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ROMANS. By Prof. Philip Schaff, D.D., and Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D.D. 

/. AND IL CORINTHIANS, By Principal David Brown, D.D., Free Church College, 

GALATIANS, By Prof. Philip Schaff, D.D. 

EPHESIANS, By Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D.D. 

PHILIPPIANS, By Rev. J. Rawson Lumbv, B.D., St. Catherine's College, Cambridge. 

COLOSSIANS. By Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D.D., Hartford. 

/. AND II. THESSALONIANS. By Rev. Marcus Dods, D.D., Glasgow. 

7. AND II TIMOTHY, By Prof. Edward Hayes Plumptre, D.D., King's College, London. 

TITUS, By Rev. J. Oswald Dykes, D.D., London. 

PHILEMON, By Rev. J. Rawson Lumby, B.D., Cambridge. 

Tlie Publishers hope to be able to issue the above at an early date. 






IIELBOUKNB. . . . . 




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W^t ®OjSiiel of syt. Jfoiin anli tlie ^ss oC ^t Apostles* 




/d/. ^ /q/ 











The Very Rev. J. S. HOWSON, D.D., & The Rev. Canon SPENCE, 










Introduction to the New Testament. By Prof. Philip Schaff, D. D., New 

York, and Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D. D., Hartford .... 3-26 

The Gospel of Matthew. By Prof. Philip Schaff, D.D., and Prof. Matthew 

B. Riddle, D. D 27-245 

77/*? Gospel of Mark, By Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D. D., and Prof. Philip 

Schaff, D. D 246-336 

The Gospel of Luke, By Prof. Matthew B, Riddle, D. D., and Prof. Philip 

Schaff, D. D 337-50& 


The Gospel of John, and the Acts of the Apostles. 

The Gospel of John, By Prof. William Milligan, D. D., University of Aber- 
deen, and Prof. Wiluam F. Moulton, D. D.,The Leys College, Cambridge. 

The Acts of the Apostles, By J. S. HowsoN, D. D., Dean of Chester, and 
Canon Donald Spence, Rector of St. Pancras, London. 

The Epistles of Paul. 

Romans, By Prof. Philip Schaff, D. D., and Prof. Matthew B. Rid- 
dle, D. D. 

/. and II, Corinthians. By Principal David Brown, D. D., Free Church Col- 
lege, Aberdeen. 

Galatians. By Prof. Philip Schaff, D. D. 

Ephesians. By Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D. D. 

Philippians, By Rev. J. Rawson Lumby, D. D., St. Catherine's College, Cam- 

Colossians. By Prof. Matthew B. Riddle, D. D., Hartford. 

/. and II, Thessalanians. By Rev. Marcus Dods, D. D., Glasgow. 

/. and II, Timothy. By Prof. Edward Hayes Plumptre, D. D., King's Col- 
lege, London. 

Titus, By Rev. J. Oswald Dykes, D. D., London. 

Philemon. By Rev. J. Rawson Lumby, D. D., Cambridee. 



The Catholic Epistles and Revelation. 

Hebrews. By Prof. Joseph Angus, D. D., Regent's Park College, London. 

James, By Rev. Paton J. Gloag, D. D., Galashiels. 

/. and IL Peter. By Prof. S. D. F. Salmond, M. A., Free Church College, 

/. //. and III. John. By Prof. William B. Pope, D. D., Didsbury College, 

Manchester, and Prof. William F. Moulton, D. D., Cambridge. 
Jude. By Prof. Joseph Angus, D. D., Regent's Park College, London. 
Revelation. By Prof. William Milligan, D. D., Aberdeen, and Prof. William 

F. Moulton, D. D., Cambridge. 

Maps and Plans. 

By Prof. Arnold Guyot, Ph. D., LL.D., Professor of Geology and Physical 
Geography in Princeton, N. J. 


By Rev. William M. Thomson, D. D., late of Beiriit, Syria, and William 
H. Thomson, M. D., New York. 



A>rnocH Frontispiece 

From views selected by W. M. Thomson^ D.D, 

To face 

Cana 20 

From original photographs taken by W, M. Thomson^ D.D. 

Jacob's Well 43 

From a photograph by F. Frith. 

Bethany 131 

From a photograph by F. Frith. 

Samaria 330 

From original photographs taken by W. At. Thomson^ D. D. 

Damascus 339 

Fr^m photographs selected by IV. Af. Thomson, D.D. 

JOPPA 353 

From photographs selected by IV. M. Thomson, D.D. 

Lystra, Derbe, and Attalia 402 

From views selected by W. M. Thomson^ D. D, 

Athens 435 

From photographs selected by W. M. Thomson, D.D. 

Tarsus 497 

From views selected by W. M, Thomson., D.D. 

Cesarea 524 

From original photographs taken by W. M. Thomson^ D.D. 

* « 



All the illustrations in this volume and throughout the entire work are edited by 
W, M. Thomson y D.D,, and are drawn from original photographs taken for him, 
from photographs and combination of photographs selected and arranged by him, or 
from illustrations in standard works of reference, to which due credit ts given in the 
following list. 


Women at a Welt 46 

From a photograph by Bergheim. 

Traditional Pool of Bethesda 57 

From a photograph by Bergheim, 

A Boat on Lake Tiberias 78 

From selected photographs, 

A Water Carrier 97 

Frpm a photograph by Bergheim. 

Pool of Siloam 113 

Frfm ^ photograph by F. Frith. 

A Sheepfold . . , 120 

FrpmflH original design by W. M. Thomson, D.D, 

Women Weeping at a Grave 136 



Pitcher and Basin . 156 

From Imhc's ** Modern EgypHams" 

Vale of the Cedron 197 

From original photographs. 

Hyssop 215 

From a drawing by G. £, Post, Af,D., in Smith's *' Bible Dictionary, " 

Myrrh 218 

From Tristram's '* Natural History oftht BibU^' 

Aloes 218 

From Smith's **BibU DUtionary," 

Rock Tombs 219 

From selected photographs. 

The Sepulchre of David 272 

From selected photographs. 

The Golden Gate (Exterior) 281 

From selected photographs. 

St. Stephen's Gate 326 

From selected photographs. 

Ethiopian Chariot 336 

From Wilkinson's ** Ancient Egyptians. " 


From an original photograph. 

Street called Straight 345 

From selected photographs. 

Wall of Damascus 348 

From selected photographs, 

Lydda 350 

Fl^om an original photograph. 

Roman Centurion 356 

ihrom photograph of ancient sarcophagus. 

Traditional House of Simon the Tanner 361 

From selected photographs. 

Plan of Antioch 373 

From Mailer. 

Coin of Claudius Caesar 376 

From Pembroke Collection, 

Coin of Herod Agrippa 1 381 

F^om Akerman. 

Port of Seleucia 391 

From Fisher's Views. 

Site of Old Paphos 393 

From *' The Illustrated London News." 

Coin of Proconsul of Cyprus 393 

/ Ftom Akerman, 

ICONIUM . . • 400 

Firom Fisher's Views. 

Lycaonian Soldier 404 

From photograph of ancient sarcophagus. 

Jupiter and Mercury 405 

From photograph of ancient altar. 

Ancient Sacrifice 406 

From photograph of ancient sarcophagus. 

Alexandria Troas 427 

From Schliemann's • • Troy. ** 

Main Street, Thessalonica 437 

From Cousinery. 

Coin of Berea 438 

From Pellerin, 

The Areopagus 440 

From selected photographs. 

The Parthenon • • 442 

F^om the painting by F, S, Church. 


Portrait of Aratus 443 

From Belhrius, 

Coin of Athens 444 

From PelUrin. 

Coin of Corinth 447 

From the British Museum. 

Ruins at Corinth 448 

From selected photographs, 

Diana of the Ephesians 464 

From a photograph of the image in museum at Naples. 

Ruins of the Theatre at Ephesus 465 

From selected photographs. 

Gateway at Assos 473 

From CasselVs ** Bible Dictionary." 

Mitylene 474 

From Goujier, 

Samos 475 

From Admiralty Chart. 

Miletus 476 

From Goujier. 

Coos 486 

From Admiralty Chart. 

Rhodes 487 

From selected photographs, 

Patara 488 

From Ionian Antiquities, 

Coin of Tarsus 499 

From British Museum. 

Castle of Antonia 502 

From selected photograph. 

Coin of Felix 517 

From Madden, 

SiDON 554 

From selected photographs. 

Coin of Myra 555 

From British Museum. 

An Ancient Ship 555 

From Conybeare and Howson^s St. Paul. 

Fair Havens 556 

From CasselVs ''Bible Dictionary." 

Ancient Anchors 561 

St. Paul's Bay 568 

From selected photographs. 

PUTEOLI . 570 

From selected photographs. 

Arch of Drusus 571 

From a photograph, 

Appian Way 572 

From selected photographs. 


Prepared under the supervision of Prof , A, Guyot. 

Map of the Roman Empire To face page i 

Map of Cyprus ^^ 387 

Map of Malta „ 565 

Map of St. Paul's Route from Puteoli to Rome .... Text 571 

Map of St. Paul's Missionary Tours To face page 578 




By Prof. William Milligan, D.D., University of Aberdeen, and Prof 
William F. Moulton, D.D., The Leys College, Cambridge. 



By J. S. HowsoN, D.D., Dean of Chester, and Canon Donald Spence, 
Rector of St. Pancras, London. 

The Mar^nal References in Acts are taken from those prepared by Dr, Scrivener^ 
and have been reproduced here by the kind permission of that distinguished Critic and the 
Syndics of the University Press, Cambridge, whose property they are. 

Each of the Authors of the Commentary on t/ie Acts of the Apostles has revised the 
work of the other. The Dean of Chester is directly responsible for the notes on chaps. 
X, xi. xxvii. and xxViii. to ver, 17, with the Excursus on the Two Accounts of the 
Conversion of Cornelius, the Three Accounts of the Conversion of St. Paul, the Ships and 
Navigation of the Ancients, and the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, The rest of the work 
has been executed by Canon Spence. 




IT is obviously impossible, within the limits to which we must here confine our- 
selves, to treat with adequate fulness the many important and difficult questions 
relating to the Gospel of John ; nor can we attempt to do more than indicate the 
leading points of inquiry, together with the grounds upon which we may rest in the 
confident assurance that that Gospel is really the production of * the disciple whom 
Jesus loved.' In endeavouring to do this, we shall approach the subject from its 
positive rather than its negative side, not dealing directly in the first instance with 
difficulties, but tracing the history of the Gospel downwards from the time when 
it was composed to the date at which it enjoyed the unquestioning recognition of the 
universal Church. Afterwards, turning to the contents of the Gospel, we shall speak 
of the purpose which its author had in view, and of the general characteristics of the 
method pursued by him in order to attain it. Such a mode of treatment seems best 
adapted to the object of an Introduction like the presjnL It will be as little as 
possible polemical ; it will enable us to meet by anticipation most, certainly the most 
formidable, of the objections made to the authenticity of the Gospel ; and it will put 
the reader in possession of those considerations as to its general character without 
which he cannot hope to understand it. 

At the close of the Gospel (chap. xxi. 24) we read, * This is the disciple which 
beareth witness of these things, and wrote these things.' These words (which are 
in all probability from the pen of John ; see the Commentary) contain a distinct 
intimation on the part of the writer (comp. ver. 20) that he was ' the disciple whom 
Jesus loved ;' and although that disciple is nowhere expressly named, we shall here- 
after see that the Gospel itself leaves no room for doubt that he was the Apostle John. 

I. Personality of the Writer, — This Apostle was the son of Zebedee and Salome, 
and younger, as there seems every reason to think, than his brother James. Of 
2^bedee we know little. He was a fisherman upon the Sea of Galilee, who pursued 
his occupation in common with his sons, and who continued it even after they had 
obeyed the summons of their Lord to follow Him (Matt. iv. 21). Of Salome we for- 
tunately know more. From John xix. 25 it would seem probable that she was a sister 
of the Virgin Mary (see the Commentary) ; but the fact need not be dwelt upon at 
present It would not help us to understand better the ties that bound Jesus to her 
son ; for these depended on spiritual sympathy rather than relationship by blood (Matt. 
xiL 48-50). But whether this bond of kindred existed or not, Salome manifested her 
devotion to Jesus by constant waiting upon her Lord, and by ministering to Him of 
her substance (Mark xv. 40, xvL i). Nor can we fail to recognise her exhibition of the 
same spirit, mixed though it was in this instance with earthly elements, when she csftne 

•• • 


to Jesu ; with the request that her two sons might sit, the one at His right hand, the 
other at His left, in His kingdom (Matt. xx. 21). That was not an act of proud 
ambition, or the request would have been made in private.^ The zeal of a mother for 
her children's highest good was there, as well as an enthusiasm, not chilled even after- 
wards by the events at the cross and at the lomb (Mark xv. 40, xvi. i), for the cause of 
One whom she felt to be so worthy of her trust and love. The family of John does not 
seem to have been poor. Zebedee possessed hired servants (Mark i. 20). Salome had 
substance of which to minister to our Lord during His life (Mark xv. 40 ; conip. Luke 
viii. 3), and with which to procure the materials for embalming Him after His death 
(Mark xvi. i). John was acquainted with the high priest (John xviii. 15), — a fact at 
least harmonizing well with the idea that he did not belong to the lowest rank of the 
people ; and at one time of his life, whatever may have been the cose at other times, 
he possessed property of his own (John xix. 27). 

It was in circumstances such as these that John received his training in the faith 
of his fiithers; and, as that receptivity which in after life formed one of the most 
marked features of his character must have shown itself in the child and in the boy, 
we cannot ^oubt that, from his earliest years, he would imbibe in a greater than 
ordinary degree the sublime recollections and aspirations of Israel We know, indeed, 
from his ready reference upon one occasion to the fire which the prophet Elijah 
commanded to come down from heaven, that the sterner histories of the Old Testa- 
ment had taken deep possession of his mind ; while his enthusiastic expectations of 
the coming glory of his people equally reveal themselves in his connection with that 
request of Salome of which we have already spoken. Apart from such specific 
instances, however, of John's acquaintance with the Old Testament (which, did they 
stand alone, might not prove much), it is worthy of notice that the books of the New 
Testament most thoroughly pervaded by the spirit of the older dispensation are two 
that we owe to the son of Salome, — the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse. This 
remark is not to be confined to the latter of the two. A careful study of the former 
will show that it displays not only a much more intimate acquaintance with the Old 
Testament, but also a much larger appropriation of its spirit, than even that first Gospel 
by Matthew which was confessedly designed for Jewish Christians. Amidst all the 
acknowledged universalism of the Fourth Gospel, its thorough appreciation of the fact 
that the distinction between Jew and Gentile has for ever passed away, and that lofty 
idealism by which it is distinguished, and which lifts its author far above every limita- 
tion of the favour of God to nation or class, the book is penetrated to the core by the 
noblest and most enduring elements of the Jewish faith. The writer has sunk himself 
into all that is most characteristic of what that faith reveals in regard to God, to man, 
to the world, to the meaning and end of religious life. In addition to this, the figures 
of the Fourth Gospel are more Jewish than those of any book of the New Testament, 
except the Apocalypse. Its very language and style display a similar origin. No 
Gentile writer, either of the Apostolic or of the sub-Apostolic age, no Jewish writer 
even who had not long and lovingly appropriated the oracles of God given to his 
fathers, could have written as John has done. 

These remarks have an important bearing on what is said of the apostle in Acts 
iv. 13. We there read that when the Sanhedrin beheld his boldness they marvelled, 
perceiving that he was an ' unlearned and common man ;' and it has often been 
maintained that one to whom this description is applicable cannot have been the 
author of the fourth Gospel. The true inference lies in the opposite direction. The 
words quoted mean only that he had not passed through the discipline of the 

* Comp. Niemeyer, ChanUtteristik^ p. 44. 


Rabbinical schools; and certainly of such discipline the Fourth Gospel affords no 
trace. His education had been of a purer kind. He had grown up amidst the influ- 
ences of home, of nature, of a trying occupation, of brave and manly toil Therefore 
it was that, when, with an unfettered spirit, he came into contact with the great prin- 
ciples and germinal seeds which underlay the Old Testament dispensation, — above all, 
when he came into contact with the Word of Life, with Him of whom Moses in the 
law and the prophets had spoken, he was able to receive Him, to apprehend Him, 
and to present Him to the world as he did. 

It is in connection with the Baptist that we first hear of John. If Salome and 
Elizabeth were kinswomen (see above, and comp. Luke i. 36), John would naturally 
become acquainted with the remarkable circumstances attending the birth and training 
of the Baptist At all events, the stern teaching of the prophet, his loud awakening 
calls which rang from the wilderness of Judea and penetrated to the whole surround- 
ing country and to all classes of its society, his glorious proclamation that the long 
waited for kingdom was at hand, must have at once kindled into a flame thoughts 
long nourished in secret John became one of his disciples (John L 35), and the 
impression produced upon him by the Baptist was peculiarly deep. More truly than 
any of the earlier Evangelists he apprehends the evangelical ends to which, amidst all 
its sternness, the Baptist's mission really pointed. If the three bring before us with 
greater force the prophet of repentance reproving the sins of Israel, he on the other 
hand shows in a clearer light the forerunner of Jesus in his immediate relation to his 
Lord, and in his apprehension of the spiritual power and glory of His coming (comp. 
John i. 26, 27, iiL 29, 30, with Matt iii. 11, 12; Mark i. 7, 8; Luke iil 15-17). 

The Baptist was the first to direct his disciple to Jesus (chap. i. 36). In company 
with Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, he immediately followed Him, inquired of Him 
where He stayed, accompanied Him to His house, and remained with Him that day. 
What the subject of conversation was we are not informed, but the divine Sower had 
scattered His seed in the young ingenuous heart ; and when shortly afterwards Jesus 
railed him to the apostleship he immediately obeyed the summons (Matt iv. 21, 22). 
From this time onward to the close of his Master's earthly career John was His con- 
stant follower, entering we cannot doubt into a closer union of spirit with Him than 
was attained by any other disciple. Not only was he one of the chosen three who 
were present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus, at the Transfiguration, and at 
the agony in Gethsemane (Luke viii. 51, ix. 28; Mark xiv. 33); even of that small 
election he was, to use the language of the fathers, the most elect. He leaned upon 
the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper, not accidentally, — but as the disciple whom He 
loved (John xiii. 23) ; he pressed after Him into the court of Caiaphas at His trial 
(chap, xviii. 15) ; he alone seems to have accompanied Him to Calvary (chap. xix. 26) ; 
to him Jesus committed the care of His mother at the cross (chap. xix. 26, 27) ; he was 
the first on the Resurrection morning, after hearing the tidings of Mary Magdalene, 
to reach the sepulchre (chap. xx. 4); and, when Jesus appeared after His Resurrection 
to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee, he first recognised the Lord (chap. xxi. 7). 

Little is related of John in the earlier Gospels. The chief incidents, in addition to 
those already mentioned, are his coming to Jesus and saying, * Master, we saw one 
casting out devils in Thy name ; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with 
us ' (Luke ix. 49), and his receiving from Jesus, along with his brother James, the 
title of * Son of Thunder' (Mark iii. 17), — a title given to denote not any possession 
of startling eloquence, but the power and vehemence of his character. It has indeed 
been urged by foes, and even admitted by friends, that such is not the character of the 
.Apostle as it appears in the Fourth Gospel. But this is a superficial view. No doubt 


in chaps. xiii.-xvii., when the conflict is over and Jesus is alone with His disciples, 
we breathe the atmosphere of nothing but the most perfect love and peace. The 
other chapters of the Gospel, however, both before and after these, leave a different 
impression upon the mind. The * Son of Thunder ' appears in every incident, in 
every discourse which he records. To draw a contrast between the fire of youth as 
it appears in the John of the first three Evangelists and the mellowed gentleness of 
old age in the John of the fourth is altogether misleading. The vehement, keen, 
impetuous temperament is not less observable in the latter than in the former. We 
seem to trace at every step, while the conflict of Jesus with His enemies is described, 
the burning zeal of one who would call down fire from heaven upon the guilty * Jews.' 

The continued possession of the same character is at least entirely consistent with 
what is told us of John in the Acts of the Apostles ; and it bursts forth again in all 
its early ardour in the traditions of the Church. John was present with Peter at the 
healing of the lame man (Acts iii. i-ii), and, although the address of the latter is 
alone recorded, he does not seem to have been silent on the occasion (chap. iv. i). 
He exhibited the same boldness as his fellow-apostle in the presence of the Council 
(chap. iv. 13) ; joined him in the expression of his determination to speak what he had 
seen and heard (chap. iv. 19, 20) ; was probably at a later point committed with him 
to prison (chap. v. 18), and miraculously delivered (chap. v. 19); was brought again 
before the Sanhedrin (chap. v. 27), and, through the influence of Gamaliel, once more set 
free to resume his labours (chap. v. 41, 42). After Samaria had been evangelized by 
Philip, he was sent to that city with Peter that they might complete the work begun 
(chap. viiL 14-17); and, this mission accomplished, he returned with him to Jeru- 
salem, preaching the gospel at the same time in many villages of the Samaritans (chap, 
viii. 25). From this time we hear nothing of him until the first great Council at 
Jerusalem (Acts xv. ; Gal. ii.). Then Paul found him in the holy city, regarded by 
the Christian community as one of the * pillars * of the Church, — ^a circumstance 
which, combined with Paul's private explanations to those so named (Gal. ii. 2, 9), 
may justly lead to the inference that he still belonged to that portion of the Christian 
community which had not risen to the full conception of the independence and 
freedom of the Christian faith. 

Scripture says nothing more of John's apostolic labours. It was now a.d. 50 ; 
and we have no further information regarding him until he appears, in the traditions 
of the Church, as Bishop of Ephesus in the latter part of the first century. An 
attempt has indeed been recently made to cast doubt on John's residence at Ephesus, 
but there are few points in the history of early Christianity upon which tradition is so 
unanimous, and there need be no hesitation in accepting the statement. We do not 
know the exact date at which he went to this city. It can hardly have been during the 
life of Paul, or that Apostle would not, in accordance with his own principles of action, 
have connected himself so closely with the district (Rom. xv. 20 ; 2 Cor. x. 16). 
The probability is that, deeply attached to Jerusalem, clinging to the memories asso- 
ciated with the labours and death of Jesus, he lingered in the sacred city until its 
destruction approached. Then he may have wandered forth from a place upon which 
the judgment of God had set its seal, and found his way to Ephesus. The traditions 
of the Church regarding him while he continued there possess singular interest, partly 
from the light thrown by them upon the times, partly from the touching pathos by 
which some of them are marked, mainly because they enable us so thoroughly to 
identify the aged Apostle with the youthful follower of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. 
Such is the story of his meeting with Cerinthus. It is said that the Apostle once entered 
the bath-house at Ephesus, and, discovering Cerinthus the heretic within, sprang 


forth exclaiming, ' Let us flee, lest even the bath-house fall in, since there is within 
it Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth.' Such also is the story of John and the young 
robber, one of the most beautiful stories of Christian antiquity, which we have no 
room to relate ; and such the tradition that the Apostle, when too old to walk, was 
carried by his disciples into the midst of the congregation at Ephesus, only to repeat 
over and over again to his fellow-believers, * Little children, love one another.' Other 
stories are told of him which may be omitted as less characteristic than these ; but 
the general impression left by them all is not only that the early Church possessed a 
remarkably distinct conception of the personality of the apostle, but that its concep- 
tion corresponded in the closest manner to the mingled vehemence and tenderness 
which come out so strongly in the picture of him presented by the earlier Gospels and 
by his own writings. From Ephesus, according to a tolerably unanimous, if rather 
indefinite tradition, which seems to be confirmed by Rev. i. 9, John was banished for 
a time to the island of Patmos, a wretched rock in the ^Egean Sea, but was afterwards 
permitted to return to the scene of his labours in Ephesus. It was under Nerva, it 
is said, that his return took place (a.d. 96-98), although he is also spoken of as having 
been alive after the accession of Trajan (a.d. 98). The days of the aged Apostle 
were now, however, drawing to a close. The companions of his earlier years, those 
whose eyes had seen and whose ears had heard Him who was the Word of Life, had 
been long since gathered to their rest His time, too, was come. He had waited 
for more than threescore years to rejoin the Master whom he loved. He died and 
was buried at Ephesus ; and with him closes the apostolic age. 

IL Authorship of the Gospel, — It is the almost unanimous tradition of the Church 
that the Apostle John wrote this Gospel Our earliest authorities for the fact are 
Theophilus of Antioch (a.d. 175), Irenaeus (a.d. 130-200), the Muratorian Fragment 
(A.D. 170-180), and Clement of Alexandria (a.d. 160-220). The accounts of these 
writers differ slightly from each other, but all agree in distinctly attributing our 
present Gospel to John ; while the fourth, who is clearly independent of the other three, 
draws a remarkable distinction between it and the earlier Gospels, the latter being 
spoken of as containing * the bodily things,' the former as * a spiritual Gospel.' To 
the distinction thus drawn we shall presently return. 

If, as the above-mentioned authorities lead us to infer, the Fourth Gospel was made 
public towards the close of the first century (and it is unnecessary to discuss here 
the question of an interval between the writing and the publication), we naturally 
look for quotations from or allusions to it in the writings that have come down to us 
from the period immediately following that date. These prove fewer than we might 
expect Not indeed that they are wholly wanting. The acknowledged Epistles of 
Ignatius and the * Shepherd 'of Hermas, belonging respectively to the first twenty and 
the first forty years of the second century, exhibit a style of thought, sometimes even 
of language, closely connected with that of the Gospel. The Epistle of Polycarp to 
the Philippians, again, a little later than the * Shepherd,' and the writings of Papias 
before the middle of the second century, in bearing witness to the first Epistle as the 
work of John, lead us directly to the same conclusion in regard to the Gospel, for few 
will doubt that the two books are from the same hand. The account of the martyr- 
dom of Polycarp, moreover, written in the middle of the same century, is so obviously 
modelled upon John's narrative of the death of Jesus, that that narrative must have 
been in possession of the Church before the * Martyrdom ' was penned. Finally, the 
Epistle to Diognetus (a.d. 120), the address of Tatian to the Greeks (a.d. 160-180), 
the writings of Justin Martyr (a.d. 147-160), and the letter of the Churches of 
Vienne and Lyons (a.d. 177), all of which seem with more or less clearness to quote 

VOL. II. b 


from the Fourth Gospel, bring us down to the distinct statements of Theophilus, 
Irenaeus, the Muratorian Fragment, and Clement, alluded to above, and to a date at 
which the testimonies to the Johannine authorship of the Gospel are as clear and full 
as can be desired. 

The stream of allusion we have been following has flowed through the 
writings of the orthodox Church. But it is a remarkable fact, that allusions to our 
Gospel are still earlier and clearer in the heretical writings of the first half of the 
second century. This is especially the case with Basilides and his followers, as early 
as A.D. 125 ; and they are followed by the Valentinians, who can hardly be separated 
from their Master, Valentinus (a.d. 140), and by Ptolemaeus and Heracleon (about 
A.D. 170-180), the last mentioned having even written a commentary upon the 
Gospel. To these facts may be added several important considerations. Thus, 
to quote the words of Bishop Lightfoot, ' when soon after the middle of the second 
century divergent readings of a striking kind occur in John's Gospel, we are led to 
the conclusion that the text has already a history, and that the Gospel therefore 
cannot have been very recent.* ^ Again, in the early years of the second half of the 
second century the Gospel formed a part of the Syriac and old Latin translations 
of the New Testament, and as such was read in the public assemblies of the churches 
of Syria and Africa. Lastly, in the Paschal Controversies (about a.d. 160) there is 
hardly reason to doubt that the apparent discrepancy between this and the earlier 
Gospels, as to the date of the Last Supper of Jesus, played no small part in the 
dispute by which the whole Church was rent 

All these circumstances go far towards answering the allegation often made, 
that the paucity of allusions to the Fourth Gospel in the first seventy or eighty years 
after its publication is inconsistent with its authenticity. To present them thus, 
however, as an argument that the Gospel is authentic is not only greatly to under- 
state the case ; it is even to put the reader upon a wrong track for arriving at a positive 
conclusion. The real ground of conviction is the consistent belief of the Church. It 
is not for those who accept the Gospel to account for its admission into the canon of 
the last quarter of the second century, on the supposition that it is true ; it is for 
those who reject it to account for this, on the supposition that it is false. The early 
Church was not a mass of individual units believing in Jesus, each in his own way 
nourishing in secrecy and independence his own form of faith. It was an organized 
community, conscious of a common foundation, a common faith, and common ordin- 
ances of spiritual nourishment for all persons in all lands who held the one Head, 
Christ Jesus. It was a body, every one of whose members sympathized with the other 
• members : to every one of them the welfare of the whole was dear, and was moreover 
the most powerful earthly means of securing his own spiritual progress. The various 
generations of the Church overlapped one another ; her various parts were united by 
the most loving relation and the most active intercourse ; and all together guarded 
the common faith with a keenness of interest which has not been surpassed in any 
subsequent age of the Church's history. Even if we had not one probable reference 
to the Fourth Gospel previous to a.d. i 70, we should be entitled to ask with hardly 
less confidence than we may ask now, How did this book find its way into the canon 
as the Gospel of John ? How is it that the moment we hear of it we hear of it every- 
where, in France, Italy, North Africa, Egypt, Syria? No sooner do the sacred docu- 
ments of any local church come to light than the Fourth Gospel is among them, is 
publicly read in the congregations of the faithful, is used as a means for nourishing 
the spiritual life, is quoted in controversies of doctrine, is referred to in disputes as 

^ Oma Fresh Ransion oftkt New Testoftient, p. 2a 


to practice. It is simply an impossibility that this could have taken place within ten 
or twenty or thirty years after some single congregation of the widespread Church 
had accepted it from the hands of an unknown individual as (whether claiming to be 
so or not) the production of John the Apostle. In the controversies of later years it 
seems to us that the defenders of the Gospel have failed to do justice to their own 
position. They have not indeed paid too much attention to objectors, for many of 
these have been men of almost unrivalled learning and of a noble zeal for truth ; but, 
by occupying themselves almost entirely with answers to objections, they have led 
men to regard the authenticity of the Gospel as an opinion to be more or less 
plausibly defended, rather than as a fact which rests upon that unvarying conviction of 
the Church which is the strongest of all evidence, and the falsehood of which no 
opponent has yet been able to demonstrate. Let the faith, the life, the controversies, 
the worship of the Church about a.d. i 70 be first accounted for without the Fourth 
Gospel, and it will then be more reasonable to ask us to admit that the small number 
of allusions to it in the literature of the preceding part of the century is a proof that 
the book had at that time no existence. 

Many considerations, however, may be mentioned to explain that paucity of quota- 
lion and allusion upon which so great stress is laid. We notice only two. (i) The 
Fourth Gospel is considerably later in date than the other three. By the time it appeared 
the latter were everywhere circulated and appealed to in the Church. They had come 
to be regarded as the authoritative exposition of the life of the Redeemer. It could not 
be easy for a Gospel so different from them as is the fourth at once to take a familiar 
place beside ihem in the minds of men. Writers would naturally depend upon autho- 
rities to which they had been accustomed, and to which they knew that their readers 
had been in the habit of deferring. (2) A still more important consideration is the 
character of the book itself. May there not be good reason to doubt whether the Fourth 
(iospel, when first issued, would not be regarded as a theological treatise on the life of 
Jesus rather than as a simple narrative of what He said and did ? It is at least observable 
that when Irenaeus comes to speak of it he describes it as written to oppose Cerinthus 
and the Nicolaitanes (Adv, Htur. iii. 11, i); and that when Clement of Alexandria 
gives his account of its origin he describes it as 'a spiritual gospel* written in 
contrast with those containing * the bodily things' (in Euseb. H, E, vi. 14). It may 
be difficult to determine the exact meaning of 'spiritual' here, but it cannot be 
understood to express the divine as contrasted with the human in Jesus; and it 
appears more natural to think that it refers to the inner spirit in its contrast with the 
outward facts of His life as a whole. If so, the statement seems to justify the 
inference that the earlier gospels had been considered the chief storehouse of informa- 
tion with regard to the actual events of the Saviour's history. What bears even more 
upon this conclusion is the manner in which Justin speaks. We have already quoted 
him as one of those to whom the Fourth Gospel was known, yet his description of the 
Saviour's method of address is founded upon the discourses in the Synoptic Gospels, 
quite inapplicable to those of the Fourth {ApoU i. 14). Phenomena such as these 
make it probable that the Fourth Gospel was at first regarded as a presentation of 
spiritual truth respecting Jesus rather than as a simple narration similar to those 
already existing in the Church : and if so, the paucity of references to it, until it came 
to be better understood, is at once explained. The suggestion now offered finds 
some confirmation in a fact formerly mentioned, that the Gospel was a favourite one 
with the early heretics. Containing the truth, as it did, in a form in some degree 
affected by the speculations of the time and the country of its birth, it presented a 
larger number of points of contact for their peculiar systems than the earlier gospels. 


In it they found many a hint which they could easily develope and misuse. Its pro- 
foundly metaphysical character was exactly suited to their taste ; and they welcomed 
the opportunity, as we see from the Refutations of Hippolytus (Clark's translation, 
L p. 276), of appealing to so important and authoritative a document in favour of 
their own modes of thought But this very circumstance must have operated against 
its quick and general reception by the Church. The tendency, if there was room for 
it at all, would be to doubt a writing in which systems destructive of the most essen- 
tial elements of Christianity claimed to have support ; and it helps to deepen our 
sense of the strength of the Church's conviction of the divine origin of our Gospel, 
that, in spite of the use thus made of it, she clung to it without the slightest hesitation 
and with unyielding tenacity. 

In reviewing the first seventy years of the second century, a period at the end of 
which it must not be forgotten that the Fourth Gospel is generally and unhesitatingly 
acknowledged to be the work of John, we can trace no phenomena inconsistent with 
such a conclusion. No other theory gives an adequate explanation of the facts. 
Unless, therefore, the structure and contents of the Gospel can be shown to be incon- 
sistent with this view, we are manifestly bound to accept the testimony of the early 
Church as worthy of our confidence. According to that testimony the Gospel was 
written, or at least given to the Church at Ephesus, towards the close of the apostle's 
life. There is nothing to determine with certainty the particular date. The pro- 
babilities are in favour of fixing it about a.d. 90. 

Turning now to the internal character of the Gospel, we shall find that, if ( arefully 
examined, it is not only consistent with, but strongly confirmatory of, the Johannine 

I. The author was unquestionably a Jew, Some most marked peculiarities of the 
Gospel, such as its artificial arrangement and its teaching by symbolic action 
(points of which we have yet to speak more fully), not only are strictly Jewish, but 
have nothing corresponding to them in any Gentile writer of the age. Nor does this 
book contain one word to suggest the inference that its author, originally a Gentile, 
might have acquired his Jewish thoughts and style by having become, before his con- 
version to Christianity, a proselyte to Judaism. To such an extent do these features 
permeate the Gospel, that they cannot be the result of later and acquired habits of 
thought They are the soul of the writing. They are interwoven in the most 
intimate manner with the personality of the writer. They must have grown with his 
growth and strengthened with his strength before he could be so entirely moulded by 
them. Nothing shows this more than the relation which exists in the Gospel between 
Christianity and Judaism. The use of the expression * the Jews,' when properly under- 
stood, implies the very contrary of what it is so often adduced to establish. It would 
be simply a waste of time to argue that our Lord's conflict with * the Jews ' was not 
a conflict with Judaism. But, this being so, the use of the expression becomes really 
a measure of the writer's indignation against those who, having been appointed the 
guardians of a lofty faith, had dimmed, defaced, and caricatured it Such expressions 
as * A feast of the Jews,' * The Passover of the Jews,' * The manner of the purifying 
of the Jews,' * The Jews' feast of Tabernacles,' and so on, not only could well be used 
by a writer of Jewish birth, but are even consistent with true admiration of the things 
themselves when conformed to their ideal He has in view institutions as perverted 
by man, not as appointed by the Almighty. He sees them observed and urged by their 
defenders for the sake of their own selfish interests, made instruments of defeatmg the 
very end for which they had been originally given, used to deepen the darkness rather 
than to lead to the coming light He sees that that stage in the history of a faith has been 


reached when the form has so completely taken the place of the substance, the letter 
of the spirit, that to revivify the former is impossible : it must perish if the latter 
is to be saved. He sees the spirituality of religion crushed, extinguished, in the 
very moulds which had for a time preserved it Therefore he might well say, Their 
work is done : God's plan is accomplished : they must perish. In all this there is no 
antagonism to true Judaism. No Gentile authorship is before us. The thought 
belongs to a different training and a different race ; and that, too, at a time when 
Judaism must have possessed much of its former interest, when the echoes of its 
greatness had not yet passed away. 

The same thing appears in the relation of the writer to the Old Testament Scrip- 
tures, They are quoted with great frequency, and it is well worthy of notice that the 
quotations are not simply taken from the Septuagint They are at times from the 
Hebrew where it differs from the Septuagint : at times the translation is original (comp. 
chaps, ii. 17, xii. 40, xix. 37, xiii. 18). Nothing leads more directly than this to the 
thought not only of Jewish birth, but also of long familiarity with Jewish worship in 
Palestine. In all the provinces at least of the Western Diaspora the service of the 
synagogue was conducted not in Hebrew but in Greek, by means of the Septuagint 
To Gentiles of all conditions of life, and similarly to Jews of the Dispersion, with 
the exception of a very few, the Hebrew Scriptures were even in the apostolic age, 
and certainly at a later date, utterly unknown. To think of a Gentile Christian of 
the first half of the second century, whether a native of Alexandria or of Asia Minor, 
as able to translate for himself, is to suppose a state of things of which no other 
illustration can be adduced, and which is at variance with all our knowledge of the time. 

The same conclusion is to be deduced from the Hebraic style of the book. This 
character of its style is now generally recognised. But the fact is of such interest 
and importance, yet at the same time so dependent upon a skilled and delicate 
acquaintance with both Hebrew and Greek, that instead of quoting examples which 
the English reader would hardly understand, we shall refer to two, out of many, 
statements from writers whose authority on such a point none will question. It is thus 
that Keim speaks : * The style of the book is a remarkable combination of a facility 
and skill essentially Greek, with a form of expression that is truly Hebrew in its com- 
plete simplicity, childlikeness, picturesqueness, and in some sense guilelessness.' ^ To a 
similar effect Ewald : * It is well worthy of our observation that the Greek language 
of our author bears the clearest and strongest marks of a genuine Hebrew who, bom 
among Jews in the Holy Land, and having grown up among them, had learned the 
Greek language in later life, but still exhibits in the midst of it the whole spirit and air 
of his mother tongue. He has constructed a Greek tongue to which nothing corre- 
sponds in the other writings that have come down to us marked by a Hellenistic tinge.' ^ 

2. The author belonged to Palestine, He is alive to all the geographical, eccle- 
siastical, and political relations of the land. He speaks of its provinces — Judea, 
Samaria, and Galilee. He is familiar with its towns — ^Jerusalem, Bethany, Sychar, 
Cana, Nazareth, Capernaum, Betlisaida, Tiberias, Ephraim ; and not less so with its 
river Jordan and its winter-torrent Kedron. The general character of the country is 
known to him, the different routes from Judea into Galilee (chap. iv. 4), the breadth 
of the sea of Galilee (chap. vi. 19, comp. Mark vi. 47), the lie of the road from Cana 
to Capernaum (chap. ii. 1 2), the exact distance between Jerusalem and Bethany (chap, 
xl 18). The situation of particular spots is even fixed with great distinctness, such 
as of Jacob's well in chap, iv., of Bethesda in chap, v., and of Cana in chap, il 

Similar remarks apply to his acquaintance with the ecclesiastical and political 
* Jenu von NoMara^ L p. 157. ' Die Johann, Schri/ten, i. p. 44. 


circumstances of the time. It is not possible to illustrate this by details. We add 
only that all his allusions to such points as we have now noticed are made, not 
with the laboured care of one who has mastered the subject by study, but with the 
simplicity and ease of one to whom it is so familiar that what he says is uttered in 
the most incidental manner. Where did he obtain his information? Not from 
the Old Testament, for it is not there. Not from the earlier Gospels, for they afford 
but little of it Surely not from that second century which, according to the state- 
ment of objectors, left him in the belief that appointment to the high-priesthood was 
an annual thing ! One source of knowledge alone meets the demands of the case. 
The writer was not only a Jew, but a Jew of Palestine. 

3. The author was an eye-ivitness of what he relates. We have his own explicit 
statement upon the point in chap. i. 14 and chap. xix. 35 (see the Commentary). 
Upon this last verse we only call attention now to the distinction, so often over- 
looked, between the two adjectives of the original, both translated *true' in the 
Authorised Version, but wholly different in meaning. The first does not express the truth 
of the fact at all, but sets forth the fact as one in regard to which the witness was not, and 
cannot have been, mistaken : his testimony is all that testimony can be. The moment 
we give its due weight to this consideration, we are compelled to admit that * he that 
hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true,' can refer to no other than the 
writer of the words* He could not have thus alleged of another that his testimony 
was thoroughly true and perfect — that it was the exact expression of the incident 
which had taken place. What he himself has seen is the only foundation of such a 
* witness ' as that which he would give. 

The statements thus made are confirmed by the general nature of the work. 
There is a graphic power throughout the whole, a liveliness and picturesqueness of 
description, which constrain us to believe that we are listening to the narrative of an 
eye-witness. There is a delicacy in the bringing out of individual character (as in the 
case of Martha and Mary in chap, xi.) which even the literary art of the present day 
could hardly equal. And there is a minuteness of detail, different from that of the 
earlier Gospels, for whose presence it is altogether impossible to account unless it 
was suggested by the facts. If the trial before Pilate is an imaginary scene, there is 
nothing in all the remains of Greek antiquity to compare with it. 

4. The author^ if an eye-witness and a disciple of Jesus^ could be no other than the 
Apostle John. We have already seen that he calls himself * the disciple whom Jesus 
loved.' But from such passages as chaps. xiiL 23, xix. 26, we infer that the disciple so 
peculiarly favoured must have been one of those admitted to the most intimate com- 
munion with Jesus. These were only three, Peter, James, and John. One of these 
three, therefore, he must have been. He was not Peter, for that apostle is frequently 
mentioned in the Gospel by his own name, and is on several occasions expressly 
distinguished from *the disciple whom Jesus loved' (chaps, xiii. 24, xxi. 7, 20). 
Neither was he James, for that apostle was put to death by Herod at a date long 
anterior to any at which our Gospel can have been composed (Acts xii. 2). He could 
therefore only be John. 

Internal evidence thus lends its force to the external for the conclusion that we 
advocate, lliat there are no difficulties in the matter, or that they are slight, it would 
be foolish to allege. They are both numerous and weighty. But it seems to us 
that they are connected less with the actual state of the evidence, than with the fact 
that the true character of the Fourth Gospel has usually been overlooked by those 
who, in this country at least, have defended its authenticity. In this respect we 
owe much to the very continental scholars who have been most unfnendly to its 


apostolic origin. None have contributed so greatly to unfold its true character ; and, 
in doing so, they have helped most powerfully, however unconsciously, to answer their 
own objections to the Johannine authorship. That authorship there is no reasonable 
ground to doubt. 

III. Object of the Gospel. — The Gospel of John is in our hands, the production 
of that apostle who, of all the apostolic band, had been most closely and tenderly 
associated with their common Master. Why was it written ? 

We have already had occasion to mention some of the early testimonies bearing 
upon this point We must now refer to them again. 

Eusebius quotes Clement of Alexandria as saying that *John, the last of the 
Apostles, perceiving that the bodily things (of Jesus) had been made known in the 
Gospels, and being at the same time urged by his friends, and borne along by the 
Spirit, wrote a spiritual Gospel.' And a still earlier authority (the Muratorian Frag- 
ment) so far agrees with this as to tell us that *when John's fellow-disciples and 
bishops exhorted him he said, Fast along with me three days from to-day, and let 
us relate the one to the other whatever has been revealed to us. The same night it 
was revealed to Andrew the Apostle that John should in his own name write down 
the whole, and that they all should revise (what he wrote).' The two accounts, 
while obviously independent, bear witness to the same view of the origin of our 
Gospel. The friends of the Apostle — how impossible that it should be otherwise 1 — 
had often heard him relate much that was not found in the Gospels already in existence. 
They urged him to put it in writing, and he complied with their request In other 
words, the Fourth Gospel was written as a supplement to its predecessors. Up to a 
certain point the idea may be accepted ; but that John wrote mainly for the purpose 
of supplying things wanting in the Synoptic narrative is a theory inconsistent with the 
whole tone of his composition. His work is from first to last an original conception, 
distinguished from previous Gospels alike in the form and in the substance of its 
delineation, proceeding upon a plan of its own clearly laid down and consistently 
followed out, and presenting an aspect of the person and teaching of Jesus which, if 
not entirely new, is set before us with a fulness which really makes it so. It is one 
burst of sustained and deep appreciation of what its writer would unfold, the picture 
of one who paints not because others have failed to catch the ideal he would 
represent, but because his heart is full and he must speak. 

On the other hand, it was the opinion of Irenaeus that John wrote to controvert 
the errors of the Nicolaitanes and of Cerinthus ; in other words, that his aim was not 
so much supplementary as poUmicaL Up to a certain point, again, the idea may be 
accepted ; but it is impossible to believe that it affords us the whole, or even the main 
explanation of his work. His presentation of Jesus might no doubt be moulded by 
the tone of thought around him, because he had himself been moulded by it Yet 
he starts from a positive, not from a controversial point of view. Filled with his 
subject, he is impelled to set it forth without turning aside to show, as a contro- 
versialist would have done, that it met the deficiencies or errors of his age. Upon 
these he makes no direct attack. It may be in the light of the present that the truth 
shapes itself to his mind; yet he writes as one whose main business is not to 
controvert the present but to revivify the past. 

Neither of these statements, then, explains the Apostle's aim. He has himself 
given the explanation, and that so clearly that it is difilicult to account for the differ- 
ences of opinion that have been entertained. His statement is, * Many other signs 
therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this 
book : but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son 


of God, and that believing ye may have life in His name' (chap. xx. 30, 31) 
Almost every word of this statement is of the utmost importance for the point before 
us. But, referring for fuller exposition to the Commentary, we now only remark that 
John is not to be understood as meaning that the Gospel was written in order that its 
readers might be led to acknowledge the Divine mission of Jesus, when they beheld 
the works wrought by Him in more than human power. These readers were already 
believers, disciples, friends. What was wanted was not the first formation but the 
deepening of faith within them, so that they might reach a profounder appreciation of 
the true character of Jesus, a more intimate communion with Him and in Him with 
the Father, and thus also a richer and more abundant spiritual life (comp. chap. x. 10). 

The conclusion now reached will be strengthened if we observe that, with a 
characteristically firm grasp of his materials, and with that remarkable unity of plan 
which distinguishes the Gospel, John manifests the same intention at the first ap- 
pearance of the Redeemer in his history. In his first chapter we read of three, 
Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael, who, having been brought face to face with Jesus, 
make confession of their faith. It is impossible to overlook the parallelism between 
this paragraph and chap. xx. 30, 3^. The three disciples bear witness to the three 
aspects of the Saviour brought before us in the Evangelist's own summary of his 
work — * Jesus,' * the Christ,* ' the Son of God.' The similarity is an important testi- 
mony to the fact that that summary is not one for which he might have substituted 
another, but that it is the caln\, self-possessed utterance of a writer who had from 
the first a clear perception of \he end which he kept in view throughout 

To the question, therefore. Why did John write ? we may now reply : He wrote in 
order to present to believing men a revelation of the Divine Son which might deepen, 
enlarge, perfect their faith, and which, by bringing them into closer spiritual com- 
munion with the Son, might make them i^lso in Him spiritually sons of God. He 
wrote to exhibit, in the actual fs^cts of the life of the * Word become flesh,' the glory 
of that union which had been established in His person between the Divine and the 
human. He wrote to be a witness to the heart of One who is in His people, and 
in whom the Father abides (chaps, xiv. 10, xvii. 23). 

IV. Characta-istics of the Gospel, — Having thus ascertained the purpose with which 
the Fourth Gospel was written, we shall now be better able to appreciate some of 
those characteristics which have furnished opponents with many plausible objections, 
and have occasioned no small perplexity to friends. Of these the following seem to 
deserve notice, either as being in themselves the most important, or as being frequently 
made use of in this Commentary : — 

(i.) The selective principle upon which the etiangelisi proceeds. No historian can 
mention all the particulars of any whole life, or even of any single event, that he 
records. To a certain extent he is bound to select those which, from whatever cause, 
strike him most or seem to bear most closely on his purpose. But the writer of the 
Fourth Gospel gives many proofs that he not only carries this principle to an unusual 
extent, but does it deliberately and on purpose. The incidents looked at as a whole 
will in part illustrate what we say. That these should constitute a group so different 
from what we have in the earlier Gospels is often urged as an objection to the 
authenticity of the Fourth. Those indeed who make the objection lose sight of the 
fact that there is selection of incidents as truly in the former as in the latter. The 
difference between the two cases lies less in the extent to which selection is carried, than 
in the degree of consciousness with which the principle is applied In the Synoptic 
Gospels it is less easy to trace the hand of the writer as he puts aside what does 
not appear to him to bear upon his subject, or as he brings into prominence what 


has direct relation to his aim. Abstaining, however, from any comparison between 
our two groups of authorities, and confining ourselves to the Fourth Gospel, we rather 
notice that the selection of its incidents in general is determined by the ideas 
to which expression is given in the Prologue. It is not through forgetfulness or 
ignorance of other incidents that the writer confines our attention to a selected few 
(comp. chap. xxi. 25), but through his conviction that no others will as well subserve 
the end that he has in view. Hence, accordingly, the space devoted to the discourses 
with 'the Jews,* which are not those of a mild and gentle teacher, but of one who is in 
conflict with bitter and determined foes, of one whose business it is to confute, to con- 
vict, and to condemn. No one, giving heed to the state of Jewish feeling at the time, 
can doubt that these discourses in their general strain have all the verisimilitude that 
outward evidence can lend to them, — ^that the teaching of Jesus must have been a 
struggle, and in precisely this direction. The conflict between light and darkness 
became thus to John a leading idea of the history of his Master. The thought finds 
expression in the Prologue (chap. i. 5-^11), and the discourses which illustrate it 
naturally follow. It is not otherwise with the miracles. He invariably styles these 
* signs,' a word in itself showing that they are outward acts expressive of a hidden 
meaning from which they derive their chief importance. Why, then, does he give 
them as he does ? Because, looking over the whole manifestation of Jesus, he had been 
taught to find in Him the fulfilment of 'grace and truth' which had not been given in 
the law, — ^the perfect Light, the present and eteraal Life, of men. He presents these 
ideas in the Prologue (chap. i. 4, 5, 91, 17), and the selection given of the miracles 
naturally follows. 

The point now before us may be illustrated, not only by the incidents of the 
Gospel looked at thus generally, but by smaller and more minute particulars. Many 
of these, however, will be noticed in the Conunentary (see, for example, the note on 
chap. ix. 6), and we shall not occupy time with them now. The point to be borne in 
mind by the reader is, that in the Gospel of John there is no attempt to give the 
historical facts of the life of Jesus in all their particulars. There is throughout 
conscious and intentional selection. From what he has seen, the writer has attained 
a particular idea of the Person, the Life, the Work of his Divine Master. He 
will present that idea to the world ; and knowing that, if all the things that Jesus did 
were to be written down, * the world itself would not contain the books that should 
be written,' he makes choice of that which will most fitly answer the appointed end. 

(2.) The symbolic method of treatment which the evangelist exhibits. This is so pecu- 
liarly characteristic of John, and has at the same time been so much disregarded by 
most modem commentators, that one or two general remarks upon teaching by symbols 
seem to be required. The Old Testament is full of it All the arrangements of the 
tabernacle, for example ; its courts, the furniture of its courts, the ceremonial observ- 
ances performed in it, the very dyes and colours used in the construction of its 
wrappings, have an appropriate meaning only when we behold in them the expression 
of spiritual truths relating to God and to His worship. More especially it would seem 
to have been a part of the prophefs task thus to present truth to those whom he was 
commissioned to instruct ; and the higher the prophetic influence which moved him, 
the more powerful his impression of the message given him to proclaim, the more 
entirely he was borne along by the divine afflatus, the more did he resort to it As 
simple illustrations of this we may refer to the cases of Zedekiah, Elisha, Jeremiah, 
and Ezekiel (i Kings xxii. 11 ; 2 Kings xiii. 17 ; Jer. xxvii. 1-18 ; Ezek. iv. 1-6). 

If it was thus under the Old Testament dispensation, there is not only no reason 
why we ought not to expect symbolism in the New Testament, but every reason to 


the contrary. The narrative of Agabus shows that in the apostolic age symbolic 
action was still a part of the prophetic functions appreciated by the Jews (Acts xxL 
n). What wonder, then, if our Lord should teach by symbolism as well as by direct 
instruction ? He was the fulfilment not only of Israel's priestly, but also of its pro- 
phetic line. He was the true and great Prophet in whom the idea and mission ol 
prophecy culminated ; in whom all that marked the prophet as known and honoured 
in Israel attained its highest development and reached perfect ripeness. Besides this, 
His eye saw, as no merely human eye ever did, the unity that lies at the bottom of 
all existence, the principles of harmony that bind together the world of nature and of 
man, so that the former becomes the type and shadow of the latter. When, accord- 
ingly, He appeared as the great Prophet of Israel, there is nothing unreasonable in the 
supposition that He would teach by symbol as well as word, that not only His words 
but His acts should be designed by Him to be lessons to the people, illustrations of 
the nature of His kingdom and His work. 

Still further, we cannot forget the general character of all the words and actions 
of our Lord. As coming from Him, they possess a fulness of meaning which we 
should not have been justified in ascribing to them had they come from another 
teacher. It is impossible to doubt that He saw all the truths which find a legiti- 
mate expression in what He said or did, however various the sphere of life to which 
they apply. And it is equally impossible to doubt that He intended to utter what 
He saw. 

But if Jesus might thus teach, a disciple and historian of His life might appre- 
hend this characteristic of His teaching, — nay, would apprehend it, the more he entered 
into the spirit of his Master. There are clear indications of this, accordingly, even in 
the earlier Gospels. The account of the miraculous draught of fishes, at the time when 
Simon and Andrew were called to the apostleship (Luke v. 3-10), the cursing of the 
barren fig-tree (Matt. xxi. 18-20; Mark xL 12-14), the double miracle of the multi- 
plying of the bread (Matt xiv. 15-21, xv. 32-38; Mark vi. 34-44, viii. 1-9), afford 
clear illustrations of this principle. It is in the Fourth Gospel, however, that the 
symbolic spirit particularly appears; and that not merely in the miracles, but in 
lengthened narratives, and in many separate figures supplied by the Old Testament, by 
nature, or by incidents occurring at the moment. To the eye of the Evangelist the 
whole of creation waits for redemption ; the whole of history reaches forth to Him 
' that was to come ; ' the heart of man in all its stirrings seeks to grasp a reality to be 
found nowhere but in the revelation of the Father given in the Son. Everything, in 
short, has stamped upon it a shadowy outline of what is to be filled up when 
redemption is complete. The Logos, the Word, is the source of all that exists (chap. 
i. 3), and to the source from which it came will all that exists return. Every chapter 
of die Gospel would furnish illustration of what has been said. 

It is impossible, however, to rest here ; for this power of perceiving in outward things 
symbols of inner truths may be so strong as to appear in the mode of presenting not 
only the larger but also the smaller circumstances of any scene in which Jesus moves. 
The greater may draw along with it a symbolic interpretation of the less. Nay, out 
of numerous little details the mind which is quick to discern symbolic teaching may 
really select some in preference to others, because in them the impress of the symbolism 
may be more clearly traced. A writer may thus act without any thought of art or 
special design, even to a great degree unconscious of what he does, and simply because 
the higher object with which he has been engaged has a natural power to attract to 
itself, and to involve in its sweep the lower objects within its range. Illustrations of 
this will be found in the Commentary. 


(3.) TJu peculiar nature ofiJieplan adopted by the Evangelist, The Gospel appears 
to us m^st naturally to divide itself into seven sections, as follows : — 

1. The Prologue : chap. L i-i8. These verses contain a summary of the great 
facts of the whole Gospel, grouped in accordance with the Evangelist's purpose, and 
presented in the light in which he would have them viewed. 

2. The presentation of Jesus upon the field of human history: chap. i. 19-ii. 11. 
Here Jesus appears before us as He is in Himself, the Son of God, and as He manifests 
Himself to His disciples before He begins His conflict in the world. 

3. General sketch of the work of Jesus in the world: chap. ii. 12-iv. 54. Jesus passes 
beyond the circle of the disciples, and is rejected by the Jews when He would cleanse 
the house of His Father at Jerusalem. This leads to His revelation of Himself as the 
true temple which, destroyed by * the Jews ' in their persecution of Him even unto 
death, shall be raised again in His resurrection. Thus rejected by the representatives 
of the theocracy. He reveals Himself by His word to individuals who, whether of 
Judea, or Samaria, or Galilee of the nations, are — ^not by signs but by His word — 
subdued to faith. 

4. The conflict of Jesus with the world : chap* v. i-xii. 50. This section contains 
the main body of the Gospel, setting Jesus forth in the height of His conflict with dark- 
ness, error, and sin. He comes before us throughout in all the aspects in which we 
have in the Prologue been taught to behold Him, and He carries on the work there 
spoken of as given Him to do. He is Son of God, and Son of man, the Fulfiller of 
the greatest ordinances of the law, the Life and the Light of men. As He contends 
with the world, now in one and now in another of these manifestations of Himself, faith 
or unbelief is gradually developed and deepened in those who listen to Him. The 
believing and obedient are more and more attracted, the disobedient and unbelieving 
are more and more repelled, by His words and actions, until at last we hear, in the 
closing verses of chap. xiL, the mournful echo of * He came unto His own, and His 
own received Him not' He has gathered His disciples to Himself. The darkness 
has not overcome Him (comp. chap. i. 5). He passes victorious through its opposi- 
tion ; but His victory is not yet complete. 

5. The revelation of Jesus to His own, togetlier with the rest and peace and 
joy of faith: chap. xiii. i^xvii. 26. The conflict of the previous section has 
divided men into the two great companies of faith and unbelief. These two com- 
panies are now to be followed, the one to its blessed rest in Him whom it has 
received, the other to those last steps in sin which, in the hour of apparent victory, 
really secure its final and ignominious defeat. The rest of faith is traced in the 
section now before us. The world is shut out from the sacred and tender fellowship 
of Jesus with His own. Judas leaves the company of the disciples (chap. xiiL 30). 
The rest of the disciples are * clean ; * not only bathed, but with their feet afterwards 
washed, so that they are 'clean every whit' (chap. xiii. 10), and Jesus is alone with 
them. Therefore He pours forth upon them all the fulness of His love. His glory — 
the glory of * grace and truth * — shines forth in all the inexpressible tenderness of the 
foot-washing, of the last discourse, and of the intercessory prayer. 

6- The apparent victory but real defeat of unbelief: chap, xviii. i-xx. 31. At first 
sight it may be thought that chap, xx., as containing the account of the Resurrec- 
tion, ought to constitute a separate section ; but it is of the utmost importance for a 
proper comprehension of the plan of the Evangelist to observe that this cannot be. 
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus are in this Gospel always united, and cannot 
be separated in our thought ; the Redeemer with whom we have to do is One who 
rises through sufiering to victory, through death to life (comp. remarks on the contents 


of chap. XX.). Even the prominent thought of chap. xix. is not Jesus in huraih'ation, 
but Jesus * Hfted on high/ rising triumphant above the humiliation to which He is 
subjected, with a glory which appears the brighter the thicker the darkness that 
surrounds it But this is exactly the thought of chap. xx. ; and the two chapters 
cannot be kept distinct Thus viewed, we see in the section as a whole the apparent 
victory, but the real defeat of unbelief. The enemies of Jesus seem to prevail. They 
seize Him ; they bind Him ; they lead Him before Annas and Caiaphas and Pilate ; 
they nail Him to the cross ; He dies and is buried. But their victory is only on the 
surface. Jesus Himself gives Himself up to the traitor and his band; offers no resist- 
ance to the binding ; shows the infinite superiority of His spirit to that of the high 
priest ; compels the homage of Pilate ; voluntarily surrenders His life upon the cross ; 
has the mocking of His enemies turned, under the providence of God, to their dis- 
comfiture and shame ; and at last, rising from the grave, establishes the completeness 
of His victory when His enemies have done their worst In short, throughout this 
section we are continually reminded that the triumphing of the wicked is but for 
a moment, and that God judgeth in the earth. 

7. The Epilogue : chap. xxi. In this section we see the spread of the Church ; 
the successful ministry of the Apostles when, at the word of Jesus, they exist their net 
into the great sea of the nations ; the satisfaction and joy experienced by ihem in 
the results of protracted toil Finally, we see in it the reinstitution in the person of 
Peter of Christian witness-bearing to Jesus, together with the intimation of the certain 
approach of that glorious time when the need of such testimony, with all its labours 
and sufferings, shall be superseded by the Second Coming of the I^rd. 

Such appears to be the plan of the Fourth Gospel, — a plan vindicated by the 
narrative itself, and having each of its sections marked off from the others by lines 
too distinct to be mistaken. 

When, accordingly, we recall what has been already said as to the leading aim of 
the Fourth Gospel, we can have little difficulty in understanding the influence which 
that aim exerts upon the selection of particulars and upon the structure of the 
narrative as a whole. If in this Gospel pre-eminently Jesus reveals Himself with so 
much frequency and fulness, we have seen that this is the very truth which the 
Evangelist has set himself to unfold. Its prominence can throw no suspicion upon 
the historical reality of the representation. We are prepared to find in this Gospel a 
revelation of Jesus and His own glory different both in manner and degree from that 
presented in die earlier Gospels. 

The considerations that have now been adduced with regard to the history of 
the Fourth Gospel, the external and internal evidence bearing upon its Johannine 
authorship, and the striking peculiarity of the characteristics by which it is marked, 
seem sufficient to satisfy every reasonable inquirer that the uniform tradition of the 
Church, pointing to the Apostle John as its author, is correct It is not to be denied, 
however, that there remain difficulties, some of a general nature, others arising out 
of special details contained in the Gospel itself. Our readers will readily acknowledge 
that it is wholly impossible within our limits to treat these with a fulness worthy of 
their importance. Of the second class of difficulties, too, it is less necessary to 
speak, for they will naturally present themselves as we comment on the text of the 
Gospel. Perhaps the only points that require notice in an Introduction are two 
belonging to the first class, — the relations in which the Fourth Gospel stands (i) to 
the Apocalypse, (2) to the earlier Gospels. The first of these must be deferred' until 
the Apocalypse comes under our notice in this work. Upon the second we say 
a few words in bringing this Introduction to a close. 


V. Relation of the Fourth to the earlier Gospels,— This relation is often supposed to 
be one of irreconcilable divergence, and the divergence is found not only in particular 
statements in which the Fourth Gospel touches the others, but in the history as a 
whole. Alleged differences of the first kind will be noticed when we meet them in 
the course of exposition. Looking, therefore, only at the history as a whole, the 
reader will easily observe that the apparent divergence runs in two main lines, one 
having reference to the outward framework, the other to the portraiture of Jesus, 
in Himself and in His discourses. As to the first of these, in its two branches, the 
scene and the duration of the ministry, little need be said. It is true that in the earlier 
Gospels the scene, up to the Passion week, appears to be Galilee alone, while in the 
Fourth it is even more Jerusalem and Judea ; that in the former the duration seems 
less than one year, in the latter more than two. Yet it is to be borne in mind that 
no one of our narratives professes to give a complete history of the life of our Lord 
upon earth. Their fragmentariness is one of their essential characteristics, admitted 
by all in the case of the Synoptists, distinctly declared by John in his own case 
(chap. XX. 30, xxi. 25). All, therefore, that we are entitled to ask is, that the earlier 
Gospels shall leave room for the larger area and the longer time borne witness to by 
the latter ; and this they do. 

There is more, however, to be said ; for our different groups of authorities mutu- 
ally imply the labours of Jesus in those portions of the land of Palestine which 
occupy a subordinate position in their own narratives. It is unnecessary to prove 
this with regard to John, so frequent is the mention made by him of the ministry in 
Galilee. The notices of the others with regard to the Judean ministry are not so 
plain ; but even in them there occur passages which are unintelligible, except on the 
supposition that such a ministry had existed. Such passages are Matt, xxiii. 37 (comp. 
Luke xiii. 34), where the words * how oflen ' are almost conclusive upon the point ; 
Matt xxi. 8, indicating a previous acquaintance to account for the enthusiasm \ Luke 
x. 38-42, referring- most probably to Bethany; while, if in Luke iv. 44 we accept 
the reading, * And He preached in the synagogues of Judea^ — and the evidence in 
its favour seems to be overwhelming, — the whole controversy is set at rest It may be 
added that the words of Peter in Acts x. 37-39 have an important bearing upon the 
point ; and that all the probabilities of the case are opposed to the supposition either 
that Jesus would confine Himself to Galilee, or that the great drama of His life and 
death could have been enacted in less than a single year. 

More important than the outward framework of the history is the portraiture of 
Jesus presented in the Fourth Gospel ; and this again may be naturally divided into 
two branches, the Person and the discourses. As to the first of these, it is no doubt in 
John alone that we meet with the conception of Jesus as the Logos, or Word of God 
Yet there is ample ground to justify the conclusion that it is not the object of the writer 
so to delineate Jesus as to make the Logos conception the dominating conception of 
His i^ersonality. The remark has often been made, that in the whole course of the 
Gospel Jesus does not once apply the designation of Logos to Himself, — neither in 
the three aspects of Jesus already spoken of as prominent in chap. i. (comp. p. xxiv.), 
nor in the closing summary of chap. xx. 31, is the Logos mentioned; and no passage 
can be quoted in which the fact that Jesus is the Logos is associated with 'witness' 
borne to Him. This last fact has not been sufficiently noticed, but its importance 
appears to us to be great If there is one characteristic of the Fourth Gospel more 
marked than another, it is the perfect and absolute simplicity with which the writer, 
whether speaking of himself, of Jesus, or of the Baptist, resolves the proclamation of 
what is uttered into 'witness' or 'bearing witness.' That term includes in it the 


whole burden of the commission given to each of them to ftilfiL Whatever else they 
may be, they are first and most of all * witnesses.' But if so, and if to enforce the 
Logos idea be the main purpose of the Gospel so far as it refers to the Person of 
Christ, we may well ask why that idea and 'witness* borne to it are never brought 
together? Jesus is witnessed to as *the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the 
Christ,* as the one * of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did speak,' as ' the 
Son of God, the King of Israel : ' he is not witnessed to as the Logos, although he if 
the Logos ; and that single fact is sufficient to prove that the fourth Evangelist has no 
thought of presenting his Master in a light different from that in which He is 
presented by his predecessors. 

In addition to this it may be observed that we have, in our two groups of Gospels, 
the very same interchange of allusions with regard to the Person of Christ that we 
have already observed when speaking of the scene of the ministry. If in the Fourth 
Gospel Jesus is pre-eminently Son of God, He is not less distinctly Son of man. If, 
again, in the earlier Gospels He is pre-eminently Son of man, He at the same 
time performs acts and claims authority not human but Divine. He forgives sins 
(Matt ix. 6), is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. xii. 8), rises from the dead (Matt 
xvii. 9), comes in His kingdom (Matt xvL 28), sits upon the throne of His 
glory (Matt xix. 28) ; nay, in one passage He speaks of Himself as Son of man 
at the very time when He appropriates as true the confession of Peter, that He is 
*the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matt xvi. 13-28). Many other passages in 
the earlier Gospels lead to the same conclusion ; so that, although the teaching of the 
Fourth as to the Divine nature of Jesus is richer than theirs, the truth itself, so far from 
being excluded from our minds, must be taken along with us in reading them before 
they can be properly understood. Without it, it would be difficult, if not impossible, 
to combine their expressions into a consistent whole. 

If now we turn from the Person to the discourses of Christ, as these are presented 
in the Fourth Gospel, it is impossible to deny that they differ widely from those of the 
earlier Gospels, both in form and in substance. In the earlier Gospels the truths 
taught by our Lord are for the most part set before us in a manner simple and 
easily understood, in parables, in short pithy sayings, in sentences partaking largely 
of the proverbial and not difficult to remember, in a style adapted to the popular 
mind. In the Fourth Gospel not only is there no parable properly so called, but 
aphorisms are much more rarely met with, and the teaching of Jesus takes a shape 
adapted to enlightened and spiritually-minded disciples rather than an unenlightened 
multitude. Nor is the difference in substance less marked. In the earlier Gospels 
the instniclions and sayings of Jesus have mainly reference to the more outward 
aspects of His kingdom, to His own fulfilling of the law, to the moral reformation 
He was to effect, to the practical righteousness required of His disciples. In the 
other they have reference to the profound, the mystical, relations existing between 
the Father and Himself, between Himself and His people, and among the various 
members of His flock. 

Again, however, it is to be noticed that the very same interchange of allusions 
which we have already found existing in our two classes of authorities with regard to 
the outward framework of the history and the nature of Christ's Person, exists also in 
their accounts of His discourses. Passages may be quoted from John partaking 
at least largely of the aphoristic character of the teaching generally found in the 
first three Evangelists. Thus chap. iv. 44 may be compared with Mark vi. 4; 
chap. xii. 8 with Mark xiv. 7 ; chap. xii. 25 with Matt x. 39, xvi. 25 ; chap. xiii. 16 
with Matt x. 24, Luke vi. 40; chap. xiii. 20 with Matt x. 40; chap. xv. 20 


with Matt X. 25; chap. xv. 21 with Matt. x. 22; chap, xviii. 11 with Matt, 
xxvi. 52; chap. xx. 23 with Matt xvi. 19. Although, too, there are no parables 
in the Fourth Gospel, many of its figures so much resemble parables, could be 
so easily drawn out into parables, that they have been appropriately described 
as * parables transformed.' ^ Such are the passages relating to the blowing of the 
wind, the fields white unto the harvest, the com of wheat which must die in 
the ground before it springs up, the sorrow and subsequent joy of the woman in 
travail, the good shepherd, the true vine (chap. iii. 8, iv. 35, xii. 24, x. i-i6, xv. 1-8). 
Nor can we forget that, in the Fourth Gospel, it is for the most part a different 
audience to which Jesus speaks. He addresses not so much the mass of the people 
as * the Jews ; ' and as those so designated undoubtedly comprised a large number of 
the most highly educated of the day, we may expect that they will be spoken to in a 
tone different from that adopted towards others. The words of chap. vi. 41 (see the 
Commentary) are in this respect peculiarly important ; for it appears from them that 
the *hard sayings' found in the remaining portion of the discourse given in that 
chapter were intended, not for the * multitude,' but for the ruling class. The words 
of ver. 59 might at first sight lead to a different impression. 

On the other hand, there are clear indications in the earlier Gospels that Jesus did 
not always speak in that sententious and parabolic style which they mainly represent 
him as employing. In this respect the words of Matt. xi. 25-27 cannot be too 
frequently referred to, for the argument founded upon them is perfectly incontro- 
vertible. They show that a style of teaching precisely similar to that which meets us 
in the Fourth Gospel was known to the first Keim, indeed, has attempted to weaken 
the force of the argument by the allegation that the words are not found in * the ordinary 
every-day intercourse ' of Jesus, but at an * isolated and exalted moment of his life.* * 
Such moments, however, are precisely those which John has undertaken to record ; or, if 
this ought not to be said, it is Jesus in the frame of mind peculiar to such moments 
that he especially presents to us. If, therefore, the words given by Matthew are appro- 
priate to the time when they were spoken, the words given by John, though on many 
different occasions of a like kind, are not less so. Nor is this the only passage of the 
earlier Gospels that may be quoted as possessing the isolated and exalted character 
referred to. The words at the institution of the Last Supper are not less marked : 
' Take, eat, this is my body. . . . Drink ye all of it ; for this is my blood of the new 
covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will 
not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with 
you in my Father's kingdom ' (Matt. xxvi. 26-29). Such words exhibit the very same 
lofty mystical spirit that meets us in the Gospel of John. They are as much out of 
keeping with the practical sententious character of the teaching of Jesus in the other 
parts of these Gospels (if indeed such an expression is to be used at all) as anything 
contained in the Gospel with which we are now dealing. A similar remark may be 
made with regard to the eschatological discourses of Jesus in the earlier Gospels 
(comp. Matt xxiv.), and to His answer to the high priest (Matt xxvi. 64), the 
difference between them and the Sermon on the Mount being quite as great as 
that between His general teaching in the Fourth Gospel and in the Gospels which 
preceded it 

It is in this thought, indeed, as it seems to us, that the explanation of the point 
now before us is to be found. The utterances of Jesus in John l?elong to the tragic 
aspect of His work. No one will deny that, taking the facts even of the first three 

» Wcstcott, /«/r. fo Study of the Gospels^ p. 268. 
' Keim, Engl, transl., L p. 176. 


Gospels alone, the life of the Redeemer upon earth was marked by all the elements of 
the most powerful and pathetic tragedy. His perpetual struggle with evil, His love and 
self-sacrifice, met with opposition and contempt ; His bearing the sorrows and the sins 
of men, His unshaken con6dence in God, His suflferings and death, the constant pre- 
sence of His Father with Him, and the glorious vindication given Him at last in the 
Resurrection and Ascension, supply particulars possessed of a power to move us such 
as no other life has known. In this point of view John looks at them. His Gospel 
is not the record of ordinary life. It is the record of a life which passes through 
all the most solemn and touching experiences of man, and which makes its appeal to 
the most powerful emotions of the heart This is very strikingly exhibited in the 
light in which Jesus is set before us at the first moment when he passes beyond 
the circle of His disciples to the larger field of the world (chap. ii. 12, see Commen- 
tary); and it is not less apparent in the pathos that so of^en marks the language 
of the writer (chap. i. 11, xii. 37). Hence the almost exclusive presentation of 
tragic scenes, of 'exalted moments,' and the preservation of discourses suitable to 

The remarks now made, though applying mainly to the form, may be applied also 
to the substance of the discourses of the Fourth Gospel. It must be felt, too, that the 
profound instructions of Jesus contained in it are not out of keeping with the person- 
ality or character of the Speaker. Was He truly the Son of God ? Did He come to 
meet every necessity of our nature ? not only to enforce that practical morality to 
which conscience bears witness, but to reveal those deeper truths on the relation of 
man to God, and in Him to his brother man, for which a revelation was especially 
needed ; then there is nothing strange in the fact that He should have spoken so 
much of matters lying far beyond mortal ken. Rather, surely, should we expect that, 
with His own heart filled with the deep things of God, He would speak out of its 
abundance ; that, dwelling Himself amidst the great realities of the unseen and spiritual 
world, He would many a time lead into them the disciples whom He loved, and 
whom He would guide into all the truth. 

Or, if it be said that these profound teachings were spoken not to friends, but to 
determined enemies, the principle of reply is the same. Here also there is the same 
elevation above the level of common life. These * Jews,' so constantly addressed, 
are not the nation, but those in whom the outward, carnal, selfish spirit of a degenerate 
Judaism was concentrated (see Commentary). As to the existence of this class there 
can be no doubt The title, indeed, is peculiar to John, but the class itself meets us 
in the earlier Evangelists. If, then, it existed, we may well ask whether it is not 
represented in the Fourth Gospel as addressed in the very manner in which such 
an audience must be spoken to. Let us suppose any Church of our own day become 
as carnal as the Jewish Church in the days of Christ What other course could a 
reformer pursue, what other language could he use, but the course and the language 
of Jesus here ? A worldly church cannot be spoken to like the world ; self-chosen 
darkness cannot be treated like the darkness of a naturally unfortunate condition. 

What has been said goes far to explain the peculiar character of the discourses of 
Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. But there are other questions in connection with them 
to which it is necessary to allude. Are they purely objective ? Are they a record of 
the exact words used in the circumstances referred to ? Are they free from any trace of 
the mind through which they passed in their transmission to us ? It has been urged 
that these questions must be answered in the negative, partly because such long and 
profound discourses could not have been remembered at a distance of fifty years from 
the time when they were spoken, partly because their resemblance to the First Epistle 


of John is a proof that in these discourses it is John who speaks rather than his 
Master. Neither consideration has much weight. It cannot be imagined that only 
at the end of fifty years would the Evangelist endeavour to remember them. Rather 
throughout all that time must they have been the theme of his constant and loving 
meditation ; day after day and night after night he must have brought up before him 
the sight of that much-loved form and the sound of that well-remembered voice ; and 
every word of his Master, even many a word which he has not recorded, must have 
been ever flowing gently through his heart John too had the promise of the Spirit 
to * bring to his remembrance all things that Jesus said to him ' (chap. xiv. 26) ; and, 
to whatever extent we admit his own human agency in the composition of his Gospel, 
we cannot forget that the fulfilment of this promise must have secured him from the 
errors of ordinary writers, and enabled him, as they could not have done, to present 
to his readers the perfect truth. 

Nor, further, is the supposition with which we are now dealing needed to explain 
the fact that the tone of much of our Lord's teaching in this Gospel bears a striking 
resemblance to that of the First Epistle of John. Why should not the Gospel explain 
the Epistle rather than the Epistle the Gospel ? Why should not John have been 
formed upon the model of Jesus rather than the Jesus of this Gospel be the reflected 
image of himself? Surely it may be left to all candid minds to say whether, to adopt 
only the lowest supposition, the creative intellect of Jesus was not far more likely to 
mould His disciple to a conformity with itself, than the receptive spirit of the 
disciple to give birth by its own efforts to that conception of a Redeemer which so 
infinitely surpasses the loftiest image of man's own creation. 

While, however, this may be said, it may at the same time be allowed that up to 
a certain point the form in which the discourses are presented, sometimes even their 
very language, has been affected by the individuality of the writer. Lengthy as 
they not infrequently are, they are obviously compressed statements of what must 
have occupied a still longer time in delivery, with much of the questioning and 
answering that must have occurred in a protracted controversy suppressed. Occa- 
sionally the very language of the original (as in the use of an imperfect tense) indicates 
this ; while the reference at the feast of Tabernacles (chap. vii. 23) to the healing of 
the impotent man (chap, v.), which must have taken place at least months before, is a 
proof that that miracle done on tlie Sabbath had been kept fresh in the minds of 
those addressed by many incidents and words not mentioned. Links may often be 
thus awanting which it is diflficult for us to supply, and compression could hardly 
fail to give additional sharpness to what is said. Besides this, the tragic spirit of the 
Gospel, of which we have already spoken, may be expected to exercise an influence 
over the manner in which discourses are presented in it. Keeping these considera- 
tions in view, we shall look, in the scenes of the Fourth Gospel, for such details as 
may best embody the essential characteristics of any narrative which the Evangelist 
is desirous to present to us, rather than for all the particulars with which he was 
acquainted. We shall understand, too, the artificial structure, the double pictures 
and parallelisms which meet us in the longer discourses, such as those of chaps, 
v., X., xiv., XV., xvi. (see the Commentary). 

The sayings and discourses of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel are not, therefore, to be 
regarded as in every respect simple reproductions of the precise words spoken by 
Him. The true conclusion seems to be that we have here a procedure on the part of 
the Evangelist precisely parallel to that which . marks his method of dealing with the 
historical incidents of the life of Jesus. These are selected, grouped, presented 
under the dominating power of the idea which he knows that they express. So also 

VOL. II. c 


with the words of Christ They also are selected, grouped, presented under the 
power of the fundamental idea which prevails throughout them. 

By frankly admitting this, much is gained On the one hand, historical accuracy, 
in its deepest and truest sense, is not impaired : the result produced in the mind of 
the reader is exactly that which was produced by our Lord Himself upon those who 
witnessed His actions or heard His words. On the other hand, the facts of the case 
receive a natural explanation. Above all, the whole procedure on the part of John is 
in harmony with the principles of Him who would have us always rise through His 
words to that Divine ideal which they reveal. 

One other remark ought to be made before we close. In so far as the difference 
between John and the Synoptists affords ground for an argument, its bearing is 
favourable, not unfavourable, to the authenticity of our Gospel. Let us assume for a 
moment the earliest date assigned to it by the opponents of its apostolical authority, 
and what is the phenomenon presented to us? That about a.d. i lo a writer, obviously 
setting before himself the purpose of giving a delineation of the life of Jesus and 
of impressing it on the Church, departed entirely from the traditional records that 
had now taken a settled form ; that he transferred the Messiah's labours to scenes 
previously unheard of; gave to His ministry a duration previously unknown ; repre- 
sented both His person and His work in a light wholly new ; and then expected the 
Church, which had by this time spread abroad into all regions, through three 
generations of men, to accept his account as correct. In the very statement of 
the case its incredibility appears. Only on the supposition that the writer of the 
Fourth Gospel felt that the Church for which he wrote would recognise essential 
harmony, not contradiction, between his representation and that of his predecessors, 
that men would see in it that enlarging of the picture of a loved personality which 
faithful memories supply, can we explain his having written as he has done. 

We have spoken, as far as our limited space will allow, of some of those points 
connected with the Gospel of John which seem likely to be of most interest to the 
readers of a Commentary like the present, or which may prepare them to under- 
stand better the following exposition. It remains only that we indicate in a sentence 
or two the principles upon which that exposition is founded. 

Our main, it may almost be said our single, effort has been to ascertain the 
meaning of the words before us, and to trace the thought alike of the writer himself 
and of the great Master whom he sets forth. In doing this we have endeavoured to 
bestow more than ordinary care upon every turn of expression in the original, upon 
every change of construction, however slight, effected by prepositions, tenses, cases, 
or even order of words. Many such changes have no doubt escaped our notice, and 
some have been left without remark because we felt unable to supply a satisfactor}* 
explanation of them. Even as it is, however, it is probable that not a few will think 
that we have been too minute; and that, in spending time upon what they will 
regard as trifling particulars, we have paid too little attention to those larger state- 
ments of truth which might have been better adapted to the readers for whom we 
write. From such an opinion we venture entirely to dissent. No trustworthy 
statements of general truth can be at any time gained without the most complete 
induction of particulars ; and if this be true of any book of Scripture, it is even 
peculiarly true of the Fourth Gospel. The care bestowed upon it by its writer is 
one of its most remarkable characteristics. Whatever be the sublimity to which it 
rises, however impassioned its language, or however deep the flow of its emotion, 
every phrase or word or construction contained in it is fitted into its place as if the 
calmest and most deliberate purpose had presided over the selection. It is the skill 


of the loftiest feeling, though unconsciously exercised, that has made the Gospel 
what it is. The truth contained in it has woven for itself a garb corresponding in 
the most minute particulars to its nature, and every change in the direction even of 
one of its threads is a testimony to some change in the aspects of the truth by whose 
living energy the whole was fashioned. If, therefore, we have erred in connection 
with this point, we have erred not by excess but by defect A rich harvest still 
awaits those who will be more faithful to the principle or more successful in carrying 
it out than we have been. 

It seems unnecessary to add much more as to the principles by which we have 
been guided in our work. Innumerable references might easily have been made to 
the extensive literature connected with this Gospel, and to the opinions of those who 
have commented upon it before us. We have thought it best, except in one or two 
instances, to refrain from giving them. In addition to the Commentaries of Luthardt, 
Godet, Lange, Meyer, and others, which it would have been presumption to neglect, 
we have endeavoured to use all other helps within our reach. Unfortunately, the 
noble Commentary of Dr. Westcott did not appear until almost the last of the 
following pages had been printed off. It was thus impossible to take advantage of it ; 
but to the personal communications of that eminent scholar, and to the discussions 
which have taken place in the New Testament Revision Company, in regard alike to 
the Fourth Gospel and the other books of the New Testament, we probably owe 
more than we are ourselves aware of. At the same time, we are not conscious of 
having yielded in any instance to authority however great Under a deep sense at 
once of the difficulty and responsibility of our task, we have submitted every question 
to independent investigation ; and the results, very often different from those of our 
predecessors, must be left to speak for themselves. 

It would be too much to expect that our readers will find every difficulty discussed 
which meets them in their own study of this Gospel. One of the most marked 
peculiarities of such a book is that, in the fulness of its life and meaning, it strikes 
every attentive student in a different light, and suggests to each thoughts and problems 
which do not occur to others. All that we can say is, that in no single instance have 
we consciously passed by a difficulty that we ourselves felt; and we may perhaps 
venture to hope that the principles upon which these have been treated may be 
applicable to others of which we had not thought. 

The principles upon which the Text of the Gospel has been determined were 
explained by one of the authors of this Commentary in the second part of a small 
work on * The Words of the New Testament,' published some years ago, and now out 
of print In the translation of the text, we have aimed at correctness rather than 
ease of continuous expression ; and if (in this respect differing from the first volume 
of this Commentary) we have almost always given a full translation at the head of 
the notes, the reason is easily explained. It seemed desirable, where not only every 
word, but even the order of all the words is important, that the reader should have 
the complete sentence directly under his eye. 

It may be well to say that, owing to various circumstances on which it is unneces- 
sary to dwell, the appearance of our Commentary has been most unexpectedly delayed. 
Nearly three years have passed since the earlier portions of it were printed. It is the 
more possible, therefore, that there may be occasional inconsistencies between the 
earlier and the later pages. We say this without knowing that it is so, and with the 
hope that, if such inconsistencies do exist, they are not of an important character. 

In conclusion, we may be permitted to say that both the authors of the following 
Commentary hold themselves responsible for the whole. No part of it is the work of 


eiihcr by himself; and they have wrought together with a hamiony which, througli 
all the time it has occupied them, has been to both a source of constant thankfulness 
and joy. But they desire to forget themselves, and they ask their readers to forget 
them, in the one common aim to discover the true meaning of a Gospel which the 
eloquent Herder long ago described as * the heart of Jesus.* 

July 1880. 

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Chapter I. 1-18. 

The Prologue. 

N the beginning was the * Word, and the Word was with "cSIiSV; 
God, and ' the Word was God. JL-^it" sii 

2, 3 The same was in the beginning with God. ^ All things were y^-J- '^* 
made* by" him ; and without him was not any thing made* *RS;.2ix3. 

4 that was made. ' In him was life :* and the life was the -^ light ^dS!^! Il' 

5 of men.* And the light shineth in* darkness; and the dark- iCoi>?&.6; 
ness comprehended' it not Heb.Vs| 

6 '^ There was* a man sent from God, whose name was John. #seecfaaiJT. 

7 The same came for a* witness, to** bear * witness of" the/ver.^ See 

8 Light, that all men through him might believe." He was not"]** 
that ** Light, but was sent to ** bear witness of that " Light '^MatLuL i. 

9 That^^ was the ' true Light, which lighteth every man that duip.uLa6, 

10 Cometh" into the world. He was in the world, and the x.'4x';. 

Actszuc. 4. 

1 1 world was made by him," and *the world knew him not He ft jotmius. 

■^ ' h See diap. 

12 came unto his own," and his own 'received** him not But ,*y-3. 

/uuip. ▼• 43* 

as many as received him, to them gave he power to become *«^ <**«>•**• 
*" the sons ** of God, even to them that believe on" his * name :** «^<*«p."- 

13 'Which were born,** not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, *^<*«p-"i- 
nor of the will of man, but of God. ysSSS^ wl 

14 And ^the Word was made ^ flesh, and dwelt among us, (and ^gi^^^ » 
we beheld his ''glory, the glory as of the * only begotten of the ,vw. 18 • 
Father,) full of ' grace and truth.* ^ '^ '^ 

X John iv. 9. 

* came into being * through '^g^*^?.. 

• and apart from him not even one thing came into being. xiL 9.' ^^***' ' 
^ That which hath come into being was life in him 

* ; • in the ' overcame • arose 

• omit a *• that he might ** concerning 
" that all might believe through him *• the 

** but he was that he might ** concerning the *• There 

^' man, coming 1^ came into being through him 

*• own home *® accepted '^ right to become children 

*■ in *« ; ** begotten 

*' And the Word became fiesh ; and he set his tabernacle among us, and we 

beheld his glory (glory as of an only-begotten from a father), — full of g^race and 



Col. I. t^ 

w Rom. iii. 24. 

y. 90, 31 ; 

Eph. i. 6, 


15 John bare witness of*' him, and cried,"' saying, This was he JIvS.I?*'^ 
of whom I spake, " He that cometh after me is preferred before 
me : for " he was before me. 

16 And of his ^^ fulness have all we" received, and grace for^sie^^ 

17 grace. For'** the law was given by Moses, dut "'grace'* and j,cb[ip.'vi.46. 

18 •'truth came by" Jesus Christ ^No man" hath seen God at if^T^.'^: 
any time ; the 'only begotten Son, which is'* in the bosom of ^p-*^-^ 
the Father, " he hath '* declared /tim. 

*• beareth witness concerning *' hath cried 

•• is become before me, because ** Because out of his fulness we all 

*• Because •* through Moses : grace " through ** No one 

•* One who is only-begotten God, he that is ** omit hath 

Heb.i. 1,3, J. 

Contents. The Prolo^e of the Gospel of 
John stands in the most intimate connection with 
the plan and purpose of the Gospel as a whole. 
It b not to be regarded as a philosophical specu- 
lation to which the historical life of the Redeemer 
shall be afterwards conformed. It contains rather 
a short summary of that life in the light in which 
the Evangelist had been divinely taught to regard 
it, and of the impressions which he had gathered 
from it as the manifestation, the revelation, of God 
Himself to men. It is to illustrate and unfold this 
conception, which is at once metaphysical, theo- 
logical, and historical, that the fourth Evangelist 
writes. Hence he begins with a description of what 
Jesus was in Himsdf, in the profoundest depths 
of His being ; passing from that to what He ' be- 
came * in o^er that in Him men might so behold 
the glory of the Father as to be transfigured into 
the same glory, reaching onward to the fiilfilment 
of their own destiny, to be children of God. The 
Prologue is usually divided into three parts, 
ending with ver. 5, ver. 13, ver. 18, respectively. 
Of these divisions, the first brings before us the 
thought of the Eternal Word, — in Himself (ver. i), 
and as the source of created being, of life, of light 
(vers. 2-5). The subject of the next thirteen verses 
is the Word as revealed to men, first generally (vers. 
6-13), and secondly by the Incarnation (vers. 
14-18). These two sections (in accordance with 
an important principle of structure, characterizing 
both this Gospel and the Apocalypse), though 
apparently successive, are really parallel : the 
thought is thus presented under two aspects, the 
second fuller ana more definite than the first. In 
the former section we read of the Baptist, sent to 
bear witness concerning the manifestation of the 
Word as the Light (vers. 6-8) ; then of the two- 
fold results of this manifestation, but especially of 
the blessedness of those who received the Word 
(vers. 9-13). The next section records the Incar- 
nation of the Word (ver. 14) ; the testimony borne 
by the Baptist to the glory of the Incarnate Word 
(ver. 15); and, as before (but with greater clear- 
ness and definiteness, and from the point of view 
of human experience), the results of this crowning 
manifestation of the Word. This analysis, whilst 
showing the general parallelism of the thoughts in 
the several divisions 01 the Prologue, shows also that 
the division as hitherto indicated is insufficient. 
Ver. 14 clearly commences a new section, and 
yet ver. 15 (relating to the Baptist) immediately 
recalls the commencement of the former section 

(ver. 6). If, however, ver, 14 be carefully ex- 
amined, it will be seen that it stands in a definite 
relation to the first section, the opening words 
(* And the Word became flesh ') being antithetical 
to ver. I, and the remainder of the verse (which 
sets forth generally the manifestation of the Incar- 
nate Word) corresponding to vers. 2-5. Hence the 
structure of the Prologue as a whole may be pre- 
sented in the following tabular form : — 
Sgethn I. The Word, 
(a) In Himself (ver. i). 
[d) In His general manifestations (vers. 2-5). 
Section II. The Word appearing in the world. 
{a) The Baptist*s geneial witness concerning 

the Worcl, as the Light (vers. 6-8). 
{d) The general results of the manifestation 
of the Word (vers. 9-13). 
Section III. The Word fully revealed in the 
A. (i) The Incarnate Word Himself (ver. 
14 a; parallel to ver. i). 
(2) The Incarnate Word in His general 
manifestation of Himself (ver. 14^; 
parallel to vers. 2-5). 
£. The Baptist's witness, now definite and 
personal (ver. 15 : parallel to vers. 6-8). 
C. The complete results of this manifes- 
tation of the Word in the case of all 
who receive Him (vers. 16-18 : parallel 
to vers. 9-13). 
Ver. I. In the beginning was the Word. 
This sublime opening of the Gospel carries our 
thoughts at once to the no less sublime opening of 
the Book of Genesis, whose first words the Evan- 
gelist certainly had present to his mind. He too 
will tell of a creation, and a creation has a ' be- 
ginning. * The words * in the beginning, ' taken by 
themselves, do not express the idea of eternal pre- 
existence ; but they leave room for it, and in this 
respect they stand contrasted with the phrase 
'from the beginning,* which often meets us in 
the writings of John (viii. 44 ; i John i. i, ii. 
7, 24, iii. 8), They denote simply the point of 
time ; and the difference of thought with which 
they are connected, as compared with Gen. i, i, 
is to be found not in the meaning of * beginning,' 
but in the different direction which the writer 
takes,^ and in the verb which he employs. In 
Gen. i. i the sacred historian starts from the be- 
ginning and comes downwards, thus keeping us in 
the course of time. Here he starts from the same 
point, but goes upwards, thus taking us into the 


eternity preceding time. In Gen. i. i we are told 
that God ' in the beginning created^'* — an act done 
in time. Here we are told that *in the beginning 
the Word kwj,* a verb strongly antithetical to 
* came into being * (vers. 3, 14, comp. viii. 58), and 
implying an absolute existence preceding the point 
referred to. As that which is absolute, self-exis- 
tent, not created — that which is — is eternal, so the 
predication of eternity is involved in the clause 
before us' taken as a whole. 

He who thus 'was in the beginning,* who, as we 
afterwards read, * was with God,* and * was God,* 
here bears the name of * the Word * (Logos). In 
one other verse of the Prologue this name is 
repeated (ver. 14) ; but it does not occur again 
in the Gospel. Nor shall we find the term (used, 
as here, simply and without qualification) in 
any other passage of the New Testament. The 
nearest approach is found in Rev. xix. 13, where 
the name of the righteous Conqueror and King is 
given as * The Word of God. * Two or more other 
passages may be said rather to recall to our thought 

ver. 2), and Heb. iv. 12. Though, however, this 
term is not really adopted by any New Testament 
writer except John, it is not peculiar to him in 
any other sense. When he wrote, it was a familiar 
and current term of theology. It has sometimes, 
indeed, been maintained that John*s usage must 
be taken by itself, since with very much of the 
theological speculation in which this term so freely 
occurs he can have had no sympathy. We shall 
see that John's usage certainly does in an impor- 
tant sense stand alone ; but as it is absolutely 
impossible that he, living at Ephesus (to say 
nothing of his long residence in Palestine), should 
have bneen unacquainted with the current doctrines 
respecting the Logos, it is inconceivable that he 
can have taken up the term without reference to 
these doctrines. Hence it is with the history of 
the term that we first have to do. 

Every careful reader of the Old Testament is 
struck by the prominence given in certain passages 
to * the word of the Lord, language which almost 
implies personal action being sometimes connected 
with this 'word.* See, for example, Ps. xxxiii. 6, 
cv. 19, cvii. 20 ; i Sam. iii. 21. The root of this 
usage (at all events in very many instances) is to 
bs found in the first chapter of Genesis, where the 
successive acts of creation are associated with 
divine words (see Ps. xxxiii. 6). Such passages 
as these, with their partial personification of the 
word of God, seem to have powerfully impressed 
early Jewish teaching. There was much besides 
in the Old Testament to strengthen this impres- 
«on, — as the frequent references in the Pentateuch 
to the Angel of Jehovah, and the language used of 
Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs (chap, viii.; com- 
pare also chaps, i. , iii. , ix. , and Job xxviii. ). Thus a 
minute study of Scripture language was the means 
of leading Jewish teachers to connect divine acts 
with some personified attribute of God rather than 
with God Himself, or to seek for some medium of 
communication between God and man where the 
Scriptures themselves had spoken of direct reve- 
lation or fellowship. What other influences aided 
this tendency of thought, we cannot here inquire. 
The results are patent, especially in the Targums 
or Chaldee paraphrases of Scripture. The dates 
of the several Targums whi(^ are extant have been 

a matter of controversy : for our purpose, however, 
this is not of consequence, as it is acknowledged 
on all hands that every one of these paraphrases 
contains early materials. We cannot within our 
limits quote at length ; but a reference to the 
following passages in Etheridge*s translation of the 
Targums on the Pentateuch will show how far the 
writers went in substituting ' the Word * {Afemra) 
for the name of God Himself. In the Targum of 
Onkelos, see Gen. iii. 8, xxviii. 20 ; Num. xxiii. 
4, 21 ; Dcut. ix. 3 : in that of Pseudo-Jonathan, 
Gen. iii. 8 ; Num. xxiii. 4, 21 : in the Jerusalem 
Targum, besides the three last mentioned. Gen. 
xviii. I, xvi. 13, xix. 24. From the Targum of 
Jonathan Ben Uzziel may be quoted Isa. Ixiii. 7 ; 
Mai. iii. i. An examination of these passages 
will show how familiar to Jews had become the 
conception of the Word of God, through whom 
God made Himself known to men. Very little 
light is thrown upon the subject by the several 
Apocryphal books, and hence it will not be neces- 
sary to refer to them here. It is otherwise with 
the writings of the great Alexandrian philosopher 
Philo. In these the doctrine of the Divine Word 
holds a prominence which it would be hard to 
exaggerate. Yet from the multitude of passages 
in which Philo speaks of the attributes and actions 
of the Word, it is impossible to deduce with any 
certainty a clear statement of doctrine. Now the 
Word seems distinctly personal, now an attribute 
of God personified. In some passages the idea 
can be traced back to the thought of 'spoken 
word ; * in many others Philo takes up the other 
meaning of the Greek word Logos, viz. reason. 
Hence, though Philo speaks of the universe as 
created through the Logos, yet in other passages 
the Logos is the design or the idea of creation in 
the mind of God. 

It is not necessary to carry this inquiry farther, 
since our only object is to collect the chief elements 
of thought associated with this term when John 
wrote. As has been said, he could not be ignor- 
ant of these various forms of teaching; if not 
ignorant, he could not be indifferent on the one 
Imnd to the good, or on the other to the evil, 
which they contained. He recognised the various 
teachings as a providential preparation for the true 
theology. In these introductory verses he adopts 
the term, but so defines it as to fix its meaning for 
all Christians. There is One by whom the Eter- 
nal and Invisible God reveals Himself: the Re- 
vealer is a Person : the Revealer is Himself God. 
Not only in outward manifestation, but also in 
inward fellowship with the heart, God reveals 
Himself by the Word of God, who is God. In 
one instance John appears to take up and ratify 
the wider application of the term which we 
have noticed above. This first verse takes us be- 
yond the region of revelation to man : when ' in 
the banning,* bevond the limits of time, 'the 
Logos was,* the thought of 'speech* ceases to 
give us any help towards grasping the meaning ; 
and, if we may venture to interpret the term at all 
in this application, wc can only think of the 
human analogy by which we pass from the 
uttered word to the thought or reason of the 

To all that John teaches respecting the Logos, 
the Lord*s own teaching directly led. The doc- 
trine of these verses is identical with that of chaps. 
V. 19, vi. 57, X. 30, xvii. 5, etc. The personal 
application of the term is not found in our Lord*s 


discourses ; but many of those recorded in this 
Gospel contain remarkable examples of that ex- 
alted use of ' the word ' of God to which, as we 
have seen, the history of this sublime name may 
ultimately be traced. 

And the Word wm with God : the second of the 
three statements made in this verse regarding the 
Word, and obviously higher than the first. It is 
impossible to convev in English the full force of 
the preposition ' witn * in the Greek, for it denotes 
not merely being beside, but maintaining com* 
munion and intercourse with (comp. Mark vi. 3 ; 
I John i. 2, ii. i). 

And the Word was Ood : the third and highest 
statement respecting the Word. The Word is 
possessed of divine essence ; in that being in which 
He 'was,' He so possesses the divine attributes 
that He is God. There is difference of person- 
ality, but unity of nature. In this last clause the 
climax of the three clauses is complete. 

Ver. 2. The Mune wai in the oeginning with 
God. ' The same ' — He who has just been spoken 
of as God — was in the beginning ' with God ' : t.^., 
' He of whom I have spoken as God, was in the 
beginning in active, eternal communion with God, 
— not simply the Word with God, but God with 
God.' The elements of the thought have been 
given in ver. i, but in their combination they 
acquire new force. The special object of these 
words seems to be to prepare for the next verse ; 
it is onlv when we have been taught concerning 
' God with God ' that we are prepared to hear of 
the creation of all things 'through* the Divine 
Word. He with whom the Divine Word * was in 
the b^[inning ' created all through Him. 

Ver. 3. AU things came into being through 
him, and apart ftom him not even one thing 
came into being. Such a combination of two 
clauses, the first positive, the second native (see 
note on ver. 20), is characteristic of John's style. 
Hie two together assert the truth contained in 
them with a universality and force not otherwise 
attainable. This truth is, that 'all things' — not 
all as a whole, but all thin^ in the individuality 
which precedes their combination into a whole — 
came into being through this Word, who is God. 
The preposition ' through ' is that by which the 
relation of the Second Person of the Trinity to 
creation is usually expressed (i Cor. viii. 6; Col. 
/i. 16 ; Heb. i. 2) ; as, indeed, this is the concep- 
tion which belongs to the doctrine of the Logos, 
the Divine Wora. Occasionally, however, the 
same language is used of the Father : see Heb. 
ii. 10, and conop. Rom. xi. 36. 

Vers. 3, 4. That which hath come into being 
wai life in him. We are led by various con- 
siderations to take this view of the passage hither 
than that which is presented in the Authorised 
Version. The Greek admits of either punctua- 
tion (and rendering), but the absence of the article 
before the word ' life ' suggests that it is here a 
predicate, not the subject of the sentence. By 
almost all (if not all) the Greek Fathers of the 
first three centuries the words were thus under- 
stood ; and we may reasonably, in such a case as 
this, attach great importance to the conclusions 
■attained by that linguistic tact which is often most 
sure where it is least able to assi^ distinct reasons 
for its verdict. Further, this division of the words 
corresponds best with the rhythmical mode in 
which the earlier sentences of the Prologue are 
connected with one another. It is characteristic 

of them to make the voice dwell mainly, in each 
line of the rhythm, upon a word taken from the 
preceding line ; and this characteristic is not pre- 
served in the case before us unless we adhere to 
the ancient construction. We have seen what the 
Word is in Himself ; we are now to see Him in 
His relation to His creatures. 

Created being was * life in Him.* He was life, 
life absolutely, and therefore the life that can com- 
municate itself, — the infinitely productive life, from 
whom alone came to every creature, as He called 
it into being, the measure of life that it possesses. 
In Him was the fountain of all life ; and every 
form of life, known or unknown, was only a drop 
of water from the stream which, gathered up in 
Him before, flowed forth at His creative word to 
people the universe of being with the endlessly 
multiplied and diversified existences that play their 
part in it. It is not of the life of man only that 
John speaks, still less is it only of that spiritual and 
eternal life which constitutes man's true being. 
If the word ' life ' is often used in this more limit^ 
sense in the Gospel, it is because other kinds and 
developments of^life pass out of view in the pre- 
sence of that life on which the writer especially loves 
to dwell. The word itself has no such limitation of 
meaning, and when used, as here, without anything 
to suggest limitation, it must be taken in its most 
comprehensive sense. It was in the Word, then, 
that all things that have life lived ; the very phy- 
sical world, if we can say of its movements that 
they are life, the vegetable world, the world of tlie 
lower animals, the world of men and angels, up to 
the highest angel that is before the throne. Ere 
yet they came into being, their life was in the Word 
who, as God, was life, and from the Word they 
received it when their actual being b^n. The 
lesson is the same as that of Col. i. 10, 17, 'In 
Him were all things created,' and 'in Him all 
things subsist;' or, still more, of Rev. iv. 11, 
' Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy 
pleasure they were* (not 'are,* as in the Author- 
ised Version), 'and they were created.' 

And the life was the light of men. From the 
wide thought of all created existences, the Evan- 
gelist passes in these words to the last and 
greatest of the works of God, man, whose crea- 
tion is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. 
All creatures had ' life * in the Word ; but this life 
was to man something more than it could be to 
others, because he had been created after a fashion, 
and placed in a sphere, peculiar to himself amidst 
the different orders of animated being. God said, 
' Let us make man in our image, after our like- 
ness * (Gen. i. 26). Man was thus capable of re- 
ceiving God, and of knowing that he had received 
Him ; he had a sphere and a capacity belonging to 
none of the lower creatures spoken of in the great 
record of creation ; his nature was fitted to be the 
conscious abode, not of the human only, but of the 
divine. Hence the Word could be in him as in 
no other creature. But the Word is God (ver. 
I), and 'God is light' (i John i. 5). Thus the 
Word is * light ' (comp. ver. 7) ; and as man was 
essentially fitted to receive the Word, that Word 
giving life to all found in him a fitness for the 
highest and fullest life,— for 'light,' therefore, in 
its highest and fullest sense ; and ' the life was the 
light of men.' 

The idea of human nature thus set forth in these 
words is peculiarly remarkable, and worthy of our 
observation, not only as a complete answer to 



those who brin^ a charge of Manichaean dualism 
against the FoQith Gospel, but also to enable us 
to comprehend its teaching as to human responsi- 
bility in the presence of Jesus. ' The life, it is 
said, 'was the light of mm;* not of a class, not of 
some, but of all the members of the human family 
as such. Man's true nature, it is said, is divine ; 
divine in this respect also, as distine^uished from 
the divine in all creation, that man is capable of 
recognising, acknowledging, seeing the divine in 
hlm^f. The ' life ' becomes ' light * in him, and 
it does not become so in lower creatures. Man's 
true life is the life of the Word ; it was so origin- 
ally, and he knew it to be so. If, therefore, he 
listens to the tempter and yields to sin (whose 
existence is admitted simply as a fact, no attempt 
being made to account lor it), man corrupts his 
true nature, and is responsible for doing so. But 
his fall cannot destroy his nature, which still testi- 
fies to what his first condition was, to what his 
normal condition is, to what he ought to be. 
Man, therefore, only fulfils his original nature by 
again receiving that Word who is to offer Himself 
to him as the ' Word become flesh. ' But if man's 
receiving; of the Word be thus the fulfilling; of his 
nature, it is his dutv to receive Him ; and this duty 
is impressed upon him by his nature^ not by mere 
external authority. Hence the constant appeal of 
Jesus in this Gospel, not to external evidence only, 
but to that remaining life of the Word within us, 
which ought to receive the Word completely, and 
to hasten to the Light (comp. ver. 9). 

Ver. 5. And the light dtineth in the dark- 
nea. The darkness here spoken of is not an 
original darkness coexistent with created being 
(ver. 3). It belongs to the development of 
thought begun at ver. 4, and is coexistent only 
with the moral process of rejecting the Word, im- 
plied, though not expressly stated, in that verse. 
The Word through whom all come into being 
offers Himself at the same time to all as their 
light. Let them acknowledge and accept Him, 
they have life (chap. viii. 12) ; let them reject 
Him, they are in a darkness for which they are 
responsible, because they have chosen it. 1 1 is a 
fact, however, that many always did, and still do, 
reject the light ; and thus the darkness has been 
and is a positively existing thing. Yet the Light 
has not forsaken the world. No merely present 
point of time is indicated ; in that case John 
could not have immediately added the past tense, 
overcame. The idea is general. The Light, as it 
had existed, had shone ; as it exists, it shines, 
always seeking to draw men into the full bright- 
ness of its beamns. 

And the darknew overcame it not. Such is 
the most probable meaning of these words, and so 
were they understood by the most ancient Christian 
writers. The verb which we have rendered * over- 
came ' occurs not unfrequently in the New Testa- 
ment ; but (when used, as here, in the active voice) 
it has not,and cannot have, the mesming comprehend 
(/>. understand), which is given to it in the Autho- 
rised Version. The most important guide to the 
meaning is chap. xii. 35, where the same word is 
used, and where also the metaphor is similar : 
•Walk . . . lest darkness overtake you,* — come 
over you, seize you. In the verse before us we 
read of light shining in the darkness ; the dark- 
ness, ever antagonistic to the light, yet does not 
ofiertake ox come over the light. Tke idea of seizing, 
in connection with this figure, is equivalent to 

overcoming or intercepting the light. Even if 
'comprehend* \vere possible as a translation, it 
would be nothing to tell us that the darkness did 
not comprehend the light. That is implied in the 
fact that the darkness is sdf-chosen (comp. on 
ver. 4). But it is much to tell us that, in the con- 
flict between the darkness and the light, the dark- 
ness failed to overcome (or eclipse) the light. The 
light, though sometimes apparently overcome, was 
really victorious ; it withstood every assault, and 
shone on triumphantly in a darkened world. So 
far, therefore, from our finding here a ' wail ' (as 
some have said), we have a note of exultation, a 
token of that victory which throughout the whole 
Gospel rises to our view through sorrow. 

