Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN1
THE PROLOGUE OF THE GOSPEL. THE ETERNAL PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST. HIS UNIVERSAL RELATION TO THE WORLD AND MANKIND, AND HIS THEOCRATIC ADVENT IN ISRAEL; OR, THE (OLD TESTAMENT AND NEW TESTAMENT) INCARNATION OF THE LOGOS.
INTRODUCTORY THEOLOGICAL AND HOMILETIC OBSERVATIONS
The Evangelists Matthew and Luke give us the history of the childhood of Jesus, and indicate His divine descent with few nerds in the miraculous story of His birth. But their eye in this is mainly upon the human or, in the narrower sense, historical antecedents of Jesus his pedigree: Matthew from a predominantly theocratic point of view, tracing the line to Abraham; Luke, from the more general human point of view, tracing it to Adam.2
As an offset to this exhibition of the human genealogy of Christ, John signalizes his eternal origin, as well as his eternal advent, in the eternal præ-existence of the divine personal Logos. In the two relations together [the human and the divine], we see how the word of Micah concerning the Ruler out of Bethlehem, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, is fulfilled (Mi. 5:2).
John, therefore, has this in common with Mark, that he introduces Christ according to His human nature in His historical maturity and preparation, after John the Baptist, his forerunner. With Matthew he shares the theocratic point of view (John 1:11, 12); with Luke, the universal (John 1:9, 10); but lie rises above all in pointing out a Christological theocracy and universality of the incarnate Logos, which in its one manifestation embraces time and eternity, heaven and earth, and unites Deity and humanity.
The Johannean doctrine of the Logos has ever been regarded in the Christian church as one of the most mysterious and important points of doctrine. It ruled incipient theology in the doctrine of the Logos of God down to the beginning of the third century, down to Tertullian, and then exerted also the most decisive influence on the more definite doctrine of the Son of God. The mediæval theology knew better how to gaze at this great page of the Gospel, than to appreciate it, yet the mediæval mysticism was moved by the Johannean spirit (see Tholuck, p. 69). John Wessel, the greatest theologian of all the forerunners of the Reformation, restored the deeper apprehension of the Logos doctrine, and when our Reformers aimed at a more practical apprehension of Christology, this doctrine became thenceforth preeminently a treasure of the evangelical church, which the evangelical mystics in particular were at pains to unlock. The eighteenth century with its humanistic, critical tendency, lost the spirit of insight into the depths of the Johannean theology; yet at a time when the rationalists were disdaining it, speculative philosophers, like Schelling and Hegel, and great poets like Göthe, could not but recall its import, though without a clear apprehension.
The later evangelical theology has applied itself with, appreciative spirit to the Johannean theology, and therefore to the prologue of this Gospel. Testimony of this we have in the sermons of Schleiermacher on the Gospel of John, and Lücke’s Commentary on it, in which the treatise. on the prologue extends from p. 249 to p. 378, (vol. I). By the side of the modern depreciation of the Gospel of John on the part of some critics goes a mistaken realistic doctrine of the Logos in its great import in Hofmann (Weissagung und Erfüllung, p. 7), and Luthardt (pp. 280 sqq.) Exegesis can hardly make this Gospel more real, when it covers the depth by an abstractly realistic interpretation. What is said of the fourth evangelist, is true also of his doctrine of the Logos: It does not die.
The distinction between the divine essence in itself, and its manifestation in its word, is an attribute of the personality of God, and therefore this distinction continually comes out in the Holy Scriptures, which is the word of the personal God (Gen. 1:1; John 1:26, etc.).
This distinction appears still more clearly defined, after the primal revelation, obscured by sin, comes again into historical operation as a revelation of redemption. From this time, however, it unfolds itself in a two-fold form: there being, first, in the theocratic theology of the Old Testament, the distinction of Jehovah and the Angel of the Lord; then, in the universal theology of the Old Testament, the distinction of Jehovah and His wisdom as the principle of the creation and of Providence, and of the divine administration in Israel.
The manifestation of Jehovah in His Angel, (מַלְאַךְ יְהוָֹה) develops itself through three stages: the Angel being designated first as the Angel of the Lord (Gen. 16:7–9 sqq.); then as the Presence, or the Angel of the Presence (Ex. 32:34; comp. 33:14; Isa. 63:9); finally as the Angel of the Covenant (Mal. 3:1).
That this Angel is the theophanic præ-exhibition of the God-Man himself, is evident especially from the point of issue of this idea, where the Angel, as the Angel of the Covenant, plainly denotes the Messiah (Mal. l. c.); and the recent objections of Hofmann, Kurtz, and others, who make this person a created angel, are not sufficient to invalidate the church interpretation, and if they were, they would dissolve the central, inmost bond between the Old Testament and the New.
As the personal præ-manifestation of Christ in the theophanies of the Logos, the Angel of the Lord is also characterized by his standing in the closest connection with the honor or glory of God (Lu. 2:9); in fact, being identified with it (Ex. 16:10; 24:16). With this it is well worthy of notice, that where in the Old Testament Jehovah, or even the Angel of Jehovah, Maleach-Jehovah, is spoken of, He is called instead by the Jewish Targumists מֵימְרַא or even the Shekinah of Jehovah, i.e., the manifestation of God letting itself down into his dwelling (see Tholuck, p. 62).
Now while in the Angel of the Lord we find predominantly the central direction of God, in His revelation, towards Israel and the incarnation expressed as the personal putting forth of the Word, we find in the notion of the Wisdom distinct from God, as the formative power of the divine word, chiefly the universal tendency of His revelation, or the connection of His historical revelation with its basis, His eternal, world-embracing, universal revelation. In this peculiar significance the divine Wisdom appears first in Job (John 28; comp. Schlottmann, Hiob, p. 129). According to Proverbs, John 8, it is the, mediator of the creation, and the personification of it comes nearest to a hypostasis in chap. 9 where it appears as the founder of the theocracy. Also in the apocryphal Book of Wisdom, it first, according to its universal field of revelation, forms the spirit of all life, and then, in a special attitude, as the spirit of the devout in Israel, comes into contrast with the folly of the heathen idolatry. It has here, under the influence of Alexandrian views, an idealistic form; in Sirach, on the contrary, from the universal sphere of the creation which belongs to it, it goes, in a restless search, over to the people of Israel, and fixes on Zion a permanent place, and its concentration is the Book of the Covenant, the Thorah (John 24:25). Thus its last embodiment is the Book according to Baruch (3:37; 4:1). The normal development of the notion proceeds between these extremes of an idealistic and a legal theory of revelation. The sound apprehension of the distinction we find again only on the threshold of the New Testament in the religious contemplations of Zachariah and of Mary (Lu. 1) and of John the Baptist. With these the N. T. revelations are most immediately connected.
We get, however, but a one-sided view of the development of the Old Testament idea of revelation, unless we bear in mind also its Messianic complement on the human side, i.e., the development of the idea of the Messiah in the stricter sense. This likewise passes through three stages.
(1) The chosen family; (a) mankind, the seed of the woman, Gen. 3; (b) the race, Semitic, Gen. 9; (c) the people, Israel, and particularly the tribe of Judah, Gen. 12:49.
(2) The chosen line: David and his son, collectively considered; the typical Messiah.
(3) The chosen individual, the ideal Messiah, Isa. 9 sqq.
Now, as the idea of the revelation of God works towards incarnation, so the idea of the Messiah strives towards union with the divine nature; and at the passage where the ideal Messiah comes to view, the union is effected; the Messiah is become the Angel of the Lord (Isa. 61:1 and 2), the Angel of the Lord is become the Messiah (Dan. 7:13; Mal. 3:1).
With this synthesis is given also the notion of the Son of God. This has likewise three stages in its development:
(1) The chosen family, Ex. 4:22 sqq.
(2) The chosen royal line, 2 Sam. 7:14.
(3) The chosen individual, the ideal Messiah, Ps. 2; Isa. 9.
But since the development of revelation is based on the development of redemption and the idea of the former unfolds itself with the idea of the latter, so the Messiah, as personal revelation, is also personal Redeemer. As such he has (1) to fight and conquer; (2) to work and struggle; (3) to suffer, and in sinking to overcome. From this point of view the Son of God is the servant of God, Isa. 53.
The Solomonic and Apocryphal doctrine of the Wisdom became in Alexandria, in its contact with Platonism, the doctrine of the Logos, as Philo shaped it.
The Logos of Philo, however, is essentially different from that of John, though it agrees with that of John in its being the Mediator between God and the world. It is subordinate to Deity, it stands over the world merely as world-former, demiurge; it shades off pantheistically from the personal character to impersonality; it cannot become flesh; it is different from the Messiah, and the Messiah is only a divine appearance, which leads the devout Jews back to Palestine (see Dorner, Entwicklungsgeschichte der Christologie, Introduction, p. 49).
However doubtful it may be, that John was acquainted with the writings of Philo, the ideas of Philo were widely diffused in the second half of the first century among the Hellenistic Jews (for they were not a separate philosophy of Philo, but the religious philosophy of Hellenistic Judaism in general), as the angel-worshippers of Colosse prove; so with the system of Cerinthus; and undoubtedly the Evangelist came into intercourse and conflict with them. Nor must the position of the Evangelist towards the Alexandrian idea have been altogether hostile; for the current Logos-doctrine was not pure error; it was affiliative and abrasive, reformatory and evangelizing, to this fundamental idea of the Hellenistic Jews. And the Evangelist could be the more free to use the term Logos in its full emphasis, since he found it already recommended by the Old Testament, and still more distinctly by the Jewish theology. It was no doubt an ambiguity in Philo’s mode of expression, that he transferred the Solomonic and Apocryphal notion of the σοφία into the notion of the Logos, in which the Word of God in the Old Testament, the מֵימְרָא of the Jewish theology, seemed to coincide with the νοῦς; of Plato, which might easily be confounded with λόγος.
The Logos of John is related to that of Philo, as Paul’s sermon at Athens to the inscription of the unknown God. John declared the true Logos, who is distinguished from that mixed figment of Old Testament theology and Greek speculation, in that He is equal with God, as the full expression of His being; is the absolute ground of the world, even of its matter; embosoms the universe as its active force, not as an emanating fountain of new emanations from God; is as much life, as light, in the highest sense, and therefore could come in the flesh, as Messiah, to accomplish the absolute redemption.
The Logos-doctrine, even in terms, runs throughout the writings of John (see 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13); but in substance it pervades the New Testament, especially Paul (see Col. 1:15–19; Heb. 1:3; Matt. 11:19; Luke 11:49).
On the doctrine of the Logos and on John’s Prologue comp. Lücke, I. p. 365 sqq. [translated by Dr. Noyes in the Christian Examiner for March and May, 1849.—P. S.]; Tholuck, I. p. 61; Meyer, p. 75 [pp. 58–67 in the 5th ed. of 1869.—P. S.]; Adalbert Maier, p. 115; Hölemann, De Evangelii Joannei introitu, introitus Geneseos augustiore effigie, Lips., 1855; Jordan Bucher, Des Apostels Johannes Lehre vom Logos, Schaffhausen, 1856.
[M. Stuart, Examination of John, 1:1–18, in the Andover Bibliotheca Sacra for 1850, pp. 281–327. Hengstenberg, Com. en John, 1866, vol. I. pp. 6 ff. (where the Old Test, roots of the Logos-doctrine are brought out in opposition to its derivation from Philo). F. Godet, Considérations générates sur le prologue, in his Com. on John, 1864, vol. I. pp. 220–265. T. A. Philippi, Der Eingang des Johannesevangeliums ausgelegt, Stuttgart, 1867. Röhricht, Zur Johanneischen Logoslehre, in the Theol. Studien und Kritiken for 1868, pp. 299–315. H. P. Liddon, Bampton Lectures on the Divinity of Christ, London, 1867, Lecture Vth, pp. 310–411. Among English commentators, Alford, on John 1:1, gives a condensed summary of the investigations of Lücke, De Wette, Olshausen and Dorner on the Logos-doctrine.—P. S.]
[ADDITIONAL REMARKS ON THE PROLOGUE, John 1:1–18. The Prologue is a condensed statement of the results of John’s contemplation and experience as a faithful witness of the life and work of Christ on earth, and furnishes the key that unlocks the true meaning of the following narrative. It contains the theme and leading ideas of the Gospel, the eternal substratum, as it were, of the temporal history of Jesus, and creates the impression that in approaching the gospel history the reader treads on holy ground; Jesus of Nazareth being none other than the eternal Son of God, in whom we must believe in order to have eternal life (comp. John 20:31). The theme is the eternal Logos or personal Word that was with God and of divine essence from the beginning of beginnings, and at last became incarnate for the salvation of the world. The leading ideas are life and light, grace and truth, as emanating from and centering in the Logos. Starting with the divine genealogy or eternal divinity of Christ, the Evangelist presents, in a few bold outlines, the progress of revelation from, the creation to the incarnation, a sort of miniature photograph of the history of preparation for Christ’s coming in the flesh, and states the impression which His workings and personal appearance made upon the unbelieving world and the believing disciples. John the Baptist is mentioned as the representative of the Old Test. revelation, which directly prepared the way for the Christian dispensation.
We have here brought together the characteristic features of the fourth Gospel—its simplicity, sublimity, depth and ideality. We hear the sounds of thunder uttered by the “son of thunder.” Every sentence, every word, is pregnant with meaning, and furnishes inexhaustible material for meditation and reflection. In the whole range of literature, ancient and modern, there is no passage or chapter that can at all compare with this Prologue. It is not poetic in form—yet, like the account of the creation in Genesis, to which it forms the New Testament pendant, it rises, by its calm dignity, simplicity and grandeur, to more than poetic beauty. The theme so far transcends the boundaries of time and sense, that the ordinary arts’ of rhetoric and poetry are struck with the silence of adoration and awe. “In pregnant fullness and purest simplicity,” says the great scholar, Ewald (Comm. on John, p. 111), “the Prologue is unique,” even in this unique Gospel.—The Prologue has ever exerted a mysterious and irresistible charm upon the profoundest thinkers, from Origen and Augustine down to Fichte, Schleiermacher and Schelling.3
As to the division of the Prologue, Dr. Lange, with Olshausen and Godet, divides it into three sections: (1) the præ-mundane or eternal being of the Logos, and His relation to God and the world, John 1:1–5; (2) His activity from the creation to the incarnation, especially in the Old Dispensation, John 1:6–13 (Godet, John 1:6–11). (3) His incarnation and activity in the Christian Church, John 1:14–18. Ewald (p. 113) adopts a similar view, but closes the first division with John 1:3. According to Meyer (in his fifth edition, p. 98), the Prologue represents the Logos—(1) as præ-existent in His creative activity (1–3); (2) as the Fountain of light to men (4–13); (3) in His divine-human manifestation (14–18); the last section returns to the first in identifying the λόγος ἔνσαρκος with the λόγος ἄσαρκος (“who is in the bosom of the Father”). Lücke, Alford and others make but two divisions: the eternal existence of the Logos, John 1:1–5, and His historic manifestation and working, John 1:6–18. Luthardt and Hengstenberg substitute for chronological sections three concentric cycles (1–5; 6–13; 14–18), of which each reproduces the same idea of the activity of the Logos, but under new aspects—the first in relation to God and the world at large, the second with special reference to John the Baptist and Jewish unbelief, the third with reference to the blessings which result to true believers.—There is evidently a progress of ideas from eternity to time, from the creation to the Old Testament dispensation, and to the incarnation, but more in the form of comprehensive intuition, which is peculiar to John, than of strict logical order, which was more congenial to the mind and training of Paul. For particulars, see below.—P. S.]
[Codd. Sin. and Vatic., the two oldest, have simply: κατὰ Ἰωάννῃν (B.—ανην). So Tischend. in the 8th ed. Later MSS. read εν̓αγγ. κατὰ ̓Ιωάνν. (so Griesb., Lachm.), or τὸ κατὰ ̓Ι. εν̓αγγέλιον, or ἅγιον εν̔αγγέλιον, etc.—P. S.]
[Comp. Chrysostom: “The other evangelists begin with Christ’s incarnation in time; St. John with his eternal gene-ration.” Augustine (Tractatus xxxvi. in Johannis Evang. c. 8, §1.): “The other three Evangelists walked as it were on earth with our Lord as Man (tamquam cum homine Domino in terra ambulabant) and said but little of his divinity. But John, as if he found it oppressive to walk on earth, opened his treatise so to speak with, a peal of thunder…To the sublimity of this beginning all the rest corresponds, and he speaks of our Lord’s divinity as no other.” Godet, Commentaire, I. p. 143: “Chaque évangelist entre en matière de la manière la mieux appropriée à l'esprt de sa narration. Matthieu veut démontrer le droit de Jésus au trône théocratique: il commence par une généalogie. Marc rédige ses souvenirs: il se jette sans exorde in mediam rem, (in medias res, or medias in res, is the proper phrase). Luc prétend écrire une histoire proprement dite: il rend compte dans son préambule de ses sources et de sa méthods.”—P. S.]
 [Even heathen philosophers and heretical Gnostics were captivated by the speculative depth of the Prologue. (Comp. Lampe, Com. Tom. I., 231 sq., 239 sqq.) Göthe, too, connects the deepest mental struggles of Faust with an attempt to fathom the depth of the first sentence of John:
“Geschrieben steht: im Anfang war das WORT!
Hier stock ich schon! Wer hilft mir weiter fort!
Ich kann das Wort so hoch unmöglich schützen,
Ich muss es anders übersetzen,
Wenn ich vom Geiste recht erleuchtet bin;
Geschrieben steht: im Anfang war der SINN!
Bedenke wohl die erste Zeile,
Dass deine Feder sich nicht übereile!
Ist es der Sinn, der alles wirkt und schafft?
Es sollte stehn; im Anfang war die KRAFT!
Doch, auch indem ich dieses niederschreibe
Schon warnt mich was, dass ich dabei nicht bleibe
Mir hilft der Geist! Auf einmal seh ich Rath
Und schreib getrost: im Anfang war die THAT!—P. S.]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.FIRST SECTION
Christ in His Eternal Essence and Existence, and His Position between God and the World
(1) THE WORD (CHRIST) IN HIS ETERNAL ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE IN RELATION TO GOD, JOHN 1:1 AND 2; (2) IN HIS RELATION TO THE CREATION, JOHN 1:3; (3) IN HIS RELATION TO THE WORLD AND TO MAN, PARTICULARLY IN THEIR ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION, JOHN 1:4; (4) IN HIS RELATION TO THE WORLD IN DARKNESS, JOHN 1:5.
1In the beginning was [in existence] the [personal, substantial] Word4 [the Logos], and the Word [the Logos] was with God [the Deity, the Godhead], and the Word 2[the Logos] was God [Himself]. The same was [existed] in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by [through] him; and without [except through] him was not anything made [ἐγένετο],5 that as [hath been] made [γέγονεν]. 4In him was 5[is]6 life [pure life]; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in [the] darkness; and the darkness comprehended [apprehended; LANGE: suppressed7] it8 not.9
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[John 1:1 and 2 contain the ante-mundane or præ-temporal history of the Logos, the mystery of the eternal, immanent relation of the Father and the Son before any revelation ad extra. This was a blessed relation of infinite knowledge and infinite love. It supplies the only answer we can give to the idle question, what God was doing before the creation of the world John 1:1 sets forth, in three brief sentences, three grand truths or divine oracles: the eternity of the Logos (in the beginning was), the personality of the Logos (was God), and the divinity of the Logos (was God); John 1:2 sums up these three ideas in one. The subject here touched lies far beyond human experience and comprehension; hence the extreme brevity with which the fact is simply stated in its quiet majesty. Yet these two lines give us more light than the thousands of words wasted by Philo, and the ancient and modern Gnostics and philosophers, on the transcendent mysteries of præ-mundane existence. Bengel calls the first verse “a peal of thunder from the Son of Thunder, a voice from heaven.” Augustine (Tract. 36th in Joh. Evang. §. 1) beautifully says: “John, as if he found it oppressive to walk on earth, opened his treatise, so to speak, with a peal of thunder; he raised himself not merely above the earth and the whole compass of the air and heaven, but even above every host of angels and every order of invisible powers, and reached to Him by whom all things were made, saying: ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ etc. To the sublimity of this beginning all the rest corresponds, and he speaks of our Lord’s divinity as no other.”—P. S.]
John 1:1. In (the) beginning. Ἐν ἀρχῇ, בְּרֵשִׁית, Gen. 1:1. Comp. the Introductory Observations, and Hölemann: De evangelii Joan. introitu. Different explanations:—1. Cyril of Alex.: the “beginning” is God the Father.10—2. The Valentinian Gnostics (according to Irenæus I. 8, 5): a distinct divine hypothesis between the Father and the Logos.—3. Origen: The divine Wisdom (σοφία).11—4. Theodore of Mopsuestia, and others: eternity.12—5. The Socinians [and some modern Unitarians]: the beginning of the gospel (in initio evangelii). [In Acts 11:15 the expression has this meaning, but here it is entirely inconsistent with John 1:3.—P. S.].—6. Meyer: [John parallelizes the beginning of his Gospel with that of Genesis, but] he raises the historical notion of the beginning which in Gen. 1:1 implies the beginning of time itself, to the absolute idea of præ-temporalness [or timelessness, Vorzeitlichkeit], as in Prov. 8:23. [Here the Wisdom which is the fame with the Logos, says: πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέν με, ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι, κ. τ. λ., (‘from everlasting, in the beginning, before the earth was made’); comp. John 17:5,πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εῖναι; Eph. 1:4, πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου. Comp. also 1 John 1:1 and Apoc. 3:14.—P. S.] We find an advance of the notion of the beginning primarily only in was (ἦν), and in the relation subsequently stated of the Logos to the eternal God, which unquestionably still further elevates, indirectly, the idea of the ἀρχή The ἀρχή. itself must ever refer to the primal generation or rise of things.13 But if in this ἀρχή the Logos already was (ἦν), then He was from eternity. [The same is said of God, Ps. 90:2, who was before the mountains were brought forth, etc., i.e. from everlasting]. The Logos was not merely existent, however, in the beginning, but was also the efficient principle, the ἀρχή of the ἀρχή (Col. 1:18). The ἀρχή, in itself and in its operation, dark, chaotic, was, in its idea and its principle, comprised in one single luminous word, which was the Logos. And when it is said, the Logos was in this ἀρχή, His eternal existence is already expressed, and His eternal position in the Godhead already indicated, thereby. The Evangelist says not: In the beginning of the world, because he would make the beginning perfectly absolute; but he pre-supposes the reference to the genesis of the world.
Was—Not became [ἐγέvετο, comp. John 1:6 and 14] the Son of God, a κτίσμα, as Arianism taught. (Comp. Prov. 8:23; Sirach 24:3.) It cannot be said, He might have become, or been made, before the beginning; for becoming and beginning are inseparable.15
[The words: in the beginning was the Logos, clearly assert, as the best commentators now admit, the eternity of the Logos, but they imply at the same time His divinity, which is afterwards formally stated in the third sentence: was God. Metaphysically we cannot separate eternity, ab ante, from divinity, or predicate eternity of any creature. Luther felt this when he said: “That which was before the world and before the creation of all creatures, must be God.” On the basis of monotheism on which John stood, there is no room for a middle being between God and the creature. Before creation there was no time, for time itself is part of the world and was created with it. (Mundus factus est cum tempore, not in tempore). Before the world there was only God, and God is timeless or eternal. Hence the Arian proposition concerning Christ: There was a time (before creation) when He was not (ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), involves the metaphysical absurdity of putting time before the world, a creature before creation.—P. S.]
The Word.—[ὁ Λόγος, with reference to Gen. 1:3: God said, etc. The living, speaking Word from whom the creative, spoken words emanate.—P. S.] The Word absolute, the one whole, all-embracing, personal manifestation of life; hence without the qualification: the Logos of God. It certainly includes also the divine reason or consciousness; though in the Scriptural usage λόγος never denotes the reason itself, but only the matured expression of the reason, word, speech, as a whole, the personal spiritual essence of God made, in its whole fulness, objective to itself,16 as its own perfect expression and image. And in this view the literal interpretation is entirely sufficient, but is supplied by the historical doctrine of the Logos (see above).
The exclusively verbal expositions, and the exclusively historical, are alike insufficient and incorrect: 1. the verbal, which explain ὁ λόγος as (a) ὁ λεγόμενος, the promised one (Valla, Beza, Ernesti, Tittmann, etc.); (b) ὁ λέγων, the speaking one (Mosheim, Storr, and others); (c) the gospel objectively considered, as the word of God: the subject of the gospel (alloiosis!), hence Christ; [so Hofmann, Schriftbew., I., p. 109ff. or, according to Luthardt: the word of God which in Christ (Heb. 1:1) was spoken to the world, and the content of which is Christ (see, on the contrary, Meyer, p. 45, [pp. 58 and 59 in the fifth ed. of 1869.—P. S.]); 2. the historical, which would make either the Palestinian doctrine of the Wisdom [Σοφία, חָכְמָה] with the Word of God [מֵימְרָא or דִּבּוּרָא] of the Targums, or the Alexandrian Philonic doctrine of the Logos, or both, the proper root of the scriptural idea. This root is to be found in the manifestation of the consciousness of Christ, as it reflected itself in the intuition of John himself; the historical rise of the idea is due to the theological conceptions of the Old Testament (see above); and the expression itself was suggested by the Philonic doctrine of the Logos. Only this further discrimination must be observed: that the Philonic doctrine lays stress not on the word, but the reason, while John emphasizes the absolute, personal, perfect Word, the image of God, as the original of the world, the idea and life of the whole ἀρχή of things.
[EXCURSUS ON THE MEANING AND ORIGIN OF THE TERM LOGOS, AND THE RELATION OF JOHN TO PHILO.—The Logos doctrine of John is the fruitful germ of all the speculations of the ancient Church on the divinity of Christ, which resulted in the Nicene dogma of the homoousion or the co-equality of the Son with the Father. The præ-existent Logos is the central idea of the Prologue, as the incarnate Logos or God-Man is the subject of the historical part of the Gospel. The Christ of idea and the Christ of history are one and the same. Logos signifies here not an abstraction nor a personification simply, but a person, the same as in John 1:14, namely, Christ before His incarnation, the divine nature of Christ, the eternal Son of God. God has never been ἄλογος, or without the Logos, the Son is as eternal as the Father. John is the only Writer of the New Testament who employs the term in this personal sense, as a designation of Christ, viz., four times in the Prologue (1:1, 14, “the Word” simply and absolutely), once in his first epistle (1:1, “the Word of life”), and once in the Apocalypse (19:13, “the Word of God”), but in the last passage the whole divine-human person of Christ in His exalted state is so called.17 There is an inherent propriety in this application of the term, especially in the Greek language, where λόγος is masculine, and where it has the double meaning of reason and speech.18 Christ as to His divine nature bears the same relation to the hidden being of God, as the word does to thought. In the word of man his thought assumes shape and form and becomes clear to the mind, and through the same the thought is conveyed and made intelligent to others. So the Logos is the utterance, the reflection and counterpart of God, the organ of all revelation both with regard to Himself and to the world, ad intra and ad extra. God knows Himself in the Son, and through Him He makes Himself known to men. The Son has declared or revealed and interpreted God (ἐξηγήσατο θεόν, John 1:18; comp. Matt. 11:27).
The idea of such a distinction in God is in various ways clearly taught in the Old Test. Even in the first verses of Genesis we have already an intimation of the Word and the Spirit as distinct from, and yet identical with, God. Personal intercourse with Christ in the flesh and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost convinced John that Jesus was indeed the Word and the Wisdom of God, the Angel of the Covenant, Jehovah revealed (12:41), the centre and organ of all revelations (comp. the Introductory Remarks of Dr. Lange). The same idea, but in different form, we meet in Matt. 11:27; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15–19, etc. The term λόγος was suggested to John by Gen. 1:3, according to which God created the world through the word of His power, and by such passages as Ps. 33:6: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,” where the LXX uses the very term λόγος for the Hebrew דבר, instead of the usual ῥῆμα. This seems to be sufficient to account for the form of expression, and hence many commentators (Hölemann, Weiss, Hengstenberg) deny all connection of John with the speculations of Philo of Alexandria. There is indeed no evidence that he read a line of the writings of this Jewish philosopher, who flourished about A. D. 40–50.
Yet, on the other hand, Philo was a profound representative thinker mediating between the O. T. religion and the Hellenic philosophy, and it is more than probable that some of his ideas had penetrated the intellectual atmosphere of the age before the composition of the fourth Gospel, especially in Asia Minor, where they stimulated the Gnostic speculations towards the close of the first and the beginning of the second centuries. Comp. the warnings of Paul, Acts 20:29 ff.; 1 Tim. 4, the errorists of Colosse, and the heretical gnosis of Cerinthus, who came into conflict with John in Ephesus, and who, according to Theodoret, studied first in Egypt. Apollos also, the learned Jew, came from Alexandria to Ephesus (Acts 18:24). It no more detracts from the apostolic dignity that John should have borrowed a word from, or at least chosen it with tacit reference to, Philo for expressing an original idea, than the general fact that the apostles appropriated the whole Greek language, which Providence had especially prepared to be the organ of the truths of the gospel. And inasmuch as John uses the term without any explanation, as if it were already familiar to his readers, the assumption of a connection with Philo, however indirect and remote, becomes more probable. Such a connection is asserted by Lücke, De Wette, Brückner, Meyer, Lange, Delitzsch,19 Alford, and others.
Philo’s doctrine of the Logos, in its relation to that of John, has been thoroughly ventilated by recent German scholars (see the literature in Lücke’s and in Meyer’s Com. p. 61). I shall briefly state the result in addition to the excellent remarks of Dr. Lange (p. 51). Philo, on the basis of the Solomonic and Apocryphal doctrine of the Wisdom and the Word of God, and combining with it Platonic ideas, represents the Logos (the Nous of Plato) as the embodiment of all divine powers and ideas (the ἄγγελοι of the O. T., the δυνάμεις and ἰδέαι of Plato). He distinguishes between the λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, or the Logos inherent in God corresponding to the reason in man, and the λόγος προφορικός, or the Logos emanating from God, like the spoken word of man which reveals the thought. The former contains the ideal world (the νοητδς κόσμος); the latter is the first begotten Son of God, the image of God, the Creator and Preserver, the Giver of life and light, the Mediator between God and the world, the second God,20 also the Messiah, yet only in the ideal sense of a theophany, not as a concrete historical person.21
But with all the striking similarity of expression, there is a wide and fundamental difference between Philo and John. 1) Philo’s view is obscured by dualistic and docetic admixtures, from which John is entirely free. 2) He wavers between a personal and impersonal conception of the Logos (Keferstein, Zeller, Lange), or rather he resolves the Logos after all into an impersonal summary of divine attributes (so Dorner, Niedner, Hölemann, Brückner, Meyer); while in John He appears as a divine hypostasis, distinct from, and yet co-essential with, God. 3) Philo has no room in his system for an incarnation of the Logos, which is the central idea of the Gospel of John. His doctrine is like a shadow which preceded the substance. It was a prophetic dream of the coming reality. Lange compares it to the altar of the unknown God, whom St. Paul made known to the Athenians. It helped to prepare deeper minds for the reception of the truth, while it also misled others into Gnostic aberrations. “The grand simplicity and clearness of the Prologue” (says Meyer, p. 63, note) “shows with what truly apostolic certainty John experienced the influence of the speculations of his age, and yet remained master over them, modifying, correcting and making them available for his ideas.”
These ideas of Christ formed the basis of his belief long before he knew anything of these foreign speculations.22 But he seems to have chosen a form of expression already current in the higher regions of thought for the purpose of meeting a false gnosis of speculation with the true gnosis of faith. For the airy fancies about the Logos, as the centre of all theophanies, he substitutes at the threshold of his Gospel the substantial reality by setting forth Christ as the revealed God: thus satisfying the speculative wants of the mind and directing misguided speculation into the path of truth. A clear and strong statement of the truth is always the best refutation of error.—P. S.]
And the Word.—The clause: “In the beginning was the Word,” contains the whole theme. Now follows first the relation of the Logos to the eternal God, then, more at large, His relation to the temporal world.
Was with God.—[πρὸςτὸνθεόν, rather than παρὰ τῷ θεῷ, 17:5.] Properly: with God, as distinct from and over against Him, in direction towards Him, for Him [in inseparable nearness and closest intercommunion, comp. John 1:18, “towards the bosom of the Father.”—P. S.].23 There is a similar phraseology in Mark 6:3, and elsewhere. On the antithesis in the eternal constitution of God, see above, and Prov. 8:30; Wisdom 9:4. The doctrine of the Holy Ghost also is implied in this expression of the motion or posture of the Logos towards God, as well as in the further designation of the Logos: He was God. Starke: We must take good heed that we do not connect with the particle “with” the notion of place or space. The word denotes the most intimate and divine sort of relation to another.24
And the Word was [not the world, which did not yet exist, John 1:3, hence not man, nor angel, nor any creature, but] God.25—Θεός is the predicate, λόγος the subject;26 and in the Greek the predicate stands first, for the sake of emphasis. [Comp. 4:24: πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός.—P. S.] God [in the strict sense of the term], of divine nature and kind, was the Logos. Meyer shows how the omission of the article [before θεός] was necessary, to distinguish the persons or subjects, ὁ θεός and ὁ λόγος; and how, therefore, this expression is not to be taken in the sense of the θεός without the article [a God], the subordinate δεύτερος θεός, in Philo [p. 66].27 Likewise the translation in the adjective form: [= θεῖος], divine (Baumgarten-Crusius), would alter the idea. Tholuck cites Chemnitz: θεός sine artic. essentialiter, cum artic. personaliter. He refers also to Liebner: Christol. I, p. 165; the Letters of Lücke and Nitzsch, in the Studien u. Kritiken, 1840 and, ’41; Thomasius: Christi Person. II., §40.
[Θεός without the article signifies divine essence, or the generic idea of God in distinction from man and angel; as σάρξ, John 1:14, signifies the human essence or nature of the Logos. The article before θεός would here destroy the distinction of personality and confound the Son with the Father. The preceding sentence asserts the distinct hypothesis of the Logos, this His essential oneness with God. To conceive of an independent being existing from eternity, outside or external to the one God, and of a different substance (ἑτεροούσιος), would overthrow the fundamental truth of monotheism and the absoluteness of God. There can be but one divine being or substance.—P. S.]
John 1:2. The same was.—The first proposition characterizes the subject alone; the second declares the personal distinction of the Logos from God absolute; the third expresses the essential unity and identity of the divine nature. The clauses form a solemn climax: the Logos the eternal ground of the world; the Logos the image-like expression of God; the Logos God. The sentence now following combines those three propositions in one: This Logos, which was God, was in the beginning with God. [The emphasis lies on οὗτος this Logos who was Himself God, and no other Logos; and with οὗτος is contrasted πάντα, John 1:3, the whole creation without any exception was brought forth by this Logos. So Meyer.—P. S.] This completes the statement of the position of Christ within the Godhead; then follows His relation to the world.
John 1:3. All things were made through [δι’] him.—[From the immanent Word, the λόγος ενδιάθετος, John now proceeds to the revealed Word, the λόγος προφορικός. The first manifestation of the Logos ad extra is the creation.—P. S.] Gen. 1. Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2; Philo, de Cherub. Ι. 162.28 [The Son is the instrumental cause, the Father the efficient cause, of the creation; comp. 1 Cor. 8:6 and the difference between ἐκ and διά. The Son never works of Himself, but always as the revealer of the Father and the executor of His will.—P. S.] As the Evangelist means, that absolutely all that exists, not only in its form and totality, but also in its material and detail, was called into life by the Logos, πάντα, all, without the article, is more suitable [being more general and unlimited] than τὰ πάντα [which would mean a specific and definite totality, as in 2 Cor. 5:18. The Socinian interpretation: ‘the ethical creation,’ or ‘all Christian graces and virtues,’ is grammatically impossible.—P. S.]29
And without him.—Not merely an “emphatic parallelismus antitheticus” [comp. 5:20; 10:28; 1 John 2:4, 27], though it is this primarily (see Meyer), but also a further direct statement of the negation contained in the previous clause. For Meyer [followed by Godet] in vain calls in question John’s intention to exclude by this negative sentence (as Lücke, De Wette, Olshausen and others have observed30) the Platonic and Philonic doctrine of the timeless matter (ὕλη). The argument that, since ἐγέντο and γέγονεν denote only a becoming which is subsequent to creation, therefore the ὕλη would not be included, seems itself to rest upon the unconscious notion of a præ-temporal ὕλη. The only question should be, whether ὅ γέγονεν could be said of the ὕλη; especially since the Evangelist does not distinctly enter upon the idea of the ὕλη in itself considered, and doubtless for very good reasons. A proposition so distinctly antithetic was undoubtedly expressed also with antithetic intent, and it would imply downright ignorance in the Evangelist to suppose him unacquainted with this antithesis so universally familiar to the ancient world. We should likewise remember, with Tholuck, that the sentence contains, on the other hand, the antignostic thought, that the orders of spirits also were made by the Logos. For Col. 2:18 shows that the germ of the Gnostic doctrine of sæns was already known. Yet the strong οὗδὲ ἕν [not even one thing, prorsus nihil, stronger than οὐδέν, nothing] proves that the antihylic aim decidedly prevails. [There is great comfort in the idea that there is absolutely nothing in the wide world which is unknown to God, which does not owe its very existence to Him, and which must not ultimately obey His infinitely wise and holy will. Comp. Ewald in loc.—P. S.]
That hath been made.—Perfect: ὁγέγονεν. All created existence. The connection of this clause with the following: “That which was made, in Him it was life (had its life in Him),” has been advocated from Clement of Alexandria down, by eminent fathers like Origen and Augustine, and by some codices and versions. But, besides the mass of the codices, Chrysostom and Jerome are against this connection. It must be rejected for the following considerations: (1) that such connection would require ἐστί instead of ἦν after γέγονεν (Meyer); (2) that it would destroy the absolute idea of the ζωή which is expected here (see 1 John 1:1); (3) that it would cause the derived life in the creatures to be designated as the light of men; (4) that it would confuse the idea of the essential life itself here, and make the word equivocal.* Clement of Alexandria may have been led by his philosophy to separate somewhat the sentence: οὐδὲ ἕν, ὂ γέγονεν; then many followed him for the sake of the apparent profundity of his combination. On Hilgenfeld’s introduction of the Gnostic ζωή here, see the note in Meyer [p. 63]31.
John 1:4. In him was life.—[ζωή, the true life, the divine, immortal life (comp. 3:15, 16; 6:27, 33, 35, 40, 47; Matth. 7:14; 19:16; Rom. 2:7; 5:10, 17, 18, 21, and a great many passages), as distinct from βίος, the natural, mortal life (comp. the Greek in 1 John 2:16; 3:17; Mark 12:44; Lu. 8:14, 43; 15:12, 21; 2 Tim. 2:4).—P. S.] The translation: “was life,” is based on the absence of the article (De Wette, Meyer), But in Greek the omission of the article makes less difference than in German [and English]. To say [in English]: In Him was life, may mean: some measure of life. In the Greek it means, at least in this connection: the fullness of life, all life (Philo: πηγή ζωῆς).32 Hence Luther’s translation: war das Leben: was the life, is best. Meyer justly rejects the restriction of the idea to the spiritual life [ζωὴ αἰώνιος] (Origen [Maldonatus, Lampe, Hengstenberg] and others), or to the physical (Baumgarten-Crusius), or to the ethical (felicitas, Kuinoel).33 Nor is the life here to be at all divided into physical, moral and eternal. It is the creative life, the ultimate principle of life, which manifests itself in the operations of life in every province. This, however, excludes the thought that God called things into existence by an act of abstract, pure will in the Logos. The Word was as much an animating breath as it was a logical, luminous and enlightening volition. The life refers chiefly to the creative power and the power of manifestation, to the substance and the principles of things, as the light to their laws and forms; though primarily life and light still form a unity. Gerlach: “From creation he passes to preservation and providence, and ascribes these also to the Word, in virtue of the creative vital force dwelling in Him. All beings, however, not only stand in Him, but have their true, perfect life, attain their end, and enjoy the happiness and perfection designed for them, only in Him. Comp. on this full sense of life, eternal life, John 3:16, 36,” etc.
And the life [the article ἡ refers to the ζωή just mentioned] was the light of men.—John passes from the relation of the Logos to the world at large to His relation to men. Here life kindles up into light. As God the Father is in the absolute sense life (5:26: ὁ πατὴρ ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ) and light (1 John 1:5: ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστι), so is the Son likewise. Light is a figurative expression for pure, divine truth, both intellectual and moral, in opposition to darkness (σκοτία), which includes error and sin. Christ is not φῶς simply, but τὸ φῶς the only true light; comp. 5:9; 8:12; 9:5. All nations and languages use light, which is the vivifying and preserving principle of the world, as a fit image of the Deity. Christ is not simply doctor veræ religionis (Kuinoel), but is here represented as the general illuminator of the intellectual and moral universe even before His incarnation. He is the φωσφόρος, the original bringer and constant dispenser of light to all men.34 Light and salvation are closely related; comp. Ps. 27:1: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation;” comp. Isa. 49:6—In the Logos was the life, and this life is the light. Observe, it is not said the Logos was the life. The personal God, the personal Logos, have not passed into the form of mere life, as Pantheism holds; branched out into extension and thought, as Spinoza has it; alienated Himself from Himself; emptied Himself of Himself, as idea, according to Hegel and the modern philosophy of nature. And as little has He, according to the abstract supernaturalistic notion, made a purely creature-life out of nothing. He has creatively revealed the life which was in Him, and has made it, as the vital spiritual ground of the creation, the light of men. We must, therefore, on the one hand, keep the continuity of His revelation: the Word, the life, the light; but on the other hand, observe the antithesis, which now appears between the life and the light, more exactly defined: nature and spirit. With the idea of the light, the Evangelist passes to mankind. It belongs therefore to the constitution of humanity to receive the life as light (see Rom. 1:20; John 8:12), and in the light still ever to perceive the personal revelation of the personal Logos. The light is, unquestionably, the divine truth, ἀλήθεια (Meyer); not, however, primarily as theoretical and practical, but as ontological or essential, and formal, logical; then also, doubtless, as the truth of the origin of life (ideal, religious) and the end of it (ethical). Meyer most justly maintains that here is described the primal condition of mankind in paradise,35 not primarily the subsequent revelation of the Logos as λόγος σπερματικός in the heathen world, or as the principle of revelation in Judaism. And that the operations of that primal relation were not subsequently broken off, though certainly they were broken, is declared by the next verse itself, which thus forms a complete parallel to Rom. 1:20.
John 1:5. And the light shineth.—[Comp. Isa. 9:1; Matth. 4:16].—i.e., it still shines, even now. The darkness which entered was not absolute. If the light here, as is certainly the case, becomes the subject (Meyer against Lücke), Lücke, in his interpretation: And as the light shines the Logos, is still right, in so far as the light, rightly known, must be known as the manifestation of the personal Logos. Since the darkness has not been able to destroy the life, it has also not been able to destroy the light in the life, and shining inalienably belongs to the light.—It shineth.—Present: denoting continuous activity from the beginning till now. But it does not follow that the enlightening agency of the incarnate Word (λόγος ἔνσαρκος) is meant as well as of the Word before the Incarnation (λόγος ἄσαρκος). For where the λόγος ἔνσαρκος is known, the σκοτία is taken away. The Logos, however, even for the heathen and unbelievers, is still constantly active in all the world as ἄσαρκος round about the revelations of the ἔνσαρκος. De Wette groundlessly takes the present as a historical present, referring to the activity of the light in the old covenant.36
In the darkness.—The entrance of the darkness as a hostile counterpart to the light, i.e., the fall, is here presupposed; and it must be inferred that the primitive condition just described was not disturbed by any such darkness.37—The darkness, however, is not simply “the state in which man has not the Divine truth” (Meyer). As the light is truth, so the darkness is falsehood (John 8:44), the positive perversion of the truth in delusion, and the σκοτία denotes the total manifestation of sin as a total manifestation of falsehood, in its hostile workings against the light, together with its substratum, the kingdom of darkness in mankind, i.e., primarily in human nature, yet only in so far as human nature is submissive to and pleased with falsehood. We very much doubt whether John would have called mankind itself, as sinful, darkness.
Suppressed [?] it not.—[The aor. κατέλαβεν is used because John speaks of it as a historical fact.] Common interpretation: Comprehend [begreifen], understand (Luther [Eng. Vers., Alford, Wordsworth; but in this sense the vox media only is used, Acts 4:13; 10:34.—P. S.]). (2) Meyer: apprehend [ergreifen], grasp. [So καταλαμβάνειν is used 12:35: ἵνα μὴ σκοτία ὑμᾶς καταλάβῃ; Mark 9:18; Rom. 9:30; Phil. 3:12 f.; 1 Cor. 9:24. The reason why the darkness rejected the light is indicated in 3:19 and Matth. 23:37.—P. S.]38 (3) hinder, suppress; Origen, Chrysostom and others (Lange, Leben Jesu, III, p. 554), recently Hölemann. Meyer is obliged to concede that. this interpretation is grammatically correct39 (Herod. i. 46, 87, etc.); he calls it, however, false to the context. But an absolute negation of the penetrating activity of the light would be false to the context; for it would destroy the full meaning of both of the next verses and the whole Gospel. The Evangelist intends to declare the very advent of the Light in the history of the world, its breaking through all the obstructions of the ancient darkness, as it appeared continuously in the history of Abraham.
[This interpretation gives good sense, but disagrees with the connection and destroys the parallelism of John 1:5, 10, 11, which is quite obvious, although there is a difference in the choice of the verbs καταλαμβάνειν, γινώσκειν and παραλαμβάνειν as also in the object (John 1:5, αὐτό sc. τὸ φῶς, John 1:10, 11, αὐτόν sc. τὸν λόγον.)
John 1:5. τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτία φαίνει,
καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐκατέλαβεν.
John 1:10. ἐν τῶ κόσμῳ ἧν,
καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸς οὐκἔγνω.
John 1:11. εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν,
καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐπαρέλαβεν.
The Gentiles, as well as the Jews (οἱ ἴδιοι), rejected the preparatory revelations of the Logos. Comp. Rom. 1:20 ff. John speaks, of course, only of the mass, and himself makes exceptions (John 1:12). The meaning of καί here and John 1:10 and 11 is and yet, notwithstanding the light shining in the darkness. There is here a tone of sacred sadness, of holy grief, which must fill every serious Christian in view of the amazing ingratitude of the great majority of men to the boundless mercies of God.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
[1. The Bible speaks of three creations—the first marks the beginning, (The second the central and turning point, the third the end, of the history of the world. The O. T. opens with the natural creation, the N. T. with the moral creation or incarnation, and the Revelation closes with a description of the new heavens and the new earth, where nature and grace, the first and second creation, shall be completely harmonized, and the perfect beauty of the spirit shall be reflected in a glorious and immortal body. The first words of the Gospel of Matthew: The book of generation, or genealogy, origin (βίβλος γενέσεως=מֵפֶר תּוֹלְדוֹת), reminds one of the heading of the second account of creation in Genesis 2:4 (אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת Sept.: Αὕτη ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς. The first words of the Gospel of John, In the beginning (ἐν ἀρχῇ), contain an unmistakable allusion to the first words in Genesis (1:1, בְּרְאשִׁית, Sept.: ἐν ἀρχῇ); and the third verse of the former: “All things were made by Him” (the personal Word), may serve as a commentary on the third verse of the latter: “God said (וַיֹאתֶר), Let there be light! And there was light.” The world was created by God the Father through God the Son. Comp. Ps. 33:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 4:11.—P. S.]
2. [In LANGE, No. 1.] The fundamental cardinal ideas of this section are: The personal God (ὁ θεός); the Word or the Logos absolute, the beginning, the rise of things, the life, the light, men, the darkness, the shining of the light in the darkness, the irrepressible breaking of the light through the darkness: all belonging to the exhibition of the eternal advent of Christ. God is designated as personal by virtue of His Logos: the Logos, on His God-ward side, is designated as the full expression of the being of God in objective, personal correlation; in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the χαρακτήρ, c. 1:3; in Paul, the image, εἰκών, Col. 1:15. As the human word is the expression of the human mind, so the Word of God is the expression of His being, in focus-like central clearness and perfect concentration. But if, with reference to God, the Logos is single, He is, on the side toward the world, inexhaustibly rich and manifold, comprising the whole ideal kingdom of divine love, John 17:5; Eph. 1:4. The Logos, as the expressed life of God, is the eternal ground of the temporal world. The beginning gives the becoming, the becoming gives the world. The ultimate cause of the world’s coming into being and continuing is the creating and upholding life in the Logos, as He contains the principles of life. The whole revelation of this life in the world was light for man, who was himself of the light, i.e., it was a spiritual element for his spirit. Even the encroaching darkness could not extinguish this light. In the midst of the darkness it shines (the bright side of heathenism), and through the darkness it breaks (the Old Testament revelation).40
3. [2.] The passage before us contains the ultimate data of the New Testament doctrine of the ontological Trinity.41 The Evangelist states an antithesis in the Godhead which refers primarily not to the world, but to God. The Logos was in the beginning; this is His eternity, which at once implies His deity. He was God, i.e., not a subordinate kind of deity (Philo, and the subordinationists), which, in view of the Biblical monotheism, is simply a self-contradiction in terms; not to say that the absence of the article with θεός emphasizes just the “divine being” of the Logos. With the divinity of the Logos as distinct from God (the Father), the antithesis in the Godhead is established. And at the same time is signified the unity of the speaking God and the spoken, i.e., the existence of the Spirit, which Schleiermacher (in his Dogmatik), misses in the passage. Considered as the unity of God with the Logos, it is contained in the term Logos; considered as the unity of the Logos with God, it is contained in the phrase πρὸς τὸν θεόν. Of the Spirit distinctly John had here no occasion to speak.42 But if the whole essence of God was concentrated as an object to itself in the Word, the eternal perfection of the divine consciousness in luminous clearness, unity, and certitude, is thereby declared, against all notions of a creaturely development in an originally crude divine being. In the eternal Logos lies the idea of the eternal consciousness, as well as its eternal concentration and revelation to itself: the idea, therefore, of the eternal personality, which, in its power of self-revelation, is the Lord; in its distinction, love; in its unity, the Spirit.
It may now be asked, why there is nothing said of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and whether the ancient and modern distinctions between the eternal Logos of God and the coming of the Logos to be Son first in the creation (Marcellus, and in some measure Urlsperger), are not well grounded. It is to be observed, however, that the distinction between eternity and temporalness in Scripture is not the same as with these theologians. According to Scripture, time is not excluded or cut off from eternity, but embraced and penetrated by it, so that Christ says: “Before Abraham was, I am.” In the Logos is from eternity the essence of the Son, as in God is the essence of the Father, as in the relation of the two is the essence of the Spirit. The distinction of the two in our Evangelist, however, proceeded from his making an antithesis between the eternity which is before the world, and the eternity which, with the beginning of the world, enters into the world and comes under temporal conditions. If the eternity of God beyond the world be conceived in contrast with the world, the Son is called Logos; if it be conceived absolutely, the Logos is called the Son. And the church doctrine treats of the Godhead absolutely, as it is from eternity to eternity; therefore of the Son. The Son, as Logos, is from eternity; the Logos, as Son, passes from eternity into development, i.e., into the unfolding of the glories of the divine nature. On the development of the church doctrine of the Logos, see Dorner’s Entwicklungs-geschichte, etc. (History of Christology).
4. . After the relation of the Logos to God follows first His relation to the world, as antithetic to the former. And the world is here viewed not as a finished cosmos, but in concrete totality: all things (πάντα); because the cosmos is properly the result and manifestation of the development of the things; τὸ πᾶν is the finished appearance of the πάντα as the Logos is their original source; because it should be distinctly remembered that the Logos is not merely architect of the form of the world (the demiurge of Philo), but also the producer of the material of the world, or rather of the life of the world, which reduces its subordinate, elementary forma to the material of the world. The question whether the creation of the world is from eternity, or arose in time, proceeds from an obscurity respecting the relation between the ideas of eternity and time. To conceive the world as arising in eternity, before time, incurs the absurdity of supposing a world, consequently a development (ein Werden) without time (i.e., also without rhythm or established succession). To conceive the world as arising in time, presupposes an existence of time before the world, i.e., a time without world. Time is the world itself in its unfolding. The world, therefore, arose with time, and time with the world, but upon the basis of eternity, which but reveals itself in all time.
