1 太初有道，道与 神同在，道就是 神。
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
NOTES ON CHAP. I.
John's introduction is from . Some harmonists suppose
it to end with . but, from the connection of the whole,
appears to be its natural close, at it contains a
reason why the Logos or Word was made flesh. refers to
, and in these passages John's testimony is anticipated
in order of time, and is very fitly mentioned to illustrate
Christ's pre-eminence. have a plain reference to
. See Bp. Newcome.
Verse 1. In the beginning] That is, before any thing was
formed-ere God began the great work of creation. This is the
meaning of the word in , to which the evangelist evidently
alludes. This phrase fully proves, in the mouth of an inspired
writer, that Jesus Christ was no part of the creation, as he
existed when no part of that existed; and that consequently he is
no creature, as all created nature was formed by him: for without
him was nothing made that is made, . Now, as what was
before creation must be eternal, and as what gave being to all
things, could not have borrowed or derived its being from any
thing, therefore Jesus, who was before all things and who made all
things, must necessarily be the ETERNAL God.
Was the Word] Or, existed the Logos. This term should be left
untranslated, for the very same reason why the names Jesus and
Christ are left untranslated. The first I consider as proper an
apellative of the Saviour of the world as I do either of the two
last. And as it would be highly improper to say, the Deliverer,
the Anointed, instead of Jesus Christ, so I deem it improper to
say, the Word, instead of the Logos. But as every appellative of
the Saviour of the world was descriptive of some excellence in his
person, nature, or work, so the epithet λογος, Logos, which
signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or
the faculty of reasoning, is very properly applied to him, who
is the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the
world, ; who is the fountain of all
wisdom; who giveth being, life, light, knowledge, and reason, to
all men; who is the grand Source of revelation, who has declared
God unto mankind; who spake by the prophets, for the testimony of
Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, ; who has illustrated
life and immortality by his Gospel, ; and who has fully
made manifest the deep mysteries which lay hidden in the bosom of
the invisible God from all eternity, .
The apostle does not borrow this mode of speech from the
writings of Plato, as some have imagined: he took it from the
Scriptures of the Old Testament, and from the subsequent style of
the ancient Jews. It is true the Platonists make mention of the
Logos in this way:-καθοναειονταταγενομεναεγενετο-by whom,
eternally existing, all things were made. But as Plato,
Pythagoras, Zeno, and others, travelled among the Jews, and
conversed with them, it is reasonable to suppose that they
borrowed this, with many others of their most important notions
and doctrines, from them.
And the Word was God.] Or, God was the Logos: therefore no
subordinate being, no second to the Most High, but the supreme
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
3 Verse 3. All things were made by him] That is, by this Logos. In
, GOD is said to have created all things: in this verse,
Christ is said to have created all things: the same unerring
Spirit spoke in Moses and in the evangelists: therefore Christ
and the Father are ONE. To say that Christ made all things by a
delegated power from God is absurd; because the thing is
impossible. Creation means causing that to exist that had no
previous being: this is evidently a work which can be effected
only by omnipotence. Now, God cannot delegate his omnipotence to
another: were this possible, he to whom this omnipotence was
delegated would, in consequence, become GOD; and he from whom it
was delegated would cease to be such: for it is impossible that
there should be two omnipotent beings.
On these important passages I find that many eminently learned
men differ from me: it seems they cannot be of my opinion, and I
feel I cannot be of theirs. May He, who is the Light and the
Truth, guide them and me into all truth!
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
4 Verse 4. In him was life] Many MSS., versions, and fathers,
connect this with the preceding verse, thus: All things were made
by him, and without him was nothing made. What was made had life
in it; but THIS LIFE was the light of men. That is, though every
thing he made had a principle of life in it, whether vegetable,
animal, or intellectual, yet this, that life or animal principle
in the human being, was not the light of men; not that light which
could guide them to heaven, for the world by wisdom knew not God,
. Therefore, the expression,
in him was life, is not to be understood of life natural, but of
that life eternal which he revealed to the world, , to
which he taught the way, , which he promised to
believers, , which he purchased for them,
, which he is appointed to give them,
, and to which he will raise them up, ,
because he hath the life in himself, . All this may be
proved: 1. From the like expressions; ,
This is the promise that God hath given unto us, eternal life,
and this life is in his Son: whence he is styled the true God and
eternal life, ;
the resurrection and the life, ;
the way, the truth, and the life, . 2. From these
John came to bear witness of this light, that all might believe
through him, viz. to eternal life, ; for so John
witnesseth, . And hence it follows that this life
must be the light of men, by giving them the knowledge of this
life, and of the way leading to it. See Whitby on the place. Is
there any reference here to : And Adam called his wife's
name Eve, chava, ζωη, LIFE, because she was the mother of
all living? And was not Jesus that seed of the woman that was to
bruise the head of the serpent, and to give life to the world?
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
5 Verse 5. And the light shineth in darkness] By darkness here may
be understood: 1. The heathen world, . 2. The Jewish
people. 3. The fallen spirit of man.
Comprehended it not.] αυτοουκατελαβεν, Prevented it
not-hindered it not, says Mr. Wakefield, who adds the following
judicious note:-"Even in the midst of that darkness of ignorance
and idolatry which overspread the world, this light of Divine
wisdom was not totally eclipsed: the Jewish nation was a lamp
perpetually shining to the surrounding nations; and many bright
luminaries, among the heathen, were never wanting in just and
worthy notions of the attributes and providence of God's wisdom;
which enabled them to shine in some degree, though but as lights
in a dark place, . Compare ."
