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The Gospel of St. John 



London: simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, hint, and i 
new york! charles scribner*s sons, 
Toronto: the wiixard tract depositor! 


The Gospel of St. John 


Prof. VVM. MILLIGAN, D.D. and Rev. WM. F. MOULTON, D.D 





THE following Commentary on St. John's Gospel formed part of the Popular 
Commentary on the Neiv Testament, edited by Dr. Philip Schaff, and is now- 
reprinted by the kindness of the publishers, Messrs. T. & T. Clark. 

It is believed that many will be glad to possess, in a separate form, a work 
whose value has been so generally recognised, and which may further prove a 
not unfitting memorial of the two friends and writers. 

Abundant evidence still remains, in the form of letters and papers, of the 
anxious care which was bestowed upon it, and from these can also be gathered 
what was the authors' general mode of procedure. 

The Introduction was mainly, if not altogether, the work of Dr. Milligan ; while 
Dr. Moulton was principally responsible for questions of Textual Criticism. The 
first draft of the exposition was undertaken by Dr. Milligan ; this was afterwards 
revised and condensed by Dr. Moulton ; and each difficult point of interpretation, 
as it arose, was afterwards discussed between them. 

The whole Commentary was thus ' a joint work, in the fullest sense of the word, 
a fusion of results of separate labour, a fusion made possible by repeated conference, 
and most of all by union in sympathy and principles of study, and a common 
relation of reverence and love towards the Fourth Gospel itself.' v 

To this anxious revision and re-revision may also probably be traced one of 
the peculiar excellences of the Commentary, namely, its close attention to the exact 
language of St. John. Each slight variation, every new turn of expression, was 
closely marked for the light it threw upon the Apostle's teaching. And to both 
writers it was a continual source of devout wonder and joy that the patient and 
humble following of the letter seemed ever to lead to a clearer revelation of the 


1 From Dr. Monlton's Memorial Sketch of Dr. Milligan in the Expository T!me< for March 18 



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 present. 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 
Zebedee 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. 
xii. 4S-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, xvi. 1). Nor can we fail to recognise her exhibition of the 
same spirit, mixed though it was in this instance with earthly elements, when she came 



to Jesus 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. 1 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 tomb (Mark xv. 40, xvi. 1 ), 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 ; comp. Luke 
viii. 3), and with which to procure the materials for embalming Him after His death 
(Mark xvi. 1). 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 case 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 fathers ; 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 doubt 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 
1 Comp. Niemcycr, Charakterislik, 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 i. 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, iii. 29, 30, with Matt. iii. 11, 12 ; Mark i. 7, 8 ; Luke iii. 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 
called 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. viii. 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 yEgean 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. 

II. 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 Hernias, 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, 11. * 


from the Fourth Gospel, bring us down to the distinct statements of Theophilus, 
Irenseus, 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 rase 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 Ptolemreus 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.' 1 Again, in the early year.-, 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. 170, 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 Fiance, 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 a; 
1 On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament, p. 20. 


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. 170 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- 
tion and allusion upon which so great stress is laid. We notice only two. (1) 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 diffe ent from them as is the fourth at once to take a familiar 
place beside; hem 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 
Gospel, 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 Irenajus ( omes to speak of it he describes it as written to oppose Cerinthus 
and the Nicolaitanes {Adv. Haer. iii. ir, 1) ; 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 Fuseb. H. E. vi. 14). It may 
be difficult to determine the exact meaning of 'spiritual' 1 ere, 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 oft ose 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 {Apol. 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. It? 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, 
i. 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 carefully 
examined, it is not only consistent with, but strongly confirmatory of, the Johannine 

1. The author teas unquestionably a Jeiv. 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 defeating 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 (co'mp. 
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.' 1 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, born 
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 
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, Bethsaida, 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. 12), the exact distance between Jerusalem and Bethany (chap, 
xi. 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. ii. 

Similar remarks apply to his acquaintance with the ecclesiastical and political 
1 Jesus von Nazara, i. p. 157. " Die Jokann. 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-witness of 70/10/ 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 he no other thou the 
Apostle John. We have already seen that he calls himself ' the disciple whom Jesus 
loved.' But from such passages as chaps, xiii. 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 fur the conclusion that we 
advocate. That 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 witli the fact 
that the true character of the Fourth Gospel lias 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 unfriendly 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 ! — 
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 Irenseus 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 polemical. 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 difficult 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, 31. 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 calm, self-possessed utterance of a writer who had from 
the first a clear perception of the 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 also in Him spiritually sons of God. He 
wrote to exhibit, in the actual facts 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, ana 
in whom the Father abides (chaps, xiv. 10, xvii. 23). 

IV. Characteristics 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 : — 

(1.) The selective principle upon which the evangelist 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—1 1 ), 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 eternal Life, of men. He presents these 
ideas in the Prologue (chap. i. 4, 5, 9, 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 Commentary (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 modern 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 prophets 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 (1 Kings xxii. n ; 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 xxi. 
1 1). 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 ot 
prophecy culminated ; in whom all that marked the prophet as known and honoured 
in Israel attained it; 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 I lis 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 titter 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 xi. 12-14), the double miracle of the multi- 
plying of the bread (Matt. xiv. 15-21, xv. 32-3S ; 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 the 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.) The peculiar nature of the plan adopted by the Evangelist. The Gospel appears 
to us mist naturally to divide itself into seven sections, as follows : — 

1. The Prologue: chap. i. 1-18. 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. n. 
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 'tie 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, xii., 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, together 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. xiii. 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 suffering 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 humiliation, 
but Jesus : lifted 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 cast their net 
into the great sea of the nations ; the satisfaction and joy experienced by them 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 Lord. 

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 the 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 (1) 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 often ' 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 personality. 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 fulfil. 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 is 
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), conies in His kingdom (Matt. xvi. 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. 13-2S). 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 instructions 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 \i. 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. n. 40 j 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.' 1 Such are the passages relating to the blowing of the 
wind, the fields white unto the harvest, the corn 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. 1-16, 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, fur 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.' 2 
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 belong to the tragic 
aspect of His work. No one will deny that, taking the facts even of the first three 

1 Wcstcott, /////-. to Study of the Gospels, p. 26S. 
-' Keim, Engl, transl., i. 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, H'is love and 
self-sacrifice, met with opposition and contempt ; His bearing the sorrows and the sins 
of men, His unshaken confidence in God, His sufferings 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 often 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 
mucli 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 <>i 
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 the 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 difficult 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 


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 io 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 satisfactory 
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 


either by himself; and they have wrought together with a harmony which, through 
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. 



Chapter I. 1-1S. 

The Prologue. 

I "TN the beginning was the * Word, and the Word was with a c3!'i!"iV: 

J- God, and c the Word was God. ii. 13° '&;« 

2, 3 The same was in the beginning with God. rf All things were ^ v ," 4 !' I7 ' 

made 1 by 2 him; and without him was not any thing made 3 iuv.!&L 13. 
4 that was made. ' In him was life ; 4 and the life was the flight c ^*l\ \$; 
c. of men.' 1 And the light shineth in" darkness; and the dark- ic£r!rai.6; 

, , , . Col. i. 16 ; 

ness comprehended' it not. Heb.i.a; 

6 "There was 9 a man sent from God, whose name tvas John. ^seechap. v. 

7 The same came for a 9 witness, to 10 bear h witness of 11 the/VeV. 9. s« 

8 Light, that all men through him might believe." He was not m. .9. 

° f Ver. 33 : 

that " Light, but was sent to " bear witness of that lb Light. Matt. ui. 1, 

& . AVer. 15, 32; 

9 That 16 was the ' true Light, which lighteth every man that chap. iii. 26, 

10 cometh 17 into the world. He was in the world, and the x. 4 i' ; 

Acts xix. 4. 

11 world was made by him, 18 and k the world knew him not. He {ijohnii.8. 

J k See chap. 

12 came unto his own, 19 and his own 'received 20 him not. But *™-3- 

/Chap. v. 43. 

as many as received him, to them gave he power to become '"Seechap.xi. 

'" the sons 2I of God, even to them that believe on ! - his " name :" "^ cha P-»- 
l% "Which were born, 24 not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, "Seechap.m. 

nor of the will of man, but of God. yiweWvL 

14 And -''the Word was made ? flesh, and dwelt among us, (and 

we beheld his " glory, the glory as of the s only begotten of the 

Father,) full of ' grace and truth. 2 ^ iil 

1 John i- 
1 came into being - through tVer. 16; 

3 and apart from him not even one thing came into being. x ii. 9 .' 

4 That which hath come into being was life in him 
6 ; c in the 7 overcame 8 arose 
9 omit a 10 that he might n concerning 

12 that all might believe through him 13 the 

14 but he was that he might I5 concerning the 16 There 

17 man, coming ls came into being through him 

19 own home -° accepted 21 right to become children 

22 in 23 ; 24 begotten 

25 And the Word became flesh ; and he set his tabernacle among us, and \vc 

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


s chap. 


15 John bare witness of 26 him, and cried, 27 saying, This was he *^£ * er -. 2 ? 

of whom I spake, " He that cometh after me is preferred before a j££$£ a 

me : for 28 he was before me. 



And of his " fulness have all we" received, and grace for ...seVchap. 

17 grace. For 30 the law was given by Moses, but "'grace 3 ' and _,.chap.'vi. . 

iS 'truth came by 31 Jesus Christ. ^No man 33 hath seen God at ImmI^.'s 
any time; the z only begotten Son, which is 34 in the bosom of 2 6* p ' xv 
the Father, "he hath 35 declared him. Heb.i.i.2, 

26 beareth witness concerning 2 " hath cried 

23 is become before me, because 2;l Because out of his fulness we all 

30 Because 31 through Moses : grace 3 - through 33 No one 

34 One who is only-begotten God, he that is " omit hath 

Contents. The Prologue of the Gospel of 
John stands in the most intimate connection with 
the plan and purpose of the Gospel as a whole. 
It is 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, tliat the fourth Evangelist 
writes. Hence he begins with a description of what 
Jesus was in Himself, in the profoundest depths 
of His being ; passing from that to what He ' be- 
came ' in order that in Him men might so behold 
the glory of the Father as to be transfigured into 
the same glory, reaching onward to the fulfilment 
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. 1), 
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 and 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 
theseveraldivisionsofthe 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. 1, 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 : — 
Section I. The Word. 

(a) In Himself (ver. 1). 

(b) In His general manifestations (vers. 2-5). 
Section II. The Word appearing in the world. 

(<;) The Baptist's general witness concerning 

the Word, as the Light (vers. 6-8). 
(b) The general results of the manifestation 
of the Word (vers. 9-13). 
Section III. The Word fully revealed in the 

A. (1) The Incarnate Word Himself (ver. 

1412; parallel to ver. 1). 
(2) The Incarnate Word in His general 
manifestation of Himself (ver. 14 b: 
parallel to vers. 2-5). 

B. The Baptist's witness, now definite and 

personal (ver. 15 : parallel to vers. 6-S). 

C. The complete results of this manifes- 

tation of the Word in the case of all 
who receive Him (vers. 16-1S : parallel 
tn vers. 9-13). 
Ver. 1. 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 ; 1 John i. 1, 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. 1 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 

Chap. I. 1-18.] 


eternity preceding time. In Gen. i. 1 we are told 
that God ' in the beginning created,'' — an act done 
in time. Here we are told that 'in the beginning 
the Word was,' a verb strongly antithetical to 
' came into being ' (vers. 3, 14, comp. viii. 5S), 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 
the name we are considering than to present ex- 
amples of its use; see especially 1 John i. 1 ('the 
word of life,' followed by ' the life was manifested,' 
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 been 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 
be 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- 
sion, — 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., Hi., ix., and Job xxviii.). Thusa 
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 Tar£ums which 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 ' (Maura) 
for the name of God Himself. In the Targum of 
Onkelos, see Gen. iii. 8, xxviii. 20 ; Num. xxiii. 
4, 21 ; Deut. ix. 3 : in that of Pseudo-Jonathan, 
Gen. iii. S ; 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. lxiii. 7 ; 
Mai. iii. 1. 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. Vet 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 
hand to the good, or on the other to the evil, 
which they contained. He recognised the various 
teachings as a providential preparation for the tru^- 
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 beginning,' beyond 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, we 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 was 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 convey in English the full force of 
the preposition ' with ' in the Greek, for it denotes 
not merely being beside, but maintaining com- 
munion and intercourse with (comp. Mark vi. 3 ; 
1 John i. 2, ii. 1). 

And the Word was God: 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 same was in the beginning with 
God. ' The same ' — He who has just been spoken 
of as God — was in the beginning ' with God ' : i.e., 
' 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. 1, 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 only 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 beginning' created all through Him. 

Ver. 3. All things came into being through 
him, and apart from him not even one thing 
came into being. Such a combination of two 
clauses, the first positive, the second negative (see 
note on ver. 20), is characteristic of John's style. 
The 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 things 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 (1 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 Word. Occasionally, however, the 
same language is used of the Father : see Heb. 
ii. 10, and comp. Rom. xi. 36. 

Vers. 3, 4. That which hath come into being 
was life in him. We are led by various con- 
siderations to take this view of the passage rather 
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. l!y 
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 assign 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 spiriiual and 
eternal life which constitutes man's true being. 
If the word ' life ' is often used in this more limited 
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 the 
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 began. The 
lesson is the same as that of Col. i. 16, 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 1 hy 
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. 
1), 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 ; anil ' 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 

Chap. I. 1-18.3 



those who bring a charge of Manichaean dualism 
against the Fourth 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 men ;' 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 distinguished from 
the divine in all creation, that man is capable of 
recognising, acknowledging, string the divine in 
himself. 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 for 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 duty 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 shineth in the dark- 
ness. 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. It 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 beams. 

And the darkness 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 meaning comprehend 
(i.e. 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 
oz ertake or come over the light. The idea of seizing, 
in connection with this figure, is equivalent to 

overcoming or intercepting the light. Even if 
' comprehend ' vt ere 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 self-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-incarnate 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 God, 
whoBe name was 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 the Incar- 
nation is only implied, not expressly mentioned. 
The immediate preparation for this new period is 
the testimony of the Baptist ; and the words 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 of the people. If we remember 
the deep significance attached to ' name ' in this 
Gospel, it will seem possible that the antithesis 
to ver. 1 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 concerning the Light, that 
all might believe through 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 (1 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. I. 1-1S 

'believe ' — trustfully to accept that Light, and yield 
themselves up to its influence. The introduction 
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 was not the Light, but he was that 
he might bear witness concerning the Light. 
The thought of the greatness of the witness borne 
by John underlies the words of this verse. Great 
as the Baptist was, he was not the Light. What 
he was is not expressed, but only the 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 xviii. 25, xix. 3) existed at Ephesus with 
regard to the mission of John. 

Ver. 9. There was the true 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 in the English, so in 
the Greek, the word 'coming' might be joined 
either with ' light ' or with ' man. ' The punctua- 
tion we have adopted (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 in 
guiding 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, 
iii. 19, vi. 14, ix. 39, xi. 27, xii. 46, xvi. 2S, 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, 
iii. 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 light 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 world,' — 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 
is 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 Epistle, ten in the 
Revelation. Three of the remainingfivepassagesare 
(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 chaps, iv. 23, 37, 
vi. 32, vii. 28, viii. 16, xv. 1, 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 archetypal 
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 Jesus 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 out in the following verse, it is 
most important to observe that this verse speaks of 
the illumination of every man. No man belongs 
to the world that is given up to darkness and im- 
penitence, unless he, through 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 to John ('a man sent from God') 
as himself illumined by this Light. 

Ver. 10. He was in the world, and the world 
came into being through him, and the world 
knew him not. The subject is still the Light, 
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 thoughts of 
the verse, though very various in their mutual rela- 
tions, are, so to speak, placed side by side. These 
words relate both to the Pre-incarnate and to the 
Incarnate Word. The development is rather of 

Chap. I. 1-18.] 


thought than of time. Alike before His manifesta- 
tion in 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 part). 

Ver. 1 1. He came unto his own home, and his 
own accepted 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 His 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. 1 2. But as many as received him, to 
them 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, 11); the thought of this verse is, that 
the darkness overcame it not ! As we have already 
seen (see note on ver. II), the language again 
becomes altogether general. Whosoever 'received 
Him,' to whatever period of time or nation they 
might belong, won the gift here spoken of. There 
is a perceptible difference between ' accepted ' (ver. 
n)and ' received, 'ashereused. 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 
acceptedor 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 everything is significant) that there is spe- 
cial fitness in the expression ' children ' rather 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 ' believe ' 
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 rendered 
'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 believer 
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 gift, the closer knowledge, 
might soon be gained. Here the ' name ' cannot 
but recall ver. I : 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, but of God. The spiritual history of those 
who are spoken of in ver. 1 2 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, really 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. 


[Chap. I. l-ii 

As personally come in the flesh, however, the 
Word 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, ' became 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 
1 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 
i he 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 truth. As the 
first clause of this verse corresponded to ver. 1, 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. 1 1 ; 
Ezek. xxxvii. 27, etc.) ; the Tabernacle was the 
meeting-place of God and Israel, the house in 
which Jehovah 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 
' among us.' Some have taken the last words to 
mean 'in us,' and to contain a new reference to 
the assumption of human nature ; but this view 

seems plainly inconsistent with the words which 
follow, 'we beheld His glory,' the meaning of 
which is fixed by the opening passage in the First 
Epistle (I John i. 1-3). The glory was like that 
of an only son sent from a father ; no image but 
this, it has been well said, ' can express the two- 
fold character 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 gh ry of the Word become 
flesh is compared with that of an only son sent < 
from a father ; but it is not until ver. 1 8 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 respecting the Pre-incarnate Word is clearly 
stated here of the Word become flesh. But this ful- 
ness of grace and truthdoes 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 witness 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 is 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 


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 dignity 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. [6. Because out of his fulness 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 iS, 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 only 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 fulness,' etc. The last stage of the Pro- 
logue is thus reached, because the highest point 
of thought 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 fulness, 
but the measure of that fulness 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 given 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 through 
Moses : grace and truth came through Jesus 
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. II). The thought of Chris- 
tian experience again explains the connection of 
this verse with the 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 lioundaries, 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 experience 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 (' lesus, 
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. No one hath seen God 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 by Dr. Hort of 
Cambridge upon this text (Macmillan, 1S76). 
We add only that by thus reading we preserve an 
important characteristic of the structural prin- 
ciples of our Evangelist, that which leads him at 
the close of a section or a period to return to its 
beginning. The word ' God ' here corresponds to 
* God ' in ver. 1. 

' 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 
dwelleth 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. 
(1) 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 that 
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 
begotten,' 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. >_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 begotten,' 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 of the rejection of 
the Word in vers. 14-18. But this fact when 
rightly considered rather confirms what has been 
said. It illustrates that progress which in this 
Gospel always accompanies parallelism. 

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 is 
implied in the section Unmediately preceding the 
Conflict (chaps, ii. 12-iv. 54V 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 ! 

Chapter I. 19-34. 
The Witness of the Baptist to Jesus. 

A 1 

priests and Levites from Jerusalem 3 to ask him, Who 

20 art thou ? And he * confessed, and denied not ; but 4 confessed, 

21 I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art 
thou 'Elias? 6 And he saith, I am not. Art thou ^that 6 

22 prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they 7 unto him, 
Who art thou ? that we may give an answer to them that sent 

23 us. What sayest thou of thyself? ' He said, I am the 8 voice 
of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the 

24 Lord, as S said the prophet Esaias. 9 And they which were sent 

a Ver. 7 : 
chap. v. 3j 

b M.itt.iii. 11 ; 
chap. iii. 28 ; 

1 witness 

3 omit from Jerusalem 


2 sent unto him from Jerusalem 

4 And he 5 Elijah 

7 Thev said therefore 8 a <J Isaiah 


25 were of the Pharisees. 10 And they asked him, and said unto |ver"i- L 3 " - 
him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that" Christ, ^; P A ^ 3 °' 

26 nor Elias, 5 neither that 1! prophet? John answered them, say- , c'hapl iii. 26 
ing, s I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, k v' e 4 ° 3 6 : 

27 whom ye know not; 13 h He it is, who 14 coming after me is f£.\§i 3 7 \ 
preferred before me, 15 whose shoe's latchet 16 I am not worthy f PetlTigY 

28 to unloose. These things were done 'in Bethabara 17 beyond e tc. v "' 
Jordan, where John was baptizing. ConVi'L 5 ' 

29 The next day John 18 seeth Jesus coming unto him, and i." 3 ,Yx! 28 e ; ' 
saith, Behold 19 the * Lamb of God, ' which taketh away the sin hi Vi "' 2 ' 

30 of '" the world. " This is he of whom I said, After me cometh ;;. °, ■„!"&■, 
a man which is preferred before me: for 80 he was before me. «Chap.'iii.'i6, 

31 And I knew him not: but that he should 21 be made manifest vi.' 33 ', 5^ 
to Israel, "therefore am I come* 2 baptizing with 23 water. 5, jdi.46.j7, 

32 ''And John bare record, 24 saying, I saw 25 the Spirit descending «, V- 

33 from heaven like a dove, 26 and it abode upon him. And I «v«. 7 - 

, Luke i. 76, 

knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with 23 water, 77- ... 

r /Matt. in. 16; 

the same said 2, unto me, Upon whom 2 " thou shalt see the chap. y. 33 . 

' r q Matt. 111. 11. 

Spirit descending and remaining on 2 '' him, g the same is he >■*•»"• »'• '?■ 

1 a ' ° See ver. 49. 

34 which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 30 And I saw, and bare 
record 31 that this is the r Son of God. 

10 And some from among the Pharisees had been sent 

11 art not the 12 nor the 

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

14 omit He it is who ls omit is preferred before me. 

10 the latchet of whose sandal l7 Bethany 

is h e 19 Behold, 20 is become before me, because 

21 may 2a therefore came I - 3 in 24 witness 

25 I have beheld 20 descending as a dove out of heaven 

27 he said 2S whomsoever 29 abiding upon 

30 the Holy Spirit 31 And I have seen and have borne witness 

Contents. We enter here upon the second word of the present verse (with which the regular 

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

to ii. 11, and containing the presentation of Jesus, be connected with what goes before. It is 

as He takes His place in 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 follows 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 the proper 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 is' (comp. ver. 15), 

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

parts of this section are — (1) 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 witness of John, section attaches itself to ver. 15 ; what is there 

when the Jews sent unto him from Jerusalem given in a general form is now related with greater 

priests and Levites to ask him, Who art thou 1 fulness, in connection with the circumstances of 

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

in character, 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 find 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 jccurs 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 
from the rest in the absence of the article). In 
this Gospel — in addition to six examples of 
the title ' King of the Jews,' used as in the other 
Gospels — we find 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 countrymen 
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 Jews.' 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 
people, 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 party 
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). If we 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 ; 
1 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. S). In 
the reply itself the first word is strongly emphatic, 
' II is in it I who am the Christ.' The Baptist 
thus prepares the way for 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 then ! 
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, lor 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, No. 
A third supposition is tried. Is he ' the prophet ' ? 
A comparison of i. 25 and vii. 40, 41, with vi. 14, 
15, seems to lead to the conclusion that there were 
at tliis time two currents of opinion with regard 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 unto him, Who 
art thou ? that we may give an answer to them 
that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 
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 1 leliverer 
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 In- 
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 kingdom. 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 came to 

Ver. 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 Verses. 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 first body of ques- 
tioners. But the point 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 significance of the state- 
ments in iv. 1, 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. 32). 

Ver. 25. And they asked him, and said unto 
him, Why baptizes! thou then, if thou art not 
the Christ, nor Elijah, 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 
his 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 
baptize in water. The meaning ol 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 Spirit administered by 
Jesus. The two baptisms, however, are not as yet 
compared with one another. What John depre- 
ciated was himself, not the rite which he adminis- 
tered ; and at ver. 31 he expressly magnifies his 
baptism, 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, ' He 
standeth in the midst of you.' So standing, He 
is distinguished by three characteristics: (1) 'Ye 


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 see 
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. 2S. 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, Ca:sarea, etc., are well 
known. It is even possible that the two names, 
though alike written Bethania in Greek, may in 
their original Hebrew form have been different 
words ; just as, for instance, the ' Abel ' of Gen. 
iv. 2 is altogether 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 ' beyond 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. 1). It has been variously 
placed, — near Jericho, near Scythopolis (a feu 
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 Jesus coming 
unto 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. Behold, 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 good 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 
taking away, 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 found, 
I Jnhn iii. 5, and there the meaning is very clear. 



A much more difficult 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, that this parti- 
cular image was directly suggested to his mind by 
the memorable prophecy of Isa. 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 uncomplaining 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 the 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-offering, 
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-offering. There remain 
only two other explanations of the phrase. It 
is just possible that ' the lamb' merely indicates 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 definiteness 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 sign 
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 Christ'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 Israel, therefore came 
I, baptizing in water. The explanation of the 
first clause of this verse mil be best given when we 
come to ver. 33. The object which the Baptist 
here assigns for his work of 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 tc 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 witness, saying, I 
have beheld the Spirit descending. The effect 
of what the Baptist had seen had remained, and 
still remains, with him in all its power : ' I have 
beheld.' — And 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 may observe that the solution of the 
difficulty is to be 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 is 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 
justify that recognition of Him before which alone the 
herald may give way. The great King from whom 
the herald and the Ambassador are alike 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 sent me to baptize in water, he 
said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see 
the Spirit descending, and abiding upon hiin, 
the same 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 regard 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. 1; Luke iv. iS), — prophecies which 
describe the crowning glory of 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 
He 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 with 
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 
Spirit 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 the Jews of our Lord's day may be 
seen from chap. v. 18, 19, x. 29, 30, ^j. 

It is important to compare this section with the 
corresponding portions of the other Gospels. The 
omissions are very remarkable. We say nothing 
of the Evangelist's silence as to the circumstances 
of our Lord's 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 Jesus 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 I. 35-51. 

Jesus manifests Himself to hearts open to receive Him. 

35 A GAIN the next day after 1 John stood, 8 and two of his 

36 ±~\. disciples ; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he 

37 saith, a Behold 3 the Lamb of God! And the two disciples 

38 heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then 4 Jesus turned, 
and saw 5 them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye ? 

1 omit after 

2 was standing 
6 beheld 

3 Behold. 


They 6 said unto him, b Rabbi, (which is to say, being inter- 6 &£,<%l a 

39 preted, c Master, 7 ) where dwellest 8 thou ? He saith unto them, ^7'^ 
Come and see. 9 They came 10 and saw where he dwelt," and c chip'iii ' 
abode with him that day: for 12 it was about the tenth hour. *; fills' 

40 One of the two which heard John speak, 13 and followed him, d ^tJU.t, 

41 was ''Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own , C ha P 2 'iv. 2 ' 5 . 
brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the f ^[ X * L 

42 ' Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 14 And 15 he 'Jt a,t- xvi " 
brought him to Jesus. And when 16 Jesus beheld him, he 17 *k C £; u.'s, 
said, Thou art Simon ■'the son of Jona : la thou ^shalt be called cSi. 5 ;! .?, 

h Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 19 ic&pVtit 

43 The day following Jesus would 80 go forth into Galilee, and *Chkp!' 

A A £.*A~*-U l T>U:i:„ 121 _ "l_l- . _ !• T^ IT T.T T^, ... 2I : 

44 findeth « Philip, and 21 saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip Mitt. xi. 

45 was of * Bethsaida, the 22 city of Andrew and Peter. Philip ma™?. ™ 
findeth l Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, "seeuike 

of whom '"Moses in the law, and the "prophets, did write, "Chap."; 

46 Jesus "of Nazareth, ^the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said ^f^^ 42 . 
unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ? ^f"-";' 1 -' 

47 Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael cha P- 4 18 > 
coming to him, and saith of him, Behold 21 an Israelite indeed, fj^jg ! ' 8 

48 in whom is g no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence s^'Matt. 
knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before /c h v ap 33 ^. I5 
that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw ^iii.% ^ 

49 thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto 2 ' him, b Rabbi, thou a"; 

50 art "the Son of God; thou art 'the 2 '' King of Israel. Jesus , c^nfievfri. 
answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw „ cha P/ m. , 3 , 
thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater Itt,™- 

51 things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say xfi'^/S. 
unto you, Hereafter 2G ye shall see ' heaven open, and the angels % Matt. 
of God ascending and descending upon the " Son of man. 

c And they ~ Teacher 8 abidest ° ye shall see 

10 came therefore n abode 12 omit for 

13 heard from John I4 Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ), 
15 omit And "'■ omit And when 17 Jesus looking upon him said 

19 J°hn 1! > (which is by interpretation Peter, or Rock). 

20 The next day he would 

21 Galilee. And he findeth Philip ; and Jesus 

22 out of the *» Behold, -'< omit and saith unto 
20 omit the '-'' ; omit Hereafter 

_ Contexts. The same general subject is con- Vers. 35, 36. In these verses we have a new tes- 

tinued in this section— Jesus taking His place on timony borne by the Baptist to Jesus. In ver. 29 

the stage of history. We pass now, however, we were simply told that John 'seeth Testis coming 

from the witness of the Baptist, given on two sue- unto him and saith;' to whom the words were spoken 

cess'v- days, to the manifestation of Himself by we know not. There is therefore great importance 

Jesus to hearts open to receive and welcome Him. in the definite statement of ver. 35, that John now 

This manifestation takes place upon two succes- spoke in the presence of disciples. The Baptist 

sive days. Th° subordinate parts of the present came to deliver a general witness respecting Jesus ; 

section are— (I) vers. 35-42, witness borne on the but he also came to direct to Jesus all over whom 

first of the two new days (the third day from that he had gained influence. The words which he 

of ver. 19) ; (2) vers. 43-51, witness borne on the utters are few, so that the second testimony may 

second day (the fourth day). seem inferior to the first. We may perhaps say 


that it is not really inferior. When the earlier 
words (ver. 29) had once made clear what was 
signified by the announcement of ' the Lamb of 
God,' this title by 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, — with the true paschal sacrifice joining the 
true paschal feast. 

Ver. 37. And the two disciples heard him 
speak, and they followed Jesus. The witness of 
the Baptist has 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. 3S. And Jesus turned and beheld them 
following, and saith unto 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 unto him, 
Rabbi, which is to say, being interpreted, 
Teacher, where abidest thou? 'Where is Thy 
permanent resting-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 their 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, Come, 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 ; and 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 
J esus. — It was about 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 sunrise, an hour being the 
twelfth part of the (varying) interval between 
sunrise and sunset. As, however, Mark records 
(chap. xv. 25) that Jesus was crucified at the 
'third hour' (between S 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. 11. 2 


Further investigation has shown that at the very 
time when this book was written 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) is 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 beard from 
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. He first findeth his own brother 
Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the 
Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ). 
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 brother, 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 Jesus. 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 upon him said, Thou art 
Simon 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 afforded 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 Petros (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 he would go forth into 


a place unconnected with the great promise ol 
God seemed to him a place from which no good 
could come. Such considerations go far towards 
explaining his disparaging remark ; though thev 
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. 5S) and their 
attempt upon the life of Jesus (Luke iv. 29). 

Ver. 47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to 
him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite 
indeed, in whom is no guile. Again, as at 
Vl -'r. 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. 
He 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 term, again, being supposed, to- 
gether with the word 'guile,' to allude to the 
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 several reasons hardly 
tenable. (1) It is guile of an entirely different 
kind that is here referred to ; (2) There is no 
special connection between the qualities displayed 
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 changed ; (4) 
It is difficult to believe that ' Israelite ' is intended 
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 added to 
bring out its special meaning upon this occasion. 
Nathanael, in short, is 'of God,' is 'of the truth,' 
has no selfish impure aims, and therefore he shall 
be fully taught. 

Ver. 4S. Nathanael saith unto him, Whence 
knowest thou me ? The words of Jesus had been 
spoken while Nathanael was drawing near, 
the latter heard them. He does not deny the truth 
of the commendation, and yet it can hardly be 
on the other hand, that he accepts it. It isei 
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, 
01 meditate, or pray. It is this that (as the Greek 
implies) is now brought to his recollection — not his 

Galilee. On this day begins the journey consum- 
mated at chap. ii. 1 (see note).— And he findeth 
Philip ; and Jesus saith unto him, Follow me. 
The first two disciples had ' sought ' and ' followed ' 
Jesus ; then they had found Him. Now Tesus 
(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 obeyed. The calling of Philip and 
of Nathanael is recorded by John alone ; both 
Matthew and Mark relate that Jesus called to 
Him Andrew and Peter, James and John (Matt, 
iv. iS-ja ; Mark i. 16-20; compare Luke v. 
I-Il) ; but it will be remembered that 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, out of 
the city of Andrew and 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 is con- 
firmed 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 lews ' 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 
Nazareth, the son of Joseph. It was in all proba- 
bility on the journey from Bethany beyond Jordan 
to Cana of Galilee that Jesus 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 form 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 is nothing accidental in the finding 
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 lesus? 

Ver. 46. And Nathanael said unto Mm, Can 
there any good thing come out of Nazareth? 
Philip saith unto him, Come 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 

Chap. I. 35-51. 



being under the fig tree, but his having 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 His sheep recognise Him (x. 16). If the 
incident had taken place in Nathanael's own 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. ;o. Nathanael answered him. Rabbi, Thou 
art the Son of God; Thou art King of Israel. 
The confession is the highest that has yet been 
made, fir it is impossible to understand ' Son of 
God' as the simple equivalent of Messiah (see 
note on ver. 34). Vet 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. 
They had spoken not less of Jehovah Himself as 
coming, and as coming to be their I 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 
Solomon. 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 J ehovah 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. Jesus answered and said unto him, 
Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the 
fig tree, believest thou ? Thou shaltsee greater 
things 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. 5 1 . And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, 
I say unto you. This is the first occasion on 
which we find the repeated ' Verily,' so charac- 
teristic of the discourses related in this Gospel. 
The formula is always employed to mark some 
important step in a discourse, where the words of 
Jesus either take some new start, or rise to some 
higher stage. Both these conditions are fulfilled 
in the verse 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 
revelation promised. — Ye shall see Leaven open, 
and the angels of God 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 
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 
His 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 that 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, great 
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 
'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 used 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 is 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 is 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, realising his true humanity in Him, has 
as his own the blessings associated with these three 
aspects of the Redeemer. He is anointed with the 


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

of the law, is a son in the house of the Heavenly the ' Word become flesh,' and enlightened by the 

Father.^ himself a king. These are the ' greater full brightness of that Light in whose presence old 

things ' which every one who is an ' Israelite in- things pass away, and all things are made new. 

Chapter II. i-n. 
The Miracle at Cana of Galilee. 


1 A ^^ t ^ le t k' rc ' ^ a y tnere was a marriage in "Cana of- 

2 ^*- Galilee; and the 'mother of Jesus was there : And both - 

-» T 1 111 ii-i'-i i * Chap. vi. 42, 

3 Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And xix. 2 6, 27 . 

1,1 , . „ , _ c Chap, xix.26; 

wiien tney wanted wine," the mother of Jesus saith unto him, com P th; >p 

4 They have no wine. Jesus 3 saith unto her, 'Woman, d what d 2 Sam - *»• 

5 have I to do with thee? ''mine hour is not yet come. His ' Co'mp-chap. 
mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, ™i-*>|.«i» 

c J • A chap. xu. 23, 

o do it. And there were set 4 there six waterpots of stone, ^after 5 *".'■ '• 
the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing- two or ^Mark™^; 

***■»«' o Luke xl 38 ; 

7 three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water- chap - '"■ * 5 - 

8 pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And 
he saith unto them, Draw out 6 now, and bear unto the 

9 governor 7 of the feast. And they bare it. When 8 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 9 the 
water knew;) the governor 7 of the feast called 10 the bride- 

10 groom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth 
set forth good wine ; u and when men have well drunk,' 2 
then that which is worse : but" thou hast kept the good wine 

11 until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus 14 in Cana * ch ap . i. , 4 , 
of Galilee, and manifested forth 15 his ''glory ; and his disciples *™«Vi* 7 '; 
believed on 16 him. STJi. ap ' 

1 And Jesus also 2 And when wine was wanting 3 And Jesus 

4 omit set 5 placed after G omit out 7 ruler 

s But when 9 had drawn 10 calleth 

11 Everyman first setteth on the good wine lL ' men are drunken 

13 omit but l4 This did Jesus as the beginning of his signs 

15 omit forth ,i; in 

1 ONTENTS. The general subject of the second chapters. The first is the day of the Baptist's in- 
great division of the Gospel is continued in this terview, at Bethany, with the priests and Levites 
section. It contains an account of the miracle sent from ferusalem (i. 19-2S). On the second 
at Cana of Galilee, in which, as we arc told at (i. 29-34), John bears testimony to Jesus as the 
ver. 11, Jesus 'manifested His glory.' The Re- Lamb of God. The third is the day on which 
deemer is still in the circle of His disciples and the two disciples follow Jesus (i. 35-42). On the 
friends, and there aie no traces of His approach- next day Jesus sets out for Galilee (i. 43). That 
ing conflict with the world. Our thoughts are day, the next, and part of the third day may have 
directed solely to Himself, and to the glorious been spent in travelling ; for, if Bethany was in 
nature of that dispensation which He is to intro- the neighbourhood of Bethabara, and if tiic latter 
''"!->'• may be identified with the modern Beit-nimrim, 

\ er. 1. And the third day. The third day, as the distance traversed even to Vi areth must have 

reckoned from the day last mentioned (chap, been more than eighty English miles. Very pos- 

1. 43-5') ; die sixth day referred to in these sibly, however, Bethany may have lain farther 


north (see note on chap. i. 21). — There was a 
marriage, or marriage-feast. The feast, which 
was the chief constituent in the ceremonies attend- 
ing marriage, extended over several days, — as seven 
(Gen. xxix. 27 ; Judg. xiv. 12), or even fourteen 
(Tobit viii. 19). — In Cana 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 of Galilee. 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.e. 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 
Kefr-Kenna as the scene of our Lord's first miracle, 
tt hen 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 only 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 
province, not the town. To him the point of main 
interest is, that this manifestation of the Saviour's 
glory took place in Galilee. — And the mother of 
Jesus 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-II, 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 Jesus ('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 relationship 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 Jesus also was called, and his 
disciples, 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 live 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 guests. — The 
mother of Jesus saith unto 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 Jesus saith unto 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. Vet the contrast of 'woman' 
and ' mother ' 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 1582), 'What is 
that to thee and me?' — that is, 'Why should we 
concern ourselves with this failure of the wine?' 
— is altogether impossible. The phrase is a com- 
mon one, occurring in Judg. xi. 12; 2 Sam. 
xvi. 10, xix. 22 ; I Kings xvii. iS ; 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. iS; Ezra iv. 3; 
Matt, xxvii. 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 is to do. Thus 
understood, the words are an irresistible argument 
against the Mariolatry of Rome. — Mine hour is 
not yet come. In two other places in this Gospel 
Jesus refers to the coming of ' the hour ' (xii. 25, 


[Chap. II. i-i i. 

wii. I ) ; and three times John speaks of His hour 
as not yet come (vii. 30, viii. 20) or as now come 
(xiii. 1). 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 ; when 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 leaching of the 
Gospel, shows that the hour is not self-chosen, but 
i, thai appointed t>y the bather. lie came to do 
the will of Ilim 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 thecase, this can present 
no difficulty ; the Son waited for the very moment 
chosen by the Father's will. 

Ver. 5. His mother saith unto the servants, 
Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. The 
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 for the 'hour:' what- 
soever the hour may bring, let the servants be 
prepared to do His bidding. Mary here retires 
from the scene. 