We thus close what is obviously the first para- 
graph of the Gospel ; and although it relates to the 
Pre-incamate Word, and expresses the principles 
of His dealings in their most general form, the 
development of thought is precisely the same as 
that which the history of the Incarnate Word 
will be found to present. Through the Word 
all things have come into being To all He offers 
Himself, that He may make them not only exist 
in Him, but, in the free appropriation of what He 
offers, live in Him. Some receive Him, and He 
becomes their light ; others reject Him, and are 
immersed in the darkness which they choose. The 
darkness opposes and seeks to destroy the light, 
but the light shines on to victory. 

Ver. 6. There arose a man, sent from Gk)d, 
whose name wai John. With this verse we pass 
forward into the times of the Incarnate Word. 
The section upon which we first enter is, as com- 
pared with the second, general ; hence Uie Incar- 
nation is only implied, not expressly mentioned. 
The immediate preparation for this new period is 
the testimony of the Baptist ; and the word& with 
which he is introduced to us stand in striking con- 
trast to what we have been told of the Word in 
ver. I. He 'arose,* — literally, he 'came into 
being,* as distinguished from the 'was* of that 
verse. He was a man 'sent from God,* as dis- 
tinguished from the Word who was 'with God.* 
In adding, * his name was John,* the Evangelist 
(we may perhaps say) does more than identify him 
as the great prophet who had so powerfully im- 
pressed all classes pi the people. If we remember 
the deep significance attached to ' name * in this 
Gospel, it will seem possible that the antithesia 
to ver. I is still continued. The personal name 
needed for identification amongst men is placed 
in contrast with that name by which the eternal 
attributes of the Son are expressed, * the Word * 
(comp. ver. 12). 

Ver. 7. The same came for witness, that he 
might bear witness conoeming the light, that 
all might believe throngh him. The impression 
produced by the Baptist had been great, but he 
had come to bear witness to One higher than 
himself. Here we meet for the first time with 
this word ' witness,' one of the characteristic words 
of the writings of John, occurring in various forms 
nearly fifty times in his Gospel, and thirty or forty 
times in his Epistles and the Apocalypse. The 
importance of the thought lies in its simplicity. 
The true witness declares what he has seen and 
heard (i John i. 2, 3) ; his testimony reflects 'the 
truth ' so far as he has received it, just as the faith- 
ful mirror reflects the light that has come upon it. 
John came to bear such witness concerning the 
Light, that through him all might be led to 


[Chap. 1. 1-18I 

'believe ' — trustfully to accept that Light, and yield 
themselves up to its ioflueoce. The introduciion 
of the word ' all * is very remarkable. More clearly 
than any other passage this verse teaches us how 
great were the results which the Baptist's mission 
was intended to produce, immeasurably greater 
than those which were actually realised. Had Is- 
rael been faithfully and obediently wailing for the 
fulfilment of the divine promise, John's witness 
respecting Jesus would have turned 'all* Israel 
(and, through Israel, ' all ' men) to the Saviour. 
In immediate effects the work of John, like that 
of One higher than John, would be pronounced by 
men a failure. In the light of this verse we can 
better understand such passages as Mai. iv. ; Matt, 
xi. 9-14 ; Luke vii. 29, 30. 

Ver. 8. He wm not the light, bat he waa that 
he might bear witneat conoemiiig tlM Light 
The thought of the greatness of the witness borne 
by John underlies the words of ^this verse. Great 
as Uie Baptist was, he was not the Lieht What 
he was is not expressed, but only Uie purpose 
which he was to fulfil (comp. ver. 23). It is very 
possible that the words may have had a special 
application to the opinions which (as we learn from 
Acts xviiL 25, xix. 3) existed at Ephesus with 
r^ard to the mission of John. 

Ver. 9. There waa the tme Light, which 
lighteth every man, coming into the world. 
This almost literal rendering of the Greek will 
show how it is that these simple words have been 
so variously explained. As m the English, so in 
the Greek, the word 'coming' mi^t be joined 
either with ' light ' or with ' man. ' The punctua- 
tion we have i^opted (it will be remembered that 
in ancient manuscripts of the original there is 
little or no punctuation) will show that, in our 
view, the last clause is to be joined, not with the 
second, but with the first clause of the verse. 
What has been said above of the general structure 
of the Prologue has shown that, as yet, the full 
presence of the Word personally come is not before 
us. The manifestation is in its initial stage, not 
yet complete. To this thought the word ' coming * 
exactly corresponds. But still more important m 
gttidixig to the right interpretation of the verse is 
the Evangelist's use of the last phrase elsewhere. 
The expression ' come into the world ' occurs in as 
many as seven other passages of this Gospel (chap. 
Im* I9i vi. 14, ix. 39, xi. 27, xii. 46, xvi. 28, xviii. 
37). In every one of these passages the words 
relate to the Lord Himself: sometimes they are 
used by the multitude (vi. 14), or by a disciple 
(xi. 27), as a designation of the Messiah, ' He that 
should come ; ' sometimes they are the words of 
Jesus or of the Evangelist, in passages which 
speak of the purpose of His ' coming.* In chaps, 
in. 19 and xii. 46 the phrase stands in close con- 
nection with the figure which is now before us. The 
latter verse (chap. xii. 46) is especially noteworthy ; 
for Jesus Himself says, ' I am come a light into the 
world.' If, then, we would allow the Evangelist to 
be his own interpreter, we seem bound to believe 
that he here speaks of the /i^Af as 'coming into 
the world.' If the words are joined with ' man,' 
they add little or nothing to the thought. ' Every 
man * is really as full and inclusive an expression 
as 'every man that cometh into the world.' Fami- 
liarity with the common rendering may prevent 
the reader from at once perceiving that this is true ; 
but we are persuaded that reflection will show that 
by the change much is gained, nothing lost. In 

the previous verse we have read that John was 
not 'the Light.' When he 'arose' as a witness, 
the true Light was in existence; it had been 
shining in the darkness ; it was now ' coming into 
the w6rld,' — about to manifest itself with a clear- 
ness and in a manner hitherto unknown. 

Two more of the special terms of the Gospel meet 
us here, ' true ' and * world.' It is unfortunate that 
two different words must be represented by the 
same English word, 'true.* The one (used in 
chaps, iii. 33, v. 31, and eleven other verses of the 
Gospel) denotes truth in contrast with falsehood; the 
other, which we have before us here, expresses the 
real as contrasted with the phenomenal, that which 
b perfect and substantial as opposed to what is im- 
perfect and shadowy, or that which is fully accom- 
plished in contrast with the type which prefigured 
It. This word is, in the New Testament, almost 
confined to the writings of John. Of twenty- 
eight passages in which it occurs, nine are found 
in this Gospel, four in the First Epbtle, ten in the 
Revelation. Three of the remainingfive passagesare 
(as might almost have been foreseen) in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews. The other examples of the word 
in this Gospel will be found in cnaps. iv. 23, 37, 
vi. 32, vii. 28, viii. 16, xv. I, xvii. 3, xix. 35, and 
in most of these the reader will easily trace the 
idea. The 'true worshippers' are those whose 
worship is real, not imperfect and undeserving of 
the name ; the bread which came down from 
heaven is ' the true bread,' that of which the manna 
was a type, that which ministers real and abiding 
nourishment. So here we read of the archet3rpal 
source of light, the light which alone is real and 
perfect. — This true Light was coming into the 
* world . ' Originally signifying the universe created 
and ordered by the hand of God, ' the world ' 
came successively to mean the world of men, and 
the world of men as opposed to God. In this 
Gospel especially, we read of the world as an 
antagonistic power, unbelieving, evil in its works, 
hating and persecuting Tesus and His people, — a 
power over which He will be victorious, and which 
shall be convicted of sin and judged ; but we also 
read of God's love to the world (chap. iii. 16), and 
of the gift of His Son that the world may be saved 
through Him. If the thought of evil and aliena- 
tion is brought oat in the following verse, it is 
most important to observe that this verse speaks of 
the illumination of ez/ery man. No man belongs 
to the world that is given up to darkness and im- 
penitence, unless he, througn resistance and choice 
of evil, have made the light that was in him to 
become darkness (comp. Eph. iv. 18). — We can- 
not doubt that in the words ' every man ' there 
is an allusion ta John ('a man sent from God') 
as himself illumined by this Light. 

Ver. 10. He waa in the world, and the world 
came into being throngh him, and the world 
knew him not. The subject is still the Li^ht, 
which (ver. 9) was existent, and was ' coming into 
the world.' In the world, indeed, it was already 
(though the complete manifestation was yet to 
come), and — here (he figure passes imperceptibly 
away, giving place to the thought of the Person — 
the world, though brought into being through Him, 
recognised not His presence. Note the simplicity 
of John's style, in which the three thougnts of 
the verse, though very various in their mutual rela- 
tions, are, so to speak, placed side by side. These 
words relate both to (he Pre-incamate and to the 
Incarnate Word. The development is rather of 

Chap. I. 1-18.] 


thought than of time. Alike before His manifesta- 
tion m the flesh and after it, the Word was ' in the 
world.' The statement must not be limited to the 
manifestation of Christ in Israel. This verse is a 
repetition, in a more concrete form, of vers. 3-5 
(in port). 

Ver. 1 1. He came unto his own home, and hia 
own aooepted him not. Is this verse practically 
a repetition of ver. 10, in language more solemn 
and emphatic? Or do we here pass from the 
thought of the world in general to that of the 
Jewish people. The question is one of some diffi- 
culty. As ver. 12 is certainly quite general in its 
meaning, it may seem hazardous to introduce a 
limitation here. But the weight of argument 
seems on the whole to be on the other side. 
There is a manifest advance of thought as we pass 
from the last verse to this. Instead of ' He was in, ' 
we find * He came unto;* for 'the world,* we have 
* His own home ;' for * knew* (perceived or recog- 
nised), we have 'accepted.' Every change seems 
to point to a more intimate relationship, a clearer 
manifestation, and a rejection that is still more 
without excuse. The Word, who was in the world 
(comp. Prov. viii. 31), had Hb home with the 
chosen people (Ex. xix. 5 ; Ps. Ixxvi. 2), to which 
had been given the revelation of the truth of God 
(Rom. ix. 4). It is still mainly of the Pre-incar- 
nate Word that John speaks. In the whole history 
of Israel had been illustrated unfaithfulness to the 
truth (comp. Luke xi. 49, 50; Acts vii. 51-53); 
and the tender pathos of this verse recalls the 
words in which Jesus speaks of the rejection of 
Himself (Matt, xxiii. 37). 

Ver. 12. But ai many ai reoeived him, to 
ibem gave he right to become children of God, 
even to them that believe in his name. We 
have beheld the light shining in the darkness 
(vers. 10, II); the thought of this verse is, that 
the darkness overcame it not I As we have already 
seen (see note on ver. 11), the language a|;ain 
becomes altogether general. Whosoever * received 
Him,' to whatever period of time or nation they 
mi^t belong, won the gift here spoken of. There 
is a perceptible difference between ' accepted * (ver. 
1 1 ) and ' received, * as here used. Whilst the former 
lays emphasis on the will that consented (or refused) 
to receive, the latter brings before us the possession 
gained ; so that the full meaning is, As many as 
by accepting Him received Him. The gift is not 
directly stated as 'sonship,' perhaps because the 
full manifestation of this blessing belongs to the 
latter days alone (comp. on chaps, iii. 5, vii. 39 ; 
Rom. viii. 15), whereas the Evangelist would here 
include the time of incomplete revelation which 
came before the Incarnation. Then, as now, men 
accepted or refused Him ; but for those who accepted 
was reserved 'some better thing' (Heb. xi. 40) 
than had yet been clearly made known to man. — 
We must not fail to note (for in these wonderful 
verses everting is significant) that there is spe- 
cial fitness m the expression ' children ' radier than 
^sons of God;' for, whereas 'sonship' is often 
spoken of in connection with mere adoption, stress 
is here laid on an actual (though spiritual) pater- 
nity. The right or authority thus to become chil- 
dren of God IS given by the Word ' to them that 
believe in His name.' It is very important to dis- 
criminate between the different phrases which John 
uses in relation to belief or faith. On the one 
hand we have the simple expression 'to believe 
Him ' (as in chaps, viii. 31, v. 38, etc.), usually de- 

noting the acceptance of something said as true. 
On the other hand, we find very frequently in the 
New Testament, but especially in the writings of 
John, a remarkable combination of 'beheve* 
with a preposition literally meaning 'into,' by 
which is denoted not merely an acceptance of 
words or professions, but such an acceptance of 
the Person trusted, such an approach of the heart 
towards Him, as leads to union with Him. This 
peculiarly Christian formula is by some render«xi 
* believe in,* by others 'believe on.' Both ren- 
derings are found in the Authorised Version. We 
have uniformly adopted the former, because it most 
clearly indicates the union towards which the faith 
tends. — ^There are a few passages (see the marginal 
references) in which, as here, this phrase ' believe 
in * is followed by ' the name.* We have already 
seen with what fulness of meaning John uses 
the word 'name.' As in many passages of the 
Old Testament, the ' name ' expresses the sum of 
the qualities which mark the nature or character 
of a person (comp. Ex. xxxiv. 5, 6). It is hard 
to fix the precise distinction between ' believing in 
Him ' and ' believing in His name.' Perhaps we 
may say that, in the former case, the bdiever 
trustfully yields himself up to the Person, in the 
latter, to the revelation of the Person. Those 
who in chap. ii. 23 are spoken of as believing 
' in the name * of Jesus, had not reached the per- 
sonal union which believing in Jesus implies ; but 
through their trustful acceptance of His revelation 
of Himself, the higher gin, the closer knowledge, 
might soon be gained. Here the ' name ' cannot 
but recall ver. 1 1 the * name * Word expressed the 
nature of the Person (comp. ver. 6). 

Ver. 13. Which were begotten, not of blood, 
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of 
man, bnt of Gk>d. The spiritual history of those 
who are spoken of in ver. 12 is here continued, 
and the nature of their sonship more fully defined. 
It is easy to see that in the three clauses there is a 
distinct progress of thought, the second (contain- 
ing the thought of * will ') being more definite than 
the first, the third (in which ' man ' is substituted 
for ' flesh,' — a person for human nature in general) 
being again more definite than the second. The 
three clauses, however, reallv express but one 
main idea ; what that is must be learnt from the 
contrast in the closing words, — 'but (they were 
begotten) of God.' These believers have received 
the right to become ' children of God ' by virtue of 
a true spiritual filiation, being begotten of God. 
The contrast to such a sonship is the very claim 
which is so strongly made by the Jews in chap, viii., 
and the validity of which our Lord altogether 
denies. The recollection of that chapter, which 
only brings into bold relief the habitual assumption 
of the Judaism of that day, will be sufficient to 
explain the remarkable emphasis of this verse, the 
threefold denial that men become children of God 
by virtue of any natural hereditary descent. — Al- 
though it is the claim of the Jews that is here in 
the writer's thought, yet, as often elsewhere, the 
Jews are the type of the world at large ; by others 
besides Jews like presumptuous claims have been 
made, others have rested in the ' divinity ' of their 
race. It is very possible that the peculiarity of 
the first clause (literally 'not of bloods') may be 
thus explained. 

Ver. 14. And the Word became flesh. With 
this verse we enter upon the fuller and more con- 
crete aspect of the Word appearing among men. 



seems plainly inconsistent with the words which 
follow, 'we beheld His ^ory/ the meaning of 
which is fixed by the opemng passage in the First 
Epistle (I John i. 1-3). The glory was like that 
of an onfy son sent from a father ; no image bat 
this, it has been well said, ' can express the two- 
fold chanicter of the glory, as at once derivative 
and on a level with its source.' In the only son 
are concentrated all the characteristics of the 
father ; on him all the father's love is poured ; to 
him belongs the whole inheritance; on him the 
father, when he sends him forth on an embassy, 
bestows all the plenitude of his power. The 
translation we have given is, we believe, that 
which the Greek words absolutely demand ; it ap- 
pears to us, moreover, to be the only rendering that 
gives meaning to the word of comparison 'as,' or 
preserves the progress of the Evangelist's thought. 
As yet there has been no word bringing in the 
thought of Divine Sonship. The attributes and 
working of the Divine Word have been continu- 
ally before us ; here the gK'ry of the Word become 
flesh is compared with that of an onlv son sent 
from a father ; but it is not until ver. 10 that these 
elements are combined into one supreme utterance 
of truth. The last words of the verse must be 
connected with the subject of the sentence : ' He 
(the Word) set His tabernacle among us, full of 
grace and truth.* They go far towards explaining 
the * glory ' which the disciples * beheld. That 
the Word has been from the beginning of the 
world's history the bestower of 'grace and truth,' 
is implied in the imagery of the earlier verses (vers. 
4, 9) ; that which has been involved in the teach- 
ing respectii^ the Pre-incamate Word is clearly 
stated here ofthe Word become flesh. But this ful- 
ness of grace and truth does not exhaust the meaning 
of the 'glory.' In the glory of the Incarnate 
Word there are two elements, as His one Person 
unites two natures : in part the glory is unique (in 
kind and not only in degree), belonging to the 
God-man and not to the perfect Man ; in part it 
is communicable to men, as Jesus Himself says, 

* The glory which Thou gavest me I have given 

Ver. 15. John beareth witnesB concerning 
him, and hath cried, saying, This was he of 
whom I spake. He that cometh after me has 
become before me, because he was before me. 
We have seen that ver. 14 is parallel to vers. 1-5. 
In like manner this verse is parallel to vers. 6-8 ; 
but it is also an advance upon those verses, con- 
taining the Baptist's witness to the Personal Word 
become flesh, not to the Word as the general Light 
of men. — ' Beareth witness,' — not ' bare witness * 
(ver. 32). It is as if the Evangelist would say. Of 
this John if the witness; his testimony abides, 
unchanging, always present. The same thought 
comes out more distinctly still in the verb which 
follows, 'hath cried.' (The usual translation 

* crieth ' seems on various grounds less probable. ) 
The loud cry of the faithful witness has come 
down through all the years ; we seem to hear its 
echoes still. The Baptist clearly refers to wit- 
ness which he had borne after Jesus appeared ; 
hence the words, 'This was he.' — It is un- 
usually difficult to find a rendering that will fully 
convey the meaning of this verse. As the word 
' before ' occurs in two members of the verse, the 
English reader inevitably considers the contrast to 
be between ' is preferred ' (or ' is become ") and 
'he was.' In reality, 'before' here answers to 

As personally come in the flesh, however, the 
Woid contrasts with what He was in His pre- 
existent state; and hence, before we have the 
Baptist introduced to us, we have statements ex- 
actly parallel to those of vers. 1-5. That now 
before us corresponds to ver. i, for the Incarnate 
Word in Himself is here spoken of. He who was 
in the beginning, who was with God, who was 
God, ' beoune flesh ; ' did not merely take to Him 
a human body, did not merely become an in- 
dividual man, but assumed human nature in its en- 
tireness (see chaps, xii.27, 'soul;' xiii. 21, 'spirit'), 
identified Himself with the race, entered into such 
a condition that He could have perfect communion 
and fellowship with us, and we with Him. The 
word ' became ' does not denote that His divine 
nature was laid aside, and that His mode of being 
was simply human until, in the accomplishment 
of His work. He gradually transformed His human 
mode of being and regained for it all the glory of the 
divine. Were such a view correct, it would follow 
that when the divine was regained the human was 
laid aside, and that the humanity of the exalted 
Redeemer is not now as real as it was during His 
earthly course. No such thought is suggested by 
' became ; ' for this word does not imply that the 
former state of being exists no longer. What is 
really indicated is the passing into a new state, — 
a transition rather than a transformation. The 
Word remains, with all His essential proper- 
ties ; there is added a new mode of being, the 
assumption of a new nature, denoted by 'flesh.' 
The most important parallels to this verse are 
I John iv. 2 and 2 John 7 ; these passages differ 
from the present in that the historical name 'Jesus 
Christ ' is substituted for the Word, and that for 
the mysterious words ' became flesh ' we read 
'hath come' (or 'cometh ') ' in flesh.' 

And he set his tabernacle among ns, and we 
beheld his glory (glory as of an only begotten 
from a father), —full of grace and trath. As the 
first clause of this verse corresponded to ver. I, so 
these clauses correspond to vers. 2-5 ; only that, 
whereas there we had those properties of the Word 
in virtue of which He gives life and light in their 
most general form to all, here we have those in 
virtue of which, as the now completed revelation 
of the Father, He carries this life and light onward 
to perfection in such as truly receive Him. Still, 
however, it is the glory of the Word in Himself 
that is before us ; if men are introduced in the 
words which follow as beholders of His glory, it 
is that our thought may rest, not on the blessing 
man thus receives (that is expressed below, vers. 
16-18), but on the witness borne to the glory of 
the Incarnate Word. The figure of this verse is 
taken from the Old Testament (Lev. xxvi. 11 ; 
Ezek. xxxvii. 27, etc.); the Tabernacle was the 
meeting-place of God and Israel, the house in 
which Tenovah dwelt in the midst of his people. 
With the image of a tent or tabernacle is often 
associated the thought of transitoriness ; but that 
the word used here does not necessarily carry with 
it this thought is sufficiently proved by the lan- 
guage of the final promise, ' The tabernacle of 
God is with men, and He shall set His tabernacle 
with them' (Rev. xxi. 3). As the Shechinah 
dwelt in the Tabernacle, in the midst of the camp 
of Israel, so 'the Word become flesh' dwelt 
' amon^ us.* Some have taken the last words to 
mean 'm us,' and to contain a new reference to 
the assumption of human nature ; but this view 


two different words. A literal translation will 
show at once the meaning and the difficulty of 
finding an easy expression of the meaning : ' He 
that Cometh behind me has become in front of me, 
because He was before me,* Jesus came * after ' 
or * behind * John, as coming later in His manifes- 
tation to the world. As the later in time, it might 
have been expected that He would take rank after 
him who was His predecessor ; but He has been 
advanced before John ; the reason of this is given 
in John's declaration, * He was before me.* That 
which these words directly affirm is priority of 
time ; but, as in respect of human birth this could 
not be affirmed of Jesus, the words bring into view 
a pre-existence so transcendent as of itself to assert 
an infinite superiority to every other man. This 
anterior digmty explains why He that followed 
John has come to be before him. The herald 
came first, to prepare the way for the King; 
when the King arrives, the herald retires from 
view. — The last words of the verse require further 
notice. They are not fully represented by * before 
me,* as if they contained nothing beyond a com- 
parison of Jesus with the Baptist. The former 
word is absolute, ' He was first ; * the other word 
is added because a comparison is needed, ' first in 
regard of me.* We might almost paraphrase the 
very remarkable combination thus : First, and (by 
consequence) before me. 

Ver. 16. Because out of his folnesB we all 
received, and grace for grace. In order to 
understand this verse, and especially the very 
difficult word ' because,* with which the true read- 
ing of the verse begins, we must look at the struc- 
ture of the whole passage. Along with vers, 17 
and 18, this verse is parallel to vers. 9-13 ; and 
ver. 14, as we have seen, answers to vers. 1-5. 
The last verse in like manner stands related to 
vers, 6-8 ; and, as these verses are introduced 
between ver. 5 and ver. 9, — which might be read 
continuously, the subject remaining the same, — so 
is ver. 15 almost parenthetical, bringing in (as in 
the earlier verses) the witness of John before the 
statement of the results following the manifestation 
of the Word. The words * we all received ' and 
* His fulness * are sufficient to show that the verse 
is a continuation of the thought of ver. 14, and 
belongs to the Evangelist, not to the Baptist. If, 
then, ver. 15 is parenthetical, the present verse 
is naturally introduced by the word 'because.' 
We have here an illustration of the extreme 
importance which John attaches to Christian 
experience. In ver. 9 we have had the fact of 
what the Word bestows. Here we have more. 
We have the answer of Christian experience to the 
fact. We have not merely the light lightening, 
but the light appropriated, its value appreciated, 
its power felt. Verse 14 had not described Chris- 
tian experience. The word * beheld ' there used 
had oidy assumed it (see the comment), and had 
mentioned the witness which it gave. Now we 
have the description itself: hence the 'because.* 
We beheld the glory of the Word become flesh, 
and are able to speak of that glory, ' because out 
of His fiilness,* etc. The last stage of the Pro- 
lojg;ue is thus reached, because the highest point 
ofthought is attained. No more can be said when 
the appropriation of the Word is complete. 

The fulness spoken of is that of grace and truth, 
which so reside in the Incarnate Word that nothing 
more can be added. It is an absolute, not a com- 
parative fulness, — a proof again that no part of 

that fulness is to be won back in the progress of 
the Messianic work. That fulness resides in the 
* Word become flesh,* as such. * Out of * it * we 
all* — believers, who beheld His glory, among 
whom He set His tabernacle — received. The 
thing is past. We received Him (ver. 12). When 
we received Him, He communicated Himself to 
us. His fulness, so far as we could receive it, was 
made ours. Hence it is not said what we received ; 
because it was not a gift bestowed by His fiilness, 
but the measure of that fiilness itself which we 
were capable of receiving. 

We are thus led also to the clear meaning of the 
last clause of the verse, *and grace for grace.* 
Not exactly 'grace upon grace,* as if the meaning 
were successive measures of grace, one added to 
another ; but grace eiven in fresh measure as each 
preceding measure has been improved, the 'ful- 
ness * constantly more and more made ours until 
we 'are fulfilled unto all the fulness of God* 
(Eph. iii. 19). It is Christian experience again. 

Ver. 17. Because the law was given tluough 
Moeee: grace and tmth came through Jesns 
Christ. It is very possible that this verse should 
be taken as directly parallel to ver. 1 1 ; hence the 
definite reference to the pre-Christian revelation 
here (see note on ver. 11). The thought of Chris- 
tian experience again explains the connection of 
this verse with Ae preceding. The law is not 
undervalued. It was divine. It was a gift of 
God, It was a gift through the great Lawgiver 
of whom Israel was proud. But it was a fixed 
unalterable thing, with definite boundaries, not 
stretching out into the illimitable and eternal. It 
could not express unbounded grace and truth, un- 
bounded love, because in its very nature law has 
limits which it cannot pass. Now, however, 
there has * come * (a far higher word than * was 
given *) a fulness of grace and truth, within which 
we stand, and which we are to appropriate more 
and more, — vast, illimitable, as is that God who 
is love. Hence, therefore, the experiettce of ver. 
16 is possible. — It will be noted that the two 
thoughts of this verse are placed side by side (see 
ver. 10), though in reality the first is subordinate 
to the second. 

And now comes in the great Name as yet 
unnamed, but named now in all the universality 
of its application, the Name which embraces 
historical Christianity in its whole extent as the 
religion both of Jew and Gentile, the religion of 
man, — the name which, in its one half ('Jesus,' 
Joshua, Jehoshua, 'Jehovah is Salvation*) ex- 
presses the purpose of all God's dealings with man, 
and in its other half ('Christ') the Divine con- 
secration of the Redeemer to His work. — The verbs 
of this verse are used with great propriety, — 'was 
given ' of what was incidental in origin and tempor- 
ary induration; 'came' (literally, 'became') of what, 
though revealed in time, was an eternal reality. 

One reflection alone remains, and then the 
Prologue may close. 

Ver. 18. Ho one hath seen Ood at any time ; 
One who is only begotten God, he that is in the 
bosom of the Father, he declared him. It is 
not possible in a commentary such as this to 
defend the reading which we here adopt, ' God * 
instead of ' Son.' But the passage is so extremely 
important that we may be permitted for once to 
depart from our usual practice of not referring to 
other writers, and to commend to our readers one 
of the finest critical Dissertations ever published 



in any language upon a reading of the New 
Testament. We refer to that l^ Dr. Hort of 
Cambridge upon this text (Macmillan, 1876). 
We add only that by thus reading we preserve an 
important characteristic of the structural prin- 
ciples of our Evangelist, that which leads hmi at 
the dose of a section or a period to return to its 
banning. The word * God* here corresponds to 
*God * in ver. i. 

'No one hath seen God at any time.' The 
contrast is to 'we beheld' in ver. 14, and the 
words describe God in His nature as God ; He 
dweUeth in light that is inacessible. The soul 
longs to see Him, but this cannot be. Is then 
its longing vain, its cry unheard ? The Evangelist 
answers, No. One has ' declared ' Him, has, as 
the Word, unfolded and explained Him. And 
the glorious fitness of the Word to do this is 
pointed out in three particulars, all showing how 
fitly He could do that which none other could do. 
(i) He is 'only begotten,' Son among all other 
sons in His own peculiar sense, who is fully able 
to represent the Father, to whom all the perfec- 
tions of the Father flow. (2) He is God— not 
only Son, but, as Son, God, — Himself divine, 
not in a metaphorical sense, but possessing all the 
attributes of true and real divinity. (3) It is 
He who ' is in the bosom of the Father.' The 
climax of thought, and the consideration th^t 
here are mentioned the conditions which make it 
possible for Jesus to be the complete Interpreter 
of the Father, preclude our taking these words as 
referring to the state which succeeded the resur- 
rection and ascension, — in the sense, ' He that 
hath returned to the bosom of the Father.* He of 
whom the Evangelist speaks is more than ' only 
b^otten,' more than 'God.' He is 'in the 
bosom of the Father.' In Him God is revealed as 
a Father ; without Him He can be revealed only 
as God. The words thus include more than 
' with God ' in ver. i, more than the Divine self- 

communion, the communion of God with God. 
The fatherly element, the element of love, is 
here. v«ut of that element of love, or of grace and 
truth, the Son comes ; into it He returns. It is of 
the very essence of His being so to do. He did 
so from eternity. He did so in time. He shall 
do it in the eternity to come. Not less does it 
belong to the profoundest depths of His nature to 
do so, than to be ' only beeotten,' to be ' God.' 
Therefore is He fully qualified to declare the 
Father, whom to know as thus made known in 
Jesus Christ (ver. 17) is that 'eternal life' after 
which the heart of man feels, and in the possession 
of^which alone is it completely blessed (comp. 
xvii. 3, XX. 31). 

One remark has still to be made upon a point 
which may seem at first sight to interfere with the 
correctness of that view of the structure of the 
Prologue which (as we have seen) is not only a 
matter of interest, but also a guide in the inter- 
pretation. There is no mention c^ the refection of 
the Word in vers. 14-18. But this fact when 
rightly con^dered rather confirms what has been 
said. It illustrates that progress which in this 
Gospel always accompanies ps^lelism. 

In vers. 1-5, the first section of the Prologue, 
we have seen that rejection is implied. 

In vers. 6-13, the second section, it is fully 
brought out. 

In vers. 14-18, the third section, it is over- 

Thus also, taking the Gospel as a whole, it b 
implied in the section immediately preceding the 
Conflict (chaps, ii. 12-iv. 54)1 It is fully brought 
out in the section of Conflict (chaps, v. i-xii. 50). 
It is overcome in the section following (chaps, 
xiii. I -xvii. 26). 

How unique, how wonderful is the plan of the 
Gospel ! How much light does the whole cast 
upon each part, how much each part upon the 
whole I 


Chapter I. 19-34. 

T/ie Witness of the Baptist to Jesus, 

ND this is the "record* of John, when the Jews sent*«VeT^7: 
priests and Levites from Jerusalem* to ask him, Who 

chap. V. 33. 

20 art thou ? And he * confessed, and denied not ; but* confessed, * M«tt.ifi. n : 

chftD. Ill 98 * 

2 1 I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then ? Art Acuxiii. ts\ 
thou ' Elias ?* And he saith, I am not. Art thou "^ that • e Mai. jv. 5. 

22 prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they^ unto him, 14. 
Who art thou } that we may give an answer to them that sent 14. 

23 us. What sayest thou of thyself.^ ' He said, I am the' voice #Mati. iu. 3. 
of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the 

24 Lord, as -^said the prophet Esaias.' And they which were sent/isa. xi. 3. 

* witness 

• omit from Jerusalem 

' sent unto him from Jerusalem 

* And he * Elijah 

' They said therefore ® a • Isaiah 


25 were of the Pharisees.** And they asked him, and said unto jf^JJf;^^*; 
him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that" Christ, ^f^*** 

26 nor Elias,* neither that" prophet? John answered them, say- ,chiii'.uLa6 
ing, *' I baptize with water : but there standeth one among you, ^ vct^36; 

27 whom ye know not;" * He it is, who'* coming after me is fij^?) 
preferred before me," whose shoe's latchet " I am not worthy tpi^t^g; 

28 to unloose. These things were done * in Bethabara*' beyond ST""*^ 
Jordan, where John was baptizing. coS? hiJ' 

29 The next day John" seeth Jesus coming unto him, and LVilasV 
saith. Behold " the * Lamb of God, ' which taketh away the sin iiiTi'^ '*• 

30 of " the world. * This is he of whom I said. After me cometh 5. a, iv.M'; 
a man which is preferred before me: for "^^ he was before me. iwc£;>!*iu.*i6, 

31 And I knew him not: but that he should" be made manifest i[^33.5x', 
to Israel, 'therefore am I come" baptizing with" water. TxiL^"^';, 

32 ^And John bare record," saying, I saw" the Spirit descending ai^aa*. 

33 from heaven like a dove," and it abode upon him. And I ^Y^^v 

Luke 1. 76, 

knew him not : but he that sent me to baptize with " water, 77. ... ^ 

' > Matt. iu. 16 ; 

the same said"' unto me, Upon whom" thou shalt see the chap.v.33. 

, , 9 Matt. IU. II. 

Spint descending, and remaining on" him, ^the same is he '•Matt^x;. 

34 which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." And I saw, and bare 
record ** that this is the ** Son of God. 

'• And some from among the Pharisees had been sent 

** art not the " nor the 

'* in water : in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not, 

" omt't He it is who " omi/ is preferred before me. 

*• the latchet of whose sandal " Bethany 

i» he ^^ Behold, *o is become before me, because 

*^ may *» therefore came I *• in ** witness 

** I have beheld *• descending as a dove out of heaven 

*' he said ** whomsoever *^ abiding upon 

^ the Holy Spirit ^^ And I have seen and have borne witness 

Contents. We enter here upon the second word of the present verse (with which the r^;ular 

great division of the Gospel, extending from i. 19 narrative commences) shows that this section must 

toil. II, and containing the presentation of Jesus, be connected with what ^oes before. It is 

as He takes His place m the field of human his- possible that this connection is really very close, 

tory and, alike in the witness borne to Him by The words ' this is the witness of John ' do not 

the Baptist and in His manifestation of Himself necessarily mean ' this witness which foltows is the 

to His disciples, shows us what He is. When we witness of John ; * the Evangelist's ordinary usage 

know Him we shall be prepared to follow Him, in similar cases suggests that the sense intended 

as He enters upon and accomplishes His work in is rather, ' And of this kind — confirmatory of 

the world. That work in theproper sense of the the preceding statements — is the witness,* etc. 

word does not yet begin. The first section of Such an interpretation best accounts for the use of 

this division extends from i. 19 to i. 34, and con- the present tense, 'this »' (comp. ver. 15), 

tains the witness of the Baptist. The subordinate stanaing in striking contrast to the past tenses 

parts of this section are — (i) vers. 19-28, the which immediately follow; it also throws light on 

witness by the Baptist on the first day spoken of ; the remarkably emphatic words which form the 

(2) vers. 29-34, His witness on the second day. first half of ver. 20. Thus viewed, the present 

Ver. 19. And this Is the witnea of Joim« section attaches itself to ver. 15 ; what is there 

when the Jews lent unto him ftom JenuHdem given in a general form is now related with greater 

priesti and Levitee to ask him. Who art thou t fiilness, in connection with the circumstances of 

The preceding verses (1-18) are so strongly marked the history. The 'witness* directly intended is 

in diaracter, and so distinctly constitute one that of vers. 19-27 ; but we must also include the 

coherent whole, that we cannot but place them in very important testimony borne on the following 

a section by themselves. And yet they do not day, especially that of vers. 33, 34, which presents 

form a distinct preface to the book (such, for ex- (in a different form) some of the leading truths of 

ample, as we nnd in Luke i. 1-4), for the first the Prologue, — As in the earlier Gospels, the 



mission of Jesus is introduced by the Baptist ; the 
peculiarity of John's narrative consists in this, 
that the Baptist s testimony is obtained in answer 
to a question asked by * the Jews/ who send a 
deputation to him 'from Jerusalem,' the centre 
of the theocracy. 

In this mention of * the Jews ' we meet for the 
first time with one of the most characteristic terms 
of the Fourth Gospel. In the other Gospels the 
expression occurs only fifteen or sixteen times, 
and twelve of these instances are examples of a 
single phrase, * King of the Jews,* and that 
phrase used by Gentiles. The remaining pas- 
sages are Mark vii. 3 ; Luke vii. 3, xxiii. 
51 ; and Matt, xxviii. 15 (slightly different 
&om the rest in the absence of the article). In 
this Gospel — in addition to six examples of 
the title * Kinjg; of the Jews,* used as in the other 
Gospels — we hnd more than fifty passages in which 
the Evangelist himself (not quoting from any Gen- 
tile) speaks of * the Jews.* Had the author of this 
Gospel been a Gentile, this usage might have 
seemed very natural ; but it is no less natural in 
the case of a writer who, though a Jew by birth, 
has long been severed from his countr3m[ien 
through their rejection of his Lord. The leaders 
and representatives of the nation in this rejec- 
tion of Jesus are those whom John usually desig- 
nates as *the Jevrs.' When the other Gospels 
speak of opposition on the part of Pharisees, chief 
priests, elders, scribes, Sadducees, or lawyers, John 
(who mentions none of these classes except Phari- 
sees and chief priests, and these not very frequently) 
is wont to use this general term. The mass of the 
l^eople, the led as contrasted with the leaders, he 
speaks of as ' the multitude ' or * the multitudes. ' 
Hence in most of the passages in which we meet 
with * the Jews,' we must understand the parly 
possessed of greatest influence in the nation, the 
representatives of Judaism, the leaders in opposi- 
tion to Jesus. Even where the term is used in a 
wider sense, it does not simply designate the 
nation ; when employed by the Evangelist himself, 
it almost always bears with it the impress of one 
thought — that of general unfaithfulness, of a 
national depravation which culminated in the 
crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. 

There is nothing to indicate that the deputation 
here spoken of was sent by the Sanhedrin ; but it 
appears to have been formal and important, com- 
posed as it was of persons belonging to the two 
classes which, in the Old Testament, represent 
the service of the Temple (Josh. iii. 3 ; 2 Chron. 
XXX. 27; Ezek. xliv. 15). Ifwc add to this the 
fact that, as appears from ver. 24, Pharisees also 
were present, the striking character of the scene 
before us will be manifest. On the one side is the 
Baptist, standing alone in the startling strangeness 
of his prophetic mission ; on the other are all who 
either possessed or had assumed religious authority 
in Israel — the Jews, the priests, the Levites, and 
the Pharisees. The question, * Who art thou ? ' 
has reference to the supposed personal claims of 
the Baptist. Might it not be that one who had so 
suddenly appeared in the wilderness, and who had 
produced so profound an effect upon all classes, 
was the very Messiah anxiously waited for at this 
time? Compare Luke iii. 15. 

Ver. 20. And he confessed and denied not. 
And he confessed, I am not the Christ. The 
answer of the Baptist is reported with great 
solemnity. The effect of the double statement, 

' he confessed and denied not ' (comp. ver. 3 ; 
I John ii. 4, 27) is to give peculiar impressiveness 
to the words : St. John thus brings into relief the 
single-minded faithfulness of the Baptist, and at 
the same time corrects mistaken opinions as to the 
character of his mission (see note on ver. 8). In 
the reply itself the first word is strongly emphatic, 
<It is not I who am the Christ.* The baptist 
thus prepares the way ibr the further statements 
which he is to make with the view of guiding his 
hearers to that Christ who is come, and whom with 
gradually increasing clearness he is to proclaim. 

Ver. 21. And they asked him, what Uient 
Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not 
The question was a natural one, for the thought 
of the coming of Elijah was intimately associated 
with that of the coming of Messiah (Mai. iv. 5). 
The answer seems less natural, for our Lord, when 
He spoke of the Baptist, described him as ' Elijah 
which was for to come * (Matt. xi. 14). It is 
possible that even the Baptist himself did not 
know that he was ' Elijah in this latter sense, 
and hence could reply without hesitation that he 
is not that prophet. 

Art thou the prophet? And he answered, Ko. 
A third supposition is tried. Is he * the prophet * ? 
A comparison of i. 25 and vii. 40, 41, vnth vi. 14, 
1 5, seems to lead to the conclusion that there were 
at this time two currents of opinion with reg^ud to 
the coming prophet (Deut. xviii. 15), the one dis- 
tinguishing him from the Messiah, the other main- 
taining that the two characters would be united in 

* him that should come.* But that a prophet would 
certainly appear at the opening of the Messianic 
age was expected by all. Hence the question, as 
now put, covered the only other supposition that 
could explain the important position which the 
Baptist had assumed, and which appeared to indi- 
cate that he was introducing a new era. But the 
main point with the Baptist is to show that, strictly 
speaking, he is simply the herald of that era. He 
is only to prepare the way for Him in whom it 
both begins and is completed (comp. Matt. xi. 1 1- 
13). The new supposition is accordingly repudi- 
ated in terms as emphatic as before. 

Ver. 22. They said therefore onto him. Who 
art thou ? that we may give an answer to them 
that sent us. What sayest thou at tiiyself f 
The Baptist has disowned the three suppositions 
that have been made. He is not * the Christ,* not 

• Elijah,* not * the prophet.* The deputation now 
appeal directly to himself to state who he is. 

Ver. 23. He said, I am a voice of one cry- 
ing in the wilderness. Make straight the way of 
the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah. The 
words are from Isa. xl. 3, and, though slightly 
modified in form, they completely express the 
sense of the original passage. To captive Israel, 
whose warfare is now accomplished, whose iniquity 
is pardoned, the glorious approach of her Deliverer 
is proclaimed. He comes to lead back his people 
through the desert to their own land. The herald's 
voice sounds in the desert, announcing the coming 
of the King, commanding that all obstacles be 
removed from the course of His triumphal march, 
and that through the wilderness there be made a 
highway for the Deliverer and for the people 
whom He has set free. The Baptist takes the 
words in their true application to the Messianic 
deliverance and kingcfom. He speaks of him- 
self as the herald, or rather as the herald's 
voice ; as in ver. 8, his personality, so to speak, is 



swallowed up in the message which he caine to 

\^er. 24. And some from among the Pharisees 
had been sent. We cannot doubt that these 
words are introduced to lead on to the following 
statement, rather than to give completeness to the 
account of the preceding visrses. It is not neces- 
sary, however, to think of a second and entirely 
new deputation. The persons now introduced 
may have formed part of the Brst body of ques- 
tioners. But the pMoint of special interest to them 
is that which meets us in ver. 25, rather than that 
already spoken of. They were Pharisees, and the 
Pharisees considered themselves the guardians of 
the ordinances of religious worship amongst their 
countrymen. Hence the si^ficance of the state- 
ments in iv. I, ix. 13-15, xii. 42 ; and also of the 
question which is now addressed to the Baptist. 
That question does not necessarily indicate a hostile 
bearing towards him ; nor during the earlier part 
of the life of Jesus do the Pharisees in general 
appear to have opposed the Saviour in the same 
manner as the 'Jews' (comp. on iii. i, vii. ^2). 

Ver. 25. And they askea him, and saidf onto 
him« Why baptLsest thon then^ if then art not 
the Christ, nor El^h, nor the prophet? The 
'Jews,' the representatives of the theocratic spirit 
of the people, had been mainly concerned about 
the position of the Baptist in relation to the national 
hopes. Could it be that he was about to assume 
the government of the nation, and to lead it to 
victory ? The Pharisees concern themselves more 
about the rite administered by the Baptist. It is 
the baptism of persons belonging to the chosen 
people that startles them. They might have viewed 
tiis baptism without surprise had he invited to it 
those only who were beyond the pale of Israel. 
But that one who, by his own confession, was 
neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet, 
should thus administer a rite symbolical of cleans- 
ing to those who, as Jews, were already clean, this 
it was that threw them into perplexity. — On the 
significance of John's baptism, see notes on chap, 
iii. 5 and Matt. iii. 6. 

Vers. 26, 27. John answered them, saying, I 
baptise in water. The meaning of the Baptist's 
answer has been greatly obscured by the inser- 
tion of * but ' after these words. It has thus been 
supposed that the object of the Baptist is to de- 
preciate his baptism by bringing it into comparison 
with the baptism in the Spint administered by 
Jesus. The two baptisms, however, are not as yet 
oompared with one another. What John depre- 
dated was himself, not the rite which he adminis- 
tered ; and at ver. 31 he expressly magnifies his 
baptian, and points out its high prophetic signi- 
ficance. From this last-mentioned verse the im- 
port of the present clause must be determined. 
Even now John means, I baptize in water that I 
may call attention to Him whose way I am com- 
missioned to prepare. For this purpose I am ' a 
voice of one that crieth ; ' for this purpose also 
'I baptize in water. '— In the midst of you 
standeth one whom ye know not, coming after 
me, the latchet of whose sandal I am not 
worthy to unloose. Now follows the great fact 
explanatory of all this divine work of preparation, 
that the One waited for is come. Three stages of 
His manifestation, however, are to be marked ; 
and as yet we have only reached the first, * lie 
standeth in the midst of you.* So standing. He 
is distinguished by three characteristics: (i) *Ve 

know' Him 'not,' — the * ye ' being emphatic, ye to 
whom He would gladly reveal Himself: (2) He 
Cometh * after me' (see ver. 15): (3) His glory is 
so great that the Baptist is not worthy to unloose 
the latchet of His sandal. On the last words sec 
note on Mark i. 7. 

Such is the first testimony of the Baptist to 
Jesus. The fuller testimonies have yet to come. 
At this point, therefore, the narrative pauses to 
tell us that this testimony was given at the very 
place where the Baptist was at the moment making 
so profound an impression upon the people. 

Ver. 28. These things were done in Bethany 
beyond Jordan. There can be no doubt that 
Bethabara is not the true reading in this verse. 
Origen, writing in the third century, states that 
he found Bethany in almost all copies of the 
Gospel. This statement is decisive. It cannot be 
set aside, nor indeed is it even lessened in weight, 
by the fact that Origen himself, owing to his in- 
ability to identify Bethany, believed Bethabara to 
be the place intended. The existence of another 
Bethany, near Jerusalem, presents no difficulty, as 
it was not uncommon for two places to bear the 
same name. The instances of Bethsaida (Luke ix. 
10 ; Mark vi. 45), Carmel, Caesarea, etc., are well 
known. It is even possible that the two names, 
though alike written Bethania in Greek, may in 
their ori^nal Hebrew form have been different 
words ; just as, for instance, the 'Abel' of Gen. 
iv. 2 is sdtogether different in actual form from the 
' Abel ' of 2 Sam. xx. 14. This Bethany may have 
been small and unimportant; Bethabara, on the 
other hand, seems to have been so well known, 
that the addition of the words ' bevond Jordan ' 
would have been less natural. Of the situation of 
Bethany we know no more than we are told in this 
verse (comp. chap. ii. i). It has been variously 
placed, — near Jericho, near Scythopolis (a few 
miles south of the Sea of Galilee), and by ore 
recent writer, Caspari, a little to the north of that 
sea. The last opinion seems the least probable of 
the three. 

The second testimony of the Baptist is now pre- 
sented to us. 

Ver. 29. The next day he seeth Jeans coming 
nnto him. The ' day ' is that immediately follow- 
ing the day of the first testimony, and the climactic 
arrangement of the narrative is already perceptible. 
Already Jesus is in a different position. On the 
previous day He was spoken of as ' coming after ' 
John ; now He is * coming unto ' him. Then He 
stood unknown, unrecognised, amidst the throng ; 
now He is expressly pointed out by His fore- 
runner. Then it was His elevation above John 
that was expressed ; now it is the greatness of 
His work in itself. —And saith, &hold, the 
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of 
the world. The translation of this clause has been 
disputed (see the margin of the Authorised Ver- 
sion), but without eood reason. The idea of 
* taking ' or * bearing sin is indeed of very common 
occurrence in the Old Testament; but it is not 
expressed by the word here used, which denotes 
tatting awayt removal. In meaning, however, the 
two renderings would almost coincide, since the 
metaphor of the verse is sacrificial : in the thought 
of bearing sin as an atoning sacrifice is involved 
the removal of the punishment deserved and of the 
sin itself. There is only one other passage of the 
New Testament in which this expression is foimd, 
I John iii. 5, and there the meaning is very clear. 



A much more difiicult question remains : What is 
the Baptist*s meaning when he speaks of ' the Lamb 
of God ' ? The answer which perhaps now finds 
most favour with commentators is, tnat this parti- 
cular image was directly suggested to his mind by 
the memorable prophecy oflsa, liii., in one verse 
of which (ver. 7) there is an allusion to * a lamb.' 
But there are serious difficulties in the way of this 
explanation. A reference to the chapter will show 
that in that verse the prophet speaks of the * lamb ' 
as an example of uncomplainii^ patience, and not 
in connection with taking away sin. ' He was 
oppressed, although he submitted himself, and 
opened not his mouth ; as a lamb that is led to the 
slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before her shearers ; 
and he opened not his mouth.' Again, had the 
prophecy of this chapter been definitely the source 
of tne Baptist's words, we might surely have looked 
for some close resemblances of language. But such 
coincidences are not to be found in any part of the 
chapter : the ideas of taking and bearing sin are 
prominent, but they are expressed by words alto* 
gether different from that here used. If we are 
thus obliged to look away from Isaiah's great 
prophecy of Messiah, we naturally turn to the 
Mosaic ritual of sacrifice. Again we are met by 
difficulties. It would seem impossible to bring in 
here the thought of any other than the sin-offerings 
and yet it was only occasionally, and almost as an 
exception, that a sin-offering consisted of a lamb 
( Lev. iv. 32). The lamb of the morning and even- 
ing sacrifices was a bumt-ofTering. There remain 
only two other explanations of the phrase. It 
is just possible that ' the lamb ' merely indicatts a 
sacrificial victim, the gentleness and harmlessness 
of this animal making it especially suitable as a 
type. It is, however, much more probable that 
the Baptist spoke of the paschal lamb. The pecu- 
liar denniteness of the expression {*^the Lamb of 
God ') will in this case need no explanation : no 
thought was more familiar to the Israelite than 
that of the lamb for the Passover ; and, we may 
add, few thoughts are brought out in this Gospel 
with greater distinctness than the relation of the 
Lord Jesus to the paschal sacrifice and feast (see 
notes on chaps, vi. and xix.). As the institution of 
the Passover preceded the general Mosaic legisla- 
tion, its laws and arrangements lie without the 
circle of the ordinary ritual of sacrifices, and com- 
bine ideas which were otherwise kept distinct. 
The paschal supper resembles the peace-offerings, 
the characteristic of which was the sacred feast 
that succeeded the presentation of the victim (Lev. 
vii. 15), — an emblem of the fellowship between 
the accepted worshipper and his God. But the 
sin-offering also is included, as a reference to the 
original institution of the Passover will at once 
show. The careful sprinkling of the blood upon 
the door-posts was intended to be more than a si^ 
to the destroying angel whom to spare. The lamb 
was slain and the blood sprinkled that atonement 
might be made for sin : when Israel is consecrated 
anew to God, the sin and the deserved punishment 
removed, the sacred feast is celebrated. It has 
been suggested that the nearness of the Passover 
(see chap. ii. 13) may have presented these thoughts 
to the Baptist's mind. It is still more likely that 
one who was enabled so clearly to discern the 
meaning of the Old Testament as to recognise the 
removal of * the sin of the world^ as the object of 
Messiah's coming, would see from the first how fitly 
that ordinance, in which Israel's redemption began, 

associated itself with the approaching redemption 
of the world. It is the world's Passover, both the 
sacrifice and the feast, that John sees to be at hand . 
With this verse compare especially I Pet. i. 18, 19 ; 
Rev. v. 6, 9. The marginal references will show 
to what an extent this Gospel is pervaded by the 
thought of * the world * as the object of Cmist's 
saving work. 

Ver. 30. See the note upon ver. 15. Here, as 
there, the words refer to testimony given by the 
Baptist to Jesus at some point of time and on some 
occasion not recorded. 

Ver. 31. And I knew him not: but that he 
may be made manifest to Iirael, therefore came 
I, baptizing in water. The explanation of the 
first clause of this verse will be best given when we 
come to ver. 33. The object which the Baptist 
here assigns for his work 01 baptizing may at first 
sight seem to be different from that mentioned in 
the earlier Gospels, where he is spoken of as sent 
to prepare the way of the Lord. Attention to the 
words used by John will remove all difficulty. 
' Israel ' is not to be limited to the Jewish nation. 
It embraces the true theocracy of God, — ^neither 
Jews nor Gentiles as such, but all who will 
believe (comp. on vers. 47, 49). ' Made mani- 
fest,' again, is not a mere outward manifestation, 
but a revelation of Jesus as He is. Thus the mean- 
ing of the words is not, ' I baptize in water in 
order that Jesus may come to my baptism, and 
may there receive a testimony from on high ; ' but, 
' I baptize that I may declare the necessity of that 
forsaking of sin without which no true manifesta- 
tion of Jesus can be made to the heart.* The 
words in their real meaning, therefore, are in per- 
fect harmony with the accounts of the Synoptists. 
The advance of thought from the unrecognised 
Jesus of ver. 26 to the ' made manifest ' of ver. 
31 is obvious. It corresponds with the * standeth ' 
of ver. 26, and the * coming unto ' him of ver. 29 ; 
with the fact, also, that the one is the first, the 
other the second, testimony of the Baptist. 

Ver. 32. And John bare witneea, saying, I 
have beheld the Spirit deacendlng. The effect 
of what the Baptist had seen had remained, and 
still remains, with him in all its power : ' I have 
beheld.' — Aiid it abode upon him. John had 
not merely seen the Spirit descend with dove-like 
motion upon Jesus ; he had also seen that it 
* abode * upon Him, — the symbol of an abiding 
and permanent possession. 

Ver. 33. And I knew him not. The first 
clause of this verse, like that of ver. 31, is attended 
with peculiar difficulty, for it is hardly possible to 
imagine that, intimately connected as the families 
of Jesus and of the Baptist were, the former should 
have been for thirty years personally unknown to 
the latter. Moreover, Matt. iii. 14 seems distinctly 
to imply not only that such personal acquaintance- 
ship existed before the baptism, but that the Bap- 
tist even then knew Jesus as greater than himself. 
Here, however, he says that until after the descent 
of the Spirit he 'knew Him not.' Without 
noticing the other explanations which have been 
given, we mav observe that the solution of the 
difficulty is to oe found in keeping distinctly before 
us the official and not personal light in which both 
Jesus and the Baptist are presented to us here. 
No denial of personal knowledge of Jesus has any 
bearing upon the point which the Baptist would 
establish. He is himself an official messenger of 
God, intrusted with a commission which he is to 



continue to discharge until such time as he is super- 
seded by the actual arrival of Him whose way he 
prepares. But this latter b also the 'Sent' of 
God, and has particular credentials to produce. 
Until these are produced, the herald of His approach 
cannot ' know ' Him in the only character in which 
he has to do with Him. No private acquaintance' 
ship with Him — and, we may even say, no private 
convictions as to His Messianic character — will 
iustiiy that recognition of Him before which alone the 
herald may give way. The great King from whom 
the herald and the Ambassador are aUke sent has 
named a particular sign which shall attest the 
position of the latter, and close the labours of the 
former. That sign must be exhibited before the 
herald of the Ambassador's approach will be 
warranted to. withdraw. Until then the one 
' knows ' not the other. 

But he that aent me to b^tize in water, he 
•aid onto me, Upon whomsoever thou ahalt aee 
the Spirit deecending, and abiding upon him, 
the Mune is he which baptizeth with the Holy 
Spirit. As to the sign, comp. ver. 32. It is the 
token that in Jesus are fulfilled the prophecies of 
the Old Testament with re^d to the pouring out 
of the Spirit in the Messianic age, and especially to 
the impartation of the Spirit to the Messiah Him- 
self (Isa. Ixi. I ; Luke iv. 18),— -prophecies which 
describe the crowning glory ot the latter days. 
John's baptism could only point to the laying aside 
of sin ; that of Jesus brought with it the quicken- 
ing into spiritual life (comp. on iii. 5). It is to be 
noticed that the words ' Holy Spirit ' are here used 
without the article. The object is to fix our atten- 
tion, not upon the Spirit in His personality, but 
upon the power of that spiritual influence which 
lie exerts. It would be better to translate, ' the 
power of the Holy Spirit,' were it not difficult to 
use such an expression, in conformity with the 
idiom of the English tongue, in the many passages 
where this particular form of the original is em- 

Ver. 34. And I have seen, and have borne 
witness that this is the Son of God. * I have 
seen,' for the result of the seeing abides un- 
changed and ever present : ' I have borne wit- 
ness, for the Baptist has entered on that one 
witness-bearing for which he was sent (ver. 7), and 
which it will henceforth be his office simply to 
repeat. It is particularly to be noticed that the 

' witness ' referred to is not that Jesus baptizes witn 
the Spirit, but that He is 'the Son of God,' — a 
designation which expresses the divine nature and 
character of Jesus, and with this the relation in 
which He stands to the Father. In one aspect 
He is God ; in another He is the Son of God, 
the Son distinct from the Father. The link of 
connection between the transcendent conclusion 
of the Baptist and the fact upon which it rests is 
probably to be found in the thought that He who 
baptizes with the Holy Spirit, who therefore has 
the power to impart the gifts and influence of the 
Spint of God, must be Divine. The special form 
which this confession of our Lord's divinity takes 
was, we cannot doubt, determined by the words 
spoken from heaven : ' This is my beloved Son, in 
whom I am well pleased ' (Matt. iii. 17). 

It has been sometimes maintained that ' Son of 
God ' must be understood as a mere designation of 
* the Messiah.' For this opinion we believe that 
no evidence can be found, either in Scripture or in 
early Jewish writings. There are, indeed, passages 
in the Old Testament, acknowledged to be pro- 
phecies of the Messiah, in which a Divine Sonship 
IS attributed to Him (see especially Ps. ii. 7) ; but 
the name seems to be always indicative of nature, 
and not merely of office. How the name was 
understood by die Jews of our Lord's day may be 
seen from chap. v. 18, 19, x. 29, 30, 33. 

It is important to compare this section with the 
corresponding portions of the other Gospels. The 
omissions are verv remarkable. We say nothing 
of the Evangelist s silence as to the circumstances 
of our Lord^ birth and early years ; this belongs 
to the general plan of the Gospel, which here 
agrees with that of Mark. But it is noteworthy 
that nothing is said of the baptism of Jesus, or 
of the temptation which followed. To the bap- 
tism, however, there is a clear allusion in vers. 
33» 34 » hence its place in the order of events is 
before ver. 19. The temptation also was at an 
end before John *saw Tesus coming unto him' 
(ver. 29). On the other hand, these verses contain 
many coincidences in language with the Synoptic 
Gospels. John's application of Isa. xl. 3, and 
the contrast which he draws between himself, 
baptizing in water, and Him. who shall baptize 
with the Holy Ghost, are related by every Evan- 
gelist. In all the Gospels, also, we find words 
similar to those of ver. 27. 

Chapter L 35-51. 

Jesus manifests Himself to hearts open to receive Hint, 

35 A GAIN the next day after* John stood,* and two of his 

36 -^1. disciples ; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he 

37 saith, * Behold* the Lamb of God! And the two disciples ^Ver. 29. 

38 heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then* Jesus turned, 
and saw * them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye ? 

* omit after 

' was standing 
« beheld 

« Behold, 



They* said unto him, * Rabbi, (which is to say, being inter- ^Sp.^ 

lU. 2. 

39 preted, ^ Master/) where dwellest' thou ? He saith unto them, Ji;iT;S;» 
Come and see.' They came** and saw where he dwelt," and <:Sjm.iiLt. 
abode with him that day: for** it was about the tenth hour. SiS.rf!f 

40 One of the two which heard John speak^^ and followed him, ''cjSi.^ti^s, 

41 was ''Andrew, Simon Peters brother. He first findeth his own ^ chaMv. 25. 
brother Simon, and saith unto him. We have found the is-xj^"*" 

42 ' Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ'* And" he^ig.****^ 
brought him to Jesus. And when" Jesus beheld him, he" ULuiilJ^ 
said. Thou art Simon -^ the son of Jona : " thou ^ shalt be called Sl'u xs, 
* Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone." « ciS|p!Vi.^ 

43 The day following Jesus would" go forth into Galilee, and *chap.*xu.* ' 

44 findeth ' Philip, and** saith unto him. Follow me. Now Philip Matt.xi. «. 

45 was of *Bethsaida, the" city of Andrew and Peter. Philip '«^»p.^:4«. 

M Chap. VI. 45* 

findeth ' Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, See loIw 
of whom '"Moses in the law, and the * prophets, did write, *ciiap.xvia. 

46 Jesus *of Nazareth, ^the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said ^^J'^J^tT-* 
unto him. Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? ,,v^?^*^** 

47 Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael ^J,'^^ 
coming to him, and saith of him. Behold " an Israelite indeed, 

48 in whom is ^no guile! Nathanael 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 

49 thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto " him, * Rabbi, thou 

50 art ''the Son of God; thou art 'the" King of Israel. Jesus /cen-irui 
answered and said unto him. Because I said unto thee, I saw « aia{». m. 13, 
thee under the fig tree, believest thou ? thou shalt see greater 

51 things than these. And 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. 

• ye shall see 

X John lii. 8, 

See Matt, 
xir. 33. 
* Chap. vi. X5, 

ii. a, 


53. 6ai ▼">• 
a?; «. 35. 
»!: a3. 34. 

XUl. 3X. 

▼iii. ao. 

' Teacher 
*^ abode 

* abidest 
** omit for 

• And they 
® came therefore 

* heard from John ^* Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ), 

* omit And ^* omit And when ^^Jesus looking upon him said 

• John ^* (which is by interpretation Peter, or Rock). 
® The next day he would 

^ Galilee. And he findeth Philip ; and Jesus 

* out of the '* Behold, '* omit and saith unto 

• omit the *• omit Hereafter 

Contents. The same general su^ect is con- 
tinued in this section— Jesus taking His place on 
the stage of history. We pass now, however, 
from the Mritness of the Baptist, given on two suc- 
cessive days, to the manifestation of Himself by 
Jesus to hearts open to receive and welcome Him. 
This manifestation takes place upon two succes- 
sive days. The subordinate parts of the present 
section are — (i) vers. 35-42,, witness borne on the 
first of the two new days (the third day from that 
of ver. 19) ; (2) vers. 43-51, vritness borne on the 
second day (the fourth day). 

Vers. 35, 36. In these verses we have a new tes- 
timony borne by the Baptist to Jesus. In ver. 29 
we were simply told that John ' seeth Jesus coming 
unto him ana saith;' to whom the words were spoken 
we know not. There is therefore great importance 
in the definite statement of ver. 35, that John now 
spoke in the presence of disciples. The Baptist 
came to deliver a general witness respecting Jesus ; 
but he also came to direct to Jesus all over whom 
he had gained influence. The words which he 
utters are few, so that the second testimony may 
seem inferior to the first. We may perhaps say 



that It b not really inferior. When the earlier 
words (ver, 29) had once made clear what was 
signlBed by the announcement of ' the LAmb of 
God,' this title bv itself, in its own simplicity, 
really conveyed a fuller meaning. ' The Lamb of 
God which taketh away the sin of the world ' 
brought to mind the paschal sacrifice; but in 
pointing to Jesus as ' the Lamb of God,* the Bap- 
tist, implying all that he had expressed before, 
presents to the thought all the symbolism of the 
words, — wi:h the true paschal sacrifice \om\j\^ the 
true ^pxxiislfeasi. 

Ver. 37. And the two diaciplM heard him 
■peak, and they followed JeBos. The witness of 
the Bfl4>tisthas its proper effect, — an effect, we can- 
not doubt, foreseen and designed by himself (chap. 
iii. 27-30). Those who listen to it turn from him, 
and follow Jesus. 

Ver. 38. And Jeetu tamed and beheld them 
foQowing, and saith onto them. What seek ye? 
They who thus follow Jesus shall not do so in 
vain. As in the sense of their own unworthiness 
they walked after Him, He turned, and inquired 
what they sought. — And they said onto hhn, 
Babhi, which is to say, being interpreted. 
Teacher, where abidest thon? * Where is Thy 
permanent restine-place and home, that as pupils 
we may seek Thee there, and may abide with 
Thee till we have seen the glory of which we have 
heard ? ' By the title Rabbi (which strictly meant 
my master or lord, but which in the time of Jesus 
had already come to be applied to teachers) they 
had been wont to address tneir own master (chap. 
iii. 26) ; and they naturally give the same name of 
honour to Jesus. When they have done with 
•seeking,* when they have found Him, they will 
say more (comp. xiii. 13). 

Ver. 39. He saith unto them. Gome, and ye 
shall see. They came therefore and saw where 
he abode, and abode with him that day. The 
seeker shall not seek in vain. They had asked 
where He abode ; ai^d that the answer of Jesus 
was a direct meeting of their request is proved by 
the statement immediately made by the Evangelist, 
that ' they came and saw where He abode.* The 
nature of the intercourse is not described. We are 
left only to imagine from the confession of Andrew 
in ver. 41 what must have been the solemn teach- 
ings, the gracious communications of Himself by 
Jesus, the patient instructing of ignorance, the 
tender removal of doubts, until, in all the joy of 
their new discovery, they could say, *We have 
found.* This much, however, we seem entitled to 
infer from the thrice-repeated ' abide * or ' abode,* 
— a word characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, and 
always full of deep and solemn import, — that the 
Evangelist designs to convey to us something more 
than the thought of mere outward presence with 
Jesus. — It was abont the tenth hour. There 
are four passages in which the Evangelist directly 
refers to the hour of the day at which an event 
occurred (see chap. iv. 6, 52, xix. 14). But for 
the last of these passages it might be natural 
to suppose that John, like the other Evangelists, 
reckons time from simrise, an hour being the 
twelfth port of the (varying) interval between 
sunrise and sunset. As, however, Mark records 
(chap. XV. 25) that Jesus was crucified at the 
'third hour* (between 8 and 9 a.m.), and John 
expressly states that His condemnation was later 
than the ' sixth hour,* the probability that the latter 
writer follows a different reckoning is very strong. 
VOL. II. 2 

Further investigation has shown that at the very 
time when this book was Mnritten a mode of 
computation substantially agreeing with our own 
was known in Asia Minor (where John wrote) 
and elsewhere. It is easy to see that in such a 
matter as this a writer naturally follows the custom 
of those amongst whom he lives, and whom he 
has immediately in view as his readers. We shall 
assume, therefore, in each case that the hour (of 
fixed length, not variable) b reckoned from mid- 
night or noon. Here the tenth hour will no 
doubt be the hour between 9 and 10 a.m. 

Ver. 40. One of the two which heard fh>m 
John and followed him, was Andrew, Simon 
Peter*s brother. Andrew belonged to Bethsaida 
(ver. 44), and is again referred to in vi. 8, xii. 22. 
That he is now spoken of as the brother of Peter 
is an interesting indication of the importance 
attached by the Evangelist to the latter. There is 
little reason to doubt that the second of the two 
was the Evangelist himself. Simon Peter, who 
has not yet been mentioned, is introduced to us 
here as if he were well known to the reader — an 
illustration of the writer's tendency to anticipate 
what is hereafter to be fully explained : we have 
an equally striking instance in the mention of 
Mary in chap. xi. 2. 

Ver. 41. JSe first findeth his own brother 
Simon, and saith onto him. We have found the 
Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Ohrist). 
The peculiar language of this verse leads directly 
to the conclusion that each of the two disciples 
mentioned in the previous verse had gone in search 
of his brother, and the fact is not without interest 
as confirming the supposition that the second of 
the two disciples was John. Andrew and his 
brother, John and his bf other, seem to have been 
the only two pairs of brothers in the apostolic 
band. The finding was not accidental. Andrew 
had gone in search of Peter, John of James. 
When Andrew found the object of his search, 
his joyful announcement was, *We have found 
the Messiah.* This Hebrew term — occurring 
only twice in the New Testament, here and at 
iv. 25, in the mouth of the woman of Samaria — 
denotes * the Anointed One ; * and is immediately 
interpreted by the Evangelist, the Greek word 
' Christ * having the same meaning. One of the 
great hopes of Israel was fulfilled. 

Ver. 42. He brought him to Jesns. There 
can be little doubt that Peter had shared the ex- 
pectations and longings of his brother Andrew, as 
well as of all those more earnest spirits of the 
time who were waiting for ' the consolation of 
Israel.* He too had been 'seeking,* and he too 
finds. — Jesus looking npon him said. Thou art 
Simcm the son of John: thou shalt be called 
Cephas. Jesus looked upon him with that divine 
glance which read the heart (comp. ii. 25) ; and, 
following the custom of which so many illustrations 
are affonied in the Old Testament, marked the 
great crisis in his life which had now arrived by 
giving him a new name, * Cephas,* with which 
corresponds the Greek word Pctros (a * stone .* or 
* piece of rock *). How much importance was 
attached by the Evangelist to this name given to 
his brother apostle will appear on other occasions 
in the course of his Gospel. The name Johannes, 
or John, corresponds to the Hebrew Jochanan ; 
in Matt. xvi. 17 the same name is represented in 
a slightly different form (Jona). 

Ver. 43. The next day be would go forth into 



Galilee. On this day begins the journey consum- 
mated at chap. ii. I (see note). — And he findeth 
Philip ; and Jesus saith onto him. Follow me. 
The first two disciples had ' sought * and ' followed ' 
Jesus; then they had found Him. Now Jesus 
(seeks and) ' finds * Philip, and bids him follow 
Him (compare the two parables in Matt. xiii. 44, 
46). We are left to infer that the command was 
immediately oljcyed. The calling of Philip and 
of Nathanael is recorded by John alone ; both 
Matthew anri Mark relate that Jesus called to 
Him Andrew and Peter, James and John (Matt, 
iv. 18-22 ; Mark i. 16-20 ; compare Luke v. 
i-ii); but it will be remembered tnat this was a 
second summons, later (by some months, probably) 
than the events of which we are reading here. 

Ver. 44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, ont of 
the city of Andrew uid Peter. This verse ap- 
pears to be inserted for the purpose of clearly 
showing that these three disciples were Galileans. 
The next verse would lead to a similar inference 
in regard to Nathanael, and this inference b con- 
firm^ by chap. xxi. 2. It is thus an undesigned 
(but not the less striking) proof of the Johannine 
authorship of this Gospel that a similar statement 
is not made with regard to the two disciples of 
vers. 37-40. John is aware that he was him- 
self well known to be a Galilean. In simple 
consciousness that he was so, and that no one 
would doubt it, he omits notice of the fact in his 
own case and that of his brother. But he felt it 
of importance to bring out the Galilean birth of 
the others. We might have supposed them to be 
Judeans ; but Judas is the only Judean of the 
apostolic circle. The importance of the fact in 
the mind of the Evangelist is connected with the 
opinion entertained by him of ' the Jews ' and of 

Ver. 45. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith 
unto him, We have found him of whom Moses 
in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of 
Nasareth, the son of Joseph. It was in all proba- 
bility on the journey from Bethany beyond Jordan 
to Cana of Galilee that J esus had ' found ' Philip. 
As on the journey recorded in Luke xxiv. 13, the 
conversation turned on the things concerning the 
promised Saviour which were contained in ' Moses 
and all the prophets ; * and to this conversation the 
particular iorm of conviction impressed upon the 
mind of Philip was due. He does not speak of 
Jesus simply as the Messiah (ver. 41), but as the 
fulfilment of the law and the prophets. There is 
an advance in fulness on the confession of ver. 41, 
and the special character of the advance is import- 
ant ; it helps to explain the words of the following 
verse. There b nothing accidental in the Hnding 
of Nathanael. Philip had gone in search of him 
in particular. Can we doubt that it was because 
he knew him to be specially fitted and ready to be 
a follower of Jesus? 

Ver. 46. And Nathanael said unto him. Can 
there any good thing oome out oi Nazareth? 
Philip saith unto him, Oome and see. The mind 
of Nathanael (who, from his close association with 
Philip, is probably to be identified with the Bar- 
tholomew of the earlier Gospels) is, as we shall 
more fully see below (vers. 47, 48), full at the 
moment of that prophetic hope the fulfilment of 
which was associated, not with Nazareth, but 
with Bethlehem or Jerusalem. To him all good 
was summed up in the thought of the coming 
King ; and it may have been that at the moment 

a place unconnected with the great promise of 
God seemed to him a place from whicn no good 
could come. Such considerations go fiu towards 
explaining his disparaging remark ; though they 
do not completely remove the impression which 
we receive from the words, that Nazareth was a 
place held in very low esteem. We have, how- 
ever, no other information that such prejudice 
(whether well or ill founded) existed ; and the 
only notices in Scripture which can throw light 
on the subject are the records of the obstinate un- 
belief of the Nazarenes (Matt. xiii. 58) and their 
attempt upon the life of Jesus (Luke iv. 29). 

Ver. 47. Jesus saw Nathanael ooming to 
him, and saith of him. Behold, an Israelite 
indeed, in whom is no guile. Again, as at 
ver. 43, we are left to infer that the call thus 
addressed to Nathanael was obeyed ; and in his 
obedience to it he illustrates the frame of mind 
for which he is immediately commended by Jesus, 
lie is ingenuous, willing to be taught, ready to 
receive what is shown to him to be truth, however 
strongly it may conflict with his prepossessions. 
Jesus saw him as he drew near, and commended 
him as a genuine Israelite in whom there was no 
guile. The last words have been sometimes under- 
stood as if they were explanatory of the term 
Israelite, that tenn, again, being supposed, to- 
gether with the word * guile,* to allude to tho 
history of Jacob. As the name of Jacob ('sup- 
planter') was changed to Israel (* prince of 
God *), the characteristic of this patriarch's true 
descendants will be absence of guile. The sug- 
gestion is ingenious, but for sevexul reasons hardly 
tenable, (i) It is guile of an entirely different 
kind that is here referred to ; (2) There is no 
special connection between the qualities dbplayed 
by Jacob on the occasion when he received the 
name Israel and those that here distinguish Natha- 
nael ; (3) The part of Jacob's history present to 
the mind of Jesus, in ver. 51, was the vision at 
Bethel, which belongs to a period much earlier 
than that in which his name was chanced ; (4) 
It is difficult to believe that ' Israelite* is mtend«l 
to convey no meaning beyond absence of guile. 
It is rather to be taken as denoting one who 
belongs to the true people of God (comp. ver. 
31) ; and the words that follow are then aaded to 
bring out its special meaning upon this occasion. 
Nathanael, in short, is 'of God,' is *of the truth,* 
has no sel^sh impure aims, and therefore he shall 
be fully taught. 

Ver. 48. Nathanael saith unto him. Whence 
knowest thou me ? The words of Jesus had been 
spoken while Nathanael was drawing near, and 
the latter heard them. He does not deny the truth 
of the commendation, and yet it can hardlv be said, 
on the other hand, that he accepts it. It is enough 
for him that he sees that he is discerned by one 
whom he had not previously met, and what he 
asks is. Whence gettest Thou Thy knowledge of 
me ? Who has told Thee anything about me ? — 
Jesus answered and said unto him. Before that 
Philip called thee, when thou wast under the 
fig tree, I saw thee. Jesus replies by referring 
to a previous, probably recent, incident in his 
history. The heart of the guileless man had been 
so moved by the great thoughts stirring at that 
time with respect to the Saviour at hand, that he 
had retired under a fig tree to study the Scriptures, 
or meditate, or pray. It is this that (as the Greek 
implies) is now brought to his recollection — not his 



heing under the fig tree, but his hatnng gone under 
it ; and we are thus rather invited than forbidden 
to suppose that the emotions filling his heart at the 
moment, and impelling him to seek solitude, had 
been peculiarly strong. Then Jesus had seen 
him, and had recognised in him one of His sheep, 
just as Hb sheep recognise Him (x. i6). If the 
incident had taken place in Nathanael's <yKn Cana, 
it must have been all the more striking to him that 
it should thus be known. But, however this may 
have been, these wonderful words of Jesus, coming 
suddenly upon him after long^ preparation for 
them and after the instructions just given him by 
Philip, at once set his heart on fire, and drew from 
him the memorable confession which follows. 

Ver. 49. Nathftnaelanswexwl him, BabM, Thoa 
art the Son of Ood; Thou art King of Lnael. 
The confession is the highest that has yet been 
niade# for it is impossible to understand ' Son of 
God' as the simple et^uivalent of Messiah (see 
note on ver. 34). Yet it is a confession coming 
out of the very heart of Old Testament prophecy, 
and to be accounted for by those circumstances of 
Nathanael's past history and present position that 
have been already noticed. It was not merely of 
a great Deliverer that the prophets had spoken. 
The^ had spoken not less of Jehovah Himself as 
comu^, and as coming to be their Deliverer and 
their King. In the second Psalm, in particular, 
we find the two ideas of the Son of God and of 
Zion's King closely conjoined ; and in the seventy- 
second Psalm the psalmist had described in glow- 
ing language that kingdom of peace and righteous- 
ness, extending over the whole earth, of which a 
shadow and type were afforded by the reign of 
5*olomon. But if it be undeniable that these ideas 
were imbedded in the Old Testament, there is 
nothing inconceivable in their being gathered from 
it and enunciated by those who in meditation and 
prayer had caught its spirit. Add to this the self- 
evidencing power of the Person of Jesus, which 
must have been so much more to Nathanael than 
the mere record can be to us, and we need not 
wonder that he should thus acknowledge Jesus. 
Nor is there any warrant for describing his feelings 
as vague. What he did was to rise to the height of 
Old Testament prophecy ; what he saw was that this 
must be Jehovah that was to come, the universal King. 

The three confessions have risen as they have 
succeeded one another. Higher than the last they 
cannot rise. The Lord Himself is come ; His 
kingdom is without limit and without end. 

Ver. 50. Jeans answered and said unto him. 
Became I said unto thee, I saw thee under the 
fig tree, bdievest thou f Thou shalt see greater 
thing! than these. An intimation of that growth 
of divine revelation which this Gospel teaches us 
shall be made the portion of all, — of some to an 
ever-increasing fulness of blessing, of others to an 
ever-increasing fulness of judgment. For the one, 
see chap. xiv. 12; for the other, chap. v. 20. 
These ' greater things * are more particularly men- 
tioned in the next verse. 

Ver. 51. And he saith unto him. Verily, verily, 
I say unto you. This is the first occasion on 
whidi we find the repeated * Verily,* so charac- 
teristic of the discourses related in this Gospel. 
The formula is alwa^ employed to mark some 
important ^ep in a discourse, where the words of 
Jesus either take some new start, or rise to some 
ingfaer stage. Both these conditions are fulfilled 
to the verM before us. As to the first, it will be 

observed that Jesus no longer addresses Nathanael 
alone : the plural instead of the singular is used, 
and we must understand that He is speaking to 
all the disciples. As to the second, again, the 
words of themselves suggest the higher stage of 
revelation promised. — ^Ye shall see heaven open, 
and the angels of Ood ascending and descending 
upon the Son of man. The figure is taken from 
Jacob's dream (Gen. xxviii. 12). A wanderer 
from his father's house and country, he is encou- 
raged by a vision which teaches him that earth is 
united with heaven, and that God's messengers 
descend to minister to those who are the ob- 
jects of God's care. If the ascent of the angels 
is mentioned (in Gen. xxviii.) before the descent, 
this is because to Jacob is shown an intercourse 
that already exists, not one that now begins. Some 
angels are already returning from earth, their 
ministries accomplished. What Jacob saw in vision 
is now in the highest sense fulfilled. There is 
real and unceasing intercourse between earth and 
heaven. It is to Jesus that the angels descend; it 
is from Him that they return to heaven ; through 
Hb presence on earth this union between earth and 
heaven exists. Even though He is in His state of 
humiliation, it is His bidding that the angels do. 
Perhaps it is this thought mat accounts for the 
mention (in this verse) of the ascending angels first. 
These words have no direct reference to the angelic 
visits received by Jesus at different points of His 
earthly ministry; still less can we refer them to 
miracles to be hereafter performed, greater even 
than that displayed to Nathanael, miracles of 
which the next chapter will furnish the first 
example. We have simply a symbolical repre- 
sentation of the fact that through the Incarnation 
and sufferings of Jesus heaven is opened, is brought 
into the closest and most constant communion 
with earth, so that the latter is itself transfigured 
with the glory of God's special abode. This inter- 
pretation is confirmed by two circumstances men- 
tioned in the verse: (i) Nathanael is to see 

* heaven standing open,' — not * opened ' as if it 
might again be closed, but opened so as to continue 
open. It is the complete withdrawal of the inner 
veil of the Tabernacle, so that all the children of 
God, now made priests and high priests unto God, 
even the Father, may pass freely into the innermost 
sanctuary and out of it again without interruption 
and without end. (2) Jesus speaks of Himself as the 
' Son of man.' This important designation, often 
used by Jesus of Himself, once only u^ of Him by 
another (Acts vii. 56), is not, as some maintain, a 
simple equivalent of 'Messiah.' It expresses 
rather One in whom all that truly belongs to 
humanity is realised, and by whom it is repre- 
sented. Jesus b the Son of man^ connected with 
no special race, or class, or condition, equally 
associated with, all, equally near to all, in whom 
all are equally interested, and may be equally 
blessed. The designation b not a fourth confes- 
sion, additional to the three that have been already 
made, for it comes from the lips of Jesus Him- 
self. It is rather that in which all the confessions 
meet, the expression of the Personality to which 
they all belong. Jesus is the Incarnate Word, and 
as such He is the * Messiah,* the One * of whom 
Moses in the law and the prophets did write,' the 

* Son of God and King of Israel.' Every child of 
humanity, realbing his true humanity in Him, has 
as hb own the blessings associated with these three 
aspects of the Redeemer. He b anointed with the 


Holy Ghost, lives in that love which is the fulfilling deed ' shall see in the new creation introduced by 

Chapter II. i-ii. 
The Miracle at Cana of Galilee, 

1 A ND the third day there was a marriage in «Cana of *^j.»«^: ^ 

2 -IX Galilee ; and the ^mother of Jesus was there : And both .*«•••. 

' ^ * Chap. vi. 42, 

3 Jesus^ was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And^^^V?^. 
when they wanted wine,* the mother of Jesus saith unto him, comp-chip.' 

* xx« 13* i5» 

4 They have no wine. Jesus' saith unto her, ^ Woman, ''what '»^^^*«- 

5 have I to do with thee ? 'mine hour is not yet come. His ' SiTsf^ 
mother saith unto the servants. Whatsoever he saith unto you, cSprxlti^ 

6 do //. And there were set* there six waterpots of stone, ^after* "^^i 
the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or^JJjjJS*-^'. 

7 three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water- «*«p- "»•«*• 

8 pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And 
he saith unto them, Draw out* now, and bear unto the 

9 governor'^ of the feast And they bare it When* the ruler 

of the feast had tasted 'the water that was made wine, and'^^*»*p »^-"»6 
knew not whence it was : (but the servants which drew* the 
water knew;) the governor' of the feast called**^ the bride- 

10 groom. And saith unto him. Every man at the beginning doth 
set forth good wine;" and when men have well drunk,'* 
then that which is worse : but^^ thou hast kept the good wine 

11 until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus^* in Cana * chap, l 14, 

XVII. 33 34 ; 

of Galilee, and manifested forth" his *glory ; and his disciples a Pet. i! 17"; 

comp. atap. 

believed on** him. »««- 4». 

* And Jesus also * And when wine was wanting * And Jesus 

* omit set * placed after • omit out ' ruler 

* But when • had drawn ^® calleth 

*^ Every man first setteth on the good wine ^' men are drunken 

1* omit but ^* This did Jesus as the beginning of his signs 

** omit forth 



Contents. The general subject of the second 
great division of the Gospel is continued in this 
section. It contains an account of the miracle 
at Cana of Galilee, in which, as we are told at 
ver. II, Jesus 'manifested His glory.* The Re- 
deemer is still in the circle of His disciples and 
friends, and there aie no traces of His approach- 
ing conflict with the world. Our thoughts arc 
directed solely to Himself, and to the glorious 
nature of that dispensation which He is to intro- 

Ver. I. And the third day. The third day, as 
reckoned from the day last mentioned (chap, 
i. 43-51) I the sixth day referred to in these 

chapters. The 6rst is the day of the Baptist's in- 
terview, at Bethany, with the priests and Levites 
sent from Jerusalem (i. 19-28). On the second 
(i. 29-34), John bears testimony to Jesus as the 
Lamb of God. The third is Uie day on which 
the two disciples follow Jesus (i. 35-42). On the 
next day Jesus sets out for Galilee (i. 43). That 
day, the next, and part of the third day may have 
been spent in travelling ; for, if Bethanv was in 
the neighbourhood of Bcthabara, and if the latter 
may be identified with the modem Beit-nimrim, 
the distance traversed even to Nazareth must have 
been more than eighty English miles. Very pos- 
sibly, however, Bethany may have lain uirther 



north (see note on chap. i. 21). — There was a 
mairiage, or marriage-feast. The feast, which 
was the chief constituent in the ceremonies attend- 
ing marriage, extended orer several days, — as seven 
(Gen. xxix, 27 ; Judg. xiv. 12), or even fourteen 
(Tobit viii. 19). — ^In Oana of Galilee. There is 
a Kanah mentioned in the book of Joshua (xix. 
28) as one of the towns in the territory of Asher, 
situated near Zidon. This cannot be the place 
referred to here. No other town of the same 
name is mentioned by any sacred writer except 
John (see references), who in every instance marks 
the place as Cana cf GcUilee, From this many 
have hastily inferred that ' of Galilee ' was part 
of the name, distinguishing this village from some 
other Cana, — perhaps from that mentioned above, 
which (though really within the limits of Galilee) 
lay near to Phoenicia. Two villages of Galilee 
claim to be the Cana of this chapter, — Kefr- 
Kenna, four or five miles north-east of Nazareth ; 
and Khurbet-Kana, about eleven miles north of 
the same place. The latter village is usually said 
to bear the name Kana-el-Jelil (i>. Cana of 
Galilee) ; if so, and if the antiquity of the name 
could be established, this might be decisive, 
although even then it would be hard to under- 
stand how Christian tradition could so long regard 
Kefir-Kenna as the scene of our Lord's hrst miracle, 
when within a few miles there existed a place bear- 
ing the very name found in the Gospel. The 
question cannot be further discussed here : we 
will onl^ express a strong conviction that Kefr- 
Kenna is the Cana of our narrative. It seems 
probable that John himself has added the words 
'of Galilee,' that he may lay stress upon the 
provinctt not the town. To him the point of main 
interest is, that this manifestation of the Saviour's 

flory took place in Galilee, — And the mother of 
esna was there, — already present as a friend, 
possibly a relative. Mary comes before us twice 
in this Gospel, at the commencement and at the 
close of our Lord's public life (ii. i-li, and 
xix. 25-27), and is also referred to in another 
passage (vi. 42) ; but she is never mentioned by 
name. As for his own name the Evangelist 
always substitutes words expressive of relationship 
to lesus ('the disciple whom Jesus loved'), so 
with him Mary's name gives place to ' the mother 
of Jesus.' Both here and in chap. xix. this de- 
signation has special significance. It expresses 
not only the light in which she appeared to John, 
but that in which he knew that she appeared to 
Jesus. It is essential to the spirit of the narrative 
to behold in Jesus one who, with the warmest 
filial affection, acknowledged Mary as His mother. 
Thus only do we see the yielding of the very closest 
earthly relationsh ip to yet higher claims. The word 
of Jesus, ' He that loveth father or mother more 
than me is not worthy of me,' must in its spirit be 
exemplified in His own case. Most fitting, there- 
fore, IS the use of the tenderest designation here. 
All that is dear and sacred in the name of mother 
was felt by Him in its deepest reality at the very 
time when He showed that every earthly tie 
must give way at the call of His Father in 

Ver. 2. And Jesoa also was called, and his 
disoiplee, to the marriage. The form of the 
sentence shows that our chief attention is to be 
fixed on Jesus, not on the disciples. They were 
invited as His disciples. Those who came were 
probably the five or six mentioned in chap, i., viz. 

Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and 
John himself (and probably James). 

Ver. 3. And when wine was wanting. The 
failure (which must be understood as complete) 
may have been occasioned by the long continuance 
of the festivities, but more probably arose from 
the presence of several unexpected miests. — The 
mother of Jesus saith nnto him. They have no 
wine. Nothing was more natural than that Mary 
should be the one to point out to her Son the per- 
plexity of the family ; but the whole tenor of the 
narrative compels attention to one thought alone. 
The absolute singleness with which Jesus listens to 
the voice of His heavenly Father is the point to 
be brought out. Had it been consistent with His 
mission to lend help at the summons of any human 
authority, no bidding would have been so power- 
ful as that of His mother. Many conjectures as to 
Mary's object in these words are at once set aside 
by the nature of His answer. There may have 
been in her mind no definite idea of the kind of 
help that might be afforded, but she felt that help 
was needed, and that what was needed could be 
given by her Son. The reply of Jesus, however, 
shows that, besides perplexity and faith, there was 
also presumption in Mary's words : she spoke as 
one who still had the right to suggest and to influ- 
ence His action. 

Ver. 4. And Jesns saith onto her. Woman, 
what have I to do with thee? The English 
words convey an impression of disrespect and 
harshness which is absent from the original. This 
use of the Greek word for 'woman' is consistent 
with the utmost respect. In Homer, for example 
[Iliad, xxiv. 300), Priam thus addresses Hecuba, his 
queen, and other examples of the same kind might 
easily be given. This Gospel itself shows that the 
word is not out of place where the deepest love 
and compassion are expressed : see chap. xix. 
26, XX. 13, 15. Yet the contrast of 'woman' 
and 'motiier' must strike every one who reads 
with attention. The relation of mother, how- 
ever precious in its own sphere, cannot be allowed 
to enter into that in which Jesus now stands. 
John does not relate the incident recorded in 
Matt. xii. 46-50; Mark iii. 31-35; Luke viii. 
19-21 ; but the same thought is present here. 
Still more distinctly is this lesson taught in the 
words that follow, 'What have I to do with 
thee ? ' The rendering defended by some Roman 
Catholic writers (though not found in the Vulgate, 
or in the Rhemish Testament of IJ82), 'What is 
that to thee and me?' — that is, 'Why should we 
concern ourselves with this failure of the wine ? ' 
— is altogether imposable. The phrase is a com- 
mon one, occurring in Judg. xi. 12; 2 Sam. 
xvi. 10, xix. 22; I Kings xvii. 18; 2 Kings 
iii. 13; 2 Chron. xxxv. 21; Matt. viii. 29; 
Mark i. 24, v. 7 ; Luke iv. 34, viii. 28 : comp. 
also Josh. xxii. 24 ; 2 Kings ix. 18 ; Ezra iv. 3 ; 
Matt, xxvli. 19. These passages show beyond 
doubt the meaning of the words : whoever makes 
use of the phrase rejects the interference of another, 
declines association with him on the matter 
spoken of. Hence the words reprove, — though 
mildly. They do more; in them Jesus warns 
even His mother against attempting henceforth to 
prescribe or suggest what He b to do. Thus 
understood, the words are an irresistible argument 
against the Mariolatry of Rome. — Mine hoar is 
not yet come. In two other places in this Gospel 
Jesus refers to the coming of^ * the hour ' (xii. 23, 



xvii. i) ; and three times John speaks of His hour 
as not yet come (vii. 30, viii. 20) or as now come 
(xiii. I ). The other passages throw light on this, 
showing the peculiar solemnity which belongs to 
the words before us. In every instance ' the hour ' 
is fraught with momentous issues:— 'the hour' 
when the restraint put upon His foes shall continue 
no longer ; when He shall pass away from the world 
to His Father ; wl>en He shall be glorified. So 
here the hour is that of the manifestation of His 
glory. The language used in chap. xiii. I and 
xvii. I, together with the general teaching of the 
Gospel, shows that the hour is not self-chosen, but 
is that appointed oy the Father. He came to do 
the will of Him that sent Him, the appointed 
work at the appointed time. That time none may 
hasten or delay by a single instant. If, then, the 
miracle quickly followed upon these words, which 
would seem to have been the case, this can present 
no difficulty ; the Son waited for the very montfttt 
chosen by the Father's will. 

Ver. 5. Hia mother aaith unto the aervanta, 
Whatioever he aaith unto yon, do it 1 he 
answer of Jesus (ver. 4) plainly implied that His 
hour would come. Mary, therefore, turns to the 
servants, and bids them be ready. The words are 
indefinite, and we have no right to suppose either 
that she now looked for miraculous help, or that 
she had received some private intimation of her 
Son's purpose. She waits icx the 'hour:' what- 
soever the hour may bring, let the servants be 
{>repared to do His bidding. Mary here retires 
rom the scene. 

Ver. 6. And there were there aix waterpota 
of atone, placed after the manner of the purify- 
ing of the JewB, containing two or three firkina 
apiece. The waterpots were near at hand, — in the 
court or at the entrance to the house, not in the 
house itself. Considering the many washings and 
purifyings of the Jews, there is nothing to surprise 
us in the number or in the size of the waterpots. 
Even a small family might esisily possess six, and 
when the number of guests was large, each of 
them would naturally be in use. There is much 
uncertainty as to the value of Hebrew measures, 
whether of length or of capacity. Most probably 
the measure here mentioned was equivalent to 
between eight and nine of our imperial gallons, 
so that the * firkin' of our version is not far wrong. 
If each waterpot contained two 'firkins' and a 
half, the whole quantity of water would be 
about 130 gallons. — On the words, 'of the Jews,' 
see the note on chap. i. 19. Even here the phrase 
is not without significance. When we have set 
ourselves free from our prevailing habit of using 
this term simply as a national designation, we 
cannot but feel that the Evangelist is writing of 
that with which he has entirely broken, and is 
characterizing the ordinary religion of his day as 
one that consisted in ceremonies and external 

Ver. 7. Jeaua eaith onto them. Fill the 
waterpota with water. Probably they were 
now empty, perhaps in consequence of the 
ablutions before the feast. —And they filled 
them up to the brim. And when they are 
thus filled, nothing more can be done to fit 
them for their original design. They are able 
to furnish all that can be supplied for ' the puri- 
fying of the Jews.* 

Ver. 8. And he aaith unto them. Draw now, 
and bear unto the ruler of the feast. As the 

words are commonly understood, the servants are 
bidden to bring to the table (in smaller jars or 
bowls) part of Uie contents of the larger vessels, 
which were themselves too unwieldy to be moved 
without difficulty. If this be the meaning, we 
must still ask. What was it that was drawn, water 
or wine? Many will answer wine, believing that 
the point at which the miracle is effected comes in 
between the seventh and eighth verses, and that 
all the water in the vessels was then niade wine. 
The strong argument in favour of this interpreta- 
tion is the exactness with which the number and 
size of the vessels are specified ; and no diffi- 
culty need be found in the abundance of the 
supply. 'He, a King, gave as became a king' 
(Trench). Still there is nothing in the text that 
leads necessarily to this interpretation ; while 
the language of ver. 9, ' the servants which had 
drawn the water* distinctly suggests that what 
they drew was water, which, either as soon as 
drawn, or as soon as presented to the guests, 
became wine. But there is yet another explana- 
tion (suggested in Dr. Westcott's CharacteristUs 
of the Gospel Miracles , p. 1 5), having much in its 
favour. The Authorised Version (ver. 8) gives the 
command to the servants as ' Draw out now^ etc, 
plainly implying that it was out of the waterpots 
that they were bidden to draw. But the original 
word is simply 'draw,' or 'draw water.' This 
would seem to suggest that the servants were sent 
again to the spring or fountain from which they 
had drawn the water to fill the waterpots. First, 
the vessels set for the purifying of the Jews are 
completely filled. Nothing is neglected that can 
be needed to prepare for all ceremonial require- 
ments. There the water rests, and rests unchanged. 
Not till now is the water drawn for the thirsty 
guests, in bowls filled, not from vessels of purifica- 
tion, but at the spring itself; it is borne to the ruler 
of the feast, and it is wine ! The decision between 
the last two interpretations must be left with the 
reader; it will probably rest less on the words of 
the narrative than on the view which is taken of 
the significance and meaning of the miracle. See 
below on ver. 1 1. — By 'the ruler of the feast' is 
meant either an upi^r servant, to whom was 
intrusted the duty of tasting the different drinks 
and articles of food, and, in general, of superin- 
tending all the arrangements of the feast ; or one 
of the guests acting as president of the feast, at the 
request of the bridegroom or by election of the 
guests. The latter view is favoured by our know- 
ledge of Jewish usages (comp. Ecclus. xxxii. I, 2), 
and by the fact that the ruler is spoken of as 
distinct from the servants, and, as the next verse 
shows, was ignorant of the source from which the 
wine was supplied. 

Vers. 9, 10. In these verses we have the testi- 
mony borne to the completeness of the miracle, 
'llie ruler of the feast, a guest speaking as the re- 
presentative of the guests, calling the bridegroom 
(who supplied the feast, and in whose house they 
were), emphatically recognises the excellence of 
the wine, not knowing * whence it was.* * From 
whatever source this may have come, it is wine, 
and good wine : ' this is his witness. ' Whatever it 
may be, it has but now flowed from the spring as 
water,' is the unexpressed but implied testimony 
of the servants. The simplicity of the double 
witness gives it its force ; the guests as yet know 
nothing of the miracle, and thus afford the strongest 
evidence of its truth. An attempt is sometimes 


made to soften down an expression used by the 
ruler of the feast, ' when men are drunken. ' There 
need, however, be no scruple as to giving the 
word its ordinary meaning, 'llie remark does but 
express his surprise at the bridegroom's departure 
from the ordinary custom, in bringing in so late 
wine of such excellence as this. The common 
maxim was that the best wine should be given 
first, when it could be appreciated by the guests ; 
the weak and poorer when they had drunk more 
than enough, and the edge of their taste was 
blunted. No answer is recorded, — a plain proof, 
were any needed, that the Evangelist values the 
incident not so much for its own sake as for the 
lesson it conveys. 

Ver. II. Thiii did Jesiu as the beginning of 
hii dgni, in Oana of Galilee, and manifested his 
8^0x7; and his disciples believed in him. This, 
His first sign, was wrought in Galilee, where Isaiah 
(ix. I, 2)prophesied t&X Messiah's work should 
begin. The threefold comment of the Evangelist 
is of the utmost importance. This was a sign, 
and His first sign ; in it He manifested His glory ; 
His disciples believed in Him. ' Sign * is one of 
John's favourite words. Of the three words used 
in the New Testament to denote a miracle, the 
drst (literally meaning * power ') b not once found 
in his Gospel; the second ('prodi^,' 'wonder') 
occurs once only (iv. 48); the third, 'sign,' as 
many as seventeen times. The earliest use of 
'sign' in connection with a miracle is in Ex. 
iv. 8, and the context makes the meaning very 
clear: the miracle was the sign of an invisible 
Divine Presence with Moses, and hence it at- 
tested his words. Thus also, when the manna 
was given, the miracle manifested the glory of the 
Lord (Ex. xvi. 7). The miracles of Jesus, and all 
His works, manifested not only God's glory (viii. 
50), but His own : they were signs of what He is. 
This gives a new starting-point. Each miracle is 
a sign of what He is, not only in regard of the 
power by which it is wrought, but also by its 
own nature and character, — in other words, it is 
a symbol of His work. The words which John 


adds here once for all are to be understood with 
every mention of a 'sign,' for in every miracle 
Jesus made manifest (removed the veil from) His 
glory, revealed Himself. Two other passages com- 
plete the view which John gives us of his mean- 
ing. Of the * signs he says himself : ' These 
(signs) are written that ve may believe that Jesus 
is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believiig 
ye may have life in His name. ' Of the glory he 
says : ' We beheld His glory, glory as of an only- 
bc^otten from a father. ' First, then, this miracle 
attested the mission of Jesus as the Christ ; the 
miracle established, as for Moses so for Him, the 
divine commission, and ratified His words. Ntxt, 
it revealed His own glory as Son of God, mani- 
festing His power, in a work as sudden and as 
inexplicable as a new creation ; and not only His 
power but His grace, as He sympathizes alike with 
the joys and with the difficulties of life. Further, 
the miracle brought into light what He is in His 
work. The waterpots filled full for the purifying 
of the Jews stand as an emblem of the religion of 
the day, nay, even of the ordinances of the Jewish 
religion itself, 'carnal ordinances imposed until 
a time of reformation.' At Christ's word (on one 
view of the miracle) the water for purifying is 
changed uito wine of gladness : this would point 
to Judaism made instinct with new life. On the 
other view, nothing is withdrawn from the use to 
which Jewish ritual applies it, but the element 
which could only minister to outward cleansing 
is transmuted by a new creative word. ' The law 
was given through Moses : grace and truth came 
through Jesus Christ. ' The object of all the signs 
(xx. 31) was answered here in the disciples. They 
had believed already that He was Chnst, the Son 
of God (i. 41, 49) ; they now belUved in Him, — 
each one ' throws himself with absolute trust 
upon a living Lord,' recognising the manifestation 
of His glory. The miracles in this Gospel, like 
the parables in the other Gospels, are a test of 
faith. They lead onward the believer to a deeper 
and a firmer trust ; they repel those who refuse to 

Chapter II. 12-22. 

Tfu Transition to the Public Ministry, and the Cleansing of the Temple. 

\2 A FTER this he went down to '•Capernaum, he, and his* 
jTTL mother, and *his brethren,* and his disciples : and they * 
continued * there not many days. 

13 And *the Jews* ''passover' was at hand, and Jesus went ^ 

14 up to Jerusalem,* 'And* found in the temple* those that sold 
oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting : 

1 5 And when he had made a scourge of small cords/ he drove ' 
them all out of the temple,* and the sheep, and the oxen ; and 
poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables ; 

* his mother and brethren * abode ' passover of the Jews * . 

* And he • temple-courts ' And making a scourge of cords 

Chap, vr, 46, 
vL 17. 94, 59. 
See chap. 

VII. 3. 

Chap. V. I, 
vii a, xi. 55, 
XXX. 4a. 
Ver. 93; chap. 

^: 4, xi:.55, 
XII. I, xm. I, 

xv'iil a8, 39, 

xix. 14. 

Comp. Matt. 

xxi. la. 


16 And said unto them that sold doves/ Take these things hence ; 

17 make not-^my Father's house an house of merchandise. And* ^v^?;** 
his disciples ' remembered that it was written, *The zeal of thine J^5^; 

18 house hath eaten** me up. Then answered the Jews" and * p1!'iS£*J;'^ 
said unto him, *What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that" ' 

19 thou doest these things.^ Jesus answered and said unto them, ^fjf^.^ 

* Destroy this temple, and 'in three days I will raise it up. '~S;^^ 

20 Then said the Jews," Forty and six years was this temple in 

21 building, and wilt thou rear" it up in three days.^ But he 

22 spake of "the temple of his body. When therefore he was «>Coai».CbL 

vcr. 17. 

risen " from the dead, his disciples * remembered that he had " « See 
said this unto them;" and they believed 'the scripture, and •^<*^p 
the word which Jesus had said. 

• the doves • omit And *• shall eat ** The Jews therefore answered 
" because ** The Jews therefore said 
" raised '• omit had 



'' omit unto them 

Contents. In the passage before us we have 
the first section of the tnird great division of our 
Gospel. Jesus leaves the circle of His disciples, 
and bc^ns His public work. This is done at 
Jerusalem, after a few davs spent in Capernaum. 
In the metropolis of Israel He appears as the Son 
in His Father's house ; and in the cleansing of the 
old temple and the promise of the raising up of a 
new one He illustrates the nature of the work He 
is to do. The first symptoms of opposition accord- 
ingly appear in this passage. Jesus is rejected by 
the theocracy of Israel, and the foundation is laid 
for His entering upon wider fields of labour. The 
subordinate parts of this section are — (i) ver. 12 ; 
(2) vers. 13-22. 

Ver. 12. After tbis he went down to Gaper- 
namn. Nazareth, not Cana, would appear to be 
the place from which Jesus * went down ' (from 
the hill-country of Galilee, — comp. chap. iv. 47, 
49, 51) to Capernaum, for His brethren, who are 
not said to have been with Him in Cana, are now 
of the company. All that can be said with cer- 
tainty as to the position of Capernaum is, that it 
was situated on the western coast of the Lake of 
Gennesaret, not far from the northern end of the 
lake ; whether the present Tell Hum or (less prob- 
ably) Khan Minyen be the site, we cannot here 
inquire (see note on Matt. iv. 13). We have here 
the earliest appearance of this busy and thriving 
Galilean town in the history of our Lord's life. 
The visit related in Matt. iv. 13 and Luke iv. 31 
belongs to a later period than this, a period subse- 
quent to the imprisonment of John the Baptist 
(see chap. iii. 22). Luke's narrative, however 
(chap. iv. 23), contains an allusion to earlier 
miracles in Capernaum. Whether reference is 
made to this particular visit (which, through the 
nearness of the passover, was of short duration) 
or not, it is interesting to note that the two 
Evangelists agree in recording a residence of 
Jesus in this town earlier than that brought 
mto prominence in Matt iv. 13. In the Foi^th 
Gospel Capernaum occupies a very subordinate 
place; the centre of the Judean ministry was 
Jerusalem. — He, and bis mother and brethren, 
and hie dieciplea. In his usual manner John 

divides the company into three groups, naming 
separately Jesus, His relations by nature! kindred, 
His disciples. The brethren of Jesus were James, 
J OSes (or Joseph), Simon, and Judas (Matt. xilL 55; 
Mark vi. 3). In what sense thev are called 
'brethren,* whether as the sons of Joseph and 
Mary, as sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage, or 
as sons of Mary's sister ('brother' taking the 
meaning of near kinsman), has been a subject of 
controversy from the third century to the present 
day.^ It is impossible to discuss the question 
within our limits, though something further must 
be said when we come to later chapters (vii., xix.). 
Here we can only express a very decided convic* 
tion that the last mentioned of the three opinions is 
without foundation, and that the ' brethren ' were 
sons of Joseph, their mother being either Maiv 
herself or, more probably, an earlier wife of Joseph 
(comp. note on Matt xiii. 58). This verse alone 
might suggest that the brethren were not disdples, 
and from chap. vii. 5 we know that they were not 
Ver. 13. And the paoBOver of the Jews waa at 
hand, and Jesiu went up to Jenmlem. The 
expression, * ^zssowqx 0/ tJu Jnus,* is very remark* 
able, and can be explained only by the usage 
already noticed in ver. 6. To John's mind the 
nation cannot but present itself habituallv as 
in opposition to his Master. As yet, indeed, 
Jesus IS not confronted by an organized band of 
adversaries representing the ruling body of the 
nation ; but we are on the verge of the conflict, 
and the conflict itself was onl^ Uie outcome of 
ungodliness and worldliness existing before their 
manifestation in the persecution of Jesus. The 
light was come, but it was shining in dark- 
ness : this darkness rested on what had been the 
temple, the city, the festivals, 0/ the Lord, The 
feast now at hand is not 'the Lord's passover' 
(Ex. xii. II), but ' the passover of the Jews.' The 
prevailing spirit of the time has severed the feast 
nrom the sacred associations which belonged to it, 
so that Jesus must go up rather as Prophet than as 
worshipper, — not to sanction by His presence, but 
powermlly to protest against the degenerate wor- 
ship of that day. The word of prophecy must be 
fultilled : ' And the Lord whom ye seek shall sud- 



denly come to His temple, . . . but who may abide 
the day of His comiii£^?' (Mai. iiL i, 2). 