6 ¶ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
6 Verse 6. Whose name was John.] This was John the Baptist; see
his name and the nature of his office explained, , and
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
7 Verse 7. That all men through him might believe.] He testified
that Jesus was the true light-the true teacher of the way to the
kingdom of glory, and the lamb or sacrifice of God, which was to
bear away the sin of the world, , and invited men to
believe in him for the remission of their sins, that they might
receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, . This was
bearing the most direct witness to the light which was now shining
in the dark wilderness of Judea; and, from thence, shortly to be
diffused over the whole world.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
9 Verse 9. Which lighteth every man] As Christ is the Spring and
Fountain of all wisdom, so all the wisdom that is in man comes
from him; the human intellect is a ray from his brightness; and
reason itself springs from this Logos, the eternal reason. Some
of the most eminent rabbins understand ,
Rise and shine, for thy LIGHT is come, of the Messiah who was to
illuminate Israel, and who, they believe, was referred to in that
And God said, Let there be LIGHT; and there was light. Let a
Messiah be provided; and a Messiah was accordingly provided. See
That cometh into the world.] Or, coming into the world-ερχομενον
ειςτονκοσμον: a common phrase among the rabbins, to express
every human being. As the human creature sees the light of the
world as soon as it is born, from which it had been excluded while
in the womb of its parent; in like manner, this heavenly light
shines into the soul of every man, to convince of sin,
righteousness, and judgment; and it is through this light, which
no man brings into the world with him, but which Christ mercifully
gives to him on his coming into it, that what is termed conscience
among men is produced. No man could discern good from evil, were
it not for this light thus supernaturally and graciously restored.
There was much light in the law, but this shone only upon the
Jews; but the superior light of the Gospel is to be diffused over
the face of the whole earth.
The following not only proves what is asserted in this verse,
but is also an excellent illustration of it.
The GAYATRI, or holiest verse of the VEDAS, i.e. the ancient
"Let us adore the supremacy of that divine Sun, the Godhead who
illuminates all, who re-creates all; from whom all proceed; to
whom all must return; whom we invoke to direct our understandings
aright, in our progress towards his holy seat."
The ancient comment.
"What the sun and light are to this visible world, that are the
supreme good and truth to the intellectual and invisible
universe; and, as our corporeal eyes have a distinct perception of
objects enlightened by the sun, thus our souls acquire certain
knowledge by meditating on the light of truth, which emanates from
the Being of beings; that is the light by which alone our minds
can be directed in the path to blessedness." Sir Wm. Jones's
works, vol. vi. p. 417.
Sir William observes that the original word Bhargas, which he
translates Godhead, consists of three consonants, and is derived
from bha, to shine; ram, to delight; and gam, to move:-the Being
who is the light, the source of happiness, and the all-pervading
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
10 Verse 10. He was in the world] From its very commencement-he
governed the universe-regulated his Church-spake by his
prophets-and often, as the angel or messenger of Jehovah, appeared
to them, and to the patriarchs.
The world knew him not.] αυτονουκεγνω-Did not acknowledge him;
for the Jewish rulers knew well enough that he was a teacher come
from God; but they did not choose to acknowledge him as such. Men
love the world, and this love hinders them from knowing him who
made it, though he made it only to make himself known. Christ, by
whom all things were made, , and by whom all things are
continually supported, ; , has way every
where, is continually manifesting himself by his providence and by
his grace, and yet the foolish heart of man regardeth it not! See
the reason, .
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
11 Verse 11. He came unto his own] ταιδια-to those of his own
family, city, country:-and his own people, οιιδιοι-his own
citizens, brethren, subjects.
The Septuagint, Josephus, and Arrian, use these words, ταιδιοι
and οιιδιοι, in the different senses given them above.
Received him not.] Would not acknowledge him as the Messiah, nor
believe in him for salvation.
How very similar to this are the words of Creeshna, (an
incarnation of the Supreme Being, according to the theology of the
ancient Hindoos!) Addressing one of his disciples, he says: "The
foolish, being unacquainted with my supreme and divine nature, as
Lord of all things, despise me in this human form; trusting to the
evil, diabolic, and deceitful principle within them. They are of
vain hope, of vain endeavours, of vain wisdom, and void of reason;
whilst men of great minds, trusting to their divine natures,
discover that I am before all things, and incorruptible, and serve
me with their hearts undiverted by other beings." See Bhagvat
Geeta, p. 79.
To receive Christ is to acknowledge him as the promised Messiah;
to believe in him as the victim that bears away the sin of the
world; to obey his Gospel, and to become a partaker of his
holiness, without which no man, on the Gospel plan, can ever see
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
12 Verse 12. Gave he power] εξουσιαν, Privilege, honour, dignity,
or right. He who is made a child of God enjoys the greatest
privilege which the Divine Being can confer on this side eternity.
Those who accept Jesus Christ, as he is offered to them in the
Gospel, have, through his blood, a right to this sonship; for by
that sacrifice this blessing was purchased; and the fullest
promises of God confirm it to all who believe. And those who are
engrafted in the heavenly family have the highest honour and
dignity to which it is possible for a human soul to arrive. What
an astonishing thought is this! The sinner, who was an heir to all
God's curses, has, through the sacrifice of Jesus, a claim on the
mercy of the Most High, and a right to be saved! Even justice
itself, on the ground of its holy and eternal nature, gives
salvation to the vilest who take refuge in this atonement; for
justice has nothing to grant, or Heaven to give, which the blood
of the Son of God has not merited.