Ver. 6. And there were there six waterpots 
of stone, placed after the manner of the purify- 
ing of the Jews, containing two or three firkins 
apiece 1 he waterpi its 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 easily possess six, and 
when the number of guests was large, each of 
them v> ould 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, 
50 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 
11: Ives 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. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the 
waterpots 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 saith 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 the 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 made 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. Weslcott's Characteristics 
of the Gospel Miracles, p. 15), 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 1 he feast, and it is wine I The decision between 
the last two interpretations must be left with the 
reader ; it will probably rest less on the word of 
the narrative than on the view which is taken of 
the significance and meaning of the miracle. See 
below on ver. 11. — By 'the ruler of the feast' is 
meant either an upper 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 
The latter view is favoured by our know- 
ledge of Jewish usages (comp. Ecclus. xxxii. 1, 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. 
The 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 h was.' ' From 
whatever source this may have come, it is wine, 
ami good wine :' this is his witness. ' Whatever it 
may be, it has but now (lowed from the spring as 
water,' is the unexpressed but implied testi 
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. The remark docs 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. 11. This did Jesus as the beginning of 
his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his 
glory ; and his disciples believed in him. This, 
I lis first sign, was wrought in Galilee, where Isaiah 
1 ix. 1, 21 prophesied that 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 
m the New Testament to denote a miracle, the 
first (literally meaning 'power') is not once found 
in his Gospel ; the second ('prodigy,' 'wonder') 
occurs once only (iv. 4S) ; 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 ye may believe that Jesus 
is the Christ, the Son of God, and that bclievii g 
ye may have life in His name.' Of the glory he 
says : ' We beheld His glory, glory as of an only- 
begotten from a father.' First, then, this miracle 
attested the mission of Jesus as the Chr^t ; the 
miracle established, as for Moses so for Him, the 
divine commission, and ratified His words. Next, 
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 into 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 oirtward 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 Christ, the Son 
of God (i. 41, 49) ; they now believed 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 1 1. 

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

12 A FTER this he went down to "Capernaum, he, and his 
■£*- mother, and ^his brethren, 1 and his disciples : and they 
continued 2 there not many days. 

13 And 'the Jews' ^passover 3 was at hand, and Jesus went 

14 up to Jerusalem/ 'And 5 found in the temple 6 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, 7 he drove 
them all out of the temple, 6 and the sheep, and the oxen ; and 
poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables ; 

1 his mother and brethren 7 abode 3 passover of the Jews 4 . 

1 And he 6 temple-courts ? And making a scourge of cords 

a Chap. iv. 46, 

vi. 17,24,59- 
bee chap 

vii. 3 
c Chap. v. 1, 

vii a, xi. ss, 

XIX 42. 
» Ver. 23; chap. 

vi. 1, xi. 55. 

xyiii '28, 39,' 
xix. 14. 
e Comp. Matt. 


1 6 And said unto them that sold doves, 8 Take these things hence ; 

17 make not ^my Father's house an house of merchandise. And 9 f s 
his disciples * remembered that it was written, *The zeal of thine 

18 house hath eaten 10 me up. Then answered the Jews 11 and h 
said unto him, 'What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that 12 ' 

19 thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, 
* Destroy this temple, and 'in three days I will raise it up.' 

20 Then said the Jews, 13 Forty and six years was this temple in 

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

22 spake of m the temple of his body. When therefore he was »• 
risen 15 from the dead, his disciples " remembered that he had lt « 
said this unto them; 17 and they believed "the scripture, and " 
the word which Jesus had said. 

8 the doves a omit And 10 shall eat u The Jews therefore answered 
12 because 13 The Jews therefore said H raise 
16 raised 16 omit had 17 omit unto them 

Luke ii. V j 

Luke xxiv. 

Ps. lxix. 9. 

See chap, v 

Mark xiv. 

58, xv. 29. 
Matt. xii. 4 

Comp. Col 

See chap. 

Contents. In the passage before us we have 
the first section of the third great division of our 
Gospel. Jesus leaves the circle of His disciples, 
and begins His public work. This is done at 
Jerusalem, after a few days 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 — (1) ver. 12 ; 
(2) vers. 13-22. 

Ver. 12. After this he went down to Caper- 
naum. 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 ot 
Gennesaret, not far from the northern end of the 
lake ; whether the present Tell Hum or (less prob- 
ably) Khan Minyeh 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 
into prominence in Matt. iv. 13. In the Fourth 
Gospel Capernaum occupies a very subordinate 
place ; the centre of the jiu/ian ministry was 
Jerusalem. — He, and his mother and brethren, 
and his disciples. In his usual manner John 

divides the company into three groups, naming 
separately Jesus, Flis relations by natural kindred, 
His disciples. The brethren of Jesus were James, 
Joses(orjoseph), Simon, and Judas (Matt. xiii. 55; 
Mark vi. 3). In what sense they 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 Mary 
herself or, more probably, an earlier wife of Joseph 
(comp. note on Matt. xiii. 5S). This verse alone 
might suggest that the brethren were not disciples, 
and from chap. vii. 5 we know that they were not. 
Ver. 13. And the passover of the Jews was at 
hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. The 
expression, 'passover 0] the Jews,' 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 habitually 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 only the 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, of tiie Lord. The 
feast now at hand is not 'the Lord's passover' 
(Ex. xii. 11), but 'the passover of the Jews.' The 
prevailing spirit of the time has severed the feast 
from 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 
powerfully to protest against the degenerate wor- 
ship of that day. The word of prophecy must be 
fulfilled : ' And the Lord whom ye seek shall sud- 



denly come to His temple, . . . but who may abide 
the day of His coming?' (Mai. iii. I, 2). 

Ver. 14. And he found in the temple-courts 
those that sold oxen and sheep and doves. The 
scene of tiiis 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 
quarter of the city naturally became a bazaar for 
the purpose ; but unhappily the priests, yielding to 
temptations of gain, had suffered such traffic to be 
carried on within 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 Nehemiah 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 wdio 
offered for sale oxen and sheep, — also doves (for 
the poor, Lev. xiv. 22, and for women, Lev. 
xii. 6). 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 changers 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. xvii. 
24-26). All who came from other lands, there- 
fore, or who had not with them the precise coin, 
must resort to the exchangers, who (as we learn 
from the Talmud) were permitted to do their 
business in the temple during the three weeks 
preceding the passover. Their profits (at a rate of 
interest amounting to ten or twelve per cent.) 
were very great. 

Ver. 15. And making a scourge of cords, he 
drove them all out 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 poured out the changers' money, and 
overthrew the tables — the counters on which the 
bankers placed their heaps of change. 

Ver. 16. And said unto them 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 words 
declare that He vindicates the honour of His Father's 
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 conscience, accepted the act, 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, xviii. 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 Jews. ' 

Ver. 17. His 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. lxix. , 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. lxix. 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 here quoted will best appear 
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 lines shows that the chief antithesis lies in 



the pronouns. Dishonour shown to God has been 
felt by the psalmist as a cruel wrong to himself. 
' Zealous indignation for Thine house, inspired by 
the sight or news of unworthy treatment of Thine 
house, consumed me, — 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 tin 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 inward 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 passage in the psalm. His zeal for His Father's 
house will devour His very life — will bring 
destruction in its train. 

Ver. 18. The Jews therefore answered. The 
effect on the disciples has been related ; what will 
be the response of the rulers to the self-revela- 
tion 01" Jesus ? The word 'therefore' answers to 
ihe 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 unto him, What sign 
shewest thou unto us because thou doest 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 
Hon 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 outermost space 
in the sacred enclosure; while the latter signifies 
the holy place, and the holy of holies. The 
sanctity of the temple-court has been 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 
lie 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 
'emple of His body.' To the English reader 
they seem merely to convey a warning that, if the 
lews go on with such profanation as that which 
lesus 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 1 1 is 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 
th.e 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 man. 
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 Jesus was 
crucified, the veil was rent, the holy of holies was 
thrown open, and by being thrown open was 
mi 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 up. — His crucifixion in- 
volved the total destruction of the Jewish temple 
and polity. No longer will there be a special 
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 
1 lentiles, a court of Israel, a court of the priests. 
His resurrection vi ill establish a new temple, a new 
order of spiritual worship. He Himself, as raised 
and glorified Messiah, will be the Corner-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 Lord (see chap. iii. 14, 
etc.). There is no real difficulty in the words, ' 1 
will raise it up;' chap. x. 17, 18, furnishes a 
complete explanation. 

Ver. 20. The Jews therefore said, Forty and 
six years was this temple in building, and wilt 
thou raise it up in three days? They answei 
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.D., seventy years after the com- 
mencement of the undertaking, and but twenty 
years before Jerusalem 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 ornamenta- 
tion 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 from 
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. 
1 1). We do not find the same statement here, but 
are told (comp. chap. xii. 16) that the words which 
battled the Jews were mysterious to the disciples 


likewise. Whilst, however, the Jews rejected the 
'hard saying,' the disciples '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 by the inner circle of the followers of Jesus, 
is a striking indication of the simple truthfulness 
of the narration (comp. ver. n). And they 
believed the Scripture and the word which 
Jesus had said. — 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 ( >M 
Testament as a whole, 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 [e.g., from Ps. xvi.; Isa. liii.; Hos. 
vi.), or the rebuilding of the true temple (Zech. vi. 
12-15). "- 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 
pointed 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 saying (' 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 
believed 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 lias 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 Lord'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 Lord. 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 exchange, 


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). Finally, 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 Jesus attended 
any other Passover than these two ? The least 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 came 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 
Jonah. 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 ways, 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 
shall be none of theirs — a temple in which God 
Himself shall dwell, manifested to all men in the 


Chapter II. 23— III. 21. 

The Conversation with Nicodcmits. 

23 "N T OW when he was in Jerusalem at the " passover, in the«Ver. 13. 
IN feast day, 1 many b believed in his name, when they 2 saw JSeechap. 

24 the miracles 3 which he did. But Jesus did not commit 4 him- 'John v. 13. 

25 self unto them, because 5 he 'knew all 6 men, And 7 needed c< ^*%-%--£ 3 
not that any should testify of man : for he knew what was in S^.*' 1 * 27 ' 
man. 8 r.v.T^ : 

1 There' 1 was a man of the Pharisees, named d Nicodemus, a Luke vS'.' 39! 

2 '' ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus 10 by night, and fsam.°xn! 
said unto him, f Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come ,/ cLp C vi!'. 24 ' 
from God :" for s no man 12 can do these miracles 13 that thou t .[i] 

3 doest, except /: God be with him. Jesus answered and said %', 4 see"' 
unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be /chap. j. 38.' 

4 ' born again, 14 he cannot see the * kingdom of God. Nicodemus * 16,^3".™" 

- 1 1 ■ T T 11 1 1 • 1 1 1 ^' A CtS X. 38. 

saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old ? can iChap.i. ,-,■. 
he enter the 15 second time into his mother's womb, and be Tit.'m.'s:' 

las. i. iS 

5 born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except iPet.i.3,*3; 
a man be 16 born of water and of the Spirit, 17 he cannot enter iii. 9, iv. 7 , ' 

6 into the * kingdom of God. That which is ' 
is flesh ; and that which is ls born of the Spirit 19 is spirit. 

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 2 " 

8 The wind bloweth 21 where it listeth, and thou hearest the 
sound 22 thereof, but canst not tell 23 whence it cometh, and 
whither it goeth : so is every one that is !i born of the Spirit." ' 

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

10 be ? 2fl Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master 87 

1 1 of Israel, and knowest 28 not these things ? Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that 2 ' we 

12 have seen ; and 'ye receive not our witness. If I have 30 told iver.32. 
you earthly 31 things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, i. iSjProv. 

13 if I tell you of heavenly things? 32 And "''no man hath « Chap. 'vi. 38 

ascended up to 33 heaven, but " he that came down from 34 heaven, 3' ; tph. i» 

9, 10. 

1 at the feast - omit when they 3 beholding his signs 4 trust 

s on account of u his discerning all 7 And because he 

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

9 And there 10 to him n thou art come from God, a teacher 
12 no one 1S signs 14 any one have been born anew Ks a 
10 any one have been '" of water and spirit ls hath been 

10 or spirit 20 anew 21 breatheth 22 voice 

23 but knowest not 24 hath been - >5 or spirit 

26 come to pass 27 Thou art the teacher 28 perceivest thou 

'-"■' that which we know and bear witness of that which 

30 omit have 31 the earthly "- if I tell you the heavenly things 

33 And no one hath ascended up into heaven r ' A out of. 


14 even 3 " the " Son of man which is in heaven. 36 And 'as Moses ; ^m.' ixl' ? . 
lifted up 37 the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son tvers.'X-t' 

15 of man be q lifted up: 37 That r whosoever believeth s in him lV£vl 
should not perish, but 3 " have 'eternal life. j£L'.";. 2S ' 

16 For "God so loved "the world, that he gave his ""only * s e K &,'*t.4, 
begotten Son, that whosoever 3 ' J believeth in him should" not ^jihn'v. h. 

17 * perish, but have everlasting 41 Life. 'For God sent not his 42 ch" P : w! V, 
Son into the world to condemn 43 the world; but that the "■'^.^'•47! 

18 world through him might 44 be saved. * He that believeth on " j&»* s°T ' 
him is not condemned: 40 but 47 " he that believeth not is con- J^ 1 ™' 1 -' 2 - 
demned 48 already, because he hath not believed in the name « Rom. v. 8, 

19 of™ the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condem- f*jJM; 
nation, * that " light is come into the world, and men loved ^* , » : ' 
darkness rather than light, 50 because their deeds were evil." 1 ■§£$,)£* 

20 For every one that doeth 52 evil hateth the light, neither ^w-^g 

21 cometh 53 to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 64 But 'g^*^' 
he that doeth truth 55 cometh to the light, that his deeds 50 " <£**■ xvi - 
may be made manifest, that they are 57 wrought in God. i uS&"w 

chap. i. 5, 

35 omit even. 96 omit which is in heaven ™- "• ™; s 

37 lifted on high 33 that every one that believeth may in him xx ' v i. is ; 

30 every one that t0 may " eternal 42 the ROT.jdii.12; 

43 that he may judge "may ls in 40 judged , ThJs.V. 

47 omit but 48 hath been judged 4:l is the judgment, because the 4, 5 ; 1 Pet. 

50 the darkness rather than the light 51 for their works were wicked 

52 committeth 63 and he cometh not 54 works should be convicted chap. ix. 5. 

55 the truth 56 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 

mentary on iii. 1). 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 from 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. 1. 12.1, 

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 

aro _(i) ii. 23-25; (2) iii. 1-15; (3) iii. 16- 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 Jerusalem at next verse. 

the passover, at the feast, many believed 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 all men, 

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

lesus to the people and ' the 1 e« s ' in the house of witness concerning a man ; for he himself dis- 

His Father to His more private ministry in Jerusa- cerned what was in 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 'signs,' and by faith is described in very remarkable language, 

these leading many to faith 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. If 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 ]« lievers have not reached such maturity of 
faith Jesus Him ell ■>< cems. No witness from 
am ither 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. 1 

Ver. 1. And there was a man of the Phari- 
sees, named Nicodenius, a ruler of the Jews. 
That this verse does not begin a new section is 
clearly shown by the first word ' And,' which 
links it with the last chapter; another indication 
of the same kind is seen when the true leading 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 thought 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 the signs to a degree of faith, he was 
desirous of knowing more; and our Lord's deal- 
ings with Nicodemus show how He sought 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 (see notes on chaps, i. 24, vii. 32), and 
as ' a ruler of the Jews,' — i.e., 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 passages John uses 'ruler ' 
in this sense (see vii. 26, 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 >l 
those who represented the self-seeking and formal- 
ism which Jesus came to subvert. The elements 
of hostility already existed, though the open con- 
flict had in it yet begun (see chap. ii. iS). 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 externalism and prejudices of his class, 
but his candour and his faith stand out in wonder- 
ful contrast to the general spirit evinced by the 
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 coming by night was 
the same as the cause of Joseph's secret disciple- 
ship — the 'fear of the Jews.' That he himself was 
one of ' the Jews ' only makes this explanation 
more probable. We cannot doubt that he 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, Eabbi, we know that 
thou art come from God, a teacher. Every word 
here is 1 if 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 Cod' will appear even mote significant, 
if we keep in mind that the most familiar designa- 
tion ui tlie Messiah was ' the coming One,' 'He 
that should come.' The appearing of the Baptist 
quickened 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 from 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 Nicodemu 
by night. 

For no one can do these signs that thou 
doest except God be with him. Nicodemus 
acknowledges the works to be 'signs ' (rrot so the 
Jews, chap. ii. iS), 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- 
fied Redeemer who is here to be proclaimed (ver. 
14). Such education, however, can be effected 
only by tire word of Je^is, 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 
1 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 In the 
half-instructed excitable multitudes of Galilee and 
those intended fur 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 unto him, 
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except any one 
have been horn anew, he cannot see the Icing- 


domofGod. Jesus answers his thoughts rather 
than his words, but the connection between the 
address ami the answer is not hard to find. John 
the Baptist had familiarised all with the thought 
that tin- kingdom of God was at hand, that the 
reign 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 gravity 
of the error is reflected in the solemnity of the lan- 
guage, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee.' — 'Any 
one. ' This more literal rendering is necessary here 
because of the next verse. Our Lord says simply 
anyone. Nicodemus brings in the word 'man,' 
to give more expressiveness to his reply. 

' Have been born anew.' It has been, and still 
is, a much controverted question whether the Greek 
word here used should be rendered again, or anew, 
\bove. 'Again' is certainly inadequate ; for, 
tin lugh the word may denote beginning over again, 
commencing tlie 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. 1, 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 may well be spoken of as ' born 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 bom of Cod 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 born (or begotten) from above: 
' coming from above ' is perfectly clear ; ' born 
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 born from above' would not necessarily 
imply a second birth. The Jews maintained that 
they were born of God (see chap. viii. 41), and 
would have had no difficulty whatever in believing 
that those only who received their being from above 
could inherit the blessings of Messiah's kingdom. 
Our Lord's words, then, teach the fundamental 
truth, 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 remarkable 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 complete inward 
change none can possibly see (have a true percep- 
tion of) ' the kingdom of God,' Jesus declares the 
spiritual character of His kingdom. In it none 
but the spiritual can have any part. 

Ver. 4. Nicodemus saith unto him. How can 
a man be born when he is old ? can he enter a 
second time into his mother's womb, and be born ? 
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 ' born 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 in in 1 ; the ' an)' 1 me ' of our Lord's answei 
makes all men equal ; and the prize which seemed 
almost within his grasp is given to every one who 
has been born 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. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee, Except any one have been born ot 
water and spirit, he cannot enter into the king- 
dom of God. The answer is a stronger affirmation 
of the same truth, with some changes of expressioc 
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 
external 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. (1) First, then 
as to the very peculiar expression, ' of water and 
spirit.' We cannot doubt that this is the true 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 government of the same preposition. A 
little earlier in the Gospel (chap. i. 33) we find 
the same words — not, indeed, joined together a' 
here, but yet placed in exact parallelism, each 
word, too, receiving emphasis from the context. 
Three times between chap. i. 19 and chap. i. ^ 
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 age. We know that converts to the Jewish 
religion were admitted by baptism to fellowship 
with the sacred people. The whole terror of the 
law would suggest such a washing when the un- 
cleanness of heathenism was put off, and hence no 
rite could be mure 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 soil 
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 
invited all, 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 symbolic, 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. ^ are — (a) the covering 
and removal of past sin ; and (/') 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 gift, 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 
says that no man can enter into the kingdom of 
God unless he have been born 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 direct 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 horn of the flesh 
re flesh, and that which hath been born 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 
born 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 lrom John's usage elsewhere. Though the 
word occurs as many as thirteen times in this 
Gospel (chap. i. 13, 14, vi. 51, 52, etc., viii. 15, 
xvii. 2), in no passage does it express the thought 
of sinfulness, as it does in Paul's Epistles and 
in 1 John ii. 16. Another difficulty meets us in 
the second clause. Are we to read ' born 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 principle just spoken of in ver. 5, ' of 
water ami spirit ' ; It is hard to say, and the dif- 
ference in meaning is 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye 
must be born 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 nought 
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 affirm the 
truth at which Nicodemus stumbled. ' Ye must 
be born again : the necessity is absolute. Before, 
He 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 born again : ' ' Marvel not at this.' 

Ver. 8. The words of this verse point out to 
Nicodemus wliy 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 all, 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 thou 
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. Evei 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 furnish- 
ing an occasion for the comparison here. Ii may 
well have been so ; every reader of the Gospels 
may see how willingly our Lord drew lessons from 
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 spirit 
being now used in the sense of wind. 
but the abruptness of this transition needs any 



explanation. The appointed emblem teaches the 
lesson for which it was appointed. The choice of 
terms (breatheth, iisteth, voice) shows that the wind 
is personified. It is perhaps of the gentle breeze 
rather than of the violent blast that the words 
speak (for the word pnenma 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). 

So is every one that hath been born of the 
Spirit. As in the natural, so is it in the spiritual 
world. The wind breatheth where it Iisteth ; 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 born of 
the Spirit knows that His influence is real, ex- 
periencing that influence in himself, but can trace 
His working no farther, — knows not the beginning 
or the end of His course. Our Lord does not 
speak 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 born 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 that 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 argument has not much real weight. The 
language is condensed, it is true, and the words cor- 
responding to the first clause (' The wind bloweth 
where it Iisteth') 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. Nicodemus 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, How can 
. . . ? 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. 11. x 

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. 10. Jesus answered and said unto him, 
Thou art the teacher of Israel ; and perceivest 
thou not these things ? 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 amongst 
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 knowdedge 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 born 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. n. Verily, verily, 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 Teacher 
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, ur 



John the Baptist, or that He is speaking of the 
testimony of the Father and the Holy Spirit. 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 with Him- 
self in this emphatic testimony all who have been 
born 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, [csus 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 
parallel members of this verse bring the truth 
expressed into bold relief. The words closely 
correspond (knowing to sneaking, seeing to bearing 
witness), while there is at the same time an ad- 
vance in the thought, since bearing witness rises 
above speaking, and we have seen is more expres- 
sive than we 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 convincing 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. 11, 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 He Himself had personally given. It seems 
hardly possible, however, that our Lord simply refers 
to words just spoken. In saying ' If I told you the 
earthly 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- 
maining in 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 
are little 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 made known by Him 
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 heavenly 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 home is earth, so to speak, which 
were known before God revealed Himself by Him 
who is in the bosom of the Father (chap. i. iS). 
They are 'earthly,' not as belonging to the 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 necessarily by 
his own unaided powers. In His former discourses 
to the Jews, Jesus would seem not to have gone 
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 inhabitants of heaven, had 
long been naturalised on earth. Having been 
revealed, they belonged to men, whereas the 
secret things belong unto the Lord (Deut. xxix. 
29). Those of whom our Lord spoke had yielded 
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 recognised 
them as already taught, almost as part of the law 
that was given through Moses (chap. i. 17), how 
would it be when He spoke of the things hitherto 
secret, coming directly out of the heaven which He 
opens (comp. chap. i. 5:), 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. 13. And no one hath ascended up into 
heaven, but he that came down out of heaven, 
the Sou of man. The connection is this : ' How 
will v 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, 3S, 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. 2S), that He might declare 
the Father (chap. i. iS) and speak unto the world 
what He had heard from Him (chap. viii. 26). 

Chap. II. 23-1 1 1. 2i.] 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. ' Hath ascended up ' cannot 
refer to His future ascension ; and there is no 
foundation for the view held by some, that within 
the limits of Mis 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 
difficulty. 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, anil 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. xxi. 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 been m heaven. This was the qualifica- 
tion for revealing the truths which are here spoken 
of as heavenly things, lint 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 
things 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 ' see 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 
early 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 
of the same kind. 

Vers. 14, 15. And as Moses lifted on high the 
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son 
of man be lifted on high, that every one that be- 
lieveth 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 
He 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 ' lifted 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 End 
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 coming kingdom of God. Exalted He shall 
be, not like the 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 1 1 e 
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 looked 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 all 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 Heb. 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 in truth included ; for he that truly 
receives His word finds that its first and chief 
requirement is faith in Jesus 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 
tlie very first mention of ' eternal life,' the blessing 
of which John, echoing his Master's words, is 
ever speaking. ' Eternal 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 ; I John i. 2, v. 11. 

The result of the interview with Nicodemus is 
not recorded, but the subsequent 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 ? Are 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: — (1) Their general style and character 
remind us of the Prologue. (2) The past tenses 
'loved' and 'were' in 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. 11 Jesus says, 'ye receive not 
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 in regard to the Son, though it is 
used by the Evangelist in chap. i. 14, i. 18, and 
1 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. 37-41) ; and 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 
gave his only begotten Son, that every one that 
believeth 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 made manifest by Him 
who came out of heaven. John pauses to set 
his Master's words in the light in which he him- 
self had afterwards beheld them. Jesus had said 
' must be lifted 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 gave the Son : to w/mtHe 
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 world, it is the actual possession of every 
believer. The words relating to faith are more 
definite than in ver. 14; foresee 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- 

ous senses in which it is employed by the Evan- 
gelist. The ' world ' does not in this verse designate 
those who had received and rejected the offer of 
salvation. It is thought of as at an earlier stage 
of its history ; the light is not yet presented by 
the acceptance or rejection of which the 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; but that the 
world through him may be saved. The thought 
of the last verse is expanded. There it was the 
gift 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 
condemnation. 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 limitations, as effec- 
tually as the words of ver. 3 set aside the dis 
tinctions which were present to the thought of 
Nicodemus. — It may seem hard to reconcile 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. iS. 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 prei -ding 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 believing in Jesus 
of ver. 10 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 unbelief is 
persisted in, so long 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 ver) - 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 place 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 bring 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 which 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 every one that committeth evil 
hateth the light, and he cometh not to the light 
lest his works should be convicted. 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 
light. Not ' he that hath committed,' 1 for what is 
spoken of is the bent and the spirit of the man's 
life. 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 
must 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, lie seeks defence against himself by hating 
the light (compare 1 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 — be exposed in their true 
character : the works are looked on as of them- 
selves the criminals — they will be self-convicted, 
self-condemned. The thought of self-conviction 
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. 
test, because they have been wrought in God. 
In contrast with those who cor. mit 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 directly 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, his 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 aivay of the Baptist in the presence of the True Bridegroom 
of the Church. 

22 A FTER these things came Jesus and his disciples into the 

±\. land of Judca ; and there he tarried with them, a and aChap.iv, 

23 baptized. And John also was baptizing in yEnon near to 
Salim, because there was much water 1 there: 'and they came, b Ma «- '■'• 

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

25 Then there arose 8 a question between some of John's disciples 

26 and the Jews 3 about d purifying. And they came unto John, 
and said unto him, * Rabbi, he that was with thee f beyond 
Jordan, ^to whom thou barest 4 witness, behold, h the same 

e Chap. 
A' Chap. 

ii. 6. 
i. 38. 
i. 2S. 

1 were many waters - There arose therefore 

3 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, 
k A man can receive nothing, except it be 5 given him from 6 

28 heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ' I am 

29 not the Christ, but '"that I 7 am sent before him. He that 
hath the bride is the bridegroom : but " the friend of the bride- 
groom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly be- 
cause of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is 8 

30 fulfilled. " He must increase, but I must decrease. 

31 * He that cometh from above q is above all : he that is of 9 the 
earth is earthly, 10 and speaketh of the earth : " 'he that cometh 

32 from 9 heaven is above all. 18 And what he hath seen and 
heard, r that he testifieth ; 13 and s no man receiveth his testi- 

33 mony. 14 He that hath 15 received his testimony 14 'hath set 

34 to his seal 16 that God is true. " For he whom God hath ls sent 
speaketh the " words of God : for God giveth not the Spirit by 

35 measure unto Mm." w The Father loveth the Son, and *hath 

36 given all things into his hand. y He that believeth on 18 the Son 
hath everlasting 19 life : and he that * believeth 20 not the Son 
shall not see life ; but "the wrath of God abideth on him. 

6 have been 6 out of 7 but, I 8 hath been 

9 ut f 10 out of the earth n out of the earth he speaketh 

12 omit is above all 13 beareth witness of what he hath seen and heard 
u witness ls omit hath 

16 for hath . . . seal read set his seal to this, 

17 for not by measure giveth he the Spirit 

is m 19 eternal 20 but he that obeyeth 

I. 22-36. 

Comp. chap. 

k 1 Cor. iv. 7, 

Heb. v. 4 ; 
Jas. i. 17. 
Comp. chap. 

m Chap. i. 6, 7, 
n Comp. Matt. 

o Chap. i. 15. 
pVer. 13; 

chap. viii. 23. 
q Comp. chap. 

i. 15; 

Rom. ix. 5 ; 

Eph. i. 21 ; 

Phil. ii. 9. 
r Vers. 11, 13 ; 

chap. viii. 

26, 38, xv. 15. 
iVer. 11 J 

chap. i. II. 
t Rom. iii. 4 ; 

1 John v. 10. 
it Ver. 17. See 

chap. xii. 49. 
v Chap. viii. 

47. Comp. 

chap. xvii. 8. 
w See chap. 

xvii. 24, and 

Contents. This section affords us our last 
view of the great Forerunner when, at the moment 
of his disappearance, he utters his highest testi- 
mony to Jesus as the true Bridegroom of the 
Church, alone to be welcomed by all waiting 
hearts. Hence it immediately precedes Christ's 
proclamation of His truth beyond Judea. The 
subordinate parts are— (1) vers. 22-30; (2) vers. 


Ver. 2 >. After these things came Jesus and 
his disciples into the land of Judea ; and there 
he tarried with them, and baptized. The intro- 
ductory words ' After these things ' may possibly 
include a considerable period. Apparently several 
months intervened between the Passover of chap, 
ii. 13 and the visit to Samaria (chap, iv.) ; but only 
two events belonging to this period are related. 
The words of this verse, however [lurried and bap- 
tized), show that after leaving Jerusalem Jesus re- 
mained for some length of time in the country parts 
of Judea. In no other passage than this is there 
any mention of the Saviour's baptizing, and chap, 
iv. 2 explains that this baptism was only indirectly 
His. Still, however, it is clear that the baptism 
was by the authority of Jesus, the disciples acting 
only as His ministers. Yet they did not baptize 
with Christian baptism in the full sense of the term. 
They were engaged in preparatory work like that 
of the Baptist, just as the Twelve were sent forth 
by Jesus to declare the very message which John 
had preached (Matt. x. 7). The baptism of the 
Spirit was still future (chap. vii. 39). The next 

verse shows the main design of this section. When 
Jesus baptized in Judea, He came into direct and 
necessary comparison with John. 

Ver. 23. And John also was baptizing in 
zEnon near to Salim, because there were many 
waters there : and they came and were baptized. 
Where .^Enon and Salim were situated it is not 
easy to determine. The position assigned them 
by Eusebius and Jerome, near the northern boun- 
dary of Samaria, does not agree well with ver. 22. 
It is more probable that Salim is the Shilhim (trans- 
lated Salem in the LXX.) of Josh. xv. 32, a town 
not far from the southern limit of Judea. In this 
verse of foshua (in the Hebrew) Shilhim is directly 
followed by Ain, from which .-Enon differs only in 
being an intensive form — Ain denoting a spring, 
and jEnon, springs. The objection to this identi- 
fication is that, as John was clearly in the neigh- 
bourhood of Jesus, it takes the latter from the 
route leading to Samaria and Galilee. But the 
history of the events of the period is so brief and 
fragmentary that this objection has not much 
weight. John no doubt alludes to the meaning of 
.-Enon when he acids that there were ' many waters' 

Ver. 24. For John was not yet cast into 
prison. Words in which the Evangelist vindicates 
the accuracy of his narrative, and corrects a mistake 
apparently prevailing in the Church when he 
wrote. The earlier Gospels, dealing mainly with 
the Galilean work of Jesus, do not mention His 
entering upon His public ministry until after the 


Baptist 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 arose therefore a questioning 
on the part of John's disciples 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 the Jews in general were hos- 
tile to Jesus, this man may have shared the convic- 
tions of Nicodemus (vers. I, 2). The 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 
John. On the symbolic character of John's bap- 
tism, see the note on ver. 5 ; on ' purification,' see 
ii. 6, xiii. 10, xv. 3, and 1 John i. 7, 9. 

Ver. 26. And they came unto John, and said 
unto him, Rabbi, 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 thy great 
object to magnify his fame ; and yet he is now 
thy rival, he baptizes, 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. ' Ve remind me that 
I have bome 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 be found in i. 20 : the other is not given in 
this Gospel in the very words, but is implied in 
i. 30, 31, and no doubt had been expressly 
uttered by John to his disciples. 

Ver. 29. He that hath the bride is the bride- 
groom : but the friend of the bridegroom, which 
staudeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly 
because of the bridegroo i's voice : this my 
joy therefore hath been fulfilled. He that hath 
the bride,' he and no ether, 'is the bridegroom. 
The Lord is taking home His bride — His people. 
To the name of bridegroom 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 retlection of the rejoicing of the bridegroom : 
this joy 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. hi., 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 
earth, 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 
that cometh out of heaven ' are clearly the same as 



' He that came down out of heaven' (ver. 13), and 
all three expressions are designations of Jesus. 
There is but One who thus ' cometh from above ' 
(though many others have received their mission 
from above), and He therefore is above all. In 
comparison with Him, every other prophet or 
teacher has his origin out of the earth ; and as is 
his origin, so is his nature, so is his utterance. 

Ver. 32. He that cometh out of heaven beareth 
witness of what he hath seen and heard ; and no 
man receiveth his witness. In ver. 12 we have 
seen that heaven is spoken of as the place of 
immediate divine knowledge and light. Jesus 
alone belongs to this sphere : all the prophets 
before His coming, though divinely commissioned, 
had ' the earth ' as the starting-point of their utter- 
ances, spoke of what they had received on earth, 
spoke truly but not perfectly. The Divine light 
was reflected from the prophets to the world 
around. In Jesus the heavenly light itself came 
into the world. Jesus alone, then, beareth witness 
to that which He hath seen and which He heard, 
and (here again b the mournful cadence of this 
Gospel) no one receiveth His witness. So few 
receive, that they seem as nothing in comparison 
with those who reject. That the rejection is not 
in strictness universal the next verse declares. 

Ver. 33. He that received his witness set his 
seal to this, that God is true. Every man who 
accepts His witness and thus declares that Jesus is 
true, in that very act attests, sets his seal to, the 
declaration that God is true. (For the opposite, 
see 1 John v. 10.) A mere prophet might be 
unfaithful or might err. Jesus ' comes out of 
heaven,' declares ' what He has seen,' and ' what 
He heard' from God: to disbelieve Him is to 
disbelieve God, to declare Him true is to declare 
God true. This is further explained and con- | 
firmed by the next verse. 

Ver. 34. For he whom God sent speaketh the 
words of God. The last verse rests on the thought 
that the words of Jesus are the words of God. 
Here it is shown that this is involved in the very 
proposition that Jesus is the Sent of God. Strictly, 
there have been many whom God has sent, — for 
example, John the Baptist (chap. i. 6) : his words 
were true, and were words of God. But where 
one is thus isolated as sent by God (and this is 
repeatedly done in this Gospel), he is the Sent in 
a peculiar and pre-eminent sense. He speaketh 
not ' words of God ' only, but ' the words of God,' 
giving all the revelation that God gives. The 
enabling power thus to speak is the gift of the 
Spirit. Every one whom God sends is enabled to 
speak God's words — words that, for the portion of 

the revelation he is commissioned to give, are 
truly God's words. — For not by measure giveth 
he the Spirit. He gives the Spirit not partially, 
but completely, for the purpose of enabling him 
who is sent to speak words of God. Rising 
from the partial and incomplete to that which 
is full and perfect, we find but One who has thus 
been sent by God, and but One who receives the 
Spirit in unmeasured fulness, enabling not for 
the complete declaration of a part only, but for 
the perfect revelation of the whole of the words of 

Ver. 35. The Father loveth the Son. There is 
a continual heightening of the thought and expres- 
sion. We read of Him ' that cometh from above,' 
Him 'that cometh out of heaven,' Him 'whom 
God sent,' — 'the Son,' whom 'the Father 
loveth.' In ver. 17 we read that the Father sent 
the Son to save the world, because He ' so loved 
the world' (ver. 16): here we read of the love of 
the Father towards the Son who thus gave Him- 
self for the accomplishment of the purpose of the 
Father. From chap. x. 17 it seems probable that 
it is of this love that we must understand the verse 
— of a love, therefore, referring to the work of re- 
demption, not to the essential relation of the Son 
to the Father (comp. note on v. 20). — And hath 
given all things into his hand. From perfect 
love follows perfect communication not of ' the 
words of God' only (ver. 34), but of all things pos- 
sessed. The Father has given all things into the 
Son's hand. Whatsoever the Son speaks or gives 
or does, is spoken, given, done, by the Father. 

Ver. 36. He that believeth in the Son hath 
eternal life. As all things are in the Son's hand 
by the gift of the Father, the destiny of all men 
depends on their relation to the Son. He that 
believeth in the Son has in Him the highest of all 
blessings, life eternal ; has this in present posses- 
sion — involved in the communion of faith in which 
he lives. — But he that obeyeth not the Son shall 
not see life ; but the WTath of God abideth on 
him. Over against the believer is here set, not 
the man who does not believe, but he that dis- 
obeys. The change from believing to obedience 
results from the thought of the last verse : supreme 
power is given to the Son ; therefore he that re- 
ceives Him not by faith is guilty of disobeying His 
authority ; not faith only, but the obedience of 
faith, is His due. From the eyes of all such life is 
hidden whilst the unbelief and disobedience shall 
last. The rejection of the Son brings with it the 
wrath of God, by whom all things were given into 
the Son's hand : this is the present and the abiding 
heritage of him that obeyeth not the Son. 

Chapter IV. 1-42. 
Jesus and the Samaritans. 

1 "\ ~\ THEN therefore "the Lord knew how 1 the Pharisees had aChap. vi. 

VV heard that Jesus made* and i baptized ' more dis- i8,*>, 25 

1 xn. 7, la 

2 ciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his *Cha P . Hi. 
1 oerceived that - had heard, Jesus maketh 3 baptizeth 


3 disciples,) 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 c that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, c c»m P . Get.. 

6 Now Jacob's well was there. 5 Jesus therefore, bein" wearied *ivin. 22;' 

J jo Josh. xxiv. 

with his journey, sat thus on the well : 6 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. 8 ) Then saith the woman 
of Samaria 9 unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest 

drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? 10 for "'the 11 Jews rfa Kings xyii. 

24 ; Lzr.i iv. 

10 have no dealings with the 11 Samaritans. Jesus answered and '°.<=tc. ; 

& J Neh. iv 1,2. 

said unto her, If thou knewest the srift of God, and who it is pomp. Luke 

=> ix. 53, xvii. 

that saith to thee, Give me to drink ; thou wouldest have asked jS; chap. 

11 of him, and he would have given thee 'living water. The *J« 
woman 1 ' saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and Zcch. »v.8; 
the well is deep : from whence then hast thou that living water ? £°"J. p, xIvii . 

12 -^ Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, ^6™' I7, 
and drank thereof himself, and his children, 13 and his cattle ? /comp.'chkp. 

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, ^Whosoever 14 drinketh of^""^f' chap 

14 this water shall thirst again : But '' whosoever drinketh lb of the ka*l'.$: 3S , 
water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water vL\ ?6,'xxi. v ' 
that I shall give him 'shall be 16 in him a well 17 of water chap-vI'V 

15 springing up into k everlasting life. 19 l The woman saith unto ^s^cha'p. 3 ' 
him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come ,? chap.' vi. 34 . 

16 hither 19 to draw. Jesus 20 saith unto her. Go, call thy husband, 

17 and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no 
husband. Jesus said 21 unto her, Thou hast well said, I have 

iS no husband : For thou hast had five husbands ; and he whom 
thou now hast is not thy husband : in 22 that saidst thou truly. 23 

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art w 'a »<chap i*. 17. 

y l See chap. i. 