Ver. 14. And he round in the temple-oourts 
those that sold oxen and sheep and dovee. The 
scene of this traffic was the outer court, commonly 
spoken of as the court of the Gentiles, but known 
to the Jews as ' the mountain of the house. ' This 
court (which was on a lower level than the inner 
courts and the house or sanctuary itself) occupied 
not less than two-thirds of the space inclosed by 
the outer walls. Along its sides ran cloisters 
or colonnades, two of which, * Solomon's porch * 
on the east, and the ' Royal porch ' on the south, 
were especially admired : to these cloisters many 
of the devout resorted for worship or instruction, 
and here, no doubt, our Lord often taught (chap. 
x« 23). In strange contrast, however, with the 
sacredness of the place was what He now ' found 
in the temple-courts.' At all times, and espe- 
cially at the passover, the temple was frequented 
by numerous worshippers, who required animals 
that might be offered in sacrifice. The law pre- 
scribed the nature of each sacrifice, and enjoined 
that all animals presented to the Lord should be 
'without blemish' (Lev. xxii. 19, 20),— a require- 
ment which ' the tradition of the elders ' expanded 
into minute detail. Hence sacrifice would have 
been well-nigh impossible, had not facilities been 
afforded for the purchase of animals that satisfied 
all the conditions imposed. The neighbouring 

auarter of the city naturally became a bazaar for 
tie purpose ; but unhappily the priests, yielding to 
temptations of ^n, had suffered such traffic to be 
earned on withm the precincts of the temple itself. 
At what period this abuse took its rise we do not 
know. Some have supposed that the last words 
of Zechariah (chap. xiv. 21) refer to similar prac- 
tices, the verse being rendered : ' In that day there 
shall be no more the trafficker in the house of the 
Lord of hosts.' The book of Nehemidi shows 
examples of the spirit of disorder and irreverence 
from which such usages naturally spring ; and the 
representations of Malachi make it easy to under- 
stand that the priests would be only too readily 
accessible to the allurements of a gainful traffic. 
In the court of the Gentiles, then, stood those who 
offered for sale oxen and sheep, — also doves (for 
the poor. Lev. xiv. 22, and for women, Lev. 
xii o). The wording of this verse ('those that 
sold,' etc.) shows that the trade was now an 
established custom. The discordance between a 
cattle-mart and a place for sacred worship and 
converse need not be drawn out in detail. But this 
was not alL— And the chaogexB of money sitting 
—-at their tables in the sacred place. The annual 
tribute which every man of Israel was bound to 
pay to the temple treasury could be paid only in 
the half-shekel 'of the sanctuary' (see Matt xviL 
24-26). All who came firom other lands, there- 
fore, or who had not with them the precise coin, 
mufl^ resort to the exchangers, who (as we learn 
from the Talmud) were permitted to do dieir 
business in the temple during the three weeks 
preceding the passover. Their profits (at a rate of 
mterest amounting to ten or twelve per cent.) 
were very great. 

Ver. 15. And making a scourge of cords, he 
dzove them all ont of the temple-courts, and the 
sheep and the oxen. The scourge was made for 
the expulsion of the animals, but by it Jesus also 
declared His purpose to the traders themselves. 
The words show distinctly that it is with the men 

that He is dealing ; but He drives them from the 
sacred place by banishing the instruments and 
means of their unholy traffic In a figurative 
sense Messiah was said to come armed with a 
scourge. 'Rabbi Eliezer was asked by his dis- 
ciples : How should a man live to escape the 
scourge of the Messiah? He answered : Let him 
live according to the law and in love towards men.' 
— ^And pouiid out the changers* money, and 
overthrew the tables — the counters on which the 
bankers ])laced their heaps of change. 

Ver. 16. And said unto l^m that sold the 
doves. Take these things hence; make not my 
Father's house an house of merchandise. We 
must not suppose that the sellers of doves were 
more leniently dealt with. The oxen might be 
driven away, the tables overturned, but the cages 
of birds must be carried out by their owners : 
hence it is to these alone that Jesus directly 
addresses words which were really spoken to all, 
and which explained his action. Any zealous 
reformer, who understood the faith of Israel, 
might have done as much : indeed, the first treatise 
in the Talmud contains regulations for the due 
reverence of the temple which utterly condemn 
such profanations as are related here. But though 
the action of Jesus might imply no more, His woids 
declare that He vindicates the honour of /^i>/2x/^/r'x 
house. Thus He at once honours His Father and 
declares Himself. He offers Himself to Israel as 
the Son of God. In this deed, as in all His acts 
and words (comp. Matt. xiii. 11-15), there is a 
mingling of revelation and reserve : the declara- 
tion of Sonship is combined with an act which no 
true Israelite could fail to approve. Those who, 
yielding to the impulse of right, and listening to 
the voice of consaence, accepted the <ir/, would 
be led to ponder the words ; in them would be 
fulfilled the promise, ' To him that hath shall more 
be given.' Those who hardened their heart against 
the act lost the revelation which was given with it, 
and were in danger of losing all. — ^John does not 
speak of the cleansing of the temple as miracu- 
lous, but the Saviour's words themselves mark it 
as a ' sign ; ' and it is only by thinking of a divine 
awe attending the words (comp. chap. xviiL 6) that 
we can explain the immediate submission of the 
traffickers. The following verses describe the 
twofold effect of the act of Jesus on the disciples 
and on 'the Tews.' 

Ver. 17. Bis disciples remembered that it 
was written. The zeal of thine house shall eat 
me up. Clearly (from the contrast with ver. 22) 
they remembered this scripture at that time. The 
quotation is from Ps. Ixix., a psalm which is 
several times referred to in the New Testament. 
See Rom. xv. 3, xi. 9, 10; Acts i. 20 (perhaps 
John XV. 25) ; and comp. Ps. Ixix. 21 with the 
accounts of the crucifixion. We have no record 
of the interpretation of this psalm by Jewish 
writers in a Messianic sense, but New Testament 
usage can leave no doubt that such an application 
of many verses is both allowable and necessary. 
What was true of the devout and afflicted Israelite 
who wrote the words was true in the fullest sense 
of the Servant of Jehovah, of whom all such faith- 
ful servants were imperfect types. The exact 
meaning of the words nere quoted will best ftppf^r 
if we take the whole verse : ' The zeal of Thine 
house consumed me : and the reproaches of them 
that reproached Thee fell on me. The parallelism 
of the Unes shows that the chief antithesis lies in 



the pronouns. Dishonour shown to God has been 
felt oy the psalmist as a cruel wrong to himself. 
' Zealous indignation for Thine house, inspired by 
the sight or news of unworthy treatment of TXiW 
house, consumed nu^ — so to say, destroyed my very 
life.' The quotation is not exact; what in the 
psalm is past is here future : ' shall eat me up. ' An 
examination of other passages will show that, where 
John uses the words ' it is written,' he does not 
necessarily imply that the quotation is made with 
literal exactness. Had we the past, 'consumed,' 
we might be led to think of the mward consuming 
of holy zeal from which resulted this act of indig- 
nation ; the future, 'will eat me up,' brings us 
nearer to what we have seen to be the meaning of 
the passa^ in the psalm. His zeal for His Father's 
house will devour His very life — will bring 
destruction in its train. 

Ver. 18. The Jewi therefore answered. The 
effect on the disciples has been related ; what will 
be the response of the rulers to the self-revela- 
lion of Jesus ? The word * therefore ' answers to 
the Evangelist's knowledge of the fact. Their 
position of inward antagonism is present to his 
thought, though it has not yet found expression 
in their deeds. And said onto him. What sign 
■heweet then onto ub becanae thou doeet these 
things! — This answer (replying to the act rather 
than the words) is in the tone of indignation, not 
of sincere inquiry : ' Because Thou doest these 
things Thou art bound to show a sign, a sign 
that shall justify such actions.' The effectual 
cleansing was the 'sign,* but as such they would 
net receive it. Their question is a token of the 
failure (so far as the nation was concerned) of the 
manifestation which Jesus had given of Himself as 
Son of God. Both in the question and in the 
response of our Lord we have a clear parallel in 
the earlier Gospels : see Matt. xii. 38-40. 

Ver. 19. Jesus answered and said unto them. 
Destroy this temple. The most important point 
for the understanding of this verse is the distinc- 
tion between the two words which the English 
Bible renders 'temple.' The word used in vers. 
14 and 15 denotes generally the whole area within 
the walls, and here especially the autermost space 
in the sacred enclosure ; while the latter signiBi^s 
the holy place, and the holy of holies. The. 
sanctity of^ the temple-court has l)een vindicated ; 
the true temple, the sanctuary, the dwelling-place 
of Jehovah, has not been mentioned in the 
narrative until now. But even this very signi- 
ficant change of expression would not render the 
meaning plain, for the words were intended to 
be enigmatical — to be understood after, and not 
before, the event which fulfilled them. If we 
would understand them, we must take them in 
connection with ver. 21, 'But He spake of the 
temple of His body.' To the English reader 
they seem merely to convey a warning that, if the 

Jews g;o on with such profanation as that which 
esus had checked, they will bring the temple to 
ruin. But it is of the sanctuary that He speaks, 
not of the temple-court which had sustained the 
desecration. When therefore He says, * Go on in 
your present way, and by so doing destroy this 
temple,' He means that their rejection of Him- 
self shall culminate in their consigning to destruc- 
tion the temple of His body. The essence of the 
temple is, that it is the dwelling- place of God : 
His body is God's temple, for in Him 'dwelleth all 
the fulness of the Godhead bodily.' The material 

temple had been for ages the type of His body, in 
which God first truly manifested Himself to maE. 
The continuance of the temple was no longer 
needed when the living temple was reared ; but 
it was by the destruction of the latter that the 
destruction of the former was brought about, — 
its destruction, that is, as the dwelling-place of 
God. In the holiest place, behind the veil, 
Jehovah had dwelt : when the Lord Tesus was 
crucified, the veil was rent, the holy of holies was 
thrown open, and by being thrown open was 
shown to be God's habitation no longer. Our 
Lord therefore might well use words which relate 
at once to His body and to the temple, such being 
the connection between the two. And in three 
days I will raise it np. — His crucifixion in- 
volved the total destruction of the Jewish temple 
and polity. No longer will there be a speaal 
place in which God's glory will be revealed, to 
which God's worshippers will come, — a place in 
which are national distinctions, a court of the 
Gentiles, a court of Israel, a court of the priests. 
His resurrection will establish a new temple, a new 
order of spiritual worship. He Himself, as raised 
and glorined Messiah, will be the Comer-stone of 
a spiritual temple, holy in the Lord. This is one 
of the many passages in the Gospel which show 
to us how perfectly all the future of His history 
was anticipated by our I^rd (see chap. iii. 14, 
etc.). There is no real difficulty in the words, ' / 
will raise it up;' chap. x. 17, 18, furnishes a 
complete explanation. 

Ver. 20. The Jews therefore said. Forty a&d 
six years was this temple in building, and wHt 
thou raise it up in three daysf They answer 
only by another question, — not an inquiry, but 
really an indignant and scornful rejection of His 
words. It was at the close of the year 20 B.C. or 
the beginning of 19 B.C. that Herod the Great 
began the rebuilding of the temple. The temple 
itself was completed in eighteen months ; the ex- 
tensive buildings round it required eight years 
more. So many additions, however, proved neces- 
sary before the work could be regarded as finished, 
that the final completion is assigned by Josephus 
to the year 50 A.i)., seventy years aAer the com- 
mencement of the undertaking, and but twenty 
years before Jenisalem was destroyed. The ' forty 
and six years ' bring us to the year 28 A.D. It is 
perhaps strange that the Jews should associate the 
long term of years with the rebuilding of the sanc- 
tuary and not the temple as a whole; it is, how- 
ever, very likely that, at all events, the omamenta- 
lion of this building might still be incomplete. 
Moreover, in their indignant rejoinder to the say- 
ing of Jesus, they not unnaturally take up the very 
term which He had used, even though it applied 
in strictness only to the most sacred portion of the 

Ver. 21. See above on ver. 19. 

Ver. 22. When therefore he was raised fimn 
the dead, his disciples remembered that he said 
this. Again (as in ver. 10) we are struck by the 
suddenness with which the narrative breaks off. 
It has been related mainly to bring out the rejec- 
tion of Jesus by the Jews ; the Evangelist pauses 
upon it only for a moment to speak of the effect 
on the disciples, as after the former miracle he 
records that the * disciples believed in ' Jesus (ver. 
11). We do not find the same statement here, but 
are told (comp. chap. xii. 16) that the words which 
baffled the Jews were mysterious to the disciples 



likewise. Whilst, however, the Jews rejected the 
* hard saying/ the disciules ' kept all these things 
and pondered them in their 'heart,' not under- 
standing them until the prophecy was fulfilled. 
This record of words not understood at the time, 
even b^ the inner circle of the followers of Tesus, 
is a striking indication of the simple truthfulness 
of the narration (com p. ver. 11). And they 
believed the Scripture and the word which 
Jems had aaid. — The recollection of the words 
after the resurrection led the disciples (we cannot 
doubt that John is speaking chiefly of his own 
experience) to a fuller and richer faith in 'the 
scripture ' and * the word * of Jesus. The * word * 
must be that of ver. 19 ; but it is not so easy to 
explain 'the scripture.' It cannot mean the Old 
Testjunent as a wnole, for in this sense John always 
uses the plural, 'the Scriptures.' It would be 
easier to suppose that the Evangelist has in mind 
some passages of the Old Testament predictive of 
the resurrection (^.^., from Ps. xvi.; Isa. liii.; Hos. 
vi.), or the rebuildmg of the true temple (Zech. vi. 
12-15). I^f however, we include several passages, 
the difficulty in the use of the singular remains as 
before ; and if we seek for a single prediction, we 
cannot meet with any one that agrees so closely 
with our Lord's saying as to be thus definitely 
|x>inted out as ' the scripture.' We seem bound to 
refer the word to the only ' scripture ' that (ver. 
17) has been quoted in the context, Ps. Ixix. 9. 
This verse, speaking of the consuming and of its 
cause, formed the groundwork of the first part of 
our Lord's sa3ring (* Destroy this temple'). Hence 
this passage of the psalm and ' the word which Jesus 
had said ' form one whole, and as such are men< 
tioned here. The disciples, guided to deeper faith 
by that which was at the time wholly mysterious 
(and which was a 'stone of stumbling' to those who 
l)elieved not), recognised the fulfilment of Old 
Testament prophecy and of the prediction of Jesus 
Himself in the death and resurrection of their Lord. 
Thus in the first scene of His public ministry, 
we have Jesus before us in the light in which the 
whole Gospel is to present Him, at once the cruci- 
fied and the risen Lord. 

The whole narrative has been subjected to keen 
scrutiny both by friends and foes, but its import- 
ance has hardly yet been properly acknowledged. 
A few words must still be said as to its relation to 
the other Gospels, and as to its place in this. 

Each of the earlier Gospels records a cleansing 
of the temple, accomplished, however, not at the 
outset but at the close of our Ix>rd's public mini- 
stry, on the Monday (probably) preceding the 
crucifixion. To some it has seemed altogether 
improbable that there should have been two acts 
of precisely similar character at the extreme points 
of the official life of our Ix)rd. But is the character 
of the two the same ? We would not lay too much 
stress on some of the differences of detail, for appa- 
rent divergences sometimes present themselves in 
connection with narratives which no one would be 
inclined to explain as relating to different events. 
There are, however, not a few touches in the 
account before us which show the hand of an eye- 
witness ; — such as the making of the scourge of 
cords, the scattering of the money of exchxmge, 

the words addressed to the sellers of doves alone, 
the form of the rebuke, the conversation with the 
Jews, the incidental notice of the forty-six years (a 
statement which only elaborate calculation shows 
to be in harmony with independent statements 
of another Evangelist). Fmally, there is the 
remarkable perversion before Caiaphas of the 
words regarding the rebuilding of the temple, on 
which nothing contained in the earlier Gospels 
throws any light, and which (especially as given 
in Mark xiv. 58) bears all the marks of having 
been exaggerated in the popular mind through 
lapse of time. Such considerations as these seem 
to show that, if the cleansing can have occurred 
once only, its place in the history is that assigned 
by John. But is it really at all improbable that 
two cleansings should have taken place, sepa- 
rated by such an interval of time as the Gospel 
narrative presupposes? No one will think that 
the action of our Lord, as here related, would 
put an end to the traffic, when this very narrative 
brings before us an official challenge of His 
authority so to act. At the last Passover Jesus 
would find the temple-court as much the scene 
of worldly trading as it was at the first. Did 
He then, it will be asked, condone the evil when 
in intervening years He went up to the same 
feast ? This question must be met by another : 
Have we reason to believe that Tesus attended 
any other Passover than these two iT The feast of 
chap. V. I was in all probability not a Passover, 
and at the Passover mentioned in vi. 4 He certainly 
was not present. If then he attended two Pass- 
overs only, is it at all improbable that on the 
second occasion, as on the first, He would vindi- 
cate the purity and sanctity of the temple ? 

The purpose, too, of the two cleansings is 
different. At the close of His ministry He is 
hailed as King of Israel, and He indignantly 
expels from God's house those who practically 
denied to Gentiles any share in that place of 
prayer. Now He acts as the Son of God, offer- 
ing Himself in this character to rulers and to 
people, that they may acknowledge His Sonship 
and obey His word. ' He carne unto His own 
home,' His home as Son, 'and they that were 
His own received Him not.' This is the turning- 
point of His ministry : henceforth He is the re- 
jected of the Jews. This is the significance of 
the narrative before us. The cleansing and the 
mysterious words spoken by Jesus (ver. 19) are 
alike 'signs.' The first was a sign of His Son- 
ship, a sign which they refused to accept. That 
refused. He gives the second ; just as, when the 
Pharisees asked of Him a sign from heaven, He 
refused to give any save the sign of the prophet 
Tonah. If they will not listen to the former, the 
latter alone remains. He would have renewed 
the life of the temple, but they would not have 
it so. Let them, then, go on in their wajrs, and 
destroy the temple ; let them go on in their re- 
jection of Him, and destroy His life. The result 
will be the raising of a spiritual temple which 
sh^l be none of theirs— a temple in which God 
Himself shall dwell, manifested to all men in the 


Chapter II. 23-III. 21. 

Tlie Conversation with Nicodemus, 

23 XT OW when he was in Jerusalem at the ' passover, in the • Ver. i> 
1^ feast day^ many * believed in his name, when they" saw *?^*^^. 

24 the miracles* which he did. But Jesus did not commit* him- ijSm^.ii 

25 self unto them, because* he 'knew all* men, And^ needed '^^J[-^^ 
not that any should testify of man : for he knew what was in ^^^'^* 

man.* r?;."5;,^: 

1 There * was a man of the Pharisees, named ^ Nicodemus, a {JiSj^^ 

2 ' ruler of the Jews : The same came to Jesus " by night, and fsw£*^ 
said unto him, -^ Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come^JL^^rBl*^ 
from God :" for ^ no man" can do these miracles" that thou ^Sl^Tw?' 

3 doest, except *God be with him. Jesus answered and said !j.^s«?*' 
unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be /chAp.?*3k 

4 ' bom again," he cannot see the * kingdom of God. Nicodemus ^16, 33."* 
saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old ? can iChap!^i.i3: 
he enter the" second time into his mother's womb, and be Tit.ui.|;* 

5 born } Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee. Except i Pw.i.3.*23: 
a man be" born of water and of the Spirit," he cannot enter m.9.>v.7. 

V I ^ f R. 

6 into the * kingdom of God. That which is" born of the flesh * 10, 

** XII. aS, etc 

is flesh ; and that which is " born of the Spirit " is spirit. 

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee. Ye must be born again.** 

8 The wind bloweth** where it listeth, and thou hearest the 
sound** thereof, but canst not tell** whence it cometh, and 
whither it goeth : so is every one that is ** born of the Spirit** 

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him. How can these things 

10 be ?*• Jesus answered and said unto him. Art thou a master*' 

1 1 of Israel, and knowest ** not these things ? Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee. We speak that we do know, and testify that** we 

12 have seen ; and 'ye receive not our witness. If I have** told /Ver.aa. 
you earthly** things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, >. ««; ivw. 

13 if I tell you of heavenly things?** And **no man hath « chap. vi, 38 
ascended up to** heaven, but he that came down from** heaven, 3* ; Eph. iv 

^ at the feast ' omit when they ' beholding his signs ^ trust 

' on account of 'his discerning all ' And because he 

' should bear witness concerning a man ; for he himself discerned what was 
in the man 

• And there ^® to him *^ thou art come from God, a teacher 

** no one ^* signs ^* any one have been bom anew ** a 

*• any one have been ^' of water and spirit ^* hath been 

*• or spirit *• anew *^ breatheth ** voice 

■* but knowest not ** hath been ** or spirit 

*• come to pass *' Thou art the teacher *® perceivest thou 

'* that which we know and bear witness of that which 
^ omit have '^ the earthly •* if I tell you the heavenly things 

** And no one hath ascended up into heaven ^ out of. 


14 even^ the 'Son of man which is in heaven." And -^as Moses ^Su^ji^'^ 
lifted up*' the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son rv^'l^fx?/ 

15 of man be ^lifted up:" That ''whosoever believeth 'in him J?/^^; 
should not perish, but" have ' eternal life. J%5l"l.*** 

16 For *God so loved ''the world, that he gave his "'only 'S*57,^.4. 
begotten Son, that whosoever " believeth in him should" not ^ji^i.xu 

17 ■'perish, but have everlasting** life. -^For God sent not his" ci^Ji iv;^i*4i 
Son into the world to condemn** the world; but that the Ju^.'^JJ; 

18 world through him might** be saved. ' He that believeth on** iu.95,%" ' 
him is not condemned:** but*' 'he that believeth not is con- ijoim^'a. 


demned *• already, because he hath not believed in the name « Rom. v. s, 

19 of "' the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condem- ^*}M->' 
nation, * that ** light is come into the world, and men loved "» «4, 19 ; * 
darkness rather than lierht,** because their deeds were evil.** «'9»*p->-«9: 

** tvSee chap. i. 

20 For every one that doeth** evil hateth the light, neither ^ «8,^49.^ ^^ 

21 cometh** to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.** But -JchS'?*"*^* 
he that doeth truth** cometh to the light, that his deeds** '•^J^p-*^- 
may be made manifest, that they are*' wrought in God. ''^i^ii!'-jlV 

clu4>. i. 5, 

•* omit even. '^ omii which is in heaven ^' "» *^ 

*' lifted on high *' that every one that believeth may in him Svf. 18 : 

•• every one that ^^ may *^ eternal *' the Rom.xul.ia; 

** that he may judge ** may ** in *® judged f ^'h^^^ 

*' omit but "^ hath been judged *^ is the judgment, because the *, s ; « Pe«- 

** the darkness rather than the light *^ for their works were wicked H- g* V^**" 

*• committeth " and he cometh not ** works should be convicted "h^p. j,. 5. 

** the truth *• works *^ because they have been 

Contents. It is of much importance to keep sought to purify himself and his house for the great 

the closing verses of chap. ii. in close connection festival that was now approaching. The words 

with the opening verses of chap. iii. (see the com- would also point to our Lord's observing the feast 

mentaxy on iii. i). Rejected by the theocracy of Himself, it is noticeable that we do not here read 

Israel Jesus turns to individuals, but these are not ' the Passover of the Jews : * the desecration of the 

confined to Israel. The woman of Samaria and festival has been condemned in one of its manifes* 

the king's officer of Galilee are beyond the theo- tations, but the festival itself is honoured. John 

cratic pale. Nicodemus, however, who is first gives us no particulars of the ' signs * which Jesus 

introduced to us, does belong to the chosen people ; did ; comp. chaps, xxi. 25, vi. 4, and several 

and the conversation of Jesus with him, as it leads passages in the earlier Gospels {e.g, Mark i. 34, 

him firom an imperfect to a perfect faith, illustrates vi. 55, 56). The signs attested His words, which 

the power which Jesus, though rejected by Israel were the description of His * name* (see chap. i. 12), 

and doomed to die, shall exercise over the hearts and, beholding the signs, many became believers 

of men. The subordinate parts of this section in His name, accepting Him as being in truth what 

are — (i) ii. 23-25; (2) iii. 1-15; (3) iii. x6- He declared Himself to be. The faith was real but 

21. not mature ; its imperfection is illustrated in the 

Ver. 23. Now when he was in Jeraaalem at next verse. 
the peawver, at the feast, many belieyed in his Vers. 24, 25. But Jesus did not trust himself 

name, beholding his signs which he did. In unto them on account of his discerning aU men, 

this verse we pass from the public presentation of and because he needed not that any should bear 

Jesus to the people and ' the Jews ' in the house of witness concerning a man ; for he himself dii- 

His Father to His more private ministry in Jerusa- cemed what was & the man. The effect pro- 

lem : rejected as the Son of God, He continues His duced upon Jesus Himself by this imperfection of 

work as a Prophet, doing many 'si^,' and by faith is described in very remarkable language, 

these leading many to faiOi in His mission. The Many ' believed in His name,' and so took the first 

time spoken of is still the season of the Passover, step towards that surrender of the heart to Him 

The remarkable repetition, ' at the Passover, at the which in ver. 1 1 we read of as made by His dis- 

feast,' may probably be intended to direct our ciples. Had hey thus fully trusted themselves to 

thoughts especially to the very night of the paschal Him, then would He have trusted Himself to them, 

supper. It so, the purification of the temple may This is one of the illustrations of the teaching, so 

have fallen at the very time when every Israelite characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, with regard to 



the union and communion of Jesus with His people ; 
if they abide in Him, He abides in them. That 
these believers have not reached such maturity of 
faith Jesus Himself discerns. No witness from 
another is needed by Him, for the thoughts of every 
man with whom He speaks are 'naked and opened* 
unto Him. The words of John do not in their 
literal sense go beyond this ; but, in declaring that 
Jesus read the heart of all who came to Him, they 
imply that other truth with which the rendering in 
our Bibles has made us familiar : ' He knew what 
was in man.* 

Ver. I. And there was a man of the Phari- 
tees, named Nicodemni, a niler of the Jews. 
That this verse does not begin a new section is 
clearly shown bv the first word 'And,* which 
links it with the last chapter ; another indication 
of the same kind is seen when the true reading is 
restored in ver. 2 (* to Him * for * to Jesus *). A 
closer examination will show that the connection 
thus suggested is really very close and important. 
In chap. ii. 24, 25, a very marked emphasis is laid 
on ' man ; * the same word and thougnt are taken 
up in this verse. Ver. 2 of this chapter brings 
before us a belief agreeing in nature and ground 
with that spoken of in chap. ii. 23, 24. The last 
thought of chap. ii. is powerfully illustrated by the 
answers which Jesus returns to the thoughts of 
Nicodemus. Clearly, then, John means us to 
understand that out of the many who ' believed 
in the name * of Jesus was one deserving of special 
attention, not merely as representing a higher 
class and special culture, but chiefly because, 
brought by tne signs to a degree of faith, he was 
desirous of knowing more ; and our Lord's deal- 
ings with Nicodemus show how He soueht to lead 
all who were so prepared to a deeper knowledge 
and higher faith. The name Nicodemus is found 
in the Talmud, as a Hebrew surname borne by 
a Jew, a disciple of Jesus, whose true name was 
Bonai. There is nothing to show that the persons 
are identical, and on the whole it is more probable 
that they are not. It is most natural to regard the 
name Nicodemus as Greek, not Hebrew ; compare 
' Philip * (chap. i. 43). Nicodemus is described as 
a Pharisee (sec notes on chaps, i. 24, vii. 32), and 
as * a ruler of the Jews, ' — />. , a member of the San- 
hedrin (comp. chap. vii. 50), the great council of 
seventy-one which held supreme power over the 
whole nation. In other pa^«ages John uses 'ruler* 
in this sense (see vii. 20, 48, xii. 42) ; here only 
does he join with it the words * of the Jews.* The 
added words (see chap. i. 19) show that Nicodemus 
stood connected with that body which was ever 
present to John*s thought as the assemblage of 
those who represented the self-seeking and formal- 
ism which Jesus came to subvert. The elements 
of hostility already exbted, though the open con- 
flict had not yet begun (see chap. ii. lo). It is 
not easy always to define the relation between 
' the Pharisees * and * the Jews,* as the two terms 
are used by John ; for under the latter designa- 
tion the leaders of the Pharisees would certainly 
be included. The former perhaps usually brings 
into prominence teaching and principles; the 
latter points rather to external action. The Phari- 
sees took alarm at the new doctrine^ the Jews 
resented the new authority. Nicodemus is not free 
from the extemalism and prejudices of his class, 
but his candour and his faith stand out in wonder- 
ful contrast to the general spirit eWnced by the 
Pharisees and the Jews. 

Ver. 2. The same came to him by night 
Chap. xix. 38, 39, seems clearly to show that the 
motive of Nicodemus in thus coining by night was 
the same as the cause of Joseph's secret disdple- 
ship — the ' fear of the Jews.' That he himself was 
one of 'the Jews* only makes this explanation 
more probable. We cannot doubt that ne came 
alone ; whether Jesus also was alone, or whether 
John or other disciples were present at the inter- 
view, we cannot tell. 

And said unto him, BabU, we know that 
thon art oome firam God, ateacl&er. Every word 
here is of importance. On Rabbi see the note, 
chap. i. 38. We may be sure that a member of 
the sect that carefully scrutinised the Baptist's 
credentials (chap. i. 19-24) would not lightly 
address Jesus by this title of honour, or acknow- 
ledge him as Teacher. But the words ' Thou art 
come from God* will appear even more significant, 
if we keep in mind that the most £uniliar designa- 
tion of the Messiah was ' the coming One,* ' He 
that should come.' The appearing of the Baptist 
ouickened in the minds of ' all men ' (Luke iii. 15) 
the recollection of God's great promise ; and the 
signs lately wrought by Jesus in Jerusalem may 
well have excited in the mind of this Pharisee 
hopes which find a hesitating expression in his 
words. No ordinary prophet would have been 
thus acknowledged as one 'come firom God.' At the 
very least, the confession assigns tojesus a supreme 
authority as Teacher. The confession of Nico- 
demus was made in the name of others besides 
himself. ' We know ; * — others amongst the 
Pharisees, perhaps already others amongst the 
rulers (chap. xii. 42), had reached the same point. 
No doubt the number was but small, too small to 
make confession easy, or to banish the very natural 
fear of the Jews which brought Nicodemus to Jesus 
by night. 

For no one can do these signs that thou 
doest except God be with him. Nicodemus 
acknowledges the works to be ' signs ' (not so the 
Jews, chap. ii. 18), and he shows that in him the 
signs had precisely answered the designed end. 
The faith indeed which rested on these alone was 
imperfect, but it was faith ; more could be gained ; 
the faith could be educated, raised higher, and 
made more complete. How truly this faith has 
been educated will be shown when (chap. xix. 39) 
it shall come forth in honour of that cruci' 
tied Redeemer who is here to be proclaimed (ver. 
14). Such education, however, can be effected 
only by the word of Jesus, leading to fellowship 
with Himself. For this word Nicodemus now 
comes. In reading the following verses we must 
bear in mind that, as Jesus would train and 
strengthen the faith of Nicodemus, it is the weak 
side of this faith that is kept in view ; but the 
Saviour*s acceptance of the faith as real is plainly 
to be seen in the openness and unreservedness of 
the teaching He vouchsafes. Many have pointed 
out the contrast between this discourse and those 
related in the other Gospels ; but had there been 
no difference between discourses delivered to the 
half-instructed excitable multitudes of Galilee and 
those intended for a 'teacher of Israel,' the 
apparent agreement would have been a discord 
which no argument could explain away (see 

Ver. 3. Jesus answered and said nnto him. 
Verily, verily, I say nnto thee. Except any one 
have been boxn anew, he cannot see the king- 


dom of Gk)d. Jesus answers his thoughts rather 
than his words, but the connection between the 
address and the answer is not hard to find. John 
the Baptist had familiarised all with the thought 
that the kingdom of God was at hand, that the 
rdgn of the Messiah, so long expected, would 
soon begin. Whatever meaning may be assigned 
to the words of ver. 2, we may certainly say that 
every thoughtful Jew who believed what Nico- 
demus believed was 'waiting for the kingdom 
of God.* But the Pharisee's conception of the 
Messianic promise was false. In great measure, 
at least, his ' kingdom of God ' was outward and 
carnal, not inward and spiritual, — a privilege of 
birth, belonging of right to Israel. This false con- 
ception Jesus would at once correct, and the |;ravity 
of the error is reflected in the solemnity of the lan- 
guage, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee.* — 'Any 
one. This more liteiul rendering is necessary here 
because of the next verse. Our Lord says simply 
any one. Nicodemus brings in the word ' man,* 
to give more expressiveness to his reply. 

' Have been bom anew.* It has been, and still 
is, a much controverted question whether the Greek 
word here used should be rendered again, or anew, 
ox from above, 'Again ' is certainly inadequate ; for, 
though the word may denote beginning ever again , 
commencinz the action afresh, it cannot express 
mere repetition. Much may be said in favour of 
the third rendering, 'from above.* This is the 
undoubted meaning of the same word as used below 
(ver. 31); and a similar idea is expressed in the 
passages of the Gospel (chap. i. 13) and First Epistle 
of John (chap. ii. 29, v. I, etc.) which speak of 
those who are begotten of God. It may also be 
urged that, as Christ is ' He that cometh from 
above* (ver. 31), those who through faith are one 
with Christ must derive their being from the same 
source, and ma^ well be spoken of as ' bom from 
above.* Notwithstanding these arguments, it is 
probable that anew is the true rendering. Had 
the other thought been intended, we might surely 
have expected * of God ' instead of * from above.* 
The correspondence between the two members of 
the sentence would then have been complete ; only 
those who have been born of God can see the king' 
dom of God, Further, born (or begotten) of God is 
a very easy and natural expression, but this can 
hardly be said of bom (or begotten) from above : 
* coming from above * is perfectly clear ; ' bom 
from above * is not so The chief argument, how- 
ever, is afforded by the next verse, which clearly 
shows that Nicodemus understood a second birth 
to be intended. But the words ' except any one 
have been bom from above * would not necessarily 
imply a second birth. The Jews maintained that 
they were bom of God (see chap. viii. 41), and 
would have had no difHculty whatever in believing 
that those only who received their being from above 
could inherit the blessings of Messiah s kingdom. 
Our I.ord*s words, then, teach the fundamental 
troth, that not natural birth, descent from the stock 
of Israel, but a second birth, the being begotten 
anew, a complete spiritual change (see ver. 5), 
admits into the kingdom of God. 

On the general expectation of a king and a 
kingdom, see chap. i. 49. It is remarkiu>le that 
the kingdom of God is expressly mentioned by 
John in this chapter only (compare, however, chap, 
xviii. 36). — ' Cannot ' is by no means the same as 
'shall not.' It expresses an impossibility in the 
very nature of things. To a state of outward earthly 


privilege rights of natural birth might give admit- 
tance. In declaring that without a complett inwanl 
change none can possibly see (have a troe percep- 
tion of) * the kingdom of God,* Tesus declsures the 
spiritual character of His kingdom. In it none 
but the spiritual can have any part. 

Ver. 4. Nicodemos saith unto him, How can 
a man he bom when he Ib old 7 can he enter a 
Becond time into his mother's womb, and be born 7 
These are the words of a man amazed beyond 
measure. Jesus has read his thoughts, and the 
answer to his unspoken question has come with 
the suddenness and surprise of a thunderbolt. The 
solemn emphasis laid on the words * bom anew ' 
forbids his thinking of a mere figure of speech, 
and apparently banishes from his mind the Old 
Testament expressions which approach the same 
truth (see ver. 5). The privilege which he attached 
to natural birth within the bounds of Israel is torn 
away by a word ; the ' any one * of our Lord's answer 
makes all men equal ; and the prize which seemed 
almost within his grasp is ^ven to every one who 
has been bom anew. In his bewilderment he sees 
no meaning in the words of Jesus, except they be 
understood physically of a second natural birth ; 
and the evident impossibility of this he expresses 
in the very strongest terms. 

Ver. 5. JesiiB answered. Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee, Except any one have been bom of 
water and spirit, he cannot enter into the king- 
dom of God. The answer is a stronger affirmation 
of the same troth, with some changes of expression 
which made the words no easier of acceptance, 
save as the new terms might awaken echoes of Old 
Testament language, and lead the hearer from the 
extemal to an inward and spiritual interpretation. 

The first words have given rise to warm and 
continued controversy. Many have held that the 
birth * of water and spirit * can only refer to Chris- 
tian baptism ; others have denied that Christian 
baptism is alluded to at all. The subject is very 
important and very difficult. Our only safety lies 
in making the Evangelist his own interpreter. We 
shall repeatedly find, when a difficulty occurs, that 
some word of his own in the context or in some 
parallel passage brings us light, (i) First, then 
as to the very peculiar expression, ' of water and 
spirit.* We cannot doubt that this is the troe ren- 
dering ; no direct reference is made as yet to the 
personal Holy Spirit. The words 'water and 
spirit * are most closely joined, and placed under 
the govemment of the same preposition. A 
little earlier in the Gospel (chap. i. 33) we find 
the same words — not, indeed, joined together as 
here, but yet placed in exact parallelism, each 
word, too, receiving emphasis from the context. 
Three times between chap. i. 19 and chap. i. 33 
John speaks of his baptism with water ; twice there 
IS a reference to the Spirit (i. 32, 33) ; and in ver. 
33 John*s baptizing with water and our Lord*s 
baptizing with ' holy spirit * (see the note) stand 
explicitly contrasted. It is very possible that this 
testimony was well known to others besides John's 
disciples, to all indeed in Judea who were roused 
to inquiry respecting the Baptist and his relation 
to Jesus. (2) It is possible that the Jews of that 
age may have been familiar with the figure of a 
new birth in connection with baptism. It is con- 
fessedly difficult accurately to ascertain Jewish 
usages and modes of thought in the time of our 
Lord. The Talmud indeed contains copious stores 
of information, but it is not easy to distinguish 




between what belongs to an earlier and what to a 
later ag^ We know that converts to the Jewish 
religion were admitted by baptism to fellowship 
with the sacred people. The whole tenor of the 
law would suggest such a washing when the un- 
cleanness of heathenism was put on, and hence no 
rite could be more natural. Vet we have no cer- 
tain knowledge that this was practised so early as 
the time of our Lord. There is no doubt that, at 
a later date, the proselyte thus washed or bap- 
tized was spoken of as bom again. Here again, 
therefore, we have some confirmation of the view 
that in the words before us there is in some sort 
a reference to baptism, — at all events, to the bap- 
tism of John. (3) But what was John's baptism ? 
We see from chap. i. 25 how peculiar his action 
appeared to the rulers of the people. Even if 
proselytes were in that age baptized, a baptism that 
mvited a//, publican and Pharisee alike, would but 
seem the more strange. John's action was new and 
startling ; and from chap. i. 21-25 i^ appears that 
the leaders of Jewish thought beheld in it an im- 
mediate reference to the time of Messiah. It 
seems very probable that John's baptism was 
directly symbholic, a translation into visible symbol 
of such promises as Ezek. xxxvi. 25, which looked 
forward to the new spiritual order of which he was 
the herald. To the sprinkling with clean water, 
the cleansing from all filthiness, of which Ezekiel 
speaks, answers closely John's * baptism of repent- 
ance for the remission of sins ' (compare also Ezek. 
xxxvi. 31). To the promise which follows, *A 
new spirit will I put within you. ... I will put 
my spirit within you,* answers just as closely John's 
testimony to Jesus, ' He it is that baptizeth with 
holy spirit.' (4) The two contrasted elements in 
the baptisms of chap. i. 33 are — {a) the covering 
and removal of past sin ; and {b) the inbreathing 
of a new life. In that verse * holy spirit ' is the 
gift and not the Giver. The Giver is the Holy 
Spirit ; but the gif^, that which is the essential 
element in the new baptism, is the bestowal of 
* holy spirit,* the seed and the principle of a holy 
spiritual life. (5) These two elements were con- 
joined in the Christian baptism instituted after- 
wards : the cleansing of forgiveness through Christ's 
death and the holiness of the new life in Christ are 
alike symbolized in it. Here, therefore, our Lord 
sa)^ that no man can enter into the kmgdom of 
God unless he have been bom anew, the elements 
of the new birth being the removal by cleansing of 
the old sinful life, and the impartation by the Holy 
Spirit of a new holy principle of life. — If this view 
of the words is correct, there is error in both ex- 
tremes of which mention has been made. There is 
no direci reference here to Christian baptism ; but 
the reference to the truths which that baptism 
expresses is distinct and clear. 

Ver. 6. That which hath been bom of the flesh 
is flesh, and that which hath been bom of the 
Spirit is spirit. In the last verse was implied the 
law that like is produced from like, since the pure 
and spiritual members of God's kingdom must be 
bom of water and spirit. Here this law is ex- 
pressly stated. Flesh produces flesh. Spirit pro- 
duces spirit. Thus the necessity of a new birth is 
enforced, and the * cannot * of ver. 3 explained. 
It is not easy to say whether ' flesh,' as here used, 
definitely indicates the sinful principles of human 
nature, or only that which is outward, material, 
not spiritual but merely natural. The latter seems 
more likely, both from the context (where the con- 

trast is between the natural and the spiritual birth) 
and from John's usage elsewhere. Though the 
word occurs as many as thirteen times in thb 
Gospel (chap. i. 13, 14, vi. 51, 52, etc, viiL 15, 
xvii. 2), in no passage does it express the thought 
of sinAilness, as it does in Paul's Epistles and 
in I John ii. 16. Another difficulty meets as in 
the second clause. Are we to read ' bom of the 
Spirit * or * of the spirit * ? Is the reference to the 
Holy Spirit Himself, who imparts the principle of 
the new life, or to the principle which He im- 
parts, — the principlejust spoken of in ver. 5, * of 
water and spirit ' / It is hard to say, and the dif- 
ference in meaning b extremely small ; but when 
we consider the analogy of the two clauses, the 
latter seems more likely. — There is no reference 
here to ' water ; * but, as we have seen, the water 
has reference to the past alone, — the state which 
gives place to the new life. To speak of this would 
be beside the point of the verse now before us, which 
teaches that the spiritual life of the kingdom of 
God can only come from the new spiritual principle. 

Ver. 7. liarvel not that I said onto thee. Ye 
must be bom anew. Nicodemus had no doubt 
shown by look or exclamation his astonishment at 
hearing such words, containing so strange a view 
of the kingdom of God and the conditions on which 
it could be entered. The use of 'marvel* in 
other passages would seem to show that in this 
Gospel the word indicates much more than amaze- 
ment It is certainly not the astonishment of 
admiration, but incredulous and sometimes angry 
surprise. Our Lord's teaching had set at noi^t 
the accepted teaching of Israel, thoughts and hopes 
to which Nicodemus had long and firmly clung, 
and his heart rebels. Our Lord, according to His 
wont, does but the more emphatically afnrm the 
truth at which Nicodemus stumbled. ' Ye must 
be bom again : the necessity is absolute. Before, 
1 le had spoken of * any one, ' leaving the application 
to His hearer ; now, as Nicodemus had said ' We 
know,' Jesus says *Ye must,* — even ye who 
possess the treasures of Israel's learning, and 
whom the signs are guiding to the King of Israel, 
* ye must be bom again :* * Marvel not at this.* 

Ver. 8. The words of this verse point out to 
Nicodemus why he must not thus * marvel ' at the 
new teaching, — must not cast it away with in- 
credulous surprise. Nature itself may teach him. 
In nature there is an agent whose working is 
experienced and acknowledged by aH, while at the 
same time it is full of mystery ; yet the mystery 
makes no man doubt the reality of the working. 

The wind breatheth where it listeth, and taon 
hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not 
whence it cometh and whither it goeth. From 
the beginning the wind seems to have been the 
divinely-intended witness and emblem in the 
natural world of the Spirit of God. Ever present, 
it bore a constant witness. A commentator 
(Tholuck) has conjectured that, whilst Jesus spoke^ 
there was heard the sound of the wind as it swept 
through the narrow street of the city, thus fumisn- 
ing an occasion for the comparison here. It may 
well have been so ; every reader of the Gospels 
may see how willingly our Lord drew lessons nom 
natural objects around Him. Such a conjecture 
might help to explain the abruptness with which 
the meaning of the word is changed, the very same 
word which in vers. 5 and 6 was rendered spirii 
being now used in the sense of wind. Nothing 
but the abruptness of this transition needs any 



explanation. The appointed emblem teaches the 
lesson for which it was appointed. The choice of 
tenns {breaiheth, iisteth^ voice) shows that the wind 
is personified. It is perhaps of the gentle breeze 
ratner than of the violent blast that the words 
speak (for the word pneuma is used with much 
more latitude in the Greek Bible than in classical 
Greek) ; in the breath of wind there is even more 
mystery than in the blast. Thou hearest its voice, 
it is present though invisible; thou feelest its 
power, for thou art in its course ; but where the 
course begins, what produces the breath, — whither 
the course is tending, what is the object of the 
breath, — thou knowest not. Nicodemus, unable 
to question this, would remember Old Testament 
words which spoke of man's not knowing ' the 
way of the wind * as illustrating man's ignorance 
of the Creator's works (Eccles. xi. 5). 

80 Ib every one that hath been bom of the 
Spirit. As in the natural, so is it in the spiritual 
world. The wind breatheth where it listeth ; the 
Spirit breatheth where He will. Thou hearest the 
sound of the wind, but canst not fix the limits of 
its course, experiencing only that thou thyself art 
in that course : every one that hath been bom of 
the Spirit knows that His influence is real, ex- 
periencin|^ that influence in himself, but can trace 
His workmg no farther, — knows not the beginning 
or the end of His course. Our Lord does not 
sjpeak of the birth itself, but of the resulting state. 
The birth itself belongs to a region beyond the 
outward and the sensible, just as none can tell 
whence the breath of wind has come. 

It ought perhaps to be noted before leaving this 
verse, that many take the first part of the verse as 
having reference to the Spirit, not the wind : 
'The Spirit breatheth where He will, and thou 
hearest His voice, but knowest not whence He 
Cometh and whither He goeth ; so is every one 
that hath been bom of the Spirit.' The chief 
arguments in favour of this translation are the 
following: — (i) It does not involve a sudden tran- 
sition from one meaning to another of the same 
Greek word. (2) On the ordinary view there is 
some confusion in the comparison : the words are 
not, 'The wind breatheth where ... so is the 
Spirit;' but, ' The wind breatheth where . . . so is 
every one tkat hath been born of the Spirit, * These 
two arguments have substantially been dealt with 
above. As to the first point — the sudden transition 
from the thought of spirit to that of its emblem in 
nature — perhaps no more need be said. The 
second ar^ment has not much real weight. The 
language is condensed, it is true, and the words cor- 
responding to the first clause (' The wind bloweth 
wliere it usteth') are not directly expressed, but 
have to be supplied in thought. The chief com- 
parison, however, is between the 'thou' of the first 
member and the ' every one ' of the second, as we 
have already seen. On the other hand, the diffi- 
culties presented by the new translation are serious, 
but we cannot here follow them in detail. 

Ver. 9. Nioodemos answered and said unto 
him. How can these things come to pass? The 
tone of this answer is very different from that of 
verse 4. Here, as there, the question is, Hmvcan 
. . • ? But there the added words show that 
the meaning is, ' It is impossible ' (comp. Luke 
i. 18) ; whereas in this verse the chief stress lies 
on the first word ' How ' (comp. Luke i. 34). 
The offended astonishment of Nicodemus (ver. 7) 
has yielded to the words of Jesus. He now under- 
VOL. II. 3 

stands that Jesus really means that there is such a 
thing as a new spiritual birth, in contrast with that 
natural birth which had ever seemed to him the 
only necessary condition of entrance into the 
kingdom of Messiah. Still, as ver. 12 shows, 
the victory over unbelief is not yet complete. 

Ver. la Jesns answered and said unto him. 
Then art the teacher of Israel ; and peiceivest 
thou not these things 7 The question which ex- 
pressed the bewilderment of Nicodemus is answered 
by another question. He has assumed the office 
of teacher, teacher of God's people Israel, and yet 
he does not recognise these truths. ' Israel ' is a 
word used only four times in this Gospel, and 
never without special meaning. We have seen its 
significance in i. 31 and 49; and chap. xii. 13 is 
similar. The only remaining; passage is that before 
us. No word so clearly brings into view the 
nation of God's special choice. The name carries 
us back from a time of degeneracy and decadence 
to past days of hope and promise. It was to 
Israel that God showed His statutes and His 
judgments (Ps. cxlvii. 19), and this thought is 
very prominent here. Of Israel thus possessed of 
the very truths to which Jesus had made reference 
(see above, on ver. 5) Nicodemus is * the teacher.' 
It is not simply ' a teacher,* though it is not very 
easy to say what the presence of the article denotes. 
It is possible that Nicodemus occupied a superior 
position, or was held in especial honour amoiigst 
the doctors of the law ; or the words may merely 
imply that he magnified his office and was proud 
to be teacher of God's people. Surely from him 
might have been expected such knowledge of the 
Scriptures and insight into their meaning that the 
truth of the words just spoken by Jesus would at 
once be recognised. For our Lord does not say 
' and knowest not ; ' Nicodemus is not blamed for 
any want of previous knowledge of these things, 
but because he does not perceive the truth of the 
teaching when presented to him, — and presented, 
moreover, by One whose right to teach with 
authority he had himself confessed. It will be 
observed that Jesus does not answer the ' How ', 
of the preceding question ; that had been answered 
by anticipation. In ver. 8 Jesus had declared that 
the manner must be a mystery to man, whereas 
the fact was beyond all doubt The fact was 
known to every one that had been bom of the 
Spirit, but to such only. Hence in the following 
verse we have a renewed and more emphatic 
affirmation of the truth and certainty of what has 
been said. If Nicodemus would really know the 
fact, it must be by the knowledge of experience. — 
He appears no further in this narrative. The last 
words have reduced him to silence, — thoughtful 
silence, we cannot doubt, — but have not brought 
him to complete belief. 

Ver. 1 1. Verily, rerily, I say unto thee. These 
words form the solemn introduction to a new 
division, a higher stage, of the discourse. The 
connecting link between vers. 10 and II is 
reproof. The last verse laid stress on the know- 
ledge which should have prepared the teacher of 
Israel for the reception of the word of Jesus ; in 
this the emphasis lies on the dignity of the Teachor 
whose word he had been so slow to receive. 

We speak that which we know, and bear wit- 
ness of that which we have seen. The sudden 
transition to the plural ' we know ' is remarkable. 
We cannot suppose that our Lord here joins with 
Himself the prophets of the Old Covenant, or 



John the Baptist, or that He is speaking of the 
testimony of the Father and the Holy Spint. The 
key to the plural is found in ver. 8. Every one 
who dwells in the spiritual world of which Jesus 
has been speaking is a witness to its reality and its 
wonders. Here then Jesus associates wiUi Him- 
self in this emphatic testimony all who have been 
bom of the Spirit. It is further to be observed that 
the change of expression is peculiarly appropriate, 
since he is about to pass away from the direct 
address to Nicodemus himself, and to speak 
through him to the class to which he belonged. 
Nicodemus had at first said ' we know ' (ver. 2), 
as representative of others like-minded with him- 
self, who by the signs had been led to faith in the 
name of Jesus, but were ignorant of His spiritual 
work. Jesus now contrasts with these another 
class, consisting of all who from their own experi- 
ence could join Him in His testimony to the 
reality of the spiritual kingdom. The words of 
Jesus in chap. ix. 4 are equally remarkable in their 
association of His people with Himself. — The two 
pauradlel members of this verse bring the truth 
expressed into bold relief. The words closely 
correspond (knowing to speaking, seeing to bearing 
vn/neis), while there is at the same time an ad- 
vance in the thought, since bearing witness rises 
above speaking, and ^ue have seen is more expres- 
sive than toe know. In ver. 8, where the wind 
was taken as the emblem of the Spirit, the sense 
which bore witness was that of hearing. This 
verse speaks of something more convincmg still, 
the sense of sight. 

And ye receive not our witness. To such say- 
ings of his Master we may trace the mournful 
reflections which are again and again made by the 
Evangelist (see i. Ii, iii. 32, xii. 37). Though the 
reference is to a class (* ye receive '), yet the words 
seem to imply that some unbelief still lingered in 
the heart of Nicodemus himself. 

Ver. 12. If I told you the earthly things, and 
ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you 
the heavenly things? Here our Lord returns to 
the singular, ' I told ;' for He is not now speaking 
of the witness of experience, but of instruction 
which I le Himself had personally given. It seems 
hardly i)ossible, however, that our LJ)rd simply refers 
to words just spoken. In saying * If I told you the 
earthlv things, and ye believe not,' He plainly refers 
to unbelief after instruction, — unbelief which in- 
struction failed to remove. But if Nicodemus 
came alone (and there is no doubt that he did), he 
alone had received this last instruction. Others 
might be described as unbelievers, but not as re- 
mainingin unbelief after having heard the teach- 
ing concerning the new birth. We are compelled, 
therefore, to suppose that our Lord spoke generally 
of previous discourses to the Jews, and not specifi- 
cally of these His latest words. 

But what are the earthly and the heavenly 
things? Many answers have been given which 
arc Tittle more than arbitrary conjectures. Again 
the Evangelist must be his own interpreter. As in 
the next verse * heaven * is not used figuratively, 
it cannot be maintained that ' heavenly is figura- 
tive here. The words * earthly * and * heavenly * 
must have their simple meaning, 'what is upon 
earth,* 'what is in heaven.* The things that 
are in heaven can only be m<ide known by II im 
who has been in heaven ; this is suggested by the 
connection between this verse and the next. 
When we come to the last section of the chapter. 

we shall find that it contains (in some degree) a 
comment upon these verses. Now there (in ver. 
32) we read of Him ' that cometh out of heaven,* 
who ' bears witness of what He has seen and 
heard,*— who being sent from God ' speaketh the 
words of God * (ver. 34). But this same comment 
takes note of the converse also. Contrasted with 
Him who comes from heaven is ' he that is out of 
the earth * and ' speaketh out of the earth * (ver. 
31). Combining these explanatory words, we may 
surely say that 'the heavenW things' are those 
truths which He who cometh from heaven, and He 
alone, can reveal, which are the words of God 
revealing His counsels by the Divine Son now 
come. The things on earth, in like manner, are 
the truths whose nome is earUi, so to speak, which 
were known before God revealed Himself by Him 
who is in the bosom of the Father (chap. i. 18). 
They are ' earthly,* not as belonging to tne world 
of sin or the world of sense, but as being things 
which the prophet or teacher who has never as- 
cended into heaven, but whose origin and home 
are the earth, can reach, though not neccsssarily by 
his own unaided powers. In His former discourses 
to the Jews, Jesus would seem not to have goc* 
beyond the circle of truth already revealed. Even 
in His words to Nicodemus He mainly dwells on 
that which the Scriptures of the Old Testament 
had taught ; and He reproves the teacher of Israel 
who did not at once recognise His words, thus 
founded on the Old Testament, as truth. The 
kingdom of God, the necessity of repentance and 
faith, the new heart, the holy life, the need at once 
of cleansing and of quickening — these and other 
truths, once indeed mhabitants of heaven, had 
long been naturalised on earth. Having been 
revealed, they belonged to men, whereas the 
secret things belong unto the Lord (Deut. zxix. 
29). Those of whom our Lord spoke had yidded 
a partial belief, but the 'believing* of which 
He here speaks is a perfect faith. Nicodemus 
was a believer, and yet not a believer. If 
some of the truths hitherto declared had been so 
imperfectly received, though those who were 
mighty in the Scriptures ought to have recognisctl 
them as already taught, almost as part of the law 
that was given through Moses (chap. i. 17), how 
would it l^ when He spoke of the things hitherto 
secret, coming directly out of the heaven which He 
opens (comp. chap. 1. 51), and for the first time 
revealed in Him, — part of the 'truth* that 'came 
through Jesus Christ*? (chap. i. 17).— It will be 
seen, then, that the truth of ver. 5 would seem to be 
placed by Jesus rather amongst the ' earthly ' than 
amongst the ' heavenly * things. Of some of the 
heavenly things He proceeds to speak (vers. 14, 15). 
Ver. II. And no one hath asoended up into 
heaven, out he that came down out of heaven, 
the Son of man. The connection is this : ' How 
will ye believe if I tell you the heavenly things ? 
And it is from me alone that ye can learn them. 
No one can tell the heavenly things unless he has 
been in heaven, and no one has been in heaven 
and come down to earth save myself.' Repeatedly 
does our Lord in this Gospel speak of His coming 
down out of heaven (vi. 33, 38, etc.), using the 
very word that we meet with here ; and hence it 
is impossible to give the phrase a merely figurative 
sense. He came forth from the Father, and came 
into the world (xvi. 28), that He might declare 
the Father (chap. i. 18) and speak unto the world 
what He had heard from Him (chap. viii. 26). 

Chap. II. 23-1 1 1. 21.] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN. 


But this requires that we take the other verb 
' hath ascended up ' in its literal sense, and then 
the words seem to imply that Jesus had already 
ascended into heaven. ' Haih ascended up ' cannot 
refer to His future ascension ; and there is no 
foundation for the view held by some, that within 
the limits of His ministry on earth He was ever 
literally taken up into heaven. What, then, is the 
meaning? There are several passages in which 
the words 'save' or 'except' present the same 
difiiculty. One of the most familiar is Luke iv. 
27, where it seems at first strange to read, ' Many 
lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the 
prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving 
Naaman the Syrian,' — no leper of Israel cleansed 
except a leper who was not of Israel ! The mind 
is so fixed on the lepers and their cleansing, that the 
other words ' of them ' are not carried on in thought 
to the last clause : ' none of them was cleansed, — 
indeed, no leper was cleansed save ' Naaman the 
Syrian.* So also in the preceding verse (Luke 
iv. 26). In other passages (such as Gal. ii. 16 ; 
Rev. zxL 27) the same peculiarity exists, but it is 
not apparent in the Authorised Version. The 
verse before us is exactly similar. The special 
thought is not the having gone up into heaven, but 
the Having heen in heaven. This was the qualifica- 
tion for revealing the truths which are here spoken 
of as heavenly things. But none (none, that is, of 
the sons of men ; for this is a general maxim, the 
exception is not brought in till afterwards) could 
be in heaven without ascending from earth to 
heaven. No one has gone up into heaven, and by 
thus being in heaven obtained the knowledge of 
heavenly things ; and, indeed, no one has been in 
heaven save He that came down out of heaven, 
the Son of man. Observe how insensibly our Lord 
has passed into the revelation of the heavenly 
thing^ themselves. He could not speak of His 
power to reveal without speaking of that which is 
first and chief of all the heavenly things, viz. that 
He Himself came down out of heaven to be the 
Son of man (on the name ' Son of man ' sec chap. 
i. 51). The reference to our Lord's humanity is 
here strikingly in place. He came down from 
heaven and became the Son of man to reveal these 
heavenly truths and (vers. 14, 15) to give the 
heavenly blessings unto man. 

The weight of evidence compels us to believe 
that the concluding words of this verse, as it stands 
in the Authorised Version, were not written by 
John. We can only suppose that they were a very 
eariy comment on, or addition to, the text, first 
written in the margin, then by mistake joined to 
the text. Were they genuine, they would probably 
refer to the abiding presence of the Son with the 
Father ; but in such a sense it is very improbable 
that ' Son of man ' would have been the name 
chosen. At all events, we have no other example 
ofthe same kind. 

Vers. 14, 15. And m Moses lifted on high the 
sezpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son 
of nuui be lifted on high, that every one that be- 
liereth may in him have eternal life. These verses 
continue the revelation of the heavenly things. 
The first truth is, that He who was in heaven 
came down to earth to be the Son of man. The 
next is, that the Son of man must be exalted, but 
in no such manner as the eager hopes of Nicodemus 
imagined. The secret counsel of^heaven was, that 
I le who was with God should as Son of man be 
lifted on high, as the serpent was lifted on high by 

Moses in the wilderness. Thus, indeed, it ' must 
be, that He may become the Giver of eternal life. — 
The word rendered ' liAed on high ' occurs fifteen 
times in other parts of the New Testament, some- 
times in such proverbial sayings as Matt, xxiii. 12, 
sometimes in reference to the exaltation of our 
Lord (Acts ii. 33, v. 31). In this Gospel we find 
it in three verses besides the present. The general 
usage of the word in the New Testament and the 
Old is sufficient to show that it cannot here signify 
merely raising or lifting up. And yet John's own 
explanation forbids us to exclude this thought. 
All the passages in his Gospel which connect the 
word with the Son of man must clearly be taken 
together ; and chap. xii. 33 (see note there) declares 
that the word contains a reference to the mode of 
the Saviour's death — the elevation on the cross. 
Nicodemus looked for the exaltation of the King 
in the comine kingdom of God. Exalted He shall 
be, not like me monarch sitting on a throne, high 
and lifted up, amid pomp and splendour, but receiv- 
ing His true power and glory at the time when He 
hangs upon a tree an object of shame. The brazen 
serpent, made in the likeness of the destroyer, 
placed on a standard and held up to the gaze of 
all, might seem fitted only to call forth execration 
from those who were reminded of their peril, scorn 
and contempt from those who saw but a powerless 
symbol; but the dying Israelite lookea thereon 
and lived. The looking was a type of faith — ^nay, 
it was itself an act of faith in the promise of God. 
The serpent was raised on high that ail might look 
on it ; the exaltation of the Son of man, which 
begins with the shame of the cross, has for its 
object the giving of life to all (compare chap. xii. 
32, and also Ileb. ii, 9). — ' That every one that 
believeth.* At first our Lord closely follows the 
words spoken in ver. 12. As there we read, ' Ye 
believe not,' so here, ' He that believeth :* as yet 
no qualifying word is added to deepen the signi- 
ficance of the ' belief.' What is before us is the 
general thought of receiving the word of Jesus. 
In that all is m truth included ; for he that truly 
receives His word finds that its first and chief 
requirement is faith in Tesus Himself. So here, 
the trust is first general, but the thought of fellow- 
ship and union, so characteristic of this Gospel, 
comes in immediately, *that every one that be- 
lieveth may in Him have eternal life.* These 
verses which reveal the heavenly truths contain 
the very first mention of ' eternal life,' the blessing 
of which John, echoing his Master's words, is 
ever speaking. ' Etem^ life ' is a present posses- 
sion for the believer (comp. ver. 36) ; its essence 
is union with God in Christ. See especially chap, 
xvii. 3; x John i. 2, v. 11. 

The result of the interview with Nicodemus is 
not recorded, but the sul)sequent mention of him 
in the Gospel can leave no doubt upon our mind 
that, whether at this moment or not, he eventually 
embraced the truth. It would seem that, as the 
humiliation of Jesus deepened, he yielded the 
more to that truth against which at the beginning 
of this conversation he would most have rebelled. 
It is the persecution of Jesus that draws him for- 
ward in His defence (vii. 51) ; it is when Jesus has 
been lifted up on the cross that he comes to pay 
Him honour (xix. 39). He is thus a trophy, not of 
the power of signs alone, but of the power of the 
heavenly things taught by Jesus. 

At this point an important question arises. Are 
the next five verses a continuation of the preceding 



discourse ? Arc they words of Jesus or a reflection 
by the Evangelist himself upon his Master's words ? 
Most commentators have taken the former view. 
The latter was first suggested by Erasmus, and has 
found favour with many thoughtful writers on this 
Gospel. And with reason. The first suggestion 
of a sudden break in the discourse may be startling, 
but a close examination of the verses will show 
that they present distinct traces of belonging to 
John : — (I) Their general style and character 
remind us of the Prologue. (2) The past tenses 

* loved * and * were * m ver. 19 at once recall 
chap. i. 10, II ; and are generally more in har- 
mony with the tone of the Evangelist's later 
reflections than with that of the Redeemer's dis- 
course. (3) In ver. Ii Jesus says, *ye receive uoi 
our testimony : * in ver. 19 the impression pro- 
duced is not that of a present refusal, but rather of 
a past and continued rejection. (4) In no other 
place is the appellation * only begotten * used by 
Jesus Himself m regard to the Son, though it is 
used by the Evangelist in chap. i. 14, i. 18, and 
I John iv. 9. It cannot be fairly said that there is 
anything really strange in the introduction of these 
reflections. It is altogether in the manner of this 
writer to comment on what he has related (see 
especially xii. 37-4 * ^uid in at least one instance 
he passes suddenly, without any mark of transition, 
from the words of another to his own, — for very 
few will suppose chap. i. 16 to be a continuation 
of the Baptist's testimony (ver. 15). The view 
now advocated will receive strong confirmation if 
we convince the reader that there is a similar 
break after ver. 30 in this chapter, the last six 
verses belonging to the author of the Gospel and 
not to the Baptist. 

Ver. 16. For God so loved the world, that he his only begotten Son, Uiat every one that 
lieveth in him may not perish, but have eter- 
nal life. In the preceding verses is recorded the 
first announcement of the Gospel by our Lord, the 
revelation of the mystery macfe manifest by Him 
who came out of heaven. John pauses to set 
his Master's words in the light in wnich he him- 
self had afterwards beheld them. Jesus had said 

* must be liAed on high,* but had given no reason. 
His disciple, whose message to the church was 
*God is love' (I John iv. 16), refers back the 
necessity to this truth. Whatever remains still 
hidden, so much as this is certain, that the humilia- 
tion and exaltation of Him who came down out of 
heaven were the expression of God's love to the 
whole world. The Son of man is the Son of God, 
the only begotten Son ; the one term expresses 
His fitness for the work, the other points to His 
dignity and to the greatness of the Father's love. 
In this love the Father eave the Son : to what He 
surrendered Him is not here said ; our Lord's own 
words (ver. 14) fill up the meaning. The uni- 
versality of the blessing is marked with twofold 
emphasis ; designed, not for Israel only, but for 
the whole worlds it is the actual possession of evtry 
believer. The words relating to faith are more 
definite than in ver. 14; for (see chap. ii. 11) to 

* believe in Him ' points to a trust which casts 
itself on Him and presses into union with Him. — 
The Divine purpose is presented under two aspects, 
not one only (as in ver. 15) ; it is that the believer 
may be saved from perdition, and may now possess 
eternal life. — This verse contains most of the lead- 
ing terms of John's theology. One only of these 
requires further comment, on account of the vari- 


\ senses in which it is employed by the Evan- 
ist. The 'world 'does not m this verse des^nate 
Those who had received and rejected the ofler of 
salvation. It is thought of as at an earlier stage 
of its history ; the li^t is not yet nresented by 
the acceptance or rejection of which toe final state 
of the world shall be determined. 

Ver. 17. For God sent not the Son into the 
world that he may judge the world; bat thai the 
world through him may be saved. The thought 
of the last verse is expanded. There it was the 
^fl of God's love that was brought before us ; now 
It is the mission of the Son. To ' may perish ' 
(ver. 16) here corresponds * may judge the world,* 
to * have eternal life ' answers * may be saved.' 
This alone is sufficient to show that the word 
* judge,' though not in itself equivalent to 'con- 
demn,' has reference to a judgment which tends to 
condenmation. The Jews believed that Messiah 
would come to glorify Israel, but to judge the 
Gentiles ; the solemn and emphatic repetition of 
' the world ' rebukes all such hmitations, as effec- 
tually as the words of ver. 3 set aside the dls 
tinctions which were present to the thoiu;ht of 
Nicodemus.— It may seem hard to reconcue the 
first part of this verse with v. 22, 27, ix. 39, xii. 
48. We must, however, recognise a twofold pur- 
pose in Christ's coming. He came to save, not 
to judge the world. He came to judge the world 
in so far as it will not allow itself to be saved ; 
and this judgment is one that takes place even 
now (because even now there is wilful unbelief)^ 
though it will only be consummated hereafter. 

Ver. 18. He that believeth in him is not 
judged : he that believeth not hath been judged 
already, because he hath not believed in the 
name of the only begotten Son of God. The 
two preceding verses express the Divine purpose in 
itself, and that purpose passing into accomplish- 
ment ; this verse speaks of the actual result. Two 
of the terms of these verses, the Mieving in Jesui 
of ver. 16 and the judging of ver, 17, are here 
brought together. He that abides in faith in 
Christ abides in a state to which judging belongs 
not ; whilst the faith remains, the idea of judgment 
is excluded, for the believer is one with the Lord 
in whom he has placed his trust. Not so with the 
unbeliever ; on him the sentence of judgment is 
already pronounced. As long as the unl>elief is 
})ersisteu in, so lon^ does the sentence which the 
rejection of Jesus brings with it remain in force 
against him. The great idea of the Gospel, the 
division of all men into two classes severed from 
each other, is very clearly presented here ; but no 
unchangeable division is thought of. The separa- 
tion is the result of deliberate choice ; and whilst 
the choice is adhered to, the severance abides. — 
As the faith of the believer is faith ' in Him,* faith 
that brings personal union, the unbelief is the 
rejection of His Person revealed in all its dignity, 
the only begotten Son of God. 

Ver. 19. And this is the judgment,— the judg- 
ment is of this kind, takes pKice thus, — because 
the light is come into the world, and men loved 
the darkness rather than the light, for their 
works were wicked. These words brine; out clearly 
that the ' not believing ' spoken of in the last verse 
signifies an active rejection, and not the mere ab- 
sence of belief— a rejection of the true light which 
in the person of Jesus came into the world, and 
henceforth ever is in the world. Men loved the 
darkness, for their works — not single deeds, but 



the whole expression and manifestation of their 
life— were wicked. The word used (* wicked *) is 
that whk:h elsewhere expresses the character of the 
arch-enemy as ' the wicked one * (John xvii. 15 ; 
I John iii. 12). It denotes active evil, positive 
and pronounced wickedness. 

Ver. 20. For eyery one that oommitteth evil 
hateUi the light, and he cometh not to the light 
leat his works should be conyicted. This verse 
explains the last, and refers the action there 
described to a general principle. The universal 
AW is, that he who committeth evil hateth the 
tight. Not 'he thsii Aa/A committed ^ for what is 
spoken of is the bent and the spirit of the man*s 
liife. The word ' evil * here is not the same as 
that rendered ' wicked ' in ver. 19, but is more 
general. The one word means evil in active 
manifestation ; the other what is worthless, good 
for nothing. No doubt the second word is used 
in this verse partly for the sake of vivid contrast 
with the real and abiding ' truth * of ver. 21, partly 
because what is worthless and unsubstantial will 
not stand the test of coming to that very light 
which shows in all its reality whatever is sub- 
stantial and true. Every one whose life is thus 
evil knows that in the presence of the light he 
most stand self-condemned. The experience is 
painful, and he endeavours to avoid it by turning 
from the light, till, as conscience still asserts its 
power, he seeks defence against himself by hating 
the light (compare i Kings xxii. 8). We must 
not forget the application that is in John's mind. 
The light that is come is Jesus Himself. He is 
come ; but men also must come to Him. If they 
came not, the cause was a moral one. Before He 
came, some light had been in the world (i. 5) ; 
those who, living a life of evil (whether open 
wickedness or a worthless self-righteousness), hated 
this light, were thus prepared to reject the Light 
Himself. — ^The last word of the verse is remark- 
able, as it is more naturally applied to the doer 
than to his deed. Not only will the works be 

shown by the light — l)e exposed in their true 
character : the works are loolced on as of them- 
selves the criminals — they will be self-convicted, 
self-condemned. The thought of self-cofwiction 
has in this Gospel an importance that can hardly 
be over-estimated. 

Ver. 21. But he that doeth the truth cometh 
to the light, that his works may be made mani- 
fest, because they hare been wrought in Qod. 
In contrast with those who commit evil is another 
class— those who do the truth. The words ex- 
pressing action in vers. 20, 21, are different : 
that in ver. 20 ('committeth*) refers directlv to 
the particular acts, that which is used here (which 
properly denotes to make, to produce) brings into 
view rather the result. The man here spoken of 
is (so to speak) at work in raising the abiding 
structure of 'the truth.' So far as the truth has 
been revealed to him, hb life is faithful to it ; his 
works are an expression of the truth that is in his 
heart. As Jesus says (chap, xviii. 37), 'Every 
one that is of the truth heareth my voice ; ' so here 
we read, ' He that doeth the truth cometh to the 
light.' There is a natural affinity between truth 
and light ; he who is faithful to truth received is, 
through the very nature of the truth within him, 
impelled towards Him who is the Truth. He 
does not come to the light that his works may be 
made known to others ; there is no self-seeking, — 
perhaps even it is not the conscious purpose of the 
man himself that is spoken of, but rather the 
instinctive aim of the truth within him, and thus 
in reality the purpose of God, that all the works 
of God be made manifest. The works of this doer 
of truth have been wrought in God. The disci- 
pline by which he is led to the Son is of the Father 
(see chap. vi. especially). For this cause he 
comes, and must needs come, at the bidding of 
the truth, that the works of God in him may be 
brought out of all concealment and made manifest. 
His coming to Christ is itself a manifestation of 
the preceding work of God in him. 

Chapter III. 22-36. 

The Passing away of the Baptist in the presefice of the True Bridegroom 

of the Church, 

22 A FTER these things came Jesus and his disciples into the 
±\ land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, *and aChap. 

23 baptized. And John also was baptizing in JEnon near to 
Salim, because there was much water* there : * and they came, ^J'att. 

24 and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. rMatt. 

25 Then there arose* a question between some of John's disciples 

26 and the Jews* about ''purifying. And they came unto John, </chap. 
and said unto him, 'Rabbi, he that was with thee -^ beyond /cjup! 
Jordan, ^to whom thou barest* witness, behold, *the same *c*»*p* 

IV. «. 

• •• 

lu. 5. 
xiv. 3. 

ti. 6. 
i. aS. 

lY. I, 

* were many waters * There arose therefore 

' a questioning on the part of John^s disciples with a Jew 
^ hast borne 


27 baptizeth, and ' all men come to him. John answered and said, ' Sn,."**^ 
* A man can receive nothing, except it be* given him from* *;^^^^' 

28 heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ' I am uI?*lV.* 

29 not the Christ, but ** that I ' am sent before him. He that ^^St; 
hath the bride is the bridegroom : but "the friend of the bride- L^^Xfi, 
groom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly be- » S«p. Mau. 
cause of the bridegroom's voice : this my joy therefore is • "" '^ 

^o fulfilled. * He must increase, but I must decrease. *auip.L 15. 

31 -^ He that cometh from above ^ is above all : he that is of* the Aa^rm 


earth is earthly,'® and speaketh of the earth : " ^he that cometh ^l 15; . 
32 from* heaven is above all." And what he hath seen and Eoh.Laz;' 

• oil. Ill o. 

heard. ''that he testifieth;" and 'no man receiveth his testi- rVen^ 11, 13: 
33 mony." He that hath" received his testimony" 'hath set ^^^"^r^^ 
^4. to his seal " that God is true. " For he whom God hath " sent ^ ^^ v.!"- 

speaketh the ^ words of God : for God gi veth not the Spirit by ^ ^^>^ "-^ 

35 measure unto him}^ ""The Father loveth the Son, and ""hath ^^.!^^ 

36 given all things into his hand. ^ He that believeth on " the Son %,^^^^ 
hath everlasting " life : and he that * believeth " not the Son •fS.*^;^ 

shall not see life ; but * the wrath of God abideth on him. x &?d»«>. 

••« • 

xiu. 3. 

* have been • out of ' but, I ® hath been y Se« ran. 15, 

» out of *• out of the earth ^* out of the earth he speaketh .cSmp. A*n 

** omit is above all *• beareth witness of what he hath seen and heard xii. ad.^^ 

** witness *• omit hath *Co ^Matt. 

^^for hath . . . seal read set his seal to this, iii."?* 

*' for not by measure giveth he the Spirit Rom.' L ts. 
*8 in *• eternal *** but he that obeyeth 

Contents. This section affords us our last verse shows the main des^ of this section. When 

view of the great Forerunner when, at the moment Jesus baptized in Judea, He came into direct and 

of his disappearance, he utters his highest testi- necessary comparison with John, 

mony to Jesus as the true Bridegroom of the Ver. 23. And John also was baptising in 

Church, idone to be welcomed by all waiting iEnon new to Salim, because there were many 

hearts. Hence it immediately precedes Christ's waters there: and they came and were baptised. 

proclamation of His truth beyond Judea. The Where Mtion and Salim were situated it is not 

subordinate parts are — (i) vers. 22-30; (2) vers, easy to determine. The position assigned them 

31-36. by Eusebius and Jerome, near the northern boun- 

Ver. 22. After these things came Jesus and dary of Samaria, does not agree well with ver. 22. 
his disciples into the land of Judea ; and there It is more probable that Salim is the Shilhim (trans- 
he tarried with them, and baptized. The intro- lated Salem in the LXX.) of Josh. xv. 32, a town 
ductory words ' AAer these things ' may possibly not far from the southern limit of Judea. In this 
include a considerable period. Apparently several verse of Joshua (in the Hebrew) Shilhim is directly 
months intervened between the Passover of chap, followed by Ain^ from which J&aovi differs only in 
ii. 13 and the visit to Samaria (chap, iv.); but only being an intensive form — Ain denoting a springs 
two events belonging to this period are related, and yEnon, springs. The objection to this identi- 
The words of this verse, however (tarrudznA bap- fication is that, as John was clearly in the neigh* 
//W), show that after leaving Jerusalem Jesus re- bourhood of Jesus, it takes the latter from the 
mained for some length of time in the country parts route leading to Samaria and Galilee. But the 
of Judea. In no other passage than this is there history of the events of the period is so brief and 
any mention of the Saviour's baptizing, and chap, fra^entary that this objection has not much 
iv. 2 explains that this baptism was only indirectly weight. John no doubt alludes to the meaning of 
His. Still, however, it is clear that the baptism iEnon when he adds that there were 'many waters* 
was by the authority of Jesus, the disciples acting there. 

only as His ministers. Yet they did not baptize Ver. 24. For John was not yet cast into 

with Christian baptism in the full sense of the term, prison. Words in which the Evangelist vindicates 

They were engaged in preparatory work like that the accuracy of his narrative, and corrects a mistake 

of the Baptist, just as the Twelve were sent forth apparently prevailing in the Church when he 

by Jesus to declare the very message which John wrote. The earlier Gospels, dealing mainly with 

had preached (Matt. x. 7). The baptism of the the Galilean work of Jesus, do not mention His 

Spirit was still future (chap. vii. 39). The next entering upon His public ministry until after the 


Ikiptist had been delivered up. This seems to 
have led to an impression that the Baptist was im- 
prisoned before our Lord entered on His public 
work. The false inference is here corrected. 

Ver. 25. There azoee therefore a qneetioning 
OB the part of John's diadpIeB with a Jew about 
purifying. In the circumstances just described, 
discussion would inevitably arise as to the relative 
position and value of the two baptisms. A 'Jew ' 
(see note on chap. i. 19) had placed the baptism of 
Jesus above that of John in regard to its purifying 
power. Although Oie Jews in general were hos- 
tile to Jesus, this man may have scared the convic- 
tions ctf* Nicodemus (vers. I, 2). llie disciples of 
John refused to regard their master's baptism as 
less efficacious than that of another, who had been 
himself baptized by him. Unable either to set the 
question at rest, or to ignore the opposition of the 
Jew, they brought the matter of contention before 
J<^m. On the 83rmbolic character of John*s bap- 
tism, see the note on ver. 5 ; on ' purification,* see 
iu 6, xiii. 10, xv. 3, and I John i. 7, 9. 

Ver. 26. And they came unto John, and said 
unto him, BabU, he that was with thee beyond 
Jordan, to whom thou hast borne witness, 
behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come 
to him. Their description of Jesus (whom they 
do not name) shows their feelings. This man 
came to thee beyond Jordan, it has been th^ great 
object to magnify his fame ; and yet he is now 
thy rival, he miptizes, and all are flocking to him 
rather than to thee. Their last words are in their 
lips but a natural exaggeration ; to the Evangelist, 
however, they are an unconscious prophecy (see an 
exactly similar instance in xii. 19, 20). This is 
the last trial of the Baptist's fidelity to his mission, 
and nobly is it sustained. 

Ver. 27. John answered and said, A man can 
receive nothing, except it have been given him 
out of heaven. Not for a moment does he enter 
into their jealous advocacy of his claims. Under- 
standing the true force of their hasty words, ' AH 
men come to him,' he tells them that such honour, 
such position, Jesus cannot receive unless it have 
been given Him from heaven. He says this in 
words so general that they seem certainly intended 
to point to himself also. ' Each of us, in accom- 
plishing God's work, will receive the place ap- 
pointed to him from heaven.' 

Ver. 2S. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that 
I said, I am not the Christ, but, I am sent 
before him. The acceptance of the lower place 
was no new thing to John. ' Ye remind me that 
I have borne witness to Him ; ye yourselves bear 
witness to me, that my testimony to Him con- 
tained in it all that now offends you.' Of the two 
sayings here quoted, one (' I am not the Christ ') 
is to DC found in i. 20 : the other is not given in 
this Gospel in the very words, but is implied in 
i. 30f 31* and no doubt had been expressly 
uttered by John to his disciples. 

Ver. 29. He that hath tne bride is the bride- 
groom : out the Mend of the bridegroom, which 
standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly 
because of the bridegrooms voice: tids my 
joj therefore hath been fnlfiUed. He that hath 
Uie bride,' he and no other, 'is the bridegroom. 
The Lord is taking home His bride — His people. 
To the name of brid^room I have no claim, nor 
can I have the bridegroom's joy. But in his joy 
his friends must needs share. The friend of the 
bridegroom that standeth and heareth his voice. 


catching the first sound as he draws near, listening 
to the words and tones in which his joy breaks 
forth throughout the marriage feast, he too has his 
joy, a reflection of the rejoicing of the bridegroom : 
this ioy is mine, and it is now filled to the full.' 
In these exquisitely tender and beautiful words 
does the Baptist at once reprove the natural but petty 
jealousies of his disciples and set forth his own 
relation to Jesus. The image employed is common 
in the Old Testament (Isa. liv. ; Jer. iii., xxxi. ; 
Hos. ii. ; Ezek. xvi., xxiii.), even if nothing be 
said of the Song of Solomon, and is taken up in 
the New (Matt. ix. 15, xxv.; 2 Cor. xi.; Eph. v.; 
Rev. xix., xxi.). By the * friend' John does not 
mean the particular friend who presided over the 
marriage ceremonies (the Shoshben), for the words 
' standeth and heareth ' are unsuitable to a func- 
tionary whose duties were those of action. But 
these words exactly correspond to the position of 
the Baptist as one who stood apart and listened. 
Once only does the Forerunner seem to have met 
with Jesus: afterwards he watched His course 
and rejoiced, and pointed his disciples to his 

Ver. 30. He must increase, but I must de- 
crease. What the disciples now see is but the 
beginning of a process that must continue. The 
necessity spoken of here is another statement of 
the heavenly gift of ver. 27. John must become 
less and less, whilst the glory of his Lord will 
increase without limit or end ; and thus his 
' decreasing ' is not the failure but the accomplish- 
ment of his work. 

It is quite impossible to read carefully the 
following verses without perceiving that they bear 
a remarkable resemblance to the early part of the 
chapter, and that the general style and language 
are those of the Evangelist himself. In ver. 31 we 
read of Him ' that cometh out of heaven ; ' in ver. 
13 of Him * that came down out of heaven. ' That 
He who is from heaven beareth witness of what 
He hath seen, and that His witness is not received, 
we read both in ver. 32 and in ver. 1 1. The 35th 
verse might perhaps seem to contain Christ's own 
words, but not such as the Baptist would be likely 
to employ. So also in ver. 36 all the terms used, 
• he that believeth in,' * the Son ' (standing 
absolutely), 'eternal life,' 'hath eternal life, 
remind us of the language of the Evangelist himself 
and of Christ's discourses as related in this Gospel, 
especially in this chapter (vers. 15, 16, 17), 
but it is hardly possible to suppose them used by 
John the Baptist Those writers who cannot 
admit that there is a break after ver. 30 are con- 
strained to confess that the Baptist's subsequent 
words are expressed in the Evangelist's own 
language and style. It is a far simpler and more 
probable theory that the Evangelist (as in i. 16 and 
iii. 16 — ^see notes there) passes from his narrative 
into a meditation which it suggests, gathering 
together the main thoughts of the two sections 
which precede. 

Ver. 31. He that cometh from above is above 
all: he that is out of the earth is out of the 
eazth, and out of the earth he speaketh. The 
claim of the Baptist's disciples that to their master 
should be accorded a higher place than to Jesus, 
and John's emphatic testimony to his own lower 
station, lead the Evangelist to reflect upon the 
words of Jesus to Nicodemus as decisive of all such 
questions. * He that cometh from above* and * He 
tnat cometh out of heaven ' are clearly the same as 


* He that came down out of heaven* (ver. 13), and the revelation he is commissioned to give, are 

all three expressions are designations of Jesus, truly God's words. — For not by meamre giyeth 

There is but One who thus ' cometh from above ' he the Spirit He gives the Spirit not partially, 

(though many others have received their mission but completely, for the purpose of enablii^ him 

from above), and He therefore is above all. In who is seat to speak wonis of God. Rising 

comparison with Him, every other prophet or from the partial and incomplete to that which 

teacher has hb origin out of the earth ; and as is is full and perfect, we find but One who has thus 

bis origin, so is his nature, so is his utterance. been sent by God, and but One who receives the 

Ver. 32. He that comeUi oat of heaven beareth Spirit in unmeasured fulness, enabling not for 

witnewof what he hath leen and heard; and no the complete declaration of a part only, but for 

man reoeiveth hia witnew. In ver. 12 we have the perfect revelation of the whole of the words of 

seen that heaven is spoken of as the place of God. 

immediate divine knowledge and light. Jesus Ver. 35. The Father loveth the Son. There is 

alone belongs to this sphere : all the prophets a continual heightening of the thought and expres- 

before His coming, though divinely commissioned, sion. We read of Him ' that cometh from above,* 

had 'the earth* as the starting-point of their utter- Him *that cometh out of heaven,' Him *whom 

ances, spoke of what they had received on earth, God sent,' — 'the So^n,' whom 'the Father 

qx>ke truly but not perfectly. The Divine light loveth.* In ver. 17 we reiid that the Father sent 

was reflected from the prophets to the world the Son to save the world, because He ' so loved 

around. In Jesus the heavenly light itself came the world ' (ver. 16) : here we read of the love of 

into the world. Jesus alone, Uicn, beareth witness the Father towards the Son who thus gave Him> 

to that which He hath seen and which He heard, self for the accomplishment of the purpose of the 

and (here again is the mournful cadence of this Father. From chap. x. 17 it seems probable that 

Gospel) no one receivcth His witness. So few it is of this love that we must understand the verse 

receive, that they seem as nothing in comparison — of a love, therefore, referring to the work of re- 

with those who reject. That the rejection is not demption, not to the essential relation of the Son 

in strictness universal the next verse declares. to the Father (comp. note on v. 20). — ^And hath 

Ver. 3^. He that received hia witness set his given all things into his hand. From perfect 

seal to this, that God is true. Every man who love follows perfect communication not of ' the 

accepts His witness and thus declares that Jesus is words of God only (ver. 34), but of aU things pos- 

true, in^ that very act attests, sets his seal to, the sessed. The Father has given all thin£;s into the 

declaration that God is true. (For the opposite, Son's hand. Whatsoever the Son speaks or gives 

see X John v. 10.) A mere prophet might be or docs, is spoken, given, done, by the Father. 
unfaitMul or might err. Jesus 'comes out of Ver. 36. He that believeth in the Son hath 

heaven,' declares ' what He has seen,' and ' what eternal life. As all things arc in the Son's hand 

He heard' from God: to disbelieve Him is to by the gift of the Father, the destiny of all men 

disbelieve God, to declare Him true is to declare depends on their relation to the Son. He that 
Clod true. Tliis is further explained and con- , believeth in the Son has in Him the highest of all 

firmed by the next verse. blessinjgs, life eternal ; has this in present posses- 

Ver. 34. For he whom God sent speaketh the sion— involved in the communion of faith in whk:h 
words of God. The last verse rests on the thought he lives. — But he that obeyeth not the Son ^all 
that the words of Jesus are the words of God. not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on 
Here it is shown that this is involved in the very him. Over against the believer is here set, not 
proposition that Jesus is the Sent of God. Strictly, the man who does not believe, but he that dis- 
there have been many whom God has sent, — for obeys. The change from believing to obedience 
example, John the Baptist (chap. i. 6) : his words results from the thought of the last verse : supreme 
were true, and were words of God. But where power is given to the Son ; therefore he that re- 
one is thus isolated as sent by God (and this is ceives Him not by faith is guilty of disobeying His 
repeatedly done in this Gospel), he is the Sent in authority ; not faith only, but the obedience of 
a peculiar and pre-eminent sense. He speaketh faith, is His due. From the eyes of all such life is 
not 'words of God' only, but ' the words of God,' hidden whilst the unbelief and disobedience shall 
giving all the revelation that God gives. The last The rejection of the Son brings with it the 
enabling power thus to speak is the gift of the wrath of God, by whom idl things were given into 
Spirit. Every one whom God sends is enabled to the Son's hand : this is the present and the abiding 
speak God's words — words that, for the portion of heritage of him that obeyeth not the Son. 

Chapter IV. 1-42. 

Jestts and the Samaritans, 

1 TT THEN therefore 'the Lord knew how* the Pharisees had 

VV heard that Jesus made* and * baptized* more dis- ««..9^«5/ 

2 ciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his *ch;»p.*iii.M. 

* perceived that * had heard, Jesus maketh * baptizeth 


3 disciplesj He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 

4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 

5 Then cometh he * to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, 

near to the parcel of ground ^ that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, c Comp. Gen, 

6 Now Jacob's well was there.* Jesus therefore, being wearied xivUi. m ; 

•^ ^ 1 Josh. XXIV. 

with his journey, sat thus on the well : • and'' it was about the 3*. 

7 sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water : 

8 Jesus saith unto her. Give me to drink. (For his disciples were 

9 gone away unto the city to buy meat.*) Then saith the woman 
of Samaria* unto him. How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest 

drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria } " for ''the " Jews ^aKinpxvii. 

10 have no dealings with the" Samaritans. Jesus answered and »?»'«?.; 
said unto her. If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is Comp. Luke 

' ** ' IX. 53. XVII. 

that saith to thee. Give me to drink : thou wouldest have asked «?.; c;*?- 

11 of him, and he would have given thee 'living water. The ' ;[jj> /j'^'.^. 
woman" saith unto him. Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and ^- ^'^ 
the well is deep : from whence then hast thou that living water ? ^^^\y,Xx. ; 

12 -^ Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, ^;^' *'' 
and drank thereof himself, and his children," and his cattle .^yg^p'/c^ip 

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, ^Whosoever" drinketh of ^ oimp?*chap. 

14 this water shall thirst again : But * whosoever drinketh ** of the acb^! J? 35, 
water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but the water J}!.* Je/xxr* 
thr.t I shall give him * shall be " in him a well " of water chap.^V 

15 springing up into * everlasting life." 'The woman saith unto iseeciiap.^' 
him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come /cha*p. vi. 34. 

16 hither " to draw. Jesus" saith unto her. Go, call thy husband, 

17 and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no 
husband. Jesus said** unto her, Thou hast well said, I have 

18 no husband : For thou hast had five husbands ; and he whom 
thou now hast is not thy husband : in " that saidst thou truly." 

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art "'a '"^^Jh^"' 

20 prophet. * Our fathers worshipped in this mountain ; and yc ^^ ^='"- 
say, that in 'Jerusalem is the place where men ought to wor- '•^nj> G«n. 

21 ship." Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me," the" hour J^Dem. 
cometh, -^when ye shall*' neither in this mountain, nor yet" at" ^ ucSuxH 5, 

22 Jerusalem, worship" ^ the Father. Ye worship ''ye know not lxVs'x'^'Tj 
what:" 'we know what we worship:" for 'salvation" is of ^.^^Mr* 

Ph. Ixxvi. 2. 

• He cometh therefore * Now there was a fountain there, ]2iCoh''s fountain i Tim. \C.i, 

• by the fountain ' omit and * food ^ ^ <^*^p- 

• The Samaritan woman therefore saith *° a Samaritan woman r comp 

** omit the ** She *' sons ^* Every one that 2 Kings xvii. 

"hath drunk "become "fountain ,Sm^P«. 

*• of springing water, unto eternal life *• all the way hither cxivii.'iij,ao; 

*• He *> saith ** omit in *» this thou hast said truly ?^^ »"• «» 

•* must worship ** Believe me, woman *• an ^"^ omit ye shall / lii^^ii. 3 ; 

*• omit yet *• in •• shall ye worship Mic v. a -. 

** Ye worship that which ye know not ** we worship that which we know ^^°** **• ** 
^ because the Salvation 


23 the Jews. But the" hour cometh, and "now is, when the true •chap.v. 25. 
worshippers shall worship the Father in "spirit and in** "'truth : vRom. viii. 

24 for the Father** 'seeketh such to worship him.*' God w a** iJ'is. 

^ . Cocnp. PluL 

Spirit:** and they that worship him must worship //i/«** in j^. 

25 spirit and in ** truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that jrComp. ciuii»^ 
•'Messias cometh, which is called Christ:** when he is come, ^Chap.*L4i. 

26 'he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, " I that speak sVer.a9 

Cocnpa DcQt. 

unto thee am /le. «viii. 15. »8. 

mAtt. XXVI. 

27 And upon this came his disciples, and** marvelled that he «♦: Mark 
talked with the ** woman : yet no man said. What seekest thou ? ciuJp. «• 37. 

28 or, Why talkest thou with her.^ The woman then** left her 
waterpot, and went her way into the *city, and saith to the * Vers. 5, 8. 

29 men, Come, see a man, ^ which told me all things that ever I rVen.18,95. 

30 did : is not this the Christ ?** Then ** they went out of the city, 
and came *' unto him. 

3 1 In the mean while his** disciples prayed him, saying, ''Master,*' -'Chap. 1 38. 

32 eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know 

33 not of.** Therefore said the disciples one to another. Hath any 

34 man brought him ought \,o eat.^ Jesus saith unto them, 'My *Comi>.job 
meat is to -^do** the will of him that sent me, and to** ^finish ** /c***?. ▼*. y*. 

VI 98 

35 his work. Say not ye. There are yet four months, and tJien ^chapiv. 36, 
cometh harvest .^** behold,** I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, 

and look on the fields;** *for they are white already to har- a Matt. ix. 37; 

36 vest.*' And ** he that reapeth receiveth wages,** and gathereth ^^* ** *' 
fruit unto ' life eternal : that both ** he that soweth and he that « ver. 14. 

37 reapeth may * rejoice together. And** herein is that saying** ^comp. Pa, 

38 true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap ASM«.ii 
that whereon ye bestowed no labour : *•* other men laboured, 

and ye are entered into their labours.** 

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city ** believed on ** 

him ' for the saying *' of the woman, which testified,** He told /ver. 19. 

40 me all ** that ever I did. So when '* the Samaritans were come 
unto him, they besought him that he would tarry '* with them : 

41 and he abode there two days. And many more believed 

42 because of his own '* word ; And" said unto the woman, Now we 

•* an •* otftii in »« add also 

*^ is seeking such, them that worship him *® omit a *' spirit 

^^ omit him ** Messiah cometh (which is called Christ) ** and they 

♦« a ** therefore ** Can this be the Christ ? *• omit then 

*■ were on their way *® the ** Rabbi *® omit of 

** that I should do ** omit to ^ accomplish 

»* the harvest ** lo *« behold the fields 

*' that they are white for harvesting *• Already ** reward 

^ omit both •* For ** the word •* ye have not toiled 

*^ others have toiled, and ye have entered into their toil 

•* And from that city many of the Samaritans •« in 

•' because of the word ®® bearing witness «» all things 

^^ When therefore '* abide ^« omit own ^* And they 



believe, not because of thy saying :'* for '* we have heard ////// * *"8^^Tohn* 
ourselves/* and" know that this is indeed the Christ/* "the ,, sie'&ap. ui. 

Saviour of " the world. 

'* No longer because of thy speaking do we believe 
'• for ourselves '' and we 

" omit him 

'* omit the Christ 

o 5ee diap. iii. 


Contents. The general ohject aimed at in the 
relation of the story of Nicodemus in chap. iii. is 
pursued in the account given us in this section of 
the interview of Jesus, first with the Samaritan 
woman, and then with the inhabitants of Sychar, 
who are brought by her to listen to His teaching. 
The subordinate parts are — (i) vers. 1-4, introduc- 
tory, after the manner of the introduction to the 
story of Nicodemus in ii. 23-25 ; (2) vers. 5-26, 
interview with the Samaritan woman; (3) vers. 
27-30, the mission of the woman to her fellow- 
townsmen; (4) vers. 31-38, the conversation of 
Jesus with His disciples, in regard to the nature 
and success of their work ; (5) vers. 39-42, the 
work of Jesus among the inhabitants of Sychar. 

Vers. i-t. When theref Die the Lord perceived 
that the Phulwee had heard, Jesua maketh 
and baptlxeth move discipleB than John, (though 
Jeaiia himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 
he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 
The object of these verses is to explain the reason 
why Jesus now left Judea for Galilee. How long 
He liad remained in Judea we are not informed 
(see the note on chap. liL 22), being only told that 
in the countrv districts the success of His ministry 
had excited tlie notice of the Pharisees (of Jerusa- 
lem), and had led to comparisons between the two 
teachers who had so suddenly appeared in the 
land. It will be observed that the circumstances 
described in this verse are substantially the same 
as those brought before us in the words of the dis- 
ciples of John after their disputation with the Jew 
(chap. iii. 26). They said to their master that to 
Jesus all were coming, — that is, by plain inference, 
more were flocking to Jesus than to the Baptist. 
It is only necessary to allow a short interval of 
time for the diffusion of the news, and we are 
brought to the state of things presented here. If, 
then, t'jere is this close connection between chap. 
iiL 25, 26, and the opening of the present chapter, 
it seems impossible to beueve that the imprison- 
ment of the Baptist can have taken place in the 
interval, when in chap. iii. 24 the Evangelist ex- 

f)ressly refers to the fact that John was as yet at 
ibert^. The imprisonment is nowhere expressly 
mentioned by him ; but while it is very easy to 
understand such an omission if the event fell in 
one of those intervals which separate so markedly 
the successive narratives of his Gospel, it would 
be strai^ if, in a closely connected paragraph, he 
should nrst record that the imprisonment had not 
yet taken place, and then, although the event took 

flace at the very time, pass over it in silence, 
t seems, then, much more natural to interpret the 
words heard by the Pharisees as meaning that 
Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than 
John is mcLking and baptizing^ than to suppose the 
contrast to be between the present action of the 
one and the past ministry of the other, — as if the 
words were, 'Jesus maketh more disciples than 
John used to make. * Hence we r^;ard the ministry 
of John as still enduring at the period to which 
this verse relates. The journey into Galilee now 

alluded to is not, therefore, that recorded in Matt, 
iv. 12, which was taken after the imprisonment 
of John. (See further the note on chap. vi. I.) 
On the determination of this question rests the ex- 
planation of our Lord's departure from Judea. If 
John had now been delivered up to his foes, the 
Evangelist's meaning might be that Jesus withdrew 
from a persecution which those who had success- 
fully opposed the Baptist would surely raise against 
One wnose success was even greater. But such a 
meaning is beset with difficulties, for there would 
be something strange and unlike the style of this 
Gospel in so brief an allusion to the avoidance by 
our Lord of open hostility at this early period of His 
ministry ; and it would not be easy to see why the 
Pharisees should be expressly mentioned and not 

* the Jews.* If, however, we take the view de- 
fended above, that the Baptist was still pursuing 
his course, these difficulties disappear. Not to 
escape from persecution, but to put an end to com- 
parisons which (however true in fact) were mis- 
chievously used, Jesus retired from the land in 
which John was teaching and baptizing. True, 
He must increase and John must decrease ; but the 
hour for the close of John's preparatory labours 
had not yet come, and the purposes of Jesus Him- 
self would be best furthered by the complete ac- 
complishment of the Baptist's mission. Individuals 
mignt be removed from the circle of John's dis- 
ciples and be received by Jesus (see chap. i. 37) ; but 
a general impression of this kind could not be made 
until a certain work of preparation had taken place. 
For His own sake, therefore, it was not desirable 
that this preparation - work should prematurely 
close. Again, we shall thus better understand the 
mention of the Pharisees. That class had rigidly 
and suspiciously inquired into John's right to 
assume the position of a prophet, and the report 
which they now heard might well rouse them to 
renewed action in their character of defenders of 
the faith and religious practice of their nation. 
Any such action on their part could hardly fail 
at this stage to be injurious, even if it were 
directed against John and not against Tesus Him- 
self. But there was no reason to think that their 
opposition would be limited to the Baptist. Jesus, 
too, would have His work interrupted by their 
embittered feeling. Not, therefore, to avoid His 
enemies, but to transfer His labours to freer and 
more open fields, did our Lord withdraw from 
Judea at this time. The remarkable indirectness 
of the language of this verse is explained by the 
writer's wish to seize the very moment at which the 
withdrawal from Judea became necessary. The 
sojourn of Jesus in the neighbourhood of John's 
sphere of action brought out John's distinct confes- 
sion of the relation in which he stood to his Lord. 
That was for the present enough ; and the sojourn 
terminated at the very moment when it threatened to 
be the means of injuring the Baptist's work, and of 
precipitating the open conflict between Jesus and 
the Jews.— It seems most natural to take the word 

* knew ' or * perceived ' as referring, not to infor- 



mation obtained, but to supernatural knowIc(I<;e 
compare chap. ii. 24, 25). Most seemly, there- 
fore, IS the designation of Jesus here as 'the Lord * 
— a rare usage with John, who commonly employs 
the personal name Jesus. Because He was the 
I^ord, not man only, He discerned the first stirrings 
of hostility in the minds of the Pharisees and the 
occasion which gave them birth. Afterwards the 
name Jesus occurs, because the Evangelist quotes 
the very words of the report, — a report indeed 
containing an incorrect statement, set right in the 
parenthesis which follows. But there was nothing 
unnatural in the error. Jesus might easily b? 
represented as baptizing (compare chap. iii. 22), 
because His disciples could only have acted in His 
name and by rlis authority. The Pharisees 
could not know why He should abstain from 
performing the act Himself: we know that His 
oaptism was not with water but with the Holy 
Ghost, and ' the Holy Ghost was not yet given * 
(chap. vii. 39). Such, then, were the circum- 
stances amidst which Jesus ' left ' Judea and re- 
tired into Galilee. The word used for * left * is 
interesting, and confinns our interpretation. It 
means literally 'let go,* 'let alone ;* and it is hardly 
possible not to feel that by his use of it the Evan- 
gelist would direct our attention to the fact that 
Tsraers rejection of God's mercy was, in the wis- 
dom of the Divine arrangements, the cause why it 
was itself rejected, and the other nations of the 
world called. — It should be added that we have 
assumed throughout that ^Enon and Salim were 
situated in Judea, so that both Jesus and the Bap- 
tist were at this time in the same region of the 
country. If Salim was near Scythopolis, in 
Samaria (which seems very unlikely), the argu- 
ment is not seriously affected. In any case, it is 
clear that for the time Jesus wished to remove His 
sphere of labour from the immediate view of the 
Pharisees by a retirement into Galilee. 

Ver. 4. And he must needs go through 
Samaria. The natural route from Judea to 
Galilee lay through Samaria. The other route, 
through the country on the east of Jordan, was so 
much longer that no one would choose it unless 
desirous of avoiding Samaria. The necessity here 
spoken of, therefore, may simply have reference to 
geo^aphical position, and to the present urgent 
motive for reaching Galilee without delay. Still 
the use of ' must ' in this Gospel compels us to lay 
an emphasis on the word, and to interpret it as 
denoting more than merely usage or convenience. 
If the Evangelist's thought is that the hostility of 
the Pharisees (partly actually existing, partly fore- 
seen) made it necessary for the Saviour to hasten 
into Galilee, then he would have us understand 
that the Jews themselves brought about this visit 
to the hated nation of the Samaritans. But above 
and beyond all this, there seems a clear intimation 
of the truth brought before us in ver. 34, chap. ix. 
4, etc. : here, as always, Jesus acts according to 
His knowledge of His Father's will. 

Ver. 5. He oometh therefore to a city of 
Samaria which is called Sychar. * From the hills 
through which the main route of Palestine must 
always have run the traveller descends into a wide 
plain, the widest and the most beautiful of the 
plains of the Ephraimite mountains, one mass of 
com unbroken by boundary or hedge, from the 
midst of which start up olive trees, themselves 
unenclosed as the fields in which they stand. 
Over the hills which close the northern end of this 

plain, far away in the distance, is caught the first 
glimpse of the snowy ridge of Hermon. Its 
western side b bounded by Uie abutments of two 
mountain ranges, running m>m west to east. These 
ranges are Gaisim and Ebal ; and up the opening 
between them, not seen from the plain, lies the 
modem town a( N&blus . . . the most beautiful, 
perhaps it might be said the only very beautiful 
spot in central Palestine. * ^ Niblus is a conruption 
of Neapolis, the name given by the Romans to the 
' new city ' built nearly on the site of the ancient 
Shechem. The city which gave its name to this 
district of the Holy Land, Samaria, distant about 
six miles, had recently been rebuilt in a style of 
great magnificence by Herod the Great, who gave 
it the name of Sebaste. But, partly through the 
prestige of its antiquity and fumous history, and 
partly through the power of religious associations, 
Shechem was pre-eminently the city of Samaria. 
It lay, as has been said, at the foot of Mount 
Ger'izim, on the summit of which was the temple 
of the Samaritans, the stronghold of their worship 
for nearly three hundred years. It is impossible 
here to do more than trace the main outlines of the 
history of the Samaritan people. Their origin has 
in modem times been a subject of warm contro- 
versy. The narrative of 2 Kin^ xxv. 12 certainly 
seems to imply that aU the inhabitants of the 
country were carried away to ' Halali and Habor 
and the cities of the Medes * (2 KiLgs zviL 6) : 
Josephus also speaks of the transplanting of all the 
people. But, apart from the improl^bility that 
such a wholesale deportation would be made, we 
find both in Scripture (2 Chron. xxxiv. 9^ and 
perhaps xxx. I, 5, 10) and also in Tosephus inti- 
mations that some few at least of the inhabitmts 
remained, after the land had been colonised by 
settlers from Cuthah and other cities of Assjrria. 
In the manner related in 2 Kings xvii. Uiesc 
colonists were led to mingle a worship of Jehovah 
as the tutelary Deity of their new country with the 
idolatry brought with them from their native cities. 
What we read of their history at a later date is in 
exact accord with the mixed character of their 
race and their worship. They referred their own 
origin only to Assyria (Ezra iv. 2), yet they were 
desirous of fraternising with the Jews in their 
work of rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem ; and, 
when finally repulsed by the Jews and defeated in 
their attempts to injure and frustrate their work, 
they built (B.C. 409) a rival temple on Mount 
Gerizim after the model of that in terusalem, tak- 
ing as their first high priest one whom Nehemiah 
hstd expelled (Neh. xiii. 28). From this time they 
seem to have maintained a system of worship 
modelled on that of the Jews, their older idolatry 
being, as far as we can judge, entirely renounced. 
Of the Scriptures the Samaritans received one 
portion only, the Pentateuch ; but for this they 
professed peculiar reverence. A comparison of 
the Samaritan Pentateuch with that of the Hebrew 
Bible shows that many alterations had been intro- 
duced into the text by the Samaritans, but at the 
same time that these had only been made for the 
purpose of authenticating their own mode of wor- 
ship and of maintaining the honour of their sacred 
places. ITiis partial agreement, however, between 
the reli^ous beliefs of the two peoples, so far from 
preventing, had really led to the most determined 
nostility between them. To the Jew, a man of 
purely Gentile descent and a man of mixed race 
I Stanley, Smai and PaUstitu, pp. 933, 934. 



were eaually Gentiles ; and an approximation to 
Jewish belief and modes of worship gave no claim 
of brotherhood with Jews. Hebrew literature is 
full of strangely varying statements in regard to 
the Cuthim (as they are called), — statements which 
probably reflect the relations subsisting between 
the nations at different periods (see Smith's Die- 
tiamary of the BibU^ iii. 11 17, 11 18). In the time 
of our Lord the temple on Mount Gerizim had 
long been in ruins, but both the mount and the 
city at its foot had retained their sacred character ; 
and it was here that the true Samaritan practices 
and traditions had their strongest hold on the 
people. The slight sketch which we have been 
able to give of the history of this people will be 
sufficient to show how singular was their situation. 
llie ancient writings of the Jews themselves deal 
with Samaritans now as with heathen, now as 
with men belonging to the stock of Israel ; and the 
narrative of this chapter places them in the same 
position — a position not wholly Gentile, but inter- 
mediate between the Jewish and the Cxentile world. 
— It has been commonly assumed that the 'city 
called Sychar ' is identical with Shechem, and the 
chief subject of controversy has been the motive 
for the change of name. Whilst some have regarded 
the alteration as a mere error of pronunciation, 
most have ascribed it to Jewish prejudice, inter- 
preting Sychar as ' drunkard * or ' falsehood : * 
others, again, have considered the word identical 
with a well Sokhar mentioned in the Talmud. It 
seems more probable, however, that Sychar is a 
village still known by a name substantially the 
same (El-Askar), situated about two miles to the 
east of the present town of Ndblus. This village 
is nearer than Shechem can have been to the well 
which bore the name of Jacob ; and it is much 
more likely that the Evangelist would pause to 
describe the position of such a place than that of 
the ancient city of Shechem. — liear to the parcel 
of gnmiid that Jacob gave* to his son Joseph. 
There can be no doubt that, in speaking of Jacob's 
gift to his son Joseph, John refers to Gen. xlviii. 22, 
' I have given thee one portion above thy brethren,' 
—^whatever meaning may be attached to the last 
words of that verse. The Hebrew word here 
rendered 'portion' is identical with the name 
Shechem. At Shechem, therefore, were the bones 
of Joseph buried (Josh. xxiv. 32), and the city and 
surrounding country 'became the inheritance of 
the children of Joseph.' 