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
13 Verse 13. Which were born, not of blood] Who were regenerated,
ουκεξαιματων, not of bloods-the union of father and mother, or
of a distinguished or illustrious ancestry; for the Hebrew
language makes use of the plural to point out the dignity or
excellence of a thing: and probably by this the evangelist
intended to show his countrymen, that having Abraham and Sarah for
their parents would not entitle them to the blessings of the new
covenant; as no man could lay claim to them, but in consequence of
being born of God; therefore, neither the will of the flesh-any
thing that the corrupt heart of man could purpose or determine in
its own behalf; nor the will of man-any thing that another may be
disposed to do in our behalf, can avail here; this new birth must
come through the will of God-through; his own unlimited power and
boundless mercy, prescribing salvation by Christ Jesus alone. It
has been already observed that the Jews required circumcision,
baptism, and sacrifice, in order to make a proselyte. They allow
that the Israelites had in Egypt cast off circumcision, and were
consequently out of the covenant; but at length they were
circumcised, and they mingled the blood of circumcision with the
blood of the paschal lamb, and from this union of bloods they were
again made the children of God. See Lightfoot. This was the only
way by which the Jews could be made the sons of God; but the
evangelist shows them that, under the Gospel dispensation, no
person could become a child of God, but by being spiritually
14And 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.
14 Verse 14. And the Word was made flesh] That very person who was
in the beginning-who was with God-and who was God, , in
the fulness of time became flesh-became incarnated by the power of
the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin. Allowing this apostle
to have written by Divine inspiration, is not this verse, taken in
connection with , an absolute and incontestable proof of
the proper and eternal Godhead of Christ Jesus?
And dwelt among us] καιεσκηνωσενενημιν, And tabernacled among
us: the human nature which he took of the virgin, being as the
shrine, house, or temple, in which his immaculate Deity
condescended to dwell. The word is probably an allusion to the
Divine Shechinah in the Jewish temple; and as God has represented
the whole Gospel dispensation by the types and ceremonies of the
old covenant, so the Shechinah in the tabernacle and temple
pointed out this manifestation of God in the flesh. The word is
thus used by the Jewish writers: it signifies with them a
manifestation of the Divine Shechinah.
The original word, σκηνοω, from σκια, a shadow, signifies: 1.
To build a booth, tent, or temporary hut, for present shelter or
convenience; and does not properly signify a lasting habitation or
dwelling place; and is therefore fitly applied to the human nature
of Christ, which, like the tabernacle of old, was to be here only
for a temporary residence for the eternal Divinity. 2. It
signifies to erect such a building as was used on festival
occasions, when a man invited and enjoyed the company of his
friends. To this meaning of the word, which is a common one in the
best Greek writers, the evangelist might allude, to point out
Christ's associating his disciples with himself; living,
conversing, eating, and drinking with them: so that, while they
had the fullest proof of his Divinity by the miracles which he
wrought, they had the clearest evidence of his humanity, by his
tabernacling among, eating, drinking, and conversing with them.
Concerning the various acceptations of the verb σκηνοω see
Raphelius on this verse.
The doctrine of vicarious sacrifice and the incarnation of the
Deity have prevailed among the most ancient nations in the world,
and even among those which were not favoured with the letter of
Divine revelation. The Hindoos believe that their god has already
become incarnate, not less than nine times, to save the wretched
race of man.
On this subject, Creeshna, an incarnation of the supreme God,
according to the Hindoo theology, is represented in the Bhagvat
Geeta, as thus addressing one of his disciples: "Although I am not
in my nature subject to birth or decay, and am the Lord of all
created beings, yet, having command over my own nature, I am made
evident by my own power; and, as often as there is a decline of
virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, I
make myself evident; and thus I appear from age to age, for the
preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the
establishment of virtue." Geeta, pp. 51, 52.
The following piece, already mentioned, , translated
from the Sanscreet, found on a stone, in a cave near the ancient
city of Gya in the East Indies, is the most astonishing and
important of any thing found out of the compass of the Sacred
Writings, and a proper illustration of this text.
"The Deity, who is the Lord, the possessor of all, APPEARED in
this ocean of natural beings, at the beginning of the Kalee Yoog
(the age of contention and baseness.) He who is omnipresent, and
everlastingly to be contemplated, the Supreme Being, the eternal
ONE, the Divinity worthy to be adored-APPEARED here, with a
PORTION of his DIVINE NATURE. Reverence be unto thee in the form
of (a) Bood-dha! Reverence be unto the Lord of the earth!
Reverence be unto thee, an INCARNATION of the Deity, and the
Eternal ONE! Reverence be unto thee, O GOD! in the form of the God
of mercy! the dispeller of PAIN and TROUBLE, the Lord of ALL
things, the Deity who overcometh the sins of the Kalee Yoog, the
guardian of the universe, the emblem of mercy towards those who
serve thee! (b) O'M! the possessor of all things, in VITAL FORM!
Thou art (c) Brahma, (d) Veeshnoo, and (e) Mahesa! Thou art Lord
of the universe! Thou art under the form of all things, movable
and immovable, the possessor of the whole! And thus I adore thee!
Reverence be unto the BESTOWER of SALVATION, and the ruler of the
faculties! Reverence be unto thee, the DESTROYER of the EVIL
SPIRIT! O Damordara, (f) show me favour! I adore thee who art
celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms, in the
shape of Bood-dha, the God of mercy! Be propitious, O most high
God!" Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 284, 285.
We beheld his glory] This refers to the transfiguration, at
which John was present, in company with Peter and James.