20 prophet. * Our fathers worshipped in this mountain ; and ye ".' Malt - 
say, that in * Jerusalem is the place where men ought to wor- "£°™ p Geni 

21 ship. 24 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, 25 the 26 hour ^' De ' u 8 t ' 
cometh, •''when ye shall 27 neither in this mountain, nor yet 29 at 29 op^'xii 

22 Jerusalem, worship 30 g the Father. Ye worship r ye know not U.' 3 l^'lf- 
what: 11 'we know what we worship: 32 for 'salvation 33 is of l^™"^ 1 ' 

Ps. lxxvi. 2. 

p Ma), i 

4 He cometh therefore 5 Now there was a fountain there, Jacob's fountain 1 Tim.'ii. 
6 by the fountain 7 omit and 8 food ? s .?? cha P 

9 The Samaritan woman therefore saith 10 a Samaritan woman r c'oinp. 

11 omit the 12 She 13 sons H Every one that 2 Kings 7. 

15 hath drunk 16 become '"fountain r" e lf' 

18 of springing water, unto eternal life v > all the way hither 'cxT" 

20 He 21 saith 22 omit in 23 this thou hast said truly 

24 must worship 25 Believe me, woman 26 an 27 emit ye shall 

29 omit yet 29 in 30 shall ye worship 

31 Ye worship that which ye know not 3? we worship that which we know 
33 because the Salvation 

cxlvii. _io, : 
Rom ill. : 


23 the Jews. But the 3 ' hour cometh, and "now is, when the true »Cha P .v. !5 
worshippers shall worship the Father in " spirit and in 35 "'truth : uRom.™. 

24 for the Father 36 "* seeketh such to worship him. 37 God is a 39 vi.'i8. 

1 • in • Comp. Phil. 

Spirit: 39 and they that worship him must worship htm in Hi- 3- 

25 spirit and in 35 truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that *Com P . chap 
'Messias cometh, which is called Christ: 41 when he is come, ^chap. i. „■. 

26 *he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, " I that speak zVer. 29 

° J Comp. Dent 

unto thee am he. *™>- *s, 1.8. 

(i Matt. xxvi. 

27 And upon this came his disciples, and 42 marvelled that he 64; Mark 
talked with the 43 woman : yet no man said, What seekest thou ? chap. ix. 37 . 

28 or, Why talkest thou with her ? The woman then 44 left her 
waterpot, and went her way into the b city, and saith to the JVers. 5 , s 

29 men, Come, see a man, e which told me all things that ever I c Vers. 18, 2S . 

30 did : is not this the Christ ? 45 Then 46 they went out of the city, 
and came 47 unto him. 

31 In the mean while his 48 disciples prayed him, saying, ''Master, 49 rfChap. i. 38. 

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

33 not of. 50 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any 

34 man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, 'My «Comp. job 
meat is to ^do M the will of him that sent me, and to 58 ^finish 53 /Cr,a P . v. 3 o, 

vi. 38. 

35 his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then e ch ?i>- v - 3". 
cometh harvest? 54 behold, 55 I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, 

and look on the fields; 56 /: for they are white already to har- /SMatt. ix. 37 

36 vest. 57 And 58 he that reapeth receiveth wages, 59 and gathereth 

fruit unto ' life eternal : that both 60 he that soweth and he that i Ver. i 4 . 

37 reapeth may ^'rejoice together. And 61 herein is that saying 68 ^comp. p s . 

38 true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap Amos' ix. 13. 
that whereon ye bestowed no labour: 03 other men laboured, 

and ye are entered into their labours. 64 

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city 65 believed on 66 

him ' for the saying " of the woman, which testified, 68 He told /\'a. »g. 

40 me all 69 that ever I did. So when 70 the Samaritans were come 
unto him, they besought him that he would tarry 71 with them : 

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

42 because of his own " word ; And 73 said unto the woman, Now we 

34 an 3S omit in 3e add also 

37 is seeking such, them that worship him 38 omit a S9 spirit 

40 omit him 41 Messiah cometh (which is called Christ) 4 - and they 

43 a 44 therefore 45 Can this be the Christ ? * 6 omit then 

47 were on their way 48 the 49 Rabbi 60 omit of 

51 that I should do 62 omit to 63 accomplish 

54 the harvest 6S lo 56 behold the fields 

67 that they are white for harvesting 68 Already 59 reward 

60 omit both G1 For C2 the word 63 ye have not toiled 

" 4 others have toiled, and ye have entered into their toil 

65 And from that city many of the Samaritans 66 in 

67 because of the word f,s bearing witness S9 all things 

7« When therefore 71 abide 72 omit own 73 And they 

Chap. IV. 1-42.] 


for '" we have heard him '' 

believe, not because of thy sayinsr: 74 for '"we have heard him i «Chap ; *™. 

' J J a 8 ; 1 John 

ourselves, 76 and 77 know that this is indeed the Christ, 78 " the S '* 

' « bee chap, u 

Saviour of " the world. 

74 No longer because of thy speaking do we believe lh omit him 

70 for ourselves 77 and we 78 omit the Christ 

o See chap. 

Contents. The general object 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. 1-3. When therefore the Lord perceived 
that the Pharisees had heard, Jesus maketh 
and baptizeth more disciples than John, (though 
Jesus 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 had remained in Judea we are not informed 
(see the note on chap. iii. 22), being only told that 
in the country districts the success of His ministry 
had excited the 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, there is this close connection between chap, 
iii. 25, 26, and the opening of the present chapter, 
it seems impossible to believe that the imprison- 
ment of the Baptist can have taken place in the 
interval, when in chap. iii. 24 the Evangelist ex- 
pressly refers to the fact that John was as yet at 
liberty. 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 strange if, in a closely connected paragraph, he 
should first record that the imprisonment had not 
yet taken place, and then, although the event took 
place at the very time, pass over it in silence. 
It 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 making and baptizing, than to suppose the 
contrast to be between the present action of the 
one and \he past ministry of the other, — as if the 
words were, ' Jesus maketh more disciples than 
John used to make.' Hence we regard 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. 1.) 
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 whose 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 
might 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 Jesus Him- 
self. But there was no reas n 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 H is 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 knowledge 
(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 
Lord, 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 be 
represented as baptizing (compare chap. iii. 22), 
because His disciples could only have acted in His 
name and by His authority. The Pharisees 
could not know why He should abstain from 
performing the act Himself: we know that His 
baptism 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 confirms 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 
Israel's 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 
geographica 1 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 Cometh 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 

[Chap. IV. 1-42 

plain, far away in the distance, is caught the first 
glimpse of the snowy ridge of Hermon. Its 
western side is bounded by the abutments of two 
mountain ranges, running from west to east. These 
ranges are Gerizim and Ebal ; and up the opening 
between them, not seen from the plain, lies the 
modern town of Nablus . . . the most beautiful, 
perhaps it might be said the only very beautiful 
spot in central Palestine.' 1 Nablus is a corruption 
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 llerod the Great, who gave 
it the name of Sebaste. But, partly through the 
prestige of its antiquity and famous 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 
Gerizim, on the summit of which was the temple 
ol 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 modern times been a subject of warm contro- 
versy. The narrative of 2 Kings xxv. 12 certainly 
seems to imply that all the inhabitants of the 
country were carried away to ' Halab and Habor 
and the cities of the Medes ' (2 Kings xvii. 6) : 
Josephus also speaks of the transplanting of all the 
people. But, apart from the improbability 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 Josephus inti- 
mations that some few at least of the inhabitants 
remained, after the land had been colonised by 
settlers from Cuthah and other cities of Assyria. 
In the manner related in 2 Kings xvii. these 
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 Jerusalem, tak- 
ing as their first high priest one whom Nehemiah 
had 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. This partial agreement, however, between 
the religious beliefs of the two peoples, so far from 
preventing, had really led to the most determined 
hostility between them. To the Jew, a man of 
purely Gentile descent and a man of mixed race 
1 Stanley, Sinai and Palestine^ pp. 233, 234. 


were equally 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 Dic- 
tionary of the Bible, iii. 1117, 1 1 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. 
The 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 Gentile 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 Nablus. 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. — Near to the parcel 
of ground that Jacob gave to his sou 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. Now there was a fountain there, 
Jacob's fountain. 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 very 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 well 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. 11, 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 valley 
and hill ' (Deut. viii. 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. Vet it may be worth noticing that the 
latter 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 fixes beyond 
doubt the position of this well, which lies very 
near the road 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. That 
Jacob (if indeed this patriarch's name was rightly 
given to the well, and there is no reason lor 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 position in the 'land 
of promise,' and of his precarious relations with 
the people of the country. — Jesus therefore, 
being wearied with his journey, 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 ol 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. Gn 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 tc 
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 3Sth 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 ; by 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 unto her, Give me to 
drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto 

4 6 


[Chap. [V. 1-42. 

the city to buy food. ) The departure of the dis- 
ciples had left Jesus thus dependent on the 
woman's kindness ; for they had left no vessel by 
which the water could be drawn from the deep 
well. It has been conjectured that the recorder 
of 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 Samaritan woman therefore saith 
unto him. How is it that thou, being a Jew, 
askest drink of me, which am a Samaritan 
woman ? for Jews have no dealings with Sama- 
ritans. It is evident that Jesus was at once recog- 
nised as a Jew, probably through some difference 
of accent, or language, or dress. We can hardly 
suppose that the woman was really surprised at 

the request preferred, so natural from the lips of 
a weary traveller (comp. Gen. xxiv. 17). We 
may rather imagine her as hastening to procure 
what was asked for, whilst not failing to point out 
how inconsistent with Jewish principles it was to 
ask even for such a favour as this. As has been 
said above, the maxims of the Jews respecting in- 
tercourse with the Samaritan people varied much 
at different times, and it is not easy to say what 
rules prevailed at the period with which we are 
here concerned. One precept of the Talmud 
(quoted in the Diet, of the Bible, iii. 1 1 17) approves 
their mode of preparing the flesh of animals ; 
others commend their unleavened bread, their 
cheese, and finally all their food. Elsewhere, 
however, we find restrictions ; and the wine, vine- 
gar, etc., of the Samaritans are forbidden to every 
Israelite, their country only with its roads and its 
other products being regarded as clean. This 
narrative shows that it was held lawful to buy 
food in a Samaritan town, so that the words of this 


verse must probably be understood to mean that 
Jews avoided allfaniiliar intercourse with the alien 
people, sought and expected no favours at their 
hands. It is usually assumed that the 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 maxim gives a piquant em- 
phasis to her words, bringing out with sharp 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 this view ; and one can hardly avoid the 
conviction that, had John himself given such an 
explanation, he would have so expressed himself 
as to avoid all appearance of discordance with 
his statement in ver. S. 

Ver. 10. Jesus answered and said unto her, 
If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is 
that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou 
wonkiest have asked of him, and he would 
have given thee 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 words 
could but cause surprise and excite remark. Her 
answer had told of her recognition of Him as a 
few : His reply declares her ignorance of Him 
and of what lie was able to give. The 'gift of 
God' 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 pre-eminently the promised gift 
of the Father (see especially Isa. xliv. ; Joel ii.), 
beautifully and most aptly symbolized by the fresh 


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

Ver. 11. She saith unto him, Sir, thou hast 
nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: 
from whence then hast 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 flowing brook. ' Isaac's 
servants digged in the valley and found there a 
spring of living water' (Gen. xxvi. 19, margin). 
Wherever running 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 be 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 fountain 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 our father 
Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank 
thereof himself, and his sons, 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 conned ion with the fathers of her people. The 
feeling may 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 
words of this verse we see her dawning conviction 
of the Stranger's greatness, and the impression 
made upon her by His manner and His words. 

Ver. 13. Jesus answered and said unto her, 
Every one that drinketh of this water 6hall 
thirst again. The question receives no direct 
reply : the greatness of the Giver must be learnt 
from the quality 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; 
but the water that I shall give him shall become 
in him a fountain of springing water, unto 
eternal life. The living water of 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, El-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 
dulness of spiritual perception. It is in every way 
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 unto her, Go, 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. I". 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 'husband;' the woman's words 
are repeated with their order changed. ' I have 
no husband : ' ' Well saidst thou, Husband I have 

Ver. iS. 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 hast is not 



thy husband : this thou hast said 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 from 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 saith unto him, Sir, I 
perceive 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- 
quiring 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, 'she eagerly lays before Him a question 
which to her was of all questions the most im- 

Ver. 20. Our 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 
nation ; 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 lews. 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 spot- 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 proclaiming 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 exclu- 
siveness, for they shall worship the Father. 
' Israel is my son, even my first-born,' were God's 
words to Pharaoh ; but now He offers the name 
to all, and the words of Jesus imply the abolition 
of every distinction, not of place only but 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 worship 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 ' dispersion ' being 
gradually trained to know), was the more easily 
seized upon by national prejudice and zeal. Of 
this question 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 of 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 final purposes 
were to be made known to the world. It was the 
essential characteristic of the whole of Jewish 
history and prophecy that it gradually led up to 
the Messiah ; that the successive prophets made 
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 through 
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.' The 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. — Because the 
Salvation is of the Jews. ' The Salvation ' is that 
foretold in Scripture, and long waited 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 Jesus that the term 
becomes one of condemnation, designating the 
enemies of all goodness and truth. 

Ver. 23. But an hour cometh, 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 22. 
To no place of special sanctity shall worship 
belong : though 'the salvation is of the Jews,' this 
involves no limitation of it to the Jewish nation : 
on the contrary, an hour cometh when the true 
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and 


ttuth. 'An hour comet h ' had 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, they are no obscure inti- 
mation that, in Himself, the hour so long waited for 
has arrived, and thus they at least prepare for the 
direct announcement to be made in ver. 26. 1 he 
word ' true ' here is that which has been already 
spoken of (see note on chap. i. 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 on 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 t\\<> 
thoughts of the verses which immediately precede : 
the first and chief points in the interpretation are, 
— not in sacred place but in spirit (ver. 21), not in 
imperfection of knowledge but in truth (ver. 22). 
The very name by which Jesus indicates the object 
of all worship, 'the Father' (a name no longe. 
used of a chosen nation, but offering to each man 
a 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- 
fect, — not merely as our knowledge of the Infinite 
must 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 far more ignorant. The law had been but a 
shadow of the good things to come, and not the 
very image of the things (Heb. x. 1); type and 
figure concealed whilst 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. i. 17); and (in the full knowledge of 
it) worship 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 
revealer of the Father, Himself the Truth, Him- 
self giving to men the Holy Spirit who alone can 
hallow man's spirit as the sanctuary of worship, — 
all these are thoughts which cannot but press on 
us as we read this verse. — For the Father also is 
seeking such, 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' (i.e., that they should worship in spirit and 
vol. 11. 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 not 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 represent 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, — reaching Him in worship, if we 
may so speak ; and thus it may almost be said to 
contain in 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 Flis children. 

Ver. 24. God is spirit : and they that worship 
hirn 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 ought 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 truth 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. 1 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 which Samaria as well as Judea 
w.s 'waiting, —the 'latter days' of Messiah's 

Ver. 25. The woman saith unto him, I know 
that Messiah cometh (which is called Christ). 
There is nothing surprising in her avowal that a 
Deliverer was looked fur. We know from other 
sources that this was, and still is, an article of the 
Samaritan as of the Jewish faith ; from age b i 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 in this 
woman's heait 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 by the Evangelist, who alter 
wards (ver. 29) translates the word without any 
mention of the Hebrew form. — When he is come, 
he will tell us all things. 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 unti 1 
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 wi -rds, 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 unknown 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. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak 
unto thee am he. She lias sought and found the 
truth. The hope rising in her heart receives lull 
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 disciples; 
and they marvelled that he talked with a 
woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? 
or, Why talkest thou with her? 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 Mash r 
thus engaged. Their surprise, no doubt, found 
expression in these very questions (asked among 
themselves) which the Evangelist speaks of as not 
1 Iressed to their Lord. 'What seeketh He? 
what can He be in quest of that we cannot fur- 

nish? or, if He is not seeking anything, why is 
lie talking with a woman?' The questions uttered 
to one another they would have at once addressed 
to Jesus, 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 solemn earnestness of the Other, proclaiming 
the willing hearer and the earnest Teacher, may 
have forbidden them to interrupt such inter- 

Ver. 28. The woman therefore left her water- 
pot, and went her way into the city. ' There- 
fore,' — because, the conversation being interrupted, 
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 which 
came from Jacob's well. — And saith to the men, 
whom she would naturally meet on the roads and 
in the streets. 

Ver. 29. Come, see 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 also convince them. 
Let them come for themselves, not rest on her 
testimony; and let them draw their own conclu- 
sions. — Can this he the Christ? Her own beliel 
she expresses in the form of doubt, or problem to 
be solved ; and ever)' 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 towards persuading the 
men "f 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 out 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 disciples prayed 
him, saying, Rabbi, 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. Literally, I 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 
itself. 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, vet. 34) to satisfy every want. 

Ver. 33. Therefore said the disciples one to 
another, Hath any man brought him ought to 
eat? Their perplexity is like that of the won in 
of Samaria in regard to the living water (ver. its 
Vi r. ; |. Jestis saith unto them, My meat is 
that I should do the will of him that sent 
me, and accomplish his work. This is the first 
of many similar sayings in this Gospel (v. 30, 
\i. 38, vii. iS, viii. 50, ix. 4, xii. 40, 50, xiv. ;i, 
xv. to, xvii. 4), expressing our Lord's pel 1 t 
loyalty to His Father's will, and complete devo- 
tion to the accomplishment of His lather's work. 



The pursuit of this is not His joy, His purpose, 
His refreshment only, but His very food, that 
without which He cannot live. 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 harvest? As harvest began 
in the middle of April it was now the middle of 
December. — Lo! I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, 
and behold the fields, that they are white for 
harvesting. 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 
garner 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 immediately 
bring forth; nay, He saw a harvest far more 
glorious than that of this day's labours, even 
that of the salvation of the world (comp. note on 
ver. 42). 

Ver. 36. Already he that reapeth receiveth 
reward, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: 
that he that soweth and he that reapeth may 
rejoice 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 
receiving his reward ; and how glorious a reward ! 
Not a lifeless store, but (as in the case of the spring- 
ing water, ver. 14, and the eating that abideth, 
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 v.-jrd even standing emphati- 
cally at the head of the sentence), that in the 
spiritual field — so quickly docs the harvest follow 
the sowing of the seed — sower and reaper may 
rejoice together. 

Ver. 37. For herein is the word true, One 
soweth, 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 false, but to all that is partial and imperfect), — 
that one has the labour of the sower, another the 
joy of the reaper. 

Ver. 3S. I sent you to reap that whereon ye 
have not toiled: others have toiled, and ye 
have entered into their toil. The disciples are 
the reapers of this harvesi ; their commission — in- 
cluding, however, that of the disciples of Jesus 
throughout all time — was to reap a harvest which 
had not been prepared by their own toil. What- 
ever toil may be theirs, it is toil in reaping, — 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 
disciples are reapers, this harvesting in Samaria 
shows clearly 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 joyful result is gained. 
Nor must we limit our thought of His 'toil' to 
what is related of the work of this evening by 
Jacob's well. The ' toil ' that has made any har- 
vest possible is that of His whole mission. All 
that was necessary 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 toiled? and neither here nor 
in chap. iii. 1 1 can we 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 had '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 unto the woman, No 
longer because of thy speaking do we believe : 
for we have heard for ourselves, and we know 
that this is indeed the Saviour of the world. 
Among those that heard the Saviour were evi- 
dently some who had first believed because of the 
woman's testimony {'No longer ...'): 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 regard to the woman's message : the 
expression is simply equivalent to because then 
spakest, 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 vorld) contain no real difficulty. 
The teaching of vers. 21-24 directly 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 Jew s alone 
is once overpassed, there is no intermediate posi- 


tion 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 conversion of the world. 

Chapter IV. 43-54. 
Jesus in Galilee. 

43 TV TOW after "two 1 days he departed 2 thence, and went 3 « v "- 4°- 

44 IN into Galilee. For * Jesus himself testified, 4, that a «o,»p. .\ 

' ' J Xllt. 57 ; 

45 prophet hath no honour in his own country. Then when' he Markvi. 4 ; 
was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, c having a !*> Luk = 

a x>»- 33. 34- 

seen all the things that 6 he did at Jerusalem at the feast : for r chap. u. 23 : 
they also went unto the feast. 

46 So Jesus came again 7 into "* Cana of Galilee, where he made ./chap, n. 1. 
the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, 8 whose son 

47 was sick at ' Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was -^corne e cha P . ii. i 2 . 
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 9 unto him, ^Except ye see ^chap.ii. is, 

49 /: signs and * wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman 10 L^' -22, 

50 saith unto him, Sir, 11 come down ere my child die. Jesus saith 4 «j*j. 
unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And 12 the man be- ^ : e f c ctsii - 
lieved the word that Jesus had spoken 13 unto him, and he went 

51 his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met 

52 him, and told Aim, 1 * saying, Thy son liveth. 15 Then enquired 
he of them 1B the hour when he began to amend. And they 
said 17 unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left 

53 him. So the father knew 18 that it waszt 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 that ■' Acts xvi. 34. 
Jesus did, 1 " when he was come 20 'out of Judea into Galilee. *Chap. a 

1 And after the two - went forth 3 omit and went 

4 bare witness 5 When therefore 6 all things whatsoever 

7 He came therefore again a king's officer 

'' Jesus therefore said 10 king's officer u Lord 

12 omit And I3 spake 14 omit and told him 15 that his son lived 

IC He enquired of them therefore 17 They said therefore 

13 perceived 19 This Jesus again did, as a second sign, 20 having come 

Contents. This section of the Gospel brings (i) vers. 43-45, introductory, after the manner of 

Jesus before us in Galilee, in His intercourse with the introduction to the story of Nicodemus in ii. 

the Galileans, and in particular with the king's 23-25, and of that to the visit to Samaria in iv. 

officer, who may be regarded as in a certain sense 1-4; (2) vers. 46-54, the account of the inter- 

their representative. The object is still the same course of Jesus with the king's officer, 
as that which we have traced from chap. ii. 12. Vers. 1.3,44. And after the two days he went 

have been given of the manner in which forth thence into Galilee. For Jesus himself 

Judea and Samaria submit to the word of Jesus, hare witness, that a prophet hath no honour in 

and these are now crowned by an instance of his own country. The connection between 

similar submission on the part of Galilee. The two verses is a question on which the most differ- 

section divides itself into two subordinate parts— ent opinions have been held. The latter verse 


evidently assigns a reason why Jesus went into 
Galilee; and (we may add) ver. 45, which begins 
with ' When therefore,' must be understood as 
stating that the welcome He received in Galilee 
was in full accordance with the motive of His 
action 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 into Galilee, He was welcomed 
by the people. If such be the true sense, 'His 
own country ' must be Judea. This is certainly 
not the meaning of these words in the earlier 
Gospels, and hence the difficulty. A similar say- 
ing is recorded by every one of the three earlier 
Evangelists, and in 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 different, ' His 
own country ' being 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 saying 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 grown up with him, have fami- 
liarly known him, have regarded 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 associated with Him alike in ancient pro- 
phecy and in popular expectation (see chap. vii. 
41, 42), the words surely signify that a prophet is 
unhonoured by those te> whom he is especially 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 
passage. 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 
go, for the reason given; He departs therefore 
into 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 for 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 
entirely 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. (1) Jesus went into Galilee, for there He 
would not meet with the honour of a true faith; 
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 was come into 
Galilee, the Galileans received him, having 
seen all things whatsoever 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 Cana 
of Galilee, 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's officer, whose 
son was sick at Capernaum. This officer was 
probably in the (civil or militan ) service of Herod 
Antipas, a Tetrarch, but often styled a king (see 
Matt. xiv. 1, 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 he heard that Jesus was come 
out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, 
and besought hint that he would come down, 
and heal his son: for he was at the point ol 
death. The faith 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 alv. a\ - 
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 believe. 
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. 1 ; 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. II, 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, come down ere my child die. The answer 
of Jesus, which had seemed perhaps to imply cold 
neglect, calls forth an impassioned appeal for pity 
and help ; there were no moments to be lost, — 
even now the help may come too late. Jesus was 
but educating — refining and deepening — his faith. 

Ver. 50. Jesus saith unto him, Go 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 mouth, 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? He 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 as he was now going down, his 
servants met him, saying 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 had now begun the journey.' 
Business may have detained him for a lew 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 Jesus. 'Going down,' — because 
Cana is situated in the hilly district, several 
hundred feet above the level of the Sea of Galilee. 

Ver. 52. He enquired of them therefore the 
hour when he began to amend. They said there- 
fore unto 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. So the father perceived that it was 
at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto 
him, Thy sou liveth : and himself believed, and 
his whole house. Believed — that is, with a faith 
increased and confirmed : true faith he had mani- 
fested before. 

Many have supposed that this king's officer may 
have been Chuza, ' Herod's steward' (Luke viii. 3), 
whose wife Joanna was amongst those women who 
ministered of their substance to the wants of Jesus 
and His disciples. 

Ver. 54. This Jesus again did, as a second 
sign, having come out of Judea 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. 'This' 
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. ii. 23), the two points upon which 
our attention is fixed seem to be — (I) that this 
miracle was wrought in Galilee; (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 give double pictures of any truth which 
possesses in 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 Tews thought 
that no prophet could come (vii. 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. 2-10. 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 the 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. 1-1S. 

Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda, 

1 A FTER this 1 there was a "feast of the Jews; and Jesus "Comp. chap. 

2 1\. went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by 

the sheep market' a pool, which is called 3 in the * Hebrew *Chap.»x. 

13, 17, -o, 

3 tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 4 In these lay a great 5 »• l6 - 
multitude of impotent" folk, of blind, halt, 'Withered, waiting 

4 for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a 


1 these things 
4 porticos 

2 by the sheep- pool 
h omit great 

the pool which is 


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. 7 And a certain man 
was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 8 

6 When Jesus saw him lie, 9 and knew 10 that he had " been now 
a long time in that case, he 12 saith unto him, Wilt thou be made 

7 whole ? The impotent 13 man answered him, Sir, I have no 
man, when the water is u 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. 

• ix. 6. 

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took 

up his bed, and walked : and * on the same day was the <chap. ix. >*. 

sabbath. 15 
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the 

sabbath day: 16 it is ^not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 17 /Neh. xiii. 
1 t He 18 answered them, He that made me whole, the same said xvL^i) 

12 unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, 19 chap. vii. 23,' 
What man is that 20 which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, 21 

13 and walk? And 23 he that was healed wist not who it was: 
for Jesus had conveyed himself away, 23 a multitude being in 

14 that place. Afterward M Jesus findeth him in the temple, 25 and 
said unto him, Behold, thou art ' 7 made whole : sin no more, 

15 lest a worse thing come unto thee." The man departed, 29 and 
told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 

16 And therefore 30 did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay 
him, 31 because he had done 38 these things on the sabbath day. 

17 But Jesus 33 answered them, s My Father worketh hitherto, 34 j-Ver. 19, 
iS and I work. 3 '' Therefore 36 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, 33 making himself * equal with /Rom - «»• 

God. AChap. i. iS, 

x. .30, 33. 

7 omit from waiting in third verse to end of fourth verse 
s which had been thirty and eight years in his sickness 
9 Jesus seeing him lying there 10 perceiving n hath 12 omit he 

13 s j c j. 14 ^(jj been 15 and it was the sabbath on that day 

16 It is the sabbatli day, and l; to take up the bed 18 But he 

19 They asked him 20 Who is the man 2I omit thy bed 22 But 
23 withdrew himself 24 After these things - h temple-courts 

27 hast been 2S sin no longer, that some worse thing come not unto thee 

20 went away 30 And for this cause 31 omit and sought to slay him 
32 did 33 he 34 until now 

35 I also work se For this cause therefore 3r broke 

38 but also called God his own Father. 

Contents. With the beginning of this chapter sented in the Prologue, as the culminating-point 

we enter upon the fourth and leading division of and fulfilment of all previous revelations of God, 

the Gospel, extending to the close of chap. xii. whether in the Old Testament or in nature. In 

Its object is to set Jesus forth in the height of His chap. v. He is the fulfilment of the Sabbath, the 

conflict with ignorance and error and sin. More greatest of all the institutions given through Moses, 

particularly, the Redeemer appears throughout it The subordinate parts of the first section of the 

in the light in which He had already been pre- chap, are — (i)vers. 1-9, the account of the miracle 



[Chap. V. 1-18. 

at the pool of Bethesda ; (2) vers. 10-1S, tlie 
opposition of the Jews, leading to the proclamation 
of the great truths contained in the second section. 
Ver. 1. After these things there was a feast 
of the Jews ; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 
No more is said as to the visit to Galilee than 
what we 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 01 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 is 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 safely 
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 Gospel (ii. 
13, v. 1, 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. 1 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, 
which fell about a month earlier than the Passover. 
This feast, therefore, is now generally believed to 
lie the one referred to here. The objections are 
perhaps not insurmountable. It is said that our 
I ,ord 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 (comp. 
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. 
line other objection maybe noticed. The feast 
oi 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 tip 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 anotherquestion of great 
importance, which must not be overlooked. Why 
did John, whose custom it is to mark very clearly 
the festivals of which he speaks (see ii. 13, 23, vi. 
4, vii. 2, x. 22, xi. 55, xii. 1, xiii. 1, 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 
design. 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 be 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 Gospel 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 difficulties would be at once removed. 

Ver. 2. Now there is at Jerusalem by the 
sheeppool the pool which is surnamed in the 
Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porticos. 
The use of the present tense, there 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 probability 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 ( deck word for ' pool ' may be written 
in two ways. That which is usually adopted gives 
the meaning, ' there is by the sheep .... a pool, 
that which is surnamed,' 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 supplying 
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 fool that is surnamed ; ' and to this tendering ol 
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 


proximity to another pool about which no informa- 
tion is preserved ; but it must be remembered that 
in questions relating to the topography of Jerusalem 
arguments from the silence of historians are not 
worth much. Early Christian writers also (Euse- 
bius and Jerome) do actually speak of a sheep-pool 
in Jerusalem in connection with this passage. 
Ammonius tells us that the pool was so called 
from the habit of gathering together there the 
sheep that were to be sacrificed for the feast : 
similarly Theodore of Mopsuestia. And it is 
very interesting to notice that an early traveller 
in the Holy Land (about the first half of the 
fourth century) speaks of ' twin pooh in Jerusalem, 
having five porticos.' We conclude therefore 
that John defines the position of the pool with 
which the following narrative is connected by its 
nearness to another pool, probably of larger size, 


and at that time well known as the 'sheep-pool.' It 
is remarkable that of the other pool the proper name 
is not mentioned, but only a Hebrew or Syro- 
Chaldaic second name or surname. What this 
name is and what it signifies can hardly be deter- 
mined with certainty, as several forms of the name 
are given in Greek manuscripts and other authori- 
ties. If we assume that Bethesda is the true form, 
the most probable explanation is ' House of grace.' 
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 also easy to understand how it was the 
second name that lingered in John's thought, — a 
name which to him bore a high significance, 
recalling the 'grace' which came through Jesus 
( hrist (i. 17), and of which a wonderful manifesta- 

al Pool of Betheida 

tion was made at this very spot. The p">ol called 
Bethesda had five porticos; probably it was five- 
sided, and surrounded by an arched verandah or 
colonnade, closed in on the outward side. The 
hot springs of Tiberias are so surrounded at this 
day, and it is at least possible that the style of 
architecture may be traditional. 

Ver. 3. In these lay a multitude of sick folk,' 
of blind, halt, withered. Under the shelter of 
these porticos many such were laid day after day. 
The general term ' sick folk ' receives 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 
weight of authority which it is impossible to set 
aside. The addition belongs, however, to a very 
early date, for its contents are clearly referred to 
by Tertullian early in the third century. It is 

evidently an explanatory comment first written in 
the margin by those who saw that the words ol 
ver. 7 imply incidents or opinions of which the 
narrative as it stands gives no account. The well- 
intentioned gloss was not long in finding its way 
into the text ; and, once there, it gave the weight 
of the apostle's sanction to a statement 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 in the healing virtue 
of the waters and in the recurring supernatural 
agency, find too many parallels in history to make 
it necessary to suppose that there was any super- 
natural virtue in the pool. It may be observed 



[Chap. V. 1-1S. 

that the ordinary translation of the added words 
is not quite correct. The angel's visit was not 
looked for ' at a certain season ' (as if after some 
fixed and regular interval), but 'at seasons,' lrom 
time to time. 

Ver. 5. And a certain man was there, which 
had been thirty and eight yearB in his sickness. 
This sufferer (apparently 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. Jesus seeing him lying there, and 
perceiving that he hath been now a long 
time in that case, saith unto him, Wilt thou be 
made whole ? 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 Jesus contains His 'I 
will,' for His question to the 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, fir, I 
have no man, when the water hath been troubled, 
to put 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. Jesus saith unto liim, Rise, take vtp 
thy bed, aud 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. — 
Aud 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. to. The Jews therefore said unto him 
that was cured, It is the sabbath day, and it is not 
lawful for thee to take up the bed. The Jews — 
some of the rulers of the people (see note on i. 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 cut 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 ; they would have equally 
condemned the healing on the sabbath (see Luke 
xiii. 14), since there had 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. vii. 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 
clay. The law of Moses forbade any work on that 
day ; and the special enactments in the Pentateuch 
(the command to kindle no fire, Ex. xxxv. 3, and 
the judgment on the man who gathered sticks, 
Num. xv. 35) show how this law was to be 
interpreted. Injer. xvii. 21-23, moreover (comp. 
Neh. xiii. mi, 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 
diners 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 unto me, Take up thy 
bed, and waBk. 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 the law 
of God. 

Ver. 12. They asked him, Who is the man 
which said unto thee, Take up, and, walk ? 
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 breach of the very letter of the 
commandment. This complete indifference to the 
work of mercy plainly illustrates the hard-hearted 
malice of ' the Jews.' 

Ver. 13. But he that was healed wist not who 
it was. 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 multitude being in that place. After his 
cure, too, he could hear nothing of his benefai tor, 
for, to avoid the recognition and enthusiasm of 
the multitude (comp. chap. vi. 15), Jesus with- 
drew, — literally 'slipped aside, ' became suddenly 
lost to sight. — Here, as always, the 'multitude' 
or mass of the people is to be carefully distin- 
guished from 'the Jews.' The conflict between 
Jesus and the Jews 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 (vi. 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 Jesus findeth him 
in the temple courts. Some time afterwards, 
probably not on the same day, the man is found 
in the temple courts. There is no reason to doubt 
that he had gone there for purposes of devotion, 
having recognised the Divinedcliverance. Through- 
out the 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, thou hast been made whole: sin no 
longer, that some worse thing come not unto 
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 in some 
way been the result and the punishment of sin. 
Yet sorer judgment will follow a return to the life 
of sin (Matt. xii. 45). 

Ver. 15. The man went away, and told the 
Jews that it was Jesus which had made him 
whole. The Jews asked who had commanded 
him to take tip 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 
ingratitude 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 cause did the Jews per- 
secute Jesus, because he did these things on the 
sabbath 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 
'the 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 of 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 
riders of Israel, so now by a wonderful sign He 
fixed on Himself the eyes of all (vii. 21). This 
lime 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 
hail 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 yielding 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 Pie 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 that the 
law of the sabbath must be determined from its 
aim and object (Mark ii. 27, 2S) ; here only does 
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 designed 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 
sought the more to kill him, because he not 
only broke the sabbath, but also called God his 
own Father, making himself equal with God. 
The Jews do not fail to see that the argument 
rested on the first 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. 17 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 have no 

reason to suppose that all the words spoken are 
recorded. The meaning which we gather from 
those that stand written before us probably 
could not be conveyed 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 the more to 
kill Him. F'rora 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 them. 

The Disc 

Chapter V. 19-47. 
rse of Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda. 

19 '~P*HEN answered Jesus' and said unto them, Verily, verily, 

J- I say unto you, "The Son can do nothing of himself, 
but 2 what he seeth the Father do : 3 for what things soever he 

20 doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 4 For b the Father 
loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth : 
and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may 

2 1 marvel. For 5 as the Father c raiseth up the dead, and 
d quickeneth them ; 6 ' even 7 so the Son quickeneth 8 whom he 

22 will. For the Father judgeth no man, 1 ' but S hath committed 10 

23 all judgment unto the Son: That all men should" honour the 
Son, even as they honour the Father. s He that honoureth 
not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath 12 sent him. 

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ; ' He that heareth my word, and 
believeth on 13 him that sent me, ' hath everlasting H life, and 
k shall not come into condemnation ; l5 but ' is '" passed from " 

25 death unto '* life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is 
coming, 19 and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the 

26 Son of God: and they that hear 20 shall live. For 21 as the 
Father hath life in himself; so hath he given 22 to the Son 23 to 

27 '"have life in himself; And hath given 21 him authority to 
execute judgment also, 25 because he is the Son" of man. 

c Chap. xi. 2 

/Ver. 27 : 

Actsx. 4?, 

xvii. 31; 

Rom. xiv. 

g See chap. 

xv. 23. 
// Chap viii. 

/ See chap. 

iii. .5, 36. 

/i- Chap. iii. i 

i 1 John iii. 

1 Jesus therefore answered - can of himself do nothing save 

4 these things the Son also in like manner doeth 5 For even 

3 and maketh to live 7 omit even 

9 For moreover the Father judgeth no one 
11 That all may l2 omit hath 

15 and cometh not into judgment lc hath 

19 An hour cometh 20 have heard 

22 so gave he 2S Son also "* And he gave 


8 also maketh to live 

3 omit on 
7 out of 

1 For even 
' omit also 

14 eternal 
18 into 

a son 


28 Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, 27 in the which all 

29 that are in the graves shall hear his voice, "And shall come « pan. xii. a ; 

' ° Matt. xxv. 

forth ; they that have done good, 2 * unto the " resurrection of <<>;■ Acts 

J ° XXIV. IS. 

life ; and 30 they that have done 31 evil, unto the resurrection of 
damnation. 32 

30 "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: »v«. 19. 
■''and my judgment is just; because g l seek not mine own > c „ ha P- vm. 
will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. 33 ? "?cha£lv. 

31 'If I bear witness of 31 myself, my witness is not true. ,. c ^mp. 3 ch ap . 

32 'There 35 is another that beareth witness of 31 me; and I ,vw.3*; 14 ' 
know that 'the witness which he witnesseth of 34 me is t^lh^l'X 

33 true. "Ye sent 3 " unto John, and he bare 37 witness unto the „cha P . i. 19. 

34 truth. But I receive not testimony from man: 39 but 39 these 

35 things I say, that ye might 40 be saved. He was a burning 
and a shining light: 41 and ye were willing' 12 for a season to 

36 rejoice 43 in his light. But I have greater witness 44 than 

that of John: for "the works which 45 the Father hath given »Cha P . x. 35, 

J ° 38, xv. 24. 

me to ' finish, 4 " the same 4, works that I do, bear witness ™cha P . .v. 34 

37 of 48 me, that the Father hath sent me. x And the Father * Ver ' 3*- 

^' Comp. chap 

himself, 49 which hath 50 sent me, hath 51 borne witness of 4 ' vi - 2 ?- 
$S me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen 

his shape. 53 And ye have not -Mil's word abiding in you : y 1 John ii. 14. 
30 for 53 whom z he hath 50 sent, him ye believe not. "Search 54 *Cha P . 

-^ ' J a Acts xvn. 11. 

the Scriptures; for 55 in them ye think 56 ye have b eternaM Ver - 2 4- 

40 life: and c they are they which testify of me. 57 d And ye will C Luke 4 fxiv 

41 not come to me, that ye might 58 have life. 'I receive not 27 : A h c ^ - x '' 

42 honour from men. 59 But -^ I know you, that ye have not the rf JJ; ap ; ,, 

43 love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye '^"^f p- 
receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him / Cha P-"- 2 * 

44 ye will receive. s How can ye believe, which receive honour e chap. xii. 
one of another, 60 and seek not ; ' the honour that comctli from t Rom. ii. 29. 

