John 5:36
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) For “hath given Me” read, with the better MSS., gave Me. The pronouns in “But I have” and in “that I do,” are emphatic.

In this verse He returns to the thought of John 5:32. The parenthesis in John 5:33-35 show that John was not the other there spoken of, and this verse shows that the special form of witness which He referred to was that of the works, which works He was then doing, and the voice of which they ought to have heard.

These “works” are not confined to what we speak of as miracles, but include the several parts of His Messianic work, which it was His food to finish (John 4:34), and which He speaks of as finished (John 17:4; see Note there). There is a special reference here to the power to quicken and authority to judge, in John 5:21-22.

John 5:36-38. But I have greater witness than that of John — The testimony of one who has infinitely greater authority and power than he; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish — The miracles which he hath commissioned me to perform; bear witness of me — In a manner most convincing to every unprejudiced mind; that the Father hath sent me — As his Ambassador to men, with full authority to reveal his will. And the Father himself hath borne witness of me — And that in the most public manner, namely, at my baptism. Ye have neither heard his voice, &c. — As if he had said, I speak not of my supposed father, Joseph. Ye are utter strangers to him of whom I speak. Or, You show yourselves to be as ignorant of him as men are of a person they never either saw or heard. Bishop Pearce considers the clause as a parenthesis, and thinks the sense, in connection with what precedes and follows, is, “Not that my Father ever appeared visibly, or spake audibly to any of you; but he did it by the mouths of his prophets.” To their testimony, however, he had lately added his own voice from heaven. But the sense in which Dr. Whitby takes the words, seems to connect them more naturally with the preceding verse: thus, “Nor are you to expect that the Father should testify of me otherwise than by his works, for that which was granted to your fathers belongs not to you, namely, to see his glory and hear his voice out of the midst of the fire. And have not his word abiding in you — You do not show a due regard even to those sacred oracles, which you acknowledge to be divine; either you do not cordially believe them, or they have not that influence upon your spirit and conduct which, in all reason, they ought to have.” The scriptures of the Old Testament, if they had understood, believed, and laid them to heart as they ought to have done, would, doubtless, have disposed them to receive Christ. But this revelation of the divine will was not in them. It was among them, in their country, in their hands, but not in their hearts; they beheld it with their eyes, and it sounded in their ears; but it did not rule in their souls. But how did it appear that they had not the word of God abiding in them? it appeared by their not believing and receiving him whom God had sent. There was so much said in the Old Testament concerning Christ, to direct people when and where to look for him, and so to facilitate the discovery of him, that if they had duly considered those things, they could not have avoided the conviction that Jesus was the Christ, and that he was sent of God; so that their not believing in him, and receiving his doctrine, was a certain sign that the word of God did not abide in them. Observe, reader, 1st, The indwelling of the Word and Spirit, or grace of God in us, is best tried and known by the effects which it produces: particularly by our receiving whom and what he sends, the messengers, the commands, the threatenings, the promises, the providences, which he sends; and especially Christ whom he has sent. 2d, If his word abide in us, if we converse with it by frequent meditation, consult it upon every occasion, and conform to it in our conversation, we shall then readily receive the testimony of the Father concerning Christ, and therefore shall believe in and receive him in all the characters and offices which he sustains, and in which he is offered to us in the gospel.5:30-38 Our Lord returns to his declaration of the entire agreement between the Father and the Son, and declared himself the Son of God. He had higher testimony than that of John; his works bore witness to all he had said. But the Divine word had no abiding-place in their hearts, as they refused to believe in Him whom the Father had sent, according to his ancient promises. The voice of God, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, thus made effectual to the conversion of sinners, still proclaims that this is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. But when the hearts of men are full of pride, ambition, and the love of the world, there is no room for the word of God to abide in them.Greater witness - Stronger, more decisive evidence.

The works - The miracles - healing the sick and raising the dead.

Hath given me - Hath committed to me, or appointed me to do. Certain things he intrusted in his hands to accomplish.

To finish - To do or to perform until the task is completed. The word is applied to the "termination" of anything, as we say a task is "ended" or a work is completed. So Jesus said, when he expired, It is "finished" John 19:30. From this it appears that Jesus came to "accomplish" a certain work; and hence we see the reason why he so often guarded his life and sought his safety until the task was fully completed. These works or miracles bore witness of him; that is, they showed that he was sent from God, because none but God could perform them, and because God would not give such power to any whose life and doctrines he did not approve. They were more decisive proof than the testimony of John, because:

1. John worked no miracles, John 10:41.

2. It was possible that a man might be deceived or be an impostor. It was not possible for God to deceive.

3. The miracles which Jesus performed were such as no human being could work, and no angel. He that could raise the dead must have all power, and he who commissioned Jesus, therefore, must be God.

36-38. I have greater witness—rather, "The witness which I have is greater."

the works … bear witness of me—not simply as miracles nor even as a miracle of mercy, but these miracles, as He did them, with a will and a power, a majesty and a grace manifestly His own.