The glory as of the only begotten] That is, such a glory as
became, or was proper to, the Son of God; for thus the particle
ως should be here understood. There is also here an allusion to
the manifestations of God above the ark in the tabernacle: see
; ; and this connects itself with the first
clause, he tabernacled, or fixed his tent among us. While God
dwelt in the tabernacle, among the Jews, the priests saw his
glory; and while Jesus dwelt among men his glory was manifested in
his gracious words and miraculous acts.
The only begotten of the Father] That is, the only person born
of a woman, whose human nature never came by the ordinary way of
generation; it being a mere creation in the womb of the virgin, by
the energy of the Holy Ghost.
Full of grace and truth.] Full of favour, kindness, and mercy to
men; teaching the way to the kingdom of God, with all the
simplicity, plainness, dignity, and energy of truth.
(a) Bood-dha. The name of the Deity, as author of happiness.
(b) O'M. A mystic emblem of the Deity, forbidden to be
pronounced but in silence. It is a syllable formed of the
Sanscreet letters a, o o, which in composition coalesce, and
make o, and the nasal consonant m. The first letter stands for the
Creator, the second for the Preserver, and the third for the
Destroyer. It is the same among the Hindoos as Yehovah
is among the Hebrews.
(c) Brahma, the Deity in his creative quality.
(d) Veeshnoo. He who filleth all space: the Deity in his
(c) Mahesa. The Deity in his destroying quality.
This is properly the Hindoo Trinity: for these three names belong
to the same God. See the notes to the Bhagvat Geeta.
(f) Damordara, or Darmadeve, the Indian god of virtue.
15 ¶ John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
15 Verse 15. Of him] The glorious personage before mentioned: John
the Baptist, whose history was well known to the persons to whom
this Gospel came in the beginning, bare witness; and he
cried,-being deeply convinced of the importance and truth of the
subject, he delivered his testimony with the utmost zeal and
earnestness,-saying, This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh
after me-for I am no other than the voice of the crier in the
wilderness, , the forerunner of the Messiah.
Was before me.] Speaking by the prophets, and warning your
fathers to repent and return to God, as I now warn you; for he was
before me-he was from eternity, and from him I have derived both
my being and my ministry.
16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
16 Verse 16. This verse should be put in place of the fifteenth,
and the 15th inserted between the 18th and 19th, which appears to
be its proper place: thus John's testimony is properly connected.
And of his fulness] Of the plenitude of his grace and mercy,
by which he made an atonement for sin; and of the plenitude of his
wisdom and truth, by which the mysteries of heaven have been
revealed, and the science of eternal truth taught, we have all
received: all we apostles have received grace or mercy to pardon
our sins, and truth to enable us so to write and speak,
concerning these things, that those who attend to our testimony
shall be unerringly directed in the way of salvation, and with us
continue to receive grace upon grace, one blessing after another,
till they are filled with all the fulness of God. I believe the
above to be the meaning of the evangelist, and think it improper
to distract the mind of the reader with the various translations
and definitions which have been given of the phrase, grace for
grace. It is only necessary to add, that John seems here to refer
to the Gospel as succeeding the law: the law was certainly a
dispensation both of grace and truth; for it pointed out the
gracious design of God to save men by Christ Jesus; and it was at
least a most expressive and well-defined shadow of good things to
come: but the Gospel, which had now taken place, introduced that
plenitude of grace and truth to the whole world, which the law
had only shadowed forth to the Jewish people, and which they
imagined should have been restrained to themselves alone. In the
most gracious economy of God, one dispensation of mercy and truth
is designed to make way for, and to be followed by, another and a
greater: thus the law succeeded the patriarchal dispensation, and
the Gospel the law; more and more of the plenitude of the grace of
the Gospel becomes daily manifest to the genuine followers of
Christ; and, to those who are faithful unto death, a heaven full
of eternal glory will soon succeed to the grace of the Gospel. To
illustrate this point more fully, the following passage in Philo
the Jew has been adduced: "God is always sparing of his first
blessings or graces, (πρωταςχαριτας,) and afterwards gives other
graces upon them, (αντεκεινων,) and a third sort upon the
second, and always new ones upon old ones, sometimes of a
different kind, and at other times of the same sort." Vol. i. p.
254, ed. Mang. In the above passage the preposition αντι for, is
used thrice in the sense of επι, upon. To confirm the above
interpretation Bp. Pearce produces the following quotations.
Ecclus xxvi. 15: χαριςεπιχαριτιγυνηαισχυντηρα-A modest woman
is a grace upon a grace, i.e. a double grace or blessing.
Euripides uses the very same phrase with John, where he makes
Theoclymenus say to Helena. χαριςαντιχαριτοςελθετω, May
grace upon grace come to you! Helen v. 1250. ed. Barn.
17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
17 Verse 17. The law was given by Moses] Moses received the law
from God, and through him it was given to the Jews, .
But grace and truth] Which he had already mentioned, and which
were to be the subject of the book which he was now writing, came
to all mankind through Jesus Christ, who is the mediator of the
new covenant, as Moses was of the old: ;
. See a fine discourse on this text by Mr.
Claude, "Essay on the Composition of a Sermon," vol. i. p. 119,
&c. edit. Lond. 1788.
The law of Moses, however excellent in itself, was little in
comparison of the Gospel: as it proceeded from the justice and
holiness of God, and was intended to convict men of sin, that the
way of the Gospel might be the better prepared, it was a law of
rigour, condemnation, and death: ; . It
was a law of shadows, types, and figures: , and
incapable of expiating sin by its sacrifices: ;
. But Christ has brought that
grace which is opposed to condemnation: ;
; and he is himself the
spirit and substance of all those shadows: ;
Jesus Christ.] JESUS the CHRIST, the Messiah, or anointed
prophet, priest, and king, sent from heaven. To what has already
been said on the important name Jesus, (See , and the
places there referred to,) I shall add the following explanation,
chiefly taken from Professor Schultens, who has given a better
view of the ideal meaning of the root yasha, than any other
divine or critic.