45 'God only? 61 Do not think that I will accuse you to the » Chap. xvii. 
Father : there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom 

46 ye trust.' 8 For had 63 ye believed Moses, ye would have be- 

27 because an hour cometh - s And they that have done good shall go forth 

-° a 30 but 31 committed 

32 a resurrection of judgment 33 of him that sent me ?A concerning 

35 It 3G have sent 37 hath borne 

38 But not from a man do I receive the witness 30 howbeit 40 may 

41 He was the lamp that burnetii and shineth 42 and ye desired 

43 exult 44 But the witness that I have is greater 46 that 

40 accomplish 4 " very 48 concerning 

40 omit himself ''" omit hath ■''' he hath 

52 Never have ye either heard a voice of him or seen a form of him 

6:1 because 54 Ye search s5 because s(! ye think that in them 

67 and it is they which bear witness concerning me 58 may 

50 Glory from men I receive not G0 receiving glory one of another 

01 and the glory that is from the only God ye seek not 

62 ye have placed your hope 63 if 


47 lieved 64 me : * for he wrote of" me. But 'if ve believe not his *v e r. 3 ?-. 
writings, how shall 66 ye believe my words? 

would believe 


Con rENTS. 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 llis 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 — (1) vers. 19-29, where, with a thrice 
repeated ' Verily, verily ' (the progressof the thought 
is pointed out in the Exposition), Jesus speaks 
of Himself as the Worker of the Father'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 introducing the remainder of the dis- 
course ; (3) vers. 31-17, 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. Jesus therefore answered and said 
unto them. 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 ' ami 
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 unto 
you, The Son can of himself do nothing save 
what he seeth the Father doing: for what 
things soever he doeth, these things the Sou 
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 1 
The last words of the verse express the general 
positive truth that all the Father's works are done 
by 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 < •( actual realities among men. The 
Father's working and the Son's working are thus 
not two different workings, and theyare not a word- 
ing of the same thing twice. They are related to 
each other as the ideal to the pi.- nomi nal, as the 
thought to the word. The Father does not work 
actually; He works always through the Son. 
The Son does not w irl Iways 

from the Father. But God is always working; 
therefore the Son is always working : and the 
works of the Father are the works ol the Son,— 

distinct, yet one and the same. From this positive 
truth follows the denial which comes earlier in the 
verse. The Jews had denounced Jesus as a blas- 
phemer, had thought that He was placing Himself 
in awful opposition to God. 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 ! 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 chap. xv. 4, which 
closely resembles this verse in mode of expression.) 
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, IS). 

Ver. 20. For the Father loveth 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 cf 
' 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,' — an eternal and 
continuous and infinite 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 (ifii-iu) denotes rather the tender 
emotional affection, that the other (xya.Tx&) is 
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, 
as 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 is commonly used when there is 
disparity. The former occurs thirteen times only 
in this Gospel ; once of the bather'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 His disciples, and six 
times of their love to Him ; the other two passages 
are \ii. 25 ('he that loveth his life') and xv. 19 
('the world would love its own'). It does not 
occur in John's Epistles, 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 his 
Epistles. In the Gospel it is used seven times of 
the love bi Fath :r end th - 

of the love of God to the world (iii. 16), 
times of the Father's love to those who are Christ's; 
eleven times of the love oi 1 ■ rd; His own, 


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 they occur, but the verse before us and chap. 
iii. 35 are sufficient to show clearly the general 
principle ruling this whole class. Here, as the 
context brings into relief the essential relation 
between the Son and the Father, that word is 
chosen which 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 beginning with God, but the 
Only-begotten Son given that the world might be 
saved : the other word, therefore, is there used. — 
And he will shew him 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 'showing' and the 
'seeing ' would in the future grow in completeness 
and intensity, but only because the eternal purpose 
of the Father for mankind is fulfilled in time, and 
because the Saviour is looking at successive stages 
of His work, as developed in human history. — 
The 'greater works' must not be understood to 
mean simply 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 
a 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 Flis words. The meaning of 'marvel,' 
therefore, does not differ from that which we 
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 even as the Father raiseth tip 
the dead and maketh to live, so the Son also 
niaketh to live whom he will. This verse begins 
the explanation of the ' greater works ' which the 
Father ' will show ' 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 their 
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 
both a physical and a spiritual resurrection and 
gift of life. 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 oui 
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. S (' Rise '), and is the first part 
of the command which then 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 is 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 initial 
'quickening,' — it is the whole 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. II. 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 arising, for it is included in the gift of life. 
God 'maketh alive' (Deut. xxxii. 39; I Sam. 
ii. 6) : ' God hath given to us eternal life ' (1 John 
v. 11). However understood, whether physically 
or spiritually, this is the work of the Father ; both 
in the physical and in the spiritual sense, it is also, 
we now learn, the work of the Son. In one respect 
the later part of the verse is 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 is expressed in regard to the Son 
only ; and the best illustration of it as applied to 
Ilim is 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 a 
objects of the Fathers merciful will. The Son's 
will is the manifestation of the Father's purpose. 
There is no suggestion of an absolute decree. The 
cure of the sick man was to a certain extent de- 
pendent on his own will : ' Hast thou a will to 
be made whole?' (ver. 6). The same will to be 
quickened is 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 judgeth 
no one, but hath given all judgment unto the 
Son. This verse must be taken in connection 
with the 19th, 'The Son can of Himself do 



nothing save what He seelh 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 lias 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 final arbitrament which is the prerogative of 
the Supreme. Hence there is no contradiction 
between this verse and ver. 30 below, where Jesus 
says, ' 1 can of mine own sell do nothing ; as 1 
hear, 1 judge ; ' nor will viii. 50 present any diffi- 
culty. By 'judgment,' as in chap. iii. 17, [8, iu, 
we must certainly understand a judgment that 
issues in condemnation : the parallelism between 
iii. iS, 'He that believeth in Him is not judged,' 
and ver. 24, 'He that hcareth 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 21st 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, Fie 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 all may honour:' there it is the con- 
fusion and amazement of foes, here it is the honour 
rendered by 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. 
Hut the 'all' is rightly introduced, for when 
judgment has compelled the honour of unwilling 
adoration, much more may it be expected that 
willing 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 F'ather, 
as they supposed, that the Jews refused to honour 
Him who was God's Son. But so truly one are 
the Father and the Son, that all who dishonour 
the Son dishonour the Father. The Father orders 
all tilings 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, 
and believeth Him that sent me, hath eternal 
life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath 
passed out of death into life. This verse 1 
close connection with the last, the word ' 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 being set over against 
those who were there spoken of as dishonouring 
the F'ather. But the verse has also a very im- 
portant connection with the three preceding verses. 
They have stated the work of the Son as it has 
been given Hi in by the Falher; this states the same 
work in its effeet 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 is 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 Fie has 
in view is the acceptance of God's testimony con- 
cerning the Son (1 John v. 10). Such hearing 
and believing imply the full acceptance of Christ, 
and thus lead directly to that ' believing 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. 4S) will at the last day judge all who 
reject it. Believing in Christ, he has life in Him, 
and to all that are in Christ Jesus there is no 
condemnation (Rom. viii. 1). 

Ver. 25. Verily, verily, I say unto you. The 
third 'Verily, verily,' introducing the third step 
in the argument. — An hour cometh, and now is, 
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son 
of God: and they that 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, especially with ver. 20, 
' He will show Him greater works.' In the 21st 
ami 22! 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 11020 is'), or would the 
limitation in the last words be in place, ' they 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. 11,' 17, 19). 

\ er. jo. 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 ci ection between verses 25 

and 20. The Father win- is the primal fountain 


of life gave to the Son to have life in Himself. As 
in verses 19, 20, 21, that which belongs to the 
Father and that which belongs to the Son are 
designated by the same words, while the subordi- 
nation expressed in verses 19, 20, by the figurative 
words 'showing' 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 he gave him author ity to execute 
judgment, because he is a son of man. The Son 
'maketh to live,' but Hemaketh tu live ' whom He 
will ' (ver. 21), or (as we read in ver. 25), Hegiveth 
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 
involves 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. There 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 men 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 ' the 
Son of man' of whom we read : here only, and in 
Rev. i. 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 
in 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 Judge of men, and to draw from the consciences 
of the guilty an acknowledgment of the righteous- 
ness of their doom. As the Son of God having 
life in Himself, He gives life, and those who are 
united 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 
same battle and endured the same trials as they. 
Thus they behold in their Judge One who entirely 
knows them ; His s< ntence 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. 11. 5 

Ver. 2S. 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 
gTeater. — Because an hourcometh, in the which 
all that are in the gTaves 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. 25. 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 unto a resurrection of life; but they 
that have committed evil unto 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 worthlessness 
(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 believeth in Him 
is not judged,' so here, ' they that have done good 
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 judgment, 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 (ver. 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 is 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 minds of the Jews. This is met in the 
verse 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 no other witness appears on 
his behalf. The Jews may have understood Jesus 
to mean: If I have no other witness to testify con- 
cerning 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 false, for He is one with the Father, and His 
statement, as that of one win 1 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 ot 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 Jesus relies. — And 
I know that the witness which he witnesseth 
concerning me 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 unto the truth. As if He 
said : Had I not this all-sufficient 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. i. 19-27). Your mission and 
his answer are unalterable and abiding facts, 
which press upon you still and cannot be set 
aside. What he attested is the truth. Jesus does 
not say 'hath borne witness to me,' 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. 

Ver. 34. But not from 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 therefore 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 things 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. It 
ought to have brought them to Jesus : and then, 
as they listened to His own word, the true and 
complete witness would have been given. The 
following words set forth more fully the true 
position of the Baptist, in his value and in his 

Ver. 35. He was the lamp that burneth 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 beautifully 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 (I's. cxix. 105), showing him the right 
path, preserving his feet from wandering, so does 
Jesus represent John's mission here. The lamp 
has been supplied with oil and has been lighted 
for a special purpose ; it is not self-luminous, 
shining because 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. 30). — 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. 
12). 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 of 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 
order, 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 concerning 
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. ( >f these ' works' 
miracles are one part, but not the whole. In two 



other passages our Lord uses similar language to 
this, speaking of the 'accomplishment' of the 
work of the Father (chap. iv. 34) or of the work 
which the Father hath given Him to do (chap, 
xvii. 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 
itself 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 present 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 redemptive 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 gift (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, blar- 
ing testimony to the truth that the Father hath 
sent Him ; for, where the heart of the beholder is 
prepared, every work reveals the presence of the 
Father, and is manifestly a work of God. 

Ver. 37. And the Father which sent me, lie 
hath borne witness concerning 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 continued 
possession of a gift bestowed, the Father's abiding 
presence with Him whom He 'sent' and 'sealed ' 
(chap. vi. 27). Hence we must not suppose that 
a new witness of the Father — ' direct ' (as some 
say), in contrast with the ' mediate ' testimony of 
the works— is here intended. If the 'works' in- 
clude 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 of him. The lather 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 ami 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 had spoken and the miracles 
which He had shown to them) ever been ac- 
quainted with the Father's voice, they would have 
tecognised 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 His Son. What 
is in these two clauses couched in figurative terms 
the next clause expresses clearly. 

Ver. 38. And ye have not his word abiding 
in you ; because whom he sent, him ye believe 
not. ' Word ' here must not be understood as 
directly signifying the Scriptures of the Old Testa- 
ment : it is rather the substance of God's whole 
revelation of Himself, however and wherever 
made. This revelation received into a believing 
heart becomes God's word in the man, and to this 
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 for man's reception of Hi, 
Son. He who did not recognise 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 ' every 
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 His claims, is of itself a proof that 
they have had no spiritual aptitude for discerning 
the presence and the revelation of God. It will 
be seen that, as in the first clause of ver. 37 we 
cannot accept the view that a new witness is 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 is 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 is 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 diminish 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. Te search the Scriptures. The link 
connecting this verse with the last is the mention 
of God's 'word.' We have seen 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 concerning 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 and 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 havejoy- 
fully welcomed Him ; yet they refused to come (it 
was not their will to come, — see ver. 6) to Him 
P ir 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 Christ 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 their belief 
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 
guide 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. 
Hut 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 possession of that spirit is the test of the 
truth and righteousness which are well-pleasing to 
the Father: see chap. vii. IS, xii. 4;. 

Ver. 42. But I know you, that ye have not the 

love of God in you. I know, — that is, 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 alter 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 self-seeking. They valued them- 
selves on what they presented to Him, and yet they 
presented net that which most of all He sought, — 
the love in which self is lost. What striking 
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 ! Their 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. 4j. I am come in my Father's name, and 
ye receive me not. Referring everything to His 
Father's power and presence, in everything doing 
His Father's will and not His own, at all times 
seeking His Father's glory, Jesus came 'in His 
Father's name.' Because that was His spirit, they 
did not receive Him. — If another shall come 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 by 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 
sympathize 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 is a 
terrible description of those who were then the 
rulers of 'God's people Israel:' but, alas! 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 has 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 ii"t.' 

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 from the only God ye seek not. 
They who thus sought glory from men sou 
glory from 'the only God.' The Jews were the 



champions of the doctrine of the unity of God, 
and, in the very pursuits and aims which our Lord 
condemns, persuaded themselves that they sought 
the glory of Gud 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. Do not think that I will accuse yon 
to the Father : there is one that accuseth you, 
even Moses, 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); 
but, in the absence of the 'love of God' from 
their hearts, their zeal for orthodox faith has not 
gained for them 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 their 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 Moses, ye would 
believe me : for he wrote concerning me. Our 
Lord, no doubt, refers in part to special predict! ins 
(such as that of Deut. xviii. 15, 18) ; but mure 
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. But 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. 

a Ver. 23 ;_ 
b Matt. iv. : 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand. 

1 A FTER these things Jesus went over 1 the sea of Galilee, 

2 1~\ which is the sea of ° Tiberias. And * a great multi- 
tude followed him, because they saw his miracles 2 which he 

3 did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into 

4 a 4 mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. c And s e Chap. ii. 13. 

5 the passover, a 6 feast of the Jews, was nigh. d When <*Matt. xiv. 
Jesus then 7 lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company Mark'™. 
come 8 unto him, he 9 saith unto 'Philip, Whence shall we 10 i-ukelx. 

6 buy bread, that these may eat? And" this he said to «tW.i. 43. 

7 prove 13 him : for he himself knew what he would 13 do. Philip 
answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not suffi- 
cient for them, that every one of them u may take a little. 

8 One of his disciples, / Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith /Chap. ;. <o 

9 unto him, There is a lad 15 here, which hath five barley loaves, 

and two small 16 fishes: but 'what are they among so many ? s * Kings iv 
10 And Jesus said, Wake the men 17 sit down. Now there was "' 
much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number 

1 away to the other side of - beheld the signs 3 sick 4 the 

5 Now _ G the ' Jesus therefore having 

8 and having seen that a great multitude cometh 9 omit he 
10 are we to " Now 12 proving I3 was about to 

14 omit of them 15 little lad 16 omit small 17 Jesus said, Make the peoDle 


11 about five thousand. And Jesus 18 took the loaves ; and when 

he had * given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the /<Y er - 2 3- 
disciples 19 to them that were set 20 down ; and likewise 21 of the *v. 36. 

12 fishes as much as they would. When 28 they were filled, he 
said 23 unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments 24 that re- 

13 main, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them 
together, and filled twelve 'baskets with the fragments of 2 '' (Matt. xiv. 
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, 26 This is of a truth k that prophet that should come 27 ADeut. xviii. 

15 into the world. When 28 Jesus therefore perceived 29 that they chap. Lai, 
would 30 come and take him by force, 31 to make him a 32 king, Comp. Matt. 
he 33 departed 34 again ' into a 3i mountain himself alone. iv. 19, xi.27. 

1 & l Ver. 3. 

16 '"And when even was now come, his disciples went down » Matt. xiv. 

1 22-33 : 

17 unto the sea, And entered into a ship 36 and went 37 over the m* 1 *"- 

r 45-53- 

sea toward ' Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus ><cha P . ii. 12 

18 was not 4 " come to them. And the sea arose 41 by reason of a 

19 great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and 
twenty or thirty furlongs, they see 42 Jesus walking on the sea, 

20 and drawing nigh unto the ship: 36 and they were afraid. But 

21 he saith unto them, It is I ; be not afraid. Then they willingly 
received him into the ship: 43 and immediately the ship 36 was 
at the land whither they went. 

ls Jesus therefore 10 omit to the disciples, and the disciples 

-" had sat -' likewise also -'- And when 2S saith 

24 Gather together the pieces -' baskets with pieces from 

20 When therefore the people saw the sign that he did, they said 

27 the prophet that cometh 2S omit When 2a perceiving 

30 were about to 31 and carry him off s - omit a 33 omit he 

34 retired 35 the 3I! boat 37 were coming 

38 unto Capernaum 3tl And darkness had already come on 

40 not yet 41 was raging 42 behold 

,;: They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat 

Contents. The sixth chapter continues the take the feast spoken of in chap. v. 1 to have 

conflict of Jesus with ihe Jews, under the same been the feast of Purim, the events of the two 

point of view as that which we found to be pro- chapters v. and vi. were not separated by more 

minent in chap. v. As in that chapter Jesus was than about two or three weeks, for Purim was past 

the fulfilment of the sabbath, so in this He is the and the Passover was drawing near (ver. 4). 

fulfilment of the Passover ; He is the true bread, From the other Evangelists we know that Jesus 

the true substance of our Paschal feast. The went into Galilee after the imprisonment of John 

section now before us, contained in the first part the Baptist (Malt. iv. 12; Mark i. 14); and' also 

of the chapter, may be divided into three subor- that after the death of the Baptist He withdrew 

dinate parts — (1) vers. 1-13, the miracle of the from Galilee (Matt. xiv. 13; Mark vi. 31). In 

multiplying of the bread ; (2) vers. 14, 15, the this Gospel we have already met with two visits 

effect produced by the miracle upon the Galilean to Galilee (chap. ii. 1, iv. 3 and 43), and another 

multitude, leading Jesus to withdraw to the other is implied in the verse before us. Which of these 

side of the sea; (3) vers. 16-21, the storm and three is the journey spoken of in Matt. iv. 12? 

the reassuring of the disciples. Certainly not the first (John ii. 1, 11), for John 

Ver. I. After these things. Like chap, v., was not then cast into prison (chap. iii. 24). 

this chapter opens with an indefinite note of time, Probably not the second, for chap. iv. 1 implies 

'after these things.' In the former instance we that the Baptist was still at that time engaged in 

saw that the interval covered by the expression active work (see note on iv. 1). It would seem 

may have been two or three months ; here, if we therefore that the visit to which the earlier Evan- 


gelists 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. 1. 
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 
against the view we advocate is that the period of 
three 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 
Evangelists seem to have been led rather to give a 
full description of certain parts than an outline 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 the 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 
have just considered (chap, v.) with the Sermon 
and the Parables spoken hut a few days later. — 
Jesus went away to the other side 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 
corner of the lake, to be carefully 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 he wrote, is used by him alone, here and in 
chap. xxi. I : the former, 'sea of Galilee,' is the 
name regularly used by Matthew and Mark. In 
Luke's Gospel the only name is lake of Genn:saret 
(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. 
11, 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 many 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 understand 
in a general sense as meaning the high ground 
near Bethsaida. In this part the eastern hills 
closely approach the lake. 

Ver. 4. Now 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 different 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 the 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 1 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 bread, that these may eat ? 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 began to wane to beg 
Him to send away the multitudes. Our Lord's 
question to Philip, then, is entirely independent of 
the 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 

nificance if they did 

[Chap. VI. 1-2 1. 

may not have seen their si 
hear them. 

Ver. 6. Now this he said proving him : for he 
himself 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 for trial ; and the incident related in xii. 22 
has been appealed to as showing a tendency on 
his 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 full 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 ' (i.e. 200 denarii) 
would allow less than a denarius, 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. S. 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. 9. There is a little lad here which hath 
five barley loaves and two fishes : but what are 
they among so many? 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 lakes 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. — So the men sat down, in number 
about five thousand. The 'men' are now singled 
out for special mention, probably because they, 
according to the custom of the East, sat down 
first. We may also suppose that the number of 
women and children would not be very large. 

Ver. 1 1. 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 vi. 41 we 
read that Jesus gave the leaves to Ms disciples 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 
Evangelists. The differences in the accounts are 
very slight. It is 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 miracle 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 1 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 net 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 meal ; but it is more 
probable that they were pieces broken by our 
Lord, — pieces that remained undistributed or un- 
consumed because of the abundance of the supply. 
Ver. 13. Therefore they gathered them 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 fragments of the fishes 
(vi. 43) ; John, 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 1 ::sed for 

basket ; in the accounts of the feeding of the foui 
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 
sign that he did, they said. 'The people,' — 
i.e., the people of ver. 10, those who had 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 any 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 surface ; 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 this chapter is, as we shall see, to 
remove their ignorance on this very point. — This 
is of a truth the prophet that conieth into 
the world. To an Israelite a miracle at once 
suggested the thought of a prophet (Deut. xiii. 1), 
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. xviii. 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 
(1 Kings xvii. 14); and the memory of their 
ancient prophets drew along with it the promise 
of the Prophet now to come. More probably 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 left 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. xi. 3, etc.), or more fully, ' He that cometh 
into the world ' (comp. chap. i. 9). 

Ver. 15. Jesus therefore perceiving that they 
were about to come and carry him off to make 
him king, retired again into the mountain 
himself 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 multitudes and to heal their 
sick (Luke be. n). 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 withdrawal from 
the world and return to the Father. There is a 
beautiful harmony between the prayer oi 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, his 
disciples 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. 59, x. 39. 

Ver. 17. And entered into a boat, and were 
coming over the sea unto Capernaum. And 
darkness had already come on, and Jesus was 
not yet come to them. Probably the) 
tending to coast along the shore of the lake be- 
tween Bethsaida-Julias and Capernaum : in this 



they 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. 1 S. And the eea was raging by reason 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. So when they had rowed about five 
and twenty or thirty furlongs. 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 from ' the midst of 
the sea' (.Mark vi. 47). The agreement between 
the two narratives is clearly ' undesigned,' and 
therefore the more interesting. — They behold 
Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh 
unto 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 
passed 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 saith unto them, It is I; 
be not afraid. They were willing therefore to 
receive hirn into the boat. I lis 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. This 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 there is really no discrepancy 
whatever. John mentions the will only, assuming 
that every reader would understand that the will 
was carried into effect (comp. i. 43, v. 35). — And 
immediately the boat was at the land whither 
they went. They were making for Capernaum, 
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 'will' 
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 joined 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. 6S, are closely linked with 
the teaching of that night in which the disciples 
found at once the end of peril and rest from tcil 
when they saw and received their Lord. 

Chapter VI. 22-71. 
Passover Discourses of Jesus. 

22 ' I ^HE day following, when 1 the people 2 which stood on the 

JL other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat 3 
there, save that 4 one whereinto his disciples were entered,'' and 
that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his 

23 disciples were gone 6 away alone ; (Howbeit there came other 7 
boats from "Tiberias nigh unto the place where the)' die! eat ,v "- 

24 bread," after that the Lord had '''given thanks:) When the iVa - 

1 omit when 2 multitude 

5 omit from whereinto to entered ° went 

3 little boat 
7 omit other 

4 omit that 
8 the bread 


people 2 therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his 
disciples, they also took shipping, 9 and came to c Capernaum, eVa.ij. 

25 seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other 

side of the sea, they said unto him, d Rabbi, when earnest thou <*Chap. >■ &■ 

26 hither ? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say 
unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, 10 but 

27 because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 11 Labour' 2 

not for the meat' 3 which ' perisheth, but for that meat which <?cha P . iv. 
'endureth 14 unto -^everlasting 15 life, which the ^Son of man /G^v- >>•• '5 

b £ cha P- '• S«- 

shall ; 'G"ive unto you : ' for him hath God the Father sealed. *Chap.x.a8. 

o J 1 Chap. v. 37, 

28 Then said they " unto him, What shall 19 we do, that we *■ j6 - 

29 might 19 work the* works of God? Jesus answered and said i ^c£ll*\£j : 
unto them, This is the * work of God, that ye / believe on 20 /chap";f#. 

30 him whom he hath 21 sent. They said therefore unto him, ', jX, iii. 
'" What sign shewest thou then, 22 that we may see, and believe „,cha P . a. ,8. 

31 thee? what dost thou work? "Our fathers did eat manna 23 Jdlfja 1 *"" 
in the desert ; 21 as it is written, * He gave them bread from 2: ' Lu'klxxiii.s. 

32 heaven to eat. Then Jesus 2 ' 5 said unto them, Verily, verily, I "ex^xvl'iV 
say unto you, Moses gave you not that* 7 bread from 25 heaven ; p s .'ixxvm.' 
but my Father giveth you the true 2S bread from " heaven. 29 

33 For the bread of God is -''he 30 which cometh down from 25 ^Jg™- 5 °< 5I - 

34 heaven, and giveth life unto q the world. r Then said they 31 J chap.' iv.% 

35 unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And 32 Jesus said 

unto them, s I am the bread of life: 'he that cometh 33 to me *-," 4 ?- 

' t Chap. iv. 14. 

shall never 34 hunger; and he that believeth on 35 me shall 

36 never 36 thirst. " But I said unto you, That ye also have 37 seen " Ver - 26 - 

37 me, and believe not. All "that 88 the Father giveth me shall "Slip. 3 * 29, 
come to me; and him that cometh 3 ' to me I will in no wise o™ 4 . 2 ' 6,7 ' 

38 cast out. For I w came 40 down from heaven, x not to do mine £°™?' vers ' 

39 own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the "chap. ™ '30.' 
Father's will which hath sent me, 41 that -''of 42 all 43 which he y See cha P- 
hath "given me 1 44 should lose nothing, but should raise it up 

40 again 45 at z the last day. And 46 this is the will of him that ■ y" s d 4 °' 44, 
sent me, 47 that every one which seeth 48 the Son, and believeth "J 24 ' xiL 
on 49 him, may 50 have "everlasting 51 life: and I will 52 raise him " ^ h e a r p 2 7 ;i : 6 
up at z the last day. 

9 they themselves got into the little boats 10 ye saw signs n satisfied 

12 Work 13 eating 14 the eating which abideth 15 eternal 

16 for him the Father, God, did seal ,7 They said therefore 18 must 
19 may 20 in 21 omit hath !2 What then doest thou as a sign 

23 the manna - 1 wilderness !s out of 26 Jesus therefore 

2 " the 2S omit true 20 add, the true bread. 30 that 

31 They said therefore 32 omit And 33 is coming 

34 shall in no wise 35 in 3e shall in no wise ever 

37 that ye have indeed 3S All that which 39 is coming 

40 Because I have come 41 is the will of him that sent me 42 omit of 
43 all that 44 me, of it I 4 - 5 omit again 4S For 

47 will of my Father 4S beholdeth 49 in 

50 should M eternal 52 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, 

6 Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother *^ u - " !1 
we know? how is it then that he saitly" 5 I came 57 down from" 

43 heaven? Jesus therefore 58 answered and said unto them, 

44 Murmur not among yourselves. c No man 59 can come to me, ' Cm>P- ™. 
except the Father which hath" sent me draw 61 him: and I 

45 will raise him up at " the last day. ''It is written in the dl ^ |^* Ji 
prophets, And they shall be all 62 taught of God. 'Every f« : 2 Micah 
man therefore that 63 hath heard,'' 1 and hath learned of the'' Ver - 37 - 

46 Father, 65 cometh unto me. /Not that any man 66 hath seen /{ £* v ^l' 
the Father, save he which is of 67 God, he hath seen the '° s \ ^jj£ 

47 Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, 4 ~ He that believeth on ',' j„hn'iv! ; 

48 me'' 8 hath everlasting 6 ' life. *I am that 70 bread of life. gimp. chap. 

49 ''Your fathers did eat manna 71 in the wilderness, and are "^'i'Ju.' 

50 dead. 72 * This is the bread which cometh down from 73 heaven, e v' e ^ m ' 27l 40 . 

51 that a man 6G may eat thereof, and not die. *I am the living 
bread which came down from 73 heaven : if any man Mj eat '* of 3 s. e ve ' 
this bread, he shall live for ever: and 75 the bread that I will 

give is my 'flesh, which I will give 76 for the life of '"the world. 'l" m ^ c l'^_ 

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How j; "J viu.°™' 

53 can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus" said unto "xfm. iii. 
them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye cat 73 the ' flesh \ 6 4 \ fjobn 
of the "Son of man, and drink 79 his blood, ye have no 80 life in ")li a7 , 

54 you. 81 Whoso 92 eateth my l flesh, and drinketh my blood, "cha£. : ." ]t. 
"hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at f the last day. » v«s. »7, 40. 

1 ' p Vcr. 39. 

55 For my ' flesh is meat 83 indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 

56 He that eateth my l flesh, and drinketh my blood, "dwelleth" » ^■ I "]i hll 

57 in me, and I in him. r As the living Father hath 85 sent me, "v." 15' 16. 
and I live by 86 the Father: so he that eateth me, s even 8; he 88 '"*"jf mi 

58 shall live by 86 me. 'This is that bread which came down t g e "' v '°; s , 33i 
from 8a heaven : not as " your fathers did eat manna, 90 and are B ver. 31. 
dead: 91 he 'that eateth of 92 this bread shall live for ever. 

59 These things said he in the synagogue," 3 as he taught 94 in 
"Capernaum. »cha P ii. i* 

60 ''' Man}' therefore of his disciples, when they had 95 heard this, ,, , 

53 therefore 54 concerning ss out of 5G how doth he now say 

57 have come 5S omit therefore 50 No one 60 omit hath 

61 shall have drawn c - all be 63 Every one that 

r ' 4 add from the Father ''"' omit ai the Father 06 any one 

67 from e8 w»//onnie 69 eternal ro the rl the manna 

'•- and died 73 out of 74 shall have eaten 7S and moreover 

76 omit which I will give 77 Jesus therefore 7S have eaten 

79 drunk sn not sl in yourselves 82 He that 

83 food 84 abideth / hath 80 because of 

87 omit even 88 he also 8a out of 90 omit manna 

91 and died 92 omit of ' ,! omit in the synagogue 

94 was teaching in a synagogue BS omit had 



61 said, This is an hard saying ; who can hear it ? 96 When * Jesus *Chap. ii. u,. 
knew" in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said 98 

62 unto them, Doth this y offend you? 99 What and 1 if ye shall '^^Jjj- , - 

63 see 2 the Son of man ascend up 3 where z he was before? "It t %*-. 

is the spirit that quickeneth ; * the flesh profiteth nothing: the a fc%i}~*i; 
words that I speak 5 unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 

64 But b there are some of you that believe not. For x Jesus knew 'Vers. 36, 71. 
from the beginning who they were that believed not, and 'who cVer.71. 

65 should" betray him. And he said, Therefore ''said I 7 unto <*Vers. 44 , 45- 
you, that no man 8 can come unto me, except it were 9 given 

66 unto him of my 10 Father. 'From that time 11 many of his »Ver.6o 
disciples went back, and walked no more' 2 with him. 

6j Then said Jesus 13 unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 14 

68 Then 15 Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we 

69 go? 16 thou hast /the" words of eternal life. s And we be- /Ver. 63; 
lieve 18 and are sure 19 that thou art that Christ, h the Son of the Seever. 27. 

70 living God. 80 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen 21 you *'<■ 27V. 

71 twelve 22 and one of you is a devil? He 23 spake of 'Judas -s. 

' k Mark i. 24 ; 

Iscariot 2 * the son of Simon: for he it was that should * be- .Ly k 
tray 20 him, being 27 one of the twelve. 

»8 him 97 But Jesus knowing 98 concerning this, said xiiifVetc?' 

93 Ooth this make you to stumble ' What then 2 if ye behold 

3 ascending 4 maketh to live 5 have spoken 

c who it was that would 7 For this cause have I said 8 no one 

9 have been 10 the n Upon this 12 no longer 

13 Jesus therefore said '* Would ye also go ? Is omit Then 

10 go away 17 omit the 18 have believed 19 and we know 

20 that thou art the Holy One of God 21 Did not I choose 

22 the twelve 23 Now he 24 omit Iscariot 

25 add Iscariot 26 was about to betray 2r 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 Yer. 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 bnat 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, but that his disciples went away 
troduccd to us. The subordinate parts of this alone. During the night of the storm the multi- 
section are determined by the mention of ihese tude remained near the 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 'mux- 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 take 
The discourse contains the same great truths as away their Master : yet it was certain that when 
those previously dwelt upon, but in a sharper and the disciples set sail the evening before Jesus 
more pointed form ; (3) vers. 52-59, a discourse did not go with them. The natural 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 from 
in which the effect of the truths spoken by Jesus Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did 
shows itself even upon the disciples, many of eat the bread, after that the Lord had given 
whom are 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 are 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 



brought them the multitude would learn at once 
that neither Jesus nor II isdisciples had gone thither. 
Ver. 24. When the multitude therefore saw 
(hat Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, 
they themselves got into the little boats, and 
came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. If Jesus 
was neither on the eastern 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 fir Jesus on the part of the 
multitude before they left the spot where they had 
witnessed His power. The prominence given to 
the thought of Jesus in these verses is very marked. 
What is said of the disciples has no independent 
value : their movements are described solely that 
light may be thrown upon those of their Waster. 
\\ lien convinced that it was vain further to prose- 
cute the search in that region, the multitude 
obtained possession of the smaller boats, and came 
to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 

Ver. 25. And when they had found him on 
the other side of the sea, they said unto him. 
Rabbi, when earnest thou hither ? The ' other 
side ' denotes the western cast. Their question 
on finding Jesus in Capernaum but partly ex- 
presses their thoughts, which would rest as much 
on the limn as on the ' when ' of His coming to this 
place. He had not left the eastern shore with 
His disciples ; the storm of the night must have 
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 the way to deeper instruction as to 
the miracle which had drawn them to follow Him. 

Ver. 26. Jesus answered them and said, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not 
because ye saw signs, but because ye did eat of 
the loaves, and were satisfied. This solemn 
declaration is only seemingly discordant with ver. 2 
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 to see it. 
ver. 14 seems to 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 Prophet wdio should come : 
they saw that the wonder was significant, but the 
words before us show that even this stood below 
the true perception of the 'sign.' The miracle 
had led the thoughts of the multitude to the 
power and dignity of the miracle-worker, but had 
suggested nothing of a higher and a spiritual 
work, symbolized by the materia] bounty that had 
been bestowed. The design of the work in its 
relation to the Saviour was to manifest His glory 
as 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 
attained, — they hove sought Him eagerly, with toil 

mmpm^ ' 

and trouble: — He must now so complete their 
training that they may be led to leave the carnal 
and ;ei :k the spiritual, that they may be brought to 
behold in His deeds not merely the tokens of His 
] lower to satisfy every earthly desire of His followers, 
but the impress of His Divine character and work. 
Ver. 27. Work not for the eating which 
perisheth. The rendering ' work ' is required to 
bring out the connection with the following verse, 
in which the same word is used. The language 
of the original is very expressive : — 'Work,' use 
all the energies of your nature, not unto partaking 
of perishable but of imperishable food. It is not 
an act of life but the active life itself that is re- 
ferred to, and the object of this whole life. When 
we 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 
their persistent search for Him. As their object 


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 after material good and the satis- 
faction of lower wants and desires. — But for the 
eating which abideth, unto eternal life which 
the Son of man shall give unto you. In contrast 
with what they had sought in thus toiling to dis- 
cover Him, Jesus sets the feast which it is His 
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 him that 
rcceiveth 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 pass 1 ;i 5 thi 
words ' unto eternal life ' occur ; and in ea< li case 
there is some difficulty in determining wh 
phrase belongs to the word preceding or to the whole 
■ the 1 ! hi e 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 
they may and ought to work. Not the eating that 
perisheth, but the eating that abideth, must absorb 
their labour, that they may thus win eternal life. 
If this is the connection intended by [ohn, 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 speaks 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 
tiie Son of man — from the God-man alone, and 
that it is a free gift 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 
gift. 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 are 
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 is said in chap. v. on the witness of the 
Father very plainly shows. 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. 
The special reference to the Father in tin vei , 
where Jesus speaks of the gift of eternal life, re- 
ceives its explanation from ver. 57 (which see). 

Ver. 2S. They said therefore unto him, What 
must we do, that we may work the works of 
God? Our Lord's answer seems to have been but 
little comprehended by 'the multitude.' They 
reply with an earnest inquiry, talc ig 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: thetr 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 law were to them a 
familiar thought, and they understood that God 
through His new prophet was commandii 
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. xlviii. 10 ; I Cor. xv. 5S ; Rev. 
ii. 26. The whole phrase (with slight alteration) 
occurs in Num. viii. 11, in the Septuagint : '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 which the law prescribes, so here 
the works of God signify those wdiich He com- 
mands, and which therefore are pleasing to Him. 

Ver. 29. Jesus 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 calls forth 
determination and effort. It is very noticeable that 
these words of Jesus directly touch that thought in 
ver. 27, which their answer (ver. 2S) 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 sought 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 said therefore unto him, What 
then doest thou as a sign, that we may see, and 
believe thee? What dost thou work? '1 lie 
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 expres i< m 
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 the sign must correspond with 
the claim. The day before Jesus had been with 
them as a Teacher only : the miracle had con- 
strained them to acknowledge Him as 'the Pro- 
phet who should coiiie.' But the words He has 
just used can only suit One who i, higher even than 
Moses. Before they 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. Our fathers did eat the manna in the 
wilderness. 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 corn in 
the earth' (Ps. lxxii. 19).— As it is written, He 
give them bread out 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. lxxviii. 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 empha i .. 

Ver. 32. Jesus therefore said unto them, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you. The gravity of 
the truth declared in this verse is indicated by the 

solemn ' Verily, verily,' which now occurs for the 
second time in this discourse. — Moses gave you 
not the bread out of heaven : but my Father 
giveth you the bread out of heaven, the true 
breadL If we compare these words with ver. 26, 
in which the formula ' Verily, verily ' is first used, 
we easily trace the advance in the thought. 
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 heaven is not the manna, but that which His 
Father is at this moment offering them. In the 
words of ver. 31, 'he gave them 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 fathers 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 His hearers onwards to the truth 
declared in the next two verses, that the ' true 
bread ' given out of heaven is Himself, the Son. 

