This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.…
Such words as these are called "strong language" and "exaggeration." But strong language is always true to the poet, natural to the passionate, truthful to the large-minded; and only obnoxious to the small, feeble, chill-blooded, to those who find human language big enough to live in. Human language is often felt to be like that bed of old, which was so short that a man could not stretch himself on it; and in trying to cover himself with the coverlid, found it to be too narrow. So as the next thing to having an adequate spoken language, men do what they can by extravagance to make it up. A great poet like Shakespeare presses the universe into his passion. He tells the woman he adores that her eyes outvie the brightness of the rising morning. One great ancient wished he was a star that he might look down always on her he loved. So these souls, feeling deeply, in order to say what they wish to say, since words won't do it, call upon all things to help them — the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley — all things are called in, that the beloved may be set forth in glory. Strong language is objectionable, is it? Yes, when it is but the emphasis of emptiness; when little people make a great noise, using language stronger than the occasion requires, the sin and shame of it is that they have no feeling adequate to it. But when the heart is all aglow, and the thing to be said infinite, then the most extravagant language is poverty stricken. To hear some commentations over the phrase is charming — "This passage must not be taken literally; of course the Apostle meant — "Oh, thank you for nothing! I want not your dry bread of sand.'" What John meant was that there were so many things that might be told about Christ, that the world could not contain it all. Beautiful expression! And how adequate! Now, what does it teach? If any man's biography were to be daily written down it would make a big book. One of the most charming books was written by a man on a tour round his chamber. Put some people in a room and they behold no more than a blind horse would. But not so with the instructed man. He would pause at every part of the room, and tell tales about the woodwork, tales of the trees from which the wood came, and or the climate in which they grew — tales that would run back to Adam. Franklin tells us that he "rose at six and washed." But if he had stopped to tell us all about "rose," what a volume would be wanted, and so on with "washed" and "dressed." And so one might come to think with the great poet, that the best portion of a man's life lies in the little nameless, unrecorded acts of kindness. It is the unwritten things of life that uphold the great things. So, when we think of Christ's life, and of the little that is said about Him, we know there must have been much that might have been written.
(George Dawson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.