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i Mal. iii. 1. Matt. iii. 1. Luke iii. 2. ver. 33.
k Acts xix. 4.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for [a] witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 98 That was the true Light,
1 ver. 4.
1 which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
John ii. 8.
• render, the.
↑ not expressed in the original. Better, came. grender, The true Light which lighteth every man, came (literally, was coming) into the world.
.] As light and life are closely connected ideas, so are death and darkness. The whole world, lying in death and in darkness, is the darkness here spoken of:-not merely the "darkened" (Eph. iv. 18; see Eph. v. 7, 8), but the whole mass, with the sole exception (see below, ver. 12) of "as many as received Him" (compare ch. iii. 19; 1 John v. 19). This shineth is not merely the historical present, but describes the whole process of the light of life in the Eternal Word shining in this evil and dark world; both by the O. T. revelations, and (see ch. x. 16; xi. 52) by all the scattered fragments of light glittering among the thick darkness of heathenand the darkness comprehended (understood, apprehended) it not] That this is the meaning, will be clear from the context. St. John states here as a general fact, what he afterwards states of the appearance of the Incarnate Word to the chosen people, ver. 11. The sentences are strictly parallel. "The light shineth in the darkness" is parallel to " He came to his own," and "the darkness comprehended it not" is parallel to "His own received him not." In the first, he is speaking of the whole shining of this light over the world; in the second, of its historical manifestation to the Jews. In both cases, the Divine Word was rejected. received is used in the second case as expressing the personal assumption to oneself as a friend or companion. Lücke observes, that the almost tragic tone of this verse is prevalent through the Gospel of St. John aud his first epistle, see ch. iii. 19; xii. 37 ff. al.: and is occasionally found in St. Paul also; see Rom. i. 18 ff. The connexion of the two members of our verse by and is not, "The Light shineth in the darkness, and therefore (i. e. because darkness is the opposition to light, and they exclude one another) the darkness comprehended it not;" but, "The Light shineth in the darkness, and yet (uotwithstanding that the effect of light
in darkness is so great and immediate in the physical world) the darkness comprehended it not :" see "and" below, ver. 11.
IN OUR FLESH.
6-18.] THE MANIFESTATION WORKING OF THE DIVINE Word, JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, INCARNATE 6.] The Evangelist now passes to the historic manifestation of the Word. "In passing to the manifestation of the Son, what other beginning should he have fixed on, but the matters concerning John?" Theodore of Mopsuestia. He enunciates briefly in these verses 6, 7, what he afterwards, vv. 19— 36, narrates with historical detail. There was does not belong to sent, but to a man: "There was a man, sent from God." In sent from God we have possibly a reference to Mal. iii. 1. 7.] The purpose of John's coming was to bear witness to a fact, which fact (ver. 33) was made known to him by divine revelation. We must not render, as A. V., 'for a witness,' but for witness or for testimony, for the purpose of bearing witness. to bear witness &c. is an expansion of for witness:-the subject of his testimony was to be,-the Light,—and the aim of it,-that all might believe (see ch. xii. 36) through him (i. e. John: not through it, the light, which confuses the whole, for then we must understand on God after believe, which is here out of place). 8.] John was himself "the candle, lighted and shining" (ch. v. 35), see note on Matt. v. 14, but not the light. 9.] The word true in this connexion imports original, 'archetypal,' and is used of the true genuine sources and patterns of those things which we find here below only in fragmentary imitations and derivations. Such an original was the light here spoken of; but John was only a derived light,not a light lighting, but a light lighted. The construction of this verse has been much disputed. Is coming into the world to be taken with every man (as many ancient versions, and most of the
m ver. 8. Heb. i. 2.
10 He was in the world, and m the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto h his n Luke xix. 14. own, and h his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons
Acts iii. 26: xiii. 46. o Isa. lvi. 5. Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iii. 26.