5. . “And without him was not any thing made,” Ps. 33:6. The absolutely dynamic view of the world; in opposition to materialism, which, in its anti-dynamic dealing, is the philosophy of the absolute impotence of the spirit, vexed with a remnant of spirit. In the statement that all things were made by the Logos (not out of Him, nor yet by Him as an instrument, but as principle), the creation is at the same time represented as a pure act of the eternal personality; in opposition to all theories of emanation. Both the doctrine of an eternal heterogeneous opposition between God or spirit and matter (pantheistic Dualism), and the doctrine of an eternal natural outflowing of all things from God (dualistic Pantheism), are here excluded (not to speak of the cabbalistic fancies concerning matter, as a shadow of God, a negation of God, which have emerged again even in our day). By the harmonious distinction in God, or His absolute personality, the discordant opposition in the world, the heathen view of the world, is denied. Gerlach: The by is not to be understood as if the Logos, the Word, were only the external architect; Paul expresses it; “In him43 were all things created,” and adds: “by him and for him,” Col. 1:16.
6. . But the next words: “In him was the life,” etc., with equal decision, contradict Deism, which sees in the world only an act and work of a God entirely outside and remote.44 The Logos is the life of the life, the operative, creative force, by which all things are. Yet the things have their life in Him, not He His life in the things. And the preservation of the world rests upon the same word as the creation, Heb. 1:3; John 5:17.—The points of unity between the creation and the preservation of the world, in which the creation establishes the preservation, and the preservation reaches back to the basis of the creation, are vital principles, out of which the vital laws evolve themselves, Gen. 1:11; 12:21, 28. The life is, however, before the light, nature before spirit; though even the natural light, as the first step of the separating (and liberating) process of the life, is a prophecy of the spirit, which, being of the nature of light, finds its essential light in the manifestations of the Logos.
7. . “And the life was the light.” An intimation of the antithesis between spirit and nature. In man the revelation life of the Logos has appeared in the world as light. Consciousness is the light of being. But the life was the light of men, not merely as the source of life, in that the human spirit has its origin in the Logos; but also as the element of life, in that the clearness of the spirit subsists only through the in-working of the Logos. Without Him the light in man becomes itself darkness (Matth. 6:22),45 and the spirit, the πνεῦμα, itself becomes unspiritual flesh. But if the life itself was the light of men, the creation must have been, to the pure man, a transparent symbol, a perfectly intelligible likeness of divine things (Rom. 1:20). And this thought is most gloriously carried out in the Gospel. Christ has made the light of men manifest in the life.
8. . “In the darkness.” The Evangelist, writing as a Christian for Christians, can introduce the idea of darkness without further explanation, with no fear of being misunderstood. As he has not intended to give a cosmogony, so he considers it unnecessary here to treat of the beginning of sin. His subject is the Logos, who has appeared as the Christ. Accordingly he delineates first the eternal divine nature of the Logos and His congenial, friendly relations to the world and to mankind, and now comes to His hostile posture towards sin. And this he views in its deepest and most suggestive aspect, as an opposition of the light to the darkness. The sin which has come into the world is, above all things, darkness, self-darkening of the light of spiritual life in falsehood, John 8:44. And this darkness is not the sinful spirits, but sin, as the obscuration of the life, including the life itself, so far as it becomes one with sin. Hence: “shineth in the darkness;” not into the darkness. This darkness, as such, can be only broken through, destroyed, by the light, not transformed into light. But in this the power of the light has been made manifest, that it has not ceased to shine even in the darkness of the heathen world. Nay, the deeper the darkness, the more wonderfully does the light scintillate through it in obstructed, colored radiance, in the motley mythologies, usages and philosophemes of the heathen world, so far as they are symbolical and have an ideal substance: the λόγος σπερματικός [the word implanted, disseminated among men].46 John defines the relation between sin and the continual working of good in the world exactly as Paul does in Rom. 2:13 and 14.
9. . “Restrained it not.” The sense is: prevented it not from breaking through. Intimating the entrance of a historical advent in the active faith of Abraham. The historical beginning of the religion of active faith. [See my objections to this interpretation, p. 59. κατέλαβεν rather means here grasped, apprehended.—P. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The life of Jesus Christ in time, the great disclosure respecting eternity: (1) Respecting His own eternal nature; (2) Respecting the personal being of God; (3) Respecting the origin of all things (particularly the antithesis of spirit and nature); (4) Respecting the nature and destiny of man; (5) Respecting the contest between the light and the darkness in the history of the world.—The word of Scripture concerning “the beginning:” (1) The Old Testament word in the New Testament light; (2) The New Testament word on the Old Testament basis.—The great beginning between eternity and time considered: (1) As the great distinction between eternity and time; (2) As the great union between eternity and time.—The three great words concerning Christ: In the beginning was the Word: (1) In the beginning was the Word; the divine nature of Christ; (2) In the beginning was the Word; the eternity of Christ; (3) In the beginning was the Word; the eternal operation and generation of Christ. Or, The Word was (1) Before the beginning (His relation to God); (2) For the beginning (His relation to the world); (3) In the beginning (His relation to things).—The Word which was in the beginning, a testimony (1) To the eternal Personality as the ground of all things; (2) To the eternal Spirit-Light as the law of all things; (3) To the eternal Love as the kernel of all things; (4) To the eternal life as the life of all things.—The Word in His exaltation overtime: He (1) In the beginning founded all things; (2) In the middle executed all things; that He may (3) In the end judge all things.—The import of the Word in God, illustrated by the word in man: (1) The expression and mirror of the personal nature (of the spirit, the reason); (2) The expression and signal of personal act.—The Word, as the bloom of the tree of life; or the gospel, a witness of its own spiritual nature: (1) Of the Word as the seed of the tree of life; (2) Of the Word as the heart of the tree of life; (3) Of the fruit of the tree of life, or life eternal—the Word in redemption, a transfiguration of the Word in creation.—The glory in the beginning: (1) The prototypal primal glory of God; (2) The archetypal glory of the Word; (3) The typical glory of the creation; (4) The antitypical glory of man.—The light in its rise; or: (1) The radiance of God and eternity; (2) The dawn of the world and time.—All things, etc., or the Christian doctrine of the creation: (1) The purification of the heathen doctrine (obviating the eternity of matter); (3) The deepening of the Jewish doctrine of the Shekmah (clearly pronouncing the personal life of love in God, as it enters into the world): (2) The glorification of the sound doctrine of scientific investigation (man the final cause of things, the God-Man the final cause of man); (4) The verdict of the Spirit respecting the derivation of the word from a non-spiritual source (materialism).—The Christian features in all things: (1) The creaturely instinct of dependence, as an impulse towards the upholding Word; (2) The natural self-unfolding instinct, as the impulse towards freedom (the liberty of the children of God, Rom. 8.); (3) The cosmical, world-forming instinct, as art impulse towards unity; (4) The spiritual [æonic] instinct, as the impulse to rise into the service of the Spirit.—The unity and the difference between life and light: (1) In the Son of God; (2) In the world; (3) In man; (4) In the Christian life.—The life a light of men: (1) In man (consciousness); (2) For man; the works of God as the signs and words of God (symbolism); (3) Respecting man; Christ the life of the life.—The life and light, or truth and reality, inseparable: (1) Without reality truth becomes a shadow; (2) Without truth reality becomes a lie.—The great darkness which has spread over the bright world of God: The darkness (1) of falsehood; (2) of hatred; (3) of death.—The light in contest with the darkness, or the progress of revelation in the world of sinners: (1) The light shining in the darkness (the shaded, colored light); (2) The light breaking through the darkness.—The eternal foundations of the advent of Christ.—The divine Life of Christ, the mark of all life: (1) The mark of the original glory of the world; (2) The mark of the deep corruption of the world; (3) The mark of the great redemption and glorification of the world.—The wisdom of the Apostles and the wisdom of their time (or, of the ancient world).—Parallel passages: Gen. 1.: Ps 8, 19 and 104; Is. 40; John 17; Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 15; Ephes. 1; Col. 1; 1 John 1; Rev. 1, 21 and 22.
STARKE:—God has revealed even His divine constitution and the inmost secret of His nature.—The Eternal Word is now become also ours. Through this Word God speaks with us, and we speak with God. The eternal Word speaks in us, through us, to us, with us.—QUESNEL: The knowledge of the Son of God must be the first and the most excellent; without it all knowledge is nothing.—NOVA BIBL. TUB.: See now many proofs of the divinity of our Jesus. He is God, the eternal Word, from eternity, in the beginning, before all creatures, the Creator of all things, the origin of all life, the source of all light.—If the Word of God was in the beginning, it is certain, that He also will be in future to the end (LANGE). It is not said: the light was the life, but: the life was the light. The life is the source of the light, even in the kingdom of nature, etc. That no true illumination takes place, except the man is brought back by regeneration from spiritual death to spiritual life (ZEISIUS). Whose life Christ is, his light He is also.—No other darkness can withstand the light, but the darkness of man.
MOSHEIM: The person through whom God spoke to men, did not first arise when the world was made, but was already, that is, from eternity.—RIEGER: This confessedly great mystery of the manifestation of God in the flesh continues as a standard at all times set up, under which all gather, that are born of God, and which all that are of the world pass by.—LISCO: From the Word, as the light, proceeds all that is true and good in mankind.—GERLACH, after AUGUSTINE: Sin, not indeed consists, but manifests itself, in coming of nothing, and bringing man to nothing (eternal death).—BRAUNE: Thought is clear only in word: He came. This implies personality; the Personality, the Enlightener, came near to the Jewish people; in reference to men in general, it is said: He was.—Thus John, who lay on the bosom of the Lord, as the Lord is eternally with His Father, opens his view into the depths of the life of Jesus Christ from the beginning, till it rises into the heights of the same life in the bosom of the Father.
HEUBNER: The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God: (1) The holiest, deepest of all mysteries, in virtue of the person; (2) The most beneficent of all; (3) The most certain of all.—SCHLEIERMACHER: What is it which meets us everywhere as truth, in all the utterances of the human mind, in all investigations, in all holy words of inspired men? Ever that which contains a hint of the redemption which was to come through Christ.
[SCHAFF: John 1:1, 2. The transcendent glory of Christ, 1. His eternity (against Arianism): “In the beginning was the Word.” 2. His distinct personality (against Sabellianism): “The Word was with (in intimate personal intercommunion with) God.” 3. His essential divinity (against Socinianism and Rationalism): “And the Word was God.”—The fundamental importance of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity: it is the corner-stone of the Christian system, the anchor of hope. Without it His passion and death have no force against sin and Satan, and we are still lost.]
[BURKITT: “Until we acknowledge the eternity and divinity of Christ, as well as of God the Father, we honor neither the Father nor the Son. There is this difference between natural things and supernatural. Natural things are first understood, and then believed; but supernatural mysteries must be first believed, and then will be better understood.” (Pascal makes a similar remark.) “If we will first set reason on work, and believe no more than we can comprehend, this will hinder faith: but if after we have assented to gospel mysteries, we set reason on work, this will help faith.”—HENGSTENBERG: “The Logos was God;” this is the magic formula that drives away all doubt, anxiety and fear from the Christian. If God be for us, who can be against us?—RYLE: If Christ is so great, how sinful must sin be from which He came to save us?]
[SCHAFF: John 1:3. The creation is the work of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. This is intimated Gen. 1:1–3: God (the Father) created … And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said (the Word).—The Scripture doctrine of creation differs—1) from Pantheism, which teaches an eternal world and confounds God and the world; 2) from Dualism, or the eternity of matter antagonistic to God (Parseeism, Platonism, Gnosticism, Manichæism); 3) from the emanation theory; 4) from Deism, which asserts the creation, but separates it from the Creator; 5) from Materialism, which makes matter the mother of the spirit, and is alike degrading to God and man.—Sin was not made by God, but is a subsequent corruption or perversion of what was made good. Sin is no essence, no creature, but something negative, a false direction of the will.—Christ’s part in the creation the basis of His redemption. Having made man, He had the deepest interest in him from the start.]
[SCHAFF: John 1:4, 5. Christ, the source of all true life and light.—Out of Christ there is but death and darkness.—The antagonism of life and death, and the antagonism of light and darkness is not, 1) a metaphysical conflict (as in the Gnostic and Dualistic systems), but, 2) a moral conflict involving personal freedom and responsibility. It began in time and will end in time; life and light will conquer the field and swallow up death and darkness. 3. The antagonism culminates in God and Satan, in Christ and Anti-Christ, but goes on in every man. 4. It should fill us with holy grief, manly courage, and intense earnestness.]
[On the whole section. BENGEL: John 1:1 and 2 refer to eternity, John 1:3 to creation, John 1:4 to the state of innocence, John 1:5 to the fall.—RYLE: Not a single word could be altered in the first five verses of John without opening the door to some heresy.—There are hidden depths in this passage which nothing but the light of eternity will ever fully reveal.—P. S.]
John 1:1. [There is no doubt that Word (Vulg.: Verbum; Lath.: Wort) is the only proper translation here of Δόγος (from λέγω) for John never uses it in another sense, and here he plainly alludes to the account of Genesis that God in the beginning made the world through His word. But in the Prologue and in two other passages (1 John 1:1, ὁ Αόγος τῆς ζωῆς, and Apoc 19:13. ὁ Αόγος τον͂ θεον͂,—the passage 1 John 5:7 is spurious) he employs it in an altogether peculiar, personal sense to designate the præ-existent Christ, as is evident from John 1:14. The Greek favored this application, λόγος being masculine; and Ewald, boldly breaking through all usage, retains the masculine article in his German translation: der (instead of das) Wort. In classic Greek λόγος; has the double signification: word and reason, oratio and ratio; the former being the primary meaning according to the etymology. Both are closely related; word or speech is the λόγος προφορικός, the outward reason or thought expressed; reason or thought is the λὁγος ἐνδιάθετος, the inward speech. We cannot speak without the faculty of reason nor think without words in our mind, whether uttered or not. Hence the Hebrew phrase: to speak in his heart=to think. When λόγος signifies word, it refers not to the formal part, the mere name or sound of a thing (like π̔ῆμα, ἔπος, ὄνομα, νοκ, vox vocabulum), but to the material part, the thing itself, the thought as uttered, sometimes a whole discourse, sermo, or treatise (as in Acts 1:1). When it signifies reason, it may denote the subjective faculty, human or divine, which produces speech (so in Heraklitus), and hence the derivative terms, λογίζε αθαι, λογισμός, λογικός, which are applied to rational functions; but more frequently, and in the Bible almost exclusively, it refers to an objective reason to be given of, or for, any thing. Comp. such phrases as πρὸς λόγον, κατὰ λόγον, agreeable to reason, reasonable (in Plato, also Acts 18:14—this comes nearest to the sense of reason as a faculty); παρὰ λόγον. contrary to reason, improbable; λόγον τινος ἔξειν, or ποιεῖσθαι, rationem habere alicujus, to make account of, and λόγον διδόναι (ἀπέχειν, παρἐχειν), τινόςto give a reason, an account of a thing (comp. Acts 19:40; 1 Pet. 3:5); also λόγον αἰτεῖν περί τινος, λαμβάειν ν̓πέρ τινος, to ask, to receive an account of a thing. For the faculty of reason the N. T. always employs other terms, as πνεν͂μα, νον͂ς, καρδία, σοφἰα. Hence we must object, with Zezschwitz (Profangräcität und Biblischer Sprachgeist, 1859, p. 33), to the trias, νον͂ς, λόγος, πνεν͂μα, as set up by Delitzsch in his Biblische Psychologie, retained in the second ed., 1861, p. 176. For the theological meaning of Logos as here used, see the EXEG. NOTES.—P. S.]
John 1:3. Lachm. construes: ον̓δὲ ἕν, ὁ γέγονεν, etc., according to Codd. C.* D. L. etc. [Sin. D. al. read ον̓δὲν ὅ γέγ; but ον̓δὲ ἔν (ne unum quidem, not even the ν̔́λη), is more emphatic.—P. S.]
John 1:4. D. et al. (Lachm.) read ζωή έστιν. An exegetical hypothesis, see John 5:11. [Sin. D. and Codd. ap. Orig. sustain ἦν, and are followed by Tischend. in his 8th ed., but ὁ γέγονε ἐν αν̓τῷ is supported by A. B. C. E. F. L. O. al. Some MSS. and Versions connect the first sentence of John 1:4 with the last words of John 1:3, and punctuate ὁ γέγονε ἐν ἀν αν̓τῷ (a phrase never used by John for to be made by), ζωὴ ἦν (the Valentinian Gnostics and Hilgenfeld); others put a comma after γέγονε (Clem. Alex., Orig., Lachm),—a forced and untenable construction. See EXEG. NOTES.—P. S.]
John 1:5. [On the different translations and interpretations of καταλαμβάνειν see EXEG. NOTES.—P. S.]
John 1:5. Some authorities read αν̓τόν [sc. λόγον, for αν̓τό,, sc. τὸ φῶς. See Tischend. ed. 8—P. S.].
 [The symmetrical, almost poetic, or rather superpoetic, beauty of the Prologue will appear more fully from the following arrangement of its simple, short, abrupt and pregnant sentences:
THE LOGOS AND GOD.
1. ̓Εν ἀρχῆ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ᾖν πρὸ τὸν Θεός, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος.
2. Ον̓͂τος ἦς ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν.
THE LOGOS AND THE WORLD.
3. ΙΙάντα δὶ̓ αν̓τον͂ έγένετο, καὶ χωπὶς αν̓τον͂ ἐγέντο ον̓δὲ ἕν ὁ γέγονεν.
THE LOGOS AND MANKIND.
4. ̓Εν ας̓τῶ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
THE LOGOS AND SIN.
5. Καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῆ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αν̓τὸ ον̓ κατὲλαβεν.—P. S.]
[So also Marheineke (Dogm. p. 134). The Son is indeed called ἡ ἀρχή, Rev. 3:14, but not the Father. Philo and the Gnostics called the Logos ἀρχή, but the Father προαρχή, or abyss (comp. Jacob Böhm’s Urgrund, Abgrund). Besides, the corresponding term to προαρχή is Λόγος θεός, while “Father” requires “Son”.—P. S.]
[Origen (Com. in. Joan., in Delarue’s ed. Tom. IV. p. 19) makes τὸ εἶναι ἐν ἀρχῇ to be identical with τὸ εἶναι ἐν πατρί, which would lead to Cyril’s interpretation; but soon afterwards, p. 20, he explains that Christ was called the beginning because He is the Wisdom, and refers to Prov. 8:22, where Wisdom says: “God made me the beginning of His ways—ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ,"—a passage which figured very prominently in the Arian controversy.—P. S.]
[So also Chrysostom (In Joannem Hom. II., ed. Montfaucon, Tom. VIII. p. 13): τὸ γὰρ, ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν, οὐδὲν ἕτερόν ἐστιν, ἀλλ̓ ἢ τὸ εἶναι ἀεὶ δηλωτικὸν, καὶ ἀπείρως εἶναι. Of modern commentators, Olshausen adopts this view: “Not in the beginning of creation, but in the primitive beginning, the Uranfang, i.e., from eternity.” This is a correct inference (see below), but not directly expressed. We can only speak of a beginning of finite or created existence—the existence of God has neither beginning nor end. Liddon (The Divinity of Christ, 4th ed., 1869, p. 28) somewhat modifies this interpretation after Meyer, in referring בְּרֵשִׁית, Gen. 1:1, to the initial moment of time itself, ἐν ἀρχῇ to the absolute conception of that which is anterior to, or rather independent of, time. Ewald: the first conceivable beginning.—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg quotes for this view Matth. 19:4; John 8:44, and other passages where ἀρχή likewise refers to the beginning of the world, or the creation. So also Brückner, Godet, etc.—P. S.]
[Comp. Bengel in loc.: “In eodem principio cœli et terræ et mundi (John 1:10; Gen. 1:1) jam erat Verbum sine ullo principio initiore suo. Ipsum Verbum est mere æternum: nam eodem modo Verbi ac Patris æternitas describitur.” Alford: “These words, if they do not assert, at least imply, the eternal præ-existence of the divine Word. For ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν is not said of an Acts done ἐν ἀρχᾐ (as in Gen. 1:1), but of a state existing ἀρχῇ, and therefore without beginning itself.” Brückner (in the fifth ed. of De Wette): “If the Logos was in the beginning of things, it follows that He had a being before all being.” Ewald: “The words, ‘In the beginning,’ etc., mean first of all that the Logos actually existed before the world or that there never could be conceived a time in which He was not already.” So also Godet.—P. S.]
Bengel; “ERAT Verbum, antequam mundus fieret.” Alford: “The existence of an enduring and unlimited state of being, implied in ἧν (the indefinite past), is contrasted with ἐγένετο in John 1:3, and especially in John 1:14.”—Meyer: “John reports historically, looking back from the later time of the incarnate Logos (John 1:14).” This is more correct than Olshausen’s exposition of ἧν as designating “the enduring, timeless existence of the eternal presence;” this would require ἐστί, as in John 8:58, πρὶν ̓Αβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί. (Chrysostom likewise takes ἦν here as denoting τὸ ἀίδιον, because it is used of God.) But all these commentators agree that the was of the divine Logos is clearly distinct from the became or began to be of the creature, John 1:3, of the man John, John 1:6, and of the human nature of Christ, John 1:14. John suggests the idea of an (eternal) generation of the Logos from the substance of the Father (comp. the term μονογενὴς υἱός, John 1:18, and πρωτότοκος, Col. 1:15, which differs widely from πρωτόκτιστος or πρωτόπλαστος), but not of the Arian doctrine of a creation of the Logos out of nothing. The Son must be as eternal as the Father, being as indispensable to the Fatherhood of God, as the Father is to the Sonship of the Logos.—P. S.]
[“Das persönliche geistige Wesen Gottes in absoluter Selbst-objectivirung.”]
[1 John 5:7 is spurious. Luke 1:20; Acts 20:32; Heb. 4:12, are no proper parallels.—P. S.]
[On the grammatical sense of λόγος see TEXTUAL NOTE 1.]
[Bibl. Psychologie, secd. ed., p. 178: “Dass die Johanneische Logoslehre nicht ausser Beziehung zur philonischen steht, ist ein unläuqbares Factum. Die apostolische Verkündigung verschmähte die bereits vom Alexandrinismus ausgeprägten Ideenformen nicht sondern erfüllte sie mit dem durch die neutestamentliche Erfüllungsgeschichte dargereichten Inhalt.”—P. S.]
[ὁ πρεσβν́τερος νὶὸς τον͂ πατρὸς, ὁ πρωτόγονος αν̓τον͂, εἰκὼν θεον͂ ,ἄγγελος πρεσβν́τατος, ἀρχάγγελος, the λόγος τομεν̓ς, δημιονργὸς δἰ ον̔͂ ὁ κόσνος κατεσκευάσθη, ὁ ἀρχέτνπος καὶ παράδειγμα τον͂ φωτός, ἀρχιερεν́ς, ἱκέτης, δεν́τερος θεός, and similar terms which show how nearly Philo, in speaking of the Logos, approached the teaching of St. John, although in fact he was nearer the later Gnostic speculations about the æons. He also says of the Logos that he was neither unbegotten (ἀγέννητον), like God, nor begotten (ἀγέννητος), like ourselves.—P. S.]
[Lücke, Alford and others go too far when they say that Philo did not connect the Logos with Messianic ideas.—P. S.]
[Meyer likewise distinctly asserts the independence of the matter of John’s Logos-doctrine, which rests on the O. T. and the teaching of Christ and the Holy Spirit. He arrives, by a purely exegetical process, substantially at the orthodox view, and thus sums up the result of his exposition of John 1:1 (p. 64): “Mithin ist nach Joh. unter ὁ λόγος. nichts anderes zu verstehen als die vorzeitlich (vrgl. Paulus, Col. I.15 ff.) in Gott immanente, zur Vollziehung des Schöpfungsactes aber hypostatisch aus Gott hervorgegangene und seitdem als schöpferisches, belebendes und erleuchtendes persönliches Princip auch in der geisttigen Welt wirkende wesentliche Selbstoffenbarung Gottes, diesem selbst an Wesen und Herrlichkeit gleich (vrgl. Paulus Phil. II. 6), welche göttliche Selbsloffenbarung in dem Menschen Jesus leiblich erschienen ist und das Werk der Welter-lösung vollzogen hat.”—P. S.]
[This sentence excludes Sabellianism, while the following declaration: “The Word was God,” excludes Arianism.—Bengel: “Ergo distinctus a Deo Patre. πρός denotat perpetuam quasi tendentiam Filii ad Patrem in unitate essentiæ. Erat apud Deum unice quia nil extra Deum tum erat.” Meyer: “πρός bezeichnet das Befindlichsein des Logos bei Gott im Gesichtspunkte des Verkehrs.” Brückner: “παρά hebt mehr die Räumlichkeit, πρός mehr die Zugehörigkeit des Beisammenseins hervor.” Alford: “Both the inner substantial union, and the distinct personality of the λόγος are here asserted.” Liddon (l. c. p. 229): “He is not merely παρὰ Θεῷ (John 17:5), along with God, but πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. This last proposition expresses, beyond the fact of co-existence or immanence, the more significant fact of perpetuated intercommunion. The face of the everlasting Word was ever directed towards the everlasting Father.” Owen: “With signifies a continual cleaving or adherence to the object towards which the relation of union is expressed, the closest union, together with distinct and independent personality.” Godet: “πρός exprime la proximite, la présence, le rapprochement mutuel, la relation active, la communion personelle.” He translates it, “en relation avec Dieu.”—P. S.]
[“Ubi amor, ibi trinitas.” God being love, He must be triune, a loving Father, a beloved Son, and the union and communion of both, which is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and communion.—P. S.]
[Meyer observes here (p. 65): “There is something majestic in the growth of the record of the Logos in these three brief, grand sentences.”—P. S.]
[Luther reverses the order, following closely the Greek: Gott war das Wort. So also the old English translation authorized by Henry VIII.—P. S.]
[Philo calls the Logos θεος only by misapplication, ἐν καταχρήσει, as he says; and he calls Him ὁ δεν́τερος θεός in the sense of a middle being between God and man.—P. S.]
[Philo justly distinguishes the efficient from the instrumental cause of the creation, the former he signifies by ὑφ' ον̓͂ the latter by δἰ ον̔͂: … τὸν θεὸν, ν̔φ̓ ον̓͂ (ὁ κόσμος) γέγονενν̔́λην δὲ, τἁ τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα, ἑξ ὦν σνςεκράθη ὄργανον δέ, λόγον θεον͂ ,δἰ ον̓́ κατεσκενάσθη. The Bible excludes the Platonic and Philonic doctrine of the ν̔́λη which is dualistic. It teaches that the world was made by God the Father (in answer to the question ν̔φ̓ ον̓͂), through the Son (δἰ ον̓͂) out of nothing (έξ ον̓͂), for His glory (δἰ ὅ).—P. S.]
[Meyer: “John might have written τὰ πάντα (with the article) as 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; but he must not; comp Col. 1:17; John 3:35, for his idea is: ‘All,’ in the unlimited sense; τὰ πάντα would express the idea: the totality of things existing.” Comp. Godet. Bengel observes on πάντα: “Grande verbum, quo mundus, i.e. universitas rerum factarum denotatur, John 1:10.”—P. S.]
[Also Alford: “This addition is not merely a Hebrew parallelism, but a distinct denial of the eternity and uncreatedness of matter as held by the Gnostics. They set matter, as a separate existence, over against God, and made it the origin of evil:—but John excludes any such notion.”—P. S.]
[Godet justly remarks that ζωὴ ἐ͂ιναι is too strong an expression for creatures instead of ζωὴν ἔχειν.—P. S.]
[Comp. Ps. 36:9: “With Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light;” LXX: πηγὴ ζωῆς. Comp. also John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life (ἡ ζωή);” and 1 John 1:1, where Christ is called the (personal) Word of life, τῆς ζωῆς.—P. S.]
[Olshausen, Brückner and Alford likewise take life in this comprehensive sense, that the Logos is the source of all life to the creature, not indeed ultimately, but mediately, comp. John 1:26; 1 John 5:11. So θάνατος, the opposite of ζωή, covers in John the physical and spiritual. Chrysostom (Hom. V, al. IV) refers ζωή mainly to the power of creation and preservation, but also to the resurrection. According to Olshausen ζωή designates the only real absolute being, the ὄντως εἶναι, of Deity, in contrast with the relative existence of the creature. Luthardt and Brückner: “Das in sich gesättigle, wahre Sein, welches zugleich die schöferische Lebenskraft schlechthin ist ohne Unterseheidung des Physischen und Ethischen.” Godet: “la santé vitale dans sa vigueur la plus intacte, le developement normal del’ existence” i.e. life in its normal and healthy condition, whether physical, or intellectual and moral, or supernatural and eternal.—P. S.]
[Chrysostom: ον̓κ εἶπεν, ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ̓Ιονδαίων, ἁλλὰκαθόλον τῶν ἀνθρώπων.—P. S.]
[John 1:4 relates to the condition before, John 1:5 to the condition after, the fall. So already Bengel. Godet goes further, and discovers in life and light an allusion to the trees of life and knowledge in paradise. Ingenious, but not properly warranted by the text.—P. S.]
[Brückner likewise dissents here from De Wette. Alford: “This φαίνελ is not merely the historical present, but describes the whole process of the light and life in the Eternal Word shining in this evil and dark world; both by the O. T. revelations, and by all the scattered fragments of light glittering among the thick darkness of heathendom.” Hengstenberg, on the contrary (p. 33), denies all illumination of the heathen world as foreign to the mind of John, and explains that the Logos before the incarnation was virtually life and light, but did not manifest Himself as such before the incarnation, so that those who lived before Christ were excluded from life and light. But this would cut off even the saints of the O. T. Comp. against Hengstenberg John 1:9; Rom. 1:18–24; 2:14,15; Acts 14:16, 17; 17:27, 28.—P. S.]
As the σ κ ο τ ί α is not introduced here in its historical origin, Hilgenfeld (with the Baur school generally) has sought here to make ultimate opposites out of the light and darkness. Thus is the Gnostic filth everywhere brought in, just where the evangelist would sweep it out, as here by the preceding ον̓δέ ἕν.
[Meyer: “ον̓ κατέλαβεν, ergriff es nicht; nahm nicht Besitz davon; es ward von der Finsterniss nicht angeeignet, so dass sie dadurch licht geworden wäre; sie blieb ihm fern und fremd. “Ewald (p. 121) takes the same view, and finds besides in ον̓ κατέλαβεν the idea of guilt: “und die Finsterniss dennoch ihrerseits ergriff es nicht, eignete es sich nicht an, wie sie doch hätte thun können und sollen.”—P. S.]
[According to classic usage, but in the N. T. this meaning has no parallel. John would probably have used κατέχειν in this case, as Paul did, Rom. 1:18; 2 Thess. 2:6, 7.—P. S.]
 [Victor Strauss (Das Kirchenjahr im Hause, Heidelberg, 1845, p. 63) beautifully reproduces and expounds the Johanneau idea of the Logos in his relation to God and the world:
“Vor Anbeginn der Schöpfung und der Zeiten
Ist Gottes Eingeborner ewiglich,
Die Fülle selbst von Gottes Wesenheiten,
Das ew’ge Du, in dem des Vaters Ich
Des eignen Wesens Wesenheit besiegelt,
Den eignen Abgrund aufgedeckt in sich,
Die Hand die Gottes Tief’ ihm selbst entriegelt,
Sein Wille selbst in anfangloser That,
Sein Abglanz, der ihm selbst sich wiederspiegelt.
Das Wort, das er in sich geboren hat
Zum wahren Sein, drin Fülle der Naturen
In’s ungeschaffne Dasein ewig trat.
Da ist der Grund, aus dem die Weltewfluren
Hervorgesprosst zum Anbeginn der Zeit,
Als ew’ges Dasein ward zu Creaturen;
Und Lebensfüll’ in reinster Seligkeit
Ging aus von Ihm in die Erschaffnen alle;
Es war nur Licht, war Keine Dunkelheit”—P. S.]
[German divines properly distinguish since Urlsperger (who invented, not the distinction, but the terminology) between the ontological and the œconomical Trinity, or the Trinity of essence and the Trinity of revelation. The ontological Trinity is the Trinity of the Divine being before and independent of the world, the inherent threefold distinction in God, who both as absolute intelligence and as absolute will or love, is to Himself an object of knowledge and of love, and yet self-identical in this distinction. We have an analogy in our human self-consciousness which implies a union of the knowing subject and the known object; and in human love there is also a trinity—the loving subject, the beloved object, and the union of the two. The œconomical Trinity is the Trinity of God manifested in the world in the work of Creation and Preservation (as God the Father), Redemption (as God the Son), and Regeneration and Sanctification (as God the Holy Ghost). The Bible generally speaks of the Trinity as revealed, but this itself justifies by inference the assumption of the internal Trinity, since God reveals Himself as He actually is. There can be no contradiction between His being and His manifestation.—P. S.]
[The dispensation of the Spirit, His œconomical manifestation in the world with the whole fullness of His power, presupposed the atoning work and glorification of Christ, and did not appear before the day of Pentecost and the founding of the Christian Church. Comp. John 7:39.—P. S.]
[̓Εν αν̓τῶ; inaccurately translated by him in the English Version, and thus not rightly distinguished from δἰ αν̓τον͂ at the close of the same verse.—E. D. Y.]
 [Göthe thus refutes Deism:
“What were a God who only from without
Upon his finger whirled the universe about?
’Tis his within itself to move the creature;
Nature in him to warm, himself in nature;
So that what in him lives and moves and is,
Shall ever feel some living breath of his.”—P. S.]
[More properly, without Him there were no light at all in man. In Matth. 6:22 the Lord speaks rather of a perversion, confusion, doubling of the vision by the carnal will, so that the light within becomes distorted and a source of positive error, than of an absence of the light itself. Such light-darkness, or dark-light, like the ignis fatuus, is a “greater” darkness than simple darkness itself.—E. D. Y.]
[Justin. Martyr applied the Platonic view of the relation of the νον͂ς to the νοερόν in man to the relation of the divine λόγος to the σπέρμα λογικόν, the human reason, and derived all the elements of truth which are scattered like seeds among the ancient heathen, from the influence of Christ before His incarnation. He recognized in the rational soul itself something closely related to the divine Logos, a germ or spark of the Reason of reasons, a λόγος σπερματικός, a σπέρμα τον͂ λόγον ἔμφντον. He regarded the heathen sages as unconscious disciples of the Logos, as Christians before Christ, and compared Socrates to Abraham. Apol. II. §13: “Each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic divine word (ἀπὸ μὲρονς τον͂ σπερματικον͂ θείον λόγον), seeing what was related to it. Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians …. All the [heathen] writers were able to see realities darkly through the seed of the implanted word that was in them (δια τῆς ἐνον́σης ἑμφν́τον τον͂ λόγον σπορᾶς).” Comp. 2. § 8, where, speaking of the Stoics and the poets, he says that their moral teaching in part was admirable on account of the seed of reason implanted in every race of men, δια τὸ ἔμφντον παντὶ γένει ἀνθρώπων σπέρμα τον͂ λόγον.—P. S.]
See John 18:1 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.
John 19:1. Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him [ἕλαβεν οὖν ὁ Πιλ. τὸν Ἰησ. καὶ ἐμαστίγωσεν].—The See John 18:1 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.
John 19:1. Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him [ἕλαβεν οὖν ὁ Πιλ. τὸν Ἰησ. καὶ ἐμαστίγωσεν].—The second wretched politic attempt of the Roman, according to John. He took, or received, Jesus and scourged Him. The sending of Jesus before Herod’s tribunal, as also the hand-washing, likewise belong in this category. With this attempt he hopes to satisfy the vindictiveness of Jesus’ foes, perhaps even to excite their compassion—and so much the more, since according to his ideas, Jesus by this ignominious treatment, would be stripped of dignity in the eyes of the people and made of nope effect. On the act of scourging see Comm. on Matthew [p. 512]. As also on the different signification assumed by the scourging according to the Synoptists and according to John.
[Pilate probably, subjected Jesus to this disgraceful and horrible punishment in the vain hope of satisfying His accusers and moving them to compassion. The Roman mode of scourging is here meant, which was much more cruel than the Jewish; it was never inflicted upon Roman citizens, but only upon foreigners and slaves whose lives were considered of no account, either as a torture to extort a confession, or as a correction preparatory to crucifixion. The body was stripped, tied in a stooping posture to a low block or pillar, and the bare back lacerated by an unlimited number of lashes with rods or twisted thongs of leather, so that the poor sufferers frequently fainted and died on the spot.—P. S.]
John 19:2, 3. And the soldiers, etc. [καὶ οἱ στρατιῶται πλέ ξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν, κ. τ. λ.].—See Comm. on Matthew [p. 514]. “The derisive blow on the cheek [ἐδίδουν αὐτῷ ῥαπίσματα] is substituted for the kiss.”
John 19:4. I bring Him forth to you [Ἴδε ἄγω ὑμῖν αὐτὸν ἔξω ἵνα γνῶτε, κ. τ. λ.]—According to Matthew, the scourging of the Lord had been consummated before the eyes of the people (not “in the court of the prætorium”). For after the scourging, the soldiers had led Him into the prætorium, probably in a mocking procession as though the king were brought into his castle. The scene probably took place in the fortress-court or in a hall. Therefore we read here: “I bring Him forth unto you.”—That ye may know.—The Jews not possessing the right of capital punishment, the return of the person of Jesus to them was a declaration that He was free from the offence with which they charged Him. Pilate, however, utters his testimony unconditionally: no fault [οὐδεμίαν αἰτίαν].—The leading forth has been in different ways misinterpreted in regard to its intention,—by Gerhard, for instance: they should see how compliant he would be in punishing Him, if he found any fault in Him.
John 19:5. Behold, the man. [Ἴδε, or rather Ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, see TEXT. NOTES].—Ecce Homo! “But from the Lord cometh what the tongue shall speak.” (Prov. 16:1 [Luther’s Bible. “The preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” E. V.]). Pilate’s words, unconsciously to himself, assume, like his superscription and the sentence of Caiaphas, a significance corresponding to the great situation. [An involuntary prophecy of heathenism, as the word of Caiaphas (John 11:51, 52) was an involuntary prophecy of hostile Judaism.—P. S.] The word seems to express compassion; at all events it is designed to excite that emotion. There is no doubt as to the sense: there ye have Him again, and what a pitiable object! Take Him thus and let Him go. He forebodes not that Jesus is indeed the Man κατ’ ἐξοχήν [the one perfect Man], who, through his wicked pliancy, steps forth so outraged in His outward appearance.
John 19:6. The high-priests and the officers.—They cried as leaders—which does not exclude the joint crying of the assembled populace.
Take Him yourselves and crucify Him.—Pilate still makes a stand at the present stage, with a feeling of his own authority that causes him to deride the impotence of the Jews.
John 19:7. We have a law [ἡμεῖς νόμον ἔ χομεν].—The political accusation having borne no fruit, they now come out with the religious accusation in pursuance of which Jesus, at least according to their law, must die (as a blasphemer of God, namely, Lev. 24:16, doubtless also as a false prophet, Deut. 18:20). The ἡμεῖς, etc., defiantly arrayed against the ἐγώ—αἰτίαν of Pilate. They feel confident of Pilate’s obligation to respect their law. See Joseph. Antiq., XVI, 2, 3.
John 19:8. When Pilate—he was the more afraid [μᾶλλον ἐφοβήθη].—Their saying, in the first place, entirely missed the designed effect; it was productive of the opposite effect. Hitherto Pilate had been restrained by a fear of conscience or of law alone; now religious fear supervened, in connection with a fear of Jesus’ personality itself, of which latter sentiment he now became fully conscious. According to Matthew, the message of his wife has already been received, hence is jointly influential.
John 19:9. Again into the pretorium [καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον πάλιν]—We must supply in imagination the leading of Jesus before Pilate, in order to a fresh, private examination.—Whence art Thou? [πόθεν εἶ σύ].—The inquiry after the whence of Christ is indefinitely framed, in accordance with the Jews’ accusation and Pilate’s fear. Meyer: He pictures to himself the υἱὸς θεοῦ after the analogy of the heathen heroes, and fears the vengeance of the Jewish God Jehovah. Religious awe, in a moment of superstitious excitement, pictures to itself all manner of things, however, and nothing quite distinctly. Whether He were a Magus or a hero, an angel, after the religion of the land, or a divine apparition,—it now seemed very possible to him that there might be something super-terrestrial in the appearance of the Man;—and he had so unconcernedly caused Him to be scourged. In any case, celestial vengeance seemed to threaten him. Whether the πόθεν, etc., is timid (Meyer) or cautiously sifting, is difficult to decide; fear and prudence may be united in it.
No answer [Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦδ ἀπόκρισιν οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ].—Luthardt: He would not answer him, in order that He might not step in the way of God’s will. An abstractly supernaturalistic view. If the answer had been a moral duty, no religious duty would have stood in the way of it. God had power, notwithstanding any answer of His, to accomplish His will. Under such a supposition as Luthardt’s, Jesus would in no case have dared answer anything. He was silent, “as also before Herod and Caiaphas, because He had already testified enough for the susceptible; and for him who had turned his back upon the King of truth, neither could another testimony avail.” Tholuck. Jesus could foresee that this transaction led to nothing. Pilate, with his question, abandoned his judicial position, for he was bound to acquit Jesus not on account of His danger-menacing Godhead, but on account of His protection-demanding human innocence. [Alford: “This silence was the most emphatic answer to all who had ears to hear it,—was a reference to what He had said before, John 18:37, and so a witness to His divine origin. Would any mere man, of true and upright character, have refused an answer to such a question, so put? Let the modern rationalist consider this.”—P. S.]
John 19:10. Dost Thou not speak unto me? [ἐμοὶ οὐ λαλεῖς].—Himself full of fear, he exacted considerations of fear from Jesus. He boasts of his power [ἐ ξουσίαν ἔχω] instead of remembering his duty, and of his freedom to release Jesus [ἀπολῦαί σε], while the weight of temptation, drives him in his impotence resistlessly forward. Ἐμοί has the emphasis of offended authority [pride of office], making efforts at once terrifying and alluring. Crucify, release, a more probable sequence than the converse. See the TEXTUAL NOTES. [The opposite order is better attested by external authority (א. A. B., etc.), and more natural, as releasing appeals more to the prisoner, and crucifying follows as the other alternative.—P. S.]
John 19:11. No power over Me unless it had been given, etc. [οὐκ ἔχεις ἐξουσίαν οὐδεμίαν κατ’ ἐμοῦ, εἰ μὴ ἦν σοι δεδομένον ἄνωθεν].—δεδομένον. Namely, the exercise of power—if that had not been given thee. [The neuter is more general than δεδομένη, and includes, as Meyer says, τὸ ἐξουσιάζειν κατ’ ἐμοῦ.—P. S.].—From above.—Not: from the Roman emperor (Usteri), or from the Sanhedrin (Semler), but from God (John 3:3, 31). [Grotius aptly: inde scilicet, unde ortus sum; ἄνωθεν is a precise anwer to the πόθεν of Pilate (John 19:10). It is equivalent to ἐκ θεοῦ or ἐκ τοῦ πατρός μου, but this Pilate would not have understood.—P. S.].—No power.—Ἐξουσία is interpreted:
1. As judicial authority, by Luther, Calvin, Baur and others. Thus, because thou hast this authority from above, the misuse of it is sin; the authors of this offence, however, the Jews, have the greater guilt.
2. Actual power, Beza, Gerhard, Tholuck: It is the providence of God that I, through the obduracy of My people, have fallen into thy hands. With this interpretation the διὰ τοῦτο [on this account, because of the power being given thee] is certainly better explained, yet this actual power rests upon the magisterial authority.
He that delivereth Me unto thee; ὁ παραδιδούς [the present, because the act is just going on].—Bengel, Meyer [Lampe, Alford, Ewald, Hengstenberg]: The high-priest [Caiaphas]; Tholuck collectively: The hardened Jewish nation. [Still others the Sanhedrin; some, unaptly, Judas who is now out of sight]. The declaration of Pilate John 19:35 is pertinent: Thy nation and the high-priests have delivered Thee unto me. Wherefore has the deliverer (ὁ παραδιδούς) the greater sin [μείζονα ἁμαρτίαν ἔχει]? Explanations:
1. Euthymius: Pilate’s guilt rests more upon softness and weakness.
2. Grotius: Because he could not know, as well as the Jews, who Christ was.
3. Lampe: Because the Jews had not received this power from God.
4. Meyer: Because thou hast the disposal of Me not from any sovereign power of thine own, but by divine authorization.
But the abuse of his judicial authority does not excuse him. Decisive in the first place is the fact that Pilate is an ignorant Gentile, the deliverer Jewish; then, that the Jews claim, with a certain legal title, that he has but to execute their sentence. Pilate found himself in no clear position. He had to do, not with a Roman, but with a Jew, and not with a civil law, but with a religious accusation in regard to which the Jewish tribunal had already decided. This might readily mislead him in his simple judicial duty, and it was his fatality. His guilt would be still less than it really was, had he not been aware that they had delivered Jesus for envy, had not Jesus made so strong an impression on him, and had he not really known it to be his duty to release Him. Even in the case of the Jews there was also taken into account a consideration of excuse because of ignorance, which consideration exhibited the guilt of many of them as other than final obduracy. See Acts 3:17; comp. Luke 23:34. Meyer, in a note [p. 621], has with reason set aside the interpretation of Baur.
John 19:12. For the sake of this; ἐκ τούτυ.—Not: from thenceforth [E. V. and most commentators], but: for the sake of this saying [Meyer, Stier, Luthardt, comp. 6:66.—P. S.]. It cast a bright accidental light upon his obscure, fateful, perilous situation, that for an instant marked the path of duty as a path of deliverance.—Pilate sought to release Him.—Ἐζήτει certainly cannot denote simply an increased striving (Lücke), it being expressive of a distinct act immediately provocative of the most excited outburst on the part of the Jews. But the interpretation: he demanded that He should be released (Meyer), gives rise to the supposition that Pilate must needs ask the Jews’ sanction to the release of Jesus. This word, to which not sufficient regard is paid, means rather: he was really on the point of ordering the release of Christ. Perhaps he caused the guard to fall back, or he may hare stated to the Jews that they might go home, that he would leave Jesus behind in the prætorium, under his own protection. At all events, here it is that the tragic knot was tied. The liberation of Jesus seems already decided.
But the Jews cried out, saying.—Now, in the uproar of the Jews, the whole storm of hell rises. At first the high-priests and officers led the voices,—now the entire mass is full of excitement and needs no starter. The demoniacal syllogism with which they debauch Pilate, scarcely originates, however, in the brain of the populace. The hierarchs take refuge in the political accusation, declaring Jesus is a revolutionist against the emperor, and if thou let Him go, thou comest thyself under suspicion of treason to the emperor. Now the emperor was—Tiberius. The threat of being accused to this man of treason fells the weak courtling. On Pilate as manifoldly guilty, especially of extortions and outrages: Joseph., Antiq. XVIII. 3, 1 ff.; Philo, De leg. ad Caj., 1033, on the suspicious character of Tiberius, Sueton., Tib., 58; Tacit., Ann., III.38. Majestatis crimen omnium accusationum complementum erat.—φίλος Καί σαρος, a predicate of honor, since the time of Augustus conferred, by the emperor himself and by others, partly upon prefects and legates, partly upon allies (Ernesti, Suetonius, Excurs. 15).” Tholuck. According to Meyer [and Alford], the term means simply: loyal to the emperor; unfavorable to this view is the technical use of the predicate: amicus Cæsaris. Even if Pilate did not formally possess the title, it is alluded to.—Speaketh against—is at variance with—the emperor (ἀντιλέγει). Meyer: He declareth against the emperor, not: he rebelleth (Kuinoel), etc. But rebelling is exactly what declaring against the sovereign means.
John 19:13. When Pilate therefore heard these words.—Pilate’s playing with the situation is past; now the situation plays with him. First he said—not asked—: what is truth? Now his frightened heart, to which the emperor’s favor is the supreme law of life, says: what is justice? “He who fears not God above all things, is condemned to fear man.” Tholuck.1—He brought Jesus forth.—Since the last examination, John 19:8 ff., he had left Him in the pretorium.—And sat down in the judgment-seat [ἐκάθισεν ἐπὶ βήματος εἰς τόπ νλεγόμενον λιθόστρωτον].—“Sentence was pronounced sub divo, not ex æquo loco, but superiore; there stood the judgment-seat on a floor of mosaic: pavimentum, tessellatum (Sueton. Cæsar, chap. 46).” Tholuck. [Such a tesselated pavement Julius Cæsar carried about on his expeditions, Suet. Cæs., c. 46.]—But in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.—“The name Ταββ. must not be derived from גִבְעָה, hill [so Hengstenberg],—against which derivation the double β would militate (comp. ταβαθᾶ, Jos. Antiq. V. 1, 29), but from גַּב, ridge, hump.” Meyer. Is it not, perhaps, still more probably an Aramaic modification of גָּבֹהַּ, altum, altitudo? [Alford from נָּבָה, altus fuit, Ewald from the root גָּבַע with a signification similar to λιθόστρωτον—P. S.]
John 19:14. It was the preparation-day,—Παρασκευἠ τοῦ πάσχα, see Comm. on Matt. [pp 455, 468]; John on chap. 13 [p. 405].
1. Friday in the passover-season, or paschal week, as a day of preparation for the Sabbath. Wieseler, p 336 f; Wichelhaus, p. 209 f. Only apparently a modification is Tholuck’s explanation: The Paschal preparation-day as the preparation for the Sabbath falling in the Paschal season; since the terms Friday and Sabbath preparation-day were of necessity synonymous to the Jews, just as to the Germans the terms Samstag and Sonnabend are.
[This is the correct view, and is maintained also by Olshausen, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Riggenbach, Robinson (Harmony, p. 219). The term παρασκευή here does not correspond (as Meyer, Lücke, Alford and others assert) to the Hebrew עֶרֶב הַפֶּסַח, “the vigil of the Passover,” “passover-eve” (mentioned in the Talmud, see Buxtorf, Lex., p. 1765, but nowhere in the Bible), but to עַרוּבְתָא, eve, as being the עֶרֶב הַשַׁבָּת, eve of the Sabbath (see Buxtorf, Lex., p. 1659). It is equivalent to προσάββατον, fore-sabbath (Mark 15:42; Judith 8:6), or προεόρτιον, as Philo (De vita contempl., p. 616) calls it. In other words, it is a technical Jewish name for Friday, just as the corresponding terms in the Syriac and Arabic, and as the German Sonnabend (Sunday-Eve) is used for Samstag (Saturday). It was so called from the Jewish habit of preparing the meals (הכין, παρασκευάζειν) on Friday for the Sabbath, since it was forbidden to kindle a fire on the Sabbath (Ex. xvi.5; Joseph. Antiq. XVI. 6, 2). This is the uniform meaning of παρασκευή in all other passages of the New Testament where it occurs, viz., in this very chapter, John 19:31, 32; Matt. 27:62; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42 (where it is expressly explained for non-Jewish readers, as being=προσάββατον). Why should our passage be an exception? The addition τοῦ πάσχα, which John always uses in the wider sense for the whole feast (not for the eating of the paschal lamb), makes no difference: it is simply the Paschal Friday, or Easter-Friday, as we speak of Easter-Sunday, Easter-Monday, Easter-Tuesday.2 We have here a very significant hint that after all John is in perfect harmony with the Synoptists on the day of Christ’s death, which was not the 14th, but the 15th of Nisan, or the first day of the paschal festival. John, probably chose this very term to expose the awful inconsistency and crime of the Jews in putting the Lord and Saviour to death on the day when they should have prepared for the holy Sabbath—doubly sacred now as being at the same time the first day of the great passover.—P. S.]
2: Meyer following Lücke, Bleek, etc. [p. 623, comp. pp. 600 seq., 5th ed., where the discussions are]: “In order that the παρασκωυή might not be apprehended as the weekly one, referable to the Sabbath (John 19:31, 42; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42; Matt. 27:62; Joseph. Antiq. XVI. 6, 2 al.), but that it might be regarded as connected with the feast-day of the Passover, John expressly adds τοῦ πασχα. Undoubtedly it was a Friday, consequently Preparation-day for the Sabbath also—this reference, however, is not the one to be pointed out here; the true reference is to the paschal feast coming in on the evening of the day,—of which feast the first day fell, according to John, upon the Sabbath.” [So also Alford.]
This view is contradicted:
(1) By the fact that in that case John would, shortly after, John 19:31 [ἐπεὶ παρασκευή ἦν, and John 19:42, διὰ τὴν παρασκευὴν τῶν Ἰουδ.], have used the word παρασκευὴ in another sense.
(2) That he then in John 19:31 would have been obliged to write παρασκευὴ τοῦ σαββάτου3 in order to distinguish between the two senses.
(3) That, therefore, according to John 19:31, 42, παρασκευή had a thoroughly fixed signification and denoted the day of preparation for the Sabbath, in consequence of which fact, therefore, the παρασκευή τοῦ πάσχα is also to be interpreted as the day of preparation for the Sabbath of the paschal season.
(4) That John elsewhere uses the word πάσχα as a term for the ἑορτή, the paschal season. So, expressly, John 2:23; 6:4; 11:55, 56; 18:39. And hence, assuredly, also here.