He observes that this root, in its true force, meaning, and
majesty, both in Hebrew and Arabic, includes the ideas of
amplitude, expansion, and space, and should be translated, he
was spacious-open-ample; and, particularly, he possessed a
spacious or extensive degree or rank: and is applied, 1. To a
person possessing abundance of riches. 2. To one possessing
abundant power. 3. To one possessing abundant or extensive
knowledge. 4. To one possessing abundance of happiness, beatitude,
and glory. Hence we may learn the true meaning of :
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion-behold, thy king cometh unto
thee; he is JUST, and having SALVATION:--he is possessed of
all power to enrich, strengthen, teach, enlarge, and raise to
glory and happiness, them who trust in him. Man by nature is in
want and poverty: in abjectness and weakness: in darkness
and ignorance: in straits and captivity: in wretchedness and
infamy. His Redeemer is called JESUS-he who looses,
enlarges, and endows with salvation. 1. He enriches man's
poverty: 2. strengthens his weakness: 3. teaches his
ignorance: 4. brings him out of straits and difficulties: and 5.
raises him to happiness, beatitude, and glory. And the aggregate
of these is SALVATION. Hence that saying, His name shall be called
JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. See Schultens
Origines Hebraeae, p. 15.
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
18 Verse 18. No man hath seen God at any time] Moses and others
heard his voice, and saw the cloud and the fire, which were the
symbols of his presence; but such a manifestation of God as had
now taken place, in the person of Jesus Christ, had never before
been exhibited to the world. It is likely that the word seen,
here, is put for known, as in ; , and
; and this sense the latter clause of the verse seems to
require:-No man, how highly soever favoured, hath fully known God,
at any time, in any nation or age; the only begotten Son,
who is in the bosom of the Father, who was intimately acquainted
with all the counsels of the Most High, he hath declared him,
εξηγησατο, hath announced the Divine oracles unto men; for in
this sense the word is used by the best Greek writers. See Kypke
in loco. 1095
Lying in the bosom, is spoken of in reference to the Asiatic
custom of reclining while at meals; the person who was next the
other was said to lie in his bosom; and he who had this place in
reference to the master of the feast was supposed to share his
peculiar regards, and so be in a state of the utmost favour and
intimacy with him.
19 ¶ And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
19 Verse 19. And this is the record of John] He persisted in this
assertion, testifying to the Jews that this Jesus was THE CHRIST.
20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
20 Verse 20. He confessed, and denied not; but confessed] A common
mode of Jewish phraseology. John renounces himself, that Jesus may
be all in all. Though God had highly honoured him, and favoured
him with peculiar influence in the discharge of his work, yet he
considered he had nothing but what he had received, and therefore,
giving all praise to his benefactor, takes care to direct the
attention of the people to him alone from whom he had received his
mercies. He who makes use of God's gifts to feed and strengthen
his pride and vanity will be sure to be stripped of the goods
wherein he trusts, and fall down into the condemnation of the
devil. We have nothing but what we have received; we deserve
nothing of what we possess; and it is only God's infinite mercy
which keeps us in the possession of the blessings which we now
21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
21 Verse 21. Art thou Elias?] The scribes themselves had taught
that Elijah was to come before the Messiah. See ; and
this belief of theirs they supported by a literal construction of
Art thou that prophet?] the prophet spoken of by Moses,
. This text they had also misunderstood: for the
prophet or teacher promised by Moses was no other than the
Messiah himself. See . But the Jews had a tradition that
Jeremiah was to return to life, and restore the pot of manna, the
ark of the covenant, &c., which he had hidden that the Babylonians
might not get them. Besides this, they had a general expectation
that all the prophets should come to life in the days of the
I am not.] I am not the prophet which you expect, nor Elijah:
though he was the Elijah that was to come; for in the spirit and
power of that eminent prophet he came, proclaiming the necessity
of reformation in Israel. See .
22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
22 Verse 22. That we may give an answer to them that sent us.]
These Pharisees were probably a deputation from the grand
Sanhedrin; the members of which, hearing of the success of the
Baptist's preaching, were puzzled to know what to make of him, and
seriously desired to hear from himself what he professed to be.
23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
23 Verse 23. I am the voice of one crying]
24And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
25 Verse 25. Why baptizest thou then?] Baptism was a very common
ceremony among the Jews, who never received a proselyte into the
full enjoyment of a Jew's privileges, till he was both baptized
and circumcised. But such baptisms were never performed except by
an ordinance of the Sanhedrin, or in the presence of three
magistrates: besides, they never baptized any Jew or Jewess, nor
even those who were the children of their proselytes; for, as all
these were considered as born in the covenant, they had no need of
baptism, which was used only as an introductory rite. Now, as John
had, in this respect, altered the common custom so very
essentially, admitting to his baptism the Jews in general, the
Sanhedrin took it for granted that no man had authority to make
such changes, unless especially commissioned from on high; and
that only the prophet, or Elijah, or the Messiah himself; could
have authority to act as John did. See the observations at the
conclusion of Mark.
26John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
26 Verse 26. I baptize with water] . I use
the common form, though I direct the baptized to a different end, viz.
that they shall repent of their sins, and believe in the Messiah.