Ver. 6. Nov there was a fountain there, 
Jaoob*s fonntaiii. The distinction between the 
natural spring and the artificial well is usually 
maintained with great care in the language of Scrip- 
ture. Now and then, however (as is veiy natural), 
a well, fed as it is by springs, is itself called a 
spring or fountain. Thus ' the angel of the Lord 
found' Hagar 'by a fountain of water in the 
wilderness ' (Gen. xvi. 7), and ' the luell was called 
Beer-lahai-roi ' (ver. 14); and in the narrative of 
Gen. xxiv., where in the Authorised Version we 
find 'well' three times (in vers, ii, 13, 16), the 
original has first well^ then spring or fountain 
twice. The country round Shechem was a place 
of ' fountains and depths that spring out in vallev 
an J hill' (Deut. viu. 7); but it is not of such 
natural springs that we must here think. What in 
this verse is called a fountain is a ' well ' in vers. 
II and 12. Yet it may be worth noticing that the 
lalter name is used by the woman of Samaria: to 
the Evangelist the well is a 'fountain,' and his 

name implies far deeper and richer thoughts than 
hers. An almost continuous tradition fi]bes beyond' 
doubt the position of this well, which lies very 
near the rosul by which our Lord would be travel- 
ling from Judea to Galilee ; and amongst the in- 
habitants of the adjoining towns it is still known 
as the well of Jacob or the fountain of Jacob. 
When visited by Maundrell two hundred years ago 
the well was more than 100 feet deep, but the 
accumulation of rubbish has diminished the depth 
to 75 feet: the bore is 9 or 10 feet wide. Tnat 
Jacob (if indeed this patriarch's name was rightly 
given to the well, and there is no reason for ques- 
tioning the tradition) should have sunk this well, 
excavated out of the solid rock, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of abundant springs, is a striking 
proof of the insecurity of his pK>sition in the ' land 
of promise,' and of his precarious relations with 
the people of the country. — Jesus therefore, 
being wearied with his joumey, sat thus by 
the fountain. Shechem was one of the main 
halting-places on the route from Jerusalem to 
Galilee. Turning off a little from the road, 
Jesus reached the well, and (now alone, because 
His disciples had gone into Sychar to buy pro- 
visions) wearied with a long day's travel He 
'sat thus'— sat, wearied as He was — 'by the 
fountain,' or on the low wall built round the well. 
— ^It was about the sixth hour. As in the other 
passages in which John mentions the ' hour,' there 
has been great difference of opinion respecting the 
time intended. If the ordinary reckoning be 
adopted, as in the other Gospels, the sixth hour 
would fall in the morning, a little before noon. 
But for the reasons assigned in the note on chap, 
i. 39, it seems much more probable that a different 
computation is followed here, in which, as among 
ourselves, the hour is oi fixed length (not a twelfth 
part of the variable interval between sunrise and 
sunset), and the time is reckoned from midnight 
and noon. By 'sixth hour,' therefore, according 
to the usage of the ancients, we must understand 
either the hour between 5 and 6 A.M. or the hour 
between 5 and 6 p.m. On the whole, the latter 
seems more probable. If our Lord's journey 
through Samaria took place in the middle of De- 
cember (see the note on ver. 35), 5 P.M. would be 
about the time of sunset, and the evening twilight 
would last until about half-past 6. This hour was 
the ordinary time at which women came forth to 
draw water at the public wells. No difficulty 
need be felt on account of the lateness of the hour, 
for very little time is really required for all that 
is here related up to the 38th verse (comp. Mark 
i. 32 ; Luke iv. 40). 

Ver. 7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to 
draw water. By Samaria here we are of course 
to understand the country not the city of Samaria. 
The woman belonged to Sychar ; b^ race and re- 
ligion she was a Samaritan, and it is to this fact, 
as is shown by the preposition employed in the ori- 
ginal, that the Evangelist would direct our special 
attention. It was very natural that she should 
come at this time to draw water at the well ; but 
from the narrative that follows it seems probable 
that something more than the excellence of the 
water drew her to it day by day. One so strongly 
imbued with the ancient traditions of her country- 
men could not but turn with deepest interest to 
'Jacob's well.' 

Vers. 7, 8. Jesus saith onto her, Give me to 
drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto 


the m]ticit preferred, to lulurat from the Lpi u( 
a wciry (nveller (comp. Gen. xii*. 17}. We 
may ntheT imi^oe her U hulcning lo procare 
what was asked for, whilsl nol failing to point out 
how ioconsistcnt with Jewish principtei it wax ta 
ask eren foi such a favour as this. As has been 
said above, the maxims of the Jews respecting in- 
tercourse with the Sunaritin people vaiicd much 
at different timet, and it it not easy to say what 
rules prevaileil at the period with which we are 
here concerned. One precept of the Talmod 
(quoted in the O/i/, of Iki Bible, iii. 1 117) approves 
their mode of preparing the flesh of tnunali; 
others commend their unleavened bread, their 
cheese, and finally all their food. Eltew b eie, 
however, we find rettrictiont ; and the wine, vine- 
gar, etc. , of the Samaritans are forbidden to every 
Israelite, their counlr)' only with its mads add its 
products being n^arded as clean. This 
: shows that it was held lawful lo boy 
Samaritan town, so that the words of tbti 

i for they had left no vessel by 
which the water could be drawn from the deep 
well. It has been conjectured that the recorder 
(if this narrative had not gone on to Sychar with his 
fellow- disciples, but himself heard the Saviour's 
conversation with the Samaritan woman. The 
conjecture is most improbable, if not altogether 
contrary to the statement of the Evangelist. We 
cannot doubt that it was from our Lord's own lips 
that the beloved disciple received the whole ac. 

Ver. 9. The BuuiritMi wonuui therefore faith 
nolo \im. How ia It thst thon, being * Jew, 
•ikeat drink «f me, which am a SiuiiaTitan 
woman T for Jewi have no dealingi with B«jn«. 
Titana. It is evident that lesus was at once recog- 
nised as a Jew, prob.ibly through some difference 
of accent, or language, or dress. We can hardly 
auppoM that the woman was really surprised at 

Jewsavoided allyamf/iar intercourse with the alien 
people, sought and expected no favours at their 
hands. It IS usually assumed that tlie last sen- 
tence is inserted by the Evangelist in the interest 
of Gentile readers. It may be so, as such short 
parenthetical explanations are certainly to be 
found elsewhere in this Gospel. There seems, 
however, no sufficient reason for removing the 
clause from the woman's answer. The repetition 
of the well.known mailra gives a pitiuant em- 
phasis to her words, bringing out with sliarp dis- 
tinctness the contrast between the principles of 
the countrymen of Jesus and the request which 
necessity had extorted. The use of the present 
tense ('have no dealings') adds some support 
to Ibis view ; and one can hardly avoid the 
conviction that, had John himself given such an 
explanation, he would have so expressed himself 
" ' avoid all appearance of discordance with 
It in ver. 8. 

Ver. TO. Jeaiu amiwenid and aald Dnlo hw. 
If thoD kneweat the gift of Qod, tuad who ft la 
that nith to thea, QiTe me to diink; Uiov 
wonldeat have aaked of lilm, and he wsnki 
have given thea living water. We may well 
believe that there was something in the manner ol 
Jesus, when uttering His first words, that invited 
conversation, and was intended to lead the woman 
to inquiry. This point gained, His next won^ 
could but cause surprise and excite remark. Her 
answer had told of her recognition of Him as a 
Jew: His reply declares her ignorance of Ilim 
and of what fie was able to give. The 'gift of 
(jod' is probably not different from the 'living 
water' afterwards mentioned. John himself gives 
an explanation of the latter in chap. vii. 39, and 
his interpretation must be applied here also 
' Living water,' then, denotes the gift of the Holy 
Spirit. This was prc.eminently the promised giu 
ot the Father (sec especially Isa. xhv. ; Joel ii.), 
beautifully and most aptly symbolized by the fresli 



spnmnri}; water, which wherever it comes makes 
the desert rejoice, and everything live (Ezek. 
xlviL 9). This was also the especial gift of the 
Son (see chap. i. 33), in whom the promises of 
the Father are fiimlled (2 Cor. i. 20). Had the 
woman known Gud's gift, known also that the 
Dispenser of this ^^ stood before her, she would 
have been the petitioner, and He, with no delay 
and without upbraiding, would have given her 
living water. 

Ver. II. She saiih unto him. Sir, thou hast 
noUdng to draw with, and the well is deep: 
from whence then hait thou that living water? 
In the answer of Jesus there was much to cause 
surprise, especially in the emphatic reference to 
Himself; but there was nothing in the actual 
terms used that compelled the hearer to seek for 
a figurative meaning. ' Living water ' was a 
phrase in ordinary use in speaking of the fresh 
bubbling spring or the flowmg brook. 'Isaac's 
servants digged in the valley and found there a 
spring of living water' (Gen. xxvi. 19, margin). 
Wherever runnmg water is spoken of in the cere- 
monial law, the same expression is used. Hence 
nothing more than the fresh spring that supplied 
the well might at first be presented to the woman's 
mind, and that this precious gift came of the 
Divine bounty would oe no unfamiliar thought. 
Though, as a Samaritan, she might know little or 
nothing of God's promise of His Spirit under this 
very emblem, or of Jeremiah's comparison of God 
Himself to a fountam of living waters (Jer. ii. 13), 
yet reflection would suggest some such meaning. 
At present, however, she answers without reflec- 
tion, and perceives no higher promise than that of 
the Creator's bounty, attained without the use of 
ordinary means. 

Ver. 12. Art thou greater than oar father 
Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank 
thereof himaelf, and his eoiui, and his cattle? 
It was from Joseph that the Samaritans were 
wont to claim descent ; all the district around be- 
longed to his children. But Jacob here receives 
special mention as the giver of the well. The 
well was his ; he drank of it himself. Again the 
thought is forced upon us, that the Samaritan 
woman had sought this well partly on account of 
its connection with the fathers of her people. The 
feeling roav have been tinged with superstition, 
but it was honourable in itself. The first part of 
her answer (ver. ii) showed how limited the 
range of the woman's thoughts still was : in the 
woras of this verse wc see her dawning conviction 
of the Stranger's greatness, and the impression 
made upon her by His manner and His words. 

Ver. 13. Jeraa answered and said nnto her, 
Evesy one that drioketh of this water shall 
tUnt again. The Question receives no direct 
reply : the greatness of the Giver must be learnt 
from the ciuality of the gift. Even the living 
water from Jacob's well has no power to prevent 
the return of thirst. 

Ver. 14. But whosoever hath drunk of the 
water that I shall give him shall never thirst; 
bat the water that I shall give him shall become 
in him a foontain of springing water, unto 
eternal Ufe. The living water uf which Jesus 
speaks becomes in him who hath drunk of it a 
perennial fountain, — a fountain of water that is 
ever springing up in freshness and life, of water 
that not only is itself living, but that brings and 
gives eternal life. As before, this 'water is the 

Holy Spirit. The whole thought closely ap- 
proaches that of chap. vii. 38. There the pro- 
mise is, that out of the heart of him who comes 
unto Jesus that he may drink, who believes in 
Jesus, there shall flow rivers of living water ; 
• And this spake He of the Spirit.' The Holy 
Spirit is the special gift of Jesus ; and, recipro- 
cally, it is through the Holy Spirit that the be- 
liever remains united to his Lord in an abiding 
fellowship (chap. xvi. 14, 15), and that Jesus lives 
in him (chap. xvii. 23). These truths of the later 
discourses are really present here: Jesus, who 
first gives the living water, becomes in him that 
hath received it the fountain which supplies the 
same stream of life for ever. The end is life eter- 
nal, not attained in the remote future, but begun 
and actually present in every one who has received 
the water that Jesus gives; for all those to whom 
the Spirit is given experience that union with God 
which is eternal life (see the note on chap. iii. 14). 

Ver. 15. The woman saith unto him. Sir, give 
me this water, that I thirst not, neither come 
all the way hither to draw. These are words of 
simple earnestness. In the mysterious words of 
the Jewish traveller one thing was plain, — instead 
of the water she came to draw, water was offered 
that would satisfy thirst now and for ever. Could 
she gain this gift, she would no longer need to 
traverse the distance from Sychar to Jacob's well. 
Though much nearer than Shechem, £1-Askar is 
perhaps three-quarters of a mile from the well 
The later narrative makes it impossible for us to 
regard this answer as one either of flippancy or of 
dmness of fpiritual perception. It is in everyway 
more probable and true to nature to consider it 
as the expression of a bewildered mind eager to 
receive such a gift as has been offered, little as she 
could comprehend of what nature the gift could 
be. If we are right in the conjecture that other 
than common motives brought her to the well 
(see the note on ver. 12), it is still easier to under- 
stand her reply. With this verse comp. chap, 
vi. 34. 

Ver. 16. He saith nnto her, 60, call thy hus- 
band, and come hither. The promise Jesus has 
given is one of satisfaction, — a promise, therefore, 
which cannot be understood or fulfilled till the 
want has been clearly apprehended and felt. 
These sudden words are designed to produce this 
effect. He who ever * discerned what was in the 
man ' with whom He spoke, well knew what 
answer His words would call forth. Her past life 
and her present state proclaimed guilt and disap- 
pointment, carnality and wretchedness ; all this 
she must recognise and feel before His gift can be 

Ver. 17. The woman answered and said, I 
have no husband. The effect is produced. The 
woman's words are a genuine confession, — an ac- 
knowledgment, perhaps of wretchedness, certainly 
of guilt. — Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well 
said, I have no husband. He accepts the truth- 
fulness of her statement, but shows her how fully 
her life is known to Him. In this answer the 
emphasis lies on ^ husbatid;^ the woman's words 
are repeated with their order changed. * I have 
no husband : ' ' Well saidst thou, Husband I have 

Ver. 18. For thou hast had five husbands. 
The • five ' were no doubt lawful husbands, from 
whom she had been separated either by death or 
by divorce. — And he whom thou now nast is not 



thy htuband: thii thou hast laid truly. In con- 
trast with the lawful marriages is set the present 
unlawful union with one who was no husband. 
Her life was sinful : in what degree we cannot 
learn froii^ this brief statement. An age in which 
divorce was freely allowed cannot be judged by 
the same rules as one of stricter principles. What* 
ever may have led her to an evil life, it is plain 
that her heart was not yet hardened. 

Ver. 19. The woman aaith tiiito Mm, Sir, I 
peroeiye that thou art a prophet. Nothing can 
be more misleading than the idea that she is seek- 
ing to turn the conversation from an unwelcome 
subject, or to lead it to other topics than herself. 
Her answer is rather a fresh illustration of her in- 
ouiring and earnest character, notwithstanding all 
the sinfulness of her life. When her delighted 
wonder has found expression in her immediate 
acknowledgment, 'Sir, I behold that thou art a 
prophet, * ^e eagerly lays before Him a question 
which to her was of ail questions the most im- 

Ver. 20. Oar fathers worshipped in this moun- 
tain ; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place 
where men must worship. * This mountain * is 
of course Gerizim, near the foot of which they 
were standing. With this mountain was connected, 
as she believed, all the religious history of her 
iiAtion ; for in the very Scriptures which the Sama- 
ritans possessed (the Pentateuch) the name of 
Gerizim had been inserted in the place of the holy 
city of the Jews. She could point to the sacred spot 
on which their temple had stood, then and in all 
succeeding ages up to our own time pre-eminently 
•holy ground.* Her question was not prompted 
by mere curiosity or an interest in the settlement 
of an ancient controversy. It was a question of 
life and death to her. The claim of the Jews was 
exclusive. Not only 'ought' men to worship in 
Jerusalem, but that was the place where men must 
worship,-- the only true holy place. One cannot 
but think that their confident and consistent main- 
tenance of this first principle had long disturbed 
her mind ; and when she saw in the Stranger one 
who could declare God's will, she eagerly sought 
for the resolution of her doubt. As long as she 
knew not with certainty where was God's true 
altar, she had no means of satisfying her reli- 
gious wants. That her national pride had not 
stifled every hesitation on such a point as this 
plainly attests her earnestness: it is no ordinary 
candour that can look on the supremacy of Gerizim 
or Jerusalem as an open question. Her words 
imply a willingness to accept the revelation of the 
truth, whatever it may be, if only she can learn 
where with acceptance she may appear before 

Ver. 21. Jesus saith unto her. Believe me, 
woman, an hour cometh, when neither in this 
mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the 
Father. The woman can hardly have doubted 
that the decision of a Jewish prophet would be in 
favour of Jerusalem, but the answer of Jesus sets 
aside all ideas of sanctity of place. With neither 
of these two most hallowed spots shall the thought 
of true worship be bound up. In saying ' an hour 
cometh,' Jesus shows that He is not repeating a 
truth belonging to the revelation of the past, but 
is proclaimmg a new order of things. Yet the 
chief characteristic of the new order is, after all, 
not the equality of places where men worship, but 
the clear knowledge of the Being to whom worship 

is paid : from this the former flows. Samari- 
tans shall offer worship in spite of Jewish exdu- 
siveness, for they shall worship ike FmUut. 
' Israel is my son, even my first-bom/ were God's 
words to Pharaoh ; but now He ofTers the name 
to all, and the words of Jesus imply the abolition 
of every distinction^ not of plaice only hot of 
nation, in the presence of God, and for the pur- 
pose of true worship. 

Ver. 22. Ye worship that which ye know not: 
we wordiip that which we know. The two 
questions at issue between Jews and Samaritans 
were those of holy place and holy Scripture. The 
former, though of far inferior importance (as the 
Jews themselves were by their 'dispersioa' being 
gradually trained to know), was the more easily 
seized upon by national preiudice and zeaL Qi 
this quesfion Jesus has spoken. He passes on 
immediately to the other, which the woman had 
not raised, but which was of vital moment. The 
Samaritans did really worship God, — there is no 
slur cast on the intention and aim di their worship; 
their error consisted in clinging to an imperfect 
revelation of Him, receiving Moses but rejecting 
the prophets. Hating and avoiding Jews, they 
cut themselves off from the training given by God 
to that people through whom His mud purposes 
were to be made known to the world. It was the 
essential characteristic of the whole of Jewish 
history and prophecy that it g[radually led up to 
the Messiah ; that the successive prophets inade 
known with increasing clearness the nature of His 
kingdom ; and that every one who could under- 
stand their word saw that the Divine purpose to 
save the world was to be accomplished uixough 
One arising out of Israel. He who knew not God 
as thus revealing and giving salvation did not 
really know Him. Every Jew who truly received 
and understood the oracles of God committed to 
his trust (Rom. iii. 2) might be said to 'know ' the 
object of his worship ; and it is because our Lord is 
speaking of such knowledge, — knowledge respect- 
ing God given by the Scriptures which the Jews 
possessed, — that He says 'that which we know,* 
not ' Him whom we know.' ll)c Samaritans then 
worshipped that which they knew not,— in this 
more enlightened than the Athenians who built an 
altar to an unknown God, but inferior even to those 
of Israel who had ' a zeal of God but not according 
to knowledge,' and standing far below those meant 
by our Lord when He says *we worship,' — we, 
namely, who have really appropriated Israel's 
inheritance of truth and hope.— •Beoaoie tlie 
Salvation is of the Jews. ' The Salvation ' is that 
foretold in Scripture, and long watted for. The 
words are those of Jesus ; but, remembered and 
quoted as they are by the Evangelist, they show 
how unfounded is the charge sometimes laid against 
this Gospel, that it is marked by enmity to the 
Jewish people. It is only when ' the Jews ' have 
apostatized and rejected Jesms that the term 
becomes one of condemnation, designating the 
enemies of all goodness and truth. 

Ver. 23. But an hour oometh, and now Is, 
when the true worshippers shall worship the 
Father in spirit and truth. This verse links 
itself with both the preceding verses 21 and 23. 
To no place of special sanctity shall worship 
l)elong : though ' the salvation is of the Jews,' this 
involves no limitation of it to the Jewish nation 1 
on the contrary, an hour cometh when the true 
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and 


truth. 'An hour cometh' bad been said before 
by Jesus (ver. 21), but He could not then add 
' and now is;* for, till the truth set forth in ver. 22 
had been received, Samaritans could not truly 
worship ' the Father.' Now, however, they and 
all may do so. But the added words ' and now 
is' imply still more than this. Following the 
declaration that the Messianic salvation comes 
from among the Jews, th^ are no obscure inti- 
mation that, in Himself, the nour so long waited for 
has arrived, and thus they at least prepare for the 
direct announcement to be made in ver. 26. The 
word ' true ' here is that which has been already 
spoken of (see note on chap. L 9, the only place 
before this in which it has as yet occurred) as so 
common and so important in this Gospel. The 
worshippers denoted by it are not merely sincere, 
free from all falsehood and dishonesty ; they offer 
a worship that deserves the name, that fully 
answers to the lofty, noble, pure idea that the 
word ' worship ' brings before the mind. In the 
day now dawning ou the world such worshippers 
as these will worship the Father in spirit and 
truth. It is difficult to exhaust the meaning of 
these words, but we must start from the two 
thoi^hts of the verses which immediately precede : 
the first and chief points in the interpretation are, 
— not in sacred place but in spirit (ver. 2f ), not in 
imperiection of knowledge but in truth (ver. 22). 
The very name by which Jesus indicates the object 
of all worship, ' the Father ' (a name no longer 
used of a chosen nation, but offering to each man 
t^ personal relation to God), had prepared the way 
for the abolition of all limitations of place : the 
teaching is completed here, when man's spirit is 
declared to be the 'hallowed ground' where he 
may approach his Father and his God. Again, in 
the past all knowledge of God had been imper- 
feet, — not merely as our knowledge of the Infinite 
most be limited, but also in comparison with what 
may be known by man. Even Jews who held the 
oracles of truth saw in them as ' in a glass darkly ;' 
Samaritans who rejected the words of the prophets 
were iaj more ignorant. The law had been but a 
shadow of the good things to come, and not the 
very image of 3ie things (Heb. x. i) ; type and 
figure concealed whibt they revealed the future 
blessing. But ' the hour now is ' when the truth 
of God is revealed, — ' truth ' as well as ' grace ' has 
come (chap. L 17) ; and (in the full knowledge of 
it) wcvship may now be offered to the Father. 
Read in connection with other parts of our Lord's 
teaching, the words ' spirit and truth' express much 
that could not be apparent at the moment when 
they were spoken. The Son appearing as the 
reveller of the Father, Hunself the Truth, Him- 
self giving to men the Holy Spirit who alone can 
haUow man's spirit as the sanctuary of worship, — 
all these are thoughts which cannot but press on 
us as we roul this verse. — For the Father also if 
■eeUng foch, them that worship him. The 
hour of this real worship is already come, for the 
Father also is seeking such real worshippers. 
They are offering Him real homage, for He on 
His part is seeking them : His seeking — through 
His Son, come to save (ver. 23), and to seek that 
He may save (Luke xix. 10) — explains and renders 
possible this worship. There is much difficulty in 
determining the true meaning of the original in 
this clause. It is usually explained to mean either, 
'The Father seeketh that His worshippers be 
such ' {%*€., thai they should worship in spirit and 
VOL. II. 4 


truth), or, * For such the Father seeketh to be His 
worshippers.' Both interpretations involve serious 
difficulties, partly of language, partly of meaning. 
On the whole, the translation given above seems 
most probable, but its force is ndt at once apparent 
There is a curious variation in the Greek words, 
which is often considered accidental, or at all 
events too minute to be significant, but which we 
must regard as intentional and important In ver. 
21 and in the first part of 23 the word 'worship ' 
has its usual construction, but in this clause the 
case which follows the verb is suddenly changed, 
and a very unusual construction is introduced. 
We may repre^nt the force of the word as it is 
commonly used by ' offer worship to ; ' but as used 
in the clause before us and in ver. 24, the connec- 
tion of the verb with its object becomes more 
direct and close. An English reader can feel the 
force of a sudden transition from ' offering worship 
to the Father ' to * worshipping the Father.' The 
former may or may not be real and successful, and 
may be used of a lower as well as of the highest 
homage ; the latter implies actual attainment of 
the end desired, — reachmg Him in worship, if we 
may so speak ; and thus it may almost be said to 
contain m itself the qualifying words of the pre- 
ceding; clause, for the ^ real ' offering of worship to 
God IS equivalent to worshipping Him. If this 
view is correct, and we are persuaded that such a 
writer as John could not so vary the language 
without design, the meaning of the clause is : For 
also the Father is now seeking such men, — those, 
namely, who actually worship Him. There is thus 
a mutual seeking and meeting on the part of the 
Father and His children. 

Ver. 24. Ood is spirit : and they that worship 
him must worship in spirit and truth. Such 
worship as is described in the last verse is the only 
real worship that can be conceived. This verse 
does not say what men must do, in the sense of 
what men ou^ht to do. It is the nature of worship 
in itself that is described. . No other worship than 
that which is offered in spirit and truth can 
possibly be actual worship of God (the same idea 
is here expressed as in the last clause of ver. 23), 
because 'God is spirit.' We must not render 
these words ' God is a spirit,' for it is not person- 
ality that is spoken of, but abstract being, the 
nature of the Divine essence. Since the spiritual 
presence of God is everywhere, Gerizim and 
Jerusalem lose all claim to be the special places 
for His worship. Not the outward action of the 
worshipper, not the forms he uses or the gifts he 
brings, but his spirit alone can be brought to meet 
the spiritual presence of God. Where this is done, 
God Himself meets the spirit which He has 
sought and prepared, and to which He has made 
known the trum lying at the foundation of all 
worship, the truth which reveals Himself. In this 
wonderful passage are concentrated many of the 
most essential truths of New Testament teaching. 
The historical development of God's plan, the 
preparation for Christianity made by Judaism, the 
idea of progress from the outward to the inward, 
from the sensuous to the spiritual (comp. I Cor. 
XV. 46), the independence of forms which marks 
the essence of religion, and yet its freedom to 
clothe itself in form so long as the spirit is not 
lost, — these are the lessons taught here ; and how- 
ever special the form in which they are presented, 
they are in perfect accord with the whole course of 
New Testament doctrine. — The main principles of 



these verses would be understood by the woman 
to whom our Lord was speaking. But a day in 
which such principles should be realised must 
surely be that for wnich Samaria as well as Judea 
was waiting, — the 'latter days' of Messiah's 
advent ? 

Ver. 25. The woman laith unto him, I know 
Uiat Meniah oometh (which is caUed Ohziirt). 
There b nothing surprising in her avowal that a 
Deliverer was looked for. We know from other 
sources that this was, and still is, an article of the 
Samaritan as of the Jewish faith ; from age to age 
this people had waited in expectation of 'the 
Converter* or 'the Guide.' But the use of the 
Jewish name ' Messiah ' is more remarkable. We 
might suppose that it pointed to an approach 
towards Jewish faith and thought effected m this 
woman's heart by the teaching of Jesus, were it 
not that ver. 29 seems to show that the name was 
understood by Samaritans in general. Yet it could 
hardly be otherwise. Separated as the nations 
were, the famous name which the Jews universally 
applied to the Deliverer, for whose coming both 
peoples alike were waiting, would -naturally be 
known far beyond the limits of Judea. The 
explanatory parenthesis, * which is called Christ,' 
was no doubt added bv the Evangelist, who after- 
wards (ver. 29) translates the word without any 
mention of the Hebrew form. — ^When he la come, 
he will tell ns all thinga. There can be little 
doubt that the Samaritan hope was mainly founded 
on the great passage in the Pentateuch, Deut. xviii. 
15-18 (see note on chap. i. 21). The language 
here used, 'He will tell us all things,' at once 
reminds us of Deut. xviii. 18, 'He shall speak unto 
them all that I shall command him.' The depend- 
ence of the Samaritans on the Pentateuch alone 
would naturally lead to their giving prominence to 
the prophetic aspect of the Coming One, so 
emphatically presented in this passage of the Law, 
rather than to the aspects under which the 
Deliverer is viewed in the later books of the Old 
Testament The woman's words, indeed, may not 
convey her whole conception of Messiah, for the 
context has pointed only to revelation and teach- 
ing; but it is more than probable that many 
elements of the Jewish faith on this subject would 
be imknown in Samaria. If, however, the 
Samaritans expected less than the fuller revelation 
warranted, they at least escaped the prevalent 
Jewish error of looking for a Conqueror rather 
than a Prophet, for a temporal rather than a 
spiritual King. 

Ver. 26. JeBiia saith onto her, I that speak 
onto thee am he. She has sought and found the 
truth. The hope rising in her heart receives full 
confirmation ; and a revelation not yet so clearly 
and expressly given by Jesus to Israel is granted 
to this alien, whose heart is prepared for its recep- 

Ver. 27. And upon this came his disdpleB; 
and they marvelled that he talked with a 
woman: yet no man said. What seekestthon? 
or. Why talkest thou with herT To talk with a 
woman in public was one of six things forbidden 
to a Rabbi. As the disciples were returning from 
the village, they wonderingly descry their Master 
thus engaged. Their surprise, no doubt, found 
expression in these very questions (asked among 
themselves) which the Evangelist speaks of as not 
addressed to their Lord. 'What seeketh He? 
wliat can He be in quest of that we cannot fur- 

nish? or, if He b not seeking anjrthing, why is 
He talking with a woman?' The questions uttered 
to one another they would have at once addressed 
to Jesoi^ but awe checked their impulse to speak. 
Something in His look may have restrained them ; 
or the eager wondering attitude of the one, and 
the solenm earnestness of the Oth^, proclaiming 
the willing hearer and the earnest Teacher, may 
have forbidden them to interrupt such inter- 

Ver. 28. The woman therefore Mt lier waiar- 
pot, and went her way into the oitj. 'There- 
fore,' — ^because, the conversation bdng interropted, 
there was nothing to restrain her impulse to make 
known the marvels she had heard. In her eager- 
ness she leaves her waterpot behind: the * living 
water' has banished the thought of that whk^ 
came from Jacob's well.—And saith to tho man, 
whom she would naturally meet on the roads and 
in the streets. 

Ver. 29. Gome, lee a man, which told me all 
things that ever I did. She fixes on the wonder- 
ful knowledge which the Stranger had displayed : 
what had impressed her must ako convince them. 
Let them come for themselves, not rest on her 
testimony; and let them draw their own condn- 
sions. — Oan this he the Ohiist? Her own belief 
she expresses in the form of doubt, or problem to 
be solved ; and every reader must feel how natural 
and wise was her procedure. To have declared 
herself convinced that the Stranger was the Christ 
would have done little towarcb persuading the 
men of her own village : even to have quoted the 
declaration which Jesus made might have been 
without effect upon those who had seen or heard 
nothing to authenticate such words. 

Ver. 30. They went ont of the city, and were 
on their way unto him. This verse is here in- 
troduced partly to show the immediate success of 
the woman's message (no slight evidence of the 
preparedness of Samaria for the gospel), and 
partly to make plain the words of Jesus in a later 
verse (ver. 35). 

Ver. 31. In the mean while the dIaeipleBpnigfed 
him, saying, BabU, eat. Remembering His ex- 
haustion with the journey (ver. 6), they begged 
Him thus to take advantage of this interval of 

Ver. 32. But he said unto them, I have meat 
to eat that ye know not Literallv, 1 have an 
* eating * to eat The word for ' meat in ver. 34 is 
different from that used here, which rather denotes 
the meal, the partaking of the food, than the food 
itselH This 'eating' the disciples 'knew not' 
The common rendering entirely obscures the 
meaning: our Lord does not say 'know not of,' 
but 'know not,' — ye have no experience of it. 
As yet, they had not learned the power of such 
work as His (the complete fulfilment of His 
Father's will, ver. 34) to satisfy every want 

Ver. 33. Therefore said the diadpIeB one to 
another. Hath any man brought hhn ought to 
eat? Their perplexity is like that of the woman 
of Samaria in regard to the living water (ver. ii). 

Ver. 34. JesuB saith unto tl^m. My meat ia 
that I should do the will of him that sent 
me, and aooompUsh hia work. This is the first 
of many similar sayings in thb Gospel (v. 30, 
vi. 38, vii. 18, viiL 50, ix. 4, xii. 49, 50, xiv. 31, 
XV. ID, xvii. 4), expressing our Lord's perfect 
loyalty to His Father's will, and complete devo- 
tion to the accomplbhment of His Fatner's work. 



The pursuit of this is not His joy, His puqxise. 
His refreshment only, but His very food, that 
without which He cannot Uve. The ' will ' to be 
'done' may perhaps remind us of the action of 
the hour or the moment ; the ' work ' to be ' ac- 
complished,' of the complete expression and fulfil- 
ment of the 'will.' 

Ver. 35. Say not ye, — Has not your language 
this day been, — There are yet four months, and 
then Cometh the harvertT As harvest began 
in the middle of April it was now the middle of 
December.— lio 1 1 lay onto yoa, Lift ap your eyes, 
and bdidld the fieLds, that they are white for 
hanreiting. As in this chapter we have heard of 
a natural and a spiritual eating or drinking, — water 
<ver. 10), food (ver. 32), — so here, introduced with 
equal suddenness, we have the thought of a spiri- 
tual harvest. Yet, distant as must have seemed 
the harvest to the disciples when they looked upon 
the fields, far more distant would seem the day 
when Samaritans could be gathered in to the 
gamer of the Lord. But, lo ! they are bid see, 
the fields are already white for harvesting. These 
words, we cannot doubt, were spoken by Jesus in 
sight of the Samaritans flocking towards Him (ver. 
30) : He saw the preparation of their hearts, the 
impression made by the woman's message, the 
faith which His own words would imm^iately 
bring forth; nay. He saw a harvest far more 
glorious than that of this dav's labours, even 
that of the salvation of the world (comp. note on 
ver. 42). 

Ver. 36. Already he that reapeth receiveth 
rewAid, and gathereth fruit nnto life eternal: 
that he that toweth and he that reapeth may 
rejoioe together. The figure is continued and 
amplified. Not only are the fields ready for har- 
vesting but the reaper is even now at work, and 
receivu^ his reward; and how glorious a reward ! 
Not a Ufeless store, but (as in the case of the spring- 
ing water, ver. 14, and the eating that abidcth, 
chap. vi. 27) fruit gathered for life eternal, — fruit 
that shall endure for ever in the fruition of the 
new life which Jesus brings. And all this takes 
place ' already ' (the word even standing emphati- 
cally at the hesid of the sentence), that in the 
spiritual field — so quickly does the harvest follow 
the sowing of the seed — sower and reaper may 
rejoice together. 

Ver. 37. Tar herein is the word true. One 
•oweth, and another reapeth. For, in the spiri- 
tual field of which Jesus speaks, the familiar 
saying is true, has full reality (the word used 
signifying 'true,' as opposed not merely to what 
is fidse, but to all that is partial and imperfect), — 
that one has the labour of the sower, another the 
joy of the reaper. 

Ver. 38. I lent yon to reap that whereon ye 
hare not toiled: others have toiled, and ye 
have entered into their toiL The disciples are 
the reapers of this harvest ; their commission — in- 
cluding, however, that of the disciples of Jesus 
throu^out all time — was to reap a harvest which 
had not been prepared b^ their own toil. What- 
ever toU may be theirs, it is toil in reafingy — in joy- 
fully gathering the results of earlier toil. The 
surprise and gladness with which they would 
shortly witness the faith of the men of Sychar 
was an emblem of what should repeat itself con- 
tinually in the history of the Church. While the 
discif^ci are reapers, this harvesting in Samaria 
shows dearly who is the sower, whose has been 

the earlier toil. The words point to Jesus Him- 
self. From beginning to end of the narrative His 
'word,' first in the conversation with the woman, 
and then as spoken to the Samaritans (ver. 39), is 
the instrument by which the joyfiil result is gained. 
Nor must we limit our thought of His 'toil* to 
what is related of the work of tliis evening by 
Jacob's well. The ' toil ' that has made any har- 
vest possible is that of His whole mission. All 
that was necessaiy that He might be able to say 
' I am the Christ, the self-renunciation and sorrow 
and pain of His atoning and redeeming work, — 
virtually included in His one act of acceptance of 
that work, and present to His thought from the 
beginning, — is involved in His ' toil.* He says, 
indeed, ' Others have taiied^* and neither here nor 
in chap. iii. 1 1 can wc take the plural as simply 
standing for the singular. He Himself is chiefly 
intended, but others are joined as having shared 
in the preparatory work. He had been alone in 
conversing with the woman of Samaria ; but He 
had taken up and made use of all that she. had 
received from the teaching of Moses (ver. 25), and 
all that the Jews had learnt from the prophets. 
Thus He includes with Himself those who had 
prepared the way for His coming. For Him, and 
therefore with Him, they too ha3 * toiled;' but all 
His servants who come after Him find the field pre- 
pared, the toil past, the harvest of that toil ready 
to be reaped. 

Ver. 39. And from that city many of the 
Samaritans believed in him because of the word 
of the woman, bearing witness. He told me all 
things that ever I did. The arrangement of the 
words shows the prominence which John would 
give to the thought that many Samaritans be- 
lieved in Jesus. Their faith, too, was only medi- 
ately called forth by the woman's word, for the 
Evangelist describes her by his favourite and 
most expressive term, as one 'bearing witness' 
concerning Jesus. 

Ver. 40. When therefore the Samaritans were 
come unto him, they besought him that he 
would abide with them: and he abode there two 
days. Mark the contrast between Judea repelling 
and Samaria inviting : a dead and petrified ortho- 
doxy may be more proof against the word of life 
than heresy. 

Vers. 41, 42. And many more believed because 
of his word; and they said nnto the woman, No 
longer because of thy speaking do we believe : 
for we have heard for ourselves, and we Imow 
that this is indeed the Saviour of the world. 
Among tliose that heard the Saviour were evi- 
dently some who had first believed because of the 
woman's testimony (* No lottger . . .') : hearing 
for themselves, they were led into a deeper faith. — 
There is nothing disparaging, as some have sup- 
posed, in the use of the word ' speech ' or ' speak- 
ing ' in reeard to the woman's message : the 
expression is simply equivalent to because thou 
spakesty and relates to the fact of speaking, in con- 
trast with the substance of the teaching, — the 
* word * of Jesus Himself. — The last words in the 
confession of the Samaritans (this is indeed the 
Saviour of the world) contain no real difficulty. 
The teaching: of vers. 21-24 clirectly led to the 
recognition of this truth. It was much to realise 
that Jesus, as Messiah, was a Saviour, not merely 
a Prophet who would bring a revelation from God. 
But when the thought of a Saviour of Jews alone 
is once overpassed, there is no intermediate posi- 


lion between this and the conception contained in to point out to us the special significance of the 
the words before us — a Saviour of the world, whole narrative: the conversion of Samaritans 
The Evangelist, in recording them, plainly intends was a promise of the convernon of the world. 

Chapter IV. 43-54. 

Jesus in Galilee. 

43 "\TOW after *two' days he departed' thence, and went* «ver.4o. 

44 IN into Galilee. For * Jesus himself testified/ that a*Comp.Mau. 

45 prophet hath no honour in his own country. Then when* he Marfia.4: 
was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, ^having «i?oLake 
seen all the things that* he did at Jerusalem at the feast : for <^c?>ap.ii.«3; 

111. a. 


they also went unto the feast 

So Jesus came again ' into ^ Cana of Galilee, where he made i^chap. iL «. 
the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman,' whose son 

47 was sick at ' Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was -^come • chap. ii. ». 
out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him 

that he would come down, and heal his son : for he was at the 

48 point of death. Then said Jesus • unto him, ^ Except ye see ^5i**tE'."' **• 

49 * signs and * wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman " 

50 saith unto him, Sir," come down ere my child die. Jesus saith 
unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And" the man be- 
lieved the word that Jesus had spoken " unto him, and he went 

5 1 his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met 

52 him, and told ///;«," saying. Thy son liveth." Then enquired 
he of them " the hour when he began to amend. And they 
said " unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left 

53 him. So the father knew " that it was at the same hour,, in the 
which Jesus said unto him. Thy son liveth : and himself believed, 

54 ' and his whole house. This is again * the second miracle tluit if^vn, 34. 

I Cor. I. »2. 
ii. aj. 
h Matt. xxtv. 
34 : Acts ii. 

Jesus did," when he was come'" 'out of Judea into Galilee. 

* And after the two ^ went forth 

* bare witness * When therefore 
'He caine therefore again 

* Jesus therefore said *® king's officer 

^* omit And ** spake ^* omit and told him 
*• He enquired of them therefore 

* omit and went 

* all things whatsoever 

* king's officer 

^' that his son lived 
*' They said therefore 

A Chap, ii 

/Ven».3, 47. 

^® perceived *• This Jesus again did, as a second sign, *® having come 

Contents. This section of the Gospel brings 
Jesus before us in Galilee, in His intercourse with 
the Galileans, and in particular with the king's 
officer, who may be regarded as in a certain sense 
their representative. The object is still the same 
as that which we have traced from chap. ii. 12. 
Examples have been given of the manner m' which 
Judea and Samaria submit to the word of Jesus, 
and these are now crowned by an instance of 
similar submission on the part of Galilee. The 
section divides itself into two subordinate parts ~ 

(i) vers. 43-45, introductory, after the manner of 
the introduction to the story of Nicodemus in ii. 
23-25, and of that to the visit to Samaria in iv. 
1-4; (2) vers. 46-54, the account of the inter- 
course of Jesus with the king's officer. 

Vers. 43, 44. And after Uie two days he went 
forth thence into Galilee. For Jeraa himself 
bare witnen, that a prophet hath no honotir in 
hifl own country. The connection between these 
two verses is a question on which the most differ- 
ent opinions have been held. The latter verse 


evidently assigns a reason why Jesus went into 
Galilee; and (we may add) ver. 45, which b^ns 
with * IVkfH thertfore^^ must be understood as 
statii^ that the welcome He received in Galilee 
was in full accordance with the motive of His 
acUon as stated in ver. 44, These two conditions 
of interpretation must evidently be observed, and 
yet in several solutions of the difficulty one or 
other of them is plainly set aside. Were we to 
judge only from what is before us, we should say 
that the words must mean: Jesus went into Gali- 
lee and not into His own country, for there He 
would be a prophet without honour; and so, 
when He came mto Galilee, He was welcomed 
by the people. If such be the true sense, ' His 
own country * must be Judia, This is certainly 
not the meaning of these words in the earlier 
Gospels, and hence the difficulty. A similar say- 
ing IS recorded b^ every one of the three earlier 
£vanp[elists, and m each case it is introduced to 
explain the neglect of the claims of Jesus on the 
part of the inhabitants of Nazareth, the city of 
Galilee in which His early years were spent (Matt. 
xiii. 57; Mark vi. 4; Luke iv. 24). In one case, 
Mark vi. 4, the saying is enlarged so as to apply 
especially to kindred, and not to country alone. 
If then we have rightly given the sense of these 
verses of John, it must follow that, though the 
saying quoted is nearly the same here as else- 
where, the application is wholly diflferent, ' His 
own country oeing in the one case Galilee (or 
rather Nazareth), and in the other Judea. This 
is by many held to be impossible. But is it really 
so? Would not such a difference be in exact 
accord with the varied aims of the first three Evan- 
gelists and the fourth, as they respectively relate 
the Galilean and the Judean ministry of our Lord ? 
The sajring is one that may be used with various 
shades of meaning. Used in relation to Nazareth, 
the proverb brings before us the unwillingness 
with which the claims of a prophet are listened to 
by those who have erown up with him, have fami- 
liarly known him, have r^^arded him as one of 
themselves. Used in relation to Judea, the true 
home and fatherland of the prophets, the land 
which contained the city of Messiah's birth, the 
city aswciated with Him alike in ancient pro- 
phecy and in popular expectation (see chap. vii. 
41, 4a), the words surely signify that a prophet is 
unhoQoored by those to whom he is espeaally sent : 
Jesus came unto His own country, and ' His own 
received Him not.' This interpretation then 
(which is that of Origen, in the third century) 
seems completely to meet the requirements of the 
pamge. in Samaria Jesus had not intended 
to remain, and He must therefore either return to 
Judea or go into Galilee; to Judea He will not 
^ for the reason given; He departs therefore 
mto Galilee. There is only one objection of any 
weight to the view we have taken — viz., that in 
vers. 1-3 of this chapter a somewhat different 
motive tor leaving Judea is assigned; yet even 
there, though success in winning disciples is im- 
plied, it is said that He left the land because of 
the Pharisees. If this last consideration does not 
entirdy remove the difficulty, it is to be borne in 
mind that our knowledge of the circumstances is 
imperfect, and that, even in its utmost force, the 
objection is much smaller and less important than 
those which lie in the way of the other interpreta- 
tion of 'His own country.' For such as think 
that Galilee must be intended there are but two 


explanations possible : these we give, only ex- 
pressing our belief that they involve difficulties 
much greater than those presented by the other 
view, (i) Jesus went into Galilee, for there He 
would not meet with the honour of a true hith ; 
and there, consequently, He had a work to do, -a 
mission to prosecute : when therefore He came 
into Galilee, although He was welcomed, it was 
from unworthy not worthy motives. (2) Jesus 
now at length went into Galilee, for (He had 
avoided Galilee in the belief that) a prophet has 
no honour in his own country : such honour, how- 
ever, He has now won in Judea, outside His own 
country ; when therefore He was come into Gali- 
lee, the Galileans received Him. 

Ver. 45. When therefore he waa come into 
Oalilee, the Oalileana received him, having 
seen all thinga wbatBoever he did at Jeru- 
salem at the feast : for they also went unto the 
feast The ' feast ' is no doubt the Passover of 
which we read in chap. ii. ; and the faith of these 
Galileans is precisely similar to that of the 'many' 
spoken of in ver. 23 of that chapter, — real, but 
not of the highest kind. 

Ver. 46. He came therefore again into Canit 
of Oidilee, where he made the water wine. 
His coming revives the fame of that first miracle, 
and the report of His arrival quickly spreads. — 
And there was a certain king*8 officer, whose 
son was rick at CapemannL This officer was 
probably in the (civil or military) service of Herod 
Antipas, a Tetrarch, but often styled a king (see 
Matt. xiv. I, 9 ; Mark vi. 14, etc.). The officer 
himself may have been in attendance on the court 
in Tiberias, but his son (probably an only son, as 
the Greek literally means ' of whom the son • • . ') 
was lying ill at Capernaum. 

Ver. 47. When ne heard that Jesus was come 
out of Judea into Oalilee, he went nntd him, 
and besong^t him that he would come down, 
and heal Us son: for he was at the point ol 
death. The £dth of this father rested on the 
miracles of which he had heard. Would Jesus 
but come down from Cana to Capernaum, his son 
also might be healed. But Jesus must always 
reprove the spirit which requires 'signs and 
wonders * before yielding faith ; and He does it 

Ver. 48. Jesus therefore said unto him. Except 
ye see signs and wonders, ye will not beUeve. 
The charge against the father is that his apparent 
faith is only thinly-veiled unbelief. — The words 
seem most suitably addressed to a Jew (comp. 
Matt. xii. 39, xvi. i ; I Cor. i. 22) : on the other 
hand, the officer's connection with the court leads 
rather to belief that he was a Gentile. As to 
'signs,' see the notes on chap. ii. 11, 23. As a 
' sign ' is the highest, so a ' wonder ' is the least 
noble name for a miracle. In so far as the miracle 
is a prodigy and excites amazement, it is a 
' wonder. * 

Ver. 49. The king's officer saith unto him. 
Lord, oome down ere my child die. This answer 
of Jesus, which had seemed perhaps to imply cold 
neglect, calls forth an impassioned appeal for pity 
and help ; there were ho moments to be lost, — 
even now the help may come too late. Jesus was 
but educating — refining and deepening — his faith. 

Ver. 50. Jesus saitn unto hm, 60 thy way ; 
thy son liveth. The man believed the word 
that Jesus spake unto him, and he went his 
way. Jesus does not need the passionate appeal : 



the prayer has been already granted ' Thy son 
liveth * does not mean, ' is made to live now after 
thy second petition' ; but, 'even while the word is 
in thy moutn, or before it was so, thy son liveth. ' 
The meaning, in short, is not, I perform the cure 
at this instant ; but rather, I have performed it, the 
work is done, thy son is recovered. He will not 
come to heal the child ; there is no need that He 
should do so, the child is already whole. Will 
the father believe the word? lie will, for his 
faith is purified and changed : it is now faith in 
the word of Jesus, though no sign or wonder has 
been seen. 

Ver. 51. And m he was now going down, hiB 
lervmntB met him, nying that his son lived. 
The word * now ' (or * already*) may appear super- 
fluous, but it may possibly imply that some time 
had elapsed since the words of ver. 50 were 
spoken,— * when he hail now begun the journey.' 
Business may have detained him for a few hours 
in Cana ; and if it did so, it would be a testimony 
to the firmness of that faith with which he had 
now believed in Tesus. * Going down, * — because 
Cana is situated in the hilly district, several 
hundred feet above the level of the Sea of Galilee. 

Ver. 52. He enqnired of them therefore the 
hour when he began to amend. They said there- 
fore onto him. Yesterday at the seventh hour 
the fever left him. As the distance between 
Cana and Capernaum is not above five-and-twenty 
miles, it may seem strange that the officer should 
not have reached his home the same day. If the 
'seventh hour' were reckoned from sunrise, the 
time of the cure would be a little later than noon ; 
in that case it would be necessary to suppose that 
the servants were following the familiar Jewish 
reckoning of time, and regarding sunset as the 
commencement of a new day. It seems, however, 
much more probable (see the note on ver. 6) that 
by the ' seventh hour ' we must understand 6 to 7 
P.M. Even without the supposition that the father 
had been detained in Cana, this will suit all the 
circumstances of the narrative. — The words * began 
to amend ' do not suggest any hesitation on the 
father's part as to the completeness of the cure. 
He had believed the word * thy son liveth * (ver. 
50), and what he asks now is as to the hour at 
which his child had been stopped upon the road 
to death, and turned back upon that to full health 
and strength. 

Ver. 53. 80 the father peiceiyed that it was 
at the same boor in the which Jesna nid onto 
him. Thy son liveth: and himself belioved, and 
his whole house. Believed— that is, with a faith 
increased and confirmed : true fsuth he had mani- 
fested before. 

Many have supposed that this king's officer may 
have been Chuza, ' Herod's steward ' (Lake viii. 3), 
whose wife Joanna was amongst those women who 
ministered of their substance to the wants of Jesus 
and His disciples. 

Ver. 54. Tnis Jesus again did« aa a second 
sign, having oome ont of Jndea into Galilee. 
The order of the original is remarkable, and we 
endeavour to represent it by a translation which, 
if literal, is yet sufficiently idiomaticaL 'Tins' 
stands alone; 'a second sign' is in apposition 
with it There is thus by means of ' again ' and 
' second ' a double statement as to the position of 
the miracle ; and as we know that other miracles, 
not numbered, were wrought in Galilee (chap. vi. ), 
and that there had already been ' signs ' also in 
Judea (chap. iL 23), the two points upon which 
our attention is hxed seem to be — (i) that this 
miracle was wrought in GalUee; (2) that it was a 
second miracle there. The first of these points 
receives importance from the fact that the 'sign ' 
now related was done after Jesus had left 'His 
own country,' rejected by 'His own' to be 
accepted by Galileans : the second magnifies the 
sign itself, for the mention of it as a 'second' 
appears to flow from the tendency of the Evan- 
gelist to ^ve double pictures of any truth which 
possesses m his eyes peculiar weight. This is the 
case here. From the first Jesus showed that His 
mission was not confined to Judea. It included 
Galilee, a province representative not of Jews only 
but of Gentiles, out of which the Jews thought 
that no prophet could come (viL 52) : it was not 
a local but a universal mission. 

It is not necessary to discuss the question 
whether this miracle is identical with that related 
in Matt. viii. 5-13; Luke vii. 2-ia We may 
wonder that such a question was ever raised. One 
point of similarity exists, in that in each case the 
cure was performed at a distance : in all other 
respects tne narratives are wholly different, — 
agreeing neither in time, nor in place, nor in the 
station of the persons concerned, nor in the cha- 
racter of the faith evinced. 

Chapter V. 1-18. 

Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda, 

1 A FTER this* there was a "feast of the Jews; and Jesus «Comp. chap. 

2 Jr\. went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by 

the sheep market^ a pool, which is called' in the * Hebrew *chap. nx. 

3 tongue Bethesda, having five porches.* In these lay a great * ««• «i 
multitude of impotent* folk, of blind, halt, "^ withered, waiting rMatt.xii. i<x 

4 for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a 

* these things 
^ porticos 

* by the sheep pool 

* otnit great 

■ the pool which is sumamed 
• sick 


certain season into the pool, and troubled the water : whoso- 
ever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was 

5 made whole of whatsoever disease he had.' And a certain man 
was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.* 

6 When Jesus saw him lie,® and knew *® that he had " been now 
a long time in that case^ he " saith unto him, Wilt thou be made 

7 whole ? The impotent " man answered him, Sir, I have no 
man, when the water is " troubled, to put me into the pool : 
but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 

8 Jesus saith unto him, *^ Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. </see Matt. 

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took 

up his bed, and walked: and 'on the same day was the rChap.ix.r4. 

10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the 
sabbath day : *• it is ^ not lawful for thee to carry thy bed." /Neh. xiu. 

1 1 He *• answered them. He that made me whole, the same said 

12 unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him,'® 
What man is that •• which said unto thee. Take up thy bed,'* 

13 and walk.^ And" he that was healed wist not who it was: 
for Jesus had conveyed himself away," a multitude being in 

14 tliat place. Afterward " Jesus findeth him in the temple,** and 
said unto him. Behold, thou art *' made whole : sin no more, 

15 lest a worse thing come unto thee." The man departed," and 
told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 

16 And therefore " did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay 
him,** because he had done " these things on the sabbath day. 

17 But Jesus** answered them, *'My Father worketh hitherto,'* ^ver. 19. 

18 and I work.** Therefore** the Jews *. sought the more to kill AChap.vii. 
him, because he not only had broken *' the sabbath, but said 
also that God was 'his Father,** making himself * equal with » »<>«».▼"•. 

God. A Chap. i. 18, 

19 ^ Jar. 
xvii. 21 \ 
Matt. xii. 2 ; 
chap. vii. 23, 
ix. x6. 

' omit from waiting in third verse to end of fourth verse 

' which had been thirty and eight years in his sickness 

• Jesus seeing him lying there ^^ perceiving ** hath " omit he 

'' sick ^^ hath been ^' and it was the sabbath on that day 

^* It is the sabbath day, and ^' to take up the bed ^^ But he 

" They asked him «• Who is the man «» omit thy bed «« But 
" withdrew himself ** After these things ** temple-courts 
*' hast been ** sin no longer, that some worse thing come not unto thee 

•• went away ^^ And for this cause ** omit and sought to slay him 

•* did ** he '* until now 

•* I also work *• For this cause therefore '^ broke 

** but also called God his own Father. 

«• ^, 33i 
xvii. 10. 

Contents. With the beginning of this chapter 
we enter upon the fourth and leading division of 
the Gospel, extending to the close of chap. xii. 
Its object is to set Jesus forth in the height of His 
conflict with ignorance and error and sm. More 
pctfticularly, the Redeemer appears throughout it 
m the light in which He had already b^ pre- 

sented in the Prologue, as the culminating-point 
and fulfilment of all previous revelations of God, 
whether in the Old Testament or in nature. In 
chap. V. He is the fulfilment of the Sabbath, the 
greatest of all the institutions given through Moses. 
The subordinate parts of the first section of the 
chap, are — (i) vers. 1-9, the account of the miracle 


at the pool of Bcthesda; (2) vers. 10-18, the 
opp>osition of the Jews, leading to the proclamation 
of the great truths contained in the second section. 
Ver. I. After theie thing! there wai a feast 
of the Jews ; and Jenis went np to Jemialein. 
No more is said as to the visit to Galilee than 
what wc find in iv. 43-54. We are taken at once 
to the close of the visit, when Jesus went up again 
to Jerusalem. The occasion of His going up was 
the occurrence of a festival. Contrary to his wont, 
the Evangelist says nothing of the nature of the 
festival, merely adding (as in ii. 13, vii. 2, etc.) 
the words 'of the Jews.' It b quite impossible 
here to examine the attempts which have been 
made to give more precision to this statement. 
Not a few Greek manuscripts and other authori- 
ties endeavour to remove the difficulty by inserting 
the article, and reading ' the feast of the Jews,' an 
expression usually thought to mean the Passover. 
The weight of evidence, however, is distinctly in 
favour of reading ' a feast ; ' and we may saiely 
say that with this reading the Passover cannot be 
intended. Were it possible to believe that the 
great national festival is spoken of, the conse- 
quences would be important. In that case four 
Passovers would be mentioned in this C>ospel (ii. 
^3» V. I, vi. 4, xviii. 28); and of one whole year 
of our Lord's public ministry the only record pre- 
served would be that contained in the chapter 
before us. The critical evidence, however, sets 
the discussion at rest so far as the Passover is 
concerned, and we have only to inquire which of 
the remaining festivals best suits the few state- 
ments of the Evangelist bearing on this part of the 
history. Our two landmarks are iv. 35 and vi. 4. 
The former verse assigns the journey through 
Samaria to the month of December, the latter 
shows that the events recorded in chap. vi. took 
place in March or April; hence, in all probability, 
the festival of chap. v. i falls within the three or 
four months between these limits. If so, the 
feasts of Pentecost (about May), Tabernacles 
(September or October), and the Dedication of 
the Temple (December) are at once excluded ; 
and no other feast remains except that of Purim, 
whkh fell about a month earlier than the Passover. 
This feast, therefore, is now generally believed to 
be the one referred to here. The objections are 
perhaps not insurmountable. It is said that our 
Lord would hardly go up to Jerusalem for Purim. 
As to this, however, we are clearly unable to 
judge; in many ways unknown to us, that feast 
may have furnished a fitting occasion for His visit. 
Its human origin would not be an obstacle (com p. 
chap. x. 22), nor would its national and patriotic 
character. It is true that there were abuses in the 
celebration of Purim, and that excess and licence 
seem to have been common. Still we cannot 
doubt that many devout Israelites would be occu- 
pied with thankful recollection of the wonderful 
deliverance of their nation commemorated by the 
feast, rather than with revelry and boisterous mirth. 
One other objection may be noticed. The feast 
of Purim was not allowed to fall on a Sabbath, 
and hence, it is argued, cannot be thought of here. 
But nothing in the chapter leads necessarily to the 
supposition that the Sabbath on which the miracle 
was wrought was the day of the feast. The feast 
was the occasion of our Lord's going up to Jeru- 
salem : the Sabbath may have fallen soon after 
His arrival in the city ; more than this we have no 
right to say. If therefore we look at the historical 

course of the narrative, it would seem that, of the 
solutions hitherto offered, that which fixes upon 
Purim as the feast referred to in the text is the 
most probable. But there is another question of great 
importance, which must not be overlooked. Wiy 
did John, whose custom it is to mark very clearly 
the festivals of which he speaks (see ii. 13, 23, vL 
4, vii. 2, X. 22, xi. 55, xiL i, xiii. i, xviii. 39, xix. 
14), write so indefinitely here? The feast before 
us is the only one in the whole Gospel on which a 
doubt can rest. We may well ask the reason of 
this, and the only reply which it seems possible 
to give is that the indefiniteness is the result of 
(Ustgn, The Evangelist omits the name of the 
feast, that the reader may not attach to it a 
significance which was not intended. To John, — 
through clearness of insight, not from power of 
fancy, — every action of his Master was fraught with 
deep significance; and no one who receives the 
Lord Jesus as he received Him can hesitate to 
admit in all His words and deeds a fulness of 
meaning, a perfection of fitness, immeasurably 
beyond what can be attributed to the highest of 
human prophets. Our Lord's relation to the 
whole Jewish economy is never absent from John's 
thought. Jesus enters the Jewish temple (chap, 
ii. 14) : His own words can l>e understood by those 
only who recognise that He Himself is the true 
Temple of God. The ordained festivals of the 
nation find their fulfilment in Him. Never, we 
may say, is any festival named in this Gorael in 
connection with our Lord, without an intention on 
the writer's part that we should see the truth which 
he saw, and behold in it a type of his Master or 
His work. If this be true, the indefiniteness of 
the language here is designed to prevent our rest* 
ing on the thought of this particular festival as 
fulfilled in Jesus, and to lead to the concentration 
of our attention on the Sabbath shortly to be 
mentioned, which in this chapter has an importance 
altogether exceptional. Were it possible to think 
that the * feast ' referred to was the Sabbath itself, 
all dif!iculties would be at once removed. 

Ver. 2. Now there is at Jenualem by tbe 
sheep-pool the pool which is snmamed in the 
Hehrew tongoe Bethesda, having five porttooa. 
The use of the present tense, tkirt is, may seem 
to indicate that the pool still remained after the 
destruction of Jerusalem ; unless indeed we adopt 
the opinion that, as John in all probabili^ com> 
mitted to writing very early his recollections of 
his Lord's discourses and works, an incidental 
mark of his practice is left us in this verse. — ^The 
translation of the words that follow is much dis- 
puted. The Greek word for * pool ' may be written 
m two ways. That which is usually adopted gives 
the meaning, * there is by the sheep .... a pool, 
that which is sumamed,' etc.; and the question is 
how the ellipsis is to be filled up. There is no 
authority for supplying 'market,* as is done in the 
Authorised Version; and that method of suppl3ring 
the blank is now generally abandoned. The idea 
of most writers on the Gospel is that the ' sheep- 
gate ' (Neh. iii. i, 32, xii. 39) is intended, but we 
have found no example of a similar omission of the 
word 'gate. ' We are thus led to examine the other 
mode of writing the Greek word 'pool,' from which 
results the translation, ' there is by the sheep-pool 
the poo/ that is sumamed ; ' and to this rendering of 
the sentence there appears to be no valid objection. 
It may, indeed, seem strange that the situation of 
the pool called Bethesda should be defined by its 

Chap. V. 1-18.] 


andat that time well known as the *shecp-pool.' It 

ptoxioiity to uiotlin' pool about which no inronna- 

tioD it ptoerved ; bat it must be remcmbeied that 

in qoeitioQi letating to the topwiaphj of Jcnisoletn 

UEDiDeDts from On ulence of historians are not 

worth much. Eatly Chiistiui writers also (Euse- 

luni and Jeimnc) do actually speak of a sheep-pool 

in Jenttalem in connection with this paasaee. 

AmDoaiiis tells ns that the pool wm so eaired 

boat the habit of gathering lc%cthcr there (he 

■been that ware to be sacnficed foe the Teast : 

nmilailj Theodore of Mopsuestia. And it is 

very interesting to notice that an eariy traveller 

in the Holr Umd (about the first half of the 

Ibaith century) speaks of ' hinn poeb in Jerusalem, 

havii^ Gre porticos.' We conclade therefore second name that lingered 

that John debnei tlie position ^ the pool with name which to him bo« 

. remarkable that of the other pool the proper ns 
is not mentioned, but only a Hebrew or Syro- 
Cbalduc second name or suntame. What this 
name is and what it signifies can hardly be deter- 
mined with certainly, as several forms cflhe name 
are given in Greek manuscripts and other authori- 
ties. If we assume that Bcthesda is the true form, 
Ihemostprolableeiplanationis 'House of giace.' 
It is easy to see that such a name might naturally 
ari^e, and might indeed become the common 
appellation amongst those who associated a bene- 
ficent healing power with the waters of the pool ; 
and it is alK> easy to understand how it was the 

' ' John's thought, — a 

high lignincance, 

lion was made at this very spot. The px)l called 
Betbeada had fire porticos ; probably it wai fivc- 
rided, and tarroanded by an arched verandah or 
colonnade, doted in on the oatward side. The 
bcX springs of Tiberias are so surrounded at this 
d^, and it is at least possible that the style of 

tbeae porticos many such were laid day after day. 
The general term 'sick folk' recnves its explana- 
tion afterwards as consisting of those who were 
blind, or lame, or whose bodies or limbs were 
wasted. — The omission of the remaining words of 
ver. 3 and of the whole of ver. 4 is supported by a 
wc^t of authority which it is impossible to set 
ui(&. The addition belongs, however, to a ver}' 
caiW dale, for it* contents are clearly referred to 
t^ Tenidliao early in the Ihbd cenlaiy. It is 

evidently an explanatory comment first wrillen in 
the ma^n by those who saw that the words of 
ver. 7 imply incidents or opinions of which the 
narrative as it stands gives no account. The well' 
intentioned gloss was not long in Ending its way 
into the leil ; and, once there, it gave the weight 
of the apostle's sanction to a Btatement which 
really represents only the popular belief. It will 
be seen that, when the unauthorised addition is 
removed, there is nothing in the text to support 
the impression that wonderful cures were actually 
wrought. The phenomena are those of an inter- 
mittent spring ; and the various circumstances 
described, the concourse of sick, the eager ex- 
pectation, the implicit faith ill the healing virtue 
of the waters and in (he recuninc' supernatural 
agency, find loo many parallels in history to make 
it necessary to suppose that there was any super- 
natural virtue in (he pool. It may be observed 



that the ordinary translation of the added words 
is not quite correct. The angel*s visit was not 
looked tor ' at a certain season ' (as if after some 
fixed and regular interval), but 'at seasons,' from 
time to time. 

Ver. 5. And a certain man wai there, which 
had been thirty and eight yean in hia dcknen. 
This suflfcrer (apparentlv one of the 'withered,* 
though not altogether destitute of the power of 
motion) had endured thirty-eight years of weak- 
ness. How long he had been wont to resort to 
Bethesda we cannot tell : it may have been only 
for days or even hours. 

Ver. 6. JesuB seeing him lying there, and 
perceiving that he hath been now a long 
time in that oaee, saith nnto him. Wilt thon be 
made whole f The first movement is altogether 
on the side of Jesus: comp. ver. 21 ('whom He 
will *). His knowledge of^ the case is by direct 
intuition (comp. ii. 25), not, as we believe, the 
result of inquiry. In Matt. viii. 2 the leper's 
words to Jesus were, ' Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou 
canst make me clean,' and the answer was, 'I 
will.' Here the address of Tesus contains His ' I 
will,' for His question to tne man is 'Dost thou 
will ? if thou dost I do also.' Jesus has the will to 
heal him : does he answer this with a correspond- 
ing will, or is he like those to whom Jesus would 
have given life, but who 'would' not come to 
Him ? (ver. 40). It will be observed that there is 
no broad separation made between bodily and 
spiritual healing. The man certainly understood 
the former, but we cannot limit the meaning of 
Christ's words by the apprehension of those to 
whom He speaks, and the subsequent narrative 
seems to imply more than the restoration of 
bodily health. 

Ver. 7. The sick man answered him. Sir, I 
have no man, when the water hath been troubled, 
to pat me into the pool : but while I am coming, 
another steppeth down before me. The man 
does not give a direct answer to the question 
'Wilt thou?' but the answer sought is implied. 
He had the will, but he had not the power to do 
what he believed must be done before healing 
could be obtained. The very extremity of his 
need rendered unavailing his repeated efforts to 
be the first to reach the waters when the mys- 
terious troubling had taken place. He had no 
friend to help, to hurry him to the pool at the 
moment when the waters were thought to have 
received their healing^ power. 

Ver. 8. JesnB saith nnto him, Bise, take np 
thy bed, and walk. The cure is performed in the 
most simple and direct manner. It is not said 
that Jesus laid His hands on him (Luke xiii. 13), 
or that He touched him. He speaks : the man 
hears the voice of the Son of God and lives (vers. 
25, 28, 29). 

Ver. 9. And immediately the man was made 
whole, and took up his bed, and walked. The 
result is described in words which are a simple 
echo of the command. Whilst they testify the 
power of the healing word, they also bring into 
view the man*s 'will and 'faith,' as shown in his 
immediate readiness to obey the command of 
Jesus. Immediately he was made whole, and 
took up his bed (the mattress which, laid upon 
the ground, had formed his bed), and walked. — 
And it was the sabbath on that day. The verses 
which follow show how important is this notice. 
As Jesus chose out this one sick man to be the 

object of His grace, so He of set purpose chose 
the sabbath day for the performance of the 

Ver. la The Jews therefore said nnto him 
that was cnred. It is the sabbafl&day.and it is not 
lawful for thee to take np the bed. The Jews- 
some of the rulers of the people (see note on L 19) 
— who had not been present at the miracle met 
the man as he departed carrying his bed. As 
guardians of the law they challenge him, and 
condemn the bearing of burdens on the sabbath. 
It is very important for us to determine whether 
in so doing they were right or wrong. Were they 
faithfully carrying out the letter of the law of 
Moses, or were they enforcing one of those tradi- 
tions by which they destroyed its spirit? We 
have no hesitation in adopting the former view. 
The question must be decided apart from the 
miracle, of which at this moment the Jews seem 
to have had no knowledge. It is true that, even 
had it been known by them, their judgment would 
not have been altered ; thev would have equally 
condemned the healing on tne sabbath (see Luke 
xiii. 14), since there Imd been no question of life 
and death. When, too, they afterwards hear what 
has been done (ver. 11) there is no change in their 
tone and spirit ; and our Lord's own reference to 
this miracle (chap. viL 23) seems to show that, so 
far from convincing them, it had roused their 
special indignation. But at the point of time now 
before us the lawfulness of healing on the sabbath 
was not in question. They met a man carrying 
his bed in the streets of Jerusalem on the sacred 
day. The law of Moses forbade any work on Uiat 
day ; and the special enactments in Uie Pentateuch 
(the command to kindle no fire, Ex. xxxv. 5, and 
the judgment on the man who gathered sticks. 
Num. XV. 35) show how this law was to be 
interpreted. In Jer. xviL 21-23, moreover (comp. 
Neh. xiii. 19), this very act, the bearing of bur- 
dens, is explicitly condemned. What could they 
do but condemn it? Would the same act be 
regarded otherwise in England at the present 
hour ? One other consideration remains, and it is 
decisive. Our Lord's answer to the Jews (ver. 17) 
makes no reference to their casuistical distinctions 
or to traditions by which the law was overlaid. It 
differs altogether in tone and spirit from the 
reproofs which we read in Luke xiii. 15, xiv. 5. 
Had their objection lain against the healing, we 
cannot doubt that they would have brought on 
themselves the like rebuke : here however they 
were right in holding the man's action, so far as 
they understood it at the moment, to be an infrac- 
tion of their law. 

Ver. 1 1. But he answered them. He that made 
me whole, the same said nnto me. Take np thy 
bed, and walk. Whether the man knew the 
Rabbinical saying that a prophet's command to 
transgress the letter of the law was to be obeyed, 
save in the case of idolatry, may be doubted ; but 
the impression made on him by the majesty of 
Jesus was sufficient to guide his answer. Divine 
power had healed him : a command from One who 
wielded such power could not transgress tbe law 
of God. 

Ver. 12. They asked him. Who is the man 
which said nnto thee. Take np, and walkf 
The mention of the cure has no effect in lead- 
ing them to suspend their judgment. It would 
indeed present to them a new transgression of the 
law; but they content themselves with passing 



it by, and laying stress on what they consider 
an undeniable b^ach of the very letter of the 
comnuuidment This complete incfifference to the 
work of mercy plainly illustrates the hard-hearted 
malice of ' the Jews.' 

Ver. 13. Bat he that WM healed wist not who 
it wa& We need not wonder that this man, 
unable to move from place to place, perhaps only 
recently come to Jerusalem, had no previous 
knowledge of Jesus. — For Jesus withdrew him- 
self^ a midtitiiae being in that place. After his 
cure, too, he could hear nothing of his benefactor, 
for, to avoid the recognition and enthusiasm of 
the multitude (comp. diap. vi. 15), Jesus with- 
drew, — literally ' slipped aside,' became suddenly 
lost to sight. — Here, as alwajrs, the 'multitude' 
or mass of the people is to be carefully distin- 
guished from 'tne Jews.' The conflict between 
Jesus and the Jevrs has begun : all His actions 
deepen their hatred against Him. The 'multi- 
tude,' on the other hand, is the object of His 
compassion : from time to time they follow Him 
eagerly, however slight may be their knowledge 
of His true teaching and aims (vL 2, 15). In 
subsequent chapters we shall often have to call 
attention to the contrast between ' the Jews ' and 
the ' multitude ; ' and it will be seen that some 
passages are almost inexplicable unless this most 
important distinction is kept clearly in view. 

Ver. 14. After these things Jesns flndeth him 
in the temple courts. Some time afterwards, 
probably not on the same day, the man is found 
m the temple courts. There is no reason to doubt 
that he had gone there for purposes of devotion, 
havingrecognised the Divine deliverance. Through- 
out tl^ narrative he stands in strong contrast with 
the Jews, resembling in this the blind man of 
whom we read in chap. ix. — And said unto him. 
Behold, thon hast oeen made whole: rin no 
longer, that some worse thing come not nnto 
thee. The words of Jesus imply much more than 
the general connection of sin and suffering ; they 
show that in this case the sickness had m some 
way been the result and the puni^ment of sin. 
Yet sorer judgment will follow a return to the life 
of sin (Matt. xiL 45). 

Ver. 15. The man went away, and told the 
Jews that it was Jesns which had made him 
whole. The Jews asked who had commanded 
him io take up his bed. The man's reply, given as 
soon as he had learnt the name of his Deliverer, 
was that Jesus had made him whole. The careful 
variation in the expression seems to repel the 
supposition that he gave the information through 
ingratitade or in treachery. Probably his motive 
was a sense of duty to those who, whatever might 
be their spirit, were constituted authorities who 
had a right to be satisfied as to all breaches of the 
law, with whom also would rest the decision 
whether he must bring a sin-offering to atone for 
his violation of the sabbath. Whilst, however, 
this may have been the man*s motive, we can 
hardly doubt that John (who here uses a word, 
'declared,' which with him often has a solemn 
significance) sees in the act a Divine mission. In 
his eyes the man is for the moment a prophet of 
the Most High, a messenger of warning, to the 
guilty Jews. 

Ver. 16. And for this canse did the Jews per- 
secute Jesns, because he did these things on the 
■ahhath day. The man whose cure had been the 
occasion of the action taken by the Jews now 

passes from view. For the second time Jesus and 
*lhe Jews* are brought face to face. He had 
appeared in the temple (ii. 14) to put an end to 
the abuses they had permitted or fostered, and to 
vindicate the holiness 9f His Father's house. Then 
He offered Himself to Israel as the Son of God ; 
He declared Himself the antitype of their temple, 
the idea of which (as God's dwelling-place) had its 
fulfilment in Himself alone. As by supernatural 
influence on those who trafficked in the Holy 
Place He had then challenged the attention of the 
rulers of Israel, so now by a wonderful sign He 
fixed on Himself the eyes of all (vii. 21). This 
time it is not on the temple that He lays His 
hand, but on the law, the cherished commandment 
of the sabbath. It is not as one who with autho- 
rity checks abuses which none could defend, 
though from them many derived gain, that our 
Lord now appears in Jerusalem : He comes as one 
who claims to be above the law, having the right, 
as Lawgiver, to set aside its letter. As the temple 
had its idea fulfilled in Himself, so was it with the 
sabbath. As to the Son of God God's house 
belonged, so to the Son of God belonged that 
Rest of God of which the sabbath was a type ; and 
the sabbath cannot be broken by the Son of God. 
This is the light in which the following verses 
teach us to regard the whole narrative. The 
choice of the sabbath day for the miracle is the 
kernel of the paragraph. Had the Jews been 
teachable and free from prejudice, had they taken 
the miracle as the starting-point of their reason- 
ings, they would have been prepared for hearing 
the ground of the claims of Jesus thus to regulate 
their law. ' How can a man that is a sinner do such 
miracles? ' (ix. 16) was in truth a convincing argu- 
ment, and by 3nelding to its force they would have 
been led to Jesus as humble seekers after truth. 
But because He 'did these things,' wrought such 
works and showed that He would persevere with 
them, they became and continued to be His per- 

Ver. 17. But he answered them. My Father 
worketh until now: I also work. In three 
different ways does our Lord rebut the charge 
which His foes so often brought against Him, that 
He broke the sabbath. At one time He showed 
that it was not the law but the vain tradition that 
He set aside (Matt. xii. 11 ; Luke xiii. 15, xiv. 5); 
at another He declared Himself as the Son 
of man Lord of the sabbath, and taught Ihat the 
law of the sabbath must be determined from its 
aim and object (Mark ii. 27, 28) ; here only docs 
He take even higher ground. God rested from 
His works of creation on the seventh day ; this 
day was hallowed and set apart for man's rest 
from labour, — a rest which was the shadow of the 
rest of God, and which was desij^ed to remove 
from man everything that might hinder him from 
entering in spirit into that fellowship with God 
which is perfect rest. From the creation to this 
very moment the Father hath been working; in 
His very rest upholding, all things by the word of 
His power, providing all things for His creatures, 
working out the purpose of His love in their 
redemption. 'My Father worketh until now,' 
with no pause or intermission: 'I also work.' 
He who can thus call God His Father finds in 
the works of His Father the law of His own 
works. No works of the Father can interrupt the 
sabbath rest : no works of the Son on earth can 
break the sabbath law. The 19th and 20th 



verses more fully explain what is expressed in 
these majestic words. 

Ver. 18. For this cause therefore the Jews 
■oafi^t the more to kill hbn, becaAie he not 
only broke the sabbath, bat also called God his 
own Father, making himself equal with Ood. 
The Tews do not fail to see that the argument 
rested on the Hrst words, 'My Father.' He who 
could thus speak, and who justified His works by 
the works of God, was calling God His own 
Father in the highest sense which these words can 
bear, and was claiming equality with God. It 
has been objected that, though the brief assertion 
of ver. 1 7 does really imply all this, it is not pro- 
bable that so momentous an inference would have 
been drawn from words so few. But it is sufficient 
to reply that, whilst John gives to us the exact 
substance of the words of Jesus and the impression 
which they made upon the hearers, we nave no 

reason to suppose that all the words spoken are 
recorded. Tne meaning which we gather from 
those that stand written before us probably 
could not be convey^ by spoken words without 
repetition and enlargement. The thought of the 
condensation which must have taken place in the 
record of these discourses of our Lord is that 
which fully justifies the devout reader's effort to 
catch every shade of meaning and follow every 
turn of expression. — ^The answer Jesus has given 
does but repel the Jews. We are told what the 
persecution of ver. 16 meant, — even then they had 
sought His life, for now they sought tMe mare to 
kill Him. From this point onwards we have the 
conflict that nothing could reconcile, the enmity 
of the Jews which would not and could not rest 
until they had compassed the death of Him who 
had come to save tnem. 

Chapter V. 19-47. 

T/te Discourse of Jesus at the Pool of Bet/iesda, 

19 npHEN answered Jesus* and said unto them, Verily, verily, 

X I say unto you, * The Son can do nothing of himself, « Ver. 30i,_ 
but " what he seeth the Father do : * for what things soever he as, x. 37, 

20 doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.* For *the Father .lo-'^... 

o Cnju>. lu. 35, 

loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth : x. 17. 
and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may 

21 marvel. For* as the Father ^ raiseth up the dead, and ^ « c^-- i- i^ 
"^ quickeneth them ;^ ' even ' so the Son quickeneth • whom he <^Rom. w. t% 

22 will. For the Father judgeth no man,' but -^hath committed *® f.c»»ip. *««.»5 

23 all judgment unto the Son : That all men should " honour the A«ix.ia, 

' ** xra. 31 ; 

Son, even as they honour the Father. ^ He that honoureth Ro«n- «iv. 
not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath" sent him. /See chap. 

XV. •3. 

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, * He that heareth my word, and AChapuriii. 
believeth on" him that sent me, 'hath everlasting" life, and «Seidi«p. 

* shall not come into condemnation ; " but ' is " passed from " ^^^^M!: *•• 

25 death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is »4 
coming," and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the 

26 Son of God : and they that hear '^ shall live. For "* as the 
Father hath life in himself; so hath he given " to the Son " to 

27 '"have 
execute judgment also," because he is the Son"* of man. 

life in himself: And hath given" him authoritv to »»»chap. l <. 

VI. 57. xu as, 
XIV. 6 ; 
I John i. T, t, 
V. IX ; Rev. 
i. 18. 

' Jesus therefore answered ' can of himself do nothing save 

^ these things the Son also in like manner doeth '^ For even 

' and maketh to live ^ omit even 

• For moreover the Father judgeth no one 
" That all may " omit hath 

'* and Cometh not into judgment *• hath 

'• An hour cometh *• have heard 

'* so gave he *' Son also ** And he gave 



^ also maketh to live 
*® given 

*^ omit on ** eternal 
*' out of *• into 

•* For even 
** omit also *• a son 


28 Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming,"'' in the which all 

29 that are in the graves shall hear his voice, * And shall come * Dan. xn. 2 ; 
forth ; they that have done good," unto the "' resurrection of 46 ; acu 
life ; and ^^ they that have done ** evil, unto the resurrection of 

30 *I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: «Vcr. 19. 
^and my judgment is just; because ^I seek not mine own>^Jj*p-^' 
will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." ^ IJ^dSriv. 

31 ''If I bear witness of* myself, my witness is not true. ,,S;Jp.Vhap. 

32 'There" is another that beareth witness of" me; and I sWtr.^ii;*' 
know that 'the witness which he witnesseth of" me is /fj&Tvie! 

33 true. * Ye sent " unto John, and he bare " witness unto the ,,thap. i. 19. 

34 truth. But I receive not testimony from man : " but "• these 

35 things I say, that ye might *'^ be saved. He was a burning 
and a shining light:** and ye were willing" for a season to 

36 rejoice" in his light. But I have greater witness** than 

tAat of John: for "the works which** the Father hath given fOiap. x. 25, 

20| Xv* s^* 
...^ .w «.., ^ ,,^...w . , ., :hap.iv. 34. 

37 of*' me, that the Father hath sent me. "^And the Father -«^v^3«j^ 
himself,*' which hath" sent me, hath** borne witness of*' ^»7. 

38 me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen 

his shape." And ye have not -^his word abiding in you : r«Johnii. 14. 

39 for*' whom 'he hath*' sent, him ye believe not. * Search** * .9. 
the Scriptures; for** in them ye think*' ye have * eternal *ver. 24. 

40 life : and ^ they are they which testify of me.*' ^ And ye will ^ LSte^xiiv 

41 not come to me, that ye might*' have life. 'I receive not JJiAaJ'ji' 

42 honour from men." But -^ I know you, that ye have not the ^^W i. 11. 

43 love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye '^J^^^' 
receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him -^^'***p"'^ 

44 ye will receive. ^ How can ye believe, which receive honour r chap. xii. 
one of another," and seek not *the honour that conieth from a Rom. 11.29. 

45 'God only?" Do not think that I will accuse you to the «chap. xvii. 
Father : there is one that accuseth you, evai Moses, in whom 

46 ye trust." For had " ye believed Moses, ye would have be- 

*' because an hour cotneth ^^ And they that have done good shall go forth 

"a ^ but «* committed 

" a resurrection of judgment " of him that sent me ** concerning 

** It •• have sent •' hath borne 

" But not from a man do I receive the witness ** howbeit *® may 

^^ He was the lamp that burneth and shineth ^* and ye desired 

" exult *♦ But the witness that I have is greater ** that 

*• accomplish *' very ** concerning 

*^ omit himself «» omit hath ** he hath 

^' Never have ve either heard a voice of him or seen a form of him 

** because ** Ye search ** because *• ye think that in them 

*' and it is they which bear witness concerning me *• may 

*• Glory from men I receive not •^ receiving glory one of another 

** and the glory that is from the only God ye seek not 

•• ye have placed your hope " if 


47 lieved •* me : * for he wrote of'* me. But 'if ye believe not his *yer. 39. 
writings, how shall •* ye believe my words ? 

•* would believe 




Contents. The performance of the miracle 
of healing on the sabbath had roused the active 
opposition of the Jews to Jesus, and that again 
had led to the great declaration contained in ver. 
17, in which Jesus announces His equality with 
God. This announcement only excites the Jews 
to greater rage ; and Jesus is thus led, according 
to His custom in this Gospel, to present in still 
fuller and more forcible terms the truth by which 
their anger and opposition had been aroused. 
The discourse may be divided into three subor- 
dinate parts — (i) vers. 19-29, where, with a thrice 
repeated * Verily, verily '(the progress of the thought 
is pointed out in the Exposition), Jesus speaks 
of Himself as the Worker of the Fatlicr's works, 
the Revealer of the Father's glory ; (2) ver. 30, a 
verse at once summing up what has preceded from 
ver. 19, and introducmg the remainder of the dis- 
course; (3) vers. 31-47, where Jesus passes from 
the * greater works * that He does to the witness 
borne to Him by the Father, pointing out at the 
same time the true nature of the evil principles 
within the Jews which prevented their receiving 
that witness. 

Ver. 19. Jeans therefore answered and said 
unto th^. We have already found Jesus reply- 
ing to those who did not receive His utterance of 
a truth by a repeated and more emphatic declara- 
tion of the very truth which they rejected (see 
iii. 5). So it is here. He had been accused of 
blasphemy in calling God ' His own Father * and 
making Himself equal with God. He solemnly 
reiterates His claim, and expresses with greater 
force the unity of His working with the working 
of God His Father.— Verily, verily, I say nnto 
yon. The Son can of himself do nothing save 
what he seeth the Father doing: for what 
things soever he doeth, these things the Son 
also in like manner doeth. The connection of 
this verse with the preceding is of itself sufficient 
to preclude the interpretation which some have 
given, — that it has reference to the perfect obe- 
dience of the Son of man rather than to the essen- 
tial oneness of the Son of God with the Father. 
The last words of the verse express the general 
positive truth that all the Father s works are done 
oy the Son, and done by Him in like manner, 
while the mystery contained in them is not greater 
than that which is inherent in every statement 
relating to the Trinity. Anticipating for a 
moment what will meet us in later parts of the 
discourse, and remembering that human words can 
only be approximations to the truth, we may say 
that it Is the Son's part to make the Father's works 
take the shape of actual realities amon^ men. The 
Father's working and the Son's workmg are thus 
not two different workings, and theyare not a work- 
ing of the same thing twice. They are related to 
each other as the ideal to the phenomenal, as the 
thought to the word. The Father does not work 
actually; He works always through the Son. 
The Son does not work ideally; He works always 
from the Father. But God is always working; 
therefore the Son is always working ; and Uie 
works of the Father are the works of the Son, — 

distinct, yet one and the same. From this positive 
truth follows the denial which comes eariier in the 
verse. The Jews had denounced Jesus as a blas- 
phemer, had thought that He was placing Himself 
in awful opposition to (^od. This is impossible, 
for the Son can do nothing of Himself; severance 
from the Father in action is impossible, how much 
more contrariety of action 1 The Son can do 
nothing of Himself,— can indeed do nothing save 
what He seeth the Father doing. (The remarks 
on 'save' made above, see chap. iii. 13, are ex- 
actly applicable here. See also cnap. xv. 4, which 
closely resembles this verse in mode of expresuoiu) 
The subordination of the Son, which subsists 
together with perfect unity, is expressed in the 
former half of the verse by the 'seeing,' in the 
latter by the order of the clauses. The whole 
verse is a translation of the truth expressed in the 
Prologue (vers. I, 18). 

Ver. 20. For the Father ioveth the Son, and 
sheweth him all things that himself doeth. 
The relation of the Son's acts to those of the 
Father has been connected with the figure of 
' seeing:* the converse is here presented, as 'show- 
ing.' The Father ' showeth ' what Himself doeth; 
the Son 'seeth.' The principle of the relation 
between the Father and the Son, out of which 
this communion springs, is ' love,'— on efemal and 
continuous and mfinite love, the source of an 
eternal and continuous and perfect communion. 
The same English words have occurred before^ in 
chap. iii. 35 ; but the original expression is not 
the same. We shall have occasion in several 
passages to notice the two Greek words in ques- 
tion, which, as a rule, must be rendered by the 
same English word, 'love.' Starting from the 
use of the words between man and man, we may 
say that the one (f iXc«) denotes rather the tender 
emotional affection, that the other (kym^Jm^ b 
never dissociated from intellectual preference, 
esteem, choice. The one term is not necessarily 
stronger than the other. The latter may be more 
exalted, as implying the result of intelligence and 
knowledge ; the former may be more expressive, 
a3 implying a closer bond and a warmer feeling. 
The first word is most in place when the two who 
are united by love stand more nearly on the same 
level, the second b commonly used when there is 
disparity. The former occurs thirteen times only 
in thb Gospel ; once of the Father's love towards 
the Son (here), and once of His consequent love to 
those who love the Son (xvi. 27) ; three times of 
the love of Jesus towards Hb disciples, and six 
times of their love to Him ; the other two passages 
are xii. 25 ('he that Ioveth hb life') ana xv. 19 
('the world would love its own'). It does not 
occur in John's Epbtles, and twice only in the 
Apocalypse (iii. 19, xxii. 15). On the other hand, 
the latter word occurs no fewer than thirty-seven 
times in John's Gospel and thirty times in hb 
Epistles. In the Gospel it b used seven times of 
the love between the Father and the Son ; once 
of the love of God to the world (iii. 16), and three 
times of the Father's love to those who are Christ's ; 
eleven times of the love of Jesus towards His 0¥m, 



nine times of their love towards Him, and four 
times of the mutual love of the disciples. In the 
remaining passages (iii. 19 and xii. 43) it denotes 
preference or choice. The fitness of the employ- 
ment of the two words is very clear in almost all 
these instances. The first class is that with which 
we are now concerned, both words being used to 
denote the love existing between the Father and 
the Son. The particular passages will be noticed 
as thiey occur, but the verse bdbre us and chap, 
iii. 35 are sufficient to show dearly the general 
prinople ruling this whole class. Here, as the 
context brings into relief the essential relation 
between the Son and the Father, that word is 
chosen whidi most befits the unity of their Being. 
In iii. 35, again, the context fixes our attention on 
Him whom God hath 'sent :* not the essence but 
the work of the Son is the leading thought, — not 
the Word ' in the b^^inning with God,^ but the 
Only-begotten Son given that the world might be 
saved : me other word, therefore, is there used. — 
And he will Aew Ubn greater works than these. 
The word 'showeth' in the first part of the verse 
includes all time : here the future tense is used, 
not as pointing to a change in the relation of the 
Son to the Father, as if the 'shovdng' and the 
' seeing * would in the future grow in completeness 
and intensity, but only because the eternal purpose 
of the Father for mankind is fiilfilled in time, and 
because the Saviour is looking at successive stages 
of His work, as developed m human history. — 
The ' greater works ' must not be understood to 
mean smiply greater acts, more wonderful miracles, 
all that we commonly understand by the miracles 
of Jesus being rather comprehended under the word 

* these.' Further, our Lord does not say ' greater 
works than this * miracle, but greater works than 
'these:' and lastly, to compare one of the Saviour's 
miraculous deeds with another, to divide them into 
greater and less, is altogether foreign to the spirit 
of the Gospels. The key to the meaning of the 

* greater works ' is given by the following verses ; 
they include the raising of the dead, the giving of 
life, the judgment.— That ye may marveL The 
design of these greater works, of this higher and 
more complete manifestation of Jesus, is 'that 
ye may marvel.' *Ye,' as throughout this dis- 
course, is an address to those who opposed Him, 
who ' would not come ' to Him, who refused to 
believe His words. The meaning of 'marvel,' 
therefore, does not differ from that which wc 
observed in chap. iii. 7 : it is not the wonder of 
admiration and faith, but the marvelling of aston- 
ishment and awe. 

Ver. 21. For eren as the Father raiseth up 
the dead and maketh to live, so the Son also 
makeUi to Uve whom he wilL This verse begins 
the explanation of the ' greater works ' which the 
Father ' will diow ' unto the Son. In speaking of 
these, however, the present not the future tense is 
used, for some of them are even now present in 
their beginnings, though future in their complete 
manifestation. The first example of these works 
of the Father, which ' the Son also doeth in like 
manner,* is raising up the dead and making to 
live. Are the words to be understood in tncir 
ordinary sense, or are they figurative ? This ques- 
tion can only be answered from the context. On 
one side ver. 25 is decisive, death being there used 
of a spiritual state, and not with a physical refer- 
ence only. On the other hand, ver. 28 unques- 
tionably speaks of the raising of the dead out of 

their graves. As, therefore, the verses which 
follow ver. 21 certainly contain an expansion and 
exposition of the first words of the discourse 
(vers. 17, 19-21), the general terms of ver. 21 
must be employed in their widest sense, including 
^M a physical and a spiritual resurrection and 
gift of hfe. This is the more natural, as the miracle 
of healing has been the fountain of the discourse, 
and we have seen that in such miracles of out 
Lord the physical and spiritual worlds are in a 
remarkable way brought together. — The work 
spoken of is divided into two parts, the raising 
and the giving of life. The former word 'raising" 
is that used in ver. 8 (' Rise '), and is the first part 
of the command which M^/f gave life. It is the 
word rendered ' awake ' in Eph. v. 14, a passage 
which the verse before us at once recalls. Whether 
used literally or in reference to a spiritual resur- 
rection, it denotes the first step in the process of 
' making to live.' Either word might stand by 
itself to indicate the work : neither in 2 Cor. i. 9, 

* God which raiseth the dead,' nor in Rom. iv. 17, 

* God who maketh the dead to live,' is an imper- 
fect act described. But the description b more 
vivid here, as we see first the transition and then 
the completed gift. In the language of this 
Gospel, 'life' has so deep a significance that 
' maketh to live ' must not be limited to the ini/ia/ 
'quickening,* — it is thewAale communication of 
the fulness of life. If this view be correct, we can 
find no difficulty in the omission of the word 
' raiseth' in the second half of the verse. Once 
mentioned, it presents the work of giving life so 
vividly, that afterwards the one word ' maketh-to- 
live ' IS sufficient to bear all the meaning. So in 
ver. 8 and ver. 11. The command to the sick 
man had been, * Rise and . . . walk :' when 
the result is described and the command related 
by him who has been healed, nothing is said of 
the arist'f^, for it b included in the giA of life. 
God 'maketh alive' (Deut. xxxii. 39; i Sam. 
ii. 6) : ' God hath given to us eternal life ' (i John 
V. 1 1). However understood, whether physically 
or spiritually, thb b the work of the Father; both 
in the physical and in the spiritual sense, it b also, 
we now learn, the work of Uie Son. In one respect 
the later part of the verse b not less but more 
detailed than the earlier. No one can doubt that 
' whom He will ' lies implicitly in the first words, 
but the thought b expressed in regard to the Soi> 
only ; and the best illustration of it as applied to 
Him b given by the narrative itself. Amongst 
the crowd of sick Jesus chose out one especially 
wretched and consciously helpless, and bestowed 
on him the free gift of life. So (Matt xi. 25) the 
wise and prudent are passed by, and babes are the 
objects of^ the Father's merciful will. The Son's 
will b the manifestation of the Father's purpose. 
There is no sugE;estion of an absolute decree. The 
cure of the sicx man was to a certain extent de- 
pendent on hb own will : ' Hast thou a will to 
be made whole?' (ver. 6). The same will to be 
quickened b necessary to all to whom the will to 
quicken on the part of^the Son extends. What is 
the source of the will in them is a question not 
raised : enough that the light appears, and they are 
attracted to the light and open their hearts to 
receive it 

Ver. 22. For moreover the Father Jndgeth 
no one, bnt hath given all judgment onto the 
Son. Thb verse must be taken in connection 
vith the 19th, 'The Son can of Himself do 



nothing save what He secth the Father doing.' 
By thus connecting the two verses, it becomes 
plain that our Lord does not assert that judgment 
IS not in a certain sense exercised by the Father, 
but that the Father has not reserved judgment to 
Himself, — that with all other things, it too is 
given unto the Son. The Father showeth the 
Son all things that Himself doeth : from this com- 
plete manifestation nothing is excepted, — not even 
that 6nal arbitrament which is the prerogative of 
the Supreme. Hence there is no contradiction 
between this verse and ver. 30 below, where Jesus 
says, * I can of mine own self do nothing ; as I 
hear, 1 judge ; ' nor will viii. 50 present any diffi- 
culty. 13y 'judgment,* as in chap. iii. 17, 18, 19, 
we must certainly understand a judgment that 
issues in condemnation : the parallelism between 
iii. 18, ' He that believeth in Him is not judged,' 
and ver. 24, ' He that heareth my word and be- 
lieveth Him that sent me hath eternal life, and 
Cometh not into judgment,' is remarkably close. 
All judgment future and present, the final award 
with all that foreshadows it, the Father hath 
given, by a bestowal which can never be revoked, 
unto the Son. The connection between the 22d 
and the 2 1st verses is now plain. The Son 
maketh to live whom He will ; but there are 
some on whom He does not bestow life (compare 
ver. 40) ; them therefore He judges. He con- 
demns, — for not even is this Divine prerogative 
withholden from Him ; nay, all judgment hath 
been given unto the Son. 

Ver. 23. That all may honour the Son even 
as they honour the Father. These words ex- 
press the purpose of the Father in giving all judg- 
ment to the Son. They remind us of the closing 
words of ver. 20, which also express His purpose, 
but there is a significant difference between the 
two verses. There we read * that ye may marvel,' 
here * that a// may honour : ' there it is the con- 
fusion and amazement of foes, here it is the honour 
rendered bv all whether foes or friends. It is 
true, indeed, that the 'judgment ' of ver. 22 im- 
plies condemnation, and that, by consequence, 
this verse might seem to relate to foes only and 
not obedient subjects in the kingdom of God. 
But the 'air is rightly introduced, for when 
judgment has compelled the honour of unwilling 
adoration, much more may it be expected that 
)villing hearts will see the unity of the Father and 
the Son, and will honour the Son even as they 
honour the Father. — He that honoureth not the 
Son, honoureth not the Father which sent him. 
It was in their zeal for the honour of the Father, 
as they supposed, that the Jews refused to honour 
Him who was God's Son. But so truly one arc 
the Father and the Son, that all who dishonour 
the Son dishonour the Father. The Father orders 
all things as He does that He whom He sent into 
the world may receive equal honour with Himself; 
and all who refuse honour to the Son resist the 
Father's purpose. Similar words are found in one 
of the earlier Gospels (Luke x. 16), yet no teach- 
ing is more characteristic of the fourth. 

Ver. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you. The 
second 'Verily, verily,' introducing the second 
step in the argument. — He that heareth my word, 
ana believefli Him that sent me, hath eternal 
life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath 
paned out of death into life. This verse has a 
close connection with the last, the words ' Him 
that sent me' taking up the similar words in 

ver. 23 ; and those who by hearing Christ's words 
give honour to the Father bein^ set over against 
those who were there spoken of as dishonouring 
the Father. But the verse has also a very im- 
portant connection with the three pecedlng verses. 
They have stated the work of the Son as it Mas 
been given Him by the Father; this states the same 
work in its effect upon believers. The comparison 
of the terms employed in the several verses is 
very instructive, and the advance from a principle 
asserted of the Son to the same principle viewed 
in its application to men b most perceptible. 
The Son maketh to live the dead, even those 
whom He will (ver. 21) : he that heareth His 
word hath eternal life, and hath passed out of his 
state of death into life (ver. 24). All judgment 
is given unto the Son (ver. 22) : into this judg- 
ment he that believeth does not come (ver. 24). 
There is special significance in the words ' be- 
lieveth Him that sent me :' our Lord does not 
say ' believeth in Him,* for that which He has 
in view is the acceptance of God's testimony con- 
cerning the Son (i John v. 10). Such hearing 
and believing imply the full acceptance of Christ, 
and thus lead directly to that ' oelieving in the 
Son * which (chap. iii. 36) gives the present pos- 
session of eternal life. The believer has passed 
into a state to which judgment does not apply ; 
he has received into himself that word which 
(chap. xii. 48) will at the last dav judge all who 
reject it. Believing in Christ, he has iue in Him, 
and to all that are in Christ Jesus there is no 
condemnation (Rom. viii. i). 

Ver. 25. Verily, verily, I say unto yon. The 
third 'Verily, verily,' introducing the third step 
in the argument. — ^An hour cometh, and nofw ii, 
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son 
of God: and they tiiat have heard shall live. 
What was said of ver. 24 applies here also ; for 
this verse has a direct connection with that which 
precedes it ('heareth my word' rises into 'shall 
hear the voice of the Son of God ') ; and yet a 
still more important link unites it with the open- 
ing words of the discourse, espcciallv with ver. 20, 
' He will show Him greater works. In the 21st 
and 22d verses, these works are looked at in 
their own nature as done by the Son ; in the 24th 
verse, they are looked at in their effect on the 
believer. Now, the ' will show ' is brought into 
prominence, for it is of the historical fulfilment of 
those words that the verse before us speaks. ' An 
hour cometh ' when the Son's power to give life 
to the dead (ver. 21) shall be manifested. Of the 
two spheres in which this power is exercised this 
verse has in view one only ; the ' dead ' are those 
who are spiritually dead. In regard to these alone 
could it be said that the hour has already begun 
('an hour cometh, and now i>'), or would the 
limitation in the last words be in place, ' thty that 
have heard shall live.' The general meaning 
therefore is the same as that of the last verse ; but, 
as it is to ' the dead ' that the Son speaks, we here 
read of ' the voice ' and not ' the word.' In say- 
ing ' the voice of the Son of God,' Jesus recalls to 
our thought all the majesty of His first words 
(vers. II, 17, 19). 

Ver. 26. For even as the Father hath life in 
himself; so gave he to the Son also to have life 
in himself. The dead shall hear the voice of the 
Son and live, for the Son hath life and can impart 
life. This is the connection between verses 25 
and 26. The Father who is the primal fountain 



of life gave to the Son to have life in Himself. As 
in venes 19, 2b, 21, that which belongs to the 
Father and that which belongs to the Son are 
designated by the same words, while the subordi- 
nation exinessed in verses 19, 20, by the figurative 
words 'snowing' and 'seeing,' is here (as in ver. 
22) expressed by the word *gave.* It is therefore 
the essential nature of the Son that is spoken of, 
and not His work in redemption. — * To have life 
in Himself' is the loftiest expression that can be 
used : the unchangeable possession of life exactly 
similar and parallel to that of the Father, such 
possession as enables Him to be the Giver of life 
to others, belongs to the Son. 

Ver. 27. And ne gave him anthority to execute 
jodgmant, becauae he is a son of man. I'he Son 
*maketh to live,' but He maketh to live * whom He 
will ' (ver. 21), or (as we read in ver. 25), He giveth 
life to those who have heard His voice, and not 
to all. Where, then. He is not the Giver of life. 
He is necessarily the Judge. The one thought 
invcdves the other, both in verses 21, 22, and here. 
The Father who gave to the Son the possession of 
life gave Him judgment also. This we read in 
the 22d verse, but the truth now wears a new 
form ; for, although the word ' gave ' is repeated 
in ver. 27, it is in relation to a gift and a sphere 
altogether different from those of which the 26th 
verse speaks. Thtre the essential attributes of the 
Son are before us, including the prerogatives of the 
Word made flesh : here we read of a gift which 
belongs to time and not eternity, a gift which the 
Son receives 'because He is a son of man.' 
The former verses that speak of giving life and of 
judging (21, 22) may have an extent of application 
of which we know nothing ; this verse relates to 
the judgment of pun by One who is very man. 
Such is the force of the words 'a son of man.' 
In every other passage of this Gospel it is ' th€ 
Son of man' of whom we read : here only, and in 
Rev. L 13, xiv. 14, is the definite article wanting. 
No expression brings out so strongly the possession 
of actual human nature, and for this purpose it is 
employed. God's will is to judge the world by ' a 
man whom He ordained ' (Acts xvii. 31); and the 
verse before us, though comprehending much 
more than the last judgment, seems, as may be 
inferred from the peculiarity of the expression 
'execute' or 'perform judgment' (literally *do 
judgment '), and from the presence of this thought 
m the immediate context (vers. 28, 29), to look 
especially towards the final scene. But the judg- 
ment is one that issues in condemnation, and it is 
the Father's will that 'a son of man' shall pro- 
nounce the sentence, as one who has taken on 
Himself human nature in all its reality and com- 
pleteness, in all its faculties, affections, and feel- 
ings. Because He has done so, He is fitted to be 
a fudge of men, and to draw from the consciences 
of the guilty an acknowledgment of the righteous- 
ne» of their doom. As the Son of God having 
life in Himself, He gives life, and those who arc 
vnited to Him by faith have possession of a life 
that is divine. But as a son of man He judges ; as 
One who has been in the same position with those 
standing at His bar, as One who has fought the 
sanoe battle and endured the same trials as they. 
Thus they behold in their Judge One who entirely 
knows them ; His sentence finds an echo in their 
heart ; and they are speechless. Thus it is that 
judgment becomes really judgment, and not merely 
the infliction of punishment by resistless power. 
VOL. II. 5 

Ver. 28. Marvel not at this. Jesus has been 
speaking of works at which they may well marvel 
(ver. 20) ; but great as these may be, there is yet a 
greater. — Because an hour cometh, in tiie which 
all that are in the graves shall hear his voice. 
That the future alone is spoken of is clear from 
the omission of the words ' and now is ' found in 
ver. 2^. The resurrection is not spiritual and 
figurative, for the words are ' all that are in the 
graves, ' not * all that have heard,' — * shall go forth,* 
not 'shall live.' The consummation of the work 
of Jesus is the general resurrection both of the 
righteous and the wicked. Now all shall hear 
His voice, to which before (ver. 25) some only 
had given heed. All shall go forth, but not all 
to a resurrection of life. 

Ver. 29. And they that have done good shall 
go forth nnto a resurrection of life; but they 
that have committed evil onto a resurrection 
of judgment. Those who have committed evil, 
whose deeds have not been the abiding fruit and 
work of the truih, but merely the repeated mani- 
festation of evil in its vanity and worthlcssness 
(see iii. 20), shall go forth to a resurrection to 
which belongs abiding judgment. And these 
alone come into judgment (compare ver. 24). As 
in iii. 18 it is said that 'he that Micvfth in Him 
is not judged,* so here, * they that have done mod 
shall go forth unto a resurrection of life.' The 
difference between the two passages is, that in 
the one the faith is named ; in the other, the works 
which are the expression of the life that follows 
faith, the abiding fruit of faith. It will be observed 
that the expressions ' resurrection of life ' and 
* resurrection of judgment ' denote states, not acts, 
of resurrection. No general jud^ient, therefore, 
is here mentioned : all that is spoken of is a 
general resurrection, on the part of some to a con- 
tinuing life, of others to a continuing judgment. 

Ver. 30. I can of mine own self do nothing : 
as I hear, I judge : and my judgment is just. 
This verse is the dividing line of the discourse, 
belonging at once to both parts, summing up (to 
a certain extent) what has gone before, leading on 
to the new subject which occupies the remainder 
of the chapter. The last word spoken was 'judg- 
ment.' Jesus now returns to it, and it is not 
strange that He should do so. He is speaking in 
the presence of the Jews, His determined foes, 
who refuse life, whom He judges and cannot but 
judge. Hence this lingering on judgment, and 
the recurrence to the first thought of the discourse 
(ver. 19), so as to show that this judgment is not 
of Himself, but belongs both to the Father and 
to the Son. — The figure of ver. 19 is changed. 
There ' seeing ' was the word chosen, as most in 
harmony with the general thought of works done ; 
here it is of judging that Jesus speaks, and hence 
the same thought of communion with the Father 
is best expressed by * hearing.' One characteristic 
of this verse is so marked as of itself to prove that 
the verse is closely related to those which follow. 
From the beginning of the discourse (ver. 19) 
Jesus has spoken of the Father and the Son. Now 
He directly fixes the eyes of His hearers upon Him- 
self (*I can,' *I hear,' *I judge'); and this 
mode of speech is retained to the very end of the 
chapter. — Because I seek not mine own will, 
but the will of him that sent me. That His 
works have not been and cannot be against the 
authority and will of God, Jesus has shown by 
pointing out their essential unity with those of the 



Father (vcr. 19). That the judgment He must 
pass is just, He has shown by the same proof, — 'as 
I hear I judge.' But a second proof is now given, 
or rather (perhaps) a second aspect of the same 
truth is brought into relief, that thus His words 
of rebuke and warning may be more effectually 
addressed to the Jews. His action is never sepa- 
rate from that of the Father, — there can be no 
variance : His will b ever the will of His Father, 
— there can be no self-seeking. It was because 
the opposite spirit dwelt and reigned in the Jews 
that they were rejecting Him, and bringing judg- 
ment on themselves. — The transition to the first 
person, ' I,' ' my,' suggests an objection that would 
arise in the mii^s of the Jews. This is met in the 
vorse that follows. 

Ver. 31. If I bear witness concerning myself, 
my witness is not true. The word 'I' is em- 
phatic, — * if it is I that bear witness.* The words- 
plainly mean ' I and I alone»* for no one is dis- 
credited because he testifies to himself, although 
he is not credited if ho other witness appears on 
his behalf. The Jews may have understood Jesus 
to mean : If I have no other witness to testify con* 
ceming me, my testimony cannot claim to be 
received. But there is more in His words. In 
the consciousness of oneness with the Father, He 
would say that if it were possible that His own 
witness should stand alone, unaccompanied by that 
of the Father, it would be self-convicted, would 
not be true : He, in making the assertion, would 
be fsdse, for lie is one with the Father, and His 
statement, as that of one who was false, would be 
false also. He must therefore show that the 
witness He bore to Himself was really borne to 
Him by the Father : the Father's witness even the 
Jews will acknowledge to be true. To this,, there- 
fore. He proceeds. 