It was going on towards the [es war gegen die] sixth hour [ὤρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη. This is the correct reading instead of ὤρα δε ὡσεὶ ἕκτη—P. S.]—See Note on John 1:39 [p. 93]; Comm. on Matthew at this passage [27:45, p. 525, Am. ed.]; Mark [15:25, p. 152]. According to Jewish reckoning it was on the way to 12 o’clock, i.e., between 9 and 12 o’clock. On the difficulty of this notice, see the passages cited. [The difficulty is this, that according to John the hour of crucifixion was the sixth, i.e., (counting with the Jews from sunrise) 12 o’clock of our time; while according to Mark 15:25 it was the third, i.e., 9 o’clock, A. M., with which the statement of Matt. 27:45, and Luke 23:44, agrees, that at the sixth hour or noon, when Jesus had already for some time been hanging on the cross, darkness covered the land for three hours, and that Jesus died about the ninth hour (i.e., 3 P.M.); consequently according to the Synoptists the Saviour suffered for nearly six hours on the cross, according to John only about three hours.—P. S.] Solutions of the apparent contradiction:
1. Assumption of a writing-error (Euseb. and others): ς , instead of γ .
[So also Theophylact, Severus, Beza (ed. 5th), Bengel, Alford, Robinson, Harmony, p. 226, where Robinson says: “The ὥρα τρίτη of Mark, as the hour of crucifixion, is sustained by the whole course of the transactions and circumstances; as also by the fact stated by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that the darkness commenced at the sixth hour, after Jesus had already for some time hung upon the cross. The reading ἕκτη in John is, therefore, probably an early error of transcription for τρίτη (ς for Γ). Indeed, this last reading is found in Cod. Bezæ and Cod. Reg. 62, as well as several other authorities; so that its external weight is marked by Griesbach as nearly or quite equal to that of the common reading, while the internal evidence in its favor is certainly far greater.” But ἕκτη is undoubtedly the correct reading as far as external authority goes. See TEXT. NOTE, and Tischend. ed. VIII. in loc.—P. S.]
2. Roman reckoning is employed=6 A. M. (Rettig, Tholuck, Hug, and others). [So also Olshausen, Wieseler, Ewald, Townson, Wordsworth.—P. S.] But after the examination before Caiaphas, the first examination before Pilate, the examination before Herod (Luke 23:9), the further proceedings in Pilate’s presence, the scourging and mocking, it is impossible that it was only approaching or about 6 o’clock in the morning, since the final session in presence of Caiaphas did of itself presuppose the dawn of day, to make it legal. [Besides, this view creates the difficulty of too long a period (three hours) intervening between the sentence of death and the crucifixion. It is also very unlikely that John, with the Synoptical statements before him, should without any notice have introduced a different mode of reckoning, and with it an element of confusion rather than rectification.—P. S.]
3. It was about the sixth hour of the paschal feast, reckoned from midnight (Hofmann, Lichtenstein).4 The passover, however, did not begin at midnight, but on the previous evening at about 6 o’clock; irrespective of the fact that this “would be an unprecedented way of reckoning hours, namely as belonging to the feast, not to the day (in opposition to John 1:39; 4:6, 52).” Meyer.
4. “Again a difference from the Synoptists, according to whom (see Mark 15:25, with which Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44 agree) Jesus is crucified as early as 9 o’clock in the morning.” (Meyer and others.)
5. The third hour of Mark is the third quarter of the day (Aret., Grot. [Calvin, Wetstein], and others), against which Mark 15:33. [“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried,” etc.]
6. An indefinite computation of hours, according to which the sections of time between the third, sixth and ninth hours are indefinitely stated. Thus the third hour in Mark may mean: nine o’clock was past,—it was between nine and twelve o’clock when the crucifixion of Christ began; and this is the more probable since Mark regards the scourging as the prelude to the crucifixion, which, when the former took place, was really already decided (see John 19:15). And so the words of John: it was towards the sixth hour: it was past nine o’clock and approaching noon when Pilate—the scourging being accomplished, and the Scourged One having been presented to the populace—spoke the final words upon which the procession to Golgotha immediately followed. John’s employment of the later indefinite hour-date is accounted for by the thought; they now hastened to the close, because, with noon, the second, already more Sabbatic, half of the παρασκευή was approaching. Mark’s choice, on the other hand, of the earlier indefinite hour-date is accounted for by the significant antithesis which he wishes to institute between the third and the sixth hour.
[This solution of the difficulty has been adopted by Godet, who remarks that the apostles did not count with the watch in their hands. So also Hengstenberg, who, however, very mechanically splits the difference and fixes the crucifixion at half-past ten! In this case the statements both of Mark and John would be wrong. Meyer rejects all attempts at reconciliation and gives John the preference over the Synoptists. But Lange’s view has a strong support in the ὡς or ὡσεὶ of John, which excludes strict accuracy on his part and leaves room for some approach at least towards the third hour of Mark. At noon Christ must certainly have been already hanging on the cross; for this is the unanimous testimony of the Synoptists.—P. S.]
Behold, your king [Ἴδε ὁ βασιλεὺς ὑμῶν]!—Pilate, inwardly overcome, designs, by this mocking of the Jews, not only to mask his disgrace but also to avenge it; it may be that these words unfold even this threatening thought: your King, then, shall first be crucified, and after Him, yourselves. At all events, he shifts the guilt to their shoulders.
John 19:15. Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him [Ἆρον ἆρον, σταύ ρωσον αὐτόν]!—The words: ἆρον, ἆρον!5 present to us something more than the meaning: Away with Him! away with Him! At this last moment there is still a mutual effort to shuffle off the legal responsibility upon each other. Pilate’s meaning is: if He is to be executed, ye may execute Him. The meaning of the Jews is: thou shalt have Him, thou shalt crucify Him! It was only in this way that they could be assured of Pilate’s inability to institute later a review of the proceedings. The Hierarchs make the same claim again at the present day: the rude State, the Pilate of the Middle Ages, adjusted the terrors of the Inquisition in accordance with the laws then existing. The brief, passionate exclamation is likewise expressive of the bitterness called forth by the word of Pilate: Behold, your King!
Shall I crucify your king?—This question of Pilate is an intimation of his last wavering in resolve—a wavering in all probability particularly induced by the message of his wife. See Comm. on Matthew. Not merely a “reverberation” of the preceding derisive words, but also a distincter expression of the same idea: If He is to be crucified as your King in your sense, He must, according to your law, die as a religious criminal. Hence the high-priest’s reply.
We have no king but the emperor [Οὐκ ἔχομεν βασιλέα εἰ μὴ Καίσαρα].—i.e. He shall and must die as a political seditionary. At the same time it is the consummation of the godless perfidy with which they disclaim their own Messianic hope, deny the Messianic claims, traduce the Lord as a seditionary, whilst they themselves feign a zeal of the most loyal fidelity demonstrable by subjects, with which they would fain shame and terrify even the Roman governor. [Some of these very men who here made a hypocritical show of loyalty to carry their point and to make a tool of Pilate, perished afterwards miserably in rebellion against Cæsar. Bengel: Jesum negant usque eo, ut omnino Christum negant. Alford: “A degrading confession from the chief priests of that people of whom it was said, ‘The Lord your God is your King,’ 1 Sam. 12:12.”—P. S.]
John 19:16. Then therefore he delivered Him up unto them, to be crucified.—The repeated threatening hint of the high-priest completes the conquest of Pilate. A compromise results, in pursuance of which Christ is delivered (παρέδωκεν not simply yielded, after Grotius and others) to the high-priests, to be taken to their place of execution, and is, nevertheless, crucified by Roman soldiers, according to Roman criminal law. It is to be presumed that Pilate combined the delivery of Jesus to the Jews with the symbolical act of washing his hands (according to Matthew). This compromise is one of the many legal contradictions in the history of the crucifixion, by means of which contradictions the summum jus of the ancient world is converted into the summa injuria. Comp. Comm. on Matthew, 27:22 [pp. 512, 514, Am. Ed.]. Other contradictions: Declared innocent, and yet sent before another tribunal, and yet scourged. Scourged in order that He might be released, and yet afterwards crucified. Contradictions of the forum, of sentence, of cognizance, of the degree of punishment, of the form of punishment.
They therefore took Jesus [παρέλαβον οὖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν. John 19:16 ought to close with σταυρωθῇ, and παρέλαβον begin the next section. So Tischendorf, Alford, Westcott and Hort.—P. S.] The high-priests, not (as De Wette thinks) the soldiers.—And led Him away [καὶ ἀπήγαγον
Very doubtful, see TEXT. NOTES.—P. S.] The taking was also consummated with the declaration: His blood be upon us, etc. (see Comm. on Matt.). On the site of Golgotha, outside of the city, see Comm. on Matt. [520 ff.] “The site of the place, without the city, is likewise attested by Heb. 12:12.” Tholuck.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. By many supplementary touches John presents us with the clearest view of the incidents of the secular trial undergone by Jesus. To these supplementary traits belongs, above all, the gradation of the Jews’ accusation.
(1) They charge Jesus with being an ecclesiastical criminal whom they have already sentenced, and whose sentence Pilate has but to confirm. (2) In the most ambiguous sense: With making Himself the King of the Jews. (3) With being an ecclesiastical criminal,—because He had made Himself the Son of God. (4) With being a political revolutionist,—because He claimed to be the King of the Jews.
These form two accusations which they alternately bring forward: a Jewish one and a Roman political one. The first time each is couched in ambiguous and innuendo-like terms; the second time each is formulated in calumnious audacity.
Another of these supplementary traits is the conflict maintained between Pilate and the high-priests throughout the entire procedure—a conflict in which the personal character of Pilate, as well as that of the high-priests, is most clearly reflected; as is also the more general character of a vain, worldly state-craft in its haughty and nevertheless impotent struggle with a crafty hierarchical power and its fanatical tools in the popular life. Then those moments also stand out clearly, in which Christ is, as a delinquent, by the Jews delivered to, or pressed upon, Pilate; by Pilate delivered to, or pressed upon, the Jews,—down to the moment when a kind of compromise is effected. From John 18:28–31 Pilate refuses judgment. From John 18:32–38 he receives the Accused, granting Him a pre-examination; then, however, he does not simply acquit Him, but seeks to entrap the Jews and, by the offer of presenting Jesus to them for their paschal procession, which was annually graced by some recipient of governmental pardon, to move them to acquit Him with éclat. Pilate then for the second time receives Jesus, in order, for the gratification of the Jews, to perpetrate upon Him a police execution that was destitute of all judicial grounds,—viz. the scourging.
The expression Ecce Homo contains another return of the person of Jesus to the Jews. For the third time Pilate enters into judgment with Jesus upon the accusation: He made Himself the Son of God. He now designs setting Him free himself, but the Jews weaken his purpose by a threat accompanied with tumult; and he is now inwardly so discomfited that the last time he does not simply deliver the Accused to the Jews—he delivers Him under sentence of crucifixion, purposing a formal participation in the affair himself, while the Jews are to assume, and really do assume, the actual execution and responsibility of it. Both these facts are summed up in the words: “He delivered Him unto them that He might be crucified.” As regards the contrasts of conduct, the stately, artificial repose of Pilate is overcome by cringing sub-missiveness; his political calculation by demoniacal craft and pertinacity; his effort of conscience by audacious menace; his attempt to turn the accusers into ridicule by treating them scornfully and mocking them, by fanatic popular agitation and a revolutionary, tumultuous petition, masking itself in pure zeal for the authority of the emperor.
The individual items for which, as new disclosures, thanks are due to John, are
a. The competence strife in regard to the trial;
b. The analysis of the ambiguous expression, King of the Jews, by the wisdom of the Lord—making manifest the vileness of the high-priests and the felony to the Messianic idea, of which they are guilty;
c. The antithesis of the Kingdom of Truth and the kingdom of this world, and the utterance of Pilate;
d. The circumstance that it is pre-eminently the Jews who are guilty of bringing the Lord into juxtaposition with Barabbas;
e. The real purpose of the scourging;
f. The effect which the charge that Jesus made Himself the Son of God, produced upon the soul of Pilate—the anguish of superstition, following hard upon the self-upliftment of unbelief;
g. The innuendo-like threat of the Jews to accuse Pilate to the emperor—as the weapon that prostrates him (Pilate);
h. The double masking: The rebellion of the Jews against their King and against the emperor’s governor, in the mask of the most faithful Jewish piety and Roman subjection; Pilate’s dejection, in the mask of a stately session for judgment, and a derisive treatment of the accusers and the whole Jewish nation;
i. The share of both—Pilate and the Jews—in the crucifixion.
John, in the close unity of his presentation, has however passed over, together with minor features, the trial in the morning (Matt. 27:1); the dream of Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19); Pilate’s washing of his hands, and the self-execration of the Jews (Matt. 27:24 and 25); the reed (Matt. 27:29); and the bespitting on the part of the soldiers (Matt. 27:30). Similarly, the sending of Jesus to Herod, and the resultant friendship of Herod and Pilate (Luke 23:6–12); finally, the notice that Barabbas had perpetrated a sedition in the city (Mark, Luke).
2. The joint implication of a hierarchical Church and a despotic State in the guilt of Christ’s execution under pretext of His being a religious criminal:
(1) In losing the right of inflicting capital punishment, the hierarchs should have recognized the fact that their discipline could extend no further than to excommunication (Matt. 18:17). (2) With the assumption of rule over different national religions, the Roman State should have been constrained to penetrate to a purely political position and a distinction of matters religious and political,—to a principle of which the better men already had a presentiment (Acts 18:14 and 15). The two principles, however, the religious and the political, continue, on the one hand, involved, and, therefore, on the other hand, strained, because the Jewish hierarchy has not purified itself to a pure conception of the Church, nor the Roman power to a pure conception of the State.
This mingling of State and Church has been repeated from the time of Constantine, increasing more and more in the Middle Ages until the arrival of the Reformation. It still continues in the Greek economy of State and Church (Cæsaropapism), likewise in the Roman Ecclesiastical State,6 as, partially, in the other Catholic States (Papal-Cæsarism). Christ and Christianity have always had to suffer under this confusion, the ground of which is a want of respect for the religious conscience.
(2) In taking for granted that disagreeable religious tendencies are to be punished, the hierarchy is fain to shuffle off the execution of punishment upon the despotism, the latter to shift the responsibility of punishment upon the hierarchy.
(3) Afterwards they both seek to excuse themselves; Pilate writes: “The King of the Jews,” i.e. a religious motive has brought Him to the cross. The hierarchs wish the inscription to read: “He said that,” i.e. He is a misleader of the people, and a disturber;—the motive is a political one.
In a similar manner ultramontane authors now try to impute the execution of heretics to the State of the Middle Ages.
(4) Pilate constituted himself and his Roman authority constable of the hierarchy, and from this time forth he rushes to perdition. Similar was the fate of the Maccabean house, and, since then, of several European dynasties. The clean sunderment of Church and State is a vital impulse of the spirit of Christianity, one of the greatest tasks of Christian times. See the author’s essay: Ueber die Neugestaltung des Verhältnisses zwischen Kirche und Staat. Heidelberg, 1.
3. The fearful treason of the Jews to their Messianic idea, consummated in the ambiguous accusation: “Jesus is the King of the Jews.” A similar felony was committed by Josephus in applying the Messianic predictions of the Old Testament to Vespasian, De Bello Jud., VI. 5, 4. See Gieseler, p. 47.
4. The world-historical encounter of the Spirit of Christ with the genius of the Roman nation on the occasion of the discourse concerning His kingdom (see EXEG. NOTES; and my Leben Jesu, II. 1508); analogous to His encounter with the genius of the Greek nation, John 12:20 ff.
5. Christ’s kingdom not OF this world, but IN this world, for it and over it. Christ the King in the Kingdom of Truth.
6. The question of Pilate no question, but a frivolous, unbelieving utterance. Characteristic of the Græco-Roman world-culture of his time.
7. Pilate surrendered truth first, and afterwards justice,—in consequence.
8. Ecce Homo. The scourging of Christ is intended by Pilate to save His life and, hence, to be an act of humanity. But as that governor’s official administration is without consistency, his justice without any foundation of truth, his wit without wisdom, so his humanity is destitute of the fear of God, of strength and of blessing. Such a humanitarian idea gave issue to the African slave trade.
9. Pilate’s superstitious fear at the saying: “Jesus made Himself the Son of God,”—a characteristic trait of the unbeliever. The indissoluble connection between unbelief and superstition. But after all, unbelieving Pilate is more believing than the superstitious high-priests in the consummate unbelief with which they reject Christ. Of the threefold terror of Pilate: his terror at the law, his terror of conscience, his religious terror—there appears no trace in these practical atheists, who have donned the mask of the holiest zeal.
10. The greater sins of the high-priests. Christ’s sympathy with the judicial fate of the weak Pilate. In this, Christ’s sentence upon Pilate, there lies a stronger Ecce Homo! than in the exclamation of Pilate. Ecce Homo—who believes he is administering divine government and justice, and stands impotent—the tool of divine judgment, destined himself to be the prey of judgment.
11. Ecclesiastical and political masks. See No. 1.
12. The hierarchy here begets a revolution and allies itself to the same, with a view to shaking the political authority. Hierarchy, popular insurrection, and political authority, in wicked alliance, sentence the King of the Kingdom of God and Protector of all holy order and authority, the High-priest and true Friend of the people, to death upon the cross, as a kindler of rebellion. See Leben Jesu, II. 1533.
13. No King but the Emperor. In that hour the besotted nation did, with hypocritical fanaticism, renounce, not its Messiah only, but also its Messianic hope, cherishing in its heart meanwhile rebellion against the emperor and the hope of a political Messiah. Yet even this judgment of hardening must, according to Rom. 9, redound to the salvation of the world—the Gentile world, primarily.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See the DOCTRINAL NOTES, and Comm. on Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Christ at once being judged by, and judging, the world.—Christ at the bar of the Roman State.—Christ before Pilate, and Pilate before Christ.—How Christ’s glance pierced through all the mazes of judgment: 1. Through all entanglements, to the right; 2. through all concealments and misrepresentations, to the bottom; 3. through all ambiguities, to the purpose; 4. through all waverings, to the issue.—How the judgment upon the Lord judgeth itself: 1. In its accusations; 2. in its examinations; 3. in the motives for its sentence.—The grave sign in the fact that the great prospect that existed of Christ’s acquittal was immediately blighted: 1. The great prospect: a. Pilate at first repulses the accusers. b. He nevertheless holds the examination and declares the innocence of Jesus, c. He tries to adjust the matter with the scourging. d. He is convulsed with religious awe and already proceeds to release Jesus. 2. Blighted: a. By the stratagem of hypocrites; b. the audacity of fanaticism; c. the impotence and guilty consciousness of Pilate; d. the rule of Tiberius; e. the plots of Satan; f. the providence and judgment of God. 3. The grave sign: a. Of the depravity of the world; b. of the magnitude of human unrighteousness; c. of the majesty of divine righteousness; d. of the fixedness and depth of the Redemption.—As Roman State-spirit delivered the Lord Christ Himself to the will of the Hierarchy, so it subsequently pursued the same course with Christianity.—The light of the calm majesty of Christ alone illumines the dark scene of His condemnation.
SECTION FIRST—John 18:28–40. The cunningly calculated appearing of the accusers: 1. Hypocritical: they keep the legal Passover holy, to the end that they may the more surely deliver up the true Paschal Lamb to the Gentiles; 2. Dissembling, naïve: they make as if the sentence were already decided; Pilate has nothing to do but to set the great seal to it; 3. Truckling: “we may not put any man to death;” 4. Slanderously and disclaimingly shameless: they design to entrap Pilate with the ambiguous phrase: “the King of the Jews;” 5. Crafty, bold: they choose a mob-hero, Barabbas, who has made a sedition (probably against the Roman authorities).—The competence conflict, or the embroilments between the Hierarchy and the despotic State, and the ultimate, wicked peace.—The counter-question of Christ (John 18:34) a word of the heavenly Judge (for instruction): 1. For the elucidation of the matter; 2. for the warning of Pilate; 3. for the illumination of the accusers.—The Roman interrogation: What hast Thou done?—The declaration of Jesus: My kingdom is not of this world: 1. As defence; 2. as accusation.—The kingdom of Christ in its spiritualness and heavenliness: 1. How it differs from the kingdom of the Romans; 2. but also from the government of the Priests.—The royal confession: A King am 1.—The royal Kingdom of Truth: l. The Kingdom of the King: Truth in its profoundest essence, as a revelation of God; in its highest power, as the Gospel; in its broadest extent, as the uniting bond of all life; in its bodily appearance, as the Person of Christ. 2. The King of the Kingdom: Christ personal Truth itself, as the light centre of all life, thoroughly at one with itself, and therefore the Light of the world. 3. The title of the King: Perfect agreement of His birth and His mission (His office); His ideal and His historical vocation. 4. His government: The faithful Witness, with His testimony; the Host-leader of all faithful witnesses (martyrs). 5. Increase of the Kingdom: The Word received as His voice by all who are of the truth.—The word of Pilate: What is truth? 1. How word might have become the saving of his life (if he had spoken inquiringly and submitted himself to the answer); 2. How it became the judgment of his life (because he spoke it triflingly and scornfully, going out immediately.—What is truth? This question may be considered according to its divine meaning; 1. As the sneering exclamation of the impious scoffer; 2. as the mere declaration of a frivolous worldling (Pilate); 3. as the doubting question of an earnest investigator; 4. as the vital question of a longing heart.—The Pilate-question of the Roman spirit of tradition. (We must abide by the tradition, cried the Roman pagans to the Christians. How can ye think of such a thing as proclaiming new truths?) Pilate’s declaration without: I find no fault in Him; in connection with the preceding utterance: What is truth?—Pilate’s testimony to the innocence of Jesus. First attempt to release the Accused.—But it is your custom; How Pilate, with the first deviation from the right, had entered upon the road of calamity. Barabbas, see the Synoptists.
SECTION SECOND, Chap, 19:1–16. The scourging of Christ, in respect to its two-fold signification: 1. In respect to Pilate’s intention (made prominent by John), it was to avert the crucifixion. 2. In respect to the actual result, it formed (according to the statement of the Synoptists) the beginning of the crucial sufferings of Christ.—Second attempt to release the Accused.—Lo there, the Man! 1. The word in the sense of Pilate. 2. The word in respect of its higher signification.—The second accusation in respect to its contradiction of the first in the sense of the accusers.—Pilate’s fear. Close connection between unbelief and superstition.—Second examination by Pilate, by reason of the charge: He made Himself the Son of God.—Jesus’ silence in the second examination by Pilate compared with His silence before Caiaphas.—The haughtiness in Pilate’s reproof (John 19:19), and the august-ness in the answer of Christ.—Christ sees even in the power of Pilate and its misuse, pre-eminently an instrument and a work of Divine Providence.—The greater and the less great sinners, or Jesus Himself in judgment, the holy Judge in righteousness and clemency.—Pilate’s resolution to release Jesus; or the last attempt, frustrated by the bold menace of the Jews. Why was it possible for this menace so to disturb him? 1. Because he was Pilate (on account of his extortions, destitute of a good conscience and of trust in God, and setting his earthly self-preservation above all things). 2. Because his sovereign was the emperor Tiberius (the cruel and suspicious tyrant who lent a ready ear to denunciations of all kinds). 3. Because he knew the Jewish priests (their deceitful cunning and fanatical boldness).—The priestly revolutionists with the bugbear of revolution in their mouths: 1. Revolutionists against the emperor (in their hearts;—against the authority of the governor). 2. Declaring Christ to be a revolutionist; And Pilate himself to be open to suspicion of this crime.—Gabbatha and Golgotha.—Pilate wraps himself in all the pomp of a judge, while his judicial dignity is drabbled in the dust.—The priests put on the mask of devotion to the emperor while they condemn their King to the cross.—The scoffs of a Pilate cannot break the power which the priests exercise over the blind populace.—Gentile-Roman policy overcome by the Jewish hierarchy.—The glory of Jerusalem and the glory of Rome sink away in one ordeal in which they judge the Lord of the world;—and with them the glory of Judaism and the glory of heathenism—the glory of the whole old world.—Agreement (concordance) of Pilate and the priests.—The suffering of the Lord in Pilate’s tribunal: 1. In view of Pilate tottering to his fall; 2. in view of the priests of His nation in their obduracy and craftiness; 3. in view of the delusion of the infatuated, raging people.—The temptation of Christ in these sufferings, and His victory.
STARKE: To 18:28–40. The Most Holy, in suffering Himself to be delivered into the hands of the uncircumcised, did thereby (take upon Himself the shame of our spiritual foreskin and) purpose to procure for us poor Gentiles a right to the citizenship of Israel.—How stiff-necked men still are in their superstition; and on the contrary, how secure and careless about that which is really in accordance with God’s word.—HALL: It is the way of all hypocrites to be exceedingly conscientious about things concerning which they really need have no scruples; but for things of which they should make scruple, they keep an accommodating conscience.—CRAMER: It is a rickety proof—the pledging of one’s own authority in human affairs: We say so, therefore ‘tis true. Such are the vain-glorious,—they speak great blasphemy—slanders;—what they speak, must be spoken from heaven; what they say, must have weight on the earth, Ps. 73:8, 9 [another variation in translation].—QUESNEL: Judges should examine everything—and their own hearts more than all other things.—Christ’s kingdom and the emperor’s can well exist together. Worldly order and government are serviceable to the Church, and the Church, by her prayer and intercession, preserveth police and kingdom. Certainly: the better Christian, the better magistrate! the better Christian, the more blessed teacher! the better Christian, the more loyal subject!—True servants of Jesus must fight manfully for their King and His kingdom.—BIBL. WIRTEMB.: Dear Christian, what if thou be poor, despised, rejected in the world? for all that, thou art a king; thy Saviour hath made thee one, Rev. 1:6; 5:10. The kingdom is prepared thee from the beginning of the world, Matt. 25:34—with this thought breast the devil and the world.—ZEISIUS: Let all thy words and works proceed from truth, if thou wilt be Christ’s subject, for thy King Christ is a King of Truth, Zech. 8:19.—Ibid.: Politicians of the present day think with Pilate: What is truth? and hold such as suffer for its sake, to be fools, and, on the contrary, such as stoutly simulate, they account very clever and lucky.—Ibid.: So raging mad is the foolish and hardened world that it condemns the good and preserves the lives of the veriest knaves, preferring them, honoring them, and endowing them.—O what insane choice! a refractory subject is preferred to the King of Glory; a murderer, to the Prince of Life; a ravening wolf, to the Good Shepherd.—CRAMER: As it is an abomination to God to wrong the righteous, so it is in like manner an abomination in His eyes not to punish archknaves.
GERLACH: The true King and the true Kingdom are the King and the Kingdom of Truth, Truth in the fullest, deepest sense (comp. John 1:14), according to which this word includes perfect essentiality, agreement with itself, holiness. Every king except the King of Truth, has a limited dominion, is at the same time a subject and servant; but God’s Truth and therefore His King and His Kingdom, are finally victorious over all opposition. On this very account, however, this dominion of Truth is no purely internal one, else it would not exercise sway over things external, and consequently it would itself be untrue, and not a thoroughly true, perfect dominion. All the kingdoms of the world shall servo this King when His testimony of the Truth shall have made all His foes His footstool. But every other weapon would itself be of falsehood and darkness. Christ was born such a King—in Him person and office are one—in this respect also He is nothing but Truth; and for this end He came into the world (of which He and His Kingdom arc not. John 18:36); His appearance, life and ministry have no other aim.—With the mid-day Sun in his face, Pilate shut his eyes and thought there was nothing but darkness about him. Christ stood before him, Himself the Truth, and he unbelievingly despaired of men’s ever being able to know the truth. Pilate’s question is no scoff, but the expression of the superficial, hopeless unbelief of a man of the world.
BRAUNE: My kingdom, etc.; It twines its blessing around all kingdoms, all circumstances; it is the flying bee, clinging with quiet diligence to the fast-fading flowers and their perishable glory, that it may extract honey from them for its kingdom of the future, creating, meanwhile, not the slightest disturbance in the garden of the world. But it is likewise the great power that in all the migrations of nations, in great wars, and the ruins of the kingdoms of the world, proves itself active in advancing the eternal kingdom of peace. It will not be confined to the heart and the world of thought, but will be set up in the living spirit which gives proof of itself in all situations and which ought to prove itself Christian.—It is founded upon truth—God’s promises; it is erected by truth—testimony concerning them; it is enjoyed in truth—obedience towards them; truth is universally disseminated by it; in doctrine and life, ideas, feelings, words, deeds, relations, impulses, truth comes; vanity and falsehood are overcome.—“In the kingdoms of the world, the vanity, ambition and weakness of man are misused, roused and cherished, while truth in the conscience is hindered by unrighteousness. But in the kingdom of God, man’s conscience, his sense of truth, and the truth active in that sense, are aided as a drawing to eternity” (RIEGER).—There are minds that ring loud and clear when the truth touches them, while others brought into contact with the truth continue dead and soundless. Purity of heart is the condition whereon depends clearness in the knowledge of God. The light-minded worldliness and dull skepticism of so-called culture lead to a despair of truth.
GOSSNER: They wish to make Christ a male-factor by means, simply, of their authority and office, which, notwithstanding, they had from Him alone. And He was constrained, and did will, to suffer it so to be. We will invert their proposition and say: Friend Pilate, if we were not malefactors, we would not have delivered the Innocent and Righteous One unto thee.—If we were not sinners, such things could and must never have befallen Christ.—With truth,—thought Pilate, like so many other men—a man does not get on in the world. The world shrugs its shoulders, saying: “Truth? Bah! A fellow can’t be so particular.”
HEUBNER: God’s people delivers up its Saviour, its Crown, the sum of all the promises, to the Gentiles to be executed. What a spirit is this in comparison with the spirit of the waiting, hoping fathers! It happens in the morning, at the approach of the holiest of feasts,—at a time when the spirit should clearly see the right. The priests were moved, we doubt not, with the desire to cover Jesus with infamy in the sight of the people.—LAVATER: “Whenever a righteous person is sentenced and judged by an uncalled man, there stands a Jesus before Pilate.”—RAMBACH says of Pilate: It is laudable in him that he examines Jesus according to the rule: audiatur el altera pars,—that he himself makes the investigation, conversing undisturbedly with Christ alone.—The Kingdom of Christ is not worldly, but the kingdom of the world becometh Godly and Christly (Bengel).—The truth that Christ gives, is “truth unto a knowledge of the Father, truth unto an assurance of the forgiveness of sins, truth unto everlasting comfort through grace, truth and strength in godliness” (Rieger).—Truth’s seat is least of all at the courts of the great in this world. A king of France complained that though he had all things else in his kingdom and at his court, he yet did lack truth, people to tell him the plain, unvarnished truth (the same).—But what was the innocence which in Pilate’s eyes Jesus possessed? The innocence of a good-hearted fanatic.
STARKE: On John 19:1–16. Bibl. Wirt. We must not do evil that good may come of it, Rom. 3:8.—ZEISIUS: Let this: Lo, what a man! never depart out of thy thoughts; but let it be to thee a monition penitently to recognize the enormity of the sins wherewith thou broughtest thy Saviour to such a pass; a warning earnestly to guard against them henceforward, and a word of consolation, partly in view of the hideous picture of thine approaching death, partly for the time when the world shall make a spectacle and a monster of thee.—QUESNEL: A judge must not terrify others with his power; but must be in fear himself on account of the power which he hath received from God, and look to it that he use it aright.—ZEISIUS: When we must suffer wrong, there is no better means of calming our souls and inspiring them with patience and consolation than by turning our eyes utterly away from secondary causes and fixing them on God, 2 Sam. 16:10; Luke 21:18, 19.—One sin is indeed more grievous than another, and hence deserving of heavier punishment and condemnation, Ezek. 16:51, 52.—A frank confession of the truth hath great power and is never without blessing, Acts 24:25.—Satan knows how to take hold of every man in the place where he is weakest, 2 Sam. 11:2; John 13:2.—Satan understands making a masterly use of honor, consideration, favor, grace with great lords—with them he blinds the eyes of men and ensnares their hearts, thus bringing or keeping them under his dominion, John 12:43.—HALL: A carnally-minded man is more anxious for his bodily prosperity and temporal honor than for his soul.—ZEISIUS: It is a sorrowful fact that the servants of great lords are far more afraid of their masters, than of God’s displeasure; but cursed is the man that trusteth in men and, etc., Jer. 17:5: Acts 5:29.—Truth is often made a mere laughing-stock,—yet the mocker must be defeated and truth victorious.
GERLACH: The heathen even, struck by the divine majesty of Jesus, must gain some inkling of the fact that He was really the Son of God—a fact, the presage of which augmented the sin of the high-priests and that of Pilate also.—Pilate nevertheless did not escape the fate that he here, by his sinful yieldingness, sought to avoid; three or four years after he was deposed by Vitellius, governor of Syria, and sent to Rome to answer to the charges of tyranny preferred against him by the Jews.—On John 18:15. With which they most solemnly renounce God, their King, and the Messiah whom they looked for from Him.—LISCO: Hence the question: Whence art Thou? i.e., art Thou really of divine descent? Jesus is silent, not willing to deny His divine origin and yet unable to instruct the unreceptive Pilate concerning the truth.—In mockery of their rebellious tendencies that longed for a king of their own, yet now rejected Him whom God sent them, Pilate asked: Shall I crucify your King? Whereupon the Jews, feigning devotion and loyalty, say: none but the emperor do we recognize as our king.
BRAUNE: Thou art but the instrument of a supreme will—saith the Condemned unto the judge. It is the self-same thought of the Redeemer that He thus expressed to Peter (John 18:11)—Shall I not drink the cup My Father hath given Me? Here the Redeemer taketh His stand, even in the midst of the turbid tumult of Jewish passion and Gentile dissoluteness; the pure will of God remaineth serene for Him, as the sky letteth its blue be seen through clouds.—In the destruction of Jerusalem the blood of the fathers and the children flowed. And Pilate bore his load still earlier.
GOSSNER: That is a wicked pliancy men manifest when, like Pilate, to win people they yield the half of what they unjustly demand and consider that they discharge their duty inasmuch as they refuse the other half. Duty and fidelity towards God and one’s conscience cannot be divided, else infidelity is already an accomplished fact.—Let him that carrieth his head on high and refuseth to bow his neck beneath the lowly yoke of Christ, look often upon the thorn-crowned and scornéd head of his King.—O thou weak man! thou miserable judge! So oft dost thou publicly attest His innocence, and sufferest Him to be more and more cruelly maltreated, and even committest the innocent Lamb to the wolves again; instead of tearing Him from their clutches. Thou preachest unto deaf ears when thou discoursest to the wolves concerning the innocence of the Lamb.—He who yields once to godless, unscrupulous men and does their pleasure, must and will do it the second time, must do everything until their thirst is quenched.—Behold, what a man! how guiltless! and how wretched! So stood He there, the Only and Incomparable One, before His people! how must the angels have looked into it. And He, whither must He have looked, how must He have gazed up to His Father! how must His soul have prayed that eternal honor and glory might grow out of this, His disgrace.—Behold, that is the Man who restoreth men and maketh them again what man was in the beginning when he came from God’s hands. Behold, that is the Man, the God incarnate, who maketh men partakers in the divine nature; that is the perfect Man, for all others are men no longer—they can and shall, however, become men once more through Him.—It is noteworthy that God’s Son must die because He was God’s Son, and acknowledged and affirmed Himself lo be the Son of God.—A pious judge will never boast of his authority, for it is not, his, but belongs to justice and law.—Pilate vaunted his power so, and yet was so impotent, so tottering, that every wind, every menace, cast him to the ground and dispersed his power.—He was always endeavoring, always intending and never performing. The foes strive too, and strive more earnestly and more zealously than thou with thy half will.—But thou, O pious soul, when the world, when sin tempteth thee and provoketh thee to do something hostile to God and Jesus, do thou ask: Shall I crucify my King?
HEUBNER: Christ’s crown of thorns and the crowns of the princes of this world afford matter for careful comparison. In respect of outward appearance, the former is disgraceful and agonizing, and the latter gloriously radiant, envied; but in respect of reality, the former is bought with the wearer’s own blood, the latter purchased oft-times with the blood of subjects; the former a token of the utterly self-sacrificing, all sorrows-enduring Martyr, the latter a sign of ambition that gratifies itself only; the former wins salvation and freedom for the human race, the latter often bring woes and bondage upon men; the former beams eternally before God and leads to heavenly glory, the latter soon fade away and procure for those that wear them no honor in the presence of God, but frequently rejection from that presence. (Comp. LAVATER Pontius Pil. iv. 21.)—Pilate is restless, he goes in and out.—Behold, what a man! Ecce Homo! Words of many meanings! (Comp. LAVATER, Pontius Pilatus, iv. 24–78).—One of the choicest paintings in the Düsseldorf Gallery is (was) an Ecce homo with the Latin inscription: All this I did for thee; what doest thou for Me? Zinzendorf was greatly affected at the sight of this picture; he is minded that he would not be able himself to make much response to this query, and he prays his Saviour to pull him forcibly into the fellowship of His sufferings if he be inclined to remain without.
John 18:11. Pilate had encroached upon the rights of the heavenly Father, Jesus protects the honor of His Father. Even Pilate’s power Jesus recognizes as a divine ordinance. Everything is of God, even the power of an unjust authority. Good men are never delivered up to it unless God wills their delivery. A distinction must be made between the work of God and that of Pilate. The guilt of the High Council was greater than that of Pilate, because they had a better insight into religion, into God’s counsel and promise, Jesus’ deeds and holiness. At the same time the “greater sin” awards blame implicite to Pilate: he too had sin.—Earthly power is perilous; let not him who has it presume upon it, or him who has it not, desire it.—LUTHER, xvi. 61: “The Jews said, we have no king, and their saying has come to be such earnest that they must (eternally?) be without a king.”
KRUMMACHER. The Suffering Christ, a Passion Book. Bielefield, 1854 (Trans. into English by Samuel Jackson. Boston, 1868). Christ before Pilate.—Christ a King.—What is Truth?—The Lamb of God.—The Great Spectacle: Ecce Homo! etc., pp. 378–690.
[CRAVEN; From AUGUSTINE: John 18: John 18:28. O impious blindness! They feared to be defiled by the judgment hall of a foreign Prefect; to shed the blood of an innocent brother they feared not.
John 18:30. Ask the freed from unclean spirits, the blind who saw, the dead who came to life again, and, what is greater than, all, the fools who were made wise, and let them answer, whether Jesus was a malefactor. But they spoke, of whom He had Himself prophesied in the Psalms, They rewarded Me evil for good.
John 18:36. All that are born again in Christ, are made a kingdom not of this world. Thus hath God taken us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
John 18:37. But when Christ bears witness to the truth, He bears witness to Himself; as He said above, I am the truth.—John 19:5. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man! as if to say, If ye envy the King, spare the outcast. Ignominy overflows, let envy subside.
John 18:11. So He answers. When He was silent, He was silent not as guilty or crafty, but as a sheep; when He answered, He taught as a shepherd.——From CHRYSOSTOM: Chap, 18: John 18:36. He means that He does not derive His kingdom from the same source that earthly kings do; but that He hath His sovereignty from above; inasmuch as He is not mere man, but far greater and more glorious than man; If My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews; here He shows the weakness of an earthly kingdom, that it has its strength from its servants, whereas that higher kingdom is sufficient to itself, and wanting in nothing.—When He says, My kingdom is not from hence, He does not deprive the world of His government and superintendence, but only shows that His government is not human and corruptible.
John 19:7. They kill Him for the very reason for which they ought to have worshipped Him.
John 19:15. We have no king but Cæsar; With one accord they denied the kingdom of God, and God suffered them to fall into their own condemnation; for they rejected the kingdom of Christ, and called down upon their own heads that of Cæsar.——From BEDE: John 19:2. Though the soldiers did this in mockery, yet to us their acts have a meaning; for by the crown of thorns is signified the taking of our sins upon Him, the thorns which the earth of our body brings forth; and the purple robe signifies the flesh crucified.——From ALCUIN: Chap, 18. John 18:38. He did not wait to hear the reply, because he was unworthy to hear it.
From THEOPHYLACT: Chap. 18 John 18:36. He says, from hence, not here; because He reigns in the world, and carries on the government of it, and disposes all things according to His will; but His kingdom is not from below, but from above, and before all ages.
John 18:38. Pilate said unto Him, What is truth? For it had almost vanished from the world, and become unknown in consequence of the general unbelief.——From HERBERT: Chap, 18 John 18:40.
Thou who condemnest Jewish hate,
For choosing Barabbas, a murderer,
Before the Lord of glory;
Look back upon thine own estate,
Call home thine eye (that busy wanderer)—
That choice may be thy story.
[From BURKITT: Chap, 18. John 18:28. When persons are over-zealous for ceremonial observances, they are oftentimes too remiss with reference to moral duties.
John 18:29, 30. When we lie under calumny and unjust imputation, we imitate Christ, who opened not His mouth but committed His cause to Him that judgeth uprightly. [He defended Himself before the High-Priest.]
John 18:36. It is a clear evidence that Christ’s kingdom is spiritual, inasmuch as it is not carried on by violence and force of arms, as worldly kingdoms are, but by spiritual means and methods.
John 18:37. Observe 1. The dominion and sovereignty of Jesus Christ,—He has a kingdom: My kingdom; 2. The condition and qualification of this kingdom, negatively expressed: not of this world; 3. The use and end of this kingdom, that the truth may have place among the children of men for their salvation: to this end was I born, and came into the world, to bear witness unto the truth; 4. The subjects of Christ’s kingdom declared: Everyone that is of the truth, heareth My voice.
John 18:38. “What is truth? A most noble and important question, had it been put forth with an honest heart, with a mind fairly disposed for information and satisfaction.
John 18:40. No persons, how wicked and vile soever, are so odious in the eyes of the enemies of God as Christ Himself was, and His friends and followers now are.—John 19:1. It is a vain apology for sin, when persons pretend that it was not committed with their own consent.
John 18:2, 3. What they did in jest, God permitted to be done in earnest.
John 18:5. Thorns and briers shall the earth bring forth, Gen. 3:18. Christ, by His bitter and bloody sufferings, has turned all the curses of His people into crowns and blessings. In spite of all malice, innocence shall find some friends and abettors; rather than Christ shall want witnesses, Pilate’s month shall be opened for His justification.
John 18:6. The chief priests and elders “persuaded the multitude:” Woe be to the common people, when their guides and leaders are corrupt; and woe be unto them much more, if they follow their wicked and pernicious counsels.
John 18:7, 8. Serious thoughts of a Deity will strike terror even into a natural conscience, especially when the sinner is following a course which his own judgment cannot approve.
John 18:10. It is the great sin and snare of men in power, to forget from Whom they derive their power, and to think that they may employ it as they please.
John 18:11. He that delivereth Me unto thee, hath the greater sin; the greater means of light and knowledge persons sin against, the more aggravated is their guilt, and the more heightened will be their condemnation.
John 18:12. Hypocrites within the pale of the visible church may be guilty of such tremendous acts of wickedness as the conscience of an Infidel and Pagan boggle at and protest against.—Conscience bids him spare, popularity bids him kill.
John 18:12, 13. The natural consciences of men, and their innate notions of good and evil, may carry men on a great way in opposing that which is a bare-faced iniquity; but at last either fear or shame will over-rule, if there be not a superior and more noble principle.
[From M. HENRY: Chap, 18:28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; They took this course that He might be put to death 1. More legally and regularly; 2. More safely; 3. With more reproach to Himself by the death of the cross; 4. With less reproach to them; thus many are more afraid of the scandal of an ill thing, than of the sin of it.—Two things are here observed concerning the prosecution: 1. Their policy and industry therein; 2. Their superstition and vile hypocrisy.
John 18:29. Looking upon Pilate as a magistrate, here are three things commendable in him: 1. His diligent and close application to business; men in public trusts must not love their ease; 2. His condescension to the humor of the people, and receding from the honor of his place, to gratify their scruples; he goes out to them; for when it is for good, we should become all things to all men; 3. His adherence to the rule of justice in demanding the accusation, suspecting the prosecution to be malicious.
John 18:31. If the Jews have no power to put any man to death, where is the sceptre? Yet they ask not, Where is the Shiloh?
John 18:32. Even they who designed the defeating of Christ’s sayings, beyond their intention were made serviceable to the fulfilling of them by an over-ruling hand of God.—It is likewise determined concerning us, though not discovered to us, what death we shall die, which should free us from all disquieting cares about that matter.
John 18:35. Am I a Jew? Good names often suffer for the sake of the bad men that wear them. It is sad, that when a Turk is suspected of dishonesty, he should ask, “What! do you take me for a Christian?”—Christ, in His religion, still suffers by those that are of His own nation, even the priests, that profess relation to Him, but do not live up to their profession.
John 18:36. My kingdom is not of this world; 1. Its rise is not from this world; it is not by succession, election, or conquest, but by the immediate and special designation of the divine will and counsel; 2. Its nature is not worldly; it is a kingdom within men; 3. Its guards and supports are not worldly; its weapons are spiritual; 4. Its tendency and design are not worldly; 5. Its subjects, though they are in the world, yet are not of the world.
John 18:37. The good confession which our Lord Jesus witnessed before Pontius Pilate, 1 Tim. 6:13.—Though Christ took upon Him the form of a servant, yet even then He justly claimed the honor and authority of a king.—Christ’s errand into, the world, and His business in the world, were to bear witness to the truth: 1. To reveal it, John 1:18; 7:26; 2. To confirm it, Rom.15:8—Learn 1. The foundation and power, the spirit and genius, of Christ’s kingdom, is truth, divine truth; 2. The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth.
John 18:39. Pilate was willing to trim the matter and please all sides; and was governed more by worldly wisdom than by the rule of equity.
John 18:40. The enemies of Christ’s holy religion cry it down, and so hope to run it down; witness the outcry at Ephesus, Acts 19:34.—There is cause to suspect a deficiency of reason and justice on that side which calls in the assistance of popular tumult.—Now Barabbas was a robber; Sin is a robber, every base lust is a robber, and yet foolishly chosen rather than Christ, who would truly enrich us.
John 19:1. This pain and shame Christ submitted to for our sakes; 1. That the Scripture might be fulfilled, Is. 53:5, etc.; 2. That by His stripes we might be healed, 1 Pet. 2:24; 3. That stripes, for His sake, might be sanctified, and made easy to His followers.
John 19:1–3. See and admire 1. The invincible patience of a sufferer; 2. The invincible love and kindness of a Saviour.—He that bore these sham honors, was recompensed with real honors, and so shall we be, if we patiently suffer shame for Him. John 19:5. Did He go forth thus bearing our reproach? Let us go forth to Him bearing His reproach, Heb. 13:13.—Behold the Man; It is good for every one of us, with an eye of faith to behold the Man Christ Jesus in His sufferings, “Behold Him, and 1. Be suitably affected with the sight; 2. Mourn because of Him; 3. Love Him; be still looking unto Jesus.”
John 19:6. Did their hatred of Him sharpen their endeavors against Him, and shall not our love to Him quicken our endeavors for Him and His kingdom?—Pilate had not courage enough to act according to his conscience, and his cowardice betrayed him into a snare.
John 19:7. In vain did they boast of their law, when they abused it to such bad purposes.
John 19:8. Pilate fears lest he should run himself into a premunire.
John 19:10, 11. When Pilate used his power, Christ silently submitted to it; but when he grew proud of it, He made him know himself.
John 19:11. All sins are not equal; but the guilt of others will not acquit us, nor will it avail in the great day to say, that others were worse than we, for we are not to be judged by comparison, but must bear our own burden.
John 19:12. It never does well, when our resolutions to do our duty are swallowed up in projects how to do it plausibly and conveniently. If Pilate’s policy had not prevailed above his justice, he would not have been long seeking to release Him, but would have done it.—A few madmen may out-shout many wise men, and then fancy themselves to speak the sense (when it is but the nonsense) of a nation, or of all mankind.—It has always been the artifice of the enemies of religion, to represent it as hurtful to kings and provinces, when it would be highly beneficial to both.
John 19:13. They that bind up their happiness in the favor of men, make themselves an easy prey to the temptations of Satan.
John 19:15. Had not Christ, interposed, and been thus rejected of men, we had been for ever rejected of God.
John 19:16. Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified; It is common for those who think to keep themselves from greater sins by venturing upon lesser sins, to run into both.
From SCOTT: John 18:30, 31. Those who are scandalously unjust, frequently expect credit for their regard to justice; and are greatly affronted to be suspected of the least crime, while actually committing the greatest, 2 Sam. 20:8–10, 20–22.
John 18:38. Numbers give Jesus and His people a good word, who will not join them, or venture anything in His cause.—Numbers commit injustice for fear of their dependents, and from a desire of popularity.
John 18:40. Let us beware of deliberately sparing our lusts, (those robbers of God, and murderers of the soul,) thus crucifying Christ afresh, and putting Him to open shame.
John 19:1–16. The conflict between convictions and corrupt affections, is often strong; but where faith is wanting, the world will get the victory.—Those rulers of every description, who have sat in judgment on Christ and His servants, will soon stand before His tribunal.
From A. CLARKE: John 18:28–40. The most that we can say for Pilate, is, that he was disposed to justice, but was not inclined to hazard his comfort or safety in doing it. He was an easy, pliable man, who had no objection to doing a right thing, if it should cost him no trouble; but he felt no disposition to make any sacrifice, even in behalf of innocence, righteousness, and truth.——From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 18:36. Our Saviour does not say that He has no earthly kingdom; but that His kingdom is not of earthly origin.
John 18:37. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice; “Being of the truth” implies belonging to it; being mastered by it; taken up into it: it implies the being possessed by a principle which moulds that wherein it dwells to itself, as the weaker is held by the stronger; even the possession of the soul by the very Essence of Being and of Life, manifested in the person of the Son, and administered by the Holy Ghost.
John 18:38. “Probably Pilate thought that Jesus professed only to add one more to the list of philosophies, or systems of ideas, and turned away from it in sickness of heart.” (Archdeacon GRANT.)
John 18:40. “His own, they among whom He had gone about all His life long, healing them, teaching them, feeding them, doing them all the good He could; it is they that cry, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ ” (Bishop ANDREWS.)
John 19:2. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on Sis head; “A most unquestionable token this, that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, when He was crowned only with thorns and briars, which are the curse of the earth.” (LIGHTFOOT.)
John 19:5. Behold the Man! As if he said,—Behold the afflicted and tortured object of your malice and cruelty; “a worm, and no man.” If ye have human hearts, ye cannot behold such a dismal spectacle without commiseration!
John 19:6. Monstrous that a heathen should have had thus to remonstrate with the chief priests of a nation taught of God!
John 19:8, 9. The heathen Procurator again puts the descendants of Abraham to shame. Like Gamaliel he is seized with a salutary apprehension “lest haply he be found even to fight against God.”
John 19:10. “Pilate further condemns himself in servilely yielding to a popular clamor, after so plainly declaring his own absolute, unfettered authority.” (GROTIUS.)
John 19:12, 13. Pilate fears less to put the Son of God to death, than to incur the Roman Emperor’s displeasure.
[From KRUMMACHER: John 18:28. They purposely push Him into the house they deemed unclean, and thus tangibly and symbolically expel Him as a publican and sinner from the commonwealth of Israel; but all this was to happen thus, in order that Christ’s character as the sinner’s Surety might become increasingly apparent, and every one perceive in Him the Man who, by virtue of a mysterious transfer, had taken upon Himself everything that was condemnatory in us.—Who is not acquainted with individuals who scrupulously abstain from worldly amusements, and carefully avoid coming into social contact with the worldly-minded, who not only vie with the world in the arts of dissimulation, uncharitable judgment of others, and hateful scandal, but even go beyond it?—The life of godliness is a harmonious organization, and not a sticking together of single acts of piety.
John 18:30. Though they were endeavoring to murder innocence and do the devil’s work, yet because they do it, it must be right and blameless.
John 18:36, 37. Christ is a King; you are, therefore, not in error who wear His uniform, and have trusted your life and destiny to His hands.—He does not say that His Kingdom makes no claim eventually to the government of the whole world, or He would have denied more than was consistent with the truth; He only asserts that His government was not of this world, and clearly intimates by laying the emphasis on the word “this,” that another æon than the present would certainly see His delegates seated on the thrones, and His word and Gospel the Magna Charta of all nations. It is particularly to be observed that in); the sentence, “Now is My Kingdom not from hence,” the word “now” evidently refers to a period in which His Kingdom should occupy a position very different from what it did at that time.—Those who hear His voice are citizens of His Kingdom.—The expression, every one that is of the truth, betokens an inward preparation for conversion which no one experiences without the operation of “preventing grace.”
John 18:38. What is truth? A seeking after truth belongs to human nature, and is wont to be the last feature of it that perishes.—In Pilate there was doubtless something of the proud philosopher, something of worn-out indifference, something of the professed skeptic, something of the frivolous free-thinker and scoffer, and something of the hasty, jealous and haughty blusterer; but still there is something beside this, something better and nobler—an unperverted, inquiring mind—a longing for deliverance. (If this last be true, would not Christ, have answered?—E. R. C).