Ver. 33. For the bread of God is that which 
cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life 
unto 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 begins 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 point ; for after ver. 35 the descent 
from heaven might with equal propriety be con- 
nected either with the bread or with Him whom 
the bread symbolized. Nor does the present tcn?e 
' 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 gift. 
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 remind d at once 
of chap. iii. 16, f 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 unto hirn, Lord, 
evermore give us 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. 20), 



and not led to clearer teaching, such as is found 
in the coming verses. Jesus, moreover, is not 
dealing with ' the Jews ' (who meet us at ver. 41), 
Inn v. nil the multitude, — people who were indeed 

ihan half enlightened, but whose minds 

were not shut against the truth. His words in 

the following verses are altogether such as lie was 

wont to address to men who truly sought the light, 

; ot fully conscious of wh.n the) 

Jesus said unto them, I am the 
bread of life, — 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 giving His Son; the Son of man giveth 
eternal life (ver. 27) in imparting Himself. To 
1 cry thing has been leading, — the 
bread of the miracle, the manna, every reproof 
(ver. 26), every encouragement (ver. 27). — He 
that is coming to me shall in no wise hunger. 
The original words are chosen with exquisite deli- 
cacy. The figure is not that ol one who has 

1 toils ■ and lengthened journey (as if 

the words ran, ' he that at length has reached me '). 
but that of one whose resolve is taken, and who 
sets out in the right way, — he that ' is coming ' 
unto Jesus 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 

I 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 

. is received. — And he that believeth 
in me shall in no wise ever thirst. In these 

have an image similar to the last, but 
not the same. The quenching of thirst is even a 

;nie than the satisfaction of hunger, and 
thus (as usually in the poetry of the Old I 
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 
; but (as the other words also show) the 
first simply expresses once for all the cessation of 

hunger is at an end ; whilst the second 

the continuous presence of that which 

banishes thirst. Faith is really set forth in both 

clauses. The first presents it in the simplicity 

r of the act of will, — the will turned 
towards Jesus ; the second brings it into pro- 

1 the continuous movement of the soul 
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. Each 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 

itiction 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 symbol 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. But I said unto you, that ye have 
vol. 11. 6 

indeed seen me, and believe not. When had 
such words been uttered? Certainly the ret. 
is not to chap. v. 37, spoken in Jerusalem to the 
I- h . not to the multitude in Galilee. It is not 
likely that Jesus is speaking ol won Is of censure not 
recorded in this Gospel ; and it is hardly possible 
to understand the sim] n ' I said unto 

you ' in the sense, ' I would have you know,' 'this 
i- what I would say.' We must take the 
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 
an J believe Thee?' — that is, may see Thee in Thy 
working, and believe Thee. This is a conl 
on their part that as yet they had seen no 
that had led them to see and believe Him. I a 
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 ' 
as to lead the people to see and believe Him. Th 
charge, therefore, that ' they seeing saw not ' is 
perfectly equivalent to what is said in that versi : 
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 th 
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 wise cast out. These words have 
been understood by some as a reproach : ' 1 1 
different are ye from those whom my Lather 
giveth me!' but such an interpretation is 
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, 
;,3, ;4), especially the Father's gift of the Son to 
be the bread of life. Here the converse is sud- 
denly introduced — the Father's gift to the 
What Jesus brings to men is the Father's gift to 
them : what Jesus receives in the homage an 
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), ami 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 
given 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 gift 
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 Feather 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 cne 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 is 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 prodigal 
arose and came towards his father, but when he 
was yet a great way off his father ran to meet him. 

Ver. 38. Because I have come down from 
heaven, not to do mine own will, but 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 Father'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. 33 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 Mm that sent 
me, that all that wluch he hath given me, of it 
I should 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. — But should raise it up at the last 
day. 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 
belongs to the last day. Whosoever receives the 
Son at once receives in Him life eternal (iii. 36, 
vi. 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 shoidd 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 genera] body 
of the Church to that of the individual 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 believeth 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.e. (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 iu 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 (iii. 22) belongs to 
a date somewhat earlier than that of the events 
related in this chapter, the other (vii. 1) 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- 
cerning 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 
about '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 regarded as Joseph's 
son : the calumnies which at a later period were 
current amongst the Jews had not yet been resorted 



to. The words of the Jews do not imply that 
Joseph was still living, as the word rendered 
' know ' may simply deride their being acquainted 
with a fact, — they knew that Joseph and Mary 
were I lis parents. We need not wonder that they 
are ignorant of the miraculous conception. 

Ver. 43. Jesus answered and said unto them, 
Murmur not among yourselves. 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 
could 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 material 
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 sent 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 
they shall all be taught of God. 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 God, 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 hath 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 
the 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 mind which 
formed the strongest possible contrast to that of 
the Jews. 


Ver. 48. 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 ami 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, 30). 

Ver. 40. Your fathers did eat the manna in 
the wilderness, 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- 
call, Num. xiv. 35, l's. xcv. S-II, 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. 50. This is the bread which corneth down 
out 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 difficulty presents itself. It may be 
said that the antithesis is not complete, for is not 
death 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. 20 (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 granted 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 
' the bread of life' He says now ' the living bread:' 
for 'cometh down,' an expression which might 
seem a mere figure denoting heavenly origin, He 
says '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 given, 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- 
ge 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 shall 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 
the 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 His 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 
bis ilesh to eat? As before, the Jews take hold 
of those words which are most susceptible of a 
merely material sense. Ever)' 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 wdiole 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 
pression, literally taken, points to 'lighting' rather 
than strife (comp. Acts vii. 20 ; 2 Tim. ii. 24 ; 
Jas. iv. 2). 

Vers. 53, 54, 55. Jesus therefore said unto 
them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye 
have eaten the flesh of the Son of man, and 
drunk his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. 
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, 
4S, and 51, Jesus identifies Himself with that which 
when eaten gives life ; and. as in ver. 44 (ci impare 
vers. 39 and 40), He promises that He will raise- 
up at the last day every "ne who has thus received 
eternal life. The agreement then between these 
verses antl the earlier part of the discourse is so 
marked that there can be no change in the general 
sense : all the expressions in previous . rsi 
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 all 
who come to Him, who believe in Him, who are 
intimately joined to Him in the union ol faith and, 
receiving all from Him, may be said to a. 1] 
to themselves Himself, and to feed on Him, — that 
these and these alone have eternal life. There is 
nothing here that alters this foundation truth. 
The phraseology of these verses (and ver. 51) is 
new in the following respects : (1) Instead of the 


one metaphor of eating \vc have two, ' eating ' and 
'drinking;' (2) The figure 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 lir-t tunc Jesus 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 verse, so here, one purpose answered is the 
more complete realisation of a feast : the Paschal 
meal is always present in the symbols of this 
chapter. Whether this is to be taken 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 ? Arc 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 difference. 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 
uncommon 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 Ileb. 
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 special 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 asking now what these special thoughts are, it 
is scarcely possible for us, in 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 the 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 
'take up' and to 'bear' 'the cross.' But this 
Gospel shows 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 
doubt in this place, if the general view which has 

been taken of the chapter is correct. The figui.-.- 
tive acts and language have been suggest 
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 in 
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 Iamb 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 'drinking;' 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 HU 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 was, 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 very 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 ami 
death of Jesus is described under all the different 
figures 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 wdiatever 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 



nnd however precious to His people. The act of 
which He speaks is continuous, not occasional, 
— spiritual, not external ; every term 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 altogether 
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 symbol 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 
continued 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 very 
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 lie 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 flesh and drinketh 
my blood abideth in rne, 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 art. 

Ver. 57. As the living Father sent me, and I 
live because of the Father; so he that eateth 
me, he also 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 last words illustrate the 
first clause of ver. 57, ' the living Father sent me.' 
— Not as your fathers 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 Capernaum. 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 hard 
saying ; who can hear him ? The word 
' disciples ' is here used in a wide sense, in- 
cluding many more than the Twelve, and many 
who had never risen to a high and pure faith. 
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 flesh 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 ? He 
knew their thoughts, and because they are dis- 
ciples, not Jews bent on opposing Him, He seeks 
to help them. 

Ver. 62. What then if ye behold the Son of 
man ascending where he was before? The 
meaning of this ascent is surely clear in itself; but 
if it were not, the mention of a past descent (vers. 
41, 51, 5S) 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 
give life, of the Son's descent from heaven to give 
His 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, — how 
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 sec that the words 
can only be spiritually understood. 

Ver. 63. It is the spirit that maketh to live; 
the flesh protiteth 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 flesh, 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 
have spoken unto 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 carnalised, 
wrongly understood, wilfully perverted ; but wher- 
ever they find an entrance they manifest their true 
nature. They bring into the receptive heart not 
the flesh but the spirit of the Son of man, and 
tints the man, in the true sense eating the flesh of 
the Son of man, has life. His words received by 
faith bring Himself. Thus He can in two verse? 
almost consecutive (chap. xv. 4, 7) say, ' Abide 
in me, and / in you,' and ' If ye abide in me, and 
5) abide in you.' 

Ver. 64. But there are some of you that be- 
lieve 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 Jesus knew from 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 in the heart 
of Judas, who, like many others, loved rather the 
glory and honour which Jesus set aside (vers. 14, 
15) than the spirit ami 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. 04 : 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 
might 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? 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 theii 
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 Holy One 
of God. The confession consists of three parts — (1) 
' Thou hast words of eternal life' (see ver. 63) ; (2) 
'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 knowle 'gc 
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 cf Judas the son of 
Simon Iscariot. 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 Judah and the Jews, his 
father is so too. The double link of connection 
seems to deepen the thought. — For he it waB 
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 closing 
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. 

'A 1 

d V< 1 

See Matt. 

/ See chap. 

ii 4. 
g Chap. xv. 

would not walk in Jewry, 8 " because the Jews sought to «Chap. v. ;6. 

2 kill him. Now b the Jews' feast of 'tabernacles 3 was at hand. A( r ' h * lp ''■•••' 3 

J c Lev. xxiu. 

3 d His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go 
into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the 4 works that 

4 thou doest. For there is 6 no man 1, that' doeth anything in 
secret, and he 8 himself seeketh to be known openly. 9 If thou 

5 do 10 these things, shew" tin-self to the world. For ''neither 12 

6 did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said 13 unto them, 
-^ My time is not yet come: 14 but your time is ahvay ready. 

7 s The world cannot hate you ; but me it hateth, because I 

8 testify of it, 15 that ; ' the works thereof are evil. 16 Go ye up 
unto this " feast : I go not up yet unto this feast ; for 18 my 

9 S time is not yet full come. 19 When 20 he had said these 
words 21 unto them, he abode still in Galilee. 

10 Hut 22 when his brethren were gone up, 23 then went he also 
up unto the feast, 14 not openly, 2 '' but as it were 26 in secret. 

11 ' Then the Jews 27 sought him at the feast, and said, Where is 

12 he? And there was much murmuring among the people 28 
concerning him : 'Tor 29 some said, He is a good man : others 3 " 

13 said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. 31 Howbeit no man 
spake openly of 32 him ' for 33 fear of the Jews. 

1 And after 2 Judea 3 And the feast of the Jews, the feast of tabernacles, 
4 may behold thy 6 omit there is 6 one 7 omit that 

8 omit he 9 to be in boldness 10 doest u manifest 

12 not even I3 Jesus therefore saith u present 

13 I bear witness concerning it lc that its work? are wicked '" the 
18 because 19 not yet fulfilled -° And when 2I things 
22 And 23 had gone up unto the feast 24 omit unto the feast 
- ' manifestly 2C omit it were 21 The Jews therefore 
28 multitudes 29 omit for 30 but others 
31 leadeth astray the multitude 32 boldly concerning 33 because of the 

Contents. The same line of thought as that 
which we have found in the two previous chapters 
is continued in that before us. He who is the 
Fulfiller of the Sabbath and of the Passover 
is the Fulfiller also of the great feast in which 
the festivals of the Jewish year culminated, 
— that of Tabernacles. The first section of 
the chapter gives an account of the circum- 
stances in which Jesus went up to this feast, the 
subordinate parts being— (1) vers. 1-9, Jesus de- 
clines to go up to it at the request of His 
brethren, for He can act only at the suggestion 
of His heavenly Father's will j (2) vers. 10-13, 
He goes up when He sees that the hour for 
doing so is come. 

Ver. 1. And after these things Jesus walked 

in Galilee: for he would not walk in Judea, 
because the Jews sought to kill him. The 
events of chap. vi. belonged to the period of the 
Passover; chap. vii. is occupied with the least of 
Tabernacles. The interval covered by the brief 
description of this verse, therefore, is about six 
months. During that time Jesus 'was walking in 
Galilee, ' for in Judea His enemies 'were seeking 
to kill Him.' As it is John himself who gives 
the notes of time from which we learn il 
of this period, we have here another illustration of 
the selective principle on which his Gospel is 
composed. The ministry in Galilee is in the 
main passed over, partly, no doubt, because the 
Evangelist well knew that the types of Gospel 
teaching that were most widely current chiefly 


presented the Saviour's work in Galilee : partly, 
because this work was less closely connected with 
his purpose to bring out with clearness the pro- 
gress and development of the conflict between 
Jesus and the representatives of the Jewish people. 
The period before 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 
..I I'm and Sidon, the miracles wrought for the 
Syrophcenician woman and for the deaf and dumb 
man in Decapolis, the feeding of the four thousand, 
Peter's second confession fallowed by our Lord's 
announcement of His approaching sufferings and 
death, the Transfiguration, together 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 Pie seems usually to 
have maintained : the progress in the training ol 
the Twelve, which is most observable, we may also 
in gnat measure connect with the retirement thus 
sought by their Master. 

Ver. 2. And the feast of the Jews, the feast 
of tabernacles, 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, began on the 15th of Tizri, 
that is, either late in September or early in October. 
1 1 had a twofold significance, being at once a harvest 
festival and a historical memorial of the earliest 
days of the nation. At the ' feast of Ingathering ' 
(Ex. xxiii. 16) the people gave thanks for the 
harvest, now safely gathered in : the ' feast of 
Tabernacles,' during 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). 
The 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 brethren therefore said unto him, 
Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy 
disciples also may behold thy works 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 Messiah; 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 offered 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 up 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. 
3, 5, 10), they are not mentioned again in this 
Gospel ; in chap. xx. 17 the words have a different 

Ver. 4. For no one doeth any thing in secret, 
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 the 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 bold claim of personal dignity ami 
office are, in the view of these men, things incom- 
patible with one another.— If thou doest these 
things, manifest thyself to the world. These 
words are very remarkable. The brothers would 
use them as meaning 'to all men,' i.e. 'to all 
Israel ' gathered together 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 those 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 witnessed, they 
had refused to accept. 

Ver. 6. Jesus therefore saith unto 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 with 
that world they might at any time associate. 

Ver. 7. The world cannot hate you ; but me 
it. hateth, 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 
fulfilled. The words ' not yet ' imply an inten- 
tion of attending the festival, though as yet the 
appointed time had not come. The interval 
before 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 upon this 
Porphyry founded an accusation of fickleness and 
change of purpose. 

Ver. 9. And when he had said these things 
unto them he abode still in Galilee. How long, 
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 spent in Galilee 
can hardly have been more than two or three 

Ver. 10. And when his brethren had gone up 
unto the feast, then went he also up, not mani- 
festly but as in secret. We must not sever 
'manifestly' from 'manifest tin self,' 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 great, 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 thought 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 avoided 
by the festal companies (as we know from 
Josephus), would be more rarely taken. The 
sending 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 I 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 had 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 1 and 13 seem to 
leave very little doubt that the ' seeking ' was of a 
hostile character. Py '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 arrived at : till the leaders spole 
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 believers 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 see movement, uncer- 
tainty, hope, or fear. 


Chapter VII. 14-52. 
Discourses of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

14 \T OW about the midst ' of the feast Jesus went up into the 

15 IN temple, 2 and taught. "And the Jews 3 marvelled, say- "^™p- a « 
ing, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned ? 

16 Jesus 4 answered them, and said, * My doctrine 5 is not mine. 

17 but his that sent me. ' If any man will do 6 his will, he shall g^J*,. 
know of the doctrine, 7 whether it be 8 of God, or whether I c ^*_ chap 

IS speak of 9 myself. rf He that speaketh of 9 himself seeketh his ™ft«J*f. : 
own glory: but he that seeketh his glory 10 that sent him, the ./gUp.. v. 4 i, 

19 same is true, and 11 no unrighteousness is 18 in him. e Did not £}f.™: s °' 
Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law ? 13 ,'. 

20 -'"Why go ye about " to kill me ? The people li answered and ' Aea^i 38.' 
said, 10 Thou s hast a devil: 17 who goeth about 19 to kill thee ? r cha" P !'viii. 

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, ''I have done 19 one work, Man 

J . , , . Mark iii. 22 

22 and ye all marvel. ' Moses therefore gave unto you circum- AChap.v.9. 
cision; 20 (not because 21 it is of Moses, but k of the fathers;) iGen.xvii." 

23 and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man !! on 
the sabbath day receive circumcision, 23 that the law of Moses 
should 24 not be broken ; 'are ye angry at 2i me, because I have 26 /chap. v..i6 ; 

J & J Luke xm. 

24 made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? '" Judge ^^"-^ 
not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. ™- 's- 

25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, 27 Is not this he, whom 

26 they seek to kill? But, 88 lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say 
nothing unto him. "Do 89 the "rulers know indeed 30 that this "Xf-* 8 .-. 

1:5 o Chap. 111. 1 

27 is the very 31 Christ? ^Howbeit we know this man whence he *$*£■ *■:■**■ 
is : but when Christ 32 cometh, no man knoweth 33 whence he is. ss. 

28 Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, 34 Ye g both ?Com P . chap, 
know me, and ye know whence I am: and r I am" not come r S^" v " 43 ' 

' 1 jrui. 42. 

of myself, but he that sent me *is true, 'whom ye know not. s ^%- 32 - 

29 ' But 36 I know him : for 37 I am from him, and r he hath 39 sent '^fe^ 

30 me. Then they sought to take him: "but 39 no man laid „% r . 44; 

chap. viii. 

1 And when it was already the middle 2 temple-courts 

3 The Jews therefore * Jesus therefore 3 teaching 6 to do 
7 he will perceive of the teaching s is 9 from 

10 the glory of him n and there is 12 omit is 

13 and no one of you doeth the law u Why seek ye 18 multitude 

16 omit and said 17 demon 18 who seeketh 19 I did 

20 For this cause hath Moses given you the circumcision 21 that 

-'-' If a man receiveth circumcision 2S omit receive circumcision 

-' may 25 with 2C omit have 

27 Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said 2S And 29 Can it be that 

30 omit indeed 31 omit very 32 the Christ 33 no one perceiveth 

34 Jesus therefore cried in the temple-courts teaching and saying 

35 have 36 omit But 37 because 

ss omit hath 39 They sought therefore to seize him. and 


31 hands 40 on him, because ''his hour was not yet come. And »Ver. 6. 
"'"many of the people 41 believed on '- him, and said, When *"<-'ha P . .. ;-,. 
Christ 43 cometh, will he do more miracles 44 than these which 

this man hath done ? 

32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured 45 such 4l ' 
things concerning him ; and the Pharisees and the chief 

33 priests 47 sent officers to take 4 " him. Then said Jesus 49 unto 
them, 50 Yet * a little while am I with you, and t/ien* 1 I y so .rSeechap. 

*'"■ 35- 

34 unto him that sent me. " Ye shall seek me, and shall not find y chap, xvi. 5. 

See chap. 

35 vie: and where I am, thither" ye cannot come. "Then said *»■• ■• . 

J J t ' J z Chap. vm. 

the Jews" among themselves, Whither will he go, 54 that we "> 3tiii -33- 

J & & a Lhap. vm. 

shall not find him ? will he go unto b the dispersed among 55 the , 2 . 2 " • 

36 Gentiles, 56 and teach the Gentiles ? 56 ' What manner of saying i/ et - '■ '.■ 

*> ' J J & c Chap. Jrvi. 

is this that he said,'' 7 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find ' 7 ' l8 - 
me: and where I am, thither 1 '- ye cannot come? 

37 ''In 58 the last day, that 59 great day of the feast, Jesus stood dl * v - Jodi! - 
and cried, saying', e If any man 60 thirst, let him come unto me, cI ? a - lv - l: 

' J -J J ' chap. vi. 35 ; 

38 and drink. He that believeth on 61 me, as •''the scripture ^ ev - xxn - 
hath 1,2 said, ^out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. -^""Eip" 7 . 

39 ( ; 'But 63 this spake he of 64 the Spirit, which they that believe "ii.*^™ 
on 65 him should 1,6 receive: for the Holy Ghost 67 was not yet ™ s \ *£'£,' 
given; because that Jesus was not yet 'glorified.) ?seechap. 

40 Many of the people 68 therefore, when they heard this say- //i^'xii'v 4 ^; 

41 ing, 69 said, Of a truth this is * the Prophet. Others said, ' This chap.'xi^' 
is the Christ. But 70 some said, Shall Christ 71 come '"out of Acts. T ii. 7 ' 

42 Galilee? Hath not -''the scripture said, That Christ 72 cometh 'xH?i6. p " 
"of the seed of David, and "out of the town of Bethlehem, 73 vri 4 . ap ' 

43 * where David was? So q there was a division among the vi. 6 9 .' 

44 people 74 because of him. And r some of them would have chap. i.' 46. 

' r . 11 Sre Matt. 

taken 75 him ; but no man laid hands on him. xxn. 4;. 

o See Matt. 

45 Then came the officers 7 to the chief priests and Pharisees ; u-s. 
and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 1.4. 

q Ver. 12. 

46 The officers answered, 'Never man spake like this man. 77 r Y, er - 3 °- 
~ m s ^ er - ;2 - 

47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? 78 ' M " ! ■ ■• 

10 his hand 41 But of the multitude many 42 in 43 the Christ 

44 signs 4 - r> heard the multitude murmuring 4li these 

47 the chief priests and the Pharisees 43 seize 40 Jesus therefore said 

50 omit unto them 61 omit then ■'- omit thither 

68 The Jews therefore said 54 Whither is this man about to go 

55 Is he about to go to the Dispersion of 66 Greeks 

57 What is this word which he spake hi And in 

61 in ea omit hath 

65 believed in 

88 Some of the multitude 

71 What, doth the Christ 

73 and from Bethlehem the village 
74 There arose therefore a division among the multitude 75 seized 

70 The officers therefore came 7r Never did a man so speak 

78 The Pharisees therefore answered them, Have ye also been led astray? 

''■' the 

co one 

• 3 And 

04 concei 

>6 were to 

67 for the Spirit 

19 these words 

70 omit But 

- the Christ 


48 Have any 7 '' of the "rulers or of the Pharisees believed on 

49 him? 00 But this people"' who knoweth" not the law are 

50 cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, ("he that came to Jesus 

51 by night, 83 being one of them,) '"Doth our law judge any** 

52 man, before it hear him, and know 95 what lie doeth ? They 
answered and said unto him, Art thou also x oi Galilee? 
Search, and look : for Bli out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. 

79 Hath any one 80 believed in him, or of the Pharisees 81 multitude 

82 which understandeth 83 to him before 84 a 

85 except it have first heard from himself and learned 80 Search and see that 

Content,-,. In this section Jesus appears at the 
feast to which He went up when I lis 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. Jesus 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. 14-2) ; 
25-31 ; ( : ) ^rs. 32-36 ; (4) vers. 37-39 ; (5) vei . 
40-44 ; (o) vers. 45-52. 

Ver. 14. And when it was already the middle 
of the feast, Jesus 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 lor His words on the last day of the 

Ver. 15. 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 baffled, and 
forced to acknowledge against themselves what 
they would fain have denied. It was only after 
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- 
the leaching of Jesus proclaims of itseli 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 word 
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 will 
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 God. Such 
recognition of the words of Jesus is the test, there- 
fore, 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 heart 
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 will perceive'), Ot- 
is He also giving a promise ('he shall perceive, — 
shall come to know ') ? Both thoughts are 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. 1 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. iS. He that speaketh from himself 
seeketh 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 glory of him 
that sent him, the same is true, and there is no 
unrighteousness in him. From the maxim con- 
tained in the first clause ol 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 : 
hence 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 first 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: (1) A will 
to do God's will will lead to right judgment 
respecting Christ (ver. 17), because he who has 
such a will can discern the complete submission of 
Jesus to the will of God, His complete freedom 
from self-seeking (ver. iS) ; (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. iS), must fall to the ground of itself. 

Ver. 19. Did not Moses give you the law, and 
no one of you doeth the law? Why seek ye 
to kill me ? 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. I' ma . v ' )e best 
to give the connection of thought according to each 
of these views. In both cases the ' law' chiefly de- 
notes the Ten Commandments. ( 1 ) 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-convicted 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. 
15, 16) addressed to 'the Jews,' whose murderous 
mention Jesus well knew not to have been in- 
spired by true zeal for the law, — that the words so 

understood aptly follow vers. 17, iS, — and that 
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 
unrighteousness h 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 that 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 ton 
mild to be spoken to 'the Jews,' it has really great 
sharpness. It must have at once penetrated then 
hearts and thrown a light upon the guilt and folly 
of their conduct which they could only evade by 
again deliberately turning their eyes from the light. 
' No one of you doeth the law ' is alsi 1 a very heavy 
charge. On the whole, the second interpretation 
seems preferable to the first. 

Ver. 20. The multitude answered, Thou hast 
a demon; who seeketh to kill thee? 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 
difficult to account. 

Ver. 21. Jesus answered and said unto them, 
I did one work, and ye all marvel. This answer 
seems lo have been addressed to the multitude, 01 
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 this one had caused all 
the amazement and repulsion of feeling of which 
He is here speaking. 

Ver. 22. For this cause hath Moses given you 
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 beyond 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 tin- 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 felt 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. iii. 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 hail 
been truly learned by them ; yet it was a lesson 
essentially the same as that which the healing by 
Jesus on the sabbath day had 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 receiveth circumcision on 
the sabbath day, that the law of Moses may not 
be broken, are ye angry with me, because I 
made a man every whit whole on the sabbath 
day? 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 
(see 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 
quoted (chap. v. 14), and the recollection of the 
figurative and spiritual application of the rite 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 physical health. 

Ver. 24. Judge not according to the appear- 
ance, but judge 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 they 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 hint. Can it be that the 
rulers know that this is the Christ ? No opinion 
as to these designs is expressed ; there is neither 
sympathy 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 cometh, no one per- 
ceiveth 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 
inconsistency between this verse and that, for it 

seems to have been the belief 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 one 
could tell. So Jesus warns His disciples that the 
cry will be heard, ' Lo, here is the Christ: 1 r, Lo, 
he is there ' (Mark xiii. 21). 

Vers. 28, 29. 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 both 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 acknowledgment 
of His true humanity ; but, denying all else, re- 
fusing to recognise Him in His highet 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 ' (viii. 14). 
The latter includes more directly the idea of the 
Divine mission of Jesus. — And I have not come of 
myself, hut 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 real, 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. 2S, 29 are thus 
words of sharp reproof. 

Ver. 30. They sought therefore to Beize 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. lie 
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 laid his 
hand 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 Mm, and said, When the Christ conieth, will 
he do more signs than these which this man 
hath done? The last verse showed how the 
hostility to Jesus was glowing ; 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 JJim'), though not so 
firm and sure as that which rests less on ' signs ' 
than on His own word. 

Ver. 32. The Pharisees heard the multitude 
murmuring these things concerning him, and 
the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers 
to seize 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. 1, iv. 1) 
John has spoken of the Pharisees, and in the last 
of these only (chap. iv. 1) 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 ii.; Luke vi.), 
the tradition of the elders (Matt. xv. ; Mark vii.), 
and the forgiveness of sins (Luke v.; Matt, i.x.; 
Mark ii. — compare Luke vii. 39). The Phari 1 
have attempted to persuade the multitude that He 
wrought His miracles through the prince of the 
devils (Matt, i.x.; 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 their 'righteousness' (Matt. 
v. 20). In .Matt. xii. 14 we read that the I harisees 
(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, 
as 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 Jesus. The events 
which had passed in Galilee, though not noted by 
John, may explain the change. — The chief prii 
arc, 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 passage 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 
scribes.' 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. The 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 always 
precarious. Annas the father-in-law of Caiaphas 
(chap, xviii. 13) was deposed by the Roman Pro- 
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 high-priesthood, 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, is 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 
■ret ('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 'seel 
which the Jews wished to think. But tl 
Jesus rested on the calamities from which at a 
future time they would se< k to be delivered by the 
Christ, but would seek in vain. His enemies hue 
refused to recognise in His words the teaching of 
'Him that sent' Him (ver. 16): when He has 
returned to His Fattier their eves will be opened 
to their madness and folly. — And where I am. ye 
cannot come. ' Where I am,' He says, not ' n lie: e 
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 



shall not find hi in 'I Our Lord's words were 
mysterious, but yet were so closely linked with 
His earlier teaching, as related in this very chapter, 
that their general meaning would be clear to every 
patient listener. Vers. 16 and 17 were alone 
sufficient to show that 'to Him that sent me' 
could only mean 'to God.' But this impression 
' the Jews ' must at all hazards avert : chap. viii. 
22 shows how eagerly they sought to blunt the 
edge of such words as Jesus has now spoken. 
There they suggest that only by seeking death can 
He escape their search : here that it is on exile 
amongst Gentiles that He has now resolved. His 
teaching has seemed to them a complete reversal 
of Jewish modes of thought. No learning of the 
schools prepared Him for His self-chosen office 
(ver. 15): He accuses all Israel of having broken 
the law of Moses (ver. 19) : He sets at nought the 
most rigid rules of Sabbath observance : all things 
show that He has no sympathy with, no tolerance 
for, the most firmly established laws and usages of 
the Jewish people. And now He is going, not 
to return. Where?— Is he about to go to the 
Dispersion of the Greeks, and teach the Greeks 1 
Can it be that He has cast off Jews altogether and 
is going to Gentiles? This is said in bitter scorn, 
but it may have been suggested by words of Jesus 
not expressly recorded. In answering His brethren 
just before the feast (ver. 7) He had spoken of 
' the world ; ' before the end of the same feast 
(viii. 12) He says, 'I am the light 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 ('seventy') nations of the 
Gentile world — a tradition deeply interesting and 
probably true — we can have no difficulty in sup- 
posing that in His teaching during the festival 
Jesus had repeatedly used words regarding 'the 
world' which enemies might readily pervert. His 
interest, they say in effect, is not with Jews but 
with the 'world :' is he leaving us? — then surely 
He is going to the world, to the heathen whom 
He loves. — 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 suggested, — that the Jews, with 
irony and scorn, would show forth Jesus as re- 
versing all their cherished instincts, beliefs, and 
usages. If a true Israelite must depart from the 
Holy Land, he resorts to the Dispersion of his 
brethren. Not so with this man : He too is 
departing 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. xi. 50, 51), so here : words spoken 
in hate and scorn are an unconscious prophecy, 
lie will teach and gather together the children of 
God that are scattered abroad, — this is the very 
purpose 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 
Rev. i. 7, we find mankind designated as ' tribes of 
the earth.' It is right to say that the explanation 
of ' Dispersion of the Greeks ' which we have 
given is not that generally received. The common 
view is that the Jews represent Jesus as going to 
'the Dispersion amongst the Gentiles,' and, from 
this as a point of departure (like the apostles 
of Jesrrs afterwards), becoming a teacher of the 
Gentiles. We can onlv briefly give our reasons 
vol. It. 7 

for dissenting from this view. (1) The meaning 
can hardly be obtained without straining the 
original words. (2) As probably many of 'the 
multitude' themselves belonged to 'the Disper- 
sion,' the added words 'of the Greeks' would be 
useless if intended as explanatory, insulting if used 
for depreciation. (3) The first clause becomes 
almost superfluous : why should they not say at 
once, Is He about to go amongst the Greeks? 
(4) The introduction of a ' point of departure ' or 
connecting link is most unsuitable to the present 
state of feeling of our Lord's enemies, ' the Jews.' 

Ver. 36. What is this word which he spake, 
Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and 
where I am, ye cannot come? This verse contains 
little more than a repetition of the Saviour's former 
statement, but is useful in reminding us that the 
Jews, whose bitter words we have just been con- 
sidering, were themselves perplexed by wh it they 
heard. We must not suppose that they pondered 
and then rejected the teaching of Jesus : their 
enmity rendered impossible that patient thought 
which w >uld have found the key to His mysterious 
language ; they understood enough to have been 
attrai ted, had they only been willing listeners, by 
the light and the life of His words. Their 
ignorance resulted from the absence of the will to 
harn and do God's will (ver. 17). 

Ver. 37. And in the last day, the great day, 
of the feast. The feast of Tabernacles properly 
so called continued seven days. During (a pari 

of) each day all the men of Israel dwelt in booths 
made with boughs of palm, willow, pine, and 
other trees. Day by day burnt-offerings and other 
sacrifices were presented in unusual profusion. 
Every morning, whilst the Israelites assembled in 
the temple-courts, one of the priests brought water 
drawn in a golden urn from the pool of Siloam, 
and amidst the sounding of trumpets and other 
demonstrations of joy poured the water upon the 
altar. This rite is not mentioned in the Old 


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. There 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 only the 
feast of Tabernacles, but also) the whole series 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 day of 
holy rest in which the feasts seemed to reach their 
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 lie 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. — Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any 
one thirst, let hiin come xmto 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 by 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 that 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 eats, so here He 
takes up familiar words of the same prophet (Isa. 
Iv. 1), calling everyone that thirsteth to come unto 

Ver. 3S. He that believeth hi me, as the 
scripture said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of 
living water. The words of ver. 37 remind 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.' This 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 
stream of living water issuing 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 life 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; 
because that Jesus was not yet glorified. To 
this authoritative explanation of the ' living water' 
we have more than once referred (see chap. iv. 
to, 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 I lis 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 all the brightest 
anticipations of ancient prophecy are realised. 
The effect of this revelation of Jesus by Himself is 
now traced. 

Ver. 40. 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 
Galilee ? Hath not the scripture said, That tho 


Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from claims of Jesus? The foolish multitude may have 
Bethlehem, the village where David was ? See done so, in this showing an ignorance which, in 
Matt. ii. 6. This explanation of the prophecy of the mind of the Pharisees, deserves and brill I 
Micah (chap. v. 2) is found in the Targum, and with it a curse.— Of such contemptuous treatment 
seems to have been commonly received by the Jews, of the common people, as distinguished from ' the 

Vers. 43, 44. There arose therefore a division disciples of the wise,' many examples may be pro 
among the multitude because of him. And J 
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 
chief priests and Pharisees ; and they said unto 
them, Why have ye not brought him? 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 : I lis last 
words seem to have deprived them of all power to 
lay hands en Him. There is a minute difference 
between the senders as described in ver. 32 ('the 

And duced from the sayings of Jewish Rabbins. — Once 
more it may be noted, our Lord's enemi 
nounce their own condemnation in proclaiming 
their unbelief. 

Vers. 50, 51. Nicodemus saith unto them (he 
that came to him before, being one of them). 
Doth our law judge a man, except it have first 
heard from himself and learned what he doeth ! 
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 

chief priests and the Pharisees ') and here, where injustice of his fellow-rulers, undeterred by the 

the second article is dropped. The slight change expression of their scorn just uttered. He appeals 

1 1 emphasize the union of the two elements to the law, all knowledge of which they have 

(so to speak) into one for the purpose in hand, proudly arrogated to themselves, and shows that 

but is not sufficient to suggest that here reference of this very law they are themselves transgressors. 

i, made to the Sanhedrin as a body. It does not Ver. 52. They answered and said unto him, 

appear that there is formal action of the Sanhedrin Art thou also of Galilee ? Search and see that 

earlier than the record in chap. xi. 47. out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. No answer 

Ver. 46. The officers answered, Never did a to the argument was possible : they can but turn 

man so speak. A new testimony to Jesus, borne on Nicodemus himself. They assume that no_one 

by men who, awed by the majesty of His words 
instead of attempting a deed oi violence, declare 
to their very masters that He is more than man. 

Vers. 47, 48, 49. The Pharisees therefore 
answered them, Have ye also been led astray ? 
Hath any one of the rulers believed in him, or 
of the Pharisees? But this multitude which 
understandeth not the law are cursed. In such 

natter as the acceptance of any man as Messiah 

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 

the judgment of the rulers (members of the that land any prophet should arise ; least of all 
Sanhedrin) must surely be decisive; but what can it be the birthplace of the Messiah, 
ruler or (to take a wider range, and include all For remarks on the following verses, extending 
who accurately interpret the Law and uphold its from vii. 53 to viii. II, see the close of this Corn- 
majesty) who of the Pharisees has sanctioned the mentary. 

Chapter VIII. 12-59. 
Jesus the Son of the Father, the Giver of Souship and, therewith, of Light. 

12 nr^HEN spake Jesus again 1 unto them, saying, "\ am the aSeechap.iii 

-L light of *the world: he that c followeth me shall not 8 *cha P . i. 29. 

c Chap. x. 27, 

13 walk in "darkness, 3 but shall have the light of ^ life. The *"•*«■ ^ 
Pharisees therefore said unto him, 'Thou bearest record °f * fchT'v'T 

14 thyself ; thy record 5 is not true. Jesus answered and said 
unto them, Though 6 I bear record of 4 myself, yet 1 my record 4 

is true: ^for 8 I know whence I came, and whither I go; but /% cha P- 

15 ^ye cannot tell 9 whence I come, and 10 whither I go. *Ye 4-Chap.vii.28 

J J ' ° A Chap. vu. 24 

1 Again therefore Jesus spake 2 in no wise 3 the darkness 

4 witness concerning 6 witness 6 Even if 7 omit yet 

8 because ° know not 10 or 


16 judge after the flesh; '" I judge no man. 11 And yet 12 if I 'Sl'S.*' 17 ' 
judge, *my judgment is true: for ' I ' am not alone, but I and *^*^ -3 °- 

17 the Father that sent me. '"It is also written in your law, 13 td?' 3 ™\™' 

18 that the testimony 14 of two men is true. I am one 15 that '"£'£.%" 
bear 16 witness of 17 myself, and "the Father that sent me "Chap. v - 37 

19 beareth witness of " me. Then said they 18 unto him, Where 

is thy Father? Jesus answered, "Ye neither know me, 19 nor " ch;l P- xvi - 3 
p my Father : q if ye had known °° me, ye should have known 21 ^p. 5 ™. =s 

20 my Father also. These words spake Jesus 28 in r the treasury, ?£, h a a £ *■*;,; 
as he taught 23 in the temple: 24 and 'no man laid hands on *Cha P .™. 3 o. 
him ; 25 ' for 8 his hour was not yet come. /See chap. 

21 Then said Jesus 26 again unto them, I go my way, and ye u ^^ p - 
shall seek me, and "'shall die in your sins: 28 whither I go, ye * v "- 2 4- 

22 cannot come. '"Then said the Jews, 29 Will he kill himself ? »Comp.cha P 

23 because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said 

unto them, Ye are from beneath; x I am from above: ye are x Cha P- "'• J 1 - 

24 'of this world ; I am not of this world. 2 I said therefore unto * S'j&jj^. 
you, that ye shall die in your sins : for " if ye believe not 30 that j£^F J v ° h 5 n 

25 * I am he" ye shall die in your sins. Then said they 32 unto aSmp.'Mark 
him, Who art thou ? And 33 Jesus saith 34 unto them, Even the ,vT re . l6 2 8, 5 s. 

26 same that I said unto you from the beginning. 35 I have many cha P- xm " 
things to say 36 and to judge of 37 you : but 35 he "that sent me cChap.vii.28. 
is true ; and •' I speak to the world those things which I have <*▼«■ 40. 

' r o chap. 111. 32, 

27 heard of him. 3 ' 1 They understood <0 not that he spake to them vii - l6 - xii - 

' J '49. xv - "5- 

28 of the Father. Then said Jesus 41 unto them, 42 When ye have 

"lifted up 43 the /Son of man, then shall ye know that * I am "^p^"-'*- 
he, 1 * and s that I do nothing of myself; 45 but ""as my Father £°™ p ' Acts 

29 hath taught me, 46 I speak these things. And h he that sent me {chapiv.V, 
is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; '"for 47 I do *c£,J* 30 

30 always those things that please him. 48 * As he spake these * Chap. vii. 
words, 49 many believed on 50 him. «■'«• 

31 Then said Jesus 51 to those 52 Jews which believed M on 5I him, 

If ye 'continue 55 in my word, then are ye my disciples in- 'Comp. g chap 

32 deed; 66 And ye shall know the truth, and '"the truth shall m *& a ± ."■ ia 

11 one 12 But even 13 But in your own law also it is written jjjj' £'»-.' 