Ver. 32. It is another that beareth witness 
concerning me. Not ' There is another,' as if He 
would merely cite an additional witness. He- 
would lay the whole stress of the witnessing upon 
this * other witness.' This witness is the Father, 
— not John the Baptist, who is mentioned in the 
next verse only that it may be shown that his 
testimony is not that on which Tesus relies. — And 
I Imow that the witness which he witneeseth 
concerning mfi is true. These words are not 
said in attestation of the Father's truth, a point 
admitted by all : they are the utterance of the 
Son's profound consciousness of His own dignity 
and union with the Father. 

Ver. 33. Ye have sent unto John, and he 
hath borne witness nnto the truth. As if He 
said : Had I not this all-sufHcient witness, — were 
it possible for me to appeal to any human witness, 
I might rest on your own act. Ye yourselves have 
made appeal to John, and he hath borne witness 
to the truth (chap. L 19-27). Your mission aod 
his answer are unalterable and abiding facts,, 
which press upon you still and cannot be set 
aside. What he attested is the truth. Jesi^ does 
not say 'hath borne witness to mc,' perhaps be- 
cause that to which John bore witness was only a 
revelation from God (compare chap. i. 34), a 
declaration of the truth which he had received 
from God ; perhaps because the whole lesson of 
this passage is that there is only one real witness 
to Jesus, even the Father speaking in the Son and 
drawing out the answer of the heart to Him. 

Vcr. 34. But not firom a man do I receive the 
witness* Great as was the witness of this greatest 

of prophets, yet John was only a man, and his 
witness therefoie is not the real testimony to Jesus; 
it is a higher which is given Him, and which He 
receives (comp. ver. 36). Hence the definite 
article before * witness.' — Howbeit these thin^i I 
say that ye may be saved. Insufficient as was 
John's testimony for the production of faith in its 
deepest and truest sense, yet Jesus had referred to 
it, recognising its value as part of the Divine 
arrangements for leading men to Himself. Ii 
ought to have brought them to Jesus : and then, 
as they listened to His own word, the true ainl 
complete witness would have been given. The 
following words set forth more fiiUy the true 
position of the Baptist, in his value and in his' 

Ver. 35. He was the lamp that burnetii and 
shineth. John's great work had been to bear 
witness of Jesus, to point to Him. By a sudden 
transition this is expressed very beastifully in a 
figure. As the Psalmist said of God's word that 
it was a lamp unto his feet and a light unto 
his path (Ps. cxix. 105), showing him the right 
path, preserving his feet from wandering, so does 
Jesus represent John's mission here. Tlie lamp 
has been supplied with oil and has been lighted 
ibr a special purpose; it is not self-luminous, 
shining oecause it is its nature to give light. The 
lamp too burns as it shines ; its light is transitory, 
and may well be so, because in proportion as its 
purpose is accomplished may the light diminish : 
when its end is answered, the lamp may be ex- 
tinguished (comp. iii. 3o).~And ye desired for a 
season to exult in his light. Alas ! for them the 
lamp failed to fulfil its purpose. Instead of learn- 
ing the way to Jesus by its means, they thought 
only of the light itself. No doubt this light was 
beautiful and attractive, but it had been designed 
only to guide to Him who would prove * the true 
light ' unto all that followed Him (chap. i. 9, viii. 
I2)» The Jews are evidently censured, but not 
(as some maintain) because they had exulted in- 
stead of mourning. There had been no call to 
mourning. The very exhortation to repentance, 
to prepare for the coming of Him for whom Israel 
had long waited, contained in it ' glad tidings of 
great joy. ' The transient acceptance of John him- 
self, instead uf the acceptance of his message in its 
true and permanent significance, is the fault for 
which the Jews are here condemned. 

Ver. 36. But the witness that I have is greater 
than that of John. Our Lord does not say ' I 
have greater witness than that of John,' as if He 
was about to specify additional testimony of greater 
weight than the Baptist's. No, that testimony to 
the truth was good, was useful (vers. 33, 34), but 
' the witness ' which He has— the only witness to 
which He appeals — belongs altogether to another 
Older,, not human, but Divine. Other witness 
may prepare the heart, external testimony may 
point the way, but there is only one evidence 
offered by Jesus Himself.— For the works that 
the Father hath given me to accomplish, the 
very works that I do, bear witness conceniing 
me» that the Father hath sent me. The evidence 
is works that the Father hath given Him to accom- 
plish ; and these works are His evidence, not as 
external evidence merely, but because, as expressive 
of the Father in Him, they appeal to that inner 
light in men which ought to have led men to 
recognise the Father in the Son. Of these ' works* 
miracles are one part, but not the whole. In two 


other possa^ our Lord uses similar language to 
this, speaking of the 'accomplishment of the 
work oi the Father (chai>. iv. 34) or of the work 
which the Father hath given Him to do (chap. 
xviL 4) ; and in both the work is more than mira- 
cles. True, we read in these of 'the work,' not 
' the works,' but the difference is not essential : 
the many works are the many portions of the one 
work. Nor need we go beyond this discourse 
itsdf to see that the very widest meaning must be 
assigned to 'works.' The keynote is struck by 
ver. 17, which speaks of the 'working' of the 
Father and the Son ; and in ver. 20 we read of 
the 'greater works' which the Father will show 
unto the Son. The ' works ' then here denote all 
that has been referred to in earlier verses (20-30), 
whether jpresent or future, the works of quickening, 
raising, judging, all that the Son does and will do 
until the purpose of the Father is accomplished 
and the reaemptive work complete. These works, 
being manifestations of His own nature, are essen- 
tially different from all external testimony what- 
ever. — Such as they are, they have been ' given ' 
Him by the Father to accomplish : they are de- 
scribed not as a charge but as a ^tfi (as in verses 
22, 26, 27) : and they are the very works which 
He is now doing and habitually does. Special 
significance attaches to these added words, 'the 
very works that I do,' for they show that the 
witness given by the Father to the Son is given in 
'works now presented to their view. Every 
word and every deed of Jesus is, as a work, bear- 
ing testimony to the truth that the Father hath 
sent Him ; for, where the heart of the beholder is 
mepared, every work reveals the presence of the 
Fatner, and b manifestly a work of God. 

Ver. 37. And the Father which sent me, he 
bath bcniie witneea oonceming me. As if Jesus 
said : And thus, in the abiding gift of the 'works,.' 
it is the Father that sent me that hath borne wit- 
ness of me. — ' Hath borne witness ' corresponds 
with 'hath given;' each points to the contmued 
possession of a gift bestowed, the Father's abidine 
presence with Him whom He ' sent ' and ' sealed 
(chap. vi. 27). Hence we must not suppose that 
a fuw witness of the Father — ' direct (as some 
say), in contrast with the ' mediate ' testimony of 
the works — is here intended. If the ' works in- 
dude the whole manifestation of the Son, the 
whole of the tokens of the Father's presence in 
Him and with Him, they are no ' mediate ' testi- 
mony ; no testimony can be more direct.— Never 
have ye either heard a voice of him or seen a 
form oif him. The Father has borne witness, but 
they have not known His presence. In the words 
of Jesus He has spoken, and the ear not closed 
through wilfulness and unbelief would have recog- 
nised the voice of God. In the actions and the 
whole life of Jesus He has manifested Himself, 
and the spiritual eye, the man 'pure in heart,' 
would have 'seen God.' It had been otherwise 
with ' the Jews.' Whilst our Lord had been work- 
ing in their midst they had heard no voice of the 
Father, they had seen no form of Him. This was 
a proof that they had never received in their 
hearts God's revelation of Himself. Had they 
done so, had they (to use our Lord's figurative 
language, — no doubt suggested by the thought of 
the words which He hadspoken and the miracles 
which He had shown to them) ever been ac- 
quainted with the Father's voice, they would have 
lecognised it when Jesus spoke : had the eyes of 


their understanding ever been enlightened so as to 
see God, they would have seen the Father mani- 
fested in their very presence in Hb Son. What 
b in these two clauses couched in figurative terms 
the next clause expresses clearly. 

Ver. 38. And ye have not hiB word abiding 
in yon ; becanse whom he sent, him ye believe 
not. 'Word' here must not be understood as 
directly signifying the Scriptures of the Old Testa- 
ment : it b rather the substance of God's whole 
revelation of Himself, however and wherever 
made. Thb revelation received into a believing 
heart becomes God's word in the man, and to thb 
word answers The Word, in whom God has per* 
fectly revealed Himself (compare Heb. i. i, 2). 
By all previous teaching concerning Himself God 
has prepared the way tor man's reception of Hb 
Son. He who did not recc^ise the Son as the 
Sent of God, showed by this very sign that the 
preparatory work had not been effected in him, — 
that he had not God's word abiding in his heart. 
So in the next chapter Jesus teaches that ' everv 
one that hath heard from the Father, and hath 
learned, cometh unto Him ' (chap. vi. 45). The 
refusal therefore of the Jews to believe Him, that 
is, to accept Hb claims, is of itself a proof that 
they have had no spiritual aptitude for discerning 
the presence and the revelation of God. It wiu 
be seen that, as in the first clause of ver. 37 we 
cannot accept the view that a new witness b in- 
troduced, different from the works, so here we 
cannot believe that the ' voice,' ' form,' and 'word* 
are to be limited to the manifestation of God in 
the Scriptures of the Old Testament. No doubt 
this b the most prominent and important part of 
our Lord's meaning, but we must not exclude 
God's revelation of Himself in providence and in 
the heart of man, for in all things He had pointed 
to His Son. 

It should be mentioned that some have sup- 
posed the clause ' never have ye heard a voice of 
Him ' to refer to the voice of God at the Baptism 
of our Lord. But such an interpretation b surely 
impossible. The tone of the two verses here is 
one of reproach ; but that voice was not intended 
for the ears of the Jews, and their failure to hear 
it was no matter of rebuke. This explanation, 
too, would not diminbh but increase the difficulty 
of the words 'or seen a form of Him,' words 
startling to every Israelite (compare Deut. iv. 12), 
and, we believe, only to be accounted for when 
regarded as closely connected with and suggested 
by the words and deeds of Jesus. 

Ver. 39. Ye feaxch the acriptures. The link 
connecting thb verse with the last is the mention 
of God's * word,' We have seeii that our Lord 
had referred in a marked though not an exclusive 
manner to the Scriptures. To the Jews indeed it 
might seem that He intended to speak of these 
alone ; and that He should deny Jews the glory 
which they esteemed most highly, by declaring 
that they had not God's * word abiding in them, 
would arouse their wonder and their wrath. Now, 
therefore, Jesus allows them the praise that was 
their due, but shows also that the very possession 
of which they boasted had been so used by them 
as to increase their condemnation. — Because ye 
think that in them ye have eternal life: and 
it is they which bear witness conoeming me. 
Ver. 40. And ye will not come to me, that ye 
may have life. The Jews did search the sacred 
writings, — to do so was their honour atid their 



pride. Their own belief was that in possessing 
them they possessed eternal life ; as one of their 
greatest teachers said, 'He who has gotten to 
himself words of the Law has gotten to himself 
the life of the world to come. But these very 
Scriptures were the writings that bore witness 
concerning Jesus (see the note on ver. 38). Had 
they entered into their spirit, they would have joy- 
fully welcomed Him ; yet they refused to come (it 
was not their will to come, — see ver. 6) to Him 
for life. Such is the general meaning of the verses. 
The Jews had used the witness of the Scriptures 
as they had dealt with that given by the Baptist 
(ver. 35). What was designed as a means had 
been made by them an end ; what should have led 
them to Chnst detained them from Him. In a 
certain sense the Scriptures did contain eternal 
life, in that they bore witness of Him who was the 
true bestower of this gift; but as long as men 
busied themselves with the words of Scripture to 
the neglect of its purpose, believing that the former 
would give all they needed and sought, the Scrip- 
tures themselves kept them back from life. — It is 
a little difficult to decide what is the reason for the 
emphasis which in the original is laid on 'ye' 
{*ye think that,* etc.). The meaning may be : ye 
yourselves set such honour on the Scriptures that 
ye think eternal life is found in them. In this 
case an argument is founded on their own ad- 
missions. Or our Lord may intend to refer to this 
doctrine respecting the Scripture as Mrt> Mu/ 
only, not the truth, not His teaching ; ye think 
that in the Scriptures ye have eternal life, but it is 
not truly so, — eternal life is given by me alone. 
The latter meaning seems most in harmony with 
the context. So understood, the words do indeed 
rebuke that view of Scripture which rests every- 
thing on the letter, and also the inconsistency be- 
tween the reverence which the Jews paid to the 
sacred writings and their neglect of the purpose 
they were designed to serve ; but to the Scriptures 
the highest honour is assigned, for Jesus says, ' it 
is they which bear witness concerning me.* When 
thus interpreted in the sense in which it appears 
necessary to understand them, the words of ver. 
39 supply a lesson almost the opposite of that 
usually drawn from them. While they exalt instead 
of depreciating the Scriptures, their main object 
is to warn us against putting them into an undue 
position, or supposing that they are more than a 
fi;uide to Him in whom alone life is to be gained 
(comp. vi. 63). The ordinary rendering of the 
first word (* Search * for * Ye search*) seems alto- 
gether inconsistent with the course of thought in 
these verses. 

Ver. 41. Glory from men I receive not. The 
last nine verses have been an expansion of ver. 31 ; 
this verse goes back to the 30th, in which Jesus 
first contrasts His spirit with theirs, His devotion 
to the Father's will with their self-seeking. The 
rest of the chapter is a development of this thought. 
Yet there is no abrupt break at ver. 40. Jesus 
has been speaking of^ the refusal of the Jews to 
'believe * Him and 'come to* Him as the sufficient 
and certain evidence of the evil of their hearts. 
But in so speaking He is not aiming at His own 
honour, or seeking fame from men. In every 
claim for Himself He seeks His Father*s glory ; 
and the oossession of that spirit is the test of the 
truth ana righteousness which are well-pleasing to 
the Father : see chap. vii. 18, xii. 43. 

Ver. 42. Bat I know yon, thst ye nAve not the 

love of God in you. I know,— that isy I have 
discerned you, I have read your hearts. Love to 
God is the foundation of the spirit of self-sacrifice, 
through which a man seeks not his own but the 
Father*s will. When love to God rules, therefore, 
the guiding principle is not the desire after glory 
from men. The Jews whom our Lord was ad- 
dressing believed themselves zealous for God ; but 
in the very service which they offered Him they 
were guilty of seUf-seeking. They valued them- 
selves on what they presented to Him, and yet they 
presented not that which most of all He sought, — 
the love in which self is lost. What sAking 
words are those of this verse to address to men 
who spent their days in searching the Scriptures 
and in honouring the divinely-appointed institu- 
tions of the Law 1 Tlieir error was that they had 
not entered into the spirit of these things, had not 
seen why God had given them, had not therefore 
understood that glorious righteousness of God In 
the presence of which man feels himself to be 
nothing. They had thought that to God these 
things were an object in themselves. They had 
brought God down to the level of caring for that 
in caring for which as his highest good a man feels 
himself exalted and glorified. 

Ver. 43. 1 am come in my Father^B name, and 
ye receive me not Referring everything to His 
Father*s power and presence, in everything doing 
His Father*s will and not Ilis own, at aU times 
seekin? His Father*s glory, Jesus came 'in His 
Fathers name.* Because that was His spirit, they 
did not receive Him. — If another ahaU oome in 
his own name, him ye will receive. So far has 
self-seeking gone with them, that they can under- 
stand no other course of action than that which is 
animated bv this principle. If a man come in the 
opposite spirit to that displayed by Jesus, — setting 
forth himself alone, seeking his own ends, and 
guided by no will but his own, though all under 
the guise of promoting the glory of God, — such a 
man they will be able to understand. They will 
sympathbe with his motives, will even enthusias- 
tically embrace his cause. The other course they 
cannot comprehend ; so far as they do understand 
it, it is a constant reproach to them. This b a 
terrible description of those who were then the 
rulers of ' God*s people Israel : ' but, alas 1 the 
words apply with perfect fitness to the spirit which 
in every age of the history of Christ's Church has 
contended against God whilst professing to do 
Him service ; which in every age hzs tried to stop 
the progress of truth, — sometimes without, at other 
times within, the Church, — as truth has striven to 
pierce through forms that, once good, have with 
the course of time stiffened into the rigidity of 
death. Nothing can save from that spirit but the 
higher and nobler spirit breathing in the words, 
* glory from man I receive not.* 

Ver. 44. How can ye believe, receiving glory 
one of another? As in the preceding verses, the 
word receive is to be understood as implying a 
desire and a ' seeking * on their part. Such love 
of honour from men is altogether inconsistent with 
the 'believing* of which our Lord speaks. He is 
not referring to a merely intellectual act, but to 
an act which is also moral,— not to believing an 
assertion, but to believing in Him. Where there 
is self-seeking there can be no true faith. — ^And 
the glory that is ttom the only God ye seek not. 
They who thus sought glory from men sought not 
glory from 'the only God.* The Jews were the 



champions of the doctrine of the unity of God, 
and, in the veiy pursuits and aims which our Lord 
condemns, persuaded themselves that they sought 
the glory of God and merited reward. But with 
such aims it was impossible to please Him, and 
thus they missed the recompense which comes 
from * the only God,' who is the ' only ' dispenser 
of true glory. 

Ver. 45. Bo not think that I will ftooiue yon 
to the Father: there is one that aooiueth yon, 
eren Kosea, in whom ye have placed your 
hope. These words do not diminish, but increase 
the severity of our Lord's condemning words. 
Their objects of trust have been successively taken 
away. They have the Scriptures, but they have 
so used them as to miss their whole design ; they 
are rejecting Him of whom they witness, and are 
offering to God a labour and a zeal which have no 
value in His sight The chief tenet in their faith 
is that ' God is one ' (Deut. vi. 4 ; Jas. ii. 19) ; 
bat, in the absence of the 'love of God' from 
their hearts, their zeal for orthodox faith has not 
gained for ihem the 'glory that is from the only 
God.' There has been more, however, than mis- 
use and loss. Their very lawgiver Moses, in whom 
they had set their hope, is already their accuser 
before God. No further accusation is needed. 
No more crushing blow could be given to their 
pride. Moses M/iV accuser before God ! Yet it 
was so. When we refuse to enter into all the 

parts of God's plan, the very parts of it for whose 
sake our refusal is given, and whose honour we 
imagine we are maintaining, turn round upon us 
and disown our aid. 

Ver. 46. For if ye believed Mosee, ye would 
believe me : for he wrote conoeming me. Our 
Lord, no doubt, refers in part to special predictions 
(such as that of Deut. xviii. 15, 18) ; but more 
especially He refers to the whole revelation con- 
tained in the books of Moses, and by parity of 
reasoning to the whole Old Testament — the 
Scriptures of ver. 39. In all the revelation given 
through him Moses wrote concerning Jesus. His 
great purpose was to prepare the way for the true 
Prophet and Priest and King of Israel. Christ 
was ' the end of the law.' Had, therefore, the 
Jews 'believed Moses,' — that is, accepted his 
witness in its true character, and entered into its 
spirit, — they would have been led by that pre- 
paratory prophetic teaching to believe the Christ 
of whom Moses wrote. 

Ver. 47. Bnt if ye believe not his writings, 
how will ye believe my words? If however 
they did not truly believe the written word, which 
was constantly in their hands, which was the 
object of so much reverence, which, as written, 
could be studied again and again for the removal of 
every difficulty and the investigation of every claim, 
then might it well be expected that they would 
refuse to receive the words which Jesus spoke. 

Chapter VI. 1-2 1. 

a Ver. 23 ; 

chap. xxi. I. 
i MatL iv. aj, 

tt Matt. xiv. 
1 j-ai ; 
Mark vi. 

Luke uc. 
# Chap. i. 43. 

T/ie Feeding of tlie Five Thousand. 

1 A FTER these things Jesus went over ' the sea of Galilee, 

2 XjL which is the sea of * Tiberias. And *a great multi- 
tude followed him, because they saw his miracles* which he 

3 did on them that were diseased.* And Jesus went up into 

4 a* mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. ' And * ^ chap. ii. 13. 

5 the passover, a* feast of the Jews, was nigh. ''When 
Jesus then' lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company 
come* unto him, he* saith unto 'Philip, Whence shall we*® 

6 buy bread, that these may eat } And " this he said to 

7 prove '* him : for he himself knew what he would " do. Philip 
answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not suffi- 
cient for them, that every one of them " may take a little. 

8 One of his disciples, -^Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith /chap. i. 40 

9 unto him, There is a lad " here, which hath five barley loaves, 
and two small ** fishes : but ^ what are they among so many ? 

10 And Jesus said. Make the men " sit down. Now there was 
much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number 

' away to the other side of • beheld the signs * sick * the 

•Now • the ' Jesus therefore having 

" and having seen that a great multitude cometh * omit he 

g^ Kings iv 

*• are we to 

" Now 



i« was about to 

" omitoi them ^* little lad " omit small " Jesus said. Make the people 


11 about five thousand. And Jesus" took the loaves; and when 

he had * given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the ^ver.M. 
disciples " to them that were set " down ; and likewise "* of the xv. 36. 

12 fishes as much as they would. When" they were filled, he 
said " unto his disciples. Gather up the fragments ** that re- 

13 main, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them 
together, and filled twelve 'baskets with the fragments of** « Matt. adv. 
the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto 

them that had eaten. 

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus 

did, said," This is of a truth *that prophet that should come"' *i>eut.xTiiL 

15 into the world. When" Jesus therefore perceived" that they ' 
would " come and take him by force,"* to make him a " king, 
he " departed ** again ' into a " mountain himself alone. 

16 '"And when even was now come, his disciples went down **'**»«^»^ 

chap. t. ax, 
vu. 40. 
Comp. Matt. 
xi. 3 ; chap, 
tv. 19, zi. ST. 
/Ver. 3. 



17 unto the sea. And entered into a ship,'* and went*' over the 
sea toward * Capernaum.'® And it was now dark," and Jesus «chii>.u. ra. 

18 was not** come to them. And the sea arose*' by reason of a 

19 great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and 
twenty or thirty furlongs, they see *" Jesus walking on the sea, 

20 and drawing nigh unto the ship : *• and they were afraid. But 

21 he saith unto them. It is I ; be not afraid. Then they willingly 
received him into the ship : *' and immediately the ship " was 

at the land whither they went. 

^* o^nit to the disciples, and the disciples 
** And whe« ** saith 

>8 Jesus therefore 

*® had sat '^ likewise also 

'* Gather together the pieces ** baskets with pieces from 

*• When therefore the people saw the sign that he did, they said 

*' the prophet that cometh *^ omit When 



*® were about to *^ and carry him off •* omit a " omit he 

** retired ** the ^* boat *' were coming 

'^ unto Capernaum ^^ And darkness had already come on 

*® not yet ** was raging ** behold 

** They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat 

Contents. The sixth chapter continues the 
conflict of Jesus with the Jews, under the same 
point of view as that which we found to be pro- 
minent in chap. v. As in that chapter Jesus was 
the fulfilment of the sabbath, so in this He is the 
fulfilment of the Passover ; He is the true bread, 
the true substance of our Paschal feast. The 
section now before us, contained in the first part 
of the chapter, may be divided into three subor- 
dinate parts— (i) vers. 1-13, the miracle of the 
multiplying of the bread ; (2) vers. 14, 15, the 
effect produced by the miracle upon the Galilean 
multitude, leading Jesus to withdraw to the other 
side of the sea ; (3) vers. 16-21, the storm and 
the reassuring of the disciples. 

Ver. I. iJter these tnings. Like chap, v., 
this chapter opens with an indefinite note of time, 
'after these tnings.* In the former instance we 
saw that the interval covered by the expression 
may have been two or three months ; here, if we 

take the feast spoken of in chap. ▼. i to have 
been the feast of Purim, the events of the two 
chapters v. and vi. were not separated by more 
than about two or three weeks, for Purim was past 
and the Passover was drawing near (ver. 4). 
From the other Evangelists we know that Jesus 
went into Galilee after the imprisonment of John 
the Baptist (Matt. iv. 12; Mark i. 14); and also 
that after the death of the Baptist He withdrew 
from Galilee (Matt. xiv. 13 ; Mark vi. 31). In 
this Gospel we have already met with two visits 
to Galilee (chap. ii. i, iv. 3 and 43), and another 
is Implied in the verse before us. Which of these 
three is the joumev spoken of in Matt. iv. 12? 
Certainly not the first (John IL I, 11), for John 
was not then cast into prison (chap. iii. 24). 
Probably not the second, for chap. iv. I implies 
that the Baptist was still at that time engaged in 
active work (see note on iv. i). It would seem 
therefore that the visit to which the earlier Evmn> 



geltsts give so much prominence, which indeed is 
the commencement of their detailed history of the 
Saviour's public ministry, took place after the 
feast to which reference is made in chap. v. i. 
It is in complete accordance with this that Jesus 
in chap. v. 35 uses words which appear to indi- 
cate that the Baptist's public work was at an end. 
If this view be correct, the earlier Evangelists 
enable us completely to fill up the interval between 
chaps. V. and vi.* Indeed (assuming the feast of 
chap. V. to be Purim), the chief objection raised 
agamst the view we iidvocate is that the period of 
t&ee weeks is too short for the events which come 
in between our Lord's journey to Galilee and the 
Feeding of the Multitude. Mark for instance 
relates the one in i. 14 and the other in vi. 30-44. 
No doubt the first impression made on any reader 
is that such a series of events must have occupied 
months rather than weeks ; but if the narrative be 
attentively examined, it will be found that there is 
no real ground for such an impression. The three 
EvangeUsts seem to have been led rather to give a 
full description of certain parts than an outhne of 
the whole of our Lord's ministry in Galilee. If 
the days seem crowded with events, the intensity 
of the living ministry of Jesus does but receive the 
fuller illustration, and we have the most impressive 
comment on His own words in this Gospel (iv> 
34, ix. 4) and on the closing testimony of the 
apostle (xxi. 25). Between these chapters, then, 
must be placed many of the most familiar chapters 
of the earlier Gospels. To say nothing of the 
wonderful miracles wrought in Capernaum and in 
other places on the coast of the sea of Galilee, to 
this interval belong the appointment of the twelve 
apostles, the Sermon on tne Mount, the Parables 
of the kingdom of heaven (Matt, xiii.), the death 
of John .the Baptist in the castle of Machserus. 
But John's omission of all that happened during 
our Lord's sojourn in Galilee until the point to 
which this verse relates is in accord with the 
general structure of his Gospel ; and the special 
reason which led him to relate the particular events 
of this chapter, and these only, will be noticed as 
we proceed. Nothing, we may add, can more 
strikingly illustrate the twofold character of our 
Lord's teaching, as addressed to * the Jews ' and 
the doctors of the law on the one hand and to the 
multitudes of Galilee on the other, than a com- 
parison of the discourse in Jerusalem which we 
nave just considered (chap, v.) with the Sermon 
and the Parables spoken but a few days later. — 
Jesm went away to the other Bide of the sea of 
Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. From 
Luke ix. 10 we learn that the place to which Jesus 
crossed over was Bethsaida, that is, Bethsaida 
Julias in Gaulonitis, a place near the north-eastern 
comer of the lake, to be carefullv distinguished 
from Bethsaida of Galilee, which was on the 
western shore. It is remarkable that John should 
give a twofold designation of the sea, — sea of 
Galilee and (sea) of Tiberias. The latter name, 
which perhaps was best known by those amongst 
whom ne wrote, is used by him alone, here and in 
chap. xxi. I : the former, 'sea of Galilee,' is the 
name r^ularly used by Matthew and Mark. In 
Luke's Gospel the only name is lake of Gennesaret 
(chap. V. I). 

Ver. 2. And a great multitude followed him, 
because they beheld the signs which he did on 
them that were sick. The Greek words are very 
expressive, pointing clearly to repeated miracles 

of healing, on account of which crowds followed 
him continually from place to place. This is the 
only verse in John's Gospel corresponding with 
the many passages in the Synoptic Gospels that 
briefly record a multitude of such works (Matt. iv. 
24, viii. 16, ix. 35, XV. 30 ; Mark vi. 56 ; Luke |ix. 
II, etc.); and it refers to that very Galilean 
ministry to which those records belong. In Judea, 
as in unbelieving Nazareth (Mark vi. 5), ' He could 
not do manv mighty works.' 

Ver. 3. And Jesus went up into the moun- 
tain, and there he sat with his disciples. He 
retired for the purpose of rest and prayer, and that 
he might instruct his disciples> — the twelve who 
had just returned from their mission (Mark vi. 30). 
'The mountain' we must probably tmderstand 
in a general sense as meanmg the high ground 
near Bethsaida. In this part the eastern hills 
closely approach the lake. 

Ver. 4. Kow the passover, the feast of the 
Jews, was nigh. On the words 'of the Jews' 
see the notes on i. 19, ii. 13. The addition here 
serves to explain why Jesus did not go up to the 
Passover. He had been rejected by the Jews at 
the former Passover (ii. 18) : the feast, which had 
before that time been robbed by them of its sanc- 
tity, belonged after their rejection of Him no 
longer to His Father but 'to the Jews.' But if 
Jesus did not visit Jerusalem for this festival, why 
is it mentioned here ? It certainly serves a chrono- 
logical purpose (though it must be remembered 
that we cannot say with absolute certainty that this 
was the Passover immediately following that of ii. 
II) ; but even in such incidental notices as these 
John has not his eye only or chiefly on chronology. 
Some have supposed that it is to account for the 
crowds which followed Him, and which may have 
consisted mainly or partly of the Galilean caravan 
on its way to the holy city to attend the feast. 
But ver. 2 makes this unlikely, for it gives an 
entirely diflerent explanation of the concourse. 
Besides which, ver. 5 seems to connect the notice 
of the season and the miracle to follow in such a 
way as to suggest rather an internal than an ex- 
ternal relation between them. It is probable, 
therefore, that the Evangelist by this mention of 
the Passover intends to show us Uie light in which 
the whole narrative should be viewed. The mir- 
acle and the discourses alike relate to the true 
Passover, the reality and substance of that feast 
which has now, alas ! become ' the feast of the 

Ver. 5. Jesus therefore having lifted up his 
eyes, and having seen that a great multi- 
tude Cometh unto him. The place in which the 
multitudes were gathering was a desert plain at 
the foot of the hills.— Saith unto Philip, Whence 
are we to buy hr^Mi, that these may eat f It was 
as they drew near that Jesus addressed the ques- 
tion to Philip. The other narratives say nothing 
of it, but all represent the disciples as coming to 
their Lord when the day be|;an to wane to beg 
Him to send away the multitudes. Our Lord's 
question to Philip, then, is entirely independent of 
tne later petition of the twelve. Even were it 
otherwise, however, and were John referring to 
the same point of time as the other Evangelists, 
there would be no ground whatever for asserting 
that there is any discrepancy between the narra- 
tives, for none of them can contain all that passed 
between the disciples and their Master. Besides 
this, the eleven may not have heard the words, or 



inay not have seen their significance if they did 
hear them. 

Ver. 6. Kow thii he said proving him : for he 
biniflelf knew what he was about to do. Why 
Philip was addressed is a question often raised. 
The mention of the circumstance may be only the 
graphic touch of an eye-witness, and there may be 
nothing important in the Master's choice of the 
disciple whose faith He is to try. Yet it is more 
likely that some special reason did exist. Philip 
may have had something to do with making pro- 
vision for the wants of the company of disciples : 
this is not inconsistent with chap. xii. 6. Or there 
may have been something in the character of 
Philip's mind that led to the special selection of 
him ror trial ; and the incident related in xii. 22 
has been appealed to as showing a tendency on 
hb part to a caution that might become excessive 
and obstructive to the development of faith. A 
more correct explanation may be that, intending 
to manifest Himself as the fulfilment of what is 
written in the law, Jesus turns first to one who 
had confessed Him as the subject of ' the law and 
the prophets' (i. 45). He would test him, and 
try whether he had entered into the fiill meaning 
of his own confession. 

Ver. 7. Philip answered him. Two hundred 
pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, 
that every one may take a little. As the num- 
ber of the men alone proved to be five thousand, 
an expenditure of 200 * pence ' (1.^. 200 denarii) 
would allow less than a amariuSf or about eight- 
pence of our money, to twenty-five persons, and 
that sum would not purchase in ordinary times 
more than five or six ounces of bread for each. 
Philip might well say that it was ' not sufficient 
for them.* 

Ver. 8. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon 
Peter's brother, saith unto him. On the appel- 
lation here given to Andrew see on chap. i. 40. 
Andrew is again associated with Philip in chap, 
xii. 22. 

Ver. o. There is a little lad here which hath 
five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are 
they among so many f John shows Andrew as 
standing somewhat in advance of Philip, in that 
he does not hesitate to think that their little store 
may be set before the multitude, though he is per- 
plexed at his own suggestion. This is in accord- 
ance with the fact that in the lists of the apostles 
Andrew takes precedence of Philip. 

Ver. 10. Jesus said. Make the people sit 
down. * The people,* a general word, including 
both men and women, is used here. They 
are directed to sit down, partly for the sake of 
order and ease in the distribution of the food, but 
also because the Lord is preparing to set a feast 
before them, and they sit down with Him as His 
guests. — Now there was much grass in the 
place. So Mark speaks of the * green grass,' — a 
minute but interesting coincidence. The circum- 
stance is one that an eye-witness would naturally 
note, especially after relating the direction given 
that the multitude should sit down. John alone 
has given the season of the year (ver. 4) ; on this 
day of early spring the grass would be flourishing 
and abundant. — 80 the men sat down, in number 
about five tibousand. The ' men ' are now singled 
out for special mention, probably because they, 
according to the custom of the East, sat down 
first. Wc may also suppose that the number of 
women and children would not be very large. 

Ver. II. Jesus therefore took the loaves; and 
when he had given thanks he distributed to 
them that had sat down ; likewise also of the 
fishes as much as they would. Jesus alone is 
mentioned, but there is no doubt that He employed 
the agency of His disciples. In Mark vL 41 we 
read uat Jesus gave the loaves to His discipies to 
set before the multitude ; but, in the very same 
verse, that the ' two fishes divided He amongst 
them all ; ' yet we cannot doubt that the mode 
of distribution would be the same in both cases. 
However done, the work of distribution was really 
His, and the Evangelist would fix our thoughts 
on Him alone. This miracle, as has often been 
remarked, is (witli the exception of our Lord's 
resurrection) the only one related by all four 
£van<4elists. The differences in the accounts are 
very slight. It b curious to note that in all the 
other narratives of it our Lord is said to have 
'blessed' before He brake the loaves, whereas 
in the two accounts of the feeding of the four 
thousand He ' gave thanks * before breaking the 
bread : here, however, giving thanks takes the place 
of blessing. When the mir^e is referred to below 
(ver. 23), the Lord's 'giving thanks' is brought 
into prominence. This would seem to show that 
the word is here used with intentional significance, 
probably with marked reference to the Paschal 
meal, at which thanksgiving played so impor- 
tant a part. There is a striking resemblance 
indeed between the description before us and the 
accounts of the last supper, especially that given 
in I Cor. xi. 

Ver. 12. And when they were filled, he saith 
unto his disciples. Gather together the pieces 
that remain, that nothing be lost. The earlier 
Gospels relate the act of the disciples, but not the 
command of Jesus. John, everywhere intent on 
what his Master did and said, preserves for us 
this word. The design of the command is to 
bring out the preciousness of the food which 
Jesus had given, — not to teach a lesson of 
economy, or to reprove the over-scrupulous cal- 
culations of Andrew and Philip. It is usual to 
understand by * pieces ' the fragments broken by 
the multitude during their m^ ; but it is more 
probable that they were pieces broken by our 
Lord, — pieces that remained undistributed or un- 
consumcd because of the abundance of the supply. 

Ver. 13. Therefore they gathered Uiem to- 
gether, and filled twelve baskets with pieces 
from the five barley loaves, which remained 
over and above unto them that had eaten. 
The repetition of the words, 'the five barley 
loaves,' is remarkable ; the writer wishes to lay 
emphasis on the identity of the fragments with 
the loaves of the original supply. Mark speaks 
of the collection of the firagments of the fishes 
(vi. 43) ; Tohn, intent on the idea to be unfolded, 
alike in the scene and in the discourse that fol- 
lowed it, passes by this circumstance. The 
number of baskets was twelve. We can hardly 
doubt that each Apostle had his own 'basket,' 
and that each of these was filled. Nor is it 
fanciful to see in this a token that what was 
symbolized by the precious bread was destined 
for each tribe of Israel. In every narrative of 
this miracle the same word {cophinus) is used for 
basket ; in the accounts of the feeding of the four 
thousand (Matt. xv. 37 ; Mark viii. 8) the word 
is entirely different ; and where the two miracles 
are referred to together, each retains the word 


that belongs to it ; so that in Matt. xvi. 9, 10, and 
Mark viii. 19, 20, the word 'baskets,' repeated 
in our translation, answers to different words. 
John's agreement with the other Evangelists in 
so minute a point as the use of cophinus in 
connection with this miracle is interesting and 

Ver, 14. When therefore the people saw the 
■ign thftt he did, they said. <The people,'— 
1.^., the people of ver. 10, those who haa been 
fed and satisfied. Are we, however, to under- 
stand that they saw the ' wonder,' but saw in it 
no ' sign,' as it is said by our Lord below, ' Ye 
follow me not because ye saw signs ;' or may we 
suppose that even to this multitude the miracle 
was a sign, like the miracles of healing which 
they had witnessed before ? (ver. 2). The latter 
interpretation is nearer to the words of John, and 
is more probable. If in anv sense the cures were 
'signs' to the beholders, the multiplying of the 
loaves must have been a greater 'sign. Their 
own words confirm this, for they receive the 
miracle as the heaven-appointed token of the 
mission of Jesus. Still they did not really look 
beneath the sur&ce; in the depth of meaning 
which the word has to John, the wonderful work 
was not apprehended as a 'sign.' Our Lord's 
design in tnis chapter is, as we shall see, to 
remove their ignorance on this very point. — This 
is of a tmth the prophet that oometh into 
the world. To an Israelite a miracle at once 
suggested the thought of a prophet (Deut. xiii. i), 
as the general name for one who had received a 
Divine mission. But here it is of the Prophet that 
they speak, no doubt referring to the promise of 
Deut. xviiL 15 (see note on chap. i. 21). The 
general expectation which lay in the hearts of 
men at this time clothed itself in different forms 
of expression, according to the events which drew 
it forth. Perhaps the miracle of Elisha (2 Kings 
iv. 43) rose to their thought, or that of Elijah 
(I Kings xvii. 14); and the memory of their 
ancient prophets drew along with it the promise 
of the Prophet now to come. More prolDably it 
was to the miracle of the manna that their minds 
recurred, and the work of Moses brought to recol- 
lection the promise which Moses lefl behind him 
for the last days. The words used by the people 
leave no doubt that here at least the Prophet is 
identified with the Messiah, whose most frequent 
designation seems to have been ' He that cometh ' 
(Matt. xL 3, etc.), or more fully, * He that cometh 
into the world ' (comp. chap. i. 9). 

Ver. 15. Jeeos thmfore perceiving that they 
were about to come and carry him A to make 
bhn king, retired again into the mountain 
Umeelf alone. The thought of ' Messiah ' is the 
connecting link between the exclamation related 
in the last verse and the purpose here mentioned. 
The Messiah is to reign in the royal city : to 
Jerusalem therefore they would now carry Him 
by force, and there proclaim Him king. Their 
words here given are taken up again in chap. xii. 
13, when the Galilean multitudes go to meet Him 
to escort Him in triumph into Jerusalem, crying 
out, ' Blessed is He that cometh in the name of 
the Lord, the King of Israel.' But the hour for a 
triumphant entry has not yet arrived. Jesus reads 
their purpose, and frustrates it by retiring again to 
' the mountain ' (ver. 3), from which He came 
down to teach the mrltitudes and to heal their 
sick (Luke ix. 11). The first two Evangelists 


tell us that He retired into the mountain 'to 
pray ; * but the two motives assigned are in no 
way inconsistent with each other. Our Lord's 
withdrawal from view after His miracles is fre- 
quently noticed in this Gospel. The reason here 
explained would naturally operate at other times 
also ; but there are peculiarities of language which 
seem to show that John beheld in all the ' signs ' 
— which were occasional manifestations of the 
glory of Jesus— emblems of His whole manifes- 
tation, of all that lay between His coming forth 
from the Father and His final withdrawsd from 
the world and return to the Father. There is a 
beautiful harmony between the prayer of which 
other Gospels speak, the solitariness ('Himself 
alone') here brought before us, and the later 
words of Jesus, * He that sent me is with me, 
He hath not left me alone ' (chap. viii. 29), ' I am 
not alone, because the Father is with me ' (chap, 
xvi. 32). 

No one can read the four narratives of this 
miracle without being struck with their essential 
harmony in the midst of apparent diversities. 
Every narrative contributes some new feature ; 
almost every one introduces some particular 
which we cannot with positive certainty adjust 
with the other narratives, though we may see 
clearly that in more ways than one it might be 
so adjusted. It is especially necessary in this 
place to call attention to these other narratives, 
because John alone records the impression made 
upon the multitude, and (as has been well sug- 
gested by Godet) this impression may explain a 
very remarkable word used both by Matthew and 
by Mark. These Evangelists relate (Matt. xiv. 
22 ; Mark vi. 45) that Jesus * compelled ' His 
disciples to return to their boat until He should 
have dismissed the people. No motive for the 
compulsion is supplied by the two writers who use 
the word. If, however, this was the crisis of the 
Galilean ministry, and the multitudes, impressed 
by other recent miracles, and moved beyond 
measure by the last, must now be withheld from 
their premature design to proclaim Him king, it 
becomes necessary forcibly to separate the disciples 
as well as Himself from the excited crowds in the 
hour of their highly-wrought enthusiasm. Even 
though Jesus Himself were absent, yet if the 
contagious excitement of the people should com- 
municate itself to the Galilean disciples also, the 
plan of His working would (humanly speaking) 
be frustrated. Perhaps, too, this decisive breaking 
with the impulses of the multitude, this practical 
renunciation of the honours the people would 
confer and of the political sovereignty to which 
they would raise Him, may furnish one reason for 
John's selection of this miracle, already so well 
known in the Church. Another reason is made 
evident by the discourse of this chapter. 

Ver. 16. And when even was now come, hia 
diaciplee went down unto the sea. Before Jesus 
retired to the mountain He had constrained His 
disciples to leave Him for the shore : when they 
had left He dismissed the people, withdrawing 
from them, probably by exercising such influence 
as is implied in chap. v. 13, viii. ^9, x. 39. 

Ver. 17. And entered into a Doat, and were 
coming over the sea unto Oapemanm. And 
darkness had already come on, and Jeena was 
not yet come to them. Probably they were in- 
tending to coast along the shore of the lake be- 
tween Bethsaida-Julias and Capernaum : in this 



Ihey were no doubt following their Master*s direc- 
tions. The words that follow show clearly that 
they expected Him to rejoin them at some point 
on the coast. 

Ver. 18. And the wa was imging by retaon of 
a great wind that blew. The darkness and the 
storm rendered their position one of great peril. 
There had arisen one of those sudden and violent 
squalls to which all inland waters surrounded by 
lofty hills intersected with gullies are liable. 
Many travellers bear witness to the fact that 
such storms beat with peculiar force upon the 
sea of Galilee. In the present instance the ' great 
wind ' would seem to have been from the north. 
The immediate effect of the storm was to drive the 
disciples out to sea till they reached the middle of 
the lake, which is at its broadest a little south of 
their starting-point. 

Ver. 19. 80 when they had rowed about five 
and twenty or thirty fnrlongs. If the wind had 
driven them southwards soon after their starting, 
they would be near the eastern coast at a point 
where the lake is about forty furlongs broad. If 
therefore they had rowed twenty-five or thirty fur- 
longs, they would not be far n'om ' the midst of 
the sea* (Mark vi. 47). The agreement between 
the two narratives is clearly 'undesigned,' and 
therefore the more interesting. — They behold 
Jesuf walking on the sea, and dza^dng nigh 
onto the boat: and they were afraid. When 
Jesus drew near to the boat, it was the * fourth 
watch' (Matt. xiv. 25), and therefore the darkest 
part of the night ; some eight or nine hours had 
^ssed since they left Him with the multitude. 
The wind was boisterous, the sea raging, their 
strength was spent with rowing (Mark vi. 48), when 
suddenly they behold Jesus walking on the sea, in 
the immediate neighbourhood of the boat. They 
knew not that it was He, and were terrified. 

Vers. 20, 21. But he eaith unto them, It is I; 
be not afraid. They were willing therefore te 
receive him into the boat. His voice and 
manner were enough to remove all their fears. 
They would have kept away from the apparition, 
affrighted ; but now their will was to receive their 
Master. TTiis renewed mention of the * will * 
(compare chap. v. 6, 40) is striking and character- 
istic. In the first two Evangelists we read of our 

Lord's entering the boat, and some have thought 
that the words here present a difficulty as imply- 
ing a desire on the part of the disciples that was 
not fulfilled. But tnere is really no discrepancy 
whatever. John mentions the will only, assuming 
that every reader would understand that the wiU 
was carried into effect (comp. i. 43, v. 35). — And 
immediately the boat was at the land whither 
they went. They were making for Capemanm, 
and this town they reached immediately. It is 
plain that John intends to relate what was not an 
ordinary occurrence but a miracle. The first two 
Evangelists do not speak of it, but their words 
are in perfect harmony with John's account, for 
immediately after the lulling of the wind they 
mention the completion of the voyage. 

This is the fourth of the 'signs recorded in 
this Gospel. Unlike the former miracle (the 
feeding of the multitude), it is not mentioned again 
or in any way expressly referred to; hence we 
have less certainty as to the position assigned to it 
by the Evangelist. That to him it was not a 
mere matter of history we may be sure ; but the 
event is not as closely interwoven with the texture 
of his narrative as are the other miracles which he 
records. The thoughts which are here prominent 
are the separation of the disciples from their Lord, 
their difficulties amid the darkness and the storm, 
their fear as they dimly see Jesus approaching, 
the words which remove their fear, their *wiiT* 
to receive Him, the immediate end of all their 
trouble and danger. The cardinal thought is 
their safety when they have received Jesus. The 
narrative is connected with that which precedes 
in that, here as there, all attention is concentrated 
on the Redeemer Himself, who in sovereign power 
and in infinite grace manifests His glory. It is 
still more closely joinbd with what comes after, as 
it teaches on the one hand the safety of all who 
are with Him (vers. 37-39), and on the other the 
necessity of man's receiving Him, opening his 
heart to His words, committing Himself to Him 
by faith (ver. 40). We cannot doubt that the 
question of Jesus and the answer of the twelve, of 
which we read in ver. 68, are closely linked with 
the teaching of that night in which the disciples 
foand at once the end of peril and rest from tcil 
wlKn they saw and received their Lord. 

Chapter VI. 22-71. 

Passover Discourses of Jesus, 

22 nr^HE day following, when * the people " which stood on the 

X other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat * 
there, save that * one whereinto his disciples were entered,* and 
that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his 

23 disciples were gone* away alone ; (Howbeit there came other' 
boats from * Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat «^'«'-»- 

24 bread,' after that the Lord had * given thanks:) When the*^*^-**- 

* omit when * multitude • little boat 

* omit from whereinto to entered • went ' omit other 

* omit that 
■ the bread 


people* therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his 
disciples, they also took shipping,* and came to 'Capernaum, cWer.iy. 

25 seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other 

side of the sea, they said unto him, *^ Rabbi, when camest thou 'Chap. i. 3». 

26 hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say 
unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles,*® but 

27 because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.^^ Labour" 

not for the meat " which ' perisheth, but for that meat which ^ chap, w, 
' endureth '* unto -^everlasting" life, which the ^Son of man/^p-?»-«5 

«* ' g Chap. 1. 51. 

shall *give unto you : ' for him hath God the Father sealed." J^^' J**®* 

28 Then said they" unto him, What shall" we do, that we **3^- 

29 might" work the* works of God? Jesus answered and said *fcS.'i^^': 
unto them, This is the * work of God, that ye 'believe on"® /cSp.^'ti. 

30 him whom he hath"' sent They said therefore unto him, i^jXiii. 
** What sign shewest thou then,"" that we may see, and believe JSod. n. 18. 

31 thee? what dost thou work? "Our fathers did eat manna"" ^^^^' 
in the desert ;"* as it is written, ^ He gave them bread from "* Luke'Jiiii.8. 

32 heaven to eat. Then Jesus "• said unto them. Verily, verily, I ''vT'mtl' 
say unto you, Moses gave you not that " bread from "' heaven ; '^ ps^uJ^il.* 
but my Father giveth you the true"® bread from"* heaven."' *^''^ 

33 For the bread of God is -^he"" which cometh down from"* ^J^^^^i. 

34 heaven, and giveth life unto 'the world. ^Then said they"* JoS^lv.Ts. 

35 unto him. Lord, evermore give us this bread. And "" Jesus said 

unto them, ' I am the bread of life : ' he that cometh "" to me ' ,Y^^- ^?- 

' / Chap. IV. 14. 

shall never"* hunger; and he that believeth on"* me shall 

36 never"* thirst. "But I said unto you. That ye also have"' seen '"Ver. a6. 

37 me, and believe not. All *'that"" the Father giveth me shall •'7hap.^;«9, 
come to me ; and him that cometh "" to me I will in no wise ^a';.'' ^' ^' 

38 cast out For I ^ came " down from heaven, ^ not to do mine i^^J; '^'*- 

39 own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the^aiip.Y!i^; 
Father's will which hath sent me,** that -^of" all*" which he ^ See chap. 

X. 20. 

hath ■'given me I ** should lose nothing, but should raise it up 

40 again** at 'the last day. And*' this is the will of him that '^^^*^* 
sent me,*' that every one which seeth *• the Son, and believeth *J- '^* *»*• 
on *• him, may *° have "* everlasting ** life : and I will *" raise him "ci^p.^j* 3^. 
up at ' the last day. 

• they themselves got into the little boats '® ye saw signs " satisfied 
** Work *• eating ** the eating which abideth ** eternal 

'• for him the Father, God, did seal '^ They said therefore ^* must 
*• may *® in ** omit hath ** What then doest thou as a sign 

»• the manna "* wilderness ** out of *® Jesus therefore 

*' the ** omit true "• add, the true dr^ad. «« that 

•* They said therefore "" omit And •• is coming 

*• shall in no wise "* in "• shall in no wise ever 

•' that yc have indeed "® All that which •• is coming 

*• Because I have come *^ is the will of him that sent me *" omit of 
*« all that *♦ me, of it I ** omit again *« For 

«' will of my Father *• beholdeth *• in 

*« should ^1 eternal '" and that I should 


41 The Jews then " murmured at ** him, because he said, I am 

42 the bread which came down from** heaven. And they said, 

* Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother ^J^^-** 
we know ? how is it then that he saith,** I came " down from ** 

43 heaven ? Jesus therefore ** answered and said unto them, 

44 Murmur not among yourselves. ' No man** can come to me, cComp.m 
except the Father which hath *" sent me draw •* him : and I 

45 will raise him up at 'the last day. ''It is written in 
prophets. And they shall be all** taught of God. 'Every f}'/^'^^ 
man therefore that ** hath heard,** and hath learned of the ' ^*'- 37- 

46 Father,** cometh unto me. ^Not that any man** hath seen^^^^J^f* 
the Father, save he which is of*' God, he hath seen the 

47 Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, ^ He that believeth on 

48 me** hath everlasting** life. *I am that'* bread of life. 

49 'Your fathers did eat manna'* in the wilderness, and are 

the ^{«.K^.i3; 

Jer. xzxt. 


so; Col. L 
Z5 ; z Tim. 
L 17. vL i^ : 
I John IT. 
za, 90. 

Comp. diapL 
iiu IX, Tui. 
5; ; Matt. 

50 dead.'" * This is the bread which cometh down from '* heaven, ^%i?'a7, 40. 
that a man** may eat thereof, and not die. *I am the living ivZ',^] 
bread which came down from'* heaven: if any man** eat'* of 38. "^^^^ 
this bread, he shall live for ever : and '* the bread that I will 
give is my ' flesh, which I will give'* for the life of ""the world. ^cS^if'^^ 
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying. How [[J^^ii]^*^ 

53 can this man give us Ais flesh to eat ? Then Jesus" said unto ?Tim.iu. 
them, Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except ye eat'* the ' flesh Jji f]^ 
of the " Son of man, and drink '* his blood, ye have no ** life in J'yJJn 7. 

54 you.** Whoso *• eateth my ' flesh, and drinketh my blood, Z^ 1 1?.* 
^ hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up at ^ the last day. ^^m. 97, 40. 

55 For my ' flesh is meat** indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 

56 He that eateth my ' flesh, and drinketh my blood, ' dwelleth ** 

57 in me, and I in him. ^ As the living Father hath ** sent me. 


^Chap. XT. 
^ 5 ; X John 

!▼. X5, xo. 

and I live by ** the Father : so he that eateth me, ' even *' he ** ^S^Tk^ 

vui. xo. 
/See vers. 33, 

«Vcr. 31. 

58 shall live by** me. 'This is that bread which came down 
from *• heaven : not as * your fathers did eat manna,** and are 
dead:** he 'that eateth of** this bread shall live for ever. 

59 These things said he in the synagogue,** as he taught** in 
*' Capernaum. 

60 ^ Many therefore of his disciples, when they had ** heard t/iis, »ver. 66. 

vChap.u. la. 


* therefore '* 
' have come '* omit therefore 

shall have drawn 

* add from the Father 

' from •* amit on me 

* and died ^^ out of 

* omit which I will give 
® drunk »<> not 

M food «* abideth 

^ omit even •* he also 

^ and died »' omit of 

* was teaching in a synagogue 

" out of 
*• No one 
w all be 

•* omit of the Father 

•• eternal '» the 

'* shall have eaten 

'' Jesus therefore 

•* in yourselves 

w omit hath 

»• out of 

•* omit in the synagogue 

•' omit had 

*® how doth he now say 

^ omit hath 

•« Every one that 

*• any one 
'* the manna 
'* and nioreovcr 
^® have eaten 
« He that 
*• because of 
*® omit manna 


61 said, This is an hard saying ; who can hear it i •• When ''Jesus jrChap. u. 24. 
knew*' in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said'* 

62 unto them, Doth this ^offend you?'* WAat and^ if ye shall j' gap- »^* 

63 see* the Son of man ascend up* where 'he was before? *It ^y^^-g 

is the spirit that quickeneth ; * the flesh profiteth nothing: the ^^*gP;Hij^'^; 
words that I speak * unto you, i/iey are spirit, and t/iey are life. 

64 But * there are some of you that believe not. For ''Jesus knew *Vew. 36, ji. 
from the beginning who they were that believed not, and 'who cVer.71. 

65 should* betray him. And he said, Therefore ''said I' unto ^'Vers. 44* 45- 
you, that no man • can come unto me, except it were * given 

66 unto him of my " Father. * From that time " many of his * ver. 60 
disciples went back, and walked no more ^* with him. 

67 Then said Jesus" unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" 
6S Then" Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we 

69 go?" thou hast -^the" words of eternal life. ^And we be-/ver.63; 
lieve " and are sure " that thou art that Christ, * the Son of the s^w."^. 

70 living God.** Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen ** you ^xi. 27 :*' ^'' 

71 twelve,** and one of you is a devil? He** spake of 'Judas «<5f **'^* 
Iscariot ** (Ae son of Simon : ** for he it was that should * be- ^uke iv.'Ji 
tray** him, bemg"' one of the twelve. 26. 

« Vcr. 64. 

•« him •' But Jesus knowing •* concerning this, said ^fi,"te.^* 

•• Doth this make you to stumble ^ What then * if ye behold 

* ascending ^ maketh to live ' have spoken 

* who it was that would ' For this cause have I said ^ no one 

* have been *® the ** Upon this ^* no longer 

1* Jesus therefore said '* Would ye also go ? '* omit Then 

i« go away *' omit the ^® have believed !• and we know 

*• that thou art the Holy One of God ** Did not I choose 

** the twelve ■* Now he ** omit Iscariot 

** add Iscariot ^* was about to betray *' omit being 

Contents. In the miracle of the multiplying Jesus, and Peter in their name makes confession 

of the bread Jesus has symbolically presented of his faith. 

Himself as the true bread of life. This thought . Ver. 22. The day following, the multitude 
is now unfolded in the various discourses with which stood on the other side of the sea saw 
which the remainder of the chapter is occupied, that there was none other little boat there, save 
while at the same time the effect of these discourses one, and that Jesus went not with his disciples 
is traced upon the different classes of hearers in- into the boat, bat that his disciples went away 
troduced to us. The subordinate parts of this alone. During the night of the storm the multi- 
section are determined by the mention of these tude remained near tlie scene of the miracle. In 
classes — ( 1 ) vers. 22-40, a discourse addressed to the morning they are gathered on the north-eastern 
the * multitude,* which must here, as elsewhere, be coast, deliberating how Jesus might be found, 
carefully distinguished from the 'Jews;' (2) vers. They saw no boat on the shore save one little 
41-51, a discourse to the 'Jews' who had *mur- boat too small to hold the twelve disciples, who 
mured' at the words spoken to the multitude, could not therefore have returned in it to lake 
The discourse contains the same great truths as away their Master : yet it was certain that when 
those previoiisly dwelt upon, but in a sharper and the disciples set sail the evenins" before Jesus 
more pointed form ; (3) vers. 52-59, a discourse did not go with them. The natui^ inference was 
by which the 'Jews' are still further irritated, that He was still on the eastern shore, but that His 
Formerly they murmured ; now they strive among disciples were at Capernaum or some neighbour- 
themselves, and the discourse becomes still sharper ing place on the other side of the sea. 
and more pointed than before ; (4) vers. 60-66, Ver. 23. Howbeit there came boats ftatix 
in which the effect of the truths spoken by Jesus Tiberias nigh imto the place where they did 
shows itself even upon the disciples, many of eat the brcttd, after that the Lord had given 
whom arc so offended that they walk no more thanks. Whilst they were still in wonder and 
with Him ; (5) vers. 67-71, — while many of the doubt, other boats came across the sea near to the 
disciples arc thus offended, the Twelve, with the scene of the miracle of the preceding day. These 
exception of Judas, are drawn more closely to boats were from Tiberias, and from the boatmen who 


btoughl Ihcm the multitude would learn al once 
thai neither Jesus nor His disci pies bad gonethilhct. 
Ver. 14. When the multitiide thsrefbra w« 
that Jmdb Tas aot there, neither hii disciples, 
tha; tlieiDMlvGa got into the little boats, and 
came to Capemamu, aeekiiig for Jeaiu. If Jesas 
was Deither on the ea^jtcrn shore nor at Tiberias, 
He might be sought near Capernaum, in the 
direction of which town the disciples had sailed. 
John's words clearly imply that there was an eager 
and diligent search for Jesus on the part of the 
mallilude before they left the spot where Ihcy had 
witnessed His power. The prominence e'^'c to 
the thought of Jesus in these verses is very marked. 
What is said of the disciples has no independent 
value : their movcmeota are described solely that 
l^t may be thrown upon those of their Master. 
When convinced that it was vain further to prose- 
cute the search in that region, the multitude 
obtained possession of the smaUe^r boats, and came 
to Capcmauni seeking JcHlfc 

[Chap. VI. 22-71. 

Ver. 35, And vhen they had fonnd fct" on 
the other dde of the aea, thay aaid nnto him, 
Babbl, vhen catneat thou hither I The ' other 

side ' denotes the western coast. Their question 
on finding Jesus in Capcmauni but partly ci- 
presses th;ir thoughts, which would rest as much 
on the ^iTTuas on the ' wAm'of His coming to thU 
place. Hp faAd not left the eastern shore with 
His disciples; the storm of the night must hav4 
forbidden any attempt to make the passage then ; 
and, as they well knew, He had not come to the 
western shore in their company. The question is 
not answered, but the eager search which it implied 
is made to lead tbe way to deeper instruction as to 
(he miracle which had drawn tbem to follow Him. 
Ver. 36. Jeans ansvered tfaea and Hid, 
Verily, verily, I say unto yon, Y« sesk me, nut 
becsiDse ye sav signs, bnt becanae ye did eat of 
the loavea, and were ntisfled. This solemn 
declaration isonly seemingly discordant with ver. 3 
or ver, 14, Those who witnessed a miracle of 

Jesus, and did not understand its significance, 
might be said to see the sign and yet not 10 see it. 
Indeed, ver. 14 seems lo imply a third condition 
of mind, intermediate between these. Those who 
had eaten of the loaves saw in the miracle the proof 
that Jesus was the I'rophct who should come : 
they saw that (he wonder was signilicani, but the 
wt^ before us show that even this stood below 
the true perception oi (be 'sign.' The miracle 
had led the thoughts of the multitude (o the 
power and dignity of the miracle- worker, but had 
suggested nothing of a higher and a spiritual 
work, [Symbolized by the material bounty that had 
been besLowed, The design of the work in its 
relation to the Saviour was to manifest His glory 
OS the Giver of the highest blessings ; in its relation 
to the people, to fix their eyes on Him and to 
awaken their desire for that of which the bread 
had been the sign. Part of this purpose has been 
aitaioed,— tbcjr nsve soufht Him eagerly, with (oiJ 

and trouble : — He must n 

ig thai they may be led to leave the carnal 
'ck the spiritual, that they may be brought lo 
behold in His deeds not merely the tokens of His 

ifyevery earthlydesire of His followcra, 
Lut the impress of His Divine character and work. 
Ver. 27. Work not for the eating whioh 
perisheth. The rendering 'work' is required to 
bring out the connection with the following verae, 
in which the same word is used. Tbe language 
of the original is very expressive : — 'Work,' use 
all the cneigics of your nature, not unt« paiMking 
of perishable but of imperishable food. I( is not 
an act of life but the aciive life itself that is re- 
ferred to, and the object of this whole life. When 
He bring together this verse and that which pre- 
cedes, we cannot doubt that our Lord, in speak- 
ing of working for perishable food, alludes to 
the labour which the multitude had undergone in 
(hdr penistent search fbi Him. As their ob)cct 



in thus seeking Him had been carnal, not spiritual, 
this act of theirs (good and wise in itself, — ^most 
blessed, had the aim been higher and more true) 
was a fitting type of their life, a life occupied 
with the search aher material good and the satis- 
faction of lower wants and desires. — But for the 
eating which abideth, onto eternal life which 
the Son of man ahall give onto yon. In contrast 
with what they had sought in thus toiling to dis- 
cover Him, Jesus sets the feast which it is Hb 
glory to offer and of which they should be eager 
to partake. As in iv. 14 He had spoken of the 
gift of water which had power to quench for ever 
the recipient's thirst, so here He speaks of an eat- 
ing that abides and never perishes. That verse 
and this are closely parallel, and each helps to ex- 
plain the other. In the one Jesus says what the 
water that He giveth shall become in Aim that 
recdveth it : here in like manner it is not of meat 
that He speaks, but of * eating,' — ^not of food itself, 
but of food appropriated. In both passages the 
words * unto eternal life ' occur ; and in each case 
there is some difficulty in determining whether the 
phrase belongs to the word preceding or to the whole 
thought of the clause. Yet, as in the first it is pro- 
bable that ' life eternal ' is the end attained when 
the fountain is opened in the soul, so in this verse 
' unto ' does not seem to belong to ' abideth,' but 
to express the object of that * eating ' for which 
the^ may and ought to work. Not the eating that 
pensheth, but the eating that abideth, must absorb 
their labour, that they ma^ thus win eternal life. 
If this is the connection mtended by John, we 
must certainly join the second relative ' which ' 
(not with * eating,' but) with the words that im- 
mediately precede, viz. 'eternal life.* There is 
nothing difficult in such a connection of the words: 
on the contrary, it is easier than any other, and 
best agrees with the following verses and with 
other passages in the Gospel. Almost uniformly 
in this chapter Jesus sp«iks of Himself as the 
bread of life, and of the Father as the Giver of 
the bread, while * eternal life ' is the result of re- 
ceiving Him as the living bread (vers. 33, 51, 54). 
A close parallel is found in chap. x. 28, ' I give unto 
them eternal life,' as also in chap. xvii. 2 ; and the 
connection of the * Son of man with this gift re- 
minds us at once of chap. iii. 14. How this gift 
will become theirs the later verses explain: the 
two points here are that this life is obtained from 
the Son of man — from the God-man alone, and 
that it is a free gifl from Him. This is not incon- 
sistent with the 'working' of which Jesus has 
spoken. The multitudes had toiled, in that they 
had put aside all obstacles to come to Him : 
having come to Him they may receive His free 
gifL The reception of the gift is opposed to 
labouring for wages or for merit, but not to earnest 
effort. The gift can be bestowed in its fulness on 
those only whose one thought and one effort arc 
bent on receiving it : were there no such activity 
on our part, we could not be in a position to 
receive the gift without destroying the nature we 
possess. — For him the Father, God, did seal. 
For this very purpose that He might be the Giver 
of eternal life, was He made the Son of man, was 
He sent by the Father into the world. (Compare 
chap. X. 36, xvii. 2.) He came commissioned by 
the Father: on Him the Father's seal was set. 
The reference is not to the miracle just related, as 
if Jesus would say that what they had themselves 
seen was the Father's attestation of Him, the 

evidence which should have led them to believe in 
Him. This is but a small part of the truth, as 
what b said in chap. v. on the witness of the 
Father very plainly snows. There, however, the 
thought is made to rest on the continued and 
abiding testimony of the Father : here the whole 
attestation is looked upon as concentrated in one 
past act of the Father, as included and implied in 
the act of ' sending * the Son : and this Father is 
'God,' that God whom they themselves allowed 
to be the supreme source and end of all things. 
I'he special reference to the Father in this verse, 
where Jesus speaks of the gift of eternal life, re- 
ceives Its explanation from ver. 57 (which see). 

Ver. 28. They said therefore onto him. What 
most we do, that we may work the works of 
Gk>d f Our Lord's answer seems to have been but 
little comprehended by 'the multitude.' They 
reply with an earnest inquiry, taking up all that 
they have understood, but missing the central 
point of His words. He had first bidden them 
work. His last word had spoken of the Divine 
authority He bore : their answer deals with 'works 
of God, but contains no reference to eternal life 
or to the promise of a free gift from the Son of 
man. The works of the &w were to them a 
familiar thought, and they understood that God 
through His new prophet was commanding them 
to do some new work. Their question, 'What 
must we do,' shows a teachable disposition, and a 
willingness to learn from Him what was the will 
of God. But what did they mean by * the works 
of God ' ? The expression is used in various senses 
in the Old Testament. The works of the Lord 
may be the works done by Him, or they may be 
the works which He commands and which are 
according to His mind. In this verse we cannot 
think of miracles, nor is it easy to believe that the 
people can have had in their thoughts the works 
which God produces in those who are His. In 
its connection here, the expression recalls such 
passages as Jer. xlviiL 10 ; I Cor. xv. 58 ; Rev. 
li. 26. The whole phrase (with slight alteration) 
occurs in Num. viii. ii, in the Scptuagint : 'Aaron 
shall offer the Levites before the Lord . . . 
that they may work the works of the Lord.' As 
the meaning in these passages is the works which 
the Lord would have them do^ as the works of the 
law are those whidi the law prescribes, so here 
the works of God signify those which He com- 
mands, and whidi therefore are pleasing to Him. 

Ver. 29. Jesns answered and said unto them. 
This is the work of God, that ye believe in him 
whom he sent. The one work which God would 
have them do is believing in Him whom He sent. 
The people had spoken of 'works,' thinking of 
outward deeds ; but that which God commands is 
one work, faith in Jesus. This faith leads to 
union with Him and participation of His Spirit, 
and thus includes in itself all works that are 
pleasing to God. We must not suppose that our 
Lord intends to rebuke their question, 'What 
must we do,' as if He would say. It is not doing, 
but believing. The act of believing in Jesus, the 
soul's casting itself on Him with perfect trust, is 
here spoken of as a work, as something which 
requires the exercise of man's will and csJls forth 
determination and effort. It is very noticeable that 
these words of Jesus directly touch that thought in 
ver. 27, which their answer (ver. 28) neglected. 
The work of theirs of which He had spoken was 
their toil to come to Him : He had prescribed no 



other work, but had sooght to lead them to the 
higher object, — the attainment of the abiding 
nourishment, unto eternal life offered by the Son 
of man. So here : every disturbing or extraneous 
thought is put aside ; and, with even unusual 
directness, force, and simplicity, Jesus shows that 
the one cardinal requirement of the Father is the 
reception of the Son by faith. 

Ver. 30. They laid therefore unto him. What 
them doeet thou as a sign, that we may tee, and 
believe theef What doct thou workf The 
words of Jesus had now become too plain to be 
misunderstood. It was clear that He would turn 
them away from such works as they had had in 
view, and fix all thought upon Himself; while at 
the same time His words breathed no spirit of 
mere self-assertion, but claimed to be an expression 
of the Divine will. Such a claim no other prophet 
had ever made ; such a claim can only be justified 
by some special sign which no one can challenge 
or mistake; and me sign must correspond with 
the claim. The day bdbre Tesus had been with 
them as a Teacher only : the miracle had con- 
strained them to acknowledge Him as ' the Pro- 
phet who should come.' But the words He has 
just used can onlv suit One who is higher even than 
Moses. Before tnev can believe Him when He thus 
speaks (note the significant change from ' believe 
in Him,' ver. 29, to 'believe thee,* i.e, accept thy 
claims) some sign equal to the greatest wrought by 
Moses, or even some greater sign, must be displayed. 

Ver. 31. Onx fathen did eat the manna in the 
wildemen. Amongst the miracles wrought by 
Moses the Jews seem (and with reason) to have 
assigned to the manna a foremost place. In a 
Hebrew commentary on Ecclesiastes there is pre- 
served a saying of great interest in connection with 
this passage : ' As the first Redeemer made the 
manna to descend, as it is written. Behold I will 
rain bread from heaven for you ; so the later Re- 
deemer also shall make the manna to descend, as 
it is written. May there be abundance of com in 
the earth' (Ps. Ixxii. 19).— As it is written. He 
gftve them bread ont of heaven to eat Of the 
many characteristics distinguishing the miracle of 
the manna, one is here dwelt upon, — neither the 
abundance of its supply nor its continuance, but 
its source: it was 'bread out of heaven.' The 
bread with which they themselves had just been 
fed, though marvellously increased in quantity, 
was still natural bread, the bread of earth : * bread 
out of heaven ' was the proof received by their 
fathers that their Benefactor was the God of heaven. 
What similar evidence could Jesus offer? The 
words here quoted from Scripture do not exactly 
agree with any passage of the Old Testament. In 
Ps. Ixxviii. 24 we read (following the Greek 
version), ' And He rained for them manna to eat, 
and gave them bread of heaven ;' and in Ex. 
xvi. 4, ' Behold I rain for you bread out of heaven.' 
The words in the verse before us are therefore 
substantially a quotation from the psalm, with one 
important change introduced from the narrative of 
Exodus, 'out of heaven' for 'of heaven.' The 
change is important, because it points more dis- 
tinctly to the source of the supply and not its 
quality only, and because the expression 'out of 
heaven ' is taken up by our Lord and used by Him 
with marked emphasis. 

Ver. 32. Jesus therefore said unto them. 
Verily, verily, I say unto you. The gravity of 
Uie truth declared in this verse is indicated by the 

solemn 'Verily, verily,' which now occurs for the 
second time in this discourse. — Moses gave joa 
not the bread ont of heaven; bat my FaUier 
giveib yoa the bread out of heaven, the tme 
bread. If we compare these words with ver. 26, 
in which the formula ' Verily, verily ' is first used, 
we easily trace the advance in the thooghL 
There, in general terms, the people are enjoined 
not to set their thought on the perishable food ; 
here Jesus declares that the true bread given out 
of h^ven is not the manna, but that which His 
Father is at this moment offering them. In the 
words of ver. 31, 'he gave t^m bread,' the 
multitude may have had Moses in their thoughts ; 
but that is not the meaning of the psalmist, the 
context having the clearest reference to God. It 
is probable that our Lord here mentions Moses 
only to point out more distinctly the past and 
inferior gift of the manna by the servant of God, 
in contrast with the true bread now offered to 
them by the Father. It was not Moses who gave 
the manna; still less had their lathers received 
from him the true bread of heaven. The Father, 
who gave to their fathers the symbol, offers the 
reality now. ' My Father,' Jesus says, because 
He is leading Hb hearers onwards to the truth 
declared in mt next two verses, that the 'true 
bread ' given out of heaven is Himself, the Son. 

Ver. 33. For the bread of Qod is that which 
comeUi down out of heaven, and giveth life 
nnto the world. The 'bread of God' is the 
bread which God gives (ver. 32). It is not easy 
to decide on the translation of this verse. The 
Greek equally admits of two renderings, either 
' he that cometh,' or ' that (bread) which cometh.' 
If the former is correct, our Lord b^ns here to 
identify Himself with the 'true bread;' if the 
latter, the figure is retained unexplained until 
ver. 35. The expressions in vers. 50 and 58 do 
not decide the pomt ; for after ver. 35 the descent 
from heaven mi^ht with equal propriety be con- 
nected either wim the bread or widi Him whom 
the bread symbolized. Nor does the present tense 
' cometh down ' compel us to refer the word to the 
bread ; for Jesus might be designated ' He that 
cometh from heaven* (comp. chap. iii. 31) as 
correctly as ' He that came from heaven : ' one 
description relates to nature and origin, the other 
to a past fact of history. On the whole, however, 
it seems best to carry on the thought of the bread 
in this verse. The very word 'come down' is 
used (Ex. xvi.) in the account of the manna ; 
and the answer of the multitude in ver. 34 seems 
to show that no new and (to them) strange thought 
has come in since the mention of the Father's ^ft. 
But if the figure is still continued in this verse, it 
is only a thin veil that conceals the truth. In ver. 
27 the Son of man is He who gives eternal life ; 
here it is the bread of God that giveth life unto 
the world. — The last word is very significant. 
The manna had been for ' the fathers ; ' the true 
bread is for the world. We are reminded at once 
of chap. iii. 16, ' God so loved the world,' and of 
chap. iv. 42, 'the Saviour of the world.' The 
unlimited offer also recalls chap. iv. 14, ' Whoso- 
ever hath drunk of the water that I will give 
him ;' and in both cases the result is the same. 

Ver. 34. They said therefore onto him. Lord, 
evermore give ns this bread. We cannot see in 
these words the mere expression of a desire that 
earthly wants may be satisfied (comp. iv. 15). 
This would have incurred rebuke (comp. ** ver. 26), 



and not led to dearer teaching, such as is found 
in the coming verses. Jesus, moreover, is not 
dealing with ' the Jews ' (who meet us at ver. 41), 
hot with the multitude, — people who were indeed 
no more than half enlightened, but whose minds 
were not shut against the truth. His words in 
the iv^owing verses are altogether such as He was 
wont to address to men who truly sought the light, 
though not fully conscious of what they sought 

Ver. ^5. JeeoH laid onto them, I am the 
breed of fife, — ^the bread, that is, that contains life 
in itself, and thus is able to give life unto the 
world. The Father giveth * the true bread ' (ver. 
32) in eiving His Son ; the Son of man eiveth 
eternal life (ver. 27) in imparting HimsellT To 
this declaration everything has been leading, — the 
bread of the miracle, the manna, every reproof 
(ver. 26), every encouragement (ver. 27). — ^He 
that Is ooming to me ahul in no wiee hunger. 
The original words are chosen with exquisite deli- 
cacy. The figure is not that of one who has 
achieved a toilsome and lengthened journey (as if 
the words ran, ' he that at lei^;th has reached me '), 
bat that of one whose resolve is taken, and who 
sets oat in the right way, — he that ' is coming ' 
unto Jefos shall cease to hunger. Other passages 
may speak of the disciple as one who has come to 
Jesus ; this with equal truth represents him as one 
who is coming towards, Jesus, whose aim and 
desire and constant thoughts are towards his 
Lord. The hunger of the spirit ceases, the rest- 
less want and search for satisfaction are at an 
end; the 'true bread,' that which gives real 
sustenance, is received. — And he that oelieveth 
in me ehi^ in no wise ever thirrt. In these 
words we have an image similar to the last, but 
not the same. The quenching of thirst is even a 
stronger figure than the satisfaction of hunger, and 
thus (as usually in the poetry of the Old Testament) 
the thought of the second member is an advance 
upon that of the first. It may seem remarkable 
that ' ever ' is not joined with both members of 
the verse ; but (as the other words also show) the 
first simply expresses once for all the cessation of 
hunger, — hunger is at an end ; whilst the second 
sug^^ests the continuous presence of that which 
banishes thirst. Faith is really set forth in both 
clauses. The first presents it in the simplicity 
and power of the act of will, — ^the will turned 
towards Jesus; the second brings it into pro- 
minence as the continuous movement of the soul 
towards union with Him. It is not right there- 
fore to interpret the * coming' as part of the 
'believing,' or to take either as denoting a 
momentary act belonging to the beginning only 
of the Christian life, ^ch figure, with a force 
peculiarly its own, expresses the abiding relation 
of the true disciple to his Lord; but only by a 
combination such as is here given could we have 
vividly presented to us both the immediate and 
the continuous satisfaction of spirit which Jesus 
imparts. There is probably another reason for 
the introduction of the figure of 'thirst.' It is 
not with the manna alone that Jesus is now 
dealing. He had fed the multitudes with bread, 
but the meal at which He entertained them as 
His guests was designed to be the symlx>l of the 
Paschal feast (see the note on ver. 4). It was 
natural therefore thus to enlarge the symbols, that 
this feast may be kept in mind, and the way 
prepared for the words of later verses (53-56). 

Ver. 36. Bat I laid unto yon, that ye have 

VOL. II. 6 

indeed seen me, and believe not. When had 
such words been uttered ? Certainly the reference 
is not to chap. v. 37, spoken in Jerusalem to the 
Jews, not to the multitude in Galilee. It b not 
likely that Jesus is speaking of words of censure not 
recorded in this Oospel ; and it is hardly possible 
to understand the simple expression ' I said unto 
you ' in the sense, ' I would have you know,' ' this 
is what I would say.' We must take the words 
as referring to the substance, to the spirit if not 
the letter, of something previously said in this 
chapter, and we can do this without any violence 
of interpretation. It is remarkable that the people 
themselves have used words almost identical (ver. 
30) : ' What doest Thou as a sign, that we may see 
and believe Thee V — that is, may see Thee in Thy 
working, and believe Thee. This is a confession 
on their part that as yet they had seen no sign 
that had led them to see and oelieve Him. The 
words of Jesus in ver. 26 imply that in truth they 
had not seen ' signs : ' they had seen His miracles, 
but these had not so proved themselves to be ' signs ' 
as to lead the people to see and believe Him. The 
charge, therefore, that 'they seeing saw not' is 
perfectly equivalent to what is said in that verse ; 
they had indeed seen Him in the works which 
were the manifestation of Himself, but they had 
not been led to faith. The charge is very grave, 
but it is not made in anger, nor does it leave 
the accused in hopelessness : not judgment, but 
encouragement, is the spirit that pervades this part 
of the discourse. Perhaps it is for this very reason 
that the word is 'I said,' not *I say.' The fact 
was so ; it may be so still ; but the state is one 
that need not last, — even now it may pass away. 

Ver. 37. All that which the Father giveth me 
shall come to me ; and him that is coming to 
me I will in no wiee cast ont. These words have 
been understood by some as a reproach : ' How 
different are ye from those whom my Father 
^veth me ! ' but such an interpretation is quite 
inconsistent with the context. At present, indeed, 
those to whom Jesus speaks are not believers ; 
but even in their case His mission may not be a 
failure, — they may be given to Him, and He will 
not cast them out. Up to this point the only gift 
spoken of has been a gift to men (vers. 27, 31, 32, 
33i 34)1 especially the Father's gift of the Son lo 
be the bread of life. Here the converse is sud- 
denly introduced — the Father's gift to the Son. 
What Jesus brings to men is the Father's gift to 
them : what Jesus receives in the homage and belief 
and love of men is the Father's gift to Him. 
The form of expression is remarkable, 'all that 
which the Father giveth me.' A passage closely 
akin to this we find in chap. xvii. (which has 
many points of contact with this chapter), and in 
close connection with the gift which (ver. 27) the 
Son bestows, the gift of eternal life. The passage 
IS xvii. 2 : * As Thou hast given Him power over 
all flesh, in order that all that which Thou hast 
^ven Him, He may give to them eternal life.' In 
both these verses the totality of the Father's gift is 
presented first, and then the individuals who com- 
pose this gift and who themselves receive the cift 
which the Son bestows. The gift of the Father 
must not be understood by us in the sense of a 
predestinating decree. Both here and in the 
other passages of this Gospel where we read 
of the Father as giving to the Son His people 
(chaps, vi. 37, 39, x. 29, xvii. 2, 6, 9, 24, xviii. 
9), It is the moral and spiritual state of the 



heart that is thought of under the word. This 
state of heart by which they are prepared to 
listen to the voice of Jesus is due to God alone. 
The truth expressed here by * giving ' is expressed 
in ver. 44 by the * drawing ' of the Father, and 
in ver. 45 by * learning and * hearing * from 
Him. Such preparation of heart is necessary : 
as Chrysostom expresses it, faith in Jesus is * no 
chance matter, but one that needs an impulse 
from above,* — from Him who worketh in us 
both to will and to work (Phil. ii. 13). The test, 
then, of this work in the heart is the coming to 
Christ. The two words * come ' in this verse are 
different : in the first instance the meaning is 
' shall reach me ;* in the second we might almost 
render the words * he that is coming towards me.* 
What was said on the 35th verse b fully applicable 
here, for the expression is the same. We cannot 
read the words without being reminded of the most 
touching of the Saviour*s parables : the prodi^l 
arose and came towards his father, but when ne 
was yet a great way off his father ran to meet him. 

Ver. 38. Becauae I have come down from 
heaven, not to do mine own will, bat the will 
of him that sent me. The previous verse was full 
of the power and energy of love ; but even then 
Jesus expresses no feeling or purpose of His own 
as the motive of His acts. He will cast out none, 
because such is the Fathcr*s will, and to do this 
will He has come down from heaven (comp. ver. 
33). — It may be well, however, to observe that a 
different preposition from that in ver. ^^ is here 
used: here 'from,' for it is the work of Jesus ; 
there 'out of,* for it is the heavenliness of His 
origin that is the prominent thought. 

Ver. 39. And this is the will of him that sent 
me, that all that which he hath given me, of it 
I ihonld lose nothing. Here, as in ver. 37, the 
gift of the Father is represented in its totality, * all 
that which.* As no part of the precious gift to the 
multitude, the gift which symbolized Himself, 
must be left to perish (ver. 12), so no part of the 
still more precious gift of the Father may be lost 
by the Son. — ^Bat shonld raise it up at the last 
dkj. Should raise ' it,* the whole, all that is com- 
prehended in the gift. The ' last day * can denote 
only one great period of resurrection for the whole 
Church of God, — again a proof, as in v. 28, 29, 
that the teaching of our Lord in this Gospel is not 
confined to the spiritual aspect of death and resur- 
rection. It is not the gift of eternal life that 
l)elongs to the last day. Whosoever receives the 
Son at once receives in Him life eternal (iii. 36, 
vL 33-35) ; but the day of the resurrection of the 
body witnesses the completion of that gift of eternal 
life which is now bestowed. In the next verse the 
present and the future gifts are combined. 

.Ver. 40. For this is the will of my Father, 
that every one which beholdeth the Son and 
believeth in him should have eternal life, and 
that I should raise him up at the last day. 
This verse is no mere repetition of the last, but 
differs from it in two important points. As in ver. 
37, we pass from the thought of^ the general body 
of the Church to that of uie individiud members : 
in the Father*s will every member is embraced. 
Secondly, the bond of connection with Jesus is 
viewed from its human rather than from its Divine 
side. In the last verse Jesus spoke of 'all that 
which* the Father had given Him; here He 
speaks of 'every one which beholdeth the Son 
and Ijclieveth in Him.* The word ' beholdeth ' is 

especially noteworthy, clearly including as it does 
an act of the will. ' Seeing ' may be accidental, 
may be transient : he who ' beholds * is willing to 
stand and gaze on the object presented to his view. 
The word is full of instruction (comp. viii. 51, 
xii. 45, xiv. 17, xvii. 24). 

At this point our Lord's discourse is interrupted. 
Hitherto He has been addressing the multitude : 
now, for the first time in this chapter, we are to read 
of * the Jews,* i.f. (as we have observed in earlier 
chapters) adherents of the ruling party which was 
violently hostile to Jesus. Whether these Jews 
were amongst the multitude hitherto addressed in 
this discourse we cannot tell. If so, they had 
occupied no prominent place, but were lost in the 
crowd. But, as there is nothing to show that the 
paragraph which follows this verse relates to the 
same day, it is very possible that the Jews were 
not present at the miracle or when Jesus spoke of 
the bread of life, but were afterwards informed of 
His words. This latter supposition becomes more 
probable as we look into the circumstances. We 
know that on the day of the feeding of the multi- 
tude the Passover was at hand (ver. 4) ; and we 
cannot doubt that, however anxious the enemies 
of our Lord might be to linger near Him that they 
might catch Him in His talk, they would scrupu- 
lously observe the ritual of the feast If we turn 
to Mark, we find two passages that distinctly speak 
of scribes who came down from Jerusalem to 
Galilee : one of these passages (iiL 22) belongs to 
a date somewhat earlier than that of the events 
related in this chapter, the other (vii. i) comes in 
shortly after the narrative of Christ*s walking on 
the sea of Galilee. The same remarks apply to 
the Gospel of Matthew. It seems probable, there- 
fore, that these agents of the hostile and influential 
party in Jerusalem hastened back to Galilee after 
the Passover, to resume their machinations against 
the prophet whom they both hated and feared. 

Ver. 41. The Jews therefore murmured con- 
ceming him, because he said, I am the bread 
which came down out of heaven. The 'mur- 
muring* denotes more than that indistinct com- 
plaining to which we generally apply the word. 
The frequent and indignant expressions of dis- 
content by the Israelites when journeying in 
the desert are expressed by the same word in the 
Septuagint, and this (comp. I Cor. x. 10) seems 
to have fixed its meaning in the New Testament. 
The Jews did not complain in the presence of 
Jesus, but sought to foment discontent and ill- 
feeling amongst those who at the time had been 
willing hearers of His words. It is characteristic 
of the spirit and motives of these enemies of our 
Lord that their charge against Him is put in the 
most captious form. As in the very similar case 
related in chap. v. 12, the words of nobler mean- 
ing are as far as possible left out : nothing is said 
at^ut ' the bread of life ' or ' the bread of God. * 
Indeed the bread is a mere link of connection, 
dropped as soon as it has served to introduce the 
words joined with it, to which they can (as they 
think) attach a charge of falsehood. On the offer 
of .life, eternal life, they will not dwell. 

Ver. 42. And they said. Is not this Jesus, the 
son of Joseph, whose father and mother we 
know? how doth he now say, I have come 
down out of heaven? At this time, then, it is 
clear that Jesus was generally r^arded as Joseph's 
son : the calumnies which at a later period were 
current amongst the Jews had not yet hetn resorted 



10. The words of the Jews do not imply that 
Joseph was still living, as the word rendered 
' know ' may simply dedote their being acquainted 
with a fact, — they knew that Joseph and Mary 
were His parents. We need not wonder that they 
are ignorant of the miraculous conception. 

Ver. 43. Jeeos angwered and said onto them, 
Mnnmir not ftmong yonnelTeB. For such mur- 
murers Jesus has only reproof. It is very strange 
that in our day some writers on this Gospel should 
have had difficulty in understanding why Jesus 
did not refute the objection raised by declaring 
the truth of the miraculous conception. Men who 
coold so mutilate His words as practically to per- 
vert their meaning would have been brought no 
nearer to conviction by such a statement, however 
made, but would have gathered from it materisd 
for still more malicious accusation. At first the 
reply of Jesus deals only with the spirit His 
opponents manifest. 

Ver. 44. No one can come to me except the 
Father which tent me shall have drawn him. 
In these words He would tell them that (as their 
unbelief and resistance show) they have not that 
special divine teaching without which they cannot 
understand Him. Hence He speaks not of the 
'drawing* of God, but of that of the 'Father 
which sent ' Him. Only like can understand like. 
It is as the Father of the Son that God works in 
us that spirit in which the Son can be received by 
us. The * drawing * is not precisely the same as 
the 'giving' of ver. 37, but describes, so to speak, 
the first stage of the ' giving ; ' he that ' hath been 
drawn ' by the Father is he that is given to the 
Son. — And I will raise him up at the last day. 
As the initiative of salvation belongs to the Father, 
the completion is the work of the Son. The 
Father draws and entrusts ; the Son receives, 
keeps, imparts life, until the glorious consumma- 
tion, the final resurrection. Between these two 
extreme terms * draw ' and ' raise up ' is included 
all the development of the spiritual life (Godet). 

Ver. 45. It is written in the prophets, And 
tliey shaU all be taught of Ood. Jesus confirms 
His word by a testimony from the Old Testament, 
not now taken from the Law (comp. ver. 31), but 
from the Prophets. The use of the plural * pro- 
phets ' has been thought to prove that the refer- 
ence does not belong to any one passage ; and we 
may certainly say that an inclusive expression like 
this may have been used designedly, as implying 
that there are many such promises, and that this 
tone of promise is characteristic of the book of the 
Prophets. Still the word which introduces the 
quotation, * And,' a word quite needless for the 
Speaker's purpose, shows conclusively that the 
Quotation is direct. There can be no doubt that 
the words are taken from Isa. liv. 13, with one 
or two slight alterations. They describe the great 
and general privilege of Messianic times. The 
retention of the words ' thy children ' (addressed 
to Jerusalem in Isa. liv. 13) might have seemed 
to limit the promise, which, belonging to the 
' latter days,' is really free from all such limitations. 
It has been suggested (by Godet) that the synagogue 
lesson for the day (see ver. 59) may have included 
these very words (comp. Luke iv. 17-21). Be 
this as it may (and there is no improbability in the 
conjecture), the Quotation was well known, and 
carries out and illustrates the words of ver. 44. 
The truth of that verse is set in a new light, — 
presented on its human rather than on its Divine 

side. The * drawing ' is a * teaching : ' he that 
hath been drawn by the Father, is he that hath 
truly received the teaching of the Father. —Every 
one that hath heard from the Father, and hath 
learned, cometh unto me. Such true reception 
of the teaching is emphatically described in these 
words. Two stages in human experience, implied 
in the successful result of teaching, are separated 
from each other. All who hear may also learn, 
but many hear who will not heed, and therefore 
cannot learn ; just as there are many who see the 
Son but will not remain to ' behold the Son ' and 
to * believe in Him * (ver. 40). These varied ex- 
pressions illustrate one another with wonderful 
beauty and power. Not one allows us to think of 
compulsion or the forcing of man's will : all with 
one voice give glory to the Father as the source of 
every impulse towards the light and the life. The 
variety of expressions used by Jesus in the incul- 
cation of this truth, so characteristic of the present 
chapter, may well remind us of the variety of the 
means employed by the Father in the prosecution 
of the work. Thus the * drawing * may present to 
our thought especially an inward influence ; the 

* teaching ' may suggest the application of Scrip- 
ture truth ; whilst the * giving brings into view 
the final act of the Father when the design of His 
love has been fulfilled. But while each term may 
lead us to think most of one aspect of the Father s 
work, every term really includes all its aspects 
and denotes the whole work. 

Ver. 46. Not that any one hath seen the 
Father, save he which is from Ood, he hath 
seen the Father. The words just spoken, 'he 
that hath heard from the Father, might be under- 
stood to point to a direct communication : this 
however would imply a close relation to the Father 
such as is possessed by One alone, who hath ' seen 
the Father.' His saying that all who come to 
Him have first 'heard from the Father* might 
lead His hearers to infer that the descent out of 
heaven likewise implied nothing more than could 
be said of all. Such an inference this verse is 
intended to preclude. If they would really be 

* taught' of the Father it can only be through Him. 

Ver. 47. Verily, verily, I say unto you. He 
that believeth haUi eternal life. In the preced- 
ing verses Jesus has rebuked the murmuring of the 
Jews. They had not opened their hearts to the 
Father's teaching, or their difficulty would have 
disappeared. He now returns to the truths out of 
which His foes had drawn their indictment against 
His truthfulness. First, however, He brings into 
relief those sayings which they had passed over 
entirely. The solemn formula, 'Verily, verily, I 
say unto you,' to be followed by a higher at ver. 
53, at once marks the transition and shows the 
importance of the truth declared. In speaking to 
the multitude (ver. 26) His first words had related 
to eternal life, and to the paramount necessity of 
faith (ver. 29). So here also ; but the assertion is 
made in the briefest possible form. Even the 
object of the faith is left unexpressed, that the 
thought may entirely rest on the state of faith 
itself : the believer in the very act and condition 
of faith has eternal life. It is not often that Jesus 
speaks thus, omitting the words 'in me ' or * in 
tne Son ; * but there could be no real ambiguity in 
the present instance, and He desires to express in 
the most forcible manner the state of mina which 
formed the strongest possible contrast to that of 
the Jews. 



Ver. 4S. I am the bread of life. Having pre- 
pared the way by the declaration of the necessity 
of faith, He reaffirms what (in ver. 35) He had 
said of Himself. He is the bread which contains 
life in itself, and which therefore can give and 
does give life to all who receive and assimilate 
it. — It is interesting to observe, at a point where 
the discourse is really higher than it was before, 
a shortening of the formula employed, similar to 
that already met by us in i. 29 and 36 (see note 
on i. 35, 36). 

Ver. 49. Your fathers did eat the manna in 
the 'wiidemees, and died. No other bread has 
given life eternal . Even the manna, the bread given 
out of heaven, did not bestow life on their fathers, 
who (as the people themselves had said) ate the 
manna in the wilderness. It seems very probable 
that the addition ' in the wilderness * is more than 
a mere repetition of the words of ver. 31. It re- 
calls Num. xiv. 35, Ps. xcv. 8-1 1, and other 
passages in which 'the wilderness' is specially 
mentioned as the scene of disobedience and of 
death; and thus the fathers, who (Deut. i. 32) 
' did not believe the Lord * and died, are contrasted 
with the believer who * hath eternal life * (ver. 47). 

Ver. JO. Thia is the bread which cometh down 
oat of heaven, that any one may eat thereof, 
and not die. The ' bread that cometh down out 
of heaven ' (repeated from ver. 33) is of such a 
nature, and has such an object, that one may eat 
of it and not die. We are not to press too much 
our Lord's use of ' one * or * any one ' in this verse; 
but we may at least say that His studious avoid- 
ance of every word of limitation points once more 
to the unbounded offer of life, the offer to ' the 
world' (ver. 33). When verses 49 and 50 are 
compared, a dilnculty presents itself. It may be 
said that the antithesis is not complete, for is not 
dfoih used in two different senses ? The fathers 
died in the wilderness : he that eateth of the true 
bread shall not die. There is exactly the same 
twofold use of the word in chap. xi. 26 (see the 
note on that verse).- It is sufficient here to say 
that in neither verse is the meaning as simple as 
the objection supposes. In ver. 49 we must cer- 
tainly recognise a partial reference to death as a 
punishment of sin, and by consequence to that 
moral death which even in this world must ever 
accompany sin. In ver. 50 again physical death 
may seem to be excluded, but we shall see that 
John elsewhere regards the believer as freed (in a 
certain sense) even from this, so entirely has death 
for him changed its character, — so complete is the 
deliverance eranted by his Lord. 

Ver. 51. I am the living bread which came 
down out of heaven« Once more Jesus declares 
that the bread of which He has spoken is Himself; 
but the assertion is expressed in words that differ 
significantly from those before employed. For 
* me bread of life' He says now * the living bread : ' 
for 'cometh down,' an expression which might 
seem a mere figure denoting heavenly ori|^n. He 
sajTS 'came down,' speaking of an actual historical 
descent out of heaven. The former change espe- 
cially is important. He has been speaking of the 
bread as ^[i'ven, but is about to declare Himself to 
be the Giver : therefore He says that He is the 
living bread, that can give itself, and with itself 
its inherent life. There was nothing in the * bread 
of life * that would necessarily suggest more than 
means and instrument. If the tree of life in Para- 
dbc bestowed immortality on man, it was but by 

instrumental efficacy. ' The living bread ' is a 
thought absolutely unique, and the words compel 
the minds of the hearers to rest on the person of 
the Speaker, who in the possession of this life, 
and not as the precious but lifeless manna, de- 
scended out of heaven. — If any one shall have 
eaten of this bread, he shidl live for ever. 
These words partly repeat and partly extend those 
of the preceding verse. There the nature and 
object of the bread are given ; here the assurance 
that every one who makes trial of the promise 
shall certainly find it fulfilled to him in the gift of 
a life that lasts for ever. — ^And moreover the 
bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of 
ihe world. The personal significance of the pre- 
ceding words is now made even more direct, and 
the meaning intended cannot probably be mistaken. 
He gives ; the bread He gives is Ilis flesh ; the 
gift IS for the life of the world. The questions 
which these words have raised will be best con- 
sidered in connection with our Lord's own com- 
ment in the following verses. 

Ver. 52. The Jews therefore strove among 
themselves, saying, How can this man give us 
his flesh to eat? As before, the Jews take hold 
of those words which are most susceptible of a 
merely material sense. Every word that points to 
a spiritual meaning they ignore ; but in doing so 
they themselves give evidence of the clearness 
with which our Lord had now shown that His in- 
tention had been to fix the whole thought of His 
hearers on Himself, and not on His gifts. The 
contention of the Jews became violent as they 
talked of the words of Jesus : the Evan|;elist's ex- 
pression, literally taken, points to 'fightmg' rather 
than strife (comp. Acts vii. 26 ; 2 Tim. ii. 24 ; 
Jas. iv. 2). 

Vers. 53, 54, 55. Jesns therefore said nnto 
them. Verily, verily, I say nnto yon. Except ye 
have eaten the flesh of the Son of man, and 
drnnk his blood, ye have not life in yoorselveB. 
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, 
hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up at the 
last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my 
blood is drink indeed. As to the general mean- 
ing of this important passage there can be little or 
no doubt. There are some new expressions, but 
on the whole the imagery agrees with that employed 
in the earlier part of the chapter, and the blessings 
offered by Jesus are described again in identical 
language. Here, as before, life, eternal life, is 
promised ; again ' eating ' is the figure which de- 
scribes the mode of receiving life ; as in vers. 35, 
48, and 5 r, Jesus identifies Himself with that which 
when eaten gives life ; and, as in ver. 44 (compare 
vers. 39 and 40), He promises that He will raise 
up at the last day every one who has thus received 
eternal life. The agreement then between these 
verses and the earlier part of the discourse b so 
marked that there can be no change in the general 
sense : all the expressions in previous verses in 
which figure is wholly or partially set aside may 
be brought in here also to elucidate the meaning. 
Our Lord therefore still teaches in regard to lUl 
who come to Him, who believe in Him, who are 
intimately joined to Him in the union of faith and, 
receiving all from Him, may be said to appropriate 
to themselves Himself, and to feed on Him, — that 
these and these alone have eternal life. There is 
notliing here that alters this foundation truth. 
The phraseology of these verses (and ver. 51) is 
new in the following respects : (i) Instead of the 



one metaphor of eating we have two, ' eating ' and 
'drinking;* (2) The &[ure of bread is dropped, 
giving place to * flesh, '^^ the flesh of the Son of 
man, which flesh is given by Him for the life of 
the world. (3) For the first time Tesus makes 
mention of His 'blood,'— the drinking of this 
blood gives life. The introduction of the second 
metaphor, 'drinking,* at once recalls ver. 35, 
where ' thirst ' is as suddenly brought in. As in 
that veise, so here, one purpose answered is the 
more complete realisation ot a feast : the Paschal 
meal is alwajrs present in the symbols of this 
chapter. Whether this is to be taJcen as the only 
purpose will depend on the answer given to other 
questions which must now be asked. Does Jesus, 
in speaking of His flesh given for the life of the 
world, expressly refer to His death. His atoning 
death? is it in order to point more clearly to 
that truth that He here brings in the mention of 
His blood ? Are we to understand that there is a 
strict and real difference between the things signi- 
fied by eating His flesh and drinking His blood ? 
The last question may easily be answered : there 
is certainly no such difierence. In ver. 35 there 
is a very beautiful and rapid change of aspect, but 
no substantial change of thought : coming to Christ 
is believing in Him, and the result is the satisfac- 
tion of every want, whether represented as hunger 
or as thirst. When the ' flesh is first mentioned 
(ver. 51) it stands alone, as the Saviour's gift for 
the life of the world ; and below (ver. 57) 'eating* 
alone is spoken of, yet the result is life. As a rule, 
indeed, flesh is contrasted with blood in biblical 
language, and the two are joined together to ex- 
press the physical being of man ; but it is not 
unconunon to find flesh used by itself in this sense. 
Thus in the first chapter of this Gospel we read 
that 'the Word was made flesh,* whereas in Heb. 
ii. 14 we are taught that the Son took part in 
flesh and blood. It is therefore quite in accord- 
ance with the usage of Scripture that the same 
idea should be expressed now by the one term and 
now by the two combined ; and the context (as 
we have seen) shows that this is the case here. 
The two expressions of these verses are thus sub- 
stantially equivalent to the one expression of ver. 
57. But it does not follow from this that our Lord 
had no sp^i^ motive for thus varying His lan- 
guage. The cardinal thought is most simply ex- 
pressed in ver. 57, 'he that eateth me ;' and we 
may well believe that He would have so spoken 
in these verses also had He not intended to sug- 
gest special thoughts by the use of other words. 
In aslung now wlmt these special thoughts are, it 
is scarcely possible for us, m the light of events 
that followed, to dissociate the last clause of ver. 
51 from the thought of death, or the mention of 
' the blood ' of the Son of man from the thought 
of the blood shed upon the cross. The words, 
indeed, would not at that time suggest such 
thoughts : they were rather a secret prophecy, 
like 3ie mysterious sayings of chap. ii. 19 ('Destroy 
this Temple *) and chap. iii. 14 ('even so must the 
Son of man be lifted up *), and that saying so often 
repeated in the earlier Gospels, the command to 
'lake up' and to 'bear' 'the cross.* But this 
Gospel wows most plainly that the end was ever 
present to Jesus from the very beginning; and 
many of His words can only receive their proper 
interpretation by the application of this principle. 
There is another consideration which removes all 
idoubt in this place, if the general view which has 

been taken of the chapter is correct. The figura- 
tive acts and language have been suggested by the 
Paschal meal which has just been (or is just about 
to be) celebrated in Jerusalem. The later chapters 
of the Gospel set forth Jesus as the fulfilment of 
the Passover, Jesus on the cross as the antitype 
and reality of the Paschal meal. This chapter m 
pointing to the type points continually to the ful- 
filment ; but the Paschal lamb died, and the death 
of Jesus must therefore be regarded as part of the 
thought before us. Nor would it be safe to deny 
that mention of the blood here may even be con- 
nected, as some have supposed, with the command 
that the blood of the Paschal lamb should be 
sprinkled on the dwellings of the Israelites. So 
many are the links between symbol and reality 
which the Evangelist apprehends both in his own 
teaching and in the discourses recorded by him, 
that it IS less hazardous to admit than to deny the 
possibility of such a connection. But even then 
the thought of blood shed upon the cross must not 
be kept separate and distinct from all else that 
Jesus was and did. The central thought of the 
chapter is undoubtedly that of a meal, a feast, an 
experimental reception of a living Christ which is 
symbolized by 'eating* and 'dnnking;' and to 
that the whole interpretation must be subordinated. 
It cannot therefore be Jesus in His death, looked 
at as a distinct and separate act, that is before us 
in the mention of the blood. It must still be Jesus 
in the whole of Hifi manifestation of Himself, 
living, dying, glorified ; so that, if we may so 
speak, the death is to be viewed only as a pervading 
element of the life, only as one of the characteris- 
tics of that Christ who, not as divided but in all 
the combined elements of His humiliation and His 
glory, is from first to last the object of our faith 
and the satisfaction of our need. The main point, 
in short, to be kept in view is this, that we are 
here dealing with the actual nourishment, with the 
sustenance, with the life of the soul ; with the 
believer, not as having only certain relations altered 
in which he stands to God, but as in fellowship 
and communion of spirit with Him in whom he 
believes. To maintain by faith that fellowship 
with Jesus in all that He wcUy is to eat His flesh 
and to drink His blood. 

It may be accepted as an additional proof of the 
correctness of what has been said, if we observe 
that the verv same blessings now connected with 
eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus 
have been already connected with 'coming to 
Him,' with 'believing in Him,* and with 'be- 
holding Him.' Thus, for the first of these, comp. 
vers. 35 and 55 ; for the second, vers. 47 and 54 ; 
for the third, vers. 40 and 54. It is clear, there- 
fore, that the spiritual appropriation of the life and 
death of Jesus is descnbed under all the different 
figu res of this passage. All tell us of communion, of 
fellowship, of a feast, — of the Lamb of God not only 
as the Paschal sacrifice, but as the Paschal feast. 

The question now considered leads at once to 
another. What is the relation of these verses 
and this whole discourse to the sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper ? Many have held that the doctrine 
of the sacrament (not yet instituted, but present to 
the Redeemer*s mind) is the very substance of this 
chapter; whilst others have denied that there is 
any connection whatever between the two. We 
can adopt neither of these extreme views. On the 
one hand, the words of Jesus in this discourse can 
belong to no rite or ordinance, however exalted 



and however precious to His people. The act of 
which He speaks is continuous, not occasional, 
— spiritual, not external ; every temi that He 
employs is a symbol of trust in Him. But on 
the other hand, if alike in this chapter and in the 
records of the Last Supper the Paschal meal is 
presented to our thought, and if John specially 
connects this feast with the death of Christ, whilst 
all the other Evangelists bring into relief the 
relation of the Last Supper to the same death, it 
is impossible to say that the sacrament is altc^ether 
alien to this discourse. The relation of the Lord's 
Supper to the teaching of this chapter is very 
nearly the same as the relation of Christian bap- 
tism to our Lord's discourse to Nicodemus (see 
note on chap. iii. 5). In neither case is the 
sacrament as such brought before us ; in both we 
must certainly recognise the presence of its funda- 
mental idea. This discourse is occupied with that 
lasting, continuous act of which afterwards the 
sacrament of the lord's Supper was made a 
symbol ; and the sacrament is still a syinbol of 
the unchanging truth so fully set forth in this 
discourse, — the believer's union with his Lord, 
his complete dependence upon Him for life, his 
continue<l appropriation by faith of His very self, 
his feeding on Him, living on Him, his experience 
that Jesus in giving Himself satisfies every want 
of the soul. 

There is not much in the particular expressions 
of these three verses that calls for further remark. 
It will be observed that there are two links con- 
necting them with our Lord's first address to the 
multitude (ver. 26) : He again speaks of the ' Son 
of man,* and the words ' food indeed ' (literally 
'true eating') at once recall 'the eating that 
abideth.' One expression in ver. 53 is ver}' 
forcible, *Ye have not life in yourselves,* im- 
plying, as it does, that they who have so eaten 
and drunk have life in themselves. These are 
words which our Lord could not use without 
intending a special emphasis (comp. chap. v. 26) : 
so complete is the believer s appropriation of the 
Son, who hath life in Himself, that the same 
exalted language may be used of the believer 
also, whilst he abides in fellowship with his 
Lord. Then he has life in himself, but not of 
himself. This fellowship is the substance of the 
next verse. 

Ver. 56. He that eateth my fleeb and drinketh 
my blood abideth in me, and I in him. The 
fellowship consists in this, that the believer abides 
in the Life, and that He who is the Life abides in 
the believer. Note that here it is not ' hath eaten ; * 
the ' abiding ' is dependent on the continuance of 
the appropriating act. 

Ver. 57. As the living Father sent me, and I 
live becanfle of the Father; so he that eateth 
me, he aleo shall live because of me. He that 
sent the Son into the world is the living Father, 
— the Being who is eternally and absolutely the 
Living One. The Son lives because the Father 
lives. This reception of life (see chap. v. 26) is 
the characteristic of the Son. So, with a relation 
to the Son similar to the Son's relation to the 
Father, the believer who receives and appropriates 
the Son lives because the Son, who is Life, abides 
in him. This is the climax of the whole dis- 
course : for even more exalted language expressive 
of the same truth, that the relation between Jesus 
and His own has its pattern in the relation between 
the Father and the Son, see chap. xvii. 21, 23. 