But I have greater witness than that of John; not than that of my Father, mentioned John 5:31,32, but

than that of John, last mentioned; nor doth he say a truer, but a greater witness. The works which the Father hath given me to finish; the works which his Father sent him to do, his fulfilling of the law, his publication of the gospel, the miracles which he wrought, were all of them works which his Father had given him to finish. Christ often appeals to the works which he had done, as sufficiently testifying of him, John 10:25,37,38 14:10,11 15:24. And it is plain, that the people looked upon them as a great testimony, John 3:2 9:32,33. The Jews avoided the force of this testimony impudently, some of them saying that he did them by the help of the devil, Matthew 12:24; others pretending (more lately) that the Messiah was to work no miracles; but that is expressly contrary to what we have, John 7:31, and is doubtless a device of later years. But it is a greater question, how the miracles of Christ

bear witness of him; and whether they were only a probable, or a certain and infallible, testimony of his Deity. Those that think them an infallible testimony, say:

1. That he did works which none else did, John 15:24.

2. That he did them by his own power; There went virtue out of him, and healed them all, Luke 6:19.

3. That they were done in confirmation of the doctrine to that purpose which he preached, which God would not have confirmed by miracles, had not he been sent of God to work such things.

Those that think they were not a certain and infallible testimony, say,

1. That the prophets and apostles also wrought miracles.

2. That our Saviour tells his apostles, they should do greater works than he had done.

3. That the doing of them from his own power, was a thing could not be known to others; so could be no testimony to them.

But our Saviour did not only himself raise the dead, cast out devils, and work other miracles; but he gave others also a power to do it; which argued an original power in himself; and is more than we read of any prophets or apostles; who, though they wrought such miraculous operations, yet having not that power originally in and from themselves, could not communicate it to others. But I have greater witness than that of John,.... The Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions read, "greater than John", but wrongly; for the testimonies of Christ's works, and of his Father, are not compared with John himself, but with his testimony; and the sense is, that Christ had a greater witness than the witness of John; and so it is expressed in the Persic version: and his meaning is, that he had no need to insist upon John's testimony; he had other, and greater witnesses to produce:

for the works which the Father hath given me to finish; such as the preaching of the Gospel, the fulfilling of the law, and the redemption of his people; all which were appointed by his Father, and given him to do, and which he completely finished. The whole Gospel came, and was published by Jesus Christ, and the law was entirely fulfilled by him; and the work of man's salvation was finished by him, and these bear witness to the truth of his deity, and divine sonship; for none but the Son of God could have done these things. The Ethiopic version reads in the singular number, "this work which my Father hath given me", &c. and if it was a single work that is referred to, the work of redemption bids fair to be it. But, these works include not only what Christ did on earth, in his state of humiliation, but what he has done since, and will do; which his Father has given him to finish, and he has finished, or will finish them; such as the resurrection of himself from the dead, the effusion of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, the spreading and succeeding his Gospel in the world, the conversion of his redeemed ones, the gathering in the fulness of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews, the destruction of antichrist, the resurrection of all the dead, and the judgment of the whole world. Though more especially his miracles are here intended, and which, and not his mediatorial works, were demonstrations and proofs to men of his divine sonship; see Matthew 14:33;

the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me; and that he was in the Father, and the Father in him; or that they were one in nature, and equal in power and glory, John 10:30.

But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 5:36. Ἐγὼ δὲ] Formal antithesis to ὑμεῖς in John 5:35, and referring back to the ἐγὼ δὲ of John 5:34.

I have the witness which is greater (not “the greater witness;” see kühner, II. § 493. 1) than John, τοῦ Ἰωάννου in the sense of τῆς τοῦ Ἰωάν., according to a well-known comparatio compendiaria.[220] See on Matthew 5:20. On μείζω, i.e. “of weightier evidence,” comp. Isoc. Archid. § John 32: μαρτυρίαν μείζω καὶ σαφεστέραν.

τὰ ἔργα] not simply the miracles strictly so called, but the Messianic works generally, the several acts of the Messiah’s entire work, the ἔργον of Jesus (John 4:34, John 17:4). Ἔργα are always deeds, not word and teachings (word and work are distinct conceptions, not only in Scripture, but elsewhere likewise; see Lobeck, Paralip. pp. 64, 65; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 672; Pflugk, adEur. Hec. 373); but what the word of Jesus effected, spiritual quickening (John 5:20), separation, enlightenment, and so on, and in like manner the resurrection of the dead and judgment (John 5:28-29), are included in the ἔργα, and constitute His ἔργον as a whole. When miracles properly so called are designated by the more general term ἔργα, it is indicated in the context, as in John 3:2, John 7:3; John 7:21, and often.

ἔδωκε] hath given, expressing the divine appointment, and bestowment of power. Comp. Homer, Il. ε. 428: οὔ τοι, τέκνον ἐμόν, δέδοται πολεμήϊα ἔργα. Comp. v. 727.

ἵνα τελ. αὐτὰ] Intention of the Father in committing to Him the works: He was to accomplish them (comp. John 4:34, John 17:4), not to leave them undone or only partially accomplished, but fully to carry out the entire task which the works divinely entrusted to Him involved for the attainment of the goal of Messianic salvation.

αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα] those very works, emphatic repetition (Kühner, II. § 632), where, moreover, the homoeoteleuton (the recurrence of the five times running) must not be regarded as a dissonance (Lobeck, Paralip. p. 53).

ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ] ἐγώ with august self-consciousness. As to how they witness, see John 14:11.

[220] The reading adopted by Lachmann, μείζων (A. B. F. G. M. Δ., Cursives), is nothing else than an error of transcription.John 5:36. ἐγὼ δὲ “But I” in contrast to the ὑμεῖς of John 5:33, ἔχω τὴν μαρτυρίαν μείζω, “have the witness which is greater,” i.e., of greater weight as evidence than that of John.—τὰ γὰρ ἔργαἀπέσταλκε, “the works which the Father ἔδωκε [or as modern editors read δέδωκεν] to Him” comprise all that He was commissioned to do, but with a more special reference to His miracles. Lücke well says, “He who looked at the miracles as separate and individual displays of supernatural power and did not view the entire manifestation of Christ in its solidarity, was bound to find the miracles without significance and the latter incomprehensible”. The ἔργα are cited as evidence, chaps. John 10:25; John 10:38, and John 14:11; evidence as here to the fact that the Father had sent Him.36. I have greater witness than that of John] Better, I have the witness which is greater than John; or, the witness which I have is greater than John, viz. the works which as the Messiah I have been commissioned to do. Among these works would be raising the spiritually dead to life, judging unbelievers, as well as miracles: certainly not miracles only; John 4:48, John 10:38.

to finish] Literally, in order that I may accomplish; comp. John 17:4. This was God’s purpose. See on John 4:34; John 4:47, John 9:3. S. John is very fond of the construction ‘in order that,’ especially of the Divine purpose.

36–40. The Father’s testimony is evident, (a) in the works assigned to Me, (b) in the revelation which ye do not receive.John 5:36. Μείζω τοῦ Ἰωάννου) Greater, than that witness, which John gave me. The lamp does not lend light to the sun, when once he has arisen.—τελειώσω, that I should finish) that I should do, even to the τέλος, end.—αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα, these very works) A suitable and emphatic repetition.Verse 36. -

(g) The witness of the works. But the witness which I have is greater than [that] of John. The testimony of John was memorable and uoteworthy in many respects. If the people had accepted it, they would have admitted the Divine authority of One who was "mightier" than John. The synoptic Gospels show that Jesus made a similar appeal to the conscience of his critics on a later occasion (Matthew 21:25, and parallels). Though John's baptism was "from heaven," and though John's testimony was "great," yet that which accompanied the ministry of Jesus was "greater" still. The words of John were not merely John's words, or they would have been valueless. Moreover, "the testimony that I have" is in itself convincing; it has a Divine, self-evidencing force, which, added to my word, confirms and establishes my claim. The proof or illustration of this is as follows: For the works which the Father hath given me that I should bring them to completion, the very works, which I am doing, bear witness concerning me, that the Father hath sent me. The works of Christ are his normal activities - the deeds which express the nature and compass of his will, and indicate the qualities of his Person. They would be τέρατα and θαύματα, should any other perform such things or live on such a platform of exalted activity. They are his "works." This term is often used for the special manifestations of his alliance with the supernatural, Divine realm (John 7:3; John 9:3; John 10:25, 32, etc.; John 14:10; 15:24). They are in their fulness and summation the ἔργον of the Lord (John 4:34; John 17:4). They are, moreover, "given" to him to "do" or to "finish." This idea is frequently expressed. "All things are given into his hand" (John 3:35), all judgment is given him to execute (John 5:22, 27). The Father hath given him self-existence (ver. 26; cf. John 17:2, 6, 9, 12, 24; John 18:9). It is impossible to dissociate these "works "from those great miracles which ought to command assent to his claims, even if, alas! his bare words are not sufficiently convincing. John's Gospel makes numerous references to these proofs of the Divine commission, these illustrations as well as evidences of his right to speak. But the "works" are not limited to the miraculous healings, to multiplication of breed and wine, and resurrection from the dead. The whole of his work, from his baptism and temptation to his own resurrection from the dead, was his ἔργον. This was made up of all the self-revelation of his life, of all his consecration and sympathy, of all his character, of all the resuscitation of dead souls, of all the joy he was pouring into broken hearts, and all the life he was evoking in moribund humanity. "These works that I am doing bear witness concerning me, that the Father hath sent me." They are of such a character that he confidently declares about them that they proclaim his Divine commission. The entire work, reaching special expression in certain typical acts and deeds, was greater than the verbal testimony which John bare to his mission. All that John said was true, but Christ's "works" prove it. Greater witness (τήν μαρτυρίαν μείζω)

The article, omitted in A.V., has the force of my, as in John 5:34. Rev., the witness which I have is greater.

Hath given

See on John 5:22.

To finish (ἵνα τελειώσω)

Literally, in order that I should accomplish. Rev., accomplish. See on John 4:34.

The same works (αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα)

Rev., more correctly, the very works.

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