14 witness 15 he "'beareth '"concerning Is They said therefore 

19 Ye know neither me 20 ye knew 21 ye would know 

-• he 23 teaching " i temple-courts "'" seized him 

2G He said therefore 27 omit my way 2S and in your sin ye shall die 

2U The Jews therefore said 30 shall not believe 31 omit he 

32 They said therefore 33 omit And 3t said 
36 How is it that I even speak to you at all ? 3li speak 

3r concerning 3S nevertheless 

33 and the things which I heard from him these I speak unto the world 

40 perceived 41 Jesus therefore said 42 omit unto them 

41 lifted on high ** omit he 45 of myself I do nothing 

■"'• but even as the Father taught me 4r he left me not alone, because 

4S the things that are pleasing to him 4 ' J things 50 in 

51 Jesus said therefore y - the 53 had believed 

'* omit on 5S shall abide 56 ye are truly my disciples 


Si make you free. They answered him, "We be Abrahams seed, »v. ~. 19; 
and were never in bondage to any man : " how sayest thou, 

34 Ye shall be made 58 free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, 

I say unto you, "Whosoever committeth sin 69 is the servant 60 'ff^&g 

35 of sin. And 'the servant 61 abideth not in the house for ever: *Gai.iv. 3 c. 

36 but™ the Son" abideth ever. 64 " : If the Son therefore shall 

37 make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are 
"Abraham's seed; but q ye seek to kill me, because my word ? ^ap. 4 5i.T. 

38 hath no place ss in you. r I speak that " which I have seen rS ^ 6 v \ „. 
with my 67 Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with 

39 your father. 68 They answered and said unto him, "Abraham 

is our father. Jesus saith unto them, ' If ye were 69 Abraham's 'g ™:^ 8 ' 

40 children, ye would 70 do the works of Abraham. But now ? ye m -^^- 
seek to kill me, a man that hath told 71 you 'the truth, "which '^p--- '4. 

41 I have heard of God: 72 this did not Abraham. Ye do the " Vcr - 26 - 
deeds 73 of your father. Then 74 said they 75 to him, We be 76 

not born of fornication; "we have one Father, even God. "f^.'s." 1 ' 6 ' 

42 Jesus said unto them, ''" If God were your Father, ye would wtJoho 
love me : for x I proceeded forth and came from God ; 77 neither • rVer - "•• 

43 -''came 1 78 of myself, but he sent me. * Why do ye not under- y ^%J'*^ 
stand 79 my speech? even 60 because ye cannot hear my word. '^^ 

44 Ye are " of your father the devil, 81 and the lusts S2 of your father "^"'john 
ye will do. 83 He * was a murderer 84 from the beginning, and jxjoimiii. 
abode 85 not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. ' 
When he speaketh a lie, 86 he speaketh of his own : for he is a 

45 liar, and the father of it. 87 And 88 because I tell you the truth, 89 

46 ye believe me not. Which of you c convinceth 90 me of sin? c j-J»|- ."'• 2 °> 

47 And 91 if I say the 92 truth, why do ye not believe me? d He IgJ;™.', 3 ,' 
that is of God heareth God's words: 93 ye therefore hear them rft ?=>p^.*- «'; 

48 not, 94 because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, 95 ' J h " IVi ' 
and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 

49 and 'hast a devil? 96 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; 96 ^«<-hap. 

50 but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And " I 
■^seek not mine own glory: 98 s there is one that seeketh and^'jf ap " 

51 judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, ; ' If a man ' keep 99 my "^Aal'iii. 

13 '; 1 Pet. i'. 

sr and have never yet been slaves to any one 5S become a chap v. 24, 

59 Every one that doeth sin 60 a slave 61 slave C2 omit but ,vi. 50, xi.26. 

68 son 64 for ever cs maketh no way CG the things 67 the ' J^[ 5*> |* 

es do ye also therefore the things which ye heard from the Father ° 9 are 24, x-V 20, 

7 " omit ye would 71 spoken to "- which I heard from God xv ," h 6 '- 

75 works " 4 omit Then "■"' They said 7G were leechap. ' 

77 for from God I came forth, and am here 7S for also I have not come »▼■ is- 

'•'•' know 80 omit even 81 Ye are of the father who is the devil 

S2 desires 83 it is your will to do 84 man-killer 

" ' stood sc Whensoever one speaketh the lie 

87 for for . . . it read because his father also is a liar 8S But 

1 iay the truth 90 convicteth 91 omit And 92 omit the 

' the words of God 94 for this cause ye hear not 

95 The Jews answered ° 6 demon 9 " But 98 my glory 99 have kept 


52 saying, 1 he shall never see 8 death. Then said the Jews 3 unto 
him, Now we know that ' thou hast a devil." 8 Abraham * is 
dead,* and the prophets ; and thou sayest, If a man ' keep my 

53 saying,'" 1 he shall never taste of death. ' Art thou greater than 
our father Abraham, which is dead ? 6 and the prophets are 

54 dead: 4 whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, '"If I 
honour 7 myself, my honour 8 is nothing: ^it is my Father that 

55 honoureth 9 me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet 
"ye have not known him ; 10 but * I know him : and if I should 
say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you:" but I 

56 know him, ^and ' keep his saying.' 2 'Your father Abraham 
rejoiced to see 13 my day : and he saw it, and was glad. 11 

57 Then said the Jews ,5 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, 16 r I am. 

59 Then s took they up stones to cast at him: 17 but Jesus 'hid 
himself, and went out of the temple, 18 going through the midst 
of them, and so passed by. 13 

'III. 12-59. 

*Zech i. 5. 

/ Chap. iv. 12 

».'Ver. 5 t, 
chap. v. 31. 

»Ver. 19. 
Chap vii- 23 

p Chap. 

q Luke : 

Heb. > 

rVer. 2S, 

chap. L 1. 
s Chap. x. 31 

1 my word 

5 have kept my word 

9 glorifieth 

11 like unto you, a liar 
14 and rejoiced 

2 behold 3 The Jews said 4 died 

G who died 7 glorify 8 glory 

10 And have not got knowledge of him 
12 word 13 exulted that he should see 

15 The Jews therefore said lc add born 

lr They took up stones therefore that they might cast them upon him 
13 and went forth from the temple-courts 10 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 
Himself is, and by contrast what His opponents 
are. Everything that He utters assumes its 
sharpest, most peremptory, most decisive tone. 
The rage of His adversaries is roused to its 
highest intensity. The darkness becomes thickest, 
while the light shines in the midst of it with its 
greatest brightness. Nothing more can be done 
to change the darkness into light ; henceforward 
the children of light can only be withdrawn from 
it. At the close of the chapter Jesus goes out of 
the temple, leaving the darkness to itself but not 
overcome by it. The subordinate parts are — (1) 
vers. 12-20; (2) vers. 21-30; (3) vers. 31-59. 

Ver. 12. Again therefore Jesns spake unto 
them, 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 
by our Lord's words of promise (chap. vii. 37, 3S). 
This verse really follows 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 altar, the light may well have 
had a twofold symbolism, 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 
>, that would Messiah be to His people 
in the latter days. — He that followeth me shall 
in no wise walk iu 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 the world.' The language of both 
promises is free from every limitation saw that 
which is expressed in 'coming to' Him, 'believ- 
ing in' Him (chap. vii. 37, 3S), 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 the 
darkness, but shall have as his own inward posses- 
sion (comp. chap. vii. 3S) the light of life,— the 
licht which life gives, living in Christ, he shall 


have the light of Christ (see chap. i. 4). Dark- 
ness bears with it the ideas of ignorance, danger, 
and sin : light implies knowledge, guidance, 
safety, and holy purity (chap. xii. 35 ; 1 Thess. v. 
4 ; I John i. 5, etc.). 

Ver. 13. The Pharisees therefore said unto 
him, Thou bearest witness concerning thyself; 
thy witness is not true. It seems impossible not 
to believe that we have here a reminiscence 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 favourable an opportunity of thus seeking to 
repel the claims which Jesus asserts. As used by 
our Lord (in chap, v.), the words signify that, if 
His testimony concerning Himself stood alone, 
not only would it (according to all laws of evi- 
dence) be invalid, but it would be untrue, — as the 
very thought of such unsupported witness would 
conflict with the fundamental truth of chap. v. 19. 
Here the words, as applied by His foes, are 
inteii'li'l to have the Name meaning: His solitary 
testimony has no validity, and, by His own con- 
fession, is untrue. 

Ver. 14. Jesus answered and said unto them, 
Even 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 themselves. Amongst men of like 
nature — those who are but men — such judgment 
is true : when applied to Jesus it fads. Men who 
know but in part may be self-deceivers, even if 
they are true men ; hence their word needs sup- 
port. He who knows with unerring certainty that 
He 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 by 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 go to Him that sent me. On ' I come ' 
comp. vii. 2S. 

Ver. 15. Ye judge after the flesh. They had 
judged Him by mere outward appearance, and 
according to their own merely human thoughts 
and wishes. 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 
Him 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. 241. 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 are 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 real 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. 1 7. 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 v r 
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 
argumentum ad hominem. 

Ver. iS. I am he that beareth witness con- 
cerning myself, and the Father that sent me 
beareth witness concerning me. In all the S m'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 (1) 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 ought to have 


plain (chap. vii. 33), but they wilfully blind them- 
selves. Hence only one answer is possible now. 

Vers. 23, 24. And he said unto them, Ye are 
from beneath ; I am from above : ye are of this 
world ; I am not of this world. I said therefore 
unto you, that ye shall die in your sins ; for if 
ye shall not believe 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 follows (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 this ground of 
condemnation is distinctly mora! (ver. 24), the 
expressions in ver. 23 must also have a moral and 
not a fatalistic meaning. The condemnation results 
from something in the men themselves, not from 
any original necessity; should they believe, no 
longer would Jesus say to them, Ye are from 
beneath. The origin of their spirit and action, 
dominated 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 lie 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- 
passed into a higher stage. It is no longer with ence of their spirit on the evil principles belonging 
the Pharisees merely (ver. 13), but with the Jews to ' this world.' Because such is their self-chosen 
(ver. 22). The witness, too, which Jesus now state, Jesus has told them that their sins— the sins 

known, that He was the expression of the Father, 
and that what He was the Bather 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 pctitio prin- 
cipii as has been thought even by distinguished 

Ver. 19. They said therefore unto him, Where 
is thy Father? If He is to add Flis 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 
judge men 'according to the flesh,' they will go no 
farther than the literal import of the words. But 
after what they have heard and seen in Jesus, such 
action cannot consist with sincerity : it is not only 
to enemies but to hypocrites that He speaks.- — 
Jesus answered, Ye know neither me, nor my 
Father: if ye knew me, ye would 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. Hadthey, through receiving and believing 
His words, attained such knowledge of Him, they 
would have attained in Him the levelation of the 
Father also. 

Ver. 20. These words spake he in the trea- 
sury, teaching in the temple-courts: 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 

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 awaiting 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 go 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 

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 noio 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 [he 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 in i 
Here there is no such word in the ion,-- 1 ; and to 
assume an ellipsis, and then supply the very ward 
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 (see 


chap. vii. 34, etc.), with distinct reference to that 
continuous, unchanging existence which only He 
who is Divine can claim. The most remarkable 
example of these exalted words is found in the 
58th verse of this chapter (comp. also ver. 2S). 
Without forestalling this, 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 impious words of ver. 22 imply, but — One who 
is, — who, belonging to the realms above, possesses 
life — who, being 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 1 lis 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 
ii fate, here their fate itself, being the pro- 
minent thought. 

Ver. 25. They said therefore unto him, Who 
art thou ? 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 saying, ' Except ye shall believe that 
I am.' 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 
I rd's reply. — Jesus said unto them, Howls it 
that I even speak to you 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 
> i Greek philology would be out of place here. 
1 .t words of the sentence are 'The begin- 
ning;' and many have endeavoured to retain these 
words in translation, bnt 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,' 'before all 
things.' Hut 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, 
tiny 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 lie 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. 1, 2) : certainly no direct 
answer will be vouchsafed to men wdio, 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 words (' the beginning') a meaning which 
in such sentences they often bear, viz. ' at all ' (as 


'Does he act at all?' is equivalent to 'Docs he 
even make a beginning of action?'). This is the 
interpretation which trfe 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. Why am 1 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! How long shall I lie with you? How 
long shall I suffer you?' And yet those words 
were said to slow-minded Galileans, not to the 
hostile 'Jews.' 

Ver. 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 
lias 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 ; 
aud the things which I heard from him, these I 
speak unto the 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 1 
have heard from Him, these and no others do 1 
speak unto the world, — the world, 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, 25). Three 
other explanations are worthy of consideration — 
(1) I have many things . . . but, many as they 
are, they are true. (2) I have many things . . . 
lut 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.' 

Ver. 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, iS) : in 
their answer the Jews show how they had under- 
stood His words, by saying, 'Where is 
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 passages 



have been few 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 in 
chap. vi. ) Hence — though we might have over- 
looked the fact 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 
suggested 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 heard 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 grace. 

Ver. 28. Jesus therefore said, When ye have 
lifted on high the Son of man, then shall ye 
know that I am, and that of myself I do 
nothing; but 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 true, that the 
claims which they resisted the Father Himself has 
ratified. The ' lifting 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 (1) pure existence (as to what 
is implied in this, see ver. 24), (2) continued 
dependence on 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 established 
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 
things that are pleasing to him. The words, ' I 
heard ' (ver. 26), ' taught ' (ver. 2S), 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, 
'IK- 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 Father's 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, 
iS, 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 he spake these things, many 
believed in hint. 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. Jesus 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 faith 
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 far from the 
attainment of that goal. The impression pro- 
duced by the last words 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 ' believe in Him,' or will they return 
to His enemies? The words which Jesus now 
speaks, to instruct and to encourage, prove to be 
the test of their faith.— If ye shall abide in my 
word, ye are truly my disciples. 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 
He, the Word, reveals the Father, and leads to 
the Father, so His own word reveals Himself, 
and rlraws men to Himself through (so teaches 
the fuller revelation) the power of the Spirit of 

Ver. 32. And ye shall know the truth, and 
the truth shall make you free. 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 false interpretation of 
His work and their own needs. He 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 freedom. There is no difficulty in these 
words : such appropriation of the truth found in 
the words of Jesus is but another representation of 
faith in Him who is the Giver of freedom. 

Ver. 33. They answered him. We be Abra- 
ham's seed, and have never yet been slaves to 



any one: how sayest thon, Ye shall become 
tree 1 The promise ' shall make you free ' cannot 
but imply that now they have no freedom, but are 
slaves. This thought they indignantly repel, for 
they are Abraham's seed 1 What is the true 
meaning of the next words is a question much 
disputed. It is hardly possible that they refer 
directly to national 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 
simply appealing to the law which made it impos- 
sible for an Israelite to be kept in (continued) 
bondage. The former supposition involves too 
bold a falsehood ; the latter, too prosaic and 
strained an interpretation in a context which 
contains no hint of civil rights. And yet there is 
truth 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 ' (Rom. iv. 13) : the Divine nobility of 
his descendants was only brought out more clearly 
by their frequent adverse fortune. Theirs was a 
religious 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, 
who e boast was that the truth was theirs, be 
held in a slavery from which the truth should 
free them. 

Ver. 34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, 
I say unto you, Every one that doeth sin is a 
slave of sin. 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 
general course of life, when sin is chosen, — 'Evil 
be thou my good.' The thought is best illustrated 
by Rom. vi. and (especially! vii 

Ver. 35. And the slave abideth not in the 
house for ever : the son 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 slave has of the privileges of the 
house in which he is a slave. A son only can 
claim a place in the house and the possession of 
what belongs to the house, as a right permanent, 
uninterrupted, as long as he is a son. In all this, 
no doubt, there lies a reference to their own his- 
i 'iy. 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 you 
free, 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 Sun 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 you. 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 them with the whole body 
from which a little before they seemed to be severed; 
for too clearly did He see that 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 
spoken of must be such as involves doing, — 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 God, to 
make men His sons and thus become sons of ' the 
Father,' two things are necessary : the Son (the 


1 08 

' 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 : (1) 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. 35, 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 ' the Father' is a 
Name used with great significance and fulness of 
meaning, especially in this chapter. This is duly 
recognised in the explanation we are now seeking 
to defend, and in that alone. — It is remarkable 
thnt in this verse Jesus describes Himself as speak- 
ing 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- 
priately 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 (1 if 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 lie 
used to make them understand the truth. — Jesus 
saith unto them, If ye are Abraham's children, 
do the works of Abraham. There is no true s< m- 
ship (in the sense in which Jesus is dwelling on 
the idea) where there is not likeness. 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. i. 12). 

Ver. 40. But now ye seek to kill me, a man 
that hath spoken to you the truth, which I 
heard from God : this (lid 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. Yet 


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 born of forni- 
cation; we have one Father, even God. The 
words of Jesus have made two things clear : — (1) 
He is not referring to national origin, 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 strongly 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. 1, 
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 xvii. 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 them, If God were 
your Father, ye would love me: for from God I 
came forth, and am here, for also I have not 
come of myself, but he sent me. Again Jesus 
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, lie sustains 
the same relation to the Father: all is from and of 
I he 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 'speech ' bewrayed him.) Did they hear 
His will, 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 from 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 father 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 vers. 27 
and 38). All the desires of this their father it was 
their will to do. 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 rnan-killer 
from the beginning, and stood not in the truth. 
Well may they seek to kill Jesus, for their father, 
the devil, was a man-killer 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 
sheddei 'of all the righteous blood shed upon the 
earth.' Not only was he a man-killer, but he 
'stood not in the truth.' 1 It does not seem 
likely that these words refer to the fall of the 
'angels who kept not their first estate,' for then 
surely 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 1. suitable to his essential (though not 
original) nature.— Because there is no truth in 
him. 1 1 is haired of ' the truth ' springs from this, 
that he is not true; 'truth' (now used without 
the ni: hi 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). — Whensoever 
one speaketh the lie, he speaketh of Ms own, 
because his father also is a liar. Whensoever a 
man who is a child of the devil uttereth falsehood, 
he is 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. But because I say the truth, ye believe 
me not. 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'), that, because 
Jesus said the truth, they believed Him not. The 
word ' 1 ' is emphatic, marking again the contrast 
between them and Him. 

\ er. 46. Which of you convicteth me of sin? 
No charge of sin could any one of them bring home 
to Hiin, 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? 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 God heareth the words 
of God : for this cause ye hear not, because ye 
are not of God. As in ver. 43, the word hear 
has the meaning listen to, 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 
him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 

1 Not ' standeth : ' the 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,' lie adds, 'that are dishonouring me:' it is 
not I who (like Samaritans) dishonour you. 

Ver. 50. But I seek not my glory; there is 
one that seeketh and judgeth. He will not 
protest against the dishonour they offer Him : His 
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. 5S). 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 unto him, Now 
we know that thou hast a demon. Abraham died, 
and the prophets ; and thou sayest, If a man 
have kept my word, he shall never taste of death. 
Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who 
died ? and the prophets died : whom makest 
thou thyself ? The word ' now ' looks back to 
ver. 4S. ' Even if we were too hasty then, noiu 
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 
had 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 sight of death ; they vary the metaphor 
a little, passing to a still more familiar phrase, 
'taste death;' perhaps because it seemed more 
direct and clear, less susceptible of a figurative 

Vers. 54, 55A. Jesus answered, If I glorify 
myself, my glory is nothing: it is my Father 
that gloriiieth me, of whom ye say that he is 
your God, and have not got knowledge 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 Jesus consists in this, 
that it comes from His Father, whom they called 
their God, but of whom they had gained no know- 

Ver. 551!. But I know him; and if I should 
say. I know him not, I shall be like unto you, 
a liar: but 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 knowledge ') 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 false as they have 
been in professing to know God. The last 
words are interesting as bringing out once more 
the truth which we have 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 should 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- 
joiced 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 exulted that he might see 
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.' The 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 
hope 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 Elias on the Mount of 
Transfiguration can feel any difficulty in the wortls 
of this verse) Abraham too saw it and rejoiced. 
By those who d) not accept this explanation it is 
urged — (I) That Jesus would probably not tin:, 
refer the Jews 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 refuse 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 day ' 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 ? 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. 5S. Jesus said unto them. Verily, verily, 
I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I 
am. The third occurrence of the solemn formula 


'Verily, verily,' marks the highest point reached are two considerations which make it very difficult 

by the words of Jesus at this time. The substance to assert positively that that verse is necessarily 

of the words is in completest harmony with the referred to here : (i) The doubt which rests on the 

form. In the clearest possible manner Jesus de- translation. ' I will be ' is at least as natural as a 

clares, not only His existence before Abraham, translation as ' I am.' (2) The Greek translation 

but also the essential distinction between His of the Divine Name there used differs materially 

being and that of any man. Man is born, man from the words of this verse, and agrees rather 

passes through successive periods of time : of Him- with the original of Rev. i. 4. If our version does 

self, in regard alike to past, present, and future, really express the meaning of Ex. iii. 14, it is im- 

Jesus says 'I am.' He claims for Himself that possible not to associate that verse with the one 

absolute, unchanging existence which is the attri- before us. 

bute of God alone. If any argument be needed Ver. 59. They took up stones therefore that 

to enforce that which the words themselves supply, they might cast them upon him ; but Jesus hid 

it is furnished in the conduct of the Jews (ver. 59), himself, aud went forth from the temple-courts, 

who clearly understood them to be a distinct (and The Jews were enraged at what they considered 

in their mind a blasphemous) claim of that which blasphemy, and in their rage they would have 

belonged to God alone. The thought is distinctly stoned Him (compare chap. x. 31). But His hour 

present in the Old Testament: see Ps. cii. 27, was not yet come. He hid Himself (whether 

but especially Ps. xc. 2. The English reader miraculously or not we cannot tell) and went forth 

naturally recurs in thought to Ex. iii. 14, but there from the temple. 


Chapter IX. 1-12. 

The Opening of the Eyes of the Blind Man. 

ND as fesus 1 passed by, he saw a man which was blind 
from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, 

" Master, 8 who i did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was 3 «Chap. i. 3 s 

3 born blind ? Jesus answered, Neither hath 1 this man sinned, 1 

nor his parents: "but that the works of God should be made <-Cha P .». 4 . 

4 manifest in him. "'I 6 must work the works of him that sent rfChap. xi. 9l 
me, while it is day : the night cometh, when no man 7 can work. 

5 As long as 8 I am in the world, ' I am the light of /the world. »Ch ?P . i.4,9, 

6 When he had thus spoken, he ^spat on the eround, and made 46. " s<U 

10 chap. 111. ig, 

clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man • / >. ha ?- '.. 2 9- 

£"Mark vu. 33, 

7 with the clay, 3 And said unto him, Go, wash in ; ' the pool of , ™'; 2 *- 

' r h Neh. m. 15 

Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way 10 Isa - V »>- 6 - 

8 therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours 
therefore, and they which before had seen him " that he was 

9 blind, 12 said, Is not this he that sat and begged ? Some 13 said, 
This " is he : others said, He 15 is like him : but™ he said, I am 

10 lie. Therefore said they 17 unto him, How 18 were thine eyes 

11 opened? He answered and said, 19 A 20 man 'that is called «'Ve». 6,7 
Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, 

Go to the pool of 21 Siloam, and wash: and 22 I went 23 and 

1 he 2 Rabbi 3 should be 4 did 5 sin 6 We 

7 one s Whensoever 9 and with his clay anointed his eyes 

10 went away » and they which beheld him aforetime 

12 was a beggar 13 Others 14 It IS others said, No, but he 

16 omit but 17 They said therefore ls How then 

19 omit and said 20 The =1 omit the pool of 

22 omit and 2S I went away therefore 


12 washed, and I received sight. Then said they sl unto him. 

Where is lie ? He said, 25 I know not. 
24 And they said 


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 born blind, 
upon whom a miracle of healing is performed. 
The enmity of the Jews is roused ; but in the pro- 
cess raised by them they are defeated, and the 
blind man, cast out by his former co-religionists, 
becomes a trophy of the power and grace of the 
persecuted Redeemer. 

Ver. 1. And as he passed by, he saw a man 
which was blind from his birth. There is nothing 
to connect this chapter with the last, in regard to 
time or place. The closing words of the eighth 
chapter as they stand in the ordinary text, ' and so 
passed by,' would indeed suggest a very intimate 
connection with the verse before us ; but those 
words are certainly not genuine. The light, too, 
which the present chapter casts on the accessories 
of the event related in it is very scanty. The day to 
which the narrative refers was a sabbath (ver. 14): 
the blind man (who was of Jewish birth ; see ver. 
34) had been wont to sit and beg from passers-by 
(ver. 8). We naturally think, perhaps, of the lame 
man who was brought from day to day and laid by 
the gates of the temple (Acts hi.), 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- 
less, and that the Saviour saw him as He passed 
by. The obvious purpose of this latter statement 
is to direct our thoughts 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, 
Eabbi, who did sin, this man, or his parents, 
that he should be born blind? It is not said 
that the disciples were moved to pity, 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 is the meaning of the former, as the man was 
bom blind ? It is not necessary to discuss the 
various explanations that have been given, some 
of which seem wholly improbable. Three only 
need be mentioned, as having apparently some 
sanction from what we know of Jewish thought in 
the apostolic age. (1) We are told byjosephus 
that the 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 been 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 
passages in which Josephus 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 speaking. 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. 38.) 

Ver. 3. Jesus answered, Neither did this man 
sin, 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 


question to which they form a reply. The meaning 
Of the whole verse (which is unusually elliptical) 
may be given thus : ' Neither did this man sin nor 
his parents that he should be born blind, but (he 
was born blind, - he is as he is) that the works of 
God may be manifested in him.' Not to suggest 
or unravel speculative questions, but to present a 
sphere for the manifestation of the works of God, 
hath this man borne this infirmity. The last clause 
of the veise does not simply mean that a miracle 
is to be wrought on him : ' in him ' — alike in his 
physical (vers. 6, 7) and in his spiritual healing 
(vers. 36-3S)— the love and grace of God are to be 
made manifest. 

Ver. 4. We mu»t work the works 
of him that sent me, while it is 
day: the night conieth, when no 
one can work. The substitution 
of ' we ' for ' I ' (a change supported 
by the best evidence) lends peculiar 
force and beauty to the verse. Jesus 
associates His disciples with Him- 
self : like Himself they have a calling 
which must not be disobeyed, to 
work 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 us,' 
for it is the Son who sends His 
disciples, even as the Father sends 
the Son (chap. xx. 21). 'Day' 
seems to 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 
working is impossible. In a pro- 
verbial saying of this kind the 
must not be pressed too far. 
It is true that the Lord Jesus con- 
tinues to work by His Spirit, and 
through His servants, though the 
' day' of which He here speaks soon 
reached its close. But the work 
He intends is such work as is ap- 
pointed for the 'day,' whether to 
Himself or to His people. — As 
joined with the 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. Whensoever I am in the 
world, I am the light of the world. 
The work of Jesus in the world is 
to be the world's light. This 
thought, expressed in words in the '_ '■• 

last chapter (chap. viii. 12), and in 
this by deeds, binds together the 
different portions in this section of 
he Gospel, 'I am the light,' Jesus says, but even 
in this figure the ' we ' of the last verse may be re- 
membered, for his disciples also ' are the light of 
the world ' (Matt. v. 14). The first word of the 
verse is worthy of all attention, pointing as it 
does to all periods at which ' the light ' hath shined 
amid the darkness of this world (chap. i. 5). 

Vers. 6, 7. When he had thus spoken, he spat 
on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and 
with his clay anointed his eyes, And said unto 
him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is, 
by interpretation, Sent). He went away there- 
vol. 11. 8 


fore, and washed, and came seeing. In the case 
of no miracle which Jesus wrought is His pro- 
cedure as remarkable as it is here. We may at 
once dismiss the thought that such a mode of cure 
was in itself necessary: whatever may have been 
the design of Jesus in making use of it, He needed 
no instrument or means of cure. There is probably 
truth in the suggestion that the means of healing 
chosen by our Lord had in most cases some refer- 
ence to the mental condition of the sufferer, and 
that here His procedure was well fitted to awaken 
and make trial of faith ; but it is impossible to rest 
satisfied with any such explanation. The language 
of the Evangelist compels us to look upon the 

whole action as symbolical. The introductory- 
words link these verses to those in which Jesus 
speaks of the manifestation of Himself to the world 
(vers. 4, 5) : the interpretation of the name Siloam 
leads us back to 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 
symbolical reference to Himself and His work. 
The means chosen are very remarkable. It is 
said indeed, and with truth, that the anointing of 
the eyes with spittle was a common practice. 



adopted for medicinal effect : but no such usage 
has any connection with this passage, for the eyes 
were anointed, not with the spittle hut with the 
clay. In two other records of works of healing 
(both given by Mark, whose Gospel presents many 
points of contact with that of John) Jesus makes 
use of spittle (Mark vii. 33, viii. 23), and we can 
hardly help supposing that this means was chosen 
as a symbol of that which was in closest connection 
with Himself: thus in Ecclus. xxviii. 12 the 
breath of the mouth and its moisture are brought 
together as alike in source, though differing in 
effects. Having made the clay, He anointed 'with 
His clay' the blind man's eyes. The original words 
do not seem easily to bear any other meaning, and 
we fail to do justice to them unless we suppose 
that their object is to lay emphasis on the clay 
made by yesus, and thus again to bring Him- 
self, not merely the clay that He has made, but 
' His clay,' into prominence, — the clay in which 
something of His personality is expressed. (Some 
of the Fathers imagine that there is a reference to 
Gen. ii. 7, but this seems too remote.) Again the 
word ' anointed ' no doubt contains an allusion to 
Jesus the Christ, the anointed One. The name of 
the pool Siloam or (according to the Hebrew form) 
Siloah is the last point to be noted, and here the 
meaning is supplied by John himself. As origin- 
ally given to the pool, it is supposed to mean 
'sent forth,' i.e. issuing forth, said of the waters 
that issue from the springs that feed the pool, or 
of the waters which issue from the pool to the fields 
around. From this pool water had been drawn to 
pour upon the altar during the feast just past (see 
chap. vii. 38) : it was associated with the wells of 
salvation of which Isaiah speaks (chap. xii. 3), 
and the pouring out of its water symbolized the 
effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the 
Messiah. With most natural interest, therefore, 
the Evangelist observes that its very name corre- 
sponds to the Messiah ; and by pointing out this 
fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in 
sending the man to these waters. In this even 
more distinctly than in the other particulars that 
we have noted, Jesus, whilst sending the man 
away from Him, is keeping Himself before him 
in everything connected with his cure. Thus 
throughout the whole narrative all attention is 
concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is ' the Light 
of the world ; ' who was ' sent of God ' to ' open 
blind eyes : ' every particular is fraught with 

instruction to the disciples, who are to continue 
His work after His departure, and who must be 
taught that they can bring sight to the blind only 
by directing them to Jesus their Lord. As has 
been said above, we must not reject the thought 
that in our Lord's procedure lay a discipline for 
the man himself. The use of means may naturally 
have been a help to his faith ; but this faith could 
not fail to be put to the test when the means 
proved to be such as might have taken away vision 
from one who was not blind (comp. ver. 39). 
Neither of this, however, nor of the discipline 
contained in the delay of the cure does the Evan- 
gelist speak ; for he would fix our attention on 
Jesus alone. That the obedience of faith was 
rewarded we are told in the fewest words possible : 
the man 'went and washed and came seeing.' 
The pool of Siloam, which still retains its name 
(Silwan), is situated near the opening of the valley 
of Tyropoeon. All works on the topography of 
Jerusalem give a description of the site. 

Ver. 8. The neighbours therefore, and they 
which beheld him aforetime, that he was a 
beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged ? 
The fact that he was a beggar has not been men- 
tioned before. Stress is laid on it here rather than 
on his blindness, because it was from his frequent- 
ing the spot for the purpose of begging that he 
had become well known. 

Ver. 9. Others said, It is he: others said, No, 
but he is like him. He said, I am he. The 
object of this verse and the last is to show how 
notorious the cure became, and how firmly the fact 
had been established. 

Ver. 10. They said therefore unto him, How 
then were thine eyes opened? It does not 
appear that this was more than a simple inquiry. 
As yet no element of malice against Jesus is 

Ver. 11. He answered. The man that is called 
Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and 
said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash. I went 
away therefore and washed, and I received 
sight. This man, then, knew his Deliverer, 
though not His true nature (ver. 36). The word- 
ing of the phrase would seem to imply that he had 
in his thoughts the meaning of the name 'Jesus,' 
so wonderfully illustrated in his own case. 

Ver. 12. And they said unto him, Where is 
he? He saith, I know not. Comp. chap, v. 

Chapter IX. 13-X. 21. 
Jesus the Light separating between the light and the darkness. 

13 npHEY brought 1 to 

14 1 blind. " And 3 it 

to the Pharisees him that aforetime 2 was 
was the sabbath day i when Jesus made " 

15 the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again 5 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 of 7 God, because * he >> 

1 bring 2 once 

Again therefore 

; Now 
and he 

4 on the day 
7 from 

14 : chap ■ 
i'i. vii. 23. 


keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, c How can a man that c Ver. 33; 

r J chap. 111. }, 

is a sinner do such miracles ? 9 And d there was a division among *■ «. 

a See chap. 

17 them. They say 9 unto the blind man again, What sayest thou vii - »• 

of him, that 10 he hath " opened thine eyes ? He 1! said, ' He is c cha P . iv. i<; 

18 a prophet. But the Jews 13 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 11 
them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind ? 

20 how then doth he now see ? His parents 15 answered them 16 
and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born 

21 blind: But by what means 17 he now seeth, we know not; or 
who hath 11 opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask 

22 him: 18 he shall speak for himself. These words spake 19 his 
parents, because they feared the Jews : for the Jews had 
-''agreed already, 80 that if any man did 21 confess that he was /Luke xxii. 5 

23 Christ, he e should be put out of 22 the synagogue. Therefore g ver. 34 : 

chap. xii. 4: 

24 said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 23 Then again called *«. *• 
they* 4 the man that was blind, and said unto him, A Give God AJosh. vii.15. 

25 the praise : " we know that this man is a sinner. He answered 
and said, 26 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 29 to him again, 29 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 it again? will 30 ye 

28 also be 31 his disciples? Then 32 they reviled him, and said, 

29 Thou art his disciple ; but ' we are Moses' disciples. We know >cha P . v. 45 
that God spake 33 unto Moses : as for this felloiv™ we * know *cha P viii... 

30 not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto 

them, ' Why, herein is a 35 marvellous thing, that ye know not /chap. iii. « 

31 from whence he is, and yet he hath " opened mine eyes. Now 36 

we know that '"God heareth not sinners : but if any man be a >«jobxxy;i. c 
worshipper of God, and doeth 37 his will, " him he heareth. Pr ° v >• »8, 

32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man 38 opened 9: isa.i. 15 

33 the eyes of one 39 that was born blind. * If this man were not "Jobxiji.8; 

JJ J Ps. cxlv. 15 

34 of 40 God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto J?s.v.i4,i; 

^~ ° J o Ver. 10. 

him, -^Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach pVa. 2. 
us? And they q cast 41 him out. ?Ver.«; 

35 Jesus heard that they had 'cast 41 him out ; and when he had 

8 signs 9 say therefore 10 because n omit hath 12 And he 

13 The Jews therefore I4 and asked 13 add therefore 16 omit them 

17 But how 18 ask himself; he is of asje 

19 These things said 20 had already covenanted 21 should 
-- put away from 23 himself 

24 They called therefore a second time 26 Give glory to God 

20 He therefore answered 2 " omit or no 28 They said therefore 

29 omit again 30 would 31 become S2 And 

33 hath spoken 34 but as for this man 3S the 

3S omit Now 3 " do 3S one ; ' a man 40 from 41 put 


found him, he said unto him, 48 Dost thou believe on 43 r the Son >-cha P . i. 5I . 

36 of God ? 44 He answered and said, Who 45 is he, Lord, that I 

37 might 46 believe on 43 him ? And " Jesus said unto him, Thou 

38 hast both seen him, and s it is he that talketh with thee. 48 And iChap.iv.26. 

39 he said, Lord, 49 I believe. 50 And he worshipped him. And 

Jesus said, ' For judgment sl I am come 5S into this world, " that t chap. v. «. 

» Mark iv 12. 

they which see not might 46 see ; and that they which see might 

40 be made blind. 53 And 54 some'''' of the Pharisees which were 

with him heard these words, 56 and "said unto him, Are we blind j<Rom. ii. 19. 

41 also ? Jesus said unto them, " If ye were blind, ye should have wChap. xv. 
no sin : 57 but now ye say, We see ; therefore 6S your sin 
remaineth. 59 

1 Chap. X. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not 
by the door into the sheepfold, 60 but climbeth up 61 some other 

2 way, 02 the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth 

3 in by the door is the ° 3 shepherd of the sheep. To him the 

porter openeth ; and the sheep """hear his voice : and he calleth -rVers. 16, 27. 

4 his own sheep *by name, and leadeth them out. And 64 when j-Comp. Ex. 
he "putteth forth 65 his own sheep, he goeth before them, and 3Chap.'ix.' 3+ 

5 the sheep follow him : for they know his voice. And 66 a 
stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him : for they 

6 know not the voice of strangers. This "parable spake cr Jesus «cha P . xvi 
unto them : but they understood not what things they were 

7 which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus 68 unto them 
again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the 

8 sheep. All that ever 6 '-' came before me are b thieves and iv«. 1, 

9 robbers: but ''the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: <-v e r. 5 . 
""by me if any man enter in, 70 he shall be saved, and shall go rfVer. 2. 

10 in 71 and out, 72 and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for 
to steal, ™ and to 74 kill, and to 74 destroy : I am come 75 that they 
might 76 have life, and that they might have it more abund- 

11 antly." 'I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd «isa.xi. n: 

12 /giveth 78 his life for the sheep. But 79 he that is an hireling, i2,23,xxxvii 
and not the 80 shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth 81 xtii. 2 0; ' 

1 Pet. ii. 25, 

the wolf coming, and ^leaveth the sheep, and fleeth : and the v -4- c'omp 

13 wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 82 The hireling /Chap. xv.i 3! 
fleeth, 83 because he is an hireling, and ^careth not for the sheep. gZech. xi.'io,' 

42 omit unto him 43 in "man 45 And who 46 may 

47 omit And 48 and he that speaketh with thee is he. 

49 omit Lord 60 I believe, Lord 61 a judgment 6 - came I 

63 mav become blind 64 omit And 56 Those 5G things 

67 ye would not have sin 68 omit therefore 50 abideth 
1:0 fold of the sheep ei add from 62 quarter ' ; ,1 

< A omit And 65 hath put out all 66 But « said 

68 Jesus therefore said 60 omit ever 7n if any one have entered in 
71 enter in 72 and shall go out 73 but that he may steal 

71 omit to 76 I came 76 may 77 may have abundance 

78 laveth down 79 omit But "" a 

,l beholdeth 82 omit the sheep 83 omit The hireling fleeth 


14 I am the good shepherd, /; and know my 84 sheep*'* and am 

15 known of mine. 86 ' As" the Father knoweth me, even so know 

16 I the Father: 88 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, 89 and they shall ' hear my voice ; '" and there shall 

17 be 90 one fold, and one shepherd. 91 Therefore doth my 92 Father 
love me, because * I -^ lay down my life, that I might 93 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 94 I received of my 

19 ? There was *' a division therefore 96 again among the Jews for 

20 these sayings. 97 And many of them said, r He hath a devil, 98 

21 and * is mad ; why hear ye him ? Others said, These are not 
the words of him that hath a devil. 99 ' Can a devil 98 open the 
eyes of the blind ? 

84 and I know mine own 85 omit sheep 86 and mine own know me 

87 Even as 8S and I know the Father 89 I must lead 

00 and they shall become 9I one flock, one shepherd 92 the 

93 may 94 omit have 9S arose 

96 omit therefore 97 because of these words 98 demon 

99 the sayings of one that is possessed by a demon 


Alsa. Ivi. 8; 

chap. xi. 52. 
/Vcr. 4. 

ii. 14 ; 1 Pel 

Chap. ii. 19 

/ See chap. 
xii. 49. 

q Chap, vii 12. 

r Chap. vii. 20. 

jMarkiii. si. 