Ver. 58. This is that bread which came down 
out of heaven. Here Jesus returns to the first 
theme. Since He has now set forth all that the 
true bread gives, the contrast with the manna is 
complete. * This * — of this nature, such as I have 
described it to you—* is the bread that came down 
out of heaven.' These Ixst words illustrate the 
first clause of ver. 57, ' the living Father sent me,'* 
— Not ae your famera did eat and died: he 
that eateth this bread shall live for ever. The 
rest of the verse is in the main a forcible repeti- 
tion of vers. 49, 50. 

Ver. 59. These things said he, as he was 
teaching in a synagogue in Gi^[>emaum. These 
words not only give information as to the place in 
which the discourse (probably vers. 41-58; see 
note on ver. 40) was delivered, but also show the 
boldness with which Jesus declared truths so new 
and so surprising to His hearers. He spoke thus 
in public teaching (comp. chap, xviii. 20), and 
that too in the presence of His powerful enemies, 
and in the place where their influence was 

Ver. 60. Many therefore of his disciples 
when they heard this said, This is an lutrd 
saying ; who can hear him ? The wonl 
' disciples ' is here used in a v^ide sense, in- 
cluding many more than the Twelve, and many 
who had never risen to a high and pure fiaith. 
The 'saying' can only be that of the preceding 
verses (53-57), and its hardness consisted in the 
fact that it pointed out one only way to life, — 
eating the nesh and drinking the blood of the 
Son of man. These words the disciples did not 
spiritually comprehend, and therefore they were 
repelled by them. 

Ver. 61. But Jesus, knowing in himself that 
his disciples murmured concerning this, said 
unto them. Doth this make you to stumble 7 He 
knew their thoughts, and becaiise they are dis- 
ciples, not Jews bent on opposing Him, He seeks 
to help them. 

Ver. 62. What then if ye behdd the Son of 
man ascending where he was before f The 
meaning of this ascent is surely clear in itself; but 
if it were not, the mention of a past descent (vers. 
4I> 5I> 5^) would remove all doubt Our Lord 
certainly refers to His ascension into heaven. He 
would say : * Is the word that speaks of the descent 
from heaven, of the living bread that alone can 

S've life, of the Son's descent from heaven to give 
is flesh and His blood that the world may eat 
and drink and live, a stumbling-block to you? 
If, when I am here before you, you cannot 
understand what is meant by eating my flesh and 
drinking my blood, — cannot apprehend the spiri- 
tual meaning which such words must bear,— now 
much more will you, in this your carnal appre- 
hension of what I say, be made to stumble if you 
should see me ascending where I was before, to 
be no longer upon earth at all ! ' As the neces- 
sity of eating His flesh must continue, what will 
they think then ? Then the sense they have put 
upon His words will indeed wholly break down : 
then at last they may come to see that the words 
can only be spiritually understood. 

Ver. 63. It is the spirit that maketh to live ; 
the flesh profiteth nothing. Jesus has spoken of 
'giving life,' of the * eating of His flesh,' as the 
means of gaining eternal life. In all this He 
has not the flesh but the spirit in view,— not the 
material reception of the flesh by the fle&h. but 



the appropriation of His spirit by the spirit of 
man. Such spiritual union of the believer with 
Him alone 'maketh to live :' the flesh in itself is 
profitless for such an end.— The words that I 
n*Te spokea onto you, they are spirit, and 
they are life. The word ' I * is emphatic, as 
it repeatedly has been in this discourse. The 
emphasis which Jesus here and elsewhere lays 
upon His sayings is very remarkable. He is the 
Word, the expression of the Father's nature and 
will ; His sayings are to man the expression of 
Himself. The words or sayings just spoken to 
these disciples are spirit and are life. This is 
their essential nature. They may be camalised, 
wrongly understood, wilfully perverted ; but wher- 
ever 3iey find an entrance they manifest their true 
nature. They bring into the receptive heart not 
the fiesh but the spirit of the Son of man, and 
thus the man, in the true sense eating the flesh of 
the Son of man, has life. His worcU received by 
fJEuth bring Himself. Thus He can in two versi's 
almost consecutive (chap. xv. 4, 7) say, 'Abide 
in me, and / in you/ and ' If ye abide in me, and 
my words abide in you.* 

Ver. 64. But there are some of yon that he- 
lieTe not. Even of these who had heard the last 
words, so mercifully spoken for the removal of 
their difficulties, there were some who continued 
in unbelief. — For Jems knew ftom the beginning 
who they were that believed not, and who it was 
that would betray him. Another remarkable 
declaration by the Evangelist of the Saviour's 
penetrating discernment of all hearts (compare 
chap. ii. 24, 25), and of His knowledge from the 
very beginning what would be the end of His 
earthly course. The words seem to imply that the 
germ of the traitor-spirit was already m the heart 
of Judas, who, like many others, loved rather the 
glory and honour which Jesus set aside (vers. 14, 
15) than the spirit and the life of His words. 

Ver. 65. And he said. For this cause have I 
said unto you, that no one can come unto me, 
except it have been given unto him of the 
Father. They had seemed genuine disciples, but 
His words had been to them a stumbling-block 
and had not brought life. They had not really 
come to Him : they had not received from the 
Father the gift of * coming unto ' Jesus, but the 
failure had been by their own fault. Having re- 
sisted the drawing of the Father, they had lacked 
the due preparation of heart for receiving the 
words of Jesus (see the notes on vers. 37 and 44). 

Ver. 66. Upon this many of his disciples went 
back, and walked no longer with him. Another 
sad reflection, as in ver. 64 : the Evangelist can- 
not but record the repelling influence which the 
light exerted on those who were not of the light. 
These disciples seemed to have left all that they 
niij^ht be followers of Christ, but now they return 
to the homes and the occupations they had for- 
saken. (The usual rendering * walked no more ' 
is in itself perfectly correct, but may be possibly 
understood in the sense of * never more,* a sense 
certainly not designed . ) 

Ver. 67. Jesus therefore said unto the twelve. 
Would ye also go 7 In contrast with the desertion 
of many is the strengthened faith of those who, 
being of the light, are attracted by the light. The 
* Twelve * are here mentioned by John for the first 

Vers. 68, 69. Simon Peter answered him. In 
accordance with the earlier records Peter stands 
forth as the spokesman of the Twelve, and in answer 
to the question of Jesus makes a confession of their 
faith.— Lord, to whom shall we go away? thou 
hast words of eternal life. (Ver. 69) And we have 
believed, and we know that thou art the H61y Ono 
of God. The con fession consists of three parts — ( i ) 

* Thou hast words of eternal life* (see ver, 63) ; (25 

* And we have believed * (in contrast with ver. 64, 
' there are of you some that believe not') ; (3) * And 
we know,' etc. These disciples have answered the 
revelation of Jesus by the faith which it demands; 
and now they * know * with the practical knowledge 
of experience that Jesus is the Sent of God. The 
expression which Peter uses is * the Holy One of 
God.' A similar phrase occurs in Ps. cvi. 16 
in regard to Aaron, who is called * the holy one of 
Jehovah.* In the case of the human priest and in 
that of his antitype our Lord, the general meaning 
is the same, — the consecrated one of God, or, in 
other words. He whom the Father sealed. He 
whom God has sent. The meaning of the word 
used here, *holy,* must receive special considera- 
tion in other passages : see the notes on x. 36, 
xvii. 17. It is hardly necessary to say that the 
confession of Peter does not seem to be the same 
as that related in Matt. xvi. 

Ver. 70. Jesus answered them, Did not I 
choose you the twelve? and one of you is a 
devil. Alas ! even in this small circle there is an 
element that the light attracts not but repels. In 
good faith Peter had spoken of all his brethren, 
when he said, * we have believed.* He knew not, 
and probably Judas himself knew not, to whom 
Jesus referred. The germ of the future crime and 
that alone as yet existed. But from the beginning 
Jesus knew all. Amongst the disciples He knew 
who would desert Him : in this inner circle He 
knew who would show himself a traitor— *a devil.* 
Many weaker interpretations, but all baseless, 
have been given of this word. The traitor will do 
his work at the instigation of the Evil One, and 
animated by his spirit : his work will be the work 
of the devil : he himself in doing it will be the 
associate of Satan : nay, as we shall see, he will 
be more. 

Ver. 71. Now he spake of Judas the son of 
Simon LKMiriot. Here we meet for the first time 
in this Gospel with the name Iscariot ; and it will 
be observed that (as in xiii. 26) it is connected not 
with the name of Judas (as in xii. 4, xiii. 2, xiv. 22) 
but with that of his father. In all probability the 
word signifies 'man of Kerioth,* a town in the 
tribe of Judah (see Josh. xv. 25). Apparently 
Judas was the only apostle not of Galilee, and 
the peculiarity of his name (identical with Judah 
and *the Jews') is certainly not overlooked by 
the Evangelist. Nay, more, not only is Judas of 
Kerioth, that town of Tudah and the Jews, his 
father is so too. The double link of connection 
seems to deepen the thought. — For he it was 
that was about to betray him — one of the 
twelve. Judas was not yet the traitor ; * was about 
to * expresses only the futurity of the event ; but 
how much is the criminality of the germ already 
springing up in his heart heightened by the closine 
remark, in which we see at once the anger and 
the pathos of the Evangelist, — * being one of the 
Twelve * ! 


Chapter VII. 1-13. 

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles, 

1 A FTER * these things Jesus walked in Galilee : for he 

£\. would not walk in Jewry/ * because the Jews sought to « chap. v. 7«. 

2 kill him. Now ^ the Jews* feast of ^tabernacles' was at hand. J^J^^^ 

3 ^ His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go ^^^ ^ 
into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the* works that ^P^iij"* 

4 thou doest For there is^ no man* that'^ doeth anything in *"*^ 
secret, and he* himself seeketh to be known openly.* If thou 

5 do " these things, shew " thyself to the world. For ' neither " * Mark ui. ai. 

6 did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said " unto them, 

^ My time is not yet come : " but your time is alway ready. /See d»p. 

7 '^The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I^dia*p.xv. 

8 testify of it," that *the works thereof are evil." Go ye up Ijohn iv*i. 

h Chap. iii. 19. 

unto this " feast : I go not up yet unto this feast ; for " my 

9 -^time is not yet full come." When" he had said these 
words" unto them, he abode still in Galilee. 

10 But " when his brethren were gone up," then went he also 
up unto the feast,** not openly,** but as it were** in secret. 

11 'Then the Jews*' sought him at the feast, and said, Where is 1Chap.xi.56. 

12 he? And there was much murmuring among the people** 
concerning him : * for ** some said, He is a good man : others ** * vers. ^ 43, 

13 said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.** Howbeit no man «.x9.* 
spake openly of** him ' for** fear of the Jews. 'S*^"m'' 

^ And after ' Judea ' And the feast of the Jews, the feast of tabernacles, &p. iS^i%, 

* may behold thy * omit there is • one ' omit that 

* omit he • to be in boldness *® doest ^^ manifest 
** not even ^' Jesus therefore saith " present 
^^ I bear witness concerning it ^* that its works are wicked ^' the 

^^ because ^' not yet fulfilled *® And when ** things 

*• And *• had gone up unto the feast ** omit unto the feast 

** manifestly *• omit it were *' The Jews therefore 

*• multitudes *• omit for •• but others 

•* leadeth astray the multitude '* boldly concerning •• because of the 

Contents. The same line of thought as that in Galilee : for he would not walk in Jndea, 

which we have found in the two previous chapters because the Jew* aought to kill him. The 

is continued in that before us. He who is the events of chap. vi. belonged to the period of the 

Folfiller of the Sabbath and of the Passover Passover ; chap. vii. is occupied with the feast of 

is the Fulfiller also of the great feast in which Tabernacles. The interval covered by the brie! 

the festivals of the Jewish year culminated, description of this verse, therefore, is about six 

— that of Tabernacles. The first section of montl^. During that time Jesus ' was walking in 

the chapter gives an account of the circum- Galilee,' for in Judea His enemies 'were seeking 

stances m which Jesus went up to this feast, the to kill Him.' As it is John himself who gives 

subordinate parts being~(i) vers. 1-9, Jesus de- the notes of time from which we learn the length 

clines to go up to it at the request of His of this period, we have here another illustration of 

brethren, for He can act only at the suggestion the selective principle on which his Gospel is 

of His heavenly Father's will; (2) vers. io>i3, composed. The ministry in Galilee is in the 

He goes up when He sees that the hour for main passed over, partly, no doubt, because the 

doing so is come. Evaneelbt well knew that the types of Gospel 

Ver. I. And after these things Jesus walked teachmg that were most widely current chiefly 



presented the Saviour's work in Galilee : partly, 
because this work was less closely connectea with 
hn purpose to bring out with clearness the pro- 
msa and development of the conflict between 
Jesus and the representatives of the Jewish people. 
The period befoTe us receives a lengthened notice 
in two of the earlier Gospels. We may, with 
great probability, refer to it four chapters in 
Matthew (xv.-xviii.), three in Mark (vii.-ix.), 
besides half of the ninth chapter in Luke. To it, 
therefore, belong our Lord's visits to the borders 
of Tyre and Sidon, the miracles wrought for the 
Syrophcenician woman and for the deaf and dumb 
man m Decapolis, the feeding of the four thousand, 
Peter's second confession followed by our Lord's 
announcement of His approaching sufferings and 
death, the Transfiguration, tc^ether with other 
miracles and discourses. The principal outward 
characteristics of this portion of our Lord's public 
ministry are the wider range of His travels and 
the comparative privacy which He seems usually to 
have mamtained : the progress in the training of 
the Twelve, which is most observable, we may also 
in great measure connect with the retirement thus 
sought by their Master. 

Yer. 2. And the feast of the Jews, the feast 
of tabemadee, was at hand. This annual fes- 
tival, the last of the three at which the men of 
Israel were required to present themselves before 
the Lord in Jerusalem, b^an on the 15th of Tizri, 
that is, either late in September or early in October. 
It had a twofold significance, being at once a harvest 
festival and a historical memorial of the earliest 
dajTS of the nation. At the ' feast of Ingathering ' 
(Ex. xxiiL 16) the people gave thanks for the 
harvest, now safely gathered in : the ' feast of 
Tabernacles,' durine the seven days of which they 
dwelt in booths or huts, recalled the years which 
their fathers spent in the desert (Lev. xxiii. 39-43). 
'llie mode in which the feast was celebrated must 
be noticed in connection with later verses (see 
note on ver. 38) : here we need only add that this 
festival, spoken of by Josephus as ' the holiest 
and greatest ' of all, was a season of the most 
lively rejoicing (see Neh. viii. 16-18), and was 
associated at once with the most precious recol- 
lections of the past and the most sacred hopes for 
the future of the nation. In particular, as we 
shall see more fully hereafter, the feast had come 
to be regarded as the type and emblem of the glory 
of the latter day, when the Spirit of God should 
be poured out like floods upon the ground (Isa. 
XXXV.). On the expression 'feast of the Jews,' 
see the notes on chap. ii. 13, vi. 4. To what 
extent the joyous and holy feast of the Lord could 
be perverted by the malice and hatred of 'the 
Jews ' this chapter will clearly show. 

Ver. 3. His orethren therefore said nnto him, 
Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy 
diaoiples also may behold thy worka that thou 
doest. His brothers, in thus urging Him to 
depart into Judea, have distinctly in mind (as 
appears from ver. 8) the approaching feast and 
the concourse of people which would soon be 
assembling in Jerusalem. It is important to keep 
this in mind if we would understand the position 
occupied by the brothers of Jesus. They were not 
believers in Him (ver. 5), that is, they did not 
accept Him as the Messi^ ; in their own words 
they separated themselves from the number of 
His disciples (ver. 3) ; and as yet they were 
accounted by Him as belonging to 'the world' 

(ver. 7). On the other hand, there is no trace ol 
disbelief or disparagement of His works ; for the 
words, ' Thy works that Thou doest,' were not 
spoken in irony ; and ' if Thou doest ' (ver. 4) 
need not express the slightest doubt. To these 
'brethren,' then, brought up in the prevalent 
Messianic belief, there appeared an inconsistency 
between the loftiness of His claims and the com- 
paratively limited display of what He oflered as 
His credentials ; the reserve with which He mani- 
fested His powers went far with them towards 
destroying the impression made by His miracles. 
But one of the chief festivals was now at hand. 
Neither at the Passover of this year nor at the 
feast of Weeks (Pentecost) had He gone yp to 
Jerusalem : why should He avoid publicity, and 
appear to shun that decisive testing of His claims 
which was possible in Jerusalem alone. By ' Thy 
disciples,' the brethren of Jesus do not simply 
mean 'Thy disciples in Judea.' In this case the 
word ' there ' must have been inserted, as bearing 
the chief emphasis of the sentence. As we have 
just seen, the recent labours of Jesus in northern 
Galilee had been marked by privacy. For the 
most part the Twelve only had witnessed His 
works; at times some even of these had been 
excluded. At the feast the whole body of His 
disciples would be gathered together, and what 
might be done in Jerusalem would be conspicuous 
to all. — On the 'brothers' of the Lord see the 
note on chap. ii. 12 ; after this paragraph (vers. 
3f 5» 10), they are not mentioned again in this 
Gospel ; in chap. xx. 17 the words have a diflerent 

Ver. 4. For no one doeth any thing in aeoret, 
and himself seeketh to be in boldness. ' To be 
in boldness ' may seem a singular expression ; the 
Greek words, however, will not admit of the 
rendering ' to be known openly ; ' and it is clear 
that the form of ihe phrase is chosen so as to be 
in correspondence with what precedes, 'doeth 
anything in secret.' The Greek word rendered 
' boldness ' occurs nine times in this Gospel, four 
times in John's First Epistle, and eighteen times 
in the rest of the New Testament. In every case 
it denotes either boldness, as opposed to fear or 
caution (see vers. 13, 26, xi. 54, xviii. 20), or 
plainness of language as opposed to reserve (chap. 
X. 24, xi. 14, xvi. 25, 29) ; here the meaning is 
'to take a bold position.' Working miracles in 
secret and a bola claim of personal dignity and 
office are, in the view of these men, things incom- 
patible with one another.— If thou doest these 
things, manifest thsrself to the world. These 
words are very remarkable. The brothers would 
use them as meaning 'to all men,' i.f, 'to all 
Israel ' gathered tc^ether at the feast (comp. chap, 
xii. 19) ; but we cannot doubt that the Evangelist 
sees here the language of unconscious prophecy, 
such as appears in many other places of this 
Gospel, and in one case at least (chap. xi. 51) is 
expressly noted by himself. The words are now 
uttered with a true instinct ; they will be fulfilled 
in their widest sense. 

Ver. 5. For not even did his brethren believe 
in him. This verse seems to afford an unanswerable 
argument against tliose who hold that amongst these 
' brothers ' of our Lord were included two or three 
of the twelve apostles. How long this unbelief 
lasted we cannot tell : the words of Paul in I Cor. 
XV. 7, 'Then He appeared to James,* make it 
very probable that it was by our Lord's resurrec- 



tion from the dead that the brothers were led to a 
true belief in that Divine mission which, in spite 
of the earlier miracles they had witnetised, they 
had refused to accept. 

Ver. 6. Jetna tlMTefore aaith nnto them. My 
time is not yet present, but your time is alway 
ready. The answer is remarkably akin to that 
addressed to His mother in chap. ii. 4. Very 
different, probably, were the mother and the 
brethren in their measure of faith and in the 
motive of their words ; but in each case there 
betrayed itself a conviction that Jesus might be 
influenced by human counsel in the manifestations 
of Himself. Here as there His time was at 
hand, but not yet ' present;* and until the moment 
appointed by the Father He whose will is one 
with that of the Father can do nothing. Such 
limitation did not apply to His brethren ; they 
were not separated from the * world,* and wiih 
that world they might at any time associate. 

Ver. 7. The wond cannot hate you ; but me 
it hatetn, because I bear witness concerning it, 
that its works are wicked. Jesus takes up the 
word which they had used ; but in His mouth it 
has a depth of solemn meaning of which they 
knew nothing. With them the world was the 
whole body of Israelites, with whom lay the 
acceptance or rejection of His claims ; with Him 
the world was a hostile power, to which indeed 
He will manifest Himself, but which He has 
come to subdue. Jesus and His brothers stand 
in opposite relations to the world, — they at one 
with it, He the Reprover of its wicked works. 
This difference of relation makes necessary a 
difference of action : they cannot understand, 
much less can they guide, His course. 

Ver. 8. Go ye up unto the feast: I go not up 
yet unto this feast, because my time is not yet 
fulfiUed. The words 'not yet* imply an inten- 
tion of attending the festival, though as yet the 
appointed time had not come. The interval 
beiore it comes may be of the shortest, but the 
' not yet ' lasts till the ' now * comes, and then the 
obedience must be instant and complete. It is 
well known that this verse furnished Porphyry, 
the assailant of Christianity in the third century, 
with one of his arguments. In his Greek text of 
the Gospel the reading was, ' I go not up unto * 
(the word 'yet* being absent), and upK>n this 
Porphyry founded an accusation of fickleness and 
change of purpose. 

Ver. 9. And when he had said these things 
nnto thiem he abode still in Galilee. How lon^, 
we are not informed. As, however, it would 
seem that His brothers were on the point of 
setting out for Jerusalem, to be present at the 
beginning of the festival, and as He Himself was 
teaching in the temple when the sacred week had 
half expired (ver. 14), the interval s^^ent in Galilee 
can hardly have been more than two or three 

Ver. 10. And when his brethren had gone up 
unto tJie feast, then went he also up, not mani- 
festly but as in secret. We must not sever 
'manifestly* from 'manifest thyself,* in ver. 4. 
Had Jesus joined any festal band, it would have 
been impossible (without an express miracle) to 
restrain the impetuous zeal of Galilean pilgrims, 
of whom very many had witnessed His 'signs * 
and listened to His words. To have gone up 
publicly would have been to ' manifest Himself to 
the world.* At the next (^reat feast, the Passover 

of the following year. He did enter the holy city 
in triumph, thus proclaimed King of Israel by the 
rejoicing multitudes. For this, however, the time 
was not yet come. It is very probable that this 
journey must be identified with that related in 
Luke ix. 51 sqq. The privacy here spoken of 
has been thougnt inconsistent with Luke's state- 
ment that Jesus at that time travelled through 
Samaria with His disciples, 'sending messengers 
before him * (Luke ix. 52). But the divergence is 
only apparent. Jesus went up * in secret, in that 
He avoided the train of Galilean pilgrims, who 
may have reached Jerusalem before He set out 
from Galilee ; besides, it is probable that the route 
through Samaria, though not altogether avoideil 
by the festal companies (as we know from 
Josephus), would be more rarely taken. The 
sendmg of messengers implies no publicity; for 
such a company as this, composed of Jesus and 
His disciples, such a precaution might well be 

Ver. II. The Jews therefore sought him at 
the feast, and said. Where is he f Their expec- 
tation that He would be present at this festival 
may have rested on no other ground than the 
national usage, to which Jesus nad occasionally 
conformed even during His public ministry. Pos- 
sibly His words (ver. 8) * I go not up yet * may 
have become known to the Galilean multitude, 
and hence to the Jews. Verses i and 13 seem to 
leave very little doubt that the * seeking * was of a 
hostile character. Hy 'the Jews,* the Evangelist 
still means the ruling class, those whom worldli- 
ness and self-seeking had long since turned into 
the declared enemies of Jesus. 

Ver. 12. And there was much murmuring 
among the multitudes concerning him. Some 
said. He is a good man: but others said. Nay, 
but he leadeth astray the multitude. From the 
'Jews* the Evangelist turns to the 'multitudes.' 
Amongst these is eager discussion concerning 
Jesus ; the speculation, the hesitation,, the inquiry, 
were general, but all outward expression was sup* 
pressed. The use of the plural ' multitudes * seems 
to point to crowds rather than individuals as the 
disputants. The word 'multitude,* however, at 
the close of the verse is not without a contemptu- 
ous force,— it is the common crowd that He leads 
astray : possibly the multitudes of Jerusalem may 
be the speakers. 

Ver. 13. Howbeit no man spake boldly con- 
cerning him, because of the fear of the Jews. 
Both sides, through their fear of the Jews, .shrank 
from speaking out their thoughts. So complete 
was the ascendancy of these rulers over the people 
that no one ventured on any open discussion of 
the claims of Jesus. There was no doubt a belief 
that ' the Jews * were hostile to Him, but no public 
condemnation had been pronounced, — possibly no 
decision had been arrivect at : till the leaders spoke 
out the people could only mutter their opinions. — 
Thus, then, the picture of what Jerusalem was at 
this moment is completed. Met together at the 
feast are Galileans, already half l>elievers in Jesus, 
ready to be roused into enthusiastic activity by 
a display of His power ; hostile Jews, the eccle- 
siastical authorities and those who shared their 
spirit, determined to crush out all inquiry as to 
His claims ; and multitudes discussing these in 
secret, and revealing the utmost discordance of 
opinion. Everywhere we sec movement, uncer- 
tainty, hope, or fear. 


Chapter VII. 14-52. 

Discourses of Jesus at the Feast of Tabenmclcs. 

14 XT OW about the midst * of the feast Jesus went up into the 

15 IN temple," and taught "And the Jews' marvelled, say- «Comp.Acti 
ing, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned } 

\6 Jesus* answered them, and said, ^ My doctrine' is not mine, ^^^'n.^^; 

17 but his that sent me. ''If any man will do* his will, he shall J^^p^dJlp. 
know of the doctrine,' whether it be* of God, or whether I ^co'mp.chap. 

18 speak of' myself. ^ He that speaketh of* himself seeketh his aXhS.'U' 
own glory: but he that seeketh his glory*® that sent him, the ^chai).v.4i, 

19 same is true, and" no unrighteousness is " in him. 'Did not It/.^iV^' 
Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law } *' 5. *^ "* 

20 -^ Why go ye about " to kill me } The people ** answered and ' aS?^! 38.' 
said,** Thou ^ hast a devil:" who goeth about ** to kill thee.^^cSp^ 


21 Jesus answered and said unto them, * I have done** one work, iikft'jriiJa! 

22 and ye all marvel. 'Moses therefore gave unto you circum- Achap.v.9. 
cision;" (not because" it is of Moses, but *of the fathers ;) >tGcn*.xvii.* 

23 and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man " on 
the sabbath day receive circumcision," that the law of Moses 
should" not be broken ; 'are ye angry at" me, because I have" /chap. v. 16; 

24 made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day 1 Judge m. «v.^ 
not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. v»"- «5. 

25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem," Is not this he, whom 

26 they seek to kill } But," lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say 
nothing unto him. * Do" the " rulers know indeed ** that this "X^''*®-.. 

'^ o Chap. 111. z 

27 is the very'* Christ } ^ Howbeit we know this man whence he /9» 

' ^ Matt. xiii. 

is : but when Christ " cometh, no man knoweth " whence he is. ss- 

28 Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying" Ye ^both ^^^/"J- *^***p 
know me, and ye know whence I am : and ''I am" not come ''S!?*** ^^^' 
of myself, but he that sent me ' is true, 'whom ye know not. *^^%y ^^' 

29 'But" I know him : for" I am from him, and ''he hath" sent '^^l^^txi 

30 me. Then they sought to take him: "but" no man laid ^^^r. 44, 

* And when it was alreadv the middle * temple-courts 

* The Jews therefore * Jesus therefore * teaching ^ to do 
^ he will perceive of the teaching * is '•* from 

*• the glory of him ^* and there is ** omit is 

** and no one of you doeth the law ** Why seek ye " multitude 

*• omit and said *^ demon ** who seeketh *^ I did 

*® For this cause hath Moses given you the circumcision ** that 

" If a man receiveth circumcision 2' omit receive circumcision 

** may '* with ** omit have 

*' Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said ** And *• Can it be that 

^ omit indeed '^ omit very " the Christ ^^ no one perceiveth 

^* Jesus therefore cried in the temple-courts teaching and saying 

■* have ^" omit But '^ because 

'* omit hath ^^ They sought therefore to seize him, and 

chap. viii. 


31 hands ^° on him, because *'his hour was not yet come. And »Ver.d. 

^ many of the people ** believed on " him, and said, When wOup. ii. as. 
Christ *• Cometh, will he do more miracles ** than these which 
this man hath done ? 

32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured" such*' 
things concerning him ; and the Pharisees and the chief 

33 priests*'^ sent officers to take** him. Then said Jesus" unto 
them," Yet ''a little while am I with you, and t/ten^^ I ''go jrSeechap. 

xu. 35, 

34 unto him that sent me. 'Ye shall seek me, and shall not find j'Chap.xvts. 

See chap. 

35 me: and where I am, thither^* ye cannot come. *Then said »»»•»• ... 
the Jews*' among themselves. Whither will he go," that we ^«^«»»^3- 
shall not find him } will he go unto ^ the dispersed among ** the ^ j^ j^ , . 

36 Gentiles,** and teach the Gentiles ? *• ' What manner of saying ^cwi^; 
is this that he said,*' Ye shall seek me, and shall not find *'»**• 
me: and where I am, thither ^^ ye cannot come? 

37 ^ In *• the last day, that *• great day of the feast, Jesus stood ^^^- ""'• 
and cried, saying, 'If any man " thirst, let him come unto me, '|jUi^^^* * 

38 and drink. He that believeth on'* me, as -^the scripture ^^•««>- 
hath •■ said, '' out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. ^^'^^^^ 

39 (*But" this spake he of** the Spirit, which they that believe Sn.*IrfI*ivii. 
on ** him should ** receive : for the Holy Ghost *' was not yet JJ; ^37^ 
given ; because that Jesus was not yet ' glorified.) ^a^^p. 

40 Many of the people** therefore, when they heard this say- Aii.'riilo; 

41 ing,** said. Of a truth this is * the Prophet. Others said. ' This &p"jd'?.' 
is the Christ. But'* some said, Shall Christ" come '"out of aS^aC* 

42 Galilee ? Hath not -^ the scripture said. That Christ " cometh ' xii. r6. ^' 
" of the seed of David, and ' out of the town of Bethlehem," vu it 

43 ^ where David was.? So ^ there was a division among the vuct' *^ 

44 people'* because of him. And ''some of them would have chai.i.'46. 
taken '* him : but no man laid hands on him. «a. 4a. ' 

See Matt. 

45 ' Then came the officers '* to the chief priests and Pharisees ; u. s- 

^•' '^ > X Sun. xvi. 

and they said unto them. Why have ye not brought him i «i 4. 

46 The officers answered, 'Never man spake like this man." ^Ver.a©. 

47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?'* 'Mait. tiL 

*• his hand ^* But of the multitude many ** in ^« the Christ 

signs ^' heard the multitude murmuring ^^ these 

the chief priests and the Pharisees ^^ seize ^* Jesus therefore said 

omit unto them *^ omit then *■ omit thither 

The Jews therefore said ^^ Whither is this man about to go 

Is he about to go to the Dispersion of ^^ Greeks 

What is this word which he spake ^^ And in 

the «« one «* in «« omit hath 

And ®* concerning *• believed in 

were to •' for the Spirit *• Some of the muhitude 

these words ^0 omit But ^^ What, doth the Christ 

the Christ ^' and from Bethlehem the village 

There arose therefore a division amone the multitude ^' seized 

* The officers therefore came " Never did a man so speak 

• The Pharisees therefore answered them, Have ye also been led astray ? 


48 Have any'* of the ** rulers or of the Pharisees believed on «Ver. 26. 

49 him?** But this people*' who knoweth" not the law are 

50 cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, ^he that came to Jesus fChap.ia. t. 

51 by night," being one of them,) ^Doth our law judge any**^^^^^'J'^^ 

52 man, before it hear him, and know" what he doeth? They 
answered and said unto him. Art thou also ''of Galilee? *ver. 41. 
Search, and look : for" out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. 

'• Hath any one •* believed in him, or of the Pharisees •* multitude 

•^ which understandeth •• to him before •* a 

** except it have first heard from himself and learned ^® Search and see that 

Contents. In this section Jesus appears at the 
feast to which He went up when His Father's, 
and therefore His own, hour was come. The 
opportunity afforded by it of teaching is embraced, 
and we are presented with the teaching and its 
effect. In the successive discourses recorded, the 
same general line of thought is to be traced as in 
chaps. V. and vi. But a particular direction is 
given them by the circumstances amidst which 
they are spoken. Tesus comes again before us as 
the Fulfiller of the law, of the last and greatest of 
the annual feasts of Israel, — that feast which, in 
the language of the prophets, shadowed forth 
the gift of the Spirit and the highest glory of 
Messianic times. The effect is, as usual, twofold : 
some are attracted, others are repelled. The 
subordinate parts are — (i) vers. 14-24 ; (2) vers. 
25-31 ; (^) vera- 32-36 ; (4) vers. 37-39 ; (5) vers. 
40-44 ; (6) vers. 45-52. 

^er. 14. And when it was already the middle 
of the feast, • JeaiiB went up into the temple- 
courts, and taught. It is evident that the 
Evangelist means to impress us with the sudden- 
ness of this appearance of Jesus in the temple- 
courts. The Lord suddenly comes to His temple, 
and, at this feast of peculiar joy and hope. He 
brings with Him a special message and promise 
of the new covenant (ver. 38 ; Mai. iii. i). His 
teaching during the latter half of the sacred week 
is to prepare for His words on the last day of the 

Ver. 1 5. The Jews therefore marvelled, saying. 
How knoweth this man letters, having never 
learned? The marvelling on the part of the 
•Jews' (see note on chap. v. 20) is not an 
astonishment that compels further inquiry and 
leads towards belief. They are bafned, and 
forced to acknowledge against themselves what 
they would fain have denied. It was only af^cr 
a long series of years spent in study that the 
Jewish scholar was permitted to become a teacher, 
and was solemnly ordained a member of the com- 
munity of doctors of the law. Jesus, it was 
known, had not been taught in the rabbinical 
schools, nevertheless He was proving Himself, in 
such a manner that His enemies could not gainsay 
the fact, a skilled and powerful teacher. Jewish 
learning dealt chiefly with the letter of the written 
Word (especially the Law), and with the body of 
unwritten tradition. The words which crown our 
Lord's teaching at this feast enter into the very 
heart and express the inmost spirit of the whole 
Old Testament revelation (vers. 38, 39). 

Ver. 16. Jesus therefore answered them, and 
said: My teaching is not mine, but his that sent 

me. It was the practice of Jewish Rabbis to pro- 
claim from whom they * received * their teaching, 
and to quote the sayings of the wise men who 
preceded them. What they proclaimed of them- 
selves the teaching of Jesus proclaims of itself to 
all worthy listeners. His teaching, though He 
had never * learned * it in the sense in which they 
use the term, is yet not His own ; neither in its 
substance nor in its authority must they count it 
His. As His works were those which the Father 
gave Him to accomplish (chap. v. 36), so His 
words were the expression of the truth which He 
has heard from God (viii. 40), and the Father 
hath given Him commandment what He shall say 
(xii. 49). Hence His words are God's words, and 
the teaching comes with the authority of God. 
Such teaching is self-evidential, where man really 
wishes to hear the voice of God : for — 

Ver. 17. If any one will to do his will, he mill 
perceive of the teaching, whether it is of God, or 
whether I speak from myself. Many a time did 
the Jews refuse to recognise the teaching of Jesus 
unless He could prove by a miracle that God was 
working with Him. Here He tells them that, 
had they the will to do God's will, they would 
need no miracle in evidence that in His teaching 
they heard the words of God : as the child at 
once recognises his father's voice, so would they, 
if living in harmony with God's will and purpose, 
recognise in His voice the voice of Goci. Such 
recognition of the words of Jesus is the test, there- 
f«)re, of a will bent on doing the will of God, and 
every such effort of will is consciously strengthened 
by His words ; while, on the other hand, the heiurt 
which seeks its own glory and not the glory of 
God is repelled by them (chap. v. 44). No 
words can more clearly show that the very end 
of the teaching of Jesus as set forth in this 
Gospel is not empty speculation but practical 
righteousness. It may be asked. Is our Lord 
merely stating a truth (*he wi// perceive'), or 
is He also giving a promise (*he sAa/l perceive, — 
shall come to know ) ? Both thoughts arc implied. 
Jesus does not say that the clear conception comes 
at once, — but come it will, come it shall. The last 
words must be carefully distinguished from those 
of chap. V. 31, etc., 'bearing witness concerning 
Myself:' Here the word used refers to the origin, 
the source, of the speaking ; and the meaning 
exactly agrees with chap. v. 30, — there * doing, 
here 'speaking,' from or of Himself. 

The words of ver. 17 are especially remarkable 
when we call to mind that they were addressed to 
persons all whose thoughts of revelation as a thing 
demonstrated to man were connected with tokens 



of the Divine presence appealing to the senses. 
What a new world did it open up to tell them that 
perception of the Divine origin of any teaching 
depends upon our seeing that it strengthens and 
perfects that moral nature which is within us the 
counterpart of the Divine nature ! 

Ver. 18. He that speaketh firom himself 
■eeketJi his own glory. If a man speaks from 
himself, giving out all that he says as coming from 
himself, it is clear that he is seeking the glory of 
no one but himself. If one who so acts is a 
messenger from another (and here the thought in 
the later words, ' him that sent him/ seems intended 
to apply to the whole verse), it is plain that his 
attitude is altogether false : he represents as ' from 
himself' that which really is 'from him that sent 
him.' — ^But he that seeketh the gloir of him 
tJbat lent him, the same is tme, and there is no 
unrighteousnesB in him. From the maxim con- 
tained in the first clause of this verse it follows at 
once that whoever is not seeking his own glory 
does not speak from himself. But every word of 

Jesus shows that He seeks His Father's glory : 
ence it cannot be that He is speaking from Him- 
self. — But as a messenger speaking from himself 
and aiming at his own glory is false to his 
position and work, so he that seeks the glory of 
the sender only is true to them, and there is no 
unrighteousness in him, — his work and duty as 
messenger are fully accomplished. These last 
words, like the hrst clause of the verse, are per- 
fectly general, though absolutely realised in Christ 
alone. By Him the condition is completely ful- 
filled : of Him the freedom from unrighteousness 
is absolutely true. This verse connects itself with 
what precedes and with what follows : (i) A will 
to do God's will will lead to right judgment 
respecting Christ (ver. 17), because he who has 
sucn a will can discern the complete submission of 
Jesus to the will of God, His complete freedom 
from self-seeking (ver. 18) ; (2) Is it thus proved 
to every one who is seeking to do God's will that 
Jesus is the real messenger of God, accurately 
teaching His will, then the accusation which is in 
the minds of His enemies (vers. 21, 22), that He has 
contradicted God's will in the matter of the Sabbath 
(chap. v. 18), must fall to the ground of itself. 

Ver. 19. Did not Moses give you the law, and 
no one of yon doeth the lawf Why seek ye 
to kill met There are two ways in which this 
verse may be taken, and between them it is not 
easy to decide. They turn on the interpretation 
of ' no one of you doeth the law ; ' for this may 
find its explanation either in the words that imme- 
diately follow or in vers. 21-25. ^^ ™^y ^ ^^st 
to give the connection of thought according to each 
of these views. In both cases the * law' chiefly de- 
notes the Ten Commandments. ( i ) The accusation 
of the Jews against Jesus, of having transgressed 
God's will, must fall to the ground (ver. 18), but 
not so His accusation against them. Moses, whom 
all accepted as God's true messenger, gave them 
the law, which therefore expressed God's will, and 
yet every one of them was breaking the law, for 
they were seeking to kill Jesus. They were there- 
fore self-convict^ by their own works of opposing 
the revealed will of God : no wonder therefore 
that they had rejected Jesus. In favour of this 
explanation we may say that the words are (vers. 
ic, 16) addressed to 'the Jews,' whose murderous 
ntention Jesus well knew not to have been in- 
spired by true zeal for the law, — that the words so 

understood aptly follow vers. 17, 18, — and thai 
we thus secure for the solemn expression ' doeth 
the law' a natural and worthy sense. (2) The 
other explanation connects this verse less strictly 
with ver. 18. In Jesus, as a true messenger, there 
is no unrighteousness. What they have called 
unric;hteousness is altogether righteous, — nay, it 
is what they themselves habitually do, and rightly 
do. Moses gave them the law, the whole law, 
and yet there is no one of them tliat keeps the 
whole law. Every one of them (as the example 
afterwards given proves) sets aside one of two 
conflicting laws, breaks one commandment when 
there is no other way of keeping a higher com- 
mand inviolate ; and this is all that Jesus did in 
the act for which they seek to kill Him. This 
second explanation agrees well with what follows ; 
and, although at first sight it seems almost too 
mild to be spoken to ' the Jews,* it has really great 
sharpness. It must have at once penetrated their 
hearts and thrown a light upon the guilt and folly 
of their conduct which they could only evade by 
again deliberately turning their eyes fnim the light. 
* No one of you doeth the law ' is also a very heavy 
charge. On the whole, the second interpretation 
seems preferable to the first. 

Ver. 2a The multitude answered, Thon hast 
a demon ; who seeketh to kill thee 1 It is im- 
portant to observe that this answer is returned by 
the multitude, not by those to whom ver. 19 is 
addressed, and the multitude is apparently in 
entire ignorance of the designs of *the Jews.' 
That the people should have thought possession 
by a demon the only possible explanation of the 
presence of such a thought in the mind of Jesus 
places in boldest relief the guilt of 'the Jews.* 
To bring this out is probably the explanation of 
the insertion of a remark for which it is otherwise 
difHcult to account. 

Ver. 21. Jesus answered and said onto them, 
I did one work, and ye all marveL This answer 
seems to have been addressed to the multitude, or 
rather to the whole body of those present includ- 
ing *the Jews,* not to *the Jews* alone (as is 
supposed by some who make ver. 20 a paren- 
thesis) : hence the calmness of the tone. ' One 
work,' viz. that recorded in chap. v. 1-8, — the 
miracle, with all its attendant circumstances. 
Many other miracles had Jesus wrought in Jeru- 
salem (chap. ii. 25), but thb one had caused all 
the amazement and repulsion of feeling of which 
He is here speaking. 

Ver. 22. For this cause hath Moses given yon 
the circumcision (not that it is of Moses but of 
the fathers), and ye on the sabbath day circum- 
cise a man. The very law was intended to teach 
them the fundamental principle upon which Jesus 
rested His defence, to look oeyond the letter to 
the spirit, and to see that sometimes an ordinance 
is most honoured when its letter is broken. ' For 
this cause * — to teach this lesson — Moses, who gave 
the Ten Commandments (ver. 19), one of which 
enjoined the sabbath rest, took up into the law 
which he gave (see ver. 23, * the law of Moses *) 
the far earlier ordinance of circumcision, laying 
down or rather repeating the strict rule that the 
rite must be performed on the eighth day (Lev. 
xii. 3). When this eighth day fell on the sabbath, 
the Jews, however inconsistent the rite might 
seem with the rigid sabbath rest, yet, with a true 
instinct, never hesitated to circumcise a child. 
They fell that to receive the sign of God's cove- 


nant, the token of consecration and of the removal 
of uncleanness (and — may we add ? — the token of 
the promise which was before and above the law, 
Gal. iiL 17), could never be really inconsistent 
with any command of God. In acting as they 
did, therefore, they proved that in this matter the 
lesson which the lawgiver designed to teach had 
been truly learned by them ; yet it was a lesson 
essentially the same as that which the healing by 
Jesus on the sabbath day bad taught. This passage 
is of great interest as showing that in many respects 
the law, even whilst seeming to deal in positive 
precepts only, was intended to become, and in 
some measure actually was, a discipline, preparing 
for the 'dispensation of the Spirit.* 

Ver. 23. If a man leceiveth circoindsion on 
the mbniUi day, that the law of Moeee may not 
be broken, are ye angry with me, because I 
made a man every whit whole on the sabbath 
day f Their reverence for the law and their deter- 
mination that it should not be broken led them 
to break the letter of the Fourth Commandment, 
or rather to do that which they would otherwise 
have thought inconsistent with its precept. How 
then can they be indignant at Jesus for the deed 
which He had done on the sabbath? He had 
performed a far more healing work than circum- 
cision. He had given not merely a token of the 
removal of uncleanness, but complete freedom 
from the blight and woe which sin had brought 
(sec chap. v. 14) on the * whole man.* It may be 
thought that in this last expression our Lord refers 
only to the cure of a disease by which the entire 
body had been prostrated ; but the verse just 
ouoted (chap. v. 14), and the recollection of the 
figurative and spiritual application of the fite of 
circumcision with which the prophets had made 
the Jews familiar, warn us against limiting the 
miracle at the pool of Bethesda to the restoration 
of ph3rsical health. 

Ver. 24. Judge not according to the appear- 
ance, but Jndge righteous judgment. Righteously 
had they judged in regard to themselves. So let 
them judge His work, and they will see that, where 
they had suspected only the presence of iniquity, 
there was the highest righteousness. 

Ver. 25. Some therefore of them of Jerusalem 
said. Is not this he whom ihej seek to kill? 
The speakers are a different class from those 
hitherto introduced, — *they of Jerusalem:' these 
seem to have more knowledge of the designs of 
* the Jews * than was possessed by * the multitude * 
(ver. 20). 

Ver. 26. And, lo, he speaketh boldly, and 
they say nothing unto him. Can it be that the 
rulers know that this is the Christ f No opinion 
as to these designs is expressed ; there is neither 
S3rmpathy nor blame ; there is only bewilderment, 
occasioned by the inconsistency between the sup- 
posed wishes of the rulers and the boldness and 
freedom with which Jesus is allowed to speak. 
Can it be that there is some secret reason for this, 
— that the rulers have really made a discovery, 
which they will not allow — , that this is the Christ ? 
The question is no sooner asked than it is answered 
by themselves : — 

Ver. 27. Howbeit we know this man whence 
he is ; but when the Christ oometh, no one per- 
ceiveUi whence he is. In ver. 42 we read of the 
expectation that the Christ would come from 
Bethlehem (see also Matt. ii. 5). But there is no 
inomsistency between this verse and that, for it 


seems to have been the Ixilicf of the Jews that the 
Redeemer would indeed first appear in Bethlehem, 
but would then be snatched aWay and hidden, and 
finally would afterwards suddenly manifest Him- 
self, — from what place and at what time no oHe 
could tell. So Jesus warns His disciples that the 
cry will be heard, * Lo, here is the Clirist; or, Lo, 
he is there' (Mark xiii. 21). 

Vers. 28, 29T Jesus therefore cried in the 
temple-courts teaching and saying. Knowing 
that such words were in the mouths of the people 
of Jerusalem, Jesus cried aloud in the hearing of 
all. The word * teaching ' may seem unneces- 
sary : it appears to be added in order to link 
what is here said to the teaching of vers. 14 and 
16 : what He says is no chance utterance, but 
forms part of the teaching designed for this festival. 
— Ye ix>th know me, and ye know whence I am. 
Jesus allows that they had a certain knowledge of 
Him, but He does this for the purpose of showing 
immediately thereafter that it was altogether in- 
adequate and at fault. It was indeed important 
in one respect, for it involved the acknowleagment 
of His true humanity ; but, denying all else, re- 
fusing to recognise Him in His higher aspect, 
scouting His claims to be the Sent of God, the 
expression of the eternal Father, it was really no 
more than an outward and carnal knowledge of 
Him. There seems to be a distinction between 

* whence I am * and * whence I come ' (viiL 14), 
The latter includes more directly the idea of the 
Divine mission of Jesus. — And I have not come of 
myself^ but he that sent me is true, whom ye 
know not. I know him, because I am from him, 
and he sent me. Words containing that true 
knowledge of Jesus which these men * of Jerusalem* 
had not. It consists in recognising in Him the 

* Sent * of Him who is * true,* not merely veracious 
or faithful, but rrai, who is the ground and essence 
of all reality, the only living and true God. In 
this respect those to whom Jesus was now speak- 
ing did not know Him ; they beheld the outward 
man ; they did not behold the manifestation of the 
eternal God. This ignorance, too, arose from the 
fact that they did not know God Himself. They 
thought that they knew Him ; but they did 
not, for they had not penetrated to the right con- 
ception of His spiritual, righteous nature, — a 
nature corresponding only to eternal realities, to 
what is 'true.' Not knowing God, how could 
they know Jesus who * manifested * the true God, 
who was ' from * the true God, and whom the true 
God 'sent'? Had they known the One they 
would have recognised the Other (chap. v. 37, 
viii. 19). The words of vers. 28, 29 are thus 
words of sharp reproof. 

Ver. 30. Tney sought therefore to seize him. 
Jesus had not mentioned the name of God, but 
those with whom He spoke (familiar with modes 
of speech in which the Divine Name was left un- 
spoken and replaced by a pronoun, as here, or by 
some attribute) did not miss His meaning. He 
had denied to them the knowledge of God, and at 
the same time had claimed for Himself the closest 
fellowship with Him, to be indeed the very ex- 
pression of what He was. — And no man laia his 
hcmd on him, because his hour was not yet 
come. Their zeal and enmity were at once 
aroused ; the * men of Jerusalem * followed in the 
steps of * the Jews * (ver. i). Yet they could not 
touch Him, for it was not yet God*s time. 

Ver. 31. But of the multitude many believed 



in him, and said. When the GhriBt cometh, will 
he do more dgns than these which this man 
hath donef The last verse showed how the 
hostility to Jesus was growing ; this verse presents 
the brighter side. The division of the people goes 
on continually increasing: they who are of the 
light are attracted towards Jesus, they who are of 
darkness are repelled. The faith of these believers 
is real (* they believed in Him *), though not so 
firm and sure as that which rests less on ' signs * 
than on His own word. 

Ver. 32. The Phariseee heard the multitude 
mnrmnring these things oonceming him, and 
the chief priests and tibe Pharisees sent officers 
to scdze him. To the various parties already 
mentioned in this chapter, the Jews (vers. 11, 
13, 15), the multitudes (ver. 12), or the multitude 
(vers. 20, 31), and them of Jerusalem (ver. 25), are 
here added the Pharisees and also the chief priests, 
now mentioned for the first time in this Gospel. 
In three earlier passages (chap. i. 24, iii. i, iv. i) 
John has spoken of the Pharisees, and in the last 
of these only (chap. iv. i) has there been any in- 
timation of either secret or open hostility on the 
part of this sect toward our Lord. It is otherwise 
with the other Gospels. In the course of that 
Galilean ministry which is not distinctly recorded 
by John the Pharisees occupy a very distinct 
position as foes of Jesus. To the period between 
John's last mention of the Pharisees and the pre- 
sent verse belong His controversies with them 
respecting fasting, His association with sinners 
(Matt, ix.; Mark ii.; Luke v. — compare Luke vii. 
49), the sabbath (Matt. xii. ; Mark li.; Luke vi.), 
the tradition of the elders (Matt, xv.; Mark vii.), 
and the forgiveness of sins (Luke v.; Matt, ix.; 
Mark iL — compare Luke vii. 39). The Pharisees 
have attempted to persuade the multitude that He 
wrought His miracles through the prince of the 
devils (Maitt. ix.; Matt, xii.; Mark iii.). He has 
refused their request that they might see a sign 
from heaven (Matt, xvi.; Mark viii.), and has 
warned the disciples against their teaching (Matt. 
xvi. ; Mark viii. ) and Uieir ' righteousness ' (Matt. 
V. 20). In Matt xii. 14 we read that the Pharisees 
(Mark iii. 6, the Pharisees and the Herodians) 
held a consultation how they might destroy Him. 
Up to this point, however, in the narrative of the 
Fourth Gospel it would seem most probable that, 
€U a body^ they had not assumed a position of dis- 
tinct hostility to our Lord. It was not in Galilee, 
of which the earlier Gospels speak, but in Jeru- 
salem, where were their chief members and in- 
fluence, that an organized opposition could best 
be formed by them ; and in many passages at all 
events we gather that those of their number who 
assailed Jesus were no more than emissaries sent 
down from the capital by the rulers. Things now 
take a different turn in John's Gospel. The Phari- 
sees come more prominently forward, act more as 
a party than as individuals, and begin to constitute 
a distinctly hostile power to Tesus. The events 
which had passed in Galilee, tnough not noted by 
John, may explain the change. — The chief priests 
are, as has been said, first mentioned here by 
John. In the other Gospels also they are scarcely 
referred to up to this period of the history, for 
Matt, xvi 21 (Mark viii. 31 ; Luke ix. 22) is a 
prophecy, and the only remaining passxige in the 
first three Gospels is Matt ii. 4, where it is said 
that Herod convened 'all the high priests and 
scribes of the people. ' It has been supposed that 

this expression denotes the Sanhedrin, but the 
great court of the nation did not include ' all the 
sicribes.' With much more certainty may the 
words of Matt xvi. 21, 'the elders and the high 
priests and the scribes,' be taken as an enumera- 
tion of the three elements of the supreme council. 
What is the exact meaning of chief priests or high 
priests, thus spoken of in the plural, it is perhaps 
impossible to say. The usual view is that the 
chiefs of the twenty-four classes of priests are in- 
tended ; but there seems little or no evidence in 
support of this explanation, llie only point on 
which we can speak with certainty is that the ex- 
pression must include all living who had been 
high priests. In those unsettled times the tenure 
of office was occasionally very short, and alwa)rs 
precarious. Annas the father-in-law of Caiaphas 
(chap, xviii. 13) was deposed by the Roman Fro- 
curator about fourteen years before the time of 
which we now speak : within three or four years 
of his deposition as many as four were appointed 
to the highj>riesthood, the last of whom, Caiaphas, 
retained office until a. d. 36. At this time, there- 
fore, besides the actual high priest, three or four 
may have been living who had once borne this 
name, and their former dignity would give them 
weight in a council which consisted of Jews alone. 
Whether prominent members of families to which 
present or former high priests belonged (compare 
Acts iv. 6) were also included under this name, 
or whether it denoted other priests who stood high 
in influence as members of the Sanhedrin, b very 
doubtful. — The multitude talked among them- 
selves in the temple of the grounds of the faith in 
Jesus which was growing in their hearts. Their 
talk is secret ('murmuring'), but not so secret 
that the Pharisees did not overhear their words. 
Convinced that the teaching which so powerfully 
impresses the people must be heard no longer, they 
seek therefore the aid of the chief priests, whose 
attendants are immediately despatched with orders 
to seize Jesus. 

Ver. 33. Jesus therefore said. Yet a little 
while am I with you, and I go unto him that 
sent me. In the action now taken by His foes 
Jesus sees a token of the rapidity with which His 
hour is approaching. These words, which (ver. 
35) were spoken in the presence of 'the Jews,* 
declare His perfect knowledge of their designs. 
But they are also words of judgment, taking from 
His enemies their last hope. 

Ver. 34. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find 
me. The frequent occurrence of the ' seeking ' in 
this chapter suggests as the first meaning of these 
words, Ye will seek to lay hands on me, but shall 
not find me. That was the only 'seeking' of 
which the Jews wished to think. But the eye of 
Jesus rested on the calamities from which at a 
future time they would seek to be delivered by the 
Christ, but would seek in vain. His enemies have 
refused to recognise in His words the teaching of 
* Him that sent * Him (ver. 16) : when He nas 
returned to His Father their eyes will be opened 
to their madness and folly. — And where I am, ye 
cannot come. ' Where I am,' He says, not ' where 
I shall be : ' here, as elsewhere, the simple ex- 
pression of continuous existence is most befitting 
for Him who is one with the Father. Into that 
Fellowship, that Presence, no enemies of the Son 
shall come. 

Ver. 35. The Jews therefore said among them- 
selves, Whither is this man about to go, that we 


■at And Uml Our Lord's word* were Tor dUsenling from Ihb 
liont, bat jret were so closely linked wiih can hardly be obiaine 

closely linked 
Hh earlier taching, ai related in this very chap I 
that their general meaning vonld be clear to eveiy 
ptdient Uttcner, Vers. i6 and 17 were alone 
Hiffideot to show that 'to Him that sent me' 
could only mean 'to Uod.' But this impreaaion for depreclatii 
'the Jews' must at all hazards avert: chap. viii. almost superfli 
la ifaowi how tai^Iy they soughi to blunt the ' " 

edge of (och words u Jesus has now spoken. 
There they sagsest that ouly by seeking death can 
He Bcape their search 1 here that it is on exile 
amou^ Gentiles that He has now resolved. His 
teaching has teemed to them a complete reversal 
of Jewidt modes of thought. No learning of the 
scboob prepared Him Tor His self-chosen oflice 
(ver. 15) : He accuses all Israel of having broken 
tbelawof Moves (ver. 19): He 

obtained without i 
(7) As 

LS probably 

ing the 
of 'the 

of the Greeki ' would be 

_ iosuliingif u»ed 

(3) The first clause becomes 

: wby should they not say at 

:, Is He about to go amongst the Greeks? 

connecting link is n 

state of feeling of our Lord's enemies, ' the Jews. 

Ver. 36. Wlat ia this word which he spaks. 
Ye aball leek me, and shall not find me: and 
wherelaniiyeiianiiotoomef This verse contains 
little more than a repetition of the Saviour's former 
stitemenl, but is uselUl in reminding us that the 
at nought the Jews, whose bitter words we hav 

the Jewish people. And now He is going, 
to relnm. Where ?— Is be about to go (o 

most rigid tnlct of Sabbath observance : all things sidering, were themselves perplexed by what they 
show that He has no sympathy with, no tolerance heard. We must no) suppose that they pondered 
for, the most firmly estabrished laws and usages of and lAen rejected the teaching of Jesus : theii 

.u. I — :.i. 1- i_j u. i, _.i — — . etimily rendered impossible that patient thonghl 

which WDuld have found the key to His mysterioos 
tinguage ; they understood enough to have been 
attract^, had they only been willing tlstenets, by 
the light and the life of His words. Their 
ignorance resulted from the absence of the will to 
kam and do God's will (ver, 17)- 

37. And in the last day, the great day, 

11 of the Oreeki, and teach the Qraeki I 

Can it be that He has cast off Jews altc^her and 

is going to Gentiles ? This is said in bitter scorn, 

but it may have been suggested by words of Jesus 

not exprenly recorded. In answering His brethren 

joit before the feasi (ver. 7) He Imd spoken of _, ,, _ .. 

'the world;' before the end of the same fenst of thsreaat. The feast of Tabernacles properly 

3 called continued seven days. During (a part 

(TiiL 11) He says, '1 am the ligKt of the world.' 
Even if we were not to accept the Jewish tradition 
which records that in the offering of the seventy 
bullocks at the feast of Tabernacles there was 
distinct reference to the ('seventv') nations of the 
Gentile world — a tradition deeply interesting and 
probably true — we can have no difficulty in sup- 
podng that in His leaching during the festival 
Jesni nad repeatedly nsed words t^arding 'the 
world' which enemies might readily pervert. His 
interest, they say in eSect, is not with Jews but 
with the 'world :' is he leaving us? — llien surely 
He is going to the world, to the heathen whom 
He love*.— The great difficulty of this verse is the 
use of such a phrase as ' the Dispersion of the 
Greeks.' An explanation is furnished by the 
thought already anggested, — that the Jews, with 
inmy and tconi, would ^ow forth Jesus as re- 
versing all their cherished instincts, beliefs, and 
uiagtt. If a true Israelite must deiart from the 
Holv Land, he resorts to the Dispersion of his 
brethren. Not so with this man: He too is 
deporting from us, but it is a Dispersion of Gen- 
tiles, not of Israelites, that He will seek, — it is 
Gentiles whom He will teach. As in the case of 
Caiaphas (chap. li. 50, 5r), so here: words spoken 
in hale and scorn are an unconscious prophet^. 
He wiU leach and gather together the children of 
God that are scatcned abroad, — this is the vety 
ptupoee of His coming. The book which is the 
companion to this Gospel, the Apocalypse, con- 
tains many examples of this new and (so to speak) 

converse application of familiar words. Thus in __, ._ .._j _.. ._._ 

Rev. L 7, we find mankind designated as ' tribes of made wilh boughs of palm, willow, pine, and 
the earth.' It is right to say that the explanation other trees. Day by day bumt-offerinp and other 
of 'Dispersion of the Greeks' which we have sacrifices were presented in unusud^ profusion. 
given is not that generally received. The common Every morning, wliilsl the Israelites assembled in 
view is that the Jews represent Jtsus as going to the lemple-courls, one of the priests brought water 
'the Dispersion amongst the Gentiles,' and, from drawn in a golden urn from the pool of Siloam, 
this at a point of departure (like the apostles and amidst the sounding of trumpets and other 
of Jewit afterwards), becoming a teacher of the demonstrations of joy poured the w ■"■- 

^ — :.._ ...J ^^ ^jj^ briefly give o -'— '^'■■' •■— ■" ""' ■""":""-■ 

if) each day all the 

altar. This r 

of Israel dwelt in booths 

t mentioned i 



Testament ; but, as a commemoration of the 
miraculous supply of water in the wilderness, it 
was altogether in harmony with the general spirit 
of the festival The chanting of the great Hallel 
(Ps. cxiii.-cxviii.) celebrated the past ; but (as we 
learn from the Talmud) the Jews also connected 
with the ceremony the words of Isaiah (xii. 3), 
'Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the 
wells of salvation,' and saw in it a type of the 
effusion of the Holy Spirit. On the evening of 
the first and (probably) of each following day the 
* rejoicing of the drawing of the water * was cele- 
brated in the court of the women, with dancing, 
singing, and music; and lamps raised on four 
immense candelabra placed in the middle of the 
same court illumined both the temple and the city. 
On the seventh day the ordinary ceremonies of the 
feast came to an end. lliere was added, however, 
an eighth day (Num. xxix. 35), a day of holy con- 
vocation on which no work might be done. This 
day did not strictly belong to the feast, but was 
'a feast by itself,' perhaps as closing (not onl^ the 
feast of Tabernacles, but also) the whole senes of 
festivals for the year : naturally, however, it 
became attached to the feast of Tabernacles in 
ordinary speech. Whether the 'great day' so 
emphatically mentioned here was this eighth day 
or the seventh day of the feast is a point which has 
been much discussed, and on which we cannot 
arrive at certainty. On the whole it is most pro- 
bable that the eighth day is referred to, the dav of 
holy rest in which the feasts seemed to reach tneir 
culmination, and which retained the sacred associa- 
tions of the festival just past, though the marks of 
special rejoicing had come to an end. This last 
day He to whom all the festivals of Israel pointed 
chose for the proclamation which showed the joy 
and hope of the feast of Tabernacles fulfilled in 
Himself.— JesuB stood and cried, saying. If any 
one thint, let him come nnto me and drink. 
The words ' stood and cried ' bring into relief the 
solemn earnestness of this declaration, which com- 
pleted and perfected the teaching of Jesus at this 
feast The occasion was given (if we are right in 
regarding the eighth as 'the great day'), not by 
the ceremony observed, but oy the blank left 
through the cessation of the familiar custom. The 
water had been poured upon the altar for seven 
days, reminding of past miracles of God's mercy 
and promises of yet richer grace : hopes had been 
raised, but not yet satisfied. When the ceremonies 
had reached their close, Jesus ' stood and cried ' 
to the multitudes Uiat what they had hitherto 
looked for in vain they shall receive in Him. As 
in the synagogue of Nazareth He read from the 
book of Isaiah, and declared that the Scripture 
was that day fulfilled in their ears, so here He 
takes up familiar words of the same prophet (Isa. 
Iv. i), calling everyone that thirstcth to come unto 

Ver. 38. He that beliereth in me, as the 
scriptnie oedd, out of his belly shall flow rivets of 
liying water. The words of ver. 37 remmd us of the 
people who drank of the spiritual rock that followed 
them (i Cor. x. 4), the miracle commemorated 
in the pouring of the water from Siloam ; the 
last words ('shall flow rivers') resemble more 
the promise of Isa. xii. 3, amplified in all its parts. 
There is nothing incongruous in this union of 
promises : Isa. xliv. 3 includes both, ' I will pour 
water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon 
the dry ground.' Thb is not the first time that 

we have found * coming to Jesus * and * believing 
in Him ' thus brought together ; see the note on 
chap. vi. 35. Out of the heart of him that thus 
Cometh, thus believeth in Jesus, shall flow rivers 
of living water. Not only shall he receive what 
his thirst demands and be satisfied, but he himself 
shall become the source of a stream— nay rivers — 
of living waters. The water shall bring life to 
him : the water flowing out of his heart shall bring 
life wherever it comes. All this is the gift of 
Jesus, who is set forth as the One Source of the 
water of Life. But what is meant by 'as the 
Scripture said ' ? Many passages of the Old Testa- 
ment contain similar imagery, and some of these 
have been already quoted ; but one only appears 
really to accord with the figure of this verse, viz. 
the vision of Ezek. xlvii. The prophet saw a 
sti^m of living water issumg from the temple, 
and expanding into a river whose waters brought 
life wherever they flowed. The temple prefigured 
Christ (chap. ii. 21) ; the water of hfe is the gift 
of the Holy Ghost, pre-eminently Christ's gift 
(chap. iv. 14). The Lord Himself received into 
the believer's heart brings the gift of the living 
water ; and from Him, thus abiding in the heart, 
flows the river of the water of life. 

Ver. 39. And this spake he concerning the 
Spirit, which they that believed in him were 
to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; 
becanse that Jesus was not yet glorified. To 
this authoritative explanation of the * Uviug water* 
we have more than once referred (see chap. iv. 
10, 14). The word is a promise still, speaking of 
a future not a present gift ('were to receive'). 
The verse before us is one which it is impossible 
to express in English without a paraphrase. In 
the first clause we find 'the Spirit,' but in the 
second the article is absent, and the words liter- 
ally mean 'for spirit was not yet,' — the word 
* spirit ' meaning, not the Holy Spirit as a Person, 
but a bestowal or reception of His influence and 
power. Only when Jesus was glorified, — that is, 
only when He had died, had risen, had ascended 
on high, had been invested with the glory which 
was His own at the right hand of the Father, 
would man receive that spiritual power which is 
the condition of all spiritual life. When Jesus 
Himself, the God-man, is perfected, then and not 
till then does He receive power to bestow the 
Holy Spirit on mankind. This mysterious subject 
mainly belongs, however, to later chapters of this 
Gospel (see especially chap. xvi. 7). 

Here our Lord's revelation of Himself as the 
fulfilment of the Old Testament culminates. The 
feast of Tabernacles was the last great feast of the 
year. It was also the feast which raised sacred 
rejoicing to its highest point ; which shadowed 
forth the full bestowal of Messianic blessings 
(comp. Zech. xiv. 16) ; and which spoke most 
of the Holy Spirit, the supreme gift of Jesus to 
His people. With its fulfilment sSl the brightest 
anticipations of ancient prophecy are realised. 
The effect of this revelation of Jesus by Himself is 
now traced. 

Ver. 4a Some of the multitude therefore, 
when they heard these words, said. Of a truth 
this is the prophet On ' the prophet,' and the 
distinction between this appellation and 'the 
Christ,' see the note on chap. i. 21. 

Vers. 41, 42. Others said. This is the Christ 
Some said. What, doth the Christ come out of 
Galileet Hath not the scripture said, That tha 



Glnlii oonMth of the seed of David, and firom 
BolhlehBm, the Tillage wheze David was t See 
Matt. IL 6. This' explanation of theprophecy of 
Micah (chap. ▼. 2) is found in the Targum, and 
leems to have been commonly received by the Jews. 

Ven. 43, 44. Xheare azoee therofore a division 
among uiiB mnltltnde becanse of him. And 
some of them would have seized him ; but no 
man laid hands on him. Compare ver. 30. 
Here, as there, the result of the division of 
opinion is a more eager attempt to apprehend 
Him about whom the dispute has arisen. The 
last words of ver. 30 may be again supplied in 
thought : 'his hour was not yet come.' 

Ver. 45. The officers therefore came to the 
ddef priests and Pharisees; and they said nnto 
tliem, Whj have ye not bronght himt The 
sending of the officers is mentioned in ver. 32. 
From ver. 37 we may gather that they had been 
lingering near Him for a day or more : His last 
words seem to have deprived them of all power to 
lay hands on Him. There is a minute difference 
between the senders as described in ver. 32 (' the 
chief priests and the Pharisees ') and here, where 
the second article is dropped. The slight change 
serves to emphasise the union of the two elements 
(so to speak) into one for the purpose in hand, 
but b not sufficient to suggest that here reference 
is made to the Sanhedrin as a body. It does not 
appear that there is formal action of the Sanhedrin 
eariier than the record in chap. xi. 47. 

Ver. 46. The offloeis answered. Never did a 
man so speak. A new testimony to Jesus, borne 
by men who, awed Y^ the majesty of His words, 
instead of attempting a deed of violence, declare 
to their very masters that He is more than man. 

Vers. 47, 48, 49. The Pharisees therefore 
answered them, &ve ye also been led astray f 
Hath any one of the rulers believed in him, or 
of the Pharisees t But this multitude which 
nnderstandeth not the law are cursed. In such 
a matter as the acceptance of any man as Messiah, 
the judgment of the rulers (members of the 
Sanhedrin) must surely be decisive ; but what 
ruler or (to take a wider range, and include all 
who accurately inter})ret the I^w and uphold its 
majesty) who of the Pharisees has sanctioned the 

claims of Jesus? The foolish multitude may have 
done so, m this showing an ignorance which, in 
the mind of the Pharisees, deserves and brings 
with it a curse. — Of such contemptuous treatment 
of the common people, as distinguished from ' the 
disciples of the wise,* many examples may be pro- 
duced from the sayings of Jewish Rabbins. — C5nce 
more it may be noted, our Lord's enemies pro- 
nounce their own condemnation in proclaiming 
their unbelief. 

Vers. 50, 51. Nicodemns saith nnto them (he 
that came to him b^ore, being one of them), 
Doth our law judge a man, except it have flrst 
heard from himself and learned what he doeth t 
Twice already in this section have we read of the 
restraint placed on the enemies of Jesus. Those 
amongst the multitude who were ill affected 
towards Him were kept back from doing Him 
harm (ver. 44) ; the officers likewise were re- 
strained (ver. 46) ; now the Sanhedrists them- 
selves are to be foiled, and this through one of 
themselves. Nicodemus has so far overcome his 
fear that he defends Jesus against the glaring 
injustice of his fellow-rulers, undeterred by the 
expression of their scorn just uttered. He appeals 
to the law, all knowledge of which they nave 
proudly arrogated to themselves, and shows that 
of this very law they are themselves transgressors. 

Ver. 52. They answered and said nnto him. 
Art thou also of Galilee t Search and see that 
out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. No answer 
to the argument was possible : they can but turn 
on Nicodemus himself. They assume that no one 
but a Galilean can take the side of Jesus. The 
last words are difficult, because at least one of the 
ancient prophets (Jonah) was of Galilee. But the 
words do not seem to be intended to include all 
the past, so much as to express what Jews held to 
be, and to have long been, a stated rule of Divine 
Providence : in their scorn of Galilee, and their 
arrogant assumption of complete knowledge of 
' the law,' they regard it as impossible that out of 
that land any prophet should arise ; least of all 
can it be the birthplace of the Messiah. 

For remarks on the following verses, extending 
from vii. 53 to viii. 1 1, see the close of this Com- 

Chapter VIII. 12-59. 

/esiis tlie Son of the Father, tlie Giver of Sonship and, t/ierewith, of Light. 

12 nr^HEN spake Jesus again* unto them, saying, **! am the « See chap, iu 

A light of *the world: he that ^followeth me shall not* *cjap.i.a9. 

^ c Chap. X. 27, 

13 walk in "* darkness,' but shall have the light of ''life. The «":»«. 

** 9 O XXI. 19, 39. 

Pharisees therefore said unto him, 'Thou bearest record of* f£!**P-3!f- 

' e v^nap. v. 31. 

14 thyself; thy record* is not true. Jesus answered and said 
unto them, Though • I bear record of^ myself, yet^ my record* 

is true : -^ for • I know whence I came, and whither I go ; but /s«? chap. 

Xlll. 3. 

15 ''ye cannot tell' whence I come, and*" whither I go. Ye ^g;jp-j|^ 

^ Again therefore Jesus spake 
* witness concerning 
' because 

* in no wise 

* witness 

* know not 

• Even if 


' the darkness 
' omit yet 



16 judge after the flesh; 'I judge no man." And yet" if I '^;,^''' 
judge, * my judgment is true : for ' I ' am not alone, but I and *vw?^'[* ^ 

17 the Father that sent me. ""It is also written in your law," ^^j^''**^ 

18 that the testimony" of two men is true. I am one" that**^^*^" 
bear" witness of" myself, and "the Father that sent me*<^p-^-37 

19 beareth witness of " me. Then said they" unto him, Where 

is thy Father ? Jesus answered, ' Ye neither know me," nor * chap. *vi. 3 
^ my Father : ^ if ye had known " me, ye should have known ** ^S^p.^^i. ^g 

20 my Father also. These words spake Jesus" in ''the treasury, ^^i^Sl^I 
as he taught" in the temple:" and 'no man laid hands on 'Chap.TiL3o. 
him ; " ' for • his hour was not yet come. ' Sec chap. 

2! Then said Jesus" again unto them, I go my way," and *ye -Secchap. 
shall seek me, and 'shall die in your sins:" whither I go, ye »ver.a4. 

22 cannot come. "'Then said the Jews," Will he kill himself ? «'^^ ^^^J' 

23 because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said 

unto them. Ye are from beneath; 'I am from above: ye are * <^*>*p- "»• 3» 

24 ''of this world : I am not of this world. ' I said therefore unto J'Chap. xv. 
you, that ye shall die in your sins : for ""if ye believe not" that li'Ji^}"' 

25 ^ I am //^,"* ye shall die in your sins. Then said they" unto Jc^^Mark 
him. Who art thou ? And " Jesus saith" unto them. Even t/ie ^VMs.'t8 58. 

26 same that I said unto you from the beginning.'* I have many <**?•»»»• «9. 
things to say" and to judge of you : but" he ^ that sent me < 
is true ; and ' I speak to the world those thine^s which I have ^Ver. 40, 

chap. ui. 32, 

27 heard of him." They understood *** not that he spake to them ^"- *^ »»• 

JO. XV m. 

28 of the Father. Then said Jesus ** unto them," When ye have 

' lifted up ^" the -^ Son of man, then shall ye know that * I am ' <^^*p "»• *♦* 

^^ xii. 3^1 34* 

A^,*^ and ^ ^Aat I do nothing of myself;" but ''as my Father |>npAct» 

29 hath taught me," I speak these things. And * he that sent me ^chS v. V* 
is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; 'for^' I do*SSp!*v.3a 

30 always those things that please him.** *As he spake these *chap.vii. 
words,^' many believed on " him. xi.'45. 

31 Then said Jesus ** to those " Jews which believed " on " him. 

If ye 'continue" in my word, tAen are ye my disciples in- /Comp.chap 

32 deed;" And ye shall know the truth, and ""the truth shall '"R?"*^ ^ «* 

^* But even ^' But in your own law also it is written 



** witness ^* he ^^ beareth ^' concerning ** They said therefore 

*• Ye know neither me *® ye knew ^^ ye would know 

*^ he *• teaching ** temple-courts ** seized him 

*• He said therefore ^^ omii my way *• and in your sin ye shall die 

*• The Jews therefore said •^ shall not believe '* omi/ he 

•^ They said therefore •• omit And •* said 

'^ How is it that I even speak to you at all? '* speak 

Gal. V. X : 
Ja*. L 95. 



•® nevertheless 

" and the things which I heard from him these I speak unto the world 

*® perceived ^* Jesus therefore said ** omit unto them 

*• lifted on high ^* omit he ** of myself I do nothing 

*• but even as the Father taught me *^ he left me not alone, because 

^* the things that are pleasing to him 

** Jesus said therefore ** the 

*^ omdt oa '^ shall abide 



*^ things 

*• had believed 

*• ye are truly my disciples 




33 make you free. They answered him, * We be Abraham s seed, nVm. 37, 39; 

. , , ., , 1 Matt. III. 9. 

and were never m bondage to any man : •' how sayest thou, 

34 Ye shall be made ** free ? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, 

I say unto you, ''Whosoever committeth sin*' is the servant*" <»Ro^yi.i6; 

35 of sin. And ^the servant*' abideth not in the house for ever: / 

36 tut** the Son*' abideth ever.** '"If the Son therefore shall 

37 make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are 
"Abraham's seed ; but 'ye seek to kill me, because my word 'dSi>.%. i. 

38 hath no place ** in you. ''I speak that** which I have seen ''JlS^p.'t! ,9. 
with my *' Father : and ye do that which ye have seen with 

39 your father.** They answered and said unto him, * Abraham 

is our father. Jesus saith unto them, ' If ye were*' Abraham's 'S?"'; ciaf' 

40 children, ye would '* do the works of Abraham. But now ' ye *"• 7, »9. 
seek to kill me, a man that hath told " you ' the truth, " which ' ?*p- *• '*• 

41 I have heard of God:'* this did not Abraham. Ye do the "'^«'»<^- 
deeds " of your father. Then ^^ said they " to him. We be ^* 

not bom of fornication ; '^ we have one Father, even God. "^^/jj** *^ 

42 Jesus said unto them, "'If God were your Father, ye would "'^J*'^"''- *• 
love me : for ' I proceeded forth and came from God ; " neither *^^' ^^ 

43 ^came I '* of myself, but he sent me. ' Why do ye not under- ^Si*?8,V^' 
stand'* my speech? even^^ because ye cannot hear my word. *Si."i7. ^ 

44 Ye are ""oiyour father the devil,*' and the lusts** of your father '"^fV^n 
ye will do.*' He * was a murderer ** from the beginning, and ^*,"joiinUi. 
abode** not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. "' 
When he speaketh a lie,** he speaketh of his own : for he is a 

45 liar, and the father of it.*' And ** because I tell you the truth,** 

46 ye believe me not. Which of you ^ convinceth ^ me of sin } *^ ^^*^-."*- '°' 

47 And" if I say the** truth, why do ye not believe me.? ^ He RPj-Ji/,^ 
that is of God heareth God's words : ** ye therefore hear tJiem '^^^^^ gj;. 

48 not,** because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews,*' »Johniv.6. 
and said unto him. Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 

49 and 'hast a devil.?** Jesus answered, I have not a devil;** '^^"p- 

50 but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And *' I 
-^seek not mine own glory:** ''there is one that seeketh and^^f^P- 

5 1 judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, * If a man ' keep ** my ''^5L<S"iii. 

13 : 1 Pet. i. 

*' and have never yet been slaves to any one ** become Aciap. v. 94, 

*' Every one that doeth sin •• a slave ** slave °* omit but .vi. 50, m a6. 

^ son «* for ever •« maketh no way «« the things «' the / 1^^^^ ^^\ js. 

•• do ye also therefore the things which ye heard from the Father *® are 94! xv ao, 

'• omi/ ye would '' spoken to '• which I heard from God *^*v^».. 

'» works ^*omt/ Then " They said '•were Seechap:' 

'' for from God I came forth, and am here '* for also I have not come xiv. 15. 

'*> know "® omit even ®* Ye are of the father who is the devil 

•• desires ** it is your will to do ** man-killer 

** stood *• Whensoever one speaketh the lie 

*^/or for . . . it read because his father also is a liar ** But 

•• I say the truth ®® convicteth ** omit And ** omit the 

•* the words of God •* for this cause ye hear not 

»• The Jews answered »• demon »' But ** my glory »» have kept 


52 saying,* he shall never see* death. Then said the Jews' unto 

him, Now we know that ' thou hast a devil.** Abraham * is *2«^ >- 5. 
dead/ and the prophets ; and thou sayest, If a man * keep my 

53 saying,* he shall never taste of death. ' Art thou greater than /chap. w w- 
our father Abraham, which is dead ? • and the prophets are 

54 dead:* whom makest thou thyself.^ Jesus answered, '"If I^Ver. 30^ 
honour' myself, my honour* is nothing: ''it is my Father that 

55 honoureth* me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet 

* ye have not known him ; " but ^ I know him : and if I should « ver. 19. 

o Chap viL 90 

say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you : " but I 

56 know him, ^and 'keep his saying.*" 'Your father Abraham /chap. xr. 10. 
rejoiced to see*' my day: and he saw //, and was glad.'* Heb.xi.'iV 

57 Then said the Jews ** unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years 

58 old, and hast thou seen Abraham ? Jesus said unto them, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was," ^ I am. rv^ as, 

59 Then 'took they up stones to cast at him:*' but Jesus 'hid *c»iap.x.3f, 
himself, and went out of the temple," going through the midst '^*»p *"3^ 
of them, and so passed by.*' 

• my word 

• have kept my word 

• glorifieth 

^^ like unto you, a liar 
** and rejoiced 

« behold • The Jews said * died 

^ who died ' glorify • glory 

^® And have not got knowledge of him 
*' word *• exulted that he should see 

** The Jews therefore said *• add born 

^' They took up stones therefore that they might cast them upon him 
*• and went forth from the temple-courts *• omit going ... by 

Contents. — ^The feast of Tabernacles is closed, 
and with it the great illumination of the temple- 
courts, of which the Jews were wont to boast in 
lofty terms. Starting from this, and from the 
fact that He is the true light of the world, Jesus 
reveals more clearly than He had yet done what He 
Hhnself is, and by contrast what His opponents 
are. Everything that He utters assumes its 
sharpest, most peremptory, most. decisive tone. 
The rage of His aaversaries is roused to its 
highest mtensity. The darkness becomes thickest, 
while the iig^t shines in the midst of it with its 
greatest br^tness. Nothing more can be done 
to change the darkness into ligfat; henceforward 
the children of light can only be withdrawn from 
it. At the close of the chapter Jesus goes out of 
the temple, leavingthe darkness to itself but not 
overcome by it ilie subordinate parts are— (i) 
vers. 12-20; (2) vers. 21-30; (3) vers. 31-59. 

Ver. 12. Again therefore Jeene spake unto 
than, saying, I am the light of the world. The 
last thirteen verses (chap. vii. 49-52) have been 
occupied with an account of the impression made 
^ our Lord's words of promise (chap. vii. 37, 38). 
This verse really foUows chap. vii. 38, containing 
a second manifestation of Jesus, in a form and 
manner still connected with the feast which had 
just ended. As the pouring out of the water had 
furnished occasion for the promise of the living 
water, so the imagery of this verse was probably 
suggested by the illumination of the •temple-courts 
on the evenings of the festival. This illumina- 
tion proceeded from four great candelabra erected 

in the court of the women, and of its brilliancy 
the Rabbins speak in the highest strains. It 
formed indeed so marked a feature of the week's 
rejoicings, that no one can be surprised to find a 
reference to it in our Lord's words. Like the 
water poured on the akar, the light may well have 
had a twofold sjrmbolism, commemorating the 
mighty guidance of Israel by the pillar of fire, and 
also prefiguring the light which was to spring up 
in the times of Messiah (Isa. ix. 2, xlii. 6, etc.). 
What the pillar of fire had been to Israel in the 
wilderness, that would Messiah be to His people 
in the latter days. — He that foUoweth me shall 
in no wise walk in the darkness, hut shall have 
the light of life. The words ' he that followeth 
me ' are in all probability closely connected with 
the figure of the first clause of the verse. Around 
is 'the darkness' of night: only where the pillar 
of fire moves light shines on all that follow its 
course, — on all, not on Israel only, for Jesus is 
'the light of thettw/t/.' The language of both 
promises is free from every limitation save that 
which is expressed in ' coming to ' Him, ' believ- 
ing in ' Him (chap. viL 37, ^), and ' following ' 
Him. The special condition mentioned in this 
verse (when we pass from the associations of the 
original figure to the practical application of the 
words) brings out the idea of discipleship and 
imitation. This includes 'coming and 'be* 
lieving.' No true disciple shall walk in th« 
darkness, but shall have as his own inward posses- 
sion (comp. chap. vii. 38) the light of life, — the 
lieht which life gives. Living in Christ, he shall 



have the light of Christ (see chap. i. 4). Dark- 
nen bean with it the ideas of ignorance, danger, 
and sin: light implies knowledge, guidance, 
talety, and holy parity (chap. xii. 35 ; i Thess. v. 
4; I John L 5, etc.). 

Ver. 13. The Fhariaees therefore said nnto 
him, Tbmi heareet witneas concerning thyself; 
thy witness is not troe. It seems impossible not 
to believe that we have here a remmiscence of 
Christ's own words (chap. v. 31), of which His 
enemies now take hold, that they may turn them 
against Himself. Since the discourse of chap. v. , 
the Pharisees of Jerusalem have never possessed 
so &voarable an opportunity of thus seeking to 
repel the claims which Jesus asserts. As used by 
oar Lord (in chap, v.), the words signify that, if 
His testimonv concerning Himself stood alone, 
not only would it (according to all laws of evi- 
dence) be invalid, but it would be untrae, — as the 
very thou^t of such unsupported witness would 
conflict with the fundamental truth of chap. v. 19. 
Here the words, as applied by His foes, are 
intended to have the same meaning : His solitary 
testimony has no validity, and, by His own con- 
fession, IS untrue. 

Ver. 14. Jeene answered and said unto them, 
Eren if I bear witness concerning myself, my 
witness is true: because I know whence I 
came, and whither I go; but ye know not 
whence I come, or whither I go. A little later 
(ver. 17), Jesus gives an answer similar to the 
purport of His words in chap. v. His Father 
beareth witness of Him, and His Father's testi- 
mony is ever present. But here He rebukes their 
judgment of Him. In a sense (ver. 17), their 
requirement of other testimony is valid ; but first 
He must reject their application to Him of a 
principle of judgment which is valid in regard to 
men like tnemselves. Amongst men of like 
nature — those who are but men — such judgment 
is true : when applied to Jesus it fails. Men who 
know but in part may lie self-deceiveis, even if 
they are true men ; hence their word needs sup- 
port. He who knows with unerring certainty that 
lie comes from the Father and is going to the 
Father may bear witness of Himself, and His 
testimony is valid and true. He who thus comes 
from God cannot but speak with a self-evidencing 
power, — self-evidencing to all who are willing to 
see and hear. This willingness the Pharisees had 
not, and hence He adds, ' Ye know not whence 
I come, or whither I go.' The change from ' I 
came' to 'I come* is remarkable, but is easily 
explained. The past fact ('I came') is not one 
which the Pharisees could know, except bv infer- 
ence : His present mission from the Father (*I 
come') should have been discerned by all who 
saw His works and heard His words ; and every 
one who recognised that He cometh from the 
Father must understand His meaning when He 
says ' I ^ to Him that sent me. On * I come ' 
comp. vii. 28. 

Ver. 15. Ye judge after the flesh. They had 
judged Him by mere outward appearance, and 
according to their own merely human thoughts 
and wisl^ Having formed for themselves with- 
out patient study of the Scriptures, and thus 
without the guidance of the Spirit of God, their 
conception of Messiah and of His kingdom, they 
rejected Jesus because He did not answer their 
expectation. But for this, the Divine witness in 
JHmi would have reached their hearts. — I judge 

no one. They judged according to their own 
nature, — standing alone, without the guidance of 
the Father, not taking the Father along with them 
in judging, and thus not judging 'righteous 
judgment ' (vii. 24). Jesus judgeth no man. The 
fifth chapter has prepared us. for such words as 
these. Here, as there, they do not exclude all 
judgment, but all sole judgment (see ver. 16) : it 
IS not He that judgeth, but rather the Father who 
judgeth in Him. Chap. v. 22 and this verse are 
not discordant : between the Father, the ultimate 
source of judgment, and those who ore judged is 
the Son, to whom the Father hath given authority 
to do judgment, but who doeth nothing save in 
and with the Father. The ' I ' is thus emphatic, 
equivalent to 'I by myself or 'I without the 

Ver. 16. But even if I judge, my judgment is 
true: because I am not alone, but I and the 
Father that sent me. Because in no action is 
He alone, even if He judges His judgment is 
true ; it is a rta/ judgment, a judgment corre- 
sponding, not to outward appearance, but to the 
eternal reality of things, because according to the 
Father's will. The assertion of this verse, that 
the Father is ever with Him, corresponds to the 
words, *I know whence I came,* in ver. 14: the 
link which binds together all these verses is His 
constant and perfect knowledge that the Father is 
with Him and in Him. In this lies the validity of 
His witness : in this is involved the condemnation 
of His foes. 

Ver. 17. But in your own law also it is written 
that the witness of two men is true. In the very 
law which they magnified, on which they take 
their stand, as they accuse Him of breaking the law, 
and declare that all who follow him are ignorant 
of the law (chap. vii. 49, etc ), this principle is laid 
down (Deut. xvii. 6, xix. 15). An emphasis is made 
to rest on *men' to prepare for the next verse. 
The words * your own law ' have been understood 
as a proof that Jesus feels that He is not a Jew, 
but without reason. The words flow from the fact 
that it is His purpose to show that the principle 
upon which He proceeded was founded in the law 
which they themselves so highly honoured, and 
the rules of which they were not entitled to neglect. 
They thus at once magnify the law and are an 
argumenium ad homiium, 

Ver. 18. I am he that beareth witness con- 
cerning mysdf, and the Father that sent me 
beareth witness concerning me. In all the Son's 
witness concerning Himself, it is the Father that 
beareth witness concerning Him. This is the 
teaching of chap, v., and it is easy to see that the 
witness may with equal truth be spoken of as that 
of Two, or as that borne by One (the Father). In 
thus speaking to His enemies of a twofold witness. 
He may mean either (i) that they should them- 
selves have discerned in Him, over and above that 
which in a holy human prophet they would have 
accepted as 'witness,' a higher presence which 
could only be Divine; and that, had they done 
this, they could never have thought of His word as 
standing alone: — or (2) that in the witness which 
He had borne they had dreamed of unsupported 
words only because they could not attain to that 
perfect knowledge which He alone possessed. 
They heard and saw one witness only : to His 
consciousness there were two. The first of these 
two views is by much the more probable. Jesus 
appeals to two facts which they ouf^ht to have 



known, that He was the expression of the Father, 
and tlmt what He was the Father was. These 
were two wholly separate and independent things, 
although the validity of each depended upon that 
consciousness of the Divine in them which they 
had silenced. There is thus here no petitio frin- 
cipii as has been thought even by distinguished 

Ver. 19. They said therefore unto him. Where 
is thy Father? If He is to add His witness to 
Thine, let Him appear and bear His testimony. 
The words are those of men who will not seek to 
enter into the meaning of the Speaker. As they 
judec men * according to the flesh,' they will go no 
forther than the literal import of the words. But 
after what they have heard and seen in J[esus, such 
action cannot consist with sincerity : it is not only 
to enemies but to hypocrites that He speaks. — 
Jerae answered. Ye Know neither me, nor my 
Father: if ye knew me, ye wonld know my 
Father also. They professed not to know who is 
His Father. In truth they were without any real 
knowledge, not of the Father only, but of Jesus 
Himself. Had they, through receiving and believing 
His words, attained such knowledge of Him, they 
would have attained in Him the icvelation of the 
Father also. 

Ver. 20. These words spake he in the trea- 
sury, teaching in the temple-coorts : and no 
man seized him, because his hour was not yet 
come. Again His adversaries were overawed : 
though He was teaching within the precincts of 
the temple, in the very place of their power, no 
one laid hands on Him. The Treasury was in the 
court of the women, the very place in which the 
rejoicings we have described (see chap. vii. 37) 
took place. This gives some confirmation to the 
view we have taken of ver. 12, as referring to the 
illumination in this court. 

Ver. 21. He said therefore again unto them, 
I go, and ye shall seek me, and in your sin ye 
shall die: whither I go, ye cannot come. The 
conflict of Jesus with His opponents has now 
poned into a higher stage. It is no longer with 
the Pharisees merely (ver. 13), but with the Jews 
(ver. 22). The witness, too, which Jesus now 
bears regarding Himself has reference to the last 
things, both for Himself and for them. It is vain 
however to inquire when the discourse was thus 
continued : the bond is one rather of thought than 
of date. The main object of these words is 
judgment : hence Jesus does not linger on the 
thought of His own departure, but on that of the 
fate awaitine them. The time will come when 
they will seek Him, but in vain. He is not speak- 
ing of the seeking of faith or of repentance, but (as 
before in chap. vii. 34) of the awakening (too late) 
to need and danger, — an awakening not accom- 
panied by the forsaking of sin, for He adds, ' in 
your sin' {i.e. your state of sin, comp. ver. 24) 
'ye shall die.' 

Ver. 22. The Jews therefore said. Will he kill 
himself? because he saith. Whither I go ye 
cannot come. Before (chap. vii. 35) their answer 
had been. Will He go to Gentiles ? The change 
here shows how much farther the conflict has 
advanced. Will He to to the realms of the dead, 
they ask, — to that darkest and most dreadful 
region reserved for those who take their own life, 
a region where true Israelites cannot come ? Their 
ignorance of themselves is as profound as their 
ignorance of Jesus. Jesus had made His meaning 

plain (chap. vii. 33), but they wilfully blind them- 
selves. Iience only one answer is possible now. 

Vers. 23, 24. And he said unto them. Ye axe 
from beneath ; I am from above : ye are of this 
world ; I am not of this world. I nid therefore 
unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if 
ye shall not bdieve that I am, ye shall die in 
your sins. The second of these verses is im- 
portant as fixing the meaning of the first. The 
words, * I said that ye shall die in your sins,' are 
so connected both with what precedes (by means 
of ' therefore ') and with what folloM's (by means of 
* for ;, that the ground of this sentence of death is 
brought under our notice by each of these particles, 
— it is to be found in the unbelief of which the 
following clause speaks, and in the fact stated in 
the preceding verse. As then thb ground of 
condemnation is distinctly nwral (ver. 24), the 
expressions in ver. 23 must also have a moral and 
not a fatalistic meaning. The condenmation results 
from something in the men themselves, not from 
any original necessity; should they believe, no 
longer would Jesus say to them, Ve are from 
beneath. The origin of their spirit and action, 
ilominated by unbelief, is to be sought, not above, 
but beneath, — not in heaven, but in earth : nay 
rather (for the thought distinctly expressed in ver. 
44 is implicitly present here also), whereas He 
whom they are in thought consigning to the lowest 
depths of woe and punishment is of God, they are 
of the devil. It is at first sight difficult to believe 
that the sense does not sink but really rises in the 
second half of ver. 23, and yet the whole structure 
of this Gospel teaches us that it must be so. If, 
however, we remember the moral reference of the 
terms of the verse, an explanation soon suggests 
itself: for the latter clause expresses much more 
distinctly than the former the element of deliberate 
choice. The first might be thought to point to 
origin only, did not the second show that it 
implies an evil nature retained by evil choice. 
From this second clause we see clearly that Jesus 
speaks of a voluntary association,— of the depend- 
ence of their spirit on the evil principles belonging 
to ' this world. ' Because such is their self-chosen 
state, Jesus has told them that their sins — the sins 
which manifest the nature of every one who is of 
this world — shall bring them ruin : for nothing but 
belief in Him who is from above can save them 
from dying in their sins. His words, it will be 
seen, grow more and more distinct in their awful 
import, and yet they are words of mercy : for the 
meaning is not, Except ye are new believers, the 
sentence is passed, — but. Except ye shall believe 
(most literally ' shall have believed ') : even now 
they may receive Him, and the sentence will have 
no existence for them. — But the most striking point 
in this verse is the mode in which our Lord 
expresses the object of belief, — * Except ye shall 
believe that / am.'* Something apparently like 
this has occurred before in chap. iv. 26 ; but the 
two cases are really widely different. There the 
word 'Messiah' has just been spoken, and the 
answer, ' It is I,' is perfectly plain m its meaning. 
Here there is no such word in the context ; and to 
assume an ellipsis, and then supply the very word 
on which all the emphasis must rest, is surely a 
most dangerous step : to act thus is not to bring 
out the meaning of the passage, but to bring our 
own meaning into it. Besides, as we have already 
seen, our Lord is wont elsewhere to use the 
expression ' I am * in a very emphatic sense (*ee 



chap. viL 34, etc.), with distinct reference to that 
continuous, unchsinging existence which only He 
who b Divine can claun. The most remarkable 
example of these exalted words is found in the 
58th verse of this chapter (comp. also ver. 28). 
Without forestalling tms, however (but referring 
to the note on that verse for some points connected 
with the full explanation), we may safely say that 
it is of His Divine Being that Jesus here speaks. 
The thought of existence is clearly present in 
the verse. ' Ye shall die,' He says, ' unless ye 
shall have been brought to see in me — not what 
the imnious words of ver. 22 imply, but — One who 
KS, — ^wbo, belonging to the realms above, possess^ 
life — who, beine of God, has life as His own and 
as His own gift? So understood, our Lord's words 
speak of belief, not directly in His Messiahship, 
but in that other nature of His, that Divine nature, 
on His possession of which He makes all His other 
claims to rest. Observe in ver. 24 as compared 
with ver. 21 not only the mention of ' sins ' instead 
of 'sin ' (comp. on ver. 21), but also the change of 
place given to 'ye shall die* in ver. 21 what led 
10 their fate, here their fate itself, being the pro- 
minent thought. 

Yen 2j. They said therefore unto him. Who 
Alt thou T Had they been patient, willing listeners, 
they would have seen His meaning ; but now He 
seems to them to have left out the one essential 
word, in thus sa3ring, ' Except ye shall believe that 
I anu* What is that word? 'Who art thou?' 
The tone of the preceding words makes it certain 
that the question is one of impatience and scorn, 
not of a spirit eager and ready to learn. This is a 
point of importance, as throwing light on our 
Lord's reply. — Jemu eaid unto tnem. How ia it 
that I even speak to yon at all ? The true nature 
and meaning of this reply are points on which the 
greatest difference of opinion has existed and still 
exists. The question is one of translation, not 
interpretation merely ; and a discussion on a matter 
of Greek philology would be out of place here. 
The first words of the sentence are * The begin- 
ning;' and many have endeavoured to retain these 
words in translation, but in very different ways. 
Some have taken 'The beginning' as a name 
applied by our Lord to Himself; others under- 
stand the words adverbially, as meaning ' in the 
beginning,' 'from the very first,' 'Ixrfore all 
things.' But none of these explanations can be 
obtained without doing violence to the Greek ; 
and we are therefore bound to consider them all 
untenable. Even if they were possible renderings, 
they would present a serious difficulty to an 
attentive student of the words of Jesus, especially 
as contained in this Gospel. Our Lord is not wont 
directly to answer a question so presented. His 
whole treatment of ' the Jews ' is based on the fact 
that He had given them abundant evidence regard- 
ing Himself and His work. They who will not 
see must rest in their blindness (chap. ix. 39). No 
sign from heaven shall be wrought at the bidding 
of those to whom no former signs have brought 
instruction (Matt. xvi. i, 2) : certainly no direct 
answer will be vouchsafed to men who, having 
heard all that He has said before, have just shown 
themselves able awfully to pervert His simplest 
sayings. One line of translation only seems to be 
allowed by the Greek, — that which takes the 
words as a question (or exclamation), and gives to 
the first wonls (' the beginning ') a meaning which 
in such sentences they oflen bear, viz. ' at all ' (as 

' Does he act at all ? ' is equivalent to ' Does he 
even make a beginning of action?'). This is the 
interpretation which tire early Greek writers Cyril 
of Alexandria and Chrysostom gave to the words ; 
and we cannot but lay stress on the fact that such 
men, who habitually spoke Greek, seem not to 
have thought of any other meaning. Whether the 
sentence is an exclamation or a question, the 
general sense is the same, viz, IVhy am I even 
speaking to you at all? Much has He to say 
concerning them (ver. 26) and to judge ; but why 
does He any longer speak to men who will not 
understand His word ? The words remind us of 
Matt. xvii. 17, 'O faithless and perverse genera- 
tion I How long shall I be with you ? How 
long shall I suffer you?' And yet those words 
were said to slow-minded Galileans, not to the 
hostile 'Jews.* 

Yer. 26. I have many things to speak and to 
judge concerning you. It is unavailing to speak 
to them, for they will not believe. Many things 
has He to speak concerning them, and (since 
every word regarding them in the condition they 
had chosen must be one of judgment) to judge 
also. — ^Nevertheless he that sent me is true; 
and the things which I heard from him, these I 
speak unto &e world. To all that He says they 
may turn a deaf ear ; * Nevertheless,' Jesus adds, 
' He that sent me is true, and the words which I 
have heard from Him, these and no others do I 
speak unto the world, — the worlds to which you 
belong ' (ver. 23). The Jews may disbelieve ; His 
judgment may seem severe ; but the words are 
God's words, and they are true. 

This seems the simplest view of this difficult 
verse ; for the prominence which the second clause 
{^Nevertheless . . . true*) gives to the thought of 
truth seems to imply that the contrast is with the 
preceding thought of unbelief (vers. 24, 2$). Three 
other explanations are worthy of consideration — 
( I ) I have many things . . . but, many as they 
are, they are true. (2) I have many things . . . 
but I will not keep them back, for I faithfully 
declare the words which ... (3) I have many 
things .... but I will not say them now : the 
things which I have heard from Him that sent 
me must be first declared. The first of these 
seems to miss the sharp emphasis of the ' Never- 
theless ;' the second and third to miss (though in 
different degrees) the force of the middle clause, 
* Nevertheless He that sent me is true.' 

Yer. 27. They perceived not that he spake to 
them of the Father. This statement of the 
Evangelist is very remarkable ; and, as it is so 
different from anything we might have expected, 
its importance as a guide and correction is the 
greater. In this section (beginning at ver. 21) 
He has not made mention of 'the Father.' In 
the section which precedes, however (vers. 12-20), 
the word occurs several times. First Jesus speaks 
of 'the Father which sent me' (vers. 16, 18) : in 
their answer the Jews show how they had under- 
stood His words, by saying, 'Where is thy Father V 
and in replying to their question Jesus also speaks, 
not of 'the Father,' but of 'my Father.' So far 
as these two sections are concerned, therefore, 
there is nothing to show that His hearers had 
understood Him to make distinct mention of ' the 
Father,' in the absolute sense, — a name which, 
probably, every Israelite would have received as 
belonging to God alone. (If we look back at 
earlier chapters, we shall find that the passa^^es 



have been fe^* in which * the Father * is spoken of. 
The fifth chapter must be left out of considera- 
tion, for the whole discourse is dominated by the 
thought of personal Sonship. The same may be 
said of chap. iii. 35. There remain only the 
words addressed to the woman of Samaria, chap. 
iv. 21, and the discourses in Galilee related m 
chap, vi.) Hence — though we might have over- 
looked the feet but for the Evangelist's timely 
words — we cannot feel great surprise that these 
hearers had not yet perceived that Jesus was 
making mention of * the Father.' The words, * I 
am from above,* *He that sent me,* must have 
sog^ted to those who heard that He claimed a 
Divine mission ; but men familiar with the mission 
of a prophet might concede so much without 
understanding that the last words of Jesus (' the 
things which I htard from Him I speak unto the 
world') implied an infinitely higher and closer 
relation to Him whom they worshipped, whom 
Jesus revealed as 'the Father.* In this Name 
and in the words just spoken is contained the 
whole economy of fi|nice. 

Ver. 2S. JeaiiB Uiorefore said, When ye have 
lilted on high the Son of man, then shall ye 
know that I am, and that of myself I do 
nothing; bat even as the Father taught me, 
I speak these things. They know not the truth 
now : when through their own deed the Son of 
man has been raised on high, their eyes will be 
opened, they will see what they have done, and 
will then know that His words were tiue, that the 
claims which they resbted the Father Himself has 
ratified. The MifUng on high ' includes both the 
death and the glorification of Jesus, though the 
latter meaning only would be understood as yet 
(see the note on chap. iii. 14). Some prefer to 
place a stop at the word am^ and to take the 
clauses that follow as independent. This view, 
however, seems much less natural than the 
other. The three parallel clauses — containing 
the thoughts of (i) pure existence (as to what 
is implied in this, see ver. 24), (2) continued 
dependence <}n the Father in all action (see 
chap. v. 19, 20), and (3), as a part of such 
action, speaking in constant harmony with the 
Father's will and teaching (chap. v. 30, ver. 
26)— express the claims made by Jesus, the truth 
of which (of each and of all) will be establishe<l 
when He is ' lifted up on high. ' 

Ver. 29. And he that sent me is with me: 
he left me not alone, because I do always the 
tilings that are pleasing to him. The words, * I 
heard ' (ver. 26), * taught ' (ver. 28), point back 
to the past, laying stress on the Divine commis- 
sion received : they must not be so understood as 
to exclude a present fellowship with the Father, 
'He that sent me is with me.' When He sent 
the Son, He sent Him not away from Himself, — 
not for a moment did He leave Him alone. The 
abiding presence of the Father is the consequence 
and the sign of the Son's habitual performance of 
the Fathers will. In all this Jesus is speaking as 
the Son of man, as the Sent of the Father. It is 
most interesting to compare the corresponding 
words of chap, v., where the subject throughout 
is the Son of God. It will be seen how prominent 
are two thoughts in this chapter, — the association 
of Jesus with the Father who sent Him (vers. 16, 
18, 23, 26, 28, 29, 38, 40, 42, 47, 54, 55), and 
the strong moral contrast between Jesus and the 
Jews (vers. 15, 21, 23, 24, 37, 38, 40, etc.). The 

observance of this will make clearer the links con- 
necting the several parts. 

Ver. 30. As be spake these things, many 
belieyed in him. We are not told to what class 
these belonged. The latter part of the chapter 
shows how completely ' the Jews ' had hardened 
themselves: probably therefore these believers 
mainly belonged to the general body of the 
hearers, and not (in any large proportion) to * the 
Jews.* Once more then we have an illustration 
of that twofold effect of our Lord's teaching which 
John so frequently portrays. 

Ver. 31. Jesns said therefore to the Jews 
which had believed him. The word ' therefore ' 
closely joins this section with the last. Are we 
then to regard the Jews of this verse as included 
in the * many ' of the last ? Certainly not, because 
of the essential difference between the expressions 
used in the two verses, — 'believed in him' and 
* believed him.' The former denotes a true fiuth 
in Jesus, such an acceptance of Him as includes a 
surrender of the heart, the 'self,' to Him; the 
latter, an acceptance of His words as true. Those 
who * believed Him ' were in the way towards the 
higher faith, but yet might be very fer from the 
attainment of that goal. The impression pro- 
duced by the last wonds spoken by Jesus appears 
to have been very great, bringing many^ to the 
position of full discipleship, and even convincing 
some of the hostile Jews themselves that they had 
been opposing one whose words were true, and 
whose claims on their obedience were just and 
right. These men stand between the two com- 
panies, — the Jews with whom they had been 
associated, and the believers who had joined 
themselves to the Lord. Will they draw nearer 
to Him and ^bdUve in Him^' or will they return 
to His enemies? The words which Jesus now 
speaks, to instruct and to encouras^e, prove to be 
the test of their faith.— -If ye shall abide in my 
word, ye are truly my dlsoiples. They believed 
His word ; if they abide in this word of His, — 
clinging to it, continuing under its influence, the 
word will be to them a revelation of Jesus, and 
will assert its power. Note the significance ever 
attached in this Gospel to the word of Jesus. As 
lie, the Word, reveals the Father, and leads to 
the Father, so His own word reveals Himself, 
and draws men to Himself through (so teaches 
the fuller revelation) the power of the Spirit of 

Ver. 32. And ye shall know the tmth, and 
the tmth shall make yon firee. If they shall 
abide in the word of Jesus, it will be shown that 
they have begun a true discipleship, and the word 
in which they abide shall make Known to them 
the truth. So far, there is nothing that these 
imperfect disciples will not gladly hear. But 
Jesus read in their hearts a fal^ interpretation of 
His work and their own needs. lie came as 
Saviour (chap. iii. 16, 36, iv. 42, v. 40), not as 
Teacher only : in this very chapter He has spoken 
of faith in Himself as delivering from death in 
sins (ver. 24). Here the figure is changed from 
that of future death to that of present and con- 
tinued bondage : ' the truth ' shall be the means 
of giving fre^om. 'ITiere is no difficulty in these 
wonis : such appropriation of the truth found in 
the words of Jesus is but another representation of 
faith in Him who b the Giver of freedom. 

Ver. 33. They answered bim. We be Abra- 
ham*s s»Bd, and have never yet been slaves to 


•ny one: how sayeit thou. Ye shall become 
fteef The promise ' shall make you free ' cannot 
hat imply that now they have no freedom, but are 
slaves. This thought they indignantly repel, for 
they are Abraham^ seed 1 what is the true 
meaning of the next words is a question much 
dispated. It is hardly possible that they refer 
directly to nationai freedom, for the first words of 
the Decalogue speak of their deliverance from the 
house of bondage, and this history had often been 
repeated. Nor can we think that the Jews are 
smiply appealing to the law which made it impos* 
Bible ' for an Israelite to be kept in (continued) 
bondage. The formpr supposition involves too 
bold a fidsehood ; the latter, too prosaic and 
stnined an interpretation in a context which 
contains no hint of civil rights. And yet there is 
tmth in both. To be of Abraham's seed and to 
be a slave were discordant ideas. To Abraham 
was given the promise that he should be * heir of 
the world ' (Ronu iv. 13) : the Divine nobility of 
his descendants was only brought out more clearly 
by thdr frequent adverse fortune. Theirs was a 
religions pre-eminence above all nations of the 
world, — a freedom which no external circum- 
stances could affect National independence was 
natural (though not always enjoyed), because of 
this Divinely-given honour : in the same gift of 
God lay the principle of the Israelite's civil free- 
dom. Least of all (they thought) could they, 
whose boast was that the truth was theirs, be 
held in a slavery from which the truth should 
free them. 