John 18:38, 39. Pilate stands as a warning example of the consequence of endeavoring to satisfy God and the world: We meet with Pilate under various forms; many a one has placed himself, like him, in a situation in which he must either set Barabbas free, or give up the Saviour, because he was deficient in courage to brave every danger for Christ’s sake; many reckoning, like Pilate, on the instinctive moral feelings of the multitude, with whom they do not wish to be at variance, have cowardly asked, “Which will you choose, right or wrong?” and the unexpected reply has been thundered back, “We choose rebellion and treason.”
John 18:40. Not this man, but Barabbas; Such is the world’s favor, and so little truth is there in the saying, “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”—Barabbas does not stand before us merely as an individual; he represents, allegorically, the human race in its present condition bound in the fetters of the curse of the law till the day of judgment. Before he was presented with Jesus to the people’s choice, every prospect of escape had been cut off; and such is also our case. It is now Barabbas or Jesus: if Jesus is set at liberty Barabbas is inevitably lost; if the former is rejected, then, hail to thee, Barabbas, thou art saved! His ruin is thy redemption; from His death springs thy life,—”God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him;” in Barabbas’ deliverance we see our own.
John 19:1–5. There is a closer connection between the garden of Eden and the Roman prætorium than might at first sight be supposed; debts incurred in Eden are there liquidated, and sins committed in Paradise are there atoned for. What ought to have been the fate of Adam for lusting after the forbidden fruit, and for his impious infringement of God’s prerogatives? At least, the scourge instead of sensual delight; a crown of thorns instead of the longed for diadem; and a robe of mockery instead of the imperial purple.—Does not Christ still wear, in a hundred different forms, the purple robe and crown thorns in the world? Is He not exposed to public ridicule and treated as a liar and an enthusiast because He bears witness to His superhuman dignity? Is not His name, even to this day, proscribed by thousands, like scarcely any other? Does not an ironical smile dart across the lips of many, when it is mentioned with reverence and fervor?—The words, Behold the Man, point not only to what is past, they have also a condemning reference to the present. Alas, the world has become a Gabbatha! The thorn-crowned martyred form exhibited there mutely condemns us all without distinction.—Behold the Man: In the mock robe in which He stands before you, He gains victories which He never could have won in the sumptuous robe of His divine majesty; in it He overcomes eternal justice, the irrevocable law, sin, Satan, death. It is a strange ornament that decks His head—in this wreath He possesses and uses a power of which He could not boast while adorned only with the crown of Deity; in the latter He could say to the dying thief only “Be thou accursed;” in the former He is able to say to him, “This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise;” in the former He certainly reigned, but over a hopelessly ruined race, devoted to destruction; in the diadem of thorns, He rules over a world replete with great and glorious anticipations: A feeble reed is His rod of office, but with the Sceptre of Omnipotence, which He wielded from the beginning, He did not perform the wonders which He works with this mark of abasement and weakness; true, the gates of hell opened for transgressors at a wave of the former; but when He sways the latter, the doors of the paradise they have forfeited open for them; with the former, He was Lord over mankind only as a lost race destined for the slaughter; with the latter, He now tends a flock of them called to eternal salvation. Can you mistake the Conqueror of the world in Him whom you see before you—the “stronger” who takes away the spoils and armor of the “strong man,” and makes an end of all opposing authority? In the same attire in which He there yields Himself up to the world, He continues to overcome it; the sight of the suffering Saviour is still the mighty power which silently changes lions into lambs, breaks and melts the strong heart and prepares the way for His most glorious achievements: Thus arrayed He exhibits Himself in the cell of the contrite penitent, and how is the heart, of such an one relieved, for He bare our iniquities; to the sorely tempted, and renders their victory secure; to the grievously afflicted, and they exclaim, “Through the cross to the crown;” to His children despised and rejected by the world, and they exclaim, “We desire no other array from you than that in which you once clothed our Glorious Head;” to those grieved at base ingratitude and coldness, and their sorrow turns to deep confusion at their desire for human praise; to those of His flock seduced by the allurements of the world, and restores them.
John 19:12–16. Pilate is compelled to take the part of the Holy One to the setting aside of all private considerations, or to afford his sanction to the most cruel and bloody deed the world ever witnessed; The case is similar with us; if we refuse to do Him homage, we are compelled to aid in crucifying Him.—We find in Pilate a degree of humanity and susceptibility for something better; God indeed, will judge him, but not with the lukewarm who disgust Him, and whom like the Laodiceans, He will spew out of His mouth.—Who could be able to form a correct idea of the spectacle, and yet believe that divine justice rules the world, if we were permitted to behold our Saviour only in His own person, and not at the same time as Mediator and High Priest!
[From BARNES: John 18:38. Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? Thousands ask the question in the same way. They have a fixed contempt for the Bible; they deride the instructions of religion; they are unwilling to investigate, and to wait at the gates of wisdom; and hence, like Pilate, they remain ignorant of the great Source of truth, and die in darkness and in error.—John 19:4. The highest evidence was given that the charges were false, even when He was condemned to die.
John 18:6. When men are determined on evil, they cannot be reasoned with; thus sinners go in the way of wickedness down to death.
John 18:11. How many men in office forget that God gives them their rank, and vainly think that it is owing to their own talents or merits, that they have risen to that elevation.—The providence of God was remarkable in so ordering affairs, that a man, flexible and yielding like Pilate, should be entrusted with power in Judea. He so orders affairs that the true character of men shall be brought out, and makes use of that character to advance His own great purpose.——From JACOBUS: John 18:38. What is truth? This is the kind of questioning which the world makes. It is rather a taunt thrown out against Christ and His religion—it waits for no answer.—I find in Him no fault at all; How many are willing to pronounce Him innocent, but rebel at the thought of relying on Him for salvation.—John 19:5. Behold the Man! Pilate pointed to Him as a spectacle calculated to move them.
John 18:11. Christ acknowledges that Pilate’s power is given him from on high.
[From OWEN: John 18:37. This shows that the kingly domain of Jesus was in the domain of truth, that His followers were those who received the truth in the love of it, and that from all who were the subjects of truth, would be rendered to Him the most implicit obedience.
John 18:38. The conversation had taken too serious a turn to suit Pilate’s pleasure; he therefore waits for no reply.—“Pilate mocks both—the Witness to the Truth, and the haters of the Truth.” (ALFORD.)
John 18:40. “Thus was Jesus the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, to be offered for a sin-offering.” (LUTHARDT after KRAFFT.)—John 19:14. Behold your King! It is no longer, Behold the Man! to excite their sympathy and effect His release. Every emotion of tenderness, every principle of honor and justice, is now lost in the desire to evince his loyalty to Cæsar, and shield himself from an accusation like that threatened in John 18:12.
John 18:15. We have no king but Cæsar; To such a depth of degradation did these chief men of the nation descend, in their hellish desire to rid themselves of Jesus.
[Chap. 18 John 18:13, 24, 29, 40 (Matt. 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:7). Our Lord was tried and condemned by every power having, or that might be supposed to have, authority over Him—Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, the Populace—1. That it might be apparent that He was condemned by every ecclesiastical and world power; 2. As prophetic of His future rejection by every conceivable form of human government.
John 18:36. My kingdom is not of this world—NOW is My kingdom not from hence; My kingdom is not yet established; the present is, for Me and My disciples, the period of submission and patient endurance of wrong and suffering.7]
[Of John Knox it is truly said: “He never feared the face of man.” The reason was because be feared God. Only he is truly free and independent of men, who feels bound in God and dependent on Him.—P. S.]
[Robinson, Tholuck, Wieseler and others, quote also as a parallel σάββατον τοῦ πάσχα in Ignatius Ep. ad Phil., c. 13; but this is not the Sabbath of the Easter-week, but the Saturday preceding Easter-Sunday, Easter-eve.—P. S.]
[Or in John 19:14, ἦν δὲ παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα ὅ ἐστι προσάββατον τοῦ πάσχα comp. Mark 15:42.—P. S.]
[In this case τοῦ πάσχα must be disconnected from παρασκευή, and connected with ὥρα in this way: ἦν δε παρασκευή, τοῦ πάσχα ὤρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη, i. e., it was preparation-day (Friday), about the sixth hour of the paschal feast (counting from midnight). Ingenious, but very artificial and without a parallel for such reckoning. Hofmann, of Erlangen, proposed this view in an article of the Erlangen Zeitschriftf. Prot. und Kirche, 1853, p. 260 ff., and again in his Schriftbeweis. Lichtenstein adopts it in his article Jesus Christus, in Herzog’s Theol, Encycl, Vol. 6, p. 595,—P. S.]
[Tischendorf, Alford and Westcott and Hort put no comma between the two ἆρον, which were no doubt spoken in rapid succession with all the vehemence of furious passion.—P. S.]
[Overthrown in 1870, soon after the adoption of the blasphemous dogma of papal infallibility by the Vatican Council.—P. S.]
[It is not denied that Christ, as God, had a kingdom which existed from the beginning, nor that at His ascension He was exalted “Head over all things,” nor that His future earthly-kingdom is to be spiritual as well as political; it is simply-denied that His earthly kingdom (the kingdom here referred to) was then (or now) established. To regard the νῦν as a particle of inference, and not of time, is to suppose that our Lord whispered into the ear of a heathen, in the privacy of the Prætorium (John 19:28), the great truth concerning His kingdom which He concealed from His Apostles, not twelve hours before, at the institution of the Supper, Luke 22:29; and again concealed throughout the forty days during which He gave them instruction concerning “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1: 3, 6, 7!—E. R. C.]
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.SECOND SECTION
The personal Light or Christ in His pre-historical Presence in the World, especially in His Old Testament Advent, testified by the Old Covenant as it is represented by John the Baptist
(1) THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMING OF CHRIST, JOHN THE BAPTIST, JOHN 1:6–8. (2) THE COMING OF CHRIST INTO THE WORLD, IN ITS GENERAL GROUNDWORK AND ITS HISTORICAL GENESIS, JOHN 1:9 (3) THE RELATION OF CHRIST TO THE WORLD AND THE CONDUCT OF THE WORLD TOWARDS HIM, OR THE GENERAL GROUNDWORK OF HIS ADVENT, JOHN 1:10. (4) THE RELATION OF CHRIST TO ISRAEL, AND ISRAEL’S CONDUCT TOWARDS HIM, OR THE IMPERFECT, SYMBOLICAL ADVENT, JOHN 1:11. (5) CHRIST’S GRADUAL BREAKING THROUGH IN THE WORLD IN THE CONTRAST OF THE ELECT TO THE LESS SUSCEPTIBLE, EMBODIED—(A) IN FAITH, AS THE BEGINNING OF THE REAL ADVENT, JOHN 1:12; (B) IN THE CONSECRATION OF BIRTH AND THE BEING BORN OF GOD; THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE REAL ADVENT, JOHN 1:13.
6There was [became, arose]47 a man sent48 from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for a [omit a] witness [testimony, εἰς μαρτυρίαν], to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe: 8He was not that [the] Light, 9but was sent [came, Lange: he was] to bear witness of that [the] Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man, that cometh into the world. [The true Light which lighteth (lighteneth, Shineth upon) every man, was coming (ἦν ἐρκόμενον) 10into the world.]49 He [It] was in the world, and the world was made by him [it]50, and the world knew him not [Lange: did not recognize it in him]. 11He came unto his own [his own possessions or inheritance, τὰ ἴδια], and his own [his own people, οἱ ἴδιοι]51 received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [children, τέκνα] of God, even to them that 13believe on [in] his name: Which [Who] were born, not of blood [bloods, ἐξ αἱμάτων], not of the [natural] will of the flesh, nor of the [moral] will of man, but of God.52
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 1:6. There was a man.—Ἐγένετο [fiebat], arose, came into being; not ἦν [erat], was, absolutely [comp. 8:58, Greek. The Logos was from eternity, Abraham and John began to be in time.—P. S.]—Chrysostom: ἐγένετο ἀπεσταλμένος. The life of John, so to speak, was lost in his mission (see John 1:23; comp. Is. 40:3).53 The appearance of John in this place is striking, and has been variously interpreted (see Meyer).54 In the introduction of the Baptist in this passage we see a representation of the whole prophetic testimony concerning Christ in concentrated, personal form, after the manner of this Gospel. The Baptist was the final recapitulation of all prophetic voices concerning Christ. The Old Testament had two sides—a hidden and a visible. The hidden side was the rise of the genealogical life of Christ itself, His Christological advent; the visible side was the prophetic testimony concerning this advent. And as the verbal prophecy anticipated the real prophecy, in the nature of the case, so the fulfilment of the verbal prophecy in John preceded the fulfilment of the real prophecy in Christ. John therefore here stands in the right place, the auroral radiance of the essential Light; the great witness of the advent of Christ; the forerunner.
[Whose name (was) John, i.e., Jehovah is merciful, from the Hebrew יוֹחָנָן for יְהוֹחָנָן, Ἰωάννης ; comp. the Greek Θεόδωρος. This significant name was given to the forerunner of our Saviour by divine direction, Luke 1:13. The evangelist laid stress on his own name, and saw in it a symbol of his relation to Christ as the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” 20:2; 21:20. Comp. Lampe and Hegstenberg.—P. S.].
John 1:7. The same came for witness.—Testimony: stronger here than preaching; stronger even than prophecy, as hitherto existing. John appeared first as a preacher, a preacher of repentance. But the preacher showed himself at the same time a prophet, announcing under divine impulse the approach of the Messianic kingdom. And then, in the miraculous manifestation at the baptism of Jesus, through the testimony of God, he became a witness of the person of Jesus of Nazareth, that He is the Messiah; so to speak, an apostle before the apostolate. As a prophet who, by divine commission, pointed to the Messiah, he completed the Old Testament prophecy in testimony. And for this testimony he was come. His mission rose into the office of forerunner. And even his martyrdom in the strict sense is in keeping. He sealed his preparatory preaching of repentance with his death (see John 1:33).
That [ἴνα, the aim of John’s testimony] all men through him might believe.—“Through John, not through the Light (Grotius), or through Christ (Ewald):” Meyer.55 In the divine purpose John was to lead over the faith of Israel to Christ.56 This Christ also signifies John 5:33 [where he calls John “the burning and shining light,” or candle rather, λύχνος, not φῶς.—P. S.] Through the unbelief of the Jews this gracious design failed; though in the truly devout, first of all in the noblest of John’s own disciples (John 1:35 sqq.) it was fulfilled; through them in all believers.
John 1:8. He was not the light.—[ἦν is emphatic and contrasted with μαρτυρήσῃ. The article before φῶς is likewise emphatic, the Light of the world, the Light of lights, comp. ὁ προφήτης, 1:29; ὁ ἄρτος, 6:32 ff.—P. S.] This is certainly not said merely with reference to the unbelieving disciples of John.57 But in the wider sense the nation itself was an unbelieving disciple of John, contenting itself with the brightness of the Baptist, instead of going through him to the true Light itself, John 5:35. So far, therefore, as it is implied that many, even the leaders, made the Baptist rather a hindrance than a help to faith, the words are written even against the disciples of John.
But (he was).—De Wette takes the ἀλλ’ ἵνα but in order to, imperatively; Lücke supplies ἦν, was; Meyer, ἠλθεν, came Since the preceding verse strongly pronounces that the whole prophetic existence of John was intended to rise into a testimony for the Messiah, we give Lücke the preference: “He was, that he might bear witness.” [So also Alford and Godet. Baümlein supplies ἐγένετο, γίνεται, “or the like;” which is not so strong. I prefer with Meyer to supply ἦλθε from John 1:7, since the phrase, εἶναι, ἵνα instead of εἷναι εἰς τό is quite unusual.—P. S.]
John 1:9. The true Light—was coming [ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν—ἐρχόμενον].—Various interpretations: (1) He (the Logos) or it (the Light) was the true Light; so the older expositors and Luther [E. V., which supplies τοῦτο before ἦν, that was the true light.—P. S.] But τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν must be subject, not predicate; for in John 1:8 John was the subject. [So also Meyer.] (2) Ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον (coming into the world) is connected with πάντα ἄνθρωπον (every man), not with ἦν (was); Origen [Syr., Euseb., Chrys., Cyril, Vulg., Aug, [and most of the ancients, Luther,58 Calvin [E. V.], etc., Hölemann, Meyer.59 [This would make either ἄνθρωπον or ἐρχδμ. superfluous.] Meyer observes that it could not be connected with ἦν; for the Logos was already in the world when John appeared. But the Evangelist here evidently goes back to the entire relation of Christ to mankind, especially goes back to John 1:4. He had before spoken of the witness of the advent of Christ—now he depicts the advent itself. This is divided into two parts: (1) The relation of the coming Logos to man in general; (2) His relation to Israel. Hence we interpret: He was (from the beginning and in conflict with the darkness, John 1:5) coming, was on His advent to mankind. Therefore not (a) was come [ἦν ἐρχόμενον=ἐλθόν]: Schöttgen, etc.; (b) just came (when John appeared): De Wette, Lücke [Alford]; (c) future: was on the point of coming [venturum erat]: Tholuck; or (d) was destined to come: Luthardt; desired to come: Ewald;60 nor (e) was coming then, in the time before His baptism: Hilgenfeld, who even here would mix Valentinian Gnosis into the anti-Gnostic Gospel;—but in a purely historical sense [=ἦλθε, came], instead of the imperfect: Bengel, Bleek, Köstlin [Hengstenberg, with reference to Mal. 3:1]; and with the peculiar Johannean significance: He was continually coming, continually on his way.61 Hence the participial form. The essence of this universal advent is to be recognized in the fact, that the Logos shines in every man in his religious and moral nature and experience, as the λόγος σπερματικός. That the expression “every man” needed not the addition: that cometh into the world, is evident. And the phrase: “to come into the world,” is not used of the natural birth of an ordinary man, but is reserved for Christ.
[Which lighteth (enlightens, illuminates) every man—ὃφωτίζειπάνταἄνθρωπον.—There is much force in the singular. Quisquis illuminatur, ab hac luce illuminatur (Bengel). Different interpretations: 1. The light of reason and intelligence (Cyril of Alex.). Better: Both the intellectual and moral light (reason and conscience) given to all men, as distinct from the spiritual light of saving grace given to believers. The former is the basis of the latter.62 2. The inward spiritual light given to all (Quakers). 3. The light of grace given to believers only, or to every one to whom Christ was preached (Crosby). 4. Intellectual and spiritual light sufficient for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles, though the majority are so blinded by sin as not to see Him. “Christ enlightens all as far as in Him lies” (Chrysostom, Hom. 8). Christ gives sufficient light to every man to leave him without excuse, but not sufficient to save (Arrowsmith, Ryle).—Comp. 3:19: “light is come into the world;” 12:46: “I am come a light into the world;” 6:14: “that prophet that should come into the world;” 18:37.—P. S.]
The true [veritable, genuine] Light [τὸφῶςτὸἀληθινόν].—The real, essential Light in distinction from the outward, cosmical light, which, nevertheless, is His token and symbol. (See Milton’s Paradise Lost: the greeting to the light. Comp. John 8:12; 9:5.)
[There is a nice difference between ἀληθής (wahr), true in opposition to false, and ἀληθινός (wahrhaftig), true in opposition to borrowed or imitated. This difference is obliterated in the E. V. The one expresses the harmony between thought and reality, word and fact; the other implies a contrast between the perfect original and a copy more or less imperfect. Ἀληθινός is a favorite term with Plato and John to signify that which is genuine, archetypal, original, true to the idea. It occurs eight times in the Gospel, ten times in the Apocalypse, three times in the first Epistle of John, but elsewhere only five times in the N. T. In this passage it stands in contrast not so much to the cosmical light (Dr. Lange), as to the borrowed intellectual and moral light of the Baptist and other human teachers; comp. 5:35; Matth. 5:14, where believers generally as members of Christ are called the light of the world. It is lumen illuminans, as distinct from the lumen illuminatum.—P. S.]
John 1:10. It was in the world.—Not pluperfect (Herder [Tholuck, Olsh.]); nor “in the person of Jesus, when John was testifying” (Meyer); but referring to His infinite presence in mankind (Baumgarten-Crusius). The repetitions of the idea of the world (κόσμος) are to be distinguished thus: In the first case the word combines the material and the moral world in one; in the second, it means the material or visible world alone, up to the roots of its moral conduct; in the third, the moral world alone, but considered as resting upon and representing the visible. Meyer well says: (1) The world might have known Him (constitutional affinity); (2) it should have known Him (according to His claim). [Comp. Rom. 1:19 ff., where Paul fully proves the guilt of Gentiles and Jews in rejecting the light of nature and the preparatory revelation of the O. T.—P. S.]
Knew him not.—The whole verse strictly reads: “It was in the world, and the world was made by it [or Him, δ ι’ αὐτοῦ], and the world knew Him (αὐτόν) not.” The change of gender is highly significant. In the light of the world, the world should have known the personal founder of the world, the Logos. The gradation in the three clauses is also expressed by the repetition of “and.” The world of heathenism knew not the light, still less Him, the personal character of the light. It took the divine for something impersonal, and sough to heal the wrong by fragmentary personifications, its gods [the altar at Athens “to the unknown God,” Acts 17:23.—P. S.]
John 1:11. He came unto his own house or inheritance [τὰ ἴδια, comp. 16:32; 19:27].—Here the discourse is no longer of the universal advent of Christ in the world (Corn. a Lapide, Kuinoel, etc.);63 but of the theocratic advent in Israel (Erasmus, Calvin, etc., Lücke, Meyer); yet of this advent considered as intended for mankind. Israel is God’s own people in the special sense, Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; Sirach 24:7 ff. It is not, however, the historical New Testament coming of Christ in Israel, which is here spoken of. The expression He came, as denoting the historical moving of the Logos in the history of the world, determines us against the more general conception of the “own.” Yet it must be kept well in mind, that in John particularly Israel stands not for itself alone, but as the medium for the entrance of Christ into the whole world. See John 10:16.
And his own people [οἱἴδιοι, comp. 13:1]—i.e., the Jews. See Is. 6; Matth. 13; John 12:41; Acts 7; 23:25; Rom. 9 [The transfer of the relation of Jehovah to Israel as His peculiar people upon Christ, implies that, in the view of John, Christ was the Jehovah of the Old dispensation; comp. 12:41; 8:56.—P. S.]
[Received him not—οὐπαρέλαβον, stronger than οὐκἔγνω, which is said of the world in general, John 1:10. The fact that the Jews were the peculiar inheritance of Jehovah, doubled their guilt in rejecting the Messiah. Comp. the οὐκἠθελήσατε , Matth. 23:37; also Isa. 1:3; Rom. 10:21; and John 12:37. The negative expression here, as John 1:10 and John 1:5, reveals a holy grief on the part of John.64 Remember the tears of pity which the Saviour shed over unbelieving Jerusalem.—P. S.]
John 1:12. But as many as received him—[ὅσοι, whosoever, whatsoever persons, denotes the universality of Christ’s benefit without distinction of race, nationality or condition.—P. S.] No contradiction of the preceding words. His own, His people, as a whole, received Him not, but individuals. See Gal. 3 and 4. The antithesis: οὐπαρέλαβον and ἔλαβον should be observed. The Jews should παραλαμβάνειν, take Him in addition to the Old Testament, receive Him in pursuance of the true traditions. This they did not. Thus others’ receiving Him became the absolute λαμβάνειν, contrary to the outward, false tradition. Λαμβάνειν in John and Paul is a strong word, denoting the moral act of faith, comp. Rom. 5:11.*
To them gave he power.—Opposed to the descent from Abraham and the relative sonship with God, of which the Jews boasted, John 8. ’Ἐ ξουσία is neither merely [the possibility (De Wette, Tholuck), nor the ability (Brückner, Heng., Godet),65 nor] the dignity or advantage, (Erasmus, etc.), nor the right, or privilege (Meyer),66 but the real power, the spiritual faculty (Lücke), and, at the same time, the real title. Sonship with God was growing, in its formation-state, in the Old Testament; there were only incipient sons of God, Gal. 4:1, but there were such really, and progressively, according to the advancing inwardness and depth of the Old Testament faith. This sonship with God, too, is connected indeed with a semen arcanum electorum et spiritualium (contrary to Meyer, see John 1:9); but this must be understood neither in a Gnostic sense, nor in a Hegelian, but in a Johannean, John 3:21. This incipient regeneration is also most certainly ethical, but not merely ethical; it is also substantial, though the antithesis between the eternal μονογενής and the regenerate τέκναθεοῦ by all means remains perfect, even after the advance of the latter to υἱοὶ θεοῦ. The distinctions: ethical theogony in John (according to Hase), legal adoption in Paul; υἱοθεσία first appearing in the kingdom of the Messiah in the Synoptists (Meyer), are of little use; unless it may be said that John emphasizes the ideal begetting, Paul the historical new creation. The Messianic kingdom begins with the children of God, not they with it. [To become—γενέσθαι.—Christ is the eternal, only begotten Son of God by nature; men become children of God by regeneration or a celestial birth; comp. 3:3; 1 John 3:9; Gal. 3:26; 1 Pet. 1:23. Alford thinks that τέκνα θεοῦ is a more comprehensive expression than υἱοὶ τ. θ., as it involves the whole generation and process of our spiritual life and our likeness to God (1 John 5:5–7), while the other brings out rather our adoption and hope of inheritance (Rom. 8:14 if.)—P. S.]
To them that believe in his name.—[Πιστεύουσιν, not πιστεύσασιν; faith being a continued act and habit of the children of God. Mark also the distinction between believing Christ, that He is, and believing in Christ, in His name, His revealed being, in His person, εἰς τὸ ὄνομα;the former is purely intellectual and historical, the latter is moral and implies trust in and appropriation of Christ as our Saviour. The same difference holds with regard to the existence of God, comp. James 2:19: καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πισ τεύουσιν.—P. S.]—Not “ætiological” [quippe qui credunt, Meyer], but “explicative;” for faith is not the cause of the gift of Christ, but the organ, causa instrumentalis [the subjective condition]. The clause describes λαμβάνειν. Faith in the name of the Logos [εἰςτὸὄνομααὐτοῦ] is faith in Christ, more definitely, in His name (Acts 2:36; 3:16; 4:12); and this definiteness of faith, in the evangelical acknowledgment of the personal truth in Christ, makes it saving, makes it the medium of the saving power of Christ, because the name of Christ denotes the concentrated expression of His nature in His gospel, in which truth and personal fact are one.67 So the name of God is to be understood: the revelation of God as a personal introduction of Himself to us. So the devout of the old covenant believed in the name of the Logos, in the essential contents and subject of the Messianic promises, John 2:23; 3:18, etc.
John 1:13. Who were born, not of bloods.—It is confusing to ask whether οἴ refers to τέκνα θεοῦ68 or πιστεύοντες. The subject is in both cases the same. It is the πιστεύοντες in the historical sense who are spoken of. The Evangelist introduces the antithesis of the natural generation and regeneration, yet regarding the natural generation itself as advanced from the purely physical to the religiously consecrated theocratic generation. He first states the antithesis in general: οὐκἐξαἱμάτων,not of bloods. Augustine explains the plural from the twofold sex of man and woman;69 Hölemann refers it to the successive begettings of the theocratic genealogy; Meyer finds that the plural is the same as the singular.70 We find in the plural a premonition of an ethical distinction of αἵματα. In ethical matters αἷμα and αἷμα are not one and the same. And this the succeeding climax proceeds to say. According to Augustine [Theophyl., Schott, Olshausen] and others, θέλημα σαρκός denotes woman in distinction from man (ἀνδρός). [This would require rather the disjunctive οὔτε—οὔτε, neither—nor, than the adjunctive οὐδέ—οὐδέ, nor—nor yet; besides flesh is never used synonymously with woman.—P. S.]71 Mosheim distinguishes native Jews and proselytes; others, natural children and adopted (Starke);72 Lücke takes ἀνήρ as no more than ἄνθρωπος;73 Meyer regards the sentence as a rhetorical progress to greater definiteness: the term σαρκόζ referring to the sexual instinct, ἀνδρός to the procreative will of the man.74If this distinction be followed up, we must come involuntarily upon the track of the true interpretation. The common sensual desire knows nothing of procreative will, yet it doubtless has its θέλημα. Baumgarten Crusius, therefore, rightly asserts that the progress is from the sensual to the most noble;75 and we see here a progress from the sensual begettings of the heathen world to the theocratically consecrated begettings, which introduce a sacred theocratic genealogy (see Lange’s Leben Jesu iii. 558, and Posit. Dogm. pp. 514, 532). In this passage is reflected the Scripture doctrine of hereditary blessing. Of course the Evangelist tells us also that the consecrated births may indeed exhibit an approach to regeneration, and be the instrument of it, but that they are not able to effect it, and that regeneration, as a heavenly generation, forms a counterpart to the earthly.
[The difference between αἴματα, σάρξ and ἀνήρ is not very clear, but the conjunction οὐδέ—οὐδέ (nor—nor yet), as distinct from οὔτε—οὔτε (neither—nor, comp. Winer, p. 454 f., 7th ed.), indicates a rising climax from the general (αἵματα) to the particular, and here again from the lower and physical agency (δάρξ) to the higher and moral (ἀνήρ), although θέλημα is ascribed to both. In Matth. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Eph. 6:12; Gal. 1:16, flesh and blood together signify human nature in its weakness. In John 3:6 we have the same contrast between the natural birth from the flesh, and the supernatural birth from the Spirit. The threefold denial of all human agency in regeneration gives emphasis to the affirmation of the divine agency, which is expressed by but of God, ἀλλ’ ἐκ θεοῦ. This does not exclude mediate instrumentalities, through which, ordinarily, men are regenerated and converted. The affirmation may be analyzed so as to correspond to the three members of the negation: 1) not of blood, but of the seed of God (1 John 3:9), which is the word of God (1 Pet. 1:23: ἀναγεννημένοι … διά λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ; James 1:18: ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας; 2) nor of the will of the flesh, but of the Spirit (John 3:6: γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος; 3) nor yet of the will of man, but of the will of God (James 1:18: βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεός; Eph. 1:5: κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. Bengel analyzes differently: 1) ex cœlesti Patre; 2) ex amore divino; 3) ex Spiritu sancto. Grace does not descend through the channel of nature in any form, but a new creative act of God is necessary in every regeneration. Barnes, in his notes on John 1:13, confounds regeneration with conversion. Regeneration is an act of God, and may take place in infancy (think of John the Baptist leaping in the mother’s womb); conversion or change of mind (μετάνοια) is the act of man, by which, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he turns, in conscious repentance and faith, from sin and Satan to God.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1.The fact that a man (John) was designated the messenger of God even, so to speak, in his origin, Luke 1:15 and 44, announced the coming of another, in whom no issue between birth and new birth should exist. Yet the distinction is as clear as the connection. John, as man, became the messenger of God; the Logos, as messenger of God, John 3:31; 1 Cor. 15:25, became man. In John and Mary appear the two summits of the Old Testament spirit, the highest aspiration of human nature in the train of the Spirit of God; in Mary the summit of fervent, humble, receptive piety; in John the summit of energetic, prophetic piety in the official service of the law. Yet in them the higher spirit works from below upward under the drawing from above. In Christ the divine is before, and in Him the nisus is from above downward under the drawing of the human longing, the need of life and salvation below. The Baptist is strongly conscious of this distinction, Matth. 3:11; Jno. 3:31. And in accordance with this nature of Christ is the nature also of Christianity, the righteousness of faith in a righteous life.
2. The same came for witness, John the Baptist, the last, most distinct form of the Old Testament prophecy, and as such the witness of Christ in the history of the world, at the same time in his freedom from jealousy a witness to the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament. The death of John a martyrdom (witness-bearing) to his fidelity as forerunner.
3. Through John His noblest disciples came to believe, through them all succeeding disciples and Christians, (See Schleiermacher, Predigten I., p. 18.)
4. He was not the Light. An antithesis applying not only to the Old and New Testaments, but also to Christ, the fountain of light, and the Apostles and Christians, with the prophets, as receivers and bearers of the light.
5. The true Light was coming. The pre-Christian Advent. (1) Founded (a) in the nature of Christ: “The true Light, which lighteneth every man,” i.e., shines into him from within through the fundamental laws of personal, mental life, from without through nature and history; (b) in the nature of the world: Made by the Logos, standing by His presence. (2) Unfolding itself (a) in a general invisible force: The shining in the darkness, the lighting of every man; Christ’s being in the world [primordial religion]; (b) in historical theocratic form: Education of Israel for His possession, and His coming to His own (the Old Testament religion in its development).
6. Received Him not. The obduracy, a self-estrangement, as well as a hostile bearing towards the admission of the yearning Householder. The obduracy of Israel in its historical development and completion; the great warning to the Christian world; warning, and alas, still more, Matth. 24:38.
7. That believe in His name.—Respecting the name, see above in the exegesis of this passage. Appearance of the name of the Logos, in the more definite sense, with the Old Testament revelation (the Angel of the Lord and the Messiah). Faith in the objective Messiah was in the subject, incipient sonship. In the righteousness of faith lay a point of union between the word of God and the heart of man, a quickening germ of personal children of God, therefore the power to become sons. But this could be brought to decision and contemplation only by the historical appearance of Christ and by the redemption accomplished in Him. As the revelation of God strove from the first towards concentration in the Name, the making Himself personally, perfectly known, so true faith strives from the beginning after the concentrated receiving of a distinct personal life. Centripetal faith, living faith; centrifugal faith, dying or dead faith.
8. Who were born not of blood. The truth and the insufficiency of inherited privilege. The Biblical doctrine of covenant grace not yet duly received in the church. Its antagonism to the unchurchly conception of the relation between nature and spirit, and even to the Augustinian overstatement of original sin. Its antagonism to Pelagianism. (See Posit. Dogmatik., p. 514 sqq.)
9. But of God. First the righteousness of faith present; then circumcision as the symbol of regeneration. The idea of real regeneration develops itself with the idea of the personal Messiah. Its development or genesis is reciprocal with that of repentance, faith, the experience of grace, in the saving process as it advances from the outward to the inward.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
John the Baptist, the Old Testament Evangelist of the Light. (1) In his mission and his name; (2) in his testimony and his work; (3) in his retirement and disappearance before the Light itself.—The Old Testament Advent of Christ: 1. In its ultimate basis (He was in the world); 2. in its historical manifestation (He came to His own); 3. in its earnest of victory (As many as received Him); 4, in its last attestation (There was a man).—John and Christ, or the personal manifestation of the saving Light: 1. John, the attester of the Light; 2. Christ, the attested Light.—The Old and New Testaments, one light of revelation: 1. The Old in the day-light of the New; 2. The New in the dawn-light of the Old.—John and Christ, or the kernel of revelation, personal life.—The Son of God as the nameless Name: 1. The namelessness of the name, (a) in the world in general, (b) in Israel in particular; 2. the name of the nameless, (a) in its silent development (He was in the world; He came), (b) in its great works.—The Advent of Christ in the world, mistaken and yet perceived: Mistaken (a) by the heathen, (b) by the Jews. Yet perceived (a) by the yearnings of the devout in all the world, (b) by the hope of the faithful in Israel.—The name of the Light, its complete personal revelation in Christ.—Christ the name: 1. The name of the life in the world; 2. the name of the light in mankind; 3. the name of the salvation in the children of God.—Those who are becoming believers, are becoming children of God.—The power to become, or the freedom of the spirit, the groundwork of the new birth and nature.—The being born of blood and born of God considered: 1. In their antagonism; 2. in their essential distinction; 3. in their congenial connection; 4. in the Mediator of their union.—He who believes in the pollution of birth according to the Scriptures, must believe also according to the Scriptures in the consecration of birth.—The beginnings of the regeneration in the Old Covenant, a fore-shadowing of the eternal new birth of Christ from heaven.
STARKE: Jesus alone had a fore-runner.—Like the aurora before the sun, so John, according to the word of prophecy, must bear himself before Christ.—HEDINGER: Teachers and all Christians are indeed lights also, in virtue of their divine calling, fellowship with God, and holy living, yet their main object is to bear witness of the light in Christ, to lead to it by precept and example.—O glorious nobility! to be born of God, His child and heir!—Behold, what manner of love! 1 John 3:1.—OSIANDER: What is due to Christ alone, must not be attributed to any man.—The eternal light sends forth rays in the hearts of all men. He who is not enlightened, must ascribe it to himself and the dominion of darkness.—CANSTEIN: Noble family helps not to sonship and salvation, but only the being born anew of God.—MOSHEIM : Men in the state of nature are not children of God, and therefore have no right to salvation.
GERLACH, after Augustine: Corrupt men are called the world, because they love the world more than its Creator. By love we dwell in a thing with the heart, and we have therefore deserved to bear the name of that wherein we dwell by love.
HEUBNER: John must prepare the way for the reception of the Light.—The light must came gradually, else it blinds.—The nobility of the children of God is attained only through the Spirit, through birth from God, through a proper spiritual generation.
[John 1:6. John the Baptist, the greatest of men before Christ, because he was nearest to Christ, and comprehended all the light of the preparatory revelations of Moses and the prophets.
John 1:7. Every minister only a borrowed light to lean men to Christ, the true Light.
John 1:8. Christ is the sun of the soul, the source of spiritual light, life and growth.—P. S.]
[John 1:9. ARROWSMITH: Christ is the true Light; 1. The undeceiving Light, in opposition to all the false lights of the Gentiles ; 2. The real Light, in opposition, to ceremonial types and shadows; 3. The underived Light, in opposition to all borrowed light; 4. The supereminent Light, in opposition to all ordinary light.
John 1:10. HENGSTENBERG: The creature should shout for joy, if its Creator comes to redeem it.
John 1:11. It is disgraceful if the creature despises the creature; it is doubly disgraceful if the people of the Covenant despise the Lord of the Covenant.]
[John 1:13. The new (celestial, divine) birth constitutes the true nobility of grace, as contrasted with the aristocracy of natural birth, the aristocracy of money, the aristocracy of merit, the aristocracy of fame.—Regeneration: 1. Its origin; 2. Its growth; 3. Its manifestation; 4.Its end (the final resurrection).—The children of God the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the benefactors of the race.—Comp. the admirable description of Christian life in the Epistle to Diognetus, ch. v. and vi., composed soon after the Apostolic age. Christians in the world are there compared to the soul in the body: they are scattered through the world and dwell in the world, yet are not of the world: they are hated by the world, yet love and benefit it; they are imprisoned in the world, yet preserve it from corruption, they are sojourners in the perishing world, looking for an incorruptible dwelling in heaven.—P. S.]
John 1:6. [The Greek here is ἐγένετο (became), which differs from ἦν (was), John 1:1, as the German ward (or geworden) does from war, but it cannot be well rendered in English. It is the antithesis between temporal or created existence which has a beginning, and implies previous non-existence, and eternal or uncreated existence, which has neither beginning nor end. The same distinction—John 8:58: πρὶν ̓Αβραὰμ γενέσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι.—P. S.]
John 1:6. [ἀπεσταλμένος does not belong to ἐγένετο=ἀπεστάλη (Chrysostom, Hom. 6 p. 42, and Hengstenberg), but to ἄνθρωπος.—P. S.]
John 1:9. [So Lange, Ewald somewhat differently: Ja das wahrhaflige Licht, welches jeden Menschen erleuchtet, kam stets in die welt. Others translate: that was the true Light which, coming into the world, lighteth every man. ἐρχόμενον may be connected with ἄνθρωπον Vulg.: hominem venientem, Luth., E. V.), or better, with ἦν (Lange, Ewald). See the EXEG. NOTES. In the latter case a comma should be made after ἄνθρωπον, as is done by Tischendorf, eighth ed.—P. S.]
John 1:10. [δἰ αν̓τον͂. Cod. א* read δἰ αν̓τόν, probably an error of the copyist.—P. S.]
John 1:11. [The E.V. obliterates the distinction between the neutral τὰ ἴδια, das Seine, his own things, possessions, inheritance, and the masculine οίἴδιοι, die Seinen, his own people, servants, subjects.—P. S.]
John 1:13. The difficulty of the passage has occasioned the omission of ον̓δὲ ἐκ θελ. σαρκ. in Cod. E and others; and of ον̓δὲ ἐκ θελ. ἀνθρ. in Cod. B. and others. Others, as Augustine, have transposed the clauses. [See Tischend. Oct. VIII. p. 743.]
[Hengstenberg adopts the construction of Chrysostom, which would have been more naturally expressed by ἀπεστάλη, and defends it by referring to Mal. 3:1, 13: “Lo, I am sending my messenger,” etc., compared with the words of the Baptist, John 3:28: ἀπεσταλμένος εἰμὶ ἔμπροσθεν αν̓τοῦ. I prefer the usual connection of ἀπεσταλμένος with ἄνθρωπος.—P. S.]
[The Baptist is mentioned in the Prologue to confirm the reality of the historical appearance of Christ: Brückner; as a brilliant exception from the terrible darkness spoken of John 1:5: Ewald; to explain the rejection of Christ by His own people, John 1:10, 11: Meyer; to introduce the historic manifestation of the word: Alford. He is mentioned rather as the personal representative of the whole O. T. revelation in whom the law and the promise, Moses and Isaiah, were united and pointed directly to Christ. See Lange in the text.—P. S.]
[In the fifth edition of Meyer the reference to Ewald is omitted. In his Commentary, Ewald translates δἰ αν̓τοῦ durch ihn without explaining whether ihn is meant of John or of Christ.—P. S.]
[Ryle: “One of those texts which show the immense importance of the ministerial office through which the Holy Spirit is pleased to produce faith in man’s heart.—P. S.]
[Meyer denies the reference to the disciples of John entirely. Godet, on the contrary, defends it, and justly so, in view of 1:20; 3:25; and in view of the Gnostic sect of the Disciples of John in the second century, who held that John the Baptist was the true Messiah. (Clementis Rom. Recognitiones l. I. c. 54 and 60. Comp. the articles of Petermann, Mendüer and Zabier, in Herzog’s Encyclop. Vols. IX. p. 318 and XVIII. p. 341.) Only we must not suppose either that John wrote expressly, or exclusively against this error. See Dr. Lange above.—P. S.]
[In the first ed. Luther translated: “Das war ein wahr-haftig Licht, welches alle Menschen erleuchtet durch seine Zukunft in die Welt,” i.e., “which, coming into the world, lighteneth all men.” In the later editions he followed the Vulgate.—P. S.]
[Meyer, however, lays the emphasis on ἧν aderat, which is put first, and translates: “Vorhanden war das Licht das wahrhaftiqe, welches erleuchtet jeden Menschen, der in die Welt kommt,” the true light was in existence, etc. But there is no good reason why ἧν should be emphasized rather than ἀληθτνόν, and then ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἡν, John 1:10, would be a repetition of John 1:9. The old usual interpretation is preferable to Meyer’s, but both are to be rejected, because the phrase to come into the world for to be born, though Rabbinical (בָּעוֹלַםבֹּל בָּאֵי=all men), is not Scriptural, as applied to common men, but is reserved exclusively for the Messiah with the implied sense of præ-existence, 3:19, 3; 6:14; 11:27; 12:46; 18:37. Bengel: “Apud Hebræos frequens est periphrasis hominis, הבִא בִעולם VENIENS IN MUNDUM, sed in N. T. et. præcipue in in hoc libro id at solo Christo dicitur, sublimi significatu. ERAT enim, ante etiam, quam VENIRET.”—P. S.]
[In his Commentary Ewald explains somewhat differently. He connects John 1:9 with John 1:4: es kam damals immer in die Welt, it was at that time always coming into the world, so that every mortal, if he would, might have been guided by the light.—P. S.]
[Keim: “er war in stetem Kommen in die Welt.” Similarly Ewald, see preceding foot-note. ἦν ἐρχόμενον is stronger than ἦν, and implies a continued action, like the English, was coming, as distinct from came. Comp. ἦν βαπτίζων, John 1:28. Hengstenberg accounts for this circumlocution of the simpler imperf. by the emphasis laid on ἐρχόμενος as a term of the Messiah; comp. Matth. 3:11: ὁ ὀπίσω μον ἐρχόμενος; 11:3; John 1:15, 27, 30.—P. S.]
[Comp. the lines of Göthe:
“War nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Wie könnten wir das Licht erblicken?
Lebt’ nicht in uns des Gottes eigne Kraft,
Wie könnt’ uns Göttliches entzücken?”—P. S.]
[There is no Scripture proof that ἴδια (viz., δώματα, οἰκήματα) means the world, and ἴδιοι mankind in general; both expressions refer to Israel as the peculiar people of God, ἴδια to the nation as a whole, ἴδιοι to the individuals. George Campbell (on the Gospels). Alford and Barnes would understand τα ἴδια of Palestine or Judea, and οί ἴδιοι of its inhabitants.—P. S.]
[Something of this feeling of sadness, in view of the ingratitude of the world to Christ, pervades the hymn of the noble Novalis:
Wenn alle untreu werden,
So bleib ich Der dock treu,”
especially the second stanza:
I could weep night and morning
That Thou hast died, and yet
So few will heed Thy warning,
So many Thee forget.
O loving and true-hearted,
How much for us didst Thou!
Yet is Thy fame departed,
And none regards it now.—P. S.]
[Godet translates: “elle (la Parole) les a mis en position de devenir enfants de Dieu” and explains ἐξονσὶα to mean essentially the same with the Pauline νἱοθεσὶα, the filial relation to which man is restored by faith, yet not identical with regeneration, but a condition to it. “Car Dieu ne peut communiquer sa propre vie par le πνεν͂μα qu'ὰun homme avec qui il est reconcilié.… Mais une fοie que l' adoption a eu lieu, la regénération doit suivre… et c ést la le second privilège, resultant, du premier, que saint Jean exprime dans ces mots: ‘Devenir enfants de Dieu.’” But the second is rather explanatory of the first (ἐξονσὶα).—P. S.]
[In the fifth ed. Meyer explains: er ermätchtigte sie, he empowered them. Comp. 5:27; 17:2.—P. S.]
[Arrowsmith, quoted by Ryle: “The word ‘name’ in the Scripture is often put for person. The receivers of Christ are said to believe on His name, because the direct object of their faith is the person of Christ. It is not the believing that Christ died for all, or for me, or for the elect, or any such proposition, that saveth. It is believing on Christ. The person, or name of Christ, is the object of faith.”—P. S.]
[So Meyer, constructio κατα σύνεσιν, as in 2 John 1; Philem. 10; Gal. 4:19. But Lange is right.—P. S.]
[“Ex sanguinibus enim homines nascuntur maris et feminæ ?” Tract. II. § 14. Ewald translates the plural aus Blut und Blut, and explains: durch blosse Missching voun Zeugungs-stoffen. Wordsworth: human commixtures.—P. S.]
[The plural usage of αἶμα in the sense of this passage occurs only in Euripides, Ion 705: ἄλλων τραφεὶς ἀφ̓ αἱμάτων, but often in the sense of murder, in the classics and in the LXX. See quotations in Meyer.—P. S.]
[Augustine, In Joh. Tract. II. § 14, quotes Gen. 2:22 and Eph. 5:28, 29 to show that caro may be used for uxor; bur these passages (as also Jude 7) are not to the point. Flesh here means human nature, male and female. “What is born of the fiesh is flesh,” 3:6.—P. S]
[So Albert Barnes; “adopted by a pious man.” Without a shadow of proof. Ryle and Crosby refer “flesh” to man’s own and “man” to any foreign human agency. But this could have been much more clearly expressed.—P. S.]
[So also Alford, who quotes, with Lücke, the Homeric πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε. But Meyer denies that ἀνήρ is ever generalized into ἄνθρωπος, least of all here where the act of generation is spoken of.—P.S.]
[Similarly God t: The will of the flesh is la volonté dominée par p imagination sensuelle, the will of man la volonté plus independante de la nature, la resolution virile.—P. S.]
[Nature (αἵματα), desire (σάρξ), will (ἀνήρ). But the difficulty is that θήλημα is used in the second as well as the third clause.—P. S.]
John 1:14. [Or, pitched his ten; Meyer, Ewald: zeltete; Godet: a dressé sa tente. The verb ἐσκήνωσεν (from σκηνή, tent), which John uses also of God’s dwelling with His people on the new earth (Rev. 21:3), was chosen in allusion to the Shekinah (שׁבִינָה, or שְׁבִינָא, a Rabbinical theological term from שָׁכַו to dwell), i.e., the indwelling or glorious presence of Jehovah in the holy of holies of the tabernacle and the temple, which typically pointed to the incarnation. This allusion is evident from the correspondence of the letters (Bengel: “eædem literæ in שכיה et σκηνὴ"), and from the following ἐθεασάμεθα τὴ δόξαν αὐτοῦ comp. Ex. 25:8 (where Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion translate שָׁבַנְתִּי by σκηνώσω; 40:34; Lev. 26:11,12; Ezek. 37:27; Hagg. 2:8; Apoc. 7:15; 21:3. In the Apocryphal books the Shekinah was especially ascribed to the Sophia (Sir. 24:8: ἐν ̓Ιακὼβ κ́ατασκήνωσον), and the Logos. The humanity of Christ became the Shekinah of His divinity—P. S.]
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.THRID SECTION
The Incarnation of the Logos, the Appearance of the real Shekinah among the Faithful
(1) INCARNATION OF THE LOGOS, OR THE ABSOLUTELY NEW BIRTH. APPEARANCE OF THE REAL SHEKINAH, JOHN 1:14. (2) TESTIMONY OF JOHN IN GENERAL, JOHN 1:15. (3) EXPERIENCE OF BELIEVERS, OR GRACE, JOHN 1:16. (4) ANTITHESIS BETWEEN MOSES AND CHRIST, THE LAW OF THE OLD TESTAMENT AND CHRISTIANITY, IN THEIR AUTHORITY AND WORK, JOHN 1:17. (5) ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE WHOLE OLD WORLD AND CHRIST IN THEIR RELATION TO GOD, JOHN 1:18
14And the Word was made [became, ἐγένετο] flesh, and dwelt [sojourned, tabernacled, ἐσχήνωσεν76] among us, (and we beheld his glory [the real Shekinah], the glory as of the [an] only-begotten of [from, παρά the Father,) [omit parenthesis]77 full of 15grace and truth. John bare [beareth]78 witness of him, and cried [crieth],79 saying, This was he of whom I spake [said], He that cometh after me [behind me] is preferred 16[hath come to be] before me; for he was before me [lit. first of me]. And [For]80 of his fulness have all we received [did we all receive], and [even] grace for grace. 17For the law was given by [through] Moses, (but) grace and truth came [came to pass] by [through] Jesus Christ. 18No man hath seen God at any time [No one hath ever seen God]; the only begotten Son [God],81 which [who] is in [toward] the bosom of the Father [of the nature of the Father and in his full confidence and service] he hath declared him [hath interpreted all).82
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[John 1:14 contains the central idea of the Prologue, the Gospel, and the system of Christianity, yea, central idea of the whole history of the world; for ancient history before the incarnation was a preparation for Christ as the fulfillment of all types, prophecies and nobler aspirations of men; history after that event is subservient to the spread and triumph of Christianity till Christ be all in all. The theology of John is Christological throughout (comp. 1 John 4:2, 3); that of Paul, in the Romans and Galatians, is anthropological and soteriological, but the Colossians and Philippians are likewise Christological, and in 1 Tim. 3:16 Paul makes the incarnation the central fact of our religion. But the idea of the incarnation, the great mystery of godliness, should not be confined to the mere birth of Christ, but extended to His whole divine human life, death and resurrection; it is “God manifest in the flesh.” Bengel discovers a threefold antithetic correspondence between vers.1 and 4:
Was in the beginning
and dwelt among us.—P. S.]
John 1:14 And.—This καὶ has been explained in very different ways: as equivalent, for example to γάρ (for)83 or οὖ (therefore),84 or as signifying the condition of Christ’s becoming man. But it denotes an actual historical advance85 not, however, as De Wette takes it, upon John 1:9, but, as Lücke, upon John 1:11. First, the universal advent was spoken of; then the theocratical advent in the Old Testament; now, after indicating the transitional distinction of consecrated human birth and birth from God, which were continually approaching each other, the Evangelist comes to the point of incarnation, where birth and new or divine birth coincide.
The Word became flesh.—In this finishing sentence the subject is again named. Not a life only, or a light, from the Logos, was made flesh, but the whole Logos as Life and Light (see Col. 1:19; 2:9). He became σάρξ; the strongest expression for becoming veritable man.