2 Pet. i. 4. 1 John iii. 1.
ancient Commentators, and A. V.), or does it belong to the true light? The former construction can only be defended by a Rabbinical usage, by which "all that cometh into the world" means all men.' But it is very questionable whether St. John ever speaks thus. Certainly he does not, in any of the passages commonly cited to defend this rendering, ch. xviii. 37 (which is spoken by Christ of Himself and His Mission); xvi. 21, 28; xii. 46. And even if he had thus spoken, how harsh and how unmeaning is the sentence, however we take it; whether with Euthymius we lay an emphasis on "was," or with A. V. &c. supply "that" before it. If this latter had been intended, surely it would have been more distinctly expressed; and even when it is supplied, we have in this verse only a less forcible repetition of It seems then that we must join coming into the world with the true light. But even then, three ways of rendering are apparently open to us. The first of these, which is that of Socinus, takes "coming into the world" as meaning, at its coming into the world.' This however-besides the sense being inconsistent with ver. 4-leaves the opening clause without a demonstrative pronoun, as before. Then, secondly, coming might seem to be used in the sense in which we frequently have it, as a sort of future, 'who was, or is, to come;' see Matt. xi. 3; Mark x. 30 al. fr.; ch. vi. 14; xi. 27, in which last two places it is joined, as here, with "into the world." But if this be adopted, the only sense will be that the true light, &c. was to come; i. e. had not yet come; which manifestly is not correct; for it had come, when John gave his witness; and the whole of these verses 6-13 relate to the time when He had appeared, and come to His own. are driven then to the only legitimate rendering, which is to take was coming as equivalent to an imperfect, came:-this usage being frequent in the N. T. :-i. e. at the time when John bore this witness, the true light which lighteth every man, came-was in process of manifesting Himself,-into the world. which lighteth every man is a further expansion of the true. 10.] The world is the created
world, into which He came (ver. 9), which was made by Him (ver. 3), which nevertheless (i. e. as here represented by man, the only creature who "knows") knew, recognized Him not. and is as in ver. 5. The three members of the sentence form a climax ;- He was in the world (and therefore the world should have known Him), and the world was made by Him (much more then should it have known Him), and the world knew Him not. 11.] It is impossible to express this verse in terse and short English. In the original, the first his own is neuter-his own things, or possessions: the second, masculine, his own people. If we enquire for the sense, his own things here cannot well mean the world, or his own people mankind in general: it would be difficult to point out any Scripture usage to justify such a meaning. But abundance of passages bear out the meaning which makes the former His own inheritance or possession, i. e. Judæa; and the latter, the Jews; compare especially the parable Matt. xxi. 33 ff.; and Ecclus. xxiv. 7 ff. And thus came forms a nearer step in the approach to the declaration in ver. 14. He came to His own. On received him not see above on ver. 5. 12.] The words, as many as .. primarily refer to the "election" among the Jews, who have just been spoken of: but also, by implication, being opposed to both the world and his own, the election in all the world. as many as received him, i. e. as many as recognized Him as that which He was-the Word of God and Light of men. them gave he power] The word means, not merely capability, --still less privilege or prerogative,-but power; involving all the actions and states needful to their so becoming, and removing all the obstacles in their way (e. g. the wrath of God, and the guilt of sin). to become children of God] The spiritual life owes its beginning to a birth from. above, ch. iii. 3-7. And this birth is owing to the Holy Spirit of God; so that this is equivalent to saying,' As many as received Him, to them gave He His Holy Spirit.' And we find that it was so see Acts x. 44. children of God is a more comprehensive expression than “sons of
of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 P which
1 Pet. i. 23. q Matt. i.
16, 20. Luke i. $1,
were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 9 And the Word rk was
35: ii. 7.
1 Tim. iii. 18. made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his
r Rom. i. 3. Gal. iv. 4.
p ch. iii. 5. James i. 18.
14, 16, 17.
t Isa. xi. 5.
glory, [m the] glory as of the only-begotten" of the Father,
" full of grace and truth.