/ Chap. ix. 32 : 

CONTENTS. The Mind 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 in 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 
He, 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 effect of the discourse is again 
to bring about a division among the hearers. The 
subordinate parts of the section are — (1) ix. 13-34; 
(2) ix. 35-41 ; (3) x. 1-18 ; (4) x. 19-21. 

Ver. 13. They bring to the Pharisees him that 
once was blind. They bring him to the Pharisees 
as the especial guardians 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 was 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 
offence 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). 
I fere the two counts of the accusation are distinctly 

presented in their separation from each other, — 
(1) Jesus had made the clay ; (2) He had opened 
the man's eyes. Another verse of the fifth chapter 
is likewise necessarily recalled to mind : speaking 
of the charge of labouring on the sabbath, Jesus 
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 unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, 
and I washed, and do see. To his neighbours 
and acquaintances his answer had been fuller and 
more circumstantial : to the Pharisees, whom He 
knew to be the enemies of Jesus, he says 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 keepeth 
not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a 
man that is a sinner do such 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- 
bility 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 unto 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 effectually to condemn Jesus. But his answer 
only deals an unexpected blow. 

Ver. iS. 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 significance. Nor is it difficult 
to find an explanation. The 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 
just 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. 
Ho 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 
son, who ye say was born blind? how then 
doth he now see? In the hope that they may 
discover some flaw in the man's words, through 
which they may accuse him of complicity with 
Jesus, 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 born 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,' the 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- 
self; 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, 35. 

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 
upon him, let him give honour to God by speaking 
truth. Another significant point is the emphasis 
laid on 'we 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 
think merely, but) know 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 thee ? how opened he thine eyes ? 
Every attempt to overthrow the fact 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 ? ' Ye 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 Moses' 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 unto 
Moses ; but as for this man we know not from 
whence he is. In holding by the law of Moses, 
then, they are safe and are assured that they are 
doing the will of God. If they do not know the 
origin of ' this man,' he can be worthy of no 
regard, — certainly he cannot be from God ! 

O 11. The man answered, and said 
unto them, Why, herein is the marvellous thing, 
that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he 
opened mine eyes. We know that God heareth 
not sinners ; but if any man be a worshipper of 
God, and do his will, lum he heareth. Since the 
world began was it not heard that any one 
opened the eyes of a man that was born blind. 
It* this man were not from God, he could do 
nothing. Herein lies the very marvel, — that even 
ye, (1) knowing that no man ever receives power to 
do any miracle unless he be a worshipper of God 
and one that does His will ; and (2) having proof 
that this man has done a miracle — yes, and such 
a miracle as has never before been wrought — will 
not see the c< inclusion 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. 16). 
The man has assumed the office of a teacher, and 
has so taught that they have no counter argument 
to oiler ; ' the wise are taken in their own crafti- 
ness' (Job v. 13). 

Ver. 34. They answered and said unto him, 
Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou 
teach us 1 And they put Mm out. The original 
is very graphic : In sins wast thou born, 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 born blind ! 

Ver. 35. Jesus heard that they had put him 
out : and when he had found him, he said, Dost 
thou believe 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 this 
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 1 1 1-; 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), 
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. 11). Has he 
then true faith in the Messiah in whose cause he 
has been suffering? Does he give himself to Hun 
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 a.s 
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 
find 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 who 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 the 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 


of trust. It is possible that, as the word 'judge' 
seems elsewhere in this Gospel always to have the 
force of a condemning judgment, this sense should 
be preserved here also : in the one case the judg- 
ment is passed on acknowledged blindness, for they 
themselves who come to the light pass a condemna- 
tion on the blindness of their past state; in the 
other, judgment is passed upon supposed (or rather 
upon misused) sight. Thus both classes have a 
part in the 'judgment:' the one by appropriating 
as 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 
wilful action is utter blindness,— not merely a dis- 
use of sight, but a destruction of the power of 

Ver. 40. Those of the Pharisees which were 
with him heard these things. The whole cast 
of the language here used shows that those who 
speak are not representatives of the Pharisees as a 
borlv, or of the Pharisaic spirit in its worst cha- 

racteristics. But lately there has been a division 
of feeling among the Pharisees in reeard to Jesus 
(ver. 16). Some who were then impressed by His 
signs may have already become disciples ; others 
may have remained in a state of uncertainty, im- 
pressed but not convinced, — not brought to the 
point of ' leaving all ' their possessions of ' wisdom 
and prudence ' and following Him. It may be that 
those spoken of here were of such a description. 
No one, probably, who duly apprehends the differ- 
ence 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 enemies and spies. — And said 
unto him, Are we blind also 1 There had been 
an apparent difficulty in the words of Jesus. They 
spoke of two 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 Jesus into this 
world. It is very clear that He means that those 

A Sheepfold 

who see not (like the despised Mind man who has 
just been ' put out ') will come to Him and obtain 
sight from Him. But what of the Pharisees whom 
He invites to come ? Does He class them also 
amongst those who 'see not'? Surely (they think) 
this cannot be His meaning? And yet, if not, 
Pharisees are excluded from all hope of blessing, 
for His words speak of but two classes. 

Ver. 41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were 
blind, ye would not have sin : but now ye say, 
We see ; your sin abideth. If, Jesus says, ye 
were really blind, unable to open your eyes to, 
and indeed unconscious of, the existence of the light 
now shining round you, you would not have sin, 
— the sin of rejection of the light would not lie at 
your door. But it is not so. They are their own 
judges. They themselves say, We see ; and yet 
they come not to Him. Their sin abideth; they 
are guilty of that sin, and so long as they refuse 

to come to Him the sin must abide. So at the 
close of chap. iii. we read : ' he that disobeyeth 
the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God 
abideth on him.' 

Chap. x. vers. 1, 2. Verily, verily, I say unto 
you, Be that entereth not by the door into the 
fold of the sheep, but climbeth up from some 
other quarter, the same is a thief and a robber. 
But he that entereth in by the door is a shep- 
herd of the sheep. The opening words are of 
themselves sufficient to show that this chapter must 
be very closely joined to that which precedes, for 
nowhere in this Gospel do we find 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 that the 
thought of the Jews, who with their authoritative 
dictum 'We know' (ix. 24, 29) 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. ix. the action of the unbelieving 
rulers 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 again do the 
prophets utter language of scathing indignation 
against unfaithful 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 upon 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 general. A comparison is drawn 
between all shepherds of the flock and false and 
treacherous intruders into the fold. The appli- 
cation which Jesus makes to Himself of 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 entering 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 therefore 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 is distin- 
guished from a man of selfish and treacherous 

Yer. 3. To him the porter openeth; and the 
sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own 
sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 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 keep near 

him ; every 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 yet, however, 
we have before us not the Shepherd but every one 
who is a shepherd of the sheep. There is some 
difficulty 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 
Himself 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 recognition 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 put out all his own 
sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep 
follow him : for they know Ms 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 born blind is described. In 
this verse again we find complete faithfulness of 
description. To this day the Eastern shepherd 
goes before his flock, leading, not driving the 
sheep, and keeping them near him through their 
recognition of his voice. 

Ver. 5. But a stranger will they not follow, 
but 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 is 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 unto them: 
but they understood not what things they were 
which he spake unto them. The word here used 
is not that which occurs so frequently in the other 
gospels in the sense of parable. 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 /ugliest 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 & proverb), or was in some degree 
circuitous in the method by which it effected its 
purpose, — enigmatical or difficult. 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 
difference 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, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of 
the sheep. The formula which introduced the 
parable (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. 
11, it is more correct to divide vers. I— 18 into two 
parts (1-6, 7-18 — the latter being subdivided at 
ver. 11) than into three. 

First, Jesus declares Himself to be ' the door of 
the sheep,' — that is, not the door by which the 
sheep enter into the fold, but the door through 
which 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 "■> ver. 1 the 

Jewish Church is intended by ' the fold of the 
sheep.' Not that all who are found within the 
pale of Judaism belong to ' the sheep ' of which 
Jesus speaks. The sheep are those who hear a 
true shepherd's voice ; and we may so far forestall 
ver. 1 1 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. 4.7), and ' 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 
— (1) 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 dilterent, 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.e., 
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, 
had refused to submit themselves to His plans, 
had sought not Ilis 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. 1, is not too 
strong, for they had perverted the whole object of 
the theocracy ; they had 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 under- 
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 
conies through Him. 

Ver. 8. All that came before rue are thieves 
and robbers : but the sheep did not hear them. 
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 
be 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 hopes. 
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 well 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 
speaking of those who 'came before Him,' pro- 
fessing to be ' the door of the sheep.' 1 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 
first 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. .-,7) was 
regarded 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 this 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 false 
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 teaching 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 certainly, perhaps mainly, thought of here. 

Ver. 9. I am the door : by me if any one have 
entered in, he shall be saved, and shall enter 
in, and shall go out 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. 1) 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 heart 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, 
enter in, 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, 
viii. 33, etc.) how suddenly our Lord sometimes 
removes His hearers into a familiar 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 known ; and, moreover, it is 
very probable that in the discourses as delivered 
other words may have been added, not necessary 
to the completeness of the thought, but helpful to 
the understanding of the hearers. 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 shepherd we have vividly 
brought 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 'loathed,' and he gave them to destruc- 
tion (Zech. xi. 5, S, 17). From all such penalty 
of unfaithfulness shall the true shepherd be 'saved.' 
That He whose love to His flock assigns this 
punishment to the unworthy will reward the faith- 
ful, may not be expressed in the figure, but in the 
interpretation it holds the chief place : to such a 
shepherd of souls will Jesus give salvation. — It 
should perhaps be said that (probably in conse- 
quence of the difficulty which the words 'he shall 
be saved ' seem to present) this verse is usually 
understood as relating to the sheep and not to 
the shepherds. It seems impossible, however, 
to compare the language here used with that of 
vers. I, 2 without coming to the conclusion that 
all the three are identical in subject. 

Ver. 10. The thief cometli not but that he 
may steal, and kill, and destroy. This verse 
forms a link of connection between ver. 9 and 
ver. 1 1 , presenting first the contrast between a true 
shepherd 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. — I came that 
they may have life, and that they may have 
abundance. 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 by 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 ' I came'), although it agrees 
still better with the thought of ver. H. In fact 
the words 'I came' stand in double contrast, — 
with the words of ver. S, and with the first words 
of this verse ' the thief cometh.' By whatever- 
figure Jesu, is represented, the object of His 
appearing is the same, that His sheep may live. 
The life and abundance are the reality of which 
the pasturage (ver. y) has been the symbol. As 
in chap. vii. the blessings of Messiah's kingdom 
are represented by abundant streams of living 
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; their ' cup runneth over.' 

Ver. 11. I am the good shepherd: the good 

shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. 
The aspect of the preamble here changes : in the 
following verses, until the 16th, 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. 
Both words may be used to denote moral excel- 
lence, and with but slight difference of meaning. 
Here then the epithet has no reference to kindness 
but to excellence as a Shepherd. Is there a 
shepherd whose work is not only 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 ileeth (and the wolf catcheth them 
and scattereth), because he is an hireling and 
careth not for the sheep. 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 may seem that the 
climax which usually shows itself in the narratives 
and discourses of this Gospel is here wanting, 
'thief and ' robber ' being far stronger 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 guise 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 by 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 agency may be used, the ultimate source 
of the murderous design is the spirit of evil, the 
Devil, he who was 'a murderer from the begin- 

Vers. 14, 15. lam the good shepherd, and I 
know mine own, and mine own know me, even 
a3 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 in 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. Since 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 

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 foi 
His coming : the light had been shining in the 
darkness (chap. i. 5), — the light which enlighleneth 
every man (i. 9). Many in the Gentile world were 
waiting only to hear His voice : they will recog- 
nise their Shepherd, and He will know His own 
sheep. He regards them as His own even now 
('other sheep I 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 a fold? 
It might be so. We cannot see that there 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 by 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 

knows (recognises) His own sheep and His own where these sheep abide, or of the door through 

know (recognise) Him. But once more (see chap, which they pass. The word 'lead' is used again, 

viii. 38) He places in parallelism His own relation but, whereas in ver. 3 we read that the Shepherd 

to the Father and the relation of His own to Him. leadeth out His own sheep from the Jewish fold, 

He looks on the sheep and sees at once that they here He says only 'them also I must lead? We 

are His : they see Him and hear His voice and conclude therefore that it was not without design 

know that He is their Shepherd. So the Father that Jesus said — not 'I have sheep of another fold,' 

looks on Him and sees in Him the Good Shepherd but — 'I have other sheep, not of this fold.' The 

whom He sent : He looks on the Father, and con- language of chap. xi. 52 suggests rather that these 

stantly recognises His presence as the Father with 'other sheep' have been comparatively shelterless, 

Him. There is wonderful beauty and elevation in not drawn together by any shepherd's care, but 

the comparison; no saying of our Lord goes 'scattered abroad.' Their fast has been altogether 

beyond this in unfolding the intimacy of com- different from that of the devout Israelite ; but the 

munion between Himself and His people which it future of Jew and Gentile shall be the same. As 

reveals and promises. They are His, as He is the in the case of Israel, so here the whole work of 

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 

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 

claim the name, just as the shepherd distinguishes of this other flock ; His voice keeps them near to 
his own sheep from those that are not of his flock. — Him. Passing for a moment from the figure, we 
These two verses are remarkable for simplicity of recognise once more how Jesus includes all the 

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 

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 His voice. —And they shall 
become one flock, one shepherd. Then shall be 
brought to pass the saying that is written, One flock, 
One Shepherd (Ezek. xxxiv. 23, xxxvii. 22-24). 
As written by the prophet indeed the words have 

also (and it is to point out this that we call atten- express reference to the reuniting of scattered and 

tion to the structure of the verse) the Father's divided Israel ; but, as in countless other instances, 

recognition of Him closely connects itself with His the history of Israel is a parable of the history of 

laying down His life, as the Shepherd for the the world. The apostolic comment on the verse is 

sheep. In this the Father sees the highest proof found in Ephesians, chap. ii. It is very unfortunate 

of His devotion to the work He has accepted : in that in the Authorised Version the rendering ' one 

the spirit of constant readiness for this crowning 
act of love He 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 see once more with what fitness we 
here read 'the Father,' and not simply 'my Father' 
(see chap. viii. 27, 38). 

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 


Coverdale (who in his own Bible of 1535 had 
followed Tyndale) 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. Therefore doth the Father love me, 
because I lay down iny life that I may take it 
again. In ver. 15 we have read of the Father'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) Ioveth 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 besides 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. iS. 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. He lays 
down His life of Himself. He has the right to do 
this, and the right 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 'love' (ver. 17) 
see note on chap. v. 20: the word found in that' 

verse is not used here, for the reason there ex- 
plained. A question 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 understand 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. Can 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 ' the 
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. 4S. 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 the 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 not 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. 

Jesus at tlie Feast of the Dedication. — The increasing contrasts of Faith and 


22 A ND it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, 1 and 2 

23 1 a. it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple 3 in 

24 "Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, 4 aAasEi.™, 

1 There came to pass at that time the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem 

2 omit and 3 temple-courts 4 The Jews therefore surrounded him 


and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt ? 5 

25 If thou be 6 the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, 

I told you, and ye believed 7 not : k the works that I do in my i> v ". 38, 

26 Father's name, they bear witness of 8 me. But c ye believe not, « Chap. toT 

27 because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 9 d My d v«s. 4. 14. 
sheep 'hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: «Cha P . xviii. 

28 And I give unto them -^ eternal life; and they shall never /chap.iii. 15. 
* perish, neither shall any man 10 pluck them out of my hand, e Chap. m. ,6. 

29 h My Father, 'which gave" them me, is greater than all; and Matt.xviii. 

30 no man I0 is able to pluck them™ out of my 13 Father's hand. k I -s.' Com P .' 

31 and mj>™ Father are one. 'Then 14 the Jews took up stones xviitV 

h Chap. xiv. 

32 again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works = 8 - 

/ Chap. vi. 37. 

have I shewed you from my 13 Father; for which of those n * Cha P* vii - 

33 works do ye stone me ? The Jews answered him, saying, 10 For 'Chap.viii. 
a good work we stone thee not; but '"for blasphemy; and >«Cha P .xix. 7 . 

34 because that thou, being a man, " makest thyself God. Jesus »cha P . v is. 
answered them, Is it not written in your law, " I said, Ye are Ps. lxxxii. 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, ;>% chap, 
'whom the Father hath 17 sanctified, 18 and sent into the world, fChap'vi.*/. 
Thou blasphemest ; because I said, I am the 19 Son of God ? 

37 r If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. rChap.xv.24 

38 But if I do, though 2 ' ye believe not me, ' believe the works : s v er . 25. 
that ye may know, and believe, 51 that 'the Father is in me, and <s«cha P '. * 

39 I in him. 22 Therefore 23 they "sought again to take 24 him : but »Chap. vii. 
he escaped 2; ' out of their hand. viii. 59. 

40 And went 2i; away again beyond Jordan into 2; the place 

41 "where John at first baptized ; " and there he abode. And »cha P .i. as. 
many resorted 29 unto him, and said, 30 John did no miracle : 31 

42 but all things that 32 John spake of this man were true. And 
"■"many believed on 33 him there. wSeedwp. 

J mi. 3a. 

5 How long dost thou excite our soul 6 art 7 believe 

8 concerning 9 omit as I said unto you 10 one n hath given 

12 omit them "the I4 omit Then 16 these ls omit saying 

17 omit hath ls consecrated I9 omit the 

20 even if 21 recognise 22 in the Father 

23 omit Therefore -' 4 seize 26 and he went forth 

20 And he went 27 unto 28 was at first baptizing 

29 came 30 and they said 31 sign 32 whatsoever 3S in 

Contents. The contest with the Jews is con- true. We have here, therefore, the culminating- 

unued. The section strikingly illustrates the plan point of the conflict, and the pause before the 

of the gospel (1) by taking up again that claim of highest manifestation by Jesus of Himself as the 

Jesus to be the Son of God which had, more than Resurrection and the Life. The subordinate parts 

anything else, provoked the opposition of His are— (1) x. 22-39 ; (2) vers. 40-42. 

enemies ; (2) by bringing into notice His return Ver. 22. There came to pass at that time the 

to Bethany beyond Jordan, where He had been feast of the dedication at Jerusalem : it was 

first made manifest by the Baptist to Israel, and winter. With these words we enter on a new 

where confession is now made by 'many' that scene, where the Evangelist first sets before us 

everything spoken of Him by the Baptist at His the outward circumstances, expressing them, after 

entrance upon His public ministry had proved 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 Befhzur), 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 days, 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 festival ; 
but those readers who have noted how carefully 
the Evangelist points to the idea of every Jewish 
feast as fulfilled 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 the 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 Jesus walked in the temple- 
courts, 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 cloisters which he built were in ruins 
when Herod began his restoration of the temple. 

Ver. 24. The Jews therefore surrounded him, 
and said unto him, How long dost thou excite 
our soul ? 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 Plim such an 
avowal of His Messiahship 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, 
upon 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 
'life,' 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, — or (more literally) by speaking out, 
telling all Thou hast to tell. 

Ver. 25. Jesus answered them, I told you, and 
ye believe not : the works that I do in my 
Father's name, they bear witness concerning 
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 believe 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 out 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 perish, 

And no one shall 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); 
the present gift of eternal life to those who follow 
Jesus (see chap. viii. 12, etc.) ; the lastit 
of those who thus follow Plim and abide with 
Him. The description presents a complete con- 
trast to the action of ' the Jews ' who were not of 
His sheep (ver. 26) ; who, though He had so often 
manifested Himself to them byword . nd work, 
yet had never recognised His voice, but came to 
Him saying, ' If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. ' 

Chap. X. 22-42. 


From this contrast arises the order of the clauses in 
these verses, an order different from that in ver. 14. 

Vers. 29, 30. My Father, which hath given 
them me, is greater than al] ; and no one is able 
to pluck out 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- 
tion of Jesus Himself. In effect they give a reply 
in the question of the Jews, but such a reply as 
only the heart prepared to listen to the truth will 
receive. Jesus lias 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 is greater tl^an 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 Almightiness 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. fesus has 
used the same words of Himself and of the Father ; 
' no one shall pluck them out of my hand,' — ' no 
one 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 this 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 recognise 
as expressed in these words ; but the impression 
which was made upon the Jews (ver. 31), the fuller 
statement of ver. 3S, the analogy of chap. v. and 
of expressions (still more closely parallel) in chap, 
xvii. forbid us to depart from the most ancient 
Christian exposition which sees in this saying of 
Jesus no less than a claim of unity of essence with 
the Father. 

Ver. 31. The Jews took up stones again to 
stone him. 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 is 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 Evangelist 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 
His words. 

Ver. 32. Jesus answered them, Many good 
works have 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 has shown them has borne the perfect 
stamp of a work nobk and perfect in its kind, for 
He has shown it 'from the Father,' who sent 
Him and ever works with and in Him. He 
knew that they were enraged at His word, and yet 
He speaks here of His -works : the works and the 
words are essentially one, — alike manifestations of 

vol. 11. 9 


Ver. 33. The Jews answered him, For a good 
work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; 
and because 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 is meant by ' the 
Father ' (comp. viii. 27), and see that to claim 
oneness with Him is to claim Deity. All recollec- 
tion of 'good works' and indeed all evidence 
whatever they cast away, treating such a claim as 
incapable of support by any evidence. 

Ver. 34. Jesus answered them, Is it not written 
in your law, I said, Ye are gods ? The quotation 
is from Ps. lxxxii. (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 is 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 is 
supposed by some that God Himself is 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 is administered by the psalmist 
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,' viz. the psalmist 
writing under inspiration from God and expressing 
His mind. In any case the pronoun ' I ' is strongly 
marked, — I myself, who utter the rebuke and had 
foretold the punishment, had borne witness to the 
dignity of the position of the judge. 

Vers. 35, 36. If he called them 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 (1) 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) this 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 
His will, as Himself 'The Word.' The judges 
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 God. 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 this. 

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 
together 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 does them. 

Ver. 3S. But if I do, even if ye believe not 
me, believe the works : that ye may know, and 
recognise, 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 by the testimony of the 
works) and (from that point 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 
'seize' 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. iS. 

Ver. 40. And he went away again beyond 
Jordan unto the place where John was at first 
baptizing; and there he abode. The place in 
which John at first baptized was that mentioned 
in chap. i. 28 (not in chap. iii. 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 beginning 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 ascent 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 itself) 
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 His stay, we do not 
know. We may certainly suppose that He taught; 
and the next verse suggests that ' signs ' were 

Vers. 41, 42. And many came unto 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 
being 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. 
The Raising of Lazarus. — Jesus the Resurrection and the Life. 
OW a certain man was sick, named 1 Lazarus, of " Bethany, «Matt. 

'that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped fChap. 

3 his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) There- 
fore his sisters 4 sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom 

4 thou lovest is sick. When 5 Jesus heard that, he said, This 
sickness is not unto death, but for d the glory of God, that the *"**£ *'. 

5 Son of God might" be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved 

6 Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard 

1 omit named 

4 The sisters therefore 

2 fiom the village 
5 But when 

3 Now it 
G may 


therefore that he was sick, he abode' two days still in the same 

7 place where he was. 8 Then after that saith he to his* disciples, 

8 Let us go into Judea again. His 10 disciples say unto him, 
Master," the ''Jews of late sought" to stone thee; and goest «Chap. «. J( 

9 thou thither again ? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve 

hours in 13 the day? S 1( any 14 man walk in the day, he /Chap. ix. 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 rChap.xii. 

1 1 light I5 in him. These things said he : and after that he saith 

unto them, Our friend Lazarus * sleepeth ; 16 but I go, that I ; ' M '"\V,\!; 

12 may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, 17 Lord, ^.™ x J 6i 

13 if he sleep, 16 he shall do well. 18 Howbeit Jesus spake 19 of his \%^ iv- 
death : but they thought that he had spoken 20 of taking of rest ' 3- 

14 in sleep. Then said Jesus 21 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 ; 2a nevertheless let us go unto him. 

16 Then said 'Thomas, 23 which is called Didymus," unto his «' Chap. xiv. s, 

J xx. 24, 

fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. mm? » 

17 Then when 25 Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the 

1 8 grave J6 * four days already. Now ' Bethany was 2; nigh unto * Vcr - «• 

19 Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews 
came 2S to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their 

20 brother. Then Martha, as soon as 29 she heard that Jesus was 
coming, went and met him : but Mary sat still in the house. 

21 Then said Martha 30 unto Jesus, '" Lord, if thou hadst been here, "' v [ er - 3. 2 - 

7 chap, iv. 49. 

22 my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, 31 what- 

23 soever 33 thou wilt 33 ask of God, God will give it 31 thee. Jesus 

24 saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith 33 

unto him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection "J" uk cha V- 

25 at "the last day. Jesus said unto her, ^ I am the resurrection, „chap v 9 i' 39 
and the 'life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, 315 p ^'^\ 

26 yet shall he live: And whosoever 37 liveth and believeth in me ' I Cor-xv 

27 r shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, 'cSKSl* 6 ' 
Yea, Lord : s I believe 38 that thou art the Christ, the 'Son of ^lt™% 

28 God, "which should come 39 into the world. And when she had ,see'lha P . 
so said, she went her way, 40 and called Mary her sister secretly, 41 Cm>|f'Matt. 

xvi. 25. 
j Matt. xvi. 

7 at that time indeed he abode 8 in the place where he was two days ll\ , job""' 

9 he saith to the lu The iv/15. 

11 Rabbi 12 but now the Jews were seeking 13 of 14 a ,' ^ p- j^ 4 * 

15 because the light is not 10 hath fallen asleep 

17 The disciples therefore said unto him 18 he shall be saved 

19 had spoken 20 he spake 21 Then therefore Jesus said 

22 to the intent ye may believe, that I was not there 23 Thomas therefore 
24 add said - >5 When therefore 2G tomb 27 is 

28 had come 29 Martha there/ore when so Martha therefore said 

31 And even now I know that 32 add things 33 shalt 34 omit it 

35 said 3li have died 37 And every one that 3S have believed 

39 he that cometh 40 went away 4I omit secretly 


29 saying, 42 "The Master 43 is come, and calleth for 41 thee. As wSeechap. 
soon as she heard that, she arose 45 quickly, and came 46 unto Comp. chap 

30 him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, 47 but was 43 

31 in that place where Martha met him. ** The Jews then " which mVa. .9. 
were with her in the house, and comforted 50 her, when they 

saw Mary, that she rose up hastily 51 and went out, followed 

her, saying, 53 She goeth unto the grave 53 to weep 54 there. 

12 Then when Mary was come 55 where Jesus was, and saw him, 

she fell down at his feet, 56 saying unto him, * Lord, if thou -r v «- ». 

33 hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus there- 
fore saw her weeping, 57 and the Jews also 53 weeping " which 

came with her, he groaned 2 in the spirit, and was troubled, 59 yVer.38. _ 

' o 1 . Mark vrn. 

34 And 60 said, Where have ye laid him ? They said cl unto him, '?.; chap. 
35,36 Lord, come and see. "Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, 6 * «Lukexix. 4 i. 
37 Behold how he loved him ! And 63 some of them said, Could 

not this man, ^ which opened the eyes of the blind, 64 have i chap, u e. 

35 caused that even this man should not have died ? G6 Jesus 
therefore again c groaning in himself, 66 cometh to the grave. 67 ever. 33. 

39 It °- was a cave, and d a stone lay upon 69 it. Jesus said, 70 Take rfSee chap, 
ye away the stone. Martha, 71 the sister of him that was dead, 72 

saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh : for ''he hath <■ Ver. , 7 . 

40 been dead 13 four days. 74 Jesus saith unto her, -''Said I not/ v « -5. 
unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, 75 thou shouldest see 

41 s the glory of God? Then they took away the stone 76 from r v <>r.4- 
the place where the dead was laid. 77 And Jesus ; ' lifted up his AChap.xvii.1. 
eyes, and said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard 78 » Matt, xi. *$■ 

42 me. And 1 7B knew that thou hearest me always : but k because ^ 
of the people 80 which stand by 81 I said it. that they may l be- 'Chap, xvi 

43 lieve that thou hast sent 82 me. And when he thus had spoken, xv,i - 8 . "■ 

44 he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that 
was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes : K3 

and '"his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith »<cha P . xx. 7 
unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 

42 add secretly 4 " Teacher 44 omit for 

48 And she, when she heard it, arose 4i; went 

47 village 48 add still 40 therefore 

60 and were comforting M quickly 52 supposing 

53 that she went unto the tomb 54 lament 

55 Mary therefore when she came 56 seeing him fell at his feet 

67 lamenting 68 omit also 

r ' 9 he was moved with indignation in his spirit and troubled himself 

60 add he 61 say 62 The Jews therefore said 6S But 

04 of him that was blind 65 that this man also should not die 

66 moved with indignation in himself 67 tomb 

68 Now it 69 against 70 saith 

71 omit Martha 72 The sister of him that was dead, Martha 

73 omit dead 74 adhere 76 if thou believedst 

70 They took away the stone therefore 7r omit from . . . laid 

78 thou heardest 79 add myself 80 multitude 

81 standeth around 82 didst send 83 gravebands 


CONTENTS. The manifestation of Jesus by 
1 [imself 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 — (1) vers. I— 16; (2) vers. 17-44. 

Ver. I. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus, 
of Bethany, from the village of Mary and her 
sister Martha. 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 
Mar)', 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 Lazarus 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. 1-11: as 
there we have the closest tie of kindred, 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 (see Matt. xxvi. 13): it 
is here specially mentioned in anticipation of 
chap. xii. 

Ver. 3. The sisters therefore sent nnto him 
saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is 
sick. Their confidence in the love and in the 
power 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 
Lazarus 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 thereby. 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. 1. 

Ver. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her 
sister, and Lazarus. 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 affliction 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 
Bethany (ver. 7). — The word ' loved ' used 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 sick, at that time indeed he abode in the 
place where he was two days. ' Therefore ' is 
explained by the two verses which precede (see the 
last note). He cannot accept the moment sug- 
gested by man (comp. chap. ii. 4) ; He cannot 
follow at once the prompting of His affection for 
disciples. He will go to assuage their grief, but 
only at the moment appointed by the Father's 

Ver. 7. Then after that he saith to the dis- 
ciples, Let 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 had 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, Rabbi, 
but now the Jews were seeking to stone thee ; 
and goest thou thither again ? 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 ? 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. 1 r. These things said he : and after that 



he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus hath 
fallen asleep ; but I go, that I may awake him 
out of sleep. No second message has been 
sent to Him; by His own Divine knowledge He 
speaks of the death <>f His friend. 

Ver. 12. The disciples therefore said unto 
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 Judea. 

Ver. 13. Howbeit Jesus had spoken of his 
death : but they thought that he spake of taking 
of rest in sleep. The figure 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 Jesus said unto 
them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad 
for your sakes, to the intent ye may believe, 
that I was not there; nevertheless let us go unto 
him. The words ' for your sakes ' are explained 
by the clause which follows, ' that ye may believe.' 
Already they believed in Him; but 'every new 
flight of faith is in its degree a new beginning of 
faith, comp. chap. ii. 11 ' (Meyer). Had he come 
to Bethany while Lazarus 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 have 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 
Didymus) said unto his fellow-disciples. Let us 
also go, that we may die with him. That is, 
with Jesus (not with Lazarus). It is plain that 
Jesus cannot be turned aside by their counsels or 
prayers; 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 ' fellow-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 is also the language of 
despair and vanished hope. This is the end of all, 
— death ; 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. From 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 <ha' 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 than 
Thomas is found 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, ' Let 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 came, 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 ol 
-Martha and Mary on the second day from the 
commencement of His journey, and the fourth day 
from the reception of the 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. I ] 
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 the journey 
(if commenced immediately) must have occupied 
more than two whole days ; yet even in this there 
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. iS. Now Bethany is nigh unto Jerusalem, 
about fifteen furlongs off. 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. 31, 39). 

Ver. 1 '). And many of the Jews had come to 
Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning 
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 days 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 sympathy. 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 moumer. 
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. 20. Martha therefore, when she heard 
that Jesus was coming, went and met him ; but 
Mary sat still in the house. Every reader must 
be struck with the remarkable coincidence between 
this 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, 
outside 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. Martha therefore said unto Jesus, 
Lord, if thou hadst 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, 
though the Jews, unchecked by the reverence of 
love, freely ask the question among themselves 
(ver. 37). 

Ver. 22. And even now I know that whatsoever 
things thou shalt 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 
words 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. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother 
shall rise again. The words are designedly 
ambiguous,— spoken to try her faith. Like our 
Lords parables, they contain that of which faith 
may take hold and be raised into a higher region, 
but which unbelief or dulness 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 Testis will make her conscious 
to herself of what her faith really was. 

Ver. 24. Martha said unto him, I know that 
he shall rise again in the resurrection at the 
last day. Jesus has told her only what she knew, 
for 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 : the 
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 comfort. 


Vers. 25, 26. Jesus said unto her, I am the 
resurrection and the life ; he that believeth iD 
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 imperfectly she knew Jesus Himself : 
to Himself alone His words now point. Hei 
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. 41, — 
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 needs 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 life luhich 
follows 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 resurrection. 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 continue 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 unto 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. 2S. And when she had so said, she went 
away, and called 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 Jesus, or that it was at 
His bidding that Martha told her sister secretly of 
His call for her. That which He was about to do 



He would have faith, not unbelief, to see ; there- 
fore Mary must be called 'secretly.' 

Ver. 29. And she, when she heard it, arose 
quickly, and went unto him. Mark the character- 
istic touch in the words 'arose quickly' (comp. ver. 
20). ' Went unto,' i.e., started on her way, for it 
is in ver. 32 that the actual coming is spoken of. 

Ver. 30. Now Jesus was not yet come into 
the village, but was still in that place where 
Martha met him. Avoiding the presence of ' the 
Tews,' so painful and incongruous at such a time. 
This verse is purely parenthetical. 

Ver. 31. The Jews, therefore, which were 
with her in the house, and were comforting her, 

East, the friends who were with her attend her to 
the tomb to join in her lamentation over the dead. 
That they will meet Jesus has apparently not 
entered into their thought. 

Ver. 32. Mary, therefore, when she came 
where Jesus was, seeing him fell at his feet, say- 
ing unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my 
brother had not died. Her first words are nearly 
the same as her sister's : there is only in the Greek 
a slight difference in the place of ' my ' which gives 
a touching emphasis to the expression of personal 
loss. Often may the sisters have repeated such 
words during their hours of anguish, when their 
brother was sinking before their eyes. Mary's 

when they saw Mary,' that she rose up quickly absorbing grief makes other words impossibl 

and went out, followed her, supposing that she 
went unto the tomb to lament there. The 
movements of her sister had suggested no such 
thought ; but as soon as Mary rose and went out, 
only one explanation seemed possible. She sought 
to go alone, but, according to the custom of the 

she falls at the feet of Jesus weeping. 

Ver. 33. When Jesus therefore saw her lament- 
ing, and the Jews lamenting which came with 
her, he was moved with indignation in his 
spirit, and troubled himself. There is little 
doubt that the first word describing the emotion 

- '-%'■■ - 

of Tesus denotes rather anger than sorrow. Such 
is its regular meaning ; and, though New Testa- 
ment usage partly gives a different turn to the 
word, yet in every passage it implies a severity of 
tone and feeling that is very different from grief. 
In Mark xiv. 5 it expresses indignation at what 
appeared reckless waste, and in Matt. ix. 30 and 
Mark i. 43 it denotes stern dealing, a severity that 
marked the giving of the charge ; while in the 
Septuagint the noun derived from the verb is used 
to translate the Hebrew noun signifying indigna- 
tion or anger. The only other passage in the New 
Testament in which we find the word is ver. 38 of 
this chapter. That we are to understand it as 
implying anger seems thus to be clear, and we are 
strengthened in this conclusion by the fact that the 
early Greek fathers take it in this sense. It is 
more difficult to answer the question, At what 
was Jesus angry? It has been replied — (1) at 
Himself, because He was moved to a sympathy 
and compassion which it was needful to restrain. 
In this case the words 'His spirit' are supposed 

to be directly governed by the verb—' was in- 
dignant at Hi's spirit. ' But such a use of ' spirit ' 
is surely impossible, while the explanation as a 
whole does violence to those conceptions of the 
humanity of our Lord which this ver)' Gospel 
teaches us to form ; — (2) at the unbelief and hypo- 
critical weeping of ' the Jews. ' But many of them 
were to believe (ver. 45) ; and there is nothing to 
indicate that their weeping was not genuine. 
Besides this, the emotion of Jesus is traced to the 
lamenting of Mary not less than to that of the 
Jews ; and the whole narrative gains immeasur- 
ably in force if we suppose the latter to have been 
as sincere as the former;— (3) at the misery brought 
into the world by sin. This explanation appears 
upon the whole" to be the most probable.^ As to 
the words 'in His spirit,' without entering into 
any discussion of a difficult subject, we may say 
that, as ' the spirit ' denotes the highest (and so to 
speak) innermost part of man's nature, the language 
shows that our Lord's nature was stirred to its 
very depth. This reference to the spirit assists us 


in understanding the words that follow 'and 
troubled Himself : ' the indignation and horror of 
the spirit threw the whole 'self into disturbance. 
The meaning 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 aboOt to show itself in His 
betrayal by Judas, Jesus was ' troubled ' (that is, 
agitated, disturbed) 'in His spirit.' 

Vers. 34, 35. And he said, Where have ye laid 
him ? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. 
Jesus wept. 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 grief) 
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, Behold 
how he loved him ! But some of them said, 
Could not this man, which opened the eyes of 
him that was blind, 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 power 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 born 
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 ver. 3S) 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 in 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 closed 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 sister 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 (ver. 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 illustrate 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 ' the 
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. JeBtis saith unto her, Said I not unto 
thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest 
see the glory of God t Martha would have pre- 
vented the removal of the stone ; but this wish was 
but a symbol of a real hindrance in the 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 savin.; 
'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 'nut 
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 standeth 
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 believe 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 indeed 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 that was dead came forth, bound hand 
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 relation to Jesus and to belief 
Evangelist adds nothing concerning Lazarus or in Him. 

Chapter XI. 45-57. 
The effect of the raising of Lazarus. 
-15 ' I 'HEN many 1 of the "Jews which 2 came to Mary, and had <=Ver 15. 
JL seen 3 the tilings which Jesus did, believed on 4 him. 

46 *But some of them went their ways 5 to the Pharisees, and told 

J Comp. chap. 

them what things Jesus had done. v - J s- 

47 c Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees 6 a council, c Matt - * xvi - 

and said, d What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 7 ^Chap.xii. 


48 If we let him thus alone, '' all men will believe on 4 him: and eC °^ ver " 
the Romans shall 8 come and take away both our place and 9 "i!l lo, 3 ^ 

49 nation. And 10 one of them, named Caiaphas, being the " high 
priest -f that same year, 12 said unto them, Ye know nothing at /Ver. 51, 

1 J ' ° chap. .win. 

50 all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, 13 that g one man '?■ , 

•* " ' g Comp. chap. 

should die for the people, and that 14 the whole nation perish *""■ I4 - 

51 not. And 15 this spake he not of himself: but being high 

priest that 16 year, he !l prophesied that Jesus should 17 die for h( £^f*: 

52 that 18 nation; And not for that ls nation only, but that also f,""-™' 
* he should gather together in one 13 the * children of God that '^T,™' 

53 were 20 scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took kCte.£°i. u, 
counsel together 21 for to put 22 him to death. Ro'm.V,,,.,-; 

54 Jesus therefore 'walked no more openly among the Jews; ijoCaf. 1. 
but went 23 thence unto a country 24 near to the wilderness, into x°^ p-ciap ' 
a city called Ephraim, and there continued 25 with his 26 dis- 

55 ciples. And the "'Jews' passover 27 was nigh at hand: and '" cha P *"• '■ 
many went out of the country up to Jerusalem " before the 

56 passover, to "purify themselves. Then "sought they 29 for "£° mp - Acts 
Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the j^™"'^ 
temple, 30 What think ye, that he will not come to the feast ? "C ha P- vii - 

57 Now both 31 the chief priests and the Pharisees had ^given a /( r 3 " mp-ver 

commandment, 32 that, if any man knew where he were, he 

should shew it, that they might take 33 him. 