There standeth one among you] That is, the person whose
forerunner I am is now dwelling in the land of Judea, and will
shortly make his appearance among you. Christ was not present when
John spoke thus, as may be seen from .
27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
27 Verse 27. Is preferred before me] οςεμπροσθενμουγεγονεν, Who
was before me. This clause is wanting in BC*L, four others, the
Coptic, AEthiopic, Slavonic, and two copies of the Itala, and in
some of the primitive fathers. Griesbach has left it out of the
text. It is likely that it was omitted by the above, because it
was found in verses 15 and 30. At the end of this
verse, EG, and ten others, with some copies of the Slavonic, add,
He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
28 Verse 28. These things were done in Bethabara] It is very
probable that the word Bethany should be inserted here, instead of
Bethabara. This reading, in the judgment of the best critics, is
the genuine one. The following are the authorities by which it is
supported: ABCEGHLMSX, BV, of Matthai, upwards of a hundred
others, Syriac, Armenian, Persic, Coptic, Slavonic, Vulgate,
Saxon, and all the Itala, with some of the most eminent of the
primitive fathers, before the time of Origen, who is supposed to
have first changed the reading. Bethabara signifies literally the
house of passage, and is thought to be the place where the
Israelites passed the river Jordan under Joshua. There was a place
called Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem, at the foot of the
mount of Olives. But there was another of the same name, beyond
Jordan, in the tribe of Reuben. It was probably of this that the
evangelist speaks; and Origen, not knowing of this second Bethany,
altered the reading to Bethabara. See Rosenmuller.
29 ¶ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
29 Verse 29. The next day] The day after that on which the Jews had
been with John, .
Behold the Lamb of God, &c.] This was said in allusion to what
was spoken . Jesus was the true Lamb or Sacrifice
required and appointed by God, of which those offered daily in the
tabernacle and temple, , and especially the
paschal lamb, were only the types and representatives. See
; . The
continual morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb, under the
Jewish law, was intended to point out the continual efficacy of
the blood of atonement: for even at the throne of God, Jesus
Christ is ever represented as a lamb newly slain, . But
John, pointing to Christ, calls him emphatically, the Lamb of
God:-all the lambs which had been hitherto offered had been
furnished by men: this was provided by GOD, as the only sufficient
and available sacrifice for the sin of the world. In three
essential respects, this lamb differed from those by which it was
represented. 1st. It was the Lamb of God; the most excellent, and
the most available. 2nd. It made an atonement for sin: it
carried sin away in reality, the others only representatively.
3rd. It carried away the sin of the WORLD, whereas the other was
offered only on behalf of the Jewish people. In Yalcut Rubeni,
fol. 30, it is said, "The Messiah shall bear the sins of the
Israelites." But this salvation was now to be extended to the
30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred 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 baptizing with water.
31 Verse 31. And I knew him not, &c.] John did not know our Lord
personally, and perhaps had never seen him, at the time he spoke
the words in . Nor is it any wonder that the Baptist
should have been unacquainted with Christ, as he had spent thirty
years in the hill country of Hebron, and our Lord remained in a
state of great privacy in the obscure city of Nazareth, in the
extreme borders of Galilee.
But that he should be made manifest to Israel] One design of my
publicly baptizing was, that he, coming to my baptism, should be
shown to be what he is, by some extraordinary sign from heaven.
32And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
32 Verse 32. I saw the Spirit descending, &c.] See the notes on
33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
33 Verse 33. He that sent me-said unto me] From this we may clearly
perceive that John had a most intimate acquaintance with the
Divine Being; and received not only his call and mission at first,
but every subsequent direction, by immediate, unequivocal
inspiration. Who is fit to proclaim Jesus, but he who has
continual intercourse with God; who is constantly receiving light
and life from Christ their fountain; who bears a steady, uniform
testimony to Jesus, even in the presence of his enemies; and who
at all times abases himself, that Jesus alone may be magnified!
Reformation of manners, and salvation of souls, will
accompany such a person's labours whithersoever he goeth.
34And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
35 ¶ Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
35 Verse 35. The next day] After that mentioned .
Two of his disciples] One of them was Andrew, , and
it is very likely that John himself was the other; in every thing
in which he might receive honour he studiously endeavours to
conceal his own name.
36And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
36 Verse 36. And looking upon Jesus] Attentively beholding,
εμβλεψας, from εν, into, and βλεπω, to look-to view with
steadfastness and attention. He who desires to discover the
glories and excellencies of this Lamb of God, must thus look on
him. At first sight, he appears only as a man among men, and as
dying in testimony to the truth, as many others have died. But, on
a more attentive consideration, he appears to be no less than God
manifest in the flesh, and, by his death, making an atonement for
the sin of the world.
Behold the Lamb of God!] By this the Baptist designed to direct
the attention of his own disciples to Jesus, not only as the great
sacrifice for the sin of the world, but also as the complete
teacher of heavenly truth.