Matt. xvii. 2.
ch. ii. 11: xi. 40. 2 Pet. i. 17.
u Col. i. 19: ii. 3, 9.
God" (which rendering in the A. V. is entirely without authority), which brings out rather our adoption, and hope of inheritance (Rom. viii. 14 ff.), whereas the other involves the whole generation and process of our life in the Spirit, as being from and of God, and consequently our likeness to God, walking in light as He is in light (1 John i. 5-7)-free from sin (ib. iii. 9; v. 18) and death (ch. viii. 51). to them that believe on his name] His name is His manifestation as that which He has given Himself out to be: i. e. as a Saviour from sin; see Matt. i. 21, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for He himself shall save His people from their sins." 13.] The Jews grounded their claim to be children of God on their descent from Abraham. St. John here negatives any such claim, and asserts the exclusive divine birth of all who become children of God by faith. It is to be noticed that the conjunctions here are not merely disjunctive ones, which would necessitate the ranging the clauses as co-ordinate and parallel, but exclusive ones, which rise in climax from one clause to another,'not of blood, nor yet of the will of the flesh, nor yet of the will of man, but of God.' Many Interpreters have seen in "the will of man" (the word in the original is that expressing the man as distinguished from the woman) the male, and in "the will of the flesh" the female side of human concupiscence (so Augustine, Theophylact, &c.) ; or in the former the higher and more conscious, in the latter the lower and animal side (Bleek, Luthardt). But both these interpretations seem to be objectionable. 14.] And must not be understood as giving a reason for the verse before; it is only the same copula as in vv. 1, 3, 4, 5; passing on to a further assertion regarding the Word. became filesh] the most general expression of the great truth that He became man. He became that, of which man is in the body compounded. There is no reference here to the doctrine of the Lord Jesus being the second Adam, as Olshausen thinks; but although there may
literally, had his tabernacle. n render, from.
we beheld] See This is the
be no reference to it, it lies at the ground of this wideness of expression. The doctrine in this form may have been, as Lücke observes, alien to St. John's habits of thought, but not that which is implied in the doctrine, the taking of the nature of man by the Eternal Word. The simplicity of this expression is no doubt directed against the Docetæ of the Apostle's time, who maintained that the Word only apparently took human nature. Therefore he says, absolutely and literally became flesh : -see 1 John iv. 2. The word rendered "dwelt," properly is sojourned,' or 'tabernacled,' in us. There is no reference to the flesh being the tabernacle of the Spirit; but the word is one technically used in Scripture to import the dwelling of God among men. us] "men, who are flesh," Bengel. 1 John i. 1; 2 Pet. i. 16. Apostle's testimony as such, see Acts i. 21. The mention of glory seems to be suggested by the word tabernacled, so frequently used of the divine Presence or Shechinah, and cognate in its very form with it. This glory was seen by the disciples, ch. ii. 11; xi. 4: also by Peter, James, and John, specially, on the mount of transfiguration: to which occasion the words "as of the only-begotten from the Father" seem to refer: but mainly, in the whole converse and teaching and suffering of the Lord, who was full of grace and truth, see below. On the term as, Chrysostom remarks that "it is not a word of mere likeness, or comparison, but of confirmation, and unquestionable endowment: as if he had said, We saw glory such as became, and such as was likely would be possessed by, the only begotten and genuine Son of God the King of all." onlybegotten] This word applied to Christ is peculiar to John, and occurs in ver. 18; ch. iii. 16, 18; 1 John iv. 9 only. In the N. T. usage it signifies the only son :-in the LXX, Ps. xxii. (xxi. 21 of the LXX) 20 (Heb., my only one from the hand of the dog), the beloved. It has been attempted to render the word in John, according to
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me Pis preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And
ch. iii. 31.
