρτυρεῖ. Seeing and hearing are equivalent to having direct knowledge. The man who is of earth may be trusted when he speaks of earth: he who is from heaven testifies to that of which he has had experimental knowledge (cf. John 3:13), and might therefore expect to be listened to, but τὴν μαρτυρίαν αὐτοῦ οὐδεὶς λαμβάνει. The καὶ which connects the clauses implies the meaning “and yet”. This statement could not have been made when crowds were thronging to Jesus’ baptism. They are the reflection of the evangelist, who sees how sporadically the testimony of Christ has been received. Yet it has not been universally rejected: ὁ λαβὼνἀληθής ἐστιν. He who received His testimony sealed that God is true. σφραγ. means to stamp with approval, to endorse, to give confirmation. Wetstein quotes from Aristides, Platonic., i., p. 18: Αἰσχίνης μαρτυρεῖ Πλάτωνικαὶ τὴν τοῦδε μαρτυρίαν ὥσπερ ἐπισφραγίζεται. But he who believes Christ not only confirms or approves Christ’s truthfulness, but God’s. ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλενλαλεῖ. For Christ is God’s ambassador and speaks God’s words. This is a thought which pervades this Gospel, see John 8:26; John 8:28; John 15:5, etc. “He that sent me,” or “the Father that sent me,” is a phrase occurring over twenty times in the Gospel and is characteristic of the aspect of Christ presented in it, as revealing the Father.

32. what he hath seen and heard] In His pre-existence with God; John 3:11, John 1:18. He has immediate knowledge of heavenly things.

that he testifieth] Better, that he witnesseth (see on John 1:7). Precisely this is the substance of His witness.

and no man] The tragic tone again; see on John 1:5, and comp. John 3:11. ‘No man’ is an exaggeration resulting from deep feeling: comparatively speaking none, so few were those who accepted the Messiah. Comp. the similar exaggeration on the other side, John 3:26, ‘all men come to Him.’ These extreme contradictory statements, placed in such close proximity, confirm our trust in the Evangelist as faithfully reporting what was actually said. He does not soften it down to make it look plausible.

receiveth his testimony] Better, receiveth His witness. The Baptist takes up Christ’s words in John 3:11.

John 3:32. Μαρτυρεῖ, He testifieth) That is much more weighty than He speaks [λαλεῖ, John 3:31].—οὐδείς, no man) So ardently does John desire that Christ should obtain universal authority, that instead of that, which his [John’s] disciples say, all [men come to Him], John 3:26, John says, no man [receiveth His testimony]: comp. ch. John 12:38, “The saying of Esaias fulfilled, Lord who hath believed our report?” etc.—λαμβάνει, receiveth) A form of faith. There must be a receiving, not a mere bodily coming.

Verse 32. - That which he hath seen and heard, this he testifieth; or, beareth witness to. His pre-existent glory with the Father makes him the adequate Witness to the heavenly things (ἐπουράνια) of which he hath authoritatively spoken; i.e. the eternal love of the Father, the purpose of the Son being sent into the world from the heart of God, and its ultimate issues - eternal life to the believer, and condemnation to those who love the darkness and do not believe. Westcott, who regards these words as the free reflections of the evangelist, thinks that reference is being made to the continued testimony of the Church as the voice of Christ; but the spirit of the passage is obscured by this interpretation. The living present vocal testimony of Christ is being throughout contrasted with that of John. And no man receiveth his witness. This seems in direct antagonism to the language of the disciples, "All men come to him;" and to John's own language, "He must increase." Westcott regards it, again, as the melancholy reflection of the aged apostle towards the close of the century. This seems to me to be an inadequate explanation. The reception of the witness of Christ had moved the whole world when John wrote his Gospel; and it would be inconsistent with the tone of exhilaration with which the evangelist closes his work. The forerunner may, however, have used this strong expression in purposed contrast to the jealous language of his own followers. "No man" - in comparison with the multitudes who ought to have already accepted him as the Son of God, as the heavenly Bridegroom. The concourse who crowded to the baptism of Jesus for a little moment did not blind the Baptist to the persistent and malignant opposition which awaited Jesus. "His joy (ver. 29) and his grief (ver. 32) both formed a noble contrast to the jealousy of his own disciples" (Meyer). John 3:32Receiveth (λαμβάνει)

Once only John uses δέχομαι for receive, of the Galilaeans receiving Christ (John 4:45). The distinction between the two is not sharply maintained, but δέχομαι commonly adds to the idea of taking, that of welcoming. Thus Demosthenes says that the Theban elders did not receive (ἐδέξαντο) i.e., with a welcome pleasure, the money which was offered them, nor did they take it (ἔλαβον). Λαμβάνει also includes the retaining of what is taken. Hence of receiving Christ (John 1:12; John 5:43; John 13:20). The phrase receive the witness is peculiar to John (John 3:11; John 5:34; 1 John 5:9).

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