37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
37 Verse 37. And the two disciples heard him] And they perfectly
understood their master's meaning; in consequence of which, they
followed Jesus. Happy they who, on hearing of the salvation of
Christ, immediately attach themselves to its author! Delays are
always dangerous; and, in this case, often fatal. Reader! hast
thou ever had Christ as a sacrifice for thy sin pointed out unto
thee? If so, hast thou followed him? If not, thou art not in the
way to the kingdom of God. Lose not another moment! Eternity is at
hand! and thou art not prepared to meet thy God. Pray that he may
alarm thy conscience, and stir up thy soul to seek till thou have
38Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
38 Verse 38. What seek ye?] These disciples might have felt some
embarrassment in addressing our blessed Lord, after hearing the
character which the Baptist gave of him; to remove or prevent
this, he graciously accosts them, and gives them an opportunity of
explaining themselves to him. Such questions, we may conceive, the
blessed Jesus still puts to those who in simplicity of heart
desire an acquaintance with him. A question of this nature we may
profitably ask ourselves: What seek ye? In this place! In the
company you frequent? In the conversation you engage in? In the
affairs with which you are occupied? In the works which you
perform? Do you seek the humiliation, illumination, justification,
edification, or sanctification of your soul? The edification of
your neighbour? The good of the Church of Christ? Or, The glory of
God? Questions of this nature often put to our hearts, in the fear
of God, would induce us to do many things which we now leave
undone, and to leave undone many things which we now perform.
Rabbi] Teacher. Behold the modesty of these disciples-we wish to
be scholars, we are ignorant-we desire to be taught; we believe
thou art a teacher come from God.
Where dwellest thou?] That we may come and receive thy
39He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
39 Verse 39. Come and see.] If those who know not the salvation of
God would come at the command of Christ, they should soon see that
with him is the fountain of life, and in his light they should see
light. Reader, if thou art seriously inquiring where Christ
dwelleth, take the following for answer: He dwells not in the
tumult of worldly affairs, nor in profane assemblies, nor in
worldly pleasures, nor in the place where drunkards proclaim
their shame, nor in carelessness and indolence. But he is found in
his temple, wherever two or three are gathered together in his
name, in secret prayer, in self-denial, in fasting, in
self-examination. He also dwells in the humble, contrite spirit,
in the spirit of faith, of love, of forgiveness, of universal
obedience; in a word, he dwells in the heaven of heavens,
whither he graciously purposes to bring thee, if thou wilt come
and learn of him, and receive the salvation which he has bought
for thee by his own blood.
The tenth hour] Generally supposed to be about what we call four
o'clock in the afternoon. According to , the Jews
reckoned twelve hours in the day; and of course each hour of the
day, thus reckoned, must have been something longer or shorter,
according to the different times of the year in that climate. The
sixth hour with them answered to our twelve o'clock, as appears
from what Josephus says in his life, chap. liv. That on the
Sabbath day it was the rule for the Jews to go to dinner at the
sixth hour, (εκτηωρα.) The Romans had the same way of reckoning
twelve hours in each of their days. Hence what we meet with in
Hor. lib. ii. sat. vi. l. 34: ante secundam signifies, as we
should express it, before eight o'clock. And when, in lib. i. sat.
vi. l. 122, he says, ad quartam jaceo, he means that he lay in bed
till ten o'clock. See Bishop Pearce on this place. Dr. Macknight,
however, is of opinion that the evangelist is to be understood as
speaking of the Roman hour, which was ten o'clock in the morning;
and as the evangelist remarks, they abode with him that day, it
implies that there was a considerable portion of time spent with
our Lord, in which, by his conversation, he removed all their
scruples, and convinced them that he was the Messiah. But, had it
been the Jewish tenth hour, it would have been useless to remark
their abiding with him that day, as there were only two hours of
it still remaining. Harmony, vol. i. p. 52.
40One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
41 Verse 41. Findeth his own brother Simon] Every discovery of the
Gospel of the Son of God produces benevolence, and leads those to
whom it is made to communicate it to others. Those who find Jesus
find in him a treasure of wisdom and knowledge, through which they
may not only become rich themselves, but be instruments, in the
hand of God, of enriching others. These disciples, having tasted
the good word of Christ, were not willing to eat their bread
alone, but went and invited others to partake with them. Thus the
knowledge of Christ became diffused-one invited another to come
and see: Jesus received all, and the number of disciples was
increased, and the attentive hearers were innumerable. Every man
who has been brought to an acquaintance with God should endeavour
to bring, at least, another with him; and his first attention
should be fixed upon those of his own household.
42And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
42 Verse 42. Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.] πετρος
signifies a stone, or fragment of a rock. The reason why this name
was given to Simon, who was ever afterwards called Peter, may be
seen in the notes on , and particularly in Luke, at
the end of chap 9.
43 ¶ The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
43 Verse 43. Philip] This apostle was a native of Bethsaida in
Galilee. Eusebius says he was a married man, and had several
daughters. Clemens Alexandrinus mentions it as a thing universally
acknowledged that it was this apostle who, when commanded by our
Lord to follow him, said, Let me first go and bury my father,
Theodoret says he preached in the two Phrygias; and Eusebius
says he was buried in Phrygia Pacatiana. He must not be confounded
with Philip the deacon, spoken of .
44Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45Philip 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.
45 Verse 45. Nathanael] This apostle is supposed to be the same
with Bartholomew, which is very likely, for these reasons 1. That
the evangelists who mention Bartholomew say nothing of Nathanael;
and that St. John, who speaks of Nathanael, says nothing of
Bartholomew. 2. No notice is taken any where of Bartholomew's
vocation, unless his and that of Nathanael mentioned here be the
same. 3. The name of Bartholomew is not a proper name; it
signifies the son of Ptolomy; and Nathanael might have been his
own name. 4. St. John seems to rank Nathanael with the apostles,
when he says that Peter and Thomas, the two sons of Zebedee,
Nathanael, and two other disciples, being gone a fishing, Jesus
showed himself to them, .
Moses in the law] See ; .