[This grand sentence: ὁλόγοςσὰρξἐγένετο, stands alone in the Bible; but the same idea in somewhat different forms of expression occurs repeatedly, viz.: 1 John 4: 2 (ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθώς, Christ having come in the flesh); 1 Tim. 3:16 (ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, God was manifested in the flesh); Rom. 1:3 (γενόμενος ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυεὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, born from the seed of David according to the flesh); 8:3 (ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας, in the likeness of sinful flesh); Phil. 2:7 (ἑν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος, being made in the likeness of men); Heb. 2:14 (where it is said that Christ, like other men, partook of αἵματος καὶ σαρκός, of blood and flesh). Flesh (σάρξ) is a strong Hebraizing term (בָּשָׂר) for human nature in its weakness, frailty and mortality. Comp. the English, mortal (the German, der Sterbliche), for man. When used of man, the idea of moral weakness or sinfulness is also often implied, but not necessarily. In the passages where it is ascribed to Christ, sin must be excluded in view of the unanimous testimony of the Apostles to the sinlessness of Jesus. The term is more, comprehensive than body (σῶμα), which is used in distinction from soul (ψυχή) and spirit νοῦς or πνεῦμα), while flesh sometimes includes both; it is more concrete and emphatic than man (ἄνθρωπος), and expresses more strongly the infinite condescension of the Logos, the identity of His human nature with our own, and the universalness of His manhood. Yet it is as correct to speak of Christ’s becoming man (ἐνανθρώπησις, Menschwerdung) as of His becoming flesh (ἐνσάρκωσις, incarnatio, incarnation, Fleischwerdung). The Logos assumed, not an individual man or a single human personality, but human nature into union with His præ-existent divine personality. He moreover assumed human nature, not apparently and transiently (according to the Gnostic Docetic view), but really and permanently; nor partially (as Apollinaris taught), but totally, with all its essential constituents as created by God, body, soul and spirit. For Christ everywhere appears as a full man (comp. 8:40: “Ye seek to kill me, a man who,” etc.), and He is emphatically called “the Son of Man;” John speaks expressly of the soul (ψυχή) of Christ, 12:27, and of His spirit (πνεῦμα), 11:33; 13:21; 19:30; comp. Matth. 27:50. In the O. T., too, flesh often includes the moral or spiritual nature of man, comp. Lev. 17:11; Deut. 12:15; Job 12:10. It is not the flesh as opposed to the spirit, that is here intended, but human nature, as distinct from the divine. The flesh is the outward tabernacle and the visible representative of the whole man to our senses.86 Finally Christ assumed human nature, not in its primitive state of innocence, but in its fallen, suffering, mortal state, yet without sin (which, does not originally and necessarily belong to man); for He came to save this fallen nature. He was subject to temptation, or temptable, and was perfected through suffering (Hebr. 2:14–18; 4:15), but He was neither σαρκικός (Rom. 7:14), nor ψυκικός (1 Cor. 2:14). He appeared not “in the flesh of sin,” but only “in the likeness of the flesh of sin” (Rom. 8:2). He bore all the consequences of sin without a share of personal sin and guilt. This amazing miracle of His love is best expressed by the term: The Logos became flesh.87 Comp. 2 Cor. 8:9: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye by His poverty might become rich.” At His second advent Christ will appear as man indeed, yet no more in the likeness of sinful flesh, nor in weakness and poverty, but in glory and immortality (comp, Heb. 9:28, χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας). P. S.]
It imputes a Judaistic [and Apollinarian] nonsense to the Evangelist, to represent him as saying that the Logos took only the human σάρξ, and not a reasonable human soul (Praxeas, Köstlin, Zeller88). The evidence of the contrary lies not only in the impossibility of conceiving a human σάρξ without ψυχή and such a ψυχή without πνεῦμα (see Meyer, p. 65), but especially in the Old Testament usage of the term flesh to denote human nature (Is. 40); to say nothing of John’s express designation of the ψυχή of Christ in John 12:27, and the πνεῦμα in John 11:33; 13:21; 19:30. But while the half-Baur school thus construes John’s statement of the incarnation Judaistically, Hilgenfeld construes it Gnostically: giving Christ (according to the Valentinian system) a real σάρξ, indeed, but such as was exalted above material limitations. Meyer (against Frommann and others) contests without good reason the anti-Docetic force of this expression; though certainly the main force of it is rather anti-Gnostic; for the incipient Gnosticism first asserted an external connection of σάρξ and λόγος, against which the verb ἐγένετο would be more emphatic than the substantive σάρξ.
With the idea of the σάρξ comes also the idea of passibility, but by no means the idea of any weakness of the flesh arising from sin; for Scripture recognizes the flesh in three stages: (1) pure in paradise; (2) weakened by sin; (3) sanctified by the Spirit; and the Logos could become flesh only in the latter sense.
All this carries in it the antithesis between His incarnation and His eternal, immaterial existence; yet neither in the sense of Pantheism, which makes His incarnation an accident (Baur), nor in the sense of the mediæval scholasticism, which sees in it, even as incarnation, a humiliation of the Logos even into an incongruous, heterogeneous nature. The historical humiliation of Christ coincides indeed with His historical incarnation; yet the two are to be distinguished.
The supernatural birth of Christ is unquestionably implied in this passage, in that the origin of Christ as God-Man stands in opposition to the natural births previously described, all which, as such, needed to be completed by the birth from God (contra Meyer).
[Became, ἐγένετο.—Not was, ἦν, as in John 1:1, nor ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος, as is said of John, John 1:6, who had no existence before his birth, but the præ-existent, personal Logos became flesh.89 Comp. LXX., Gen. 2:7: ἐγένετοὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴς ζῶσαν. The word denotes a single and completed act. The Logos was not converted or changed into flesh, nor simply associated with flesh, but endued with human nature, which He assumed once for all into personal and perpetual union with Him.90 The Logos was henceforth Christ Jesus, the God-Man (θεάνθρωπος), and this not only for a transient purpose, but He continues so forever.—P. S.]
Tabernacled among us.—God dwelt as Jehovah in Israel, hidden in the most holy place of the tabernacle (σκηνή); now in the Logos He has tabernacles (ἐσκήνωσεν) among the disciples in the midst of the people, thus making the disciples themselves His tabernacle.91 (On among us, ἐν ἡμῖν, see John 1:16. The disciples and witnesses of Christ are meant, but as the central point of the people, and of all mankind). The expression evidently alludes to the Old Testament dwelling of God in Israel. The idea of that dwelling of Jehovah in the holy tabernacle (Ex. 25:8; 29:45) is enlarged even in the prophets (Is. 4:5; 57:15). Now the Lord has taken His dwelling among His own people themselves. This reference is confirmed by what follows. “The Targums likewise represent the Word (מימרא) as the Shekinah (שּׁבינא), and the Messiah as the manifestation of the latter” (Meyer).92
And we beheld his glory.—Meyer rightly maintains, against Lücke, De Wette and Tholuck, that this main thought cannot be read as a parenthesis. Such reading has been occasioned by the nominative πλήρης93 χάριτος, at the close of the verse, referring to λόγος. According to Baumgarten-Crusius and Meyer [Brückner, Alford], this nominative refers, by a solecism, to αὐτοῦ, and serves to give more independent prominence to the descriptive clause. But the clause may also be read as a declaration prompted by the contemplation; ἦν being understood.94
We beheld.—The beholding has faith for its organ; it is not a merely outward vision, still less merely inward; nor does it perceive the glory of Christ only in single miracles or in a transfiguration, but in His whole life (comp. 1 John 1:1). [θεάομαι moreover is richer than ὁράω, and means properly to behold or contemplate with admiration and delight. John speaks here in the name of all the Apostles and eye-witnesses of the life of Christ. The plural adds force to the statement, as in 21:24; 1 John 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:16. Faith lifts the veil of Christ’s humanity and worships His divine glory, while to unbelief He is a mere man. Hengstenberg refers to several passages from Isaiah (40: 5; 66:2, 18), in which the beholding of the glory of Jehovah is promised. John recognized Jehovah in the incarnate Logos (12:41).—P. S.]
His glory, δόξα, כָּבוֹד.—The real appearances of the divine glory in the Old Testament must be distinguished from its symbolical signs. Its signs are the cloud and tempest on Sinai, the pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire, the cherubim over the ark of the covenant in the most holy place. Its real manifestations are, from the nature of the Old Testament, transient, and given in visions: manifestations of the Angel of the Lord (see above), or of the Lord Himself attended by a host of angels, Dan. 7. The manifestation of the Angel of the Lord is, in its nature, connected with the manifestation of His glory. The later Jewish theology has designated these manifestations as the Shekinah.95 In Christ the Shekinah appears in full reality.
[We must distinguish four stages of this glory: 1) the præ-existent divine glory of the Logos with the Father, 17:5; 2) the preparatory shadowy manifestation of His glory in the Old Testament, as seen by the prophetic eye of Isaiah, 12:41; 3) its visible revelation in human form in the life and work of the incarnate Word, which shone from every miracle, 2:11; 4) the final and perfect manifestation of His divine-human glory in eternity in which the believers will share, 17:24.—P. S.]
When Meyer, with Hofmann (Schriftbew. II.1, p. 21), makes the incarnation of Christ itself equivalent to His humiliation, and so conceives even theanthropic existence as distinct from simple divine, he has no Scripture for it, either in John 12:41; 17:5, 22, 24, or in Phil. 2:6. Unquestionably the human δόξα of Christ in His earthly life was to be relatively conceived; but only (1) in that He entered into the historical conditions of humanity, especially into subjection to the law, (2) in that the life of the first man waited in Him for its completion in the higher, imperishable manifestation of the second.
The glory [emphatically repeated] as of an only begotten [δόξανὡςμουογενοῦςπαρὰπατρός].—A closer description of the δόξα. It was alone in its kind, and could be characterized only thus: as of the only begotten. The ὡς expresses literally not the reality (Euthym. Zigabenus: ὄντως), but in similitude, the idea of the only begotten, to which the appearance of Christ corresponded, while assuredly it first awakened that idea and brought it to view.96 Only the μονογενής could manifest Himself so (John 1:18; 3:6, 18; 1 John 4:9).97 That John has the term from Christ Himself, is shown by John 3:16, 18. Paul’s πρωτότοκος, first begotten [Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6], is a parallel. Both terms denote not only the trinitarian relation, of the Son of God, but also His theanthropic relation. In the expression of John, however, the incommunicable relation of Christ to God predominates; in that of Paul, His incommunicable relation to the world. In the one, the ontological idea of the Trinity rules; in the other, the economic and soteriological. The notion of the only begotten is closely akin to that of the beloved (ἀγαπητός), not identical with it as Kuinoel holds. The word denotes indeed, according to Meyer, the only begotten; but it thereby makes Christ also the peculiarly begotten (Tholuck), who is the principle of all other births and regenerations.98 The reference of μονογενοῦς to δόξα (Erasmus and others) is wholly without support.
From the Father [belongs to μονογενοῦς, not to δόξαν.—Origen: ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός. His origin and issue is from the essence of the Father. His coming forth from the Father (John 6:46; 7:29; 16:27) does not exclude, however, His continuance in the heaven of the Father (John 3:13; comp. John 1:18). His human relations do not supersede His divine.
Full of grace and truth.—Comp. John 1:17. The result of the beholding, uttered in an exclamation of astonishment, expressing the main forms in which the δόξα was seen in Him. He was full of grace and truth. Not only did He seem all grace and truth, but grace and truth seemed concentrated in Him. And this was His glory, for grace and truth are the main attributes of Jehovah in the Old Testament, since the Messianic spirit recognized Him as pre-eminently the God of redemption (חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת [in the LXX.: πολυέλεος καὶ ἀλμθινός], Ex. 34:6; Ps. 25:10; 36:6). This reference to the Old Testament is groundlessly doubted by Meyer;99 for though אֱמֶת denotes also faithfulness, yet faithfulness and truth are one in the divine nature; and the rendering of חֶסֶד by ἔλεος in the Septuagint decides nothing, since ἔλεος finds its more precise equivalent in רַחֲמִים. But Meyer well observes that ἀλήθεια answers to the light-nature (φῶς), χάρις to the life-nature (ζωή) of the Logos. Of course the life is as much concerned in the truth of Christ, as the light in the grace; the latter notions are more soteriologically concrete, than the former. Christ, as absolute redemption, was pure grace; as absolute revelation, pure truth. [Christ is the personal Truth, 14:6, and is in the Apoc. called the ἀληθινός, 3:7; 19:11, is whom there is a perfect harmony between appearance and reality, claim and being, promise and fulfilment.—P. S.]
John 1:15. John beareth witness of him.—Having described the advent of Christ to its consummation in the incarnation, the Evangelist comes to the testimony of John concerning Christ. He first introduced John’s mission to bear witness of Christ, John 1:6; now he comes to his actual testimony concerning Christ, and that as a testimony even to His præ-existence and His higher nature. Afterwards follows the testimony of the Baptist concerning the Messianic (John 1:19) and the soteriological (John 1:29 sqq.) character of Jesus.
Beareth witness.—Present. John’s testimony is perpetually living, active and valid. Its continued validity in the present rests upon the past fact that he cried only in Israel, and uttered what he had to say of Christ (κέκραγε λέγων). Hence Christ could appeal to his testimony, John 5:33; Matth. 21:24. Κράζειν, elsewhere also, John 7:28, 37, etc., for loud public proclamation. There is no reason for taking the perfect in a present sense. [Comp. TEXT. NOTES 3 and 4.—P. S.]
This was he of whom I said.—Οὖτοςἦν. He it was. Not because John is conceived as speaking in the present. In the testimony of John two periods must be distinguished: before and after the baptism of Jesus. Before the baptism, he preached the Messiah in His higher characters, as approaching, but knew not yet the Messianic individual; after the baptism he could point to Jesus and say: This was He, of whom I declared that præ-existence. Thus this second stage of his testimony is here in hand.
He that cometh after me.—[ ὁ ὀπίσω μουἐρχόμενο ς, ἔμπροσθένμουγέγονεν. A pithy oxymoron exciting attention and reflection, repeated John 1:27 and 30, and probably suggested by the prophetic passage, Mal. 3:2: “Lo, I am sending My messenger, and he hath prepared a way before Me.” The following words, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν, which must be referred to the præ-existence of Christ (comp. ἦν, John 1:1, 9, 10), not to the superiority of rank (which would require ἐστί), contain the clue to the enigmatic and paradoxical sentence. The meaning may be thus explained: My successor (in time) has become (or has come to be) my predecessor (in rank); for He is before me (even in time), being absolutely the first, viz.: the eternal Son of God; while I am only a man born in time and sent to prepare the way for Him.—P. S.]
“He that comes after me, has come before me.” Meyer.100 But it means: was made, has become(γέγονε) before me. John appeared before Christ as His fore-runner and herald; as to his progressive approach in His Old Testament advent, Christ was before him. His coming forth pervaded the Old Testament, and was the impelling power and cause of all prophecy, even the prophecy of John. And this earlier coming had its ground in His earlier (absolutely early, eternal) existence; hence ὅτιπρῶτόςμουἦν. These are, indeed, primarily antitheses of time. But the designation of the one coming after, as being before, implies at the same time a deeper and higher principle of life. According to Aristotle, the posterius in the real development is the prius in the idea or the value of the life. This is true of man in relation to the animal world, of the New Testament in relation to the Old, of Christ in relation to the Baptist. The ἐντιμότερός μου ἐστί of Chrysostom, therefore, is involved in the clause; while Meyer is right, against Lücke, Tholuck and others, in not taking this for its primary sense. Theἔμπροσθένμουγ έγονεν, of course, means not was before me (Luther and others), but: has become [or come to be] before me (against Meyer). Commentators have not been able to reconcile themselves to this γέγονεν, because they have not yet fairly reconciled themselves to the Old Testament incarnation of Christ. Hence Meyer: it is equal to προέρχεσθαι; Luthardt: He who at first came after me, as if He were my disciple, is since come before me, that is, become my master. Baumgarten-Crusius: of the ideal præ-existence of Christ in the divine counsels. This interpretation lies in the right direction, but misses the fact that the præ-existence of the Logos was personal and real, and that the ideal præ-existence of the God-Man was from the first dynamically real, the power of the creation, the central force and the core of the Old Testament (the “roct” of Isaiah), and in Israel was in a continual process of incarnation, which was objectively represented beforehand in the Angel of the Lord.
For he was before me [ὅτιπ ρῶτόςμουἦν].—The eternal præ-existence of Christ is the ground of His theocratic manifestation. Here again Meyer [on account of the ἦν] emphasizes the temporal sense, against the reference of the πρῶτος to rank [which would require ἐστίν], contrary to Chrysostom, Erasmus [Beza, Calvin, Grotius] and many others. He would take the merely temporal conception (i.e., the præ-existence of the Logos); hence πρῶτος in the sense of πρότερος. The comparative, however, could hardly stand here. Such præ-existence itself involves the higher, even divine dignity.101
Meyer justly holds, against Strauss [De Wette, Scholten] and others, that the Baptist could certainly have from Mal. 3:1; Is. 6:1 ff. and Dan. 7:13 ff., the idea of the præ-existence of Christ, which even the Rabbins attested. [Besides, we must assume a special revelation given to John at the baptism of Christ, 1:33.—P. S.]
John 1:16. For [text, rec.: And] of his fulness did we all receive.—Undoubtedly the testimony of the Baptist continued, as Origen,102 Chrysostom [Erasmus, Luther, Mel.] and others take it. We adjust the ἡμεῖς πάντες by referring it to the Old Testament saints (John 1:12), and particularly to the prophets, whose line John closed.
From the fullness of Christ have we all drawn our supply, says the last of the prophets, and (even) grace for grace. The last, best, highest, which each one in the end received from His fulness, was grace. Thus the Old Testament experience of salvation looked to its completion in the New Testament. Comp. 1 Pet. 1:11, 12.103
Of his fulness.—See John 1:14, πλήρης [also Col. 1:19 ; 2:9, according to which the whole fulness of the Godhead dwelled in Christ bodily; Eph. 1:23, where the church as the body of Christ is called “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”—P. S.].—That the idea of the πλήρωμα does not necessarily originate in Gnostic soil (as Schwegler and others [of the Tübingen School] hold), to pass thence into a pseudo-Johannean Gospel, a more thorough knowledge of the history of religion might abundantly teach.104 The heathen philosophy knows only an ideal pleroma as the basis of things; in the actual world all proceeds in broken emanations in infinitum, upon the premises of pantheism. But the idea of the real pleroma was an essential principle of the Old Testament religion and promise. In the Messiah the old piece-work was to become a whole,
shadows were to become reality, revelation was to be finished. See Is. 11:1; [comp. Heb. 1:1, 2] Hence even Matthew, at the outset, speaks repeatedly of positive fulfilment, John 2, etc. Likewise all the Evangelists and Apostles in their way; Eph. 1:10; Col. 2:9, 17; 1:19. The pleroma of Christ in the world corresponds with the pleroma of the Trinity in heaven; it is absolute revelation and religion concluded and consummated in His personality; and it is patent that this idea could be only borrowed by the Gnostics, to be altered and corrupted. The πλήρωμα of Christ is His fullness of being in its revelation, ontologically present, actively demonstrating itself. He had already partially opened Himself in the Old Testament, so that all the prophets might draw from Him. Comp. John 10:6 sqq.; 1 Pet. 1:11, 12.
And (even) grace for grace.—And even; not: and that, or: to wit.105—Grace for grace[חֵן עַל חֵן gratiam super gratiam]. Variously interpreted: (1) Starke: The grace of restoration, for the grace lost in paradise. (2) Chrysostom, Lampe, Paulus and others: The grace of the New Testament instead of or after that of the Old.106 (3) Augustine: First justification, then eternal life.107 (4) Bengel and most moderns: One grace after another [ever growing supplies of grace] from the fullness of Christ.108—At the same time, however, the Baptist doubtless thought of the different developments of religious experience in the course of the Old Testament prophecy. Grace was continually assuming new forms. [This remark loses its force if John 1:16 gives the words of the Evangelist, not of the Baptist.—P. S.]
John 1:17. For the law, etc.—[Antithetic demonstration of John 1:16] The antithesis of the Old and New Testaments, as in Paul (Rom. 6:14; 7:3; Gal. 4:4, etc.]. It must be remembered that both Apostles (and all the Apostles) recognize likewise the unity of the Old and New Testaments. This unity, even according to our text, is Christ Himself, and it is elsewhere in John [ch. 8:56], as well as in Paul (Rom. 4:4), represented by Abraham, or by promise and prophecy, also by the prophetic, typical side of the Mosaic law itself. The law, however, as law, constitutes the opposition of the Old Testament to the New. But the law is here placed in a twofold opposition to the New Testament. (1) As against grace, it is the binding commandment, which cannot give life, but by its demand of righteousness works the death of the sinner, either unto life in repentance, or unto death in the judgment, while it is incapable of giving life, expiating, justifying, sanctifying. Rom. 7; 2 Cor. 5; Gal. 3. (2) As against truth or the reality of salvation and of the kingdom of God, it is first only type, prefiguration, symbol; and then, when the reality is come, shadow, Col. 3:17; Heb. 10:1. Notice also the further antithesis, that the law was given, set forth, laid down (ἐρόθη), as a lifeless statute; grace and truth came, became (ἐγένετο), unfolded themselves as life.109
Grace and truth.110—Grace as the complete New Testament grace of redemption, “in the distinct and solemn sense” [Meyer, p. 93], yet according to its historical progress, which began with Abraham’s righteousness of faith, Gen. 15:6.—Truth, as the full truth of life and the full life of truth, the reality and substance of salvation, in contrast with the shadow. [Redeeming grace is opposed to the condemnation, truth to the typical and shadowy character, of the law, of which Bengel says: iram parans et umbram habens.]
Came through Jesus Christ.—In the historical synthesis: JESUS CHRIST, who is here for the first time called by His full [historical] name [in harmony with the instinctively artistic arrangement of the Prologue],111 the development of the grace also culminates in the absolutely efficient grace of redemption, But as Christ the Logos was from eternity, so also was the grace, as the power of the love and righteousness of God over the foreseen guilt of the world. Development is therefore no more to be ascribed to the grace in itself, than to the Logos in Himself; but the eternal grace, with the eternal Logos, entered into historical development towards incarnation, and the consummation: Christ in Jesus, was also the consummation of the grace. The thing here expressed, therefore, is the historical completion and operation of grace, not as a mere work of Christ (Clement of Alex.), or of God (Origen), but rather as the vital action of God in Christ. Dorschäus: “ἐδόθη et ἐγένετο eleganter distinguuntur, Ebr. III., prius enim organicam causam, posterius, principalem notat,” Yet leaving the Father the first principle.
John 1:18. No man hath seen God at any time.—That these words also might have been spoken by John the Baptist, appears from John 3:31, 32; and that they are to be actually attributed to him, from the fact that the Evangelist evidently distinguishes the testimony concerning Christ which, from John 1:15, the Baptist gave in general, and particularly among His disciples, from his next following testimony, John 1:19, before the rulers of the Jews.112 Our verse, however, not only particularizes respecting the ἀλήθεια, John 1:17 (Meyer), but at the same time enlarges the preceding thoughts. Christ is so truly the fulfiller of grace and truth, that He stands in contrast not only to Moses, but also to the prophets and to the Baptist himself (see John 3:31). No man hitherto has seen and revealed God in the sense in which He has seen and revealed Him. Christ, therefore, as fulfilment, is the first veritable revelation.—GOD is emphatically put first. God, in His interior essence, and in His fulness and full glory, no man hitherto hath seen.—No MAN—i.e., not only: not even Moses, but also: none of all the prophets, not even the Baptist.—SEEN (ἐώρακε). Not merely perfecte cognovit (Kuinoel); nor does the term refer to intuition without visions (Meyer); still less to such a seeing on the part of the Logos, as was suspended by His incarnation. For as to Christ’s seeing of God, this was in its nature at once internal, intuitive beholding and external seeing. When the prophets beheld, they saw not with the outward eye; when they saw, they beheld not in the prophetic way; and all that they in their prophetic moments beheld, was piece-work, which they beheld in its symbolical image. In Christ the prophetic vision became one with the ordinary external vision. He saw in all the outward works of God His Spirit, His personal love; and what He saw in the Spirit, He saw not merely as idea, but as actual divine operation. To Him all sensible seeing was permanently a sublime seeing of the majesty of God, a blissful seeing of the love of the Father. And of this vision of Christ, though it was grounded in the eternity of the Logos, Brückner justly observes that it was not interrupted by the incarnation. See John 3. [The same perfect knowledge of God, Christ claims for Himself alone, Matth. 11:27,—a passage which strongly proves the essential harmony of the Christ of the Synoptists with the Christ of John.—P. S.]
The only begotten Son [God]113 who is on (or toward) the bosom of the Father.—With the præ-existence of the Logos before His incarnation, His co-existence during His incarnation, is so simply put, that we can find in these words nothing too high for the theology of the Baptist. [?] If the Baptist elsewhere called Him the One who baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Matth. 3), the Bridegroom of the church (John 3:29), the One who cometh from heaven, in contrast with all prophets, he thereby designated Him also as the only begotten Son. We may then leave it entirely undecided, how far he actually understood the Sonship of Christ from Psalm 110 and other passages, and whether the term μονογενής does not belong rather to our Evangelist.—WHO IS ON THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER [ὁ ὤν εἰς τὸν κὸλπον—not ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ—τοῦπατρός. The preposition εἰς expresses a leaning on, or direction towards, the bosom of the Father, the union of motion and rest in the love of the Only Begotten to the Father.114 Comp. the notes on πρὸς τὸν θεόν, John 1:1. The phrase to be (leaning) on the bosom, like the Latin, in sinu or gremio esse, sedere, and the German, Schoosskind, bosom-child, expresses a relation of the closest intimacy and tenderest affection. Compare what is said of the Wisdom (the Logos) in Prov. 8:30: “Then I was near Him as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Bengel remarks: “The bosom here is divine, paternal, fruitful, mild, sweet, spiritual. Men are said to be in the loins (in lumbis) who are yet to be born; they are in the bosom (in sinu) who have been born. The Son was in the bosom of the Father, because He was never-not born (non natus, ἀγέννητος). The highest unity, and the most intimate knowledge from immediate sight, is here signified.”—P. S.].—Acccording to Hofmann115 and Meyer, the Evangelist is speaking here, and speaking of Christ exalted. From this the εἰς τὸν κόλπον is supposed to explain itself as expressing the exaltation. But this would deprive the clause of all force, and reduce it to a pointless, self-neutralizing announcement. If it means: The only begotten Son, who has now ascended to the bosom of the Father, who once preached to us when He was with us,—the relative clause, besides being unmeaning, would be inaccurate; it should read: Who is again in the bosom of the Father. The passage 1:50 does not prove that during the earthly life of Christ such an εἶναι εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός did not belong to Him.116 The antithesis between His being on earth (John 1:51) and His being in heaven (John 3:13), between His being with the Father (John 8:35), representing the Father (14:9), and being one with the Father (10:30), and His coming forth from the Father (16:28), His being alone with the Father in His passion (16:32), and His being forsaken by God (Matth. 27:46), as well as between His glory (c. 1:14) and His being not yet glorified (7:39),—is to be explained neither by a dualistic separation between the consciousness of the Logos and the consciousness of Jesus, nor by a pantheistic admission of human limitations into the Logos (Thomasius), but by the alternation of Christ’s moods between His self-subsistent relation to God and His self imposed compassionate relation to the world, or between the predominance of self-limiting grace and that of heaven-embracing omnipotence; between the states of humiliation and exaltation in their essential principle and positive spirit. We therefore, with De Wette, take ὤν as a time- less present, and εἰς, after the analogy of the πρὸς τὸν θεόν in John 1:1, as expressing the eternal direction of the Son towards the Father, Lücke rightly refers the being in the bosom of the Father, or for the Father, to the incarnate Logos, as He here appears in the definite character of the only begotten Son. Following the common acceptation, Tholuck considers the figure as borrowed from the place of fellowship at table, at the right hand, John 13:23 [ἦν ἀνακείμενος …. ἐν τῶ κόλπῳ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ].117 Meyer thinks this unsuitable, but refers the expression to the paternal embrace, Luke 16:22 [ἐν τοῖς κόλποις].118 But the common acceptation is supported by the kindred expression of Christ, that He will come with the Father to His own, to make His abode with them, John 14:23; comp. Rev. 3:20; 19:9.
He hath, etc.—Ἐκεῖνος [“an epithet of excellency and of distance,” as Bengel observes] is certainly very emphatic [He, and none else]; yet not as looking to the local superiority of heaven,119 but to the majesty of the Son of God.
Interpreted.—Ἐξηγήσατο is hard to explain. Lücke refers it to the grace and truth which Christ has seen in God; Meyer, to the substance of His view of God; [the E. V. (which supplies: Him), Alford, Owen, Godet, to God Himself in the beginning of the verse.—P. S.] Lücke translates: He hath revealed it; De Wette: He hath proclaimed (declared) it, told it; Meyer: He hath explained, interpreted [viz.: the contents of His intuitions of God]. The New Testament parallels, Luke 24:35; Acts 15:12, 14, etc., admit both renderings, but favor that of De Wette; the passage Lev. 14:57 (LXX.) seems rather to favor Meyer, especially since the word, in classic usage, is applied particularly to the explaining of divine things.120 As we attribute the word to the Baptist, we conceive that it contains an allusion to the obscure beginnings of revelation in the Old Testament. The Baptist has not understood the historical predictions of Jesus, but has no doubt recognized in Christ the key of the ancient time, the perfect interpretation of the rudiments of revelation. We therefore take ἐξηγήσατο absolutely, with respect to the old covenant. In virtue of His seeing of God He has cleared up the law in grace and truth, brought the Old Testament gloriously to light in the New. He has brought and made solution.
[This very verb argues against Dr. Lange’s view of the authorship of John 1:18, which must be as cribed to the Evangelist. The Baptist never came into close personal intimacy with Christ, and died before He had fully revealed the counsel of God and the meaning of the Old Testament. But the Evangelist, in full view of the atoning death and glorious resurrection, could use this term in its most comprehensive sense. With it the Prologue returns to the beginning, and ἐξηγήσατο suggests the best reason why Christ is called the Logos, since He is the Revealer and Interpreter of the hidden being of the Godhead in all that relates to our salvation.—John puts the supreme dignity of Christ, as the eternal Word, the Author of the world, the Giver of life and light, the Fountain of grace and truth, the only and perfect Expounder of God, at the head of his Gospel, because without this dignity Christianity would sink to a position of merely relative superiority above other religions, instead of being the absolute and therefore final religion for all mankind. Luther observes on the Prologue: “These are indeed brief words, but they contain the whole Christian doctrine and life.”—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See the preceding exegesis.
2. The Word was made flesh. He was God, He became flesh. What He was, He was not merely in idea (Hegel), but in personal divine subsistency; what He became (ἐγένετο), He became not merely in appearance (Gnosticism), nor in a partial way (joining Himself to the flesh, or veiling Himself in it, according to Nestorianism, or depriving the flesh of its genuineness, and transforming it into a divine manifestation, according to Eutyches), nor only for a particular need and purpose (Anselm), but perfectly and forever. As Word, He was the full expression of the essence of the Godhead, and therefore was also pure eternal being and personal life; in His coming forth, He entered into veritable, integral human nature in its pure essence. The Word could not be changed by the flesh (contrary to modern attempts to carry change into the essence of God), but the flesh was to be perfected by the Word in His coming in it, carried from conditional potentiality to determinate actuality, made the glorified organ of the eternal Spirit. The prosecution of the doctrine of the Communicatio idiomatum lies not on the side of the divine nature, but on the side of the human.
As regards the doctrine of the incarnation, the Logos, as eternal Logos, became man, without change in Himself; that is to say, the incarnation was not occasioned by the sin of man. The doctrine of the flesh must, according to our passage, be so constructed that the flesh shall be as penetrable (and more) to the Spirit as to sin. The union between the divine and human natures is the great mystery of life, and to think of it rightly we must keep the distinction, that the divine being unfolds itself in a conscious way, like a work of art from a human mind, while the human becoming effects itself in an unconscious way, after the manner of the development of a plant. The pure contra-distinction appears in the work of art, which unfolds itself synthetically, subjecting to its service the material originally belonging to it, and the metamorphosis of the plant, which reveals spirit analytically, without attaining any power over itself. In the life of the natural man (in the pure sense of the term) nature predominates, but the spirit comes more and more to power (1 Cor. 15:45); in the life of the spiritual man, who is from heaven, spirittual consciousness predominates, appropriating, pervading, and ruling the human organism. So the Logos, with the absolute master power of His essence as Logos, entered into human nature. He is not only voluntary in His incarnation in general; He is voluntary in each act of His human nature, i.e., of His human self-limitation for the sake of a higher spontaneity. He is voluntarily born (Luke 1:26 sqq.), voluntarily a child (Luke 2:51), voluntarily sleeps (Mark 4:38), is voluntarily ignorant as to the day of judgment (Mark 13:32, 33), voluntarily suffers (Matth. 26:53), voluntarily dies (John 10:18); but all in order that He may truly live (John 5:17; 9:4), truly unfold Himself (John 10:15, 16; 12:24), truly watch (Matth. 26:38), truly know (Mark 3:12), truly act and triumph (John 12:12), and eternally live (John 17).
In other words, Christ entered into the entire life of man, sin excepted, to raise it to the second, higher life of glorified humanity. This opposition is illustrated by the suspensions of consciousness in our natural life itself; and before we decide respecting the divine mystery of the Logos entering into sleep, we must be clear respecting the human mystery of our own mind’s sleeping. He goes to sleep. Weakness must be transfigured by freedom into rhythm, or determination of power. In the ideal incarnation of Christ, His historical incarnation, His subjection to law, is actually involved.
3. And we beheld His glory. The humiliation of Christ in the form of a servant did not hinder the Evangelist from seeing His glory. The omnipotence which, in the strength of love, puts limits upon itself (Matth. 26:53, 54), is not entered into an absolute humiliation, but into a humiliation to our human vision, in order to reveal Himself in a higher glory. It remained κρύψις, inasmuch as it remained at every point free; it became κένωσις, inasmuch as it made earnest of the self-humiliation. But it did not leave its riches of power and honor behind in heaven; it yielded them up to the world, 2 Cor. 8:9. The world had the honor of judging the universal Judge; it had the power to put omnipotence to death; the wisdom to judge concerning him; the omnipresence of the Roman empire to bring him down to Golgotha, the grave and Sheol; but it thereby only gained the power to judge itself, that it might be the medium of that revelation of omnipotence in the impotence of Christ whereby it was overcome, judged and reconciled. Full faith in the cross must feel that Christ has humbled Himself by surrender of Himself to the world, not in heavenly reservation towards the world, and that here has taken place on the full scale what occurs elsewhere on smaller scales, or here in one central fact what appears otherwise every where in history: God makes Himself weak, and stands, as bound, in His government, over against the freedom of the sinner, to let him feel in the judgment that physical power is nothing of itself, and that truth, righteousness and love are all.
4. Christ is the Only Begotten (μονογενής), inasmuch as He is the one Word, in whom all things were ideally and virtually included, in distinction from the universe in its development; He is the First Born (πρωτότοκος), inasmuch as He has entered, as a principle, into development.
5. And of His fulness. If John could bear witness of the præ-existence of Christ, he could also testify that the prophets had all drank of His fulness, and that their highest, fairest experience had been the experience of grace.
6. Grace for grace. The reciprocal forms of grace in the Old Testament, and in the whole history of the world.
7. The distinction between the Old and New Testaments: (1) Moses, the servant, serving; Christ, the Son and Lord, reigning in the obedience of the Father; (2) Given, laid down; come; (3) Law; grace and truth (see above).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The combined testimony of the Old Testament John and the New to the incarnation of the Son of God: 1) The agreement of the two testimonies; 2) their difference; 3) their copiousness.—The Old Covenant and the New: 1) In contrast: Moses and Christ; 2) In harmony: John and Christ.—The Old Covenant in its relation to the New: 1) The advent of the New (Christ in the Old Testament); 2) the discipline for the New (Moses and the Law); 3) a shadow vanishing before the New (“No man hath seen God at any time”).—Twofold testimony of the Baptist concerning Christ: 1) Concerning the near approach of Christ, whose person he yet knew not; 2) concerning Jesus, that He is the Christ.—The Incarnation for our salvation: A great mystery in its nature (“the Word was made flesh”); 2) a historical fact in its demonstration (“dwelt among us”); 3) an assured sight of blessed eyewitnesses (“we beheld”); 4) a blessed experience of all believers (“full of grace and truth”).—The consummation of revelation: 1) The revealing Word, which had appeared in the Angel of the Lord, now become man; 2) the glory of God above the most holy place, now bodily manifested in the dwellings of men; 3) the entranced vision of divine tokens, now become the blessed seeing of the divine glory; 4) the law transformed into the fulness of grace and truth.—“The Word was made flesh:” a gospel of the highest knowledge; being 1) a view of Christ; 2) the key of philosophy; 3) a prophecy for Christianity.—The announcement: The Word was made flesh: 1) a preaching of repentance (sin therefore does not belong to the flesh, Rom. 8:3); 2) a preaching of faith. Our flesh should be transformed through the Word.—Christ has explained all: 1) The mysteries of the Old Testament; 2) the mysteries of humanity (the Word was made flesh); 3) the mysteries of nature (the Word entered into the process of growth); 4) the mysteries of God.
STARKE: O the mystery! God is become man; the Son of God the Father, a son of man; the Word, a child; the Life, a mortal man; the eternal Light is in the midst of darkness, Rom. 9:5.—How deeply the Most High has abased Himself, and how gloriously the Humbled has exalted us.121—CANSTEIN: Christ has pitched His tent in our nature, that He might make His abode in each one of us, and He will still more gloriously pitch His tabernacle among men, and more peculiarly manifest His glory, Rev. 21:3, 11.—Jesus is ever, in His whole office, full of grace and truth. In His prophetical office He preaches [and actually presents] grace and truth; in His priestly office He procures them; in His kingly office He gives and maintains them.—Seest thou how the Word is made flesh? Give diligence that thou mayest be made like Him according to thy measure in glory.—ZEISIUS: Christ, the one inexhaustible fountain of all graces, from which all believers from the beginning have drawn.—CANSTEIN: The true use of grace received fits us for more grace, so that one grace becomes the reward of another, yet remains grace, Heb. 10:1. Christ is the end of all the Mosaic system of shadows, and in Him we have the substance itself, which the shadows only prefigured, Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17.—Ibid.: Grace and truth belong together. Where grace is, in the forgiveness of sins, there appears also the truth of a holy and upright nature in Christ. And where the latter fails, grace also is wanting.—HEDINGER: Christ a prophet and interpreter of the divine will.
MOSHEIM: The second word: “Truth” is contrasted with ceremonies. Moses set forth only types and shadows; the Saviour has preached [acted in His life] pure truth, the grace and love of God towards men without figure.—VON GERLACH: “He that cometh after me is preferred,” etc. One of the many sacred enigmas in this Gospel, in which the literary sense gives a paradox to incite us to seek a higher.—From AUGUSTINE: The same God who gave the law, has also given grace; but this law He sent by His servant; with the grace He has Himself come down.—HEUBNER: This sentence [“the Word was made flesh”] contains all: (1) The divinity of Christ—He is the Logos; (2) His true humanity—He is made flesh. This dwelling denotes His true human life, and is a pledge of our future dwelling with Him.—There is no stopping, no limit, in grace, but ever new growth in insight, power, joy and peace.—SCHLEIERMACHER: Grace for grace. It is properly equivalent to grace in reward for grace; i.e., for our receiving one grace from Him, another grace is in turn imparted.—Only the One who is from the Father, hath seen the Father (John 6:46); only in Him and through Him can man know God the Father, and draw from His fulness grace and truth.
[SCHAFF: John 1:14. The Incarnation the central truth of Christianity and of all religion.: 1) The end of the reign of separation from God, or the reign of sin and death; 2) the beginning of the reign of union and communion with God, or the reign of righteousness and life.—The Incarnation: 1) Its nature: (a) not a change or conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but an assumption of manhood into abiding union with the second person of the Godhead; the two natures remaining distinct, yet inseparably united for ever; (b) not an assumption of a part of human nature, but of the whole, body, soul and spirit; Christ being perfect God and perfect Man in one person; (c) not an assumption of sin, but only of its consequences, in order to remove and destroy them; sin being no part of human nature as originally constituted, but a corruption of that nature by a foreign poison and an abuse of freedom. Christ was tempted, and suffered and died as we, but He never submitted to temptation; He “knew no sin,” and remained “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” 2. Its effects: (a) the redemption of human nature, or of the whole race, from the curse and dominion of sin and death; (b) the elevation of human nature to abiding union with the Godhead.—The Word became flesh: 1) really and truly (against Gnosticism, docetism, Arianism); 2) totally and perfectly (against Apollinarianism); 3) undividedly and inseparably (against Nestorianism); 4) unmixedly, without confusion or absorption of substance (against Eutychianism and Monophysitism).—The incarnation the end and aim of all religion; for religion (religio, from relegare, to rebind, to reunite) implies: 1) an original union of man and God in the state of innocence; 2) a separation of the two by sin and death; 3) a reconciliation and reunion which was effected by the atonement of Christ.—The mystery of the incarnation reversely repeated in every true regeneration by which man becomes a child of God, a partaker of Christ’s “divine nature,” and a “new creature in Christ Jesus.”]
[BURKITT, John 1:14: Christ’s taking flesh implies that He took not only human nature, but all the weaknesses and infirmities of that nature also (sinful infirmities being excepted), such as hunger, thirst, weariness. As man, Christ has an experimental sense of our infirmities and wants; as God, He can supply them all.]
[M. HENRY (abridged) on John 1:16: As of old, God dwelt in the tabernacle of Moses, by the Shekinah, between the cherubim, so now He dwells in the human nature of Christ, the true Shekinah, the symbol of God’s peculiar presence. And we are to address God through Christ, and from Him receive divine oracles. All believers receive from Christ’s fulness; the greatest saints cannot live without Him, the weakest may live by Him. This excludes boasting and silences perplexing fear.—Grace is the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. God’s good will works the good work, and the good work qualifies for further tokens of His good will.—As the cistern receives from the fulness of the fountain, the branches from the root, and the air from the sun, so we receive grace from the fulness of Christ.—Grace for grace speaks the freeness of grace; the abundance of grace; the promotion of grace by grace; the substitution of the N. T. grace for the O. T. grace; the augmentation and continuance of grace; the conformity of grace in the saints to the grace that is in Christ, the saints being changed into the same heavenly image. (A combination of different interpretations of χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος, which may do for a sermon, but not for exegesis.)]
[AUGUSTINE on John 1:17: The law threatened, not helped; commanded, not healed; showed, not took away, our feebleness. But it made ready for the physician, who was to come with grace and truth.—OLSHAUSEN: The law induces and elicits the consciousness of sin and the need of redemption; it only typifies the reality; the gospel actually communicates reality and power from above.]
[J. C. RYLE, John 1:18: After reading this Prologue, it is impossible to think too highly of Christ, or to give too much honor to Him. He is the meeting point between the Trinity and the sinner’s soul. “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).—QUESNEL calls the Prologue, especially John 1:1, “the gospel of the holy Trinity.” Our knowledge of this mystery of mysteries begins with the knowledge of the Son, who reveals and expounds to us the Father, and who is Himself revealed and applied to us by the Holy Spirit.—P. S.]
John 1:14.—[The parenthesis marked in this verse in the text. rec. appears to be, like the division of chapters and verses, only conventional; though it serves us the good purpose of showing the true reference of “full” (πλήρης) to “the Word” (ὁ λόγος) rather than to “glory” (δόξα), which could not be otherwise indicated in the English version. The clause itself is not properly parenthetical. See the Exegesis.—E. D. Y]
John 1:15. [μαρτνρεῖ, present; the testimony of John goes on. Meyer: “Vergegenwärtigung, als tönte das Zeugniss noch for.”—P. S.]
John 1:15. [The perfect κέκραγε likewise implies continuation of the action in its effect. Meyer: “Das Perf, in gewöhnlicher, classischer, präsentischer Bedeutung.” Alford: “the voice is still sounding.” Κράζω (also used of Christ, 7:28, 37; 12:44) is an onomato-poëtic word, imitating the hoarse cry of the raven, like the German, krüchzen, the English, to croak; here to call aloud with the confidence and solemnity of a herald. Bengel: “Clamat Joh. cum fiducia et gaudio, uti magnum præconem decet.”—P. S. ]
John 1:16, in most codd. [א. B. C* D. L. X], begins withὅτι, instead of καί: For of his fulness, etc. Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf. [Hengstenberg and Godet prefer καί, and conjecture that on was occasioned by the preceding and succeeding ὅτι.—P. S.]
 John 1:18. B. C* L. Codd. Sin. et al. read θεός for νἱός; probably from John 1:1. [So also Meyer.]
[This is the first important difference of reading which occurs in the Gospel of John, and which, on account of its theological character, deserves a fuller notice than it has received from Lange or any other commentator, except Alford, in his sixth edition. The ancient authorities are almost equally divided between θ ε ό ς, the (an) Only-begotten God, and υ ἱ ό ς the Only-begotten Son. A minor difference relates to the article which is omitted by most of the authorities favoring θεός. The reading θεός is supported by the two oldest MSS., the Sinaitic (which has ΘC, the usual abbreviation of θεός, a prima manu, but which, in this very verse, by omitting the words ὁ ὤν, before εἰς τὸν κόλπον betrays the carelessness of the transcriber), and the Vatican (both from the 4th century), also by C.* L.; the Syr. Peshito; Clemens Alex, (once or twice), Excerpta Theodoti (a full quotation), Epiphanius (three times), the Second Synod of Ancyra, Didymus of Alex, (twice). To this must be added that Gregory of Nyssa and other Greek fathers repeatedly call Christ ὁ μονογεὴς θεός, where they do not quote from John 1:18. The reading υἱός is favored by a larger number of manuscripts, A. (Cod. Alex, of the 5th cent.), C. (the Ephræm MS. corrected) 10. Δ and nearly all other MSS.; the Curetonian Syriac Vers., the Lat. Vers. (Itala and Vulgata); Tertullian (Adv. Prax. c. 15), who is older by at least 120 years than the oldest known MSS., Eusebius (in six passages, in one, however, with the significant addition ἢ μονογενὴς θεός after ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός, for which reason Tregelles claims him for θεός, though unjustly; see Abbot, Bibl. Sacra, 1861, p. 859), Athanasius (four times), Chrysostom (eight times), Ambrose, Augustine and other fathers, also the emperor Julian (twice). Hilary, in seven places, supports Filius, but in one (De Trin., xii. 24) he reads “unigenitus Deus in sinu Patris.” The evidence from Irenæus, Origen, Basil and Cyril of Alexandria is contradictory and uncertain. Irenæus, the oldest witness in this case (A. D. 170), quotes the passage three times, twice in favor of Filius (Adv.hær. IV. c. 20, §6), or Filius Dei (III. xi., 6), once in favor of Deus (IV. xx., 11: “unigenitus Deus, qui est in sinu Patris, ipse enarravit”). Origen reads θεός twice (In Joh. Tom. II. c. 29; XXXII. c. 13, Opp. ed. Delarue 4. p. 89 and 438), υὶός once (Contr. Cels. l. II. c. 71, Opp. 1 p. 440, in a full quotation), besides υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ once (In Joh. Tom. vi. 2, Opp. iv. 102, with a different reading, υἱὸς θεός), and Unigenitus Dei Filius once (in Rufinus’ version of Com. on Cant. 1:4 Opp. iii. 91). Cyril of Alexandria, as edited by Aubert, has υἱός three times, θεός four times, and favors the latter in his Commentary, as printed. For a fuller statement of patristic testimonies see an elaborate article of Ezra Abbot (the learned librarian of Harvard University) in the Andover Bibliotheca Sacra for Oct. 1861, pp. 840–872. I have verified several of his quotations. He has corrected many errors of former critics and disproved the assertion of Tregelles that θεός is “the ancient reading of the Fathers generally. ” The authorities for υἱός cover a much larger territory than those for θεός, which seem to be almost confined to Egypt. For internal reasons, θεός, being the more difficult reading, has the preference, according to the usual canon; for μονογενής naturally suggested υἱός, while the designation of Christ as “the only begotten God,” stands isolated in the Bible. On the other hand, a change of the abridged form ΥC to ΘC, which is usual in the uncial MSS., was as easy as the change from the latter to the former. There is moreover an inherent propriety for the use of υἱός in connection with μονογενής and with the mention of the Father; while θεός is hardly in place immediately after θεόν at the beginning of the verse, and introduces a harshness without a parallel in the style of John. The Scripture argument for the Divinity of Christ is strong enough, even from the first verse of the Prologue, without the reading θεός in John 1:18. In view of all the data before us, I see no sufficient reason here to depart from the received text. Tregelles, Westcott and Hort adopt θεός (without the article); Abbot, Alford, Tischend. (ed. 8) retain υἱός. Lachmann likewise reads υἱός, but before the authorities in favor of θεός were fully known. Comp. on this subject, besides Tregelles and Tischend. (ed. 8, Vol. 1, p. 745), especially the article of Ezra Abbot already quoted, and a long note in the 6th ed. of Alford (pp. 689–691).—P. S.]
John 1:18. [On the meaning of ἐξηγήσατο see the last foot note, p. 78. Christ is the true Exegete or Expounder of God.—P. S.]
[So Chrysostom, Theophyl., Grotius, Lampe.]
[So Meyer: “einfach die Rede fortführend,wie alle καί des Prologs.” Here the copula carrie the reader to the highest pinnacle of contemplation. So far we may say with Godet that it is emphatic, but cannot adopt his translation: Yea, indeed.—P. S.]
[Apollinaris had no more right to appeal to this passage for his assertion that Christ had no rational soul, its place being supplied by the divine Logos, than he had a right to draw the same inference from all those passages where man is called flesh. On the Apollinarian Christology comp. my Church History, Vol. III., pp. 708 ff.—P. S.]
[Some of the ablest commentators urge this point. Calvin: “Eo usque se Filius Dei submisit, ut carnem istam tot miseriis obnoxiam susciperet.” Hengstenberg, 1: p. 49, quotes at length from Luther to the same effect, and says: “There is a wealth of comfort in this fact, a balm for the poor, terrified conscience.” Ewald, p. 127, makes these striking remarks: “Of all the words which express human nature, John chooses the meanest and most contemptible, viz.: flesh, which, in the O. T., denotes the lower, perishing, corruptible part of man; but even this the Logos did not despise, and thus He became man in the fullest sense of the term.”—P. S.]
[The same view is ascribed to John by Pfleiderer in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschrift for 1866, p. 260, and by Scholten of Leyden—P. S.]
[Bengel remarks that nowhere in the whole range of literature is the difference of the verbs εἰμί and γίγνομαι more studiously observed than in the Prologue of John.—P. S.]
[Godet, p. 194, puts a strained view of the κένωσις into ἐγένετο, and makes it to mean that the Logos gave up His divine mode of existence.—P. S.]
[Or rather the humanity of Christ. His body (comp. 2:19, 21) was the σκηνή, the tabernacle, the temple of God, in which He revealed His presence, the fulness of His grace and truth. The Apostles and the believers generally (comp. John 1:12. ὅσοι ἔλαβον αὐτόν) are the spectators and worshippers in this sanctuary.—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg: “The indwelling of God among His people, which is implied in the idea of the people of God, was merely a shadow of the temple, and has attained its full truth only in Christ.” Bengel sees in the verb σκηνόω an allusion rather to the transitory abode of Christ on earth: “habitavit, ut in tabernaculo, vere, nec diu, spectaculum sui prœbens.” So also Godet. But this is certainly not applicable to God’s dwelling: with His people on the new earth, Apoc. 21:3. Ewald, on the contrary, urges the idea of a longer abode, which is equally untenable. The Apostle has no reference to time, but to the reality of God’s abode with man in His incarnate Son as compared with the shadowy indwelling in the old tabernacle and temple. This sojourning implies community of life, as to say: We have eaten together, slept under the same tent, travelled together.—P. S.]
[This is the proper reading, while πλήρη, plenam, is conformed to δόξαν, πλήρου, pleni, to αὐτοῦ.— P. S.]
[Winer, Gramm., p. 524: (7th Germ, ed.), likewise regards the comprehensive πλήρης χαρ.κ.ἀλ. as grammatically independent, and refers to Phil. 3:19; Mark 12:40. Hengstenberg views these words as an abridged relative sentence: (who is) full, etc.; comp. Apoc. 1:5. But even this supplement is not necessary. Ewald, repeating the main subject, well translates: Er, voll Gnade und Wahrheit.—P. S.]
[שְׁכִינָה or שְׁכִינָא (from שָׁכַז, to dwell) does not occur in the O. T. Scriptures, and signifies the glorious presence of God with His people. Buxtorf (Lexicon Chald, Talmud, et Rabbin., ed. Bas. 1640, p. 2394) gives the following definition of it: habitatio, cohabitatio. In specie dicitur de præsentia, gloria et majestate divina aut Divinitate, quando dicitur hominibus esse priæsens, aut cum cis conversari, auxilio suo, gratia et salutari præsentia adesse. Communiter explicatur, gloria vel majestas divina, divinitas gloriosa.” In the same sense John uses σκηνή in Apoc. 21:3: ἰδοὺ ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ σκηνώσει μετ̓ αὐτῶν,θεὸς αὐτῶν. (Comp. Text. Note, 1.)—P. S ]
[̔Ως is also here a particle of comparison, not of confirmation (like the falsely so-called Hebrew כְ veritatis); but the comparison here is not between similar things, but between the fact and the idea, the reality and the expectation: as might be expected from one that is the only begotten. Hence the absence of the article before μονογενοῦ. The reality is implied as the basis of the comparison (against Alford).—P. S.]