• render, beareth, and crieth.
the usage in Ps. xxi. 20. But obviously in the midst of ideas reaching so far deeper than that of regard, or love, of the Father for the Son, the word cannot be interpreted except in accordance with them. It refers to, and contrasts with, the children of God in vv. 12, 13. They receive their divine birth by faith in Him, and through Him; but HE is the Only-begotten of the Father in the higher sense, in which He is begotten the Son of God. The words full of grace and truth (see the note in my Gr. Test.) belong probably to the last words, the only-begotten of the Father, and there is no need of a parenthesis, as in A. V. grace and truth] not equivalent to "true grace," which destroys the precision of the expression, and itself conveys no sense whatever; but setting out the two sides of the divine manifestation in Christ,-grace, as the result of Love to mankind,-truth (see ch. xiv. 6), as the unity, purity, and light of His own Character. 15.] The testimony of John, so important as being the fulfilment of the very object for which he was sent from God, is in this prologue ranged, so to speak, parallel with the assertions and testimony of the Evangelist himself. So that this verse does not interrupt the train of thought, but confirms by this important testimony the assertion "the Word became flesh," shewing that John bore witness to His præ-existence. Then (ver. 16) the "full of grace and truth" is again taken up. Euthymius paraphrases: "Even if I," says the Evangelist, may perhaps seem to some not worthy of credit, yet before me John witnesseth to His Godhead, that John, whose name is great and celebrated among all the Jews." beareth witness, present, for solemnity-as part of the testimony to Him, not only once given, but still subsisting. crieth (in the original, perfect, being, in sense, present, hath cried,' so that the voice is still sounding), see ch. vii. 37: John crieth out with confidence and joy, as becometh a great herald." Bengel. This was he of whom I spake .] This reference to a former saying seems to shew, as indeed would appear from the announcement of his own office by the Baptist, that he had ut
ch. iii. 32: 33.
Matt. iii. 11.
Mark i. 7.
Luke iii. 16.
ver. 27, 50.
y ch. viii. 58. Col. i. 17.
P render, taketh place.
tered these words in the power of the Spirit concerning Him whose forerunner he was before he saw and recognized Him in the flesh. Then, on doing so, he exclaimed, This was He of whom I spake, &c. This view seems to be borne out by his own statement, ver. 33, and by the order of the narrative in Matt. iii. 11, 12, 13. cometh after me] In point of time; not of birth, merely or principally, nor of commencement of official life: but, inasmuch as John was His Forerunner, on account of official position. taketh place before me] This expression, taketh place, represents one, in the original, very difficult to render in English. It is the same word as that rendered "hath been made" in ver. 3: hath come to be, is constituted. The A. V., "is preferred," would be very suitable, setting forth the advancement to official dignity before which John's office waned and decreased (ch. iii. 30), which took place even while John's course was being fulfilled: but the objection to 'preferred' is, its possible ambiguity: the word to prefer meaning to esteem more highly, as well as to advance or promote, which is the sense required here. Even Dr. Johnson has fallen into the mistake of quoting this very passage, in his Dictionary, as an instance of the sense "to love more than another." because (or, for, but better because) He was (not "became" or "was made," but as in ver. 1) before me; i. e. He existed, was in being, before me.' The question raised by some, whether it is probable that the Baptist had, or expressed such views of the præ-existence of Christ, is not one for us to deal with, in the face of so direct a testimony as is given to the fact, here and in ch. iii. 27 ff. In all probability, the Evangelist was himself a disciple of the Baptist: and if he has given us, as compared with the other Evangelists, a fuller and somewhat differing account of his testimony to Christ, it is because his means of information were ampler than those of the other Evangelists. The questioners seem to forget that the Baptist was divinely raised up and commissioned, and full of the Holy Ghost, and spoke in that power; his declarations were not therefore merely con
z ch. iii. 84. Eph. i. 6, 7,8.