1 Many therefore - they which 3 and beheld 4 in 5 went away 
3 The chief priests and the Pharisees therefore gathered ' signs 

8 will 9 add our 10 But a certain n omit the 

12 of that year 13 profitable for you " omit that :5 But 

10 of that lr was about to 18 the 

19 but that he might also gather together into one 20 are 

21 From that day forth therefore they took counsel 22 that they might put 
23 add away 24 into the country 26 abode 2G the 

27 passover of the Jews 23 went up to Jerusalem out of the country 

2 '-' They sought therefore 30 temple-courts 31 omit both 

32 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 
determined 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 last journey to Jerusalem, to which He is to 
go as the Paschal Lamb selected for the true 
Paschal 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 Jesus 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 
by 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 
all those of ' the Jews ' who had come to the house 
1 if Mary (ver. 19), and who with her witnessed the 
actions of Jesus, became believers in Him. 

Ver. 46. But some of them went away to the 
Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had 
done. It is impossible, we think, that what is 
here related can have been done with friendly 
motives, or from a mere sense of duty to men 
whose office made them spirilual 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 council, and said, What 
do we ? for this man doeth many signs. Here, 
probably for the first time in this Gospel, we read 
nt a meeting of the Sanhedrin, — 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 ( What arewe 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 both our place and our 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 Jesus 
(whom they will not recognise in His religious 
claims) shall be owned as Messiah, and popular 
tumult shall ensue, all these privileges will be 
taken away from them. Their fear therefore is 
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, xii. 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 they would have been 
established for ever in the spiritual kingdom of 
the Messiah. 

Vers. 49, 50. But a certain one of them, 
named Caiaphas, being high priest of that year, 
said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor 
consider that it is profitable for you that one 
man should die for the people, and the whole 
nation perish not. Caiaphas was a Sadducee, a 
powerful and crafty man. He was high priest for 
about eighteen years (a.d. 1S-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 in great measure the 
instrument. The first words spoken by Caiaphas 
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, 52. But this spake he not of himself: 
but being 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 


The wilderness will be 'the wild uncultivated 
hill country north-east of Jerusalem, lying between 
the central towns and the Jordan valley (Diet, of 
Bible, i. 569. See also Stanley, Sinai and Pales- 
tine, pp. 214, 419). 

Ver. 55. And the passover of the Jews was 
nigh at hand. On these words see the notes on 
chap. ii. 13, vi. 4. No one who has followed the 
narrative of this Gospel with care up to the pre- 
sent point can doubt that the expression is used 
with deep, indeed with terrible significance. — And 
many went up to Jerusalem out of the country 
before the passover, to purify themselves. It 
does not appear that there was any special injunc- 
tion with regard to purification before the Passover; 
for such passages as Num. ix. 6-1 1, 2 Chron. 
xxx. 17-20, would rather indicate that from the 
peculiar importance of this feast it was to be 
observed even where the purification required 
before all great events could not be obtained. 
There can be no doubt, however, that it fell under 
the general law of purification, and that defiled 
persons did not feel themselves qualified to partake 
of the Passover (comp. chap, xviii. 2S). These 
strangers from the country, therefore, assembled in 
Jerusalem several days before the festival, that in 
the holy city they might seek the preparation that 
was requisite. 

Ver. 56. They sought therefore for Jesus, and 
spake among themselves, as they stood in the 
temple-courts, What think ye, that he will not 
come to the feast? The language is that of 
earnest and interested inquiry. Those who are 
talking together are friendly to Jesus, and hopeful 
and expectant that He will appear at the festival. 
The groups assemble in the temple-courts, where 
many of them may have come to bring offerings 
for purification (ver. 55), and where Jesus had been 
wont to teach. The word ' therefore ' at the 
beginning of this verse seems to point to the 
privacy into which Jesus had retired (ver. 54). 
These pilgrims came to Jerusalem, hoping to meet 
with Jesus, but they saw Him not : they sought 
Him therefore, etc. (comp. chap. vii. n). 

Ver. 57. Now the chief priests and the Phari- 
sees had given commandments, that if any man 
knew where he were, he should shew it that 
they might seize him, As the last verse has 
described the eager interest of the friends of Jesus, 
this verse presents a picture of His enemies. In 
pursuance of the resolve related above (ver. 53) 
commandments had been issued — the plural seems 
to point to orders sent to all parts of the land — 
that all the faithful should aid the rulers in appre- 
hending Jesus. These latter verses show us the 
friends and the foes of Jesus alike occupying the 
field in preparation for the end. 


prophecy : heartless and unscrupulous in meaning 
and intention, they are so controlled as to express 
profound and blessed truth. In the earlier days 
of the nation a prophetic spirit was ever believed 
to rest upon the high priest (comp. Ex. xxviii. 
30, Num. xxvii. 21, Hosea iii. 4). When the 
office became degraded, and the high priest the 
servant of ambition and covetousness, prophetic 
guidance was no longer sought from him ; but, as 
in the Old Testament we read of false prophets 
who in spite of themselves were compelled to be 
the medium of proclaiming God's will, so is it 
here. We see now the significance of the words 
' people ' and ' nation.' He prophesied that Jesus 
should die for the nation, — i.e., for the Jews, 
henceforth but one of the nations of the world, 
ranked with the Gentiles whom they scorned. 
The object of this death should also be, ' that He 
might gather into one the children of God that are 
scattered abroad.' This latter prophecy is found 
by the Evangelist in the word ' people ' of ver. 50, 
'that one man should die for the people.' No 
longer does this name belong to Jews alone. The 
sacrifice is offered in behalf of all the children of 
God, all to whom the Father offers sonship, 
gathered henceforth into one under the new name 
of ' the people ' of God. Compare the striking 
parallels in chap. vii. 35, x. 16, xvii. 20. 

Ver. 53. From that day forth, therefore, they 
took counsel that they might put him to death. 
Not that they might pass sentence of death upon 
him ; that is done : but that they might execute 
the sentence. Their previous efforts of rage against 
Jesus had been connected with moments of special 
excitement ; henceforward they are deliberate, 
determined, constant. The cup of iniquity of 
'the Jews' is full. 

Ver. 54. Jesus therefore walked no more 
openly among the Jews ; but went away thence 
into the country near to the wilderness, into a 
city called Ephraim, and there abode with the 
disciples. The time of ' free speech ' (see note on 
chap. vii. 4) was at an end : from this time Jesus 
avoided communication with ' the Jews,' no longer 
vouchsafing to them the word which they heard 
only to reject. The place to which He withdrew 
afforded a deeper solitude than that sought by 
Him a little while before (chap. x. 40). The 
crisis in His life is graver ; the retirement which 
he seeks is more profound. There is no mention 
now (as in chap. x. 41) of many who resorted unto 
Him : the town to which He retired is described 
as 'near to the wilderness.' Ephraim, possibly 
the same as Ophrah (I Sam. xiii. 17), is commonly 
identified with el-Taiyibeh, a village 16 miles from 
Jerusalem and 4 or 5 east of Bethel, situated on a 
hill which commands the valley of the Jordan. 

Chapter XII. 1-36. 
Homage to Jesus, who in Death triumphs over Death. 

THEN Jesus 1 six days before the "passover came to «i-< 
Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead,* 

1 Jesus therefore -' omit which had been dead 


2 whom b he raised 3 from the dead. 'There 4 they made him a *cha P . xi. 

43» 44- 

supper ; and Martha served : but Lazarus was one of them that * | *»"• *™ 

3 sat at the table with him. Then took Mary 6 a pound of oint- ™. 3 -8. 
ment of d spikenard, very costly, 6 and d anointed the feet of Jesus, i *j**3| 
and 7 'wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled j-«,iv.x3, 

4 with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, ' £? m l£ L 4 uke 

5 Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 8 Why 
was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given 

6 to the poor ? This 9 he said, not that 10 he cared for the poor ; 

but because he was a thief, and S had " the e bag, and 12 '' bare 13 -^•j"'^ chap - 

7 what was put therein. Then said Jesus, 14 Let her alone : ^xVv.T'io 

8 against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 15 For ' the *chap-*- m, 
poor always ye have with you ; but me ye have not always. J™'*"',; 1 * 

9 Much people 16 of the Jews therefore knew 17 that he was there : ' Deut - Xv - "■ 
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 13 Jesus. 

12 On 19 the next day much people 80 that were come to the 
feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 

13 *Took 21 branches of 21 palm trees, and went forth to meet * Matt. xxi. 
him, and cried, 22 l Hosanna : Blessed is the '"King- of Israel *»■ 7-1°; 

' ° Luke xix. 

14 that cometh in the name of the Lord. 23 And Jesus, 'when he 35-3 8 - „ 

_ Lomp. Rev. 

15 had found a young ass, sat thereon ; as it is written, " Fear not, ,™-9- ... 

J ' ° ' ' l Ps. CXV111. 

daughter of Zion : behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's WJ |^ edla ; 

16 colt. •''These things understood not his disciples at the first : ??• ,, 

t» c n Comp. Matt. 

but when Jesus was q glorified, then remembered they that these ^* : xi t . 
things were written of him, and that they had done 24 these 2" c k h e ^ x -|° 

17 things unto him. The people 25 therefore that was with him 'camp ."ji"" 
when he called Lazarus out of his grave, 26 and raised him from ver X 23, 25 ' 

18 the dead, bare record. 27 For this cause 23 the people also met ^fj"'^ 3 , 9 ' 
him, 29 for that they 30 heard that he had done this miracle. 31 oSmpVcSsp. 

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye I "' 4 ' 
how ye 32 prevail nothing? behold, 33 the world is gone 31 after 

3 whom Jesus had raised 4 add therefore 5 Mary therefore took 

6 precious 7 add she 

8 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, he that was about to betray him, 

8 But this I0 because n having 

12 omit and 13 bare away li Jesus therefore said 

15 that for the day of the preparation for my burial she may keep it 

16 The common people lr learned 18 in 19 omit On 
20 the common people 21 add the 22 and they cried out 

23 Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, and, The King of Israel 

24 did 25 multitude 26 out of the tomb 27 witness 2S add also 
29 the multitude went to meet him 30 because they 31 sign 

32 Behold how that ye 33 lo 34 add away 


20 r And there were certain 35 Greeks" among them that came rCha P-™- 

2 1 up to worship at the feast : The same 3; came therefore to 

' Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired 38 him, *cha P . i. 44 . 

22 saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth 

23 s Andrew: and again 39 Andrew 4 " and Philip 41 tell Jesus. And 

Jesus answered 42 them, savins:, ' The hour is come, that the Son 'See chap. 

24 of man should be ''glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
"Except a 43 corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it*iCor.xv 
abideth 44 alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 

2K v He that loveth his life 45 shall lose 4,; it ; and he that hateth his »Ma". x. 39; 

J Luke xvu. 

26 life " in this world shall keep it unto *" life eternal. If any man " |3- 

r J woee chap. 

serve me, let him * follow me ; and y where I am, there shall '«• '•»• 

' ' x See chap. 

also my servant be: if any man 47 serve me, him will my^ ^ I2 ^ iv 

27 Father honour. Now is my soul z troubled ; and what shall I _"„''; 24 xi 
say ? " Father, save me from 4a this hour : but for this cause came a comp*Matt. 

25 I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there 50 ""'-s 8 - 39- 
a voice from M heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will 

29 glorify it again. The people 52 therefore, that stood by, and 
heard it, said that it thundered : 53 others said, An angel spake 54 

30 to him. Jesus answered and said, * This voice came not because *c°mp. chap 

J J ' XI. 42. 

3 1 of me, 55 but for your sakes. Now is the 56 judgment of this c P^p- xvi - 

32 world : now shall the d prince of this world be cast out. And <*Chap-.»v. 

J i 30, XVI. II. 

I, if I be * lifted up from " the earth, will draw all men unto Ccmp-Matt. 

' tr ' iv. 9 ; Eph. 

33 me. 58 This 59 he said, f signifying what r '° death he should die. e seeda» 

34 The people 61 answered him, We have heard out of the s law /chap 8 xvm. 
that Christ ,i2 abideth for ever : and how sayest thou, The Son ^chap^x. 1 1.. 

35 of man must be lifted up? 63 who is this Son of man? Then 
Jesus 64 said unto them, ; ' Yet a little while is ' the light with 65 ''^liu":,. 
you. Walk while 66 ye have the light, lest 67 darkness * come ^-19?' """ 
upon you : 68 for 6S he that walketh in darkness 70 knoweth not * | e . e , 9 h ' ,p ' 

36 whither he goeth. While ye have light, 71 believe in the light, /!fChap - i - 5 - 
that ye maybe the 'children of light. JS These things spake ^ Luke xvi. 8; 
Jesus, and departed , 73 and '"did hide himself 74 from them. ' J hess -.r- s- 

J ' r ' m Chap. vui. 

37 These 3 " asked 59 ' xl *' 3 °' 

41 add and they 42 answereth 

45 soul ie loseth 

4!l out of 
50 There came therefore 51 out of 52 multitude 63 had thundered 

54 hath spoken " Not for my sake hath this voice come 50 there 

57 lifted on high out of 5S myself 5a But this co by what manner of 

61 multitude therefore 62 the Christ ° 3 lifted on high 

04 Jesus therefore C5 among e8 as c " that 

68 overtake you not 69 and "° the darkness 

71 As ye have the light 72 that ye may become sons of light 

73 and went away " 4 and was hidden 

35 some 

36 add from 

3i ' omit and again 

40 add cometh 

43 the 

44 add itself 

47 one 

48 the 

Contents. Jesus has been doomed to death of God. In the midst of dangers, under sentence 

(xi. 53, 57), and the hour is at hand when He shall of death, the Redeemer pursues His path of glory, 

be seized, and the sentence executed. But the Three pictures illustrating this are presented in the 

malice of man cannot interfere with the purposes section of the twelfth chapter now before us. The 



subordinate parts of this section are — (1) vers. 
i-ii, the anointing in Bethany; (2) vers. 12-19, 
the triumphal entry into Jerusalem ; (3) vers. 
20-36, the homage of the Greeks to Jesus. 

Ver. 1. Jesus therefore, six dayB before the 
passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, 
whom Jesus had raised from the dead. The 
word therefore marks a close connection with the 
preceding chapter, not however with its concluding 
words. The 56th and 57th verses of chap, xi., 
describing how the thought of both friends and 
foes was intently fixed on Jesus and His possible 
presence at the festival, form a very natural in- 
troduction to the narrative of this chapter, but in 
strict historical sequence the verse before us con- 
nects itself with the general statement of chap. xi. 
55. As to the particular date here spoken of 
there has been much difference of opinion, but it 
does not seem difficult to arrive at the most 
probable meaning. The point from which the 
Evangelist reckons is beyond doubt, we think, the 
14th day of Nisan or Abib, the first month in the 
Jewish sacred year. 'In the fourteenth clay of 
the first month at even is the Lord's Passover ' 
(Lev. xxiii. 5). On this fourteenth day, 'between 
the evenings ' (Ex. xii. 6), that is (probably) 
between sunset and the time when darkness came 
on, the Paschal lamb was to be slain. With the 
evening of the fourteenth day however (using day 
in its ordinary sense) began according to Jewish 
reckoning the fifteenth day of the month, which, 
lasting until the following sunset, was the first of 
the seven days of unleavened bread. The Paschal 
meal, therefore, was eaten at the close of the four- 
teenth natural day, but at the beginning of the 
fifteenth day according to the computation of the 
Jews. Starting then from the 14th of Nisan, the 
'six days' will most probably bring us to the 8th; 
and if, as is generally believed, the 15th of Nisan 
fell on Friday in this year, the Sth will coincide 
with the same day in the preceding week. The 
only doubt respecting the correctness of this view 
arises from a peculiarity sometimes found in Jewish 
notes of time, — both the first day and the last in an 
interval being included in the reckoning, so that 
' six days before ' might really mean ' the sixth day 
before,' that is 'five days before:' but as it is 
certain that the Jews themselves could speak of 
' one day before the Passover ' (using this very form 
of expression), — words to which only one meaning 
can possibly be given, — it seems perfectly certain 
that the reckoning in this verse must be taken in 
its exact and natural sense, as we have taken it 
above. It was therefore on the Sth of Nisan, at 
some part of the day which we should call the 
Friday before the Passover, that Jesus arrived in 
Bethany. This day, as we learn from Josephus, 
was often chosen by the bands of pilgrims for 
their arrival in Jerusalem : those referred to in 
chap. xi. 55 had come earlier than others to the 
holy city for a special reason. As the sabbath 
commenced on the evening of this day, we may 
most naturally assume that Jesus reached Bethany 
before sunset. In adding to the name of this 
place the words, 'where Lazarus was whom Jesus 
raised from the dead,' the Evangelist in part 
intends to prepare the way for the narrative that 
follows, but also seeks to connect his narrative 
with the wonderful record of chap, xi., and to 
place the glory of Jesus as the Prince and Giver 
of Life in contrast with the designs of His enemies 
to seize Him and put Him to death (chap. xi. 53). 

Ver. 2. There therefore they made him a 
supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was 
one of them that sat at the table with him. 
Two points only are mentioned by John, that a 
feast was given in honour of Jesus, and that every 
member of the family so signally blessed was 
present. By whom, when, and where, the feast 
was given, are questions to which he returns no 
answer. Different conclusions may be drawn from 
the words of this verse ; but they seem most 
naturally to imply that the entertainment was not 
given in the house or by the family of Lazarus. 
It is true that ' Martha served,' yet we may well 
suppose that, wherever the feast took place, this 
was an office she would claim ; and the insertion 
of the clause relating to Lazarus is hardly to be 
accounted for if Jesus were a guest in his house. 
As to the question of time, ver. 12 seems to show 
that the evening of the feast must have been that 
following the sabbath rather than the evening with 
which the sabbath commenced. Between this 
verse therefore and ver. 1 we must interpose the 
rest of the sabbath. We are now at liberty to turn 
to the account of the Synoptists. Luke relates 
nothing (in connection with this period) that is 
similar to the narrative before us ; but the other 
two Evangelists describe a supper and an anoint- 
ing which manifestly are identical with what John 
records here. Some slight differences in detail 
will be called up as the narrative proceeds : the 
only serious question is one relating to time. In 
Matt. xxvi. 2 we are brought to a date two days 
before the Passover, whereas the feast in question 
i^ related in later verses (6-13). (Compare also 
the parallel section in Mark xiv.) But there is 
nothing whatever in Matthew's account to fix the 
time of the feast ; and both the structure of his 
gospel and the apparent links of connection in this 
particular narrative are consistent with the view 
ordinarily taken, that at ver. 6 he goes back to 
relate an earUer event, which furnished occasion 
to Judas for furthering the design of the rulers, as 
recorded in the first verses of the chapter. If then 
there is no doubt of the identity of the events 
mentioned by the Synoptists and by John, we 
learn that the feast was given in the house of 
Simon the leper, a person of whom we know 
nothing more. 

Ver. 3. Mary therefore took a pound of oint- 
ment of spikenard, very precious. By ointment 
we are to understand rather a liquid perfume than 
what we commonly know as ointment. The pre- 
cise description of ointment or perfume that is here 
indicated is a question that has been much con- 
troverted. The words, which literally mean oint- 
ment of nard ' pistic,' are the same as those 
employed by Mark (chap. xiv. 3) : in each place 
our English Version has 'spikenard,' a word sug- 
gested by the rendering of the Vulgate in Mark 
(iiardus spicatus), and used by our translators in 
three passages of the Old Testament (Cant. i. 12, 
iv. 13, 14). In the passages last named the word 
that stands in the Hebrew text is nerd, evidently 
identical with the nardos used here by John : the 
word is said to be really of Persian origin, denot- 
ing a perfume brought from India by Persian 
traders. It will be seen that our translation has 
practically passed over the epithet 'pistic,' as to 
the meaning of which there exists the greatest 
uncertainty. By some it is explained as potable 
(the fine nard-oil being sometimes drunk) ; others 
refer the word to a root meaning to press or pound 



(the oil being obtained by pressure) ; whilst others 
maintain that the word is not descriptive of any 
species of nard, but denotes its genuineness. The 
most probable opinion is that pistic is a geographi- 
cal term which was at the time familiarly associated 
with the name of the perfume as an article of 
commerce, though now the exact significance is 
lost. From the parallel narratives (Matt. xxvi. 7; 
Mark xiv. 3) we learn that, as a iluid, 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 300 denarii (in Mark xiv. 5, more 
than 300 denarii) mentioned as its probable value. 
If we take the denarius at Sid., the value ordi- 
narily assigned, this sum amounts tOj£lo, 12s. 6d. 
The truer principle of calculation, however, is that 
the sum be estimated according to the power of 
purchase 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 Jesus, and she wiped 
his feet with her hair : and the house was filled 
with the odonr of the ointment. With this 
precious perfume, then, Mary anointed the feet of 
her 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 (twice men- 
tioned, here and in 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 brought 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 humble 

Ver. 4. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, 
he that was about to betray him, saith. A iter 
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 
present workings of his heart by grudging the 
lavish expression of Mary's faith and love. 

Ver. 5. Why was not this ointment sold for 
three hundred pence, and given to the poor ? 
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 bv which at the 
moment it is offended, 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 words strips off the mask. 

Ver. 6. But this he said, not because he cared 
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 "iily, 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 yegive me?' Thesome- 
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 'bare away.' The 
former is the more common meaning of the 
word both in classical Greek and in the New 
Testament ; but the latter (which often 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;' 
but it is 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 saying '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 is not easy 
to see that any portion worth speaking of could 
still remain. Hence we must probably seek for an 
explanation of a different kind. 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 seemed 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 is not uncommon in this 
Gospel. If we may assume that we have an 
example of this usage here, the meaning will be, 
It is, or, It was, or, She hath bought this 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 is 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 
His humiliation and became His exaltation. The 
Evangelist 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 
you, but me ye have not always. The duty of 
giving to the poor is fully recognised : it must 
never be forgotten. But there are moments when 
what may seem lavish 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 Lazarus 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. 11. 10 


accompanies every manifestation of Jesus extends 
to a wider circle. Once more (comp. chap. xi. 
45, 46), and much more clearly than before, the 
Evangelist records the division amongst 'the Jews' 
themselves ; for we have no right whatever to take 
this term in any other than that sense which is so 
firmly established in this Gospel. That very circle 
of Jewish influence and power in which till lately 
the spirit of narrow bigotry and fanaticism had 
found its expression in determined hostility to 
Jesus is divided into two classes, 'the common 
people of the Jews,' and the rulers in this ruling 
faction, ' the high priests.' 

Vers. 10, 11. But the chief priests consulted 
that they might put Lazarus also to death ; 
because that by 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 
displeasure, but everything that ministered to the 
success of the cause of Jesus must be swept oul 
of the way. It is easy to see that the 
of Jesus with the Jews is 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 is the 
contrast between the rulers bent on His death and 
the calm majesty of Him who is ' the Resurrection 
and the Life,' in whose presence are Lazarus, the 
trophy and emblem of His power over life physi- 
cal, and believers come from the very ranks of His 
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 
for its own correctness. This first day of the 
Jewish week was the 10th Nisan, the day on 
which the typical Paschal lamb was selected and 
set apart for sacrifice (Ex. xii. 31.— The common 
people that were come 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 ihe multitude that had 
assembled at Jerusalem at the time in order to 
celebrate the Passover. It would seem that this 
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 sae 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 is 
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 corn,' were ripe, and when 
the Messiah was expected to come to His 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, 
Hosanna : Blessed is he that cometh in the name 
of the Lord, and, The King of Israel. The words, 
thus uttered with loud shouts of joy, correspond to 
the action of which we have spoken. Those in 
the first 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 the 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 Jesus in the second clause, 
and probably to be regarded as a second cry, 
points onward to the prophecy of Zechariah (chap, 
ix. 9) quoted in ver. 15. Hosanna is a rendering 
into Greek letters of the Hebrew words, ' Save, 
we pray' (Ps. cxviii. 25). 

Vers. 14, 15. And Jesus, when he had found 
a young ass, sat thereon: as it is written, Fear 
not, daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh, 
sitting on an ass's colt. Jesus ' found ' the a^s, 
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 being thus 
given to the fact that it had not been previously 
•ised for any burden (Mark xi. 2). The whole 
passage brings out a view of Jesus in this entry 
into 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), the King of Zion (ver. 151 : 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 Evangelist 
himself, see chap. ii. 17) is remarkable. It may 
spring from his profound sense of the majesty of 
Jesus (Rev. i. 17) : there is fear to be dispelled 
before the joy of His presence can be felt. The 
context in Zechariah, however, 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. These things understood not his 
disciples at the first. 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 suffering 
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 Jesus was glorified, then remembered 
they that these 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, iS. The multitude therefore that 
was with him when he called Lazarus out of 
the tomb and raised him from the dead, bare 
witness. For this cause also the multitude 
went to meet liim, 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 — (1) that many of 'the 
Jews,' led to believe in Jesus by the miracle which 
they had seen (xi. 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 ' heard that He had done 
this sign.' The difference corresponds precisely 
to that alluded to in chap. xx. 29 ; and 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 the simple circumstance 
that this multitude ' went to meet ' Jesus. It is 
due to the titles which they had ascribed to Him 
at ver. 13, the one expressing His peculiar Mes- 
sianic distinction, the other rising to the highest 
point of Old Testament prophecy (comp. on i. 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. 10. The Pharisees therefore said among 
themselves, Behold how that ye prevail 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 they 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 trom 
among them that came up to worship at the 
feast. A third illustration of the homage paid to 
Jesus. The account is given by John alone, and 
the time is left by him indeterminate. Fr im 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 fart 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 
1 iharers in the faith and purposes of the 
other pilgrims at the feast. They are part of 
■ red to in chap. vii. 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 after ' Jesus. 

Ver. 21. These came therefore to Philip, 
which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked 
him saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 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 natuie of the situation. 
It is their own personal faith that John desires to 
bring out. 

Ver. 22. Philip coineth and telleth Andrew : 

Andrew cometh, and Philip, and they tell Jesus. 

Why these Greeks should particularly address 

to Philip; why Philip should be here 

cribed as 'from Bethsaida of Galilee;' why 
Philip should tell Andrew ; and why Andrew, as 
appears Irom the peculiar mode in which the 
communication is mentioned, should have been 
1I1 spokesman of the pair, are questions to which 
it is not easy to give a satisfactory reply. It may 
tie 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 w as nothing further 
in the mind of a writer so much accustomed to 
see even in apparently accidental and trilling 
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 of 


the difficulty. Thus also in the incident befon 
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 Greeks 
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 Jesus answereth them, saying, 
The hour is come, that the Son of man should 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 1 me. 
But the 'glorification' of these passages consists 
in the full manifestation of Jesus when, all His 
labours and sufferings over, He shall be 
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 unto you. 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 the corn of 
wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth 
itself alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much 
fruit. Absolute death, destruction of the principle 
of life, is not implied. The seed does not actually die; 
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 : He does not simply lay down 
a rule for others ; as representative of our humanity 
the rule must first find its application in Himself. 

Ver, . ■ ",. He that loveth his soul loseth it ; and 
he that hateth his soul in this world shall keep 
it unto 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, forselfishness 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 ' loses ' 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 01 
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, tin- 
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 also 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 'the 
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 there ; 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 
symbolized in the coming of the Greeks, it is also 
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. 33, 'He troubled Himself,' — And what 
shall I say ? 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 me out of this hour. 
To understand these words interrogatively, ' Shall 
I say, Father, save me from this hour ? ' as is done 
by many commentators, is 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 immediately 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. 2S) came I unto this hour. This 
prayer, however, is not 'save me from,' but 'save 
me out of this hour,' — nut 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. xxvi. 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. 20'. 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. 
; ng Thy fatherly relation to men.' — There came 

therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have 
both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The 
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. It was loud and terrible, 
a voice of awe and majesty. Such is always the 
meaning of thunder both in the Old Testament 
and the New (Ex. xix. 16 ; Job xxvi. 14 ; Fs. 
civ. 7 ; Rev. iv. 5, viii. ;, 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 lo refer the first part of the words to 
the ministry 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 unchangeableness of the purpose of Him 
'which is and which was and is t'> come,' and 
intimate that the great work whereby God's name 
was to be especially glorified would certainly, as 
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 
fact 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 
multitude ' felt only that God was there. 

Ver. 30. Jesus answered and said, Not for 
my sake hath this voice come, but for your 
sakes. He needed not the voice, for he knew 
that He was one with the Father, and that He 
was carrying out the Father's will. But they 
might not comprehend His sufferings, the agony 
of si ail 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 
suffering, lie beheld accomplished. 

Ver. 31. Now is there judgment of this world. 
The 'now' is the 'now' oi 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 he cast out. 
Again we have the ' now ' that we have already 
had. The moment is the same : the cause 
produciug the effect the same. ' This world ' 
culminates in its prince. The title meets us again 
in xvi. 11, and. although with omission of the 


' this,' in clinji. 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 1 no such exclusion; the 'world ' is again 
used in the widest sense of the term. In its 
prince are concentrated the powers thai 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 
I i: 1 , ion ' 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 ,1 
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. 

; >, 33. And I, if I be lifted on high 
out of the earth, will draw all men unto myself. 
But 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 
1 iospel 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- 

Hi (1) that not 'the prince of this world,' 

but fesus 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. 'AH 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 high of Jesus out of the earth.' 
What is this ' lifting on high'? The word has 
already met us in iii. 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 prepos tion is much more applicable to the 
crucifixion than the ascension, and its use seems 
to imply that simple separation from the earth 
satisfies the conditions that are in the mind 
of fesus. At the same time the thought of 
glorification must surely be included in the 
' lifting on high.' In the teaching of this Gospel, 
indeed, the facts of crucifixion and glorification 
go together, and cannot be separated from each 
other. The dying Redeemer is glorified through 
death: the glorified Redeemer died that He might 
be glorified. The crucifixion is the complete 
breaking of the bond to earth : it is the introduc- 
tion of the full reign of spiritual and heavenly 


Ver. 34. The multitude therefore answered 
him, We have heard out of the law that the 
Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, 
The Son of man must be lifted on high ? 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, 
called ' the law') — probably from such passages as 
2 Sam. vii. 13-15 ; Ps. lxxii., lxxxix., ex. ; Isa. 
ix. 6, 7; Dan. vii. 14 — that 'the Christ abideth 
for ever,' that, according to their interpretation, 
He should have a glorious and eternal reign on 
earth. There is thus an irreconcilable contra- 
diction between the fate expected by Jesus and 
the claims which they might perhaps have other- 
wise allowed. — Who is this Son of man ? Thi 
words are not an honest inquiry who this Son 
of man can be, and how he can be the Christ. 
They are really a rejection of the claims of 
Jesus. 'Who is this? We have nothing and 
shall have nothing to do with Him.' The inter- 
pretation thus given is greatly confirmed by the 
lact that the words are immediately followed not 
by explanation, but by solemn warning on the 
part of Jesus (vers. 35, 36), and by the Evangelist's 
own reflections on the hardness and perversity of 
man (vers. 37-41); while, at the same time, it is 
in a high degree suitable to the place occupied by 
them in the Gospel. ' Son of man ' had been the 
favourite designation by Jesus of Himself. How 
appropriate is it that, when finally rejected, He 
should be rejected in that character! Have we 
not here also another illustration of the Evan- 
gelist's love of commemorating instances when, 
against themselves and as if under the gui 
of an irresistible power, men were compelled to 
ascribe to Jesus in contempt epithets which, rightly 
understood, were His highest glory ? 

Ver. 35. Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet 
a little while is the light among you. Not so 
much words of pity and tenderness in order to 
clear away the doubts of a sincere desire to learn, 
as words of solemn warning that they had a day 
of grace granted them, but that it was now 
drawing to a close, and that, if they did not 
pass beyond all doubts to faith, they would be 
overtaken by darkness. — Walk as ye have the 
light, that darkness overtake you not. That is. 
' Walk in accordance with the fact that the light 
now shines around you.' — And he that walketh 
in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 
If they do not thus walk, thus come to the light 
(chap. iii. 21), the darkness will overtake them; 
and instead of going to the glory to which Jesus 
'goeth,' they will go blindly to destruction. 

Ver. 36. As ye have the light, believe in the 
light. Nay, not only let them come to the light, 
but let them take a higher step and ' believe in ' 
the light, that is, commit in trust their whole 
being to the light. — That ye may become sons 
of light, — light your father, the element of your 
, and no darkness at all in you. Such are 
t le last words of Jesus which the Evangelist, 
in describing His active ministry, has thought 
fit to record. How strikingly do they remind 
us of the opening of the Gospel, and, after the 
manner of our Evangelist, bind apparently far 
distant parts of His work into one ! In the 
Prologue we read of the Word that ' it shineth in 
the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not ' 
(ver. 51. Now that Word has become incarnate, 

i 5 o 


has lived, has suffered, has been condemned to 
die, and for what? that we believing in Him, 
embracing Him in a true communion, taking His 
life, His light, into ourselves, may also become 
sons of light, shining in the darkness, and the 
darkness overcoming us not. — These things spake 
Jesus, and having gone away he was hidden 
from them. In chap. viii. 59 we were told that 
'Jusus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.' 
Here, as became the moment that closed His 
public ministry, the departure is more complete, — 

marked by a finality which had no existence 
then. It is supposed by many commentators that 
He went to Bethany, and it may have been so. 
But the fact to be mainly observed is the fresh 
illustrations supplied by John's silence of the 
manner 111 which, to his mind, the ideal surpasses 
the historic interest. The departure itself and the 
consequent close of Israel's probation is the main 
point. All else passes out of view before sad 
reflection upon the unbelief which Israel has 

Chapter XII. 37-50. 

Lamentation over the Unbelief of the Jeivs, and Summary of the Public 
Ministry of Jesus. 

BUT thou| 
yet 5 th 

Rom. x. 1 
.^c-e Matt. 

h he had done so " many miracles ' before them, «Chap. w. 3 

J **■ 3°. **' 

hey believed not on 3 him: That the saying of =5- 
Esaias* the prophet might be * fulfilled, which he spake," * Chap. »ii 
c Lord, who hath 6 believed our report? and to whom hath the ££■;"• 3! 

39 arm of the Lord been revealed? 7 Therefore' they could not .*;*; \b& 

40 believe, because that Esaias 9 said again, d He hath blinded 
their eyes, and 10 hardened their heart ; that they should not 
see with their eyes, nor understand" with their heart, and be %£** 

41 converted, 12 and I should heal them. These things said 

42 Esaias, 13 when " he 'saw his glory, and spake of him. 15 Never- « !*»•■« 
theless 16 among the chief 17 rulers also ls many believed on 13 

him ; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, 

43 / lest they should be put out of the synagogue : For !0 they /chap, 
loved the g praise J1 of men more than the praise " of God. *£, hap ' 

Jesus 23 * cried and said, ' He that believeth on 3 me, believeth /: ^ a 3 p 7- 
not on ' me, but on 3 him that sent me. And * he that seeth " ' ^ n 
me seeth" him that sent me. ' I am come a light " into the *§££ 
world, that whosoever SB believeth on 3 me should "' not abide "£ *?; 

47 in "darkness. "'And if any man hear my words, and believe '«cha P . 
not,' 9 I judge him not: for I came not to judge the "world, "i? m p Pi 

48 but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not 

my words, 3 " hath one that judgeth him :' the word that I have °^ p - 

49 spoken, 31 the same shall judge him in the last day. For 35 *I 
have not spoken 33 of myself; but the Father which sent me, he 

» signs - omit yet 8 in 4 word of Isaiah 5 said 

6 omit hath 7 was the arm of the Lord revealed ? 8 For this cause 

9 because Isaiah I0 add he u and perceive ''-turned 13 Isaiah 
14 because 15 and he spake concerning him " ; add even from 

17 omit chief la omit also 10 in '-° Because 

21 glory - 2 glory 23 But Jesus 2i beholdeth 

23 As light I have come 2S every one that - 7 may 2S add the 

29 And if any one shall have heard my sayings and have guarded them not 

30 sayings 31 I spake J8 Because : '' I spake not 


4 r > 

"> Chap. 



gave me" a commandment, what I should say, and what I 

50 should speak. And I know that his commandment is ' 7 life <, 
everlasting : " whatsoever I speak therefore,'' even as the Father'' < '" ■ 
said 30 unto me, so I speak. z3 ' xiv - 24 

1 lie hath given 35 is eternal life 30 hath said 

Contents. The public ministry of Jesus has 
been brought to a close, and the moment has been 
marked by words the melancholy pathos of which 
can haruly be mistaken, ' Having gone away, He 
was hidden from them' (ver. 36). These words, 
applied in the first instance to the outward circum- 
stances of the Saviour, receive now at the hands 
of the Evangelist all the depth of their meaning, 
when he gives us his last reflections on the hard- 
ness and unbelief displayed by Israel in rejecting 
the glorious self-manifestation of its Lord (vers. 
37-43). After this we have in the second part of 
the section, closing the fourth and leading division 
of the Gospel, a short summary of that teaching 
of Jesus to which Israel had refused to listen ^ers. 

Ver. 37. But though he had done so many 
signs before them, they believed not in him. 
The words of chap. i. 10, 1 1 seem to echo in our 
ears, ' He was in the world, and the world came 
into being through Him, and the world knew Him 
not. He came unto His own home, and His own 
accepted Him not.' All the particulars of the state- 
ment heighten the effect. In the original there is 
a certain degree of emphasis on 'He,' — One so 
full of power and grace, so divine in majesty, 
so human in tenderness. Then it was ' signs' that 
He had wrought, not mere miracles, but things 
that were the very expression of the Son and in 
Him of the Father. These signs, too, had been ' so 
many' (see note on chap. vi. 2) ; for it is number, 
not greatness, that in our Gospel is always referred 
to iii this word (chaps, vi. 9, xiv. 9, xxi. 11). And, 
once more, the signs had been wrought ' before 
them,' so that they could not be mistaken (comp. 
chap. x. 4). Yet, notwithstanding all this, their 
unbelief had been continued, wilful, as constant as 
the call addressed to them. 

Ver. 3S. That the word of l6aiah the prophet 
might be fulfilled, which he said, Lord, who 
believed our report ? and to whom was the arm 
of the Lord revealed? The quotation is from 
Isa. liii. 1 ; and one or two expressions in it 
require notice before we endeavour to ascertain 
its exact force and meaning, either as originally 
spoken by the prophet or as now applied by the 
Evangelist. By ' report' we are to understand the 
burden of the prophet's message, the word as 
heard rather than as spoken (comp. 2 Sam. iv. 4 
in the Hebrew; Rom. x. 16; I Thess. ii. 13); 
and by ' arm of the Lord,' the manifestation of His 
power alike in the deliverance of His people and 
in the destruction of His enemies (Deut. v. 15 ; 
Isa. lxiii. 5). The words 'that it might be ful- 
filled,' so frequently used by Matthew as he points 
out the harmony of each successive event with the 
Divine plan and counsel, here meet us for the first 
time in this Gospel. More is meant than what 
we commonly understand by the fulfilment of a pre- 
diction. That which in its principle and its partial 
realisation connected itself with the events of which 
the inspired prophet directly spoke is here declared 

to be ' filled up,' to have received its complete 
accomplishment. By whom then, and in what 
circumstances, were the words of Isaiah originally 
spoken? We answer, By repentant Israel; by Israel 
after it has come to faith, and when it looks back 
sorrowfully upon the fact that the message of Je- 
hovah's love, and the manifestations of His power, 
had been disregard