 [John alone uses μονογενής of Christ, namely, in the five passages above referred to. Besides, the term occurs four times of human sons, three times in Luke (7:12; 8:42; 9:38) and once in the Hebrews (11:17). The term is called figurative, but it is more correct to say that all earthly relationships of fathers and filial affection are a figure and reflection of the eternal Fatherhood of God and the eternal Sonship of Christ. Comp. Eph 3:14,15: “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” I hold with Lange that John learned the word directly from Christ. Lampe and Hengstenberg derive the appellation from Zech. 12:10, where the Messiah is compared to an only begotten (יחיד):
“And they have looked unto me whom they pierced,
And they have mourned over it,
Like a mourning over the only One—(הַיָּחִיד, LXX.: ἀγαπητόν Vulg.: unigenitum).
And they have been in bitterness for it,
Like a bitterness over the first-born—(הַבְּכוֹר, LXX.): ἐπὶ τῷ πρωτοτόκῳ—P. S.]
[The term refers back to τέκνα θεοῦ, John 1:12, and marks the difference between Christ and the believers: 1) He is the only Son in a sense in which there is no other; they are many; 2) He is Son from eternity; they become children in time; 3) He is Son by nature; they are made sons by grace and by adoption; 4) He is of the same essence with the Father; they are of a different substance; in other words, His is a metaphysical, primitive and co-essential, theirs only an ethical and derived, sonship. The idea of generation, as Meyer correctly remarks, is implied in the very term μονογενής. Origen explains μονογενής=ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός. This leads logically to the Nicene dogma of the homoousia and the eternal generation, i.e., the eternal communion of love between the Father and the Son. (Comp. John 17:24) Luther says: God has many children, but only one only begotten Son, through whom all things and all other children were made.—P. S.]
[But defended by Hengstenberg, who sees here a new proof for the identity of Christ with the revealed Jehovah of the O. T. Grace and truth appear here as personal attributes, as in Ex. 34:6; while in John 1:17, as in Mich. 7:20, they appear as gifts which Christ bestows.—P. S.]
[“Der hinter mir her Kommende ist mir zuvwgekom-men.” Meyer, like Origen, takes both adverbs in a temporal (or rather local sense; time being represented here in the form of space). So does Hengstenberg: Der nach mir kommt ist mir vorangegangen. Godet: Celui qui vient après moi, m’a precèdè. The objection to this interpretation is that it makes ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἡν a mere repetition. Hence most commentators (Chrys., Lücke, Thol., Olsh., De Wette, Alf.) refer ὀπίσω to time, and ἔμπροσθεν to rank. So also the E. V: “He that cometh after me is preferred (i.e., is advanced) before me.” John’s preparatory office decreased before the rising glory of the Messiah. This interpretation saves the distinction of ἐγένετο, has become, and ἧν, was, so carefully observed throughout the Prologue; ἐγένετο must, of course, not be referred to the divine dignity of the Logos, which is eternal, but to the divine-human dignity of the incarnate Christ, which was acquired. Dr. Lange ingeniously combines the reference to time and that to rank in ἔμπροσθεν and πρῶτος.—P. S.]
[John probably chose πρῶτος instead of πρότερος, to raise Christ above all comparison. He is absolutely the first, the Alpha and Omega. Hengstenberg, too, finds in the word the idea of absolute priority, which would have been weakened by the use of the comparative.—P. S.]
[Origen (In Evang. Joh., Tom. VI. 2, Vol. IV., p. 102) blames Heracleon, a Gnostic commentator on John, from the middle of the second century, for terminating the testimony of the Baptist at the end of John 1:17, and makes it continue to the end of John 1:18.—P. S.]
[I prefer, with Meyer, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Alford, Godet, to ascribe this and the following verses to the Evangelist, on account of their specific Christian character, and on account of we all (comp. John 1:14, ἐθεασάμεθα). The Baptist, after all, belonged to the O. T. dispensation, though standing at the very threshold of the New, as Moses died of the kisses of Jehovah outside, yet in sight of, the holy land. John speaks in the name of the Apostles, John 1:14, in the name of all believers, John 1:16. Hence πάντες, which already pre-supposes the existence of the Christian Church.—P. S.]
[The Gnostic pleroma is the ideal world, containing all the æons, i.e., the divine powers and attributes, such as mind, reason, wisdom, truth, life, which gradually emanate from it in a certain order (according to Valentine, in pairs with sexual polarity, the νοῦς and ἀλήθεια, the λόγος and ζωή, the ἄνθρωπος and ἐκκλησία). Christ is only one of these æons. But according to John, Christ is the whole pleroma from which flow all the benefits of salvation and gifts of grace. Irenæus, Adv. Hær. III. 11, 1, argues from the Prologue of John against the Gnostic idea of the pleroma.—P. S.]
[ Und zwar; nämlich, et même. In this epexegetical sense καί is taken by Winer, Gram. p. 407, Meyer and Alford. Comp. Gal. 6:16; Eph. 6:18; Heb. 11: 17. But Lange’s interpretation makes καί more forcible. It often means also, even, (eben, ja). See Winer, p 408. Similarly Bengel: omne quod ex ejus plenitudine accipiendum erat, ET (SPECIATIM) gratiam pro gratia.—P. S.]
[Chrysostom supports this view by John 1:17, where the law of Moses is contrasted with the grace of Christ; but for this very reason the law cannot be another kind of grace, and is never so called. Cyril and Euthymius Zigabenus likewise explain: τὴν καινὴν διαθήκην ἀντὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς.—P. S.]
[Or rather fides, and vita æterna, as the free reward of faith. “Quia ipsa fides gratia est, says Augustine, et vita æterna gratia est pro gratia.” Tract. III. in Joh., Tom. III. Pars. II. p. 308. The similar interpretation of St Bernard: gratia gloriæ pro gratia militiæ, is equally true and equally insufficient. The glory of the heavenly state is only the last link in this chain of divine grace.—P. S.]
[This interpretation is also adopted by Lücke, Thol., Olsh., Mey., Hengstenb., Alf., Wordsw., and falls in most naturally with the idea of πλήρωμα, nor is it inconsistent with the fundamental meaning of ἀντί (grace exchanging with grace). It is an unbroken stream of grace from justification through the various stages of sanctification to life everlasting, every new wave taking the place of and overwhelming, though not superseding or destroying, the other. Ewald refers to the multiplicity of spiritual gifts (χαρίσματα) in the Apostolic Church, 1 Cor. 12–14, but the ordinary graces and blessings must be included. ‘Αντί does not always mean an exchange that supersedes one thing, but, like παρά and ἐπί, a. succession. Bengel refers for a similar use of ἀντί to Æschylus, Agam., and Chrysostom, De sacerd. VI. 13. Other examples are added by Lücke, Meyer and Alford. John might have said χάριν ἐπὶ χάριτι or χ. ἐ π ὶ χάριν (as Phil. 2:27) instead of ἀ ν τ ί, but it would not have expressed so strongly the overwhelming flow of grace upon grace. For the idea comp. Rom. 5:1 ff.; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9.—P. S.]
[Bengel remarks here that no philosopher so accurately employs words and observes their distinctions as John, especially in this chapter, and explains the difference between ἐδόθη and ἐγένετο: “Mosis non sua est lex, Christi sua est gratia et Veritas.” Alford, after De Wette, finds the reason of the contrast in the fact that the law as a positive enactment was narrow and circumscribed, and hence ἐδόθη, while grace is unlimited. But besides the idea of positive enactment, ἐδόθη implies also the divine origin and solemn promulgation of the law, while ἐγένετο indicates the free, spontaneous and abiding nature of grace. Moses may disappear, for the law was only given through him, but Christ with His grace abides forever. The law commands, the gospel gives; the law condemns, grace justifies; the law kills, grace makes alive. The highest mission of the law is to awaken a sense of sin and guilt, the need of redemption, and thus to lead to Christ.—P. S.]
[The conjunction καί before grace, as Bengel remarks, is here elegantly omitted; for a “but” as well as an “and” was in place here.—P. S.]
[Comp. here the remarks of Meyer and Godet. The latter says: “Cest áu ce moment du prologue que l' apôtre prononce pour la première fois le grand nom attendu depuis si long temps, Jesus-Christ. A mesure, que la divine kistoire des misericordes de la Parole envers l' humanité se déroule à ses regards, ce spectacle lui inspire des termes toujours plus concrets, plus humains.” First the Word, then Life and Light, then the Only Begotten of the Father, now Jesus Christ, who embraces all that was. said of Him before.—P. S.]
[I dissent from this view. See foot notes on page 76.—P. S.]
[On this remarkable difference of reading: ὁ μονογενὴς υ ἱ ό ς, generally abbreviated in ancient MSS. YC and (b) (ὁ) μονογενὴς θ ε ό ς or ΘC, see TEXTUAL NOTES (5).—P. S.]
[Winer, Gramm, p. 387 (7th ed.): an den Busen (angelehnt), gegen den Busen hin. Ewald translates am Schoosse.—P. S.]
[Schriftbeweis, Vol. I., p. 120, sec. ed,: der in den Schooss des Vaters hingegangen. But Meyer gave this explanation before Hofmann, who also refers to him.—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg, Brückner, Godet, Philippi likewise oppose Meyer’s ungrammatical reference of the present participle ὤν to the future state of exaltation. The intimate communion between the Son and the Father was not interrupted or suspended by the incarnation. Christ, while on earth, was at the game time in heaven (3:13), not simply de jure (as Meyer, in the fifth edition, p. 95, explains it), but de facto in a moss real, though mysterious sense. (Wordsworth is altogether too fanciful if he finds in ὁ ὤν an allusion to the peculiar name of Jehovah, the Being, the ever Existing One.)—P. S.]
[So also Winer, Lùcke, Gess, Ewald, Godet, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson.—P. S.]
[So also Robinson (Lex. sub κόλπος), Owen (from the idea of embracing a friend and straining him to the bosom) and Hengstenberg, who besides refers to similar expressions, Deut. 13:7; 28:36; Mich. 7:5; Isaiah 40:11.—P. S.]
[As Meyer explains it in accordance with his reference of the passage to the state of exaltation in heaven.—P. S.]
[The words ἐξηγέομαι (properly to lead out, either in the sense of taking the lead, or of bringing out, explaining the hidden sense), ἐξήγησις, ἐξηγητής, are technical terms used by the classic writers of the interpretation of divine oracles, visions, mysteries, prodigies, laws and ceremonies, and hence properly applied by Christian writers to the exposition of the holy Scriptures. See the passages collected by Wetstein, p. 841, and the references in Meyer, p. 96. Lampe, who strictly adheres to this technical sense, like Meyer, supplies no object, and takes ἐξηγήσατο=ἐξηγητής ἐστιν, interpret est, as regnat without the object is equivalent to rex est, and docet to doctor est. The emphasis certainly lies on the verb rather than the object. He has explained, truly and fully, in His words and in His life; His instruction alone merits the name of an explanation; He is the Expounder of God and divine things.—P. S.]
 [Richard Crashaw (1646):
“Welcome to our wondering sight,
Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter! day in night!
Heaven in earth! and God in man!
Great Little One, whose glorious birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.”
Luther, in his Christmas hymn: “Gelobet seist Du, Jesu Christ,” commemorates the sublime contrasts of the transcending mystery of the incarnation.—P. S.]
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?II
THE GOSPEL OF THE HISTORICAL MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST, ON HIS SELF-REVELATION AND HIS VICTORY IN CONFLICT WITH THE DARKNESS OF THE WORLD
The Reception which Christ, the Light of the World, finds in His Life of Love among the men akin to the Light, the Elect
JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND HIS PUBLIC AND REPEATED TESTIMONY CONCERNING CHRIST. JESUS ACCREDITED AS THE CHRIST, ATTESTED THE SON OF GOD, THE ETERNAL LORD, AND THE LAMB OF GOD.
(JOHN 1:19–28: Pericope for the 4th Sunday in Advent.)
(1) TESTIMONY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST BEFORE THE RULERS OF THE JEWS. JESUS THE MESSIAH COMING AFTER THE BAPTIST, THE ETERNAL PRE-HISTORICAL AND SUPER-HISTORICAL LORD BEFORE HIM
19And this is the record [testimony] of John, when the Jews sent [to him]122 priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, Who art thou? 20And he confessed, and denied not; but [and he] confessed, I am not [Not I am]123 the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias [Elijah]? And he saith, I am not. Art 22thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then124 [in official demand] said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said [Isaiah] the prophet Esaias [ch. 40:3]. 24And they125 which were sent were of the Pharisees [And they had been sent by the Pharisees]. 25And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that [the] Christ, nor Elias [Elijah], neither126 that [the] prophet? 26John answered them, saying, I baptize with [in] water; but there standeth one among you [in the midst of you there standeth one], whom ye know not: 27he it is127 [This is he] who coming after me, is preferred [taketh place, or, hath come to be] before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28These things were done in Bethabara [Bethany]128 beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
(2) TESTIMONY OF THE BAPTIST BEFORE HIS DISCIPLINES, THE HISTORICAL LAMB OF GOD; UPON HIM THE DOVE
29The next day John [he]129 seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away [taketh away by bearing, or, beareth away]130 the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which [who] is preferred [taketh place, or, hath come to be] before me; for he was before me. 31And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come 32[for this cause came I] baptizing with [in] water.131 And John bare record [witness], saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like132 a dove, and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with [in] water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining [abiding] on him, the same is he which [who] baptizeth with [in] the Holy Ghost [Spirit]. 34And I saw [have seen, ἑὠραχα,] and bare record [have borne witness, μεμαρτύρηχα] that this is the Son of God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[Now follows the historical narrative. The testimony of John the Baptist, and the call of the first disciples form the historical introduction or the portico of the public life of Christ. John omits the birth, early history and discourses of the Baptist, as being sufficiently known from the Synoptists, and confines himself to his testimony after the baptism (alluded to as a past fact in John 1:33, 34) and the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, when He stood already in the midst of the Jews (John 1:26). The testimony is threefold, 1) before the deputies of the Sanhedrin from Jerusalem (19–28); 3) a day afterwards, before a larger public and His disciples, as it would seem (29–34); 3) again a day afterwards, before two of His disciples, who now joined Jesus (35–37).—The examination of John the Baptist by the official messengers of the Sanhedrin, who had the supervision of the public teaching of religion among the Jews (Matth. 21:23), displays the prevalence and confusion of the Messianic expectations, and the hostility of the leaders of the hierarchy to the approaching new dispensation. The five questions of the priests represent a descending climax (the Messiah; Elijah; an anonymous prophet; why baptizest thou?); the short, laconic answers of the Baptist, in striking contrast, are rising from negation to affirmation, and turn the attention away from himself and towards Christ.—P. S.]
John 1:19. And this is.—The gospel history itself begins with the testimony of John the Baptist. Comp. Matth. 3; Mark 1; Luke 3. The question is whether the same testimony is meant here, as in John 1:15. Origen supposed this to be another testimony; Meyer thinks it the same. Evidently in John 1:15 a general testimony, with μαρτυρεῖ, is distinguished from a special, καὶ κέκραγε. This most public testimony concerning Jesus before the rulers is undoubtedly meant here. It is a definite pointing of the rulers of the Jews to the person of the Messiah, not related so distinctly by the Synoptists, but of the highest importance for the history of the temptation. This: αὕτη, the following [it is the predicate, ἡ μαρτυρία the subject. A verbal testimony is meant. Record now refers to written evidence.—P. S.]. "Οτε points also to a particular event, which took place at a particular time. That this event must have followed the baptism of Jesus is clear;133 because, according to John 1:31–33, it was that which gave the Baptist himself his first certainty respecting the person of Jesus; and this certainty he expresses here, John 1:26, 27. Likewise John 1:29. Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others, place the baptism between the two testimonies, John 1:19 and John 1:29; Ewald, between John 1:31 and John 1:32; all against the testimony of the section before us. That John knew of the existence of the Messiah earlier, and with human reverence presumed that he found Him in the person of Jesus, Matth. 3:14, is not inconsistent with his still needing a divine attestation. As regards the history of the temptation, its termination coincides with the present testimony; for Jesus, the next day, comes again behind the Baptist, and soon afterwards (not forty days after) returns to Galilee.
When the Jews from Jerusalem.—[The Synoptists, who wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem, seldom use the term Jews as distinct from Christians (Matthew five times, Mark seven times, Luke five times); John, who wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem and after the final separation of the Synagogue from the Christian church, uses it very often (over seventy times in the Gospel and twice in the Apoc.).—P. S.] Ἰουδαῖοι, probably as yet primarily in the neutral sense, though already conceived as about to become a hostile body, on the way to apostasy from true Judaism in opposition to the Messiah. The conception is the historical one of the Jews as the theocratic people, as in John 2:13; 3:1; 5:1, then branching into a friendly one (John 4:22; 18:33) and a hostile (John 5:10; 7:1; 8:31; 10:24, etc.), which in the sequel prevails. In the latter sense the term therefore denotes the Jews as Judaists. Meyer therefore is not perfectly accurate when he says: “John, in his writing, lets the Jews, as the old communion, from which the Christian has already entirely withdrawn, appear steadily in a hostile position to the Lord and His work, the ancient theocratic people as an opposition party to the church of God and its Head.” The Jews do certainly appear in this character predominantly in John, and with good reason Meyer observes that this can furnish no argument, against the genuineness of His Gospel (against Fischer and Hilgenfeld). The expression, The Jews, as he also remarks, varies according to the context; here it is the Jews from Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin.
Priests and Levites.—[The two classes of persons employed about the temple service, Josh. 3:3. In the wider sense, Levites designates the descendants of Levi; in a narrower sense, as here, the subordinate officers of the Jewish hierarchy, as distinct from the priests of the family of Aaron.—P. S.] The Levites as an attendant body were designed, under certain circumstances, to arrest the Baptist, and at any rate to add state as a convoy of police, or to enhance the official dignity of the priests. It is a touch of historical accuracy.
Who art thou?—i.e., in thy official, theocratic character. That they supposed He might lay claim to the Messiahship, is evident from the answer of John. They had official right, according to Deut. 18:21, to inquire into his character and his credentials as a prophet. They had occasion to do so in his baptism (John 1:25), not only because the baptism connected itself with the kingdom of Messiah (Ezek. 36:25; 37:23; Zech. 13:1), but also because the baptism was a declaration concerning the whole congregation of the people, that it was unclean (Hag. 2:14), which could easily offend the pride of the Pharisees. Besides, the people were already inclined to take him for the Messiah, Luke 3:15. According to John 1:24, the delegates were of the party of the Pharisees. These had probably moved in the Sanhedrin, that the deputation be sent, because the Messianic question was of much more importance to them than to the Sadducees, and because they, with their sensuous Messianic hopes, took the matter of the credentials of the Messiah more strictly in their more external sense.
John 1:20. And he confessed, and denied not.—Should this mean only; He denied not his own real character? he confessed in this matter the truth? The double expression, positive and negative, would be rather strong for this. The question of the Sanhedrin set before him the temptation to declare himself the Christ. But in so doing he would have denied the Christ whom he already knew, and denied his own better, prophetic knowledge. We suppose, therefore, that his confessing and not denying in regard to himself imply at the same time his confessing and not denying in regard to Christ. This is indicated also by the emphatic order of the words: ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμί, which is supported by the best authorities as against οὐκ εἰμὶ ἑγώ. Meyer: “I for my part,” implying that he knows another, who is the Messiah.—The reserve of the Baptist towards the deputation shows the mighty prophet, who understood them. He leaves each successive development of his deposition to be drawn from him, till the moment for his testimony arrives. This mysterious bearing is no doubt intended also to humble and press the self-conceited spirit.
John 1:21. What then? Art thou Elijah?—The question is a half inference. He who comes with such pretensions must be, if not the Messiah Himself, at least the Elijah who precedes Him. They refer to the Messianic prophecy, Mal. 4:5. The pure sense of this prophecy, that an ideal Elijah should precede the Messiah, which John actually was (Luke 1:17; Matth. 11:14; 17:10), had early become corrupted among the Jews, as is shown by the very translation of the passage in the Septuagint. Ἠλίαν τὸνθεσβίτην(Elijah the Tishbite).134 Thus these messengers understood the word entirely in a superstitious sense, taking it literally for the actual Elijah. Hence John answers categorically: I am not [not the Tishbite, whom you mean.]135 But he adds no explanation; for this would have involved him in an exegetical controversy, and turned him from his main object, which was to testify of Christ.
Art thou the prophet?—The next question in the spirit of their theology; hence occurring immediately. The prophet, with the article; the well-known prophet; a personage in their Messianic theology presumed to be familiar. According to Chrysostom [Bengel], Lücke, Bleek, Meyer, [Alford], the prophet meant would be the one spoken of in Deut. 18:15;136 but this we must certainly, with Hengstenberg and Tholuck, deny, for this prophecy was at least in Acts 3:22; 7:37 referred to the Messiah. It is a question whether the passages, John 6:14; 7:40, refer to the passage in Deuteronomy. From Matth. 16:14 it is sufficiently evident that an expectation of Jeremiah137 or some one of the prophets as the forerunner of the Messiah was cherished. Probably this expectation was connected with the doctrine of the woes of the Messiah, that is, with what was known of the suffering Messiah, The wailing Jeremiah, or one of the later prophets of affliction, seemed better fitted for the fore-runner of the suffering Messiah, than the stern, judicial Elijah. The gradual shaping of this expectation of Jeremiah as a guardian angel in the theocratic day of suffering, appears in 2 Macc. 2:7; 15:13. This particular prophet, therefore, is meant, who should complete the forerunning office of Elijah, and probably precede him. This expectation also was here literally and superstitiously taken. Hence again: No!—the short answer οὔ Luthardt quite falsely refers to the prophets in the second part of Isaiah (c. 40.). Against this see Meyer [p. 101, note].
John 1:22. Then said they unto him, Who art thou?—Now they come out with the categorical official demand of an explanation. Yet we must notice that they do not yet say: Thou art unauthorized. They distinguish the prophetic appearance of the Baptist in general from his baptism. They wished primarily that he should explain himself concerning his prophetic mission. [Alford: “They ever ask about his person: he ever refers them to his office. He is no one—a voice merely: it is the work of God, the testimony to Christ, which is every thing. So the formalist ever in the church asks, Who is he? while the witness for Christ only exalts, only cares for Christ’s work.”—P. S.]
John 1:23. I am the voice of one crying.—Is. 40:3. As Christ, when He calls Himself the Son of Man, applied to Himself as Messiah a passage of prophecy which had been unnoticed and obscured by the Jewish Messianic theology, Dan. 7:13, so did the Baptist when he called himself the voice of one crying in the wilderness. By this the same subject was meant, as by the Elijah of Malachi, but the passage had not been corrupted by a carnal interpretation, and was perfectly fitted to denote the unassuming spirit of the Baptist, who would be wholly absorbed in his mission to be a herald of the coming Messiah. The quotation is after the Septuagint, except εὐθύνατε instead of ἐτοιμάσατε. It appears from this passage that the Synoptists (Matth. 3:3), following John’s own declaration respecting himself, have applied that passage of the prophet in its direct intent to him.
John 1:24. Were of the Pharisees.—This conveys primarily the explanation that they did not understand a Scripture for which they had no distinct exegetical tradition; at least they knew not how to apply the passage cited to John. Then, that they were disposed to allow the right to baptize only to one of the three persons named: the Messiah Himself and His two fore-runners. Baptism was the symbol of the purification which should precede the Messianic kingdom. The tract Kiddushin says (see Tholuck): “Elijah comes, and will declare clean and unclean.”
John 1:26. I baptize in water.—In this answer Heracleon, and Lücke and De Wette after him, have missed the striking point. According to Meyer, John now explains himself more particularly respecting what he has said. To the question: Why baptizest thou? he answers: I baptize only with water; the baptism of the spirit is reserved to the Messiah. To the reminder: Thou art not the Messiah, etc., he answers: The Messiah is already in the midst of you, therefore is this baptism needful. The matter resolves itself simply into John’s declaration: The Messiah is the proper Baptist of the prophets; and his implied assertion: Your interpretation of Ezek. 36:25 is false. But because this true Baptist is here, I with my water-baptism prepare for His baptizing with the Spirit. It is at the same time implied that it is rather the Messiah who accredits him, than he the Messiah. In water. See Matth. 3:11.
But there standeth one among you.—If the ἔαὐτός ἐστιν and the ὅς ̓́μπροσθέν μου γέγονεν be omitted, as they are in Codd. B. C. L., the clause would proceed: One whom ye know not, cometh after me, etc. We retain these words, which are doubted by Tholuck and Meyer; because John in John 1:15 has noted this formula as the most public testimony of the Baptist.—Whom ye know not.—A reproof: Ye ought to have known him already: a hint: Ye must now learn to know him. The words: Standeth, or hath come, among you can hardly refer only to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and His obscurity in Nazareth. They look to the baptism of Christ as the beginning of His public appearance. The objections of Baur and Baümlein to this are groundless.
John 1:27. He it is, who coming after me [behind me].—See John 1:15.—Whose shoe’s string, etc. [In the East, people wore only sandals, or the soles of a shoe, bound fast to the foot by strings]. See Matth. 3:11. That is: Whom I am not worthy to serve as a slave. It is a parallel, or a concrete form, of the expression, John 1:15: on ὅτι πρῶτός μον ἦν.
John 1:28. In Bethabara beyond Jordan.—Rather Bethany, see the Textual Notes. But not the Bethany on the Mount of Olives, John 11:18. The place seems to have been a ford on the further side of the Jordan in Peræa, not otherwise known under this name of Bethany. Origen explored that region, and found a Bethabara (see Judges 7:24) about opposite Jericho. The conjecture of Possinus and Hug, that the name בֵּית אֲנִיָה, domus navis, expresses the same as בֵּית עֲבָרָה, domus transitus (ford-house), is not invalidated by the suggestion (of Meyer) that this etymology does not suit Bethany on the Mount of Olives; for the name of Bethany might have arisen in different ways. Bolten and Paulus, by a period after ἐγένετο, made out the Bethany on the Mount of Olives; Kuinoel made the “beyond,” this side; Baur invented the fiction that the author would make Jesus begin, as well as finish His ministry in Bethany.—The statement that the deputation received their answer from the Baptist at Bethany, beyond Jordan, leads to the inference that on their return through the wilderness they already came unintentionally into the neighborhood of Jesus at Jericho.
John 1:29. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him.—The Evangelist finds the days now following so important that he enumerates them in order; the first, John 1:29; the second, John 1:35; the third, John 1:43. Hereupon Luthardt observes, p. 76: The Evangelist begins and closes with a week; on the third day those disciples come to him, on the fourth Simon, and on the fifth Philip and Nathanael join the others, on the sixth Jesus is journeying with His disciples, on the seventh in Cana. If this exact reckoning of a week were designed (so that Jesus, according to Luthardt, would, as it were, keep a Sabbath in Cana), the fourth day would have to be made distinct, and the third (John 2) marked as the seventh. It is much more natural to let the three days come so that the calling of Peter falls late in the evening of the day of John 1:35. The third day (John 2:1) is, according to Origen, Baur and Meyer, the third from the day of John 1:43. Baur gives as a reason for this (which is a change from a former view of his) a silly fancy, that the six days should correspond to the six water-pots in John 2. Meyer better: If it were the third day from that of John 1:35, or the day following that of John 1:43, we should have τῇ ἐπαύριον again. Against his longer reckoning (John 2:1: the third day from that of 1:43) we must, however, observe that the proper starting-point of the reckoning thus far is still the day of the accrediting of Jesus as the Messiah on the part of John. It is important to the Evangelist to set forth what a life from day to day was then begun. On the first day, the pointing of the disciples to Jesus; on the next, three or four disciples gained; on the clay after, two more. If now we suppose that the third day is the same with the ἐπαύριον of John 1:43, or is reckoned from the accrediting of Jesus, John 1:19, this explains the fact that the marriage-feast had already continued nearly three days when Jesus arrived, and that the wine was exhausted. The line between the day in the wilderness and the day of John 1:43 still remains somewhat uncertain.—Our first date, John 1:29, denotes the day after that declaration of the Baptist to the deputation from Jerusalem, not one of the days following. Jesus returns from the temptation. The reason why He returns to John is not given; yet it is at hand. John must know that Jesus intended to disappoint the chiliastic Messianic hopes of the Jews. He must also bear witness of the course which Jesus intended to take; he must be guarded to the utmost against the vexation of imagining that Jesus would adopt a different course from what he might have expected in the Messiah accredited by him. And then this also was what led to John’s transfer of his disciples to the discipleship of Jesus, though the outward attachment of the Baptist himself to Jesus was not to be expected.
Behold the Lamb of God.—The Baptist knew from three sources the appointment of the Messiah to suffering: (1) The experience of suffering by the pious, especially the prophets, as well as the import of the sacrificial types and the prophecies of the suffering Messiah. (2) The baptism of Christ, which indicated to him that Christ must bow under the servant-form of sinners, or which was an omen of His suffering, see Matth. 3:14. (3) A decisive point, which has not been noticed: The Baptist has directed the deputation from Jerusalem to the Messiah, who was in the vicinity. He may therefore suppose that they have come to know him, And now he sees Christ coming back from the wilderness, alone, in earnest, solemn mood, with the expression of separation from the world. He could not have been a man of the Spirit, without having perceived in the Spirit that an adversity, or a sacrificial suffering of premonitory conflict, had taken place. This accounts also for his first exclamation being: Behold the Lamb of God!—and the supposition that the Evangelist has put his own knowledge into the mouth of the Baptist (Strauss, Weisse), loses all support. That the subsequent human wavering of the Baptist, Matth. 11:3, is not inconsistent with his present divine enlightenment and inspiration, needs no explanation; the opposition between the divine and human elements is nowhere entirely transcended in the Old Testament prophets. And Matth. 11:3 itself proves that John had till then depended with assurance upon Christ, and even then could not give Him up under temptation. The Baptist, says Meyer in explanation, had not a sudden flash of natural light, or a rising conviction, but a revelation. But sudden flashes produced by rising convictions can hardly be separated from revelations, unless we conceive the latter as immediate, magical effects. With a natural light we have nothing to do.
Now comes the question: What is meant by the Lamb of God? By the article it is designated as appointed, by the genitive as belonging to God, appointed for Him for a sacrifice. Is. 53.; Rev. 5:6; 13:8. The phrase implies also, selected by God. The question arises, however, whether the expression is to be referred to the paschal lamb (with Grotius, Lampe, Hofmann, Luthardt [Bengel, Olshausen, Hengstenberg], and others), to the sin-offering (with Baumgarten-Crusius and Meyer), or to the prophetic passage, Is. 53:7 (with Chrysostom) [Origen, Cyril, Lücke, Thol., De Wette, Brückner, Meyer (5th ed.), Ewald]. For it is clear that we are not, with Herder, to suppose it a mere figure of a religiously devoted servant of God. We are evidently directed primarily to that passage of Is. 53; for John had taken the description of his own mission from the second part of Isaiah, and the Messianic import of the passage named cannot be evaded (see Lücke, I. p. 408 sqq.; Tholuck, p. 90; my Leben Jesu, II. p. 466), and the particular features suit. [To the same chapter in Isaiah reference is had Matth. 8:17; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 2:22–25.—P. S.] The Septuagint reads ἀμνός for the Hebrew רָחֵל, John 1:7. It is said in John 1:10, He made “His soul an offering for sin,” אָשָׁם. It is said of Him in John 1:4: “He hath borne (נָשָׂא, Sept. φέρει) our griefs.” Specially important is John 1:11: “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear (יִסְבֹּל) their iniquities.” And the bearing, in connection with the idea of the offering for sin and the vicarious expiation, involves the idea of taking away, carrying off; it is therefore of no account that the Baptist says αἴρειν, and the Septuagint φέρειν (see 1 John 3:5), for it is the way of the Seventy to express the bearing of sin by φέρειν.138 The interpretations: put away (Kuinoel), support (Gabler), abstractly considered, deviate from the notion of atonement, though they are included in the concrete term αἴρειν: suffer—endure—piacularly bear —take away and blot out. Latterly the term has been emptied of its element of expiation again by Hofmann and Luthardt, and referred to the then beginning suffering of Christ through the sins of men in His human weakness, without reference to His death (sea against this Meyer and Tholuck). Of course, on the other hand, the word of the Baptist is not to be referred, as a mature dogmatic perception, to the future death of Christ. Yet a germ-perception of the atoning virtue of the holy suffering even the ancient prophets had, Is. 53. And how powerfully the thought had seized the Baptist, appears from his naming sin (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν) in the singular,139 as the burden which Christ has to bear, and besides as the sin of the world.—But if the prophet, Is. 53., evidently himself went back to the notion of the expiatory sacrifice, then the Baptist also did the same. Lambs were by preference taken for the sin-offering, Lev. 5:6; see Tholuck. Christ, as the Lamb appointed by God, is a sin-offering, which atones for the guilt of the world. The fact that men have made Him, over and above this, even a curse-bearer, and that under the direction of God, is not included in the idea before us, yet neither is it excluded by it. But as regards the further step backward, to the paschal lamb, which Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and others combined with the reference to Is. 53., it is contested by Tholuck and Meyer. Justly, so far as the paschal lamb in the stricter sense served as a meal of thank-offering; but unjustly, so far as the paschal lamb in the wider sense formed the root of the whole system of sacrifice, and pointed by the blood on the door-posts to the atoning offering, nay, even ran back to the curse-offering, the extermination of the Egyptian first-born.—Mark further the rapt manner in which the Baptist utters the great word: Behold the Lamb of God! The sequel shows that he speaks thus to his disciples.140
John 1:30. This is he of whom I said.—Meyer properly observes: These words refer not to the testimony in John 1:26, 27, but to all that John had previously said of the coming Messiah. John had described the divine mark of the Messiah, before he knew the particular person; now he joyfully shows that he rightly described Him, and said none too much.
John 1:31. And I knew him not.—(Not: Even I knew him not.)141—That is, I did not with divine certainty, by revelation, know Him;—though in his human feeling he reverenced Him in unrestrained foreboding (against Lücke, Ewald). Hence no contradiction to Matthew (against Strauss, Baur). But now he shows how he came to this knowledge. As he was to introduce the Messiah in official authentication, he must have a token from above. This was given him.
But that he should be made manifest.—The ultimate and highest object of his baptism did not exclude the tributary purposes of preparing a people for the Lord. According to the Jewish tradition in Justin (Dial, cum Tryph., ch. viii.) the Messiah was to remain unknown [ἄγνωστος] till Elijah should anoint Him, and thereby make Him known to all [φανερόν πᾶσι ποιήσῃ].—Baptizing in water [ἐν (τῷ) ὕδατι].—“An humble description of himself in comparison with Him who baptizes with the Spirit.” Meyer.
John 1:32. And John bare witness, saying.—We might expect the mark of the Messiah given to John to come before his testimony, i.e., John 1:33 before John 1:32. Hence Lücke and others read this verse as a parenthesis. But this exhibition of the testimony of John is in two parts. The Evangelist distinguishes the first exclamation of John respecting Christ as the Lamb of God from the then following testimony of the way in which he came to know Him. Thus we have to make a new paragraph at John 1:32. John bears witness of the way in which he came to know Jesus in His baptism as the Messiah.
I saw the Spirit descending.—Here we must (1) assert against Baur, that the Baptist is speaking of the actual event of the baptism; this is clear from the connection of John 1:32 with John 1:31; (2) dispute [Theodore of Mops.], Tholuck, [Alford] and others in the idea that the Baptist had the manifestation alone, and that it was an inward transaction, excluding externality (though not excluding all objective element). “Even the αωματικῷ εἴδει in Lu. 3:22, cannot prove the outwardness of the phenomenon; for it rather expresses only the unusual fact that the dove served as the symbol of the Spirit.” Tholuck. Against this are (1) the fact that the event was given by an inward voice to the Baptist as the token. On the supposition of mere inwardness the inward voice alone would have sufficed; at all events it must have come at the same time with the token. (2) The mention of the appearance of the Spirit, ὡς περιστερά, as a dove. Merely inwardly seen, this would be only an apparition, not a token. (3) θεάομαι is used, as in John 1:14, of a seeing which is neither merely outward, nor yet merely inward. (4) The participation of Christ; according to the Synoptists, in the seeing of the phenomenon; to which must be added the voice: “Thou art my beloved Son!”—showing that Christ was the centre of the whole appearance. (5) The analogy of the signs (rushing wind and tongues of fire) at the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. See this Comm. on Matth. 3:13–17; p. 77. Tholuck: “The point of comparison between the symbol (symbolical phenomenon, we should say) and the Spirit, Theodore of Mopsuestia takes to be the affectionate tenderness and attachment of the dove to men; Calvin, its gentleness; Neander, its tranquil flying; Baumgarten-Crusius, a motherly, brooding virtue, consecrating the water (Gen. 1:1); most, from Matth. 10:16, purity and innocence.142 This last is certainly to be taken as the main point,143 yet it is connected with the gentle, noiseless flight of this particular bird. In the Targum on Cant. 2:12, the dove is regarded as the symbol of the Spirit of God.” We suppose that the phenomenon and the symbol are to be distinguished; the phenomenon we take to have been a soft, hovering brightness, resembling the flashes from a dove floating down in the sunlight (Ps. 68:13: “Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold;” see Acts 2:3); and the symbol, no one virtue of the dove, but her virtues, as a of spiritual life, which, as such, never consists in a single virtue (see Matth. 10:16); hence purity, loveliness, gentleness, friendliness towards men, and vital warmth. On the reference of the dove to the church see the Comm. on Matth. 3:13–17; p. 78. Hence the “abiding upon him” [καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν, ὲπί, with the accusative signifies the direction to—] is part of the sign; in the continuance of the radiance the Baptist received assurance that the Spirit abode upon Christ.
Misinterpretations of this event: (a) The Ebionitic: An impartation of the Spirit, beginning with the baptism, (b) The Gnostic: The Logos uniting Himself with the Man Jesus;—a view dragged in again by Hilgenfeld. (c) Baur: The λόγος and the πνεῦμα ἅγιον are, according to John’s representation, identical.144 Attempted interpretations: (1) Frommann: The preparation of the Logos for coming forth out of his immanent union with God: (2) Lücke, Neander, etc.: The awakening of the divine-human consciousness. (3) Hofmann, Luthardt: The impartation of official powers. (4) Baumgarten-Crusius, Tholuck: The impartation of the Spirit for transmission to mankind. (5) Meyer: Not an impartation to Jesus, but only an objective sign (σημεῖον) divinely granted to the spiritual intuition of the Baptist.
We find in this occurrence not merely the full development of Christ’s consciousness of Himself personally as the God-Man, but also of the accompanying consciousness of His Messianic mission, as a calling, in particular, to self-humiliation in order to exaltation;—a development produced by a corresponding communication of the Holy Ghost without measure, which should make Him, in the course of His humiliation towards exaltation, the Baptist of the Spirit (Geistestäufer) for the whole world (see Is. 11; Joel 3; Matth. 28) This consciousness is (1) that of being the Son of God, and (2) that of the divine good pleasure blessing the path of humiliation upon which in His baptism He entered.
John 1:33. And I knew him not.—Looking back to the earlier stage, and strongly emphasizing the ignorance by the repetition. Then the Baptist tells us how the miraculous appearance became to him the sign. In the nature of the case, this mark must have been given him before the occurrence itself. The description of Christ as the true Baptist, the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, corresponds with John’s humble sense of the impotence of his own baptism of water.
John 1:34. And I have seen.—In the perfect. Plainly this cannot be understood of a mere internal process.—And have borne witness.—Not: I consider myself as having now testified (De Wette); nor: I have testified and do now testify (Lücke). The Baptist undoubtedly looks back with joyful mind to the testimony which he bore before the rulers of the Jews. He has borne it, and that a plain, straight-forward testimony: borne witness to this Man, Jesus of Nazareth, and testified that He is not merely Messiah, but also the Son of God. As if he would say: I have lived. My mission is in its substance accomplished (see John 3:29). Hence from that moment forth he points his disciples to Jesus.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Who art thou? Starke: “Whether this question (of the Sanhedrin) was put sincerely, or hypocritically and with evil intent, is uncertain; but the latter is more probable. Others, however, think the former, since there are no indications that the delegation was sent out of mere envy, or with the design of questioning his office. Causes of the embassy: (1) John’s unusual sort of official work, in the wilderness preaching and baptizing, and the great gathering of the people to him. (2) The conviction, from many signs, that the time of the Messiah must be at hand. (3) The vehement longing of the Jewish people everywhere for the advent of the Messiah, especially by reason of their great oppression under the Roman power, etc., because they hoped the Messiah would erect again their fallen commonwealth, and because they did not yet imagine that the kingdom of the Messiah would turn to the prejudice of their prestige. Furthermore they must either not have known the origin and family of John, or must have been entirely foolish to suppose the Messiah could be born of the tribe of Levi.”
2. The two testimonies of the Baptist form the contents of this section: Christ the Lord (the Old Testament manifestation of God, the Angel of the Lord, Jehovah): (1) Christ the Lamb of God (the Servant of God); (2) Christ the Song of Solomon of God.
3. From the first testimony it is evident that Christ was accredited by John in an entirely official manner; in the second we see how Christ was accredited by John himself most distinctly by God. Likewise, that John points his disciples to Christ, and that every genuine fore-runner does the same, while the spurious fore-runners, the chief priests, keep their disciples to themselves.
4. On the import of the baptism of Jesus see the exegesis under John 1:32, and Com. on Matth. John 3:13, p. 76.
5. Between the 28th and 29th verses falls the close of the history of the temptation of Jesus, and with it the settlement of His Messianic calling or, as Reinhard puts it, His plan. He comes out of the wilderness with the clear sense of His destiny and His willingness to become the Lamb of God. This then the prophetic Baptist perceives in His appearance through the Spirit.
6. It is noticeable that the temptation of John by the Sanhedrin, and that of the Lord by Satan, coincides in time. The Baptist says: I am not the Christ; Jesus says: I am not the Christ according to the perverted antichristian hopes of the hierarchy, according to the notion of the ungodly world.
7. Gerlach: “In the fact that he alone knew the Messiah, while the entire people and their rulers knew Him not, John would give them the credentials of his own prophetic mission.”
8. The ultimate object of the mission of John the Baptist: To make Christ known by official, attestation according to the Old Testament law before the rulers of the Jews, by a testimony of the New Testament Spirit among His disciples. Malachi pointed to John (Elijah), John points to Christ, and thus the Messianic prophecy converges at last to the distinctness of an index finger.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See the Comm. on Matth. 3:13–17; Mark 1:1–8; Luke 3:1–22. The temptation of John and the temptation of Christ. The first and last temptation of John, and the first and last temptation of Christ.—Who art thou? or, the perfect ignorance of a hardened, formal spirituality before living spirits.—No, and again no! or, how the spirit of John refuses to suit the forms of the Pharisees.—The great two-fold testimony of the Baptist concerning Christ: (1) The same both in public and in the confidential circle; (2) varying in form: in its legal office before the Jewish rulers describing Christ as the eternal Lord, and in its spiritual office in the circle of disciples describing Christ as the Lamb of God.—The denials of John and the denials of Christ as against the current notions of Elijah and Christ, a proof that between the spirit of Holy Scripture itself and the exegesis of a traditional hierarchical theology there is an immense difference.—The lessons of the connection between John’s humble knowledge of himself and his knowledge of Christ.—John, as a witness of his own knowledge of Christ, free and open, yet also wisely reserved (1) in reference to what he knew of Christ (speaking to the unsusceptible only of the Lord, to the susceptible, of the Lamb of God); (2) in reference to how be knew it: showing to the one company only that he knows Christ, to the other, how he came to know him.—The self-denial of John the true confession, as an example to us: (1) The true confession of Christ; (2) the true confession of himself.—John and the Pharisees, or the servant of the law of God and the men of human commandments (the man of the law and the men of traditions).—The Baptist, as God’s prophet, consistent with himself, and therefore one thing to the Pharisees, another to his disciples.—The glory of Christ in the light of the human and the divine nature: (1) High as heaven above the Baptist; (2) one with the Father in the Holy Ghost,—The word: I have borne witness, is equivalent to: I have lived: (1) In the mouth of the Baptist; (2) in the mouth of the Lord (the “true witness”); (3) in the mouth of every believer.—The Lamb and the Dove, or, the sensible signs of the kingdom of heaven (1) in the lamb and in all silent, devout passiveness of nature; (2) in the dove and in all pure, beautiful joyousness of nature.—[The lamb, the pure and gentle beast of earth; the dove, the pure and gentle bird of heaven: Ps. 85:10, 11.]—Christ the Lamb of God, who bears the sins of the world: (1) bears; (2) bears with; (3) bears away.—The testimonies of the Baptist concerning Christ, at first apparently without effect, and afterwards of immeasurable, permanent power.—Christ the centre of all testimonies of God: (1) The inexhaustibly and strongly Attested; (2) the inexhaustible and true Witness.—The Pericope, John 1:19–28. The spiritual position of things at the advent of Christ in its permanent import: (1) The spiritual leaders of the people understand not the Baptist and know not Christ; (2) the Baptist preaches and testifies of Christ as a voice in the wilderness; (3) Christ fights out His victory in secret.—John a pure prophetic character, the standard of value between the Pharisees and Christ: (1) As compared with the Pharisees, grandly exalted; (2) as compared with Christ, small, even to the deepest self-humiliation.—The mysteriousness of the testimony of the Baptist: (1) The mysteriousness in the testimony itself; (2) the mysterious features in the attested One; (3) the mysterious intimation of his work.
STARKE:—Before persons whose candor and fear of God we should most trust, we are many a time most on our guard.—Wo to the city and to the country whose watchmen are blind.—CANSTEIN: Christians in general, and preachers in particular, should not arrogate to themselves what belongs to Christ, but point their hearers away from themselves and to Christ, to look for all their salvation from Him.—HEDINGER: No one may take to himself credit, or receive praise beyond due measure and contrary to humility, 2 Cor. 10:13.—In calling himself a voice, he not only hints that his preaching is from heaven, but also that in him nothing is to be honored save his voice, nay, that all he is, is, as it were, nothing but voice.—CANSTEIN: We have to do not with the person (humanly taken), but with the matter itself.—CRAMER: Spare neither friends nor foes to confess the truth.—Jesus is in the midst of us, though we see Him not.—OSIANDER: To the minister of the church it belongs to preach and to administer the sacraments, but Christ gives the increase, and pours out the Spirit.—ZEISIUS: A true teacher should, after the example of John, be well instructed, authenticated, and established.
GERLACH:—The decisive self-denial of John in his relation to Christ gave and still gives the greatest weight to his testimony. This self-denial was and still is, to unbelief, incomprehensible; in this, that a man could so clearly know his mission and its limits.—BRAUNE: Whom John had announced as coming with axe, winnowing-fan, and fire, Him he now commended as the Lamb of God which taken away the sin of the world.
HEUBNER:—On the rights of the magistracy in regard to religion.—What privileges has the spiritual power?—The limits of obedience.—Who art thou? as it were the: Who is there? demanded of every one in the ministry of the kingdom of God.—Tycho Brahe’s symbol: Esse Polius quam haberi.—Christian self-valuation.—Persius: Quem deus esse jussit, disce.—Christian choices of calling.—Assurance of an eternal mission.—In John the testimony of the best and noblest of his time and of the ages before is set forth.—SCHLEIERMACHER: The baptism of John stood in a manner between the law and the Gospel.—John’s testimony concerning Christ a type of ours.—COUARD: An evangelical preacher will and must bear witness only of Christ.—To what the question: Who art thou? would lead us, if put to ourselves.—RIEGER: John the model of an evangelical preacher.145
[SCHAFF:—Behold the Lamb of God, John 1:20 (repeated John 1:36). (1) The person who speaks: John the Baptist, in the name of the whole Old Testament, responded to by the experience of the Christian believer. (2) The person spoken of: Christ, (a) compared to a lamb for His innocence and purity (“a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Pet. 1:19), meekness, gentleness, and quiet submission, (“as a lamb led to the slaughter,” Is. 53); (b) called the Lamb foretold by the prophet Isaiah in that remarkable passage on the suffering Messiah, 53:7. Comp. also the paschal lamb, the blood of which, being sprinkled on the door-post, saved the Israelites from the destroying angel (1 Cor. 5:7), and the lambs of the daily sacrifices, Ex. 29:38; (c) the Lamb of God, appointed and ordained by God from eternity, dedicated to God, and approved by God. (3) The office of Christ: to bear, and by bearing, i.e., by His propitiatory sacrifice, to take away the sin, the accumulated mass of the sins, of the world, i. e., of the entire human race (1 John 2:12), consequently also my sins. (4) The exhortation Behold, with the eye of a living faith, which appropriates the atoning sacrifice of Christ.—AUGUSTINE: How weighty must be the blood of the Lamb, by whom the world was made, to turn the scale when weighed against the world.—OLSHAUSEN: The sacrificial lamb which bears the sin, also takes it away; there is no bearing of sin without removing the same.—RYLE: The Lamb of God has made atonement sufficient for all mankind, though efficient to none but believers.—MATTHEW HENRY: John was more industrious to do good than to appear great. Those speak best for Christ that say least of themselves, whose own works praise them, not their own lips.—The same: Secular learning, honor and power seldom dispose men’s minds to the reception of divine light.—J. C. RYLE, (abridged): The greatest saints have always been men of John Baptist’s spirit.; “clothed with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5), not seeking their own honor, ever willing to decrease if Christ might only increase. Hence God has honored and exalted them (Luke 14:11).—Humility is the beginning of Christian graces.—The learned Pharisees are examples of the blindness of unconverted men.—Christ is “still standing” among multitudes who neither see, nor hear, nor believe. It will be better on the last day to never have been born, than to have had Christ “standing among us” without knowing Him.—P. S.]
John 1:19.—Codd. B. C *., Lachmann add πρὸς αὐτόν. Not decisive. [א. C.3 L. al., text, rec., Tischend., 8th ed., omit it. Alf., with Lachm., inserts it.—P. S.]
John 1:20).—ὅτι ἐ γ ὼ ο ὐ κ ε ἰ μ ὶ ὁ χριστός is the reading of the best MSS., א. A. B.C*., L. X., Orig., Chrys., Cyr., Lachm., Tisch. (VIII. ed.), Alf., instead of οὐκ εἰμί ἐγώ. The former reading emphasizes ἐγώ, I for my part, and implies that John knew another who was the Messiah, while the latter reading emphasizes the negation: It is not I who, etc.—P. S.]
John 1:22.—The ου̇͂ν after ει̇͂πον here is significant. Not, as by Lachmann according to B. C., to be omitted. [Cod. Sin. has it.]
John 1:24.—Tischendorf, after several codd. (A.* B.* C.* L.), omits the article before ἀπεσταλμένοι. As Origen supposed a second embassy, the omission may have arisen with him. [The Cod. Sinaiticus has a gap here, indicating the original presence of the article.—E. D. Y.]
John 1:26.—A. B. C. L. [Cod. Sin.] read οὐδέ both times, instead of οὔτε. The latter is probably exegetically the more accurate particle.
John 1:27.—The words αὐτός ἐστιν and ὄς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν are wanting in B. and C. [Cod. Sin.] and in Origen. Bracketed by Lachmann, omitted by Tischendorf [and Alford]. The Johannean style is in favor of the first words; the connection with ὁ ὀπίσω., etc., is in favor of the others. Cod. A., etc., and the similar expression in John 1:15, are in favor of both.
John 1:29.—The Recepta reads Βηθαβαρᾷ, after Origen. Authorities decisive against it. [Comp. the note of Alford in loc.—P. S.]
John 1:29.—Against the addition ὁ ̓Ιωάννης are A. B. C., etc. Meyer: “Beginning of a church lesson.” [Cod. Sin., a gap.—E. D. Y.]
John 1:28.—[The E. V. follows the Vulgate: qui tollit. The Gr. verb αἴρειν has the double meaning to take up (to bear the punishment of sin in order to expiate it, comp. Isa. 53.: he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows), and to take away (=ἀφαιρεῖν). Both may be combined (as is done by Olshausen) and expressed by the German verb hinwegtragen, to bear away, to take away by taking upon one’s self, or to remove the penalty of sin by expiation: See the EXEG. NOTES. The present ὁ αἴρων is used in prophetic vision of the act of atonement as a present and continuous fact.—P. S.]