Col. i. 19:
ii. 9, 10. a Exod. xx. 1, &c
r of his fulness [have] all we received, and grace for 17 For a the law was given t by Moses, but grace
and truth came t by Jesus Christ. 18 d No man hath seen God at any time; eu the only-begotten Son, which is in
44: v. 1:
b Rom. iii. 24: the bosom of the Father, he [* hath] declared him.
v. 21: vi. 14.
c ch. viii. 32: xiv. 6.
vi. 16. 1 John iv. 12, 20.
d Exod. xxxiii. 20. Deut. iv. 12. Matt. xi. 27. Luke x. 22. ch. vi. 46. 1 Tim. i. 17: e ver. 14. ch. iii. 16, 18. 1 John iv. 9.
rrender, out of.
u or, the only-begotten God:
clusions which he had arrived at by natural means, the study of the prophecies, &c.: but inspirations and revelations of the Spirit. 16.] Origen blames Heracleon for terminating the testimony of John at the end of ver. 17, and makes it continue to the end of ver. 18. But it can hardly be that his testimony extends beyond ver. 15, for all we (in ver. 16) would bear no very definite meaning in his mouth, and the assertions in ver. 17 are alien from the character of the Baptist, belonging as they do to the more mature development of Christian doctrines. I cannot doubt that this and the following verses belong to the Evangelist, and are a carrying onwards of his declarations concerning the divine Word. Ver. 15 is not parenthetical, but confirmatory of ver. 14, and this verse grounds itself on the fact of ver. 14, corroborated by the testimony of ver. 15,that He dwelt among us, and that we saw His glory, full of grace and truth. his fulness is that of which He was full, ver. 14. all we] All who believe on Him; see ver. 12. received, and . . .] Our relation to Him has been that of recipients out of His fulness, and the thing received has been' grace for grace] The ancient interpretation, the New Covenant instead of the Old (Euthymius), is certainly wrong, for the received is spoken entirely of the times of the Incarnate Word: and besides, the law and grace are distinctly opposed to one another in the next verse. The preposition rendered for (instead of) is properly used of any thing which supersedes another, or occupies its place. This is in fact its ordinary usage when exchange is spoken of the possession of the thing gotten succeeds to, supersedes, the possession of the thing given in exchange, and I possess one thing instead of (or, for) another. Thus also we have received grace for grace, continual accessions of grace; new grace coming upon and superseding the former. 17.] The connexion of this verse with the foregoing lies in the words his fulness (ver. 16), and
in grace and truth (ver. 14). 'We received from His fulness continual additions of grace, because that fulness is not, like the law, a positive enactment, finite and circumscribed, of which it could be said that it was given, but the bringing in of grace and truth, which came (came in, came to pass) by Jesus Christ.' The fulness of Christ is set against the narrowness of positive enactment in the law. The distinction must not be lost sight of, nor denied, as Lücke attempts to do: for Bengel truly observes: "No philosopher places his words so accurately, and observes their minute differences, as John, especially in this chapter." 18.] The connexion is: Moses could not give out of the fulness of grace and truth, for he had no immediate sight of God, and no man can have there is but One who can declare God, the only-begotten Son, who is no mere man, but abides in the bosom of the Father.' The sight of God here meant, is not only bodily sight (though of that it is true, see Exod. xxxiii. 20: 1 Tim. vi. 16), but intuitive and infallible knowledge, which enables him who has it to declare the nature and will of God; see ch. iii. 11; vi. 46; xiv. 7. The Evangelist speaks in this verse in accordance with the sayings of the Alexandrine philosophy, whose phraseology he has adopted: Who hath seen Him, that he might tell us? Ecclus. xliii. 31. the only-begotten Son] A remarkable various reading, the only-begotten God, occurs here in many of our oldest MSS., versions, and Fathers. The evidence for and against it is given in full in my Gr. Test. (edn. 6.) It seems to have arisen from a confusion of the contracted forms of writing the words "Son" and "God" in the Greek: the former being in our ancient MSS. written TC, the latter C. The question, which reading to adopt, is one which, in the balance of authorities, must be provisionally decided by the consideration that, as far as we can see, we should be introducing much harshness into the sentence, and a new and strange term