He that has received his testimony has set to his seal that God is true.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He that hath received.—Better, he that received. “Hath set to his seal,” better, set his seal. It had been so. Earlier disciples, as Andrew and John (John 1:40), had passed from the Forerunner to the Great Teacher, and had heard in His words that which went to the divine in their own spirits, and had come from the short first meeting with the conviction, “We have found the Messias.” They received the witness, and, as they heard it, they too became witnesses. Just as a man sets his private seal—here, probably, the common Eastern stamp that affixed the name is thought of—and by it attests the truth of a document, so they attested, in the power which that witness had over their lives, their recognition of it as truth. It has always been so. The moral fitness of Christianity to meet the spiritual needs of men, and its moral power over the lives of men in all the varying circumstances of culture, race, and creed, has raised up in every age an holy army of witnesses, who have set their seal to its divine truth. (Comp. for the thought of sealing, John 6:27; Romans 4:11; Romans 15:28; 1Corinthians 9:2; &c.)
Hath set to his seal - To "seal" an instrument is to make it sure; to acknowledge it as ours; to pledge our varacity that it is true and binding, as when a man seals a bond, a deed, or a will. Believing a doctrine, therefore, in the heart, is expressed by "sealing it," or by believing it we express our firm conviction that it is true, and that God who has spoken it is true. We vouch for the veracity of God, and assume as our own the proposition that it is the truth of God.
God is true - Is faithful; is the author of the system of doctrines, and will fulfill all that he has promised. We learn here:
1. that to be a true believer is something more than to hold a mere speculative belief of the truth.
2. that to be a believer is to "pledge ourselves" for the truth, to seal it as our own, to adopt it, to choose it, and solemnly assent to it, as a man does in regard to an instrument of writing that is to convey his property, or that is to dispose of it when he dies.
3. Every Christian is a witness for God, and it is his business to show by his life that he believes that God is true to his threatenings and to his promises. See the notes at Isaiah 43:10.
4. It is a solemn act to become a Christian. It is a surrender of all to God, or giving away body, soul, and spirit to him, with a belief that he is true, and alone is able to save.
5. The man that does not do this - that is not willing to pledge his belief that God is true, sets to his seal that God is a liar and unworthy of confidence, 1 John 5:10.1Jo 5:10, He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. This saying doth notably commend faith, and defame unbelief. Faith in Christ as the only true Mediator and Saviour, giveth testimony to the truth of God, and sealeth it. Unbelief defames God, and doth in effect say that God is a liar.
hath set to his seal that God is true; faithful in fulfilling the promises he has made concerning the Messiah, and his coming: he firmly believes that God is true to every word of his, and will make good every promise; and this he seals, ratifies, and confirms by his embracing the testimony of Christ; whereas, on the contrary, he that believes not makes God a liar, than which, nothing can be more reproachful to him, 1 John 5:10. The Jews have a saying (z) that "the seal of the blessed God is truth". The Arabic version renders it, "he is already sealed, because God is true"; and the Ethiopic version, "God hath sealed him, because he is true"; namely, with his holy Spirit; see 2 Corinthians 1:22.He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 3:33. Αὐτοῦ] placed before for emphasis: His witness, correlative with the following ὁ θεός.
ἐσθράγισεν] has, by this receiving, sealed, i.e. confirmed, ratified as an act. For this figurative usage, see John 6:27; Romans 4:11; Romans 15:28; 1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Jacobs, ad Anthol. ix. pp. 22, 144, 172.
ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἀληθ. ἐστιν] In the reception of the witness of Jesus there is manifested on man’s part the practical ratification of the truthfulness of God, the human “yea verily” in answer to the proposition “God is true,” because Jesus (see John 3:34) is the ambassador and interpreter of God. The non-reception of that witness, whereby it is declared untrue, would be a rejection of the divine truthfulness, the “nay” to that proposition. Comp. 1 John 5:10. Reference to O. T. promises (Luthardt) is remote from the context.33. The Baptist shews at once that ‘no man’ is hyperbolical; there are some who received the testimony.
hath received … hath set to his seal] Better, received … set his seal.
his testimony] his witness. ‘His’ is emphatic, balancing ‘God.’ ‘He that received Christ’s witness, set his seal that God is true.’ To believe the Messiah is to believe God, for the Messiah is God’s interpreter, John 1:18. The metaphor is from sealing a document to express one’s trust in it and adherence to it. Comp. John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 9:2, On ‘true’ see note on John 1:9; ‘true’ here is opposed to ‘lying’ not to ‘spurious.’John 3:33. Ὁ λαβών, he that hath received) as John did.—ἐσφάγισεν) hath set his seal to, and as it were subscribes his name to that very fact, he acknowledges for himself and hath avowed to others, that God, in whose word he puts his faith, is truthful; and to Him he assigns the glory: Romans 4:20, Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God:” comp. 1 John 5:10, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son.” See as to sealing, Nehem. John 9:38, “Because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.” It is called ὁμολογία, profession, in the Epistle to the Hebrews [ch. John 3:1, John 4:14, John 10:23]. A metaphor from contracts.—ὁ Θεός, God) whose word is the word of Messiah: see the following verse: ch. John 12:44, “Jesus cried, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.”Verses 33-36. -
(3) The consequences of accepting and rejecting the supreme revelation. Verse 33. - He that receiveth his witness - i.e. his testimony to what he hath personally seen and heard in the heaven from which he has come - sealed - (ἐσφράγισεν), confirmed by such very act, ratified arid vindicated as trustworthy and stable (cf. Romans 4. l 1; 15:28; 1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 1:22. In other places the idea or image of a "seal" is used for guaranteeing a special commission, John 6:27 (see notes); Revelation 7:3; Ephesians 1:13) - that God is true; i.e. admits that the words of Christ are the words of God, are absolute truth and reality - an idea which is made more obvious by ver. 35, where Jesus is the Ambassador of God. It may even mean more than this, viz. that in Jesus "all the promises of God are Yea and Amen," that God is true in himself, and the witness of Christ embraces all that for which prophecy and promise and previous revelation had prepared the way (see Luthardt and Westcott). Such an idea is certainly beyond the scope of John's ministry or message.
To set to, is to affix. To set to a seal is therefore to attest a document. The expression is retained from Coverdale's version (1535). So, "They must set to their hands, and shall set to their hands." Compare also the old legal formula: "In wittenesse qwherof I haue set to myn seele." Rev., better, hath set his seal to this. The meaning here is, has solemnly attested and confirmed the statement "God is true." Only here in this sense. Elsewhere of closing up for security; hiding; marking a person or thing. See on Revelation 22:10. The aorist tense here denotes an accomplished act.
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