John 1:31.—[Some authorities insert here and in John 1:33 the article τῷ before ὕδατι, “in the water (of Jordan) in which you see me baptize.” Alford brackets, Tischend. (ed. VIII.) omits, Meyer (p. 112) defends it.—P. S.]
John 1:32.—Most codd. read ὡς, not ὡσεί, which comes from Matth. 3:16; Luke 3:22.
[So also Lücke, De Wette, Meyer, Wieseler, Ebrard, Luthardt, Godet, Alford, etc. Bengel infers from this passage that the preaching of the Baptist began not long before the baptism of Jesus; otherwise the embassy would have been sent earlier. Alford argues that it was absolutely necessary to suppose that John should have delivered this testimony often, and under varying circumstances, first in the form given by Luke: ἔ ρ χ ε τ α ι ὁ ἰσχυρ. μου κ. τ. λ., and after it in this form, ου̇͂τος η̇͂ν ὂν ει̇͂πον, where his former testimony is distinctly referred to.—P. S.]
[Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine and other fathers distinguished two Elijahs, corresponding to the two advents of Christ, 1) a man of the spirit and power of Elijah, i.e., John the Baptist; 2) Elijah the Tishbite, who shall precede as a herald the second or judicial coming of Christ. ‘This view is adopted by Ryle, who thinks that John could not well have answered in the negative, if there is no literal fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy in prospect. Trench (Studies in the Gospels, p. 214) leaves the question undecided.—P. S.]
[Bengel: Omnia a se amolitur, ut Christum confiteatur et ad Christum redigat quxrentes. “He turns all from himself, that he may confess Christ and bring the inquirers to Christ.” This expresses the true character and mission of the Baptist. Comp. 3:30.—P. S.]
[The absence of a name is urged in favor of this interpretation.—P. S.]
[Grotius, Kuinoel, Olsh. refer ὁ προφήτης to Jeremiah.—P. S.]
[Meyer (p. 108), on the contrary, takes αἴρειν here in the sense to take away, to abolish, but admits that this idea presupposes the idea of bearing (Das Hinwegnehmen der Sünde von Seite des Lammes setzt das Aufsichnehmen derselben voraus). Dr. Lange’s view is more correct. In Isa. 53., to which also Meyer refers the passage, the idea of expiatory bearing (נָשָׂ א, LXX.: φέρει, ἀνήνεγκε, ἀνοίσει) prevails. By assuming and bearing our sin, Christ has abolished it. His blood cleanseth from all sin, 1 John 1:7.—P. S.]
[This, with the article, forcibly presents the sins of the race as one fact. Christ bore the whole. “Sin and the world,” says Bengel, “are equally wide. In Isaiah 53:6, 8, 12 the same singular number is used in the midst of plurals.”—P. S.]
[Comp. on this important and difficult passage Lücke, I. 401–416, and Alford, who likewise refers the Lamb of God to the prophetic announcement in Isa. 53:7, where it is connected with the bearing and taking away of sin. But this does not set aside the fact that Christ was indeed the true Paschal Lamb slain for us, 1 Cor. 5:7. The passage is strangely misunderstood by the author of Ecce Homo. Ch. 1, who endeavors to explain it from the 23d Psalm, as describing a state of quiet and happy repose under the protection of the Divine Shepherd. The exegesis is the poorest part of this book—P. S.]
[Κἀλώ, or as א. reads, καὶ ἐγώ. Alford explains: I also, like the rest of the people, had no certain knowledge of Him. But καί here reassumes ἐγώ, John 1:30, and continues the narrative. See Meyer. John knew Jesus far better than the people (Matth. 3:14), but in comparison with his divine knowledge of inspiration received at the baptism of Christ, his former human knowledge of conjecture dwindled into ignorance.—P. S.]
[Augustine urges simplicity as the tertium comparationis. “The Holy Ghost,” he says (as quoted by Wordsworth who does not refer to the place), “then manifested Himself as a Dove,—and, at the day of Pentecost, in tongues of fire: in order that we may learn to unite fervor with simplicity and to seek for both from the Holy Ghost.”—P. S.]
After the martyrdom of Polycarp a dove arose from the ashes of the martyr.
[The last view is sufficiently refuted by σὰρξ ἐγένετο, which could never be said of the Spirit. Comp. Meyer, p. 115.—P. S.]
[Several commonplace extracts or mere repetitions and themes of sermons have been omitted in this section.—P. S.]
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;II
THE DISCIPLES OF JOHN AND THE FIRST DISCIPLES OF JESUS. JESUS ACKONWLEDGED AS THE MESSIAH, THE KING OF ISRAEL, WHO KNOWS HIS ISRAELITES, AND ALSO KNOWS “THE JEWS;” SIGNALIZED BY MIRACULOUS DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS, PERSONAL CHARACTERS BECOMING MANIFEST IN HIS PERSONAL LIGHT.
35Again the next day after [omit after] John stood, and two of his disciples; 36and looking [fastening his eye] upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 (39)Then [And] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them146 What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say [which means], being interpreted, 39 (40)Master), where dwellest [abidest] thou? He saith unto them, Come and [ye shall] see!147 [Then]148 They came and saw where he dwelt [abode]149 and abode [for their part] with him that day: [.] for [omit for]150 it was about the tenth hour. 40 (41)One of the two which [who] heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, 41 (42)Simon Peter’s brother. He first151 findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias [Messiah], which is, being interpreted, the 42 (43)[om. the] Christ [Anointed]. And he brought him to Jesus. And [om. And] when Jesus beheld him, he [Jesus looking on him] said, Thou art Simon the Son of Jona [John]152 thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, 43 (44)A stone [Peter].153 The day following [the next day]154 Jesus [he]155 would go [ῆθέλησεν, intended, was minded, to go] forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, 44 (45)and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of [from] Bethsaida, the 45 (46)city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus 46 (47)of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.156 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there 47 (48)any good thing [have] come [εἶναι] out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold 48 (49)an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him [answered him], Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that [om. that] Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw 49 (50)thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of 50 (51)God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see 51 (52)greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter157 [om. hereafter or henceforth], ye shall see heaven open [opened], and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.158
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[THE GATHERING OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES OF JESUS, 35–52. The humble beginning of mighty results. The cradle of the Christian Church. This call is Judea on the banks of Jordan was merely a preliminary acquaintance, which John supplies from his personal experience, while the final call to the permanent discipleship, as related by the Synoptists (Matth. 4:18 ff.; Mark 1:16 ff.; Luke 5:1 ff.), took place at a later date in Galilee. We must assume that these disciples (two of them at least, viz., Andrew and John, were formerly disciples of the Baptist), after becoming acquainted with Jesus on the banks of Jordan, and accompanying Him to Galilee to witness the miracle at Cana, returned for a while to their occupation as fishermen (as they did after the resurrection, John 12:1 ff.), until, before His journey to the passover in Jerusalem, He called them to the Apostolate. The readiness with which they followed, and the confidence of Peter in the miraculous powers of Jesus (Luke 5:5), are more readily explained from the previous intercourse related by John. The section has two divisions: 1) The calling of Andrew and John, and, through Andrew, of Simon Peter, 35–43; 2) The calling of Philip, and, through him, of Nathanael, 44–52. Christ finds disciples, they find their friends, and report how they have been found by Christ and have found Him (John 1:41, 45). Bengel observes on εὐρίσκει (John 1:41): “With the festive freshness of those days beautifully corresponds the word findeth, which is used here more frequently than elsewhere.” Trench appropriately calls this “the chapter of the Eurekas.” Christ used no outward compulsion, held out no worldly inducements of any kind; it was simply the force of spiritual attraction which draws “the brave to the braver, the noble to the noblest of all.”—P. S.]
John 1:35. Again the next day.—[Τῇ ἐπαύριον πάλιν εἱστήκει Ἰωάννης.]—The day after the first testimony of John [John 1:29] or after the day of Christ’s return from the wilderness, which followed the day of John’s testimony concerning the Messiah before the Jewish rulers; to the Evangelist ever memorable. He counts these never to be forgotten days one by one. Upon the testimony of the first day the two disciples of John did not follow Jesus. They doubtless felt that this must involve departure from their old master. The next day was the day of their calling and decision.
And two of his disciples.—One was Andrew, we know from John 1:40 (see Com. on Matthew John 10:1–4); the other was certainly John. We judge thus from (1) John’s manner of mentioning himself, either not at all, or indirectly (chs. 13:23; 18:15; 19:26; 20:3; 21:20); a manner which he seems to have extended also to his mother (19:25; comp. Introduction, p. 5), and to which we might cite analogies in Mark (John 14:51) and Luke (John 24:18). 2) The giving of one name, suggesting a personal reserve in regard to the other. 3) The very lifelike character of the subsequent account. 4) The more distinct calling of the sons of Zebedee immediately after, with the sons of Jonas, on the sea of Galilee, Matth. 4. As the calling of the latter is introduced here, so is doubtless the calling of the former.
John 1:36. And looking upon Jesus.—His eye rests upon him, is steadily and continuously directed towards him, ἐμβλέψας, see John 1:42, et al. [John 1:43; Mark 10:21; Luke 20:17].
As he walked.—The day before, Jesus had returned to John out of the wilderness. Probably He then took leave of him, after coming to an understanding with him respecting their conduct towards each other. We may suppose that Jesus expects the transfer of the disciples of John. To-day He comes no more to John, but after an excursion returns to His abode. That He comes within sight of the Baptist, is wholly natural, yet at the same time designed.
Behold the Lamb of God.—As the disciples of John had yesterday heard the same word, and no doubt some explanation of it, no more than this repetition of the exclamation was now necessary, to cause these two disciples to go personally after the Lord; no more extended discourse (so Meyer, rightly, against Lücko and Tholuck. And of a multitude standing by, to whom he spoke in presence of the two, there is not a word).
John 1:37. And they followed Jesus [with profound reverence and in expectation of great things].—The ἀκολουθεῖν being immediately repeated, must mean more than: went towards Him to see Him (Nonnus, Euthymius [Alt.]). They went towards him, in any case, with the thought of discipleship, though their decision to be disciples must have been afterwards wrought by Christ. Bengel: “Primæ origines ecclesiæ Christianæ.”
John 1:38 (39). What seek ye?—Anticipating, yet meeting their seeking. That they are seeking, He acknowledges. But in the impersonal τί He couches a sort of testing. That they were now quite timid, as Euthymius Zigabenus proposes, is evident from their embarrassed answer. They do not express themselves directly respecting their seeking; yet they plainly say that they seek not something from Him, but Himself.
Rabbi, where abidest thou?—An acknowledgment that He was a master [a travelling Rabbi]; an intimation that they wish to speak with Him in quiet; an implication that He has a hospitable house [with a friend] near by; an inquiry, when they may meet Him there. John writes for Greeks, and therefore explains the term Rabbi.
John 1:39 (40). Come and ye shall see.159—An unmistakable allusion to the rabbinical formula of requiring one to convince himself: Come and see! (בא וראה, according to Buxtorf and Light-foot), which Meyer groundlessly rejects. [Come and see, afterwards used by Philip, John 1:47 (48), in reply to the objection of Nathanael, occurs Ps. 66:5 (6).with reference to the great works of God (לְכוּ וּרְאוּ, LXX.: δεῦτε καὶ ἴδετε τὰ ἐργα τοῦ θεοῦ); comp. John 1:16 (δεῦτε, ἀκούσατε Come and hear… and I will declare what He has done for my soul). It is often the wisest answer we can give to honest skeptics on matters of Christian faith. Bengel calls it optimum remedium contra opiniones præconceptas. Personal experience is the best test of the truth of Christianity, which, like the sun in heaven, can only be seen in its own light. It was Pascal, I believe, who said, that human things must be known to be loved, but divine things must be loved first before they can be known.—P. S.]
And abode with him.—Ἔμειναν receives its significant sense from the preceding ποῦ μένεις.
It was about the tenth hour.—[The first hour of his Christian life was indelibly fixed upon the memory of John, as a great and glorious turning point, as a transition from darkness to light.160 Such days will be remembered in eternity, when their fruits will fully appear.—P. S.] According to the Jewish computation, four o’clock in the afternoon; according to the Roman (from midnight to midnight), ten o’clock in the morning. The expression: abode with Him that day [τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην), seems to favor the latter computation. For this are Rettig [Studien und Kritiken, 1830, p. 106 f.], Tholuck, Ebrard, Ewald.161 For tho Jewish, Lücke, Meyer, [Alford, Hengstenberg]. Decisive arguments for the Jewish are: 1) The Greeks of Asia Minor, for whom John wrote, had with the Jews the Babylonian reckoning, from sun-rise to sun-set. 2) The Romans also used the natural day besides the other computation. 3) In John 4:6 the sixth hour is far more probably noon, than six o’clock in the morning or evening (see Leben Jesu, II. p. 474); in John 4:52 the seventh hour is most probably the first hour after noon; John 11:9 implies the Babylonian reckoning; and in John 19:14 the sixth hour cannot be six o’clock in the morning, though to place it at noon causes difficulty (see Comm. on Mark 15:25, and Matth. 27:45). 4) Even of a late part of the afternoon it may be said in popular speech, that they abode with Him that day, especially if the conversation extended into the night. Reference of the hour to what follows further on (Hilgenfeld, Lichtenstein; sea Meyer), is unwarranted.
John 1:40 (41). One was Andrew, etc.—The form of the statement leads us to inquire after the other. Andrew is more particularly described as the brother of Simon Peter, on account of the subsequent distinction of Peter. He no doubt influenced the decision of John, as well as of Peter, and afterwards of Philip (who “was of the city of Andrew and Peter”). He appears again as mediator and pioneer in John 12:22 (comp. Mark 13:3). On Andrew see Matth. on John 10:1–4, and the word in Winer [Smith, and other Bible Dictionaries].
John 1:41 (42). He first findeth.—For this finding Luthardt supposes a separate day, without support from the text. The text in fact leads us to suppose that this finding occurred on the same day that the disciples were with Jesus (Meyer, against De Wette, etc.) We may easily imagine, too, that Andrew found his brother on returning in a common lodging-place. The supposition that the disciples then brought Peter to Jesus still on the same evening, is more difficult. But even this has a parallel in the nocturnal visit of Nicodemus, and it makes the whole procedure uncommonly animated, showing the intense excitement of the disciples. Meyer thinks the emphatic statement that Andrew is the first to find his own brother, an intimation even that John next found his brother James, and brought him to Jesus. John is silent about it, indeed, after the manner of his peculiar, delicate reserve respecting himself and his kindred (even the name of James does not occur in his Gospel); but the πρῶτος betrays it, and the Synoptical account confirms it, Mark 1:19. This opinion is certainly more strengthened by the ἴδιον (which is not merely possessive), than the opinion of De Wette and others, that the two together sought out Simon.
We have found the Messiah [Εὑρήκαμε ντὸν Μεσσίαν.—Bengel: “A great and joyful εὔρηκα, and expected by the world for about forty centuries.”—P. S.]—“With the stress on the first word, implying a longing search”: Meyer. And the name Messiah, used by the Aramaic-speaking disciple, the Evangelist interprets to his readers. [Xριστός, from χρίω to anoint. The article is omitted because the author wishes simply to identify the two words מָשִׁיחַ and χριστός, not the two titles. See Meyer and Alford. Anointing with oil in the O. T. is a symbolical act that signifies the communication of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the solemn consecration to the service of God. It was performed on the three officers of the theocracy, the kings, priests and prophets, especially the kings (comp. 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13, 14); hence kings were called emphatically the anointed, or the anointed of the Lord (1 Sam. 2:10, 35; 12:3, 5; 16:6, 10; 2 Sam. 1:14, 16; 19:21; Lament. 4:20; Zech. 4:14). The term in its fullest sense was applied to Him who should be endowed with the Holy Spirit without measure (Isa. 11; comp. John 1:32, 33; 3:34), realize the typical significance of the kingdom of Israel (Ps. 2:2; Dan. 9:25) and combine the offices of prophet, priest and king in His own person for ever. P. S.]
John 1:42 (43). Beheld him.—Ἐμβλέψας. The penetrating look of the Lord, introducing one of those mental miracles of immediate discernment of characters which here follow in rapid succession, and of which the knowledge of Nathanael is especially signalized. Jesus is the knower of hearts, John 2:25. It is characteristic that John first brings out this power of the Lord: in keeping with his Gospel of the ideal personality.
Thou art Simon.—This calling him by name is not necessarily through miraculous knowledge (Chrysost., Luthardt), for Andrew had introduced him to Jesus; but is doubtless intended to put Simon as the son of Jonas in contrast with Peter. שִׁמְעוֹך, heard, יוֹנָה, dove, כֵּיפָא, rock. The sense is: What thou art not, and canst not be, as Simon, son of Jonas,162 but what thou art adapted to be, that shalt thou become. [Christ says not: “Thou art Cephas,” as He says to Nathanael: “Thou art truly an Israelite,” but “thou shalt be called Peter.” It was therefore a prophecy of the future work and position of Peter in history, as the Apostle who, above all others, laid the foundations of the church, among the Jews on the day of Pentecost, and among the Gentiles by the conversion of Cornelius. Cephas (בּיפא), Peter, Rock, is a symbol of firmness; comp. the contrast of rocky and sandy foundation, Matth. 7:24–26, and the promise of indestructibility given to the church as founded upon the rock, 16:18.—P. S.] On the more particular sense of the antithesis see Comm. on Matth., 16:17 [and the notes in the Am. ed., pp. 292, 293, 295]; on the different calls, Matth. on John 4:19, p. 93. In Matth. 16:18 this previous naming is evidently pre-supposed.163 It is characteristic of Judaism as the religion of personal life, that persons were commonly designated by names significant of their peculiarities. See the citation in Tholuck. According to Tholuck the rock, the emblem of firmness, would refer to the choleric temperament of Peter. But none of all the temperaments suffices to describe a concrete direction of character. A recent assurance, that the name Peter refers not at all to his stamp of character, but entirely to the work of grace in him, can be accounted for only by want of insight into the nature of a charism.164
[THE CALLING OF PHILIP AND NATHANAEL, John 1:43–52. Comp. on this passage Archbishop Trench, Studies in the Gospels, N. Y. ed., 1867, pp. 66 f.—P. S.]
John 1:43 (44). The next day Jesus.…to go forth.—Had therefore not yet gone forth. Was intending to set out.—And findeth Philip.—He was by this circumstance again detained. The acquaintance may be accounted for by two facts. Philip had been also at the Jordan; probably, like others, a disciple of John. He was a townsman of Andrew and Peter, of Bethsaida (4:5; 12:21), and perhaps just then on his way home.165 Philip, one of the earliest apostles of the Lord. His characteristic, according to John 6:5; 12:21 sqq.; 14:8, seems to have been a striving after ocular evidence in the nobler sense, a buoyant and resolute advance to the object in view (see Comm. on Matth., p. 183). Tradition, contrary to the fact of his earlier calling, has made him the disciple to whom Christ spoke the words in Matth. 8:22 (Clement of Alex., Strom. III. 187). More probable is the tradition that he preached in Phrygia (Theodoret, Nicphorus), and died at Hierapolis (Euseb. III. 31, etc.) The accounts of his marriage and his daughters have confounded him with Philip the deacon, with whom he is in general frequently interchanged (see the art. in Winer and in Herzog’s Real Encycl.)
Follow me.—This cannot mean merely: Join the journeying company [Alford]; yet neither is it the call to the Apostolic office. It is the invitation to discipleship, in the form of a travelling companionship. The rest of the interview (how Jesus knew Philip, and Philip knew the Lord) is not mentioned; only the decisive word of the call. Probably the Evangelist would tell us that the quick, active character of Philip did not need many circumstances. [Trench: “This ‘Follow Me’ might seem at first sight no more than an invitation to accompany Him on that journey from the banks of Jordan to Galilee, on which He was just setting forward. It meant this (thus compare Matth. 9:9; Luke 5:27); but at the same time how much more. It was an invitation to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life (Matth. 16:24; John 8:12; 12:26; 21:19; Rev. 14:4), to be a partaker at once of His cross and His crown. How much of this Philip may have understood at the moment it is impossible to say; but whether much or little, he is not disobedient to the heavenly calling.”—P. S.]
John 1:44 (45). [BETHSAIDA of Galilee was on the western shore of the lake of Galilee, not far from Capernaum and Chorazin, but like these two towns, it is entirely obliterated from the face of the earth, so that even the memory of its site has perished. Robinson (III. 359) places it a short distance north of Khûn Minyeh, which he identifies with Capernaum; while other travellers, perhaps more correctly, find the ruins of Capernaum in Tell Hûm. Comp. Matth. 11:20 and the notes in Matthew, pp. 210, 211.—It is remarkable that none of the Apostles was from Jerusalem, the capital of the nation. Christ Himself proceeded from an insignificant town and an humble carpenter-shop, and selected His Apostles from among the illiterate fishermen of Galilee. This is the way of God who made the world out of nothing. Comp. 1 Cor. 1:27.—P. S.]
John 1:45 (46). Philip findeth Nathanael (Theodore, gift of God).—The same with Bartholomew (see the Comm. on Matth. p. 182), and, according to John 21:2, of Cana in Galilee.166 He was probably, therefore, going in the same direction. The calling of Nathanael also is represented as occurring at the outset of the journey, not (as Ewald makes it) on nearing Cana. Nathanael seems also to be one of the devout (Luke 2:38), who had been with John the Baptist; and Philip’s having to find his friend (we find him afterwards paired with Nathanael, Matth. 10:3, etc., except in Acts 1:13), may be explained by Nathanael’s having forgotten himself in devout meditation apart under a fig-tree.
Of whom Moses in the law.—The promises in Genesis and Deut. 18:15, recognized as verbal and typical prophecies. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.—[Literally: Jesus the son of Joseph, of Nazareth.] The distinguishing of the person first by his father, then by his residence, was usual among the Jews. Utterly groundless is the inference from these words, that John knew nothing of the miraculous birth of Jesus (De Wette, Strauss); this would not follow, even though the words were those of John himself, instead of Philip. [John, as a faithful historian, reports not what Philip ought to have said and would have said from his subsequent higher knowledge, but what he actually did say in the twilight of his first acquaintance, and in accordance with the prevailing belief. The mystery of the supernatural conception was a pearl not to be thrown before the multitude who would have misunderstood and abused it. That John believed in it as well as the Synoptists, is evident from his exalted view of Christ as the sinless Saviour from sin, and may be inferred also (as Neander suggests) from 1:14 (the eternal Word became flesh, i.e., man), as compared with 3:6 (what is born of flesh, i.e., of corrupt human nature, is flesh).—P. S.]
John 1:46 (47). Can there any good thing coma out of Nazareth?—[Not so much an objection, as an expression of astonishment and a question frankly but modestly put.—P. S.] Grounds of the prejudice: 1) Nazareth lay in Galilee (Ebrard); yet Nathanael himself was a Galilean. 2) Nazareth too small and insignificant to be the birth-place of the Messiah (Lücke and others). 3) The village was considered, as is evident from the τὶ ἀγαθόν, immoral (Meyer, with the remark that Luke 4:16 sqq. also may agree with Nathanael’s opinion). Yet, literally taken, the expression would be absurd: out of the worst town some morally good thing may come. Any good thing, therefore, must here mean: any thing excellent, any eminent person; and Nathanael’s doubt of this must have arisen from the smallness and insignificance of the place in proportion to the greatness of the Messiah. [So also Alford.] Tholuck: The place has no celebrity [is not even named] either in the Old Testament or in Josephus, and seems to have always been but an insignificant market-town, as the etymology of נֵצֶר implies (Hengstenberg, Christol. II. p. 127; Clark’s Engl. ed. II. p. 109). The pagan Julian contemptuously called Christ the Galilean [and the Christians Galilæans]; the Jews call Him הַנָצְרִי to this day. On Nazareth and its situation see the Comm. on Matth. on John 2:23, p. 64.167
Come and see.—The second time. [An echo of Christ’s Come and ye shall see, John 1:39.] A watchword of the Christian faith.
John 1:47 (48). Behold truly an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.—[̓́Ιδε, ἀληθῶς Ἰσραηλίτης (Tischendorf reads—είτης) ἐνᾤ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν.—Comp. Ps. 32:2, LXX. μακάριος ἀνὴρ, ῷ̓ οὐ μὴ λογίσηται κύριος ἁμαρτίαν, οὐδέ ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματι α̣ὐτοῦ δόλος•]—The word of the Lord addressed not directly to Nathanael, but to others on his approach. An Israelite indeed: that is, not merely a Jew, but a Jew of the higher theocratic turn. [Israelite is the theocratic and the most honorable title of the descendants of Abraham, in commemoration of Jacob’s glorious victory of prayer (Gen. 32:28; Acts 2:22; 3:12; 5:34; 13:16; Rom. 9:4, etc.). The Ishmaelite and the Edomite were Abraham’s seed as well as the Jews, but not Israelites. That was the exclusive title of the people of the covenant. With many this title was indeed a mere name, or even a contradiction and reproach, as the title Christian (i.e., follower of Christ) is with a multitude of Christians so-called. But Nathanael was not merely a carnal descendant of Jacob, an Israelite after the flesh, but an Israelite in spirit, a genuine son of that new Jacob or Israel who had in faith and prayer wrestled with God and prevailed. Probably he was engaged in meditation and prayer under the fig-tree, and thus truly a wrestler with God, like Israel of old. A reference to that event in the history of Jacob which gave rise to his new name (Gen. 32:28; Hos. 12:4), is as likely, as the reference to Jacob’s ladder in John 1:51 (see below) is certain. Perhaps the scene took place on the very spot which tradition assigned for the wrestling of Jacob. This would give additional force to the passage. Comp. my History of the Apostolic Church, p. 388.—P. S.]
The reason why Nathanael is called a genuine Israelite, is his freedom from falsehood. In the Jewish nature there was much guile [as it was the characteristic fault of Jacob, the supplanter.—P. S.]; in the Israelite temper and the lively character it unfolded, there was no guile. [There is an allusion in the name to יָשָׁר, straight, upright, righteous, the very reverse of the meaning and natural characteristic of Jacob, comp. Numb. 23:10.—P. S.] Meyer’s reference of the expression to the description of Jacob in Gen. 25:27 [אִישׁ תָּם, LXX. ἄπλαστος, Aquila: ἁπλοῦς Symmachus: ἅμωμος] is not of decisive importance. Christ perceived the man without guile by spiritual distant sight, as Discerner of the heart; an advance, therefore, on the miraculous knowledge of Peter.168 The frankness with which Nathanael expressed his prejudice against Nazareth, quite agrees with the judgment of the Lord. [The guilelessness of Nathanael must not be pressed too far and identified with sinlessness; on the contrary, it implies a readiness to confess sin instead of hiding it (comp. Ps. 32:1, 2). It furnished, as Trench remarks, a kindly soil in which all excellent graces will flourish, but did not supersede the necessity of the divine seed, out of which alone they can spring. Augustine: “Si dolus in illo non erat, sanabilem illum judicavit medicus, non sanum.”—P. S.]
John 1:48 (49). The question of Nathanael: Whence knowest thou me? [Πόθεν με γινώσκεις] is a new feature of the straightforward, clear character. He does not hypocritically decline the commendation; he does not proudly accept it; but he wishes to know whereon it is founded. He expresses himself evidently as surprised, but not as overcome; hence as yet without the title Rabbi. According to Jewish etiquette, no doubt, uncivil.
When thou wast under the fig-tree.—According to Meyer, Philip cannot have found him under the fig-tree (as the Greek fathers and Baumgarten-Crusius suppose), but in another place; neither the πρὸ τοῦ φωνῆσαι, nor the ὄντα ὑπό, etc., would have force. But if the mood of Nathanael under the fig-tree was the characteristic thing, Philip might have oven found him still there, without the significant element of the Lord’s expression being invalidated thereby. Again, according to De Wette and Meyer, the word of Jesus is intended to indicate only a miraculous vision of the person of Nathanael (beyond the range of natural sight), not a look into the depth of his soul. But in this case Jesus would not have answered the question of Nathanael at all. Jesus must have seen something in the spiritual posture of Nathanael under the fig-tree, which marked the person as the Israelite without guile. “As the Talmud often speaks of Rabbins who pursued the study of the law in the shade of fig-trees, most persons think of a similar occupation here.” Tholuck. According to Chrysostom and Luther, Nathanael was probably occupied with the very hope of the Messiah.
[Trench also remarks that our Lord must refer here to earnest prayer, some great mental struggle, or strong temptation which took place in Nathanael’s soul while sitting under the fig-tree; for this of itself was a common occurrence among Israelites (1 Kings 4:25; Mic. 4:4; Zech. 3:10). Wordsworth and Alford find in ὑπό with the accusative (ὅντα ὑπὸ τῆν συκὴν instead of ὑπὸ τῇ συκῇ) an indication of retirement to the fig-tree as well as concealment there,—probably for purposes of meditation and prayer. It implies: when thou wentest under the fig-tree and while thou wert there.—P. S.]
John 1:49 (50). Rabbi, thou art the Son of God.—In joyful certainty Nathanael now gives threefold expression to his hitherto reserved acknowledgment. First, Rabbi, the title, for even this most just due he had not before paid; then, Song of Solomon of God, because he showed the divine power of the Heart-Searcher to look upon the soul; then, King of Israel, that is Messiah. There is at the same time an extremely fine return of the commendation: An Israelite without guile; Thou art the King of the Israel without guile, that is, my King. Though the ideas Christ and Son of God have become more or less interchangeable, yet it makes a difference whether the confession of the Messiahship precedes that of the divinity, or the reverse. Nathanael reasons from the Son of God, who demonstrated Himself to him, to the Messiahship.
[The title the Son of God, was a rare designation of the Messiah, derived from Ps. 2:5, 12 (comp. Isa. 9:6), and is so used by Peter, Matth. 16:16, the disciples in the ship, 14:33, Martha, John 11:27, and the high priest, Matth. 26:63. It signifies the divine nature, as the titles the Son of Man, and the Son of David, signify the human nature of the Messiah. (See Excursus after John 1:52). This is evident from the hostile indignation of the Pharisees and Scribes at our Lord when He claimed to be the Son of God (John 5:18; 10:30–39). It is, of course, not to be supposed that Nathanael or any of the disciples had, during the earthly life of Christ, a clear insight into the full meaning and metaphysical depths of the expression, but their faith, based upon the glimpses of the O. T.169 and the personal knowledge of our Lord, contained more than they were conscious of, and anticipated the dogma.—P. S.]
John 1:50 (51). Because I said unto thee—believest thou?—Not properly a question; still less an intimation of censure for a defective ground of faith (De Wette); but an expression of surprise that he so joyfully believes, upon a single token. Hence, too, a greater is then promised him.
John 1:51 (52). Verily, verily.—The Hebrew Amen. אָמֵך, from אָמַך, an adjective: sure, true, faithful; also used as a substantive and adverb. When a final word of devout acclamation, Deut. 27:15–26; Ps. 41:13; 89:52, or of religious confirmation of one’s own word, Rom. 9:5; 11:36, it is a sentence: Ratum sit, ita sit. When an initial word, it is an adverbial protestation: verissime, certissime; put singly in Matth., John 5:18; 16:28 (Luke 9:27 ἀληθῶς), and Luke. In John double: John 3:3; 5:19; 8:51; 12:24; 14:12; 21:18. Substantively: Amen, 2 Cor. 1:20; the Amen, Rev. 3:14.—That the Hebrew word was early familiar in Christian worship, is evident from the fact that John does not explain it. In modern times even a small sect has gathered upon the consecrated word, called the Amen church.170 For the first time here, the word of the most solemn asseveration. “Only in John, and only in the mouth of Jesus, hence the more certainly authentic.”
[The Synoptists use the single Amen more than 50, John the double—25 times, even in parallel passages, as Matth. 26:21, 34; John 13:21, 38. Bengel explains the repetition in John from the fact that Christ spoke both in His and in the Father’s name. Probably it is a more emphatic assertion of the superiority of Christ above all preceding prophets. The double Amen could with full propriety only be used by Him who is the personal truth (John 14:6), the Amen (Rev. 3:14), the God of Truth (in Hebr. Amen, Isa. 65:16), and in whom all the promises of God are Yea and Amen (2 Cor. 1:19).—P. S.]
I say unto you: to the little company of disciples now already collected. [This formula “I say unto you” differs from the “Thus saith the Lord,” as Christ differs from all the prophets: He is the truth itself and speaks with divine authority His own word; they are only witnesses of the truth and speak the Word of God in the name of God.—P. S.]
(Henceforth) ye shall see heaven opened.—[This prospect to the public life of Christ, and uninterrupted communion between heaven and earth in and through Him, is an eminently fit conclusion of this chapter. Whether we retain ἀπ άρτι (ἀπ’ ἄρτι) or not, the beginning of His public ministry and the first recognition of His Messianic dignity is meant, as the starting-point of an unbroken communion between God and man, and an exchange of divine grace and human prayers. The open heaven is here, as in the baptism of Christ, a symbolical expression for the ever present, help and grace of God (comp. Gen. 28:10–17; Ezek. 1:1; Matth. 3:16; Acts vii. 17; 10:11); while the closed heavens signify the absence of divine help or the impending judgment of God (comp. Isa. 64:1). The participle ἀνεωγότα implies the act of opening, and the fact that before Christ the heaven was closed. Bengel: “aperlum, præteritum, proprie, Matth. 3:16, et cum continuatione in posterum,” John 3:13; Acts 7:56; Apoc. 11:12.—P. S.] The expression is evidently suggested by the word concerning the Israelite without guile, and the description of Christ as the King of Israel; and stands related to that dream of Jacob, in which his higher Israel-nature decisively came forth (Gen. 28:12), though he did not receive the honorable title of Israel until a later time.171 The first Israel saw heaven open; but only in dream, only for a while; the ascending and descending of the angels were assisted by a ladder; the Lord stood above the latter in the heavens; and the vision vanished away. Yet the living intercourse between heaven and earth, between God and man, had announced itself and opened in the old theocracy, and was now gloriously to complete itself. The expression can by no means be limited to actual appearances of angels in the life of Jesus [at His birth, in the garden of Gethsemane, at the resurrection and ascension] (Chrysostom and others), nor to His working of miracles (Storr); yet these points are not (according to Meyer) to be set aside, since they are phenomena peculiar to the New Testament intercourse between heaven and earth. On the other hand, the angels are no more to be reduced to personified divine powers (as by De Wette),172 than the divine powers to angels (as by Hofmann).173 Meyer rightly emphasizes the terms henceforth (ἀπ άρτι) and ye shall see (ὄψεσθε); they show that it is the total Messianic revelation in its actual operation, which is spoken of, and that this is represented in figurative language. The expression, however, is not exactly symbolical, inasmuch as, in a spiritual sense, heaven is really opened, and the living personal intercourse between the Father and the Son also becomes manifest in manifold angelophanies, voices, and spiritual revelations. “The ἀναβαίνοντες stand first in the Old Testament also [Gen. 28:12]; we might, as in fact Philo does (De Somniis, p. 642), think of the reciprocal actings of human wants and prayers and divine powers; but the former are never called messengers of God. More correctly: They return to heaven to receive new commissions.” Tholuck. If we consider that Christ is the incarnate Angel of the Lord, we may refer the ascending unquestionably to His high-priestly intercessions, works, and sacrifice, the descending to the gradual unfolding of the riches of His kingly glory. Luther: “Now are heaven and earth become one thing, and it is just as if ye sat above, and the gentle angels ministered to you.” Calvin: “Quum prius nobis clausum esset regnum dei, vere in Christo apertum fuit,….ut simus cives sanctorum et angelorum socii.” For other explanations see Tholuck, p. 102.
[We must here dismiss the notions of space. The incarnate Son of God is the bond of union, the golden clasp between earth and heaven, the mediating centre of all intercourse with God. Where He is, there is heaven and there are the angels, who ascend from Him as the starting-point, and descend upon Him, as the termination point. He spoke while He was on earth, others wise we would expect the reverse order. From the incarnate Saviour as the Alpha and Omega, this spiritual communion with heaven proceeds upon all believers. Ryle weakens the force of the prediction by confining it to the time of the future advent; this is sufficiently refuted by henceforth,—P. S.]
Upon the Son of Man.—In John as well as in the Synoptists Christ designates Himself by this term. See Comm. on Matth, John 8:20. “Undoubtedly the precedent in Daniel has suggested the language in the Revelation, John 14:14; 1:13, in which latter is also μετὰ τ. νεφελῶν; and those like passages, in which the Redeemer is mentioned as appearing ἔπὶ τ. νεφελῶν, ἐν δόξῃ, in His Messianic and judicial glory, Luke 21:27; Matth. 26:64; 16:28; so, therefore, Chemnitz, with the joint conception of the humilitas taken from the passages in Ezekiel; Beza, Scholten, Lücke.” Tholuck. Yet the fact that the Lord applied this name to Himself, and that the people did not recognize it as a designation of the Messiah, John 12:34, itself very plainly shows that the phrase was not current as a Messianic phrase of the Jewish theology, though after the example of Daniel the term itself appears in the book of Enoch and in 4 Esdras, as well as, among the Rabbins, the expression: “He that cometh in the clouds.” The fact that the Apostles abstain from the phrase, Tholuck explains from Heb. 2:6; that is, because the term referred to the humiliation of the Son of God. As to Hofmann’s hypothesis (Schriftbeweis, II. p. 51) see Tholuck, p. 104. Hofmann lays stress on the point that the phrase in Daniel is not: The Son of man, but: One like a son of man. This manner of interpretation would require that the Old Testament prophecy everywhere have the New Testament idea and phraseology pure and simple, in order to have them at all. Strangely Tholuck thinks the tracing of the expression to Daniel excludes the interpretation proposed by Herder: Man κατ’ ἐξοχήν, the pattern man; that according to this by a son of man must strictly be understood a man who shares the lot of actual mankind, as in Numb. 23:19; Job 25:6. And why not? Christ, as the second man, the Son of mankind, 1 Cor. 15:47, is as well in His suffering the heir of its judgment, as in His work the heir of its righteousness of faith, and assuredly for this very reason the Son of Man, the supernatural bloom of the race, because He is the Son of God. Luthardt too thinks this latter idea, which he likewise gives, must be vindicated against the derivation of the name from the book of Daniel. But the vision in Daniel must after all have an idea. And it is sufficiently clear why Jesus chose this particular term from Daniel to designate Himself.
[EXCURSUS ON THE MEANING OF THE TITLE “THE SON OF MAN.”—The designation of Christ as the Son of Man (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), occurs in this chapter, John 1:51 (52) for the first time, and in the mouth of Christ; while the corresponding title, the Son of God (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ), occurs first John 1:49 (50), in the mouth of a disciple (Nathanael), but had been previously applied to Christ by God in His baptism (Matth. 3:16), and by Satan, hypothetically, in the temptation (Matth. 4:3, 6). The former is found about eighty, or, deducting the parallels, fifty-five times in the Gospels, and is only used by our Lord Himself, except in three cases, viz., once by Stephen when he saw “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God,” Acts 7:56 (in allusion probably to Matth. 26:64), and twice by the apocalyptic seer, Rev. 1:13; 14:14, with obvious reference to Dan. 7:13, 14. Bengel (on Matth. 16:13) urges the circumstance as very significant that Christ, during His earthly life, was never called the Son of Man by anybody but Himself. His followers called Him the Son of David (the Messiah), or the Son of God. The title the Son of God is used sometimes by Christ Himself, but mostly by the Apostles and Evangelists. Christ could use both designations with equal propriety, but He preferred the title of humility and condescension which identifies Him with the human race, while the Apostles chose the title of honor and dignity which exalts Him far above men. The one signifies in general the true humanity, the other the true divinity of Christ, both together give us the full idea of the God-Man (θεάνθρωπος). Both titles are generic. In both titles, when applied to Christ, the definite article is nearly always employed. He is not simply a son of man among other men, nor a son of God on a par with the children of God, but He is emphatically and in a unique sense the Son of Man, and the Son of God. The definite article is as significant in one case as in the other, and suggests a distinction as well as a resemblance.
The appellation the Son of Man, when used by Christ of Himself, cannot, like the corresponding Hebrew בֶּן־הַאָדָם, or בֶּן־הַאָדָם be simply a poetic designation of man in general, in which sense νἱὸς ἀνθρώπου (without the article) is used Hebr. 2:6 (in a quotation, however, from the Messianic Ps. 8.), and υἱοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώρώπων, Eph. 3:5. It cannot be supposed for a moment that Christ should have used this term so often of Himself as a mere circumlocution for the personal pronoun. Nobody speaks of himself in this way. In the Saviour’s native dialect, the Syriac, Bar nosho, the son of man, is man generically; the filial part of the compound denotes the identity and purity of the generic idea. This leads to the correct interpretation, as above indicated.
Nor does the title, as many suppose (e.g., Justin Martyr, Tertullian, De Wette, Tholuck), express exclusively the humiliation and condescension of Christ, but it denotes at the same time, and chiefly His elevation above the ordinary level, and the actualization, in Him and through Him, of the ideal standard of human nature under its moral and religious aspect, or in its relation to God, (Bengel,174 Schleiermacher, Olshausen, Neander, Hengstenberg, Trench, Liddon,175 Godet,176 and others).
Christ Jesus is the centre of the unity of mankind, the recapitulation of humanity, as Paul profoundly indicates (Eph. 1:10), and as Irenæus taught. He is the true seed of the woman, the second Adam (Rom. 5. and 1 Cor. 15.), who more than restored what the first Adam lost. He fulfils and closes the preceding, and controls the succeeding, history of our race. All men, even the best and the greatest, have their weaknesses and defects, and reflect only a fragment of the idea of humanity. Once in history, and once only, there was born a man who represents humanity in its purity without the demoniac adulteration of sin, and its universality without the limitations of race and nationality. Christ felt more humanly, spake more humanly, acted, suffered and died more humanly than any man before or since His coming. Every word and act of His appeals to universal human sympathies and calls out the moral affections of all without distinction of race, condition, and degree of culture. He is the only ἀληθινὸς ἄνθρωπος (as Philo called the Logos), the Urbild, the archetypal or model Man, the King of men, and “draws all men” to Him. He could not have been so perfect a man without being also divine.
This interpretation of the title Song of Solomon of Man, suggested grammatically by the use of the definite article, is confirmed historically by the origin of the term, according to the usual acceptation, in Dan. 7:13 f., where it signifies the Messiah in His heavenly glory, as the head of a universal and eternal kingdom,177 and perhaps also in Ps. 8. where man is represented in his ideal destination with reference to the Messiah as the true and perfect head of humanity (comp. Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:27; Hebr. 1:2–8). The Son of David was likewise a designation of the Messiah (Matth. 9:27; 15:22; 12:23; 21:9; 22:41 ff.), but is not so significant, as it represents Christ, only as the flower and crown of the house of David, not of the whole human family. Our view commends itself, moreover, at one as the most natural and significant, in such passages as, “Ye shall see the heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51); “He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 6:53); “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father;” “The Son of Man is come to save” (Matth. 18:11; comp. Luke 19:10); “The Father hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). Even those passages which are quoted for the opposite view, receive, in our interpretation, a greater force and beauty from the sublime contrast which places the voluntary condescension and humiliation of Christ in the most striking light, as when He says: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head” (Luke 9:58): or, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matth. 20:27, 28). Thus the manhood of Christ, rising far above all ordinary manhood, though freely coming down to its lowest ranks, with the view to their elevation and redemption, is already the portal of His Godhood. Comp. my treatise on the Person of Christ, Boston, 1865, pp. 113 ff., from which I have transferred a few sentences.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The greatness of the Baptist and the majesty of Christ appear in John’s pointing his disciples to Christ, and Christ’s attaching the best of them immediately to Himself. In these disciples of John the spiritual perfection of the work of the Baptist is seen.
2. It is remarkable, that the first disciples of John who followed Christ, followed Him upon the repeated testimony of the Baptist: Behold the Lamb of God. The testimony to the præ-existence and glory of Christ does not convince the rulers of the Jews; this testimony which shows a future full of suffering for Christ convinces the disciples of John who here come to view. This of itself shows that they can never have shared the entirely crude, sensuous hope of the Messiah, in its hard, unspiritual form; much as they were still involved in sensuous expectations of a nobler sort.
3. Coming to Christ is here illustrated in every way. Prophetic testimony, office, word, points to him. Then brother brings brother, friend brings friend, towhsman brings townsman. One comes with another, and one after another.
4. These first disciples stand the decisive test-question, whether they seek something from Him, or seek Himself and all in Him. They seek Him, and when they exclaim: We have found the Messiah, they mean: We have found—absolutely.
5. In keeping with this prominence of the personality of Christ, He manifests His glory first in miracles of pure knowledge with the most varied insight into the dark depths of personal life. Thus in our text He sees through, in particular, Peter and Nathanael, and at the close of the chapter the Evangelist celebrates Him as the knower of hearts. So afterwards He reads Nicodemus, the woman of Samaria, Judas, the people, etc.
6. The manner in which the Evangelist John, with delicate modesty, has here interwoven the story of his own calling with the gospel history, reminds us of the similar manner of Matthew (John 9:9); and these two analogies might lead us to presume that Mark (John 14:51, 52) and Luke (John 24:13–35) have done likewise. See the exegesis, John 1:35. Christianity, in the light of the person of the Lord, brings to view and into play the worth and warrant of all the personages purified by Him. But evidently these great, sanctified delineators of the life of Jesus and the facts of redemption have wrought in with the utmost modesty their own names, for the most part only by hints in any part of their picture.
7. In this place Israel meets us in its purity, and doubtless is made prominent in its higher import, because the Evangelist sees himself further on compelled to exhibit Judaism so strongly in its hatred of the truth.
8. Christianity, an open heaven over open eyes, and a revelation of ever new and ever greater glories of the Lord, first in His life, then in His church, because divinity is become one with humanity in Christ, and this life communicates itself through the Holy Ghost to believer.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
On both histories together (John 1:35–43 and 44–51). The exuberant beginning of the Church of Christ: a. Its going forth out of the Old Testament; b. Its rising into the New.—The Israel of the Old Covenant, and the Israel of the New.—The effect of the testimony of John: residing (1) in the perseverance (repetition) and emphasis of it; (2) in the matter of it (the Lamb of God).—Three unique days in the kingdom of God (the next day, etc.).—Christ the Lamb of God.—The coming of the disciples to Jesus, a type of our coming to Him.—How quickly Christ and His elect recognize and meet each other.—The spring seasons of the kingdom of heaven.—The unity and the diversity of the Lord’s ways of calling His disciples.—“We have found!”—Working for the Lord.—Christ the heart-searcher.—The three great proofs of the Messiah: (1) From the Old Testament (Moses and the prophets, closed up by John the Baptist); (2) from Christ’s representation of Himself; (3) from the experience of the disciples.
On the first history (John 1:35–43). The first two disciples of Jesus: John and Andrew.—The two decisive questions: What seek ye? and, Rabbi, where dwellest thou?—The invitation of Christ: “Come and see,” in its permanent import.—The first word of the Lord and His last respecting Peter, according to the Gospel of John.—How the natural brotherhood becomes transfigured in the spiritual.
On the second history (44–51). Philip and Nathanael, or friendship in its relation to the kingdom of God: (1) Its destination for it; (2) its glorification in it.—Honorable prejudice, and how it is overcome by the facts of experience.—The word of the disciple: “Come and see;” an echo of the word of Jesus: “Come and see.”—The preaching of Philip: (1) Infinitely difficult: the connection of the name of Messiah, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, with Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph; (2) perfectly decided: We have found Him! (3) Irresistibly confirmed: Come and see!—One of the rare commendatory words of Christ, on a most rare occasion: (1) Bestowed upon a man who spoke contemptuously of His birth-place; was prepossessed against Himself; had, immediately after an hour of earnest devotion, fallen again under a prejudice; (2) and bestowed for the very reason, that he was without guile.—“An Israelite without guile:” In all nations, as in all men, the essential permanent nature and destiny must be distinguished from the corruption of it (the true Israelite from the false Jew; the intellectual German from the dreamy German; the open, frank Frenchman from the insolent Frenchman, etc.; Peter the rook from Peter the shaken reed, etc.).—The threefold homage of Nathanael: (1) Rabbi (which he had owed from the first); (2) Son of God (which he had denied Him); (3) King of Israel (with which he submits to Him as an Israelite without guile).—Christianity an open heaven over the open eyes and hearts of believers.—The ascending and descending angels; or, the intercourse between heaven and earth, a reciprocity of personal vital functions between the Father and Christ, Christ and His people, the church triumphant and the church militant.—Open hearts, a foretokening of the open heaven (Christ’s look into the soul of Nathanael, a foretokening of all the wonders of revelation).
STARKE: Preachers must repeat a thing often for the sake of those weak in faith.—QUESNEL: To enforce industriously the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a main duty of the servant of God.—Here the Lord begins to collect a little church, to which John has given up his disciples.—Jesus calls and draws men to Himself; yet without violence.—ZEISIUS: Experience in spiritual things gives great certainty and firmness in faith.—Regenerate Christians acquire a new name, which no man knows.—OSIANDER: Every one who truly believes in Christ is a rock, against which all the gates of hell are powerless.—QUESNEL: Judge of divine things not by outward appearance, nor under human prejudice.—ZEISIUS: Uprightness is pleasing to the Lord, 1 Chron. 29:17.—The omnipresent eye of the Lord.—The opening of heaven the opening of a way whereby the heavenly riches course to the earth, and free way (access) is given from earth to heaven.—Relation of the descending and ascending to the humiliation and exaltation of Christ (?).—Christ the ladder to heaven.
BRAUNE: The voice of the preacher prepared the way for Him; in the company of the preacher He must find His first adherents.—The anticipating friendliness of Jesus.—The blessedness of a Christian is ungrudging, and would communicate itself to all the world.—But why the ascending (of the angels) first, the descending after? Because intercourse between heaven and earth is not now first beginning, but has already begun (above all the Angel of the Lord has come down in the flesh).—GERLACH: It seems that John the Baptist always spoke in short, weighty sentences, which he often repeated and deeply impressed.—The Son of God, the King of Israel, Ps. 2.—LISCO: Jesus finds disciples through the testimony of His herald (and here the first two); Jesus finds disciples through the testimony of those who have come to know Him (and here probably again two: Peter and James the elder); Jesus finds disciples through the immediate call of His own word (here the last two). Yet, in the wider sense, (1) the office of the herald, (2) the joint witness of the disciples, (3) the call of Jesus run through the whole formation of discipleship.—The best counsel against all errors: Come and see!—HEUBNER: The whole service of the teacher consists in pointing to Christ; no man can take the place of Christ, but human aid can help to find Him.—Jesus’ turning, a powerful stroke on the heart; Jesus’ look, an attracting power.—What seek ye? a question which Jesus puts to every one who comes to Him.—The open hearts went straight forward.—There is a great difference between mediate and immediate acquaintance with Jesus.—The more like Jesus, the more inexhaustible a man is.—The more one is conversant with Jesus, the more he finds in Him. In other men one is often disappointed; in Jesus every expectation is exceeded.—ALBERTINI: How does the Saviour enlist disciples?—SCHLEIERMACHER: The meeting of Christ and His disciples an example for us in forming earnest social relations.—The deepest corruption is the falsehood of man.—Through the Redeemer alone is made the bond between heaven and earth.
[John 1:51 (52). LUTHER: When Christ became man and had entered on His ministerial office and begun to preach, then was the heaven opened, and remains open; and has from that time, since the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, never been shut, and never will be shut, although we do not see it with our bodily eyes……Christ says this: ‘Ye are now heavenly citizens, and have your citizenship above in the heavenly Jerusalem, and are in communion with the holy angels, who shall without intermission ascend and descend about you.’—Archbishop TRENCH: Lord would indicate by these wondrous words that He should henceforward be the middle point of a free intercourse,
yea, of an uninterrupted communion, between God and man, that in Him should be the meeting place of heaven and of earth (Ephes. 1:10; Col. 1:19); which should be no longer two, as sin had made them, separated and estranged from one another, but one, now that righteousness had looked down from heaven, and truth had flourished out of the earth. And this, the glory of Christ, they, His disciples, should behold, and should understand, that they too, children of man, were by Him, the Son of Man, made citizens of a kingdom which, not excluding earth, embraced also heaven, From earth there should go up evermore supplications, aspirations, prayers,—and these by the ministration of angels (Rev. 8:3, 4), if some still want a certain literal fulfilment;—from heaven there should evermore come down graces, blessings, gifts, aid to the faithful and punishment for them that would hurt them (Rev. 8:5; Acts 12:7, 23). Heaven and earth should hence forward be in continual interchange of these blessed angels,
‘And earth be changed to heaven, and heaven to earth;
One kingdom, joy and union without end.’
—BONAVENTURA: The heavenly ladder was broken in Adam, and repaired in Christ.—There is a beautiful hymn on Jacob’s ladder, as a symbol of communion with God, by Mrs, Sarah Flower Adams, 1848:
“Nearer, my God, to Thee.”