And the prophets] See , &c.;
; ; ; ;
46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
46 Verse 46. Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?] Bp.
Pearce supposes that the τιαγαθον of the evangelist has some
particular force in it: for, in , God says, I will
perform that good thing which I promised, &c.; and this, in
is explained to mean, his causing
the branch of righteousness (i.e. the Messiah) to grow up unto
David, from whom Jesus was descended: in this view, Nathanael's
question seems to imply, that not Nazareth, but Bethlehem, was to
be the birth-place of the Messiah, according to what the chief
priests and scribes had determined, . If this conjecture
be not thought solid, we may suppose that Nazareth, at this time,
was become so abandoned that no good could be expected from any of
those who dwelt in it, and that its wickedness had passed into a
proverb: Can any thing good be found in Nazareth? Or, that the
question is illiberal, and full of national prejudice.
Come and see.] He who candidly examines the evidences of the
religion of Christ will infallibly become a believer. No history
ever published among men has so many external and internal proofs
of authenticity as this has. A man should judge of nothing by
first appearances, or human prejudices. Who are they who cry out,
The Bible is a fable? Those who have never read it, or read it
only with the fixed purpose to gainsay it. I once met with a
person who professed to disbelieve every tittle of the New
Testament, a chapter of which, he acknowledged, he had never read.
I asked him, had he ever read the Old? He answered, No! And yet
this man had the assurance to reject the whole as an imposture!
God has mercy on those whose ignorance leads them to form
prejudices against the truth; but he confounds those who take them
up through envy and malice, and endeavour to communicate them to
47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
47 Verse 47. Behold an Israelite indeed] A worthy descendant of the
patriarch Jacob, who not only professes to believe in Israel's
God, but who worships him in sincerity and truth, according to his
In whom is no guile!] Deceitfulness ever has been, and still is,
the deeply marked characteristic of the Jewish people. To find a
man, living in the midst of so much corruption, walking in
uprightness before his Maker, was a subject worthy the attention
of God himself. Behold this man! and, while you see and admire,
imitate his conduct.
48Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
48 Verse 48. Whence knowest thou me?] He was not yet acquainted
with the divinity of Christ, could not conceive that he could
search his heart, and therefore asks how he could acquire this
knowledge of him, or who had given him that character. It is the
comfort of the sincere and upright, that God knows their hearts;
and it should be the terror of the deceitful and of the hypocrite,
that their false dealing is ever noticed by the all-seeing eye of
Under the fig tree] Probably engaged in prayer with God, for the
speedy appearing of the salvation of Israel; and the shade of this
fig tree was perhaps the ordinary place of retreat for this
upright man. It is not A fig tree, but τηνσυκην, THE fig tree,
one particularly distinguished from the others. There are many
proofs that the Jewish rabbins chose the shade of trees, and
particularly the fig tree, to sit and study under. See many
examples in Schoettgen. How true is the saying, The eyes of the
Lord are through all the earth, beholding the evil and the good!
Wheresoever we are, whatsoever we are about, may a deep conviction
of this truth rest upon our hearts, Thou God seest ME!
49Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
49 Verse 49. Rabbi] That is, Teacher! and so this word should be
Thou art the Son of God] The promised Messiah.
Thou art the King of Israel.] The real descendant of David, who
art to sit on that spiritual throne of which the throne of David
was the type.
50Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
50 Verse 50. Because I said-I saw thee, &c.] As thou hast credited
my Divine mission on this simple proof, that I saw thee when and
where no human eye, placed where mine was, could see thee, thy
faith shall not rest merely upon this, for thou shalt see greater
things than these-more numerous and express proofs of my eternal
power and Godhead.
51And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
51 Verse 51. Verily, verily] Amen, amen. The doubling of this word
probably came from this circumstance: that it was written both in
Hebrew and in Greek αμην, signifying, it is true.
Heaven open] This seems to be a figurative expression: 1. Christ
may be understood by this saying to mean, that a clear and
abundant revelation of God's will should be now made unto men;
that heaven itself should be laid as it were open, and all the
mysteries which had been shut up and hidden in it from eternity,
relative to the salvation and glorification of man; should be now
fully revealed. 2. That by the angels of God ascending and
descending, is to be understood, that a perpetual intercourse
should now be opened between heaven and earth, through the medium
of Christ, who was God manifested in the flesh. Our blessed Lord
is represented in his mediatorial capacity as the ambassador of
God to men; and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son
of man, is a metaphor taken from the custom of despatching
couriers or messengers from the prince to his ambassador in a
foreign court, and from the ambassador back to the prince. This
metaphor will receive considerable light when compared with
: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto
himself:-We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech
you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God.
The whole concerns of human salvation shall be carried on, from
henceforth, through the Son of man; and an incessant intercourse
be established between heaven and earth. Some have illustrated
this passage by the account of Jacob's vision, . But
though that vision may intimate that God had established at that
time a communication between heaven and earth, through the medium
of angels, yet it does not appear that our Lord's saying here has
any reference to it; but that it should be understood as stated
What a glorious view does this give us of the Gospel
dispensation! It is heaven opened to earth; and heaven opened on
earth. The Church militant and the Church triumphant become one,
and the whole heavenly family, in both, see and adore their common
Lord. Neither the world nor the Church is left to the caprices of
time or chance. The Son of man governs as he upholds all. Wherever
we are praying, studying, hearing, meditating, his gracious eye is
upon us. He notes our wants, our weakness, and our petitions; and
his eye affects his heart. Let us be without guile, deeply,
habitually sincere, serious, and upright; and then we may rest
assured, that not only the eye, but the hand, of our Lord shall be
ever upon us for good. Happy the man whose heart can rejoice in
the reflection, Thou God seest me!