Ver. 34. Jeam anawered them, Vezily, verily, 
I say unto yoo. Every one that doeth sin ia a 
dare of ain. Jesus directs them to a slavery 
of which they have not thought, —slavery to sin. 
Every one who is living a life of sin is a slave ; 
each act of sin is no mere accident of his life, but 
a token of its nature, a mark of a bondage in which 
he is continually held. The word ' doeth * is not 
the same as that which is used in chap. iii. 20, 
V. 29 in connection with evil : that had reference 
to the commission of particular acts, this to the 
eeneral course of life, when sin is chosm^ — * Evil 
be thou my good.' The thought is best illustrated 
by Rom. vi. and (especially) vti. 

Ver. 35. And the slave abideth not in the 
hooaefor erer: the ton abideth for ever. The 
Jews believed that they were free, the sons of 
God; and that, as such, they were permanent 
possessors of His house, and thus permanent re- 
cipients of His favour and love, inheritors of 
eternal life. Not so. In all this they deceive 
themselves. They are not God*s sons, but slaves 
of sin. As such they have no more real hold of 
the house of God, with its present and eternal 
privileges, than a dave has of the privileges of the 
house in which he is a slave. A son only can 
daim a place in the house and the possession of 
what belongs to the house, as a right permanent, 
nninterrupted, as long as he is a son. In all this, 
no doubt, there lies a reference to their own his- 
tory. As the son of the bondwoman Hagar in 
the house of Abraham, so were they in the house 
of God : as Ishmael (though Abraham's seed) 
was driven forth, having no place beside the son 
who was free, so must they who claimed to be 
Abraham's seed be cast out, if they are slaves of 


Ver. 36. If the Son therefore shall make yon 
frM^ ye shall be free indeed. It is manifestly a 


special freedom that is here thought of, — freedom 
gained by becoming sons, and thus gaining all that 
belongs to the position of a son, retaining for ever 
a connection with the Father's house. One only 
can give this freedom, for One only can give this 
Sonship, — He who is the Son (see chap. i. 12). 
' Free indeed,' not in appearance only, as a 
favoured slave might seem for a time to hold the 
place of a son in the house: 'free indeed,' because 
receiving the freedom and sonship from One who 
'remains in the house for ever,' and never loses 
the rights of the Son. Ver. 33 speaks of the 
means (* the truth*), this verse of the Giver of 
freedom (*the Son'). The word here rendered 
' indeed ' is a very remarkable one : it is used 
nowhere else in the writings of John. Closely 
connected with the verb ' I am ' of ver. 28, it is 
hardly possible to avoid the impression that it is 
designedly employed in order to bring out that 
closeness of relation between the sons of God and 
the Son which is so striking a part of the teaching 
of this chapter. 

Ver. 37. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; 
but ye seek to kill me, because my word maketh 
no way in yon. Again our Lord takes up their 
assertion that they are Abraham's seed. He has 
answered it by a parable: He speaks now in plainer 
words, repeating their familiar boast, that He may 
place in strongest contrast the spirit they had 
shown themselves to possess. 'Ye seek to kill 
me,' He says, uniting Ihem with the whole body 
from which a little before they seemed to be severed; 
for too clearly did He see ^at the severance was 
but partial and altogether transient. His word 
had entered their hearts, and for a moment they 
had moved towards Him; but it made no way there, 
its progress was immediately stayed, and they 
were numbered again with * the Jews,' His foes. 
Hence the increasing severity of what is imme- 
diately to follow. 

Ver. 38. I speak the things which I have seen 
with the Father: do ye also therefore the things 
which ye heard from the Father. One last ex- 
hortation Jesus will offer before entirely giving up 
these 'Jews who had believed Him.* His word 
had entered their heart but had made no way: let 
them give it free course now. He, the Son, who 
alone can give them freedom and sonship by the 
truth revealed in His word (vers. 32, 36), has in 
that word spoken to them the things which He 
saw with the Father (another mode of expressing 
the same truth as is declared in chap. iii. 13). 
With design He says *the Father,* not *my Father ;' 
for the word has been spoken to them in order 
that God who is His Father may become their 
Father, — in other words, that the Son may give 
them sonship. For this very purpose the Father 
sent Him to declare the word : this He has done, 
so that what they had heard from Jesus they had 
heard from the Father. Let them do that which 
they have heard and the blessing of sonship shall 
be theirs. (It is interesting to compare the 
' knowing * which gives freedom (ver. 32) with this 
command to ' do ' what they had heard. In effect 
the same result is promised, so that the knowledge 
spoken of must be such as involves doings — no 
barren knowledge, but one that grasps and moulds 
the life.) But we must not overlook the 'there- 
fore ' which binds together the two parts of the 
verse. In the execution of the design of Goil, to 
make men His sons and thus become sons of ' the 
Father,' two things are necessary : the Son (the 



* Word ') declares the truth of God ; men receive 
the word of the Son, know it — with that know- 
ledge which implies both faith and action — and 
become the sons of God. The Son has been faith- 
ful to His mission, — this the first clause declares : 
let them therefore be faithful to their part, and the 
blessing will be theirs. — The more common view 
of this verse assumes that in the second clause 
Jesus speaks of another father. This is very un- 
likely, as the pronoun your is not inserted until a 
later' verse (ver. 41). There are also two other 
reasons for preferring the interpretation given 
above : (i) It is hard to believe that Jesus, so 
tender in His dealing with even the germs of true 
faith, has already passed into His severest con- 
demnation of ' the Jews who had believed Him.' 
No word has been spoken by them since that 
recorded in ver. 33, and it had shown blindness 
and self-deception, but not hopeless antagonism. 
True, He sees that in their hearts they are relaps- 
ing into their former state ; but may we not well 
believe that He will make one other effort to in- 
struct and save? (2) As we have already seen 
<ver. 27), in our Lord's words * tfu Father * is a 
Name usied with great si^ificance and fulness of 
meaning, especially in this chapter. This is duly 
recognised in the explanation we are now seeking 
to defend, and in tnat alone. — It is remarkable 
that in this verse Jesus describes Himself as speak- 
ins what He has seen with the Father^ while He 
exhorts them to do what they have heard from the 
Father, But the words are deliberately chosen, 
and they confirm the interpretation now given. 
As the Eternal Son, Jesus alone could have the 
first words spoken of Him. The second appro- 
priatelv describe the state of those who had not 
"seen, who had only * heard.* The difference, in 
short, flows from that difference between the Son 
and all other sons which abides even in the midst 
of similarity of position : the One has an eternal, 
the others have only a derived, Sonship. 

Ver. 39. They answered and said unto him, 
Abraham is our father. This answer shows how 
their minds are closing against the word of Jesus. 
Had they been willing to recognise the true mean- 
ing of ' the Father ' in the first clause (of ver. 38), 
they might have seen what the same Name im- 
plied for them in the later words. But whilst He 
spoke of God and sought to lead them upwards, 
they, proud of their ancestry and content with 
Jewish privilege, will think of no other father than 
Abraham. Yet plainer words therefore must be 
used to make them understand the truth. — JeenB 
saith onto them. If ye are Abraham's children, 
do the works of Abraham. There is no true son- 
ship (in the sense in which Jesus is dwelling on 
the idea) where there is not likened. Descent 
from Abraham cannot be a source of present 
honour and blessing to those who do not Abra- 
ham's works. They are Abraham's ' seed ' (ver. 
37), not his 'children ' (comp. L 12). 

Ver. 40. But now ye seek to kill me, a man 
that hath spoken to you the truth, which I 
heard firom God : this did not Abraham. The 
assertions of vers. 37, 38 are reiterated, but now 
with a simple directness that cannot be misunder- 
stood (thus Jesus no longer speaks of 'the Father' 
but of God), and with a distinct expression of the 
contrast ('this did not Abraham') which in ver. 
37 has been merely implied. True kindred to 
Abraham is therefore impossible in their case. 

Ver. 41. Ye do the works of your father. Vet 

the principle of ver. 39 cannot but be true: cer- 
tainly they are doing the works of their father^ — 
They said to him. We were not bom of forni- 
cation; we have one Father, even God. The 
words of Jesus have made two things clear :^i) 
He is not referring to national otigin, but to 
spiritual descent ; and (2) the father whose sons 
Jesus declares them to be is not good but eviL In 
answer to this they indignantly assert that they are 
sons of God. Their spiritual is as undoubted as 
their natural descent ' Whatever may be the case 
with others (the word " we " is stronely emphatic), 
there is no stain on our origin.' We cannot but 
think that some antithesis is distinctly present to 
the thought of the Jews as they use the words 
'we' and 'one.' And if we bear in mind the 
regular meaning which the word ' fornication ' 
bears in Old Testament prophecy, when used 
in such a connection as this, viz. the unholy 
alliance with idols instead of Jehovah (Jer. iii. i, 
etc.), it will appear very probable that ver. 48 
gives the clue to the meaning here. Jesus was 
called a Samaritan. Samaritans were taunted 
with their descent from men who ' feared Jehovah 
and served their own gods' (2 Kings xviL 33). 
This thought, not yet plainly expressed, but exist- 
ing in their minds, explains at once the emphatic 
* we,' the reference to 'fornication,' and the stress 
laid on ' one Father.' 

Ver. 42. Jesus said unto tiiem. If God were 
your Father, ye would love me: for fh>m God I 
came forth, and am here, for also I have not 
come of myself, but he sent me. Again Tesus 
applies the same principle to test their claim. 
Were they true children of God, then they would 
love whomsoever God loves. But this they do 
not, for they love not Him who came forth from 
God and whom God sent The words in which 
Jesus speaks of His relation to God are remarkable. 
Alike in His Incarnation^ in His whole manifesta- 
tion to the world, and in His mission. He sustains 
the same relation to the Father : all is firom and of 
the Father. This intimate relation implies the 
love on which the argument is made to rest. 

Ver. 43. Why do ye not know my speech? 
Because ye cannot hear my word. There is a 
subtle difference between 'word' and 'speech,* 
the former properly referring to substance, the 
latter to the form. (Thus in Matt. xxvi. 73, when 
the same word is used, it is said that Peter's 
Galilean ' si>eech ' bewrayed him.) Did they hear 
His word, were they really sons of God, they 
would recognise his speech, and the indications 
(if we may so speak) contained in it of the speech 
of that heavenly realm firom which He came. But 
they could not bear to hear His word : what He 
taught was hateful to them, though it was the 
truth which He heard from God (ver. 40). This 
antipathy to the substance of what He said made 
any recognition of the teaching as bearing on itself 
manifest tokens of Divine origin impossible. 

Ver. 44. Ye are of the £ather who is the devil, 
and the desires of your father it is your will to 
do. It seems desirable to preserve in translation 
the expression 'the father' (for 'your' is not 
found in the Greek), because it seems to be our 
Lord's design to set this in strongest contrast to 
the name which He has used with most significant 
emphasis, 'the Father' (see the notes on vos. 27 
and 38). All the desires of this their father it was 
their will to da Their works, deliberately chosen, 
answered to their parentage : hence their seeking 


to kill Jesus (vers. 37, 40), and their inability to 
listen to His word (ver. 43). — ^He was a man-kiUer 
fkom the beginning, and atood not in the truth. 
Well may they seek to kill Jesus, for their father, 
the devil^ was a man-kilier from the beginning of 
his dealings with mankind. His seduction of 
mankind was itself a murder, severing man from 
the life of God, and bringing in the evil that has 
been the cause of every crime. Thus he is the 
shedder ' of all the righteous blood shed upon the 
earth.* Not only was he a man-killer, but he 
'stood not in the truth. '^ It does not seem 
likely that these words refer to the fall of the 
'ancpels who kept not their first estate,* for then 
surdy the order of the clauses would have been 
reversed. Throughout all past human history the 
devil shunned 'the truth,* took his stand without 
the borders of 'the truth,' because this action 
alone is suitable to his essential (though not 
original) nature. — Becanae there ia no truth in 
bim. His hatred of ' the truth ' springs from this, 
that he is not true; 'truth* (now used without 
the article) is not in him ; and his own hatred of 
the truth is transmitted to his children, who cannot 
hear the word of Jesus (ver. 43). — Whenaoever 
one speaketh the lie, he apeaketh of his own, 
beoanse his fiither also is a liar. Whensoever a 
man who is a child of the devil uttereth falsehood, 
he b giving forth what by very nature belongs to 
him, what is his peculiar property by right of 
kindred and inheritance, — because his father also, 
the devil, is a liar. 

Ver. 45. Bnt becanse I say the truth, ye believe 
me noL They loved the lie, because their father 
was a liar, and his desires it was their will to do. 
Such was their love for falsehood (even as their 
father 'stood not in the truth'), tliat, because 
Jesus said the truth, they believed Him not. The 
word ' I * is emphatic, marking again the contrast 
between them and Him. 

Ver. 46. Which of you oonvicteth me of sin? 
No charge of sin could any one of them bring home 
to Him, no responsive consciousness of sin could 
any one awaken in His breast These words are 
implicitly an assertion of His perfect sinlessness ; 
and His enemies are silent — If I say truth, why 
do ye not believe me f Their knowledge of His 
sinless life took from them all pretext for their 
disbelief. We know that His words brought 
their own evidence to those who loved the truth. 
The true answer to this question then must be 
that they loved falsehood. But this answer they 
would never give. The tone of this verse clearly 
shows that what has been said of their father the 
devil related not to necessity of nature, but to 
deliberate choice (see note on ver. 23), for such 
an appeal was intended, and would be understood, 
to imply condemnation of those who thus wilfully 
refused to believe. The same thought is present 
in the following verse. 

Ver. 47. He that is of Ood heareth the words 
of God: for this cause ye hear not, because ye 
are not of GkxL As in ver. 43, the word Aear 
has the meaning its/^n /o, so that the thought 
of receiving and believing is implied. He that is 
of God, and he alone, thus listens to the words of 
God : recognising their origin, willing to receive 
their teaching, he takes them into his heart. 

Ver. 48. The Jews answered and said unto 
bim. Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 

I Not ' standeth : ' die word is probably an imperfect (of 


and hast a demon? To say that Jews were 
children of the devil seemed an insult, not to 
themselves only, but to God, whose children they 
believed themselves to be. No one but a Samari- 
tan, filled with jealous hatred of the people of 
God, or one in whom dwelt a demon, one of the 
spirits whose sole aim was the subversion of God's 
kingdom, could utter such words as these. It is 
possible that the Jews may have heard something 
of our Lord's short sojourn in Samaria, and of the 
favour which He had then shown to that despised 
people: such a parable as that of the Good 
Samaritan (which was spoken at a time not far 
distant from that to which this chapter relates) 
may have been so used by enemies as to give 
colour to an accusation of favouring Samaria and 
slighting Judea. At all events it is clear that the 
name ' Samaritan * was now frequently given to 
our Lord as a term of reproach. — We must not 
overlook the fact that those who are now address- 
ing Jesus are 'the Jews,*— not a part (ver. 31), 
but the Jews as a body. 

Ver. 49. Jesus answered, I have not a demon; 
but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour 
me. His answer is a simple denial of the graver 
accusation of the two, and also such an assertion 
regarding His thought and purpose as was equiva- 
lent to a denial of all such charges. He honours 
His Father, — even in the very words which had 
seemed to them an insult to God Himself. ' It is 
ye,* He adds, 'that are dishonouring me:' it is 
not I who (like Samaritans) dishonour you. 

Ver. 50. But I seek not my glory: tiiere is 
one that seeketh and judgetii. He will not 
protest against the dishonour they offer Him : Ilis 
cause is in the Father's hand. That glory which 
He seeks not for Himself, the Father seeks to 
give Him. The Father is deciding, and will 
decide between His enemies and Himself. 

Ver. 51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a 
man have kept my word, he shall never behold 
death. The solemn introductory words indicate 
that the discourse is taking a higher strain : once 
before they have been used in this chapter, in ver. 
34 (but to a part only of * the Jews '), and once 
again we shall meet with them (ver. 58). In ver. 
34 Jesus is speaking of slavery from which He 
frees ; here of death which He abolishes (2 Tim. 
i. 10). In the former case the means of deliver- 
ance is continuing in the word of Jesus and 
knowing the truth (see ver. 32) ; here He gives 
the promise to him that has 'kept His word,* — 
has received it, hidden it in his heart, and observed 
it in his life (see ver. 37, also chap. xiv. 15, etc.). 
The thought here is substantially the same as in 
chap. vi. 50 (compare also chap. iv. 14, v. 24, 
vi. 51), where we read of the living bread given 
that a man may eat of it and not die. That 
passage presents one side of the condition, the 
close fellowship of the believer with Jesus Him- 
self, of which eating is the symbol ; this presents 
another side, the believing reception of His word 
(which reveals Himself)» and the practical and 
continued observance of the precepts therein con- 
tained. In chap. vi. 50, the words ' may not die * 
do not seem to have been misunderstood,— pos- 
sibly because so near the promise of ' eternal life, 
which suggested a figurative meaning, possibly 
because of a difference in the mood and disposi- 
tion of the hearers. In neither place did Jesus 
promise that they who are His shall not pass 
through the grave, but that to them death shall 




not be death, — in death itself they shall live (see 
chap. xi. 26). 

Vers. 52, 53. The Jews said nnto him, Now 
we know that thou hast a demon. Abrahamdied, 
and the prophets ; and thon sayeet. If a man 
have kept my word, he shall never taste of death. 
Art thou greater than onr fkther Abraham, who 
died? and the prophets died: whom makest 
thon thyself? The word 'now' looks back to 
ver. 48. ' Even if we were too hasty then, now 
we have learnt from thine own words that our 
charge is true.* In attributing to His word a 
power to preserve His followers from that which 
nad come upon the prophets, and even on Abra- 
ham himself. He is clearly placing Himself above 
Abraham and the prophets. Whom then is He 
making Himself? — ^The Jews do not quote the 
words of Jesus with exactness. He had said, 
'shall never behold death,' — for ever shall be 
spared the si^ht of death ; they vary the metaphor 
a little, passmg to a still more familiar phrase, 
' taste death ;' perhaps because it seemed more 
diro:t and clear, less susceptible of a figurative 

Vers. 54, 5JA. Jesns answered. If I glorify 
myself; my glory is nothing: it is my Father 
that glorifieth me, of whom ye say that he is 
your Ood, and have not got Imowledge of him. 
First, Jesus answers the direct question, * Whom 
makest Thou Thyself?' and the general charge of 
self-exaltation which those words contain. The 
specific reference to Abraham He speaks of after- 
wards (ver. 56). The tenor of His reply resembles 
that of ver. 50; but, as elsewhere, the second 
statement has the greater force and clearness. 
The reality of the glory of Tesus consists in this, 
that it comes from His Father, whom they called 
their God, but of whom they had gained no know- 

Ver. 55B. But I know him; and if I should 
say, I Imow him not, I shall be like nnto you, 
a liar: hut I know him, and keep his word. 
Jesus can say, ' I know God/ by direct, intuitive, 
perfect knowledge. The word which He uses in 
reference to Himself ('I know') is different from 
that used in the preceding clause, this latter ('ye 
have got knowl^ge') referring to the result of 
experience, to knowledge gained by many acts of 
perception. Were Jesus to deny His immediate 
knowledge. He would be as fdse as they have 
been in professing to know God. The last 
words are interesting as bringing out once more 
the truth which we l^ve seen presented in earlier 
verses : His own work in the execution of the 
Father's will is the model of the work which 
He requires from man. His people 'keep His 
word' (ver. 51) : He Himself keeps the Father's 
word. So, in chap. xx. 21, He says to the 
apostles, 'As my Father hath sent me, I also 
send you.' 

Ver. 56. Your father Abraham exulted that 
he diomd see my day ; and he saw it and re- 
joiced. This translation, though more exact than 
that of the Authorised Version, does not fully 
bring out the meaning of the original. All English 
renderings of the words (unless they are para- 
phrases) must be more or less ambiguous. ' Re- 
loiced to see ' conveys the meaning of ' rejoiced 
because (or when) he saw ; ' ' exulted that he should 
see ' means strictly, ' exulted in the knowledge that 
he should see. ' Nor is the difficulty removed if we 
take the ordinary rendering of the Greek construc- 

tion, ' that he might ;' for exuUedthat he might sec 
is ambiguous still, though not in the same way. 
Perhaps the Greek words (which are very peculiar) 
are best represented by the paraphrase, 'Your 
father Abraham exulted in desire that he might 
see my day ; and he saw (it) and rejoiced.' The 
interpretation, which is as difficult- as the transla- 
tion, turns mainly on the meaning of the words 
' my day.' Tlie nearest approach to this expression 
in the New Testament is found in Luke xvii. 22, 
'one of the days of the Son of man,' where the 
meaning must be ' one of the days connected with 
the manifestation of the Son of man upon the 
earth.' Here the form is more definite, ' my day,' 
and it seems exceedingly difficult to give any other 
meaning than either the whole period of the life of 
Jesus on earth, or, more precisely, the epoch of 
the Incarnation. In this case the past tense ' he 
saw it ' is conclusive for the latter, if actual sight 
is intended. The patriarch received the promise 
in which was contained the coming of the day 
of Christ. By faith he saw this day in the far 
distance, but — more than this— exulting in the 
prospect he longed to see the day itself : in joyful 
nope he waited for this. In the fulness of time the 
day dawned ; the heavenly host sang praises to God 
for its advent; and (none who remember the 
appearance of Moses and Ellas on the Mount of 
Transfiguration can feel any difficulty in the words 
of this verse) Abraham too saw it and rejoiced. 
By those who do not accept this explanation it is 
urged — (i) That Jesus would probably not thus 
re^r the Jev^ to that which no Scripture records. 
But the truth spoken of is so general and so simple 
— Abraham's knowledge of the fulfilment of God's 
promises to him — that no Jew who believed in 
Jesus could refiise it credence. (2) That 'sees' 
and ' rejoices ' would be more natural than ' saw ' 
and 'rejoiced.' Not so, if the Incarnation is the 
event before the mind. (3) That this view is not 
in harmony with the reply of the Jews in the next 
verse. That point will be considered in the note 
on the verse. The only other possible interpreta- 
tion is that which refers the words to two distinct 
periods in the earthly life of Abraham ; one at 
which, after receiving the promises, he exulted in 
eager desire for a clearer sight, and another at 
which this clearer sight was gained. But it is very 
hard to think of two epochs in the patriarch's life 
at which these conditions were satisfied ; and it is 
still more difficult to believe that ' my dav ' is the 
expression that Jesus would have used had this 
been the sense designed. Verily, if Abraham thus 
exulted in the thought of the coming of his son 
and his Lord, the Jews who are despising and re- 
jecting Him do not Abraham's works, are no 
true seed of Abraham. 

Ver. 57. The Jews therefore said unto him. 
Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou 
seen Abraham f The Jews understand ' my day ' 
to mean the time of His life ; and His knowing 
that Abraham has witnessed this with joy must 
certainly imply that He has seen Abraham. How 
can this be, since He is not yet fifty years of age ? 
It seems most probable that ' fifty ' is chosen as a 
round number, as a number certainly beyond that 
of our Lord's years of life. Some have supposed 
from this verse that sorrow had given to Him the 
appearance of premature age. 

Ver. 58. Jesus said unto them. Verily, verily, 
I say unto you. Before Abraham was bom, I 
am. The third occurrence of the solemn formula 




* Verily, verily/ marks the hi|;hest point reached 
by the words of Jesus at this time. The substance 
of the words b in completest harmony with the 
form. In the clearest possible manner Jesus de- 
dares, not only His existence before Abraham, 
bat also the essential distinction between Hb 
being and that of an^ man. Man b born, man 
passes through successive periods of time : of Him- 
self, in regud alike to past, present, and future, 
Jesus says ' I am.* He claims for Himself that 
absolute, unchanging exbtence which b the attri- 
bute of God alone. If any argument be needed 
to enforce that which the words themselves supply, 
it b furnished in the conduct of the Jews (ver. 59), 
who clearly understood them to be a distinct (and 
in their mind a blasphemous) claim of that which 
belonged to God alone. The thought b dbtinctly 

C resent in the Old Testament: see Ps. cii. 27, 
ut especially Ps. xc. 2. The English reader 
natonuly recurs in thought to Ex. iiL 14, but there 

are two considerations which make it very difficult 
to assert positively that that verse is necessarily 
referred to here : (i) llie doubt which rests on the 
translation. * I will be ' b at least as natural as a 
translation as 'I am.' (2) The Greek translation 
of the Divine Name there used differs materially 
from the words of thb verse, and agrees rather 
with the original of Rev. i. 4. If our version does 
really express the meaning of Ex. iii. 14, it b im- 
possible not to associate that verse with the one 
lx!fore us. 

Ver. 59. They took np stonei therefore that 
they might cast them upon him; bat Jesva hid 
himself, and went forth from the temple-oourts. 
The Jews were enraged at what they considered 
blasphemy, and in their rage they would have 
stoned Hun (compare chap. x. 31). But Hb hour 
was not yet come. He hid Himself (whether 
miraculously or not we cannot tell) and went forth 
from the temple. 

Chapter IX. 1-12. 

T/ie Opening of the Eyes of the Blind Man, 

1 A ND as Jesus^ passed by, he saw a man which was blind 

2 Jl\. from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, 

* Master," who *did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was' «chap.i. 38. 

3 bom blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath* this man sinned,' 

nor his parents: ^but that the works of God should be made rchap.xi. 4. 

4 manifest in him. ^ I * must work the works of him that sent <^chap. xi. 9, 
me, while it is day : the night cometh, when no man ' can work. 

5 As long as* I am in the world, ' I am the light of -^the world. 'Chap. i.4,9, 

6 When he had thus spoken, he '^spat on the ground, and made jg-^ Soe ^ 
clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man ^^25*^.*?^, 

7 with the clay,' And said unto him, Go, wash in * the pool of ,^ 
Siloam, (which is by interpretation. Sent.) He went his way '® 

8 therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours 
therefore, and they which before had seen him " that he was 

9 blind," said. Is not this he that sat and begged ? Some " said, 
This " is he : others said^ He" is like him : biit^^ he said, I am 

10 lu. Therefore said they" unto him. How" were thine eyes 

1 1 opened ? He answered and said," A "" man ' that is called ' ^"*- ^ 7- 
Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me. 
Go to the pool of" Siloam, and wash: and" I went" and 

viit. 33. 
Neh. lit. 15 : 
Isa. viiL 6. 



• Rabbi • should be * did * sin 

one * Whensoever * and with his clay anointed his eyes 
*• went away ** and they which beheld him aforetime 

" was a beggar " Others ** It ** others said^ No, but he 

^* owUt but *' They said therefore *• How then 

'• omit and said '^ The '* omit the pool of 

•• omit and ** I went away therefore 


12 washed, and I received sight. Then said they** unto him. 
Where is he ? He said,'^ I know not. 

'* And they said ** saith 

Contents. — ^The conflict of Jesus with the Jews 
begins to draw to a close. At the last verse of 
the preceding chapter Jesus had hidden Himself 
and gone out of the temple, leaving it in possession 
of those who had wilfully blinded themselves 
against His claims, who must now therefore be 
left to the darkness which they have chosen, and 
from whom such as will behold in Him the Light 
of Life must be withdrawn. This great truth is 
illustrated by the story of the man bom blind, 
upon whom a miracle of healing is performed. 
Tlie enmity of the Jews is roused ; but m the pro- 
cess raised by them they are defeated, and the 
blind man, cast out by biis former co-religionists, 
becomes a trophy of the power and grace of the 
persecuted Redeemer. 

Ver. I. And aa be passed by, he saw a man 
which wtm Uind from his birth. There is nothing 
4o connect this chapter with the last, in regard to 
time or place. Tne closing words of the eighth 
^pter as they stand in the ordinary text, ' and so 
paned by,* would indeed suggest a very intimate 
connection with the verse l^fore us; but those 
words are certainly not genuine. The light, too, 
whidi the present chapter casts on the accessories 
of the event related in it is very scantv. The day to 
which the narrative refers was a sabbath (ver. 14): 
the blind man (who was of Jewish birth ; see ver. 
54) had been wont to sit and beg from passers-by 
(ver. 8). We naturally think, perhaps, of the lame 
man who was brought from da)r to day and laid by 
the gates of the temple (Acts iii.), and are ready 
to assume that the same neighbourhood must be 
thought of here ; but there is nothing in the text 
either for or against such an opinion. The two 
points which John brings before us are simply that 
the case of the afflicted man was (in itself) hope- 
lesSy and that the Saviour saw him as He passed 
by. The obvious purpose of this latter statement 
is to direct our thoi^hts to the spontaneous com- 
passion of Jesus. The man said nothing, did 
nothing, to awaken His pity, nor did the question 
of the disciples in ver. 2 first call His attention to 
the case. He feels and acts Himself; and the 
interest of the disciples does not precede but 
follow that shown by their Master. 

Ver. 2. And his disciples asked him, saying, 
BabU, who did sin, this man, or bis parente, 
that he ahonld be bom blind? It b not said 
that the disciples were moved to pil^, but it is not 
right to assume the contrary. That Jesus had 
looked on the blind man would be enough to raise 
their expectation of a cure ; but expressly to relate 
this might well seem needless. Whatever feeling, 
however, the sight may have stirred in them, it 
recalled a problem which was very familiar to the 
thought of the Jews, and which repeatedly meets 
us in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, — the 
connection between personal sin and bodily suffer- 
ing or defect. Here was a signal example of 
physical infirmity: what was its cause ?^ The 
Question seems to show a conviction on their part 
that the cause was sin; but the conviction may 
have been less firm than the words themselves 
would imply. In assuming that the blindness was 
the consequence of sin they were following the 

current theology of their time : but how was this 
dogma to be applied in the case before them? 
Who had sinned? Was it the man himself? 
Or had his parents committed some offence 
which was now visited upon their child ? (comp. 
Ex. XX. 5, xxxiv. 7 ; Num. xiv. 18, 33 ; Jer. 
xxxii. 18). The passages to which we have re- 
ferred throw light on the latter alternative; but 
what b the meaning of the former, as the man was 
dom blind? It is not necessary to discuss the 
various explanations that have been ^ven, some 
of which seem wholly improbable. Three only 
need be mentioned, as naving apparently some 
sanction from what we know of Jewish thought in 
the apostolic age. (i) We are told byjosephus 
that tne Pharisees held the belief that, whereas the 
souls of the wicked are eternally punished, the 
souls of the righteous pass into other bodies. 
Hence it has b^n maintained that the Pharisees 
held the doctrine of the transmigration of souls ; 
and the passage before us is frequently explained 
accordingly. If, however, we compare all the 
rassages in which Josephu? refers to tenets of the 
Pharisees respecting the state of man after death, 
it will at least appear very uncertain that such a 
meaning should be attached to his words as quoted 
above. It is very possible that the historian is 
there referring entirely to a state of being beyond 
the limits of this world's history; or that, in the 
attempt to present the belief of his countrymen in 
a form familiar to the Roman conquerors, he has 
used language which conveys an erroneous im- 
pression. At all events we cannot assume that the 
transmigration of souls was a tenet widely embraced 
by the Jewish people of that age, without far 
stronger evidence than we now possess. (2) The 
philosophic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls 
was certainly held by many Jews at the time of 
which we are speakinf . As early as the book of 
Wisdom we find a reference to this doctrine (see 
chap. viii. 19, 20), and passages of similar tendency 
may easily be quoted from Philo. Yet it seems 
improbable that an opinion which was essentially 
a speculation of philosophy, and was perhaps 
attractive to none but philosophic minds, should 
manifest itself in such a question as this, asked by 
plain men unacquainted with the refinements of 
Greek thought. (3) It seems certainly to have 
been an ancient Jewish opinion that sin could be 
committed by the unborn child ; and that the 
narrative of Gen. xxv., appearing to teach that 
the odious character of a supplanter belonged to 
Jacob even before birth, gave the authority of 
Scripture to such a belief. On the whole this 
seems to afford the best explanation of the ques- 
tion of the disciples : Was the sin so severely 
punished committed by this man himself, in the 
earliest period of his existence, or have the iniquities 
of his parents been visited upon him ? (On the 
word Rabbi, see chap. i. j8.) 

Ver. 3. Jeans answered. Neither did this man 
dn, nor his parents: but that the works of God 
should be made manifest in him. It is obvious 
at once that Jesus does not deny the presence of 
sin in the man himself or in his parents : His 
words must be read in close connection with the 


questioo to which Ibcy form a reply. The meaning fore, and wsBhed, and can: 
of the whole vene (which is unusually elliptical) of no miracle which Jesus 

le seeiog. In ihc case 
, , - - - J wrought is His pro- 
mar ^ P"™" Ihus : ' Neither did this man sin nor cedurc as remarkable as it is here. We may at 
his parents that he should be bom blind, but (he trace dismiss the thought that such a mode of cure 
IS bora blind,— he is as he is) that the works of was b itself titussary: whateier may have been 
Nollosuggest thedesign of Jesusinmakinguseof it, Heneeded 

k... . . . noinstramenlormeansofcuTc. There is probably 

truth in the suggestion that the means of healing 
nalh this man home this infirmity. The last clause chosen by our Lord had in 

y be manifested ii 
>r onravel speculative questions, but to present a 
e for IJie manifestation of the works of God, 

of the TciK does not simply mean that a miracle 

b to be wrought on him : ' iR him ' — alike In his 

phjncal (ren. 6, 7) and in his spiritual healing 

(Ten. 36-3E) — the love and grace of God are lo be 

made nuuiircsl. 
Ver. 4. Ws mmt worfc the worka 

of him tiwt Mnt me, while it Is 

Axj: tlu night oometh, when no 

CO* Mn woA. The substitution 

of 'we for 1 (a change supported _~- 

by the best evidence) lends pecnluir — 

force and beauty to the verse Jesus 

assodales Hu disciples with Him 

self: like Himself they have a callmg 

which must not be disobeyed to 

v«>tk the works of God for them 

as for Himself, the period of such 

action will not always last He 

does not say Him that sent tu 

for it u the Son who sends Mis 

disciples, even as the Father sends 

■he Son (chap 11 ai] 'Day 

seems (o be used here simply to 

denote the time during which the 

working assigned to Jesus and His 

people in this world can be per- 
formed : 'night,' the time when the 

woikii^ is impossible. In a pro- 
verbial saying of this kind I he 

words must not be pressed too far. 

It is true that the Lord Jesus con- 

linuca lo work by His Spirit, and 

Ihrough His servants, though the 

' day of which He here spealu soon 

readied ils close. But the work 

He intends is such work as is ap- 

nnnted for Ibe 'day,' whether lo 

Himself or to His people. — A<i 
joined with Ihe verses which pre- 
cede, this saying could not but come 

to the disciples as a reminder that 
not idle speculation but work for 
God was the duty they must fulfil. 

Ver. 5. Whenaoerei I am In the 
world, 1 am the light of tha world. 
The work of Jesus in the world is 
lo be the world's light. This 
thought, expressed in words in the 
last chapter (chap, viii, 12), and In — - 

itiis by deeds, binds tr^tber Ihe 
diflerenl portions in this section of 
the G(H>eI. ' I am the light,' Jesus says, bnl even 
in this figure the ' we ' of the last verse may be re- 
membered, for his disciples also 'arc Ihe light of 
the world' (Malt. v. 14). The first word of ihe 
verse is worthy of all attention, pointing as it 
does to alt periods al which ' the lighl ' hath shined 
amid the darkness of this world ((£ap. i. 5), 

>f healing 

to the mental condition of the sufferer, and 
that here His procedure was well fitted to airaken 
and make trial of faith; but it is impossible to rest 
satisfied with any such explanation. The language 
of the Evangelist compels us lo look upon the 

wittk Ua elay aaolDted hU ayae. And aaid nnto 
Ub, Oo, w>ah in aw poo' -* "" — '-"-'- '- 
bf interpiatatloii. Bent]. 

whole .iction as symbolical. The inlroductoiy 
words link these verses lo those in which Jesns 
speaks of the manifestation of Himself to Ihe world 
(vers. 4, S): the inierprctation of the name Siloam 
leads us liack lo the thought of Him who every- 
where in this Gospel is solemnly brought before 
us as 'the Sent of God.' These indications teach 
us to see in the whole action of Jesus a special 
Himself and His work, 
chosen are very remarkable. It Li 


adopted for me<iicinal effect : but no such usage instruction lu the disciples, who are to continue 

» has any connection with this passage, for the eyes His work after His departure, and who must be 

were anointed, not with the spittle but with the taught that they can bring sight to the blind only 
clay. In two other records of works of healing by directing them to Jesus their Lord. As has 
(both given by Mark, whose Gospel presents many been said above, we must not reject the thought 
points of contact with that of John) Jesus makes that in our Lord's procedure lay a discipline for 
use of spittle (^f ark vii. 33, viii. 23), and we can the man himself. The use of means may naturally 
hardly help supposing that this means was chosen have been a help to his faith ; but this faith could 
as a symbol of that which was in closest connection not fail to be put to the test when the means 
with Himself: thus in Ecclus. xxviii. 12 the proved to be such as might have /o^^ii azt/a^ vision 
breath of the mouth and its moisture are brought from one who was not blind (comp. ver. 39). 
together as alike in source, though differing in Neither of this, however, nor of the discipline 
emcts. Having made the clay, He anointed 'with contained in the delay of the cure does the Evan- 
His clay' the blind man's eyes. The original words gclist speak; for he would fix our attention on 
do not seem easily to bear any other meaning, and Jesus alone. That the obedience of faith was 
we fail to do justice to them unless we suppose rewarded we are told in the fewest words possible : 
that their object is to lay emphasis on the clay the man 'went and washed and came seeing.' 
nuuU by yesus, and thus agam to bring Him- The pool of Siloam, which still retains its name 
self, not merely the clay that He has made, but (Silwan), is situated near the opening of the valley 
* His clay,* into prominence, — the clay in which of Tyropoeon. All works on the topography of 
something of His personality is expressed. (Some Jerusalem give a description of the site. 
of the Fathers imagine that there is a reference to Ver. 8. The neighboon therefore, and they 
Gen. ii. 7, but this seems too remote.) Again the which beheld him aforetime, that he was a 
word ' anointed ' no doubt contains an allusion to beggar, said, Is not this be that sat and begged ? 
Jesus the Christ, the anointed One. The name of The fact that he was a beggar has not been men- 
the pool Siloam or (according to the Hebrew form) tioned before. Stress is laid on it here rather than 
Silc^ is the last point to be noted, and here the on his blindness, because it was from his frequent- 
meaning is supplied by John himself. As origin- ing the spot for the purpose of begging that he 
ally given to the pool, it is supposed to mean had become well known. 

'sent forth,' i.e. issuing forth, said of the waters Ver. 9. Others said. It is he: others said, Ko, 

that issue from the springs that feed the pool, or but be is like him. He said, I am he. The 

of the waters which issue from the pool to the fields object of this verse and the last is to show hew 

around. From this pool water had been drawn to notorious the cure became, and how firmly the iaxi 

pour upon the altar during the feast just past (see had been established. 

chap. vii. 38) : it was associated with the wells of Ver. 10. They said therefore unto him. How 

salvation of which Isaiah speaks (chap. xii. 3), then were thine eyes opened? It does not 

\ and the pouring out of its water symbolized the appear that this was more than a simple inquiry'. 

* effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the /^s yet no element of malice against Jesus is 

Messiah. With most natural interest, therefore, introicluced. 
the Evangelist observes that its very name corre- Ver. ii. He answered. The man that is called 

> sponds to the Messiah ; and by pointing out this Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and 

net indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in said unto me. Go to Siloam, and wash. I went 

sending the man to these waters. In this even away therefore and washed, and I received 

more distinctly than in the other particulars that sight. This man, then, knew his Deliverer, 

I we have noted, Jesus, whilst sending the man though not His true nature (ver. 36). The word- 
away from Him, is keeping Himself before him ing of the phrase would seem to imply that he had 
in everything connected with his cure. Thus in his thoughts the meaning of the name * Jesus,' 
throughout Uie whole narrative all attention is so wonderfully illustrated in his own case, 
concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is 'the Light Ver. 12. And they said unto him. Where is 
of the world ; ' who was ' sent of God ' to ' open he f He saith, I luiow not Comp. chap. v. 
blind eyes:' every particular Ls fraught with 12, 13. 

Chapter IX. 13-X. 21. 

Jesus the Light separating between tlie light and the darkness. 

13 '^ I "HEY brought* to the Pharisees him that aforetime* was 

14 X blind * And * it was the sabbath day * when Jesus made « ^f^^p. v. 7. 

1 5 the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again * the Pharisees also 
asked him how he had received his sight. He* said unto them, He 

16 put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore 

said some of the Pharisees, This man is not oV God, because * he * Luke xiii 

14 ; chap V 

» bring » once » Now ♦ on the day 16. vii. aj. 

* Again therefore « and he ' from 

Chap. IX. 1 3-X. 21.] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN. 115 

keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, ^ How can a man that c ver. 33 ; 
i.s a sinner do such miracles .^ ' And "^ there was a division among x.a«*. 

17 them. They say* unto the blind man again, What sayest thou ^»- »»• 

of him, that " he hath " opened thine eyes 1 He ** said, ' He is e chap. iv. i> 

18 a prophet. But the Jews " did not believe concerning him, that 
he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the 

19 parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked '* 
them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind ? 

20 how then doth he now see i His parents " answered them " 
and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born 

21 blind: But by what means" he now seeth, we know not; or 
who hath " opened his eyes, we know not : he is of age ; ask 

22 him:" he shall speak for himself These words spake" his 
parents, because they feared the Jews : for the Jews had 
-^agreed already," that if any man did"* confess that he was/ Luke xxiUs; 

23 Christ, he '^ should be put out of" the synagogue. Therefore i? ver. 34 ^ 

24 said his parents. He is of age ; ask him." Then again called xvi. i. * 
they** the man that was blind, and said unto him,* Give God AJ<»fc. vii.x9; 

' ^ ' I Sam. VI. 5. 

25 the praise : ** we know that this man is a sinner. He answered 
and said," Whether he be a sinner or no^^ I know not : one 

26 thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said 
they" to him again," What did he to thee.^ how opened he 

27 thine eyes ? He answered them, I have told you already, and 
ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear // again.? will" ye 

28 also be*' his disciples? Then" they reviled him, and said, 

29 Thou art his disciple ; but ' we are Moses* disciples. We know iChap. ▼. 45. 
that God spake" unto Moses: as for \\i\s fellowf^ we *know *Chapviii.i4. 

30 not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto 

them, ' Why, herein is a" marvellous thing, that ye know not /awp.uL 10. 

3 1 from whence he is, and yet he hath " opened mine eyes. Now ^ 

we know that **God heareth not sinners : but if any man be a '^l°^^^*v^9} 
worshipper of God, and doeth" his will, "him he heareth. Prov. Las^.* 

32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man " opened %'* {»•.»: 's; 

33 the eyes of one" that was born blind. ^ If this man were not *^s^^JV- 

34 of" God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto ^^**;^;5,'*»'^- 
him, ^Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach /»ver. «. 

us } And they ^ cast ** him out. 9 ver. as : 

a A^ chap. x. 4. 

35 Jesus heard that they had ^cast^* him out ; and when he had 

• signs • say therefore *** because '* omt'/ hath . ** And he 

** The Jews therefore ''' and asked *' /z</// therefore ** omt'^ them 

'^ But how ** ask himself; he is of apje 

*• These things said *® had already covenanted '* should 

'* put away from *' himself 

'* They called therefore a second time *' Give glory to God 

*• He therefore answered '^ omtt or no •• They said therefore 

*• omtt again ^ would ** become *' And 

** hath spoken ^* but as for this man ** the 

•* omti "Sow •" do *• one ^' a man ♦<> from ** put 


found him, he said unto him," Dost thou believe on " ^the Son rchap.i. 51. 

36 of God ? ** He answered and said, Who " is he. Lord, that I 

37 might** believe on** him? And*' Jesus said unto him. Thou 

38 hast both seen him, and ' it is he that talketh with thee.** And * chap. w. 26. 

39 he said, Lord,** I believe.** And he worshipped him. And 

Jesus said, ' For judgment** I am come** into this world, "that /chap. v. 2a 
they which see not might ** see ; and that they which see might " 

40 be made blind.** And** some^^ of the Pharisees which were 

with him heard these words,** and "said unto him, Are we blind rRom. «. 19. 

41 also ? Jesus said unto them, ^ If ye were blind, ye should have wCh*p. xv. 
no sin : *' but now ye say. We see ; therefore ** your sin 

1 Chap. X. Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that entereth not 
by the door into the sheepfold,** but climbeth up ** some other 

2 way,** the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth 

3 in by the door is the** shepherd of the sheep. To him the 

porter openeth ; and the sheep 'hear his voice : and he calleth ^ver*. 16, tr. 

4 his own sheep 'by name, and leadeth them out And** when ^coinp. e*. 
he 'putteth forth** his own sheep, he goeth before them, and t^^l'^O. 

5 the sheep follow him : for they know his voice. And ** a 
stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him : for they 

6 know not the voice of strangers. This 'parable spake*' Jesus rtChap.xW. 
unto them : but they understood not what things they were ^^* ^ 

7 which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus** unto them 
again. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the 

8 sheep. All that ever*' came before me are * thieves and^ver. 1. 

9 robbers : but ^ the sheep did not hear them. I am the door : c ver. 5. 
^ by me if any man enter in,'* he shall be saved, and shall go ^^ver. 2. 

10 in " and out,'* and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for 
to steal,'* and to '* kill, and to ^* destroy : I am come '* that they 
might'* have life, and that they might have it more abund- 

11 antly." ' I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd ^isa.xi.ii: 

1 2 -^ giveth '* his life for the sheep. But '* he that is an hireling, tl^s.^xxi'li. 
and not the*® shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth*' »»• »;* 
the wolf coming, and '^leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the i.4*'o>rap 

13 wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.** The hireling /chaD.xv.. 3 

fleeth,** because he is an hireling, and '^careth not for the sheep. /z«^h"ri!*iV, 

*• oMtt unto him ** in ** man ** And who *• may 

*' omit And ** and he that speakcth with thee is he. 

*• omit Lord •• I believe, Lord ** a judgment *• came I 

*• may become blind •* omit And ** Those *« things 

" ye would not have sin ** omit therefore »• abideth 

•® fold of the sheep •* add from •• quarter •« a 

** omit And •• hath put out all «• But «' said 

M Jesus therefore said ^* omit ever '** if any one have entered in 

'^ enter in '• and shall eo out '• but that he may steal 

'* omit to '* I came '• may '' may have abundance 

'• layeth down '• omit But ^ a 

*> beholdeth •» omit the sheep •• am/t The hireling fleeth 


14 I am the good shepherd, *and know my** sheep^^ and am 

1 5 known of mine.** ' As ■' the Father knoweth me, even so know 

16 I the Father :•• and I /lay down my life for the sheep. And 
* other sheep I have, which are not of this fold : them also I 
must bring,*' and they shall ' hear my voice ; '"and there shall 

1 7 be "^ one fold, and one shepherd.®* Therefore doth my ** Father 
love me, because " I / lay down my life, that I might •* take it 

18 again. No man taketh it from me, but I /lay it down of 
myself. I have power to lay it down, and I * have power to 
take it again. ^ This commandment have "* I received of my 

19 ' There was •' a division therefore •• again among the Jews for 

20 these sayings.*^ And many of them said, ^ He hath a devil,** 
2 \ and ' is mad ; why hear ye him } Others said. These are not 

the words of him that hath a devil.'* ' Can a devil ** open the 
eyes of the blind ? 

®* omit sheep *• and mine own know me 

•® and I know the Father *• I must lead 

•* one flock, one shepherd •• the 


h Ver, ay ; a 
Tim. it. 19. 

/ Matt. id. 97. 

k Isa. Ivi. 8 ; 
chap. jd. 58. 

/Ver. 4. 
m Ezelcxxxvii. 

aa, a4 ; Eph 

11. 14 ; I Pet 

u. as. 
n Isa. liii. 7, 8, 

la : Heb. u. 

o Chap. u. 19. 

/ See chap, 
xii. 49. 

^ la. 
r Chap. viL 90. 

iMarkiiL ax. 

/ Chap. iz. 39, 

*^ and I know mine own 

•^ Even as 

•^ and they shall become 



*• omit therefore 

•* omit have 

•^ because of these words 



*^ the sayings of one that is possessed by a demon 

** demon 

Contents. The blind man, restored to sight, 
is brought before the Pharisees with the view of 
instituting proceedings against Jesus, who, by the 
healing on the Sabbath, had violated the sanctity 
of the day of rest. But the process proves a signal 
failure, issuing as it does m the rescuing of the 
man from the Pharisaic yoke, and in a solemn 
rebuke administered by Jesus to those who had 
placed him at their bar. In this rebuke He points 
out the blindness and faithlessness of the guides of 
Israel, and explains the nature of that work which 
lie, the Good Shepherd, had to perform in saving 
His own from shepherds who had betrayed their 
trust, and in gathering them out of every fold into 
His one flock. The elect of the discourse is again 
to bring about a division among the hearers. The 
suborduate parts of the section are — (i) ix. 13-34; 
(2) ix. 35-41 ; (3) X. I-18 ; (4) x. 19-21. 

Ver. 13. They bring to the Fhariaees him that 
onoe wae blind. They bring him to the Pharisees 
as the especial guarduuis of the religious institu- 
tions of Israel. It is not at all likely that the man 
was brought before any formal court or assembly, 
but only before leading men amongst the Phari- 
sees, who would at all times be ready to examine 
into such a charge as is implied in the next clause. 
The less formal and judicial their action was, the 
better does it illustrate the conflict of Jesus with 
the spirit of Judaism. 

Ver. 14. Now it wai the sabbath on the day 
when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 
It is very interesting to compare this verse with 
the similar words in chap. v. 9, 10. The only 
ofience expressly mentioned there was the carrying 
of the bed, though there is no doubt that the 
charge against Jesus related not to this only but 
also to the performance of the cure (chap. vii. 22). 
Here the two counts of the accusation are distinctly 

presented in their separation from each other, — 
(I) Jesus had made the clay ; (2) He had opened 
the man*8 eyes. Another verse of the fifth chapter 
is likewise necessarily recalled to mind : speaking 
of the charge of labouring on the sabbath, Jestis 
said (ver. 17), *My Father worketh until now: I 
also work.* So here in reference to the same day 
He says, * We must work the works of Him that 
sent me.* 

Ver. 15. Again therefore the Pharisees also 
asked him how he had received his sight ; and 
he said nnto them. He pnt day npon mine eyes, 
and I washed, and do see. To his neighbours 
and acquaintances his answer had been friller and 
more circumstantial : to the Pharisees, whom He 
knew to be the enemies of Jesus, he sa3rs as little 
as he may, and does not even mention his bene- 
factor's name. 

Ver. 16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, 
This man is not from God, because he kecq^wth 
not the sabbath day. Others said. How can a 
man that is a sinner do snch signs? And there 
was a division among them. The man*s answer 
had been short and simple, but it had substantiated 
the two charges (see ver. 14) that had been brought. 
The testimony produced the effect which usually 
followed whenever Jesus manifested Himself, — 
some were attracted, some repelled. Godet remarks 
here, with peculiar force and propriety, ' The one 
party, taking as their starting-point the inviola- 
oility of the sabbatic law, deny to Jesus as a 
transgressor of this law any divine mission what- 
ever ; and from this logically follows the denial of 
the miracle. The others, setting out from the fact 
of the miracle, infer the holy character of Jesus, 
and implicitly deny the breaking of the sabbath. 
The choice of premiss depends in this case, as in 
all cases, upon the moral freedom ; it is at this 









point of departure that the friends of light and the 
friends of darkness separate ; the rest is simply a 
matter of logic* 

Ver. 17. They say therefore nnto the blind 
man. again. What sayest thou of him, because 
he opened thine eyes? And he said, He is a 
prophet The fact is admitted, perhaps honestly, 
for it will be observed that, when we come to the 
next verse, we have a new set of questioners, and 
not simply persons who, having made a concession 
in the words before us, immediately withdraw it. 
The word * thou ' is emphatic : unable to decide 
the matter themselves, they seek to draw from the 
blind man some statement which may enable them 
more eflfectually to condemn Jesus. But his answer 
only deals an unexpected blow. 

Ver. 18. The Jews therefore did not believe 
concerning him that he had been blind, and re- 
ceived his sight, until they called the parents of 
him that had received his sight The change from 
* the Pharisees ' to ' the Jews * is very striking, and 
must have special si^ificance. Nor is it difficult 
to find an explanation, 'llie Pharisees (see the 
note on chap. vii. 32) were united in zeal for the 
law and in watchfulness over the rites and usages 
of Israel, but not in hostility to Jesus : we have 
lUSt seen that the testimony regarding the miracle 
has divided them into two camps. It is of a hostile 
body only that the Evangelist is speaking in this 
verse. But there is probably another reason for 
the change of expression. • The Jews * is not with 
John a designation of all the enemies of Jesus ; it 
denotes the representatives of Jewish thought and 
action,— the leaders of the people, who, alas! 
were leaders in the persecution of our Lord. The 
use of the word here, then, leads us to the thought 
that the dispute had passed into a different stage. 
So serious had the case become that the rulers 
themselves engaged in it : more than this, — we 
have now done with inquiry in any true sense, 
and persecution has taken its place. 

Ver. 19. and asked them saying. Is this your 
■00, who ye say was bom blind? how then 
doth he now sect In the hope that they may 
discover some flaw in the man s words, through 
which they may accuse him of complicity with 
J»us, and, by thus destroying the idea of a 
miracle, may become free to deal with Jesus as a 
transgressor of the law, they question the parents 
of the man. 

Ver. 20. His parents therefore answered and 
said. We know that this is our son, and that he 
was bom blind. To two of the questions asked 
by the Jews the answer of the parents is perfectly 
clear and decided. In seeking for that which 
might invalidate the * sign, Mhe enemies of Jesus 
have but obtained new testimony to its reality. 

Ver. 21. But how he now seeth, we know not; 
or who opened his eyes, we know not: ask him- 
Mlf ; he is of age: he shall speak for himself. 
The anxious care of the parents to keep clear of 
all testimony to Jesus is strikingly shown by the 
emphasis thrown on 'himself* as they refer the 
questioners to their son. 

Vers. 22, 23. These things said his parents, 
because they feared the Jews: for the Jews 
had already covenanted that if any man should 
confess that he was Christ he should be put 
away from the synagogue. Therefore said his 
parents. He is of age; ask himself. There were 
(at all events at a later period) various degrees of 
excommunication; but in any form it was a punish- 

ment of great severity, as the terror of the parents 
shows. The effect of the mildest grade was to 
render the culprit a heathen and no longer an 
Israelite during thirty days, depriving him of all 
intercourse with his family as well as of all privi- 
leges of worship. The growing alarm and hatred 
of the Jews are clearly shown by this compact. 
We are not to think of a decree of the Sanhedrin, 
or of any judicial act whatever, but of a private 
resolution taken by the Jews amongst themselves. 
The slight change of translation in the words * put 
away from the synagogue ' is intended to mark the 
fact that the expression used here is different from 
that which we find in vers. 34, 3S. 

Ver. 24. They called therefore a second time 
the man that was blind, and said unto him, 
Give glory to God : we know that this man is a 
sinner, in this second hearing the aim of the 
Jews is to overawe the man, and then force from 
him a confession that there had been some decep- 
tion or mistake. This appears first in their words, 
* Give glory to God * (see Josh. vii. 19), — a formula 
used when a criminal who was thought to be con- 
cealing the truth was urged to make a full con- 
fession. Remembering that the eye of God was 
ujwn him, let him give honour to God by speaking 
truth. Another significant point is the emphasis 
laid on *iag know;' the authorities to whom he 
has been wont to yield implicit respect and defer- 
ence in all religious matters, possessed of deeper 
insight and wider knowledge than himself, (do not 
tAinJi merely, but) knoia that Jesus is a breaker 
of the law, and therefore cannot have wrought a 

Ver. 25. He therefore answered. Whether he 
be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, 
that, whereas I was blind, now I see. His sim- 
plicity leaves them no real excuse for condemning : 
by his stedfast adherence to the one testimony 
which he alone was competent to render, he most 
effectually brings condemnation on his judges, 
who, had they been sincere, would first have 
sought certain knowledge of the fact (see note on 
ver. 16). 

Ver. 26. They said therefore to him. What 
did he to tiiee? how opened he thine eyes? 
Every attempt to overthrow the /a^/ has failed : 
possibly renewed inquiry as to the mode of cure 
may disclose something that may be used against 
Jesus. But the man has now perceived their 
design : they are not seeking the truth, and he 
will be the tool of no such judges as they are 
proving themselves to be. 

Ver. 27. He answered them, I have told you 
already, and ye did not hear : wherefore would 
ye hear it again? would ye also become his 
disciples? The words 'ye did not hear' mani- 
festly mean that they had not received and believed 
what they heard. The last clause is a little 
ambiguous in English. The meaning is not. 
Would ye in that case become His disciples ? but, 
Is it your mind, — do ye also desire, to become 
His disciples? * Ve also* may mean *ye as well 
as others ; * but it most naturally signifies ' as well 
as myself ^^ the blind beggar. The obstinate enmity 
of the Jews impels him to avow his own disciple- 

Ver. 28. And they reviled him, and said. Thou 
art his disciple, but we are Moaea' disciples. 
Whether the man distinctly intended such reference 
to himself or not, it is thus that they understood 
his words ; and this moves them contemptuously 



to contrast ' that man ' with their greatest prophet, 

Ver. 29. We know that God hath spoken nnto 
lIoMi; bat aa for this man we know not from 
whence he ia. In holding by the law of Moses, 
then, they are safe and are assured that they are 
dcong the will of God. If they do not know the 
origin of 'this man,' he can be worthy of no 
r^irdj^^ertainlyhe cannot be from God I 

Vers. 30-33. The man answered, and said 
onto them, Why, herein is the marvelloas thing, 
that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he 
opened mine eyes. We know that God heareth 
not sinners ; bat if any man be a worshipper of 
God, and do his will, him he heareth. Since the 
wodd began was it not heard that any one 
opened the eyes of a man that was bom blind. 
If this man were not from God, he conld do 
no t hin g. Herein lies the very marvel, — that even 
ytf^i) knowing that no man ever receives power to 
do any miracle unless he be a worshipper of Gocl 
and one that does His will ; and (2) naving proof 
that thb man has done a miracle — yes, and such 
a miracle as has never before been wrought — will 
not see the conclusion that must follow, viz., that 
this man does the will of God, — that he is no sinner, 
but comes from God (see the note on ver. i6). 
The man has assumed tlie office of a teacher, and 
has so taught that they have no counter argument 
to offer ; * the wise are taken in their own crafti- 
ness* (Job V. 13), 

Ver. 34. They answered and said onto him, 
Tbon wast altogether bom in sins, and dost thoa 
teach OS ? And they put him out The original 
is very graphic : In sins wast thou bora, all of thee, 
and thou^ dost thou teach us ? There is probably 
a distinct reference to the belief which is expressed 
in ver. 2 : the fact that in their passion they are 
thus acknowledging the reality of the miracle is no 
argument against such a reference : the man's 
whole condition, as evinced by his spirit and his 
words, bears yet stronger testimony than his blind- 
ness, and shows that he was altogether born in 
sins. The meaning of the last clause is not quite 
clear. It probably refers to ejection from the 
place in which the inquiry was held ; but the next 
verse seems to prove that excommunication followed 
this. Cast out by the rulers from their place of 
meeting, he was cast out from all intercourse with 
them, and (so far as their influence extended) from 
the community over which they ruled. Such was 
the only reasoning which could be opposed to the 
triumphant argument of the man bom blind ! 

Ver. 3c. Jesas heard that they had put him 
out: and when he had found him, he said. Dost 
thou b^eTe in the Son of man ? The man has 
lost this world : in that loss he shall gain the next. 
This seems to be the connecting link between thb 
verse and the preceding. Jesus knows well 
the firmness and the wisdom which the man had 
shown in the presence of the Jews. But He knows 
also that the man had by implication avowed him- 
self His disciple, and for this had been thrust out 
from the presence of the rulers. For this very 
reason Jesus would draw the bond of discipleship 
closer, and receive amongst His own him whom 
the Jews rejected. He seeks for the man, and, 
having found him, asks, Dost thou believe in the 
Son of man ? The word * thou * is emphatic, and 
brings into relief the contrast with those in whose 
presence he has lately been, who declared Jesus a 
sinner, and who had agreed that whoever confessed 

that Jesus was Christ should be excommunicated. 
The name ' Son of man ' is equivalent to ' the 
Christ,' but gives prominence to the human nature 
of the Deliverer. This name therefore is altogether 
in harmony with the man*s own words (vers. 31-33)1 
in which he had spoken of Jesus as a worshipper 
of God and one who did God's will, one to 
whom God would hearken : to him Jesus, though 

* from God * (ver. 33), was still * a prophet * (ver. 
17) and 'the man called Jesus' (ver. Ii). Has he 
then true faith in the Messiah in whose cause he 
has been suffering ? Does he give himself to Him 
with that faith which involves complete union with 
Himself and His cause, undeterred by the fact that 
He appears as a man amongst men, yea and as 
one despised and rejected by men ? The ordinary 
reading ' Son of God ' is in all probability incor- 
rect. It is easy to see how it might accidentally 
fmd its way into the text, being suggested partly 
by the usual practice of John (who frequently joins 

* believe in * either with the Son of God or with a 
name of similar import), and partly by the act of 
worship related in ver. 38. 

Ver. 36. He answered and said. And w^io is 
he, Lord, that I may believe in him ? These are 
not words of a doubter, but of one who seeks to be 
led to a complete faith. In Jesus he has fullest 
confidence, and he waits only to hear His declara- 
tion respecting the ' Son of man : ' as such Jesus 
has not yet manifested Himself to him. 

Ver. 37. Jesus said unto him. Thou hast both 
seen him, and he that speaketh with thee is he. 
This manifestation is now given; both in word 
('he that speaketh' . . .) and in the half- veiled, 
yet clear, reference to the work that had been 
wrought on him (' thou hast seen Him ') in the gift 
of physical (and we may certainly add spiritual) 

Ver. 38. And he said, I believe, Lord; and 
he worshipped him. The simple and immediate 
answer shows how little remained to be done to 
make his faith complete. Not with bodily senses 
only, but in his heart, he has seen Jesus ; he has 
heard His word : he believes and worships the 
Son of man, the Messiah, his Lord. In this man, 
therefore, Jesus has manifested Himself as ' Light 
of the world * (ver. 5). But of this manifestation 
there are two opposite results; the Light will attract 
some out of tne darkness : the Light will repel 
others into yet deeper darkness. The newly found 
disciple is an example of the one work, the hardened 
Jews of the other. Of these contrasted results 
Jesus Himself here speaks. 

Ver. 39. And Jesus said. For a Judgment 
came I into this world, that they which see not 
may see, and that they which see may become 
blind. The rendering ' a judgment ' may serve to 
remind us of the fact that our Lord (here using a 
word which is not found elsewhere in the Gospel) 
does not speak of the act of judging, but of the 
result. He does not say that He came in order to 
judge, but that the necessary effect of His coming- 
into this world, a world alienated from God, will 
be a judgment. Those that see not (the * babes * 
of Matt. xi. 25) come to Him for sight : those that 
see (the * wise and prudent *), who know the law 
and are satisfied with that knowledge, and who 
having all the guidance which should have led 
them to Christ do not come, * become blind,* — lose 
all light through losing Him. Knowledge which 
has priceless value for pointing the way to Christ 
becomes accursed if put in His place as an object 



racteristics. Bui lately ihere has been 11 division 
of feeling among the Pharisees in regard lo Jesus 
(ver. 16). Some who were ll;cn iiiiprtssed by His 
signs may have already become disciples; otheis 
may have remained in a state of uncertainty, im- 
pressed but not convinced, — not brought to the 
point of ' leaving all ' their possessions lU * wisdom 
and prudence ' and foUowbg Him. It may be thai 
those spoken of here were of such > description- 
No one, probably, who duly apprehends the dificr- 
cnce in the usage of John between ' the Pharisees' 
and 'the Jews, will think that necessarily these 
words were uttered in derision, or that these men 

, ^ were 'with Him' as eiwmics and spies.— And Mid 

of sight, but a destruction of the power or nnto him. Are we btiud alao I There had been 
an apparent difficulty in the words ofjesus. They 
spoke of iwo classes, distinguished in their character 
as not seeing and seeing, — in their future lot, as 
receiving sight and becoming blind. The future 
lot is the result of the coming of Jesos into this 
world. It is very clear thai He means tliat tbtwe 

of trust. It is possible that, as the word 'judge ' 
seems elsewhere in this Gospel always lo have the 
force of a condenming judgment, this sense should 
be preserved here aUo ; m the one case the judg- 
ment is passed on acknowledged blindness, for th^ 
themselves who come to the li^ht pass a condemna- 
tion on the blindness of their past state; in the 
other, jud^enl is passed upon supposed (or rolher 
upon misused) sight. Thus both classes have a 
)»Tt in the 'judgment:' the one by appropriating 
OS just the judgment of Jesus on their blindness 
apart from Him ; the other by deliberately shutting 
their eyes to the true light. The result of this 
uHlfitl action is utter blinoness, — not merely a dis- 

r. 40. ThoM of tlie FhkriMM whicti were 
with bim heard thflae thlngi. The whole cast 
of the language here used shows that those who 
speak are not representatives of the Pharisees as a 
body, or of the Pharisjic iipirit in its worst cha- 

wlio tee not (like the despised blind man who has 

just been 'put out'] will come to Him and obtain 

sigbt from Him. But what of the Pharisees whom 

I& invites lo comeP Does He class them also aiidelh on him. 

Mnongstlho^who'seenot'? Surely (they think) 

lo come 10 Hiu 
close of chap, i 
the Son shall nc 

the sin must abide. So at the 
. we read : ' he that disobeyeth 
see life ; but the wrath of Ciod 

it be His meaning? And yet, if l_., 
Pharisees are excluded from all hope of blessing, 
(or His words speak of but two classes. 

Ver. 41. Jeaue Mid unto them, If ye wen 

Ulnd, ye would not have ain : but now ys My, 

We aee ; your sin *bideth. If, Jesus says, ye 

were really blind, unable to opea your eyes to, 

js of, the existence of the li^ht 

Chap. ) 



rejection of the lirfit would ni 

shining round you, you would 

They are their 

judges. They themselves say. We sec ; and yet 
Ihey come not to Him. Their sin ablileth; they 
are guilty of that sin, and so loog as they refiise 

Verily, Terily, I lay unto 
yon, lie that enteieth not In the door Into the 
fold of the aheep, bnt cUmbeth up fma aome 
other quarter, the Muie li a thief and a robber. 
But ho that ent«reth In I7 tlie door ii a ahep- 
heid of the aheep. The opening words arc of 
themselves suHicient to show tliat this chapter must 
be very closely joined lo thai which precedes, for 
nowhere in this Gospel do we tind a new discourse 
introduced by 'Verily, verily, I say unto you.' 
The points of connection will be seen as the 
chapter proceeds ; but we may briefly say thai the 
thoi^hl of the Jews, who with their authoritative 
dictum 'We know' (ix. 24, 39) sought to hinder 
men of 'the multitude' from coming to Christ. 



underlies the whole parable, and forms the chief 
link binding the chapters together. In the last 
verses of chap. iz. the action of the unbelieving 
nileis IS contemplated in its bearing upon them- 
selves ; here in its bearing upon those of whom the 
Jews were the recognised leaders. The figure 
used is taken from the very heart of the Old 
Testament Dispensation. Again and a|[ain do the 
pfopbets utter language of scathing mdignation 
agamst un£uthlul shepherds who ' feed themselves 
and not their flocks ; ' and more frequently still is 
the tender care of the good shepherd portrayed. 
The Messiah Himself is represented under this 
character in several prophetic passages : two 
chapters especially, Ezek. xxxiv. and Zech. xi (in 
each of which the contrasted types of shepherd are 
represented and the Messiah brought definitely 
into view), must be kept before us as we follow the 
course of this parable. It is unnecessary to dwell 
at any length U]>on the familiar facts which form 
the basis of the similitude employed. The 'fold' 
of the sheep was a large open space enclosed by a 
paling or by walls of no great height : ingress or 
egress was given only by a door kept by a porter, 
who is not to be confounded with the shepherd or 
shepherds for the protection of whose flocks the 
fold was used. All other points the narrative itself 
will bring out. In the first few verses the language 
is altogether geturaL A comparison is £rawn 
between all shepherds of the flock and false and 
treacherous intruders into the fold. The appli- 
catbn which Jesus makes to Himself oi two of the 
figures in these opening verses does not yet come 
before the mind. The sheep are safe in the fold : 
there the narrative commences. We do not read 
how or by whom or whence they were brought 
into that fold for protection amidst the dangers of 
the night. In the morning the shepherds will 
come to lead forth their flocks, and having an 
acknowledged right of entrance will go in at the 
door. Should any one bent on entenng the fold 
not come to the door, but climb over the fence 
and thus get in 'some other way* (literally, from 
some other quarter,— and when the parable is 
interpreted the significance of such a phrase will 
be felt), his aim is evil, — ^he wishes to get possession 
of sheep or of a flock to which he has no right, — 
he is tnerefore a thief and a robber, a man deter- 
mined either by craft or by violence to win spoil 
for himself. ' Entering by the door,* then, is the 
first mark by which a rightful shepherd b distin- 
guished from a man of selfish and treacherous 

Ver. 3. T6 him the porter openeth ; and the 
■beep Mtf Ida Toice: and he calleth Ida own 
■beep l^ name, and leadeth them ont This 
verse gives other marks which indicate a true 
shepherd. The keeper of the gate recognises him 
and gives him entrance. The sheep in the enclosure 
show at once that they are familiar with his voice. 
The sheep of his own particular flock he knows by 
name,^ and he calls them one by one. He has 
come in for their benefit and not his own, to lead 
them forth to pasturage. To none of these indica- 
tions does he answer who is an intruder and no 
shepherd. What travellers tell us of the relation 
of an Eastern shepherd to his flock shows how true 
to nature was the language of these verses. It is 
by his voice that the shepherd is recognised : he 
calls and the sheep come round him. In every 
flock there are some to whom he has given par- 
ticular names, and who are wont to keej) 

him ; everv one of these knows his own name and 
comes to the shepherd when that name is called. 
In this last feature the language of the parable 
may go beyond common experience. Such a 
shepherd as our Lord describes knows and calls 
every one of his sheep by name. It is sometimes, 
indeed, maintained that no distinction ought to 
be made between ' the sheep ' of the first clause 
and ' His own sheep ' in the clause that follows. 
But this is surely a mistake, resulting from the 
premature application of these words to Him who 
IS ' the Good Shepherd.' He no doubt knows by 
name every sheep of every flock : as vet, however, 
we have before us not the Shepherd but every one 
who is a shepherd of the sheep. There is some 
difliculty in determining who is meant by the 
'porter of this verse. Many explanations have 
been given, but there are only two that seem really 
to agree with the conditions of the context. The 
keeper of the door recognises any rightful shep- 
herd, and especially the True Shepherd (ver. ii), 
but closes the way to self-seekers, — and this during 
all that time of waiting of which we have yet to 
speak. He cannot, therefore, be either Moses or 
John the Baptist ; the thought of Divine care is 
necessary. We must thus think either of Christ 
Hunself or of the Father or of the Holy Spirit. 
To refer the term, however, to the first of these 
would be to confuse the parable : it must belong 
to one of the two latter,— the Father, or the Holy 
Spirit who gave and watched over the promises, 
who called and qualified the prophets of Israel. 
Perhaps ver. 15, in which Jesus speaks of the 
Father's recogmtion of Himself, makes the first 
of these two the more probable. The tenor of 
chap. vi. also, in which there is repeated mention of 
the Father's work in relation to the work of Jesus, 
confirms this view; and a further confirmation 
may be found in the parable of chap, xv., in which 
Jesus represents Himself as the vine and His 
Father as the husbandman. 

Ver. 4. When he hath pnt oat all his own 
sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep 
follow him : for they know hia voice. The first 
words take up the thought contained in the words 
that immediately precede ('and leadeth them out *), 
but express it with greater force. The shepherd 
leads forth all his own sheep,— not one is left 
behind. But the change from leading out to 
putting out is remarkable. In the figure it may 
refer to the solicitude of the shepherd to remove 
every sheep under his care from the fold in which 
it is not well that any should longer remain: some 
may be slow in following his lead, but he sees that 
none shall be overlooked. The real significance 
of this word, however, is connected with the inter- 
pretation of the parable (see below) : for we can- 
not doubt that our Lord designedly uses here that 
very word which was employed to denote expulsion 
from the synagogue, and which has already met 
us in two consecutive verses of the previous 
chapter (34, 35), when the treatment received from 
the Jews by the man bom blind is described. In 
this verse again we find complete faithfulness of 
description. To this day the Eastern shepherd 
goes oefore hb flock, leading, not driving the 
sheep, and keeping them near him through their 
recognition of his voice. 

Ver. J. But a stranger will they not follow, 
bnt will flee from him: for they know not the 
voice of strangers. The ' stranger * is not one to 
whom the porter has opened (for the voice of 



every one who is thus admitted b familiar to all 
the sheep) ; he must therefore have entered by 
some other way, and he is in the fold as ' a thief 
and a robber.* No mark of a true shepherd is 
found in him. He has not entered by the door, 
and he has not been recognised by the keeper of 
the door ; the sheep do not know his voice ; he 
cannot call them by their names ; his object is not 
their good, but his own spoil and gain. Lead a 
flock forth he cannot ; the sheep flee from him. 

Ver. 6. This parable said Jesus nnto them: 
bat they understood not what things they were 
which he spake unto them. The word here useil 
is not that which occurs so frequently in the other 
gospels in the sense of parabU, It is found but 
four times in the New Testament — in 2 Pet. ii. 22, 
and in three verses of this Gospel (here and chap. 
xvi. 25, 29). In 2 Pet. ii. 22 the word has its 
ordinary signification ' proverb : * in chap. xvi. 29 
it is opposed to speaking in a way the most direct^ 
— the highest and best for the attainment of the 
speaker's end (comp. on xvi. 25). The derivation 
of the word suggests that the primary meaning 
was a saying beside or out of the common way which 
had not the direct plain bearing of an ordinary 
saying, but either was intended to have many 
applications (as z.proverb\ or was in some dcercc 
circuitous in the method by which it eflected its 
purpose, — enigmatical or diflicult. In this latter 
sense John seems to use the word, which does not 
therefore differ essentially from the 'parable,' as 
that word is used by the other Evangelists (see 
Matt. xiii. 11-15). It seems certain that had any 
one of them related the comparison of this chapter 
he would have employed the more familiar name. 
The Septuagint uses the two words with little 
difierence of sense. On the present occasion it 
cannot be said that the language of Jesus was in 
itself difficult to understand ; His description was 
faithful in all its parts ; but His words as said ' to 
them ' the Pharisees could not comprehend. 

Ver. 7. Jesus therefore said unto them again, 
VeiUy, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of 
the iheep. The formula which introduced the 
potable (ver. i) now brings in the interpretation. 
This interpretation is given in two parts, — or, as 
perhaps we ought rather to say, two distinct appli- 
cations of the parable are given : the two most 
important points in the figure are taken in succes- 
sion, and in each aspect the parable finds its 
fulfilment in the Lord Jesus. But as the formula 
which introduces this verse is not repeated in ver. 
II, it is more correct to divide vers. 1-18 into two 
parts (1-6, 7-18 — the latter being subdivided at 
ver. II) than into three. 

First, Jesus declares Himself to be ' the door of 
the sheep,' — that is, not the door by which the 
sheep eftter into the fold, but the door through 
whicn they will leave the fold at the call of the 
Shepherd, and (though this is not particularly 
specified until ver. 9) through which a shepherd 
enters to his sheep. The whole description of 
vers. 1-5 must be interpreted in harmony with 
this word of Jesus. If He is the Door, what 
is the fold? — who are the sheep? To answer 
these questions we must look forward to a 
later verse (ver. 16) : * And other sheep I have 
which are not of this fold ; them also I must 
lead, and they shall hear my voice, and they 
shall become one flock, one shepherd.' That 
Jesus here speaks of the heathen world few will 
doubt ; and if so, it is very clear that in ver. I the 

Jewish Church is intended by *the fold of the 
sheep.' Not that all who are found within the 
pie of Judaism belong to * the sheep ' of which 
Jesus speaks. The sheep are those who hear a 
true shepherd's voice ; ami we may so far forestall 
ver. II as to say that none are included under this 
designation who refuse to hear the voice of Jesus 
Himself. * The sheep ' are therefore those who in 
other passages are described as * of God ' (see chap, 
viii. 47), arid * of the truth ' (chap, xviii. 37), and 
the 'fold' is the Jewish Church in so far as that 
Church has sheltered these until the fulness of 
time has come. Then, and not till then, shall the 
sheep be led out of the fold into the free open 
pastures : then, too, the * other sheep ' will be 
brought, and there shall be, not two flocks but 
one, under one Shepherd. It will be seen that 
in no part of this parable are the sheep said to 
return to the fold ; the shepherds only are spoken 
of as entering in, and that for the purpose of 
leading out their flocks. In saying, *I am the 
door of the sheep,' therefore, Jesus says in effect 
— (i) that through Him alone has any true 
guardian and guide of the sheep entered into the 
fold ; (2) that through Him alone will the sheep 
within the * fold ' be led out into the open pastures. 
The latter thought is easily understood ; it presents 
the same promise of the gladness and freedom and 
life of Messianic times as was set forth by the 
symbols of the feast of Tabernacles in the seventh 
and eighth chapters. Then the figures were the 
pouring out of water and the lighting of the golden 
lamps : the figure now is very different, but (as 
we have seen) equally familiar in Old Testament 
prophecy. Not until Messiah shall come will the 
night of patient waiting cease, and the fold be 
seen to have been only a temporary shelter, not a 
lasting home. The application of the words before 
us to the shepherds is more difficult ; for when 
we consider how this chapter is connected with 
the last, it is plain that Jesus adverts to the 
presence within the fold of some who are not 
true shepherds. They have climbed up from 
some other quarter, and are in the fold to gratify 
their own selfishness and greed, not to benefit the 
flock. How then can it be said of them that 
they did not enter through the Door, — i.r., 
through our Lord Himself? In answering this 
question it seems plain that we have here a saying 
akin to that of chap. viii. 56, or xii. 41, or to that 
of Heb. xi. 26, in which Moses is said to have 
esteemed *the reproach of Christ greater riches 
than the treasures in Egypt.' The leading charac- 
teristic of preceding ages had been that they were 
a time of preparation for the Christ, that during 
them the promise and hope of the Christ had 
stood in the place of His personal presence. The 
object of every ruler in .the Jewish Church, and 
of every teacher of the Jewish people, should 
have been to point forward to the coming of the 
Messiah ; and each should have used all his power 
and influence, not for himself, but to prepare for 
the event in which the Jewish Church was to 
culminate and (in an important sense) come to an 
end, giving place to the Church Universal. The 
rulers brought before us in the last chapter had 
done the reverse ; in no true sense had they pre- 
pared for the Christ: and, when the Christ 
appeared, so far from receiving Him, they had 
combined together to put away from the Church 
in which they bore rule every one who acknow- 
ledged that Jesus was He. Hence, accordingly, 



the strong language of ver. i. These teachers 
had 'climbed up from another quarter/ instead 
of entering by the Door. They had been marked 
by a spirit of self-exaltation, of earthly Satanic 
pride ; they had appeared as the enemies of God, 
liad refused to submit themselves to His plans, 
had sought not His glory but their own ; their 
aims had been thoroughly selfish, devilish ; they 
were of their father the devil (viii. 44). Thus, 
also, we see that the term 'a thief and a robber,' 
applied to such teachers in ver. i, is not too 
strtmg, for they had perverted the whole object of 
the theocracy ; they nad made that an end which 
was only designed to be a means, and had done 
this as men who had blinded themselves to the 
true light, and were using the flock of God as 
instruments for their own aggrandisement. They 
were in the fold, but they had not entered through 
the door. 

Such then being the meaning of the ' Door,* 
the 'fold,* the 'sheep,* the true and false shep- 
herds, the rest of the description is easily imder- 
stood. The true sheep know the voice of 
every rightful shepherd (vers, 3, 4) ; in all past 
ages there has been this mutual recognition 
between teachers sent by God and those who 
have desired to be taught of God. But the full 
accomplishment of the work described in these 
verses awaits the coming of Him who is the true 
Shepherd, through whom the sheep are to be led 
forth from the fold. To Him alone apply the 
words in their completeness^ but in measure they 
most truly belong to every shepherd whose mission 
comes through Him. 

Ver. 8. iil that came before me are thieves 
and xobbers : bat the sheep did not hear thenu 
In the similitude of the door, Jesus had declared 
that it was through Him alone that the flocks 
could come out of the Jewish fold into the 
pastures into which they had longed to enter; 
and this was a truth not depending only upon 
His proclamation of it, but lying in the very 
essence of the Old Testament dispensation. The 
prophecies had fixed the thoughts of all true 
Israelites on ' Him that cometh, and had shown 
them that until His coming their hopes could not 
\yt fulfilled. But some had forgotten this, and 
had falsely claimed the place that belonged to 
Jesus, each deceiver pretending that he himself 
was the medium through which God's people 
were to be led to the satisfaction of their nop». 
But .those who trusted in God and waited 
patiently for Him were kept by Him from these 
deceivers : ' the sheep did not hear them.' 

Such is the general sense of this verse ; it is 
less easy to fill up the outline it presents. We 
may wdl wonder that any should have thought 
that the words 'all that came before me' might 
include the prophets of the former dispensation ; 
for the context most clearly proves that Jesus is 
!^)eiddng of those who 'came before Him,' pro- 
jessing to be *th€ door of the sheep.* The word 
* came,* indeed, can hardly be interpreted without 
the thought of that designation so peculiarly be- 
longing to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, * He that 
cometh.* No one else has a right thus to say * I 
come,* 'I have come,* *I came.' The idea of 
taking the work of Jesus in hand lies in 'came.' 
When, accordingly, setting aside the thought of 
all true prophets, we ask who they are to whom 
this description applies, we naturally think, in the 
firrt instance, of false Messiahs, of whom many 

appeared in Jewish history. It may be said that 
we have no record of a claim to Messiahship 
earlier than the time when these words were 
spoken. This answer contains too positive an 
assertion. There is reason for believing that 
Judas of Galilee (mentioned in Acts v. 37) was 
r^arded by some as the Christ ; and Gamaliel's 
words respecting Theudas (Acts v. 36) may very 
possibly cover a similar assumption. The Gospels 
reveal a state of Messianic hope out of which such 
deception might easily arise. That popular insur- 
rections were continually occurring is a notorious 
fact ; and if Josephus, our chief authority for the 
history of tms period, fails to give us a careful 
account of the religious hopes that were fostered 
by the leaders of revolt, his character and aims 
as a historian are a sufficient explanation of 
his silence. But whether the thought of fidse 
Messiahs is admissible or not, the meaning of the 
words must extend much farther, and must 
embrace all who had sought to turn the people 
from waiting for the promise which God had 
given, or had substituted other principles of 
national life for the hope of the Messiah. Such 
had long been the practical effect of the rule 
and teacning of Pharisees and Sadducees. These 
men had sat in the seat of Moses to make void the 
law and to extinguish the promise by their vain 
traditions, and for their selfish ends ; and they 
are certainlv, perhaps mainly, thought of here. 

Ver. 9. 1 am the door: liy me if any one have 
entered in, he shall be saved, and shall enter 
in, and shall go oat and find pasture. From 
the thought of the 'thieves and robbers,* Jesus 
turns to that of ' a shepherd of the sheep.* And 
as entering by the door has been mentioned 
(ver. i) as the first mark of a true shepherd. He 
emphatically repeats His former saying, 'I am 
the door.* In ver. 7, however, as ver. 8 shows, 
it is of the release of the flock from the fold that 
we must chiefly think (and therefore the words 
* of the sheep ' were naturally added). The repe- 
tition here introduces the other application of the 
thought. Whoever has entered through this 
Door (Christ) shall be saved, and shall enter in 
(to the fold), and shall go out and find pasture 
(for the flock over which he is placed in charge). 
The repetition of 'enter,' it will be seen, involves 
no tautology : first the shepherd passes through 
the door, then goes into the neart of the enclosure 
to call to him his sheep. He goes in for the 
purpose of coming out to find pasturage for the 
flocK that follows him from the fold. The chief 
difficulty lies in the interpretation of the words 
'he shall be saved.' The sudden introduction 
of this thought in the very midst of figurative 
language most consistently preserved (the door^ 
entering go out and find pasture) at first appears 
strange. But the very place which the words 
hold supplies a key to their interpretation. We 
cannot content ourselves with saying that the 
whole parable is instinct with the thought of 
salvation in its general sense, and that what is 
present in every part may surely be expressed in 
one. It is true that in our Lord's parables we 
sometimes find a rapid transition from the sign to 
the thing signified ; but such an intermixture of 
fact and figure as (on that supposition) is found 
here, we meet with nowhere else. Whatever 
difficulty may arise, the words must connect them- 
selves with the imagery of the parable. The 
chapters of Ezekiel and Zechariah, referred to in 



the note on ver. 1, show at once how this is pos- 
sible. We have before seen (see chap. iii. 3, vii. 39, 
viiL 33, etc) how suddenly our Lord sometimes 
removes His hearers into a (amiliar region of Old 
Testament history or prophecy. To the teachers 
of the law, who were the hearers of most of the 
discourses related by John, the letter of the Old 
Testament was well Icnown ; and, moreover, it is 
very probable that in the discourses as delivered 
omu words may have been added, not necessary 
to the completeness of the thought, but helpful to 
the understanding of the heajers. One of the 
connecting links between this chapter and the 
last is the evil wrought by unworthy and false 
shepherds; in this word suddenly introduced in 
the portraiture of a true sheoherd we have vividly 
Inoog^t before us all that the prophets had said 
of the fate of the unworthy. Those shepherds 
who had no pity on the flock, but said, ' blessed 
be the Lord, for I am rich,' the soul of the 
prophet 'loaUied,' and he gave them to destruc- 
tion (Zech. xi. 5, 8, 17). From all such penalty 
of unfidthiulness shall the true shepherd be ' saved.* 
That He whose love to His flock assigns this 
punishment to the unworthy will reward the fiuth- 
ttil| may not be expressed in the figure, but in the 
interpretation it holds the chief pkice : to such a 
ihepoerd of souls will Jesus give salvation. — It 
should perhaps be said that (probably in conse- 
quence of the difficulty which the won^ ' he shall 
be faved' seem to present) this verse is usually 
understood as relatmg to the sAei^ and not to 
the shiphtrds^ It seems impossible, however, 
to compare the language here used with that of 
yen. i, 2 without conung to the conclusion that 
all the three are identical in subject. 

Ver. 10. The thief oometh not bat that he 
nifty steal, and kill, and destroy. This verse 
forms a link of connection between ver. 9 and 
▼er. II, presenting first the contrast between a true 
shephera and ' the thief,' and then preparing the 
way for the highest contrast of all, that between 
the thief and the Good Shepherd. The rightful 
Shepherd has entered (ver. 9) that He may lead 
out His flock to the pastures ; the thief cometh 
only to steal and kill, feeding himself and not the 
flock, even seeking its destruction.^! came that 
they may have ufe, and that they may have 
ahnndance. To this point the figure contained 
in ' I am the door ' has been more or less clearly 
preserved, for the shepherd has, and the thief has 
not, entered the fold ty the door. The language 
now before us does not really depart from this con- 
ception (for in opposition to those who * came 
before' Him professing to be 'the door of the 
sheep,' Jesus here says ^l€ame\ although it agrees 
still better with the thought of ver. 11. In fact 
the words ' I came ' stand in double contrast, — 
¥fith the words of ver. 8, and with the first words 
of this verse *the thief cometh.' By whatever 
figure JesQs is represented, the object of His 
appeanng is the same, that His sheep may live. 
The life and abundance are the reality of which 
the pasturage (ver. 9) has been the symbol. As 
in chap. vii. the blessings of Messiah's kingdom 
are represented by abundant streams of uving 
water, so here the regions into which Jesus is lead- 
ing His flock are regions of life and of abundance. 
To His people He gives eternal life; there shall 
be no want to them for maintaining their life in all 
its freedom and joy 5 their * cup runneth over.' 

Ver. II. I am the good shepherd: the good 

shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep, 
llie aspect of the preamble here changes : in the 
following verses, until the i6th, there is no men- 
tion of the fold or of the door, but of the shepherd 
only and his relation to the flock. The word 
rendered * good ' occurs but seldom in this Gospel : 
it differs from the word ordinarily so translated 
(which however John uses still less frequently) in 
that it is never used to express the idea of kind- 
ness, but always signifies what is (outwardly or 
inwardly) beautiful, noble, excellent of its kind. 
Hoth words may be used to denote moral excel- 
lence, and with but slight difference of meaning. 
Here then the epithet hieis no reference to kindness 
but to excellence as a Shepherd. Is there a 
shepherd whose work is not onlv faithful but all 
fair, without spot or defect, such a Shepherd of 
the flock is the Lord Jesus. The highest point 
which the Shepherd's faithfulness can reach is His 
laying down His life for the sheep : when the wolf 
assaults the flock, the Good Shepherd repels him, 
although He die in the attempt. Strictly taken 
these words are general, and may be said of every 
noble shepherd; but, connected with the first 
clause, they in effect declare what is done by Jesus 
Himself. Our Lord's hearers at the time would 
understand no more than this, that at the peril of 
His life He would defend His flock ; but it is im- 
possible to read chap. xi. 51 without seeing in the 
words a reference to the truth declared in chap, 
iii. 14, 15, xii. 32, — the atoning death of the 
Redeemer which brings life to the world. 

Vers. 12, 13. He that is an hireling and not 
a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, 
beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the 
sheep and fleeth (and the wolf catcheth them 
and scattereth), because he is an hireling and 
careth not for the dieep. A true shepherd will 
purchase the life of his sheep by the sacrifice of 
his own life. The man who has taken the work 
of a shepherd for hire, who is only a hireling and 
careth not for the sheep, abandons them as soon 
as danger approaches, and gains his own life at 
the cost of the life of his sheep. Since the sheep 
are not to him as ' his own the very name of 
shepherd is denied him. It ma^ seem that the 
climax which usually shows itself in the narratives 
and discourses of Uiis Gospel is here wanting, 
' thief' and ' robber ' being far strong terms of 
reprobation than 'hireling.' But it is not really 
so : the thief at all events has betrayed no trust, 
and is less guilty than the hireling who in the hour 
of need forsakes the duty he had pledged himself 
to fulfil. Whom then does the hireling represent ? 
If 'the thief who comes under the uuise of 
shepherd stands for all who force themselves into 
the place of rulers and guides, for the sake of 
private gain, 'the hireling' seems to represent 
those who held such place by lawful right, but 
when faithfulness was needed most deserted duty 
through fear. Godet points to chap. xii. 42 as ex- 
emplifying the description here given. The lawful 
rulers dare not avow their own convictions and 
thus guard the people who trust in them; the 
Pharisaic spirit is too strong for them ; they save 
themselves oy silence and give up those for whom 
they should care to the persecution of the enemy. 
Some of these will yield to the foe and deny that 
Jesus is the Christ ; many will be scattered. It is 
possible therefore that * the wolf* may here repre- 
sent this spirit of Judaism, but we should rather 
say that it is the enemy (Luke x. 19) of God and 


man who is represented under the symbol of the 
natural foe of the sheep and of the Shepherd. 
Whatever agenqr may be used, the ultimate source 
of the murderous design is the spirit of evil, the 
Devil, be who was *a murderer from the begin- 

Vers. 14, 15. I am the good ahepheid, and I 
know mine own, and mine own know me, even 
aa the Father knoweth me, and I know the 
Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 
As the figure of ver. 7 was repeated in ver. 9, that 
it might receive a new and blessed application, so 
here we have a repetition of the figure presented 
in the nth verse. The repetition removes from 
view the unworthy : we are brought once more 
into the presence of Jesus and His own. First 
and last m these two verses stand the two clauses 
of the former verse, altered only in so far that 
what there was said of the Good Shepherd is here 
said of Jesus Himself ('/ lay down*). Between 
these two clauses are placed two other sayings, the 
first suggested at once by the figure used, the 
second rising higher than any earlier words of the 
parable. Smcc Jesus is the good Shepherd, His 
sheep hear His voice and He calleth His own 
sheep by name (ver. 3) : hence He says that He 
knows (recognises) His own sheep and His own 
know (recognise) Him. But once more (see chap, 
viii. 38) He places in parallelism His own relation 
to the Father and the relation of His own to Him. 
He looks on the sheep and sees at once that they 
are His: they see Him and hear His voice and 
know that He is their Shepherd. So the Father 
looks on Him and sees in Him the Good Shepherd 
whom He sent : He looks on the Father, and con- 
stantly recognises His presence as the Father with 
Him. There is wonderful beauty and elevation in 
the compsurison ; no saying of our Lord goes 
beyond this in unfolding the intimacy of com- 
munion between Himselfand His people which it 
reveals and promises. They arc His, as He is the 
Father's. It seems very probable that in these 
words there lies a reference to ver. 2, where we 
read that he who stands at the gate admits the true 
shepherd within the fold, recognising him, dis- 
tinguishing him at once from those who falsely 
claim the name, just as the shepherd distinguishes 
his own sheep from those that are not of his flock. — 
These two verses are remarkable for simplicity of 
structure. As in the simplest examples of^ Hebrew 
poetry, thought is attached to thought, one member 
IS placed in parallelism with another. Yet, as in 
the Hebrew poetry of which this reminds us, a 
dependence of thought upon thought may be in- 
ferred, though it is not expressed. Thus we have 
seen that, if Jesus is the Good Shepherd, it must 
be true that He recognises His own sheep. So 
also (and it b to point out this that wc call atten- 
tion to the structure of the verse) the Father's 
recognition of Him closely connects itself with His 
laying down His life, as the Shepherd for the 
sheepi In this the Father sees the highest proof 
of His devotion to the work He has accepted : in 
the spirit of constant readiness for this crowning 
act of love lie recognises the Father's constant 
presence and love (ver. 17). And, as the words 
of the verse bear witness to the Father's care for 
man (not less truly and powerfully because this 
meaning does not lie on the surface of the words), 
it is easy to sqb once more with what fitness we 
here read *the Father,* and not simply 'my Father' 
(9ee chap. viii. 27, 38). 


Ver. 16. And other sheep I have, which are 
not of this fold: them also I must lead, and 
they shall hear my voice. Not in the Jewish 
Church only was there a work of preparation fot 
His coming : the light had been shining in the 
darkness (chap. i. 5), — the light which enlighteneth 
every man (L 9). Many in me Gentile world were 
waiting only to hear His voice : they will recog- 
nise their Shepherd, and He will know His own 
sheep. He rq^rds them as His own even now 
('other sheep / have'*) ; they are not shunning the 
light and seeking darkness ; He receives them now 
as His Father's gift to Him. It is not easy to 
answer a question which the words immediately 
suggest : Does our Lord speak of these ' other 
sheep' of the Gentile world as abiding in 9L.foldf 
It nught be so. We cannot see that mere would 
be difficulty in regarding that dispensation of which 
we know so little, the dealings of the One Father 
with the heathen world (to which had been given 
no such revelation as the Jews possessed, but in 
which He had never left Himself without witness), 
as symbolized hy a 'fold.' But there does seem 
to be an intentional avoidance of any word that 
would necessarily suggest this image here. No 
mention is made of 'entering in' to the place 
where these sheep abide, or of the door through 
which they pass. The word ' lead ' is used again, 
but, whereas in ver. 3 we read that the Shepherd 
leadeth out His own sheep from the Jewish fold, 
here He says only 'them sJso I must lettd.^ We 
conclude therefore that it was not without design 
that Jesus said — not ' I have sheep of another fold,' 
but — * I have other sheep, not of this fold.' The 
language of chap. xi. 52 suggests rather that these 
' other sheep ' have been comparatively shelterless, 
not drawn together by any shepherd's care, but 
' scattered abroad.' Their /oj/ has been altogether 
diflcrent from that of the devout Israelite ; but the 
future of Jew and Gentile shall be the same. As 
in the case of Israel, so here the whole work of 
bringing liberty and life is accomplished by Jesus 
Himself: it is a work that He must do (comp. 
chap. iv. 34, ix. 4, etc.), for it is His Father's 
will. He seeks the scattered sheep ; they come 
together to Him ; He places Himself at the head 
of this other flock ; His voice keeps them near to 
Him. Passing for a moment from the figure, we 
recognise once more how Jesus includes all the 
work of faith and discipleship in ' hearing Him ' 
(see chap. viii. 31, 40, 47): all that had been 
wanting to these heirs of a lower dispensation is 
supplied when they hear 1 lis voice. — And they shall 
become one flock« one shepheid. Then shall be 
brought to pass the saving that is written, One flock. 
One Shepherd (Ezck. xxxiv. 23, xxxvii. 22-24). 
As written by the prophet indeed the words have 
express reference to the reuniting of scattered and 
divided Israel ; but, as in countless other instances, 
the history of Israel is a parable of the history of 
the world. The apostolic comment on the verse is 
found in Ephesians, chap. ii. It is very unfortunate 
that in the Authorised Version the rendering * one 
fold ' should have found a place, instead of ' one 
flock. * The whole thought of the parable is thrown 
into confusion by this error, which is the less 
excusable inasmuch as the word which actually 
does mean 'fold' (a word altogether dissimilar) 
occurs in the first part of the verse. Our first and 
greatest translator, William Tyndale, rightly under- 
stood the words : the influence of the Vulgate and 
of Erasmus was in this case prejudicial, and led 



Coverdalc (who in his own Bible of 1535 had 
followed Tjmdale) to introduce the wrong transla- 
tion into the Great Bible of 1539. We may well 
wonder that the Vulgate should contain so strange 
a mistake; the older Latin version was here correct, 
but was changed by Jerome. 

Ver. 17. l%erefore doth the Father love me, 
beoaxifle I lay down my life that I may take it 
again. In ver. 15 we have read of the Fathcr*s 
recognition of the Good Shepherd, who gives the 
highest proof of His devotion to the shepherd's 
work and possession of the shepherd's character 
in laying down His life for the sheep. These 
verses take up and expand that thought, speaking 
not of recognition only but of love. But it is with 
ver. 16 that ver. 17 is immediately connected. ' I 
must' had expressed complete union with His 
Father's will : the prophecy that follows brought 
into view the full and certain accomplishment of 
the Father's purpose. On this account, because of 
this union of will and this devotion to His pur- 
pose, ' the Father ' (note once more how perfect is 
the fitness of this name here) loveth Him, — 
namely, because He layeth down His life that He 
may take it again. The two parts of this state- 
ment must be closely joined together. The perfect 
conformity to the Father's will is shown not in 
laying down the life only, but also in taking it 
again. The duty of the Shepherd, as set forth in 
vers. 15, 16, can only in this way be accomplished. 
He gives His life to purchase life for His sheep, 
but oesides this He must continue to lead the flock 
of which He is the Only Shepherd. In the exe- 
cution of His work, therefore, He could not give 
Himself to death without the purpose of taking 
His life again : He died that His own may ever 
live in His life. — But, if the Father's love can rest 
on the Son who is obedient even unto death, and 
unto life through death, it is essential that the 
obedience be entirely free. Hence the words of 
the next verse. 

Ver. 18. No man taketh it fh>m me, but I lay 
it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, 
and I have power to take it again. He lays 
down His life of Himself. He has the right to do 
this, and the rieht to take the life again. — This 
commandment I received of my Father. By 
His Father's express commission He has this right 
of free decision. For the first time Jesus here 
speaks of the 'commandment' which He has 
received, and the use of this term is in full har- 
mony with the position He has assumed throughout 
the parable, the Shepherd of God's flock, the 
Servant of Jehovah. On the word Move ' (ver. 17) 
cee note on chap. v. 20 : the word found in that ' 

verse is not used here, for the reason there ex- 
plained. A nucstion is often asked in relation tc 
the words of these verses : if the teaching of 
Scripture is that the Father raised the Son from the 
dead, how can Jesus speak as He here does about 
His resumption of life ? But, if the words ' this 
commandment' be interpreted as above, to refer 
to the Father's will that the death and resurrection 
should rest on the free choice of Jesus, the answer 
is plain : Jesus took His life again in voluntarily 
accepting the exercise of His Father's power. If 
we und^tand the * commandment * to relate — not 
to the possession of right or power, but — to the 
actual death and resurrection, the answer isdifferent, 
but not less easy: Jesus in rising from the dead 
freely obeys the Father's will, — the Father's will 
is still the ultimate source of the action of the 

Ver. 19. There arose a division again among 
the Jews because of these words. The effect 
related in chap. vii. 43, ix. 16, is again produced. 
This time however (as in chap. viii. 31) * the Jews* 
themselves are divided. The preceding parable 
therefore must have been spoken in the hearing of 
many who were hostile to Jesus, as well as of 
Pharisees (chap. ix. 40) who may have been half 

Vers. 20, 21. And many of them said. He hath 
a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him? 
Others said, These are not the sayings of one 
that is possessed by a demon. (^ a demon 
open the eyes of the blind ? In the other instances 
quoted above the division of feeling had been 
between 'some* and 'others:* here, where *ihe 
Jews* are in question, many are driven by the 
words of Jesus to more bitter hostility, repeating 
and extending the charge of which we read in 
chap. vii. 20, viii. 48. But there are others whom 
the miracle related in chap. ix. had impressed, 
though at the time they did not stand up against 
the action of their party (chap. ix. 34). The 
effect produced on them by tne miracle which 
Jesus wrought is now deepened by His teaching ; 
as in the case of Nicodemus the ' sign ' prepared 
the way for the instruction of the 'words. In the 
question asked we have the same association of 
teaching and miracle. A man possessed by a spirit 
of evil could hot say such things as these : a demon 
(though he might be supposed able to cast out 
another demon) could not restore to the blind their 
sight It is interesting to observe in these last 
words the tendency of the Evangelist to close a 
section with words that recall its opening, thus 
binding all the parts of a narrative into one 

Chapter X. 22-42. 

/^sus at fte Feast of the Dedication, — T/te increasing contrasts of Faith and 


AND it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication,* and' 


23 Jr\ it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple* in 

24 'Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him,* "Actum.!-, 

' There came to pass at that time the feast of the dedication at Jentsalem 
* omit and • temple-courts * The Jews therefore surrounded him 


and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt ? * 

25 If thou be* the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, 

I told you, and ye believed ' not : * the works that I do in my ^ Ver. 38. 

26 Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ^ye believe not, <^ciip.^l 
2T because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.' ^ My ^^«rs. 4, 14. 

sheep ' hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me : ' chap, xviu. 

28 And I give unto them / eternal life; and they shall never /chAp.iU. 15. 
'^ perish, neither shall any w^/i *• pluck them out of my hand. ^chap.iii.i6. 

29 * My Father, ' which gave " them me, is greater than all ; and SStJi^iu. 

30 no man " is able to pluck them}* out of my" Father's hand. * I li' ComV 

31 and my^* Father are one. 'Then** the Jews took up stones ryiS'.J!'^^' 

, A Chap. Jay. 

32 again to stone him. Jesus answered them. Many good works 28. 
have I shewed you from my" Father: for which of those" *chap.'x^i. * 

33 works do ye stone me.^ The Jews answered him, saying," For ' chap. via. 
a good work we stone thee not; but '"for blasphemy; and «chap.xix.7. 

34 because that thou, being a man, "makest thyself God. Jesus «chap.Y xs. 
answered them. Is it not written in your law, "I said. Ye are * Ps. Uwdi 6. 

35 gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God 

36 came, and ^the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, /* See chap, 
^whom the Father hath" sanctified," and sent into the world, ^chap.Vi. 27. 
Thou blasphemest ; because I said, I am the " Son of God ? 

37 *" If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. rChap.xv.24. 

38 But if I do, though" ye believe not me, 'believe the works: *, 

^^ chao. XIV 1 1 

that ye may know, and believe,'* that ' the Father is in me, and /Sjeeiha^ 

39 I in him." Therefore" they "sought again to take " him : but «cbip. vii. 
he escaped '* out of their hand. vin. 5J. 

40 And went" away again beyond Jordan into*' the place 

41 "^ where John at first baptized;" and there he abode. And » chap. 1 28. 
many resorted " unto him, and said,'® John did no miracle : " 

42 but all things that" John spake of this man were true. And 
^ many believed on " him there. 

* How long dost thou excite our soul 
■ concerning • omtt as I said unto you 
*' omit them ** the ** omit Then 

^' omit hath *® consecrated 

tvSee chpp. 

• •• • 

viii. 30. 




*® even if 

•• omit Therefore 

*• And he went 





*' unto 


came '® and they said 



' believe 
^* hath given 
^* these ** omit saying 

*® omit the 
2' in the Father 
'* and he went forth 
'* was at first baptizing 
*• whatsoever *^ in 

Contents. The contest with the Jews is con- 
tinued. The section strikingly illustrates the plan 
of the gospel (i) by taking up again that claim of 
Jesus to be the Son of God which had, more than 
anything else, provoked the opposition of His 
enemies; (2) by bringing into notice His return 
to Bethany beyond Jordan, where He had been 
first made manifest by the Baptist to Israel, and 
where confession is now made by* * many * that 
everything spoken of Him by the Baotist at His 
entrance upon His public ministry nad proved 

true. We have here, therefore, the culminating- 
point of the conflict, and the pause before the 
highest manifestation by Jesus of Himself as the 
Resurrection and the Life. The subordinate parts 
are— (I) x. 22-39 J (2) vers. 40-42. 

Ver. 22. There came to pain at that time the 
feast of the dedication at Jerusalem: it was 
winter. With these words we enter on a new 
scene, where the Evangelist first sets before us 
the outward circumstances, expressing them, after 
his usual manner, by three clauses. Where 



and how the weeks intervening between the 
feast of Tabernacles in chap. vii. and the feast 
now mentioned were spent John does not inform 
us. Once more he shows clearly that his intention 
is not to give a continuous narrative ; for, though 
he has clearly defined two points of time (the two 
festivals), he records in the interval events of but 
two or three days. The festival here spoken of 
was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, B.C. 165. 
For three years the sanctuary had been desolate, 
and on the altar of burnt-offering had been placed 
an altar for idol-worship. After the victory gained 
at Bethsura (or Bethzur), the first thought of Judas 
was to ' cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary * which 
had been profaned. The altar of burnt-offering 
was taken down, and a new altar built ; and all 
Israel ' ordained that the days of the dedication of 
the altar should be kept in their season from year 
to year by the space of eight dajrs, from the five 
and twentieth day of the month Cisleu, with mirth 
and gladness' (i Mace. iv. 59). The date would 
correspond to a late day in our month of December. 
We do not find in the following verses any words 
of our Lord which directly relate to this Kstlval ; 
but those readers who have noted how carefully 
the Evangelist points to the idea of every Jewish 
feast as nilfillea in Jesus will not suppose that 
there is an exception here. Having heard the 
words of chap. ii. 19, he could not but associate 
his Lord with the temple : and a feast which com* 
memorated the reconstruction of the temple must 
have had great significance in his eyes. The 
mention of tne time of year connects itself naturally 
with the choice, spoken of in the next verse, of the 
covered walk (* Solomon's Porch *) ; but the mode 
in which the fact is mentioned recalls at once 
chap. xiii. 30, where every one acknowledges that 
the closing words are more than a note of time : 
the * night * there and the * winter ' here are felt 
by the narrator to be true emblems of the events 
which he records. 

Ver. 23. And JesoB walked in the temple- 
oonxtB, in Solomon's porch. The * porch ' which 
bore Solomon's name was a covered colonnade on 
the eastern side of the outer court of the temple. 
According to Josephus this ' porch * was the work 
of Solomon : at all events we may well believe 
that the massive foundations were laid by him, 
though the clobters which he built were in ruins 
when Herod began his restoration of the temple. 

Ver. 24. The Jews therefore torronnded him, 
and said unto him. How long doet then excite 
oar aonl t If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. 
The recurrence of the oft - repeated term * the 
Jews' is a sufficient indication of the tone and 
design of the question asked. Taking advantage, 
perhaps, of the fact that Jesus was in the cloisters 
of the temple-courts, and not now in the midst of 
a listening 'multitude,' His enemies encompass 
Him, determined to gain from Him such an 
avowal of His Messiah^hip as shall enable them 
to carry out their designs against His life. — The 
expression which in the Authorised Version is 
rendered ' make us to doubt ' has received various 
explanations. That adopted by us is perhaps, 
upion the whole, the most probable. Another, 
however, may be suggested by what is at least a 
curious coincidence, that the verb used by the 
Jews is the same as that used by our Lord for 
* taketh * in the first clause of ver. 18, and that 
the noun now rendered * soul ' is more probably 
'b'fc,' and is indeed so translated in ver. 17. 