John 1:38.—[Lit.: (And) Jesus having turned, and seen them following, saith to them, δέ after στραφείς is omitted by Tischend. (VIII. ed.), but retained by Tregelles, Alford, Westcott.—Tischendorf, Alford and others divide John 1:38 into two, commencing John 1:38 with τί ζητεῖτε; hence the difference of verses to the end of the ch.—P. S.]
John 1:39.—[The text. rec. reads ἴδετε, see, in conformity with ἔρχεσθε and with John 1:47: ἔρχον καὶ ἴδε. Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott, adopt ὄψεσθε, which could be more easily changed into ἴδετε than substituted for it.—P. S.]
John 1:39.—[Text. rec. omits οὖν, which is supported by א. A. B. C. L., etc., Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westc.—P. S.]
John 1:38.—[Μἐνειν is used here and twice in John 1:39, and there is no need of varying the transl., as in the E. V.—P. S.]
John 1:39.—[The best authorities omit δέ after ὥρα. There should be a full stop after day. If the δέ of text. rec. be retained, it should be translated and instead of for.—P. S.]
John 1:41.—[The text, rec. πρῶτος, referring to Ἀνδρέας (he before any other), is supported by א.* L. Epiph. Cyr., etc., and adhered to by Meyer, Lange and Tischendorf (ed. VIII), while Lachmann, Tregelles, Alford and Westcott, on the authority of א.c A. B. M. Orig, give the preference to πρῶτον, which would mean (adverbialiter) either first (before he found another) or (assuming an error of the transcriber for πρωΐ) early (hence the Itala: mane). But the change of ς in ν is easily accounted for by the following τόν.—P. S.]
John 1:42.—Cod. B. reads Ἰωάνου [other authorities, Ἰωάννου, with double ν], so Lachmann; Cod. L. 33, and some versions, Ἰωάννου. The same authorities give the same in John 21:15, 17, and besides codd. C. and D. interchange Ἰωάνου and Ἰωάννου. The Recepta [Jona, or better, Jonas] is supported primarily by Matth. 16:17, where all authorities read Ἰωνᾶ. Lücke observes: The less usual Ἰωνἄ might easily be confounded with the Ἰωάνου or Ἰωάννου more current among the Greeks. Meyer supposes that John gave the form Ἰωάνης to the name, whence it became the more usual Ἰωάννης. [Cod. Sin. Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, Westcott and Hort read Ἰωάννου, or the same with one v. Ἰωνἄ is a correction from Matth. 16:17. Ewald, on the contrary, thinks that the reading Johannes here and John 21 originated in a mistake. He reads σύ ει̇͂, etc. as a question: Du bist Simon Jona’s Sohn?—P. S.]
John 1:42.—[For information on the meaning of Cephas, Petros, Petra, see my long annotation to Lange on Matthew 16:17, p. 293, Text. Note3.—P. S.]
John 1:43.—[τῇ ἐπαύρον, as in John 1:35 and 29. The E. V. needlessly and carelessly varies here the translation three times: the next day (John 1:29), the next day after (35), the day following (43).—P. S.]
John 1:43.—After ἠθέλησεν the Recepta hasὁ Ἰὴσοῦς. “Beginning of a church lesson.” [Omitted by Tischend., Treg., Alf., Westc.—P. S.]
John 1:45.—[Lit. Jesus, the son of Joseph, the one from Nazareth (or who is from Nazareth), or Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth, Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ.—P. S.]
John 1:51.—The ἀπάρτι is wanting in Codd. [א.] B.L., and in considerable versions; omitted in Tischendorf and Lachmann. [Treg., Alf., Westc. and H.] It was doubtless dropped because it seemed unsuitable to the words following, which were taken for actual angelic appearances. [On the other hand, it may have been inserted from Matth. 26:64. Alford.—P. S.]
John 1:51.—[The Engl. Vers., also the Greek text of Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort number but 51 verses, but the Vulgate, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Luther’s Vers, Lange, etc., number 52. The difference in the counting begins at John 1:38.—P. S.]
[Οψεσθε instead of ἴδετε, see TEXT. NOTE 2. Ewald infers from the reading ὄφεσθε, without sufficient reason, that the place of lodging was at some distance.—P. S.]
[Augustine: Quam beatum diem duxerunt, quam beatam noctem! Quis est, qui nobis dicat, quæ audierint illi a Domino?—P. S.]
[Ewald maintains that John at Ephesus followed the computation which now prevails with us, so that here and 19:14 the hours before noon are meant, but in 4:6 and 4:52 the hours of the afternoon.—P. S.]
[The allegorical interpretations of Song of Solomon of Jona (Jonas) or Barjona (Matth. 16:17), based upon the characteristics of the dove, viz., man of purity, or man of weakness (as contrasted with man of rock), etc., have no proper foundation, since the received text Ἰωνἄ, (which is a correction from Matth. 16:17) must give way to the far better authenticated reading Ἰωάννης or Ἰωάνης (see TEXT. NOTES 7), In John 21:15, 16, 17, according to the best critical authorities, Christ addresses Peter: Σίμων Ἰωάννου (Johannis in the Vulg.). In conformity with this reading, Jona or Jonas in Barjona, Matth. 16:17, must be regarded not as the name of the prophet Jonas (from יוֹנהָ, dove) but as a contraction of Joana or Jehoanan (יחוחנן), John, i.e., Jehovah is merciful (comp. the German Goltlieb, the Greek Theodore). Hence Barjona would mean Song of Solomon of grace rather than Song of Solomon of the dove. I expressed this view in a note on Matthew, p. 295, and find it now confirmed by the authority of so good a Hebrew scholar as Hengstenberg, Com. on John, 1. p. 111.—P. S.]
[So also Meyer against Baur and Scholten: “In Matth. 16:18 the former bestowal of the new name on Simon is presupposed, confirmed and applied.” In giving new names, Christ acts with the authority of Jehovah in the O. T. when He changed the name of Abram into Abraham, Jacob into Israel, etc. Comp. Hengstenberg.—P. S.]
[On the character of Peter see Schaff’s History of the Apostolic Church, N. Y. ed., pp. 348 ff.].
[His name and other Greek names of native Jews (Peter, Stephen, Nicanor, Timon, comp. Acts 6:5, etc.), and the use of the Greek by all the apostles prove the wide spread of the Greek language, manners, and customs since the conquest of Alexander the Great, which prepared the way for the spread of the gospel.—P. S.]
[Double names were quite common in Palestine. The identity of Nathanael (נְתַנְאֵל=God gave, the gift of God) and Bartholomew (כִּר תַּלְמַי, i.e., Son of Talmai) did not suggest itself to any of the fathers (Chrysostom and Augustine exclude Nathanael from the list of the Apostles), but is now (perhaps since Rupert of Deutz in the 12th century, as Trench supposes) almost generally admitted for the following reasons: 1) Nathanael is here in his vocation coördinated with Apostles. 2) After the resurrection he appears in the company of Apostles, some being mentioned before, some after him. John 21:1, 2:3) John never names Bartholomew, the Synoptists never mention Nathanael. 4) Bartholomew is no proper name, but simply a patronymicum. 5) The Synoptists in the catalogues of the Apostles (Matth. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14), name Bartholomew in connection with Philip, with whom Nathanael is associated by John in our passage. Wordsworth denies the identity and approvingly quotes Augustine, who assigned as a reason why Nathanael was not called to the Apostolate, that he was probably a learned man skilled in the law. But this reason would exclude Paul likewise.—P. S.]
[Trench, l. c., p. 69, takes the question: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” as having the same sense with the later objection: “Shall Christ come out of Galilee,” instead of Bethlehem (John 7:41, 42, 45) and finds in any good thing a reference mainly to the Messiah. Similarly Hengstenberg.—P. S.]
[Trench, l. c. 73: “Christ read, as often as He needed to read, not merely the present thoughts, but also so much as He desired of the past histories, of those who came in contact with Him; and this He did not merely by that natural divination, that art of looking through countenances into souls, interpreting the inner life from the outward bearing, which all men in a greater or less degree possess, and He doubtless in the largest measure of all (Isa. 11:3); but ‘in his spirit’ (Mark 2:8), by the exercise of that divine power, which was always in Him, though not always active in Him. It was thus, for example, that He read the life-story of that Samaritan woman (John 4:17, 18: comp. 5:14); where it is impossible to presume a previous acquaintance; it was thus far most probably in the instance before us.”—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg (I. 126): “The O. T. teaches most definitely that the King of Israel, the Messiah is exalted far above the human level. This doctrine is contained in the very Psalm, in which both designations of the Messiah, as King and as the Son of God, occur, Ps. 2:6, 7, and from which these designations are derived.”—P. S.]
[There is a branch of rigid Mennonites in Pennsylvania who call themselves Amish or Omish (a corruption of Amenites), but this name is sometimes derived from a Swiss clergyman, Jacob Amen, in the 17th century, who had a dispute on minor points with another Mennonite, John Heisly.—P. S.]
[The allusion to Jacob’s vision of the ladder is generally admitted by commentators. Augustine: Cujus nomine te appellavi, ipsius somnium in te apparebit. (Comp. his Tract. VII. in Joh. Ev.). Grotius: Quod ibi in somnio vidit Israel, idem vigilans visurus dicitur verus Israelita. Bengel: Vidit tale quid Jacob, Gen. 28:12; quanta magis Israelitæ veri in N. T. Alford: “The words have a plain reference to the ladder of Jacob, and imply that what he then saw was now to receive its fulfilment: that He, the Son of Man, was the dwelling of God and the gate of heaven, and that through Him, and on Him in the first place, was to descend all communication of help and grace from above.” Trench: “What Israel saw, the true ‘Israelite’ shall behold the same; yea, what one saw but in a dream, the other shall behold in waking reality; and more and better even than this; for then God was a God far off; the Lord stood above the ladder and spoke from heaven; but now standing at its foot, He speaks as the Son of Man from earth, for now the Word has been made flesh; and the tabernacle of God is with men.”—P. S.]
[Or preachers of Christ, as Augustine explains angels in this passage (Tract. VII. § 23).—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg likewise takes a comprehensive view of the passage, as including the angels proper and all other mediums of divine communication.—P. S.]
[Bengel (Matth. 16:13): Unus hic nempe homo est, quem Adamus, post lapsum, ex promissione expectavit pro tota sua progenie; ὁ δεύτερος secundus, quem omnis prophetia V. T. indigitavit, qui totius generis humani jura et primogenituram sustinet, et cui uni quod humani nominis nos non pœniteat, debemus. Comp. his whole note on Matth. 16:13, which Trench calls “a wonderful specimen of the close packing of matter the most interesting and the most important in his Gnomon.”]
[Lectures on the Divinity of Chirist, 1868, p. 8: “The title Son of Man does not merely assert His real incorporation with our kind; it exalts Him infinitely above us all as the representative, the ideal, the pattern Man.”]
[Com. I. 340: “Il se dectarait non seulement un homme, un vrai hommc, mais le rejeton par excellence de la race humaine, lv’homme attendue, prévu, moralement nécessaire, le répresentant normal du type… Jésus trouve ainsi le moyen d’affirmer de lui-même tout ce qu’il y a de plus grand, tout en employment la forme la plus fraternelle et la plus humble. Son égalitité par, faite avec nous s’ exprime jusque dans le terme qui révèle sa superiorité absolue sur nous.”]
[“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man—כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ, LXX: ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, Vulg.: quasi filius hominis—came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days…and there was given Him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him,” etc. Comp. the words of Christ, Matth. 24:30 and 26:64: “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” The allusion in the last two passages to the prophecy of Daniel can hardly be mistaken.]
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.C. Two-fold result of the raising of Lazarus. The believing Jews. The obdurate ones as betrayers. The high-priestly prophecy, or the extinction of the ancient Urim and Thummim. Demoniacal policy and Divine counsel. Jesus now in the wilderness of Ephraim, as He was in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry
45Then many [Many therefore] of the Jews which came [who had come]65 to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus [what he] did, believed on [in] him. 46But some of them went their ways [went away] to the Pharisees, and told them what things [omit things] Jesus had done.
47Then [Therefore] gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council [the Council, or, the Sanhedrin]66 and said, What do we [shall we do, or, are we to do]? for this man doeth [worketh] many miracles [signs]. 48If we let him thus alone [thus go on], all men [omit men] will believe on [in] him; and the Romans shall [will] 49come and take away both our place and nation. And [a certain] one of them, named [omit named] Caiaphas, being the [omit the] high priest that same [omit 50same] year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor [do ye] consider that it is expedient for us [for you],67 that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not [and not the whole nation perish]. 51And this spake he [he spoke] not of [from] himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied [gave the high-priestly prophetic decision] that Jesus should [was about to] die for that [the] nation; 52And not for that [the] nation only, but that also he should [that he might also] gather together in [into] one [body, or, people] the children of God that were [are] scattered abroad.
53Then [Therefore] from that day forth they took counsel together68 for [omit for] to put him to death. 54Jesus therefore walked no more [longer] openly [freely] among the Jews; but went [departed] thence unto a [into the] country near to [omit to] the wilderness, unto a city called Ephraim, and there continued [so-journed, 55abode] with his [the] disciples. And [Now] the Jews’ passover [the passover of the Jews] was nigh at hand [omit nigh, or, at hand]: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56Then sought they [They sought therefore] for Jesus, and spake [said] among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57Now both [omit both]69 the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment [issued commandments or, ordered],70 that, if any man [any one] knew where he were [was], he should shew it [give information, or, make it known], that they might take [seize] him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 11:45. Many of the Jews therefore. A new split in the Pharisaical party in Jerusalem itself. The important effect of the raising of Lazarus is observable in the fact that many of these Jews became believers. Some, however, of those who witnessed the miracle at Bethany, separate from the believing portion and confirm themselves in their obduracy, giving notice of the event to the Pharisees, i.e., here, the hostile members of the Sanhedrin. Origen held these individuals to be friends of Jesus, whose intentions in giving the information were good. On the other hand the view of Euthymius who regarded them as malevolents, is the one generally entertained. According to Euthymius, they denounced Him as a sorcerer (γοέτης); according to Theophylact, as a sacrilegious person, who had disinterred a corpse. These hypotheses overlook the possibility that the hardened denunciators held the same opinion to which Caiaphas gives utterance John 11:50, and considered Jesus to be merely a dangerous man. And thus their notification is apprehended by the generality of people. Meyer impugns the assumption of hostile intention on the part of these men; it is οἱ ἐλθόντες [who had come], says he,—not τῶν ἐλθόντων [the reading of D. and text rec.—P. S.] But in this construction the evangelist would say, that the—Jews who came to Bethany constituted a plurality of the whole body of Jews. The better plan would be, perhaps, to distinguish among the spectators friends of Mary, sharers of her sentiments; these had come to Mary and were θεασάμενοι. The Jews were well aware of the deadly enmity of the Pharisees towards Jesus; if these informants had been friends, they must have witnessed for Jesus with heroic martyr-courage, and they would have secured a firm and conspicuous station in the evangelical history.
John 11:47. The high priests and the Pharisees therefore assembled the Sanhedrin.—See Comm. on Matthew, chap. 5 p. 113, Am. Ed.; Winer, Art. Synedrium.
1. The NAME: συνέδριον, talmudic: סַנְהֵדְרִיך, Sanhedrin.71
2. SIGNIFICATION: the supreme, theocratico-hierarchical Court of the Jews, resident at Jerusalem.
3. COMPOSITION and ORGANIZATION. It consisted of seventy-one members forming three classes (chief priests, elders, scribes). At that time it was composed of Pharisaic and Sadducean elements (Caiaphas, the high-priest, belonged to the Sadducean party). The Sanhedrin had a president (הַנָּשִׂיא), ordinarily the high-priest, who was assisted by a vice-president (אַב בֵּית דִּין). There is not sufficient proof that a third functionary, styled חָכָם, stood at the left of the high-priest (Vitringa).
4. SESSIONS. Extraordinary: in urgent cases at the house of the high-priest. Ordinary: held daily (with the exception of the Sabbath and feast days), of old in a session room adjoining the temple, called Gazith, but in later times (from a period of forty years before the destruction of the temple) in places near the temple-mount.
5. MATTERS COMING UNDER THE COGNIZANCE OF THIS COURT AS A FORUM: Matters concerning a whole tribe, a false prophet, the high-priest, or an arbitrary war, or blasphemy.
6. PUNITORY POWER. Formerly: Infliction of capital punishment (stoning, burning, beheading, hanging); later: excommunication and recommendation for capital punishment.
7. ADMINISTRATION. Connection with the minor courts; highest court of appeal from these; intercourse with them through surrogates and apparitors.
8. EXTENT OF AUTHORITY: Legislation, administration, justice.
9. HISTORY. According to the Talmudists this court originated in the institution of Moses, Num. 11:24. That, probably, was but prelusive. So, too, the Supreme court of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 19:8. Increased importance of this institution after the exile. The γερουσία in the time of the Seleucidæ (2 Macc. 1:10); the first decided mention at the time of Antipater and Herod (Joseph. Antiqu., XIV. 9, 4). A session of the Sanhedrin is called.
What shall we do [or, What are we to do, ποιοῦμεμν]?—The indicative, i.e., something must be done.—For this man.—Implacable hatred. They no longer protest against the many signs of Jesus; but nevertheless they contemptuously
say: this man. Doubtless the expression—many miracles, is also intended to obliterate the simple recognition of the grand raising of the dead. At the same time an expression of fear that He would perform yet other miracles.
John 11:48. If we let Him thus alone.—The policy of fear and anti-christianity. It is a wicked and empty fear that all will believe on Him; a wicked and empty fear that thence troubles will arise that will cause the Romans to invade the country; a wicked and empty fear that they will then make an end of the Jewish commonwealth. There is, moreover, in each one of these considerations a co-operative element of falsehood; hence it is likewise a trebly hypocritical fear And a fear, in sooth, which thinks itself justified by its motives, in carrying on hostile proceedings against a prophet of God, a doer of many miracles. In fine, a fear that occasions the very mischief it considers itself bound mischievously to avert. Weisse and Strauss have regarded this hierarchical portrait as an improbable one. Analogies at once suggest themselves; for instance, Ultramontanism confounds the Reformation with Anabaptism, Socialism, Communism, Antichristianity,—and is itself the parent of those very things which it seeks to foist upon the other.
They will take away both our place and nation [καὶτὸντόπονκαὶτὸἔθνος]. Αροῦσιν according to Euthymius and many others, ἀπολέσουσιν, according to Nonnus and others: they will wrest from us; this certainly is more in accordance with their egotistical sentiment which considers everything lost when the hierarchical rule is gone. Tholuck is in favor of: annihilate,—because Judea was already a Roman province. But the hierarchy still exercised rule. Our, ἡμῶν. Meyer: placed first, with the emphasis of egotism. Τὸν τόπον variously construed: 1. As the temple, as the central sanctuary (Origen, Lücke [De Wette, Hengstenberg] and others, after Acts 6:13; 2 Macc. 5:19); 2. as the country, “Land und Leute” [Luther] country and people—(Bengel, Luthardt, and others);72 3. as the holy city [the seat of the Sanhedrin and the whole hierarchy], in favor of which, 2 Macc. 3:18, 30. Chrysostom, Meyer.73 Be it observed that the temple with the holy mountain and the holy city form a concrete unit, as the residence of the theocratical hierarchy. However, the expression is also an unconscious prophecy, like the subsequent remark of Caiaphas.
John 11:49. And a certain one of them, Caiaphas. Καϊάφας. See Comm. on Matt. John 26:3. Also Luke 3:2. It must be observed that the Sadducees, to whom Caiaphas belonged, have already begun to take part in the hostility against Jesus; having probably long despised Him, their active enmity is doubtless excited by the raising of Lazarus. They now, in the person of Caiaphas, take the foremost rank in the persecution; subsequently we see them for a time take the lead even of the Pharisees in hostility towards the Christian Church (Acts 4:1, 2).
Being high-priest that year [τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου]. Different interpretations:
1. Bretschneider, Strauss [Schenkel, Scholten]: It is the erroneous idea that the high-priestly office changed hands from year to year. [But whoever was the writer of this Gospel, he shows sufficient familiarity with Jewish customs and localities throughout, to manifest that he was incapable of making such a mistake.—P. S.]
2. Baur: The Pseudo-John supposed Caiaphas and Hannas to have discharged the office alternately [very arbitrary].
3. Tholuck: “The repetition of τ. ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκ. John 11:49, 51; John 18:13 cannot be understood otherwise than thus: namely, that the high-priest who once in the year offered the joint sacrifice for the people (Heb. 9:7), must himself declare that in that year a greater and more universal joint sacrifice should be offered.” Yet John himself refers the saying not to the high priestly, but to the prophetic position of the high-priest.
4. Lücke: In that memorable year, the deathyear of the Redeemer, Caiaphas was at the head of affairs (and the Evangelist deemed it superfluous to add to the mention of this fact a reference to the duration of the office).74 This suffices; yet the expression undoubtedly contains also an intimation to the effect, that the high-priestly-office was debased at that time by the frequent alternations it sustained. See Leben Jesu.
Ye know nothing at all. Οὐκοὐδέν. As he is aware that he is giving utterance to the inmost wishes of the greater part of them, he can, with an appearance of righteous indignation, revile them, without apprehending the taking of much offence.
John 11:50. Nor consider that it is expedient [συμφέρέι] for us—us of the Sanhedrin75—that one man should die for the people [ἵνα—according to divine purpose—εἶς ἄνθρωπος ἀποθάνῃ ὑπὲρ τοῦ λαοῦ, and not the whole nation perish, καὶ μὴ ὃλον τὸ ἔθνος ἀπόληται. Thus the Jewish priesthood expired with an unconscious and unwilling prophecy of Christ’s atoning death, which it typically foreshadowed. Stier and Luthardt see in this a sublime irony of a most special Providence in the very centre of the world’s history.—P. S.] The ὑπέρ, in commodum, for the benefit, becomes also an ἀντί, instead of, in consequence of the concluding clause: “and that not the whole nation (λαός, the whole mass of the people) perish.76 “Analogous sentences are collected by Schöttgen and Wetstein.” The devilishness of this pseudo-political maxim as conceived by Caiaphas, is contained in the idea that Jesus shall be a guiltless and involuntary sacrifice to secure the good of the nation. This diabolical notion causes the proposition to assume, in this sense, an ultra-heathenish, superstitious and lying aspect. It is the completed idea of the most revolting heathen Moloch-sacrifices, into which Israel lapses when at the very acme of its legalistic zeal for putatively pure Judaism. See Leben Jesu, II., p. 1138.
John 11:51. But being high-priest that year, he prophesied—i.e., unconsciously to himself, the wicked decree, as he apprehended it, had the significancy of an official prediction, and, as such, a higher sense. Various interpretations:
1. In the sense of בַּתַ־קוֹל (De Wette). There is undoubtedly something of a kindred nature in the Bath Kol; yet that is here insufficient, and it belongs to another sphere. See Herzog’s Real-Encyklopædie [I. 719].77
2. An involuntary prophecy, like that of old, contained in the involuntary blessing of Balaam (Lücke, Tholuck).78 The cases are certainly allied; they differ, however, in that in the ease of Balaam, a distinction must be made between his common consciousness and his inspired mood (wherefore his words of blessing are not susceptible of a double interpretation, as is his character), while in Caiaphas we have to distinguish between his consciousness and the unconscious expression, mirroring a higher truth, and hence bearing a double meaning.
3. A sentence in accordance with the appointment of the high-priest, to prophesy by the Urim and Thummim, i.e., to utter the decision assignable to divine causality. Leben Jesu 2, 2, p. 1137. [So also Alford. This view is confirmed by the repetition of the phrase ἀρχιερεὺς ὤν τοῦ ἐν. ἐκ. But this reference to the Urim and Thummim does not exclude the second view.—P. S.] “The high-priest,” says Meyer, “was considered in ancient Israelitish times as the bearer of the divine oracle, the organ of divine revelation (Ewald, Antiquities, p. 385 sq.), which he obtained by examination of the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30; Lev. 27:21). It is true that this examination was discontinued in later times (Joseph. Ant. III., 8, 9)—the high-priestly office being in all things shorn of its glory; yet even in the prophetic age there still existed a belief in the prophethood of the high-priest (Hos. 3:4); we find also in Josephus Antiq. VI., 6, 3, the ancient high-priesthood represented as the bearer of the oracle,” etc., [p. 444 f., 5th ed.] The high-priest was not the organ of divine revelation, but of divine decision; for the people whose king was God, must be able in all cases to have the mandate of its King. Now the decision was, if auspicious (as Philo,79 idealizing the priest, represents him as a prophet), a prophecy of blessing; but if the high-priest was an unenlightened man, his oracle became the utterance of a curse. The decision might also, in itself, be the fountain sometimes of fortune, sometimes of misfortune. But even in the latter case there was attached to it the blessing of a divine judgment, that brought deliverance to the pious (rabbinical passages of unconscious predictions in Schöttgen).
That Jesus was about to die [ἥμελλενἀποθνήσκειν]. Ὅτι. The subsequent observation is not merely a pious reflection of John, as Lücke represents it; it is declaratory of the decisive providence of God, which caused the wicked decree to be so worded that it must express at the same time, unconsciously to the speaker, a divine sense, containing the real doctrine of salvation,—the doctrine of the redemption of man by the death of Jesus. To die for the nation.—The ὑπὲρτοῦλαοῦ (John 11:50), with its hierarchico-national sound, is here changed, in accordance with the last words of Caiaphas, into ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους.
John 11:52. And not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one [people] the children of God that are scattered abroad.—Christian universalism, conditional, however, upon divine ordinance, as defined in the Bible, and upon human faith.—[John 11:52 is an addition of the Evangelist to the unconscious prophecy of Caiaphas to prevent a limitation of the benefits of Christ’s death; comp. 1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins; not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”] The children of God. Interpretations:
1. The future children of God. [Among the heathen. Prophetic and proleptic, like 10:16]. (Euthymius [ὡς μέλλοντα γενέσθαι], Meyer [Alford, Trench: Those who should hereafter become His children. So also Calvin, in a predestinarian sense (to which Meyer assents): Filios ergo Dei, etiam antequam vocentur, ab electione æstimat.—P. S.]
2. Children of God, who are longing for Christ (Messner [Tholuck, Luthardt, Godet]).
3. Children of God by nature, who are such without first becoming so through Christ (Hilgenfeld [contrary to 1:12; 3:3, 6, etc.])
4. The children of God generally, among the Jews,—they being in reality scattered by the hierarchy, jealous for the λαός,—as among the heathen, whose religious men have been scattered abroad since the building of the tower of Babel. The antithesis is: dying for the nation as a unit; dying in order to the gathering of the people of God from all places whither they have been scattered. The fundamental idea is the bringing together (this expression does not refer to place) of all the children of God into one, i.e., into one nation, in antithesis to the λαός of Caiaphas. Comp. Ephes. 2:14. In that passage the fundamental idea is the union of believing Jews and Gentiles, as John 10:16; here the fundamental thought is the union of the scattered sheep. Caiaphas said: the nation is perishing—therefore He must die; John says: He, doubtless, has by His death created the true, real λαός. Christ is the union of this people.
John 11:53. From that day forth they held assemblies of their council, having in view His death: meetings for the murder of Christ. Before this time inferior courts, as well as the Sanhedrin itself, have occasionally sought to bring about His death (chh. 5 and 8); before now, individual Pharisees have sought to thrust Him aside by means of their standing tribunal of zealotism (chh. 9 and 10); before this, too, His adherents have been threatened with excommunication,—have been actually excommunicated (John 9) Now the question how He shall be put to death, becomes a settled and ever recurring subject of debate in the Sanhedrin. It is clear that Jesus has long been considered by them as under the ban; apparently, fear of the people has deterred them from inflicting public and formal excommunication upon Him, although this is involved in the mandate issued subsequently to this session.
John 11:54. To a city called Ephraim.—Jesus can no longer appear openly among the people without exposing Himself to the danger of being seized and prematurely sacrificed. It only remains to Him to reflect upon the true way of sacrifice. For this purpose He retires to the city of Ephraim, a small place, whence He can easily withdraw into the wilderness for security and contemplation.—Into the country.—The country in antithesis to Jerusalem.—Into a region near the wilderness.—Ἔρημος generally denotes the wilderness of Judea. In reality, however, it is a uniform desert tract between Jerusalem or the hill-country of Judea and the valley of the Jordan; its centre is formed by the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, to the right of the brook of Kidron; this wilderness is continued southwards in the deserts of Engeddi, Siph and Maon, and northwards in those of Tekoa, Jericho (with Mt. Quarantania) and Ephraim, which last appears as the northern extension of the whole desert region of Judea. Thus it was, in effect, one wilderness in which Christ dwelt at the beginning and the close of the years of His ministry. Ephraim was probably situated not far from Bethel, since it is several times associated with Bethel in historical events and records. With regard to the site of Bethel, it is Robinson’s belief that he recognized it in the ruins of Beitîn (Biblical Researches, II., p. 127 [Am. ed., vol. I., p. 449]). “Bethel,” he remarks, “was a border city between Benjamin and Ephraim; at first assigned to Benjamin, but conquered and afterwards retained by Ephraim. According to Eusebius and Jerome, it lay twelve Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the right or east of the road leading to Sichem or Neapolis (Nâbulus). From Beitîn to el-Bîreh we found the distance to be forty-five minutes, and from Bîreh to Jerusalem three hours, with horses.” In an easterly direction, not far from Bethel, Robinson passed the night at the village of Taiyibeh. “Here the proximity of the wilderness was plainly discernible.” In particular, there is here a rocky valley, “overgrown with furzy plants and sage, interspersed with the fragrant Zaeter.” For a description of the desert itself see Robinson. The village of Taiyibeh is considered by some to be identical with the ancient Ephraim [the same with Ophrah (Josh. 18:23; 1 Sam. 13:17) and Ephron (2 Chr. 13:17) of the Old Testament. So besides Robinson, Van de Velde and Stanley. The latter says (Sinai and Palestine, p. 210): ‘Further still, the dark conical hill of Taiyibeh, with its village perched aloft, like those of the Apennines, the probable representative of Ophrah of Benjamin, in later times ‘the city called Ephraim,’ to which our Lord retired, ‘near to the wilderness,’ after the raising of Lazarus.”—P. S.]
Since Jesus was now resolved to repair to Jerusalem with the next Galilean and Peræan paschal caravan, i.e. since but one step remained for Him to surrender Himself publicly to the Messianic hope entertained by the pious among the people and now purified by Him,—possessing a distinct foresight, however, of the death resulting upon this step, accompanied by the succumbing of the party of believers to the hierarchical party—(see Leben Jesu II., p. 1140)—Ephraim was the place exactly fitted for a temporary sojourn. Hence He could at need withdraw into the desert; here He could collect His disciples and prepare them for the last journey (see Comm, on Matthew, p. 360, Am. Ed.); here He could join either the caravan coming across Samaria to Bethel or the one passing through Jericho on its way from Peræa (see Tholuck, p. 316). Comp. Jos. 15:61; 16:1; 18:22; 2 Kings 2. It was in the vicinity of Jericho, according to the Synoptists, that Jesus attached Himself to the festive train from Peræa, having, it is probable, previously received His friends from the Galilean company that passed through Samaria.
John 11:55. And the passover of the Jews was at hand. The nearness of this feast occasioned many to go out of the Jewish country (χώρα not simply that region, as Bengel supposes, but the country in contrast to Jerusalem) beforehand up to Jerusalem, because they had to purify themselves (Lightfoot) before the feast, by means of the prescribed sacrifices and ablutions (Num. 9:6; 2 Chron. 30:17 ff.).
John 11:56. They sought therefore for Jesus. We gather from this, in the first place, how eagerly all the people were expecting the appearance of Jesus at the feast. They had hoped to find Him already in Jerusalem. Hence, then, it likewise follows that no special reference is had to people from the country about Ephraim. We therefore translate the ὅτι οὐ μὴ ἔλθῃ: that He will not come (with Meyer), but not: that He has not come (Vulgate and others). Some appear to take it for granted from the condition of things that He will not come, while others question this decision. Manifestly, it is like a sort of betting whether He will come or not. The occasion of this conduct was the mandate of the high-priest, which had been spread abroad throughout the land by means of special orders of the Sanhedrin (see the Textual note) and in accordance with which every one who knew of the abode of Jesus, was bound to give information of it. This mandate—a kind of interdict—of course presupposes excommunication. There seems to have been at that time not a single traitor among the peasants and dwellers in the deserts of Ephraim. Subsequently, however, this decree formed a point for Judas to fasten on. He probably silenced his conscience at first with the cry, that he must be an “obedient son” of the hierarchical Church, or a “loyal subject” of the spiritual authorities. The decree may be regarded as the result of the session John 11:47 (comp. John 11:53, Meyer). The anteposition of δεδώκεισαν, with reference to the decree, is emphatic. We must observe that this edict was at all events designed as an interdict,—a fact of special importance to the friends of Jesus; no one should receive Him into his house without giving information of Him, i.e. without hostility to Him. In all probability the command was issued with a particular view to the family of Lazarus. See John 12:10.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It has been early demonstrated by John in the history of Nicodemus, that a sincere lawzealot, Jew and Pharisee may believe and be saved. Here he gives prominence to the fact that many Jews believed after witnessing the raising of Lazarus. And this was the second great spiritual miracle connected with the external mighty miracle of the raising of Lazarus: with one impulse many Jews believed on Him. Some, indeed, of those who at first were overpowered by the grand fact, may probably have apostatized. At all events, there was a remnant of unbelievers. To these the savor of life unto life did here become literally a savor of death unto death.
2. The Jews who go from Bethany, from the grave of Lazarus, to the Pharisees, to show them what Jesus has done, are thus become precursors of Judas; in a general sense, types of apostates. They all come—from Bethany; they all go—to the Pharisees; they all, with hostile intent, report what Jesus has done.
3. The council of blood. The policy of fear. It occasions what it means to avert. The policy of timidity became a policy of intimidation, terrorism. Probably the rough words of Caiaphas to his colleagues were further serviceable in terroristically beating down any attempt on the part of the friends of Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, to dwell upon His many miracles (comp. Gerlach on this passage). It is not likely that these men had any share in the subsequent determined deliberations of the Council of Blood. Once they expressed their positive disapprobation (see Luke 23:51), probably on this very occasion. To this the minute account of this session is no doubt attributable.
4. On the road of ultra-Judaism the Jews have relapsed into the worst heathenism. Pursuant to the counsel of Caiaphas, they relapsed, as regards their intentions into the Moloch-sacrifice. After the destruction of Jerusalem, at the conquest of Massada, into the suicidal despair of the Hindus (Josephus, De bello jud., VII. chh. VIII. IX.); with their Talmud into a mythology which, in comparison with that of Greece and Home, is utterly odious. Thus, too, Christian Judaism [Romanism] usually relapses into the most abominable heathenism.
5. Even Caiaphas, then, has with tolerable plainness set forth the maxim: the end justifies the means.
6. The extinction of the Old Testament office of high-priestly prophecy in the sentence of Caiaphas. Caiaphas must unconsciously sketch the principal features of Christian dogmatics and soteriology. The fearful double meaning of his speech with regard to his intention and the meaning of the Spirit. What it proves: 1. Prov. 16:1:80 Man is master of his intention; that is his own; not so, however, the full import of his words. In the domain of speech the cooperating and counteracting rule of divine providence begins. 2. The symbolical ministry becomes, even in its ungodly tendency, an unconscious prophecy of the real ministry of the Spirit; the false, official high-priest a prophet of the true High Priest and His sacrifice. In what relation do these types stand to the former typism? They are types moulded by the irony of divine dispensation from the elements of human perversity. The school of truth is perfected in the mouth of these wicked priests, while the school of falsehood is perfected in their heart. Hence they are able to blaspheme with words of prayer, to prophesy with words of demoniacal policy. Caiaphas prophesied. “Roman Catholics apply this to popes; popes, though wicked, might still be the organs of truth, as Stolberg remarks in his History of the Religion of Jesus. Our church teaches only—that the Word of God and the Sacraments retain their own virtue even when administered by unregenerate preachers.” Heubner. But here also a relative soundness of the Church as a body must be assumable.
7. The Urim and Thummim are likewise expressive of the truth that decision and resolution are needful in all cases, while, on the other hand, endless vacillation is the greatest evil. Therefore God hardens Pharaoh’s heart with the view of expediting matters, and Judas also receives the command, “What thou doest, do quickly.” The temporal hardening of the people of Israel, however, was designed to prevent their eternal obduracy, Rom. 9–11.
8. The work of Christ, regarded by His enemies as a scattering and destroying of the ancient people of God, resulted in the creation of a new and real people of God, gathered from abroad.
9. Christ in the wilderness at the beginning and the end of His career. In the beginning He resolved not to appear publicly under the title of the Messiah, to avoid the Messianic conception of His nation. Now the time had come for Him to issue from the desert for the purpose of surrendering Himself to the Messianic faith of His people, in the state of purification to which He had brought it.
10. Christ the subject of interest and conversation with all the people, while they are occupied with services of ordinances and legal works of purification. How is this? An ultra-montane mind cannot rid itself of the thought of the Evangelical Confession; moreover, the friends of Jesus are present in the camp of legality.
11. The mandate of the Supreme Council: the interdict. Men should show where Christ was. Soon He showed Himself and afterwards all Christian church-steeples pointed upwards to Him. And thus Luther is no longer hidden in the Wartburg, but is everywhere proclaiming himself to the hierarchy.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The decisive effect of the raising of LAZARUS.—Bethany and its quiet family the starting point of the decision: 1. The starting point of the positive separation between the friends and the enemies of Jesus; 2. of the palm-entry; 3. of Judas, as 4. of the faithful anointing of the dying Christ.—Sincere consciences are liberated from dead ordinances by facts of life.—The “some” also believed that Jesus had raised LAZARUS; they believed it and trembled with fear and rage. Comp. James 2:19.—Even the new life of Lazarus to some a savor of death unto death.—And thus every important awakening is a soul-danger (of offence) for those whose attitude towards the truth is a false one.—Treachery a main-spring of unbelief.—The conference of the Supreme Council about the raising of LAZARUS: 1. The wicked lack of counsel of some; 2. the hellish counsel of the high-priest; 3. the silenced voice of the pious counselors (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea); 4. the heavenly counsel of divine Providence.—How selfish fear ever brings on by its superstitious proceedings the very trouble it would avert by arbitrary acts (the parents of (Œdipus).—He who thinks to escape some fate by wicked ways of his own choosing, incurs the doom he flees.—The Supreme Council also prophesied in its own fashion,—like the high-priest; the former conversely, Caiaphas unconsciously.—The recognition of the works of Christ uttered by the Supreme Council: He doeth many signs.—The saying of Caiaphas in its twofold sense.—The irony of divine Providence as exercised over human perversity, Ps. 2:4.—The ministry of the letter a type of the ministry of the spirit; thus, too, unconsciously, official—things and words are manifoldly typical.—Christ, by His death, the Rescuer of the ancient people, the Creator of a new people.—They would kill Him because He made alive.—This the main reproach that the slaying ordinance has to make against vitalizing faith.—How the Supreme Council has become a standing court of inquisition against Christ.—Jesus, outlawed and banished, in the wilderness.—The Jews who have repaired to Jerusalem, do not converse about their Jewish rites and ceremonies, but about Christ.—The conjectures (bets), as to whether He will dare come or not.—The champion of God; and Israel with Philistinish thoughts concerning Him.—The Jewish edict and interdict, John 11:57.—How all the world fulfils this commandment: 1. How enemies show where Christ is; 2. friends.—How Christ gives information concerning Himself. See Matt. 26:64.—How far the edict was ineffectual or rather accomplished the reverse of its design.
STARKE, HEDINGER: How wise worldly-minded people and knavish men think themselves, when they imagine that they are able to quench the word and kingdom of Christ by their false, famous strokes of state!—CRAMER: It is possible even for councils and assemblies of the learned to err.—It is never well to make church matters affairs of state.—ZEISIUS: The Jews thought that if they did but put Christ out of the way, their repose and prosperity would be lastingly secured, and it was thus that they lost both their temporal and spiritual good things.—BIBL. WIRT.: God often punishes the wicked with calamities which they thought they had averted.—CANSTEIN: It is almost a daily occurrence for men to plunge into disaster while essaying to ward off some imaginary evil.—Ibid.: It is the way of worldly-minded politicians to measure all things by the standard of profit and gain, not by that of truth, righteousness and justice; and this, while in most cases the prosperity of the country is declared to be the grand reason for such a course, though in reality they are actuated by nothing but selfishness.—OSIANDER: The false church is cruel and blood-thirsty.—O happy country, that receives the Son of God in His persecution!
GERLACH: “That He should die instead of the whole nation, a cleanse-offering, as it were, to avert the ruin that else would threaten the entire nation.—It seems that superstition was mingled with the unbelief of the Sadducee, or that he feigned it while in company with the Pharisees. (Not the Sadducees, however, but the Essenes, were at variance with the old system of sacrifices).—Not merely for the Jews whom Caiaphas meant, but also that He should gather God’s elect into His flock from among the heathen, whilst this wicked high-priest believed that the dispersion of His followers would be the natural accompaniment of His death. (Quite right. This, however, is the first antithesis present to the mind of the evangelist: In the sense of Caiaphas the meaning is: if Christ die, the Jewish nation lives, in the ordinary sense,—while the higher sense of the ambiguous expression was; if Christ die, the nation lives as a redeemed people, and thus a great nation is formed from the scattered children of God).—LISCO: The decision of Caiaphas, that the end justifies the means, that necessity is here an excuse for injustice.—They feel that one must fall: the kingdom of purity and truth, or the kingdom of falsehood and hypocrisy; and this last, in their avaricious lust of dominion, they desire to save.
GOSSNER: They are forced to say it themselves: this man doeth many miracles. This is true, to be sure,—but—of what consequence is a single man? (thinks Caiaphas) it is the many, to whom regard is due. The world cares nothing for the small ones of the earth; it thinks: what if they be unjustly dealt with, so long as the others are satisfied?
John 11:55. To His last hour He was a faithful church-goer and observer of religion. If He for once missed a feast-day, the people immediately inquired: where is He?
John 11:57. They wished to prepare themselves a festive joy, and to do God a service by slaying His Son at the Passover.—He should show it. An obedient son of the devil was Judas, who conscientiously obeyed this command of hell and delivered Jesus into their hands. “The church hath commanded it.” Thus Judas might (fain would) think.
HEUBNER: The assembly should have met for the recognition of Jesus. It was the duty of the Supreme Council to be the first to accept Jesus and to call upon the nation to accept Him. But from this very college proceeded the rejection of Jesus. The power of self-interest, and avarice, make men blind to the strongest proofs of divine power,—deaf to the voice of God.
John 11:49, 50. How are the weal of the masses and the right of the individual to be united? Impure state-craft never discovers the right means for accomplishing such a result.—The same words have an entirely different sense in the mouth of the wicked and the meaning of the Holy Ghost.
John 11:54. This concealment of Jesus also belonged to His state of humiliation. The Light that lightened all men must withdraw itself.—Often it was a hidden country, valley, that received Christ’s faithful ones until the wrath of the enemy was overpast.
SCHLEIERMACHER: Evil should be overcome only by good. But to do evil that good may come is the grossest perversity and the worst depravity into which man can fall.—Involuntarily he prophesied, and in uttering the counsel of human depravity, he declared at the same time the counsel of eternal wisdom and love,—the counsel of Him who gave His Son for us while we were yet sinners.
BESSER, John 11:43: They went their way to the Pharisees who were a net spread, Hos. 5:1.—Once, on the threshold of the Promised land, Israel was blessed through the prediction of a prophet who would fain have cursed; him the strength of the Lord overpowered, putting words into his mouth which confirmed the promise made to the Patriarchs and renewed through Moses, Num. 23:24. Thus Caiaphas, willing to curse, must now, a second Balaam, on the threshold of the New Covenant, pronounce a blessing upon the true Israel, confirming the prediction of the law and the prophets concerning the expiatory death of the Lamb (see, however, the note to John 11:51).—“Caiaphas and Pilate condemned Jesus, but both must testify of Him in words exceeding the sense which they consciously attached to them; here Caiaphas witnesses to the high-priestly death of Christ,—there Pilate testifies to His kingdom, in the superscription of the cross” (BENGEL).—John reads the names of many scattered ones already written in God’s heart as children; he gazes with opened eyes into the holy mission movement of the whole reconciled world, which movement shall not end until all that the Father hath given the Son are brought together.
[CRAVEN: From ORIGEN: John 11:47. This speech an evidence of their audacity and blindness.
John 11:51. Not every one who prophesies is a prophet, as not every one who does a just action is just.
John 11:54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews: It is praiseworthy when struggles are at hand (pressed upon us) not to avoid confession or refuse to suffer; and it is no less praiseworthy to avoid giving occasion for such trial. If we do not avoid our persecutor, when we have the opportunity (without sin), we make ourselves responsible for his offence.——From GREGORY: John 11:50–53. That which human cruelty executed against Him, He turned to the purposes of His mercy.——From AUGUSTINE: John 11:47, 48. They were afraid of losing temporal things and thought not of eternal life, and thus they lost both.
John 11:54. He would show by example that believers do not sin by retiring from the sight of persecutors.——From CHRYSOSTOM: John 11:51. The power of the Holy Ghost in drawing forth a prophecy from a wicked man.—The virtue of a (divinely appointed) office.
John 11:56. His enemies made the feast time, the time of His death.——From ALCUIN: John 11:56. Men may seek Jesus with bad intent.—From THEOPHYLACT: John 11:55–57. While engaged in purifications they were plotting our Lord’s death.—From BURKITT: John 11:45, 46. The different effects produced by this miracle.
John 11:48. Opposers of Christ color their enmity with specious pretences.
John 11:50. A most wicked speech: as a judge he regarded not what was lawful but as a politician consented to what was (apparently) expedient.—It is unlawful to (strive to) promote the greatest national good by unlawful means.
John 11:51. It is consistent with the holiness of God to make use of the worst of men in declaring his will.
John 11:53. The baneful effects of evil counsel, especially from leading men.——From M. HENRY: John 11:47. The witness of the Sanhedrin for Christ.
John 11:48. The success of the gospel the dread of its adversaries. When men lose piety they lose courage. Pretended fears are often the color of malicious designs.
John 11:49, 50. Carnal policy commonly sets up reasons of state in opposition to rules of justice.—That calamity which we seek to escape by sin, we take the most effectual course to bring upon us.—That the welfare of communities is to be preferred before that of individuals, is a true or false maxim as it may be employed; it is expedient and honorable for an individual to hazard his life for his country, but it is devilish for rulers to put an innocent man to death under color of consulting the public safety.
John 11:51. Caiaphas prophesied—1. God often employs wicked men as His instruments; 2. prophecy in the mouth is no infallible evidence of grace in the heart.
John 11:51, 52. The enlargement of the Evangelist on the prophecy, teaching—1. for whom Christ died, (1) the Jews, (2) the children of God scattered abroad, (a) then living, (b) throughout all time; 2. the purpose of His death concerning these, to gather them together in one.—Christ’s dying is—1. the great attractive of our hearts; 2. the great centre of our unity, (1) by the merit of His death recommending all in one to the favor of God, (2) by the motive of His death drawing each to the love of every other.
John 11:53. Evil men confirm themselves and one another in ill practices by conference.
John 11:57. It is an aggravation of the sins of rulers when they make their subjects the instruments of their unrighteousness.—From SCOTT: John 11:47–57. No devices of man can derange the purposes of God; whilst hypocrites and worldlings pursue their own projects, Christ still communes with His disciples (John 11:54) and orders all things for His own glory and their salvation.—From BARNES: John 11:50, 51. God may—1. fulfill the words of the wicked in a way they do not intend; 2. make their wicked plots the means of accomplishing His purposes.—From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 11:51. The unworthiness of the individual does not affect the sanctity of his office.—From RYLE: John 11:46. Seeing miracles will not necessarily convert souls, Luke 16:31.
John 11:47–57. The power of unbelief; ecclesiastical rulers are often the foremost enemies of the gospel. John 11:50. What is morally wrong can never be politically right.
John 11:53. The conclusions of great ecclesiastical councils are sometimes wicked.
John 11:54. Christ retires Himself for a season before His last great work; it is well to get alone and be still, before we undertake any great work for God.
John 11:55. What importance bad men sometimes attach to outward ceremonial. The religion which expends itself in zeal for outward formalities is worthless.——From OWEN: John 11:52. Gathered in one, i.e., into one spiritual nation or people.
[John 11:47–50. The blinding power of hate.
John 11:54. Christ never acted recklessly nor in bravado, nor in the spirit of one seeking martyrdom; He did Himself from danger when duty did not require exposure.]
John 11:45.—[Οἱ ἐλθόντες is the true reading, supported by Origen, and adopted by Alford, Tischendorf, etc., instead of τῶν ἐλθόντων of Cod. D.—P. S.]
John 11:47.—[συνέδριον means the Sanhedrin, the great council of the Jews. See EXEG.—P. S.]
John 11:50.—[Tischendorf (ed. 1869), Alford, Westcott and Hort read ὑμῖν in accordance with B. D. L., etc., instead of ἡμῖν. Lange follows here the text. rec.—P. S.]
John 11:53.—[Tischendorf supplies συνεβουλέυσαντο by ἐβουλέυσαντο in accordance with Sin. B. D.—P. S.]
John 11:57.—καὶ is omitted by Lachmann and Tischendorf in accordance with many Codd. Yet it is recommended by Cod. D. and others, and was perhaps omitted because men failed to recognize the great intensification of the persecution of Jesus expressed in this mandate. Since the decree in question must be disseminated throughout the land, we also consider the reading ἐντολάς, in accordance with B. M., etc., to be correct. [The first καί after δεδώκεισαν, which in the E. V. is rendered both, must be rejected on the authority of א. A. B. K. L. M. U. X., Alford, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort.—P. S.]
John 11:57.—[The singular ἐντολήν of the text. rec. as a correction (because but one is mentioned) must be set aside for the plural ἐντολάς, orders, on the authority of Cod. Sin. and B., etc.—P. S.]
[Sanhedrin is more accurate than Sanhedrim, though this is more frequently used (even by Alford). The rabbinical attempts to trace it to a Hebrew root are futile (see Buxtorf, sub verb.); it is formed from the Greek συνέδριον (σύνεδρος, ἕδρα), a sitting together, an assembly, a council. Winer’s article is more scholarly than the article Sanhedrim in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible. Lange has conveniently brought together all the necessary information on the subject.—P. S.]
[Alford: Our local habitation and national existence.—P. S.]
[So also Grotius, Ewald, Bäumlein, Godet.—P. S.]
[So also Meyer and Alford. Comp. 18:13, where the expression is repeated.—P. S.]
[Lange follows Lachmann in reading ἡμῖν. But the true reading is ὑμῖν, for you, see TEXT. NOTES.—P. S.]
[There is here a slight mistake, as will he seen by referring to the Greek text. Caiaphas uses λαός in the first, and ἔθνος in the last clause. Meyer distinguishes between ἔθνος, the people as a nation, and λαός, the people as a political or theocratic society. Or, to speak more accurately, λαός usually signifies the chosen people (Matth. 1:21; 2:4, 6, etc.), ἔθνος, a nation among the nations (comp. below John 11:52 οὐχ ὑπὲρ τοὐ ἔθνους μόνον); Matth. 24:7, “nation against nation;” 25:32, “all nations,” etc.). Yet λαός is also used for a great crowd or multitude, like ὅχλος, John 8:2; Luke 23:27, “a great company of people,” etc.—P. S.]
[The Talmudic term, Bath Kol, lit., “the daughter of the voice,” means the echo of a heavenly voice of revelation, or a divine oracle which the Rabbins imagined to receive, or which they were accustomed to derive from accidental circumstances and lots. It arose after the extinction of the prophecy and is a bastard substitute for it. John would not use of this the verb ἐπροφήτευσεν.—P. S.]
[So also Trench and Wordsworth. Similar instances of involuntary prophets or witnesses to the truth we have in Pharaoh, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Pilate.god uses bad men as well as good ones for His own ends; He can speak wisdom even through the mouth of an ass, and confound the philosophers. Trench says: “There is no difficulty in such unconscious prophecies as this evidently is. How many prophecies of the like kind,—most of them, it is true, rather in act than in word, meet us in the whole history of the crucifixion! What was the title over our blessed Lord, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,’ but another such scornful and contemptuous, yet most veritable prophecy? Or what again the robe and the homage, the sceptre and the crown? And in the typical rehearsals of the great and final catastrophe in the drama of God’s providence, how many Nimrods and Pharaohs, antichrists that do not quite come to the birth, have prophetic parts allotted to them, which they play out, unknowing what they do; for such is the divine irony; so, in a very deep sense of the words,
‘Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus,’ ”—P. S.]
[De creat. princ. II., p. 367.]
[Luther’s translation reads differently from our English version, viz: “Man indeed proposeth in his heart, but from the Lord cometh what the tongue shall speak.”]