Following these hints we venture to ask whether 
the words may not mean, ' How long dost thou 
take away our life?' They will then be one of 
those unconscious prophecies, of those unconscious 
testimonies to the going on of something deeper 
than they were themselves aware of, which John 
delights to find on the lips of the opponents ot 
Jesus. They were stirring up their enmity against 
Him to a pitch which was to lead them to take 
away His life; and by their words they confess 
that He is taking away theirs. It is not meant, 
in what has now been said, to assert that the Jews 
actually intended to express this, but only that 
John sees it in the language which they use. They 
meant only. How long dost thou excite us or keep 
us in suspense ? Put an end to this by speaking 
plainly,— ^r (more literally) by speaking out, 
telling all Thou hast to tell. 

Ver. 25. Jesus answered them, I told yon, and 
ye believe not: the works that I do in my 
Father's name, they bear witness oonceming 
me. A demand so made was never granted by 
Jesus. They had already received sufficient evi- 
dence, and to this He refers them. He again 
speaks of both word and deed. What He had 
said (see chap. v. 19, viii. 36, 56, 58) had shown 
clearly who He is ; what He had done had borne 
witness concerning Him (see chap. v. 36).' But 
both word and works had failed to lead them to 
belief in Him. 

Ver. 26. But ye belicTe not, because ye are 
not of my sheep. In chap. viii. 47 He had said 
that they heard not His words because they were 
not of God : the same thought is expressed here, 
but with a change of figure. There is no reference 
to an essential or necessary state, to any ' decree ' 
through the operation of which they were in- 
capable of faith. They have not the character, 
the disposition, of His sheep ; through this moral 
defect (for which they are themselves responsible, 
see'chap. iii. 19, etc.) they will not believe. This 
is brought out more fully in the next verse. 

Vers. 27, 28. My sheep hear my voice, and I 
know them, and they follow me : And I give 
unto them eternal life; and they shall never 
perish, neither shall any one pluck them ont of 
my hand. In these verses is given a description 
of the true sheep. The description is rhythmical, 
and rises to a climax. The first couplet expresses 
some property of the sheep, the second a corre- 
sponding attitude or action of the Shepherd ; and 
each successive couplet takes us into a higher 
sphere of thought and blessing. 

1. My sheep hear my voice, 
And I know them ; 

2. And they follow me. 

And I give unto them eternal life, 

3. And they shall never 

And no one »hall pluck them out of my hand. 

The couplets, as will be seen, express successively 
the mutual recognition of sheep and Shepherd (for 
this is the meaning conveyed by the word here 
rendered 'know,* — see the note on vers. 14, 15) ; 
\hit present gift of eternal life to those who follow 
Jesus (see chap. viiL 12, etc.) ; the lasting safety 
of Uiose who thus follow Him and abide with 
Him. The description presents a complete con- 
trast to the action of * the Tews ' who were not of 
His sheep (ver. 26) ; who, though He had so often 
manifested Himself to them by word and work, 
yet had never recognised His voice, but came to 
I Tim saying, * If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. * 



From thb contrast arises the order of the clauses in 
these verses, an order different from that in ver. 14. 

Vers. 29, 3a My Father, which hath given 
tbfloi me, is greater than aU ; and no one is able 
to yhkck oat of the Father's hand. I and the 
Father are one. The apparent object of these 
words is to establish more completely the safety 
of His sheep. But in answering this purpose they 
also answer a still higher end ; they are a revela- 
tioo of Jesus Himself. In effect they give a reply 
to the question of the Jews, but such a reply as 
only the heart prepared to listen to the truth will 
receive. Jesus has spoken of * My sheep ;* they 
are His by reason of His Father's gift. The 
Father who has given will maintain the gift : and 
He b greater than all who could seek to snatch 
away the sheep, — none can snatch aught out of 
the hand of the Father. The progress of the 
thought is perfectly simple, but the transition from 
•my Father' to 'the Father' is full of meaning. 
The latter name is fitly used, since here the axiom 
of Divine Almightincss is expressed ; the same 
name, moreover, is most appropriate in a passage 
which traces the development of God's purpose to 
make men His sons through His Son. Jesus has 
used the same words of Himself and of the Father ; 
• no one shall pluck them out of my hand,' — ' no 
oiie can pluck out of the Father^s hand.' He 
might have left His hearers to draw the certain 
inference, but He will so far grant their request 
as to • tell ' this * plainly : ' * I and the Father are 
one.* There is perhaps nothing in thb saying that 
goes beyond the revelation of chap. v. ; but its 
terseness and its simple force give it a new signifi- 
cance. Unity of action, purpose, power, may be 
what the context chiefly requires us to recognbe 
as expressed in these words ; but the impression 
which was made upon the Jews (ver. 31), tne fuller 
statement of ver. 38, the analogy of chap. v. and 
of expressions (stiU more closely parallel) in chap. 
xviL forbid us to depart from the most ancient 
Christian exposition which sees in this sa3ring of 
Jesus no less than a claim of unity of essence with 
the Father. 

Ver. 31. The Jews took up stones again to 
■tone huL Their view of the blasphemy of His 
words is given more fully in ver. 33. The word 
'again * carries us back to chap. viii. 59, where a 
similar attempt b recorded, but in less definite 
language. There we see the Jews taking up, 
hastily snatching up, stones that lay near, to ' cast 
on Him : * here their resolve to inflict the penalty 
for blasphemy appears more distinctly in their 
attempt to * stone Him.' The two words rendered 
' take up ' are also different, and it is possible that 
the Evangelbt here presents the Jews as bearing 
up the stones on high, in the very act of preparing 
to bury Him beneath them. The climax ought 
not to pass unobserved. — They are arrested by 
Hb words. 

Ver. 32. Jesns answered them. Many good 
works nave I showed you from the Father ; for 
which of these works do ye stone me ? On the 
the word ' good ' see the note on ver. 1 1 : every 
work He Ikis shown them has borne the perfect 
stamp of a work noble and perfect in its kind, for 
He has shown it 'from the Father,' who sent 
llim and ever works with and in Him. He 
knew that they were enraged at Hb word, and yet 
He speaks here of Hb tvorks : the works and the 
i%ords are essentially one, — alike manifestations of 

VOL. iL g 

Ver. 33. The Jews answered him. For a good 
work we stone thee not; bnt for blasphemy; 
and becanse that thou, being a man, makest 
thyself God. These words show conclusively how 
the saying of ver. 30 was understood by those who 
heard it : they perceive now who b meant by ' the 
Father' (comp. viii. 27), and see that to claim 
oneness with Him b to claim Deity. AU recollec- 
tion of 'good works' and indeed all evidence 
whatever they cast away, treating such a claim af 
incapable of support by any evidence. 

Ver. 34. Jesus answered them, Is it not written 
in your Iftw, I said, Ye are gods ? The quotation 
b from Ps. Ixxxii. (the word * law ' being used, as 
in chap. xv. 25 and some other places, for the Old 
Testament scriptures generally), ' I have said. Ye 
are gods, and all of you are children of the Most 
High ; but ye shall die like men, and fall like one 
of the princes. ' The psalm is a reproof of un- 
righteous judges. Its opening words bring before 
us God judging ' among the gods,' — that is, among 
the judges, for the sacred name b in other passages 
(Ex. xxi. 6, xxii. 8, and probably xxii. 28) given 
to those who were to the people the representatives 
of God, and gave judgment in His name. In 
following verses of the psalm as far as ver. 7, it b 
supposed by some that God Himself b the Speaker 
(comp. Ps. 1. ). If so, the words * Ye are gods ' are 
here quoted as if spoken by God ; and in the next 
verse ' he called ' must be similarly explained. It 
seems more likely, however, that the rebuke of 
the judges' injustice b adminbtered by the psalmbt 
in his own person ; and in ver. 35 the meaning 
will either be that the law * called,' or the speaker 
implied in the emphatic 'I,' vb. the psalmbt 
writing under inspiration from God and expressing 
Hb mmd. In any case the pronoun ' I ' b strongly 
marked, — I myself, who utter the rebuke and had 
foretold the punbhment, had borne witness to the 
dignity of the position of the judge. 

Vers. 35, 36. If he called Uiem gods, unto 
whom the word of God came, and the scripture 
cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the 
Father consecrated, and sent into the world. 
Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am Son 
of God? If (I) the speaker in the psalm called 
men 'gods' because the word of God (the ex- 
pression of God's will, which, as judges, they 
were bound to carry out) was given to them ; and 
if (2) thb passage of scripture cannot be broken, 
cannot be set aside, but must be taken as inspired 
by God, how can they accuse Jesus of blasphemy? 
To the judges the * word of God came : Jesus 
was sent into the world by the Father to declare 
Hb will, as Himself *The Word.' The jud^ 
were commissioned by God for the work to which 
they proved unfaithful : He, consecrated by the 
Father to His work, had but fulfilled His trust 
when He declared Himself Son of Go<l. If then 
the judge, as a partial and imperfect expression of 
God (if we may so speak) to the people received 
the name of * god,' with infinitely higher right may 
Jesus call Himself Son of God. His claim of the 
name was in itself no foundation for their charge : 
their own law should have taught them thb. 

Ver. 37. If I do not the works of my Father, 
believe me not In the last verse ' the Father ' 
was the Name of which Jesus spoke, thus bringing 
tc^ether in thought God who spoke in the psalm 
and His Father who sent Him into the world. 
Here, after the mention of * the Son of God,* He 
says *the works of my Father.' If He does no 



such works they have no right to believe His word 
and acknowledge His claims. It is otherwise if 
He docs them. 

Ver. 38. But if I do, even if ye believe not 
me, believe the works : that ye may know, and 
recogniBe, that the Father is in me, and I in 
the Father. If He does the works of His Father, 
then, even although they might be unwilling to 
accept His witness respecting Himself, the works 
bear a testimony they are bound to receive. 
Receiving this testimony and thus learning that 
the works of Jesus are the Father's works, men 
will know that He and the Father are one, the 
Father abiding in Him, and He in the Father. 
But this is not a truth learnt once for all. The 
words of Jesus are : that ye may * know * (being 
brought to conviction b^ the testimony of the 
works) and (from that pomt onwards continually) 
'recognise* . . . Their eyes once opened, they 
will ever see in the works tokens of the Father s 

Ver. 39. They sought again to seize him : and 
he went forth out of their hand. ' Again * seems 
to point back to chap, vii., where the same word 
'seuce* is found three times (vers. 30, 32, 44), 
We cannot suppose that the Jews had laid aside 
their design of stoning Him in consequence of the 
words just spoken, for these words would either 
lead to faith or repel to greater enmity. For some 
reason not mentioned they now seek not to stone 
Him on the spot, but to seize Him and carry Him 
away. As in chap. viii. 59, * He went forth ' out 
of their hand, thus illustrating again His own 
words in ver. 18. 

Ver. 40. And he went away again beyond 
Jordan nnto the place where John was at first 
baptizing; and tiiere he abode. The place in 
which Jdhn a/ y£rf/ baptized was that mentioned 
in chap. L 28 (not in chap, iit 22), viz. Bethany 
beyond Jordan. But why does the Evangelist 
here make special mention of this fact ? It would 
seem that we have another illustration of his 
tendency at the close of a period of the history to 
go back to the b^;inning of that period. He 
gathers together the whole ministry of Jesus up to 
this time under one point of view. With the next 

chapter we really enter on the final scene : in the 
raising of Lazarus the work of Jesus reaches its 
culminating-point ; by that miracle His rejection 
and condemnation by the Jews is made certain. 
And as in a mountain assent the traveller may 
pause before attempting the highest peak, and 
survey the long path by which he has ascended, 
so the Evangelist here pauses before relating the 
last struggle, and (by mentioning the association 
of the place and not the name of the place itselO 
leads his readers to survey with him all the period 
of the ministry of Him to whom John bore wit- 
ness. Whatever Jesus had since done or said 
ratified the witness borne by the Baptist. Possibly 
it was because of John's testimony that Jesus 
sought this spot : near it may have lived many 
whose hearts had been prepared for His teaching. 
What He did during His stay in Bethany beyond 
Jordan, or how long was Hi» stay, we do not 
know. We may certainly suppose that He taught; 
and the next verse su^ests that 'signs' were 

Vers. 41, 42. And many came nnto him; and 
they said, John did no sign: but all things 
whatsoever John spake of this man were true. 
And many believed in him there. How great 
the contrast between the scene presented here and 
those of the preceding chapters 1 He came to the 
Jews, but, in spite of works and word, they 
rejected Him : now, in His retirement, many 
come unto Him, and many believe in Him. For 
Jesus this period of rest is a period not of peace 
only, but also of joy in successful toil. Another 
contrast implied is between Jesus and the Baptist 
* who did no sign * but bare witness only. He 
beii^ dead yet speaketh, in that his testimony is 
leading men to Jesus in the very place of his own 
ministry : and there also witness is borne to him, 
in the emphatic acknowledgment that all his 
words concerning Jesus had proved true. Nay, 
even beyond the experience of these believers we 
may see that this saying expresses truth, for in His 
most memorable discourses Jesus fulfils the words 
of the Baptist recorded in chap. i. of this Gospel, 
' He that cometh after me has become before me, 
because He was before me ' (i. 15, 27, 30). 

Chapter XI. 1-44. 
T/ie Raising of Lazarus.— Jesus the Resurrection and t/te Life. 

1 XT OW a certain man was sick, named^ Lazarus, of " Bethany, ^Wati. xxi. 

2 IN the town* of *Mary and her sister Martha. (It' was *uikcx. 38. 
^ that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped '^^-^"p »"• 3- 

3 his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) There- 
fore his sisters * sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom 

4 thou lovest is sick. When* Jesus heard that, he said, This 
sickness is not unto death, but for ''the glory of God, that the ''Vcr.^p. 

' o y » chap, uc 3. 

5 Son of God might** be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved 

6 Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard 

* omit named 

* The sisters therefore 

• from the village 

* But when 

* Now it 
^ may 

1 ' 1 ^f^SHK^iJIA ..9E9HHHH 

m^ \ 




11: TSI^HH 


therefore that he was sick, he abode ' two days still in the same 

7 place where he was.* Then after that saith he to his^ disciples. 

8 Let us go into Judea again. His^^ disciples say unto him, 
Master," the 'Jews of late sought** to stone thee; and goest *chap.K. jr 

9 thou thither again .^ Jesus answered, Are there not twelve 

hours in " the day ? -^ If any " man walk in the day, he /chap. u. 4. 

10 stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But 

''if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no ^Chap.»iL 

1 1 light " in him. These things said he : and after that he saith 

unto them. Our friend Lazarus *sleepeth;" but I go, that I **J*"aS^ 

12 may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples," Lord, J^^iJf • 

13 if he sleep," he shall do well." Howbeit Jesus spake " of his J%J^ jv. 
death : but they thought that he had spoken ^^ of taking of rest ^^' 

14 in sleep. Then said Jesus'* unto them plainly, Lazarus is 

15 dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to 
the intent ye may believe ; " nevertheless let us go unto him. 

16 Then said 'Thomas," which is called Didymus," unto his »chap. xiv.5, 
fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. uLVx, 

17 Then when" Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the 

18 grave"* four days already. Now 'Bethany was" nigh unto*y«'-39. 

19 Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews 
came" to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their 

20 brother. Then Martha, as soon as " she heard that Jesus was 
coming, went and met him : but Mary sat still in the house. 

21 Then said Martha " unto Jesus, ** Lord, if thou hadst been here, *«X«'^- 3». 

•^ ' ' chap. IV. 49. 

22 my brother had not died. But I know, that even now,** what- 

23 soever" thou wilt" ask of God, God will give //'* thee. Jesus 

24 saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith" 

unto him, *I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection *Ji*fd^p; 

25 at ''the last day. Jesus said unto her, ^I am the resurrection, ^aIp.'S'.39. 
and the ^ life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead," ^^^^;^\ 

26 yet shall he live: And whosoever" liveth and believeth in me {^'"^ 

27 ''shall never die. Believest thou this.? She saith unto him, ^^^l^' 
Yea, Lord : ' I believe " that thou art the Christ, the ' Son of ^J^i 

28 God, * which should come" into the world. And when she had rs^'lhap. 
so said, she went her way,*^ and called Mary her sister secretly,** Smp.*'Matt. 

xvi. as. 
9 Matt. xvi. 

' at that time indeed he abode • in the place where he was two days 69 j i John '' 

» he saith to the ^® The iv. 15. . 

> I Rabbi " but now the Jews were seeking "of »* a ,^ ggP; ^^?; 

** because the light is not " hath fallen asleep 

*' The disciples therefore said unto him ^® he shall be saved 

^^ had spoken *** he spake '* Then therefore Jesus said 

2' to the intent ye may believe, that I was not there *^ Thomas therefore 
2* add said '* When therefore '• tomb " is 

2® had come ^^ Martha therefore when ^® Martha therefore said 

'* And even now I know that ** add things *' shalt ** omit it 

** said ^* have died *' And every one that •* have believed 

•• he that cometh *® went away *^ ofnit secretly 


29 saying," "The Master" is come, and calleth for** thee. As *'^f"P- 
soon as she heard that^ she arose** quickly, and came*' unto comp.ciui|>. 

30 him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town,*' but was *• 

31 in that place where Martha met him. ^ The Jews then *' which ^/Ver. 19. 
were with her in the house, and comforted*" her, when they 

saw Mary, that she rose up hastily ** and went out, followed 
her, saying,** She goeth unto the grave*' to weep** there. 

32 Then when Mary was come** where Jesus was, and saw him, 

she fell down at his feet,** saying unto him. ** Lord, if thou j^vci h. 

33 hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus there- 
fore saw her weeping,*' and the Jews also ** weeping *' which 

came with her, he ^groaned *in the spirit, and was troubled,*' ^ Jg[^,^^-y. 

34 And** said, Where have ye laid him ? They said ** unto him, ;?^^P' 
35, 36 Lord, come and see. * Jesus wept Then said the Jews,** «Lukexix.4i. 

37 Behold how he loved him ! And ** some of them said, Could 

not this man, * which opened the eyes of the blind,** have h chap. ix. t, 

38 caused that even this man should not have died?** Jesus 
therefore again ^ groaning in himself,** cometh to the grave.*' c ver. 33. 

39 It** was a cave, and ''a stone lay upon** it. Jesus said,'* Take i/Seechap. 
ye away the stone. Martha,'* the sister of him that was dead,'* 

saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh : for 'he hath rVer. 17. 

40 been dead^* four days.'* Jesus saith unto her, -^Said I not /Vcr. as. 
unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe,'* thou shouldest see 

41 'the glory of God? Then they took away the stone'* from irVer.4. 
the place where the dead was laid." And Jesus * lifted up his AChap.xvu.i. 
eyes, and said, ' Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard '* « Matt xL a> 

42 me. And I " knew that thou hearest me always : but * because *chap.jtii.3o 
of the people** which stand by** I said //, that they may ' be- /chap.«^ 

43 lieve that thou hast sent ** me. And when he thus had spoken, «^ »» ««• 

44 he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that 
was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes : ** 

and ""his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith i« chap. w. 7. 
unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 

** add secretly " Teacher ^* omit for 

** And she, when she heard it, arose *• went 

*' village ** add still ** therefore 

•• and were comforting *^ quickly " supposing 

** that she went unto the tomb ** lament 

'^ Mary therefore when she came ** seeing him fell at his feet 

•' lamenting •• omit also 

^* he was moved with indignation in his spirit and troubled himself 

^ add he '^ say •• The Jews therefore said •* But 

^ of him that was blina ^^ that this man also should not die 

*• moved with indignation in himself •' tomb 

•» Now it ^ •» against '• saith 

^^ offtit Martha ^' The sister of him that was dead, Martha 

'• omit dead '* add here '* if thou belicvedst 

'• They took away the stone therefore " omit from . . . laid 

'® thou heardest '• add myself •• multitude 

^^ standeth around ^ didst send ^ gravebands 



Contents, The manifestation of Jesus by 
Himself is about to terminate so far at least as the 
world is concerned, and it does so in His reveal- 
ing Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, the 
Conqueror of death in the very height of its power. 
The raising of Lazarus illustrates this. The 
account as a whole divides itself into two subordi- 
nate parts— {i) vers. 1-16; (2) vers. 17-44. 

Ver. I. Now a certain man was sick, Lazanu, 
of Bethany, firom the yillage of Mary and her 
■ister Mar t h a. The scene of the miracle to be 
related in this chapter is Bethany, a village (now 
small and poor) .about two miles south-east of 
Jerusalem over the southern shoulder of the Mount 
of Olives. Neither here nor in chap. i. 44 is the 
use of the two prepositions ' of* and ' from * in- 
tended to point to two different places, one the 
present abode, the other the original home ; but 
Bethany itself is ' the village of Mary and her 
sister Martha.* The circumstance referred to in 
ver. 2 probably accounts for the prior mention of 
Mary, for Martha appears to have been the elder 
sister (see Luke x. 38). The name Lazarus is 
Hebrew (a shortened form of Eleazar) but with a 
Greek termination. 

Ver. 2. (Now it was that Mary which anointed 
the lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with 
her hair, whose brother Lazams was sick.) 
These words seem intended to bring into view 
the closeness of the relation between Jesus and 
Mary. There are particulars in which this narra- 
tive closely resembles that of chap. ii. i-i i : as 
there we have the closest tie of kmdred, so here 
we read of the most intimate friendship. But the 
one tie as well as the other must yield to the voice 
of God. The anointing was when John wrote 
well and widely known (sec Matt. xxvi. 13): it 
is here specially mentioned in anticipation of 
chap. xii. 

Ver. 3. The sfstera therefore sent unto him 
nying, Lotd, behold, he whom thon lovest is 
sick. Their confidence in the love and in the 
(K)wer of Jesus is shown by the absence of any 
request : the message is a tender and delicate ex- 
pression of their need. With the description of 
l^azarus compare chap. xx. 2 (where the same 
verb for * love ' is used), * the disciple whom Jesus 

Ver. 4. But when Jesus heard that, he said. 
This sickness is not unto death, but for the 
glory of God, that the Son of God may be 
glorified tiierehy. The reply of Jesus is not 
represented as addressed to the messengers sent, 
or to the apostles, though probably spoken in 
the hearing of both. The point of importance 
is the foreknowledge of Jesus, to whom were even 
now present both the miracle and the result. The 
first result is expressed in the closing words, ' that 
the Son of God may be glorified thereby;* the 
ultimate aim in the former clause, * for the glory 
of God.* The true design of the sickness is not to 
bring death to Lazarus, but to glorify the Son of 
God, and by this means to bring glory to the 
Father. Compare chap. xvii. I. 

Ver. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her 
sister, and Lazama This simple record of His 
love for this family (note how significant is the 
separate mention of each one of the three) con- 
nects itself both with ver. 4 and also with the 
statement of vers. 5 and 6, these verses really con- 
stituting one sentence. The object of the Evan- 
gelist is to set before us the mind of Jesus : in 

ver. 4 we see the first principle of all, supreme 
regard to the glory of God ; here His love for 
those on whom the afHiction must fall, and whom 
(ver. 6) He cannot help save at the hour appointed 
by His Father. But when that hour has come, 
His obedience to His Father's will and His love 
for His sorrowing friends unite in leading Him to 
Bethuiy (ver. 7).— The word * loved * usai in this 
verse is different from that which we find in ver. 3. 
The sisters use that which belongs to tender 
human friendship (see note on chap. v. 20); the 
Evangelist the more lofty word, which so often 
expresses the relation of Jesus to His disciples. 
He loved them with a love with which the thought 
of His Father's love to Himself is mingled. 

Ver. 6. When he had heard therefore that he 
was rick, at tiiat time indeed he abode in the 
place where he was two days. * Therefore' is 
explained by the two verses which precede (sec the 
last note). He cannot accept the moment sug- 
gested by man (comp. chap. ii. 4); He cannot 
k)llow at once the prompting of His afiection for 
disciples. He will go to assua£;e their grief, but 
only at the moment appointed by the Father's 

Ver. 7. Then after that he saith to the dis- 
ciples, fiet us go into Judea again. Jesus does 
not say *to Bethany,* but to * Judea;* for He 
knows that this visit to Bethany will bring Him 
again into the midst of His enemies, 'the Jews,* 
and will lead to a development of their hatred and 
malice which will find satisfaction only in His 
death. In the full consciousness of what awaits 
Him He prepares to depart for Bethany. 

Ver. 8. The disciples say unto him, Bahhi, 
but now the Jews were seeking to stone thee; 
and goest thou thither again f The words ' but 
now * (only just now) seem to show that the sojourn 
in Perea (chap. x. 40) was short. The disciples 
see clearly that to go to Bethany is as perilous as 
to return to Jerusalem, where He has but now 
escaped from the rage of * the Jews * (chap. x. 31). 

Vers. 9, 10. Jesus answered. Are there not 
twelve hours of the day f If a man walk in the 
day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the 
light of this world. But if a man walk in the 
night he stumbleth, because the light is not 
in him. This is the parable of chap. ix. 4 in an 
expanded form. By the light which God makes 
to shine in the world, He marks out twelve hours 
as the appointed time for 'walking,* for active 
work; by the absence of this light, the night is 
marked out as the time when there can be no such 
work. So is the life of every man ordered by 
God. There is the appointed time for work, in- 
dicated by the Providence of God : in following 
the intimations of His will the man will 'not 
stumble,* will take no false step. He will not 
shorten the proper time for 'walking ; * for through- 
out the appointed twelve hours the finger of God 
will show the appointed work. It is only when 
man misses the Divine guidance, doing what no 
providential teaching has marked out, that he 
stumbleth: then he may well stumble, for the 
light (which during the day shines round him and 
entering the eye becomes within him light for 
guidance) is no longer in him. As applied to 
Himself the words of Jesus mean : ' Following the 
will of God which leads Me into Judea again, I 
am walking in the light, I cannot "stumble* what- 
ever may befall Me there.* 

Ver. II. These things said he : and after that 



he Mdth nnto them. Our friend Lazanu hath 
dllen asleep; bnt I go, that I may awake him 
oat of Bleep. No second message has been 
sent to Him; by His own Divine knowledge He 
apealcs of the death uf His friend. 

Ver. 12. The disciples therefore said nnto 
him. Lord, if he hath fallen asleep, he shall be 
saved. We can hardly escape the thought that 
they have in their mind some tidings brought at 
the same time with the message of ver. 3, descrip- 
tive of the nature of the illness. Was it some 
raging fever that threatened the life of Lazarus, 
then, if calm slumber has come upon him, he is 
safe ! Surely therefore it is no longer necessary 
for their Lord to expose Himself to peril by 
returning to Tudea. 

Ver. 13. Howheit Jesns had spoken of his 
death: bnt they thought that he spake of taking 
of lest in sleep. The 6gure can hardly have been 
here used by Jesus for the first time. The mis- 
conception of His meaning would seem to have 
arisen from His words in ver. 4, and from His 
delay in setting out for Bethany. 

Vers. 14, 15. Then therefore Jesns said nnto 
them plahdy, Lazams is dead. And I am glad 
for your shIdm, to the intent ye may bdieve, 
that I was not there; nevertheless let ns go nnto 
him. The words ' for your sakes ' are explained 
by the clause which follows, ' that ve may believe.' 
Already they believed in Him; out 'every new 
flight of faith is in its d^^ree a new beginning of 
faith, comp. chap. ii> 1 1 ' (Meyer). Had he come 
to Bethany while Lacarus lay sick, He would have 
healed his sickness; but great as might have been 
the miracle if He had done so, or if, arriving 
when Lazarus had just breathed his last, He had 
called back the departing spirit, in neither case 
would the disciples nave seen the crowning 'mani- 
festation ' of their Lord, or have believed in Him 
as ' the Resurrection and the Life.' The disciples 
are now awakened to the fact that they are moving 
into the presence of death. 

Ver. 16. Thomas therefore (which is called 
Sidymns) said nnto his fellow-disciples, Let ns 
also go, that we may die with him. That is, 
with Jesus (not with Lazarus). It is plain that 
Jesns cannot be turned aside by their counsels or 
pravers; He is certainly about to return to Judea, 
at the peril of His life. As they cannot save Him 
they may at least share His fate. This is the ex- 
hortation of Thomas to his fellow-disciples ; and 
it would seem that they shared his feelings, for the 
word ' fidlow-disciples ' (not found elsewhere in 
the New Testament), as compared with 'the 
other disciples ' of xx. 25, binds all the disciples 
into one. The language is undoubtedly that of 
fervent love to Jesus, but it b also the language of 
despair and vanished hope. This is the end of al), 
— aeath; not the Messianic kingdom, not life. 
Whether we are right in thinking that this feeling 
was shared by the other disciples, or not, it is very 
natural that Thomas should be the one to give ex- 
pression to it. FVom chap. xiv. 5, xx. 24, 25, we 
clearly perceive that sight is what he wants : when 
he sees not he gives himself up to despondency. 
It is remarkable that at every mention of this 
apostle John adds the Greek interpretation (Didy- 
mus, that is Twin) of the Aramaic name. It has 
been supposed that Didymus is the name with 
which Gentile Christians became most familiar; 
but if so it is singular that no other name tiian 
Thomas is foand in the Synoptic Gospels and the 

Acts. By others it is urged that the word 'Twin' 
is used with symbolic meaning, pointing to the two- 
fold nature of this apostle, in whom unbelief and 
faith, hope and tendency to despair, were strangely 
blended. With this statement the first paragraph 
of this narrative ends. The last words, ' I^t us 
also go, that we may die with him,' fitly close a 
section which, as Luthardt remarks, is dominated 
by the thought of death. 

Ver. 17. When therefore Jesus eame, he 
found that he had lain in the tomb four days 
already. The situation of the Perean Bethany 
(chap. X. 40) is so uncertain that we are unable to 
give a certain explanation of these four days. The 
distance from Jerusalem to the nearest point of the 
country beyond Jordan is not great (not much 
more than twenty miles), and could be traversed 
in a day. If then this was the situation of Bethany 
beyond Jordan, Jesus would reach the village of 
Martha and Mary on the second day from the 
commencement of His journey, and the fourth day 
from the reception of Uie news that Lazarus was 
sick (ver. 6). In this case the death of Lazarus 
must speedily have followed the departure of the 
messenger, and according to Eastern custom the 
body must on the same day have been laid in the 
tomb. Even if Bethany in Perea be placed at a 
somewhat greater distance from Jerusalem, this 
explanation removes all difficulties. Still it must 
be confessed that it is very natural to regard ver. 1 1 
as spoken at the moment of death, though there is 
nothing in the words ' hath fallen asleep ' to com- 
pel us to take this view. In that case tne journey 
(if commenced immediately) must have occupied 
more than two whole days ; yet even in this tncre 
is nothing difficult or improbable. Jesus reaches 
the village where the sisters lived on the fourth 
day of their mourning, when the lapse of time had 
brought home to them the hopelessness of their 

Ver. 18. Now Bethany is nigh unto Jenisa]em> 
about fifteen furlongs offl This verse is of im- 
portance, not merely as preparing for ver. 19, but 
also as showing that Jesus in visiting Bethany was 
coming into the immediate presence of His 
enemies. They had pronounced Him a blas- 
phemer, and they were determined to bring Him 
to the blasphemer's death (x. 3T, 39). 

Ver. 19. And many of the Jews had come to 
Martha and Hary, to oomfort them oonceming 
their brother. There is no ground whatever for 
understanding ' the Jews ' in any other sense than 
that which the expression regularly bears in this 
Gospel. Amongst those who came to pay to the 
bereaved sisters the visits of condolence during 
the seven dajrs of mourning, were many of the 
leaders of the people, many who were also leaders 
in hostility to Jesus. It is evident that the family 
of Bethany was one of distinction, and even their 
friendship to Jesus could not be a bar to their 
receiving from the Jews these offices of respect 
and S3rmpathy. But this is not the only contrast 
which the mention of the Jews calls forth. As 
leaders of the people, ruling in ' the city of their 
solemnities,' they were the representatives of their 
Church and religion ; and the ' comfort ' they can 
offer in the presence of death is no inapt symbol 
of all that Judaism could do for the mourner. 
Thus on the one side we have human sorrow and 
the vanity of human comfort in the presence of 
death ; on the other side we have Him who is the 



Ver. 2a Xartha therefore, when she heard 
thftt Jem WM coming, went and met him ; but 
ICary lat itill in the honoe. Every reader must 
be struck with the remarkable coincidence between 
thii narrative and that of Luke x. 38, 39, in the 
portraiture of the two sisters. Martha, even in 
the midst of her sorrow occupied with attention to 
family concerns, sees the messenger who announces 
the approach of Jesus and goes forth to meet Him, 
outsiae the village (ver. 30). Mary, absorbed in 
her grief, hears nothing of the message : it is not 
until Martha returns to her that she learns that 
Jesus is near. 

Ver. 21. Kartha therefore said nnto Jeeua, 
Lord, if thou hadat been here, my brother had 
not died. Her first words express no reproach, 
but only the bitter thought of help come too late. 
In His presence her brother could not have died 
(comp. ver. 15). Of the possibility that Jesus 
might have spoken the word of help, even though 
their message might reach Him too late to bring 
Him to their dying brother, she says nothing, 
thou^ the Jews, unchecked by the reverence of 
love, freely ask the question among themselves 
(ver. 37). 

Ver. 22. And even now I know that whatMWver 
tldnga then ahalt ask of God, God will give 
thee. The words of this verse are very remark- 
able. The presence of the great Friend and 
Helper seems to give a sudden quickening to 
Martha's faith. She had probably heard of the 
yrords of Jesus when the tidings of the sickness of 
Lazarus reached Him (ver. 4) ; and these words 
(which no doubt sorrow of heart and painful wait- 
ing had almost banished from her thought) surely 
gave ground for hope 'even now.* And yet, 
though truly expressive of the firmest confidence 
in Jesus, her words are vague ; and the later 
narrative seems to prove that no definite expecta- 
tion was present to her mind. The language is 
rather that of one who so believes in Jesus as to 
be assured that, where He is, help and blessing 
cannot be absent* 

Ver. 23. Jeeua aaith nnto her. Thy brother 
■hall liee again. The words are designedly 
ambiguous,— spoken to try her faith. Like our 
Lord s parables, they contain that of which faith 
may take hold and be raised into a higher region, 
but which unbelief or dulncss of heart will miss. 
Will the hope that Martha^s words have vaguely 
expressed now become clear and definite ? At all 
events the answer of Jesus will make her conscious 
to herself of what her faith reallv was. 

Ver. 24. Martha said unto nim, I know that 
he shall riie again in the resurrection at the 
last day. Jesus has told her only what she knew, 
fur every true Israelite believed that in the last 
day the just would rise. How vague the thought 
embodied in these words can hardly be understood 
by us, in whom the same words awaken memories 
of a Resurrection in the past which brings to us 
true knowledge of the resurrection at the last day. 
And if even with us, in the first hours of our 
sorrow, the clear doctrine avails so little, how 
small must have been the comfort which the be- 
lieving Israelite could attain in the presence of the 
dead ! Martha's words have now lost the hope 
which the sight of Jesus had awakened : tne 
present sorrow seems to admit of no relief. This 
moment of greatest need Jesus chooses for the 
greatest revelation of Himself. When all else has 
been seen to fail He will qomfort. 

Vers. 25, 26. Jesus said unto her, I am the 
resurrection and the life ; he that believeth in 
me, though he have died, yet shall he live; 
And every one that liveth and believeth in me 
shall never die. Believest thou this? The 
emphasis falls on the first two words, ' I,' ' am.* 
Martha's first expression of faith and hope had 
shown how impeifectly she knew Jesus Hunself : 
to Himself alone His words now point Het 
later words dwell on the resurrection in the re- 
moter future : Jesus says, * I am the resurrection 
and the life.* Alike in the future and in the 
present, life is unchangeably in Him (chap. i. 4), — 
and that the life which triumphs over death 
('resurrection*), the life by which death is ex- 
cluded and annulled. In other passages we read 
of Jesus as the Life, here only as the Resurrection : 
the latter thought is in truth contained in the 
former, and ne^s not distinct expression save in 
the presence of the apparent victory of death. It 
is possible that the meaning of our Lord's words 
is that He is the resurrection and the ii/e which 
foll&ufs the resurrection, — in Him His people rise 
again, and, having risen, live for ever ; but it is 
far more probable that this is only one part of the 
meaning. Because He is the Life, in the highest 
and absolute sense of this word, therefore He is 
the resurrecdon. He that believes in Him be- 
comes one with Him : every one, therefore, that 
believes in Him possesses this victorious life. If 
he has died, yet life is his : if he still lives among 
men, this earthly life is but an emblem and a part 
of that all-embracing life which shall endure for 
ever in union with the Lord of life. In all this 
the law which limits man's life on earth is not 
forgotten, but a revelation is given to man which 
changes the meaning of death. As Godet beauti- 
fully says : * Every believer is in reality and for 
ever sheltered from death. To die in full light, 
in the serene brightness of the life which is in 
Jesus, and to contmue to live in Him, is no longer 
that which human language designates by the 
name of death. It is as if Jesus said : In me' 
he who is dead is sure of life, and he who lives is 
sure never to die.' The original, indeed, is much 
more expressive than we can well bring out in 
English, * Shall never unto eternity die.* To the 
question, 'Believest thou this?' Martha answers 
(and the form of her answer is characteristic) : — 

Ver. 27. She saith nnto him, Yea, Lord: I 
have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son 
of God, he that cometh into the world. The 
substitution of * I have believed * for * I believe ' is 
striking. It seems to imply that she goes back on 
her previous belief, — securely founded, never 
shaken, — in which she knows that all He requires 
must be contained. His last words have been in 
some measure new and unfamiliar, and in her 
present state of mind she is incapable of com- 
paring the old and the new. But that which she 
has believed and still believes contains the fullest 
recognition of her Lord. She has received Him 
as the fulfilment of Messianic hope, the revelation 
of the Divine to man, the long-expected Redeemer 
of the world. 

Ver. 28. And when she had so said, she went 
away, and eaUed Mary her sister, saying secretly. 
The Teacher is come, and calleth thee. We 
cannot doubt that Mary until now had been in 
ignorance of the coming of Tesus, or that it was at 
His bidding that Martha told her sister secretly o! 
His call for her. That which He was about to do 

sec ; Ihcrc- 

[CHAP. XI. l-4t. 

He would hsTc failh, not unbelief, 
fore Maiy must be callcil ' secretly.' 

Ver. 39. And ihe, wlien ihe heard It, atooo 
qnlekly, and vent nnto him. Mark the character- 
istic touch in the words ' arose quickly ' (comp. vcr. 
30), ' Went unto,' i.e., atartfil on her way, for it 
il in ver. 33 that the nctual coming i^; spoken of. 

Ver. 30. How Jeraa ■wtm not fst oome into 
tha TlUiiBB, bnt wu still in that place where 
Kftrthft met him. AToiding the [ncsencc of ' Ihe 
Tewi,' so pninful and incongninus at such a time. 
' : purely parenthetical. 

e comforting her, Wother 

Ver. „ 
witb her In the boiue, Midw 
vben they uw Muy, that she r 
and went ont, roUowed her, mppodng tlut she 
want onto the tomb to lament there. The 
movements of her lisler had suggestc<l no such 
thoi^t ; but as soon as Mary rose and went out, 
only one explanation seemeil possible. She sought 
to pp alone, Iml, accnrdin^ to the cuslom of the 

East, the friends who were with her attend ber la 
the totnb to join in her lamentation over Ihe dead. 
That they will meet Jesus has apparently not 
entered into their thought. 

Ver. 32. Hary, thereTore, when the came 
where Jesni was, seeing him fell at hi> feet, ny- 
Ing nnto him, Lord, if tbon hadat been here, my 
brother bad not died. Her first words ore nearly 
the same as her si^tter's ; there is only in the Greek 
a slight difference in the place of ' my' which gives 
» touching emphasis to the expression of personal 
loss. Often may the listen have repeated mch 
words during their hours of an^isb, wlien their 
■ ■' sinking before tbcir eyes. Mary's 

i up qalekly absorbing grief makes other words impossible ; 
■' " "" ■ she falls at the feci of Jesus weeping. 

Ver. 33. When Jeeoi therefore nw ber lament- 
ing, and the Jewa lamenting which came with 
her, he wai moved with indignation in Ida 
s;)irit, and troabled himself. There is litllc 
ilnulit thai the first word describing the emotion 

of Jesui denotes mlhcr anger hin sorro Such 
is lU rcgnlar meaning; an I though New Tes a 
ment usage partly gives a d fferent turn to the 
word, yet in every passage it mpl ct a seventy of 
lone and feeling (hat is very 1 frerenl from grief 
In Mark xiv. 5 it expresses ndignation al what 
ippeircd tecklcsa waste an 1 in Ma t ix 30 and 
Mark i. 43 it ilenotes stem 1 1I ng a seventy Ibii 
marked Ihe giving of the chaise white n he 
Septuaginl Ihe noun derived from the verb s used 
lo translate the Hebrew noun s (^ fy ng n iLgn-i 
tion or anger. The only olhcr passage in the New 
Testament in which we find the word is ver. 38 of 
this chapter. Thai we are 10 understand il os 
implying rmgcr seems thu^ to lie clear, and we are 
slrengihcneil in IhLs conelosion by Ihe fact that the 
early Greek fathers take it in this sense. It is 
more difficult to answer the question, At whal 
was Jc«us angry? It has been rcpliedHO nt 
Ilimwir, 1>ccause He was moved to a sympathy 
— ' —impassion wAicb il irnis ttteiiful to restrain. 
'"'% spirit aic suppnied 

In this case the wonls ' 

to be d rectiy governed by the verb- was in- 
d gnant at His sp r t Bui such a use of ' spiril ' 
IS surely imposs ble wh le Ihc explanat on as n 
whole does v olenec lo those concept ons (rf the 
human ly of our Lord wh ch this very Gospel 
leaches us to form — (a) at the unbcl ef and hyjio. 
critical wceji ng of the Jews But many oTlhom 
were to bel e e (ver 45) on I there is nothing lo 
nd catc thai the r weep ng was not gcnoinc. 
Dcsides th s, the emol on of Jesus s traced to the 
lament ng of Maiy not less than to that of Ihe 
Jews ; nnd (he whole narrative gains immeasur- 
ably in force if we suppose (he lader to have been 
as sincere as the former ;— (3) at (he misery brought 
into the world by sin. This explanation apncara 
ii|K>n (be whole' lo be (he most probable. As (o 
(he words 'in His spiri(,' without entering into 
any discussion of a iliflicult sulijecl, we may say 
Ihat, OS ' the spirit ' denotes the highest (and so to 
speak) innermost pari of man's nature, (he language 
shows Ihat onr Lord's nature was stirred to iis 
very deplh. Tliis reference to the spiril assists 111 



in understanding the words that fullow 'and 
troubled Himself : ' the indignation and horror of 
the spirit threw the whole '^If * into disturbance. 
The jncaning of chap. xiii. 21, where a similar 
expression occurs, is substantially the same : there 
we read that, at the thought of the presence of 
sin, of such evil as was aboSt to show itself in His 
betrayal by Judas, Jesus was ' troubled ' (that is, 
agitated, disturbed) 'in His s piri t. * 

Vers. 34, 35. And he said, where have ye laid 
him ? They aay nnto him. Lord, come and see. 
Jesus irept. The question is addressed to the 
sisters, and *the Jews' give place to them in 
thought, for it is in sympathy with the bitter 
anguish of those whom He loves (well though He 
knows that He is about to assuage their gricO 
that the tears of Jesus are shed. The word differs 
from that used in vers. 31, 33, where the meaning 
is not calm weeping, but lamentation and wailing. 

Vers. 36, 37. The Jews therefore said, Behom 
how he loved him! Bnt some of them said. 
Could not this man, which opened the eyes of 
him that was blindi, have caused that this man 
also should not die? Again there is a division 
amongst the Jews. Many recognise the natural- 
ness of His tears, as a proof of His love for the 
departed. But some (in no spirit of simple wonder 
and perplexity, but in unfriendliness) ask why He 
had not prevented the calamity over which He is 
mourning. They may mean, As He gave sight to 
the blind man, could He not, if He had really 
wished, have stayed the ix)wer of the fatal disease ? 
But it is also possible that they merely assume the 
former miracle for the purpose of invalidating it : 
If He really did give sight, why could He not 
heal the sickness ? To heal diseases was to them 
a less wonderful act than to give sight to one bom 
blind. We are compelled to assume an unfriendly 
spirit of the second question, partly because of 
John's use of the term *the Jews,* partly from the 
analogy of many other passages in which He 
records the opposing comments of different sections 
of the party : the sequel also (vers. 45, 46) seems 
naturally to suggest such a division. The recur- 
rence (in vcr. 38) of the word discussed above 
(ver. 33) is thus very easily explained. 

Ver. 38. Jesus therefore again moved with 
indignation in himself cometh to the tomb. 
Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 
The indignation was again excited either by the 
malicious comment just made by some of the Jews, 
or by the renewed recollection of the power of 
evil m the world. Like Jewish tombs in general, 
this was a natural cave or, more probably, a vault 
artificially excavated in the limestone rock. The 
entrance was close<l by a stone, which lay against 
it (or possibly upon it). This verse again furnishes 
an indication that the family was not poor. 

Ver. 39. Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. 
The ^ter of him that was dead, Martha, saith 
unto him. Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he 
hath been four days here. No expectation of 
some great blessing which God will give in answer 
to the prayer of Jesus (vcr. 22) is now in Martha's 
mind. She cannot understand the removal of the 
stone. To her, as the (elder) sister, the right of 
expostulation belonged ; and it is in the simplest 
and most direct terms that she urges that the dead 
may not be exposed to the living. Nothing could 
more vividly dlustrate the power which at this 
moment death wielded alike over the body of the 
departed and his sister's spirit. It is probably to 

bring out this power in the most forcible manner 
possible that not only is Martha described as ' Uie 
sister of him that was dead,' but that the descrip- 
tion precedes her name. How differently does 
the Evangelist himself feel ! It is instructive to 
observe that in the words ' him that was dead ' he 
changes the term for death, using not that of 
ver. 26, but another which expresses simply coming 
to the end of life. 

Ver. 40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto 
thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest 
see the glory of God f Martha would have pre- 
vented the removal of the stone ; but this wish was 
but a symbol of a real hindrance in (he Saviour's 
way,— her decline in faith. She has for the time 
come completely under the influence of 'the 
things seen : ' the reality of her loss is too much 
for her, and she cannot join the words of Jesus in 
vers. 25, 26 with His present actions. In saying 

* believe ' he recalls those words of His to her 
thought ; and not those words only, but also His 
first saying (ver. 4), that the sickness was 'not 
unto death, but for the glory of God.' 

Vers. 41, 42. They took away the stone there- 
fore. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said. 
Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. 
And I myself knew that thou hearest me always; 
but because of the multitude which standetii 
around I said it, that they may believe that 
thou didst send me. The words are not a prayer, 
but a thanksgiving for prayer answered. What 
He is about to do is given by the Father in answer 
to His prayer. But had Jesus said no more than 
this, though the miracle would have ministered to 

* the glory of God * (ver. 4), yet even this purpose 
would have been attained in an inferior degree : 
the Father receives true glory when Jesus is acknow- 
ledged, not merely as a Prophet, whose prayer is 
heard, but as the Son of God. To His thanks- 
giving Jesus adds words which implicitly declare 
the whole relation of the Father to the Son. The 
hearing of prayer for which He has given thanks 
is no isolated act, but is one manifestation of 
an unceasing communion. Whilst uttering the 
words of prayer or of thanksgiving, He knew 
that the Father heard Him always: the words 
were spoken for the sake of the multitude, that 
they might Ix^licve the truth of His mission. Had 
they witnessed the miracle unaccompanied by this 
appeal to His Father, they might well have glori- 
fied God who had given such power unto men, 
and acknowledged that as a wonder-working 
Prophet Jesus was sent and empowered by God. 
But if the power of God is manifested now, when 
this solemn claim is made of constant communion 
with God, with God as * Father,' the seal of the 
Father is set upon Him as the Son and the Sent 
of God. The word * multitude ' is remarkable. It 
cannot signify number only and refer to * the Jews ' 
before spoken of. John always employs this word 
in another sense, and indeeil in marked distinc- 
tion from the ruling class, * the Jews.' It is clear 
then that many were now present, — persons who 
had accompanied Jesus from Perea and friends and 
neighbours of the family of Bethany. 

Vers. 43, 44. And when he thus had spoken, 
he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth; 
and he tiiat was dead came forth, bound httid 
and foot with gravebands: and his face was 
bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto 
them, Loose him, and let him go. The words 
' bound hand and foot ' perhaps convey a wrong 


impression : as the more literal meaning is 'his his sisters. It is Jesus Himself who is the centre 
hands and his feet bound with gravebands,* it is of the scene, who has shown Himself the Re- 
very possible that the limbs were separately bound, surrection and the Life. Even the impression 
so that, life having returned, free movement was which this most wonderful of miracles produces is 
permitted to them. The miracle wrought, the recorded only in its rehilion to Jesus and to belief 
Evangelist adds nothing concerning Lazarus or in Him. 

Chapter XI. 45-57. 

The effect of the raising of Lazarus, 

45 T^HEN many * of the * Jews which * came to Mary, and had «V€r 19. 

X seen* the things which Jesus did, believed on* him. 

46 * But some of them went their ways* to the Pharisees, and told ^^^\.^l^ 
them what things Jesus had done. "- "5- 

47 *" Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees • a council, ' Matt. xxvi. 
and said, ''What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.' ^^p-x»- 

48 If we let him thus alone, 'all men will believe on* him: and '^X^'* 
the Romans shall* come and take away both our place and* JJ]-; t^^^^^i. 

49 nation. And *** one of them, named Caiaphas, being the " high 

priest -^ that same year," said unto them. Ye know nothing at/^^si^j. 

50 all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us," that ^ one man ^ ^^^^ ^^^ 
should die for the people, and that " the whole nation perish ^''"^ '*• 

51 not. And" this spake he not of himself: but being high 

priest that" year, he * prophesied that Jesus should" die for ^Swl?*^!* 

52 that" nation; And not for that" nation only, but that also Num.xxvH. 
'he should gather together in one" the * children of God that '"^I'^t 

53 were"® scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took xchi'jTi'.ii, 
counsel together** for to put" him to death. Rom.Viu.15; 

54 Jesus therefore ' walked no more openly among the Jews ; , johniii. /. 
but went" thence unto a country" near to the wilderness, into ^^^^ "*** 
a city called Ephraim, and there continued" with his" dis- 

55 ciples. And the '"Jews' passover" was nigh at hand: and **^^p *"• * 
many went out of the country up to Jerusalem ** before the 

56 passover, to * purify themselves. Then '^ sought they" for "SS^Sif*^* 
Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the Jx?^"'i8. 
temple," What think ye, that he will not come to the feast .? *»chap.;ii. 

57 Now both" the chief priests and the Pharisees had ^ given a /J^™?-^'" 
commandment," that, if any man knew where he were, he 
should shew it, that they might take " him. 

• Many therefore ' they which * and beheld * in * went away 

• The chief priests and the Pharisees therefore gathered '' signs 

• will » add o\xr *® IJut a certain " omii the 
*' of that year ^' profitable for you ** omit that " But 

" of that 17 was about to " the 

'* but that he might also gather together into one '® are 

** From that day forth therefore they took counsel '^ that thev might put 

" add away *^ into the country ** abode *' the 

*7 passover of the Jews •* went up to Jerusalem out of the countr}- 

'• They sought therefore '** temple-courts ** omit both 

" commandments •* seize 


Contents. The most striking of all the mira- 
cles of Jesus has been performed, and His mani- 
festation of Himself to the world has ended. The 
effect is proportionate. On the one hand, faith is 
awakened in the hearts of 'many' of His most 
<Ietennined enemies ' the Jews.' On the other 
hand, final measures are taken to seize and kill 
Him. Jesus retires to a city near the wilderness 
along with His disciples. It is the pause before 
the Ust journey to Jerusalem, to which He is to 

?3 as the Paschal Lamb selected for the true 
aschal sacrifice and feast. The subordinate parts 
are— (i) vers. 45, 46 ; (2) vers. 47-53 ; (3) vers. 

Ver. 45. Many therefore of the Jews, they 

which came to Mary, and beheld the things 
which Jesns did, believed in him. The state- 
ment is very remarkable, but the language of the 
original is so clear as to leave no doubt as to the 
meaning. The great manifestations of our Lord to 
the people, whether in word or in miracle, were 
usually, as we have several times seen, followed 
l^ a marked division of opinion and feeling among 
His hearers. There is such a division in the 
present instance, as the next verse shows ; but the 
effect of the miracle is great beyond precedent, for 
a// those of ' the Jews * who had come to the house 
of Mary (ver. 19), and who with her witnessed the 
actions of Jesus, became believers in Him. 

Ver. 46. Bnt some of them went away to the 
Fhftiiseea, and told them what things Jesus had 
dime. It is impossible, we think, that what is 
here related can have been done with friendly 
motives, or firom a mere sense of duty to men 
whose office made them spiritual guides of the 
people. The analogy of many passages in which 
John similarly records diverging opinions makes 
It plain that the giving of this information to the 
Pharisees was an act of hostility to Jesus. If so, 
the word ' them ' at the beginning of the verse must 
refer to * the Jews * in general, not to those who 
are described in the preceding verse. Some of 
* the Jews * may have been found amongst the 
multitude which, as we know, stood round (ver. 
42), having no connection with the mourning of 
the sisters, and therefore not included in the 
description of ver. 45. At this period of our Lord's 
history the Pharisees have as a body declared 
against Him ; to this large and powerful sect, 
therefore, the news of the event is brought. 

Ver. 47. The chief priests and the Pharisees 
therefore gathered a conncil, and said. What 
do we ? for this man doeth many signs. Here, 
probably for the first time in this Gospel, we read 
of a meeting of the Sanhedrln, — not a formal meet- 
ing, but one hastily summoned in the sudden 
emergency that had arisen, (See the note on chap, 
vii. 32.) The question 'What do we?' is not so 
much deliberative ( IV/iat are we to do ?) as reproach- 
ful of themselves. What are we doing ? This man 
(a designation of dislike or contempt) is working 
many miracles and we do nothing, — take no steps 
to prevent the evil that must follow ! The Evan- 
gelist is careful to preserve their testimony against 
themselves ; in the moment of their rage they 
acknowledge the ' many signs ' of Jesus, and con- 
fess themselves without excuse. 

Ver. 48. If we let him thus alone, all men 
will believe in him : and the Romans will come 
and take away boUi onr place and onr nation. 
The fear was natural. It is true that they were 
already subject to the Roman power. But, with 

their usual policy towards tributary states, the 
Romans had left them their worship, temple, and 
religious administration, untouched. If Jfesus 
(whom they ten// not recognise in His religious 
claims) shall be owned as Messiah, and popular 
tumult shall ensue, all these privil^es will be 
taken away from them. Their fear therefore b 
real ; their guilt lay not in a hypocritical pretence 
of alarm, but in their wilful, blindness to the truth. 
There can be no doubt whatever that their words 
are quoted by the Evangelist as an unconscious 
prophecy (comp. chap. vii. 35, xiL 19, xix. 19, 
and below, ver. 50), or rather as a prophecy to be 
fulfilled in that irony of events which shall bring 
on them in their unbelief the very calamities they 
feared, while faith would have secured for them 
the contrasted blessings. Because the Jewish 
people did not believe in Jesus but rejected Him, 
the Romans did take away both their ' place and 
nation : ' had they believed the^ would have been 
established for ever in the spiritual kingdom of 
the Messiah. 

Vers. 49, ^o. Bnt a certain one of them, 
named Gaiaphas, being high priest of that year, 
said unto them. Ye know nothing at all, nor 
consider that it is profitable for yon that one 
man should die for the people, and the whole 
nation iierish not. Caiaphas was a Sadducee, a 
powerful and crafty man. He was high priest for 
about eighteen years (a.d. 18-36), but is here 
spoken of by the Evangelist (as in chap, xviii. 13) as 
being ' high priest of that year.' 'This remarkable 
expression has no reference to the high priest's 
precarious tenure of office in those times (as many 
as 25 high priests are Enumerated in the century 
preceding the destruction of Jerusalem) ; nor is 
there the smallest pretence for attributing to the 
Evangelist a historical mistake (such as a belief 
that the office was annual !). The simple meaning 
is that Caiaphas was high priest in that memorable 
year, in which the true sacrifice for the sins of the 
people was offered, by that death of which the 
high priest unconsciously prophesied, and in caus- 
ing which moreover he was m great measure the 
instrument. The first words spoken by Caiaphais 
are in their brusque haughtiness characteristic of the 
sect to which he belonged. His whole address to 
the Pharisees is marked by heartless selfishness. 
' If we let him alone we shall be brought to ruin,' 
the Pharisees had said : 'Save yourselves and let 
Him perish,' is the uncompromising answer of this 
high priest. He seems to use two very different 
words in the same sense : * people ' was the name 
of Israel in its theocratic aspect, ' nation ' (the 
word the Pharisees had used) was a term common 
to Israel with all other peoples of the world. 
' People ' is a name which the Sanhedrists would 
use in reference to their own rule ; 'nation' is that 
which the Romans would attack and destroy. 
The further significance of his language will after- 
wards appear (see note on the next verse). 
Unscrupulous and utterly unjust as this counsel 
was, it was politic and crafty. It will commend 
them to the Romans if they can show themselves 
willing to destroy any one of whom it may be even 
pretended that he seeks to disturb their rule. 

Vers. 51, j2. But this spake he not of himself: 
but bdng high priest of that year, he prophesied 
that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and 
not for the nation only, but that he might also 
gather together into one the children of God 
that are scattered abroad. The words are a 


prophecy : heartless and unscrupulous in meaning The wilderness will be ' the wild uncultivated 

and intention, they are so controlled as to express hill country north-east of Jerusalem, lyine between 

profound and blessed truth. In the earlier days the central towns and the Jordan valley (Diet, of 

of the nation a prophetic spirit was ever believed BibU^ i. 569. Sec also Stanley, Sinat and Pales- 

to rest upon the high priest (comp. Ex. xxviii. tiney pp. 214, 419). 

jOj Num. xxvii. 21, Hosea iii. 4). When the Ver. 55. And the pasaover of the Jews was 

office became dec;raded, and the high priest the nigh at hand. On these words see the notes on 

servant of ambition and covetousness, prophetic chap. ii. 13, vi. 4. No one who has followed the 

guidance was no longer sought from him ; but, as narrative of this Gospel with care up to the pre- 

in the Old Testament we read of false prophets sent point can doubt that the expression is used 

who in spite of themselves were compelled to be with deep, indeed with terrible significance. — And 

the medium of proclaiming God's will, so is it many went up to Jenualem ont of the country 

iierc. We see now the significance of the words before the pasaover, to purify themselvee. It 

' people * and ' nation.* He prophesied that Jesus does not appear that there was any special injunc- 

should die for the nation, — i.r., for the Jews, tion with regard to purification before the Passover; 

henceforth but one of the nations of the world, for such passages as Num. ix. 6-1 1, 2 Chron. 

ranked with the Gentiles whom they scorned, xxx. 17-20, would rather indicate that from the 

The object of this death should also be, ' that He peculiar importance of this feast it was to be 

might gather into one the children of God that are observed even where the purification required 

scattered abroad.' This latter prophecy is found before all great events could not be obtiined. 

by the Evangelist in the word * people ' of ver. 50, There can be no doubt, however, that it fell under 

'that one man should die for the people,* No the general law of purification, and that defiled 

longer does this name belonjp; to Jews alone. The ])ersons did not feel themselves qualified to partake 

lacrifice is offered in behalf of all the children of of the Passover (comp. chap, xviii. 28). These 

God, all to whom the Father offers sonship, strangers from the country, therefore, assembled in 

gathered henceforth into one under the new name Jerusalem several days before the festival, that in 

of * the people ' of God. Compare the striking the holy city they might seek the preparation that 

parallels in chap. vii. 3<, x. 16, xvii. 20. was requisite. 

Ver. 53. From that day forth, therefore, they Ver. 56. They sought therefore for Jesus, and 

took counsel that they might put him to death, spake among themselves, as they stood in the 

Not that they might pass sentence of death upon temple-courts, What think ye, that he will not 

him; that is done: but that they might execute come to the feast f The language is that of 

the sentence. Their previous efforts of rage against earnest and interested inquiry. Those who are 

Jesttt had been connected with moments of special talking together are friendly to Jesus, and hopeful 

excitement ; henceforward they are deliberate, and expectant that He will appear at the festival, 

determined, constimt. The cup of iniquity of The groups assemble in the temple-courts, where 

••the Jews' is full. many of them may have come to bring offerings 

Ver. 54. JesuB therefore walked no more for purification (ver. 55), and where Jesus had been 

openlyamcngthe Jews; but went away thence wont to teach. The word 'therefore* at the 

into tiie country near to the wilderness, into a bc^nning of this verse seems to point to the 

oi^ called Ephraim, and there abode with the pnvacy into which Jesus had retired (ver. 54). 

disciples. The time of ' free speech * (see note on These pilgrims came to Jerusalem, hoping to meet 

chap. vii. 4) was at an end : from this time Jesus with Jesus, but they saw Him not : they sought 

avoided communication with 'the Jews,' no longer Him therefore, etc (comp. chap. vii. 11). 

vouchsafing to them the word which they heard Ver. ^7. Now the chief priests and the Phari- 

only to reject. The place to which He withdrew sees had given commandments, that if any man 

afforded a deeper solitude than that sought by knew where he were, he should shew it that 

. Him a little while before (chap. x. 40). The they might seize him. As the last verse has 

crisis in His life is graver ; the retirement which described the eager interest of the friends of Jesus, 

he seeks is more profound. There is no mention this verse presents a picture of His enemies. In 

now (as in chap. x. 41) of many who resorted unto pursuance of the resolve related alx)ve (ver. 53) 

Him : the town to which He retired is described commandments had been issued — the plural seems 

as 'near to the wilderness.* Ephraim, possibly to point to orders sent to all parts of the land — 

the same as Ophrah (l Sam. xiii. 17), is commonly that all the faithful should aid the rulers in appre- 

identified with el-Taiyibeh, a village 16 miles from bending Jesus. These latter verses show us the 

Jerusalem and 4 or 5 east of Kethel, situated on a friends and the foes of Jesus alike occupying the 

hill which commands the valley of the Jordan, field in preparation for the end. 

Chapter XII. 1-36. 

Homage to Jesus, who in Death triumphs over Death. 

1 'T^HEN Jesus* six days before the "passover came to /ii^v. xxiu 5. 
JL Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead,* 

' Jesus therefore * omit which had been dead 


2 whom * he raised * from the dead. ^ There * they made him a * chap. xi. 

43, 44* 

supper : and Martha served : but Lazarus was one of them that «^ Maw. xxvi 

* * ' 6-ix; Mark 

3 sat at the table with him. Then took Mary * a pound of oint- «^- 3-«. 
ment of ^spikenard, very costly,^ and "^ anointed the feet of Jesus, "^q^^^^Jj; 
and ' ' wiped his feet with her hair : and the house was filled jv"» '^- *3» 

4 with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, ^ ^"S* ^"^ 

» ' vu. 30, 44. 

5 Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,' Why 
was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given 

6 to the poor ? This • he said, not that " he cared for the poor ; 

but because he was a thief, and ^ had " the ^ bag, and " * bare " /Coipp. chap. 

7 what was put therein. Then said Jesus," Let her alone : ^l^^^^^^ 

8 against the day of my burying hath she kept this." For ' the Aalap.x.31. 
poor always ye have with you ; but me ye have not always. *J!j*,i**,^ 

9 Much people " of the Jews therefore knew " that he was there : ' ^"'•*^ "• 
and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might 

10 see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the 
chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to 

1 1 death ; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went 
away, and believed on " Jesus. 

12 On" the next day much people"® that were come to the 
feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 

13 *Took" branches of* palm trees, and went forth to meet * Matt. xxi. 
him, and cried," 'Hosanna: Blessed is the '^Kiner of Israel xi.7-10; 

Luke xix. 

14 that Cometh in the name of the Lord." And Jesus, *when he 35-38. ^ 

/» Comp. Rev. 

15 had found a young ass, sat thereon ; as it is written, Fear not, ,^^-9- ... 
daughter of Zion : behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's ^^|<^ ^^ . 

16 colt ^ These things understood not his disciples at the first: ^^^ ^^^ 
but when Jesus was ^ glorified, then remembered they that these jj^xi 1 • 
things were written of him, and ^/lat they had done" these ^z?ch!ti*^" 

17 things unto him. The people" therefore that was with him^cJ^^^;*- 
when he called Lazarus out of his grave>" and raised him from y\^^"*' 

18 the dead, bare record."' For this cause" the people also met ^f'^^^i^' 
him," for that they ""heard that he had done this miracle.'* qSLpVc^ap 

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves. Perceive ye 
how ye " prevail nothing ? behold," the world is gone ** after 

• whom Jesus had raised * add therefore * Mary therefore took 

• precious ' add she 
^ But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, he that was about to betray him, 


• But this ^® because ^* having 
*' omi/ and ^* bare away ^* Jesus therefore said 
^^ that for the day of the preparation for my burial she may keep it 
^* The common people *' learned ^® in ^® omt/ On 
*® the common people '^ add the *' and they cried out 
'* Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, and, The King of Israel 
'* did '* multitude '• out of the tomb *' witness ^ add also 
'• the multitude went to meet him '** because they *^ sign 
•* Behold how that ye •"* lo ** add away 

XI. 4. 


20 ''And there were certain" Greeks" among them that came rchap.vii. 

21 up to worship at the feast: The same" came therefore to 

* Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired ^* him, ' Chap. i. ^4. 

22 saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth 

23 'Andrew: and again" Andrew*® and Philip*' tell Jesus. And 

Jesus answered *" them, saying, ' The hour is come, that the Son ^seechap. 

24 of man should be ^glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
■'Except a*' corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it »iCor.xv. 
abideth ** alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 

25 ^ He that loveth his life ** shall lose " it ; and he that hateth his vMau. x. 39: 

Luke xvu. 

26 life *• in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man " ^^ ^^^ 
serve me, let him "'follow me; and -^ where I am, there shall J^^^ 
also my servant be: if any man*^ serve me, him will ^^^y*^ y^^^^^y^^ 

27 Father honour. Now is my soul 'troubled; and what shall I ^chjp^j^. 33^ 
say ? " Father, save me from *• this hour : but for this cause came ^cim"*Mau. 

28 I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there *® "^*' ^s, 39. 
a voice from ** heaven, sayings I have both glorified //, and will 

29 glorify // again. The people*" therefore, that stood by, and 
heard //, said that it thundered : *' others said, An angel spake ** 

30 to him. Jesus answered and said, * This voice came not because * Co^p. chap. 

XI. 42. 

31 of me,** but for your sakes. Now is the*' judgment of this <^chap.xvi. 

0| XX* 

32 world : now shall the "^ prince of this world be cast out. And dCha.^,xi\'. 

** * 30, XVI. II. 

I, if I be ' lifted up from *' the earth, will draw all men unto P«np- m^u. 

33 me.*' This*' he said, -^signifying what" death he should die. ^si^'chap. 

34 The people '* answered him. We have heard out of the ^ law /chi^xviu. 
that Christ" abideth for ever: and how sayest thou. The Son ^??ia"*i.'^. 

35 of man must be lifted up } " who is this Son of man i Then 
Jesus'* said unto them, * Yet a little while is ^ the light with'* *^£iiT*33, 
you. Walk while" ye have the light, lest" darkness *come S!;i^'*''** 
upon you:'* for" he that walkcth in darkness '' knoweth not 'uuif^' 

36 whither he goeth. While ye have light," believe in the light, *^^-^5. 
that ye maybe the ^children of light." These things spake 'e"J%*^*.®' 
Jesus, and departed," and '"did hide himself* from them. mc£!***^V^ 

"some ^^ad^from ''These »« asked s9.xiic.20. 

•• omil and again *** add cometh ** add and they *' answereth 

"the **^^ itself "soul *« loseth 

*' one *» the *® out of 

•® There came therefore *^ out of *' multitude *' had thundei^d 

** hath spoken ** Not for my sake hath this voice come *• there 

" lifted on high out of ** myself *^ But this •** by what manner of 

•^ multitude therefore ^* the Christ ** lifted on high 

*** Jesus therefore *•* among •• as *' that 

•® overtake you not •* and '* the darkness 

'* As ye have the light " that ye may become sorts of light 

'• and went away '* and was hidden 

Contents. Jesus has been doomed to death of God. In the midst of dangers, under sentence 

UL 5^, 57), and the hour is at hand when lie shall of death, the Redeemer pursues His paUi of glory, 

be seized, and the sentence executed. But the Three pictures illustrating this are presented m the 

malice of man cannot interfere with the purposes section of the twelfth chapter now before us. Tlu; 


subordinate parts of this section are — (i) vers. Ver. 2. There therefore they made him a 
i-ii, the anointing in Bethany; (2) vers. 12-19, supper; and Hartha served: but Lazama waa 
the triumphal entry into Jerusalem ; (3) vers, one of them that sat at the taUe with him. 
20-36, the homage of the Greeks to Jesus* Two points only are mentioned by John, that a 
Ver. I. Jesns therefore, six days before the feast was given in honour of Jesus, and that every 
paasover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, member of the family so signally blessed was 
whom Jesus had raised from the dead. The present. By whom, when, and where, the feast 
^ovdi'thtrefore marks a close connection with the was given, are questions to which he returns no 
preceding chapter, not however with its concluding answer. Different conclusions may be drawn from 
words. The 56th and 57lh verses of chap, xi., the words of this verse; but ihey seem most 
describing how the thought of both friends and naturally to imply that the entertainment was not 
foes was intently fixed on Jesus and His possible given in the house or by the family of Lazarus, 
presence at the festival, form a very natural in- It is true that 'Martha served,' yet we may well 
troduction to the narrative of this chapter, but in suppose that, wherever the feast took place, this 
strict historical sequence the verse before us con- was an office she would claim ; and the insertion 
nects itself with the general statement of chap. xi. of the clause relating to Lazarus is hardly to be 
55. As to the particular date here spoken of accounted for if Jesus were a guest in his house, 
there has been much difference of opinion, but it As to the question of time, ver. 12 seems to show 
does not seem difficult to arrive at the most that the evening of the feast must have been that 
probable meaning. The point from which the following the sabbath rather than the evening with 
Evangelist reckons is beyond doubt, we think, the which the sabbath commenced. Between this 
14th day of Nisan or Abib, the first month in the verse therefore and ver. I we must interpose the 
Jewish sacred year. * In the fourteenth day of rest of the sabbath. We are now at liberty to turn 
the first month at even is the Lord's Passover' to the account of the S3moptists. Luke relates 
(Lev. xxiiL 5). On this fourteenth day, 'between nothing (in connection with this period) that is 
the evenings * (Ex. xii. 6), that is (probably) similar to the narrative before us ; but the other 
between sunset and the time when darkness came two Evangelists describe a supper and an anoint- 
on, the Paschal lamb was to be slain. With the ing which manifestly are identical with what John 
evening of the fourteenth day however (using day records here. Some slight differences in detail 
in its ordinary sense) began according to Jewish will be called up as the narrative proceeds : the 
reckoning the fifteenth day of the month, which, only serious question is one relating to time. In 
lasting until the following sunset, was the first of Matt. xxvi. 2 we are brought to a date two days 
the seven days of unleavened bread. The Paschal before the Passover, whereas the feast in question 
meal, therefore, was eaten at the close of the four- is related in later verses (6-13). (Compare also 
teenth natural day, but at the beginning of the the parallel section in Mark xiv.) But there b 
fifteenth day according to the computation of the nothing whatever in Matthew's account to fix the 
Jews. Starting then from the 14th of Nisan, the timt of the feast ; and both the structure of his 
'six days' will most probably bring us to the 8th; gospel and the apparent links of connection in thb 
and if, as is generally believed, the 15th of Nisan particular narrative are consistent with the view 
fell on Friday in this year, the 8th will coincide ordinarily taken, that at ver. 6 he goes back to 
with the same day in the preceding week. The relate an earlier event, which furnished occasion 
only doubt rcsixrcting the correctness of this view to Judas for furthering the design of the rulers, as 
arises from a peculiarity sometimes found in Jewish recorded in the first verses of the chapter. If then 
notes of time, — both the first day and the last in an there is no doubt of the identity of the events 
interval being included in the reckoning, so that mentioned by the Synoptists and by John, we 
' six davs before ' might really mean * the sixth day learn that the feast was given in the house of 
before, that is 'five days before:* but as it is Simon the leper, a person of whom we know 
certain that the Jews themselves could speak of nothing more. 

' one day before the Passover ' (using this very form Ver. 3. Mary therefore took a pound of oint- 
of expression), — words to which only one meaning ment of spikenard, very precious. By ointment 
can possibly be given, — it seems perfectly certain we are to understand rather a liquid perfume than 
that the reckoning in this verse must be taken in what we commonly know as ointment. The pre- 
its exact and natural sense, as we have taken it cisedescriptionof ointment or perfume that is here 
above. It was therefore on the 8th of Nisan, at indicated is a question that has been much con- 
some part of the day which we should call the troverted. The words, which literally mean oint^ 
Friday before the Passover, that Jesus arrived in ment of nard * pistic^ are the same as those 
Bethany. This day, as we learn from Josephus, employed by Mark (chap. xiv. 3) : in each place 
was often chosen by the bands of pilgrims for our English Version has 'spikenard,' a word sug- 
their arrival in Jerusalem : those referred to in gested by the rendering of the Vulgate in Mark 
chap. xi. 55 had come earlier than others to the \nardus spicatus\ and used by our translators in 
holy city for a special reason. As the sabbath three passages of the Old Testament (Cant. i. 12, 
commenced on the evening of this day, we may iv, 13, 14). In the passages last named the word 
most naturally assume that Jesus reached Bethany that stands in the Hebrew text is nerd, evidently 
before sunset. In adding to the name of this identical with the nardos used here by John : the 
place the words, * where L^arus was whom Jesus word is said to be really of Persian origin, denot- 
raised from the dead,* the Evangelist in part ing a perfume brought from India by Persian 
intends to prepare the way for the narrative that traders. It will be seen that our translation has 
follows, but also seeks to connect his narrative practically passed over the epithet ' pistic,* as to 
with the wonderful record of chap, xi., and to the meaning of which there exists the greatest 
place the glory of Jesus as the Prince and Giver uncertainty. By some it is explained as potable 
of Life in contrast with the designs of His enemies (the fine nard-oil being sometimes drunk) ; others 
to seize Him and put Him to death (chap. xi. 53). refer the word to a root meaning \o press ox pound 



(the oil being ubtaincil by pressure) ; whilst uihcrs 
maintain that the wurd is not descriptive of any 
species of nard, but denotes its genuineness. The 
most probable opinion is ihsXpistic is a geographi-' 
cal term which was at the time familiarly associated 
with the name of the perfume as an article of 
conunerce, though now the exact significance is 
lost. From the parallel narratives (Matt. xxvi. 7; 
Mark xiv. 3) we learn that, as a fluid, it was kept 
in a flask (for this is the truer rendering of the 
Greek word translated alabaster box) hermetically 
sealed ; and the contents would be extracted by 
breaking off the neck. As the ointment was a 
fluid, and the neck of the flask was broken off, we 
seem entitled to infer that the whole was used. 
The quantity which Mary had bought was very 
large, for the ' pound * here spoken of was equiva- 
lent to about 12 ounces avoirdupois. Its precious- 
ness is best illustrated by a later verse (ver. 5), 
where we find 3CX) denani (in Mark xiv. 5, more 
than 3CX) denarii) mentioned as its probable value. 
If we take the denarius at SJd., the value ordi- 
narily assigned, this sum amounts tO;£'io, 12s. 6d. 
The trtier principle of calculation, however, is that 
the sum be estimated according to the power of 
ptuchaae which it represents; and it would be 
easy to show that 300 denarii would ordinarily 
purchase a larger quantity of wheat (for example) 
than could now be obtained for ;£'20 of our money. 
— ^And anointed the feet of Jeena, and she wiped 
hk feet with her hair: and the house was filled 
with tlie odour of tiie ointment. With this 
precious perfume, then, Mary anointed the feet of 
tier Lord. The other Evangelists speak of ' the 
head ' not ' the feet,' and of the ointment as poured 
down over the head. There is of course no dis- 
crepancy between the accounts. Both feet and 
head were anointed : John speaks of the former 
because the words which he is about to add refer 
to the feet alone ; and though the other narratives 
mention no more than the anointing of the head, 
yet the words of Jesus related by both Evangelists 
speak of the ointment as poured upon His ' body,' 
and as designed to prepare Him for His burial. 
Perhaps, in a writer like John, who seizes so 
powerfully the symbolism (the real symbolism, not 
a possible subjective application) of the various 
events in his Master's life, we ought also to con- 
nect this anointing of the feet of Jesus {htnce men- 
tioned, here and m chap. xi. 2) with His washing 
of the disciples' feet to be related in the chapter 
which follows. Over against cleansing of their feet 
soiled by the day's travel is set the honour due to 
the very feet of Him to whom contact with earthly 
life 4>rought not even a transient stain. Be this as 
it may, Mary's action as here described, her use of 
the most precious ointment, whose odour filled the 
whole house (a fact which is far more than a mere 
historical reminiscence), and the devotion of that 
which is a woman's chief ornament to the purpose 
of wiping the feet which she had anointed, picture 
to us most impressively her gratitude and bumble 

Ver. 4. But Judas iBcariot, one of his disciples, 
he that was about to betray him, saith. After 
the picture of the highest loving homage to Him 
whom the Jewish rulers had adjudged to death, 
the Evangelist gives the contrasted view of an 
apostle, who, apostle as he was, would shortly be 
seeking to betray his Lord, and who showed the 

E resent workings of his heart by grudging the 
ivish expression of Mary's faith and love. 

Ver. 5. Why was not this ointment sold for 
three hundred pence, and given to the poor f 
Care for the poor is the mask which the murmur- 
ing protest of Judas wears. Thus sin, that it may 
the better extinguish the virtue by which at the 
moment it is oflended, is wont to pay reverence to 
some other virtue, — some virtue which may be 
thought of without trouble, because it is not really 
present and in question. But the Evangelist in 
recording the wonls strips off the mask. 

Ver. 6. But this he sidd, not because he oared 
for the poor ; but because he was a thief, and, 
having the bag, bare away what was put therein. 
Matthew mentions the murmuring on the part of 
some of the disciples : evidently, therefore, the 
plausible remonstrance of Judas led more honest 
and guileless minds than his to share in the won- 
der which his words expressed. John speaks of 
Judas onlv, as he alone reveals the real motive of 
the complaint. But though Matthew says nothing 
at this point of Judas or his covetousness, it is very 
significant that, immediately after relating the 
answer of Jesus, he tells us that Judas went to the 
rulers and said, * What will ye give me ? ' The some- 
what remarkable word rendered 'bag' is found 
twice only in the New Testament, here and in 
chap. xiii. 29 : in the Septuagint it occurs in 
2 Chron. xxiv. only (vers. 8, 10, 11). The last 
quoted passages will show the meaning of the 
word more clearly : it was not a bag, but rather a 
small box or chest. As in the only passages of 
the Old Testament in which the word occurs it 
denotes a receptacle for offerings made to the 
temple, it is perhaps more than a coincidence 
that it is here chosen by John when he would 
speak of the small store of money possessed by 
Jesus (the True temple) and His disciples,— money 
derived from the voluntary offerings of the few 
who had recognised His glory and consecrated 
their substance to the supply of His wants. 
Another word in this verse requires remark, that 
which in the Authorised Version appears as 'bare,' 
but which we have rendered 'baure away.* The 
former is the more common meaning of the 
word both in classical Greek and in the New 
Testament ; but the latter (which oflcn occurs in 
later Greek) is certainly intended by John in a 
later verse of the Gospel (chap. xx. 15, 'if thou 
have borne him away '). It seems all but impos- 
sible that the word can have the neutral meaning 
here: partly because, after the mention of the 
dishonesty of Judas, the statement that he carried 
that which was cast into the common chest would 
be a strange anti-climax ; and partly because it 
would be difficult to see why John should write 
such a sentence as this, 'and, having the bag, 
carried what was put therein, ' 

Ver. 7. Jesus therefore said. Let her alone, 
that for the day of the preparation for my burial 
she may keep it. The meaning of the word 
which in the Authorised Version is rendered 
'burial' is made clear by chap. xix. 40 (where 
substantially the same word is used) ; ' they took 
the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths 
with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to 
prepare for burial.' The true reading of the Greek 
text, that which our rendering represents, un- 
doubtedly presents a difficulty, as we, knowing 
that our Lord is speaking of the day then present, 
cannot understand how Jesus can say 'that . . . 
she may keep it' The simplest solution of the 
difficulty, were it admissible, is afforded by the 



rendering, 'Suffer that she may have kept it;' 
bat it b very doubtful whether the Greek words 
can admit of this translation. Another suggestion 
is that, as the quantity of nard was so great, our 
Lord in sajring * that she may keep it refers to 
the portion still remaining in the flask. The 
objection to this is found in what has been said of 
the mode of opening the flask and in the ' pouring* 
described by the other Evangelists : it b not easy 
to see that any portion worth speaking of could 
still remain. Hence we must probably seek for an 
explanation of a different kmd. We must not 
forget that these words were enigmatical, and 
intentionally so. Our Lord was not distinctly 
affirming that this day was, so to speak, the day 
on which He was prepared for entombment : it was 
His wont to use language which but partially 
revealed the approaching event, which seeme<l to 
unenlightened hearers to contain only some dark 
hint of trouble impending, but which stood forth 
in luminous significance when the implied prophecy 
was ready to be fulfilled. Hence here, in speaking 
of the (unconscious or half- unconscious) purpose 
of Mary, He uses words which leave the time of 
the conception and fulfilment of the purpose 
altogether doubtful. His answer amounts to this : 
Meddle not with the intention that she has had to 
keep this for the day on which I must be prepared 
for the tomb. It is possible that the sentence is 
left incomplete, and that there is a break between 
the two parts : — * Let her alone ; ' — * that she may 
keep it unto the day,' etc. Such an elliptic use of 
a clause of purpose b not uncommon in this 
Gospel. If we may assume that we have an 
example of thb usage here, the meaning will be, 
It is, or, It was, or. She hath bought thb oint- 
ment, that she might keep it, etc The meaning 
is almost the same as that previously given. 

The word which our Lord uses in this verse 
shows in what light this section is to be viewed. 
It b not so much the living Saviour that we have 
before us as the Saviour on whom sentence of 
death has been passed. At the feet of Him whom 
' the Jews ' are seeking to kill, and whom false 
friends are betraying, faith pours her richest 
treasures. Mary thought only of showing her 
reverence and love : Jesus sees in it a prophetic 
recognition of the impending event which crowned 
Hb humiliation and became His exaltation. The 
Evangelbt relates an unconscious prophecy on the 
part of a disciple, as he has related a prophecy by 
an enemy who 'spake not of himself ' (chap. xi. 51). 

Ver. 8. For the poor always ye have with 
jron, but me ye have not always. The duty of 
giving to the poor b fully recognised : it must 
never be forgotten. But there are moments when 
what may seem lavbh waste upon objects visible 
only to the eye of faith are to be commended for 
the faith that is present in them. How often has 
the history of the world borne testimony to the 
truth thus declared by Jesus ! The very charity 
that cares for the poor whom we see has been kept 
alive by faith in, and devotion to, the crucified 
Redeemer whom we cannot see. 

Ver. 9. The common people of the Jews there- 
fore learned that he was there : and they came, 
not for Jesus* sake only, but that they might 
see Lasams also, whom he had raised from the 
dead. Faith and unbelief have revealed them- 
selves in the case of the friends and the enemies of 
Jesus, and especially in the deed of Mary and the 
words of Judas. But the sifting process which 
VOL. II. 10 

accompanies every manifestation of Jesus extends 
to a wider circle. Once more (comp. chap. xL 
45, 46), and much more clearly than before, the 
Evangelbt records the divbion amongst 'the Jews' 
themselves ; for we have no right wluitever to take 
thb term in any other than that sense which b so 
firmly established in this Gospel. That very circle 
of Jewish influence and power in which till lately 
the spirit of narrow bigotry and fanaticbm had 
found its expression in determined hostility to 
Jesus b divided into two classes, ' the common 
people of the Jews,' and the rulers in thb ruling 
faction, * the high priests. ' 

Vers. 10, II. But the chief priests oonsnlted 
that they might put Lazams also to deatii; 
because that l^ reason of him many of the Jews 
went away, and believed in Jesus. When the 
rulers found that even their own adherents were 
deserting them (comp. chap. xi. 48), their rage 
knew no bounds. Lazarus had not incurred their 
dbpleasure, but everything that minbtered to the 
success of the cause of Jesus must be swept out 
of the way. It b easy to see that the conflict 
of Jesus with the Jews b continually growing in 
intensity, and has well-nigh reached its climax. 
The effect produced by the recent miracle has been 
great beyond all previous example. Yet we can- 
not but feel that to the Evangelist himself the 
miracle would be most precious as a 'sign; 'and 
that what he intends us to feel most deeply b the 
contrast between the rulers bent on His death and 
the calm majesty of Him who b * the Resurrection 
and the Life,' in whose presence are Lazarus, the 
trophy and emblem of Hb power over life physi- 
cal, and believers come from the very ranks of Hb 
adversaries to receive life spiritual through believ- 
ing in Him. 

Ver. 12. The next day, that is, the day follow- 
ing the feast in Bethany (see on ver. 2), and 
therefore our Sunday ; the day, it may be observed, 
fixed in the tradition of the Church for the tri- 
umphal entry, tradition thus confirming the exe- 
gesis of the text, and finding in the latter support 
k>r its own correctness. This first day of the 
Jewbh week was the loth Nisan, the day on 
which the typical Paschal lamb was selected and 
set apart for sacrifice (Ex. xii. 3). — The common 
peoide that were oome to the feast, when they 
heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 
*The common people' here spoken of are not 
'the Jews' (ver. 9), but the multitude that had 
assembled at Jerusalem at the time in order to 
celebrate the Passover. It would seem that thb 
crowd was afterwards joined by those belonging 
to Jerusalem itself who had gone out previously to 
Bethany to see Jesus (ver. 17). Of the impression 
produced upon the latter we have already heard. 
The feelings animating the former appear both 
in their actions and in their words. 

Ver. 13. Took the branches of the palm trees. 
The word rendered * branches ' occurs only here 
in the New Testament. It is the top of a palm 
tree where the fruit is produced. We are to 
understand by the word, therefore, not branches 
only, but fruit-bearing branches, those from which 
in due season the fruit would hang. Hence it b 
not palms of victory that we have before us, but 
the palm branches of the feast of Tabernacles, the 
most characteristic feature of that greatest festival 
of the year, when the last fruits, *the wine and 
the oil * as well as * the com,' were ripe, and when 
the Messiah was expected to come to Hb temple. 



Hence also the articles before 'branches' and 
' palm trees,' not to mark palm trees growing by 
the wayside, but the well-known palm branches so 
closely connected with the feast. With the idea 
of this feast the Jews had been accustomed to 
associate the highest blessings of Messianic times, 
and at the moment, therefore, when they hail 
Jesus as the long expected Messiah and King, the 
thoughts of it naturally fill their minds. — And 
went forth to meet him, and they cried out, 
Hoaanna: Bleased is he that cometh in the name 
of the Lord, and. The King of IsraeL The words, 
thus uttered with loud shouts of joy, corr^oond to 
the action of which we have spoken. Tnose in 
the fitst clause of the quotation are taken from Ps. 
cxviii. 26, and are words which were undoubtedly 
used at the feast of Tabernacles. Whether we 
consider them in connection with their place in 
the psalm or with the typical meaning of tne feast, 
they were peculiarly appropriate to the present 
moment. The psalm was acknowledged to be 
Messianic, and both psalm and feast celebrate the 
triumphant coming of Messiah to His house and 
people, when the gates of righteousness are 
opened and Israel goes in and praises the Lord 
(Ps. cxviii. 19). The Lord, too, appears in the 
psalm in precisely the same character as that in 
which we have Him here before us, that of one 
who has suffered and overcome (ver. 22). The 
appellation given to Jesiis in the second clause, 
and probably to be regarded as a second cry, 
points onward to the prophecy of Zechariah (chap. 
UL 9) quoted in ver. 15. Hosanna is a rendering 
into Greek letters of the Hebrew words, ' Save, 
we pray * (Ps. cxviiL 25). 

Vers. 14, 15. And Jesna, when lie had found 
a young aas, sat thereon: as it ia written. Fear 
niyt, daughter of Sion, behold, thy King oometh, 
aitting on an aas's colt Jesus ' found ' the ass, 
having taken means to find it (comp. Matt. xxi. 
2 ; Mark xi. I ; Luke xix. 30 ; comp. also chap. 
i. 43). It is a 'young ' ass, expression bein^ thus 
given to the fact that it had not been previously 
used for any burden (Mark xi. 2). ^ The whole 
passage brings out a view of Jesus in this entry 
mto Jerusalem that we may readily forget. We 
see at once the glory of the Saviour. He who 
thus approaches Jerusalem is a King, the King of 
Israel (ver. 14), tne King of Zion (ver. 15) : the 
progress is royal : the entry is triumphant. But 
the main thought of the Evangelist is that humili- 
ation, suffering, and death characterize this King : 
He is a sacrifice : and in being a sacrifice His true 
glory lies. The change from ' Rejoice greatly ' to 
'Fear not' (no doubt made by the £vangelist 
himself, see chap. ii. 17) is remarkable. It may 
spring from his profound sense of the majesty of 
Jesus (Rev. L 17) : there is fear to be dispelled 
before the joy of His presence can be felt. The 
context in Zechariah, nowever, suggests another 
sense. The King comes to defend His people; 
He comes 'having salvation:' let Zion fear no 
more. So understood, John's words contain the 
meaning of the whole passage quoted. The prayer 
' Hosanna ' is answered. 

Ver. 16. Theee thing! understood not hia 
disciplee at the flrst What was it that the 
disciples did not understand at the time? The 
true application of the prophecy of Zechariah now 
pointed out? Certainly not. It was the events 
themselves now occurring that were dark to them. 
They were not seen in their true light as a magni- 

fying, as a prefigurative glorifying, of a sufiering 
Messiah, — were not seen to contain within them 
the great mystery of exaltation through and in the 
midst of suffering. For similar want of apprecia- 
tion by the disciples of what was passing before 
them, comp. chap. ii. 22, and note there. — ^But 
when Jeaus was glorified, then remembered 
they that theae things were written of him, 
and that they did these things unto him. The 
ignorance of the disciples was corrected by experi- 
ence. What they did not understand now, they 
understood when the resurrection and ascension 
had taken place. The light of that glorification 
shed light alike upon the sufferings and the partial 
glorifications of Jesus that had gone before. 

Vers. 17, 18. The multituae therefore that 
was with him when he called Lasama out of 
the tomb and raised him tram the dead, bare 
witness. For this cause also the multitude 
went to meet him, because they heard that he 
had done this sign. These verses are not a 
returning to the story after a digression in ver. 
16, nor a continuation of the narrative, as if the 
picture had not yet been complete. They are a 
recapitulation of two leading facts already men- 
tioned, the first of which seems to be closely con- 
nected with the second — (i) that many of 'the 
Jews,* led to believe in Jesus by the miracle which 
they had seen (xL 45), became now, like the 
disciples, themselves His witnesses ; (2) that ' the 
multitude,' although they had not seen the miracle, 
yet hearing of it, had also been led to faith and 
homage (xii. 12-15). At the same time, however, 
there is an important and instructive difference 
between the two acts thus referred to. The first 
proceeds from those who had been ' with Him when 
He raised Lazarus from the dead ; ' the second 
from those who had not themselves been witnesses 
of the miracle, but had ' /leard that He had done 
this sign.' The difference corresponds precisely 
to that alluded to in chap. xx. 29 ; ana it thus 
forms an interesting illustration of the manner in 
which, throughout all this Gospel, the Evangelist 
seizes upon those aspects of events that bring out 
the great principles of which his mind is full. The 
correspondence appears still further in this, that 
the homage of those who ' did not see ' is that of 
the second picture which, as always, is climactic to 
the first (comp. xx. 29) ; for the impression pro- 
duced upon the mind of John by the second act 
of homage is not due to tne simple circumstance 
that this multitude ' went to meet ' Jesus. It is 
due to the titles which the^ had ascribed to Him 
at ver. 13, the one expressmg His peculiar Mes- 
sianic distinction, the other rising to the highest 
point of Old Testament prophecy (comp. on L 49). 
It has only further to be noticed that the effects 
allude. I to are connected with the miracle as a 
'sign.' As such, embodying life in the midst of 
death, life triumphant over death, it draws out 
faith to a spectacle so glorious, to a Worker 
accomplishing so mighty a work. 

Ver. 19. !nie Pharisees therefore said among 
themselves. Behold how that ye preraU nothing. 
Lo, the world is gone away after him. The 
exaggeration of their words illustrates the alarm 
and hopelessness of the Pharisees. The impres- 
sion made is too great to permit them to look at 
the facts only as they are. The danger of the 
situation is enhanced by their fears, and thev speak 
more strongly than even the occasion, striking as 
it was, demanded. It is at the same time highly 



probable that the Evangelist sees in their lan- 
guage one of those unconscious prophecies so 
frequently noticed in his Gospel. The second 
act of the twelfth chapter is over, and the humbled 
Redeemer is still the conqueror. The third act 
presents the same lesson in a still more striking 

Ver. 20. And there were some Greeks firom 
among them that came up to worship at the 
feast. A third illustration of the homage paid to 
Jesus. The account is given b^ John alone, and 
the time is left by him indetermmate. From ver. 
36 we may perhaps infer that it was considerably 
later in the week than the event last recorded ; but 
the want of any definite statement on the point, 
and the fact that the issue of the request is not 
recorded, show that the Evangelist occupies him- 
self only with the idea of the scene. The persons 
spoken of are Greeks (not Greek-speaking Jews), 
therefore Gentile by birth, probably proselytes, 
certainly (as appears by *from among' not 
' among ') sharers in the faith and purposes of the 
other pilgrims at the feast. They are part of 
those referred to in chap. viL 35 and x. 16. Still 
more, they are the earnest and first-fruits of that 
* world ' which the Pharisees have just spoken of 
as ' going afler ' Jesus. 

Ver. 21. These came therefore to Philip, 
whioh was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked 
him saying. Sir, we would see Jesns. To suppose 
that their object is to ask Jesus to institute a mis- 
sion to the Gentiles, or to come to them Himself, 
is to misapprehend the nature of the situation. 
It is their own personal faith that John desires to 
bring out. 

Ver. 22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew : 
Andrew cometh, and Philip, and they tell Jesns. 
Why these Greeks should particularly address 
themselves to Philip ; why Philip should be here 
described as ' from Betl^aida of Galilee ; ' why 
Philip should tell Andrew ; and why Andrew, as 
appears from the peculiar mode in which the 
communication is mentioned, should have been 
the spokesman of the pair, are questions to which 
it is not easy to give a satisfactory reply. It may 
be that Philip was the first disciple whom they 
met ; that the mention of his place of residence 
is simply for more complete identification of the 
man ; that the bond of companionship between 
him and Andrew may have been close (a circum- 
stance that may also throw light on their proximity 
to each other at vi. 7, 8) ; and that Andrew, always 
one of the first four apostles mentioned in the 
apostolic lists, may have stood in nearer relation to 
Jesus than Philip, or perhaps have been the more 
ready speaker of the two. The more, however, 
the Gospel of John is studied, the less shall we 
be disposed to be content with these explana- 
tions, or to think that there was nothing further 
in the mind of a writer so much accustomed to 
see even in apparently accidental and trifling 
circumstances deeper meanings than those which 
at first strike the eye. Such a meaning he may 
have seen in the facts which he now, after so long 
an interval, recalls. It is at least worthy of notice 
that in chap. vi. at the feeding of the 5000, which 
has undoubtedly a symbolical as well as a literal 
meaning, not only are Philip and Andrew the 
only two disciples named, but they there play 
exactly the same part as in the present instance ; 
for Philip is first appealed to but is perplexed, 
while Andrew draws from Jesus the solution cf 

the difficulty. Thus also in the incident before 
us, John may have beheld an analogy to the same 
scene, an illustration of the fact that both Jews 
and Gentiles shall be conducted by the same path 
to the 'bread of life.* These hungering Greek? 
are like the hungering Jews when the loaves were 
multiplied, and those whose difficulties in the way 
of satisfying the latter were removed by the word 
of Jesus, are also those whose difficulties in the 
way of satisfying the former are removed by the 
same word. 

Ver. 23. And Jesns answereth them, saying; 
The hour is come, that the Son of man i^idd be 
glorified. The glorification here spoken of must 
be that of chap. xiii. 31, 32, and xvii. i, 5^ the 
latter of which also follows a moment designated 
exactly as the present one, — *The hour is come.' 
But the 'glorification' of these passages consists 
in the full manifestation of Jesus when, all His 
labours and sufferings over. He shall be elevated, 
with the Father, to the possession and exercise of 
that power to carry out His work upon its widest 
scale which was now limited by the conditions of 
His earthly lot. Hence the bringing in of the 
Gentiles, though it does not constitute that glory, 
is immediately connected with it. 

Ver. 24. Verily, verily, I say nnto yon. There 
is a general principle lying at the root of the 
glorification of the ' Son of man, ^ This is now to 
be explained and illustrated. — ^Except tiie com of 
wheat fall into the ground and die, it aUdeth 
itself alone ; but if it die, it hringeth forth much 
fruit. Absolute death, destruction of the principle 
of life,isnot implied. The seed does not actually (He: 
its old covering dies that the germ of life within 
may spring up in higher forms of beauty, and 
with many grains instead of one. Such is the law 
of nature, and to this great law Jesus as ' Son of 
man ' must conform : H$ does not simply lay down 
a rule for others ; as representative of our humanity 
the rule must first find its application in Himself. 

Ver. 25. He that loveth his soul loeeth it; and 
he that hateth his sonl in this world shall keep 
it nnto life eternal. The law of the physical 
world just spoken of illustrates the law of the 
moral and spiritual world. ' Soul ' is here the per- 
sonality, the self, in man : yet not the self in the 
sense of selfishness, for selfishness must be destroyed 
not ' kept.' It is rather that which constitutes the 
man himself with his likings and dislikings, his 
loves and hatreds, his affections and desires. It 
is a law of the moral world then that he who so 
loves his soul loses it. By simply living for himself 
and without thought of others, he Moses' that 
very thing which he desires to preserve and make 
happy. On the other hand, he that in this world 
'hateth his soul,' his soul not brought into sub- 
jection to that law of love which is the law ot 
God, and, so hating, denies and crucifies it in 
order that love may gain the mastery in him, — that 
man shall *keep* it, shall keep it too unto the 
higher life which is not merely future, but which 
is even now filled with the Divine and deathless 
(comp. Luke xiv. 26). 

Ver. 26. If any one serve me, let him follow 
me. The words apply the law just spoken of as 
the law of nature and of man, and therefore also 
as the law of Jesus, to every individual. The 
•following' is neither general nor outward, but 
specific and inward, a following in that path of 
suffering and sacrifice even to the cross, the 
thought of which was at the moment peculiarly 



present to the mind of Jesus (comp. xiii. 36), and 
It supposes the possession of His spirit (comp. 
viii. 12). A special emphasis lies upon the first 
' Me,' as if our Lord would say, ' If it be Me that 
any man would serve.' — ^And where I am, there 
shall alflo my servant be, in that glory to which I 
am immediately to be exalted (xvii. 24). — If any 
one serve me, him will the Father honour. * Any 
one,' Jesus says, for the thought of the universality 
of His salvation now fills His breast ; and */A€ 
Father,' even He who will be to all His sons 
what he is to the Son. We ought not to pass 
these last two clauses without observing how, 
amidst all that equality of sonship which runs 
through this part of the Gospel, the wide distinc- 
tion between the Son and the sons is still preserved. 
In that future home cf which Jesus speaks He is, 
it corresponds to His nature to be Uiere ; they shall 
only be brought to share it : He, too, is the Master, 
they 'serve.* 

Ver. 27. Now is my soul troubled. There is 
no want of connection between these words and 
the immediately preceding verses. The connec- 
tion, on the contrary, is of the closest kind. 
Because this is the moment of highest exaltation 
in the contemplation of the universal triumph 
svmbolized in the coming of the Greeks, it b ah>o 
that when all the intensity of suffering by which 
the triumph is procured is most present to the 
mind of Jesus. The verb 'troubled' is the same 
as in xi. 3^, 'He troubled Himself,'— And what 
shaUIsayf Not, What feelings shall I cherish 
at this hour. What mood of mind becomes the 
circumstances in which I am placed ? but, How 
shall I find utterance for the emotions that now 
fill my heart ?~Father, save ihe out of this hour. 
To understand these words interrogatively, * Shall 
I say, Father, save me from this hour ? ' as is done 
by many commentators, b to introduce a hesita- 
tion into the mind of Jesus which we may well 
believe never had place in it, and is almost, if we 
may venture to say so, to give the utterance a senti- 
mental turn at variance with the solemn scene ; 
on the other hand, viewed as a direct prayer to 
His Heavenly Father, they are the exemplification 
in His own case of the law of ver. 25. It is usually 
thought that Jesus prays that He may be spared 
the bitterness of this hour. Matt. xxvi. 39 shows 
that Jesus had the feeling — one perfectly free from 
sin — that would lead Him to escape suffering and 
death ; but the higher law immeaiately comes in. 
He has the Father's will to do. To it He must 
yield His life. His self. Therefore He adds. But 
for this cause (that the Father's name mav be 
glorified, ver. 28) came I unto this hour. This 
prayer, however, is not 'save me from,* but 'save 
me out of this hour,' — not for freedom from suffer- 
ing, but (comp. Heb. v. 7 ; Acts ii. 31) for deli- 
verance out of it. Such a prayer is as consistent 
with His knowledge of 'the glory that should 
follow' as is Matt xxvL 39 with Matt xvi. 21. 
But the very prayer for deliverance is checked. 
* For this cause * (that He may be delivered out 
of the hour) * came I unto this hour : * the object 
of the hour of suffering is to bring triumph. We 
must not miss the emphasis on the word * Father ; * 
it is not simply God's but the Father's glory that 
he desires. 

Ver. 28. Father, glorify thy name. 'Let Thy 
glory shine forth in Thy name, in Thy character, 
as Father and in all that is involved in establish- 
ing Thy fatherly relation to men.* — ^Tbere came 

therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have 
both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 'Ihe 
answer is a voice from heaven which is supposed 
(ver. 29) by some to be thunder, by others to be 
that of an angel. Both these suppositions disclose 
the character of the voice. 1 1 was loud and terrible, 
a voice of awe and majesty. Such is alwajrs the 
meaning of thunder both in the Old Testament 
and the New (Ex. xix. 16; Job xxvL 14; Ps. 
civ. 7 ; Rev. iv. 5, viii 5, xi. 19, xiv. 2, xix. 6). 
Such also is the voice of an angel (Matt xxiv. 31; 
I Thess. iv. 16 ; Rev. v. 2). The mixed ' thunder- 
ings and voices,' too, of the Apocalypse are an 
instructive comment on this voice, while the con- 
nection that it has with judgment is clearly indi- 
cated by our Lord Himself in vers. 30, 31. If 
this was the manner of the voice, its contents must 
correspond, and it seems therefore altogether in- 
appropriate to refer the first part of the words to 
the mmistry of Jesus in Israel now drawing to its 
close, the second part to the approaching pro- 
clamation of salvation to the Gentiles. In reality 
these two things are one, and both of them are 
already ideally complete. The words rather ex- 
press the unchangcableness of the purpose of Him 
* which is and which was and is to come,' and 
intimate that the great work whereby God's name 
was to be especially glorified would certainly, a» 
resolved on in eternity, be accomplished. 

Ver. 29. The multitude therefore, that stood 
by, and heard it, said that it had thundered: 
others said. An angel hath spoken to him. That 
a real voice had been heard is obvious from the 
hci that the words are actually given by the 
Evangelist in ver. '28, and that some at least of 
the multitude imagined that an angel had spoken. 
It had not, however, been understood by all ; and 
John's object in stating this appears to be his 
desire to bring still more clearly out the mysterious 
nature of the voice, — one the apprehension of which 
belonged to the higher regions of the spiritual life, 
and which was necessarily dark to those who had 
not entered into the Father's plans. Jesus under- 
stood it The Evangelist did so too. But ' the 
mitltitude ' felt only that God was there. 

Ver. 30. Jesus answered and said. Not for 
my sake hath this voice oome, but for your 
sakes. He needed not the voice, for he knew 
that He was one with the Father, and that He 
was carrjring out the Father's will. But they 
might not comprehend His sufferings, the agony 
of soul they now beheld, the death immediately 
impending ; and, therefore, to show them that in 
all this there was no defeat on His part, but only 
the carrying out of the eternal purpose of the 
Father, the words were spoken. Then Jesus rises 
to the thought of that victory which, at this the 
very moment of His deepest humiliation and 
suflering, He beheld accomplished. 

Ver. 31. Now is there Judgment of this worid. 
The ' now * is the ' now of ver. 27, the ' hour ' 
of ver. 23 ; and the primary thought to be taken 
into it is that of the suffering and death in the 
midst of which Jesus stood, and which in the 
purpose of God, and to the eye of faith, were so 
different from what they were to the eye of sense. 
— Now shall the Prince of this world do cast out. 
Again we have the ' now * that we have already 
hsul. The moment is the same : the cause 
producing the effect the same. ' This world * 
culminates in its prince. The title meets us again 
in xvL II, and, although with omission of the 



' this,* in chap. xiv. 30. By it can only be under- 
stood Satan, whom, indeed, the Jews knew as the 
' prince of the world ' excluding Israel. Here 
there is no such exclusion ; the ' world ' is again 
used in the widest sense of the term. In its 
prince are concentrated the powers that come 
between man and God. But he 'shall be cast 
out,* that is, out of the world which he has ruled, 
so that ideally he shall have no more power in 
it. The expression ' cast out * is very remarkable 
when compared with its use in other parts of this 
Gospel (vi. 37, ix. 34, 35). It is excommunication 
from a holy community, or scene, or synagogue, 
or world, which is, and is to be, God's alone. 
The negative side of the victory of Jesus has 
been declared ; we have now the positive. 

Vers. 32, 33. And I, if I be lifted on high 
out of the earth, will draw all men nnto mysc^. 
Bat this he said, signifying by what manner 
of death he should die. * Myself* is used in 
emphatic contrast with, and opposition to, the 
'prince of this world.* To Himself Jesus will 
' draw ' men ; and any difficulty connected with 
this is not to be met by weakening the force of 
the word 'draw,* but by taking into account 
the limitations implied in the context, and in the 
nature of the case. The lesson alike of the whole 
Gospel and of experience is that some will not be 
drawn. They resist and quench the light They 
love and choose the darkness. In the same way 
the force of 'all men* must not be weakened, 
although we ought to keep in view the two 
thoughts which the context shows us to be pro- 
minent— (i) that not 'the prince of this world,* 
but Jesus Himself shall have the empire of the 
world ; (2) that not Jews alone but Gentiles, some 
of whom had already been seeking Him, shall be 
drawn. ' All men, however, is universal in its 
meaning. Jesus would not merely draw some. 
He would draw all ; and if some are not saved, 
it is because they deliberately refuse to submit 
themselves to His influence. 

The condition and means of this drawing are 
the ' lifting on hi|;h of Jesus out of the earth.* 
What is this ' lifting on high * ? The word has 
already met us in iiL 14 and viii. 28 ; and in the 
first of these passages in particular we have seen 
that it must be referred to the crucifixion. The 
whole context of this verse demands, primarily at 
least, a similar reference. The thought of the 
death of Jesus is prominent throughout Even 
when He receives the homage of Mary, of the 
multitude, of the Greeks, He has upon Him the 
stamp of death. It is thus too that in ver. 33 
the Evangelist explains the expression ; and his 
explanation is confirmed by the remarkable use 
of the preposition 'out of* instead of 'from.* 
That preposition is much more applicable to the 
crucifixion than the ascension, and its use seems 
to imply that simple separation from the earth 
satisfies tlie conditions that are in the mind 
of Jesus. At the same time the thought of 
glorification must surely be included in the 
• lifting on hieh.* In the teaching of this Gos{)el, 
indeed, the facts of crucifixion and glorification 
go together, and cannot be separated from each 
other. The dying Redeemer is glorified through 
death : the glorifiwi Redeemer died that He might 
be glorified. The crucifixion is the complete 
bre2U[ing of the bond to earth : it is the introduc- 
tion of the full reign of spiritual and heavenly 

Ver. 34. The moltitnde therefore answered 
him, We have heard out of the law that the 
GhriBt aUdeth for ever: and how sayest thou. 
The Son of man must be lifted on high f The 
'multitude,* who are Jews not Greeks, have 
rightly understood the words of Jesus in ver. 32 
to mean a lifting on high by death. But they have 
learned from the Scriptures (here, as in chap. x. 34,